Gamlen Shadowsong tapped a long, obsidian-painted fingernail on the desk. His body arched over a book, staring intently at the pages in it, copying down the contents by hand in another book. He looked up at the clock hanging over the door to the room. Realizing what time it was he stretched and began to pack his things.
For weeks now he had had terrible nightmares, to the point where his roommates began to complain about him talking in his sleep. Sometimes, he’d wake up screaming in absolute terror. None of them would understand what he saw in his sleep, nor would he tell them. He was researching some of the symbols in his dreams, hoping to find a cause for all his night phantoms. Nothing after three months of searching and writing down all his nightmares, he was beginning to give up hope of ever finding the answer.
He got up from his chair and put on his coat, heading back to the bookshelves to return the book. After walking down the grand staircase exiting the library he looked at the sky, it was getting dark. Soon he would have to walk all the way to the shelter, about thirteen blocks away; otherwise, he’d miss his chance for a shower and use of the TV. He slowly made his way back to his temporary home, recollecting the dreams of the past few nights to himself.
He was walking towards a hotel that seemed to the sparkle of a new coat of paint; it even had the smell that was so common. This building felt old, and it seemed to whisper dark secrets between the walls. He stepped into a puddle as he began to cross the street, heading to the front door.
A sudden compulsion told him to look down into the water. As he stared deep into the reflective surface, he began to see his face distort and change in hue. Suddenly shot full of pain, he buckled over himself and screamed with all his might. Soon even his voice distorted into something un-earthly, a cross between a lion’s roar and a snake’s hiss. Slowly his flesh began to change into what could only be scales of some sort of lizard, the hue changing to a shade of purple so dark that it almost looked black. His back felt a sensation that eventually led to pain so immense that it seemed like his muscles were ripping away from his skin. In a flash of blood and gore from his back burst forth a set of appendages that slowly began to form into what appeared to be wings.
He always woke up before he ever found out why he transformed into that monstrous beast or the significance of that hotel. Soon he came upon the door to the shelter; pressing the intercom button, he waited for an answer.
“Who is it?” the voice demanded.
“It’s Gamlen Shadowsong, let me up.” Gamlen elated.
Soon there was a buzz at the door, and he opened it walking up the stairs slowly with his backpack full of books. Gamlen enjoyed reading just about anything he could get his hands on so he always had books with him; his favorite was about monsters and magical beings. He thought he knew everything there was to know about Boggarts and Dragons. That was until the nightmares began, now he aimed to find out exactly what it was he was turning into in the dreams and what it represented in his real life.
As he stepped up onto the shelter’s main floor he had a shudder up his spine, something was different up there. Choosing to ignore the feeling, for now, he walked up to the desk and signed into his usual bed and walked to his locker to put his books away. He sighed to himself and sat down at the table in the makeshift kitchen, with a book on mythical beasts. Soon one of the women who lived at the shelter sat across from him and just stared intently at him.
“What do you want?” he didn’t even look up at her as he continued to read. ”I’m kind of busy right now.”
“Care for a palm reading Gamlen?” the girl asked meekly.
One thing that always amused him was the amount of homeless youth that studied various arts of divination and magic. It was half the reason he was drawn to this particular city, the metaphysical culture here was rich and very deliberate. Often it seemed like every person he met had some sort of talent for the arcane arts. One day he realized why this was so, Portland itself sat on a nexus of ley lines converging together, and ley lines were the magical life force of the planet. This resulted in much more sensitive people to the planet’s energy being born or eventually absorbing enough energy for them to become mystics or witches in their own right.
Turning more outward with his thoughts, he looked upon the soothsayer and just smiled.
“Sure, why not?” Gamlen placed his hand palm up on hers and waited for her to begin.
“You have a jaded past, between fear and an immense amount of pain; it’s a surprise that you are still partially sane.” She began.
According to some, others not so much anymore. He thought to himself.
“You don’t know your father, and that has left you conflicted. Both internally and outside your body.” She related to him.
Gamlen pulled his hand away from her and just stared into her ebony eyes, how could she know any of this? I usually can block most feelings out during readings. He was entirely confused by her ability to read him so well. Then he noticed something out of place; he had never seen her before. She was new to the streets or she was something else, it scared him and thrilled him equally. His whole body was tense for some reason that he could not understand. There was something different about the way she talked and the way she moved. Something primal, more bestial in nature stirred from within him. It set off tiny alarms in the back of his mind, alerting him to imminent danger.
“What are you?” he asked with caution.
Her ebony eyes set upon him and her face seemed to distort into monstrous proportions for a split second and then reverted to the beauty that had been nothing but glamour. She was a Bean – Sidhe, a banshee in English, the Irish fey spirit that had a lust for the souls of lost travelers. He knew deep in his bones that she had come for him; why he might have known, but he hoped he was wrong. He stood up and walked away still watching her out of the corner of his eyes. As he walked out onto into the night on Portland’s busy streets he walked across the parking lot and waited for her to come.
Soon he saw it, coming through the parking lot at amazing speed. It definitely wasn’t anything human, which meant that it truly was a banshee. He braced himself thinking that it would attack him, but instead, it stopped about a few feet away from him and just hovered there.
“What do you want creature?” he demanded.
She didn’t speak in the way that words came out of her mouth, but rather she spoke to his mind.
Things are getting out of hand in the cosmos; something is brewing, something big. The heavens are preparing for war against the Underworld’s legions. How will humanity survive? Once they are gone I will just fade away, something that I cannot do just yet. Do you even know what you are? Do you even remember your father? Tell me half born do you dream of it, the end of your humanity?
He stared at the apparition in complete shock and terror. How could she know his dreams? He had never met this being before, but he needed answers, and soon. Bracing himself to run at first chance, he waited for her to finish. Somehow sensing what he intended she tilted her head to the side and stared at him.
Running is Useless.
Gamlen tensed up, so she could read his thoughts. Figures, He thought to himself. He began to wonder what would happen next, would he have to fight this ghost? He hoped not, for he had no clue how to destroy it. Sensing that he was afraid of a fight she dissipated with the last set of words to him.
Seek out Jormuundgand, the Midgard Serpent, at the ends of the earth for your answers.
Puzzled at this statement he walked back into the shelter and began to get ready to take a shower. Did he imagine it just now? Was he hallucinating? Or did all that really just happen? He finished his shower and got ready for bed. Grabbing the Book of Mystical Creatures from his locker, he sat down and began to read the entry on the great Midgard Serpent. As he began to read it made him feel uncomfortable like there was a ring of familiarity to the beast. Somehow he knew more about it than that encyclopedia stated. How did he know this? Such knowledge felt dangerous to him, almost deadly. He put the book away and went to bed, laying there with the light off as the sounds of the city eventually coaxed him into a deep slumber.