The Dream Sanctum: Beyond The End

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The Dream
Sanctum:

Beyond The
End

By Kay Solo

 

Copyright © Kay Solo 2016

 

This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely
coincidental.

 

All rights reserved. No
portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or
transmitted in any form or by any means, mechanical, electronic, photocopying,
recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the publisher.

Chapter 1: Summer’s Explorations
 

T
he golden sun rose slowly
over the distant horizon, its light catching on the snow on the high mountain
tops and the tremendous waterfalls cascading from islands floating in mid-air.
An intermittent breeze wafted through the trees, bringing petals of blue, green
and white along with it. The land was peaceful and still, and the air cool and
crisp.

A small white bird glided through the air far above the landscape. It
watched the ground with interest, waiting for signs of a potential meal. It
dipped toward one of the many ponds in the valley below, hoping to catch any
small creatures hoping to warm themselves in the morning sun.

Distracted by an approaching sound, the bird cocked its head slightly,
scanning the skies around it for the source. The noise grew louder and louder
at a speed that frightened the creature.

A sudden, powerful gust of wind blew the bird off course toward the trees
below. Squawking indignantly, it glared up at the small airship that was moving
at great speed above it, then turned to fly at a somewhat safer altitude.

The airship was an impressive sight. It was made of gold and polished
wood, and was sleek and aerodynamic. It was a small craft that looked as though
it could serve as a transport ship or cruiser, but was clearly designed with
luxury over function in mind. There didn’t seem to be any visible method of
propulsion – or a way to steer it, for that matter – but it moved swiftly
toward its destination.

A slender girl with dark skin, vivid red and purple hair, and red eyes stood
next to a slightly taller man with brown skin, faded brown hair and cheerful
brown eyes. Next to them, a teenage girl with black hair and brilliant green
eyes stood next to a shorter blonde girl who looked to be no older than ten,
but carried a certain authority and imposing demeanor about her. At the head of
the group was a young man with dark hair and grey blue eyes that searched the
horizon with a passionate interest.

They spent a few minutes in comfortable silence until the craft began to
slow down and descend until it came to float next to a large waterfall that
fell into a deep, clear pool below.

“All right, folks, this is our stop,” said the brown-haired man. “You
kids ready?”

“Ready for what? I thought we were just going to look around,” the teenage
girl replied curiously. “Are we supposed to do something special? Is there a
special secret to this waterfall?”

“Don’t get too excited or you’ll disappoint yourself,” the man replied,
looking over the edge toward the pool far below. His name was Alastor, and
though he was only in his early twenties, he was the oldest of the group. The
red-haired girl beside him remained silent, an expression of mild anticipation
on her face. Her name was Elvia, and she was not real – she was a creation of
Alastor’s imagination.

“Don’t
you
get too excited or
you’ll ruin the surprise,” the young blonde girl said, purposefully ignoring
the older girl’s inquiring look.

Alastor chuckled. “Oh, Kwin, you tease. You know I wouldn’t do anything like
that. Now then, we’re going to explore the falls a bit more. They come from
miles above, and we can go see the top later.”

Kwin cleared her throat, looking at the girl and the young man next to
her.

“I shouldn’t have to ask, but I want to make sure. Kai, Lindsay, you can
swim, right?”

“Of course,” Kai replied.

Lindsay nodded, but looked slightly suspicious.

“Why? I wasn’t told we were swimming today!”

“A small oversight. However, we’re not going swimming as much as we are
diving, so remember to keep your head down,” Kwin replied, unable to hide one
of her signature vampiric grins.

“Diving? What? Wait a minute!” Lindsay gasped as Kwin raised her hand.
Kai knew it was too late to protest, and so he prepared for the inevitable.

Kwin snapped her fingers, and the entire ship instantly vanished. As Kai
and the others plummeted toward the pool far below, he couldn’t help but smile
at Lindsay’s scream of fear and protest. She had always been easy to tease, and
Kwin often took full advantage.

With only a few dozen feet to go, Kai pointed his feet toward the water
and held his breath. He was more than capable of flying, but that wouldn’t have
been any fun.

And then he was underwater, propelled far beneath the surface by the
speed of his descent. He opened his eyes to see that the water was perfectly
clear; as he looked around in fascination, he saw a variety of colored fish and
all manner of other creatures. A collection of what looked to be small rose
petals flitted around the bottom of the pool, changing colors in sync like a
moving rainbow, and plants with strands of glittering leaves drifted lazily
back and forth in the undercurrent.

After taking a few moments to appreciate the scenery, Kai decided to swim
to shore. His clothes instantly dried themselves as he stepped out of the
water, and he watched in amusement as Lindsay slowly trudged out of the pool,
coughing and spluttering. Kwin was already ashore and dry as well, and she
looked very pleased with herself.

“What on earth was that for?” Lindsay coughed. “I could have died!”

“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re alive and well, so forgive and forget, I
say,” Kwin replied with a straight face.

Kai chuckled. “You’ve seemed a lot more cheerful ever since summer
vacation started, and whenever you get cheerful you start messing with people.”

“Of course,” Kwin nodded with another grin. “I learned a lot from you,
and if it weren’t for what you did I wouldn’t be alive right now, so I’m
choosing to be smart about it and relish every moment I have. As for my
mischief, that has always been a trait of mine. Why people remain in my company
I will never know, but perhaps masochism has something to do with it.”

“She’s become much less subtle as well, if you haven’t noticed,” a voice
from above them said. Kai looked up and saw Alastor and Elvia floating lazily
overhead. “I think I like the old Kwin. Now that Hercules isn’t around anymore
she’s taking all her energy out on us, and I’m just not sure my old bones can
handle this much work.”

“You didn’t even get in the water!” Lindsay protested, finally having
dried her clothes.

“Yes, well, these clothes are made of a very fine fabric, you see, and if
they were to get wet I would… oh dear.”

Alastor broke off as Kwin vanished, then reappeared directly underneath
him, pulling him forcefully down into the pool. Lindsay, who had just finished
drying her hair, was doused by the resulting wave and wailed hopelessly.

Kai took a moment to look around. Sunlight was starting to blanket the
valley now, and it was a wonderful sight. There weren’t any towns, or even any
other people, for miles around. The forests were deep and thick, but pleasantly
bright and devoid of the typical humidity that plagued similar habitats. He
sighed happily. It was good to be back.

Their ability to fly, vanish and make entire ships disappear at will had
nothing to do with magic or elaborate illusions. Kai and his friends were in
the Dream Sanctum, a massive lucid dream that anyone on Earth could enter in
their sleep. In the real world, Kai was asleep in his home, directly across the
street from Lindsay’s house. They had been friends and neighbors for years, and
Kai had taught Lindsay how to enter the Sanctum after he discovered it on his
eighteenth birthday months earlier.

The concept of a dream world presented some issues, such as how much
freedom a person could have with their imagination. It would be no good if
someone could use their imagination to harm others. To keep everything fair,
certain rules existed within the Sanctum; the most important was that no
dreamer could do anything that would directly affect any other person or the
world around them. In this way they were free to explore and experiment with
their imaginative powers without hindering anyone else’s experiences.

Even though the rules generally kept everyone fair and safe, the entire
Sanctum had been thrown into danger only recently when two dreamers, Arc and
Wing, combined their imaginative powers and unintentionally released a dark
power: a huge, black wolf that threatened to destroy the entire Sanctum with the
help of its creations. However, Kai, Alastor, Elvia, Kwin, Arc, Wing and
Hercules had banded together to destroy the wolf. In the process they saved
Lindsay, who had been attacked by the Nightmares, and Kwin, narrowly avoided
dying in the real world.

“You look like you’re enjoying a nice memory,” Kwin said from his side,
jerking him out of his reverie.

“Yeah… I was just thinking about the Nightmares and how glad I am we
still have all this to enjoy. I dunno what I’d do if I had to have normal
dreams for the rest of my life.”

Kwin snickered, but nodded in agreement. “It would be a shame to lose all
this to two people whose combined intelligence rivals that of a roll of toilet
paper.”

They both laughed.

“What happened to them, anyway? I haven’t seen them for weeks.”

“I would assume that they, like Hercules, have taken to avoiding the
Sanctum. However, while Hercules is choosing to spend more of his time
studying, Arc and Wing are staying away because they have finally realized that
no one likes them. That and they want to let the memory of their transgressions
fade before interacting with us again.”

“Hercules? Studying?”

“He mentioned something about realizing that he needed to focus on
getting his life on track in the real world. For that I cannot fault him.
Perhaps he is not as dense as I first suspected, though his record is against
him.”

Kwin absently twirled a strand of her hair between her fingers, and then
her gaze settled on the others by the pond. Lindsay had been pushed into the
water one too many times, and she was now chasing Alastor with a pointy tree
branch. Elvia stood nearby, her face in her palm.

“Perhaps we should expedite our journey while our other passengers are
still alive,” Kwin mused, and she snapped her fingers.

The airship reappeared with a thunderous crack, hovering a few inches off
the pool’s surface a few feet away from Lindsay and Alastor, who froze
instantly.

“Don’t take too long or I’ll leave you behind,” Kwin said placidly.

The others filed onto the ship in silence, taking seats as Kwin prepared
to take them away.

“You know, Kwin, you never told me this ship was your creation. I
actually thought someone had loaned us their ship and you had gone and
destroyed it,” Kai said with a grin.

“The simple surprises are the best ones. All but one of us found it
amusing, and that’s a ratio I can live with.”

She glanced over at Lindsay, who was giving Alastor a piercing glare.

“What are you looking at me like that for?” Alastor protested. “Kwin’s
the one who made the ship vanish.”

“I’m not terrified of what you’ll do if I annoy you, so you get the blame
instead,” Lindsay said candidly.

Kwin quickly turned away to hide her smile at the look on Alastor’s face.

“Completely unfair, I tell you,” Alastor sighed as Kai took a seat next
to him. “I can’t fault her reasoning, though. Not many ten-year-olds can send
shivers down your spine just by smiling at you.”

The ship started skyward, speeding up gradually as it gained altitude.
They flew up past the hills that encircled the pond below, and still the water
continued to fall from a point in the sky they couldn’t yet see. As they flew
higher, Kai saw many of waterfalls descending from above the clouds.

Kai glanced over at Lindsay, who was now seated next to Kwin. The
contrast between the two amused him; while Lindsay was entranced and fascinated
by the falls, Kwin appeared somewhat bored, choosing to watch her friends’
reactions rather than the sights themselves. Kwin had undoubtedly seen this
area before, but then, Kai was sure she had seen everything.

Ever since the defeat of the Nightmares, Kai had set his sights on a
similar goal: exploring every bit of the Sanctum he could find. He kept the map
he had picked up months ago in his pocket, marking off each area as he went
along. It was only when he started checking off locations that he realized how
little of the Sanctum he had seen during his past adventures. He had been to
all three capital cities, as well as a number of landmarks and towns, but all
of that together amounted to just a tiny portion of the map.

Kai smiled. Every so often he thought about how lucky he was to have made
it inside, and relished every opportunity he had to spend here. No matter what
happened in the real world, he would always have this place.

Lindsay suddenly gasped as they passed through a large cloud and
everything went dark. Kwin turned to the others.

“Once we pass through, you’ll be able to see the Cloud Islands. These are
some of the highest points in the Sanctum. There aren’t as many interesting things
to see in the upper atmosphere as there on the ground, but we may be able to
see some of the creatures that only live up here.”

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