…The boy looked at Ashling, tipped his hat and said…”Hi! I’m Peter!” He pointed behind her as he whispered, “Did you come from t-h-e-r-e?”
“Ummmm, I guess so.” She said. “Where am I?”
“Oh, don’t worry about that” he replied. “Let’s play! We can fly!” He took her by the hand, lifting her slowly off the ground. She spied the landscape below, and was shocked that she was not afraid to look down. Peter swooped, and as she went with him, she felt her stomach leap into her mouth. She had never felt so exhilarated, so sick, so relaxed and so happy all at the same time. Everything felt as though it had popped right out of one of her books. No matter which way she turned, the color didn’t dim, and she was incredulous!
Soon, Ashling spotted a town. She had never seen houses like these in real life. It was all so different from the old home she lived in on the farm or the grey, industrial buildings of the cities and towns she knew. This town seemed to invite her to come closer. The town square was filled with flowerbeds, all of which ran riot with color. The streets were full of people who seemed to understand the same thing she knew; they were safe. Someone built this place to be a fortress, and this fortress, by its very nature as a place, denied any presence of the danger from which it shielded its inhabitants. She stopped by a flower cart and bought a small bouquet of sweet smelling sweet peas. Holding the flowers up to her nose, she spied a castle in the distance. “Who lives there?” she asked. The castle had both an air of untouchable beauty and silence as though it were locked, not uninhabited. Peter replied, “A princess lives in that castle. People say that anyone who braves the journey into the center of the castle to find her will be granted the magical ability to heal the wounded.” Ashling’s ears perked. Clearly, this was the reason she had come. She knew that the cure for her father lay with the princess in this distant castle. “Of course,” she thought. “It’s all so clear. How could I have missed it? “She turned to Peter and asked, “How do I get there?”…