Not many in our human world know of this, except for me, a soul who quite accidentally came upon it one night, and now you, who read this account.
My life had become a life of many years, my childhood had become but fading memories and scattered moments, tucked away in an old cedar box kept in the corner of my room, and in the corner of my life.
Years of sameness had brought me to a late November night in the November of my life. The fire in the fireplace had turned the oak logs into but glowing embers, the last moment of life, the last moment of warmth, the last moment of light, before the darkness and the cold returned.
Wrapped in my tartan wool blanket, I had fallen asleep to comfort of the crackling fire. It was dreamless sleep, the kind that comes when you've grown too tired to dream, when your soul loses touch with the passing of time and becomes lost in timelessness. The autumn cold was now creeping back into my house, the fire having lost its battle with time. Through the windows, the starlight danced in, brighter and brighter as it sailed through the cool, clear air of the Canadian night.
There with the starlight tapping on my eyes, I heard the low chime of our Grandfather's Clock begin its next mark in eternity's endless flow. The call to listen in that Westminster tune led to the chiming. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. Eleven. Twelve. And then, where the silence should have begun, one more chime came to be. And there in the thirteen o'clock, in the coming together of the ember's last glow and the starlight fire, the realm of the Other World, the world that lives in the thirteenth hour, came to life, not knowing I was still there.
The starlight became stardust and filled the air with the light of a thousand fireflies. Mind you, not the fireflies themselves, but the sparkles they cast in the darkness.
The embers in the fire, they began to glow as if an unseen breath was coaxing back to life. They became a chuckling fire, not blazing, not burning, but more warming than anything else.
I began to waken into this starlight realm. And as I did, I could hear the lid of my childhood memory box begin to open. And before my eyes, my disbelieving eyes, one by one, the five Starlight Voyageurs came forth.
And this is the story of the voyage they took, one night in the thirteenth hour.