**The ocean was dark, like black glass, smooth without imperfection. Grey, thickening clouds obscured the moon, turning an already dark night into a sucking, black hole that seemed to absorb all and any light. He stood on a cliff of pure granite, stems of fragile dreams sprouting beneath his feet which moved as though a breeze stirred the choking, heavy darkness. If they had a colour, it might have been grey, but the colour of the dreams was as inconsistent as their shape and length.
How did he know they were dreams?
Where was he?
Who was he?
With great effort, he tore his gaze from the dreams at his feet to look around but could see nothing. He knew there was nobody around, such was the complete emptiness of his environment, as if no other soul even existed on that place. Still, there were sounds. Weeping, wailing, shouts of dismay, cries of anguish... they came from his head, or from the dreams in the ground, or from the silent ocean... The sounds tickled his skin, though he had none, vibrated in his ears, which were not there.
Was he even breathing?
Terror began to creep into his soul, which, of any piece of him, was still intact. Terror, twined closely with... desire... And then the clouds seemed to come down from the skies above, taking misty, ephemeral shape of elves. Long pointed ears, slender, shapely bodies, vague caricatures of the real things... and weapons, fire. Anger was impossibly clear on each of the cloud-elves' faces, and there were millions of them, all coming at him with their weapons and fires.**
Piotral woke, feeling groggy and unsure of his surroundings. Fortunately, sleep lethargy prevented him from flailing about, as he would have surely hit his head on the rack above him. Taking a few deep breaths, he listened to the creaks and groans of the wood of the ship as she sat in the gentle swell of port. Ah, yes, they had come to the ship late last night, for fear of missing the sail only to find they would not be departing until that evening. The cabin was not completely dark as some light filtered in through the curtains, and the sounds of sailors beginning their day drifted in as well.
His comrade was being incredibly silent above him. The frame of the bunk was sturdy enough but only a thin mattress lay on the slats, which Piotral immediately hoped would not become a nest for lice or fleas during the duration of their trip. He questioned whether he should have chosen the top bunk after all- the perils of rolling off the bed in the middle of the night on the high seas would be preferable to contracting strange insect-borne diseases...
The weight Tyrcutio left a curious imprint showing on the mattress, leaving the blond man to wonder if his slender companion habitually slept curled in a tight ball. Smirking to himself, Piotral brought his right knee to his chest and placed his foot against Tyr's body between two slats. His heave was predictably met with an indignant, incoherent shout as he sent the hapless man flying off the top bunk.
Ever the nimble one, Tyr landed on his feet at the foot of their beds in a half-crouch, pausing there momentarily as he gathered his wits. Whatever dream he had been clinging to vanished as his mind tried to assess his current situation. He spun on his heel, glaring at Piotral who sitting up in his bed, shaking with laughter at seeing his bare-chested friend, his thick red-brown hair standing on end, reminding him of nothing more than a disgruntled house cat.
"I'll get you back," Tyrcutio promised lightly as he straightened. "It will be all too easy, I know where you sleep."
Piotral shrugged unperturbed by the threat and swung over the side of his bed, stretching languidly as he stood as well. "Were you going to sleep all morning? There's a whole ship out there to explore!"
"What are you, a birthday boy getting presents?" The scorn in the light voice was transparent despite the words as Tyr was also feeling eager to start the sea voyage, having never travelled extensively by ship before. His offer to help the crew with their duties the previous night had not been a blithe one. The ocean faring folk always regaled "land lubbers" like himself with exotic tales and extravagant stories of their livelihood. At the very least, he could learn some of the practical skills involved in sailing.
Forty minutes later, largely delayed by Piotral's particular morning rituals he insisted on maintaining for cleanliness sake, the two emerged from the guest quarters to face a new day. First matter of the morning was to find breakfast.