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HFTH - Q&A with Nikignik

Content Warning: This episode may include themes of electrocution and a gun mention.


Hello dreamers; bet you weren’t expecting to hear from me for a while. To be honest, I didn’t plan to whisper into your nightmares while on vacation, but after leaving things off in the Hallowoods there was an outpouring of questions.

When will we see this character again? Why don’t I have the ‘teeth dream’? Can I, a glorified fish, give you, a cosmic immaterial presence, a hug? And other things like this.

I thought I’d answer a few of them for you, in between my starlit destinations. I’m going to the Dream-City of Distant Kazanth next. I’m not a great lover of cats, but I owe a visit to my old mentor. I’ve picked a couple of questions out of the tumult of ponderous thought collectively exuding from all you. There is no theme for tonight’s episode.

Why don’t you like cats?

Cats are terrible creatures. They travel through space by blinking. They record the crimes of the universe in their glassy, emotionless eyes. They commune in Distant Kazanth and hold their dark parliament. They kill and destroy for sport. They look on that which is indescribable and show no fear or respect. If we do not flee from them outright, they at least make us uncomfortable.

They also smell bad.

What is your favorite thing about humanity?

You probably want to hear something like ‘their determination’, ‘their individuality’, or ‘the good that lives in their hearts’.

Unfortunately, dreamers, if you are human, your determination went both to activism and to industry. Your individuality held you back, perhaps, from uniting against the end of your world. And there is deep goodness in your hearts, but all the cruelty in history rests too on your shoulders.

I like when humans sit and watch large arrangements of nature. An ocean. A setting sun. The stars, whirling above your head in their eternal trails. You look out on the vast expanse of the universe, and you are not afraid of it, or hungry to conquer it, but humbled to be a brief part of the experience. I think humans are beautiful that way.

Can you drink tea? I hope you can. If so, what's your favorite kind of tea?

Likely not tea as you know it. I don’t have a physical form right now, and I’m happy to keep it that way. I relish the freedom in being omnipresent, all eyes, all moments, all sight.

But Xyzikxyz, Emptiness Between Worlds is not material at this point either, and she’s invented a plasma tea we can enjoy even as energy. That’s probably my favorite kind. If I had to describe the flavor to you, it’s somewhere between lavender and being electrocuted.

Nikignik! Why do you hate our poor Lolgmololg so?

‘Our poor Lolgmololg’? Did a froglin dream this question? If so, this is why I loathe your mud queen.

She’s a bully who uses her great size and strength to shove others around. If she had a choice, she would just be one big open mouth for her followers to shove food into. She has no greater goals in this universe than to eat, and sleep, and maybe sink some fishing vessels for fun once in a while. She’s better off as a fish, trust me.

Have you talked about all of the Indescribables? If not, what are the rest?

There are hundreds, if not thousands of beings you might call Indescribable. But I and the rest of the Council of Heavens are older and greater, born in the Orchard at the center of the universe. Above us, greater than our cosmos, are the Outsiders, and we look for them in the sky as distant parents.

There are a few I have not had occasion to mention. Noptilnopt, Who Walks Unseen, is invisible even to my sight. Ephelzeph, the Endless Storm, spins hurricanes that encompass planets for aeons. And old Zazzlezazz, Dreaming All That Is, was my mentor for many centuries. Dream was not originally one of my domains.

There are many more I could name to you, but that would take the rest of your human lifetime.

If you weren’t telling everyone this amazing story what would you be doing?

I… I don’t know. I suppose I could… well. I’d find something to do, I’m sure.

If you had the choice to stop being all-seeing (because often the stories you tell in our nightmares are horrifying and bleak), would you?

There is a burden in being all-seeing. The gruesome and the terrible, the deadly and the mortifying are in my eyes not just on your little world, but on worlds and cosmic cities across this universe. I am not just eyes watching you, dreamers, but eyes watching all of existence. Because I am not omniscient, however, my attention only dwells in one place at once, and I am content to let many horrors pass through my peripheral vision without memory.

But I would not give it up. Not for peace, not for rest. I see nightmares but I also see the sweetest of dreams. I see people without hope just as I see people fighting for their futures. I see hatred but I also see great love. If I gave up my sight, I would lose both, and that would be the worst fate of all.

Also, there would be little left of me, if not for my eyes.

In your opinion, what is the most infuriating thing about Lady Ethel Mallory?

Oh there are so many. But the worst is that she interrupts my broadcast. That she has dug her long red nails into my domain. That she lays claim to dream, and for what? Advertising. Loathsome creature.

Can I hear you say trans rights?

Who gives you rights, dreamers? What are rights? You have the right to the name you choose, the words you use for yourself and your expression in this world, through body and name and mind. You have the right to a good life, to art and love and dance and song. You have the right to make the most of your brief time in the sunlight of your planet, and this is not because of your identity. This is because you are a living creature, and this is your life.

No one has the authority to take these things away from you, and if they would try, then annihilate them. No human is worth more than another. No human has more of a right to happiness than the next. Your presidents or pastors or parents may quake in their boots at your colors, but you are already beautiful in the eyes of this universe.

Do you think your simple observation of these different lives could be changing their outcome? Like when humans observe subatomic particles it changes their behavior?

If I did not think that it could, dreamers, then I would not be sharing these dreams with you.

If Earth is "closed" to the industry does that mean all the souls left behind are trapped here?

I’m not a great business mind. Earth is not so much closed as quarantined. Black rains bring about green fires, and it corrupts the nice shining light that Syrensyr burns in his forges. I suppose souls on earth might hang around. Or they might get caught by predators like the Ward of the Wisps, or fly into the stars and be devoured by the beings that live there.

Who knows.

I realize it's a relatively short time for you, but do you have a favourite period of human history?

I’ll admit, I was… absent for a good part of even your short time. I enjoyed the seventies. I think your hope for the future had not yet disappeared by that time, and there was still an opportunity to change your fate. I had fun.

What was the name of your human friend?

Amaryllis, but she went by Amy. She thought Amaryllis was an embarrassing name, but I liked it. I and my kind are prone to elaborate names, I suppose.

Where will you go when the humans are gone?

When humans are gone, this broadcast will end. I suppose after that I’ll have to find something new to do. Perhaps a new story to tell. Or maybe I’ll rest for a while—longer than this brief visit. Maybe I’ll sleep. Maybe I’ll be able to sleep.

Nikignik, if it's not too hard for you to talk about, what was Marolmar like? We don't know very much about him, and if he created something as terribly beautiful as the Hallowoods, I'm sure he was magnificent?

He was magnificent. He is remembered by the others as a corruption, as a great evil, extinction and decay. A lord of endings. His name is Marolmar, Garden of the End, but one of his other titles was the Spirit of the Spring. That is how I saw him. Maybe this last master work was a step too far, but I thought it was his most brilliant machine.

He was a builder, an artist, a lover of all the working parts within life. The world that now holds his tomb was once his crafting bench, his sandbox. When he laughed, the very stars trembled, and vines burst from his endless antlers, and flowers bloomed on empty asteroids. When he wept, his tears turned life into ageless death, and held planets in eternal twilight, and froze the red suns in the sky.

You would have fled in blind terror if you saw him, dreamer, make no mistake. Perhaps he would have encompassed the universe in his mad thrall, broken the cycles altogether, wrapped his roots around the great wheels of Syrensyr’s industry, carried every one of Tolshotol’s suns in his antlers, banished Xyzikxyz from the emptiness and filled it with life.

But he would have laughed to do it, and I would have smiled to see him laugh.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve seen on the Earth? Something that always sticks in the back of your mind since you first saw it?

There were seven human children playing in a low alley in a city, because they had no green space nearby. The alley was not often visited by cars, and every night they would play in this barren lane of garage doors and metal sheeting, rust and dandelions in concrete.

Yet the worlds they imagined in those trivial games were real to their senses, an endless universe surrounded them, and they wielded guns that fired faster than light, swung swords of molten lava, ran like the wind and called all the animals of the earth to their aid. They had no concept that they were simply children dashing to and fro in a concrete trench, lost in the landscape. No one had told them, and so they were free.

I remember them looking up, one evening, at the stormclouds gathering in the sky, and remarking that they were darker than any they had seen before.

There were no more games after that.

Do you regret letting us ask you things yet?

It’s about what I expected, but I am certainly ready for more rest, more time away. Worry not, dreamers. I will return soon enough. Although I am supposed to be relaxing, I worry every so often about the faces you have come to know in the Hallowoods. I will enjoy, I think, returning to follow them again, and intruding upon your nightmares to share stories from our shadowed pines. I am your loyal host, gone but not for long, looking forward to our return to the Hallowoods.

The Season One Epilogue Story for this week is 'Fulgurite', and is available on the Hello From The Hallowoods Patreon. Consider joining for access to all the show's bonus stories, behind-the-scenes and more!


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