The Shadow

There was a windowless room, and an arched door in the wall which led nowhere. The white paint of the doorjamb was flaking, revealing black paint beneath. The black paint was something special, and needed to be charged up - that had just been done, and the door opened inwards on blackness. I took a step into the blackness and began a journey through seven membranes.

Each membrane was some sort of barrier, as much emotional as physical - self-doubt, jealousy, fear, aversion, anger, foolishness, lack of judgment. Pushing through each barrier took a bit of effort, but when I came through I was in The Shadow.

I was elsewhere, in the Cold Realm, the Abode of Shade; a place of grey monochrome twilight beneath eternal swirling clouds, a place of shattered black mountains and black soil everywhere. My feet crunched underfoot; the soil was rich and alive with the stuff of broken dreams, the energy of nightmares given substance and allowed to mulch for thousands of years, ever since we evolved the ability to dream.

There was a citadel in the distance, nestled in between the mountains of a range of jagged peaks, their sides glistening like broken-off lumps of uncut obsidian.

Between where I was and the citadel was a forest; the Forest of the Night Trees. The people of the citadel fed from the Night Trees, which were rich in this Shadow stuff called Dreck. The fruits of the Night Trees are a deadly poison to people - even the smallest piece, or tiny trace of the juice, induces vivid hallucinations. Indeed, mixed with certain pharmaceuticals the juice of the fruit of the Night Trees is called Tears of the Gods, and allows people to astrally travel to the Shadow.

Anyone trying to come back from the Shadow has to pass through those veils, which serve to brush away all the Shadow matter - even Shadow matter stuck to the soles of one's feet - and to snag things such as Night Trees fruit and seeds, and the solid black fossilised sap of the Night Trees, called Black Amber. Black Amber can store Soma (the stuff which lends substance to the things in good dreams) and Dreck, and it can be worn as jewellery or ground up into a black paint that can be used to make portals into the Shadow, like the stuff around the door jamb of the portal at the start of the dream.

Thus I found myself back here, in the room, looking at the door which was now closed and locked, the Black Amber portal paint discharged. I was holding a 1kg lump of uncut Black Amber blacker than jet, and a handful of Night Trees seeds in the palm of my hand.

Pictured: Whitby jet

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