In a way, it was dear Caesar that sparked my passion for searching out these Dead Tree Scrolls, since he had become very close to fluent in the ancient Xanaduvian language...and had been giving me assignments in the hopes that I too would learn this magical language. Once my eyes had been opened to just a bit of the ancient Xanaduvian vocabulary, my heart hungered and thirsted even more to understand the history of my strange and mysterious homeland. My passion was successfully awakened, and this seemed to make dear Caesar Emeritus very happy and perhaps even a bit proud of me.
Nevertheless, even dear Caesar was unable to translate many of the Dead Tree Scrolls I showed him, and that stoked an even greater fire in his own heart that never ceases to burn. We agreed it was time for us to make the trip to Dew Mound in Flatlandia and visit King Midas LeBottom, who lived in a cottage upon the hill's top. We invited Ptolemy the gentle Boxer and T-Yay the nice nice Labrador to join us on our journey, but they were both quite busy cross-training one another to be each other's assistant manager, and they apologized that they would have to be content with a report from us after our return from Dew Mound. T-Yay insisted we stay for one playing of Gerry Rafferty's City To City album before we set off on our journey, and Ptolemy insisted we all enjoy a dish of his latest batch of Ptolemy-ce Cream. Dear Caesar and I couldn't refuse such a kind and warm gesture, and so we all enjoyed a lovely slice of the sun greeting together. Life is beautiful.
Once dear Caesar and I had set off on our journey, it took us just over 3 moon greetings to reach Dew Mound...but we took our time and enjoyed each step, sound, and fragrance along the way. With no disrespect to Ptolemy and T-Yay, it turned out I was glad it was just dear Caesar Emeritus and I. The journey might well have been more eventful and silly had all four of us went (eventful and silly are both highly esteemed in our Xanadu Forest), it would not have been as soothing and transcendental as it was with just the two of us.
Upon our arrival at the door of the cottage upon Dew Mound, King Midas LeBottom greeted us warmly and enthusiastically, giving Caesar and I perhaps the tightest hugs either one of us had ever had. And he slapped us lovingly upon our shoulders, and I had to rub a bit of pain out of my own shoulder after that. You see, King Midas is deceptively mighty, and he often underestimates the strength of his halfling muscles. King Midas LeBottom is the only other humanoid I know of in all of Interterrestria, though he is much shorter than the average human. And as much as he is shorter than the average human, so is he that much more fashionable, kind, and mighty. Indeed he's an eccentric and beautiful being of light. And a great warrior. And a great keeper of ancient knowledge.
Dear Caesar particularly enjoyed updating King Midas on his research of Dead Tree Scrolls and the ancient Xanaduvian language as a whole. King Midas LeBottom, likewise, particularly enjoyed telling dear Caesar Emeritus what a wonderful asset he was to our blessed lands, and how happy we all are to have him as our librarian. Then the good King seated us at a lovely wooden table and served us honeysuckle tea and pecan tarts that he had just prepared the sun greeting before. We enjoyed both graciously, and King Midas LeBottom particularly enjoyed examining dear Caesar's golden robe. The King believed he recognized the fabric and fine stitching of the golden robe, though he explained that statement no further.
After a few more pleasant pleasantries, King Midas LeBottom finally asked us, "So what is it that brings you to my good kingdom?"
I answered, "Well, first off, I believe we all owe you a tremendous gratitude...for I suspect you intentionally misdirected Donovan so that he could not find the diamond. Dear Caesar and I recently discovered in one of the Library Tree's books that Donovan had in fact visited you on a quest and attempted to construct a melodic treasure map."
Dear Caesar nodded in agreement with my statement, and added, "In fact, Donovan, in his melodic treasure map, had mistranslated even your own Dew Mound as "Honeycomb Hill."
King Midas LeBottom laughed heartily at that and told us we were most welcome. "We couldn't have a bard from Earth finding the special diamond, now, could we?" Then the good King refilled our teacups, removed his bedazzled apron, and sat down to join us. Then he continued, "But I see you've brought some other things with you. Surely you didn't come all this way just to thank me?"
With that, dear Caesar Emeritus laid a satchel upon the table and began removing Dead Tree Scrolls from it, and also photographs of what we believed were portals, and also some sketches we had made of writings we were unable to translate. King Midas LeBottom smiled knowingly as he sifted through the satchel's contents, and he and dear Caesar began discussing aspects of language that seemed far enough over my head to keep me silent. Then King Midas led Caesar over to an ancient-looking trunk near the hearth, removed an even more ancient-looking book, and blew the dust off of its cover. "There are a few writings that cannot be kept in the Library Tree; for there are evils that should never again be awakened, and events that are meant to never again be remembered. These books I keep here with me, and they shall never leave here." Dear Caesar nodded solemnly, indicating that he understood, and he and the King returned to the table with the ancient volume.
Careful to not let me continue to feel left out of the conversation, King Midas smiled into my eyes and gestured for me to come closer and sit down by his side. Then he lit a lantern, and spoke, "There are things in these books I would not dare tell either of you, much as I know I can trust you. Please understand it's for the safety of all of Interterrestria...and even all of existence in all dimensions." Dear Caesar and I nodded, serious, and knowingly. Then King Midas continued, "But there are things that I CAN tell you, and I'm happy and honored to share some of these things with you now."
Dear Caesar scooted his chair closer to the King and I, so that now I was sandwiched between the lovely sages, and the lantern flickered just a bit. We paused our discussion briefly to bid sweet dreams to my cousin the Sun, and to greet the moon that was now shining upon the cottage atop Dew Mound.
Then King Midas LeBottom opened the ancient book and began, "In the beginning there was the One. The One created the Createds, and also the Seeders. To the Createds and the Seeders were given the power to bring life and existence into all the universes and dimensions as they saw fit. The Createds' creations were called the Children of the One. They were not all creatures as you might be inclined to think, though some of them were. Some were planets, some were stars, some were oceans and rivers, and some were great mountains and valleys. And some were dragons, and lions, and wolves and so on." King Midas grabbed one of the Dead Tree Scrolls Caesar and I had brought him, and he held it before us, and compared it with a page in the ancient book to illustrate...and our eyes were opened.
"Of course!" I blurted out, and dear Caesar jumped a bit in his chair. I apologized for startling him, and all three of us chuckled a bit.
King Midas turned some pages in the ancient book, and went on, "The Seeders were--and ARE--dimension hoppers. They were responsible for the trees, grass, flowers...and the portals you have recently discovered." And the good King held up pictures of the portals dear Caesar and I had brought with us in order to illustrate. We saw. And smiled gently. "The Seeders created no children of their own...for that was left to the Createds. Instead, the Seeders built portals to travel through all dimensions and to plant their seeds. The Children of the One eventually learned to use the portals as well, and their offspring began to populate all of existence. In all forms you could imagine, and even much beyond." Then King Midas LeBottom excused himself and asked that we not touch or examine the ancient book until he returned. Dear Caesar and I agreed, of course.
The King returned with flagons of Minute Mead and led us in a toast, "To the heart of the heart, of the heart of Hearts!" Caesar and I didn't understand the depth of that toast initially, but that didn't keep us from enjoying it. It sounded and felt lovely. And tasted lovely too, I must add! Sensing our ignorance, King Midas explained that my sacred garden is the heart of the Xanadu Forest, which is the heart of Interterrestria, which is the heart of all existence. Wow! That simple statement opened up a world of possibilities, theories, and questions for me. The epiphany of epiphanies! When I began hypothesizing aloud to King Midas and dear Caesar, the good King was quick to remind me not to focus on that just now. It would not be good to digress just now, he politely explained.
We finished our Minute Meads and I watched the lantern flicker a bit more. Before my mind could wander further, King Midas flipped some more pages in the ancient book, held up a few more pictures we had brought him, and said, "Which leads us to tonight's story. You will both enjoy it very much, I'm sure." Then the good King built a fire in the hearth and seated us comfortably upon a large couch. Dear Caesar and I were unable to keep our enthusiasm for the tale silent, and this made King Midas smile tremendously.
King Midas put the finishing touches on the fire. I lie back, and rest my head upon a plush and ornate pillow, and stared deeply into the lovely fire. I'm doubt that dear Caesar was consciously trying to imitate me, but he did so. "Copy dog" I almost said aloud, but held it in. And chuckled softly.
The good King then sat down on the wooden floor before us, the ancient book upon his lap, and began again, "And now for the Legend of Cristobal the Animal King." I adjusted the pillow beneath my head, and Dear Caesar turned round and nuzzled next to me. "I know that both of you have read about the Dragon War before, as there are many volumes of those stories in the Library Tree...but tonight you shall learn how the Dragon War began. Are you ready?" Dear Caesar and I acknowledged that we were more than ready, and King Midas LeBottom continued with the legend as thus:
"As I told you earlier, the Children of the One learned to use the portals that were made by the Seeders. This is how dragons came to dwell upon Interterrestria, though our beloved mountain peaks, Nol and Sol were native to our lands from the beginning. There were no men in Interterrestria in that age, though the lemmings of Lemmington, the geese of Droppingham, the Seagulls of Bleakerton, a particular bear, and a particular Bee upon a lotus flower were here. The Seeders had been most gracious to our lands, so that every living thing flourished. Our rivers sang the sweetest of melodies and there was peace in every corner of Interterrestria.
The Dragons, being the mightiest of beasts in our lands, became the lords of Interterrestria. They dwelt among Mt. Sol and Nol, as you would expect, and were the loveliest of stewards. It went on this way for many ages. Light shone brightly, and life became eternal. The Lord of the dragons was called Dayne, which meant of course that he was basically Lord of everything here. He was a wise and just lord, and adored by every living thing. But ages passed, and Lord Dayne came to desire a child of his own to raise in wisdom and in love. There were no dragon wives in Interterrestria, so Lord Dayne summoned the Seeders and asked that they build a special portal for the purposes of bringing him a wife. The Seeders happily did so, but then something very unexpected happened.
A wife for Lord Dayne did indeed come through the portal and met him, and indeed she was majestic, beautiful, and filled with light and love. But she was no dragon. No, she was a lovely lioness...a mighty one--and a Child of the One herself (as was Lord Dayne, though I forgot to mention that before). This was no problem at all for Lord Dayne. He cherished her beauty the moment he set his wise dragon eyes upon her, and likewise, she did so for him. They loved one another truly, and the Dragon Lord's wife Cornelia the Lioness gave birth to their gifted child, who would be called Cristobal. Cristobal, being the natural offspring of two Children of the One, was fair to look upon, and blessed in all the arts of love, light, and creation. His mother Cornelia taught him all manner of communication with all living things, and it is said that a more lovely voice has never been heard in Interterrestria. Cristobal learned to speak not only with the animals and trees, but also the rivers and mountains. From his father, Lord Dayne the Dragon Lord, Cristobal learned wisdom and justice...to rule mightily through gentleness and light. From the birds did Cristobal learn to sing louder than love, and from the rivers he learned melody. As the child grew in wisdom and stature, he learned to create. And he created the Garden of Sound...a magical place not far from the portal his mother entered Interterrestria through. All seemed well. And all WAS well for many more ages.
But then Lord Dayne's trusted Dragon Captain, Jasper, became envious of the child, and that's when the trouble began. You see, Jasper had always secretly desired Lord Dayne's throne, and he believed an age would come when Dayne would grow weary of being the Dragon Lord; and that the trusted captain that had served him so well would be the natural heir to the throne. As Captain Jasper watched Cristobal grow in wisdom and light, it became clear to all that Lord Dayne's beloved son would be the natural heir when that age came. Jasper's jealousy grew, and he began learning the dark arts, and summoned dark spirits. Further, Jasper began whispering to other dragons that Lord Dayne's child was an abomination since he was half dragon and half lion. Jasper managed to convince many of the other dragons of this, and a great division among the dragons began. That led to a terrible age of war upon Interterrestria--the Dragon War.
And that is how I came to dwell in Interterrestria myself. You see, the Dragons of Mt. Nol were overpowering the Dragons of Mt. Sol, and new portals were made, and reinforcements were brought in from other dimensions to assist the good Dragons of Sol. Many of my people and I came into this land and fought mightily. Many of my brothers and sisters died. The now wicked Dragons of Mt. Nol also brought in reinforcements through other portals, and war found every corner of our beloved land.
How the war finally ended is both tragic and beautiful...for just as it was an ending, it was also a new beginning. Cristobal's father, Lord Dayne, and his mother, the great Lioness Cornelia, were both slain. It was then that Cristobal ended the war with a single cry. Stricken by overwhelming grief, the broken child cried out louder than love, and his cry shattered the sun. The sun exploded from the inside out, and all of what we now call Flatlandia was laid to waste. None in Flatlandia survived but two single dragons who happened to be clashing deep beneath the mountains. And myself, by crooked steps. Gratefully. Not a single bird, tree, or flower. Not even gifted Cristobal himself. The two clashing dragons far beneath the ground saw what had happened high above them, and they cried, and they hugged one another, and they made a vow to never again allow war upon Interterrestria. You know these two dragons now as the very kind and loving dragons, Douglas and Justin--dragon life partners. The One gave us a new sun to the replace the one Cristobal's cry had shattered. And you know me as King Midas LeBottom because of their kindness. Neither of them wished to be Lords, so they graciously asked me to be King of Flatlandia. And I graciously accepted. And they helped me build this very cottage upon the top of Dew Mound. The Seeders returned, and brought back our trees, grass, and flowers. And they sealed the portals so that evil could never again enter our beloved lands. Then began the age of rebirth. And light. And love and eternity."
With that, King Midas LeBottom sighed, closed the ancient book, and returned it to the ancient trunk near the hearth. I wiped a tear from my cheek, and scratched dear Caesar gently behind his ear, who had been snoring soundly for quite a while. Dear Caesar Emeritus let out a sigh, and re-nuzzled with me, but he didn't open his eyes. King Midas retrieved a picture from the table we had brought with us, and handed it to me. I smiled graciously, and thanked him. The picture he handed me was one that I took..a picture of part of a petrified tree--or so I thought. As it turned out, it was Cristobal himself, frozen peacefully in our existence for eternity...near the center of the Garden of Sound. We all slept peacefully that moon greeting in the humble cottage upon Dew Mound.
Life is beautiful.
There are no endings; only new beginnings.
Thank you for being there.
Lovely of lovelies.