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It all started so quickly. A few miners came back from the far reaches of our territory in a heated argument, which quickly escalated into an all out brawl. Once someone managed to stop the fight, I realized who they were, some of the last people I would have expected to have an argument.


"Are you feeling okay, Daban?" someone called out from the back. "Too much heat for you?"


"No, I'm fine," said Daban. "Except...I've stopped dreaming."




We all laughed it off for a while. Who cares if a few people stop dreaming? Pretty soon though, it wasn't just a few. More Agori began complaining of not being able to dream, and violent attacks became common. Somehow, the lack of dreams was affecting everyone, and the Dreaming Plague, as we had begun to call it, threatened to wipe out our tribe. The few survivors who seemed immune had sealed themselves in the old abandoned mines.


It was around this time that I stopped dreaming as well.


I tried to dismiss it, but I had seen what happens to those who can't dream. My one true friend among the Iron Tribe, Tasend, was also one of those few immune to the Plague's strange effects, and he stood by me through the days. Somehow, he was able to tolerate my increasing bouts of violence and see past it to the Agori I once was. It's much too late for even my best friend to do anything, but that wouldn't stop Tasend from trying.


One day, he sat down next to me, and after we sat for a moment in silence, he suddenly turned to see my blank face, put his hands on my shoulders, and sternly said "Look, I know this is hard for both of us, but you've got to hang on." He seemed near tears, and I started to shed a few myself at his outburst. "I know there isn't anything I could do, but I've been thinking, maybe someone else can do something. I'm going to go for help."


If there was anything to jolt me out of my stupor, it was that statement. I knew what happened to those who tried to go into the outside world. The other tribes completely ignored our shipments of iron and had rebuffed our leader's attempts at negotiations. If he went out into that cold, unfeeling world, he would die.


"I can't let you," I managed to stammer.


"It's all I can do. I'm not going to hide like Sahmad and the others and hope this goes away. Maybe I can talk some sense into the other Agori..."


"Listen to yourself, Tasend! You know what's going to happen!" I screamed at him, and he flinched. At the sight, I tried to push my fury down. "Tasend, there will be no talking sense into them. The other Agori are too blinded by their fear to even help us. You can't do anything; they'll just kill you."


"It's better than simply watching you die!"


All along I had known there was no chance of me surviving, but finally hearing it shouted from my best friend's mouth shocked me to the core. "Fine, go then," I said quietly. He had begun slipping out, but turned around for a moment to open his mouth. "Go!" I shouted, but he stood strong against my verbal onslaught. After giving me a hard, yet pitying, stare, he fled out the doorway.




The next few days were a blur. With nothing to focus on, I drifted off into unconsciousness more and more often and awoke to surroundings that seemed more wrecked than the last time I had seen them. I had no reason to continue living, with Tasend gone. Still, it seemed my body wouldn't give in until his return, so I waited.


Finally, word came in the form of another Agori limping across the desert who seemed to be scarcely alive. Some of the other tribe members caught her as she collapsed from exhaustion. She only had enough breath to whisper the sad tale of Tasend's encounter with the Fire Tribe, our previous trading partners. The paranoid Agori had driven him off into the forest, and he was presumed dead. I was the second one to hear the news, and immediately, Plague or not, I jumped out of bed to find him.


He can't be dead.


He can't be dead...




Journal Log, Entry 13


After a long haul across the desert, we found an Iron Agori laying in the sand. His mind was far gone from the Dreaming Plague, but before I could stop her, Kinpol jumped forward to help him, and only succeeded in hearing his last word.







It's good to be writing again, and actually posting it. I have a short story series in the works that I'm excited for, but in the meantime, here's what I threw together for the latest FFFC, "Trial by Fire." I've been really working on making my characters more realistic, so if you think I did a good job, or if you enjoyed, it would be great if you could leave a comment. Thanks for reading!

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