The dream took place in some poorly defined era of early modern China - people who know me well will recognize that this is due to my fascination with the Eastern world in terms of history and non-modern culture - along the banks of an enormous river and surrounding areas.
Some kind of armed conflict was going on. I don't know if it was a civil war or invasion. Everyone looked Chinese/Asian to me, including myself. I was a young Chinese women, probably around the age of 20, in the company of other young woman that age and slightly younger. An old man was in charge of a small contingent of non-uniformed fighters, mostly young men in Western dress.
The dream really began taking shape once fighting reached our side of the river, thanks to women archers on the other side, who covered the crossing from boats. They killed the old man's infant/toddler son by somehow knocking his creche into the water, drowning him in the bassinet. That took the fight out of him.
What ensued was chaos and running. I ended up trying to hide behind a door in an upstairs bathroom - I could still see the river through a window covered with fluttery, translucent yellow curtains. Needless to say, I was found out pretty quickly and made prisoner.
At some point - it gets fuzzy here - we were given a last meal that included shrimp. I tossed the tails over an outdoor railing to a very ill-tempered cat below who had yellow eyes and long, faded black/brown fur.
Then one or two of the young women and I were taken abroad an enormous (and fancy) river barge that belonged to the victorious warlord. He was huge man in armor. The armor did not conform to any particular Asian style, according to what I have found on a google image search, but it sort of resembles this without the helmet. He also had a drooping mustache.
Anyway, the barge had a fire grate built into the floor/deck at one end, enclosed on three sides, but open to the main deck on the other. The idea was that the warlord was going to burn alive several young women from each province he had conquered. We were made to walk through a room that coated the bottoms of our feet with pitch. Then we were herded into the grate area. I think maybe a dozen of us.
We immediately began looking for things to put into the grate to cause smoke, so that we would choke or faint before being burned alive as that seemed preferable to most, but not all of us. I remember frantically scraping gray wood chips into the grate at my end.
Then the warlord came to us and asked each of us whether we could read and write, so that we could leave a record behind of where we had come from and so on. I told him that I could only read/write English. He told me that was foolish, but gave me a circular piece of paper and heavy writing instrument and ink anyway. The writing instrument was like a pointed ivory drumstick at least 18 inches in length.
I had a lot of trouble with writing and eventually just scribbled "remember me" over and over. I considered trying to use the instrument as a weapon in hopes of making a break for it or forcing them to kill me outright. Think about it - no one wants to burn, right?
As we were waiting for them to light the fire, I began wondering if I was dreaming and decided I had nothing to lose by trying to wake myself up. I succeeded.
So that was my night/early morning.