woke up from a dream with a Lord of the Rings tone to it. I was an older hobbit, perhaps Bilbo, peripheral to the climax of the story, and I was being safeguarded by … an eagle, I think? a hot air balloon?
As the people at the center of the story moved closer towards their success or failure, I was helping my guardian put things to rights along the miles and miles of hundred-foot-high Intermetro shelving, which was full of pots and pans. Nice ones, too, mostly the all-clad and copper pans I’ve got at home. We were making sure everything was put away (perhaps we were emptying the Dishwasher of Doom) and I was explaining to my parents, on the phone and en route to visit me, just what the catastrophic danger was that the quest was to vanquish.
Not evil, so much, but a mistake. Magicians hundreds of years ago, drunk at a party, had attempted to create a giant, world-sized, magical phoenix, with three great fiery feathers coming from its head. Instead, they set in motion the creation of a phoenix which couldn’t fly, which would manifest, cover the world with its wings, silently cause every person in Middle Earth to vanish, and then be replaced by someone different. It wasn’t clear whether this had or had not happened in the past already, but the implication was that if it had, nobody now alive would have known, as we would have been created, fully-formed, from nothing, with stories and lives of our own already in place.