CITY OF ETHRON ARCHIVES
FILE № 2452
WARNING: Classified Information. Eyes Only.
What you now hold in your hands is the only true account of the story of the Dreamcatcher and the Whistleblower. Others may produce their own versions of this tale, undoubtedly, but they are all purely fictional, or at least partially true. I'm aware that you have no way of knowing whether I'm telling you the truth, and all I can do is to simply hope you put faith in a stranger... However, I beg of you to at the very least to keep these papers safe. Do not let this account transform into myth, bedtime stories and campfire tales no one takes seriously. All I wish for is to preserve the truth, and tell it to you, dear reader, right now.
The story begins, like many others in this twisted world, with an argument without resolution, a conflict of interest and one man's desire to control the masses. The clash that we now call the 'Royal War' had raged on for years before an end was reached, leaving a long trail of blood and tears behind it. Unfortunately, the aggressors were victorious, and it was them who dictated the conditions of peace. My town, Ethron, because of its strategic importance became a bargaining chip for this truce, and thus against our will, in a matter of days we found ourselves subject to our enemies. I can remember how they first marched in through the open gates, weapons at the ready, their stride wide and confident, rhythmical. Their boots clanked against the pavement and their blades reflected sunrays left and right, and they all seemed to look like they had always been here, but were returning from a long trip. We named them the Daraalis, which meant 'cruel predator', but to them it sounded fierce, and thus something of a positive nature. Quite witty, I admit, but for us it symbolised how different they are to us in every way possible - their manners, mindset, cultural values... The only thing that seemed to interest them was gold and weaponry, as well as a 'good show'. One can understand the implications of such a combination, but moreover the occupiers were not stupid. They were good in... dealing with people, I guess is the way to say it. One way or another, they got what they wanted from us. The majority of us, anyway.
As for us, we were not people of action. I arrived to the city recently, traded jewelry and antiquities at the big market in front of the East Gate, had my own stall and only ever worried about whether my customers will be satisfied with the shine of the rubies or sapphires or other gems I sold. The reader might think of traders as deceiving and blinded by greed, however I traded because I took pride and enjoyment in doing my job. And so did many of my friends that I found in the city, all amazing people. We did not care for money, we lived our lives in cohesion and peace. Oh, how I wished they'd stay that way.
Initially, of course, the occupiers were pressurising but not brutal. They made it clear from the start that Ethron is a trading town and it shall remain that way. However, who we traded with and where our money went would no longer be in our span of control. They ordered to continue 'as if nothing had happened', simply under different management. As I mentioned before, we did not care too much for money, and we initially thought the Daraalis were not as horrifying as we thought. I would continue to trade my jewelry, but a Daraali would sit near my stall, clutching a dagger underneath his cloak. At first, that scared my customers, however that changed soon enough, too.
And all that time, I secretly waited for help to arrive. I could not live with the thought that our city would be slowly absorbed by another culture, and that we will never be free again, and be silenced... Our whole world had been turned upside down and inside out, it all happened without warning and seemed like a bad dream. Many like me took a long while to adjust to the new ways of life, some didn't believe their regime would last for as long as it had. Our captors had such a tight grip on us though it often didn't seem like it, they had somehow twisted even our perception of our own lives, our culture, the Royal War, of the battles and heroes... They told such obvious lies that we somehow later started believing...
The reader is probably aware of the events that occurred during the war, and the Three Gods forbid had participated in them. Forgive me for opening the wounds of the past, but it is nonetheless essential that the reader understands what the Dreamcatcher and Whistleblower fought for. Many questions may arise in your mind: why those names? Why are they even worth remembering and their stories preserved? The answers for those questions are difficult to express, and they are subjective, thus I shall attempt to describe the true events that occurred over the 365 long days and nights to the best of my ability... and one can decide for themselves.
When they appeared for the first time, it was a warm May night, I remember it very clearly as if it was yesterday. I was coming home from the library empty-handed since the scrolls I wanted had been burned for containing 'the wrong message', or something along those lines. The Daraalis had only taken over three weeks prior, and I still shivered at the sight of their scarlet costumes, their hands in black leather gloves clutching the golden handle of a master-crafted sword. Those guards stood at corners of the market, main streets, even shop entrances, standing in the shadows just enough to remain in the background, but still be noticed. To watch us, to remember us, to intimidate us. Their eyes shone at me from underneath their hoods, a stare that could chill one right to the bone. They were not violent towards us yet, but we had all heard stories of how cities fell to their feet before their armies even used their full power... Or at least those were the stories that were available for me to satisfy my reading urges. It doesn't matter if they were true, we all feared them either way.
So, I was walking down the gentle hill towards my small wooden home, the only place in which I still felt safe and secure. My steady pace was halted as from the corner of my eye, I caught sight of a splash of colour on the otherwise plain wall of the Temple of the Three. As I approached, a small crowd gathered with me to see what had happened... I shall never forget that day, not till the day I die. I will always remember the warm wind rustling in my hair, dissipating the heavy and odorous air. I will always remember the silence that lingered above us all as we stared forward at the paint. Just as the sun began to set, it spilled its darkening light onto the giant dreamcatcher drawn across the wall, so hastily that the red paint was not yet dry and was rolling slowly towards the ground. In the middle of the dripping circle there was an inscription, small yet noticeable:
The paint had been smudged, and maybe the writer was not quite finished. I stood there, feeling a rush of all sorts of emotions stirring within me. Those two simple words meant something so different yet so same for each of us standing there. I looked into the eyes of the ones who stood with me, searching for any kind of response. I was not disappointed to see many eyes tear up, and many glisten with hope. It's difficult to describe the state we were all in that moment, repeating the words in our minds, them turning into a silent chant. I began to realise how the war had molded us all, made us deaf and dumb, now evermore with our city enslaved. A careful hope creeped into my heart that evening.
With that painting and on that night, the legend of the Dreamcatcher was born.
The name was not only suitable because of the symbol, but also because of the messages that were later presented to us by the mysterious writer in the months to come. In the morning, of course, the painting was washed away as if it was never there, but people were talking. Hushed whispers carried the story all across town, inspiring a strange sense of pride in that someone was willing to speak, to say whatever they wish, to not be silenced. Ethron is really not that large, and thus I knew nearly all who had stood with me that evening, nearly all who lived in my town. Looking back, I guess it was our inability to separate from the entity we've always been that helped us through this hell.
Days went by, and the rumours slowly began to die down, which is exactly what the Daraalis had wanted. By then they began making people 'disappear' for days if said people dared to follow Dreamcatcher's advice and refuse to be silenced. When the goners returned, they would look terrifying, white and thin as if drained of all blood and willpower. Anyone who would mention the Daraalis in a negative portrayal could be taken. Every day, our captors would keep telling us how great it is that the war is over, and we are allowed to continue living our simple lives within the range thought acceptable. The Dreamcatcher incident had made such an impact on me that I felt sinking sensation in my stomach each time I allowed myself to think that the Dreamcatcher was caught, or finished. I hated the thought I'd ever get used to the new regime. Thankfully, the mysterious messenger returned.
Apologies, dear reader, for the smudges on the pages. I hear screams and clanking outside my window, thus my hand shakes. It is damp in this hideout, which doesn't do well for the quality of the paper either.