A Thousand Windows
This is an entry for Finish the Story Content - Week #39.
Here is @f3nix's story:
A Thousand Windows
From the Little Ararat's peak, Vartan "tiger's eye" observed his hometown, Yerevan. In the ample pocket of his tunic, well sheltered from the harsh wind, his squat fingers played with two graceful jade discs, while his steed, foaming with fatigue, seemed suddenly reinvigorated at the sight of home after months of traveling. If it had not been an animal, it would seem that he was moved. In Vartan's eyes, the only veil was that of travel fatigue.
Armenian merchant of precious stones, merchant son of merchants, he did not care how dangerous the journey was, nor how many moons had rotated above the long caravan: his mind was a precision balance that incessantly weighed and estimated without respite Indian emeralds, Burmese rubies, Pakistani aquamarines. This was Vartan's life since the cradle: he made a profit, and he did it surprisingly well.
A brisk early March night, something unexpected happened to him: he had a dream. Being an unusual experience for him, he awoke to throw in a far corner of the room the brocaded bedspread, upset and wet with sweat despite dawn's breeze. In his family no one used to dream, there was no space for these frivolities. If he reflected well, maybe a couple of times he had dreamed of carving a gem or making a good deal, but he never came across those surreal dreams like a sand mirage in the ocean. After that episode, dreams began to visit him more and more frequently, as the unstoppable progression of pot-bellied drops in an August downpour. Frankly, it was a very unfortunate situation for Vartan, who was soon forced to invent every kind of wild night escapade to justify the increasingly evident dark circles under his eyes.
Then one day, while he was dreaming, the unthinkable happened: he suddenly perceived that he was in the dream. That first experience of dreamlike lucidity did not last long, nothing but an imperceptible beating of wings of awareness before the rules of the dream came back to swallow him and to dictate the story, relegating him to a mere spectator. Night after night, he began to acknowledge the laws that governed that world and how to bend them to his creative power. Thin and rarefied realms could become dense with colors, shapes, and perfumes. The Escheresque geometries of dancing fractals disobeyed space and time. Gradually, Vartan learned to attribute a new meaning and content to the term comprehension. For every new dream he was immersed in, the breath of those universes and his soul were united in one single essence longer and longer. In those dreams, Vartan traveled in the folds of reality, learned the language of angels and played dodges with them in the heart of perennial storms of unknown planets.
Soon, what was happening in Vartan's soul could not remain hidden to the eyes of the family, his friends, and the entire city of Yerevan.
And this is my ending:
Because, even that amazing newfound wisdom could not change Vartan's merchant soul. He visited with angels, and there he saw a market; he traveled uncharted planets, and there he counted commodities. And most importantly: thereabouts he found gemstones without peer.
In need of a base of operations, Vartan built a palace in dreams. It was a complex structure, as only the rules of imagination could allow. Copper roof tiles, lofty arches, wide sunny gardens; a hundred rooms, a thousand windows. Each sparkling colored glass looked on a unique view and a separate universe. Even Yerevan, his place of birth and business, was but one shade of the endless dreamscape.
Vartan's vault began to fill with wealth, as ethereal caravans crossing through the folds of creation stopped at his junction. A story for a ruby, a secret for a sapphire, the night's lodging for an emerald: the tiger's eye traded fairly with all comers.
A few years later, Vartan would visit Yerevan's marketplace and sell the tiniest of his treasures, evoking the awe of his peers. Sometimes he invited trusted friends to the mansion. At those parties, he showcased impossible mechanisms and fantastic creatures.
Not long after, Vartan had become the most influential merchant in the capital of Armenia. He decided it was prudent to move permanently inside his palace: dreams were a most comfortable abode, and safe from the envy of his rivals. There, his wife would spend long hours in the library, which was the furthest away from the concubines' quarters. While in the tallest tower, his beloved daughter played with silken dolls and talking parrots.
Vartan himself was a master of reality, infinite possibilities spread before him like flowers. Yet he was not satisfied; his tireless mind still kept comparing values and chasing profit.
One night up in the observatory, Vartan pointed his telescope at the great stories. Gigantic and ponderous as whales, the oldest tales surfed the skies. He watched one gobble up a novel, then blow out a cloud of movie stars.
For a moment, he thought that huge story looked right at him from the heavens, and Vartan felt a twinge of fear, a nagging doubt.
He considered his palace in a different light. There were guards and clever traps and walls and a treasure vault... Even a fair maiden in the tower! He looked at himself.
And it dawned on him right then.
He had forgotten the most basic law of all.
True, he was a spectator no longer.
But he wasn't this story's protagonist. He was...
Vartan the apprentice gemcutter woke up in the night, soaked with sweat. He heard his wife softly snoring beside him and saw his baby daughter in her crib. With trembling hand, he reached for the jade discs on the bedside table. They were gone. He touched a piece of paper instead, a card. He brought it closer to the lamp and read:
The greatest of gems
Belong with the greatest of thieves
Arsene Lupin, Gentleman Burglar