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Once upon a time, a time now so long ago that scarcely anyone can recall these days the way this story goes, a brilliant though not particularly adventurous man, Sir Broots of Kommputah, from the much feared, mysterious, and shadowy land of Centre was greatly troubled by an evil dream that crept into his sleep and began to make his nights hideous. Now, I would not have you think for one moment that Sir Broots was a timorous rabbit of a man. Rather, he was a reasonably cautious man because he was used to thinking first and acting only when no other avenue was open to him or when someone he loved dearly was threatened. However, I must admit to you that his recurring nightmare had him scared nearly senseless.
Over and over, night after night, he saw himself walking down a strange gallery where there were no paintings on the walls as you might expect. Instead there were only dark mirrors. When he turned to look at one, he saw, dimly, his reflection. But to his horror it was not his reflection as a living, breathing man. In its place, he saw himself as dead. Not just dead, not even neatly though lamentably laid out in a coffin. You must imagine how he felt seeing himself in the exact moment after being horribly hanged here, brutally burned at the stake there, pierced most bloodily in an Iron Maiden in another, wickedly run through with a dozen arrows even with one in his eye in still another while in yet another he was unkindly drowned in a large shallow basin of water.
He would try to run from these grisly images, but no matter how fast he ran, the mirrors kept extending on and on and on showing different ways for him to meet his what was often a gory demise. One particularly nasty one involved Sir Broots as a greatly enjoyed supper under the enormous tusks of a ravening giant wart hog, and this sight nearly caused him to be violently sick every time he dashed past it. The only way he could escape the clutches upon his mind of the grim Gallery of Death was by waking up. This took supreme effort and formidable concentration on his part. When he finally forced himself awake, he was covered in sweat and shaking from the wrenching memory of the terrors of all those unspeakable images.
After several weeks passed in agony, a new sight caused him to be nearly paralyzed with despair. It was the addition of another sufferer to his dreaded nightmare. She was a tall, willowy, truly beautiful princess attired in the rags and tatters of once elegant velvet, silk and leather gowns. Wielding a broom, she swept endlessly down the same long mirrored room. Because of the unaccustomed task, drops of blood, ruby red and dark fell ceaselessly from her pale hands while tears, crystalline bright, flowed without let or hindrance from her sweet, gray eyes. Sadly, she never seemed to see Sir Broots. She looked right through him so that her blank stare made him oddly nervous and very self-conscious.
Nonetheless, he looked at her longingly, for she was beyond compare more beautiful than any woman he had ever seen. Though trapped in his dream, she afforded him the only respite from the horrors in the mirrors. Yet, he was deeply disturbed by her appearance because she was the most tragic sweeper. Surely no servant or housemaid she with her shining, long, raven locks, her graceful body, her delicate hands and feet and her wearily earned beggar’s clothing.
Sir Broots discovered that a great longing had welled up within him. He wanted to be her savior, to release this lovely princess from what was doubtless an evil spell that had cast her into durance vile, into this pain and sorrow, but he could not imagine how this might be accomplished. Despite his lack of a heroic nature, he yearned to be the brave one to rescue her and earn her gratitude. Sad to say, he could not even reckon how to save himself from what seemed to be certain, cruel death.
Thus he lived, haunted because of evil memories by day and forced to return to the horrid dream by night. Sir Broots could hardly eat or breathe, so obsessed had he become by the desire to free the accursed spell bound princess, to hold her in his arms, to kiss her and kiss her . . . and defeat the sure prophesy of his own death so that they might live happily ever after. At last he could no longer live suspended between a living death and deathly dreams. He determined that very night he would destroy the evil that held him in thrall and kept the princess laboring ceaselessly, separately and alone. He had finally hit upon a deed that would either kill him or end the terror at the center of his life.
That very night, when he once again entered the overwhelming dream and was facing the mirrors, their dire depictions and the lovely, ill fated princess sweeping and sweeping, he forced his dream self to seize one of the great, loathed mirrors, and grasping it between his hands, he lifted it over his head and began to smash the other mirrors with it, methodically, thoroughly, one at a time. Immediately, shards and slivers of glass began to fly dangerously around him, but he did not care. He could not stop now no matter what pain it might cause him. He had firmly resolved he would be free of their evil power or die in the attempt. He felt himself growing stronger and stronger as the mirrors were reduced to shining piles of rubble. After annihilating the last hateful reflection and finding their hold over him broken, he turned toward the other solitary companion of his weakening dream in order to carry her out of this hall of doom and death, but she had disappeared.
Frantically, he raced up and down the gallery searching for her but she was nowhere to be found. Then he knew true despair. In victory, he had found defeat. His goal was beyond his grasp. He could not save her. Where had she gone? Clearly, she no longer shared his nightly doom now that he was free. With almost unendurable sorrow, he forced himself awake, disheartened with longing for the beauty he could not have. Then he heard a soft voice whisper in his ear, “In your dreams, Broots. Only in your dreams.”
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