Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Three, Part Four

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Three, Part Four

~~~~~~~~~~

Jonathan was intrigued with this land of Myllanthar he had found himself in, realizing that his situation was much more involved than he had originally thought.  Gramps was right, it wouldn’t be easy for him to find a simple way back to Ohio from here.  He was now fully engaged and prepared to undertake this journey and prepare his heart for the trip back to Hampton, although he had no idea how that would work – but it was his only choice.

Gramps paused for a moment from his dissertations concerning the history and geography of Myllanthar, and turned his ear slightly to the doorway to listen. Returning his gaze to Jonathan he said, “Jonathan, I believe the time has arrived for you to meet a long, lost friend of yours – rise up and go to the doorway to see who awaits you!”

Jonathan peered through the hanging vines of the doorway and saw Majeka standing at the edge of the clearing in the late afternoon light. Only then did he realize that the entire day had been filled with the tales of Myllanthar and that dusk would soon be setting in the mountain valley of Glandwr.  He ran to meet Majeka and welcome him home, but was suddenly knocked to the ground by an invisible force that hit him waist high with total surprise.  It took a moment while tumbling to the ground before Jonathan realized that it was his beloved dog, Sammy – planted squarely on top of him and licking his face with a joy that even Jonathan hadn’t seen in him before! “Sammy, you’ve found me!  I lost you and thought I’d never see you again, but you’ve come home – welcome back!”

Nothing could have made Jonathan happier than seeing Sammy again! After all, Sammy was his beloved friend and adventure companion, and to be reunited with Sammy made Jonathan feel complete again. In that moment, joy returned to his heart and soul – and except for the fact that he remained lost in an unfamiliar world – his life was now complete. After losing Sammy in Stony Creek, Jonathan had been distraught and remorseful about his having ventured beyond the creek, but now as they wrestled each other and rolled on the ground it was just like being home again.  His worries were gone for the moment and the two of them played together like the old friends they were, while Gramps stood smiling outside doorway.

“Well, Jonathan, it looks like the two of you are glad to see each other again!  Sammy hasn’t been happy without you since the day he fell off the log into Stony Creek and was swept downstream in the turbulent waters.  He’s a faithful companion and should serve you well in your future journeys throughout this land.”

Jonathan looked up at Gramps from under a face-full of dog planted directly on top of him and asked, “Gramps, how did you come to find Sammy?  How did you know he was my dog and that he fell into Stony Creek and was swept away downstream?  I thought he was lost forever!”

“Let’s just say that Sammy and I have an understanding – this isn’t his first visit to Myllanthar, Jonathan.  In fact, I had been awaiting your arrival for some time now, knowing it was only a matter of time before you crossed Stony Creek and found your way here.  The River Rhayden may have been the doorway into this land for you, Jonathan, but it isn’t the path of your return.  You may only return to your land of Ohio once your heart’s been prepared for the journey home. Sammy was able to return home to you because his heart belongs to you.  If and when you do return home, Jonathan, you’ll never be the same person you were when you left Ohio, because you will have been changed from the inside out.  Listen to your heart, Jonathan, for it will guide you through our land and show you the doorway home. We’ll continue this discussion in a moment, but for now let’s find Sammy something to eat – I’m sure he’s hungry!”

Gramps went back into Tywyn and returned with a few strips of dried meat.  He first gave the meat to Jonathan to give to Sammy to chew on, before walking over to Majeka to quietly speak a few words to him. Majeka pawed the earth with his hoof in a bond of total understanding and was at once on his way into the late afternoon shadows of the forest.  Jonathan, Sammy and Gramps then went back into Tywyn, where Jonathan had Sammy lie down on the bed of moss to continue chewing on the dried meat.  Gramps poured some water out of the earthen vessel into a wooden bowl and placed it beside Sammy, saying a few words to him that Jonathan wasn’t able to understand.

“How did you know that I would find my way here to Myllanthar, Gramps?  You said it was just a matter of time – how did you know that?”

“When Sammy first arrived in Myllanthar, he crossed Stony Creek on his own.  The rogue riders of Nierron shot him with an arrow in his hind leg, but he managed to get away.  I was alerted by the Rhayander who led me to where Sammy was lying in the forest.  I removed the arrow and applied a salve to heal the wound, and in the process I learned much about you and your land of Ohio, Jonathan. Once I was sure that Sammy would be alright, I sent him back home to you – knowing then that it was only a matter of time before you ventured beyond Stony Creek yourself.  It was then that I rescued Dijia from Nierron’s riders and sent him to wait for you in the cave at the top of the Dorrimar Pass.  So when I found you on the bank of the River Illandrith, it was not unexpected.  I knew Sammy couldn’t be far away, so I gave instructions to the Rhayander to search for him. Once they found Sammy, I sent Majeka to lead him here to Glandwr.”

“Gramps, how is it that you can speak with the Rhayander, Majeka and even Sammy? How do they understand you?”

“All things in life are connected, Jonathan, often in ways that don’t require language. See how Sammy’s attentive to your every move and listens to the words you speak? You talk to him yourself as if he understands your every word – and many he does – but he can also understand you without knowing the meaning of your words, as well. The two of you understand each other on a deeper level that transcends language and speaks directly to the heart.  For hearts hold the key to all beauty, goodness and understanding in life.  We only fully understand one another when we’re open and vulnerable to each other, to the point of truly joining hearts – just as you and Sammy have – because you love each other.  Keep your heart open and vulnerable to the world around you, Jonathan – no matter how cold or cruel the world treats you – because the world will see your warmth even if they don’t respond to you.  Only then, will you be prepared for returning home to Ohio.”

“But Gramps, your heart’s pure – you could cross Stony Creek and return again to Myllanthar just like Sammy did – couldn’t you?”

“Of all who have tried, none have returned, save one – Sammy.  My success would not be guaranteed, for even I don’t know all the mysteries of the journey it requires. Sammy has now made three passages through Seerlyth Cullyan between our lands. The first time I discovered Sammy in Myllanthar, I sent him back home to you for that’s where his heart belongs – to you, Jonathan.  The reason Sammy was successful in returning to you was because his heart’s kind and contains no ill will – which seems to hold the key to crossing back over the veil of separation.  That’s why I told you your heart must be prepared for your journey home, because you must ensure it holds only love for all things within it.  Only then, will you be assured of a safe passage home.”

“But you rescued Sammy, Dijia and me, Gramps!  I’m sure you could cross the veil!”

“My heart has seen too much over the course of my many years traveling throughout Myllanthar, to ever choose to cross Seerlyth Cullyan – for my heart belongs here.  I can tell you that Sammy didn’t return to Ohio by simply crossing back over the River Rhayden, so it’s not a two-way veil for you to follow either.  For you, it was simply an entrance into our land.  However, the path that Sammy took back to Ohio is known only to him.  Although I understand Sammy and the nature of all things, Sammy can’t describe the path he followed to return to you and it remains a mystery.  So my advice to you, Jonathan – since I know Sammy’s heart is pure and true, and holds nothing but love for you – is that you must do the same.  Whatever fate befalls you in this land, you must not let it fill your heart with anything that tarnishes the love you hold for your parents, for the Spencer Farm, for Trooper, for Sammy or for your beloved Ohio, or you will never leave here.  But if your heart remains pure and true, you will find the path you seek – for it’s your heart that will show you the way home.  No one else, not even me, can help you in this journey, only Sammy can help show you the way.”

The still air of dusk was suddenly shattered by a sharp, piercing cry from overhead, sending a shudder through Jonathan and making Gramps go to the doorway to listen intently.  Sammy bounded to the cabin’s doorway to stand beside Gramps as if feeling the need to defend Tywyn from any outside intruders.  “It’s the Rhayander, Jonathan, warning us that Nierron’s riders have entered Glandwr. The eagles are doing battle with them, but there’s no time to waste – you must flee to the top of the Dorrimar Pass! I’ve prepared a bag of provisions for your journey. Eat sparingly and you won’t go hungry, for these loaves will sustain you. Travel through the night without stopping – the Talspine will light your way in the darkness!”

Gramps knelt down beside Sammy, touched his ears and spoke quietly to him in words Jonathan didn’t understand.  Grabbing his cloak, Jonathan hurriedly put it on while picking up the bag of provisions and his backpack from beside the bed of moss, before passing through the doorway of hanging vines with Sammy into the growing darkness. “Follow Sammy, Jonathan – he knows the way! Travel in haste, quickly now!”

Jonathan stumbled into the twilight and fumbled to find the Talspin from under his shirt.  Calling back over his shoulder he said, “But, Gramps – what about you?”

“There’s no time – don’t worry about me!  Flee to safety and follow your heart!”

Jonathan freed the Talspin from under his shirt and directed its ice-blue light ahead of him, while trying to manage both bags with his other hand. Sammy disappeared ahead of him into the shadows of the forest and the two plunged into the night, as the sounds of battle filled Glandwr with the screeches and cries of the Rhayander.  Gramps waited for a moment until Jonathan and Sammy had disappeared into the forest towards the Dorrimar Pass, before silently slipping away into the shadows in the other direction – towards Mirror Lake – and the sounds of battle…

(End of Chapter Three)

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Three, Part Three

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Three, Part Three

~~~~~~~~~~

Jonathan awoke on his bed of moss to the chatter of birds and tried to remember where he was.  Light streamed in through slivers and gaps in the roof of branches, vines, leaves and the occasional bird nest overhead, while Jonathan recalled the events of the previous few days.  The fire in the fireplace had long since burned out and Gramps was still sitting at the table as he was last night, studying a thick tome of leather bound pages.  Without diverting his gaze from the page before him, Gramps said, “It’s about time you woke up, Lad.  I dare say you won’t have such luxuries in your future.”

Stretching his arms over his head Jonathan asked, “Gramps, couldn’t you just show me the direction to Hampton so I can walk home? That would be a lot easier than having to prepare my heart.  That’s all I really want, just to go home.  It’s fun being here on an adventure with you and Majeka, but I have school on Monday and third grade to go to this fall.”

“There are many things you do not yet understand about me or this land, Jonathan.  This is not Ohio and for the sake of our discussion Ohio doesn’t even exist anymore – think of Ohio as a dream you remember and hold in your heart.  Someday you may be able to return, but not anytime soon I’m afraid.  You must first learn our ways in order to simply survive this adventure if you’re ever to return home.  You’ll need energy for the journey, Lad, so come to the table and finish the nuts from the bowl.  I’ll fill your tankard with water from one of the vessels I filled this morning at the spring.”

Rising up from his bed of moss, Jonathan sat down at the table and began cracking the remaining nuts from last night’s dinner. Gramps got up from the table and filled Jonathan’s cup before walking over to a stack of worn and weathered books bound in leather.  He retrieved a heavy volume of considerable size and returned with it to the table and placed the text before Jonathan.  “This Jonathan, is the history of the Land of Myllanthar.  We don’t have time for you to study it in detail, but it’s important that I explain to you the things that you will need to know in order to find your way back home.  The rest you will have to discover for yourself, for time is of the essence.”

Jonathan slowly opened the large, heavy volume sitting before him.  It was bound in leather with ornate, metal hinges and embossed in gold lettering and words that were unfamiliar to him.  In the middle of the first page though, was a symbol that Jonathan had seen before – the symbol of a sun with an oak tree within its outline.  The pages were of a thinner animal skin than the map was made of and the volume was colorfully illustrated throughout with elaborate lettering and drawings. Jonathan was beginning to understand that he was in a far different place and couldn’t simply walk home to Hampton, no matter how much he wanted to.

When Jonathan had finished leafing through the pages of the book, Gramps set the text aside and unrolled the leather scroll containing the map they had studied the night before.  Jonathan’s history and geography lessons now continued, “All you see before you on the map is the Land of Myllanthar, Jonathan.  We’re here at Tywyn, in Glandwr, at the foot of the Pass of Dorrimar, just east of Mount Rhayander in the Tregarron Mountains, north of the Kingdom of Dorrimar.  To the south of Myllanthar is the Sea of Pulthyar.  Your journey will take you to the cave at the top of the Dorrimar Pass where your companion awaits your arrival.  Gather what supplies you can carry from the cave when you leave there in order to sustain you on your way.”

“Who is this companion waiting for me at the cave, Gramps?  How will I know who he is?”

“His name is Dijia and is the one the riders of Nierron have been searching for.  He’s a young lad like you.  I sent him to wait for you atop the Dorrimar Pass the day before I found you on the bank of the River Illandrith.  He will explain his quest to you when you reach the cave, meanwhile, the Rhayander are watching out for his safety.  We must spend our time today studying this map, for the appointed hour is close at hand – you are to leave tonight and climb the Dorrimar Pass.”

“Tonight?  Why must I leave here tonight, Gramps?  It’ll be dark – how am I to climb a mountain at night?”

“I told you the journey would not be an easy one, Jonathan.  Do not be so fearful or you will never see your beloved Ohio again.  The riders will not be able to follow you under the cover of darkness.  You must not be captured or you would lead them to the one they seek – the only option remaining to you is to travel by night.”

“How will I see in the dark, Gramps?  Will you be going with me to show me the way?”

“I have given you the Talspin to guide your way – you will not need me.  I have other pressing matters to attend to.”  Turning his attention to the map Gramps continued, “You must travel east along the Tregarron Mountains, for they will take you in the direction Dijia requires.  Do not travel north into the Kingdom of Nierron or south into the Kingdom of Dorrimar.  In the mountains you will meet the Slejuv People, nomads who live in the high regions and are loyal only to themselves.  They will aid you on your journey if you seek their help.  They are neither friends of King Tucar or King Cyulthar.”

“To the east of the Kingdom of Dorrimar lies the Kingdom of Ellberron, a peaceful land of fishermen along the sea.  They fear both Nierron and Dorrimar and man the border along the Dorrimar Range. They will be wary of your journey and will question you at length about why you are there, so it is best to stay away from their border. Follow the most difficult paths in the wilds of the high country – that’s where you will find the Slejuv.”

Jonathan concentrated as best he could on this strange map, but it was all too much for him.  Not wanting to seem fearful of the challenge ahead Jonathan asked, “To where is it we travel, Gramps? Where does Dijia need to go?”

Gramps looked down at Jonathan from across the table and knew this was the moment he had been waiting for.  Jonathan was no longer a child seeking only to return to Ohio, but was now putting on the mantel of manhood.  Surely he would need to grow into it, but grow he must – and quickly – for it was his only chance.  “Dijia will explain it all to you in due course, Jonathan, but his journey is to travel east. That is all we will speak of it.”  Gramps realized it was dangerous for Jonathan to know too much, too soon. If he was captured by the riders of Nierron before reaching the cave it would place Dijia in great danger.

“Tell me about the rest of the lands if I am to travel without you, Gramps, for I must know my way.”

“To the northwest of Nyllaythel or the Nether Realm is the Kingdom of Errayllor beyond the Ullryth Hills.  The Kingdom of Ullryth ceased to exist following Pulthar Bokkan in the Year 3287.  They didn’t understand Seerlyth Cullyan and grew fearful of losing their people across the boundary of separation.  Those remaining migrated east into the Kingdom of Kierron in the days of King Turrimar.  The Kingdom of Errayllor lies in the great Plains of Errayllor – a wide expanse of grasslands where the wind blows unabated – south of the Sea of Kuhlarr.  The Errayllor are proud and noble horsemen.  Theirs is a land of ranchers, farmers and fishermen providing for their people, yet ready to defend their land at a moment’s notice from the likes of King Tucar and the terror of dark places.  For between the Kingdom of Errayllor and the Kingdom of Nierron lies the Wastelands of Fell Ignar or Kriegareth.  Fell Ignar is a region of deep canyons and dark caverns, a place where no man dares travel – for dark things dwell underground in that realm.”

Jonathan was paying attention to every word Gramps was saying, because he didn’t want to appear as a child.  The need to travel alone into the mountains after nightfall awoke Jonathan to the realization that he needed to take this journey seriously, because it was his only way back to Hampton.  His parents were counting on him to come home and Trooper would need to be taken care of.  Jonathan thought about how he had lost Sammy in Stony Creek and couldn’t bare to think about it, so he returned his focus to what Gramps was saying.

Gramps continued, “East of Errayllor lies the Sylthar Wood, a great forest that extends from the coastline of the Sea of Kuhlarr to the Wastelands of Fell Ignar or Kriegareth and over to the Marshlands of Sojar.  The Sylthar Wood is home to the Sylth, a people living in the shadows of the forest.  They are a peaceful and gentle people when left to themselves, but do not enter their wood without a peaceful heart – for those who do never return.”

“Are they like elves, Gramps?  I’ve read that elves live in the forest – along with fairies,” remarked Jonathan as he desperately tried to concentrate on the map before him.

“You may remember the Sylth as elves and fairies if you choose to, Jonathan, but they may surprise you in their ability to defy explanation.  They appear in forms of their own choosing and disappear at will, taking the shape of a deer, acorn, mushroom, leaf or butterfly – or nothing at all –  as they wish.  For that reason, no one dares enter their wood.”

“But you have, Gramps, haven’t you?  Otherwise, how would you know all about them?”

“Yes, I have lived with the Sylth before and have reason to meet with them in their wood from time to time, for they are an ancient people – from before the arrival of man through Seerlyth Cullyan.  They have always lived in Myllanthar and always will – as will I.”

“Are you ancient too, Gramps?  You must know everything!”

“I am of the land, Jonathan – it was I that greeted the Sylth when the land was new – but we digress.  As I mentioned, between the Kingdoms of Errayllor and Nierron lies a great divide – the Wastelands of Fell Ignar or Kriegareth.  This is a land of dark caverns and lost places that run deep underground.  A people live in these dark places that never see the sun.  They are a mystery to everyone and no one dares venture into the darkness.  Their tunnels extend under all of Myllanthar and they travel at will. Those who live near caverns fear the dark, for many have gone missing after sunset. Avoid the dark places, Jonathan, for they are not for the faint of heart.”

“Have you gone into dark places, Gramps?”

“I have, but never without cause, Jonathan – but I’ve said enough and all you need to know for now.”

Gramps continued, “East of the Wastelands of Kriegareth lies the River Sojar and the Marshlands of Sojar.  The people of Sojar are nomadic and live north of the Tregarron Mountains and west of the Talgar Range and serve no other Lord and King.  They are a quiet people related to the Slejuv who dwell in the Tregarron, but the Sojar dwell in coastal lowlands where they herd sheep, cattle and horses. The Land of Sojar lies at the crossroads of Myllanthar and all people travel to trade with them – even from the sea.”

“Who do they trade with at sea, Gramps – are they fishermen?”

“The Sojar only fish along the coastline, Jonathan – but in the Sea of Kuhlarr lies the Island of Ayall.  Many centuries ago a few of the Sojar discovered a shallow reef far out to sea where they set about to create a new land, an island they made for themselves from their own labors over time.  They crush shells, bones and coral together before mixing them with sand.  A binder is added to this mixture to form hollow spheres as if carved out of rock.  The spheres are then fashioned together with nets into floating rafts and taken to Ayall, where they are filled with sand, coral and rock before attaching them to the reef – which over time has covered the spheres in fresh, new coral.

The Ayall people are only distantly related to the Sojar today and they trade with each other as other lands do.  The Ayall have transplanted marsh reeds from the marshlands of Sojar to their island.  The reeds thrive in saltwater and their roots help bind the island together, making the Island of Ayall a green oasis at sea.  The Ayall craft their houses out of spheres secured to foundations of coral and bundle the reeds together to craft their fishing boats and furniture. They also use the reeds to thatch the roofs of their houses and weave the reed’s fibers into cloth from which they make their clothes. The Ayall trade their products from the sea and the Sojar trade their products from the land in a peaceful coexistence, as if a single people.”

Jonathan had finished the bowl of acorns, walnuts, hazelnuts, beechnuts and hickory nuts during this discussion and Gramps went to refill it.  He also took a few strips of dried meat for them to chew on from a leather pouch and refilled their tankards with water from the earthen vessel.  “Jonathan, eat your fill before tonight as you will need the energy for your journey.  We have only covered half the map and there is much more to discuss.  Eat up, for time is slipping away.”

While Jonathan continued cracking nuts, Gramps went to the door of the dwelling and parted the hanging vines to look out at the sky – seemingly looking, searching or listening for someone.  In a moment he returned and said, “We have little time, Jonathan.  Eat your fill while you can and I will explain the remaining portions of the map to you.”

“East of the Kingdom of Dorrimar lies the Dorrimar Range and beyond is the Kingdom of Ellberron – a peaceful, coastal kingdom of seafaring people.  To the far southeast lies the desert Kingdom of Kardune, a tribal people that live along the coastline of a sparsely settled land of rock and blowing sand.  Northeast of Ellberron lies the Kingdom of Pengarth, a region of rural villages and bountiful crops.  It’s a kingdom in turmoil since King Tyijar was assassinated by a traitor under the control of Vyanthal, the self-proclaimed ruler and King of Talgar.  There is a spreading poison and web of deception being woven between Vyanthal of Talgar, King Tucar of Nierron and King Cyulthar of Dorrimar – a cloud of darkness spreading over all lands.”

Jonathan could tell that this discussion of darkness and deception had stirred an intense passion within Gramps, fueling a resentment that could hardly be contained. With a force of words Jonathan had never seen before, Gramps continued, “East of the Land of Sojar beyond the Talgar Mountains and north of the Tregarrons lies the Kingdom of Talgar – a Shining Light and beacon of hope in earlier times that will never be forgotten or abandoned.  Between mountain ranges lies the Inland Sea of Talgar and beside it the Sparkling Jewel of Talgarth – now decreed to be a forbidden city by Vyanthal.  East of Myllanthar is the Sea of Tollvar and in it lies the Island of Tyull – a fortress that no man visits voluntarily.  I was once brought there as a captive against my will, before darkness and deception grew over the land.  I will speak no more of Tyull – for the time for words is now long passed…”

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Three, Part Two

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Three, Part Two

~~~~~~~~~~

Gramps removed the two small loaves from the stone slab beside the fire and ladled the hot broth into tankards, filling the cabin with an aroma that immediately cleared their lungs and refreshed their spirits even before enjoying a sip.  Jonathan rose up from the bed of moss in the corner and they seated themselves at the table that had been crafted by the forest itself out of living vines.  The fire created a surreal aura within Tywyn, bathing the room in a soft light and casting a mosaic of shadows from every limb, vine, leaf and twig surrounding them – for here they were within the very heart of the forest itself.

“Jonathan, this meal will nourish our spirits and feed our souls.  Pause with me for a moment to give thanks for our safe delivery from the wilderness and from those who would inflict harm on our people and our land.  We choose to live in peace, and peace we leave behind in our footsteps.  May the peace we sow be fruitful and multiply throughout the land, filling the hearts of all those we encounter along our way…”

Jonathan had never tasted anything more filling and nourishing than this simple meal of broth and bread.  He felt its warmth and energy flowing throughout his body and permeating his weary bones.  He didn’t know or remember what day it was or how long he had been away from home – it could have been days or weeks for all he knew. Even though he longed to return to his parents and to the Spencer Family Farm, his relationship with Gramps was undeniably endearing to him.  He recalled the words Gramps had spoken to him earlier, “No other person has ever been invited to Tywyn, yet it feels as if this honor has been prepared and reserved for you to receive in this very moment of time.  You are a guest of the land, Jonathan, and it’s only fitting that the forest itself make you feel welcomed and treasured. For you are a gift given to us in this time, an emissary to our land from your homeland and from your people.  You have many things to teach us, Jonathan – speak wisely, knowing that your words are valuable to the ears that will hear them.”

Jonathan was trying to understand who this Illandor he called Gramps really was – dressed in simple, peasant robes and wandering independently through the forest.  Jonathan recalled Gramps saying, “Jonathan, this is my home, Tywyn – a gift to me from the very forest itself.  It’s a nurturing place for both heart and soul – a place of belonging – for here my roots run deep into the very earth itself. Please make yourself at home, for now it’s your home and oasis, too.” Jonathan took the opportunity to ask the question that was on the forefront on his mind, “Gramps, you have taken such good care of me, but tell me – who are you really?”

“Jonathan, I have no title, position or station in life, for I belong to everyone and to everything.  My purpose is to nourish and care for all living things to the best of my ability – it’s also your purpose as well – for we all are given the solemn responsibility to love and care for one another.  For me, it’s my nature to do so and I cannot go against my nature no matter the condition of the world outside my doorstep – I must be true to who I’m called to be.  Illandor is the name given to me by those who know of me, but little else.  Myllanthyl is the name given to me by the land, for I am of the very land itself – the rocks, soil, sea and all living things that were here before the arrival of man know me.  My name from another time and place is Arrydor, a name of honor, loyalty, justice and friendship. Arrydor will return on the day that was foretold, for the land itself cries out for justice.  We live in a time of turmoil and great danger…and the appointed hour is fast approaching.”

The fire began to die down as the two famished travelers finished their meals and relished having reached Tywyn after such an arduous journey.  The wind rustled the branches above them and Gramps tended the fire to maintain its embers that bathed Tywyn in a soft and warming glow.  Gramps filled a wooden bowl with acorns, walnuts, beechnuts, butternuts, hickory nuts, and hazelnuts that the squirrels had stored away for him in the corner and placed it on the table along with two flat rocks.  “Jonathan, these nuts are our dessert – they will provide you with all the energy you’ll need to continue on your journey.  The time has come for me to explain the ways of this world that you now find yourself in.  There’s much for you to learn and understand about this land and the journey that awaits you if you are to ever make your way back to your beloved Ohio.”

Gramps then retrieved a tattered, leather scroll from the corner and unrolled it on the table, revealing an ancient map with names and descriptions unlike anything Jonathan had seen before.  The map depicted mountains, hills, plains, deserts, rivers, marshlands and seas, along with cities, castles and kingdoms annotated within the varying terrain.  “This Jonathan, is a map of our world – the Land of Myllanthar – which means Garden Oasis.  You have arrived in the far western frontier in the Great Forest of the Nether Realm or Lost Realm.  It is an untraveled and unknown corner of our world called the Wilderness of Nyllaythel.  It’s a place of vast forests that are ruled by no man – a place of no return – for those who dare to venture into the forests of Nyllaythel never return.”

“But, Gramps – how can someone enter this forest and never return?”

“They disappear from the Land of Myllanthar, which is why this realm is a lost and forlorn place.”

“How can they just disappear?  What happens to them?”

Illandor pointed to the map and said, “Your answer lies here on the western edge of the Great Forest of the Nether Realm where our world ends…located roughly parallel to the River Rhayden, or Stony Creek as you call it.  This is the furthest west we may travel, for it’s the point of no return.  There’s no return from crossing the Rhayden – for no one ever has, save one – and the reason they were successful in returning was because their heart was pure and knew no ill.  Being pure of heart seems to be the key to crossing the veil and returning.  That’s why I told you your heart must be prepared for the journey home, because you must ensure it holds only love for all things within it.  Only then, can you hope for a safe passage home.”

“What do you mean by crossing the veil?  I don’t understand, Gramps.  I didn’t see anything when I crossed Stony Creek, there were even riders on the other side in the forest.”

“Jonathan, the Veil of Separation or Seerlyth Cullyan separates the Land of Myllanthar from whatever lies on the other side.  The veil isn’t a physical place like a door or a curtain made of fabric.  It’s an invisible boundary or layer of separation between two time phases – like a tunnel leading from one time and place to another.  You were unaware that it was even there when you passed through the veil from the Land of Ohio into the Land of Myllanthar.   Ages ago, at the end of the Age of Promise in the year 3287, Pulthar Bokkan occurred.  It was the event that created the veil.”

Illandor continued, “Waves or ripples in the fabric of time frequently travel across the universe, like the ripples created by tossing a pebble into a still pond that go out in all directions.  Normally,  these waves pass through each other in opposite directions without incident. Pulthar Bokkan was the result of two of these time waves colliding and fusing together, held in place by their counter rotating time phasing.  No one knows how long they will remain locked in place, or why they fused together in the first place.  This place of separation is called Seerlyth Cullyan.  Pulthar Bokkan is unknown to others in this land and those who dare travel into Nyllaythel risk crossing Seerlyth Cullyan…and never return.”

“Is Ohio on the other side of the veil, Gramps?  Can’t I just go back across Stony Creek to get home?”

“It isn’t that simple, Jonathan.  There’s no guarantee that Ohio is where you will end up, which is why your heart must be prepared for the journey in order to give you the best chance of returning home. These ripples or waves in the fabric of time are never static, Jonathan, but always rotating along their boundary like the curl at the leading edge of a wave.  It is this swirling effect within the nature and substance of time itself that fused these waves in place.  As you pass through these rotating waves in the fabric of time along the boundary of separation, you could arrive at another point and time in the universe.  I only know of one other traveler who has passed through Seerlyth Cullyan and returned to where they came from – and that gives me hope that you will be able to do the same.”

“But why were the riders on horseback chasing me if this is a lost realm, Gramps – who were they?”

“The only ones that dare travel beyond the Nefyanll or Forlorn Crescent Mountain Range and venture into the Great Forest of the Nether Realm are the rogue raiding parties from Nierron.  The Kingdom of Nierron lies east of the Nefyanll and wages constant battle with all peoples and lands.  Nierron’s rogue riders live to wage war and receive lavish rewards for victory by King Tucar – for they have every incentive to succeed and every punishment awaits their failure. They’ll never give up, give in, or turn a blind eye to the orders they’ve been given, for losing their lives in battle is better for them than the punishment that awaits them if they return in defeat.  That’s why they risk crossing the veil.”

“I hope when the riders cross this veil they don’t end up in Ohio, that would be terrible!”

“Jonathan, even I can’t say where their destination lies, but had their hearts been pure they would have returned long ago.  I suspect their destination is not a place that you or I have any desire to see…”

“I have an arrow they shot at me while I was in the river with Majeka – it’s black with a red band – I grabbed it in the water and put it in my backpack.  Here it is.  See, I still have it.”

“Yes, Jonathan, that’s the arrow of the riders of Nierron – throw it into the fire immediately – you want nothing to do with it.  It’ll only find its way back to an evil quiver, and one day, to a bow.”

Pointing to the map before them Illandor continued, “You are here in the Tregarron Mountains, southwest of the Boundary Mountains of Nefyanll or Lost Range.  Tywyn lies here at the southern point of Glandwr, at the base of Mount Rhayander – the home of the Rhayander, the eagles who rule the winds over the Nether Realm. King Amroth and his legions of eagles protect this region against all intruders, including the raiding parties of Nierron.  This region’s known only to the Rhayander and the details of this land are depicted on no map drawn in the current age.  Nierron sends ever more frequent raiding parties into Nyllaythel in these days, looking for something or someone – which is how they came to pursue you and the reason that you can’t remain here long.  The riders are not to be underestimated – they’ll turn over every stone in Nyllaythel until they’ve found you, so you must flee while there’s still time.  Your first encounter with them was a lucky escape before Majeka could carry you over the cliff and into the River Illandrith.  Few are ever able to escape their pursuit and none forever.  Because you have been seen by the Rhayander accompanying me, they will not harm you…but will instead help to protect you on your journey.”

“Was it always so dangerous in this land, Gramps?”

“There was a time, long ago now, Jonathan, when Nyllaythel was the most peaceful of lands, back when Turrimar was King of the Kingdom of Kierron.  When he died, the kingdom was thrown into chaos and Tucar emerged victorious.  His riders crowned him King and he changed the name of the kingdom from Kierron to Nierron.  It was then that the Rhayander fought back from the air and drove Nierron’s riders east of the Nefyanll.  It’s only recently that they’ve returned, ever more resourceful and vigilant, staying under the cover of the forest to avoid the Rhayander.  If they avoid crossing the veil and try to cross back over the mountain passes into Nierron, they are fully exposed from the air and swiftly meet their fate from the Rhayander’s talons.  However, in these days there are ever more riders being sent into Nyllaythel and the Rhayander are only so many.”

“How did you come to find me, Gramps?  Did you know that the riders were chasing me, or did you find me beside the river by accident?”

Illandor replied and placed his finger on the map, “Jonathan, you crossed through the Veil of Separation here at the River Rhayden, which you call Stony Creek.  The Rhayander followed your progress to the meadow by Ullryth Pond, southwest of the Ullryth Hills.  I sent Majeka to find you and the Rhayander guided him to where you were wandering within the Great Forest of the Nether Realm or Nyllaythel. You both escaped Nierron’s riders when Majeka jumped off the cliff at this point into the River Illandrith and the Rhayander guided me to the meadow where you washed up on its southeast bank.  The western bank of the the River Illandrith is called Dalharr or the Land of Shadows, for it is also a place of no return.  We traveled today from the meadow through the marshlands here at the mouth of the River Glynnthal, which we then followed into the Tregarron Mountains until we reached Glandwr, and then here to Tywyn.”

“If I must flee to escape the riders, where shall I go?  What direction takes me home to Hampton, Gramps?”

“Beyond Tywyn is the high mountain Pass of Dorrimar that you must climb to begin your journey.  It will take you south and just east of the summit of Mount Rhayander, it leads to the Kingdom of Dorrimar to the south.  There is a cave with provisions stored in it at the top of the pass that will sustain you for a time.  At the cave you will find a companion who is awaiting your arrival.  You are to assist him on his journey and in doing so, you will discover the path home to Ohio.  Do not continue south into the Kingdom of Dorrimar, for King Cyulthar is in league with Nierron’s King Tucar.  Dorrimar lies south of the Tregarron Mountain Range and north of the Sea of Pulthyar.  It is a seagoing kingdom which is sparsely settled near the Tregarron, and its main cities lie far south along the Pulthyar coast. Travel east with your companion along the high mountain paths of the Tregarron Range where the Rhayander can watch over you from the air.  You will eventually find yourselves in ever higher mountains and wilder lands.  Rest now on the bed of moss while I keep vigil through the night, for you will need your strength and the morning will bring its own challenges…”

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel) – Chapter Three, Part One

Jonathan’s Dream (An Adventure Novel)

(Copyright 1984, Mark D. Jones, All Rights Reserved)

Chapter Three, Part One – Enlightenment

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“Why is it that we are seldom satisfied with the way things are and choose to fill our lives with what we think we need?  The path to our happiness lies within us and leads to our hearts…if we would only open our eyes to see it.”  – Mark D. Jones

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They journeyed on through pockets of woodland and small clearings, watching as the sun descended behind jagged peaks to their right – indicating to Jonathan that Glandwr was oriented north-south with Mount Rhayander at the southern end of the valley.  Twilight didn’t linger very long as the sun disappeared from view, surprising Jonathan at how quickly darkness set upon them.  Overcast skies obscured the stars, while the wind carried a damp chill as it whistled through the trees.  Within minutes, the valley was devoid of light and Glandwr seemingly ceased to exist.  At this moment they could have been anywhere, yet the sounds of the wind reminded Jonathan that the journey continued unabated.  He knew they weren’t far from Gramps’ cabin, Tywyn, as they had completed traversing the lower valley in the waning moments of twilight.  They were now entering rising terrain at the beginning of a narrow gorge at the base of Mount Rhayander, however, in the total darkness Jonathan had lost all sense of time and direction.

As Gramps forged ahead in the darkness, Jonathan’s eyes were unable to focus on anything but fleeting glimpses of branches brushing against him, hoping that Majeka could see well enough in the darkness to make sure they wouldn’t lose their way in the dense woods behind Gramps.  Jonathan was tired, hungry, thirsty and cold, desperately longing to finally reach Tywyn and collapse after enduring this endless march.  His mind wandered away in the darkness and recalled fond memories of looking at the night sky through the window beside his bed on the Spencer Family Farm when he should have been sleeping.  He often observed the stars and watched the moon rise, but now there was no light to be seen.  How Gramps and Majeka found their way through the darkness was beyond Jonathan’s understanding…he was merely along for the ride at this point.

No truer words had been spoken than the old man’s earlier comment, “Over the years I have had many names – they seem to come and go with the seasons.  For me to explain my names is not important to you at this time, but I will give you a name by which you may call me. I am known to many as Illandor, which means Of the Wind and you may call me that if you like…or by any other name that pleases you.” Illandor was the name used by those who had at least passing knowledge of this man who travels in the shadows, appearing without notice or warning and then fading from view just as quickly.  Yet, they had no knowledge of who he was, where he was from or to where he was going.  A shadow and an illusion they said, until others confirmed that they had indeed seen him – albeit mere glimpses.  Those that did know Illandor weren’t speaking, for they knew who he was, where he had been and to where he was going…but their numbers were few, as were their occasions to meet with him.

Those with knowledge knew him as Arrydor, Warrior King, in exile from a time and place that had ceased to be – Talgarth, the crowning jewel of an age that has since past.  This noble city and Kingdom of Talgar lives on in lore and legend until a Warrior King returns in glory to reclaim his throne and kingdom.  Few even remember Ryanthall, the previous Age of Knowledge, a time of peace and stability when the land was filled with prosperity and cheer.  Yet, this age abruptly vanished as Vyanthall, the Age of Conflict, began with broken promises and poisoned words.  Of those who remembered Talgarth – which means Sparkling Jewel, while Talgar means Light and the Kingdom of Talgar means Shining Light – fewer understood what caused it to fade into legend, casting a veil of confusion and deception over all that had since transpired.  The truth of those events had never been allowed to surface – yet everyone retained the legend of a Warrior King that would liberate them from their trials and their sufferings.

Myllanthyl was the name the old man was most proud of, given to him by the land itself.  It was a language known to the animals, trees, rocks and earth that spoke to him in ways no other man could ever hear or understand.  For Myllanthyl was of them, as much a part of the land as the very soil and rock that formed its foundation.  Not a pebble or leaf in the entire land was unaware of who Myllanthyl, the Caretaker of Life was.  For this land from sea to sea is Myllanthar, or Garden Oasis, which retains the memory of an earlier age – Myllanthall, The Age of Promise before the arrival of man – when the world was calm and the land prospered and thrived.  This old man, Of the Wind, Warrior King, Caretaker of Life…Illandor, Arrydor and Myllanthyl…was the one now leading Jonathan to Tywyn – the one Jonathan knew simply as, Gramps.

Suddenly, the darkness was lit with a faint, ice-blue glow emanating from the open palm of Gramp’s outstretched hand. “Behold, we have arrived at Tywyn, Jonathan” said Gramps with a tone of reverence in his voice.  Before them stood an ancient dwelling created by the very forest itself – a  dimly lit and tangled image of trees, vines, boulders, rocks and moss emerging from the shadows of the night.  Jonathan had never before seen an image such as this, not even in his books of adventure and faraway lands.  This wasn’t a cabin hidden in the woods, this was the essence, workmanship and heart of the land itself.  The forest had created this dwelling of its own accord – growing, weaving, winding and forming the walls and roof of this small dwelling out of living tree trunks, vines and branches against an outcrop of rocks that served as its back wall.  The roof and walls had been thatched by the very forest itself – along with the assistance of chipmunks, squirrels and birds – filling in the gaps with vines, leaves, moss, pine needles, mushrooms, ferns, bird’s nests, acorns and wildflowers over the course of time – a gift to Myllanthyl fitting for the Caretaker of Life.  In this moment, Jonathan was certain of only one thing: this dwelling, hidden from view in the depths of the forest, was an oasis…and perhaps the closest thing he might ever find to call home.

Jonathan dismounted while Gramps removed the hanging bags of provisions from Majeka’s back and the simple halter that Jonathan had earlier fashioned out of his short length of thin rope.  Then Gramps displayed the faintly glowing, ice-blue light in his open palm and said, “Jonathan, this pendant was a gift to me in earlier times and is called the Talspin – a blue sapphire with the power to glow when you are in need of a light in the darkness.  Talspin means, Guiding Star, in the language of this land and it will show you the way to what it is you search after.  It may one day even show you the way back to your beloved Ohio.  I bestow it to you now as the heir and guardian of this precious light, that has come to you through the ages – so that in your darkest moments it will light your way.  Treat it well Jonathan and you will find it will return the favor to you many times over.”

Gramps carefully grasped its fine gold chain with both hands and hung the glowing pendant around Jonathan’s neck, as if ceremoniously anointing him for the journey ahead.   As Jonathan looked up at him in that moment, the light illuminated and highlighted the deep lines of Gramp’s weathered face, giving him a character that Jonathan now saw for the first time.  Far from the kindly, old man who had shepherded him to this refuge deep in the heart of the forest – Gramps now took on the very appearance of wisdom – with a clarity and depth in his eyes that spoke volumes to Jonathan without needing words.  There was something in his mannerisms and confidence that was more suited to wearing the garments of a king, than the simple robes he appeared in now.  Jonathan knew all about castles, knights and kings because they were his favorite topics.  He had a number of dog-eared picture books about castles on his bookshelf back home and had spent hours digesting every detail.

With that, Myllanthyl spoke the words, “Illanthyl Dynalli” quietly to Majeka in a tongue Jonathan didn’t understand, which meant, Godspeed Friend, and Majeka shook his flowing mane and pawed the earth prior to departing into the depths and shadows of the woods surrounding them.  “But Gramps, why is Majeka leaving us?  Who will take care of him in the forest?  He’ll get lost!” pleaded Jonathan at the sight of losing his friend.

“Jonathan, Majeka needs no one to care for him, as his role is to care for us – see how he carried you away from danger to me and provided you rest while we traveled to Tywyn?  He’s no longer needed by us at the moment, so I’ve released him to care for others.  You will have no better friend while here in our land.”

Gramps turned to enter Tywyn and paused with Jonathan for a moment before the arched doorway of woven branches to say a few words that Jonathan didn’t understand – “Pallnarr, Carrithall, Solltharr” meaning “Peace, Gratitude, Hope” – as a blessing prior to parting the thick mat of hanging vines with both hands that served to cover the entrance and protect it from the elements.  Holding the hanging vines apart, Myllanthyl allowed Jonathan to enter before him. The Talspin cast its ice-blue light into what was a small but extraordinary and sacred place – at once blessed and precious – a gift that nature herself had created out of the living bounty of the forest.

The dwelling’s floor was comprised of a slab of smooth sandstone, while the fireplace was a natural opening and fissure in the rock face that made up one side of the cabin.  Tree trunks and intertwined branches and vines formed a latticework of walls around them, while wild berries hung down for picking from the dense canopy overhead that made up the roof.  A treasure trove of various nuts were piled in the corner – a gift to Myllanthyl from the chipmunks and squirrels. “Jonathan, this is my home, Tywyn – a gift to me from the very forest itself.  It’s a nurturing place for both heart and soul – a place of belonging – for here my roots run deep into the very earth itself. Please make yourself at home, for now it’s your home and oasis, too.”

As Jonathan stepped onto the smooth slab of the sandstone floor, the Talspin revealed the beauty that nature had wrought in the woven fabric of its structure.  In fact, the closer Jonathan looked, the more he realized that everything surrounding him was alive and fashioned by the very hand of nature herself.  The entire space had a peaceful and restful feel to it despite its small scale, for it was indeed a sacred space.  Harmony was resident here, as if this was its place of origin. Even the table and bench had been woven out of vines, as if filling in a template that had since been removed.  Flowering vines filled the space with a sweet fragrance, while small wildflowers, ferns and lichen that had taken root in the moist thatch provided the dwelling with the freshness of an alpine meadow.  Off in the corner on a raised slab of sandstone were a series of ancient and worn, leather-bound volumes, while resting beside them was a stack of fresh parchment, a quill pen and a small ceramic ink pot.

“Rest your weary head on this bed of moss, Jonathan, while I start a fire to warm the chill from our bones.  I’ll prepare a meal and begin to reveal to you the history of our land and the responsibility you now shoulder in order to discover the passageway you seek back to your beloved land of Ohio.  No other person has ever been invited to Tywyn, yet it feels as if this honor has been prepared and reserved for you to receive in this very moment of time.  You are a guest of the land, Jonathan, and it’s only fitting that the forest itself make you feel welcomed and treasured.  For you are a gift given to us in this time, an emissary to our land from your homeland and from your people.  You have many things to teach us, Jonathan – speak wisely, knowing that your words are valuable to the ears that will hear them.”

It was all too much for Jonathan, a swirl of words, meanings and implications that traveled beyond his understanding.  He was tired and in need of sleep more than anything else.  Jonathan lay down to rest on the bed of moss while Gramps lit a fire in the opening of the rock wall, preparing and baking two flat loaves of unleavened bread on a slab of stone placed to the side of the fire.  An iron pot elevated on stones above the flames contained a broth that Gramps filled with nuts, berries and various dried and green plants, filling Tywyn with an aroma that helped refresh the two weary travelers.  Jonathan hadn’t yet finished second grade in Mrs. Conner’s class at Hampton Elementary School and his thoughts wandered to the assignment he had to turn in on Monday, not remembering what day today was.  In fact, he found it was becoming difficult to even imagine his old life back in school, as this world was his only reality at the moment.  He wondered how much trouble he would get into for missing school and not turning in his project on time, wondering if he would even be able to move on to third grade in the fall…