“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.”
― Joseph Campbell
Juron felt safe in his castle. He was of noble stock, the ruler of his domain – a population of one soul complete with body. Juron and his two aether-friends lived a carefree life. They roamed about the castle of their own free will. Juron’s imagination and shadow played gleefully but never too far away from him. The freedom to choose where he would go and what room he would visit gave him a sense of the explorer’s wonder.
Each tower was an empty prison, the dungeon a long empty store of tortures and damp mustiness not meant for Juron but still part of his world to explore. He wandered the ramparts but couldn’t see over the walls, the crenulations too high for him, and to clamor so high to see the universe outside felt a venture too risky. Juron stayed within the walls content with the echoing silence that played the base chords for his unbridled imagination. The sprite of a shadow at his side entertained Juron to no end, always leaping and dodging like a formless danseur.
There was glorious safety within these walls. No scaled saurian creature could find its way in to stalk their favorite elusive prey. Juron knew where every haunted crevice and corner was. The haunts were the spirits of memories relegated to those hidden spots. They endeavored to frighten him by jumping out, all painted in ghoulish garb with shadowy intent. After a bit of surprise, Juron sent them back to their hidden realm within the castle. They were his and must obey. They sometimes forgot they lived at his discretion.
The cold drafts of late fall and the impending winter seeped in like a heavy blanket of fog, creeping along the floor, slipping into the low spots and chilling the great halls. The fireplace in Juron’s bedroom blazed with warmth and a bright glow of soothing yellows, blues, reds, and orange. The flames threw the bright colors of their dancing leaps around the room like fairies bathed in light against the cold grey stone of the vaulted room. Juron swore he would never leave, so comfortable was he with his surroundings.
In the dead of winter, Juron sat at a grand writing desk made of the finest French oak, the top inlaid with exquisite marquetry that bordered the centerpiece, a single white rose. Each petal was cut as a single piece of beechwood veneer. Age and constant use darkened the rose giving it a look of matured beauty.
Juron sat uncountable times and stared at the dimmed rose. It was the symbol of his maternal lineage. He thought of all his proud grandmothers, his loving mother, his dear wife, all gone to their reward too soon and without him. The stories his grandmother and mother told him of his family were always fresh in his mind. His playful imagination and quiet shadow kept still in these long moments. They watched with respect as the old master bowed his head, steadied in his hands, and spoke to the rose those things he wished he could say to their faces or even their ghosts if they would only come around for him to see.
Above the desk was a twelve-foot tall stained glass window that illustrated a hunting scene with his tenth great-grandfather. He was sitting on a log by a small brook, his hound at his side with the peaceful corpse of his quarry, a small dragon, not many centuries old. The old Duke stared down at him with approving eyes. The Duke’s face glowed with bright stateliness in spring and summer and grew dark and foreboding in fall and winter, almost to predict the seasons that Juron couldn’t see from within his walls.
While Juron and his shadow were content to live out their lives within the walls of their castle, his imagination yearned to venture beyond the gate, to see what wondrous things were offered in the world they hadn’t seen in decades. While Juron slept, his imagination dreamed of the outer world and planned one day to venture out while Juron slept. Juron’s imagination would take Juron’s spirit with him and together they would explore and come back to lighten their master’s heart with the beauty they beheld.
It was a grand plan with every detail of the journey thought of. Only one tiny detail was overlooked. Neither could have thought of it. They didn’t know that on that first trip when imagination and spirit ventured to the gate that there could never be a return. The spirit can only leave once. The imagination departs as many times as desired until the spirit leaves and this marks the moment that shadow plays no more and the spirit absorbs the imagination and all the memories into itself before soaring to the black emptiness of the universe to live among the stars until called to find a new life.
When the gate opened to let the spirit out, a great chill wind blew through the castle and through the opened door to the bedchamber where stacks of vellum paper on the desk fluttered about the chamber. Each page was adorned with painstakingly written words left by Juron and his imagination. Some flew into the fireplace where the flames leapt up to consume them. The burst of heated colors danced across the pale face to no effect. Juron lay in his bed, a frozen smile on his face. The smile was from recognizing his dear wife when she arrived to greet him.