Terrence, Destroyer of Grass, Eater of Souls, Esquire, had a hard time categorizing his day. Usually, his days fell into the simple categories of good day, neutral day or bad day, but not this one.
A bad day was when he got himself trapped in a dreamcatcher, or the Flock was attacked and one of his flockmates was hurt, or if he disappointed the Master somehow. A bad day was when something bad happened, and he felt bad.
A neutral day was one where nothing especially good or bad happened.
A good day was a day spent with his Flock, a day spent influencing dreamers, or a day when he did something that made the Master happy. A day spent in the physical world, eating real grass, was definitely a good day, and a day when the Master showed an extra amount of trust in them was always a good day. By all counts, this should have been a good day, so why was he so worried?
He chewed on his grass thoughtfully. Real grass really was a special treat, and he was happy about that, at least. It was the responsibility it came with this time that bothered him.
This time, the Flock had been drafted into babysitting duty.
They had watched over things before, of course. Star, the Survivor had already stayed with them for nearly a year, and she was hard enough to keep safe, but this was no mere dream.
This time, the Master had left them alone with three tiny human children.
They were small, fragile, much more demanding than a dream lamb and infinitely more precious. Terrence (etc.) carried no doubts at all that if something happened to them on the Flock’s watch, they would regret it dearly. Luckily, it was only supposed to be for a few hours.
It was a very nice day, so they were all outside in the yard, but the door to the shack was open in case anyone needed anything from inside. The kids sat on a blanket in between all the sheep. The boy was pulling at the wool of a nightmare, seemingly content, and the girl who smelled like fire looked on quietly, but the other girl seemed bored.
She looked around with a determined face, and Terrence was suddenly reminded of how Star would look, seconds before bolting off to almost get herself killed. Again. The little sheep, not a lamb anymore, but still tiny, was always too curious for her own good. Too unafraid. She would evade the eyes of her guardians without thought, only to stand at the very edge of the pasture, staring at the void. She was reckless in her fascination, and this little human girl gave Terrence the same feeling.
Just as he had thought it, the little girl crawled off the blanket in the direction of the forest. She was not very fast, and Sauron managed to catch her shirt between his teeth and carry her back before she got very far, but she was determined, and immediately crawled off again.
All ten nightmares present watched with their metaphorical hearts in their throats as Sauron and Waddles II tried their best to wrestle the child down while not harming a hair on her head, and not letting her harm herself. By the time they managed it, mostly by pinning her to the ground and tickling her, they realized the other girl was gone.
The two child-wrestlers and the one whose wool was still being explored by the boy were left to stay by the blanket, and the rest of the sheep spread out in search of the missing child. Terrence turned a corner of the human residence just in time to see the girl wander away between the trees. Further in, he glimpsed the silhouette of something large and threatening.
He was over her in a second, no longer so worried about small scrapes. He displayed all his weapons and growled at the bearlike predator in front of him, but it did not seem deterred. Between his legs, the Master’s little girl whimpered. He had to keep her safe, he had to get her back okay, but he was just one nightmare, and the thing in front of him was far too big.
It took a step closer and opened jaws full of mandibles, and suddenly it had Killer clamped around its neck. The vicious little nightmare bit down, and the creature howled. Several more of his flockmates showed up around them, and he picked up the little girl and ran in the other direction. The Flock could handle the predator. The important thing was to keep the girl safe.
Back with her siblings, the girl started crying, and the other two followed suit. After making sure the three of them would stay put on the blanket this time, Terrence did the only thing he could do, and popped back into the mindscape.
The gray expanse of his home pastures was a welcome break from the stress of the waking world. Most of the Flock had been left there, patrolling the perimeter. Terrence passed between his brethren in search of a single sheep.
Star was easy enough to find, white against black as she was, and eager to help. The hard part was convincing the rest of the Flock to let her leave the mindscape without the Master present. Terrence had to admit he disliked the idea himself, so much could go wrong, but they were out of options. There were still several hours left until the Master or the parents of the children came back, and they were the Master’s precious ones, after all, they had to take precedence.
In the end, he and Star came back to the waking world together, and she calmed the crying children and put them to sleep in a matter of seconds. Hopefully, nothing else would go wrong before they were done.
Of course, the kids woke up after only an hour and were hungry. Lacking hands completely, that was almost a harder thing to fix for the sheep than fighting the bear-thing had been.
The Master came back in the end, though, and the children were both safe and content. The sheep were exhausted, some of them were actually injured, and Terrence was still shaking slightly from the scare, but the Master patted his head and told them ‘good work’, and that he was proud of them, so all in all? It was a good day.