Used with permission
His eyes showed him an ancient, thickly entwined forest, darkened by the thick canopy. Only the clearing he now stood in was lit by sunlight, which some part of his brain whispered
wasn't quite normal. But already, he was adjusting to this new place, his instincts changing to match this world.
Suddenly, his senses alerted him to a disturbance, growing closer, a malevolent force charging towards the clearing. Heart pounding, he conjured up fire magics
(a memory of swimming in fires in volcanoes, his body smooth obsidian)
to enshroud his hands and waited, tense and ready.
Bursting out of the trees came a lithe figure, a man panting with exhaustion. Barely had he emerged, when whole trees splintered with the arrival of a creature five times his size, with skin of rock and glowing eyes. It roared in a bestial tongue, nearly drowning out the man's desperate cry for help. The wizard gulped and let fly a hail of hard fire shards that hammered into the monster with explosions of flame.
* * * * *
Breathing hard, and with legs wobbling, the wizard collapsed ungracefully into a crouch. The monster was decomposing into crackles of lightning that then dispersed through the pool.
The man limped over. "My thanks," he managed in between his own panting gasps. "You saved my life, and I owe you a great debt. I am Yenlin."
"I am... Terciel," the wizard replied, as always surprised at discovering a new name for the first time. "What was that thing?"
"A grebg," came the grim response. "A terror and a disaster that have befallen our people. They slay indiscriminately. This power you wield - I have never seen anything that could destroy them so readily. I must ask you, are you one of the wizards of old? Will you give us your aid as they are said to have done?"
That confirmed Terciel's suspicions. So in this life he would be a warrior - more battle magics to learn. He would fight for however long he had here. How long would it be this time - a year? Each time longer than the last. Somewhere out there, in what might be reality, he knew that his companions fretted the night away, trying to find a solution to the problem they faced. His heart bled for them - and he knew that if he let it, he would become just as embroiled in Yenlin's people and their troubles.
He hesitated. It would be so much easier to distance himself from them. After all, this world might not be any more real than a dream. So much less painful to treat it as one. But how could he? Yenlin seemed as real as any friend he had in that world of his birth, his pain and fear just as sharp and his need for help just as keen.
"I will fight for you," he said, willing courage and hope into his words and meeting Yenlin by the eye. "I will advise you." Another quest embraced, another life begun, and who knew where it would lead this time?
~ FIN ~
They become immersed in the struggles of these dream worlds, which are as real to them as the waking reality. They fight, befriend, are betrayed, even fall in love, only to wake, never to return to the same world again.
Small wonder that wizards are often abstracted from the problems of the 'real' world, and forgetful - in between each time you see them they are living whole other lives.
Of course, the wizards wonder: Are these other worlds real? Does believing them to be real make thinking of those they have left behind easier or harder to bear? Those who believe the dreams are just figments may act selfishly in their dreams, knowing that nothing and no one they see is real. But when so much time is spent in these dream worlds, it can become habit, leading to cruel, hedonistic mages in the waking world.
It is a fairly tragic idea - imagine your friend going tonight and every morning barely remembering who you are - but I think an interesting one. The alternative proposed by my friends, also intriguing, was that the wizards actually slept for as long as their dreams felt. So that really powerful wizards are pretty useless, because they are only awake for one day in every few decades.