Theodore Roberts & the Key to the Imaginary Door

Chapter Five – A Hole in the Ground Is the Perfect Place for Stories

Teddy found himself curled up on the ground when he awoke, his head still slightly fuzzy from the memories of what had happened. Slowly he began to find the strength to push himself up from the cold dirt floor to a sitting position. Instantly his stomach began to turn in knots and he forced himself to look around, to see what had become of Essence. His eyes finally rested upon her not far from where he lie, wrapping some sort of bandage over a horrible burn that Thatcher had on his arm. “I thought you were dead.” Teddy’s voice came out weak and soft, but still he smiled at the relief of seeing the Corbain. “I didn’t see you come through the door.” “No, you wouldn’t have, my friend. I was invisible—makes for a great getaway.” He winked at Teddy but then rested back on the ground and closed his eyes.
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“What a terrible creature,” Essence said as she stepped over to Teddy, checking him over for any wounds that would need tending. She placed her hand on his forehead and shook her head in approval.

“You are going to be fine, no major damage.”

“What was that thing?” Teddy asked. He was regaining more and more of his strength, and as he pulled himself up and propped his body weight against a nearby tree, he waited for an answer from either of his two traveling companions. “The Fire Mist,” Thatcher started. “It is the gatekeeper of the entrance to the castle grounds. It is a creature whose sole purpose is to keep beings of good away from the cursed fortress. That way no creature of good can find out the truth about our past. You see, Teddy, before the day the castle fell, all creatures of the light could come and go from these lands. They could journey all over this world without fear, but now all creatures are overpowered by the fear of what the evil force will do to them if they are caught outside of their own lands. The cursed castle has become a place of death and destruction, and no one dares to go near it.” “Before the evil came even humans would journey in and out of our world.” Essence smiled sadly at some distant memory. “Your parents would come often to visit—my, how that seems so long ago. It almost seemed we would never see another human again, until you.” Teddy looked longingly into her eyes, and a look of happiness illuminated her face. “I am glad you are here.” Just at the sound of her words, he could feel a slight quickening in his heartbeat, and from the look on her face he knew she could feel his pulse rising. His cheeks flushed with red from embarrassment, knowing she could read his thoughts. Could it be possible she was aware of how his body reacted to situations

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as well? The moment was interrupted as Thatcher agreed with Essence. “As am I.” “But I haven’t done anything,” Teddy protested. “Not yet.” Thatcher winked again. “Teddy, one day you will come to realize how truly miraculous your powers can be, I promise you that.” Essence smiled again. “Your imagination is one of the strongest powers in the universe. It allows you to create, to envision, to dream. Yet most humans lose their great gift very early in life. They soon become more concerned with growing up too quickly. Once this occurs the key to enter our world is lost to them forever.” Thatcher sighed as he, too, began to pull his body to a standing position, holding cautiously to a nearby tree branch for support. “The castle is the center of our world. When this land was once beautiful and full of goodness, all creatures lived in harmony. My parents ruled over the fairylands and would journey to and from the castle often to meet with the other Elders. My brother would accompany them on their trips, as well as Thatcher,” Essence explained slowly, as if the mention of her brother had caused a knife to be shoved in her chest, making it difficult to breathe. “Elders?” Teddy questioned. “Yes, there are those of our world who hold a high title, called Elders. They look over our world and aid all creatures of our land. They teach us about our past and how this world came to be. My mother and father were Elders, as were Una and the Great Crystal in my village. They are also the protectors of the Tree of Life.”
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“Tree of Life?” Teddy looked on with interest as he waited for Essence to continue. “The Tree of Life has been here since before any of us were born. It allows this world to continue to grow and live. You see, this land has been here for centuries without worry. It is the great Tree that keeps us safe from evil. Its powers cannot be described in mere words; they must be seen to truly understand. Its entire being exudes a glowing power that reaches throughout its trunk to its branches and kisses every leaf. It has the purest of white bark, not a single blemish, as if the tree isn’t even real. On its glistening crystal limbs a gleaming, awe-striking, crimson fruit perches. The powerful berries can heal any sickness, from what we have seen; they can prolong life and even create new life. The tree possesses qualities that no other creature in our realm has,” Thatcher explained as he gazed off into the distance, as if in a trance. “But something changed all of that, something evil,” Essence added. “On that dreadful day a great battle ensued over the claim of the castle. The battle raged for days. My brother was already there; he had been there with Thatcher when the battle broke out. I was given orders by my parents to stay and protect the fairy city from any evil that might try to penetrate our defense shields. I went to the chamber of the Great Crystal and waited for their return, but they did not.” She bowed her head slightly, and a great sadness crept into her voice. “I watched images as they started to pour in through the Crystal, and I watched as the castle fell to a corrupt dark force.” She wiped a single tear away that had escaped her eye. “My brother was never seen again. The only thing we do know is that Eden somehow was able to call to your parents, believing they could help in the fight. They came

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to his aid, but after they entered the castle, we do not know what became of them. They were banished back to your world, never to be heard from again. The gates to our world from that day were locked to them and all humans forever, until you.” Thatcher sighed heavily. Night had fallen, and there were only a few dark shadows of trees as Teddy finally looked around. A gravel path lay under his feet, but what waited in the distance he could not see. “I am tired, let us rest for the evening.” With that, Thatcher moved his attention to Essence and waited, using his one good arm to pull himself completely to a standing position. Teddy watched as Essence opened her small royal blue bag. She produced a small sample of the dust before throwing it on the ground at her feet. Teddy stared at the dust, and within an instant a decent-sized hole slowly began to appear in that very spot. What a strange place for us to sleep, Teddy thought, a confused expression across his face. “Don’t judge so quickly,” Essence teased as she climbed down the hole before him. He shrugged and followed right behind her with Thatcher not far behind. There were twigs and branches to hold onto and what seemed like tree knots for their feet in order to shuffle down the entryway to the ground below. It smelled of earth, that wonderful, clean smell of dirt and green plants, like after a brilliant spring rain. Teddy drank in the aromas, the marvels of nature surrounding him, and he forgot for a moment where he was and allowed his hands to leave the branch that had been holding him in his place. Yet as his mind realized what he had done, he looked down and watched as his feet floated in midair—he
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hadn’t fallen? “Your powers are some of the strongest in the universe, remember that.” He could hear Essence’s voice breathe lovingly into his mind. He inhaled deeply one last time before he moved his hands and feet back onto their grips and continued to descend to the caverns under the magical realm. Once Teddy’s feet touched down on the foundation, he was once again engulfed in darkness. He shuffled his feet across the sandy ground, hoping not to trip on anything or anyone for that matter. “Essence?” He reached out in front of him with his arms outstretched, trying to find her. “Don’t worry, Teddy, light will be coming in just a moment,” Thatcher assured him as he snapped his fingers, and sure enough, light filled the cave from every angle. “Wow,” Teddy breathed as he took a step back, almost tripping over his own two feet and nearly collapsing on the path under him. His hands found a grip on the cave wall in order to brace himself on as his eyes drank in all that he was seeing. The underground fortress was a grand chamber—its surface was covered in a rich gold color that glowed as the light fell upon each wall that made up the great space, giving it a homey, warm feeling. Teddy’s eyes, however, were focused more on the far wall where three doors now stood side by side, each with a single name printed on the front for all to see. He smiled tenderly as he saw his own name painted on the middle door in a valiant golden brass. Beside his own, to the right, he saw Essence’s name written in fine cursive, the lettering in an elegant silver lining, and to the left of Teddy’s door was another door that read “Thatcher,” printed in a dominant bold bronze. Quickly his feet
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carried him across the room where he stood captivated by the door marked with the word “Teddy.” Ever so carefully he placed his fingers on the knob and pushed it open to a view that took his breath away. “This is amazing.” He let out a laugh as he walked into the grand bedroom that stretched out before him. There was an oversized bed in the middle of the room, covered in huge royal red pillows. Covering the mattress were red sheets of silk and a velvet red comforter that flowed over the enormous bed, which sat so high that Teddy noticed a small step bench that a person would need to use to climb upon the gorgeous comfort of sleep. Next to his newfound place of rest was a grand full-length mirror, trimmed in solid gold, that cast a beautiful image of the room from the stand it perched upon so elegantly. In the far corner was a closet so big that Teddy couldn’t imagine any person ever needing so many articles of clothing. However, he was indeed grateful for the clothes as he looked down at his mud-stained, tattered jeans and t-shirt. He looked like he’d taken a bath in dirt, and giant moths had eaten away big holes in his garments—what a sight. Within the wardrobe were numerous jeans, shirts, hats, shoes, belts, socks, and yes, even underwear— all perfectly matched to his size. His smile just kept growing the more he discovered within the room, and he couldn’t help his sheer amazement at the wonderfulness he was witnessing. Then he crossed the room to a small doorway, and once he had stepped inside he clapped his hands together in sheer glee. He was standing in a marble bathroom. The tub was the size of a small swimming pool; there were clean towels and little soaps on the marble sink nearby, and a white fluffy robe hung on a hook next to the spa.
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This is the life, he thought. He returned to the bedroom and noticed a set of royal red pajamas at the foot of the bed, his initials embroidered on the front pocket, cashmere to the touch. On the floor were a pair of slippers in the same color, with a comfort no less than sheer excellence. “Do you like your room?” Essence came to his side. “Very much so, thank you.” Teddy smiled shyly at her crystal blues before averting his eyes. “I am pleased it suits you.” She smiled back with the elegance that only she possessed. “Come, it is time to eat and then it will be time for you to rest for the evening. Tomorrow begins our true journey.” With that being said, she took his hand in her own and led him out into the main chamber. In the main hall a huge feast was laid out before him on a small low-standing table against the opposite wall from where he stood. On the floor near the banquet were red velvet pillows spread out with a fire burning in a nearby fireplace. Thatcher was already sitting on the floor propped up on several pillows; he looked quite comfortable as he pointed his finger at the buffet, pointing here and there at the different foods he wanted. With each point a portion of the morsels jumped up and landed on a floating plate nearby. Once he was satisfied with his overflowing plate, he snapped his fingers and the floating platter glided straight to him. “That was awesome!” Teddy said with complete approval. “It’s nothing really.” The Corbain gave a boyish grin. “What would you like, Teddy?” Teddy plopped down on his own set of plush pillows and looked over the layout. It all looked so wonderful, he didn’t
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know where to begin, but then he saw a pitcher at the end of the table away from all the other food and drink. The container was made of a strange purple glass that swirled from the bottom until it reached the spout from which to pour the crystal violet elixir inside. “Here you go, Teddy.” Thatcher snapped his fingers once more and to Teddy’s approval a dish full of the lovely cuisine sat afloat right in front of him. “Show off.” Essence rolled her eyes in Thatcher’s general direction before she walked over to the table and got her own plate. Thatcher grinned slightly at her irritation as he continued to devour the meal in front of him. “So, Teddy,” Thatcher started after Essence had taken her seat, “tomorrow will start the real journey to the castle. It will not be an easy task.” He snapped his fingers yet again, Teddy thought perhaps for more of the fabulous entrees, but instead the purple pitcher gently moved through the air, resting finally in Thatcher’s hands. Thatcher poured three goblets for each of them. “Drink this at the end of the meal, Teddy.” “Why?” Teddy asked. The liquid perplexed Teddy for some reason, although he couldn’t put his finger on why. “It is a special blend of berries made by the fairies; it is quite amazing. It will help you to sleep,” Essence reassured him as she sat her own glass down and continued eating. “I was very sorry to hear about your father’s death, he was a great friend,” Thatcher divulged from out of nowhere, causing Teddy to nearly choke on the water he had just begun to drink. His head shot up with surprise as he stared at the creature next to him. “We cherished him and your mother very much.”
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The genuine sadness in Thatcher’s voice caused Teddy a great sadness in his heart, so much so that the aching was almost unbearable. He gave himself a moment to compose his emotions before he placed his request. “Can you tell me about them?” He had longed to hear stories of his parents from when they were young, but for some reason they had never wanted to speak about their pasts—as if they didn’t remember what it was like to be a child. As adults they were always worried about paying bills or keeping up the house; they never seemed to want to do anything fun. Teddy could remember when he was younger, they hardly had any time to play; they always seemed so tired. Then that horrible night when they were notified of his father’s accident… He quickly shook the memory out of his head. His mother had tried her best, but he could see how sad she was without his father; her eyes seemed to carry no light anymore. No matter how much she wanted to be happy, she just didn’t seem to have the strength. “Your mother and father were great adventurers. They loved to journey into our world and explore the grounds, to meet new magical creatures. Their imaginations were so much fun to us; they could think up so many games, so many ways to explore this world. Their dreams, their energy just made this world a better place. As a matter of fact, the flower fields you passed when you came through the gates were your father’s idea—his imagination created that.” Thatcher smiled. “What do you mean?” Teddy asked. “Humans hold the key to this world, and it is through imagination that you are able to come through the great gate and explore this land. On occasion a human’s imagination can be so powerful that they can even create new parts of this world. It is
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quite amazing, I must say.” Essence added, “Your parents used to journey with us throughout this land. They would come to speak with the creatures of the forest, take the journey to see the Tree of Life. Your father spent many hours speaking with the Great Crystal, discussing life and the connection between both our worlds.” “Why would they ever forget this place?” Teddy shook his head; he just didn’t understand how they could let that happen. What had happened on that day? How could they forget such a magical place? “No one knows the answer to that question, I’m afraid.” Thatcher sighed and once again snapped his fingers, and the three trays immediately glided away from their owners and floated softly back to the low table where the feast still sat. “Come, Teddy, it is time for rest. Night has fallen and day will come soon enough.” Teddy watched as Thatcher picked up his goblet and drank the silky purple liquid down in one swallow. Essence also did the same and motioned to Teddy to partake. He hesitated for a moment, his mind running a million miles, drinking in all that had been told—he was just too deep in thought to sleep right then. Yet as he looked into Essence’s eyes, he felt a slight trance fall over him, his head becoming a bit dizzy until finally he put the cup to his lips and felt the cool flavor of the liquid within. It was miraculous, almost like drinking in the beginning of an autumn morning as the sun begins to peek out over the earth. “Come, Teddy.” Essence took his hand, helping him to his feet before leading him off to the door that held his name. “The potion from the fairies is very powerful and will work quickly to lull you to sleep.”
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“Good dreams.” Thatcher smiled at Teddy before he disappeared behind his own bedroom door. Before Teddy and Essence left the main chamber, Essence grabbed another small handful of twinkling dust and threw it over the feast table—it vanished instantly, leaving only the low dancing fire to be seen. She turned Teddy to his door and guided him inside the bedroom chamber. Her hand never leaving his gave him great comfort. He did truly enjoy her company, and there was something about her that just called to his very soul. The violet fluid coursing through him caused his eyes to dim and his mind to wander as he watched Essence move across the room to a medium-sized crystal that hovered near the bedside. She lightly tapped it and the room illuminated with a low, loving light that also cast a low heat, which engulfed Teddy like an affectionate blanket. “Do you have everything you need?” she asked gingerly. “Oh yes, thank you for everything, Essence.” “Get some rest, Teddy. I will wake you in the morning. Good dreams,” she breathed as she walked to the exit. She looked back at him once more with a soft smile on her lips and then left the room. Once she closed the door behind her Teddy collapsed onto the ginormous bed, unable to fight the drowsiness any longer. He couldn’t even find the energy to change out of his ratty, tattered clothes before sleep overtook him.

Theodore Roberts & the Key to the Imaginary Door.

About J.R. Robinson J.R. Robinson lives in Northern California with her epic husband and rock star daughter. Raised in the lower part of Michigan in the town of Monroe, she was an only child throughout much of her adolescence, a latchkey kid who learned the true magic and power of the imagination. A writer since the age of nine and a teller of many tales, J.R. Robinson is a believer, above all else.

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