Sila was exhausted. He walked into the galley, stretching his arms high over his head, then bringing them down to rub his eyes. All he wanted to do was curl back up in bed and pull the covers over his head. His eyelids were still heavy, and he swayed a little as he reached for the coffee. But even more than being sleepy, he was just plain tired. He could feel it deep down in his bones. His legs and arms felt heavy and ached, as if he had run a marathon.
Yanti took one look at him. Her voice sounded muted to him. “Let me guess, my crystal ball says she came to you in your dreams again last night. Our sister from the other dimension. The other land.”
“Yes, and a crystal ball is what she is looking for,” he mumbled.
“I’ve never seen a crystal ball. But our oldest Hindu script, the Vedas, speaks of using crystals in healing. Nikola Tesla’s believed that crystals and everything in the universe are just different forms of energy with their own frequency and vibration. He thought this was the key to understanding the universe.”
“Who’s Nikola Tesla?” Sila asked groggily.
“He invented the Tesla coil, used in radio and TV’s.”
“Too much information, this early in the morning.” He closed his eyes and swayed again while standing. Luckily leaning against the counter, otherwise he might have been on the floor. “The only thing I’m interested in right now is whether the Edmonton Elks are going to have a
defense this year. That’s a headline I can sell. And will they change their name back to the Eskimos?”
“Why does anyone care what they’re called?”
“Oh, its big news. Big controversy. Some say it isn’t right for any team to be named after an ethnic group. The Inuit people are not mascots. Besides it’s derogatory. Eskimos means ‘eaters of raw meat’. While Inuit means ‘the people’. Big news,” his voice trailed off.
She hated seeing him this way. He may have only been her brother for a short time, but she cared as much for him as if they had been birth siblings. “Why don’t you take the day off. Give the other boys a chance to sell some papers for once.” She knew well that he sold more papers than all the other newsies. What with all his charm.
“I’m not that tired.”
“Oh yeah, that is the third cup of coffee that I’ve seen you inhale in the last 20 minutes. Should I throw you a life preserver to save you from drowning?” she laughed.
He looked down to see his cup empty. He didn’t remember gulping it down. Usually, he would be feeling human again after just one cup. He was a lightweight. Three cups should’ve had him wired. Maybe he should take the day off.
“Thanks, I think I will.” And went back to his room.
Yanti needed a walk. A long one, so she put on her snowshoes. The thing about mental intention is that you often manifest that which you are most concentrating on. Her concerns now were Sila and their other adopted sister that they had not yet met. Alora kept coming to Sila in his dreams. Alora’s gift was dreams. Sila’s was storytelling but carried over into dreams. That’s why the two of them were able to communicate, not only from a long distance, but from a different dimension. A different world than what Sila and Yanti knew.
But between Sila’s daytime job as a newsie and being up all night long solving mysteries with Alora, it was draining him dry. Alora was convinced that she needed to find a crystal ball. She had a key, but no door. She felt that the crystal ball, would help her find the door. She was also convinced that finding the door would help them find their mutual Father, that had disappeared.
Yanti wished that she could take some of the burden off Sila, but her gift was mental intention. She was concentrating on the dilemma and all that had happened. Which is why she didn’t hear the first warning. A low, soft growl. A second low growl and a snap of a twig had her head jerking up. She hadn’t been paying attention. It was already dark. They only got a few hours of daylight this time of the year. But the moon was full, and the stars were out.
She had wondered to a trail that she had never seen before. It was lit by tall blue-black lamp posts that matched the blue-black sky. The posts were topped with crystal lights that looked like vanilla swirled ice cream cones.
Walking towards her was a man and a gigantic tiger. There were no trees in this area, and it appeared as if they had descended from the mountain. Where had the snap of a twig come from? Not a thought to be thinking right now. The man was probably six feet tall. He knelt on his left knee and lifted his left arm up, holding a crystal ball above his head. Light emanated both into it and from it. He appeared to be gazing into it. Looking for something.
The large white tiger with dark strips stood right behind him. Staring straight at Yanti with large blue eyes. It was easily as tall as the man while on all four. But with the man kneeling, it stood a good foot over him. It had a bronze and crystal lantern tied around its neck. Yanti looked into its glowing blue eyes. It was like looking into a blue fire. She felt as if it’s penetrating gaze was looking straight into her soul. Leaving nothing unhidden.
The man still had not looked up at Yanti. His face was painted white with dark strips like the tiger. He wore a regal looking outfit. With tight royal blue pants, a purplish-blue tight top with maroon sleeves lined with white fur. A cape hung to his knees and was clasped with a bronze tiger pin. It also was royal blue and lined with fur. His boots were black and lined with fur at the top. She was so stunned, she almost didn’t notice the low-lying belt of maroon color, lined by more medallions that she could not see well. If she had to guess by the rest of his costume, she would assume tiger emblems.
Yanti had a photographic memory and while keeping her eye on the tiger, she tried to remember what she knew about them. They were usually from the west, found in China, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Were they in Alaska, she couldn’t recall? But she was really stressed.
A mythological creature that would only walk beside an emperor who ruled with absolute virtue. But those tigers were called Byakko and were over 500 years old. Their tales were completely white, this one was stripped. This could not be a Byakko.
Yanti knew of the white tigers because they were also found and highly valued in India and Russia. Long ago there was a land bridge between Russia and Alaska. Had it come then? Did it really matter. Right now, it wasn’t looking as if it wanted to eat her. Which was her main concern. It looked more like it was trying to judge her motives. Was that possible?
Finally, the man looked up. He saw Yanti. He looked disappointed. “Aye, I thought you would be a boy.”
“Why a boy?”
“The crystal shows a boy with a great light. He’s from another land. He’s from the land where the Queen of Autumn lives. I need to find her.”
“The Queen of Autumn?”
“Yes. She is my one and only love. But I really messed it up. We were supposed to marry on the solstice between Autumn and Winter, but I became frightened and ran away. The Dark One saw my weakness and preyed on it. Now, I am cursed to walk only at night in this land of perpetual Winter. And she is to walk in the day in the land of perpetual Autumn.”
“How awful. What can you do?”
“We can only reverse the curse if I reveal the truth. The truth is that I cannot live without her. Do not want to live without her. Until then, we are frozen in time. I walk this torch lined path at night. She walks the same path in a different world in the day.”
“Why do you seek a boy?”
“I need his light so I can reach her. I walk with her tiger. The tiger of the Autumn season. It only walks beside you when you seek the truth. He reminds us that we are all one. I need the boy’s spark to illuminate the night. For the light will grow brighter and brighter as each person contributes their own unique light. We can all do it, but he is especially good at it. I need an especially strong light.”
“And you think the boy and the tiger can help you?”
“Yes! For fear is now the prey. She is afraid that I will never want her again. We must shine the light on the truth, so that she can see. Only then can the fear be ripped from the past.”
“I have two brothers and a sister. One brother lives here with me. My sister, Alora, and my other brother, Aiden, live in a different land and a different time. I have been told that he has the gift of light.”
“Is that why you are here? To bring me the light?”
“No, I came looking for a crystal ball. Like the one you have.”
“Perhaps we can help one another.”
“Perhaps. But I’m not sure how. My sister, Alora, from the other land comes to my brother here in dreams only. Kind of like the two lands that you and your queen walk. I’m not sure of how to get there. Let me speak to Sila, see if he can speak to Alora tonight.”
When Yanti got back to the ship, Sila was just awakening. The coffee had not done it’s job, but he was hesitant to tempt fate again as he eyed the pot. Evidently, he had needed the long-deserved rest. He was starting to feel somewhat human again.
“I can see you have arisen from the dead,” Yanti joked. “I’m glad. I have a lot to tell you.”
“Whoa, I’m not that awake. Slow down.”
But Yanti was too excited. Her words gushing, she began her tale of her adventure.
“Wait, wait, wait. I thought we agreed that there would be no more wondering off by yourself. Please tell me that you at least took Nanook with you.”
She hung her chin, tilted her head, and wrinkled up her forehead, “Well….”
“Yanti, we discussed this. Over and over.”
“I couldn’t find him. And I only meant to take a short walk. And didn’t mean to go so far.”
“How far did you go? Where did you go?”
“That’s what I’m trying to tell you.” So, she told him the whole thing. This time he listened intently. Only making small gasps and sighs, depending on the part of the story she was on. As a storyteller, he knew it was more important to listen, not to interrupt. So, he let her finish. This time. “So, what do you think? Can you ask Alora to speak to Aiden. And we have to come up with a plan of how to get between the worlds.”
“Besides in my dreams? I don’t know.”
“Yes. In the meantime, I’m going to the meditation room. I’m going to see if I can find the door Alora has been looking for. Maybe this is the reason she has been looking so hard. Maybe there is more behind this than just finding Father.”
Yanti went to the room in the old, abandoned shipwreck that she had designated as her meditation area. She sat on her carpet she had brought from her birth home. It always grounded her and gave her comfort, making it easier to think about her intentions. She looked at the copper bowl placed in front of the bowl. It was filled with dirt, had a nice grassy covering now, and a small 12-inch tree with bright red foliage growing on top. It also helped to ground and center her. She put on her green coat. The one with loose draping hood, and golden lined cowl with autumn leaves on it that hung over her shoulders. She thought maybe it would help her vision, it couldn’t hurt.
She sat cross-legged and held out her hands palm up. She visualized golden light coming from her hands and bright red-orange leaves coming from the light to float upwards into the air. A vision of a stone archway with large, white irregular stones came to her. But no vision of the Autumn Queen. No matter how hard she tried, she could not see any further. Maybe, they needed the power of the moon.
“I was wondering if you slept outside and I was nearby, if we can then call the Autumn Queen,” Yanti told Sila.
“Why do you think that might work?”
“The moon rules our dreams and emotions. But the moon responds best to thoughts and intentions. It might take all our gifts. Maybe the Queen is hesitant to come because of her fears. It’s a full moon tonight. We don’t want to lose our chance.”
So, that night, while the moon shined its brightest, Yanti set up her sacred area. Sitting on her magic carper, with Sila lying on the other end, she began thinking of autumn leaves. Trying to connect with the Autumn Queen. She was amazed when something touched her hand. She stood up. It was glorious, leaves almost half her size, glowing with orange and gold effervescence, fell from the moon. She reached out and caught one of the leaves. She felt love radiating from it. They were falling all around. One landed on Sila like a blanket.
While Sila slept, Alora looked out the window of Castaway Cottage. The one in the door facing North. She saw in a great distance the full moon and strangely leaves falling from it. She called for Aiden to come look. “We need to go,” without waiting for an answer she climbed through the window. Aiden not far behind her.
“Whoa,” they both exclaimed. They were no longer surrounded by green Celtic mountains, but by white, snowy ones. “What just happened?”
“I think we just went into their time Sila and Yanti’s time dimension,” said Aiden. He reached out and caught one of the leaves. Suddenly, he was beside Sila and Yanti.
“Wait for me,” called Alora as she excitedly grabbed a leaf herself, just as Sila awoke and jumped up at the sight of the falling leaves from the moon. The four adopted siblings stood staring at one another. They had somehow managed to traverse universes without the power of dreams. It was the window. The window of Castaway Cottage. It was a time portal.
“Amazing, but how do we use it to help the Autumn Queen and the Winter King?” Alora accustomed to speaking to Sila asked. “It’s a window, not a door.”
“I will call for the King,” closing her eyes, Yanti saw him walking down the path from the mountains. His regal white tiger with him. She tried seeing the queen but saw nothing. She looked at Aiden. “Hi, I know that we don’t know one another, but I feel like I know you by what
Father has told us. I would like to talk more, but I think that time might be of the essence. Do you think that for now that you might be able to call up your light?”
“Hi to you too, but what will my light do?”
The Winter King looked at him, “You are the boy. The one with the light.”
“Yes, my name is Aiden.”
“Little Fire. Bringer of the light. She needs your light to see the truth. Please help. I will grant you one of my crystal balls if you can just bring her to me.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” He raised his arms and the land surrounding him lit as if day. The golden-orange leaves covered the ground and trees. Yanti called out to the Autumn Queen that they were waiting for her. For long moments, they stood there thinking nothing was happening.
Then there she was. Wearing a simple long white gown. The one she had intended to marry in. She and her king looked at one another. They each reached out a hand but hit a wall. He on one side, in the blue-black winter night and she in the autumn day. The invisible wall separated them, but they could see clearly.
“Noooo,” he cried out. “We cannot be so close and yet so far away. I cannot bare it.”
“I thought you came to marry me.”
“I will marry you anyway, even if we are destined to live in separate worlds.” She nodded. And then a small, white tiger angel appeared on the Kings side. It flew close to his head.
A scroll hung from the tree on the queens side. Aiden started reading the magical words. A crystal goblet filled with light appeared in his hand. He handed the goblet to the queen. He instructed her to repeat after him. Instead of with this ring, I thee wed, he told her to say, ‘with this light, I thee wed’.
She raised it to her lips and breathed in the light. Then held the crystal goblet in the air up to the wall. The tiger angel reached through and took it, handing it to the King. He raised the goblet to his lips and inhaled. The invisible wall disappeared, and the two worlds merged