Professor Rafter walked around his private study greeting his new students one by one as was his custom. As head of the Theosophy Department his study, which was on the second floor overlooking the River Avan, was considerably larger than those of his colleagues. “You would probably not dispute the fact that we live in the real world,” he said, beginning typically in mid flight even though this was their first seminar with him. “You wake up in it every morning.” One of the students laughed nervously. “Well some of you do,” Rafter said laughing too. “If you bump your elbow, it hurts for real. Most of our activities take place in the Real World. I don’t need to list them. They are familiar to us all.” Rafter walked between the armchairs in which his new batch of students sat apprehensive, wondering what was coming next. “Some say that this world is nothing but illusion, yet for most of us it is very real.” He wondered if any of them would excel like Sally, one of last year’s students. “But there is another world you often visit, even if it lives on only for a short while after the alarm clock rings: the Dream Realm. It’s a place full of strange twists and turns, where the most outrageous things can seem normal and the most normal things can appear sinister, if not terrifying. It is on that world that much of our work will centre this first semester.” He returned to his desk, but remained standing. “And if you venture beyond the Dream Realm, then you might discover the Reaches, a world in many ways like our own, but in some ways astoundingly different…” That was where Sally had gone with her two friends Keira and Brent. Keira, who was Sally’s girlfriend, was well known about town as she sang in a local folk group. Brent was quite different. He was a storyteller, often to be seen wandering the streets of Avan a notebook in his hand. Dreams were the raw material that he transformed into stories. “But the Reaches will be the subject for another seminar later in your studies.” The quest of Sally, Brent and Keira had left them profoundly changed. But then wasn’t that the nature of a quest, he asked himself rhetorically.
An hour later, bringing the seminar to a close, Rafter launched a parting idea: “Every person, every object, every situation we come across, whether it be in the Real World, in the Dream Realm or in the Reaches, is the source of a host of stories clamouring to be told. Think about it. See you next week.” Once the chattering group of students had trooped out into the corridor, Rafter closed the door and withdrew to the window. The tide was low, bringing with it flocks of seagulls that noisily disputed dead fish tossed overboard from passing fishing boats. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes and let himself slip deep into his inner world. As in many tales, he thought, the story of Sally, Brent and Keira was about the battle between good and evil. It was about power and love and hate and money and sex and desire and longing. It was about strange meetings and weird transformations but it was also about the pleasure of discovery and the joy of creating. However, the more he thought back over it, the more he realised it was above all about stories and storytelling. It was about the ability of stories to carry us away, to lead us astray, to plunge us in despair, to raise us up again in hope, to leave us suspended in anticipation and to fill us with a moment’s joy when tears threaten to run down our cheeks. He smiled to himself as he opened the gate into his inner garden. Such was the Storyteller’s quest.
Learn more about the people of Avan in The Reaches, the 1st book of the Storyteller’s Quest (Buy the book).