One day, IMN and I
(For that is what I called the guy)
Decided we had had enough
Of dryer lint and real-bound stuff
Of boring days and normal nights
Of shopping carts and sibling fights.
“The time has come, I think,” said he,
“To run away—just you and me.”

Convincing, little did I need
Logic little did I heed
As we two started, that same day
To make our plans to run away.
“We’ll need a book, or three or four,
And pounds of music, maybe more!”
“Yes,” quoth he, “and paper! Pens!
A tire swing on which to spin!”

My pack was light, though his was lighter—
His logic was that he’s the fighter—
As we set off down the street
Our destiny henceforth to meet.
The danger first was quick in coming:
From the air a pounding, humming,
“Wing beats!” said I, but too late.
Death by dragon seemed our fate.

But IMN gave me a sword
And, wordless, turned my face toward
The dragon’s belly—the only spot
Where I could have a fighting shot.
I lunged with all the strength I had.
My blow glanced off its ironclad
Protection, and I bowed my head,
Honorable, I knew, but dead.

But steam hit my face as the dragon laughed.
“Good milady, you must be daft
To think that you could slay the beast
For whom mortals make a mighty feast.
But your valor strikes me, your honor too.
Of adventures, well, I’ve had a few,
But I’ve never met such noble hearts.
Let me join you. Let us depart.”

From there, we three left now as friends
And that is where it all begins,
For the skies are full of friends and foes
The ground itself will never know.
We flew through dangers fair and foul,
The rain did fall, the wind did howl.
We slew the dangers, kept the friends
And wondered where would be the end.

Up we flew, still higher, higher,
The sky above us shone like fire
As we drew nearer to the place
That made my heart beat at the pace
Of a frightened mouse—and then my eyes
Lit on the place of such glorious size
And shape and color—music, too—
It was the place we sought, I knew.

It floated just above the dreams
Of every mortal man and seemed
A little further than the moon
Though closer than next year’s next June.
Secrets swarmed within its depths,
Perils haunting every step.
I caught the eye of IMN
Who grinned and said, “Just tell me when.”

Our band of heroes hovered ‘til
Everything seemed dark and still.
Not a foe was to be seen.
The height of danger, naturally.
Then after a breath, a pause, a shiver,
The dragon’s flanks gave a might quiver.
“Charge!” the shout came from all around
And we surged forward with a bound.

The city of shadows, fears, and dreams
Did not take kindly to our schemes
Of conquest, and it all rose up, it seemed,
As one. Its denizens, turrets, spires deemed
Us worthy foes, and mustered a great attack,
A front that sent us hurtling back.
But we did not stop, we pushed on,
A battle fought is always won.

Clangs like thunder rattled the night,
Explosions, shots and bursts of light
Proclaimed that we had met our match,
Still we held, but it could not last.
Then the time finally came when I found myself
Fighting back-to-back with that mischievous elf
Named IMN. “They’ve got us beat,” he said.
I smiled at his tone and nodded my head.

None of our allies could we see
As we fought together beneath that tree,
Wielding our swords of truth and valor
Until at last it came the hour
When we two friends could no longer stand.
We collapsed in a heap, swords still in hand,
Our arms like lead, our armor dented,
Our strength exhausted, our cunning spent.

Our pulses were quick with awe and fright
Of the fearsome beauty we’d seen that night.
We both began laughing, not knowing why,
And as our foes closed in, I jumped up to my
Feet. “Well,” said I, “you’ve got us surrounded.
I must admit, I’m a bit confounded.
Before you destroy us, please show us some pity.
Let us meet the ruler of your astonishing city.”

To my great relief (surprise as well),
The advancing hoards stopped for a spell.
The crowds of creatures began to part
And what I saw then nearly stopped my heart
From beating—a king more wondrous and grand
Than the draw-dropping city I’d no doubt he’d planned.
From his visage streamed more magic and power
Than from the shining cobblestones to the highest tower.

IMN and I fell at his feet.
“Sire, your fair city has us beat.
Of all the wonders I’ve seen, far and near,
Nothing compares to what you have here.
It has been an honor to fight, yes, even to lose!
A worthier end I could never choose.”
Fear now was gone, and awe took its place.
I raised my head and turned up my face.

To my astonishment, the great monarch’s eyes
Lit up with a smile full of delight.
“My child, the point was never to win.
That’s the job of this city you’re in.
No matter how brave and no matter how pure,
You never could ‘win,’ of that I’ve made sure.
At this moment, he knelt to be level with me.
My heart told me, “Stay,” my limbs told me, “Flee!”

“But you’ve both fought with courage, great honor and heart,”
His voice rumbled through every flagstone and part
Of the city: “The end? Nothing farther from true.
This is just the beginning, my friend, for you.”
He laid a hand gently on each of our heads.
“From this day on, let it be said
That these two noble hearts are brave knights of the realm,
That their friends are our friends, their foes as well.”

“You mean—?” asked I, breathless, as he helped us to stand,
“Yes,” he intoned, “every bit of this land,
Everything that you see, everything that you can’t
Whether castle or rainbow or laughter or ant
Is yours to explore, to love, to discover,
To trek through, defend, to test and uncover.”
I had not expected to still be alive
And here he was telling me I’d just arrived.

As I looked, the city, so impossibly grand,
Seemed to unfold all its edges and land
Into something more impossible than ever before.
Something, I now knew, I was free to explore.
It was a sight that, back when we first started,
Would have caused me to stop before we ever departed.
But now it excited me, it sparked in my veins
As I gazed at the hilltops now soaked in the rain.

We set off again, this journey unlike
The one that had brought us here late at night.
This time, we left with new armor, quite sound,
And carried the seal of the glorious Crown.
Our job now, it seems, is to have those adventures
Of the sort that the old ones carry just the whisper
Of the possibility that this one might someday be.
Adventuring forever, IMN and me.