As Ronnie approached the centre of the labyrinth, the song turned to one of welcome and she was sure she heard her name within the lyrics. Sitting on the edge of a well was a water nymph who was the source of the beautiful tune. Her long legs were sprawled haphazardly across the mouth of a well. She borrowed support for her back from one of the posts that did double duty holding up the decorative roof. Long golden hair fell down her back in curls. Her eyes were as blue as the ocean and her skin the colour of sea mist.
“Welcome, Ronnie Biv, to the Well of Nechtane. I am so glad you chose wisely on your journey. I am Nereid and have been asked to greet you here at the labyrinth’s hub.” Nereid’s voice rang out in song even when she was speaking.
“Thank you for the song, Nereid. It certainly did lift my spirits after such a long walk. I know that the water here will help me to find the way to the magic, but will it also help me get back to the Gateway? Do you have more directions for me?”
Nereid’s laughter was the sound of a thousand bluebells tinkling. “There are no more directions, no more pixie riddles. Now you must find your own way. Your mind has cleared and you are ready to accept the magic that is in you. But you are tired and thirsty after such a long journey. Drink now, from Nechtane’s Sacred Well, and find the answers within as you sleep.”
Nereid stood on the edge of the well, bent her knees deeply, and sprang into the depths below. Ronnie, thinking the nymph must surely be crazy, looked over the side into the well but saw nothing except the clear water within. There was neither a ripple nor the sound of a splash to indicate Nereid’s landing. It was as if the nymph had become a part of the water itself – or maybe she always had been. She must have chosen to take the form Ronnie had seen in order to speak with her at their meeting.
There was nothing to do but follow Nereid’s instructions and drink from the well. The problem facing Ronnie was the depth of the structure. There was no way down to the water, save the way Nereid had gone and Ronnie was sure that that was not her route. Maybe there was some way to get the water up to her. She walked to the other side and found a small cup hanging on a hook. She could drink from it, but still had no way to fill it.
“Oh, why does everyone here have to be in such a hurry? She could have told me how to get a drink if she wanted me to take one. Everything here is a puzzle. If they want my mind to be clear, why do they keep giving me problems to work out? I wonder what she meant by ‘sleep’? I just need to drink the water and get the answers. There’s nothing to do but sit down and puzzle this one out, just like all the others.” Ronnie was tired and thirsty and, for the first time, feeling close to defeat. She trudged toward a shady spot and tripped on her shoelace on the way. “Darn these laces. I knew they were too long when I put them in. I’m always tripping.”
She bent over to tie her laces, thinking all the while of how to get to the water. “If I just had a bucket on a rope, I’d be in business.” She pictured herself drawing a bucket of cool water up from the depths of the well, dipping the cup into the water and quenching her thirst. “I wouldn’t even need a whole bucket. A cupful would do me quite nicely.”
She was tucking the ends of her shoelaces into her shoes when the idea struck her.
Ronnie’s plan worked out perfectly and, after re-lacing her shoes, she was soon sitting in the shade enjoying a cup of clear, cold water from the depths of Nechtane’s Well. As she swallowed the last few drops, she was overcome with drowsiness. The cup slipped from her grasp as she curled up amongst the wildflowers and gave way to slumber.
“It is time Ronnie.” Morpheus’ familiar voice lulled her toward a dream. “You are now ready to unlock the mysteries of the Key. I am sending you a guide who you will be glad to see. Sleep now and you will soon be back with us in Iridal with all the knowledge of Nechtane’s Well at your disposal. Sleep and dream, Key Keeper. May the magic serve you well.”
Ronnie floated toward a presence in the clouds. She tingled with excitement and anticipation, wondering about her guide for the journey of Knowing. When she arrived, face-to-face with him, she cried joyfully. “Dad! Oh my gawd! It’s you! I can’t believe it’s you!” Ronnie leaped into her father’s waiting arms. “I’ve missed you so much.” Ronnie needed to stop to catch her breath and control the sobs welling in her throat. “Morpheus said I’d be glad to see who my guide would be but I never dreamed – oh, I guess that’s just what I am doing now. But how did he find you? What are you doing in these clouds?”
“Ronnie, you have no idea how good it feels to hold you again! I thought there was no way I would ever be able to do this again.” As he held her close to him, her dad explained. “I was told that the Key Keeper of Iridal was in need of my help but not that it was you! How did all this come about?”
They sat side by side on a cloud and Ronnie proceeded to tell her father all that had happened since she opened the wondrous gift his mother had given her. She was interrupted many times as he asked about Beth and his wife and his mother. Ronnie finally had to be the voice of reason and asked him to stop interrupting.
“Dad, I know you have a lot of questions about everyone and that you must miss us all, as we do you, but we really are pressed for time here and we need to figure out how to use the magic in the Iris Stone before Iridal is destroyed and rainbow magic is lost forever.”
“You’re right, of course, and we can visit in your dreams another time – if Morpheus arranges it. Now that you’re the Key Keeper, I’m sure he will. I have been watching you, Ronnie, and I’ve seen your sadness. Let me take a few minutes now, though I do know time is precious, to tell you that I’m with you often. I first figured out how to come to you when I found I had Rainbow Magic in me. I was that rainbow you saw from the hammock, as I tried desperately to form in the clouds. It was my first attempt and I’m afraid I didn’t do well. Just when I thought I had it, the rainbow broke apart and scattered to the winds. Anyway, I’ll keep on trying to come to you and to cheer you when you’re sad and comfort you when you’re frightened. You can get on with your life, Ronnie, in the knowledge that I haven’t really left you. Do you understand what I’m trying to say?”
“Oh yes Dad. I knew that rainbow was special. I just never knew why. Now, whenever I see one, I’ll wonder if it’s you and be happy at the thought that it might be. I will never stop looking at rainbows and will always think of you when I do.” She kissed his cheek gently and he, hers.
“Now back to the grind. Here’s the stone and the symbols. What do you make of them?” She held the pendant out, but as her dad moved to touch it, his hand lost substance and his fingers passed through it.
“We’re running out of time Ronnie. You are going to wake up soon. Hold it up for me to see.” Ronnie did just that and her dad examined the symbols. “Gosh Honey, it’s all Greek to me.” With this statement, he faded away.
“No Dad, don’t go yet! We need to figure this out. Dad, come back”
She heard his voice call out to her, “Remember Ronnie, it’s always darkest before the dawn. See you around Sweetie. I love you.” And he was gone.
“Oh, Dad,” she sighed as she wiped the tears that spilled down her cheeks as she slowly stirred herself awake. “It was so great to see you. I just wish we’d had more time. We didn’t even figure out the symbols. They’re Greek to me too. How am I supposed to do this alone? Its not like I’m some great scholar. Hey, wait a minute! Scholar, school! That might just be it! When we studied Ancient Greece at school, we talked about hieroglyphics. These are like the Greek symbols but more like the ancient language I did my report on. Oh if I could just remember it. Maybe if I start with ones I used in my class presentation to spell my name on the board.
She grabbed a stick and scratched ‘RONNIE’ into the dirt. Below each letter, she drew its symbol then compared them with the pendant. “Okay, three of them are here. I think I’m on the right track. Now the puzzle is: R O _ _ _ I _. I’m sure I wrote something else on the board. What was it? Of course, it was the word ‘rainbow’. Let’s see, if I write ‘rainbow’ and the symbols,” as she spoke to herself, she etched the word and symbols in the dirt. “Now I have R O _ _ B I _. That’s better. I just wish I had done the whole alphabet. Oh, dad, what’s the answer? It has to be related to rainbows. Otherwise it wouldn’t have rainbow magic. Rainbow magic sure is complicated stuff. Dad was right about it being all Greek. So rainbows, rainbows, rainbows. Dad, dad, dad. Of course! R O Y G B I V! That’s what it says: Roy G Biv!!”
Ronnie clutched the stone and felt its warmth course through her being. As the magic stirred within her, she closed her eyes and chanted her father’s name repeatedly. The back of the stone felt different somehow but she dared not stop to look, secure in the knowledge that she was doing what she needed to do.