by Langston Hughes
Hold onto dreams
For if dreams die
Life is like a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Once upon a time in the Land of Faerie there was a King who ruled a vast kingdom of illusion and dreams. The King was a powerful sorcerer, much feared, who took great pride in his own cunning and intelligence. He enjoyed testing his shrewdness against any who came before him, mortal and immortal alike, and he had never lost. His greatest pride, and favorite challenge to his opponents, was the vast Labyrinth which he had built to encircle his castle. The route through was never the same, for the Labyrinth was ever changing, some even said alive. The only safe way through was with the permission of the King himself.
Challengers came from near and far to try and solve his Labyrinth, but none succeeded. Eventually they stopped, for it was said the great maze was unbeatable, and the King grew bored with none to challenge his cunning against. It was then he began to lure mortals into his realm by stealing away unwanted children. To get the child back, the mortals would have to navigate a tangled web of enigmatic riddles and dangerous pathways. If they failed, the child remained to become a subject of his realm, The Goblin Kingdom. In this way he expanded his lands and satisfied his ego, for none ever solved the labyrinth…until one day someone did.
There was a very young mortal maiden who lived aboveground. She had been a pampered only child until her father found a new wife who bore him a son. Feeling betrayed and forgotten, she found escape in the vivid realms of her imagination and dreams. Her favorite story was that of the Labyrinth and its King.
One night she was caring for her baby brother when the frustration became too much. The selfish, spoiled girl wished the boy child away to the goblins, and the Goblin King obliged her request. Realizing her mistake, she begged him to return the infant, but he refused. Instead he put before her a challenge. Solve the Labyrinth in 13 hours and she could take her brother home again. Fail and the boy would remain to be turned into a goblin. She accepted, and her journey is one of our most cherished stories…but what of after?
After she solved the Labyrinth using perseverance, imagination, and a kind heart, after she battled through to the Goblin Castle and confronted the King himself. After he, that powerful magician, in a last attempt to stall the girl, to stop her from defeating his cunning challenge, offered her one final temptation…himself and her dreams. After she won the game but lost something far more precious. After she said those fateful words that would forever change her life, words from a mysterious red book that was her most cherished possession. “You have no power over me…”
It was then the Goblin King suffered his unexpected defeat. For the girl saw past the seductive words and generous gifts, saw past the illusions he cloaked himself in, and realized the key. His power over her was as much an illusion as the rest of the maze.
“You have no power over me,” was all she said, and his hold on her was broken. With that one sentence she defeated the cunning Goblin King and took her baby brother back. But there was one consequence she did not intend. For the dreams he had offered had not been an illusion.
Like all mortals, her dreams originated in the underground. Dreams are the raw stuff that fuels the magic which the fey wield with such skill. It is the mortals’ link to this illusory realm that allows them to draw upon and feed their dreams. The King could not truly offer to give her her dreams, for they already belonged to her. But when she rejected him, and his false gift, she rejected them as well. When she denied her dreams and returned aboveground her link to that place of magic was severed, and try as she might she could never retrieve it. A mortal cannot live without dreams, for without them the soul will eventually wither and die in agony, and so the maiden discovered as her belief and fantasy were suddenly taken from her. Years passed and while she grew lovelier each day, her life became a misery of hard reality which eventually drove her to despair.
This is the story of her quest to retrieve that which she unwittingly gave up.