That was a question Sif didn’t quite know how to answer. She looked down and away to buy herself some time.
The Shining Hand in the park had been magiker, that she was sure of. Her dream suggested there were more of them, or that there would be. If it could be trusted, at any rate. For all she knew, what looked like a shadowy conspiracy could just be what magiker did to entertain themselves on long winter evenings.
The thought made her smile.
Sif looked up, endeavoring to make her eyes say the smile was false. “I don’t remember, exactly. Chains. Cold.” Best to be careful.
Annike smiled, speaking softly. “All is well now,” she replied. “You will find you grow used to the dreams—the natural ones, at least.”
Sif tilted her head, genuinely curious. “What do you mean?”
“A dream is a tale told by a spirit of the world to the spirit of your being,” the elder magiker said.
Sif nodded. “I understand that much.”
“Good. Leifsson certainly earns his keep.” Annike went on. “Do you know why spirits tell us stories?” Sif shook her head. “Some do to gain an edge on us, to weaken us, that they might worm their way into our minds. Some, on the other hand, do so out of kindness and concern—though there is great risk in explaining the motives of spirits in human terms.”
“Those are the natural dreams, then?” Sif said.
“Exactly so. There are unnatural dreams too, though. What do you know of hedge magiker?”
Sif shrugged. She knew of the class of magiker who never grew strong enough to draw the attention of the guilds, but nothing more.
“In your travels, you may hear the people speak of dreamseers, those who hear the spirits speak to those asleep, who tell their stories to the waking. You may also hear of dreamweavers: those who bargain with spirits to put a dream in a man’s head.”
Sif frowned. “That’s forbidden, isn’t it?”
“It is,” said Annike. “They do not understand the spirit’s price. People die—sometimes in agony, sometimes in ecstasy. The dream is too vivid. And yet…”
Sif raised her eyebrows.
“Yet, some magiker—real magiker, trained by the guilds—weave dreams. I understand it is most commonly political. Some magiker wishes to warn another away from nosing around his territory. The Twelve cannot watch everyone all the time. Our magiker gets away with it.” Annike smiled again, brighter this time. “You need not worry about that, though. I’m sure, child, you haven’t made such powerful enemies so soon after joining us. Your dream says as much. Mere impressions snatched from hazy memories? That realm belongs to dark spirits. Magiker are much more specific.”