The dreams expand and the dreams contract, closing in upon themselves.

Inside the sleeper, the eggs of dreams are hatching silently. On the surface of the sleeper’s face, there is calm. On the underside of the sleeper’s face, however, a dreamworld is extruded into being, a whole landscape bubbles up from nothing: the trees, the path, a sound of crows, a dim yellowing winter sky…

Perhaps the sleeper sighs, or turns, unconsciously seeking a more comfortable position for tired limbs. Perhaps the whole world of the dream shimmers as the sleeper moves. Perhaps the world of the dream remains entirely stable, and it is only the sleeper who rotates around. The axis of the dream is straight and still. The forest goes on. The crows creak and chafe and grumble, coming slightly closer through the winter branches. The riders go on, at walking pace. The sun continues to set. And strange animals begin to wake and move…
Perhaps the sleeper calls out a name – but no one, on the outside of the dream, is listening. The sleeper is alone, or settled among other sleepers, none of whom is awake to catch the name…

Inside the sealed world of the dream, the heroes ride, the forest grows. The snow builds up, mountainous, the landscape seemingly impenetrable, endless. But it is just a world inside a skull, made of a kind of nothingness… For what is the material of dreams?… What substance can it possess?…

And what of the dreamer? They have not realised they are dreaming. For them, the dream is a waking world. They have no idea that they are like unborn birds, wrapped up in a crisp shell of sleep: no idea that, beyond the oval darkness in which they are curled, there is an entirely other world.

The dreamer takes the steps to the top of the tower, the path through the forest, the complaint of crows, the tread of footsteps, the printed text of the book they are reading, the brushed characters of the scroll they have unwound before them, the clink of bridle and bit, the thud and crunch of hooves in snow, the dreamer takes all of this as all there is, the stuff of their life: they don’t realise that, beyond the light of the dream, there is another, an actual light, the light that comes when an egg is cracked open, and the shell falls apart…

Inside the sealed world of the dream, the heroes ride, the towers cast shadows of different intensity across the road, the readers read, the forest grows, the plain recedes and recedes: and when the heroes tire, and lie down, they sleep; and in their sleep, they begin to dream…

Excerpt from Mask (i), Volume 9 of Dustless

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