Broken from Reality

I always wondered what it would be like to experience a dream on the same scale that we lived our tedious lives: Now however, I wish I never had the thought as I'm now trapped within, broken free of my Earth bound body and stuck in this 'other' world that mere humans should never want to be in. I am broken in mind, body and soul... I am...broken from reality...

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2. A World By My Whim

   Ebonshroud was, in my mind, the world I could always escape to whenever the humdrum of life began to encumber upon me such sorrowful emotions or thoughts; in contrary to an assumed belief, being the son of a noble did not render me immune to the pressures and vices of the outside world, rather, at times it seemed to enhance such troubles. The Ivory Palace was my home in this dreamland, on a large island just inside a protected cove and the only thing on this island was the palace, the garden of my heart's desires and the lone clock tower with subterranean viaduct to the mainland. The rest of the island was a dense, thick woodland of ravenoak trees, black as night they were but as strong as anything imaginable within the confines of nature.

   "So, where shall we go?" Father asked, breaking me from my thoughts. I smiled up at him as he was a good few inches taller than I; my answer came as more of a chuckle of whimsy at first.

   "Well, in Ebonshroud," I began, "Life's what you make of it, so too is the landscape..." I left off as I raised a hand as if to cast some sort of a spell and before the eyes of my two accompaniment rose from the depths an elaborate but small harbor to which several small shacks abound of cobblestone and simple planks. Twas a nice harbor, deep in draught, enough for even the largest of vessel to come to call within with clear water so pristine that one could see down to the base of the pylons that held the pier in place. 

   "Most impressive," my father mused in response as he cordially stepped onto the pier and gazed upon my quick and skillful craftsmanship. Though, when he turned to face me again, there was a small tinge of disappointment and sadness upon his face. "Tis only a shame you dream in reality, when in this place you could have dreamt forth such things of wonder and mystery."

   "Oh.. well I suppose I could attempt something," my smile had diminished, pings of sadness building inside as I had failed my father it had seemed. I boarded the paddle steamer that was pierside and bade that the others follow me onboard as well to which they ably followed suit.

   "This way," I mumbled as I climbed the stairway to the ship's bridge and wheel house. Upon entering I suppose it would become apparent to them that indeed I do occasionally dream of fanciful things as the bridge and wheelhouse were essentially nothing more than an observation post since, in my dreaming I'm usually alone, the ship was completely self functioning. All I had to do was punch in a series of commands into the typewriter looking contraption just in front of the ship's wheel.

   "Well, looks like the young master indeed dreams fancifully," he smiled as he sat in a deck chair that was folded against the wall. My father watched as I tapped away on the keys, seemingly a part of the ship with the fury and pace at which I typed away. "Young master, if you're not careful than your fragile fingers might fall off."

   "Impossible and you know that," I smiled without breaking contact from the machine, "Now... Callum, father, watch and observe.." I smiled as I punched the 'enter' key and suddenly there was a blast of the ship's mighty whistle and then the sensation of the ship coming to life as she pushed away from the pier, her paddlewheels spinning to life, churning the water with such force and grace. Moving away from the command construct I moved out onto one of the ship's bridge wings and peered through one of the telescopes, smiling as, through the fog I could see the seaside town inside the cove of the mainland. 

   When the ship reached the opposite shore we quickly tied off the lines and descended the gangplanks, venturing into the town which, unlike the island was populated with people; faces of those that I had saw at one point or another. My father just seemed to aimlessly wander through the town with us in tow. 

   "Well now, this is a bit interesting..." my father whispered as he scratched down notations in his little notebook. "Son, you're full of wonder, tis almost too much to comprehend considering your age." Closing the notebook, he turned on his heels and withdrew from his pocket a pocket watch and examined the time; with a heavy sigh, he closed the watch and returned it to his pocket and then proceeded to withdraw some strange device. "I think it's time we all woke up, we'll have to do this again later I suppose..." he left off as there was a blinding light emanating from the device in his hand and, like when the needle was driven into me, I suddenly felt like I was falling and all went black; I never felt myself hit the ground...

********************

   I awoke to the whirring sounds of a machine powering down as I began to gather my senses. Immediately I noticed that I was on a cot with white linens and a relatively soft pillow and not the cold steel table I first was on when Callum drove the needle into my veins. I tried to sit up but a sudden nauseating pulse ran through my body and punched me simultaneously in the head and stomach and I fell back onto the cot and curled into a ball.

   "Ugh... What's happening to me?" I moaned in pain and discomfort, sweat dripping forth from my brow as I tried to gain control over the internal conflict within my body.

   "A minor bought of sleep sickness," came the calm voice of my father as I felt his reassuring hands on my shoulder. "Mason, listen to me, this will happen for the first few trips you'll make if you use the Annex. Don't worry, just calm down and take a deep breath."

   "Alright, I'll try," I answered in a grimace as I inhaled deeply and tried to calm myself; the feeling suddenly vanished and I found myself able to unbind from the ball I curled into as I slowly was brought upright by father. "Ugh, what the hell was that?"

   "Like I said, sleep sickness," he answered as Callum stumbled into the room, he himself looking like he had just had a bought of the same affliction that had stricken me not just but moments before. "It's a reaction to the special chemical Callum gave you in order to synchronize you with the Annex; don't worry, it's temporary, in fact after a few shots, you won't even feel ill anymore. Now, Callum, I want you to take my son back to his room as he's looking ill from this experience."

   "Yes sir," he answered and without flaw, he picked me up into his arms and carried me away from the Annex and back into the study where he put me down onto my feet.

   "You know I hate being carried," I mumbled into his chest as I leaned on him until my balance returned. I felt his hands on my shoulders as he whispered into my ear.

   "Exactly why I've let you stand, I know you've no plans to retire back to your room," he smiled as I looked up into those earthen eyes. "You've always been stubborn, even when you were born and left so naked and exposed to the world you were strong willed."

   "You know me so well," I sighed into his chest, "So is it then so bold to say that I hold you more as a friend rather than a servant?" That comment got a subtle response from him as he attempted to hide a either a blush or a smile.

   "In society, yes."

   "Bullocks to society then," I smiled, "If I want to see you as a friend then I shall. If anyone dare question my authority and thereof my honor, I shall gladly duel with them to defend my principles and honor." I stood up straight as my balance returned and let go of Callum. I took my first few steps quite gingerly so as not to tempt the idea of falling as I moved about the study towards the door. He just let a small smirk escape his face as he moved effortlessly towards and opened the door. 

   "So then young master, what shall we do?"

   "We wait till father's not around," I answered with a mischief filled grin, "I want to go back and explore more within the Annex... perhaps see if there's a way into father's dreams..." I looked up at my butler as we meandered down the hall, "Perhaps... even see into your dreams..."

   "My mind is not a place for you to travel," he suddenly grew stern and resolved, "Neither is that of Master Crawford's, should your intent be to peer into where you shouldn't go, then I'll have no choice but to confine to your room when he's not around."

   "You wouldn't dare," I glared at him, the friendliness gone from my face. "You are my butler, a close guardian to my well being, not a father figure, should I want to explore then I shall, regardless of the consequences." I stormed off down the hall and made sure to loose him before wandering outside into the garden. The garden was actually a maze of great size that held within many assortments of plants and other mysterious wonders. I myself had yet to explore the garden in its entirety, instead, I was going to head for my favorite part of the garden; mother's grave.

   "Hello mother," I whispered upon entering through the iron gates into the inner rose garden. I trudged up to the center of the garden where the fountain was still trickling water out through passages in the ice. Her grave was the fountain, her remains entombed in a special chamber beneath that only a few people knew how to get there from the tunnels that ran beneath my feet. "Mom, if you can here me, I want to know, why did you have to leave us so soon?"

   "Twas not her choice, young master," came the now sullen voice of my butler. "Your mother fell ill to a disease to which few have ever recovered." Unlike me, he didn't seem to ever make a sound or leave much of a footprint when he walked amongst the snow, he was like a phantom that could never be separated from me.

   "I thought I told you to sod off," I muttered, still a bit annoyed with him from earlier, "Besides, how did you know where to find me?"

   "You said it yourself, I know you oh so well," he smiled caringly as he wrapped a coat around me. "Good lord, you feel like ice, are you intent on freezing to death my master?"

   "I... I just wanted to say hello to her," I whispered as a crystallizing tear escaped my reddening face. He took me in hand an properly put the coat on me, followed by a pair of feather laden gloves and a warm hat. "I miss her so much, she was everything to me," I sniffled a bit.

   "And you and your father were everything to her," he wrapped me in a hug, "Now, come inside, I have something I think you should have, my young lord." As we left, he closed the gates and spoke to the garden with reverence, "Good bye Mistress Crawford, untill we meet again may you rest easy beneath the ground that has so graciously covered itself with roses in your honor."

********************

   "What's in the box Callum?" I queried as he presented me with a small black box. It was solid black with gold leafing running all about it creating mystifying patterns all around it. A small lock kept me from opening it though which only made my curiosity grow more ravenous. 

   "Something the mistress asked me to only give you when you either became head of the house or when I deemed the time was right, which ever came first," he answered as he retrieved the key from his room's closet. Poor Callum, he did so much for us, was practically family and yet his room was down on what father called A block in the cellar. A simple stone room with worn out desk and quill. A basic dresser with locks on the fourth and fifth drawers and a cracked and faded mirror; the room's closet was no bigger than the spice cabinet in the kitchen and lay beside his steel frame bed like those from an asylum. His light was a few lamps and candles that lay scattered about the confines of his room. The stone floor was originally bare but by mother's insistence apparently long ago, a deep red carpet was laid down which Callum said his feet thanked her for thereon. 

   "My mother?" I asked with quiet wonder. "What could she possibly bestow upon me?" All the major things I was to inherit came from father as he was the presiding male to the family estate and fortune.

   "Yes, your mother, my mistress, gave me this, her final farewell to me for safe keeping and now, I present it to you, my young lord, as instructed," he left off as he clicked the lock open with the slender key and before my eyes there it lay; her amethyst ring that had gone missing on the day of her death and a message that was slightly yellowed by age.

   "Her ring... Callum, did you take it from her...?" tears began to well up in my eyes as he nodded and explained about how on that night so long ago she had called him to her side and gave him the box with the ring inside and the letter and instructed him to do as he had just done. It was, only after that when she called for father and passed on, her hand still clutching onto his as I remember when I burst into the room after escaping the other servants' grasps. 

   "Such a horrible thing of someone of so young to have to see," he hugged me, "forgive me for the secrets I've with held, but do remember that I was only following orders." He held onto me as I shook violently from sadness and cried into his chest. "You were only eight and your mother was taken far too soon, I'm truly sorry, my young lord."

   "It's... alright... I forgive you..." I continued to sob as he knelt beside me and slipped the ring onto my ring finger since, as my mother before me, I had somewhat thin and slender fingers. "What are you doing Callum..?"

   "She'd want you to wear it," he answered. "Now, let us return to your chambers, I'm sure this day was thoroughly worn itself on you," he smiled as he helped me stand and wander back to my room in the East Wing. When we finally arrived, I had Callum place the box on my desk so I could examine the letter later as all I wanted to do now was slumber in peace. He drew the shades as I kicked off my shoes and petticoat and fell onto the bed. Callum then came over and tried to remove my day attire but only succeeded in being allowed to remove my stockings as I knew that father wouldn't allow me to sleep through dinner. 

   "Callum, do you think I'll dream about her?" I asked as I unbuttoned my top two buttons and pulled my shirt a bit more open so I could breath easier. He pulled the covers over me and gently stroked my tear ridden cheek and soothed me as I drifted off to sleep.

   "Ebonshire is what you make of it, my young lord," his voice echoed through my head as all went black and numb as I fell into sleep's indomitable grasp. When I awoke, I was again in the town where father and I had left off in our adventure in the Annex but, instead of being out in the street, I was in a bed in a house. 

   "Ebonshire is what I make of it I suppose," I looked down at my hand as something had hit my fingers as they rubbed together; mother's ring had followed me into the dream. "Oh mom, I cannot begin to say how much I miss you..."

   "Come to me my son," came the soft echoing voice of a women, "Come, find me at the sanctuary that rests upon an island within a lake on this land..."

   "Mom, is that you?" I looked at the ring and, to my surprise it was aglow with a fantastic light of blue and purple. "How do I find you? Ebonshire is infinite in size, I could spend an eternity here and never find the sanctuary..."

   "Let the ring guide you, and let your imagination be your map... This is a world that will bend to your will, as it is from your mind..." It was then that the voice faded away, echoing one phrase over and over..."come to me..."

   As I set out that day into the deep woods of Ebonshire I felt indeed a bit scared but, I wanted to see her again so I had to find this sanctuary of which she spoke. With my mind as the map and the ring as my guide, I pressed onwards into the wilderness of this: a world by my whim...

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