The Dreamers and the Storms

📅 Published on October 19, 2021

“The Dreamers and the Storms”

Written by Darkly_Gathers
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
Please wait...

Mia and I escape across the plains, and behind us, the sons of the storm god follow on.

We are lifetime residents of the North Island, New Zealand.  Now at the break of night, we run over its fields and up the hills towards the cliffs.  They’re nestled amongst the mountains at the edge of the churning coast.

Mia’s hand squeezes my right tightly as we tear through the grass, long and yellow-green, wavering and crackling with the energy of the storm overhead.  With my left, I hold tight to my precious cargo, clutched protectively against my chest.  Fragile and beautiful and by far and away from the most important thing in the world.

The sons of the storm god know the object’s weakness.  They seek to seize this chance and destroy it in the name of their father, Tāwhirimātea, before Mia and I can finish our journey before we can complete our desperate quest.

A voice like the crash of rain upon rock thunders through the air.  “One way or another, son and daughter of Earth, this is to be your final adventure!”

Another joins.  A taunting whisper as wind through the trees: “No matter the outcome this night of nights.  Your time is done, Dreamers!”

That’s what they call us, what they’ve always called us—the Dreamers.

Mia, still running, shoots a look back over her shoulder.  “Let’s not pretend you haven’t always been jealous, sons of Tāwhirimātea!” she shouts above the steadily rising thrall.  “You’d trade your entire existence for even a minute as mortals upon the Earth; your boasting is as hollow as your threats!”

She concludes her rebuttal by sticking out her tongue and blowing a raspberry.

I love her so much.

Angry thunder booms in response; the slopes of the hills and the bases of the mountains ahead alighting in vengeful gold as lightning ripples through the air behind, and the grasses of the fields give way to those of the route ahead.  I look at her face.  I drink her in, and she looks back at me.

She smiles at me—a sad smile, and one that I return.

Her eyes shine like the sparkling summer sea, as beautiful as ever, and a brilliant, bright and shimmering blue.

Our journeys into the world of spirits and gods began ten years ago, ten long and wonderful years.  As teenagers, we’d disobeyed the orders of our parents, stolen the smallest of our families’ boats, and taken it out to sea, ignoring the warnings of the impending weather with the childish boldness of ignorants in love.  The sail got us caught in a vicious and quick-upon wind, and before we knew it, we were trapped in the hold of a savage storm, not nearly as fierce as this one, mind, but plenty fierce enough.  Fierce enough for Mia to be suddenly tossed from the side, thrown overboard and into the hungrily waiting waves below.

I’ll never forget the panic of that moment, the panic of that whole night: the chaos and the sharp, cold, unforgiving blade of fear.

And I’ll never forget my first glimpses of Tāwhirimātea, god of the storms.  He was a silhouette, slow and massive against the swirling sky, flashes of a form designed to inspire terror in the hearts of Earthmen.  He wanted Mia.  He’d chosen his target, and he sought to swallow her whole.  He was owed her, he felt, for our recklessness and our foolishness upon his sea.

And he would have taken her.  He would have taken her away forever, and these last ten years would have been lost if Tūma-tauenga, god of the civilizations of man, had not chosen to save her life.  There in the sea, I watched, soaked and clinging to the side of the boat as it rocked and crashed.  My arm outstretched towards Mia, spluttering and screaming as she was… unable to help from looking up.  Explosions of color burst across the dark sky as the colossal form of our savior Tūma-tauenga, sunset orange and rising from the faraway coast, threw out his hands and blew a gale across the surface of the sea, casting Tāwhirimātea back with a roar of defiance.

It was unlike anything we had ever seen.

Tāwhirimātea, dark and massive and monstrous as he was behind the clouds, clenched his fists with sparks of lightning and raised them in return, the sea swelling and frothing, forming an ever-raining, ever-cascading wall of water, a wave of great and terrible height, but frozen fast with the will of Tūma-tauenga.

Despite the storm god’s best efforts, the ocean around our vessel would not bend to his orders.  It began to calm.  Like in the eye of the storm, the surface stilled and leveled; Mia, ever the strong swimmer and no longer embattled by the tides, was able to make her way back to me, and I hauled her with boundless thanks back up into the boat.

Tūma-tauenga held the wave.  He held that great wave and all the rest, and he respun the winds sent by Tāwhirimātea into a force that would blow us back across the water to the safety of the shore.

Wet and scared, but very much alive.

The storms that followed that night were like nothing the North Island had ever seen.  Tāwhirimātea’s rage was unparalleled; long had it been since the god of the storms had faced such open resistance, and long would it be before he forgot it.  He never did, in fact, and has hunted us on and off for the past decade, seeking to sow torment wherever he can.  He was robbed that night, which is his belief, and his world will not be righted until he has claimed revenge.

And tonight, it would seem, he has found just such an opportunity to do so.

Quiet and waiting, biding his time, unheard and unseen and unfelt for the past twelve months, Mia and I had allowed ourselves to ‘forget’ him.  We allowed our guard to drop.  We had, as humans often do, underappreciating the ever-present threat of looming, lurking danger.  We had not fought our case with sufficient strength when our fathers, long-time friends themselves, had planned a night-time expedition, a fishing trip out at sea.  Many of New Zealand’s most prized fish are more active and most numerous at night, and with only a brief and momentary hint of forecast rain, what could be the harm?

They are out there now.  They were trapped aboard their fishing ship, no doubt fighting for their lives amongst the waves.  Mia’s younger brother is with them too.  This was the first time that he had asked to go along on such a venture.  There’s no telling what’s going through his head right now through all their heads.

And Mia and I are the only ones who can help.  Tūma-tauenga, our savior of old and god of the efforts of man, stands frozen atop the edge of the cliff, the one that the locals have nicknamed ‘the Peak’ – named for the way it juts like an arrowhead between the mountains and over the white sands of the beaches below.  As if a vantage point for the sparkle of the sea beyond.  Tūma-tauenga stands as a shimmering monolith, seen by only those who know how to look; flashes of the Aurora-Australis’ tense, orange-gold energy rippling chaotically across his titanic and wavering form.  But he is bound.  He cannot move, and he cannot speak, and he cannot repel the gleeful fury of Tāwhirimātea.

Tūma-tauenga saved Mia’s life all those years ago, and my life too in the process.  And now, now we must return the favor, to save the souls of our fathers and brothers before it is too late.

No matter the cost.

And the item I hold tight to my chest, precious beyond words.  If we can reach the peak in time, it may allow us to do just that.

We sprint as one past mound and towers of rock, nestled amongst the greener grasses of the hillside, ascending as fast as we can through upwards-inclined little valleys in the grass and stone, the mountains rising alongside us, steadily approaching the cliffside.  A glance up at the sky reveals the billowing, spiraling red clouds, heaving cataclysmically amongst the purple and grey.  Tūma-tauenga stands waiting, powerless.  A horizon-orange giant, held in time.

Every strike of lightning reveals the briefest of glimpses of the face of Tāwhirimātea up above, leering and horrifically close.  The storm god is greedy, greedy for the taste of his impending and long-awaited victory.  His laughter comes as rolls of deep thunder, shuddering mercilessly through the gaps in the mountains.  I squint through the force of the winds as Mia’s hair is whipped about her face.  She stumbles, but I have her.  I’ve got her.  I’ve always got her, and I bring her back up at once before she can fall, and we continue as fast as we can.

The rough, wild path takes us sharply to the right and then levels for a time before bringing us back around the edge of an enormous fallen stone to the left.  The wind changes direction as we pass it, suddenly and unnaturally, and we skid to a breathless stop as we stagger around its corner, chests rising and falling.

Three of the storm god’s sons stand before us, a dozen or so paces ahead, waiting.  Man-sized and formless, with no physical bodies to bind them to the ground, they are composed instead of the elements of their namesakes, shifting and spilling and swirling waters and airs.  To look away is to lose their location.  Their edges become blurred with the surrounding storm instantly.

The middle-most of the sons steps forwards.  Apū-Matangi, of the whirling winds.  As he does so, the rush of the air about our ears grows stronger and louder; I grit my teeth, and I feel Mia’s hand clench tighter to mine.

“The way is blocked, Dreamers of Earth,” he warns in a voice that ripples like the edge of a hurricane.  “The false and bitter luck of the land that has carried you thus far expires tonight.”

The son, to the speaker’s left, lifts his hand towards us.  A gesture of good faith, ironic and cruel in its context.  He shimmers a darker shade to his brother, his form denser and deeper.  His is a voice that rumbles low and long—Ao-pakarea, of the thunderclouds.

“With such clumsy mortal hands, you hold your jar, Son of Earth,” he says, gesturing to the item I have clutched to my chest.  “Return to your homes.  Let the night take its course.  Or risk the jar’s destruction and the loss of everything you hold precious.”

Mia has let go of my hand.  I keep my gaze fixed on the sons of Tāwhirimātea, but I see her swing around her backpack, reaching quickly and determinedly inside.

The brother to the right of Apū-Matangi stirs.  The air he is comprised of is wet and thick; clear water cascades impossibly up and around his form, and as he speaks, the drizzle that falls from the sky grows in both speed and weight.  He is Ua-Nui, of the terrible rain.

“Your efforts come too late.  Your defeat at our father’s hand has been a long time in the making, but tonight is the night that the well-watered seeds of your pride will finally be reaped.”

“Even now,” I call back to them through the storm – anger, desperation and exasperation are all thrown in together – “Even now, after everything, how many times have you tried to stop us over the years?  How many times have you failed…?  You just won’t give up?  You just won’t leave us alone?”

“‘Til the end,” the brothers reply as one.

And the sound of a striking match cuts through the clamor of the wind and rain.  My skin lights up in an orange glow, warm and defiant, and I turn to see Mia step forward, holding high a burning torch, hastily fashioned from a broken branch and a piece of torn fabric, doused in lighter fluid and brightly ablaze, a beacon of fire in the darkness.

“LET US PASS!” she shouts into the storm.  “LET US PASS!”

“Fighting fire with fire,” Apū-Matangi laughs, the winds laughing with him.  “The elements will always be on the side of our father, as you well know, daughter of Earth.  What weapon can you wield that the great Tāwhirimātea cannot match?

“You may be named for the elements, son of the storm,” Mia replies, shoulders squared, “but you ‘own’ them no more than the land owns the people, or the sea owns the fish.  YOURS is the fire of rage: quick to alight and feverish, unreliable and fast.  OURS is the fire of LIFE!  Of endurance!  Of warmth and restoration and rejuvenation.”

To Apū-Matangi’s left, Ao-pakarea of the thunderclouds brings together his hands, and a bolt of lightning cracks down at once like a whip, bursting a tree too close for comfort into flames.  The light is blinding, and I cannot help but look away, just for a moment, colors dancing beneath my eyelids as the accompanying boom thunders mockingly all around.  When I can open them again, the brothers stand closer.

“Pitiful,” says Ao-pakarea, gesturing to the flame Mia holds in her hand.  “Pitiful and embarrassing.  What are two childish mortals when matched against the might of gods?”

“I see no gods here,” Mia replies with a leveled grin.  “Do let us know if you find any, and we can try for an answer if you like!”

The air between us shimmers and wavers as Apū-Matangi raises an angry hand.  The winds swirl back in on themselves and rush down the valley towards us, slamming into us and forcing us back.  Our feet grind against the ground as we struggle to hold our positions, and by all rights, Mia’s little torch should have been extinguished at once.  But it holds firm, flickering resiliently in the gale.

The lightning-fire in the burning tree is blown to the next, and the next one still, growing ever closer.  I can feel its heat on my front, the contrast sharp with the cool chill of the night on my back.

“You can push and push all you want,” shouts Mia to the sons of Tāwhirimātea, “but we stand firm, we stand resilient, and a constitution of quiet strength always, always wins out against lunatic lurches from passion for passion in the end!”

“Such drivel,” Apū-Matangi replies, turning his head ever so slightly to his left.  “Finish this, brother.  Cast them back.”

Ua-Nui, of the terrible rain, steps forward to stand by his brother, the dense and watery air of his form crashing around like waves in a hurricane.  He widens his stance, thrusts his neck forwards and casts his hands up to the sky, and the rain redoubles in power, great walls of it rolling down the mountainside towards us.

Mia lowers the torch, and she draws it in close.  We stand as one, huddled with the little flame aglow between us.  Flickers of orange dance across our chests and faces as we stand together, and the rain strikes, bitter and cold.

But the flame endures.  Ours endures, whilst theirs does not.

The storm’s rains wash through the branches of the burning trees, and in great clouds of steam, they are extinguished.

And as they appeared, with the winds, the brothers are gone.  Vanished into the storm, leaving only the thundering clouds, the rushing wind, and the drum of the rain in their wake.

We run on through the thrall, putting out our brave little light, having well served its purpose.

We soon leave the trees behind us, few as they are, and ahead is only rock and hill and mountain and sky, and the frozen, shimmering colossus of Tūma-tauenga.  The sky throbs in shades of blood-red amidst the grey, malevolent and anticipatory.

We make our way closer, ever closer to the peak.

Mia once again releases my hand.  She slows, just for a second, as she stoops down to the ground, stumbling as she swoops something up in her grip, holding it close in two cupped hands.

“Mia!” I call out.  “What are you doing?”

“I’m sorry, Hunter,” she replies with an awkward smile, “I couldn’t help it.  He was in trouble.”  She shows me what she is carrying.  A little bird.  Brown and orange, with a long-feathered tail in black and white.  A fantail.

“His wing was caught beneath a rock!  I couldn’t just leave him.  He was getting soaked!” she argues, and I can’t help but laugh.  Even now, even after everything, even knowing what we’ll have to do at the Peak, she still thinks about others.

She cuddles the bird close to her as she runs, and after a minute, it flaps.  She holds out her hands to the sky, and the fantail takes off through the rain, its song loud and clear above the wind.

I am reminded of the first time we met.  Mia and I.  Back when we were just little kids.  I was on the beach at dusk with my ‘friends’ at the time, abhorrent people, I have long since come to realize, and we were marveling at a small dolphin that had become stranded on the sand.

I was marveling from afar until someone in our group decided to throw a clump of sand at the creature.  Then, some stones, and it became a game of sorts.  And I did nothing to stop them, only laughing awkwardly along.  I don’t know how long they would have kept it up if Mia hadn’t run over from across the beach, shouting and swearing and calling us out.  My friends just laughed and flipped her their middle fingers, making noises and gestures, but I felt terrible.  Seriously, deeply ashamed.  She began to dig a trench through the sand between the dolphin and the water, to try and ease it back along its way as my group turned to leave, muttering and chuckling amongst themselves.

But I chose to stay.  I chose to stay because she was right.  She was entirely right.

I apologized to her.  She told me to go away.  I stayed and helped anyway, and in silence, we kept the dolphin wet and slowly but surely managed to push it back out to sea.

I think she’d forgiven me by the time we were watching it swim away beneath the stars.  Enough to tell me her name, at least.  And I told her mine.  And she smiled at me.

I got her a silver dolphin necklace for our fifth anniversary.  It jingles softly around her neck as we run.  The rain is easing up.  The way is becoming clearer.

And the peak is in our sights.  Tūma-tauenga stands waiting, a huge, shimmering spirit-statue, facing powerlessly out toward the thrashing seas beyond.

I cannot help but think about everything that Mia and I have been through.  Everything we’ve faced together.  Everything we’ve seen, everything we’ve done, it all flashes through my mind now, a beautiful and overwhelmingly melancholic story.  We do our best to live in peace.  But we’re thrown from passion to passion by the frustrations of the god of the storm and his children.  But it was an adventure.  Because I was with Mia because we always kept each other grounded, It was divine.

We are forced to another stop.  Nestled between two mountains on either side, the cliffside peak stands ahead, jutting out over the beaches below towards the sea.  But Tāwhirimātea has commanded one final stand: his sons stand between us and our ultimate destination.

The three from below, and a dozen more, all stood waiting.

“THE JAR!” calls Apū-Matangi, his voice sharper now, more desperate as he points with a shaking hand toward the object I have held against me.  “IT HAS TO BE NOW!  DESTROY THE JAR!”

One of his brothers steps forward, a being of grey and drifting white, and one that I recognize as Hau-Maringi of the mist.  He eases out his arms, drawing in from the edges of the mountainside the fog of his namesake, steadily obscuring our view as his other, more violent brothers approach in turn, crackling and bristling with furious electricity.

I reach out for Mia’s hand, and she squeezes it tight, and the sudden sound of a great swooping and flapping and birdsong fills the air.  The brothers are compelled to a halt as a tremendous flock of fantails dives between us and the storm-sons.  A display of raw and enduring life, unapologetic in the face of such barbarous discordance, is enough to hold them back.

Mia and I walk boldly as one through the birds, which swirl and dance around us as we make our way through.  The brothers are cast back at our approach, unable to come close, cast back and away, returning vexed but powerless into their storm.

The rain eases and falls back into near-nothing as we stride to the edge of the peak.  The view is frightening, but even under the circumstances, the awe it inspires is like nothing else.

The thought of our families aboard their boat rocked, assaulted at the mercy of the waves at sea brings us back.  Only Tūma-tauenga, the frozen giant, can stop the storms, and only we can return Tūma-tauenga to life.

The weight of this brutal, pivotal moment hits me, and it hits me like a hammer.  I feel myself start to shake, and tears spill hot and fast down my face.

The birds have flown away.  The brothers regroup.  I can hear them behind us.

Mia holds me close.  She wraps me uptight, presses her forehead against mine.

“We knew this moment would come, Hunter.  We always knew.”

“But it’s too soon, Mia,” I stammer through sobs, “it’s too soon…more time… I just wanted a little more time,”

“Me too, Hunter,” she whispers, her voice soft as she strokes my face.  “But everyone’s time comes to an end, sooner or later.”

She traces her fingers across the jar I hold to my chest.  The jar I’ve clutched the entire way desperately — the most precious thing in the world.

Except, it’s not exactly a ‘jar.’ Not really.  It’s more of a vase.  An urn, you could say.

An urn that has, for the last six months, held Mia’s ashes.

The day of her death still haunts me terribly.  I imagine it always will — a terrible accident, unrelated entirely to this battle of gods.  The initial blow was eased, somewhat, by the mysterious magic that bound her spirit to mine.  I really don’t understand the forces that allowed her to remain upon this Earth as long as I kept her ashes close.  They may have been Tūma-tauenga’s own, or they may have been another’s.  But the truth doesn’t matter now.  Not anymore.

Because Tūma-tauenga must be awoken, this feat must be done now and can only be achieved with a tremendous release of spiritual energy.

A release caused, say, by the severing of a bond between souls.

I have so much left to say.  I could talk with Mia upon this cliff for hours.  For days.  For months and years and years and years, forever.  It is never tiring.  Me and her.  She and I.  As one.

But the sun sinks low in the sky.  The end comes for us all.

And for Mia, the end is now.

“I’ll never forget you,” I whisper.

“I’ll never forget you,” she replies.

“I love you,” we say as one, as she kisses me.

And with tears streaming down my face, I pull back and lift the lid from the urn.  I drop the lid to the ground, and I stand on the edge of the cliff, waving the vase through the air.  Mia’s ashes are thrown from inside and out and up into the wind.  They swirl and dance and sparkle in the lights all around; the orange, fiery glow of Tūma-tauenga.  The white streaks of lightning in the distance against the sea, the red and purple of the skies above.

Mia shimmers and disappears from beside me.

She appears before me, instead.  She was flickering in and out of sight, rising with the ashes, rising with the wind.

She smiles.

And I sob and smile back.

And she is gone.

The ground shakes.  Stones tumble from the cliffside as the grass blows out in all directions.  The furious voices of the storm god’s sons are lost completely behind us as Tūma-tauenga, god of the spirit and drive of mankind, awakens.  He awakens with a fury to match Tāwhirimātea’s own.  He steps slowly from the cliff and down to the beach below yet somehow loses no height in the process.  I can feel the second-hand vibrations of the electricity and the raw power of his form across my skin as he raises his arms, bellowing loud in an ancient tongue as he pushes back the efforts of the god of the storm.

And at this moment, Tāwhirimātea, the god of the storms, is no worthy opponent.  The freshly awakened body of Tūma-tauenga burns bright in ripples of orange, purple, yellow and gold.  The struggle is visceral and frightening, but with a final burst of light, he disappears, defeating Tāwhirimātea and casting the storm away as he does so.  The winds are left swirling in his wake, but they quickly fade into no more than gentle breezes.  The waves of the sea begin to calm at once.  The last roll of thunder is left unchained, and it shivers off and away into the far distance.

The clouds up above are forced to mellow.  They drift with a newfound and welcome lack of purpose, free and light, as the clear night sky behind them starts to return with its stars.

“My debt remains unpaid, Dreamer,” booms a voice from the sky.  They are, for now, the final words of Tāwhirimātea, and they are full to the brim with the resentment and fury and forewarning of one who believes that he has been cheated, forever, out of something that was rightfully his.

“I will never forget.  Know that I am coming for you.  I am coming for you.  Always”.

Something sparkles in the grass beside me.  I glance down at it.

Mia’s necklace.  The shining silver dolphin, bright in the light of the stars.  I pick it up and attach it around my neck.

“Do as you will, Tāwhirimātea.  I am not afraid of you,” I reply with a raw whisper, and the storm is gone.

There is only peace — a light breeze over the sands and the settling sea.

I rub my fingers gently against the dolphin as I stand alone on the cliffside, looking down at the ocean below.

And the coast, where it meets the sand, begins to light up.  Slowly at first, but then faster, and faster still.  To light up in shades of turquoise and azure and teal and aquamarine.

Once the waters around the beach are aglow, the light carries on out to sea, far across the ocean.  It’s the time of the year when the jellyfish float to the surface.  They’re shining phosphorescent and bright in their bioluminescence.  It’s a truly heavenly sight and one that Mia always loved.

I drink it in.

The scene is as beautiful as ever and a brilliant, bright and shimmering blue.

Rating: 10.00/10. From 1 vote.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Darkly_Gathers
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Darkly_Gathers

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

More Stories from Author Darkly_Gathers:

The Wood Man
Average Rating:

The Wood Man

Crocodile House
Average Rating:

Crocodile House

The Scarecrow
Average Rating:

The Scarecrow

Related Stories:

No posts found.

You Might Also Enjoy:

Elf on a Shelf (with a Knife)
Average Rating:

Elf on a Shelf (with a Knife)

Dark Winter
Average Rating:

Dark Winter

Night Terror Tango
Average Rating:

Night Terror Tango

The House Without Doors
Average Rating:

The House Without Doors

Recommended Reading:

Knifepoint Horror: The Transcripts, Volume 1
The Art of Fear: How to Write Scary Ghost Stories that Terrify Your Readers
Counting More Corpses: A Gripping Serial Killers Thriller (Harry Cross Book 2)
Wicked William: My Ouija, My Friend (Wicked WIliam Book 1)

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Skip to content