Sibree Yin slept restlessly in her room in her parents' small apartment in Tianjin, China. A voice, that haunted Sibree Yin every night for a year now, once again found its way into her sleeping mind. The voice was deep and sang slowly, a sadness resonating in it's song...
A disaster on Medesteroc
Has affected every tree and rock
The stone that fell shows no remorse
The cloud gnome mourns the change in course
In sad gray attire he is clad
His once gay dance is slow and sad
A disaster on our once fine planet
Has taken away all our enchantment
They now wane from lack of what they should
Mermaids were sent away from the myrrh wood
Sad now their paintings no longer bright
Loss of magic has ruined their sight
Medesteroc is now afflicted
With a poison not well detected
Worry we do for our sons and daughters
Fairies even flee into deep waters
The loss of magic will be our end
This is the message I now send
The prophesy says I must send
A message to every young friend
And to those young ones who chose to hear
Will be brought to find what we hold dear
Please come to reveal the way inside
And release our magic 'cause we've tried
Then all at once as the song ended, images both of horrible and of magnificent scenes flooded Sibree Yin's mind. Her alarm clock went off and Sibree was jolted awake.
She was worried about being late for school but that did not stop her; she was more worried about losing the images still vivid in her mind. Why she kept having these dreams, she did not know. Her solution was to paint the scenes as soon as she could... she was sure they meant something...
A canvas divided into four paintings was left drying in her room as she ran to the bathroom to get ready for school with only a few minutes to spare. After she finished getting ready for school, she headed down the stairs. Her mother confronted her as she reached the bottom.
"What took you so long getting ready?" Sibree's mother asked.
"Just finishing up the painting of my dream from last night," Sibree said.
"Really, a dream… May I take a look?" her mother said.
Sibree nervously twirled a strand of her short black hair.
"No… I'm not ready for anyone else to see it yet…" Sibree said.
"Dear, it is just a painting… I'm not going to laugh at you for it."
"I've got to go mom,"
Ignoring her mother's protests Sibree hastily pulled her book bag unto her shoulders after she picked it up from the foot of the stairs. She ran to the front door and yanking the apartment door open she ran down the hallway and four flights of stairs to dash out into the sidewalk. Taking just a moment to catch her breath, she ran the last few blocks down the street to her school.
She could not be late… the art show is today! This year's theme is 'Painting Your Dreams'. Sibree thought she might just win… she'd been painting her strange dreams ever since they started!
Sibree's mom wandered around the house collecting the dirty laundry to be washed. After she had checked all the rooms she realized that she did not have any of Sibree's school jumpers in the wash. Making a mental note to reprimand her daughter she walked up the stairs to her daughter's room. Opening the door she immediately saw what she was looking for… a pile of dirty laundry on the floor at the foot of Sibree's bed.
Picking up the pile and turning to leave the room Sibree's mom saw that her daughter's closet door was wide open. She stepped forward to shut it and gasped as she saw what was behind the door.
Beside the only window in Sibree's room stood an art easel. A marvelous painting adorned the canvas hanging on the easel. Sibree's mom turned to take a closer look at the painting… It showed a magnificent forest with many interconnected tree houses hanging amongst the trees, a great underwater castle, lifelike creatures dancing on the clouds that hung in the sky and a great crystal cave.
Sibree's mother carried the laundry with her as she backed out of the room in shock…
"My daughter dreamed this…"
Sibree rolled over in her bed and tried to remember the cause of the bad headache she had… and then she remembered she had fallen asleep crying…
She was at the art show… and the judges would soon be coming around the gym to take a look at the art displays from her grade level. To calm her nerves Sibree began to rearrange the smaller canvases in her display. Each small canvas depicted a fantastical creature on a plain white background, each creature in a different pose. They were the creatures she had been dreaming about… the creatures from the land she had painted in the biggest and most prominently displayed canvas on her table.
It was then Sibree noticed that her main piece of art was missing! Sibree walked around the gym between all the other art exhibits hoping to find it. It was not until she had looked over almost the whole gym when she did find it.
Handing in the center of an exhibit belonging to one of the higher grade students was her painting! It had already been judged, she saw. It had been given a red ribbon, but the student that was given the credit for her painting was not her!
"That's my painting you have there!" Sibree yelled, drawing the attention of some of the nearby judges.
"This painting is not yours! You could not possibly paint like this! It's mine… you'd have to get help from Leonardo Da Vinci to paint this well!" The older boy said, and then joined in with the laughter from his friends who had heard his comments.
"Leonardo was a great painter, but he's dead now." Sibree answered.
Then it was as if she suddenly realized what the boy was trying to say…
"Precisely, so it would have to be a miracle for you to paint this!" The older boy said amid the laughter from his friends as Sibree's eyes filled with tears.
"Young man, is this painting yours or hers?" A nearby judge asked.
"It's mine! But since there is going to be so much dispute about it I will take it out of the contest." The boy said as he took the canvas off of his display.
No one had time to stop him as he brought the canvas down over his knee and smashed a huge hole right in the center.
Tears ran down Sibree's face as she ran from the gym. She hid in the bathroom for half an hour before making her mind up to return to her own display. She hoped that perhaps one of her smaller pieces received a ribbon at least. When she got there she found her friend from class, Marriel, waiting for her.
"I'm sorry Sibree," She said, "They have disqualified you…"
"What?" Sibree asked as a frown creased her forehead.
"They said they disqualified you for trying to cause trouble with the other boy by claiming his artwork was yours." Marriel said sadly.
"But it is mine!" Sibree exclaimed.
"Still telling stories huh? How could anyone possibly believe that you could possibly create something as good as that?" The older boy said with a sneer on his face as he walked up.
"Go back to painting your little fairies and leave the real paintings to be done by people who know how to paint!" He added as he pointed to her smaller canvases
The students in the nearby exhibits laughed…
Sibree sat up in bed and wiped the tears from her eyes. She also rubbed her forehead trying to get rid of the headache she had given herself by falling asleep crying.
'Why was I so foolish… why did I believe that I could finally show them all what I could really do? Why…'
Blinking her eyes to adjust to the light, Sibree realized she was not at home anymore. Hastily she tried to remember…
It had been raining, she fell asleep crying as she sat in a chair by the window in her room. She had been watching the rain as she fell asleep. How, then did she get here… Where ever here is?
Sibree slowly looked around her for some small clue as to where she was. Her bed was suspended on both ends by shaped tree branches that went through the floor. A woven carpet with jumbled designs that made no sense lay on the floor. Looking up she saw gigantic leaves above the room.
Her eyes flowed from the ceiling and down the wall across from her bed. The wall was made of wooden slats just like the floor. However there was one difference… down the walls ran vertical lines of writing in a strange and shaky lettering.
"It was written there to inspire hope," A lady said, startling Sibree who had not heard her come into the room.
The lady stood in the doorway blocking some of the light into the room. Her long white hair flowed behind her and caressed the smoothness of her fair cheeks and forehead. A woven circlet of twigs adorned her head. She wore a long green skirt made of hundreds of small leaves. A white cloth was draped over her shoulders, crossed in front to cover her chest and then wrapped around her under her bosom.
"Can you understand it?" The lady asked pointing to the writing.
Sibree shook her head 'no'.
"And do you know why you are here or how you got here?" The lady asked farther.
"I don't even know where here is ma'am," Sibree said.
The Lady did not reply to Sibree's questioning look but instead crossed the room to look at the canvas, before which Sibree had not noticed, that was hanging on the wall above the bed.
"I think it would be best to show this to him as well…" The lady said.
As she proceeded to reach over the bed to take the painting down from the wall, Sibree looked over her shoulder and realized that it was the painting that had been drying in her room.
The lady walked over to the door carrying the painting under one arm, she beckoned Sibree to follow her with her free hand. Sibree followed her out onto the landing outside the room. Sibree gasped as all around her she saw many more 'Tree Houses' sitting among the trees around her.
Intricate banisters adorned the suspended bridges interconnecting the many tree houses. Each little room in the system of tree houses consisted of a floor and walls with windows while a cluster of leafy branches still growing from the tree hung over the roofs. There were also ladders and pulley systems of elevators, it looked like a maze suspended among the trees!
The forest floor was far below them and Sibree grabbed the nearest banister for support as the height surprised her. The lady led her over the bridge in front of them. As they reached the next tree, the lady stopped at the landing and led Sibree down a winding set of stairs running down the tree.
After a maze of other bridged and staircases they finally came to the tree that the lady was looking for. In front of them stood not a tree house but more like a tent on the platform. The sides were tied down to the platform; bunches of dried flowers and assorted crystals hung on the sides of the tent. The lady beckoned for Sibree to head into the tent first and then followed her inside. All around the tent were hundreds of sparkling crystals hanging from silken ribbons. A short figure beckoned from the dark corner for Sibree to sit on a pillow at the center of the tent.
"You may ask all your questions here. This is Flouden one of the mage's of this land." The lady said. "Come see me when you are done."
The mage Flouden came from the corner of the tent and sat cross-legged in front of Sibree. He wore a dark green tunic belted at his waist by a braided rope. Gray pants covered his legs, however his feet were bare. A chain of moss was sewn around his collar. He wore a smoky gray crystal pendant on a silken white ribbon. He was a short, heavy and elderly with straggly thin white hair. He also had bushy eyebrows and a mustache that drooped down past his chin.
"Queen Droleene said that you would most likely want to know how you got here… well the truth is I don't quite know." Mage Flouden said.
"Who is Queen Droleen?" Sibree said.
"Queen Droleen is the leader of the Mermaids. She led you here to me." Mage Flouden said, "and yet, even though I cannot answer how you got here… I sense that you have a greater desire to know what here is."
"Yes sir, but how did you…"
"I am a mage," He said, "But more about me later…This land we are on is called Madesteroc….
"Madesteroc?" Sibree said, "You mean the places I've been painting are real?"
"Painting… What do you mean?" Mage Flouden said as the wrinkles deepened in his forehead.
"Here I'll show you," Sibree said, standing, she made her way back to the opening of the tent where the lady 'Queen Droleen' had set the painting to the side.
Sibree opened the tent flap wider to let in more light & brought the painting over to Mage Flouden. Mage Flouden stood to receive the painting and as he looked at it he became even surer of his decision.
"I painted this before I got here," Sibree said, "The trees in this scene look just like this place."
"Mage Flouden... my dreams... the ones about Madesteroc, they were not always peaceful. My dreams seemed to tell me that something horrible happened here..." Sibree broke off as she noticed the Mage's face become sad.
(to be continued...)