Brightest at Night

by Etakyma

Fandom:The Sandman (Somewhat before and during Preludes and Nocturnes, prior to the events in The Doll's House -- AKA Really Early in the Series.)
Author's Notes:For LadySmith. I had to think long and hard about the song lyrics, but I think the character I chose fits them pretty well. Sadly, I don't know the song at all, so I had to go with what the words say as poetry.

It's a pretty place. Quiet, save for the chirping of birds, the low buzz of insects, the scurrying of small paws through the underbrush, and the burbling of the brook that wends its way through the wood. The trees dip low to the ground as if inviting someone to climb up into the lofty branches.

This is a special place within the Dreaming. It is a sanctuary for those who need one in their sleep. The Dream Lord himself walks through these woods and finds himself welcomed by sun-dappled paths and easy places to rest. Sometimes the wood is full of springtime blossoms and the hum of honeybees. Sometimes it is dressed in vivid reds and yellows and oranges. Sometimes full summer sun holds sway here. And other times snow gently coats the branches of the trees in a winter-time hush.

It remakes itself to the needs of the dreamer. It can become a coniferous forest as easily as it becomes a tropical jungle. Throughout the forest it could be summer, autumn, winter, and spring all at the same time. Tropical orchids bloom up the side of a cliff along the southern edge while edelweiss pokes its first buds through a crust of snow to the west.

It was first formed by the will of the dreamers that spent their time in Morpheus' realm -- whether they were from the jungles of South America, or the ancient cities of the Mediterranean. For millennia untold the dreamers dictated what the place became, and through them, the place began to question, to think.

It became more and more self-aware as the dreamers became more plentiful and spread across the face of the Earth. It was now in constant use. Where before, only occasionally would the human children play within its environs, now children, adolescents, and adults all sought sanctuary in the peace offered by the wood.

It began to attempt to anticipate the needs of its visitors. One dreamer chose to create a home high in the branches of a sturdy oak. Dreamers who came after embellished upon the idea and soon there were platforms and walkways upon which the dreamers frolicked in the warm summer weather. Lonely dreamers would talk to the forest as if it were a living, breathing being. In some ways, it was as sentient as the dreamers themselves.

The ages of Man cycled in the outside world, civilizations rose and fell, but within the forest the dreams of the peoples' souls remained the same. They yearned for the peace that the forest provided so easily. Then one day the forest received a name from a young musician who came to rest his mind and soul within the forgiving shade. He addressed the forest as "Fiddler's Green." From that time forward, the forest thought of itself in those terms.

Time had no meaning within the dreaming; dreamers came and went with very little change for the regular inhabitants. Morpheus' raven flew through occasionally on business for his master. In later epochs, Lucien, the Librarian who was once a raven, visited infrequently. But of all the places within the Dreaming, Lucien found more peace in Fiddler's Green then anywhere else save the Library itself. The nightmares and more active creatures hardly ever visited Fiddler's Green.

Those people who ended their lives in the Land of Nod had the choice to stay and become dreams themselves, or to go on to whatever waited next. It was rare, but there were a few dreams that were former dreamers themselves. Though Fiddler's Green was not one of them, those citizens of dream had Cain and Abel among their number, and Dream's messenger ravens were nearly always former dreamers who'd died.

Fiddler's Green had been created from the forest primeval as one of the first places made solid from the shifting areas. It was one of the first creations of Dream when he took up his helm.

Dream first met his older sister Death in the heart of Fiddler's Green, back when it had no name. Before its master had a hall in which to hang his sibling's sigils, Fiddler's Green was the heart of the dreaming.

Then civilizations changed, and the people Dream served left the green growing places and created villages, then towns, then cities, and the heart of the dreaming changed, too. It became a castle with many rooms, one of which housed the first dreamed-of scrolls on fragile papyrus and reed papers. The galleries grew in size and number as the artisans dreamed new ways to see and record the world around them. Arenas became theatres and stadiums. There was a full-time circus in one of the lower courtyards. The dreamtime flourished. Architects and builders were constantly adding to the castle in their sleep. Fiddler's Green was relegated to haven status. A sanctuary away from the bustling center of activity. It didn't mind being a mostly forgotten piece of dream. It was content with the dreamers who sought peace in its environs.

There came a time when the throne room of the Castle of Dream, the seat of all his power, stood empty for a long time. The first few years of Dream's seeming abdication went on in much the same way as the previous eons.

Slowly at first, but inevitably, the castle fell into disrepair. It became as the shifting places, those parts where the Dreaming met the outside world, the corners and edges where anything and everything could happen. The places where dreamers first slipped through to Dream, and the Dream Lord himself could slip free of his realm and wander in the conscious outside.

It was the inhabitants of and frequent visitors to the Castle who missed Morpheus first: Lucien and Merv Pumpkinhead, the Fashion Thing, and the Raven that lived with Eve, the Raven Woman. Lucien first noticed the print in his books fading away. By halfway through Dream's sojourn outside his demesne, the library was gone. All the books that had been created within the boundaries of the Dreamworld were gone--as if the library had never existed. Most dream fragments abandoned the decaying castle and lived in other parts of dreams--or they were absorbed back into the fabric of the Dreaming itself as it tried to repair the damage Morpheus' defection caused.

Fiddler's Green did not know, at first, when various parts of the Dreaming started to disappear. It only noticed when the dreamers who came to its forest were not as plentiful. Their thoughts were less potent somehow, not as creative, not as vibrant as they had been. Something was missing from the dreamtime. Fiddler's Green became more self-sufficient, creating bits of what it thought its visitors might like, as its connection to the dreamers themselves was difficult to establish. Fiddler's Green made the decisions about what season the dreamers enjoyed, and what they found when they visited.

By the time it noticed that its dreamers became confused, finding winter when they wanted summer, or vice versa, Fiddler's Green discovered that the Dream King was nowhere within the borders of his kingdom. It had been a long, long time since any had seen the lord of the realm. Fiddler's Green learned that a couple of the palace staff and a few nightmares and nightkind had escaped through the soft, shifting places into the outer world, no one knew where. Most of the lesser dreamfolk had been reabsorbed into the dreamstuff they were created from, but as Fiddler's Green was one of the major arcana, vavasour of its own dominion, it had a small power of its own.

Using that power, Fiddler's Green shaped itself from its own cool depths into the figure of a man. A middle-aged man, dressed in the browns and greens that made up his summertime self. With a hat upon his head, and a sword cleverly disguised as a walking-stick (once seen in the hands of an adolescent boy who fought imaginary armies with just such a sword-stick in the cool shade long ago), he wandered away from his empty space towards the palace.

Fiddler's Green had never been to the palace before, and found it a dark and depressing place. He recognized the raven-soul within Lucien as he futilely swept the palace steps. Fiddler's Green did not tarry to speak with the former Librarian, but took himself off to one of the soft places where he could slip into the conscious world.

He wandered for years before he found himself in sunny Florida on the east coast of the United States. The waking world was scary, bright, and loud. He named himself Gilbert and found a room for rent in a house of eclectic souls. He found himself wondering what sort of person to be on his sojourn away from the staid existence as a place within a realm of constantly changing reality. He wanted to be the best Gilbert he could be, so he tried doing many things. He kept an eye out for the Dream King, but never found him. Fiddler's Green had mixed emotions about that, but since he wasn't really used to emotions at all, he was at a loss of what to do about it. So he did nothing.

Gilbert, as only a facsimile of the people around him, had no need for sleep. He found that he was brightest at night, and took to exploring this world that was so different from his own nature. The waking world was filled with people whose dream selves were different. Or perhaps it was that most of the humans with whom he came into contact had no such place as Fiddler's Green in their dreamscape. After all the realm of Dream was vast... at least it was until Dream left his lands. He lived as humans did, experiencing much, but making very little impact on the people around him. And Gilbert found that people in the waking world lacked the depth he was accostomed to sensing from them in the dreamtime.

Fiddler's Green quite liked being human, but he sometimes wondered when his adventure as a man would truly begin. And then, as if in answer to his silent questions, one night he met a young woman, another lodger at his boarding house. He knew instantly that she was different than anyone else he had met before, but how and why, he had only begun to understand.

There is a special place within the Dreaming. It is a sanctuary for those who need one in their sleep. It is the fabled field where sailors go after they die on land in their beds. A pretty place where it can be summer, autumn, winter, and spring all at the same time. For a while, in the last century, it was a man called Gilbert. Now, it serves as it always has, as the haven Fiddler's Green. A sheltering place of calm glades and cool fresh water springs. To many Fiddler's Green is a welcome refuge from the hustle and bustle that is the waking world.

To Rose Walker, Fiddler's Green is a friend.


John Butler Trio

        I can be loud man, I can be silent
        I could be young or I could be old. 
        I can be a gentleman, I can be violent. 
        I could turn hot or I can be cold. 
        I could be just like the calm before the storm
        Waiting for all hell yeah to break loose. 
        I could be innocent or I could be guilty
        Doesn't mean that I man believe in no noose 
        I could be rich like a wandering Gypsy
        I could be poor like a fat wallet lost.
        I could be first or I could come last
        Its not who breaks the ribbon
        It's how you get across.
        I could be red blue black + white sunset
        Darkest at day man brightest at night
        I could be the sun man I could be the moon 
        I'm made up from the stars man
        I shining so bright. 
        I could be asleep man, I could be awake
        I can be alive or be the walking dead
        I can be ignorant, I could be informed
        I could lead my life or i could be led
        I can be anything i put my mind to man,
        all i gotta do is give myself half a chance 
        I can bring love back into my life
        and share it with the world if i got some balance