A dream / a parable

Had a cool dream last night.

I was a warrior in a society where the king could be challenged to a duel for the crown. The king was kind of a Nordic badass, though old, sitting on his throne in full chainmail with his sword at hand to answer pretenders, his grey beard hanging over the steel rings, and a brown bear's pelt as a cloak, covering his shoulders and clasped around his neck.

So I challenged him and the ritual began. He walked down the steps to the throne, slow and deliberate as I'd expect for a man his age, and we headed to the chapel a few hundred yards from the throne room. The king walked ahead of me, neither looking to the left nor right, across a marsh, his feet splashing through the water. I looked down and I could see for several feet down, and it was a living coral reef, full of anemones and various types of algae and fish. Beautiful. Then I realised I'd sunk halfway up my shins. I raised my feet to follow after the king, and my feet found purchase on top of the water, but I felt weak. The king's steps were still slow and deliberate, but I could barely keep up.

As we reached the chapel steps, an undulating monster made of ropes and moss flowed across the stone, growling, but with the smoothness of practice, the king pulled a head-sized stone from a wall and dropped it on the creature, pinning it in place. I edged around it, heading into the chapel.

A bell tolled. Inside was warm, torchlit space just short of cathedral size that could have fit 50 people. Three women sat in stalls to the left of the door, brunettes with full, painted lips and a chalice full of rose petals. "To make us drink, you must sing us the music of the ceremony." They were quite pretty. The bell still ringing, I committed the tone to memory. The king was already walking back, his step sure and forceful, like he was a younger man. He looked at me with amusement and walked straight past the three women and out the door.

I shuffled to the front of the church. An organ played, and I strained to remember the notes for the three women. I reached the dais and a priest said, "Hurry, or you'll miss it!" I lunged forward to catch half a handful of water that trickled down from a stalactite and drank it, the music still playing, and I felt young and strong again. I had the strongest feeling that the priest was corrupt and that the chapel was obscenely opulent compared to the king's throne room and the marsh. In thinking that, I forgot the music, so I left the chapel without singing to the three women.

I walked across the marsh, looking neither to the left or right, knowing that if I looked down I would see everything I wanted, but that looking would mean I would never reach those goals. I also realized that both I and the king were made strong and young by the failures of others - the water in the chapel had to come from somewhere.

All that was left was to face the king, made fit to fight by my lost life force. Then my wife came home from the grocery store and I woke up.

Thoughts?

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