As heavy clouds choked out the moon and stars, only thugs and miscreants stalked the streets that night. An alley cat stealthily darted past streetlights and stopped suddenly at the door of Willingham Purveyor of Fine Antiques, almost as if lured in by a mystical presence. The cat dashed away when a gust of wind blew through the abandoned street and caused the sign to creak as the rusted metal rubbed together inharmoniously.
Neither the disturbed sign nor the dog howling a block away could awaken the elderly antique store owner living above the shop. As she lay there, her spirit quickly travelled through a decrepit forest in the Realm of Dreams. With the agility of a gymnast, she jumped over fallen trees and bounded over an occasional trickling brook before finally arriving at the base of a dagger shaped mountain.
She rushed up a rocky trail effortlessly, reaching the top in a matter of minutes. She stared into dark cave opening and muttered a few secret words, which allowed her to enter without fear. Inside, a man sat in a leather wingback chair silently twisting his gray handlebar mustache. He appeared quite content sitting there in his gray jacket, green vest, and pinstriped pants fit perfectly in the suave décor. With a Persian rug, medieval style paintings, and solid wood coffee table, the man’s abode looked like it could have easily came straight from the set of a Shakespeare play.
Light from the fireplace waltzed with the shadows as a smile swept onto his face. “Hello Estelle. It is about time you had a reason to show up here. Please let it be good news this time.” He stared at Estelle with the desperation of someone deprived off all human contact, when in fact it had only been a few weeks since another one of his friends visited him last.
“Indeed I do, Ranald. Things are falling in place now. I have started getting death threats and your old box found its way into the store just last week. I presume the boy will blow in before long, then all the wheels will really start turning.” Estelle eyes shifted back and forth examining the cave.
Red carpet covered the ground; the gold colored patterns glistened in the light produced by the torches that lit the hideaway. Between the torches hung intricate tapestries and paintings depicting dragons, unicorns, and other fantastic creatures. The mixture of medieval and Victorian décor almost made the cave homelike. Almost.
Ranald watched his guest glare around the cave. He waited until Estelle’s eyes met his before speaking. “That is good to hear. I look forward to the day I can walk among the people of this realm again. Hopefully the chosen ones will ensure that.”
“I sure hope so. I cannot say I would fare well cooped up like this. But with your life in danger and the importance of your existence, we must keep you safe.” Estelle plopped down in a chair next to him.
“That we must, Estelle.” Ranald said as he picked up a glass of amber liquid and took a swig. “That we must.”
"I am sure you know the world has changed quite a bit since you left, do you not?” His eyes widened in excitement allowing the flames across the room to dance in the widened reflection of his gaze.
“I don't doubt that at all, but I must ask you how the University is doing in your day and age?” He twiddled his thumbs anxiously as he awaited the answer.
She smiled, for she had a feeling that she would be answering this question. “Quite well actually. Thriving at that, I must add. I visited just last month and the grounds look gorgeous.”
“That is excellent to hear. However, I better let you go now. Thank you for informing me about the state of the prophecy. It’s pleasing to know.” The flickering fire illuminated the tears that perched in the corner of his eyes as his sniffle echoed throughout the cave.
“It sure is. You have made this old cave quite pleasant and I regret that I can’t stay longer, but we both know how it is. Goodbye Ranald, I hope to see you soon.” She stood up and turned towards the cave exit.
“ Goodbye Estelle. I genuinely hope that everything goes well for you and your own, in the waking world...and I suppose this one too.”
She watched his eyes drop down, the dancing flames ceased as the optimism escaped his eyes. “I’ve long dreaded the age ruled by fear and sorrow. Now it seems that age has come. No longer is the Realm of Dreams a safe haven for all, but I have faith that it won’t be too long before this once more is a home away from home for those needing it the most.” Her head jolted as she turned around missing his reaching and without another word, she quickly dashed out the cave.
Ranald stood up and began pacing around the cave. He fidgeted with his bow tie nervously while mumbling aloud to himself. “I hope those young’uns can pull this off. If they fail, both our worlds are in for more chaos than ever imagined."