Something Strange Has Happened...
For a moment you are falling... then all is still. You blink, eyes swimming with afterimages of... what? Lightning? Stars? The sun? Where are you, anyway? The last thing you remember was falling asleep, but this is like no dream you have ever had before. Looking about, you find that you stand in a great circular hall of light and dark marble. Pale glowing light globes hang from ornate golden fixtures on columns around the perimeter, while overhead a dome of bevelled glass sparkles beneath an impossibly azure sky, shining with rainbows at the edge of your vision. A faint smell like ozone drifts through the air, filling your mouth with an oddly earthy, metallic taste. All around you on the floor are strange markings, rings and glyphs and sinuously intertwining symbols, fading slowly to invisible scratches on the dark stone tiles. A nearby podium or bench - it seems somewhere between the two - is covered in crystalline structures and elaborate brass gadgetry and gauges. Some of the crystal points flicker dimly in time with the ringing throb in your head. Blinking away the last of the spots, you realize that the walls are lined with chairs, some child-sized and others meant for giants. Unsure of what else to do, you search for one of more reasonable proportions. Only as you sit down do you realize how tired you are. You shouldn't be tired in a dream, should you? Yawning, you lean back. Maybe if you close your eyes you'll wake up...
"Apologies for making you wait - there's always some sort of crisis going on around here. Someone should've been here when you arrived," a voice says, startling you from the edge of sleep. Opening your eyes, you find yourself looking at... you don't know what to call it, to be honest. It looks like a peculiar cross between a dragon and a butterfly, its wings sparkling with gemstone-bright spots as it hovers a few feet in front of you. All told, the creature can't be more than a foot or so long, yet in spite of its oddly chiming voice and fluttering wings it emits an air of power and authority. Absently, you note that you can feel the wind off each beat of his delicate-looking wings; for a dream, this one seems oddly and persistently realistic. "Welcome to Skyhaven Keep, home of Tirialle's prestigious inter-realm adoption agency! I am White Diamond Sky Dancer, official spokesbeing for Skyhaven. You may call me Sky Dancer. I'll be your guide for the duration of your stay..." He trails off, seeing your confusion. "New to transportation spells, are you? Don't worry. Temporary memory loss is common if you're moved too quickly. While you're recovering, I'll refresh your memory a bit... though it is strange that we weren't told you were coming. Usually the sending stations contact us to coordinate arrivals..." Sky Dancer ruffles the fins at the back of his jaws, brow furrowing as he looks to the empty work station, then continues. "Anyway, Tirialle is a vast world, in the universe many beings call Fantasy. Here live many creatures you may not be used to seeing anymore: dragons, griffins, faeries, and the like. Many years ago, the great leader known as the Bright Dreamer came to this land, bringing with her a new era of trade with other worlds. In her wanderings, she had seen how some worldmasters would permit creatures to visit other lands, something like ambassadors. She decided to set up such an adoption program here in Tirialle. As Skyhaven Keep is at the heart of the land, this seemed the logical place to put it, so Skyhaven Adoptions came to be..." He pauses. "Still not coming back to you, is it?"
"No," you admit helplessly. "To be perfectly honest, I never thought any of those... anything like you... even existed."
"I'm not surprised," Sky Dancer chuckles, alighting on the seat of the chair next to yours. "Jewelwings like myself are native to Tirialle, and we're still not very common outside - Oh. You mean, everything. Dragons, Tirialle, Skyhaven..." You nod. "I'll have to have a good talk with your world's transportation officers. Who sent you over?" You shrug. "Can't remember? Okay, what was the station?" You shrug. "Where, exactly, did you come from?" You tell him, happy to have an answer at last. He pauses, searching his memory, then bobs his head in agitation, rustling his wings. "This is quite irregular. There haven't been reports of working magic on your world for eons. Hmm..." He looks at you, eyes piercing. "It is possible, I've heard, for magic to activate itself when there is a certain need, or a strong enough desire... But, no matter. You wouldn't have come here if you didn't have the heart for it."
"The heart for what?"
"Dreams, fantasy, imagination, belief... Your language doesn't have an exact word for it." He makes a peculiar gesture with his claws, and suddenly there is a door at the far end of the room. "Come along, then. Time to get started." You stand up, feeling much better. He leads you to the massive door.
"Um... where does this go?" you ask. You feel stupid for asking, but somehow that question doesn't sound as bad as what you wanted to ask: Where was this door a minute ago?
"Wherever it needs to," Sky Dancer says casually, hovering near your shoulder. "The Master Dreamer has assembled a collection of links, if you want to move on. There are also a few webrings that touch on Skyhaven - you can continue your journey through those. I can take you to the adoption lairs, but only if you read the rules first."
"What rules?" You ask. Sky Dancer was waiting for the question, from the pleased look in his eye. He must not get a chance to show off with his magic very often, you decide, if most people who come here already know about the stuff. Another complicated gesture, and a furl of parchment appears in the air before you. You are so stunned by its appearance that it nearly falls to the ground before you think to reach for it.
"Mundanes," the fairy dragonfly mutters, snagging the parchment deftly and offering it to you again. "They're fairly basic, but you won't be allowed to enter the lairs until you've read them." He flutters over to the door, waiting for your decision.
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