Quick, before the month is over, let us return to The Dream Kingdom.
Edit: well, perhaps not quickly. More like eventually. Blame it on late night sleepiness and a desire to do my yearlong entry right.
Anyway, on with the delayed show.
"Destroy the Dream Kingdom?" Dylan shook his head as though he were trying to clear cobwebs. "Why would they want that? They'd be killing themselves along with the rest of you. Sounds like a weird way of committing suicide to me."
"They are of the belief," Nystor replied with a grimace, "that the Kingdom will not be annihilated, but merely reset. And that when that reset occurs they will return in greater numbers, with greater strength. They have been performing rituals and ceremonies and sacrifices to ensure that this comes to be. Prince Reimar is to be their final sacrifice."
"Maniacs." Josh said quietly. "Wait, you said they believe the reset will happen with the prince's death. Sounds like you don't share that perspective."
"I do not. It is utter foolishness. There is nothing waiting for us on the other side of the end."
"Maybe The Islanders just have better imaginations than you," Olivia observed, her mouth now returned to its rightful place.
"That's enough talking for now, I think," Nystor announced after giving Olivia a lengthy stare. "We must begin our journey now. Your training shall continue en route."
"Woah, woah, woah!" Dylan put both hands up in front of himself, like he was intending to physically stop anyone from leaving the room. "Just hold on here. We've got lots more questions that need to be answered before we decide what comes next."
"So. Many. Questions." Olivia came to stand beside him and Dylan stood a little taller. After a slight hesitation Josh joined their human wall.
"I'm sure you do. So would I, I imagine, were I in your boots. Or shoes, as the case may be. We will have to do something about your attire, won't we?"
"Our clothes? We've got more important things to worry about than what we're wearing!" It was an effort for Dylan not to look down to make sure he was still wearing pants.
"Indeed. Like time. And how much of it you have left to find King Brekstan."
"That sounded like a threat." Olivia crossed her arms and cocked her head to the side.
"A threat? Goodness me child, no! Merely a statement of facts. Look for yourselves." Nystor pointed behind them and they turned to find three hourglasses, all seeming to match their heights, with silvery liquid beads dripping into the bottom chambers. "That is how much time each of you have. As I'm sure you have noticed, Dylan has a little less time remaining to him since he arrived here first."
"What happens when time's up?" Josh asked warily.
"Visitors to the Dream Kingdom can only be here for so long before they must wake and return to their own world. If they stay beyond that point... there is no returning. You will no longer be guests then. You will become permanent residents."