I was eight years old. It was three days after my birthday, and in two days we’d be able to rest and have something like a celebration. It’s how it goes when you’re born during harvest time.
I’d never heard the horn before, but the look on my father’s face told me right away it wasn’t good. The riders tore through the orchards shouting at us to grab what we could carry that we might need, and to make for Kellwood – on horse or wagon if possible. Orchard was about to be attacked.
Mother told me and my brother to grab a day’s spare clothes and shove them into flour sacks, and then she started throwing bits of food in the sacks too. She was scared – she and father both were – but they kept telling us that the big thing was that we get away quickly. If we made it to Kellwood, we’d be okay, and the last time we’d been attacked, it was at harvest time by goblins who just wanted to pillage the orchards since game had been scarce that year too.
It wasn’t goblins this time, though, and they didn’t want the fruit. They were big things that looked like Joram, except they had tails and their skin was slimy. And they had spears. And they were coming up the road after us, totally ignoring everything like the orchards or the houses and what was in them.
Mother was yelling at all of us kids in the wagon, to keep our heads down and not look at them. I don’t think any of us listened. So I saw. I saw my uncle, and my best friend’s dad. They got spitted like chickens, the big things threw spears at them. We were about halfway to Kellwood when they started throwing spears, and I think it was right about the same time that the real soldiers came down the road and held them off. Or maybe I’ve just forgotten everything in the middle. I don’t know.
That’s when the nightmares started.
Even though the slimy things never actually got close to me for real, in the nightmares they always get right up to me, close enough to take a bite out of my neck, and then I wake up.
I had the nightmares every night from then on, except when I was so tired that I didn’t dream at all. I never told anyone. I wasn’t supposed to have looked, and Mother was having to deal with her brother being dead, she needed comfort more than I did. And nobody ever noticed if I was a little more tired than I should have been. Maybe all of us were having nightmares and not telling anyone about them.
They noticed at the Temple, though. Funny thing is, the nightmares weren’t why I felt called to service. It was ‘cause of my father killing that one goblin, but anyway. Mother Patrice took me aside and asked what was wrong, she could tell I wasn’t sleeping, was I getting into trouble during the night? And I told her about the nightmares, and about the attack that brought them on. And she just put both her hands on my temples, and looked at me, and promised me that it’d be okay. And the funniest thing…they stopped. I never had ‘em again.
Until she sent me away to join this trip, and I had to start traveling with the dragonborn. And to make things worse, now it’s him in the nightmares. Now it’s him lunging to tear out my throat right before I wake up.