Sleepless Walkers
rating: +6+x

Insomnia is a most curious thing. It keeps you half-awake, half-dreaming, losing track of time and reality. How long has it been since you went to bed? An hour? Two? Mere minutes? Only the night knows. You drift in your sheets, trapped in your own agonized consciousness, in painful boredom, exiled from the sanctuary of dreamless slumber. Sleep is the last refuge of the lost and the damned, but the truly cursed shall forever be barred from entering it.

There are many ways of dealing with our damnation.

Some take to despair and down a bottle of pills, breaching the barrier between dream and death, between Hypnos and Thanatos. The latter often comes to their aid, spiriting them away to the somber pastures of Asphodel. Hypnos is less merciful and denies his blessings to even the most devout insomniacs. Gods are strange, capricious beings. Best not to rely on them for help. Pray not to the gods, who need not your faith: say a prayer for the insomniacs.

Others throw themselves into the swirling maelstrom of creation, trying to put their time awake to the best use possible. Though they do not sleep, dreams still come to them, more vividly than any sleeper could ever fathom. They are the workers of wonders, the makers of miracles. They are the writers and storytellers, the poets and tale-weavers. In their sleepless minds is the spark of creativity, gifted by the mercy of Morpheus, son of Hypnos, and by the Oneiroi, who even in these waking hours spread their sand over the minds of men. Night and candlelight shall be the only ones to witness our genius.

There are others still who have neither the spark of Morpheus nor wish for the kind release of psychopomps. There are those, like me, who walk, who Wander. We Wander not because we are curious, not because we wish to see the world, but because we are cursed with the impulse to walk, to never rest. It is a primitive, animalistic calling that bursts from our core, that forces us to drift, to march into the night.

We are a solitary lot, a lonesome collective. Though we are legion, there is no fraternity amongst our ranks. We cross paths often enough, but we never speak, barely acknowledging the other’s sleepless drifting. A tip of the head, a polite whisper and we go our separate ways, every man his own island. This our unspoken pact, its origin long forgotten in our eternal, aimless march.

Our steps take us far and wide. We lurk the empty streets and dark corners of cities, we breathe in their beauty and their decay. We prance around in peaceful fields and misty forests, the sounds of untamed nature our only companions. We Wander into places far away from the realms of men, into the palaces of gods and the dungeons of demons, into ruined kingdoms and thriving villages, into the infinite Library and the borders of reality, and into places stranger still. Some even claim to have walked bodily into the Dreamscape, finally reaching our promised land, though they remain barred from the mercy of sleep.

The other Wanderers call us the Sleepless Walkers, the Witnesses of Nyx, the most ardent worshippers of the Lords of Night. We pray not to them, but we live to Witness what transpires in their domain. We walk and walk, and never cease to march until our feet give way, until daylight forces us back into mundane lives amongst those who have the privilege of sleep. Perhaps this is our duty, our destiny: to Wander in the darkness… and Witness.

I have seen much through my time of Wandering. I have Witnessed many wonders and terrors, for the night is home to both. Nyx is a magnanimous goddess, and her cloak offers sanctuary both to hero and villain, to man and monster, to forbidden love and perfidious crime. There is always much to see, much to Witness. We are what we do in the dark, and the night, with its pitch-black mantle, shows us the truths light denies us.

For me it started one night, as mundane as any other, after much distress and sorrow. The doctors and mages could do nothing for me, nothing to alleviate my plight. “Just lie down and relax,” they said in resignation. “Close your eyes and let go. Sleep will come to you.” I knew these words to be empty, nothing but white lies to soothe my agony. I wept as sleep eluded me once again.

Night after night I laid in bed, waiting, wishing, praying. All in vain. Night after night. Night after night. I remained painfully awake, writhing, weeping. And yet… I did not tire. My body felt rested in the morning, as if I had been in deep slumber, away from my plight. It drove me mad.

One night, however, I felt it. As I twisted and moaned, I felt a calling. A feeling deep inside me, an instinct long forgotten, a pull towards the darkness outside. It grew and coiled and unraveled in my mind, in my body. It beckoned me; it called my name.

I stood up and dressed hastily, the desire to exit my home almost reaching the point of desperation. I did not bother to close the door behind me. To this night, I have yet to turn back. Something tells me I will not be returning.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

The hours passed and I knew not where I was headed, only that I must move forward.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

Day did not come then. It has not come for a long time. The nights blended into one another, leaving no trace of the days in-between.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

The night is my only reality. Long forgotten is the blinding light of the sun. I do not remember when I last felt its warmth. The infinite night is now my home.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

I kept going on. Wherever I go, I will find night still waiting for me. I cannot go wherever day still shines.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

The nights change every now and then. Sometimes I see stars. Sometimes only the Moon. Some other times I walk under an empty, pitch-black sky. And other times… the nights turn strange and alien.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

I did not stop, save to stand and Witness. Much have I Witnessed and much I have to tell.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

One night I walked into an unknown pasture, and I saw the Stars fall from their heavenly pedestals, crashing down upon a kingdom long forgotten. The people cried out in sorrow, but the asters heard them not. They shattered the land as they fell, forever cursing the pastures with their blight.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

I learned of a Hanged King in a Masked City of eternal night, black stars shining on a yellow sky. I found its carnivalesque streets to be both seductive and terrifying. I partook in the madness and the chaos, until it too fell behind my steps. Never again will I set foot there.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

Another night I observed a great siege against a walled city, its noble people fiercely defending their home. Day after day they had been attacked, and day after day they had pushed them back. Alas, like with many before their time, the night provided cover for the invaders, and the city was taken. I arrived the very night it fell against the roaring horde of the invading devil-men, and I wept at the devastation they brought. Overnight, their civilization was reduced to ash.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

I crossed paths with an old man, an ancient, worn sack hanging from his shoulder. Catastrophe lurked behind him, yet he looked at me with pity. We spoke not, but his gaze told me all I could know about him. As he limped away, two long shadows followed behind, off to spread misery and desolation in their wake.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

I Witnessed the end of Creation, when the Scarlet King rose from the depths of oblivion to make war against man and god and demon and fey, to sink the Multiverse into a cursed night. Yggdrasil burnt as the King’s flag waved over the ruins of reality. Of this baleful end I wished to know no more, so I left the time of woe behind, and walked away.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

I met a Chronicler from a place beyond, a stranger looking for strange lands. He was sympathetic to my plight and promised to seek me again in his travels. “Of your story,” he said as he wrote down my tales in a thick book, “Yggdrasil shall not forget.” I do hope to meet him again soon.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

The night came to see me, wearing the name Tezcatlipoca. “We watch you as you Wander,” said the god eternal. “You will never find rest, and never will you bask in Tonatiuh's light, but no harm shall come to you.” I thought of the Marked One whose fate I share, and I knew not whether to smile or weep.

I walked, and walked, and walked…

I have lost track of time. How long has it been? Cronus no longer comes to me, and I know not how many years have gone by. Has it been a decade? Two? A century? An eon?

I walk, and walk, and never stop.

Perhaps one night the Fates will take pity on me. Perhaps one night, one merciful night, I will be allowed to rest. Perhaps one night I will see the birth of day.

Until then…

I walk the night.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License