“It’s okay, you know?” The traveler said as he boiled a pot for tea.
I couldn’t tell whether it was a question or a statement, honestly. “What’s that?”
“The fact that you see the world in one of two ways. You always have. Black, white, on, off, light, dark – you’ve never looked beyond the possibility that was in front of you. It’s acceptable. It’s actually anticipated – it’s the only way that you know how to be.”
“And you see the world differently?” I asked.
“Yes, Francesca, I do. It didn’t take a puffin stealing my clothes for me to realize there’s more out there in the world than business suits and Manolos.”
“You’re a magical?” I asked.
“Magical isn’t a race as much as an ability. It comes to us humans better than most, but as the puffin taught you, we’re not alone in our ability to harness the nether.”
“Is the Prince actually my brother?”
“Am I your father? Do you know who you are, Francesca?”
“I thought I did.” I believed I was an ad exec on the Magnificent Mile, living the life I’d come to love for myself through a little luck and a lot of damn hard work.
“Your beliefs have a nasty habit of becoming your reality, Francesca.”
“I guess there’s something to that. I never believed in dragons, witches, princes, and fairytales, but I seem to be caught in the middle of one, so… Yeah.”
Traveler didn’t seem to mind when I excused myself from his company and slid out through the canvas flap. More stars than I had ever seen twinkled overhead. Were it not for the clouds of smoke wafting into the moonlight in the direction of Leone, it might well have been the most fantastic view I’d ever experienced. Gentle, warm breezes filled the air with just a hint of the ocean, adding just enough unexpectedness to the night to truly take my breath away.
There was no way I couldn’t compare it to Chicago, and what I’d left behind. I wasn’t sure, just right then, that I’d been cursed in the traditional sense when I was brought here. While this place had its dangers, it was also truly stunning.
I didn’t stop to wonder about the red flashes amongst the trees far below, the silhouette of a woman on a broom that seemed to cross in front of the full moon, or the cackles and roars that accompanied both.
After all, I seemed to be wondering about everything.
“It is a question, isn’t it?” Traveler asked. I hadn’t noticed him moving up beside me.
“What to hope for? Where to go? It’s not a question, Traveler. It’s the question.”
“We’ll sleep soon, because that’s what we humans do. I have a cot for you – I have everything you need. As you lie down, I’ll remind you that when you dream, for a while, you lose the ability to decide where you are. You go only where your mind takes you through the stream of your own consciousness. It is, after all, what we humans do.”
“You’re a confusing fellow, you know that?”
He smiled. “It’s what we humans do, Francesca.”
“You also make it sound like it’s as easy as me just deciding who I want to be when I wake up.”
“There are limitations, of course, but how can you deny that deciding how to live your life is as easy as making the decision of which life to pursue when you open your eyes?”
“I never, ever, wanted to be anywhere other than where I was until I found myself in this place."
“Staying here isn’t without its dangers. Neither is living elsewhere. Decide with your dreams, Francesca.”
“You’re the Wizard of the Mountains.” It wasn’t a question.
“Did you really need a wizard, or just to believe in your own dreams?”