Castle Roland

Riposté - Changelings

by D'Artagnon

In progress

Chapter 3

Posted: 14 May 15

Behind the Wall of Sleep

The ride home was a bit of a blur to me. Satyr spirits can have unpredictable effects on mortals and even other supernaturals. I'm told that if a vampire (oh yes, there are vampires out there, did I forget to mention that? Better go out and buy yourself some garlic wreathes now!) should drink Satyr alcohol, there's a good likely hood that he may explode like feeding alka-seltzer tablets to seagulls. Which, by the way, is totally cruel and hateful, even if the dumb birds are just rats with wings. So don't do it, or I may have to visit your dreams to school you… or send Croaker or Caspian to do it for me, if I'm feeling particularly cruel and hateful myself.

Anyways, like I was saying, I was somewhat "intoximicated." Oh sure, I was alert and aware and awake the whole way home, but I was also giggling like an idiot, cracking stoopid jokes that you had to be there to get, and well, I spent a lot of time kissing Kenny in the back seat. Not that we were alone in kissing. Juan and Bethy explored each others tonsils some as well. Not like full on, hot and heavy totally making out, you know. Just a quick kiss here and there, with a little tongue action. We were feeling the effects of the fae spirits (the in the bottle kind) and were just going with the mood. More or less just warming up for later on.

Fortunately for us, Mitch was a full-grown adult and had the constitution of a Troll backing him up. A few sips of changeling spirits was barely even effecting him. Seriously, if you ever try to poison a Troll, better bring it by the gallon; they're tough customers, brother!

Another thing about our alcohols that you mortals haven't quite mastered yet is that it's effects are more magical than chemical. It was partially a Glamour high we were all on. For those of you that read my first installment in the archives, you know that Glamour and sex is a powerful combination.

Kenny and I were both thinking of some powerful combining when we pulled up in front of my house. I almost felt like I'd been kicked in the sack. For a while now I'd been with Mitch and Kenny at their house or on the road at the tournament. It was awesome, we didn't get nasty every night, but Kenny and I got the chance to be lovers and best friends in the mortal realm for a while without the changeling pressures of that first week after my awakening. Now, that blissful honeymoon was about to end.

I should be relieved to see my parents. After all, here I was, 13 year old cyber geek, returning with not only trophies of glory on the sports field, but with their total trust in my own life and supernaturalness. They fully supported my changeling lifestyle, even if they didn't know exactly how deep my friendship with Kenny was. Or the fact that we were trading sexual positions with each other as much as three times a day (I wont go into how many times per night, you guys perv on me and Kenny enough as it is!).

Parting from Kenny was difficult without tipping my hand about how things really were with him and me. After a brief visit, Mitch took leave, saying he had to get Bethy and Juan home as well. I got a brief moment to sneak a hug to Kenny, hearing him whisper back that he'd call me soon. I knew he meant it, but I also understood that he and Mitch needed that father-son time. Our bonds were all strong, but sometimes you just need to be a kid again. I was feeling that need as well.

It was fun being home and the center of my parents' attention again. I know, I'm an attention hound. I can't help it. So at dinner with the folks, I got to regale them with tales of my exploits and the pranks we pulled in the hotel and how tough the competition was, and about our little game of keep-away in the pool. Mom told me about her promotion at the library and Dad made very subtle noises about his political connections. He was in the middle of writing a book on political history and the implications of it all. I didn't know that my Dad already had three books published. He's mad smart.

We watched a few movies before I crawled up the steps to bed that night. Very late. Cable is a good thing. I managed to sneak one of my favorite movies into the mix and it even had Mom and Dad rolling around in laughter. Sorry, I'm a Python freak, too, so in between pee and popcorn and drink breaks, I'd hop up and do a few lines from the movie we were watching, totally slaughtering the British accent, going through skits from other Monty Python films. We were watching The Meaning of Life, which I found strangely appropriate, even if some of the jokes didn't quite translate from English to English.

Eventually I did climb upstairs to my room. I hadn't been there in almost two weeks. My body had gotten used to Kenny's water bed, hotel beds and well, to Kenny in general. Sleeping alone in my little single bed seemed somehow odd. I'd been in this bed since I was out of the crib. Now, it was like trying on shoes a few sizes too small. It just didn't fit right anymore.

At any rate, the events of the past day and the worries of the near future caught up with me. I'd just expended too much energy, spent too much time thinking, and, well, to be honest, had a little too much Satyr apple brandy for me to stay awake too long, despite my odd discomfort. It didn't take long for sleep to find me, and on the other side of the wall of sleep, dreams found me as well.

To a creature of the Dreaming, (like me) dreams themselves are important, not only as the stuff of our existence, but also for the wisdom and knowledge that can be distilled from dreams. And for the warnings often found in them. So as you can guess, I take dreams very seriously.

That night, as I slept, I dreamed. A dream of the past, as vivid as any high def TV image, with all the sounds and senses and feelings of the waking world intruded in on me. It was a dream of one of my pasts. Of one of my many shared pasts, I should say, with Kenny. From my scholastic efforts (yeah, no laughing, I do study, you know!) I recognized my clothing as that of the times of the Greek Empire. The heat of the day and the sweat on my skin were proof enough for me that I was there. And armored. A great spear was in my hand, a shield with my sword sheathed inside it hung from my back as we looked down on the field below. The armies of Philip of Macedonia lay in front of us as far as could be seen. Lines of phalanx warriors were hooting and calling in disciplined order. Near our position were our allies in this battle, the Athenians. The smell of fear and sweat, leather and oil, horses and men all standing, awaiting orders.

I drank in the sight, feeling a slight dread. The Macedonians were powerful soldiers, capable of striking at such long range with their pikes, clear of their enemy's weapons. I didn't like how it looked. Sure, Philip had placed his untested teenage son on the far right flank as commander of a cavalry unit, but that was no guarantee that the boy would stay back from the fighting, protected and safe. Our leaders might have brokered this alliance with the Athenians, but they had chosen a bad position to attack a force such as Philip's war machine. The open ground was only an advantage to the phalanx and cavalry.

Would that we could be back in Thebes instead of here at Chaeronea.

A hand fell on my shoulder. A hand I knew well. I looked back without smiling. Kay Neth was there with me, but in these times he was known as Kanthos. He was my lover, my companion, my brother in arms. We were part of the Sacred Band of Thebes, an order of holy warriors who were also gay, and renowned for fighting unto the death with honor and skill surpassed by very few. My name at this time was Ribaenos. We had been through several campaigns together. We had been part of the Sacred Band since we were younger than the Macedonian prince, and for almost half the young prince's life.

"This battle troubles you?" Kanthos asked, coming to stand beside me, looking on the assembling warriors. Our own band were standing in pairs, each warrior with his lover, ready to fight to defend their partner to the death, in this life and beyond. We weren't as numerous as the Athenians, but we had a reputation for ferocity and skill that brought to mind images of the Spartans who fought at Thermopylae, centuries before.

"All battles trouble me, where fools and their egos prevail."

"We are not in command here, beloved. We must simply strive to find our path through this day, if it is the will of the gods."

"The gods simply watch the battles of men. Even if they wager on the outcome of our wars, I doubt they'd want to lift their sandals enough to give a push one way or the other." I looked over to him. "This day will not end well, Kanthos. Our brethren will bleed into the ground today without the honor of victory."

"So certain are you?"

"The ground favors their position and Philip's tactics more than ours. Cool heads must prevail if we are to win. The Athenian's are too hot for bloodshed."

"Then perhaps this day we shall have to find a way to calm them."

"Our leaders will not listen to us. I was more comfortable hating Athenians than rubbing shields and shoulders with them." I stared back into his gray eyes, seeing in his beard and hair the random gray hairs that began streaking into both our hair of late. We were old for the age, nearly 37 summers and winters. I could still see him as the youth he was when we met, at age 12. I could see how he looked when we joined the Sacred Band at 16. I could see his strength in battle as we fended off enemies of Thebes at age 23. I could see us both training younger members of the Band while we were 26, and veterans of many battles. While not officers, we were respected warriors of our sect. Other couples threw dice and drew lots for the honor of standing beside us in battle. It was almost an embarrassment, since they often would surround us and prevent us from getting too deeply into an enemy's formation because of this.

But this battle was different. This time was different. I couldn't put a finger on it, but I knew that things would go badly in this battle. And they did.

The battle went well at first, Philip actually ordering his phalanx, his mighty infantry with their huge pikes, backwards, giving ground. But instead of taking this opportunity to reform lines and remain in a defensible position, the greedy Athenians charged after the Macedonians. And in doing so, they opened up their flank to the cavalry led by the young prince, Alexander. This allowed the young prince to attack their rear lines uncontested and left our group out to dry as well. We were encircled, fighting against horsed opponents who had spears, archers, and speed. Couples fell to all sides of us, men who lost partners bunching together to defend themselves, or struggling to defend wounded men.

I found myself suddenly facing a powerful warrior, who I recognized at once as a Redcap. He bore in at me, reaching for my throat with one hand and raising his sword to hack at me with the other. My spear had long since broken in taking out another horseman. Kanthos was laying about as best he could with a wound to his leg, but he had already killed five horsemen and two horses with his weapon.

And then, the Redcap that was leaping at me suddenly sprouted the Dragon's Ire. Too late, I realized that this wasn't just a match of warriors, this was changeling attempting to Undo changeling. I brought my sword up and parried his thrust, spinning and hacking his horse's legs out from under him. The beast tumbled, spilling it's rider. I swung first, calling the Dragon's Ire to myself as well, only to see that this Redcap had landed on his feet and had bitten clean through Kanthos' spear. In the very next heartbeat, I watched the Redcap slash twice through Kanthos' belly, completely through his cuirass. Before I could even scream his name, he fell to the ground, his guts spilling through his fingers. Bent over, on his knees, Kanthos was easy meat for the Redcap, who raised his sword arm high and hacked my beloved's head clean off his shoulders with one mighty swing.

I was still three steps from the Redcap, enraged and saddened beyond grief, too late to prevent my lover from being slaughtered. I flew into a frenzy of battle, slashing through two enemies that presented themselves between me and the Redcap. When I reached the Redcap, we clashed swords hard. I turned under the stroke and spun rapidly, dropping to my back foot and tried to trip the Macedonian Redcap. He stepped over the kick and tried to punch his sword down like a scorpion into my leg. I stroked my blade up as I came back face to face with him, standing as I turned and caught his blade on mine, from underneath. Surging, I pry his sword back, trying to throw his blade. But the Redcap was capable. He pulled his blade. I punched my shield hand at the Redcap's head, dislodging his war helmet. The Macedonian was fast, though, and skilled. We struck at each other several times, parrying and dodging, turning and thrusting. The battle around us was going badly for my fellows of the Sacred Band. But that no longer mattered to me. This changeling had murdered my love. His last breath was mine to steal now, and I would have his blood on my tongue before Apollo drove the sun chariot into it's stable in the west.

I parried an attack hard, knocking the Redcap's blade well out of line, and putting my blade in perfect position to stab deep into this Macedonian's throat. I moved forward seeking to bathe my edge in his lifeblood. But I forgot in my hatred, that a Redcap's most dangerous trait is his mouth. The warrior bit the point off my blade. I stepped back, prying what was left of my sword from his mouth and had to dodge three near strikes from the Redcap's blade. I swept my blade in, and had the point still been intact, I would have let his blood out then. But I missed. As we circled and hacked each other, I caught sight of a crow landed on my Kanthos' head, plucking out his eyes already.

Rage overflowed in me and I lost rational control of my fighting ability. I closed, body to body, with the Redcap and plunged what was left of my blade into a cleft in his armor, under his left arm. His blade pierced up inside my armor as well, slicing through lung and liver and heart all at once. I looked at him and in hatred I rammed my forehead into his, my horns striking him hard enough to separate us. My blade remained in his body, but his ripped out of me, tearing and slicing more of my body.

"Know this, cur!" I spat, feeling my blood seeping into the earth below. "In this afterlife or the next, you shall never know peace. My blade will eternally be sheathed in your ichors. My hatred for you shall be until your Undoing."

"It has always been thus, Robyn the Blue. Like with your father, your Undoing shall be a symphony for my senses. And the leavings from my meal at the end of your existence shall decorate your corpse."

In anger, I called my blade back with a blatant use of my own Glamour, casting a Hopscotch to my blade. It ripped free of his body with a sick wet sound. I grimaced in pain as the handle of my sword landed in my palm. I watched the light in his eyes die, letting my rage follow him into the abyss.

The Dragon's Ire left me. I couldn't sustain the energy. I crawled, my body weak with blood loss, to my Kanthos/Kay Neth's body, throwing my broken sword to scatter the crows on his face. I died with my love, there on the battlefield of Chaeronea.

I woke in a cold sweat, almost screaming out in agony I no longer felt. For many minutes I sat there and wept, alone in my room. The dream had been so real, so true. It had to be a returning memory of my ancient lives. Reincarnation is a bitch some times. You can be at the mercy of things you did millennia ago and it all feels as if it was just yesterday. I know I can be a moody kid at times, all on my own, but damn, do I have to relive every moment of agony and none of the moments of joy? Puberty sucks! Friggin' mood swings!

I thought back over the events of the dream and felt my face was wet. And not with sweat. I was reliving the emotions of watching Kay Neth die right in front of my eyes. I could not hold back that flood. I don't know how many times I've lost him, or he's lost me. It doesn't matter. Each time is a burden on my soul. Memory of love is as much a reality as the living of love, and just as hard to put aside.

This was the first night Kenny and I spent apart in nearly two weeks. Not such a great and terrible thing, I know, but I'd gotten so used to his presence, to his scent. I'd gotten very comfortable with hearing his breathing at night, with waking up skin to skin in one form or another. We weren't even constantly horny when we slept together. Well, okay, maybe he wasn't, but it wasn't about having sex with each other every night, because we simply didn't do that every night. I just felt better, slept better, knowing he was right there with me. We completed each other in so many ways. It felt alien not to have his body heat there, or to have his arm drape over me at some time during the night, or to wake up and not want to move for disturbing his sleep.

Or to talk about our nightmares. Yeah, in the plural. No one understands you as much as someone who's woken up in your bed most nights for the last few millennia. No one else can help you deal as well as that person that you know and trust more than anyone else in existence.

Although it didn't take a genius to figure out that the Redcap that killed me and Kay at Chaeronea was Korbesh. It doesn't exactly take a degree in rocket surgery to figure that out. I was just still feeling the shock of loss and, well to be honest, the phantom pain in my gut from a sword strike that happened more than two thousand years ago. And then my stomach rumbled in protest. This puberty business has some weird side effects, like making me hungry all the time.

I got up and crept down the stairs, not bothering to put on more than my underwear. I didn't anticipate needing more. It was still dark out, but very early morning. The crickets outside were happily chirping away, masking any sounds of my feet as I got into the kitchen. I raided the fridge, in the time honored tradition, and popped some left over pizza into the nuker. While the holy 'za was getting re-heated, I grabbed a tonic and ice in a glass. A couple of napkins and a quickly aborted beep from the microwave, I bounded up the stairs with a meal in hands.

Once in my room, I sat on the bed, clicked on my TV and watched History Channel for a while, a sure fix to get me back to sleep. A little food, something boring to watch, the comfort of my blankets, usually that's all it takes to put my lights out. They were talking about flying saucers and UFO's as a possible explanation of some biblical events. Fascinating stuff, but totally dry and clinical. Nothing to hold my interest. So naturally I switched channels for a while, going through the infomercials and the news programs and the weather channel and other things that were very important for filling time with useless junk. Would be just as easy to let the channel go off line for a while instead of chucking junk on.

So I'm laying there, munchin' on pizza, and the phone by my bed rings. Which is weird, since I almost never have that line available. My computer still had that new computer smell, but that didn't stop me from downloading like crazy. My MP3 files were wicked monstrous! Well, that and a few other things. Hey, I'm gay and curious. It's normal that I want to, like, compare and, um, look. And, well, you get the picture. This is all way off base here.

I pick up the phone and nonchalantly said, "Hiya," waiting for a response.

"Hiya, Bu," Kenny said back. Don't laugh! We say dopey stuff like that to each other when it's just us, sometimes. Like little pet names and stuff. "How'd I know you'd be awake?"

"Cuz you're awake, too."

"Yeah, bad dreams."




"This thing with the killings and the maps and all this stuff about passages to Arcadia, something doesn't feel right about it."

"Can we not talk about this now?" I asked. Really, every second of every day didn't have to be duty and honor for me. Just once I'd like to have a conversation with my boyfriend without it being about cosmic-level, end of the universe as we know it stuff. "I'm kinda burnt out on all that mess. Too many people just wanna hand it off to me and not take any responsibility for it on their own. It's wicked inconsiderate."

"Yeah, I know." The line went silent for a few seconds, just the sound of his breathing on the other end. "I miss you," he said at length. "It's not the same without you here beside me."

"I know."

"You feeling lonely?" he asked. I could almost hear him smiling.

"A little. I don't have someone's cold feet on mine for a change."

"Silly!" he called back. I put the pizza plate to the side, curling up a little, onto my side. My hand slipped under the blankets and eased inside my boxer-briefs. "I thought you liked my cold feet. Are you naked?" he asked, lifting his voice a little more than just a question requires.

"Not entirely," I replied. "You?"

"I could be. You'll never know from over there, will you?"

"Tease! I bet you are naked. Or at least poking out."

"I swear, you must have a camera hidden in my room somewhere."

"So you are poking out?"


"Hehehehe, God, you're insatiable. I thought that was my role?"

"Just because you're a Satyr doesn't mean you invented being horny."


"You know, we never did anything like this over the phone before." I could almost see him licking his lips and grinning.

"Are you suggesting we should, ummmm, you know… fool around on the phone?"

"Don't have to beat you over the head with it, do I?" he kidded, giggling slightly.

"We'll if you could, I'd have to call Guiness Book of Records."

"Gimme a few years," he bragged. "Robby?"

"Yeah, babe?"

"I love you, Bu."

"I love you, too, Kenny." And that's all I'm gonna tell you about what happened in the next twenty minutes. Then again, I almost don't have to tell you, but I'll just let you use your imagination anyways. After all, your dreams still feed me, whether I am there directly or if they just flow. So you can just let your own fingers do the walking about while me and Kenny were "talking." Okay, mostly breathing heavy and just saying nasty things to each other.

After all that, we more or less just lay there in our own beds, holding a phone instead of holding each other. It was kinda a weird moment, but it was a lot of fun. And it helped ease the loneliness. I was a little more relaxed, letting my breath catch up with me. I tried to keep it quiet so my parents wouldn't hear and wake up. Not sure if I succeeded.



"What were you dreaming about that woke you up? Do you remember?"

"Yes. It wasn't something good."

"The past?" he asked.

"Umm humm," I replied, unconsciously nodding. Ever catch yourself doing that, nodding to someone on the phone?

"About both of us dying?"

"At the battle of Chaeronea, ancient Greece, fighting against Philip of Macedonia and a teen aged Alexander the Great. We lost, wicked," I agreed. "Korbesh was there."

"And he got me first."

"Yeah." We'd long ago (as in like a few weeks back) discovered that sometimes we dreamed the same thing, from our own perspectives, but the same dream at the same time. We took it as a warning or an omen or just as seriously freaky shit. Either way, it was just another aspect of our bond in action. Across the river he could sense my dreams and be part of them. What deeper connection through the Dreaming do you need to know we were destined for each other?

"Bu, it wasn't your fault."

I sighed into the phone. "I know. It just pisses me off that things have gone on so long with this guy. Kay, he's killed so many people just for the chance to take a swipe at me for something that happened between him and my father." A few pulse beats passed between us. "Kay?"


"I have to end him or he'll end us. I've remembered too much this time around. I've got the Tear and SkyFire again. He wont rest til he takes both from me. And Undoes us both."

"I know, Robby. We'll just have to beat him to the punch." I heard him change position on his water bed, the mattress sloshing a bit as he changed to lay more on his side. I just know him enough to know that's how he moved. "God, I wish you were here right now. Bad dreams never come back when you hold me."

"I know. But the parents want some time too, you know? I'm sure Mitch wants to just be your dad for a bit," I rolled a pillow up inside my chest, hugging it tightly, wishing it were Kenny snuggling back against me.

"I wish you were here right now, too." I imagined the smell of his hair pressed against my face. There's just nothing like having someone to share a bed with. Sex aside, it just makes you feel better to not be alone. "What're you and Mitch doing tomorrow?"

"Water Country." It's a huge water park in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, not even half an hour away.

"Oh, man. I'm so jealous."

"Wont be the same without you. What about you? Got plans?"

"Mom and Dad wanna run into Boston. Do the Science Park and Museum of Fine Arts thing. I think Dad just wants me to get a look at the colleges in town. Still got years to go til graduation and they want me to get my applications in. Guess that's what I get for having such education savvy parents."

"The Sox are in town this week. You sure they don't have tickets to Fenway?"

"I so wish! It'd be mad sweet to see them now that they don't suck."

"Hell, just going for a Fenway frank would be awesome. They been boiling since April."

"Ummmm, hot dogs. Kay?"


"How come every time after we're together we get hungry?"

He laughed softly, and I heard noises like someone rubbing the phone over sheets as he re-adjusts. "I dunno, guess we use a lot of energy. Kinda almost a ritual with us, huh?"

"Yeah. And I just ate."

"Yeah?" he said, and I could almost hear him getting excited again. Just something in how he giggled.

"Not that! I had some pizza just before you called. Perv!"

"Like you don't do it, too."

"Well, yeah, but it's not you." I exhaled loudly. "You taste better, Bright-Eyes."

"We'll have to put that to the test."



"Um hmm?"

"No words."

"No words," I replied. It was kind of one of those dopey things you say to someone you love. We weren't telling each other to shut up. We weren't being all sappy and melodramatic. We were expressing a truth. There weren't enough words to describe how we felt about each other. It's just how we both felt. "You know, I could really go for a goodnight kiss right about now."

"Me too. Rain check?"

"Kinda dry on the ground here," I snapped back. I was in a good mood, playful. And since we couldn't wrestle or go out back and just fence until we were both exhausted and out of breath, playing with words was what we had.

"Well, I'm sure there's at least one wet patch," he countered.

"Well, if there is it's your fault."

"I take the credit. Wow. We should do this more often."

"God, I hope not."

"Wha?" he said, sounding startled. "Why the hell not?"

"Cuz it takes away from time doing it for real."

"Oh. Hehehehe, I see your point."

"Yeah, well, that's only cuz my point's so big," I replied. He barked laughter into the phone. "You can probably see it clear to Salisbury if I wave it out the window the right way. If the wind's right I can make it rain yellow in Boston." His giggles were getting infectious. I just can't help but laugh a little when I hear him laugh. He makes me so happy. If you had your own Kenny you'd know what I'm talking about. I'm just sorry for the rest of you jokers out there that they broke the mold when they made my boyfriend.



"We should get some sleep."

"I want to, but my favorite pillow's not here."

"You always hog the sheets anyways," he returned, smiling, I'll bet.

"Yeah, but you always move us into the corner."

"The better to control you, my dear," he said in an imitation "wicked old witch" voice. That cracked me up and I couldn't help but laugh a little too loudly. I covered my mouth quickly but it was too late.

"Ro-bert! Tell Kenny goodnight and hang up, right now!"

"I gotta go, Bright-Eyes. Mom just imposed parental authority."

"Yeah, I heard. I love you, Robby," he whispered.

"I love you, too, Kay. Always." It's weird how when he goes into whisper mode I do too. We're so on the same page sometimes.

"Oh, and Bu?"


"Thanks for helping me get over the bad dream."

"Beloved," I sighed, "no words."

"No words. G'night."

And as much as I should have, I didn't hang up the phone. Neither did he. We just lay there, in our separate rooms, the river between us, listening to each other breathe. Sometime, I dunno, maybe half an hour or so after, I fell asleep. I always sleep better when I can hear my Kenny breathing. I don't know what it is that makes it so. I guess it relaxes me. I almost lost him once for good this go around the immortality revolving door on heaven that we changelings call existence. I wasn't ready to lose him again, not so soon, not ever. I guess I just felt a little overprotective of him. You would too if he were your boyfriend.

And when I woke up the next morning, I felt so much better, despite the slight irritation in my neck and the weird feeling of having that phone under my head all night. Not just because me and Kenny had fun last night. I felt better because for one day, today, I was going to be a normal kid again. And I'd get to have fun with my parents and just forget all the weight of the world for a little while.

That, and I was reminded of just how much my Kenny loved me. How much he meant to me. How unbelievably lucky I was. Please don't think I'm bragging. Since learning about my true dual-existence and living it, I can only say that I'm truly blessed with awesome loyal friends, awesome understanding parents and mad wicked awesome perfect Kenny. So I have to deal with crap like the whole Korbesh thing or slaying dragons from time to time. The benefits far outweigh the penalties, most days.

And this day, I got to return to just being Robby. Just being the little cyber nerd my parents raised. And to be perfectly honest with you, there's times I miss being just Robby. Sure the Glamour stuff rocks, and my friends and family and Kenny/Kay Neth, well that's something I can never do without now that I'm awake to it. But the fact of the matter is, I have to live in both the Dreaming and the real world. It's just that today I get to be in the real world a little more than in the Dreaming.

I get to be just a kid, just for a little while. And as much as I love being both sides of me, my parents needed me to be just Robby for a little while longer as well. How could I deny them? They've been so good about this whole changeling business. They deserve to have some family time with their only son. And I wanted to spend some time with them, just us.

Selfish? Maybe. But hey, even for those of you that only get one time through existence, you should take all the chances you can to be with those you love. You never know when all of your chances will suddenly end. Enjoy the things in life that make you happy because there are tons of things in life that will make you miserable if you let them. I've lived a few hundred times and died one time short of that number, so I know a little something about it.

Besides, there's enough crap out there to make you unhappy as it is. Take back your joy while you can, and hold it precious. And that's the best advice I can give, so don't waste it.

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