Crash Course I
I just sent off what I hope is a near-final version of The Mime Order to my editor (hooray!), so I thought I'd finally kick off this Crash Course series I've been planning to do for months. The aim of this is to give you guys a summary of some of the more complex topics in The Bone Season so you can get straight back into The Mime Order when it comes out in October. The three main concepts I'll be discussing in this post are the ethereal mechanics of the dreamscape, dreamwalking and the silver cord.
The interior of the mind, where memories are stored. Split into five zones or "rings" of sanity: sunlight, twilight, midnight, lower midnight and hadal. Clairvoyants can consciously access their own dreamscapes, while amaurotics may catch glimpses when they sleep.
The dreamscape is the landscape of the mind. In the world of The Bone Season, every living, animate creature has a dreamscape. You know when someone tells you to "go to your happy place"? In Paige's world, your happy place is your dreamscape. I first got this idea when I was writing in my mid-teens – a kind of stage on which recurring dreams play out – but I developed it when I was studying medieval poetry at uni and discovered the term locus amoenus, meaning "pleasant place" in Latin. Here's how Jaxon explains it to Paige:
Everyone has a dreamscape, you see. An illusion of safety, a kind of locus amoenus. You understand. Voyants have coloured dreamscapes. The rest have black-and-white ones. They see their dreamscapes when they dream. Amaurotics,
consequently, dream in monochrome.
The locus amoenus is a peaceful and idyllic place, usually a garden, lawn or woodland, where safety or comfort can be found. In The Bone Season, dreamscapes can take virtually any form, from fields and lakes to rooms, libraries and alleys – but only clairvoyants have colour in their dreamscapes.
Your spirit lives, ideally, in the very centre of your dreamscape. Clairvoyants, including Rephaim, can consciously access their own dreamscapes when they want to feel safe, and see it as if it's a real place. However, the vast majority of them cannot walk away from the central zone without causing massive damage to their sanity. Here's where Paige's gift comes in. In Chapter 20, Eliza asks Paige to draw her a picture of the dreamscape from a bird's eye view. She would have produced something like this:
Your projection of yourself in the dreamscape is known as a dream-form, the shape taken by a spirit when it's within the confines of a dreamscape. In the æther, a spirit has no form; it's simply a "faceless glimmer", as Paige calls it. You can't see your own dream-form, but you can imagine it looking a certain way if the situation calls for it.
I pictured myself with a massive dream-form, a behemoth,
big enough to break down every barrier.
Fun fact: All the rings of consciousness are named after common terms for the light zones in the ocean. The hadal zone, for example, refers to the deepest levels of the ocean, where there is little marine diversity, extreme pressure and total darkness.
Silver cord: A permanent link between the body and the spirit. It allows a person to dwell for many years in one physical form. Unique to each individual. Particularly important to dreamwalkers, who use the cord to leave their bodies temporarily. The silver cord wears down over the years, and once broken cannot be repaired.
|Art © Anonymous|
Key to the dreamwalker's ability is her flexible silver cord. Every dreamscape has one: a rigid barrier around the sunlit and twilight zones. Its function is to prevent a person's spirit from slipping too far into the darker zones, which would cause madness, or into the æther, which would cause physical death. Over a number of years, the silver cord becomes thinner and thinner until finally it snaps, and the spirit drifts naturally out of the body. If a person is fatally wounded, the cord breaks instantly. If they're suffering from anxiety, grief, pain, or any other emotion or mental condition that affects their wellbeing, the cord loosens a little, allowing the spirit to drift into the twilight zone, where amaurotic "nightmares" occur. A dreamwalker's silver cord is so flexible that it allows her to walk through every zone unharmed, without causing lasting damage to her sanity.
Say the majority of us have an inch between our body and our spirit. You have a mile. You can walk to the outer ring of your dreamscape, which means you can sense the æther for much farther than we can. You can also sense dreamscapes. We only sense spirits and aura, and not from very far away.
First of all, Paige "dislocates" her spirit by stepping towards the outer zones of her dreamscape. As she does this, pressure radiates through the æther. The farther she walks, the greater the pressure. This is what causes people to have nosebleeds if they get too close to her. Once she's through the hadal zone, Paige can "jump" out of her body and into the æther. After that, she's able to possess people by entering their dreamscapes – provided she can get through the dreamscape's defence mechanisms and reach their sunlit zone. If she succeeds, she must then suppress the person's spirit so she can take control, as she does with the butterfly.
When she's inside another person's dreamscape, Paige's dream-form is subject to their personal view of her. If she wills it hard enough she can override this and make herself appear larger and stronger, but its natural state in another dreamscape is impossible to see:
I wondered what I looked like. I was in his dreamscape now, playing by his
rules . . . I had no idea what he thought of me, and I would never find out.
There were no mirrors in a dreamscape. I would never see the Paige he had created.
While Paige is out of her body, her life functions stop, including her breathing reflex. If she was standing when she "jumped", she collapses. When hooked up to her life-support machine, the Dead Voyant Sustainment System (DVS²), Paige can dreamwalk for long periods of time. Without it, however, she can only risk "quick-fire jumps", lest her body begins to lose too much oxygen.