Dreamed 1999/11/13, by Alder, as told to Wayan
I live in a world full of magic, not machines. I'm a weak magician myself, but I live with stronger ones; always have. Just seems to work out that way. They're just friends, not family--my only child is grown up and married now; they just had their first child. I'm a grandma!
But going to see my grandchild turns into quite an adventure. You see, our world's under attack by demonic beings from a hellish dimension. Travel has gotten dangerous and slow. And when I arrive at last, the place looks like a haunted house--besieged or infested with some demon thing. We must never leave the child alone, not for a second.
My daughter and son-in-law fail in vigilance for a moment, and the child strays upstairs. I run up in a panic, but it's too late--the child's eyes are red-tinged now. Some kind of spirit or spell got in!
We open a gate that the demons can't pass through, planning to cross an energy bridge to a besieged citadel where we may be able to get help for the child. But the infection causes the gate and tunnel to react strangely; it doesn't reject us, but it may not take us to the right place, or it may let demons follow. I only know a few simple anti-demon spells, but I try my best on the child, hoping to at least distract or confuse the demon or curse so we can cross to the hospital...
An explosion of light! It propels us through the tunnel, but also spreads out from the path like a comet-trail of white magic, and a fierce backwash floods the haunted house, killing five demon generals. Their whole Earthly leadership! And the lesser demons who flee in panic back to their own world are infected with good magic, as disruptive to them as evil is to us. Hell will be in chaos!
At the other end of the lightbridge, as we arrive, the same thing: a bow-wave of light spreads for miles, killing and scattering demons. When the chaos has settled down a bit, medical experts examine me, and find I'm a powerful amplifier--and always was. I thought I was a weak magician because the people around me are always stronger--but that's partly because I amplify their powers! That gave me such low self-esteem that I never really studied, never bothered to get tested.
But once I had a truly powerful motivation...
I asked Alder if I could include this one in the Dreambank because I liked the subtlety of the reason Alder overlooked her gift: it always amplifies others' powers, distorting her picture of "normal" abilities, so she sees her power as weak and never gets tested. It's not devious; its very nature just happens to hide its existence. Are there gifts in OUR world that have this quality?
It does seem to reflect Alder's waking life. She has formidable social skills (knows everyone in town!) yet is stubbornly unambitious, consistently underpaid, a nurturer of others not herself. Fierce in defense of those she loves--but she can't fight for her own interests. Alder works with small kids; it doesn't surprise me that what draws her power out of hiding at last is a child in danger. Though not just any child; she has no kids in waking life, so this dream-grandchild may be some aspect of Alder's own spirit.
Nor is there much mystery about the demon invasion: the school where Alder works started out as an experimental co-op where parents and staff made decisions on their own, but recently the state stepped in and told them they had to roll back all the innovations that made the place special. From parent involvement to parent irrelevance, from organic fresh-cooked meals to precooked institutional glop, from freedom and responsibility to bureaucracy and hierarchy. Did I mention they stole her pension too? 26 years and they're calling her a temp in her own school! Oh, I really don't think there's much mystery about those demons.
And the dream has a solution. Alder's an amplifier--an empowerer, the glue that holds together an organization and makes it work. So get back into a cooperative that gives you elbow room to do that! A government-run hierarchy never will.
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