Dream Magic: Awakenings

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A mage turns dream into vision.
- Awakenings, Dreamer's Handbook

Eric was running. Not this nightmare again, he thought.

He was gazing ahead, his eyes seeing only the path where his next two or three steps would land. The surroundings were nothing but a colorless blur he was running through. His mind worked frenetically to see not what was ahead, but what was behind: two goblins half his height trying to catch up to him. Eric could very clearly see in his mind the dark green skin and the multitude of those pointy, crooked teeth. They were swinging small clubs made from hard wood, the smoothness of which was most likely forged by a lot of clobbering action. Eric could not stop envisioning the jagged teeth and burnished weapons, since he was constantly hearing a grinding and munching "rawbrawrawrblr" sound coming from behind - a sound similar to that of a hungry dog attacking a bare bone.

I hate this nightmare. I hate it hate it hate it! This is the sixth time already.

Eric tried to increase his pace, reasoning that short goblin legs should be no match for an energetic, young boy. When he sprinted ahead, the ground became muddy and his rapid steps sluggish. The rambling sound became more distant just for a moment, then returned with the same intensity. With a feeling of resignation, Eric resumed his normal pace and the ground was solid again.

This is my dream! I should be able to dream whatever I want, not these stupid nightmares...

Still running forward, Eric tried to push the thoughts of failure out of his mind. There was a kind of calming rhythm to making one step after the other, but the grinding sound intruded each time he tried to let the pace soothe his feelings. The dread he was hearing was also the dread he was feeling. His whole body was tense, but the knot in his stomach was the worst.

Why can't I do something?!

A new feeling was growing alongside the fear: anger. Eric was angry not at the goblins, but at himself. I'm weak, I'm pitiful. He felt the anger stir up inside him, displacing some of the fear. He instinctively knew that this is something he could use, and tried to intensify it.


He let out his anger in what seemed to be part shout, part scream, and part battle cry. His anger propelled him forward; he didn't even feel his steps but seemed to float ahead with haste. He kept going in this half-conscious state as long as he could.

The moment the cloud of anger receded from his mind, the fear came back more powerful than before: his stomach tightened and he bent over as if a powerful force punched him. Eric misplaced a step and fell.

Get up get up get up, they're going to get you, faster faster faster-

What little sense of balance he had, abandoned him. His mind was in a state of panic; his heart raced arrhythmically and cold sweat was all he could sense. Trapped in the nightmare, he continued to stumble forward.

Running seemingly forever with the smell of sweat and fear in one's nose would weary anyone, and it was getting to Eric too. He was tired of running and tired of being in a state of fear. The path he was following led across a shallow riverbed, where he absent-mindedly hopped through the stepping stones.

Not long after passing the river, exhaustion finally overpowered the fear: Eric stumbled a few more steps and put his hands on his knees to prevent himself from collapsing. His lungs burned with each struggling breath, and when he noticed this particular pain, he became aware of all the aching muscles in his body. He kept breathing: in-out-in-out-in-out, until his breathing settled into a more relaxed rhythm. He rolled down and stretched out on his back.

Abruptly, he remembered the reason for running all night and lifted his head to see where the goblins are. He saw two small shapes in the distance, jumping up and down on the riverbank. Haha, they don't like water. He closed his eyes, let his head slump back down and succumbed to fatigue. The grass feels so nice...

* * *

It felt good to just lie there, body and mind thoroughly exhausted. It was the kind of rest that invigorated from deep within one's soul. Memories of the nightmare faded away into the distance.

When Eric opened his eyes, he noticed how warm the sunshine felt on his face. He grabbed a chunk of grassy earth just to experience the sensation of touch. The leaves of the trees around him never seemed more vivid and full of life - he could see the hue and motion of every single leaf. Now this is what a dream should be like!  It felt as if the sun shined happiness to earth and nature responded in kind, with Eric in the middle of this magical motion. He quietly enjoyed being part of this experience for a small eternity.

"Hello there."

Eric turned his head, and saw a young woman with an open smile and long blond hair. He got to his feet and said "Hi."

"I'm Annie. What's your name?"

"My name is Eric. Nice to meet you," he said formally.

"Very nice to meet you too, Eric. Is this your first time here?"

"I guess so... Where are we?"

"Wonderful, welcome to Dream Camp! Well, technically, these are the training grounds of Dream Camp. I see you have already attuned to some of the deep magic here - nicely done! Anytime you fall asleep, just remember the feeling of magic and you'll be able to dream here."

"Thank you." Eric looked around, but he didn't see a camp anywhere. He wasn't feeling particularly magical, either. A thought hit him, and he said it out loud: "Hey! How do you know I'm dreaming? Isn't this supposed to be my dream?"

Annie smiled warmly at him. She pointed down the path and offered Eric her hand. "Come, everyone is at the Playground. We can talk along the way."

Eric pondered for a moment, and took her hand. She was taller than him; her scent reminded him of a big sister he never had. A feeling of loneliness passed over him at the thought, but that moment went away as quickly as it came. "Okay, let's go."

"Dreams would be boring if we were the only ones dreaming them," Annie explained as they went. "Sometimes we want to dream our own dreams, but sometimes we wish to share them with others. Dream Camp is a place where we can master the magic of dreams together. When I was your age, I spent most of my dreamtime here with friends, playing and learning. Now that I'm grown up, I realized I like it here the most, so I came back to play and learn some more," Annie grinned. "I also try to help out youngsters such as yourself."

Annie paused for a moment. "Let me show you something. Ready?"

Eric shrugged, then nodded. The next step they took seemed like a hundred, and he felt a bit dizzy. "What was that?"

"It's called teleportation magic. The fastest way to get someplace is to just be there! Don't you agree?" Annie laughed heartily. "Walking is better only if you want to enjoy the scenery."

Eric recovered from his vertigo and looked around. The sunshine, leaves and grass had the same vivid brilliance, but the arrangement of trees was different from a moment ago. Awesome!

"How did you do that?"

"Easy peasy," Annie said proudly, "you just have to practice a lot." She pointed to the left of the path. "Tell me, what do you see over there?"

Eric glanced to where she was pointing, but his vision was clouded. "Sorry, something must have gotten into my eyes." He rubbed his eyes, produced a tissue from his pocket and tugged at the corners of his eyes until he could see clearly.

There was a wooden table under a big tree, with two benches on the wider sides. An old man with a long white beard was sitting on the table, a big hammer in his hand, occasionally banging on what seemed to be a clunky, old-fashioned television set. It seemed to Eric the image was caught between multiple channels and showing lot of static.

"Isn't he too old to be a repairman?"

Annie had an amused expression. "Why? What do you see?"

"A bearded old guy with a broken tv and a hammer. Why do you ask?"

"Repairman, huh?" Annie smirked. "That's Master Joe. He's not a repairman, well, not quite. And you're never too old for anything!" She continued walking along the path.

"He's responsible for all this," Annie waved around with her hand, "all the trees, all the sunshine, and he makes sure there are no nightmares or accidents in Dream Camp. You can discuss with him whose dream this actually is, but he'll say something like 'everyone dreams everyone' and then go on talking for hours." Annie scratched her head. "Honestly, I don't always understand what he says, but Master Joe is a great person. When he's working, like now, I'm not sure what he's doing either, but our minds fill in the blanks in a way to make at least a little bit of sense, you know? Minds are tricky that way." She nodded to herself.

"So, he's like a janitor?"

Annie burst out laughing. She does that a lot, Eric noted. He thought Annie was a little crazy, but there was a kind of warmth to her and he didn't mind this kind of crazy.

"Well, I wouldn't call him that, but I believe he would like that title." Annie pointed a little to the right of the path. "The Playground is that way, not far from here. Should we teleport or walk all the way?"

Yeehaw, real magic! Eric was determined to pay more attention this time.

"Teleport! Please."

She nodded, lifted her right hand and made a waving motion from front to back. This time Eric braced for vertigo and resisted the dizziness. A field with plenty of playful contraptions zoomed into view almost at once. He saw dozens… no, hundreds of boys and girls of all ages; everyone running, hopping, swinging, pushing, pulling, jumping, climbing, talking, yelling… or even hovering above ground while training what seemed to be a kind of martial art. Most of the playground equipment was made out of wood, but some of it was grown out of living trees. Treehouses, too, were everywhere; tiny to large, all shapes and sizes. There were so many kids, but when he focused on one of them or a group, the space between seemed to grow larger - it didn't feel crowded at all. When he stopped focusing, the racket became more pronounced once again. Eric rubbed on his eyes, pondering the idea that he might be dreaming a dream within a dream.

"Cool, huh? Just try to ignore the noise. Let me find someone to show you around." Annie thought for a moment, then raised two fingers to the mouth and blew a mighty, high-pitched whistle. "I think it's best if you see for yourself what this place is like. We can talk later about any questions you might have."

A point approached from the distance - it seemed to bring half of all the noise coming from the Playground with it. A dog! Eric saw a big dog with white and curly fur approaching rapidly. Two kids were riding on the dog's back, yelling and screaming at the top of their lungs. The yelling stopped only when the riders arrived and dismounted from the dog.

"Hi teacher! Hi! Hi teacher!"

Annie smiled and made a welcoming gesture. "Boys, this is Eric. Eric, this is Duke," she patted the dog, "and the two mischief-makers are Kyle and Lyle."

Kyle and Lyle both had shiny black hair and beady eyes. They were several years younger than Eric; maybe around kindergarten age.

"Are you guys twins?" Eric asked.

"No, just brothers. We look more alike here than in real life," said the one on the left as he stretched himself upright, "but I'm the older one!"

"Kyle is saying that only because I'm the handsome one!" Lyle turned his head sideways to show off his short ponytail.

Kyle rolled his eyes and patted Lyle on the head. Lyle promptly patted him back, and the two started throwing light, but fast punches towards one another.

"Boys! Boys. I have a mission for you." When the jabs stopped, she continued. "I need someone to show Eric around and help him find a few friends. Are you up to the task?"

Kyle nodded. "Sure. Do we get stickers?"

"Yes-yes, stickers please Annie teacher!" Lyle interjected at once.

"All right. You'll get a sticker each, but you'll have to do an excellent job!"

Kyle and Lyle nodded vigorously in agreement.

Annie reached into her pocket, took out two stickers and handed them over. "I almost forgot," she searched her pocket, took out a book and offered it to Eric. "This is for you."

Eric took the book and examined it. The leathery cover felt pleasant to the touch. The words 'Dreamer's Handbook' were written with big letters on the front cover.

"Thank you. What is this?"

"Well, it's a book. A good one. You can look things up if you don't understand something, or you can just read it from beginning to end if you're the studious kind. Just keep it on yourself; you never know when it comes in handy. You can make it fit into any small pocket - Kyle and Lyle will show you how if needed. Are you all ready to go?"

They nodded.

Annie patted Duke, "Take good care of them, okay?"

Duke inclined his head slightly and closed his eyes for a moment longer than usual.

"Off you go! Have fun!"

The three of them slowly climbed on top of Duke. The dog grew to the size of a small horse, alleviating Eric's worries for its well-being. Eric waved goodbye to Annie, and firmly grabbed onto the white fur as Duke started running towards the Playground.
Dream Magic: Awakenings
by Dawn Harshaw

Eric, a young boy, has enough of nightmares ruining his dreams.
Determined to grow stronger, he tackles magical disciplines one at a
time - be it flying, blade magic, or telepathy - and stares down his
fears. But, will he survive the battles and the trial of nightmare mastery?
And at what cost?

"Dream Magic: Awakenings" reaches for deep metaphysical
concepts and uses introspective experiences to offer an
immersive feeling of MAGIC.


Chapter 1 - Introduction
Chapter 2 - Sphere Magic
Chapter 3 - Flying
Chapter 4 - Nightmare Examination
Chapter 5 - Fire Attunement
Chapter 6 - Air Attunement
Chapter 7 - Water Attunement
Chapter 8 - Ritual Magic
Chapter 9 - Blade Magic
Chapter 10 - Earth Attunement
Chapter 11 - Portal Magic
Chapter 12 - Focus Magic
Chapter 13 - Nightmare Combat
Chapter 14 - Healing
Chapter 15 - Demonology
Chapter 16 - Symbol-Weaving
Chapter 17 - Telepathy
Chapter 18 - Nature Magic
Chapter 19 - Teleportation
Chapter 20 - Nightmare Mastery
Chapter 21 - Epilogue

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Gryffindork3's avatar
Wow, I have to say I really like the concept you've come up with here. I'm quite eager to read on, so good job. Some pointers for this chapter (just my opinion, take them with a grain of salt, haha):

-The first passage, about Eric being chased by the goblins, was useful for setting up the events to come, but it felt a little drawn out to me. Maybe try condensing it so that the feelings of fear and stress are more present.

-Now that I'm grown up, I realized I like it here the most, so I came back to play and learn some more," Annie grinned. --- There should be a full stop after "more" in this case, rather than a comma.

-(Just putting in this random side note, but I find the whole Master Joe thing very intriguing.)

-"Kyle is saying that only because I'm the handsome one!" --- This is definitely just a matter of opinion, but I feel like it might be better phrased as "Kyle is only saying that because I'm the handsome one!"

-As a general note, there seems to be a slight overuse of exclamation marks in dialogue.

-"Just keep it on yourself; you never know when it comes in handy." --- Maybe this should be "Just keep it to yourself; you never know when it will come in handy."

But overall, wonderful writing and a really interesting idea. :)
DawnArdent's avatar
Thank you for the comments, much appreciated! ^_^ Glad you liked it. :)
HalfBloodAssassin's avatar
Sorry it took me some time to finally read this, been busy >.< But this was good, write more ;)
DawnArdent's avatar
Hehe, no problem, and thank you! :D
batfaggery's avatar
Hey! I gave it a read through (only this chapter thus far, but I will studiously continue). Feedback, as you asked!

What little sense of balance he had, abandoned him -- this doesn't require a comma.
... would weary anyone, and it was getting to Eric too -- don't need the 'too'.
... absent-mindedly hopped -- replace this phrase with something less harmless. E.g. 'blindly stumbled'.
... overpowered the fear: this shouldn't have a colon. Use a full stop or a semi-colon.
He rolled down -- this is a little ambiguous, try rephrasing to a more obvious action, such as 'crumpled' or even 'lay'.
... he was running all night -- there's a little tense confusion here; it should be 'he had been running all night'.
He quietly enjoyed being part of this experience for a small eternity -- I would recommend a rephrase, this is a little awkward.
... her scent reminded him of a big sister he never had -- 'reminded' is distracting. Try perhaps 'she smelled how he imagined a big sister might', or similar.
... but that moment went away as quickly as it came -- this doesn't need the phrase 'that moment'. Just 'but went away as quickly as it came' is sufficient.
There were so many kids -- try a sentence without using 'so'.

I hope this is the kind of feedback you meant! Overall (as has been said below), an apparently original and very engaging story idea! I'm definitely off to read the rest of it; it's already easy to see the range of interesting characters and potential offered by this world.
DawnArdent's avatar
Wow, this is awesome! Thank you so much for taking the time to type this all up!

I like your suggestions; you point out specifics and offer very constructive solutions. I find that when I go through such a list, whether or not I end up agreeing or standing by my original choice, the whole process of questioning and deciding helps improve my own editorial skills.

For example, in the first suggestion, the sentence on its own would be much better off without the comma. But, as far as pacing goes, I like to have it there because that extra pause puts greater emphasis on Eric exhaustion.

On the other hand, the confusion in the sixth suggestion points to my own weakness in handling verb tenses. >_< Generally, I find past perfect 'bulky', and I'm never too sure if I'm using it properly. (I changed that one to "...he remembered the reason FOR running all night...")

I use a lot of synesthesia and time-dilation (and weird placing of punctuation marks) to focus on the subjective experience rather than objective description. I'm aware that this causes awkwardness and confusion, but as long as it's in little doses, I'll take the trade-off, because in later chapters I build upon such 'fluidity'. Nevertheless, I'm never quite sure where the trouble spots are, so such input is invaluable to me.

Mostly I'm looking for first impressions, because after editing it a hundred times, I can look at the text only as an editor and not as a reader. >_< I'm interested if the text flows well, and what parts or mistakes break the immersion. In later chapters, I use many infodumps and subjective journey sequences, and I'd like to know to what degree my readers find it understandable, or at least enjoyable - or how efficiently they can ignore it without giving up on the story altogether. >_<

Ah, I rambled on for too long... :D Thanks again for your feedback, I very much appreciate it! I don't want to become a drain on your time; I'm satisfied with general impressions, but any extra bit of feedback helps. ^_^
Cheri-Bomb's avatar
Well it certainly does exactly what a first chapter should do: make you want to read more!
I love the dialogue, it flows naturally and the characters seem likeable already, which is actually rather rare these days :)

What I like particularly is that you didn't focus on describing what the characters or settings look like, which some authors can spend far too much time on, if you ask me. Just dive right into the story!

I can't comment too much on the story just yet, having only read the first chapter, but it certainly seems interesting! I'll be reading the rest of them over the week ^^
DawnArdent's avatar
Thank you very much! I'm glad you like it so far! :D

Yeah, I don't like describing stuff, because I know as a reader that those are the parts I tend to skip. >_< And this way, I'm less likely to trip myself up with conflicting descriptions! Hehe. I see my characters as ways of thinking and feeling and looking at the world, and not so much how they look.
DarthMegress's avatar
This is really good! I can't wait to read the next chapters!
stephaniaVal's avatar
Yeah, I love Harry Potter! :meow: Your novel is awesome, never stop writing :eager: . I'm in chapter 2 :dummy: , Thank you for comment and i take in account :happybounce: , Good luck! :aww:
DawnArdent's avatar
Thank you for the encouragement, Stephania! ^_^ I'm glad you like the novel so far!
stephaniaVal's avatar
Aww You're Welcome :meow:
bronzebug's avatar
:D Very good well done! :D
DawnArdent's avatar
Thank you! I'm glad you like it. ^_^
Pinkydarn's avatar
I am impressed!! Very nice. :)

Is the book published yet?? I would like to get it from the library or something. o3o This make a great movie.
DawnArdent's avatar
Thank you! I'm glad you like it. :)

So far, it's self-published, and I have only digital ebook formats available. :( Hopefully, if many people will like it, maybe someday I'll be able to offer paper copies as well. :D
Pinkydarn's avatar
Oh I see... o3o

It's really good, still. =P Shoot for the stars and get it published for reals. :) I can see it being famous like HP. ;) :D
DawnArdent's avatar
Haha, thanks! I'm trying! :D :hug:
Pinkydarn's avatar
Spencer-Bowen's avatar
I do really like this so far :)
DawnArdent's avatar
Frittsy's avatar
This is pretty awesome! I feel like you did capture the chaotic nature of a dream and how they can sort of end and start wherever and whenever. I love the idea of using a sort of dream world to tell a story; it gives the story an organic feel. It also gives us as readers as instant connection to this sort of idea that dreams can take you anywhere. Great job!
DawnArdent's avatar
Thanks! I'm glad you like it. ^_^

Yup, the dream setting allows for a lot of flexibility. There are many of these 'introspective journey' parts in the book that influence the character's identity and personal growth, as well as form the core of the magic system(s).
Laeneris's avatar
Alright, you've got me hooked!
It was a bit chaotic, but that's something I'd expect from a dream. I think you did a really great job in the first half, explaining how he ran and with the nightmare I assume we're all familiar with somehow (running, but not going fast enough).
It kind of reminds me of my own novel, in a very distant way, which also focuses on a Dream world. :giggle: But your concept seems fresh and interesting. I'll be sure to read the other parts! :huggle:
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