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Deal 1035: Meta dream worlds

In his dream, Sydney watched himself dream.

The dream of the orchard where he lay was clear and intense. The trees were inviting, one in particular seemed to positively glow. On that tree, one apple was glowing. After considering it for five minutes, he picked it, took two bites, and fell into a deep sleep.

He dreamed a dream of dreaming.

He dreamed he was standing in a magical orchard, holding a glowing axe. The head seemed eager for him to walk amongst the trees, and pulled him towards a particularly old tree that glowed faintly like all the rest of the trees. Except for a single limb that was black at its tip, with some sort of creeping sickness working its way up the branch toward the trunk. He understood that chopping off the dying branch to save the healthy tree was necessary.

He swung the axe with all his strength, removing a small chip from the bark at the base of the branch. The blackness moved a little closer. He swung again, the black moved again. He settled into a rhythm, taking chips out of the branch on both sides and from below with each blow. Finally after he had weakened it enough, he began to cut into the top side of the branch. It began to feel like it was going to be a close thing. Could he sever the branch before the black reached where he was cutting?

A final blow brought the now nearly completely blackened branch down.

He knew it needed to be burned to prevent the infection from spreading to the other trees. He also knew he shouldn’t handle the blackened areas himself, and that cutting into the black area with the axe might spread contaminated chips and make containment even more difficult. He surveyed the area and spotted a fire pit nearby with a fire set and ready to light. He lit it with a thought and gesture, and let the blaze become established as he worked out how to drag the branch to the fire without touching the black areas.

Finally, he fed the blackened branch into the fire.

As it burned, the flames changed colors wildly. He could almost see the disease burning up, and fighting for its survival the whole time.

Watching the flames was somewhat hypnotic, and he drifted off into a trance.

He dreamed a dream of dreaming a dream.

He was dressed in typical business day casual, and sitting in a large office, at the desk. In the distance, an old fashioned crank wound gramophone was sitting, and playing The Liberty Bell in vibrant but scratchy tones.

The music was soothing, and soon he drifted off into a nap.

He dreamed a dream of dreaming of dreaming of dreaming….

Sydney is caught in a different and more insidious loop.

Will he escape?

Will he be sane?

Is he actually dreaming the whole thing from an old warehouse in LA?

He has no idea.

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Deal 1034: To sleep, perchance

Sydney fell asleep.

Perhaps that would be better said as Sydney fell, asleep.

He had just sat down under a tree to contemplate his circumstance when he dozed off. The next thing he knew, he was in a very lucid dream. The orchard was still around him, but the trees were more present than before. A frog ran past him muttering obscure theorems from set theory. A crow ran the other way muttering something about being afraid to fly. He took a step in the direction the frog had gone and stepped in a hole he hadn’t seen before and fell.

As he fell, he looked around. The sides of the hole were smooth. He couldn’t see the bottom, and looking up couldn’t see where he’d stepped in. He realized he was holding an axe. After wondering what strange message his subconscious was trying to send him, he took a wild swing at the passing wall. It popped, and he was back in the orchard, watching himself sleep.

He looked around. Everything was still in that hyperreal form that indicated he was dreaming.

The fruits of the trees were practically glowing. He picked an apple. It had a message written on its skin: “How boring. Try again.” He shrugged and went to look at the pears. He picked a particularly ripe yellow pear and ate it without triggering any strange additional loops.

He walked back to his campsite, stepping carefully around the large hole he’d missed earlier. He failed to see the large frog smirking from under a tree nearby, though. It didn’t seem concerned about him otherwise, though.

As he sat and watched himself sleep, he wondered why he hadn’t noticed the lack of music. Back in the real world, he had always been uninterested in music while everyone around him obsessed about it and its performance. Here, he hadn’t noticed any yet, nor had he noticed anyone obsessed about it. It struck him as important. But that still might have been the dream talking.

He also noticed that a certain dragon hadn’t appear yet. He decided that was probably just as well, for his continued health.

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Deal 1033: Much to learn.

“He was just going to lie to you, you know” explained Gwen after chasing the talking frog away.

“I know. He’s been popping up now and then. He told me he was lying. Which could have been a lie. But he’s just a frog, isn’t he?”

“Sydney, you have a lot to learn about this place.”

“I know.”

As we look away for a while, Gwen and Sydney chatted for about many things that Sydney would need to know. Gwen didn’t give him many direct answers, just told him things he should seek to learn more about. And suggested ways to do that. By this point, it was getting on towards sundown.

“You should camp in the orchard for the night” offered Gwen. “I need to change, and attend to a few things for a while. The orchard and this garden are under my protection, so you will be safe here tonight. We’ll talk more in the morning.” Gwen disappeared in a swirl of skirts, leaving Sydney somewhat overwhelmed.

He decided that his best course of action was to do as she suggested. She hadn’t quite come out and said that she was the dragon he met earlier, but he wasn’t stupid either. He was a guest in her domain, and she might very well be the most powerful entity he had met so far.

The orchard was just beyond the garden, with a clear space suitable for camping surrounded by fruit trees. It extended as far as he could see in this part of the valley. He made himself comfortable near a grand old apple tree and settled in to contemplate all he’d learned.

He really hoped that he’d wake up a little wiser.