“Molly,” her mother called from their small cottage at the end of a road at the end of a town. “I gathered a dozen eggs for your grandmother. Take them to her will you?”
It is a universal fact that Grandmothers’ houses hold a sort of enchantment for children, so without further delay Molly threw on her shoes and pranced out the door with a basket of eggs tucked under her arm.
She made good time and before long was halfway. Her grandmother lived in the next town over, connected by a single dirt road everyone who wanted to go to-and-frow had to use. In the distance she saw a figure seemingly grow from the ground, but really only appeared over a hill. As he neared she could see it was a severely old man with a great white beard slung over his shoulder, even going so far as to trail on the ground even then. He held a knobby cane in one hand and a leather bag in the other. As they neared each other Molly smiled politely and nodded. “Good day to you.”
“Good day to you as well,” the man spoke in a voice made of wood ─ sturdy but creaky. “Would you happen to have a smidgen to eat? I haven’t eaten anything all day and fear I’ll soon perish.”
“All I have are raw eggs for my grandmother.” Molly said.
“That is fine,” he said. “I’ll take one.”
A bit baffled Molly took from her basket an egg and handed it to the elder, who swallowed it whole right then and there. “For your kindness I’ll repay tenfold. I am a seller of dreams you see.”
“What sort of dreams?” Molly asked.
“All sorts. Long ones, short ones, fat ones, thin ones. Dreams which will make you laugh, dreams which will make you cry, and even nightmares, which really are a misunderstood breed. I’ll give you a dream for your egg.”
Molly saw no harm, so accepted the offer. The man pulled from his leather bag a plum, plump and full of juice. “Eat this and then take a nap. Your dream will come to you then.”
“What sort of dream will it be?” Molly asked in wonderment.
The old man chuckled. “There is no saying. Whichever dream is yours I suppose.” With that the two parted ways. Molly continued on a bit before stopping for a rest. She pulled from her basket some bread and cheese her mother had packed for lunch. Specifically setting the plum aside she thought she would use it that night, having no time for a nap at the moment.
As she sat and ate she watched the clouds overhead pass by, slowly at first and then faster and faster. She thought it odd as she had never known clouds to move so fast, but paid little mind. Looking back to the road she found a faun to have suddenly appeared there. He was a tall, wide man covered in moss and dried mud, with great curved horns and hooves for feet. The figure moved very slowly, albeit purposefully, down the road dragging one leg lamely behind with a painful limp as he made his way. “Excuse me,” Molly called from the tree. The faun noticed her for the first time and stopped. “What seems to be the bother?”
“A thorn is stuck in my toe,” he answered in a voice like that of a forest, vast and wise.
“Oh my,” Molly said. “Would you like some help removing it?”Standing quickly she dashed to aid the stranger. Sitting by the side of the road the faun squeezed his eyes shut as Molly’s small, nimble fingers were able to find and pluck the thorn, which had made its way deeply into the faun’s sole.
“Thank you,” he bowed to Molly. “As a good gesture I would like to repay your kindness with a turn of my own.”
“Why is everyone repaying me today?” Molly asked in awe. “It’s no problem at all for me to help here and there.”
“But still, you must let me do one simple thing for you.” The faun insisted. “A few throws away from here, in the forest over the hill, lies a great treasure. It is free for the taking. But there is always a great obstacle in the way, which has prevented anyone from reaching it thus far. I will help you reach the treasure.”
“Only if it won’t take long.” Molly said, thinking on her grandma. “But what sort of obstacle will it be?”
“I don’t know.” The faun said. “I hear it is different for each person who tries. We’ll have to wait and see.”