The Sleep and his Six Children
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The Kingdom of Sleep

Queen Pasithea took her youngest child by the hand while walking by the great halls of the castle. She smiled at her son, transpiring serenity. The young boy was almost ready to discover his place in the Land of Nod and, as his mother, she attempted to show him what his siblings chosen before him. As they arrived in the balcony of the tallest tower in Oneiremena Castle, they could see the Foreigners, coming and going from Nod, passing through the Gates of Horn and Ivory that flew above the realms of dream, each one falling in one of the countries of sleep.

"Do they ever stop coming, my mother?" asked the child.

"It's a never-ending flow, my child. Guided by the psychopomps, your father leads them to one of your brothers," said the queen, "Allocated to the dreamscape, so their souls get the experience need."

"And how does father know what they need?" replied the young one.

"That's why you're going to the pilgrimage, dear son," Pasithea replied, looking at her heir's eyes to ease his heart.

His wings were growing, a sign of the need for the rite of passage that his siblings had done before him to happen. His father commanded that he was to leave when the child of Shem descended into the Land of Nod. The prince and the queen were waiting for the right moment. As the descendants of Ham and Japheth started leaving that world, mother and son walked peacefully to the entrance of the palace.

Rushing through the gardens of poppies of his father, the prince couldn't contain his excitement. His mother let a joyful laugh escape as he rushed between the flowers, in a hurry to start his mission. At the entryway to Oneiremena, king Hypnos stood prideful, waiting for his child on the bridge above the river Lethe.

"Are you ready, my son, to find your place in this world?" questioned the king.

"I am," the prince responded.

The royal couple hugged their youngest boy. The king's huge ebony wings encircled the family as if he was reluctant to let his offspring go, but the Law of the Divine was stronger than that. The prince was destined to go, fated to wander between the realms of his siblings to discover who he was. After one last kiss to each of his parents, the young boy started crossing the bridge, waving goodbye.

As he looked back, he saw his parents' castle disappearing in the eternally starry night of the Land of Nod. That gigantic construction, made of ivory and horn, surrounded by cottonwood trees and poppy flowers, was now just a glimpse of memory behind him. Nevertheless, he kept walking, crossing the Asphodel Meadows of the country border, following the margin of the Lethe.

The Principality of Dream

The first realm was the House of Morpheus, the firstborn. The Realm of Good Dreams was ahead and the youngest prince could see the highest of the towers of his brother's principality. It was made of gemstones and jewelry, shimmering under the perpetually dark skies. The psychopomps guiding the Foreigners, a job that they complied with without complaint. Flying in the child's direction, a white passerine figure was coming. As it landed, the entity's identity was uncovered: Morpheus himself, with his white wings. Like his father, the first heir had a heart of gold, caring for his kin and the Foreigners with compassion.

"Finally you came, brother," Morpheus's smile was serene and delicate, just like their mother. The young brother's heart felt warm.

"It's time for my pilgrimage and your princedom is the first I have to visit," the youngling smirked, wanting to dash to the diamond and pearl gates of the City of Dreams.

Noticing the enthusiasm of the adolescent one, Morpheus escorted him. As the glimmering gates opened, they were welcomed to a city of precious metals and shining stones. The Foreigners looked around, as astonished as the young visitor. Prince Morpheus's polis was a temple for the unconsciousness. Its gemstones reflected old memories and forgotten thoughts. The Foreigners called the visions they got from that "Dreams."

"Why do the Foreigners come here, brother?" queried the younger, appreciating the image of the houses and buildings around him.

"Because they need to dream," rejoined the older.

"And why do they need to dream?" the visitant wasn't satisfied with the answer.

"As you know, our father has a twin brother, uncle Thanatos," Morpheus began to speak. His sibling's expression revealed the confusion to the affirmation. "The Foreigners' lives have three phases. The first belongs to themselves and is called 'Living'. The third belongs to our uncle and is called 'Dying'."

"And what about the second?" While enquiring his elder brother, the boy looked around, amazed by the surrealistic imagery of the land of Morpheus. Faces that shifted into animals, statues that were entire cities by themselves, snakes that turned into rivers, and rivers that turned into waterfalls, and waterfalls that turned into curtains of houses made of butterflies.

"The second belongs to our father and is called 'Sleeping'. When I was born, sleeping was just living in the Land of Nod's darkness." Morpheus hovered over a mushroom, which curdled, shifting into a throne. "When I did my pilgrimage I learned that the Foreigners couldn't deal with all their thoughts while Living, so I fabricated the first dream to the first dreamer."

As the young prince was about to sit in a chair next to his brother, the chair turned into a horse and ran away from him. Laughing, Morpheus pulled the arm of his throne and it turned into a lavish sofa. With two taps in the space at his side, the owner of that realm invited his sibling to sit at his side.

"As the Foreigners separated the conscious Living to the unconscious Sleeping, they began creating and evolving." Morpheus ended his speech as the lad sat down.

"So, you created this place to make the Foreigners meditate about the things they can't muse about while Living or Dying?"

Morpheus thought for a few seconds, considering his brother's point of view. "Exactly, little one." He was taken from his meditation when the sofa where they sat shapeshifted into a whale and flew away, pushing both of them to the ground.

"Perhaps you made them happier," the young one continued, "Now they control their Living completely, right?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Thank you, brother. I understood your point of view." As both of them stood up, they hugged. It was time for the young pilgrim to walk away.

The Principality of False Awakening

Wandering the Asphodel Meadows, the young prince sought his next destination, the Realm of Icelos. On the horizon, he saw a citadel of mirrors and looking glasses. Waiting at the colossal specular doors was the second child of king Hypnos and queen Pasithea, Icelos. Like his father and his siblings, he presented beautiful arthropod wings, resembling those of wasps. Bug ailerons fitted the trickster prince, as he was as acrid as a horsefly and as noxious as a yellowjacket. His princedom followed his characteristics, being a place of illusions and deception.

"Good to see you, little brother." Icelos opened a sick smile, one resembling the smirk of a murderer.

"Greetings, brother." The lad was suspicious about his brother. He had the unpredictableness of their uncle Thanatos and the chaoticity of their aunt Eris. His personality was very close to their father's family, the offspring of Nyx and Erebus.

The city was full of surprises. Kaleidoscopic images, anamorphisms, doors to nowhere, corridors that changed size constantly. The polis was a trap by itself. The young brother knew that even the psychopomps avoided the princedom as most that entered were kept locked inside it. The Foreigners roamed the place, searching for the exit without any hope.

"Brother, why have you created this maze full of decoys and ambushes?" The visitor risked questioning, strongly holding into his brother's clothes, fearing getting lost.

"Isn't it obvious? For fun!" satirized Icelos, "When there was only the Princedom of Morpheus, the Foreigners mocked the Land of Nod, controlling why and when they could come here and go away."

Icelos opened a transparent door where there was an invisible wall. Everywhere the adolescent sibling looked, there were Foreigners, bamboozled by the devices of Icelos. There was one that continuously ambled through a corridor that moved in the contrary direction, making the poor creature walk in place. Another one was locked in a room full of doors that randomly led one to the other. Some of the Foreigners achieved an escape from that forsaken place, rushing to the arms of a psychopomp to flee through the Gates of Horn and Ivory.

Taking pity of the poor Foreigners, the juvenile prince asked, "So your realm was built around revenge itself?"

"Indeed. Morpheus gave them too much freedom," giggled Icelos, "So I bounded them, controlled them. And every time they want to escape, I make them get more and more lost."

The prince of that land had fun watching while Foreigners were suffering. Saddened by that ideal the young lad simply remained silent till the end of their journey through the Principality of False Awakening, watching the Foreigners wandering adrift. When came the time to say their farewell, the boy just waved his hand, with a grudge against his brother.

The Principality of Night Terrors

The stars of Nod's neverending night disappeared as the young prince approached his next stop, the House of Phobetor. The stronghold that was home to the third child of king Hypnos and queen Pasithea was made of shadows so dark they became solid. With large black chiropter wings, the Prince of Night Terrors appeared out of its lightless land. Phobetor was a fearsome man, the tallest, strongest, and fastest of the heirs of Hypnos. Coming closer to his brother, the last son trembled with fear.

"So your time has finally come, my little brother?," Phobetor had a voice as deep as the oceans, resembling that of a demon or a monster.

"Yes, I am," the voice of the young prince failed during his short speech. The presence of his older brother caused a horrible feeling of dread.

There were numerous rumors about prince Phobetor. Psychopomps gossiped that he ate the Foreigners that tried to escape from him. The castle cleaners from Oneiremena told the young prince that the gaze of Phobetor was capable of stopping one's heartbeat.Screams were heard coming out of his caliginous castle, proofs of the horrible tortures that were made inside its chambers. No one wanted to go to the princedom, but somehow some Foreigners ended up there.

"Why have you built this princedom, my brother?" The youngster risked speaking as they entered the obscure palace.

"I didn't." the eldest rejoined. Entering the pitch dark hall, the juvenile prince could see the Foreigners immobile out of fear. Shadows and black smoke took abstract forms that caused unnatural angst inside the youthful one. He knew that the Foreigners felt the same, maybe worse. He didn't understand his brother's reply.

"Who created this place then, if wasn't you?"

"When Icelos created his city of mirrors, the Foreigners let escape their primeval fears into this world, ghosts of their ancient origin as common beasts." Phobetor moved his right hand and the phantasm that crept around them ran away, as they were afraid of the frightful castellan. "Those specters were free, wandering Nod."

"And what you do?" The boy finally found the courage to look directly at his brother.

"I hunted them down and brought them to this place. This is not my principality, this is a jail. I'm not a prince, I'm a jailor," Phobetor explained, wistfully sighing.

"And why do the Foreigners keep coming here?"

"They are trying to tame the untamable, to control the uncontrollable," the older prince pointed to a Foreigners running to outside, incapable of supporting the visions of that place, "These fears are not physical, they are abstract and larger than the Foreigners themselves, but they keep coming. A Sisyphean job."

"Do you think they know it?"

"They know, but they are persistent, I like this. This means that they always try harder, always wanting more. Maybe this is what makes them anxious and depressed, but it is also what makes them go on. A strange and incomprehensible characteristic of the Foreigners."

"I came thinking that you were like Icelos, but you are a good man, my brother," the young prince smiled.

"Thank you, little one," and as they exited the princedom, both hugged each other. The most fearsome of the six children was, to the surprise of the youngest one, the most solitary and most compassionate.

The Principality of Daydreams

Moving towards the House of Phantasos, the young prince saw the sky becoming brighter. The stars shined so vibrantly that it almost looked like the everlasting night was substituted by glittering dusk. Flying around a castle of magic and colors, Phantasos greeted the young brother.

The sibling was born different from the others. Foremost, Phantasos was born neither a male nor a female, their iridescent wings dazzled in colors that none the natives to Nod knew, and they were the most energetic of the heirs, even being an Oneiroi. Their sparkling temper was swiftly shown as the princet hugged their little brother. Both laughed, enjoying being together. As Phantasos was the fourth of the siblings, they and the adolescent prince inhabited Oneiremena Castle simultaneously. Both were really close to one another, even after Phantasos made their own princedom.

"I waited for this moment for so long!" the princet cheerfully spoke, "You can stay here as much as you want!"

"You know I can't, dear sibling," the pubescent prince lamented. He had to end the pilgrimage to complete his rite of passage, his visit couldn't last forever.

"In my house, you can do anything if you wish," taking the little brother by the hand, Phantasos flew in the direction of their castle. The construction was made of the sweetest dreams and wishes. There were towers of candy, houses of gold, and abbeys of diamond. Trees grew within seconds after their seeds were planted and gave the most exotic fruits: golden coins, popsicles, and sandwiches. Unicorns, dragons, and phoenixes flew around the buildings, welcoming the Foreigners that were guided there by the psychopomps. That was the Principality of Daydream, the land of fantasy and imagination.

"The Foreigners look so happy," observed the young prince.

"That's why I made this kingdom," the sibling smiled, "When I finished my pilgrimage, there was only one kingdom of Dreams that wasn't a jail of some kind."

"And even so, Morpheus's princedom is too bizarre," completed the boyish blueblooded. The older nodded, chuckling.

They landed at the top of the highest tower, one made of glistening rock candy bricks. From there, they could see the entire principality. At the north, Foreigners played with myriads of puppies and kittens. In the south, a forest of candy was full of Foreigners bathing and drinking from a chocolate river. The east was a huge amusement park, full of rides, clowns, dancers, and jugglers. The west had churches full of happy couples marrying and having the most beautiful babies.

"You don't get exhausted from all this activity all the time?" The youthful one questioned.

"Sometimes, my brother," responded the elder, "No one can be happy all the time, you know? That's why the other princedoms exist."

Phantasos moved their hands as if they were pushing an invisible rope and indeed they were. Tied to the rope that nobody couldn't see, a hot air balloon neared the pair of siblings. Both jumped into the basket and the aircraft started moving above the princedom. Paper planes and birds followed them, flying freely, coming alive by the power of imagination.

"That's a place of chimeras and creativity, fabricated by the delusions and ambitions of the Foreigners," Phantasos evaluated, looking to one lonely flying umbrella coming in their direction, "Some of the Foreigners who are here aren't really Sleeping, they are aspiring, hoping, desiring."

Opening their prismatic wings, Phantasos jumped from the balloon, catching the umbrella and giving it to their brother. The young prince then jumped, clinching onto the parasol, falling slowly and gracefully from the sky-high distance to the ground. In the meantime, they could see the fairies, the satyrs, centaurs, and the nymphs running and playing in a forest of polychromatic trees and nonexistent flowers. The otherkin celebrated seeing their princet and their brother, waving hands and jumping out of happiness.

"But only wishing and only dreaming is not healthy, my little brother," completed Phantasos, "As Foreigners, they need to live before they die. The ones who live their entire here, just dreaming, have meaningless existences and mournful deaths."

"So this place is opium?" The little prince could not understand.

"Yes, dear brother. This place is opium," Phantasos was delighted with the parallel. "You can use to carouse and forget your sorrow, but eventually you'll need to face your demons."

"Now I understand, my dear sibling."

As the youngest landed, both mourned, knowing that was the time for the boy to continue his journey. Hugging and letting some tears fall from their cheeks, the siblings promised to see each other again.

The Principality of Nightmares

That was the last sibling of the young prince. Princess Epiales, the Fifth Child, the First Daughter. The pubescent had no good memory of his sister. She had no similarity with their mother at all but was agnate to their father's bad side. A hateful woman, as vengeful and crude as Icelos, their second older brother. Her wings were as that of a crow's, black-feathered, and sparkled with the far-off constellations in the light.

The youthful royal could see the House of Epiales arise from the horizon. It was, somehow, the counterpart of Phantasos' princedom: towers made of bones, flesh, and teeth, dark forests full of red flashing eyes that hunted for victims, a sky full of gargoyles, dracoliches, and harpies. The boundaries of the principality were guarded by titanic spiders with human faces and thousands of eyes. As the arachnids threatened the prince, the governor of that realm emerged, condemning the wardens for managing one of the Oneiroi. The princess forced a hug on his little brother, strangely pleased with his visit.

"Finally, my brother's pilgrimage!" she spoke with glee.

"Yes, my sister. I've arrived in your country as my last stop," the prince sighed, uncomfortable.

Opening a way through the spiderwebs, the princess guided her kin to the Princedom of Nightmares. Together, they mounted a mare of the night, an enormous equine with black fur and red eyes that spit fire from its mouth. The journey across the land of horror started. The prince could see the Foreigners as they fell into bottomless pits. They were stalked by sinister atrocities and aberrations and aberrations, and died multiple times horrible deaths at the hands of murderers and desolating events. As with the Foreigners of the House of Icelos, the youngster took pity on those creatures.

"Why you torture the Foreigners, my sister?" the prince uttered. "Do you hate them as does our brother Icelos?"

"You haven't understood Icelos, young brother," replied Epiales. "Nor my intentions."

The mare stopped beside a bloody red lake from where tentacles and lampreys constantly emerged, dragging Foreigners to the crimson water. The prince and his sister jumped from the horse, looking at the screaming victims of that place. The prince could not understand. Phobetor had a good intention, but Icelos himself said that he just wanted to torture the invaders from beyond the Gates of Horn and Ivory.

"I know what you're thinking, my brother," Epiales sat on the grass full of worms and bugs. "You feel that we torture these souls."

"Icelos said himself that he just wants to torment them!" The prince shouted.

"Icelos's will and Icelos's job are very different things, my dear brother," Epiales comforted him. "Icelos's Realm is the realm of reclusion. The Foreigners are there because they need to find something in the Sleeping that they cannot find in the Living or the Dying."

The prince nodded. He hasn't thought about Icelos that way. Maybe his brother acted with the worst of the intentions, but that was actually good for the Foreigners that needed that. The boy settled down at his sister's side, reflecting on that location. As he pondered, he saw an incredible occurrence: one of the Foreigners was running from a three-headed dragon that was trying to devour it, but then turned to face the monster. A sword as bright as the Sun materialized in the Foreigners hand and he stabbed the hellion beast at its chest. Now the prince knew, and he yelled in surprise:

"This is where they fight their phobias! The monsters that haunt them and the situations they are afraid of!"

As the young one stopped talking, his sister smiled, hugging him again. He could see now. The Foreigners needed fear as much as they needed fantasy. Neither of his brothers were good or bad, they just were doing their tasks to maintain the order in that Land of Nod. And as the prince said goodbye to his sister, he rushed for the end of his journey.

The Emancipation of the Young Prince

In the middle of the Asphodel Meadows, in the distance between the House of Epiales and Oneiremena, was a lonely Foreigner. No psychopomp was next to it. It wasn't being dragged to any of the realms. The young prince, preoccupied with the poor thing, approached it.

"Why are you not in any realm, wretched Foreigner?" the prince asked.

"I have no place to go," responded the Foreigner.

The prince reflected and then replied: "Why don't you go to the princedom of my brother Morpheus?"

And the old Foreigners had the answer: "Because I have nothing to reflect in my unconsciousness."

"So you can visit my brother Icelos's house," the young Oneiros stated.

"But I'm commiserated with my duties." The Foreigner was unflexible.

"There is my brother Phobetor too. His realm can help you."

The voice of the visitor showed some pride as he argued, "I'm too old and too wise to fight my primeval fears, young prince."

The youngling showed some melancholy, "So relax at the principality of my sibling Phantasos."

"I don't need fantasy as I had fulfilled my dreams."

"So conquer your fears with my sister Epiales."

Refusing help once more, the Foreigner acknowledged, "I tamed my monsters years ago."

Almost hopeless, the blueblooded boy tried again, "So what you need now, my friend?"

And before responding to the question, the Foreigner took time to think. Minutes later, he said, "I need soothing and serenity, I need peace, but it's not my time to die yet."

"So I'll make a princedom for you, dear Foreigner. A home where those who achieved their goals can really go to rest before uncle Thanatos comes to take them," expressed the prince. "I'll call it Principality of the Healing Dreams."

The Foreigners solemnized the youngster's idea. It shapeshifted, revealing itself to be king Hypnos.

"You did well my son. Your pilgrimage made you wiser and sympathetic to the Foreigners' needs. From now on, you are Eunoe, the Oneiros Prince of the Healing Dreams."

And as the king ended his speech, the wings of prince Eunoe grew into massive butterfly wings, as colorful as the wings of Phantasos. From the ground emerged a big city of armor and gold, the Principality of the Healing Dreams, the House of Eunoe, the sixth child of Hypnos and Pasithea.

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