Beyond the door lay rolling fields of....
She caught her breath, her chest pounding. Ivory stepped through the door, abandoning her tree house for the moment.
She stared in awe at the scene before her, with little bits of floating light mingling in her hair.
Ivory stared as the butterflies fluttered around her, sipping nectar from the flowers, then fluttering away to another location. She watched the butters' translucent form flicker in and out of focus as they moved so quickly about the field.
Ivory strode along for a few minutes, taking in her surroundings, wondering what other treasures she would discover.
And that's when she saw her.
A fluttering figure, dancing toward Ivory, graceful and excited.
Lights fluttered, tutus swirled.
Ivory didn't know what to think, so she merely stood there in shock. And then the girl strode up to Ivory and said, "Come with me, princess. We have been waiting for your return."
Ivory wasn't sure if she wanted to follow this girl, or if she trusted her, but she didn't seem to have many other options beside following her. So she did.
The girl introduced herself as Zephyr. "I am a wind nympth, controller of light breezes," she introduced herself.
Ivory, still in a daze and pretty much convinced she was dreaming now, said, "I'm--"
"I know who you are, Princess Ivory."
"You will love your new home," Zephyr giggled, tugging Ivory along.
"How do you know me?" Ivory panted as she attempted to keep up with her quick-moving guide.
"Everyone knows you, princess," Zephyr said matter-of-factly.
Ivory still didn't understand, but she decided that her questions would have to wait, because they had just come upon something.
"It will take you home, princess," the girl said, bowing before Ivory, who stood there bewildered.
"You expect me to get in?" she asked incredulously.
"Don't you want to see your family?" asked Zephyr with a smile. Ivory nodded after a moment, and hesitantly climbed inside.
"Farewell, daughter of Eos," Zephyr called, waving.
Ivory stared after her. Why did that name sound so familiar?
The carriage pulled her for what felt like hours, or minutes--time was difficult to judge here. Ivory didn't know if she would ever find her way back....to where? Had that tree house really been her home? She was about to find her REAL home now. She told herself she did not care if she ever returned to those woods.
Finally, the carriage stopped. Ivory stepped out and gasped when she saw the castle. It was the one in the mist, the one she always saw in her mind.
As she drew closer, the mist seemed to disappear until she had a clear view of the castle.
She approached the front door, pondering what Zephyr had meant about being the "daughter of Eos".
And she stepped inside.
"Welcome home, my daughter," a woman said, stepping out from the shadows.
Ivory spun around to see her and asked, "Who are you?"
"My name is Eos, goddess of dawn. And you have finally returned home."
Ivory stood there for a moment, unable to speak. Finally, she said, "Look, I think you're mistaken. I am not your daughter."
"We sent you away from us when you were very little so that we could protect you from our enemy. Now that threat has passed, and you have returned."
"Why haven't you collected me sooner?" Ivory cried, tears blinding her.
"We couldn't open the door after it was sealed. You had to be the one to do that."
Ivory stared ahead, inside the beautiful palace, wondering what on earth was happening.
"Aren't you pleased to see me?" Eos asked.
Ivory stared at the woman. There was no way this was her mother.
She turned and strode from the castle.
"Where are you going?" cried Eos.
"I'm going to wake up from this dream," Ivory said determinedly.
"You asked the mirror for a dream, didn't you, my sweet?" asked Eos. Ivory stopped in her tracks.
"How do you know about that?"
"I can see it in your heart. You asked for a dream, and you dreamed that you would unlock the door in the tree house."
"What are you saying?"
"I'm saying that this is your dream. Right here."
"You mean...all of this...is my imagination?" asked Ivory.
"Yes, child," Eos said kindly. "And what a magnificent one you have, too."
"How is that even possible?"
"Nothing is impossible, Ivory. Now, come with me, and I will teach you your real name, and the ways of Imagination."
Ivory turned hesitantly toward her mother and walked with her back into the castle, where she learned her real name.
"Don't ever tell it to anyone," Eos warned. "It gives another power over you. Only you and I may know it."
And she whispered it into Ivory's ear.