I was a thirteen-year-old kid, racing after my friends through the lounge of our Girls and Boys Club when pixies first sprinkled magic dust of Dungeons & Dragons in my hair. It wasn’t my first glimpse into the lives of elves, dwarfs and halflings, but it was the first time an entire world was exposed. Until then I had thought these creatures lived amongst us, hiding in the shadows of the forest, deep in forgotten caves and in rock structures invisible to the human eye.
Imagine stepping between enormous ferns and entering a world filled with horse-size elephants, rats the size of dogs and ten-foot-long dragons. As you make your way through the gigantic flora, you stumble upon a massive turtle basking in a ray of sunshine. To your left, a strange, colourful bird cries out and takes flight. It sails over a small pool fed by a crystal clear spring and surrounded by blue and pink hydrangea and wild flowers of vibrant colours.
In the distance, you see a caldera atop an inactive volcano. You imagine it is filled with water. High peeks on the horizon sharply contrast the deep valley in which you stand. Sniffing the air, you smell the unmistakable odour of sulfur. There must be a hot spring nearby.
Movement to the right catches your eye, but what had caused the leaves to shake has gone deeper into the shadows. You approach cautiously. What was it? A child?