Llyle reached into his pocket and withdrew the pale-blue star. “Do you mean this?” he asked Arthur slowly. “How on…. Avalon can this be it?”
“Well, Llyle, what you’re holding is not just a star, but a wish.”
“A wish? Like the kind you make when blowing out birthday candles and with fallen eyelashes?”
“Not quite, my dear boy. You see, this wish will do almost whatever you want, such as protect yourself or a young lady from harm.” Arthur looked pointedly at Lizzy to add weight to his example. The fae girl blushed and looked at the ground.
“Excuse me, sir,” Andorin said softly, “if you know all this, I take it you must had endured some similar quest?”
“I see that I chose well all those years ago. You’re perceptive, young man.” Arthur began rocking back and forth in his chair again. “It’s true. You see, Llyle, I was tasked with the same burden, and so was everyone before us and so will everyone in the future.”
“What was that, though, Mr. Arthur?” Lizzy asked shyly.
“Yes, what?” asked Llyle, very curious at what exactly an eleven-year-old boy could do to save an entire world.
“It was not an easy thing. First, I had to be taught the secrets of the Stars in the Field and how to use them. Then, it was a matter of journeying far to the great peak in the centre of Avalon where the Dream River has its source, the great Crown Peak. It is called this as it has multiple sub-peaks atop it which give it the appearance of a crown.” Replied Arthur sagely.
“And once you were there? Did you have to fight some sort of dragon or something?”
Arthur chuckled. “Or something would be a good summation. Perhaps Cartoons are bad for children.”
“Wait, how long have you been waiting for me? Andorin only said that it was a long time.”
“Eh, something in the range of one-hundred-eighty years, plus or minus a decade and a bit, though I too enjoy the shenanigans of Tom and Jerry.”
Llyle stared up at the suddenly incredibly ancient faerie who knows what plays on TV and stayed silent.
Arthur chuckled again and waved the whole topic aside. “Any way, the whole point of going up there was to stop the Nightmares from entering Avalon in the first place. You see, dreams flow from Crown Peak, somewhat like water flows from a spring. Within the pool the dreams come from is a large crystal which acts as a filter for fear that gives birth to bad dreams.”
“I remember having bad dreams after watching a scary movie….” the boy muttered.
“It’s just like that. However, just like a regular filter, the crystal slowly stores them and becomes weakened, clogged, and its glow becomes dulled by the darkness. Slowly, over time, it loses its ability to filter the fear and nightmares comes through and pollute the Dream River, giving rise to the Nightmares you fought today, and which terrorize Avalon periodically. It is then that a Human comes to Avalon to purge the crystal so that it may keep this world clean.”
“Why can’t I just wish it better, though?” asked Llyle, a bit confused that the whole prospect seemed more difficult and complex than it needed to be.
“In a way, you do, just not how you perceive a wish. The Stars can only be used by Humans, as only they have the hope, determination and imagination required to use the full power of the stars. They change form or emit purifying light based on its owner’s wish. The stronger the hope for something, or the determination to do something, the brighter the light becomes and the more powerful the star. Your will to get home is incredibly strong, so use it well!”
The young boy looked at the Star he had taken for his sister and thought of going home. It glowed brighter, as if happy with such thoughts. Llyle smiled.
“The Stars are also limited by how much you want something or want to do something. Remember that. There will be times during your journey when you will no longer want to be here, and it will effect what the Star can do for you, Llyle. Beware those times and concentrate on what you are here to do, as that will lead you to your chance to get home.”
“Thank you, Arthur. Will you be coming with us?”
“Me? I can barely leave my tree, never mind leaving the forest for a perilous journey. Oh, and the Nightmares get stronger as the crystal gets weaker. The Source is teeming with the beasties when the River is worse than it is now, generally.”
Llyle suddenly paled at the prospect of charging into a place full of Nightmares way way stronger than those he dealt with that day. “But, we’ll be alright, right?”
“That is uncertain, but it does depend on you.”
Lizzy took her new friend’s hand and squeezed it softly, smiling encouragingly at Llyle when he looked at her. He couldn’t help but smile back. “How did you know I could make the Star glow so brightly? Do you have a crystal ball or something?” he asked when it suddenly clicked that nobody could have told the old fae, unless somebody had run here to tell him.
Arthur smirked, a sly grin on his face. “I might,” was all he said.