Author's Note: Hey guys! I'm really sorry for taking so long to write this, but life has a nasty habit of biting someone in the arse and… well, I won't babble on. You know what you came here for, so I won't hold it from you any longer. Enjoy!

The Legend of the Dream Keeper

Part I: The Dream Keeper

Book 3: The Lord of Nightmares

Chapter 1: Dreams

"…and today, Goombella will be presenting her topic on the Discoveries behind the Thousand Year Door," Professor Frankly announced. I stepped forward and cleared my throat, looking out to the hundred or so students that were watching.

"About half a year ago," I began, "Professor Frankly uncovered the secrets behind the Legend of the Thousand Year Door. In the span of a month, I worked with him to learn everything we could about this mysterious Door. I'm certain you recall the sudden wave of darkness that fell across the world when the Shadow Queen woke up?"

Everyone gave an involuntary shudder at that memory. Even I had to take a moment to shudder myself.

"Fortunately," I continued, "Mario was there to slay her. After we parted ways, Professor Frankly and I entered back into the castle the Thousand Year Door contained and did a little digging around. What we discovered was… well, breathtaking doesn't even BEGIN to describe it."

I stepped on a button already laid out for me nearby, and the projector turned on, showing a map of the area inside the Castle.

"The Professor and I drew up this map, then out of curiosity, we compared it to a map of Rougeport," I continued, pushing the button again to show the maps side-by-side. "Originally, our theory was that the Castle was part of an ancient civilization that current-day Rougeport built on top of. However, as you can see here, there is no possible way for this kingdom to be able to fit under Rougeport. We STILL haven't explored the whole thing, but as it is, the entire place is roughly the size of the Mushroom Kingdom."

Everyone muttered between themselves, but quickly fell silent.

"This leads us to our current theory," I elaborated, now pacing back and forth in excitement. "The Thousand Year Door doesn't connect to any point in space at all… or rather, any point in space in our world. After extensive research, we've come to the conclusion that the Thousand Year Door is a gateway to another world entirely!"

The muttering between the students got even louder this time, but it quickly calmed down. Everyone now gave me their full attention, even those who were, just moments before, listening to music or taking a nap.

"We have quite a bit of evidence to back up this claim, too," I went on, nodding at the sudden attention I was now getting. "For starters, the books in the Libraries don't match anything we have in recorded history. At first, we assumed this was a 'lost history' if you will, or rather information that pre-dates current records. After some deeper reading, however, we had to dismiss this theory."

I looked around at the Goombas staring at me with wide eyes.

"…we found records of other worlds," I continued. "Thousands upon Thousands of them. But that's not all… who here knows about the ancient philosophers known as the Dreamers?"

Nobody spoke.

"You're not alone," I managed a weak laugh. "Before our study into the Thousand Year Door, I never even heard of them. Let me explain as well as I can… Dreamers, according to the information we found in the Libraries, were Philosophers that believed every dream-or thought, idea, that sort of thing-created an entire World. These Worlds are subsequently contained in an infinite sea of other Worlds known only as the Realm of Dreams."

I pushed the button again, and the slide was showing a still of that hologram of a human that appeared on the complex machine in the tower at the center of the World behind the Thousand Year Door.

"This Realm, according to the belief of the Dreamers, is inhabited by two major beings," I explained. "The first, as you can see here, are the denizens of Light, who protect all Worlds from anything that might hope to destroy them. They are also called Dreamers, but whether they're the same as the philosophers or if they just share a name is still in debate. The other beings…"

I pushed the button again, showing the next slide. Everyone jumped back, startled at the image on the slide. It was humanoid, but slouched over. It's flesh was pitch black, and it had no facial features save for two white spheres that served as its eyes. Both its hands and feet were clawed, each one looking sharp enough to rip through steel.

"…are called Nightmares," I continued. "These creatures born of Darkness are apparently the sole cause of all the trouble and bad dreams caused within the Realm of Dreams. The Dreamers make it their primary goal to find and eliminate every single Nightmare, to purge them from the Realm of Dreams forever. To help them with this goal, the Dreamers choose one special hero every Generation or so. This hero is known only in records as the Dream Keeper."

I had to take a moment to let the memories flood my mind again.

"…and this brings me to my next point," I forced myself to continue. "The proof that these Dreamers do, in fact, exist. The first… I've seen several Nightmares in my travels with Mario half a year ago. One of them even got together with a good friend of mine, while her sister took up a home in Twilight Town. But, I'm getting off track. My second bit of proof is that I have met the Dream Keeper, as well."

I could tell the students found this bit hard to believe. I pushed the button, once again, to switch over to the next slide. On it was a picture of Mario, his left hand black and clawed while he was holding a sword in his right hand.

"This is the Dream Keeper," I explained. "Over the course of two adventures, his Soul possessed the body of Mario. This boy is the one who both saved the Star Spirits and stopped the Shadow Queen from taking over the world."

I looked over the crowd of students. They looked like their minds just got blown.

"So in conclusion," I finished, "there are countless other worlds out there, besides our own. As this class as my witness, I will not rest until I explore some of these worlds. Just think of the kind of discoveries we could make! Why, the mere concept alone-"

The bell rang before I could finish. Everyone packed their books and left the classroom, leaving me alone with Professor Frankly. I sighed as I kicked the switch to turn off the projector.

"I think you did an excellent job, Goombella," Professor Frankly told me kindly as I packed my stuff back into my bag.

"Thanks, professor," I sighed.

"…hey, cheer up," the Professor encouraged. "You've proven the existence of other worlds! If that doesn't get you a grant to explore further, I don't know what will!"

"No offence Professor," I replied, turning to him, "but… well, just look at me! I'm fourteen, nobody in their right mind would think of sending me to other Worlds!"

"Are you listening to yourself?" scoffed the Professor. "Of every Goomba on campus, who can honestly say that they've fought side-by-side with not only Mario, but the Dream Keeper, and saved the world from almost certain destruction?"

I couldn't help but smirk at this.

"Dangit, you make it REALLY hard to stay in a bad mood, you know that?" I asked him. The Professor couldn't help but laugh at this.

"Listen," he told me. "Tomorrow, we're facing the committee together. If they say yes, I am taking you with me to see these other Worlds, whether they want you to or not."

"And if they say no?"

"Then I introduce them to Goompa."

I stared at the Professor in shock. "You… you know how to call him?!"

"Please, just don't ask how," the Professor said, closing his eyes and flinching at the bad memory. Still, he couldn't keep a smile off his face. This proved to be contagious, as I found myself grinning too.

"Alright Professor," I said, turning around. "See you tomorrow."

"…Goombella, wait!" the Professor suddenly realized, running to catch up with me. "I just realized… I'm sorry to bring this up, but… what have you told your parents about this?"

"I… uh…" I slowed to a stop as I ran it through my head. "OH CRAP! I never told them!"

"You've had six months and you never told them about your boyfriend?" the Professor asked, trying his hardest to not smirk.

"Hey, it's not exactly an easy topic to bring up!" I argued. "What am I supposed to say? 'Oh hey Mom and Dad, I met this really sweet guy who wound up possessing Mario and he's a warrior who travels between Worlds to save everyone from the Nightmares, just thought you should know'?"

"Well if we do cross over to another World," the Professor explained, "you'll have to have SOME explanation as to why you can't keep in contact with them."

"…I'll think of something," I nodded, turning around once again. "Save me a seat at the meeting tomorrow!"

"Don't be late!" the Professor called out to me as I ran back to my room. As I ran through the crowded halls of Goomba University, memories of him came back to me. I couldn't help but wonder… how Pax was doing.

Enter Pax:

I am SO dead! I thought to myself in panic, staring at the blank test in front of me.

Sorry for jumping right in there folks, I haven't even introduced myself! My name's Pax, and I'm a fourteen year old Keeper of Dreams… that is, if my title is to be believed. Unfortunately, being a legendary hero really doesn't help out with Geography tests, which was currently acting as the bane of my existence as the minutes ticked by in class.

I should have studied, I scolded myself, burying my face in my hands. I'm an idiot. I TOTALLY should have studied!

As I contemplated honorable suicide to escape this horrible creation from Hell, I let my mind drift off to better memories. I remembered traveling the Mushroom Kingdom as Mario twice in the span of a month… I remembered saving the seven Star Spirits… Coron getting absorbed into my hand… getting the Sword of Dreams… and Goombella.

I wonder how she's doing? I thought to myself as I absentmindedly doodled a poor image of her on my test. It's been six whole months already, and I haven't been called back even once. I made a promise to her and Leon, after all… I wonder how the rest of them are doing, anyway? Maybe-

The bell interrupted my thoughts.

"Turn in your tests on my desk as you leave the classroom," my teacher said as everyone rose from their seats. I groaned as I begrudgingly stood up and walked to the desk, like a prisoner would walk to the electric chair.

"I'd like to apologize ahead of time for my poor grade, sir," I said to my teacher, handing over my paper.

"Well, we all have a weak subject, right?" my teacher asked. "…though I am curious, why did you draw a Goomba from Mario Brothers in a miner hat with hearts around it?"

"Um…" I blinked, trying to think up of an answer. When none came, I just decided to screw it.

"Can't talk gonna be late for next class see you later bye!" I rushed out in one breath, sprinting to the door as I said so. Before my teacher even knew how to respond, I was gone.

Enter Goombella:

The *Bing!* of my Laptop sounded as the screen flickered on. I slipped off my shoes and sat down in front of it, scrolling over to my emails. I had what was usual… school newspaper… spam… oh, and a letter from Leon! I quickly opened it and read through.

Hey Goombella!

You'll never guess what happened today! See, we had one big super HUGE tournament between the champions of every fighting arena in what feels like the world, and you know what?! I… well, I got second place. BUT STILL! I still feel like the dude who beat me cheated, but he was cool, I guess. I DID make him promise to take me on in a rematch, though! Until then, I'm gonna train until I become the most powerful fighter in the world!

But, enough about me. How's your "Other Worlds" thing coming along? You ARE going to go, right?! If those jerks say you can't, just tell them to come talk to me, and I'll straighten them out!

Smiling to myself, I used my feet to type a reply.

Don't worry, Leon. I'm sure you'll get there very soon. Though, I do suggest taking on opponents outside of the Glitz Pit. Don't get me wrong, they're all powerful, but it seems to me that you've become much too strong to really get anything out of fights with them. Maybe the other champions will be willing to enter some "sparring matches" with you?

As for my research, we're approaching the committee tomorrow (we being Professor Frankly and me). He already promised to take me to another World, even if the committee doesn't allow it. When I go, I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures… and maybe the Champion will be the very first to see them?

I hit send, hoping that would inspire the Yoshi further. I was about to close my laptop when a sudden, powerful light appeared in my room. Acting on reflex, I shut my eyes and dived under my table. When the light finally subsided, I peeked out to see a door standing in the middle of my room. It looked very similar to the Thousand Year Door, only… well, obviously smaller. On the door hung a sign:

To Goombella,

A Door to the World Between Worlds


"Merlin?" I asked aloud, eyeing the door in suspicion. On one hand, it could have been a trap… but on the other, the only enemies I could think of couldn't really deal with that level of light…

It took me a moment of thought, but I made up my mind. I turned around and typed up one last email, sending it to Professor Frankly:

I found another door, I'll find a way to take you to the other side with me. Tell mom and dad I love them.

I hit send and quickly slipped my shoes back on before running around and gathering all the things I would need. Journal… check. Pencils… check. Camera… check. Knapsack… check. Miner's Hat? Well, I wouldn't be caught dead going anywhere without it!

Once I finally suited up, I turned back to the door. Taking a deep breath, I stepped forward and pushed it open. A blinding light was on the other side, but with my eyes squinting, I stepped on through.

Enter Pax:

"That test is going to haunt me when the report cards come out…" I muttered to myself as I turned off the lights and curled up under the covers. "But at least for now, I can forget about it."

I closed my eyes and relaxed in my bed. A few minutes later, I felt somebody shaking my shoulder.

"Huh…?" I groggily lifted my head and turned to come face-to-face with a pitch black face and white eyes.

"AUGH!" I jumped and fell flat on my face on the floor.

How graceful, the Nightmare said sarcastically. I turned around to glare him down when my eyes fell on the heart-shaped mark on his chest.

"Oh… it's you, Coron," I sighed with relief.

What did you expect? Coron retorted, starting to sit on the bed, but quickly standing up. Whoa, sorry. Almost sat on you.

"Almost sat on… what are you talking about?" I asked, standing up and looking at my bed. "I'm right… in bed, apparently."

Coron was right, I saw myself sleeping in the bed.

"Okay… this is surreal," I blinked. "How can I be in two places at once?"

Wow. You're REALLY dense, you know that? Coron rolled his eyes. You're ASLEEP. I'd think you'd be able to gather that much.

"…oh, right," I said as I facepalmed. "Explains why I can see you…"

And why you're suddenly wearing clothes, and why your hand is clawed, and- went on Coron. He had no mouth, but I could tell by his face that he was smirking.

"Oh shut up," I retorted, standing myself up and looking around at my room. "…it's a little weird, though."

How's that?

"The last two times this happened, I just woke up in the Mushroom Kingdom as Mario. This is the first time I'm still in my room while I'm dreaming…"

Coron was about to reply, but he was cut off when a sudden bright light shined behind us. I turned to face it, but the light temporarily blinded me.

Smooth move, cowboy, Coron said as the light faded and I rubbed my eyes.

"Hey, I wasn't thinking, okay?" I defended, blinking until vision came back. Smack dab in the middle of my room, I saw a door that looked like the Thousand Year Door, only smaller.

"…" Both Coron and I stared at it for a minute before we turned to each other.

"Ready for another adventure, buddy?" I grinned.

I've been asleep for half a year, Coron replied, cracking his knuckles. I'm ready for any kind of exercise. Let's do this.

With a nod, I turned and pushed the door open. A bright light shined on the other side, but I still stepped on through, holding my arm up to my eyes to block out the light.

And with that, my adventure began.

Author's Note: What do you think? Good set up? I'll catch you guys next time, and until then, this is Pax the Dreamer, signing out! God it feels good to type that again…