We followed the Dream King's Seneschal and the Artist to the palace. The way was long and winding, and you couldn't tell if you were approaching the palace until you were already there. We had received an invitation from the Seneschal, a friend of the family, to stay the night while we in the area. Morpheus would be away, but we were welcome to partake of his hospitality along with the Artist.
As we arrived, the guardians of the palace came alive. They were four-legged and pale as mist; beautiful creatures who shouted their alarm at the presence of newcomers. The younger of the two bounded toward us, barking ferociously. As she reached us, she began to nuzzle and sniff, dropping her threatening demeanor to welcome us. She lead us toward the palace and introduced us to the other guardian, an older and distinguished gentleman who offered his head and back to be petted in greeting. The guardians and the Artist went off for a walk around the grounds while the Seneschal lead us inside.
The palace seemed to hold its breath in the King's absence. The Seneschal brought it to life with her presence. Though Morpheus himself were absent, his aura still permeated the place, a shadow in the corner of your mind's eye. The Seneschal directed us to climb the long stairs to a chamber at the top of the highest spire in the palace, where we would be staying. We began the climb while she went of to take care of some very important business.
As we climbed, we came across one of the many oneiric denizens of the palace. He lounged across on of the stairs, furred in white and gray, and eyed us curiously. His name, as we would come to find, was Coconut. He and his two companions, Princess Snowflake and Joey, were the real owners of the palace. They were however, nice enough to let Morpheus and others think they owned it. They also gave others the great pleasure of feeding them and appreciating them. It was a good system, and everyone was happy.
The stairs seemed to shift as we ascended. Perhaps we only turned left when we should have turned more left. We found ourselves in what seemed to be a backstage store room. Bits of old dreams were piled on shelves. I'm pretty sure we caught a glimpse of Morpheus' work room. Not sure if we supposed to be here, we headed back down the stairs to a hall of Doors, where we indulged ourselves by admiring the dreams and visions hung upon the walls and appreciating Coconut some more. Eventually, the Seneschal found us again.
It was decided that instead of staying in the tallest spire, we would spend the evening in the library. The Seneschal showed us around, assuring us that everything would be okay. Before she took her leave, we gifted her with carrot bread and warm embraces. Then we were alone in the palace of the Dream King.
The library was everything one might expect and more. Shelves lined with generations of dreams, both those of Morpheus' own design and those of others. There were fantastical cities, dark and twisted tales, rocket ships, even a tiny galaxy encased in glass. Tired from our day, we readied ourselves for bed.
The Artist returned as we finished brushing our teeth. He would be in the room next to us, and it was nice to know that we weren't the only ones haunting the palace. We chatted with the Artist for a bit, and then turned in.
So, what does one dream when they sleep within a dream? I wish I could recall, but we woke refreshed, with gray light seeping listlessly into the room.
The morning did not change the palace much, except for the lighting. We prepared ourselves for the journey back home, gave some more appreciation to Coconut, Princess Snowflake, and Joey, chatted some more with the Artist, and played with the guardians a little. Before leaving, I left a dream of my own, knowing that it would be one among many in Morpheus' collection, but still something that felt like I needed to do.
As we drove away, we watched the Artist and the guardians going off for another exploration of the grounds. Then it was back to the real world, though we will always feel a pull to return.