My tale begins in Lore Valley, a land full of lush forests and fields of flowers dancing in the breeze. The River of Temptation carries fresh water from the north, winding and twisting along the top half of the valley until it separates spectacularly into The Marvels of Seven Waterfalls in the east. Several forests, a seemingly endless prairie fondly called Ground Hogs Paradise, three riveting ravines, numerous ponds, and a series of impressive plateaus dot the landscape.
Countless varieties of flora and fauna call the valley home. Sunflowers sometimes stretch for miles, and when the breeze blows, the fields turn into a green sea with gold-capped waves. If you follow the waves far enough, they will pull you back into the time of fairies and castles, trolls and underground worlds.
Ages ago, the sun and rain kept the valley sparkling like a giant jewel. Bees carried nectar from blossom to blossom to ensure flowers bloomed in abundance. Industrious bugs and lazy worms kept the soil loose for plants to grow. Each creature helped keep the valley’s activities heightened with the predictability of the unexpected. The loving care Queen Pasha and her fairies bestowed upon the valley made it twinkle with splendor. The fairies nurtured all that lived in the valley, and their giving and kind nature bathed this slice of heaven on earth in a gossamer of tranquility.
The queen and her fairies thought they were the luckiest creatures alive.
And they might have been if it weren’t for the Dream Master.
This malevolent creature had a reputation from the darkest forest to the brightest sunlit sea as the most formidable being alive. Few had seen him, but those who had described him as larger than three giants standing one atop the next, with shoulders as wide as the outstretched branches of a redwood tree and feet as large as twin crocodiles. His eyes cast a red light so blinding no one could look at his face for more than the blink of an eye, although some claimed they had been able to make out a nose with five nostrils and a mouth with more tusks than teeth. His fingers sported talons instead of nails, and a slimy, putrid sheen covered his knuckles. His arms were attached to his side with thick leather-like skin that unfurled to surprisingly elegant wings, allowing him to sweep through the sky with grace unexpected in a creature so huge.
With vision sharper than an eagle’s, hearing more acute than an owl’s, a sense of smell keener than a bear’s, and power more ferocious than a dragon’s, no creature alive could defeat this massive agent of the dark. He lived to stalk and hunt things large and small, helpless and ferocious.
He did not hunt for food nor did he mount the heads of those he killed for others to admire. He did not even seek to capture victims to prove his superior hunting skills. No, the reason for the Dream Master’s hunt was far more treacherous. Rather than ending his victims’ lives for nourishment or show, he used those he hunted down to serve as demons in the nightmares of sleeping children.
Relentlessly, he trailed and shadowed his prey, making sure those he stalked were keenly aware that he had chosen them as his next victims. Before he moved in for annihilation, he tormented his targets with fear. Unless his captives instilled panic in a child’s dream by their size or appearance alone, the Dream Master made sure terror sweated through every cell of his victims to ensure the cruelest of nightmares. Only when he witnessed his prey turn mad with apprehension did he raise his instrument of torture to claim them, for it was their unbridled horror that he longed to trap for his repugnant purpose.
When the moment of quivering terror arrived, the Dream Master lifted his infamous dreamscope to suck his victims into the most feared device known to beauty or beast. This weapon, a tube-like apparatus from which no being could escape, had no equal, and those who caught a glimpse of it agreed that for all its wickedness, it also possessed astounding beauty. The Dream Master had created it himself, covering its entire silver surface with rubies he had robbed from pirates and diamonds he had plucked from the tiaras of dead queens.
Once he trapped his victims inside his malicious invention, the Dream Master turned a sapphire knob on top of it to secure his newest catch. Then slowly, painstakingly, he twisted the top, squeezing the life out of his captives until they were no more than mere shadows. Satisfied only after destroying all but the final hopes of his victims, he emptied their crushed spirits into the dream bag strapped to his thick, crimson, thorn-studded belt. His prey lingered inside his poisoned-sealed bag until he released them to torment the sleep of innocent children.
The Dream Master had longed fantasized of adding fairies to his dream bag. Of all creatures, fairies were the most harmless, loved by children around the world. This meant that fairies held the power to charm even the sourest child. Sleeping children everywhere smiled at the sight of a fairy in a dream, the child’s heart beating faster in anticipation of magical things unfolding. After a dream of fairies, little boys and girls awakened happy, full of the innocent belief that the world held wonderful experiences just waiting to unfold.
But if the Dream Master could compress a fairy in his dreamscope, if he could reduce it to nothing more that its final moments of crushing fear, the child’s sweet dream would erupt into a brutal nightmare. The child would be distrustful of anything good and pure forever, which would perfectly serve the Dream Master’s plan to destroy innocence and beauty wherever they existed.
Thankfully, fairies were beyond the reach of the Dream Master. He could not break through the impenetrable barrier that protected Lore Valley. The barrier was constructed of a web of shields made of nearly invisible fabric that was spun out of a potent mixture of love, trust, cooperation, and respect. Woven together, these held a power that even a creature as mighty as the Dream Master could not cross.
As long as the fairies were inside Lore Valley, they were safe. This did not suit the Dream Master, and so he studied fairies with such intensity that he came to know what went on in their hearts and heads. Well aware that some fairies had an insatiable curiosity, he believed he could lure one beyond their protective barrier by sending rumors of a land even more splendid than their own. Grown-up fairies knew of the Dream Master’s trickery and kept a close watch over the young, vulnerable fairies to make sure his plan never succeeded. If he caught even one fairy, it would be child’s play to capture the rest since the other fairies’ grief would be so overwhelming it would unravel the shield that protected Lore Valley. Then it would only be a matter of time before the Dream Master moved in and snatched every last fairy, sucking the life out of them in his dreamscope and using what remained to frighten children. The fairies could simply never, ever allow that to happen.
Up until the fateful night you will soon read about, the Dream Master had never managed to get closer to the fairies than the most distant dark cloud. He tried. Many, many nights he flew over Lore Valley, searching for a tear in the barrier, for a chink in the trust and love, cooperation and respect that kept the fairies safe from harm. But his efforts were in vain.
Until the night our story begins. On that particular night, the Dream Master turned too sharply as he flew to the land of human dreams and set in motion a series of events that would eventually allow him entry into the impenetrable world of Lore Valley.