Moonheart by Charles De Lint Read Free Book Online Page A

Book: Moonheart by Charles De Lint Read Free Book Online
Authors: Charles De Lint
head no sooner hit the pillow than she was asleep.
    Sara didn't dream often, or if she did, she rarely remembered more than the odd snatch. People who had long interesting dreams and remembered every detail the next day were a source of envious irritation to her. Julie was like that.
    Be that as it may, she was no sooner asleep that night, than she was smack dab in the middle of one. She found herself in the glade depicted in the painting she'd discovered that afternoon. But where the painting was sharp-edged in its clarity, her dream had a murky texture to it and she moved through it in the way a swimmer might move through molasses.
    The two men from the painting weren't present. In their place was a piece of brightly woven cloth, perhaps a foot square in size. There were designs woven into the material and, making her way slowly against the heavy air that dragged at her every movement, she finally stood close enough to crouch down and investigate it.
    Dead center was a large circle with a symbol in it that she recognized as a Celtic motif. She tried to think of what it was called. She even had an album cover with that design on it— some Breton group. An... An Triskell. As the name came to her she smiled. The symbol was a triskell, or triskellion, three curved branches radiating from a central triangular shape, enclosed by a circle. On the cloth, four bars came out of the circle making the whole thing look like some elaborate Celtic cross. A border of ribbonwork went around the edge of the cloth with intricate knot-work in each corner. She nodded to herself. It was like the ribbonwork on her ring.
    In the way of dreams, Sara felt that she had all the time in the world, and yet not a second to spare. Strangely enough, she knew that she was dreaming as well— something she'd never experienced before. Weren't you supposed to wake up when you realized you were dreaming? At least that was what happened when she was daydreaming, an exercise that she had a lot of experience with.
    The sense of calm urgency lifted her attention from the cloth to look around the glade. Empty, it still had a presence to it, as though the two figures from the painting were there, only not visible to her. Trying to recall the details of their features, all she came up with was a stag's head for the bard, and a bear's for the shaman. And no sooner had she pictured them, than they were on either side of her, oblivious to her presence, intent on each other.
    Sara felt the first premonition that she might be in some sort of danger. It had nothing to do with the two men. (Men? Did you call things men when they had the heads of animals on top of their bodies instead of their own?) It was something else that set her nerves on edge. She searched the glade, but could find nothing. As her gaze returned to the men, she saw that the bear-headed one had taken a bag from his belt. He drew out a handful of small bone discs that were exact replicas of the one that Sara had found that afternoon.
    The bear/shaman knelt by the cloth and, setting the bag aside, held the discs in his cupped hands. As Sara watched, he let them fall onto the cloth. They tumbled and spun, around and over, slow as drifting leaves, not a handful, but hundreds of yellowed bone discs. They filled her sight— a long tumble of ivory flickers, a never-ending stream that blurred into brown-grey, and she found herself standing alone in a featureless place.
    There was nothing but mist all around her, above and below her feet. She heard the click and clack of the tumbling bones still, and then she too was falling, head over heels, over and over like one more bone disc dropped from the shaman's hand.
    Her early premonition exploded into fear as an animal's features suddenly reared out of the mist in front of her. She thought it was the bear/shaman, but although it had a vaguely ursine quality to it, this was some more terrible mutation of a bear— streaked like a grizzly's broad brow, sleek like a

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