Chapter 1

31/10/2008 20:22:00

I needed to sleep. There was just no way around it. I needed to rest. I looked up at the sky. So beautiful, so serene. I laid my head down, and drifted down into a sleep so deep that if I were on fire, I would never have known it. ~~~~ The air was whipping around my head. I had a headache. The wind was not helping at all. I slowly woke up, coming to realize that I was not alone. “And you think she will just heal on her own do you?!” I heard a man’s voice. It was deep and rustic, reminding me of a cabin that I had never seen before. And at the same time I had known all my life. “Yes, she will heal on her own. We can do nothing for her!” Another man’s voice, older though. His voice sounded like he had learned all the world had to offer and was now bored of it. Bored of whatever ruckus the younger man was causing for him. Something screamed within me that this man was somehow important to me. But something was very, very wrong with whatever was happening. I felt ground beneath me. Grass. The softest grass I had ever felt. Like soft fur of an animal, if floated beneath my fingers in the wind. I tried to get up. I had to make sense of what was happening. But something was restraining me. I realized I couldn’t move my arms, I didn’t even know if they were there! I couldn’t feel anything… And then the pain hit. It was sharp and searing, like a million bones breaking at once. And it was all over. The pain everywhere at once, trying to vie for my immediate attention over each other, causing the pain to worsen more and more. I couldn’t help it, I screamed aloud. It was too painful even for me. Even for me? Where did that come? I’m not brave. I can’t handle pain… I felt extremely confused. And then it shocked me. Who was I? What was my name? Did I remember anything? Was I assuming things about myself that I myself didn’t even know? “Aisling! Oh my dear Aisling,” The younger man said in faux concern, and had stopped arguing with the older man and was now at my side, for what reason though? And what was I to him? I tried to open my eyes. They were heavy.

I finally gained enough control however to open them fully. What I saw surprised me beyond words. The man before me was no one I had ever seen before. I did not know this man. But at the same time, I knew him from being his leader, from him being my advisor, from him being my best friend and closest companion. Or was he? He also seemed dark, I had seen him as bad also, temperamental. So what was he to me? Good or bad? Friend or foe? He was perfection in my eyes. His face was beautiful, like a marble statue come to life. His eyes were a deep green, with a slight edge of black on the outside. His nose and chin were chiseled and sharp, but soft also. His lips were curved slightly, smiling now that I had opened my eyes. And his hair was a rich deep brown with the lightest of red tints to them, it shined softly in the light of the day. The man behind him was older as I had predicted, but not nearly so much as I had thought. While the younger man appeared 25 or so, the older one appeared to be around 30. Not nearly so much as his voice seemed. The older man had dark hair also, with the same facial features as the younger man. Was he his brother? But his eyes were different, softer, not as harsh in a green. He looked kindly at me, and glanced towards the younger man I took as his brother with a look that said, “See? What did I tell you?” Then I noticed what the two men were wearing. They were wearing clothes that appeared crude and primitive. As if they were hand-made with raw materials. They both wore cloth tunics and dark leather pants tied with thin rope. Their shoes, I noticed, were also made of leather. We were in a field, surrounded by thousands more men garbed in the same outfit, the only difference being that they were filthy. But in the distance I could hear more. People were fighting. Why? I could hear swords clanging and screams issuing forth from men’s lungs. What was I doing here? I was a woman…right? I didn’t feel like I knew anything though anymore. I lifted my head and looked down. Yes, I was a woman. But that still didn’t explain my being here, and why everyone was circled around me. “Where am I?” I whispered out to the younger man. But he just stared at me, the joy slowly transforming towards shock. “She’ll be fine will she? SHE’LL BE FINE? HOW IS SHE FINE?! SHE KNOWS NOT WHERE SHE IS!” He had turned to the older man, yelling in his face.

I was shocked. Even if he looked harsh, I still didn’t expect this. But, how could I expect anything? I was making assumptions about people I didn’t know. As he said, I didn’t know where I was. And I guess that was not good. I guess I should know where I was. But I didn’t. I had no idea as to why I was surrounded by thousands of men with fighting going on in the distance. The sun was hot on my face. Why is it so hot? And there are no trees to shade my face. I am already burning with the pain of injuries I couldn’t see. Why must the sun be against me in addition to my useless mind? “It will all correct itself in time! We know not how long. But it will! If you rush it then it won’t! So calm down brother! Go! Go calm down by the tents. Rest. You’ve had a hard scare today,” he pointed to my left, and then continued in a much louder voice, “We’ve all had a great scare today! So go, all of you,” he pointed to all of the men surrounding us, “Go rest. If Aisling were in a mind to, she would want you to go rest. Besides, you all know how hard tomorrow will be without her by our sides!” The men grumbled as they walked away. I don’t know why they would be. After listening to the older man, they apparently were going to need to sleep. When all the other men had cleared and gone to the tents, the older man walked closer. “Hello Aisling, how are you feeling?” His kind eyes looked at me questionably, not seeming to know what to ask and what not to ask. “Besides the fact that I know not who I, you, or anyone else is and that I have no clue as to where I am, I’m terrible.” “What type of pain do you have?” “I still do not know you, how can I trust you?” I questioned him, at the moment not trusting anyone, even though he appeared to care about my well being. “I do not know how to prove to you that I am worthy of your trust. And you are sure that you remember nothing of who you are?” “No, I think I would be able to remember it. And I do remember you all in a way. I know that I knew you. But I do not seem to know you anymore. That’s what it feels like anyways, I don’t know if I actually did know you!” “Do you even remember who you are?” “No. I remember nothing.” As I have already stated. “Well, then you will just have to trust me with having no reason.”

“I have no choice in the matter anyways,” I sighed, and continue, “I have a sharp pain all over. And I can only move my eyelids and neck. Is that good?” “It’s good that you can move your neck to be sure! But that just shows that you can’t move any other part,” he stepped closer, putting his hands in the air to show that he meant no harm as he did it. Then he gently probed my leg and arms, finding out where it hurt the most from my groans and stifled screams. I barely suppressed another scream when he poked my knee that I had to say something, “Will you stop already? I’m broken all over!” “So it appears. This will not be easy for you to recover from,” he said matter-of-factly. “Since I know nothing of who I am and how I’ve come to be in this position, will you tell me?” I asked, wanting to know what had caused me such great pain. And also wanting to know more about this man and his brother, and the great company of men that I apparently had some connection to, after being out here with them, with fighting going on in the distance. And most definitely to distract my brain from the immense pain. “I guess I’ll start by introducing myself. I’m Galefre. You have already met my brother as well; he was the one arguing with me. He is called Bret, though his full name is Bretonnet. We hail from – well, you wouldn’t remember where! You will learn in time though,” he said, as he sat down on the grass beside me. Had he given up hope that I would survive my injuries? Is that why he was doing nothing? “How did I get injured?” I asked, hoping to set him into motion once again. He looked at me with those soft green eyes, sorrow apparent in them, “You really remember nothing, do you?” not waiting for a reply, he continued, “You are our leader Aisling. I know that may not make sense to you at this time, but you are the queen of a country. You have no king, so you took it upon yourself to lead us into rebellion against the tyrannical Sven and his country of Shulter. You were in the front, and your horse fell. The fall broke most of your bones. And apparently it has jarred your memory as well. But you’ll heal. It’ll just take a bit of time, and quite a bit of exercises afterwards,” he smiled at me kindly, knowing the information shocked me. How could I have done things like this? This wasn’t me. I would never be brave enough to lead an army to war, much less be in the front of that army. Or could I? Was I really this person, brave in so many ways?

“I’m…a queen?” I asked more to myself than to him. “Yes, you are the highly respected and loved queen of Dacia. You are the only child of Relter and Sincia. You are the first royal to stand up against Shulter. You are revered by all. Does anything come to light?” I remembered a castle, the gray of the stones covered in green mosses. Banisters of old hanging in the long hallways. I remembered my room; it had rich deep wood all around. Built-in bookshelves and dressers in the walls. I had gowns and men’s clothes alike in my dressers. I had books from all of the ages in my bookshelves. I remembered my parents. When I was 10 years old they had both died of a plague that had swept through our country. My father, I remember how much he hated having to leave only a young daughter to protect his country. My mother, who had been such a sweet woman, just hated leaving me to have no mother. It had been 13 years since I was 10 years old. I had changed drastically. I’m sure my father would have been proud how I turned out. But my mother would probably shake her head and say how much I had need of her. “Yes,” I replied, “I do remember more things now. I remember the castle. I remember my parents. But I still do not know a great deal about myself.” “As I said before, you will relearn yourself in time. But you should not worry too much over that right now. You need rest and food. I’m going to carry you to you tent now, is that ok?” He asked politely. I looked at him, he seemed strong, and he was on the taller side and had wide shoulders. He would be able to carry me, I think I was small; I was not sure, given the fact that I could not move or feel much of anything besides pain. With that he bent down and picked me up, I was right, he was strong. I felt extremely small in his arms. His arms were tan, probably from the sun shining hotly on us. My headache was still pounding in my head. “Why are you walking so slowly? Surely it’s not my weight,” I asked, for he was walking at the speed of the slowest of snails. He looked down at me, his green eyes crinkling with pure kindness, “If I walked any faster, you would be complaining up a storm.” It took me a moment to think that through. I hadn’t really noticed the pain much. I had pushed it far into my mind, not wanting it to take my focus off of the world that was so new to me. So familiar to me.

“Yes, I guess you are right. But wouldn’t it be best if I complained for less amount of time and then get to rest soundly than to walk for an year?” Galefre laughed, somehow finding my innocent question amusing. Then he looked up towards the bright sun and mumbled something about it still being me. “Of course I’m still me,” I replied, though he ignored my response. He looked back down at me, “I think it best that you not be put in too much pain at the moment.” “I thought I was the queen here. Can’t I make my own decisions?” He smiled again, “No, you can’t.” I glanced down at my hands, folded neatly in my plain, brown dress, “Humph. Says the man who stinks of rot.” “I may stink of rot. But that’s only because I save lives. And if I must receive their rot in exchange, I guess I will.” “You are a doctor then?” I looked at his face again. That made sense at least, him being a doctor. The way he had talked towards his brother had made him seem as if he would know about things such as this. He looked at me with suspicion now, why would he do that? “Yes, I am. Why are you showing interest in my profession now? You have never done so in the past. Actually, you abhor my profession.” “I am not fully myself remember. I will piece it all together in time, “I said, quoting him, “And then I can return to hating your profession. Will that suite you?” I asked, not expecting what he had said. “No, it will not ‘suite’ me. But that’s the way it has always been.” “I am sorry then. Was I mean before my accident?” I asked, fearing that his answer would be positive. But he didn’t answer, “Here we are. You’re humble tent.” I turned my head. He was right, the tent was humble. It was brown leather, “Like everything else here,” I mumbled to myself. Galefre glanced back to me, started to say something, and then stopped. I looked back towards the tent. Bret was standing in front of the entrance, glaring murderously at Galefre. “Brother…are you ok?” Galefre walked up closer to his brother, and then stopped in front of him. But Bret just stared at Galefre. Anger eating up his expression. He was starting to scare me.

I looked up at Galefre, and he looked down at me. My expression must have betrayed my emotions, “Brother, you are scaring her,” he said this through gritted teeth. “How can you carry her? Do you not think that unwise?” I had no idea what they were talking about now. Bret looked down from his brother’s face, several inches above his, and stared down at me, with a look that softened his features, “Don’t you think it improper Aisling?” “She has no idea what you are saying Bretonnet. From her injuries she has suffered amnesia it appears. She remembers little about her life. Us,” Bret looked up at his brother again with a look that shot daggers, “especially.” His eyes squinted at Galefre, “But you know it’s improper. Aisling has made a commitment to me. You know that!” Oh, now I understood. But understanding just made the situation worse. I had made a commitment to him. I was engaged to Bret, the person that so far, was only scaring me. I don’t know how I could love someone who was only angry all the time. But maybe I was doing this out of duty. Or maybe he wasn’t always like this. Galefre spoke through gritted teeth, “I could not leave her there, vulnerable, on the field. And you were of no mind to carry her to her tent in all you anger. So don’t talk to me about improprieties when you are the one who yells in the face of your older brother!” “Bret! Get away from them! You know your temper is out of hand!” I heard another man yell. When he was close enough, I looked to where I heard the voice. He was short, with blond hair and brown eyes. His skin, unlike all the other men I had seen, was extremely pale. It looked as if he sat in the darkest of tents every day. He wasn’t wearing leather pants and a tunic like everyone else was either, he was wearing a robe with a hood, as if he were a monk of sorts. Well, maybe he was in fact a monk or of the likes.

Galefre leaned his head closer to mine, lifting me in his arms at the same time so he could whisper in my ear, “That is Antoine. He’s the camps scribe. It’s appropriate that his means ‘invaluable’, for he truly is. Only the four of us here can read and write. And while you and Bret are always concerning yourself with the war or the two of you,” something flickered in him saying this, but I knew not what it was, “and I’m mostly working on my studies or over patients. He is the only one to read the letters sent by family, or the letters from Shulter.” The man named Antoine directed himself from shooing Bret away towards us, “You aren’t telling her all my downfalls yet are you?” Galefre laughed. I thought his laugh was beautiful, “Not yet. I’m sure she’ll figure each and every one of them out in due time.” “I guess so.” Galefre started walking towards my tent again. Antoine joined us, walking in stride with Galefre. It wasn’t fabulous on the outside, but the tent had a slight more charm to it on the inside. It was bigger than I had expected it to be. The tent was round, with a long, rectangular table in the middle. There was a desk to the left of the entrance, deep rich mahogany covered in intricate designs worthy of a queen. Oh, I was a queen. I must have taken these articles from my castle. My castle, the thought of that was so foreign. It didn’t belong in me. I wasn’t a queen. How could I be? There were also several bookshelves lining the edges of the tent. And one small cot. Thick blankets piled on the end of the cot. There were tapestries here too, scenes of maidens and lords on the castle grounds, of knights on horses, and faeries casting spells over unsuspecting children. But the thing that struck the most was the roof of the tent. There were white stars sewn onto the ceiling. It was a beautiful sight on this barren field. “This is my tent?” I asked. The place really was too beautiful for an army. I was probably seeing things. Amnesia, broken bones, hallucinations… “Yes, you really wanted something to uplift your spirits while out here. That was smart of you, seeing how you’re going to be stuck in this tent for some amount of months,” Galefre answered, setting me down on the cot.

Antoine walked to the foot of my bed, “Think of it as a break from all of your royal duties.” “Thanks. Since I don’t know what I would’ve done anyways. Who will take care of all the ‘royal duties’ though?” I asked, hoping they would give me a straight answer. Antoine answered, “Bret. Since he’s your fiancé you put him in charge of all business affairs if you aren’t able to.” I didn’t fail to notice that Galefre had cringed through the whole sentence. What was wrong with him? Did he have a headache too? I turned my head towards him, the pillows moving relax ably under me, “Do you have a headache?” “Uh, no, why would you say that?” “You seem to be in pain. That’s all.” “Ok, well, thanks for your concern. Now, Antoine, will you please go and get my supplies? I need to set Aisling’s broken bones,” He seemed to be brushing off my question. Was I always this confused? Or is it just because of my amnesia that everything and everyone seemed to be confusing me? Antoine gave us both a sly look before walking out of the tent. “So I’m committed to your brother?” I asked, trying to start a conversation the in the awkward silence Antoine had left, “When’s the date?” But he didn’t answer me, “How’s your legs and arms doing?” “Painful. When’s the date?” What was wrong with him? “You know you can call it off right? You don’t have to marry someone you don’t remember. You can wait.” “If I’m a queen I better be able to do that! When is the date?” I needed a straightforward answer! He sighed, “Ten months from today.” I had to ask him this, if Bret was his brother, then he would know how to answer, “Do you think that’s enough time for me to re-learn why I accepted his proposal?” He looked at me square in the face, “If you were yourself you would know immediately what my response would be. No, I do not think so. And to clear anything up in future reference, I have never thought this marriage a good thing.” Hmm. Is that why he’s been acting strangely? Or is it…something also? Is there more to this than I can see?

Most likely. Should I trust him? Is he only acting like this in my favor? Or does he have unclear motives at hand? I don’t think I can trust anyone. Not even myself at the moment. He was waiting for a response. What should I say to that? What was there to say? “Umm, well, I don’t know anything as of yet, but I’m sure we love each other, so I guess I’ll just keep that date?” I phrased it as a question, not knowing what to say in the least. He looked at me sternly, but his eyes were kind, something in them melting me to the core, “Just remember, if anything happens, if you have any doubts, you can always call it off. And if you need any help, I’m here.” Antoine chose that moment to walk into my tent. I wondered if he had been listening to our conversation, the look of sadness that washed over his face when he looked towards Galefre made me believe that the answer would be a yes. “Here’s your bag Gale. I’ll just go…she’ll need some food and water when she comes to,” and after putting the bag filled with what must have been ‘Gale’s’ things on the long table, he walked out of the tent, back out into the bright sunshine. Galefre turned back towards me. His expression hopeless, he sighed. “Can I call you Gale then?” “What does it matter? Yes, you can. Now, I’m going to put you under while I set your bones. You would scare the whole army if you started screaming like I know you would.” He was suddenly being very distant, like he was holding himself from talking to me like a human being. Keeping it to talking to me as a patient. Why? “Well, I guess you know best, right?” “Yes, as I said, you don’t, didn’t, approve of my profession. You would know nothing of it.” He came closer, and bent down so that he was at face level with me. “I may seem mean. But it’s for the best.” “Why are you being so cryptic?” My headache was worsening from trying to make sense of everything that should make sense to me. If they ever did make sense. “It’s just for the best.” And he left it at that.

He stood up, and walked to get his bag from the table. He picked it up and dragged a chair to the bed. Then he proceeded to take out various objects and set them on the short table beside my bed. “This’ll knock you out for a good hour or two. Then when you wake up you’ll get some warm soup and fresh water.” With that he poured a liquid over a cloth and put it over my nose. Just before I closed my eyes I saw him mouthing something, though I could only make out the ‘I’ in whatever he was saying before I drifted to black. ~~~~~~~ I dream. There is black all around me. A presence of time and space whipped around me, driving me faster and faster towards something. I look down, and am shocked. There is nothing. More black. I’m not there. I’m not here. Where am I? More black. I seem to be here for an eternity, suspended, but driven towards something. Have I been here before? It seems too familiar. What is wrong with me? Is it from whatever Galefre knocked me out with? Am I hallucinating? I feel like I can’t breathe. There’s no air. But I’m not dying either. What is happening? When will I wake up? Or am I dead? Is this the time between heaven and earth? Earth, what is earth? Who is Galefre? Conflicting memories, visions, dreams. Who am I? What is happening? I’m confused; I don’t know what’s happening. I drift farther into the blackness.

Chapter 2

Larissa Rutherford

There was a high keening sound. A whistle. What is a whistle? Wait, I know what it is. I do! I remember…things. I know…who I am… I’m…Aisling. I open my eyes. There are many people surrounding me. Déjà vu. Why are there people surrounding me? What’s happened this time? Am I dreaming now? …Was I dreaming before? So real though…so real. It was just a dream. Nothing more than a vivid dream. It couldn’t have been more. I feel a throbbing in my head. Another headache. Maybe I had a headache in my ‘dream’ because I have a headache in real life? Yes, that must be it. It is the only explanation. I push all thoughts of the dream from my head. I must focus on real life. Real life is happening. “Now shoo, all of you!” My P.E. teacher, Mrs. Hicks says sternly to the class of students before her. I know her name! I don’t have amnesia. I’m fine. This is real. “Yes Mrs. Hicks…” Everyone else, all the students in my class, chant as they walk solemnly away. Then they continue to play the game of soccer that must have been going on before I was knocked out. “How long was I out for?” I ask her. I want to know how long I’d been lying in the sodden grass, soaking my clothes. I was cold now. It was winter here. The ominous clouds promising snow later in the night. “Poor dear, you were out for ten minutes solid,” She replied, looking at me to make sure she saw that I knew who she was, who I was. She must’ve had case when her students did have amnesia. I went over vital information in my head to make sure I did know who I was. My parents are…Relter and Sincia. I shook my head back and forth, and put a hand in the air to make sure Mrs. Hicks didn’t worry. I must have brought my parents names into my dream, and my own. I hope no one else’s names made it in though that would only prove to continue to muddle my brain further. I was…18 years old. I sighed at that, thankful that some information of my life was not identical in my dream also. I go to a school in Port Angeles, WA. There are not many students at my school. It’s a private school.

I have one other friend, Konstanze; the others shun me from their little social circles. Maybe I was the brave, respected ruler in my dream because I was not anywhere close to being that in the real world. Wait, why am I still talking about my dream? That’s all it was. A dream. Nothing more. Nothing less. A dream. Stop mentioning it and I’ll be fine. What else is there to remember that is too important to make sure I didn’t forget? I guess I would not remember what to remember though. Well then. That’s it then. And I think I know enough. At least I know my own name. Mrs. Hicks excused me from class that day. I’m glad. My head pounded, and no matter how I avoided it, my mind would always wander to the dream I had had. Such a long, detailed dream. I meandered the school grounds. There were flat and long. Trees lining the parking lot. I wouldn’t be here for much longer. After spring I graduated, then, onto college. Nothing was getting in my way of a literary career. At least, nothing had come in my so far. No one had made time to get in my way. So my plans had hardened with time. Since I wasn’t popular in the real world, I could make myself known through books, and let people see into the eyes of others. Maybe understand how people like me respond to the rejection they shoot out. Anyways…away from my useless ramblings we go! I wandered around the campus, trying to make sense of my befuddled thoughts. I was wandering towards the cafeteria. Being that I’m in a small private school, the cafeteria was appropriately in the gym. And they allowed the seniors to get snacks throughout the day. I needed something to munch on! I opened the door and ran straight face into Hakon, who was also in my class, and from my memory, had also been hit several times in the head, causing him to be thrown out also. And, like me, he had thought to get food. And I had just spilled his whole lunch all over him. “I’m so sorry!” I gasped, mortified that I had not looked to see if someone was coming before I opened the door, as was one of my customs.

“That’s…ok I guess. It’s not your fault.” “Well, I will help you clean up at least.” “Thanks for that,” He said, unenthusiastically. “I’ll be right back, just let me get a paper towel roll,” I said hurriedly, flustered at my clumsiness. I hurried getting a paper towel roll and making sure that some of the paper towels were wet to mop up some of the mashed potatoes and peas that had fallen on the floor in addition to a brownie. When I returned, Hakon had a smile on his face, which really did light it up a sum. His eyes were a soft green, and he had brown hair with a tint of red. He reminded me of…no. That can’t be. How could that happen? Why would I bring someone that I have talked to a total of zip in the year into my dream? But I had seen an older version, a much older version. He reminded me of a much younger Galefre. Or, I should say, Galefre reminded me of a much older Hakon! “Are you always this clumsy?” He asked, seemingly amused with my misstep. I didn’t answer, how can I explain that no I’m not this clumsy all the timebut how would he know? - He never talks to me! I was slightly angry now, at my dream, and at him for this. Even though this wasn’t his fault. “Sorry for asking,” he seemed to take my rebuff the wrong way. Though I don’t think there is a right way to take it. “Sorry,” I huffed out, “I just. Most people don’t. Why do you care?” “Just making conversation.” “You’ve never made conversation before.” We were almost done cleaning. Just have to go over it once more with water and then dry. There was more silence. I got up to get some more wet paper towels. When I got back, Hakon was leaning relax ably against the wall on the inside of the gym. “Sorry for not being nice to you in past reference. You’re just…different. You understand right?” I sighed, of course I understood, “I’ve understood all my life Hakon.” He held up his hands in surrender, “Forgive me?” “Yeah. Sorry for getting bent up about it. I’m just not used to human contact,” I said this in a wry way as to get a chuckle out of him.

“I can’t say I understand. But I do.” We cleaned up the rest of the spill, and then threw all the soiled paper towels in the trash bin. I looked up at him, he was tall, too tall for someone as short as me, “I was already going to get some food. And I don’t eat much, you could have some of mine as a payment for me spilling all of yours?” I phrased it as a question, wondering if the moment of feeling to be comrades had passed. He looked down at me, “Sure, I think that’s fair.” We walked to the window in the middle of the wall of the gym, to get my lunch, his payment. Mrs. Thomas, the lunch lady was there, washing dishes. But there were always some trays of food left out, reheated over and over before someone came to claim them. She glanced up at us, then continued washing dishes, though I saw the quizzical look she had that I was walking with Hakon. “Back again Hakon?” She glanced up again, and gave him a reprimanding look. He looked down at me with a look of his own, “No, it was all her fault.” “Hmm,” was all she said. She delivered the goods, and we were on our way out. Then I remembered that part of the lunch was his by way of payment, “Oh! I forgot…do you want to go and get a plate for you? I can scoop yours off of this and then you can be on your way to wherever you were going before that…” I trailed off aimlessly. I hadn’t noticed that he had gotten a fork and spoon for himself, obviously not forgetting a plate. He looked down at me, a quirky smile lighting his face, “No, I think I can afford to be amused for a time more.” Oh, so he was amused was he? Just my luck that I would start talking to someone only after them being “amused” with me. I turned my head and walk faster. He might be amused, but he wasn’t amusing me. “What? What’d I do?” His long legs carry him much faster than my short measly ones could. Stupid long legs. “I’m ‘amusing’ you am I?” I answer with a question.

“Do you always get this mad at people?” So, he was going to go Aristotelian on me was he? I sighed though; I would be better than him. I slow down, though his stupid long legs didn’t like that too much, “Only with strangers that appear to know me.” “I don’t ‘appear’ to know anything. At least, I don’t try to.” “Well then, what do you want to know?” He shrugs at my left, “Nothing really. I’ll find it all out in time.” Oh great, “A leech,” I say out loud. He apparently took that as a compliment, “Just ask anyone, I’m good at being a leech.” “Like they’d let me talk to them,” I grumble out. “They’re not that mean. They just think that you’re…odd,” His sentence ended in a way to make me wonder if that came out the way he wanted it to. I glanced to his face. No, that’s not what he wanted to come out. I shrug, “I guess I’m fine with it. It’s been what I know my whole life. I’m just bad at talking to the people that don’t talk to me on a daily basis, yourself included.” I was walking across campus, the way that crossed through corridors and hallways that most people didn’t frequent this time of day. Most people were in P.E. right now, either that or studying in the library. I was going to a longforgotten picnic table on the back of the math class. It was my hiding spot most of the time. It was raining, but the table was protected by a copse of thick trees and their branches hanging overhead. “Is this where you and Konstanze are all the time?” He asked with a sly look my way. “You notice?” I ask him as I sat down and him across from me. “Of course we notice! What type of people would we be if we didn’t?” “Sorry, I’m just not used to the inside,” I said this as if he were a spy, him now amusing me, instead of the other way around, “information that you are so readily providing!” “Yes…we will just have to see that I don’t let too many of our ‘inside’ secrets out.” We ate for a time. He ate at a leisurely pace, looking at the trees above us, looking at the food, glancing at me from time to time.

I couldn’t stop staring at him though. For one thing, I wasn’t used to another human being talking to me, and I was surprised I wasn’t already stuttering around him. And another thing was that I just couldn’t get my dream out of my head. No matter how much I threatened myself over it, I couldn’t stop reviewing it in my head. It really was too vivid. Hakon cleared his throat. I cleared my eyes from the daze that I had been in, “What?” “You were staring. It was making me slightly awkward.” “Sorry again. I just had a really strange dream before coming out of unconsciousness, and you remind me of a much younger version of one of the people in that dream,” Why wasn’t I tripping in my sentences? Something about Hakon just caused my usual stutter around others, not close to me, to disappear. He leaned closer, the contact was befuddling, “Do you want me to decode it for you? Maybe then you’ll know more about what you were dreaming.” He was too close, I had never been this close to a male besides my family, “Umm…no. It’s suh…pr-private. I do-don’t want to share it with a-anyone.” He leaned back again, that was good, “Ok, well, if you need me to help you, just let me know!” With that he got up, took the tray empty with food and our utensils, and gestured for me to follow him. I still sat, “Did you need help in math or history?” He stood there for a moment, processing what I said, and probably why I was still sitting, “No, I just thought you’d like to talk more.” Hmm. I was not used to this at all. I wonder what Konstanze would say. I know she wouldn’t think him talking to me a good thing. She would probably think that he was doing it as a dare or prank. But I also knew that she wanted someone badly, and that she might discourage me from branching out just because she was too afraid to. I got up, no matter what others said; maybe it would be a good thing to at least slightly get to know some others in my class. Or maybe just Hakon. He seemed to be the only one I wouldn’t stutter around, unless he was close, too close, again. Which wouldn’t hurt also…but I should avoid it. We threw out the tray in front of math class and then walked towards our lockers.

The sky was beautiful this time of year. Even if I loved late spring and early summer the most, I loved how the sky of late fall and early winter looked best of all. There were dark clouds and bright white clouds. Both contrasting greatly with each other. The blue sky a happy medium. But the bad part of the beautiful black clouds was that they promised snow later on, which would not make me happy. I had to make some conversation, and he had to follow along, just like I was doing now, “Isn’t the sky beautiful?” He looked down at me for a second and then up at the gorgeous sky, “Yes, I just wish I had a camera,” But he said this as he looked at me, away from the sky. I felt awkward now. He didn’t even know me and had only talked to me for less than an hour! But, I had been going to school with him for my whole life. Maybe he knew more than he let on. Then why did I not know anything about him? I blushed and looked away. I had never been around guys, so I didn’t know how to deal with this. I knew guys from my family and from the classics that I read. But the guys in those books are a world different in manner than these, and the guys in my family just makes the guys seem worse. We were almost back to the gym now. We had both lapsed back into silence. I was still awkward, only following him still because it would be rude not to now. He broke the silence first, “Well, I have to go and find my brother so we can start on our way home. Talk to you tomorrow?” Was that hope in his voice? I couldn’t tell, and certainly didn’t want to come to conclusions without solid evidence. Besides, why would he want to talk to me tomorrow? That’s right, there was no logical explanation. I had to say something though, before I appeared to be an idiot like so many other things I seemed to be to others, “Sure,” I mumbled out, more awkward than before. He stood there for a moment, and then walked away, his long gate carrying him to the field.

His brother…his brother was 14, 5 years younger than Hakon, a freshman. Volund wasn’t a pleasant person to be around from what I’ve overheard and what I’ve seen. He was always after the head position in anything, always wanting power. And he didn’t like to be defeated, or told no. And if you did tell him no…then you’d better watch your back. Everyone hoped that he would improve with time, that he’d outgrow this ‘faze’, but he never did. I didn’t like thinking about Volund, it wasn’t pleasant. I looked at my watch. Time to go home! I walked to the lockers; nobody had made their way there yet. That was good. I didn’t feel like anymore human contact for today. Hakon had used up my human quota for the day. I didn’t even feel like talking to Konstanze. I quickly put all the books I needed for homework in my backpack and walked briskly to my old white truck. Getting inside, I felt safe, calm. There was no chance anyone would be able to talk to me now. I was scot-free to make my 30-minute drive home. There was a knock on my door, and I cringed inwardly. Great, someone had caught up to me. I slowly turned my head from putting the key in the ignition; it was Hakon at my window. And Konstanze was not far off behind him, her eyes boring into me, though I didn’t return the look. I rolled down the window, at least as far as it would go, the window sticking. I only got it to halfway. “What do you want now?” I asked him. My quota was gone now, going into the negatives. “Is it so wrong for me to want to say goodbye?” “Depending on the reason, yes,” I rolled my eyes. He held his hands in the air, “No reason! I just thought it would be nice if I said goodbye to you. You said that no one talks to you. I’m going to change that.” “You are, are you? Then why is no one else saying goodbye?” He glanced towards the lockers, they were diagonal from here. I glanced too, there was a grouping of people standing there, looking our way. I couldn’t help it, I blushed. The attention of the day was really starting to get to me. “They just can’t seem to wrap their heads around it. Not yet anyways, they’ll warm up to the idea later,” He looked back at me, “So, goodbye. See you tomorrow Aisling.”

“See you sometime later then Hakon,” I tried to smile sincerely, I think I came up a little short. He turned, and walked away. Konstanze replaced him though, to my utter dread. I held up my right hand before she could say anything, “I really don’t feel like talking right now Konstanze.” She looked at me with a look of shock, “But, but, when, why?” She wasn’t having an easy time forming sentences. “I dropped all his food while I was going to get some food for myself. I let him eat most of my food, and we talked a little bit. He’s being annoying now though, too friendly,” I was giving her quick details, hoping she’d back away fast, so I could go home. I was extremely tired again. Again? No, not again, that was from the dream. Or was it? Oi! She just stared at me though. What more did she want? What more could I tell her? I decided to have a little bit of fun with how she was reacting, “Oh, and you caught us. Really, the whole purpose of this was to communicate top-secret messages that only we and the ‘Embassy of Spies’ would understand, so that we can one day take over the world,” My whole demonstration fell flat, short of being somewhat shocking to a total idiot, but being downright boring to someone like Konstanze. She just stared at me more, “Wow. You are amazing. Obviously you’re in a bad mood though, so I’ll just be going on my way,” She started walking away, waving over her shoulder saying, “Talk to you tomorrow,” The implications were that I was going to talk to her, and only her. She didn’t really like others coming into our group. We were both very unused to the idea of the other people in our class talking to us. I was finally free. I pulled out of the parking spot, and drove out of there the fastest I could, avoiding the stares the other students threw my way. I put in my favorite CD. The fun rhythms of the music calmed my nerves and actually made me happy. And the long drive alone helped to calm my nerves even more so. When I pulled into the driveway of my log cabin house I was finally at peace. I pushed all thoughts of the day’s occurrences out of my head, and focused my thoughts on what I wanted to make for dinner tonight.

I grabbed my backpack that was sitting on the passenger seat, and got out of the truck. I locked and it and walked leisurely to the front door, a deep wood with green trim. My parents weren’t home yet, usually at work until seven at night. I unlocked the door and went in, putting my backpack by the large, overstuffed chair in the living room that I always sat in. I went to the kitchen, aiming in my head for spaghetti. That sounded good for tonight, and I was sure that my parents wouldn’t mind it. I got the spaghetti ready, and then cooked it. It was nice to relax doing something that didn’t require much of my attention, but that just made my thoughts wander onto subjects that I had many times forbidden myself about. I got a bowl out of the cupboard and put the amount I wanted into it. Then I put the stove on low, to keep the spaghetti warm for my parents. I walked out of the kitchen, up the tall flight of stairs to the second story. My room was the only one on this floor. Mine was to the left of the stairway, the bathroom straight ahead, and the office to the left. I went to the right and closed the door behind me; I wanted to lock myself in my room for a decade at this point. The tall windows let in the whole sky, my room facing west, a sharp cliff making way to a gorgeous view for me. The trees went undisturbed for as far as I could see. The view was beautiful, but I didn’t feel in the mood to see the gray skies. I closed the blinds, and turned the lights on so that I could see in the now dark room. I sat at my desk, and put the bowl with my spaghetti down on the cherry wood desk. I sat there for a while, chewing my spaghetti and mulling over the days occurrences. I didn’t like what had happened. My whole stupid routine was ruined now. Hakon would never cease to torment me by talking to me, breaking the boundaries of social etiquette and my aversion to talking to humans other than my family and my long-time friend Konstanze. I needed to do something to keep my mind off of these topics. I needed to occupy my muddled brain! I guess I should do my homework first then, shouldn’t I? I opened my door and returned to the kitchen, dropping the bowl in it for later washing. Then I went to my chair and brought my backpack upstairs to my room with me.

That occupied my mind for exactly one hour, until I finished all the homework I had and was then focusing on things that I had banished from my mind a thousand times. Need another thing to do. Need another thing to do. I looked around my room. My bed in the corner. My TV and small chair in the other corner, opposite my bed. My desk and shelves in front of me, the opposite wall from my bed. The door and window between all of it. My focus reverted back to shelves, lined with books and materials to make the clothes I loved to wear. Vintage apparel, that was it! To keep my mind away from dangerous paths, I will sketch some ideas, and commence to make them. I didn’t want to think about what’d I do after I was done with making my new purse, my design already forming in my head for it. Or maybe I should watch a movie? Yes, that would keep my head occupied better yet. But I would draw that purse first, the design of it quite extraordinary; I would not want to lose it. I drew the drawing of the purse, but was quickly displeased with how the design had gone. I drew and redrew the design, but gave up in the end. I went to the window, and peaked through the blinds. The sky had turned black, even though night would still be an hour off. I saw lightning; it was definitely going to be a stormy night tonight. I needed to prepare for it if the power was going to go off. I opened my door and went downstairs, running down the flight of stairs and into the kitchen to get some candles before the lights inevitably went out. I didn’t like the dark; I guess that was why I didn’t like it here, and why I liked sports like beach volleyball and surfing. After I got the candles, I got a match and lit all three of them. I turned off the stove, expecting that my parents would be late, if they weren’t here by now. I ran upstairs with all three of my candles, and put them on my desk, my bedside table, and one of the shelves. At that exact moment the lights went out. I was glad that I’m paranoid. I couldn’t watch TV now. I wouldn’t be able to see appropriately to do any of my designs, and I didn’t have any more homework to be done. I went to my bed and sat there.

And I sat there, trying to direct my thoughts to something, anything, but today. Rhinos, ok, that was a safe topic. Rhinos… At some point I stopped thinking about rhinos and started focusing on my drooping eyes. I couldn’t help it, and soon, I was falling asleep. Before I could, however, I dressed into my pj’s and covered myself with the blankets on my bed. And I couldn’t help it any longer. I closed my eyes. Wishing myself to go to somewhere other than the last sleep had brought me. I was warm and safe, nothing bad or regretful would happen. I drifted to sleep. ~~~~~ I dream. There is black all around me. A presence of time and space whipped around me, driving me faster and faster towards something. I’ve been here before. Uh oh. I don’t like this. I will myself away from here. Trying to go backwards, but only ending up feeling like I’m rushing myself towards the place that I had tried to avoid in my head all day. I wonder if I’m going to the same place I did last time. The black is blinding and scary at the same time. Bright and dark. I try to go to sleep again, go to sleep and dream inside a dream. But I’m wide-awake inside this dream. And even though I’m sure of where I’m going, I can’t will myself anywhere else. I drift farther into the darkness, dreading whatever is going to come to me.

Chapter 3

Larissa Rutherford

I feel weak. I don’t like feeling week. And woozy… “How long do you think it’ll be until she starts to walk again?” I hear a voice; it’s a familiar voice. Antoine. “It should take quite some time. But seeing how it’s Aisling, it will probably take a quite bit less than the average person,” Another voice, Galefre. I groaned. I was in the same place. And maybe worse yet, I was just how I’d left off. Would this become a routine? Or maybe I would soon be having normal dreams. Emphasis on the normal! They heard my groan. “Aisling, are you alright?” Antoine asks, I don’t think he’d really want to know though. I open my eyes. They are both in front of me. Antoine at the foot of my bed, where I figured was his favorite spot. And Galefre on the left of my bed, peering down into my eyes for some reason. I groan again. “Ugh.” “I’ll take that as a yes,” Says Antoine. He steps away from the bed, “I’ll go and get you some of that soup I promised. That should help a bit!” Antoine walks out of the room, leaving Galefre and me alone. I groan a third time. I was really upset that this was happening, “Why me? What have I done to go through such a frustrating…” I mumble. Galefre looks at me once in confusion, “Just a very annoying dream,” I say to his look. Another look hits his face, but this one is a look of understanding…and shock? I look away. I wanted to cross my arms and pout, but I couldn’t move them. I look down; they are both in splints. And I can feel that my legs are too. “How long will I have to be like this?” I ask Galefre. I suppressed the urge to say it in a whiny voice. He looks back at me; he was putting all of his things in his medical bag. I cringed; I didn’t like medicine, “Starting to remember your hatred of my profession?” He didn’t answer my question. That was starting to extremely annoy me. “Can you ever just answer my question? And yes, you’re profession is sickening me.” He smiles. Then he closes his bag. He turns back to me and looks me straight in the face, “Just surprised at what you had said.”

“About the dream? Or my question?” He doesn’t answer again. Just stands there and looks out the flap to my tent. “It’s best that I don’t answer all of yours or anyone else’s questions. Most of the time people wouldn’t like to hear the answer.” “But it’s worse not knowing what the answer would have been!” I say, exasperated. He chuckles at me. That just makes it worse. Then I remember how his brother and he always wear long sleeves from the memories of the person I was here. “Why do you wear long sleeves all the time? It’s hot here, and that can’t be comfortable to do all the time.” He looks at me again. The look that I had figured the sign that he wasn’t going to give me an answer to my question. “Because we both have an embarrassing birthmark,” He actually answered me. “Hmm. Sorry for that.” Now I wanted to see both of their ‘embarrassing birthmarks’. Maybe that would occupy my time for a couple of minutes. I didn’t want to think of all the time I’d be cooped up in this small tent, day after day, week after week! I groaned pathetically, I was trying to get Galefre to come closer. But he followed the bait, I guess never being tricked before by a patient. And I was sure that I had hardly talked to him before my amnesia. He walked to the side of my bed. He bent down, getting ready to reset my arms, probably in a more comfortable position, when I bit the sleeve on his right and pulled hard. I remembered that I was a strong person. And as I had predicted, the sleeve on the tunic was no match for my teeth. The sleeve ripped all the way to the top of the stitch, revealing a tattoo on his upper arm. I was glad I had the right arm. The tattoo was of a perfect triangle, with a perfect circle inside it, so that the circle touched all the sides of the triangle. It was strange. Why would he have a tattoo of this? And from what I remembered, I wouldn’t peg him as the type to have a tattoo. Maybe he is a totally different person that the one I had known…or was.

Galefre jerked away, stumbling back to the table with his things, and holding his broken sleeve up to conceal the tattoo. “Why do you have a tattoo?” I say this warily. Now I really didn’t know if I could trust him. Though from my memories I’m sure I could trust everyone, “And Bret has one like this too? That is not a birthmark!” “Calm down! And it’s not a tattoo! I would never get a tattoo! They are birthmarks! And yes, Bret has one too,” He sneered Bret’s name as he said it, his face grimacing, why would he do that? I took several deep breaths. All this emotion in my dream and in the real world were doing me no good, “How is that possible. How can you both have something so perfect be natural?” He took several breaths as well, obviously fighting some sort of anger. But why? Is it just from frustration? Or something else like it appears to be? “It’s just something that runs in our family. Medicine and science can’t explain everything! And I’m not going to try to explain this,” He said, in a way as to try to get me to drop the subject. But I was going to be bored without some sort of interesting this to happen. And this was very interesting. I was just about to order him to tell me more when Antoine walked in. And I think he’d been listening in again, by the look on his face. He kept glancing at Galefre’s arm, probably wandering what it looked like now from our conversation. He walked to the side of my bed this time. “Here’s your soup, and some water too. Both are fresh, as I promised earlier,” He set the soup on my lap, and the water on the bedside table. He glanced at my arms, figuring out that I couldn’t eat with my hands, since they were both set. “Hmm, that’s a roadblock…” Galefre stepped around Antoine, to the other side of him, “I can feed her Antoine. You go and find Bret. If he’s calm tell him that he can come and see Aisling.” Antoine stepped back and went to the table, he drew a chair out and put it by my beside for Galefre to sit on, “Ok, I’ll be back in a little bit. Don’t have too many interesting conversations while I’m gone though…” And then he stepped out of the tent.

Galefre sighed, realizing that Antoine had been listening in. Then he sat down in the chair besides me, and took the bowl into his large hands. The smooth bowl contrasted greatly with the rough texture of his palms. He tried to spoon it in my mouth. But I would have nothing of this! If he expected me to eat, he had better be saying something while I was eating. “You need to eat,” He said, his voice one of vanquish. “Only if you explain your ‘birthmark’ in more detail. Until then, I can starve,” I said, making sure to put defiance in my voice so he wouldn’t think I was doubting what I was saying. Though that soup, with potatoes, carrots, and spinach in it, steamed beautifully before me. My mouth was starting to water just as I thought about it. I had to look away though. I turned my head to the right, so as to lose contact whatsoever of the soup. And to show even more defiance of Galefre. “Hmm. Then I’ll just have to eat all this by myself,” That was cruel. How could he play with my hunger like that? “You aren’t the only one who had a long day. I did too.” I shot a glance at the soup, but the sight arrested me, the soup! It was so delicious looking, steaming, and the broth looked so…hot! I looked at Galefre’s face, and frown graced mine. He was looking at the soup in a pondering way, which angered me. I knew it was selfish, but it was my soup! “UGH! Just give the darn soup to me!” I was even more angered now that I had given in to him. He smiled at me, a smile of smug victory, “Don’t push your luck,” I said. He just smiled wider. He spooned broth into the wooden spoon, “Open up. Or you can get it all over your dress. Your choice, but be wise. I’m sure you will regret it if it’s on your dress. Especially at night here.” I shivered just at the thought of it. Night in this field was the scariest experience for me. It was pitch black out here, always. Never any stars. And there were absolutely no sounds. Only an occasional fly or two. Beyond that…silence. I never even heard snoring. And that was one thing I thought I would’ve heard out here. “Fine,” I was definitely pouting now, I couldn’t help it! But, like the good little girl I was raised to be, I opened my mouth and let him spoon the broth in. I was instantly glad that I had given into eating the soup.

It was warm on my tongue, welcome in spite of the heat of the day. And, what made it better, was that it was spicy! Of course, everyone knew that I liked to have spicy foods when I wasn’t completely well. And this was a time that I wasn’t ‘completely’ well in the least. But that reminded me, what time was it anyways? I couldn’t see the sun, which was more a good thing than bad, and there were no watches that I could recall in this dream that was rapidly turning into reality. “What’s the hour Gale?” It just came out. But I realized a little too late that they didn’t have hours here, that they used the major point of the day only. And that I would only confuse Galefre. But he responded immediately, confusion never even lighting his face, “It’s around five I think. You were out for about 3 hours,” And then shock filled his face, as if he had something that he wasn’t supposed to say. He looked at me now with a look of suspicion mixed with awe, “How did you…?” But he was cut off. Antoine had found Bret and brought him back here, sending welcomed fresh air into my tent. Bret was apparently calmer now. But seeing Galefre about to spoon more soup into my mouth sent him off on another rage. “What. Are. You. Doing?” He was absolutely seething. He got angry really fast! He finally looked at me again, and rearranged his face so that it looked slightly less angry. “Was he seriously always like this?” I whispered to Galefre. He takes a glance at me, then looks back in the direction of Bret, “Around you? Never. Around everyone else? Most of the time.” The question here was: Is Galefre being truthful? I couldn’t tell. And from what he was about to say before we were interrupted, again, I wasn’t quite sure what part he played in this world/dream that we were in. But whatever it was, his tattoo and what he had said just a moment ago was somehow tied to it. And I was going to find out whatever it was that he was hiding. And that meant that Bret must have been hiding something too…with him having a tattoo also.

“I asked you a question brother!” Bret was seething again. I could just imagine him at this moment with steam coming out of his ears and nose. I chuckled slightly to myself, brushing off Galefre’s look of concern for my mental state. My mental state was already messed up somewhere, having these all too vivid of dreams. Dreams, and nothing more. I’ll wake up soon. So don’t get too comfy. I looked down at the bowl still cradled in Galefre’s hands. I wished I could use my arms. I was still hungry, and the soup was getting cold. Galefre looked Bret straight in the face, “I’m feeding Aisling. If you hadn’t noticed, she can’t feed herself!” Bret snorted loudly, the sound seemingly echoing in the silence that it left. He was staring at Galefre with a look that could kill. Really, I didn’t understand how I could’ve planned to marry this man. Was it all a bad day? I was getting sick of asking myself this question over and over. Antoine looked awkward, standing just on the fringe of the tent flap. He looked like he had just stepped into a family tribune, and was asked to stay throughout the long fight out. So he just stood there, swaying back and forth, to and fro. He was making me dizzy. I wasn’t in a stable mind to handle such a movement. “Woooo,” I managed to get out. My eyes flickered in the back of my head. Oh no. I was going to fall into unconsciousness. Again. And if that brought me back to the other world, the dream, my world, the real world, I was going to scream. Before slipping under I saw all of them converging on me. Galefre was slapping my face, in an attempt to revive me. Bret dove into Galefre, anger lining his face again. Galefre heard his cry of rage and turned himself so that he didn’t crash into my face, but rather all of me below my neck. I groaned and screamed at the same time, it didn’t seem possible, but I made it possible in that moment. All of my air rushed from my lungs, leaving me with no air to breathe. Their weight was pressing down on my bones in the most painful way. The only thing that kept them from snapping broken again was the heavy wood splints that Galefre had applied to my legs and arms. I felt a sharp pain all over now. It was searing everywhere.

My mouth was still open. I tried to get whatever air I could. And I wanted to scream from the pain. But I couldn’t scream. There was no air for me to scream with! Two men of their size were not meant to fall on a small person like me. Galefre was just…huge. And Bret was very muscular. Both their weights combined were too much. If I didn’t pass out before, I was certainly going to pass out now from lack of air. Antoine knew that, but he was much to do much of anything to stop them. He was trying to yell sense into Bret. But that wasn’t doing much now. Bret was passed the point of anyone talking sense into him. Galefre knew that also. Good for me that he was bigger than his crazed brother. He pushed Bret back as hard as he could, so that finally, I could gulp some air down before Bret would shove Galefre back down. “Stop Bret. You’re hurting her,” He grunted out before finally pushing Bret hard enough that he went spinning backwards. Galefre spun around fast, and pinned Bret to the ground so hard and fast that the thump felt like an earthquake. At the moment I didn’t care what hurt Bret though, I was trying to deal with my newly re-hurt wounds and my need for more air than I could get down in a single breath. “You stupid!” Galefre got out before having to gulp down a huge breath. Bret wasn’t the only mad one now. Galefre seemed furious. Antoine stood there for a moment, assessing the situation enough so that he made one statement, “Bret, come with me. Galefre, go get more soup for Aisling,” but then he glanced at my upturned sidetable, “and water too I guess,” Then he sighed, and waited until Galefre stood up, and Bret followed Antoine out of my tent. I hadn’t noticed that in the fray, all of my soup had wound up on dress and blankets, soaking them with the now-cold broth and vegetables. And when my side table had fallen over, the water had sprayed over the floor, soaking everything in its path with the cold liquid. I sighed, I was trying to figure out just who would help change me out of my soiled clothes. There was at least one other woman in this man-filled camp, wasn’t there?

If there wasn’t, I didn’t care how anyone objected, but I’d either try to somehow change myself, or I would stay in the clothes for the rest of the time I had to recover. As I mulled over this, Galefre cleaned up most of the mess. He set right the side table; picked up the bowl, spoon, and cup that held my food and water; and gathered all the blankets ruined by the soup. “And you said that your brother was never like this around me? He almost killed me!” I cried out, suddenly furious at Bret, a little delayed perhaps, but it came quick and strong when it did. Galefre exhaled loudly, and sat down in the chair that he had also set right. He bent his head down, and ran his long fingers through his coal hair. Unlike me, I had had time to sleep at least a little today, while he had done nothing but worked. “Calm down,” He said in a dead tone, “No, he’s never acted like this. He’s been acting…strangely this past couple of days. Don’t ask me, I do not know a detail of his life. Today has been the most we’ve talked to each other in weeks.” Hmm, so I take it they didn’t have a good relationship. I didn’t remember that…but I really didn’t remember anything about Bret and Galefre. All I knew was that I did know them. I felt selfish for what I was about to say, but my stomach was growling ferociously, and I needed some water for my dry throat, “Can you get that soup and water?” I asked it in a sheepish voice, not wanting to sound overly whiny, but also wanting to make sure that I sounded like I really wanted it. So that it would drive him to hurry. He slowly raised his head, and smiled a cocky smile at me, “Sure, I’ll be right back with replacements,” He gathered the dishware, and walked out the flap. I was alone for the first time in this world, at least, since I actually came into this world. And I couldn’t think of anything to occupy my mind. I didn’t even want to contemplate the weeks alone in this tent, bored out of my mind. Well, maybe my mind would change to a different world once I got too bored. I doubted it; I never had that good of luck.

And I couldn’t read any of the books in the vast amount of bookshelves in this tent. I wouldn’t be able to keep the pages open, or for that matter, turn the pages! When someone was in here with me maybe I could keep sane with asking questions, or maybe they could read one of the books to me. But at any rate, I had to do something. And at this point of time, I was thinking songs. I searched my head for any songs I might have heard in this world, a tune anyone could’ve sung at some point of life here. I couldn’t think of any songs. I knew that I had heard songs. But I couldn’t think of the tunes for any of the songs. Or the words for that matter. I wanted to sing something basic, just a nonsense song. I couldn’t think of a song for here, so I settled with a song from Earth, from my home. A Bicycle Built For Two was what I settled on. I started to hum it, then switched to singing the words softly. It made me feel a little bit better to have some sort of noise in the silence of the tent. But that made me question, where were all the soldiers? Some of them had to have heard the noise of the fight between Bret and Galefre, and my scream. So where were they? Maybe Antoine was keeping them out, thinking I needed rest. Or maybe they were somewhat scared to see what had happened? I had started to sing the song for the third time when Galefre walked in. This time a tray holding the glass of water, the bowl of soup, some bread, and a spoon. I was embarrassed; I knew that no one on this planet would have heard of the song I sung. That only someone from Earth would recognize what I was singing. But he just stared, that odd mixture of shock and awe on his face once more. Why did he have that look every time I made a slip-up? It didn’t make any sense. But...a lot of things were making no sense at all recently. “What was that you were just singing?” He asked, in a voice that showed how far away he seemed to be at the moment, his eyes having a strange glazed look to them. “You wouldn’t know the song…” I trailed off, not wanting to say the song. Especially since there was not a single bicycle in this world.

“A bicycle built for two…could it really be?” He whispered. I was the one that was shocked now, and I made it apparent on my face. How could he have known the title to the song? Maybe there was such a song here, maybe they did have bicycles. But what he had said after that made no sense to me. What ‘could it really be’? I didn’t understand what he was saying. But it had to do something with what I had said. And something that he knew also. I was frustrated again. He was silent for a couple of minutes, standing there with that glazed look, holding the tray and its contents like it was air. “What could really be?!” I finally managed out in an exasperated sigh. He looked at me with a level gaze, his other look vanishing in a second, “Nothing Aisling.” Oh my goodness! How could he not tell me? I didn’t like having information withheld from me! I’d grown up knowing everything, everything happening within the kingdom and outside. I knew most of the backgrounds of people, though at the moment I couldn’t recall really anyone I hadn’t seen since my incident. And having any bit of information dangled in my face and then yanked away, like a bone to a dog, was just cruel of him! He must know that I wouldn’t take to this well? I guessed my expression alerted him to that. I could feel that my face was contorted into the very image of scorn. Into one that was furious, the face of most nobles. “I am your queen. Why do you not tell me?” I got all of this out in a rushed breath; I was trying hard not to yell. I knew that would do nothing for my health. He bowed down now, like a servant would, and offered the tray up. I didn’t like this. I didn’t like to use the fact that I was queen to make anyone tell me anything. But I didn’t like withheld information either. And in my foul mood, I was going with being a bratty queen. “My queen,” He spoke reverently, “I must not tell you. It’s better for you. I withhold nothing that would do you good. Please, trust me on that,” He looked up, question in his eyes. This wasn’t going how I had planned. And I could see that he would tell me nothing by the hardness in his eyes. And in the act, I would know nothing from him.

I wanted to back down graciously then, since there was no use, “If you are sure that it would be better for me not to know, then I will trust you. But if it ever turns out that the knowledge would be better for me, tell me,” I had to be adamant about that part. He stood up again, and smiled, “Yes your majesty. I will do that.” I looked back down at the tray in his hands, at the soup that was steaming deliciously  before my eyes.  Mmm, even if I were stuck here for a year, bored out of my mind, I would at least have  great food. Galefre followed where my eyes were looking, and jumped into action again. He sat down in the chair by my bed again, putting the tray on my nightstand. And he  proceeded to spoon soup into my mouth as he had done before. But this time, we didn’t  talk. We were both content with the silence. And at the moment, all I wanted to focus on  was the soup, and the delicious bread that followed it, though the bread was very hard. And I washed all this down with the purest tasting water.  “Mmm,” I murmured, “That was good.” “Yeah…” He trailed off, his voice returning to one of far away wondering. I groaned from exasperation, but Galefre took it as pain, “What? What’s wrong?” “If you are going to think about things that I can’t know about, do it somewhere else!” I  growled out, though I hoped he wouldn’t go anywhere. Or, if he did, that he’d send  someone else here. I needed someone to amuse me. He pondered that for a moment, and then gathered the bowl and spoon to put it on the  tray, and then to take the tray in his arms. He stood up, and held the tray in one hand as  he moved the chair back to the table, “Even though I’ll regret it, I’ll make sure you know  that he wasn’t always like this.” Then he walked out of the tent. And as soon as the swish of the flaps stopped, tiredness swept over me like fog over a  town, clouding the view of everything, all in a dismal and dreary gray. I was falling  asleep this time. And I couldn’t stop it. Although I knew that at some point I had to sleep  again. It was inevitable. I wanted to whine though, that every time I got comfortable in one world, dream,  whatever it was, I was tired and switched over to the other world, dream, place with  people. I started to hum a song again, this time humming a song that I didn’t remember, didn’t  know where it came from. I closed my eyes, and fell fast asleep, with soup still soaking me.

                                                            ~~~~~~~ It was black. I was starting to get used to it though, this was my third time. The presence of time and space was slightly annoying now, I didn’t know what it was, and I didn’t know what I was traveling through. I wondered if at some point, this would change. Maybe I’d be flying at some point in the dreams. This had to be one big dream. It couldn’t be real. But how could I still be denying it? I started to feel claustrophobic in the darkness. It wasn’t wide and limitless; it was tiny and compressed now. How had it changed so rapidly? And why hadn’t this happened before? I solemnly promised myself I would find the answers to whatever was happening to me. If it was a dream, someone must’ve had a similar one. If it was something else, there must be legends, myths, and tales of it. I would scour the Internet first, it would be the easiest. And with that promise to myself made, I was content to rest as I drifted farther into the dark closet of space.

Chapter 4

Larissa Rutherford

I rushed through the blackness, resting as I did to get some amount of stolen sleep. And I came out the other side, where I thought I would. ~~~~~~~ I woke up. It was pitch black in my room. But I was always prepared. I reached under my pillow and withdrew a flashlight. I turned it on, the room was empty of any life. I listened for a while at the noises of a storm outside of the windows. Thunder shook the house. And I heard the sound roll into the distance. I opened the curtain and shined the bright beam of light out of the large window. It was snowing furiously outside. I flashed it down, it had already coated most of the ground with a thick white layer. I closed the curtain and went to my desk to look at the clock. It was 12:45 a.m. Six more hours until I’d have to leave for school. Thank goodness it was Friday. I was still in a mood to avoid people. I walked across my room and opened my door slowly, peeking my head around the door post. All was quiet outside my room, well, reasonably so considering the storm. I closed the door again. I assumed my parents were home, given the late hour. But if they weren’t, then they must have been held at work. Maybe I should check my phone. I went to my desk again and picked up my cell phone. I opened it, no, I didn’t have any new messages. Then they must be here. Now to do what I promised myself. After all, I wasn’t tired. And I could sleep some more later in the morning. I went to the computer, and started it up. As I waited for the computer to start to life I looked around my room, the darkness consuming all but where the beam of light shined and from the minimal light the computer screen offered. I turned off the flashlight, and then entered my password into my account. When it had fully started up, I went immediately to the Internet. I didn’t know where to start, but I knew that going to a search engine would be the best thing to start with. I typed in what I thought would work best. It came up with one search result. How could there be only one result in the entire Internet?

Even if it was only one result, I still had to see if it was a good one. I clicked on it, and the page changed to one of complete blackness, accept for the white font that decorated the page in neat margins. It welcomed me with:

Welcome to a world of dreams, shrouded in darkness from others, opened to the ones lucky enough to experience it.
There were three categories that you could click on at the top of the page: Myths/Legends; High Sons; and Today’s Dreamers. I went to the third tab, the one that I thought would be my best choice. The page it was on was the same black with white font, except this time it was bordered with a dark purple. I wondered if this had any significance. I read the entire page right there. It was long, trying to explain what most people thought of the ‘dreams’. They were all of the same world. It stated that there is the same person living on both worlds, just different due to a different atmosphere. And that when both of those people went unconscious at the same time, they would both enter into the place between worlds. The darkness that I had been experiencing after falling asleep in one. One of the main souls of the people would conquer the other, and take the position of both people, so that when one slept, it transferred immediately to the other one, just where it had left off before. And it also explained why I had memory loss on the other planet, as I still had all my memories of here on Earth. The one that had conquered the other would have it’s memories, but the one that was lost would lose most of it’s memories in the transfer, thus making me have amnesia, remembering only most of my memories. And it explained that after transferring from one world to the other for three times, the eyes of the person would change from the color they were, to the color of deep plum wine, showing to all before them that they had gained the precious awareness of the other world. And also to any ‘High’ son that saw that person. And after explaining everything and giving tons of experiences others have had, it ended there, telling the person reading it to refer to the ‘High Sons’ section of the website.

I was shocked. This was too much. How could I, an insignificant little girl, possibly conquer the spirit thing of someone so powerful as Aisling on the other planet seemed to have been? How could this be possible? How many others had gone through this also? And what of those in the olden days? When anyone would think you a witch if you so much as breathed a word of going to another planet. What of them? And why would it be important to show that you had the ‘precious’ knowledge of another world? Were there any others? No, there couldn’t be more planets, no one else seemed to have gone to any others but one. I stood up, and went to the window again, carrying my flashlight in my hand. I opened the curtain, and shined the flashlight over my face, looking at my reflection in the mirror my window had become. My eyes were no long their color, I was no longer me. I was someone else. Someone with a double life. I had eyes the color of a deep amethyst. They shined back at me with dull brilliance. I looked at my face, the rest was still me. I saw all the imperfections I had grown up having. Everything was as it should be, except for my eyes. They had changed, just as the website had said. And now I’d have to come up with an excuse when someone would ask me about my eyes. They were unusual now, not normal. The color wasn’t possible in its complexity except for expensive contacts and…for people like me. Had I ever seen someone with eyes this color? I asked myself now. I wondered if I knew anyone that was going through this also. How many were there who went through this? Enough to gather information on at least. I closed the curtain again, and rushed quietly to my desk, shutting off the flashlight. I needed to find out about the ‘High Sons’ now. I scrolled to the top of the page. I had to find out more. Reading this had made me thirsty for more knowledge of what the ‘dreams’ had opened up to me, and everything surrounding them, than I could possibly quench.

I clicked on the tab ‘High Sons’, and was transported to a page with triangles and circles bordering the page this time. And immediately after seeing the border, Galefre and Bret registered into my head. I remembered the tattoo on Galefre’s arm. And that Bret had one also. I knew that he wasn’t lying to me, it was a birthmark. I believed him now. I read on, becoming more shocked at the odd world I was entering. The High Sons were a family that had had the power to go to both worlds automatically from birth on since the beginning of time. And that’s why they looked for women who had achieved the ability of switching between the worlds. There was a myth, and it referred me to the section of Myths/Legends to have more information on the myth, that if a High Son and a woman who had achieved the ability were together, and they had a child, that child would have powers no one had ever dreamed of. And many of the High Sons liked the idea of power. There were only a few High Sons that didn’t do something for power. I read about their birthmark. No one knew exactly what the triangle meant, but they did know that the circle meant the ever turning cycle that they went through, world to world. And, one other thing that I found of interest in reading the vast amount of knowledge was that High Sons could change their names. For all that were not High Sons, they were the same person, the same name, just in a parallel universe. The High Sons fathers were also High Sons though, and so could choose a different name on the two planets. I found this interesting, and annoying. I wouldn’t be able to find Galefre and Bret on this planet now. But then it hit me, I did know who they were. Hakon. He was Galefre. He always wore long sleeves, and he looked exactly like Galefre, but younger. That was odd, how the age differed on the planets. But I had never really noticed Hakon’s younger brother. So I couldn’t really be sure if he looked like Bret. Although I was pretty sure he did. Galefre knew. He had realized what was happening before me, myself had found out. But he hadn’t said anything. And I couldn’t tell him until I was absolutely positive I could trust him. After what I had read about the High Sons seeking power, I didn’t want to be taken advantage of. At least I knew that Bret had loved me for me. I knew I could trust him then, because he had loved me before he realized I had the ability. Before I even had the ability.

I was in shock though. So much had transpired in so little time. I knew of another world. I had to find more people like me now. I needed to talk to someone who had gone through this and had been with the ability for a long time. I went back to the window. I opened the blinds, and opened one side of the large windows. The frigid air soaked into my thin pajama’s. I removed the screen. I didn’t know why I was doing this, but I had to feel something, something real. The air rushed into my room all the more, filling my room with white, fluffy snow. I reached out towards the branch swaying in the violent wind, the tree had always been very close to the house. I grabbed onto it. I wished that I could just jump on the branch, down to the ground, and run into the blackness. I sighed, I knew that I couldn’t. I glanced at the clock again. It was four in the morning now. I had sat thinking everything over for too long. But I knew that if I went back to sleep I would just wake up in the other world, and I didn’t feel like facing that just yet. I quickly walked to my dresser, and threw on pants and a warm longsleeved shirt. I put on some water-proof boots I had lying around and a heavy jacket. And lastly I got a water-proof watch and flashlight. I walked back to the open window, and grabbed more firmly onto the branch. I had only tried to get down from my room once before. When I was 7 years old, I had been mad at my parents for not going on a trip to California that they had promised me for over a year. I had gathered all my money and a backpack of things I would need and snuck out the window. I had planned to run all the way to the bus stop in town, and then somehow find my way to my aunt Clara’s house in Seal Beach, California. But I had chickened out, and after stepping onto the tree, I had turned around and stomped my way back into my room, now mad that I couldn’t even run away. I came back to present life. I did want something to occupy my head, but could I really go out into the cold darkness? Alone? It was 4:05 now. Only ten minutes. I would be back in ten minutes. I looked back at my room, it was warm, but quickly turning cold. I turned back to the loud silence of falling snow, and took an unsteady step towards the lower branch. I got myself fully onto the branch, and turned back to close the window until there was only a crack left in it.

I twisted and turned my way down the tree. The cold felt good. It was sharp and a thin sort of pain on the exposed skin of my face and hands. I walked forward, away from my house. The snow crunched deliciously under my heavy boots. I approached the cliff only a few yards away from my house. The view would have been breathtaking had it not been so dark. In the morning I would be sure to look out my window at the view. At the valley now covered in clean snow. I stood there for a moment. And then the snow stopped falling. I stared up at the dark sky. I could see the moon peaking through the clouds, teasing me. But then the moon did come out, revealing the fullness of it. It bleached everything of color that it would have had in day. Black and white. It felt good, I felt like I was in an old-fashioned movie. But then I noticed something else. My eyes. There were not black as they should’ve been in the sharp moonlight. My eyes were shining a bright purple on everything that was in its path. I shut off my flashlight. I had a bright, purple light shining from my eyes. Now this had gone too far. I had to be dreaming this whole day up. But if it was a dream, then it was by far the most vivid and real dream ever. And long. Or were my eyes just a whacked out side affect of gaining the ability? That in the moonlight they would shine? Or was it just a full moon that would do this to me? I shot my eyes down the cliff, the purple sending a bright cascade of colors back at me. Everything turned to it’s own shade of violet and wine. This was enough for me. I had come out here for peace from it all. But this was just too much. I ran for the tree to my room, but realized that I didn’t know where it was suddenly. Had I truly walked so far from my house? I turned the flashlight back on, hoping that the white light would show me the way better than the bright amethyst of my eyes did. But the flashlight didn’t turn on. I banged it hard against my hand, hoping that the motion would set whatever was wrong in the flashlight right. It still didn’t work.

My mind was starting to panic. I didn’t like the dark. I ran back to the cliff, needing the aid of the bright moon in addition to my eyes. But then everything went black. I slowly looked up, in my panicked state not daring to move jerkily. The clouds must have moved back over the moon, blocking it to shine on my eyes, so that they couldn’t shine violet everywhere. Shoot. This was not good. I repeatedly tried to turn the flashlight on. I hit it over and over with my hand. But it wouldn’t turn on. And the clouds were thick. I didn’t know when or if they would pass. I turned slowly around, trying to face myself in the direction of the house. I started walking in the direction I was facing, trying to make my steps even and steady. I felt the empty air before I started to fall. But I couldn’t stop myself. I had turned too much. And before I could even think to scream, I was falling fast downwards off the side of the cliff-face. I wouldn’t make it out of this. Unlike all the things others say go through their head just before they know their going to die, I didn’t think any of it. At that moment, my mind was blank. But the rare blankness allowed me to relax, to think only of the wind on my back, the blackness all around me. I was going to die. After such an odd day, I was going to die… I knew I was going to hit the trees first, then the ground. I hit something hard, but not as far down as I thought it would be, and it was not as hard as I thought the ground would feel after falling all this way. This couldn’t be the ground. But maybe I was already dead. But then I didn’t believe in anything after death besides heaven. And I was certainly feeling something, even other than the hardness holding me in the darkness. I felt wind flowing on one side of the face, like I was flying. Maybe I was dead but dreaming, but I couldn’t be, otherwise I would be floating through the middle blackness towards the other world, and this didn’t feel like that. I fumbled around for my flashlight, but I couldn’t find it. I must have dropped it. I felt no pain. Was I in a state of shock? I heard a low chuckle, a dark chuckle. Was that me?

Then I noticed the arms around my shoulders and legs. Someone was holding me. But…how were they flying? Or maybe someone had caught me and the wind was just very blustery? But I could also now hear the subtle sound of wings scraping the air. Now I must definitely be dreaming. An angel? A faery? Oh no, I was not going to deal with this one. I squirmed, trying to get out of the other beings grip. It just chuckled again and kept flying towards the unknown destination. Wake up wake up wake up. This is not real. This is not real. “Majesty, we have missed you, if you let me dare to speak,” The voice was like rust. It was harsh, and ugly. But I thought I recognized it. This dream, that was the only thing it could be at this point, was getting crazier and crazier by the second. I didn’t know what to say though. Who did this creature exactly think I was? “Umm…majesty?” I could not be queen again. No way, not here! Not on Earth. “You would not recall, would you majesty,” Not this again. Memory loss? Again? NO! “Well…your highness commands you to tell her what is happening.” “It is not my place. I will leave that to the King to explain.” “You have just gone against your queen,” I whisper. I was suddenly afraid of what was to come. I had entered a dream world in the past twenty-four hours. And I didn’t think I was coming out of it anytime soon. The creature flew for a while more. I couldn’t tell what direction we were going in, as the moon had not yet returned to the sky. I wanted at least one question answered, “What are you?” I asked into the darkness, hoping that the creature wouldn’t ignore my question. “What do you think I am? I’m a human of course! Just with…other abilities. And a different destiny than most humans.” That made me cringe inwardly. What was my mind getting me into? And what was his ‘different destiny’?

He flew for a very long time; while I fought sleep the whole way. I didn’t want to go to the other world just yet. And with what was happening here, I didn’t know what I would be facing in the other world. I knew that I was the same person in both of the worlds, so they would probably arrive in my tent soon. Or would they? I hadn’t read the myths and legends…I probably should’ve before being rash and entering the outside cold. Maybe the High Sons, in addition to seeking them for their further gain, protected those with the ability. Maybe. I could only pray that they did. The night sky opened once more, the moon shining forth, sending my eyes shooting beams of purple once more. I closed my eyes, I didn’t want to see the face of my captor. Not yet. I knew that I would soon, but I tried to convince myself that this was a dream, so that I wouldn’t wonder what the face of the creature was. The wind picked up again. I wondered absently as to the time, and where we were. He was flying fast, faster than I would think possible for anything other than a jet. It started to snow again. And being in this still position, with wind beating on me, was not making me feel any better. I shivered endlessly, now trying to force myself to sleep, but only getting farther from it. The snow was icy at this altitude, still ice. “You will not be cold for long majesty. We are almost there,” He garbled out. It sounded like his voice wasn’t used to talking. There? Where is there? I wanted to ask him. But I didn’t think that I’d get much out of him. I knew that there was somewhere in the cold, somewhere with snow and wind. I could feel that with how much colder it had gotten. But where exactly were we? We hadn’t flown for too long…but maybe we had, maybe I had lost all sense of time. He swooped down low soon after I gave up trying to figure our location out. We were a forest, completely covered in snow. He did not set me down, instead he continued to carry me. I could see why, when we had landed he immediately sunk to mid-thigh. And he knew I was already cold. Even with all that was happening, and also that I was frankly creeped out him and not knowing anything, the gesture warmed me inside. But maybe it was just orders from the king. Who really knew but the creature?

His wings folded softly behind his back, and I could now see them, my amethyst gaze lighting them for me. They were soft looking, with black feathers. And they were wide, probably as long as he was tall, and I could tell he was tall. He started walking forward, quickly trudging through the cold snow. I hadn’t considered that he might be cold also. It wasn’t a long walk though. Soon after he landed, we approached a wide open field. And in the middle of it, the most beautiful house I had ever seen on this Earth. Although you couldn’t rightly call what was before me a house, it was a castle. It had four stories, with turrets even. The old stone walls were so clean, as if it had just been newly constructed. But I could tell by how worn it looked from the sharp light of my eyes that it was really beyond years of most castles. I wondered just how old it was. It even had a mote, with fish swimming lazily around the water, their silver backs catching in the light of the moon. “Wow,” I manage to croak out. “Welcome home queen,” He said simply into the night. He walked swiftly through the remaining space between the castle and us. The drawbridge gave us entrance immediately. It lowered slowly to the snow covered ground, shaking mildly from years of wear. Once we were across the bride, we entered a large open ward. I could just imagine it once being used as a busy marketplace, with bustling vendors hawking their wares, and customers busily swarming from vendor to vendor, trying to find the best deal. Or had this castle ever actually been used as a castle of this size would have been used? He turned a sharp right, walking to a large door, made out of a dark wood that I couldn’t identify. The door, just like the drawbridge, opened automatically for him. It revealed a room with plush red carpets, a fire-place like no other, and furniture that would put the Queen of England to shame. “Don’t get your sodden boots all over the floor!” Someone, a man, yelled, concealed by a tall, high-backed chair, as he leaned over papers sprawled out on the intricately designed table before him. “Master, the queen has returned to us,” He said in a highly reverent voice, his voice becoming less harsh and scary to listen to as he said it.

The man in the chair turned slowly to face us. He had extremely blond hair, and a sharp face. His eyes bore into us like those of a vulture waiting for its prey. His thin lips were in a tight line, his bushy eyebrows bent in concentration. He appraised us for a second, his dark eyes lighting with recognition from seeing me. But I didn’t recognize him. Who was this angry, sharp-looking man before me? He surely wasn’t the king though, his shabby appearance said as much. “Take her to her room. And find a handmaiden to look after her,” He ordered, then turned back to whatever was spread out on the desk. “Yes master,” Said the man creature still holding me. He silently slid out of the room again, just as he had come and walked straight across the huge ward to another dark wood door. It opened for him like all the other doors so far had, and he walked in. This room appeared to be a library, as opposed to the other room appearing to be an office of sorts. The woodwork here was magnificent also in its intricate designs. Vines and leaves that look real, people and their angels seeming to come to life. The room was large, vast, and filled with built-in bookshelves on all walls. Again, furniture took up the remainder of the room, to sit on and read leisurely. The tables in front of the couches and chairs piled high with books on top and underneath. I looked at some of the titles, myths and legends. All of them. The books were covered with a thin layer of dust, suggesting that once they had been there a long time. In the far right corner of the room was a tall winding stair case. My carrier headed in that direction. As we passed the tall bookshelves, I caught some of the titles. The collection here astonished me, books from around the world, from all ages. The binding on all of them were perfect, not in the condition that all the others printed at their time were in. I saw some titles I recognized, but most I did not. We ascended the staircase, the man’s wings draping on the stairs without a sound. The staircase was made of a light wood this time, bringing some brightness to the room. This wood, as all the other wooden pieces I had seen so far, was covered in designs worthy of museums. The steps were covered with a thick carpet of deep green.

When we had ascended to the top of the stairs, we entered a small sitting area. Straight in front of us was a black door, encrusted with precious jewels in the corners of the door. And in the center of the door, a square impression in the dark wood, was my name. It was engraved so deeply into the wood that the shadows made it seem to have been written in black paint. I couldn’t doubt now that for some reason, I had belonged here at some point. The impression was old, you could just tell by looking at it that was it ancient. The edges of the name worn, not sharp as they would have been. He finally sets me on my feet. At first I’m dizzy, I hadn’t walked for hours. Then he walked back down the stairs, probably to go get the handmaiden as ‘master’ had instructed. I walked, more liked hobbled, my way over to the mysterious door. I didn’t know if I was supposed to, but I was going to see what was behind it’s wood. I just prayed to the God I believed in now more than ever that the door wouldn’t be locked. And then I realized that this door didn’t have a lock. I put my handle tentatively over the round metal door handle protruding from the design of a laurel. I pulled, but it didn’t give. I pushed, it didn’t give either. Maybe there was some sort of trick to how the doors had opened magically for the man beast. I hopped frantically on each stone square in the small opening. I tried to think up sequences. I was running out of time. I wanted to take in the room that was supposedly mine in silence, with no one else there. But I’ve lost all my time. I hear the door to the large library swing open airily, and then close shut. I hear light footsteps, unlike the man’s, step across the room and ascend the stairs more loudly. I scramble to sit in one of the rich velvet benches, one of two on either side of the wall, so that it appears I am relaxed. I didn’t know who I was dealing with here, and I had to be on guard. Besides, what if queen here meant dinner? Sacrifice? The list went on and on, my mind reeling frantically from each new thought. But when the person comes into the opening in the rock of the castle, she doesn’t frighten me. Unlike everyone else I’d seen so far, she appears harmless and innocent.

She has red hair that hangs in short waves over her back, it reached down to her knees. She has a soft, round face, youthfulness lighting it from the faces of the two men I’d seen so far. I stand up, to make sure she sees me. She does, her light green eyes glancing over me, taking my sight in. She only reaches my shoulder, she’s that short. But she appears to be the same age as I am, so I feel a little more comfort in that. The girl bowed low in front of me, but didn’t bob back up. I stood there for a moment, not knowing what to do. But then I recalled from the information I had collected in my short life that she was probably waiting for me to give her permission to rise. “You may rise?” I phrased this as a question, still unsure as to my exact position here in this castle. But immediately after she heard that, she raised herself slowly upwards, gracefully, full of practice. She looked me over again, probably wondering how I could possibly be mistaken for a queen, “You know some, do you not?” Do I know some what? “Umm, yes? About what though?” “You know some about being queen?” She rephrased it, making me feel like a simpleton. “Just what I’ve learned about other queens and countries customs,” I didn’t know what she was getting at. “We must teach you then. You need to learn how to be the queen you were destined to be.” Wait, I’m staying here? Now panic set in. I hadn’t thought about this. How could I stay here? What would happen when my parents were awake, seeing that I’m gone, no trace of me besides the flashlight…at the bottom of the cliff. But no sign of me anywhere, no blood. No forensics, because of the flight. Or were they already awake? Fraught with panic for me? Wondering what had become of their daughter, seeing that I had escaped to the outside winter land, but never returned? I had to find a way out. But I didn’t have a clue as to my whereabouts. Would they tell me? Could I worm my way into someone’s trust to tell me where I was? Or would they tell me anyways?

I decided to try; I turned towards the girl, who was starting to walk towards the door. But I knew that if I saw in the room now, I would forget about my situation for quite a while. I put my hand over her shoulder lightly, not wanting to seem mean or harsh, just wanting her to stop. “Where are we?” I ask, trying to coat my question in innocence. “I’ll let the king tell you that if he so wishes,” she says and turns back towards the door. She has some order then, no one will tell me. The door opens automatically for her, as I would’ve known. Why wasn’t it doing that for me then? Since I was supposed to be queen? She steps to the side of the door, waiting for me to go forward. But I am too shocked as to my plight to care much what the room looks like now. “My queen,” She comes forward to usher me into my room. I stare at the rich wood floor when I pass the door, which is at least a foot thick. I gave up and looked up to see what my room looked like. Wow is all that comes to mind. This room…I cannot put it in detail though. It is very simple that it’s magnificent. The walls are white, cleaned to a sheen. The room is large, almost exactly same in proportion as the library below me, but the tiny bit of a square outside in difference to the library. In the rectangular space, the south side, left by the square was a bed. It was a huge bed. Fit for a queen! Oh, I think, I am a queen…. The sheet on the bed look to be made of the finest of linens. The pillows were pure white and fluffier than any I’d ever seen. But I knew that if I laid my head on them they’d sink around my head comfortably. The bed had a frame that went high into the air, a sheen cloth draped over the post going airily over the sides of the bed. I didn’t want to think of sleep though. I wouldn’t go to sleep until sleep hit me hard as a brick. I turned my head back towards the more immediate part of the room. There were even more bookshelves up here, all along the north of the room. They went to the top of the ceiling, which had to be at least 9 feet or so. The cherry bookshelves were of course stocked full of books as had the library been. And they all appeared very, very old.

To the west side of the room there was a large desk. The desk looked so huge and heavy that it must have been constructed in this very room! It had only two designs on it though. A moon, and a sun on either side of the front of the desk. Stars were surrounding the moon, while the sun had drawn out rays. The chair at the desk also seemed to match desk, it was huge, but it looked like it could clear the wide door. In the center of the wide room was a table with smaller, more delicatelooking chairs surrounding it, two on each side, and one chair at each head. This, unlike the other tables I had seen so far, were not covered with papers or books, but food. I didn’t have time to take in the east side, which mainly consisted of some sort of rich looking couch before I dove for the food. I must’ve looked ridiculous to the girl because when I turned back, my mouth stuffed with a sort of pastry, her mouth was wide open. She saw me looking though, and quickly shut her mouth, as decorum would have required in a more public setting. Of course, how I had conducted myself was wasn’t exactly to social code either. I quickly turned around and finished the pastry off so I could eat it without someone staring at me. I swept my eyes quickly over the table until I found a cloth. I wiped my mouth and hands on the napkin, folded it, and set it back on the table. I turned back towards the girl and shrugged, “I was more hungry than I though,” I apologized. She looked at me for a second, “That’s okay queen. I just…was taken by surprise.” She turned and closed the door, then turned back to me, “Would you like a hot bath?” I hadn’t thought of that. It sounded nice. And warm. And clean. I wanted a good soak after the long night. And I wanted something to keep my mind from wandering back to home…. I nodded quickly, wanting to set her in motion immediately. I would get the water myself, I’m not that selfish, I just didn’t know where anything was. Like the bathroom for instance. Or where to get water, and a fire to heat the water on.

“I’ll be right back then,” She said, and started to walk back to the door leading to my room. But she must have remembered something as she turned right back around, gracefully as always, “And you’re privy is right behind that door,” She points to the northwest of the room. I turned my head. In the west side of the wall, in the corner, is a simple door of wood painted white, with no designs on it. I hadn’t noticed it before. But I’m glad I know where that is at least. I turned back to her, I need to ask one question before she leaves, “Will the door open for me?” She looks embarrassed, like I’d caught her in the cookie jar, “Yes, that door will open for you.” “Not the other ones though?” Strange how only this one would. Unless, they were keeping me prisoner here. “All in time my queen. Now, I must be off to get that water started. Eat as much as you need, there’s always more,” And with that she’s out of the room, trapping me in a room supposed to be mine. When the door closes the tiredness of the day hits me again, double the exhaustion because of the night’s adventures. What time is it? If only I knew where I was, where this castle was located. But even if I knew, I wouldn’t be able to figure the time out. But maybe if I knew the time, tricked it out of them… then I could at least try to figure what time zone I was in, and eliminate some others. But I probably couldn’t. I gorged myself on some more of the food. I thought that maybe that might help chase the sleepiness away. I still wanted to take the bath the servant girl was warming for me. But before I could even think to see what my ‘privy’ looked like, I wandered towards the luxuriously huge bed. I brushed the light screen to the side, and slip under the covers, fully clothed in my wet clothes. The linen, as predicted, was soft, expensive feeling. I love it instantly. It sounds corny in my mind, but I feel like I’m floating weightless, but protected at the same time under the reassuring weight of the blankets. I’m sinking fast into sleep. And just before I’m fully submerged, I hear the door open and close. No steps, but I suspect the graceful girl. “My,” She starts, but is interrupted.

“Let her sleep. She has no idea how hard tomorrow will be for her,” A deep voice cuts in. The voice is full of authority, and the girl goes silent. And that’s when I slip under, into the darkness, traveling fast to the other world.

Chapter 5

31/10/2008 20:22:00

I know where I am now. I know what this place was. It felt good to know, but at the same time, absolutely horrifying. ~~~~~ My eyes are purple I suddenly remembered. Why had the man with the wings and the girl not reacted? But the guy at the desk had. He had had a reaction. He had seen my face, my eyes. But he hadn’t acted that bad, nothing that would say he thought my eyes were strangely colored. But what about here? Galefre, Antoine…Bret. They all would see my eyes, purple as could be. And in this world, I couldn’t even give the excuse of contacts. And what about other people? I’m sure that since I was a wellrespected queen, people knew my face well, knew my eyes well. And I wouldn’t be able to explain any of it. Was there some medical oddity that could explain my eyes away? If there was, I wouldn’t know. And I’m not sure Galefre would either. Did this planet know of my people? Maybe they did widely, I just couldn’t remember, and they would rejoice at my ability. I slowly opened my eyes. It was dark, night had fallen here. Great, all of what was happening was messing with sleep patterns in both worlds. I would have to work on that. I looked around the tent swiftly, and stopped on a figure stooped over in a chair at table. I was scared again. I quickly looked around the tent, double checking that I was indeed in my tent, and not in some far off castle. But then I recognized the stopped figure. It was only Galefre, sleeping in the chair. Why hadn’t he gone to his own tent? Or at least dragged a cot into mine. Wasn’t he exhausted enough with the day? And taking care of wounded soldiers no doubt…. “Gaaaaaalefre?” My voice shook, I had to make sure I was correct before anything else. Before I let my mind wander. He woke immediately at my voice. He quickly looked around the tent in a harried manner, noticing the tone of my voice, “What? What’s wrong?”

I looked at him blank in the face, although I felt uncomfortable that he was so worried for me. What was there to be worried about? Oh…he would be suspecting that I had the ability from all my slip-ups. And if there were people the same as those on Earth, would be making sure they wouldn’t whisk me away into the night. Could I tell him I knew who he was? Or should I wait? My mind floated once more with too many questions, all the while I tried to find a way to answer him appropriately. “Umm, nothing! I was just, um, worried that you…were…sleeping in a chair!” He didn’t look convinced, but I knew he wouldn’t challenge me right this moment, “Shouldn’t you be in your own tent? Aren’t you at all too uncomfortable for that chair?” He slumped back down into his chair, obviously relieved at my last two steady questions, “I have to protect my queen from any danger there might be. And in your condition, as a doctor, I should be here to make sure you’re ok. But I knew that he didn’t do this all the time. The last statement seemed to be made to appease me that this wasn’t his habit, in a sort of embarrassed way on his account. But really, I wasn’t in that bad of condition! I was, but I could get by. And he was a doctor; he had to care for others as well. Why didn’t he just send a guard or someone that didn’t have as much responsibility as he did?

These questions swirled in my head for long, drawn-out moments. All the while Galefre just stared at me through the darkness, seemingly trying to decipher my expression. Something inside me suddenly screamed to tell him. To let him know I had the ability, that I knew what he was, that I had searched and read for hours on the internet, and the situation I was in back home, back on Earth. I thought I could trust him, if anyone, it would have to be the reliable doctor. But he would know soon enough, when he saw my eyes in light. Then he would probably explain everything to me, not knowing that I already knew. I decided to test that. If he did tell me, I thought I could trust him wholeheartedly. And if he didn’t, then I would just have to assume that he had ulterior motives. And then I’d have to test it out on Bret too…hopefully before Galefre got to him. “Can you get a candle and light it? Then it wouldn’t seem so dismal and lifeless out here.” The question seemed to relieve him, and he fluidly got up to do my bidding. He got a tall, skinny candle from the large desk in my tent. He set it on my bedside table and lit it with some sort of lighter. But how could they have lighters here? Didn’t that require some amount of technology that this planet seemed to lack? Once the candle was lit, I looked more closely at it. It was…new. And it looked like the kind you saw in expensive men’s stores, for lighting fancy cigars. How in the world? Maybe there was more to this ability and the High Son’s than I or anyone else knew…. I heard a sharp intake of breath and looked up quickly. His expression immediately smoothed, but I caught the expression of shock…and a sort of glee in it too…before it went away completely, hidden with a mask of wordless wonder. “What?” I asked at his expression. So maybe I could trust him! But why had he hidden his other expression? “Another one….” His sentence trailed off. He stumbled backwards until he reached the chair he had been resting in, and then collapsed heavily into it. “Another one what?” I was trying desperately to coat my voice with exasperation to hide my happiness. I could trust him! But I couldn’t let him know I knew just yet. I wanted to have a bit of fun.

“You…are. Uh. Will you promise me something? Will you promise not to laugh at what I’m about to tell you? And will you promise not to tell anyone else? You have to agree, or I can’t tell you. Oh man, excuse the slang my queen, but this is…AWESOME!” he started smiling like a senseless drunkard, while still being quietly yelling. “I know most off what you have to tell me,” I stated simply, ending his tirade of joy. He looked at me, “How could you?” “I simply looked it up on the Internet, they really do have everything on there these day,” I said this calmly, trying to break it to him gently. Though I really didn’t know why I had want to. “Why would anyone else spread this…? We’ve always told everyone….” Now he was lost thought, thinking on what I had said, at a revelation I couldn’t imagine. After staring blankly at the floor of the tent for what must have been half an hour, he looked back at me, at my expecting face, “I have to think for a bit. Please, I beg you my queen, I will tell you most all of what you want and need to know in due time. I just need to think for a bit. You’ll be alright here?” I sighed heavily, I guessed I had to wait longer, with no one to amuse me, “Yes, you may leave me. But you promise to come back?” He nodded once, and stood to leave. “Wait,” I put my hand up to stop him, “Can you send someone to bring me a cup of water? Maybe Antoine or Bret, someone I actually know by now?” He smiled widely, “Yes, I will do that. Antoine is always glad to help you, your majesty,” He bowed once, and left the tent. Now to amuse myself again. And I wasn’t even a bit sleepy. I had waited for about ten minutes, still trying to come up with a way to amuse myself, when Antoine walked into the tent with a big glass of water. During the time that it took him to get to my tent the candle had blown out, which was good for me, since he didn’t know about any of this. He set the glass down on the bedside table and went to sit in the chair Galefre had sat in. “Hello again Aisling,” He said conversationally, “How are you?”

“I’m ok,” I glanced quickly between the glass of water in the corner of my vision and him sitting in the chair. But I realized he wouldn’t see the movement my eyes made, “But I’m really thirsty.” “Oh!” He sprung up. He let me gulp down some big amounts of water, then set he set the glass down again on the table. “I’m sorry if I sound really selfish and preoccupied with only what I want, but could you carry me outside? I’m so tired of seeing the inside of my tent….” I hoped that he would agree and carry me outside for a brief respite, but I could never be too sure. “You’ve only been in here for a day. How will you handle the weeks and months to come?” He asked solemnly. “I won’t be able to, but I will have to take care of that later.” “Ok, but only for a couple of minutes. I don’t want the wrath of Gale to come upon my head!” He laughed heartily, and scooped my small body into his arms, and walked towards the tent flap. The air was cool out here. The tent was much warmer. But the cold air felt good on my skin. I lifted my face to the heavens, and instantly regretted my action. Regretted coming out here in the first place. My purple shone bright into the dark night. The beautiful sign of my ability. And Antoine saw it. I turned my head sharply, to hide my eyes from the moon. “What have you there Antoine? A bright gorgeous gem?” Bret stepped from around the tent and out of the shadows. His face had a scheming quality to it, like he was planning everything he was about to do as he went along. Antoine must have seen the look also, for he stepped slightly back at Bret’s approach, “Yes, and apparently I’m hallucinating for there seams to have been a bright candle of wine-colored light coming from her eyes,” He was making calculated sentences, measuring each word with ease. “Yes…Aisling does seem to be a bit more brilliant right now, doesn’t she?” He took a few more steps towards us, his face showing more and more signs of evil. He was not the person I remembered. But had he ever been? “Step away from them Bretonnet,” A voice pounded from behind us. I turned my head to my right, still trying to keep it in the shadows cast by my forehead, and saw that it was Galefre.

“Oh yes brother, as you command,” Bret says in a melodically sarcastic voice, coming closer step-by-step with each word out of the corner of my eye. “Now brother,” I turned to see that Galefre was raising a bright silver sword from it’s case, the sword glinting the moonlight in the exact direction to cast it in my eyes, returning the plum color back at the sky. I quickly glance a look at Antoine’s face. It was scared, and confusion was written greatly over his face. He looked down at me too, “What is happening? What is this?” He said this in barely a whisper, but Galefre heard it, “I will explain it to you later Antoine. I’m sorry to have involved you in this.” Galefre turned back in Bret’s direction, “Get away from here very fast. You know they are coming. You don’t have much time. And if I have to fight you no one will win. GO!” Bret looked backwards, unsure of his movements, and looked back to me with eyes full of lust. He wanted something, and he hadn’t wanted it this badly until he had seen my amethyst eyes. Was he the bad brother the website on Earth said there always were? Finally coming to a conclusion, he turned himself in a movement that blurred and ran faster than any Olympic sprinter to the south. Back into shadows of tents. I lost sight of him quickly. Galefre came quickly to Antoine’s side, “We have to leave now,” He said this in a voice void of any emotion. But Antoine didn’t move, he stood there staring blankly into space, still puzzled by what he had just seen and heard, “Why?” He finally guttered out. “I will explain all to you and Aisling in short time. But they are coming, and they come fast. Go, get the things you need most, then meet back here in two minutes. Let me take her.” Antoine clumsily handed me over to Galefre, and sped off eastward, in what must have been where his tent was. Galefre sped into action as well. He ran into my tent and quickly set me down gently on my cot. He grabbed a medium sized bag from the bottom drawer in my desk and then threw clothes, a couple of books, and some things I couldn’t see well in the darkness into the bag. He closed it and then got a smaller bag out of the same drawer. He put food left on the table into it. And the small water pouch at his side.

He grumbled something under his breath that I couldn’t here, and was silently gone from the tent. He came back not two seconds later, having carried two, much larger, water pouches, and threw them into the bag as well. He closed the bags and set them on the table, then proceeded to drag a coat out my dresser and put it around my shoulders. “Where are we going?” I asked into the silence, wanting something said to comfort my heart. I was frightened. I thought back to home, and shivered at the thought that I’d be trapped in both worlds. “I can’t say. I have no idea where to go. But I know we should start by going north, opposite from where they come.” “Who are ‘they’?” “I will tell you later,” He says as Antoine comes into the tent. He had put on a coat like Galefre put on me, and had two bags of equal size also. “Clothes, books, food and other items?” He asked of Galefre. “Yes. You know what they say, ‘All the good ones have similar thinking patterns!’” He said, smiling for the first time since he realized I had the ability. Antoine smiled also, but then sobered and asked, “Why are we leaving? And why am I coming with you?” Galefre sobered also, going back to his old look of doom, “There are a group of people that will be looking for Aisling at this moment. We have to leave for the North. They come from the South, so this will be the best way to go for now. And you’re coming with us because we’ll need your ingenuity at some point along our journey. And because you saw something that you cannot tell the soldiers about. You’ll understand more once I explain everything to you both. Now, we have to leave. Will you carry the bags?” Antoine nodded his head in a slow movement, “Yes. I’ll carry the bags and you carry Aisling.” I felt like I wasn’t there, how they spoke of me. Antoine shuffled to put all four bags into his hands, “Is there anything here for you?” Galefre came and scooped me back into his arms, placing one of the blankets over me, “No, the food is all I will need for now. I packed the most valuable of coins for future use, and I already have a jacket on. I won’t need anything else.”

I looked up at him, “You won’t? Surely you will need some more clothes, a warmer coat, something!” He looked down at me with a small smile, “No, I will need nothing else. I’m a man of little needs,” He smiled wider, “but many wants,” He left the sentence there, cryptic as it was, for me to try to decipher. I couldn’t. He looked back to Antoine, “Do you think they’ll be watching the horses heavily after today’s victory?” That sentence brought back a small memory of strategies from the life that I had overtaken. Shulter would usually try to weaken the enemy after a loss. And that usually meant food stores and water supplies gone, or horses stolen. But we would normally gone to great measures to make sure that tactic could not be used. The sense of déjà vu quickly left however, replaced with a sense of fear that we may not get out of here on a horse, but, rather, by the means of slow walking. The thought set panic in my veins. “I don’t know. But we’ll find out soon enough.” We snuck silently out of my tent and to the right, where Antoine had left to go to his tent. I could tell of no other direction of where we went however, the darkness of night making it impossible. Clouds had gone over the moon once again, so there was no light to tell where we where going. I didn’t know how they were able to tell either. I heard the familiar sound of a horse’s whiney before we reached them. There were two candles burning next to several makeshift horse stalls, two boys sitting guard at chairs that were certainly uncomfortable to sit in. Or sleep in. They had both dozed off at some time in the night, and the whiney hadn’t woken them. “That’s not good security,” I stated in a small voice. “But at least it means that we can get out of here easily,” Galefre answered back. Antoine quickly set down the bags. And then ever so stealthily saddled two horses that he then led out of their stalls towards us. They made no sound, Antoine whispered reassuringly to them their whole walk. He put the bags on ropes that he tied to saddle, and hoisted himself up, “Will you be able to carry her?” He asked quietly. As if to answer, Galefre set me up limply in the saddle before hoisting himself upwards into it, making sure I didn’t fall or slip off.

“North,” Was all he said. They walked the horses until we reached the edge of camp, then moved to a trot. When we had reached a far enough distance, they advanced to a gallop. “You know we can’t keep this up forever!” Antoine yelled from the 6 feet he was away from us. “I know, but we’ll find new horses at some stop. I know which town I’m headed for. Remember, you’re in my country now.” We had crossed a border? I wouldn’t know. But I guessed that I was now in the home that had fostered Galefre and Bret. “Tell me when we’re almost there,” I told Galefre, whom my head had fallen lightly on the jarring chest of his. “I will,” He responded. His answer seemed to shock something from me. It was more than an answer, it was a commitment, a promise. The air whipped around me, reminding me of Earth, of the forest outside my room before being kidnapped. I was glad that I wasn’t tired, I didn’t want to go back there for some time. But if I was found here…I didn’t know what I’d do. All I wanted at this point was to dream. Dream of normal life. Even if I’d only experienced this one for twenty-four hours. And I would have to deal with this for the rest of my life. We rode farther into the black, still, silent night. The air whipping around us the entire way. ~~~~~~ We had been riding for a good couple hours when he told us that we were almost to a small town called Ipskie, where he knew the owners of a few stables with which we could trade our fine, but tired, horses out for a two rested horses. We rode silently into the sleeping town. Past houses with black windows and stores with the doors shut securely from intruders. We had already made our way out of the wide valley some time ago. We were now in the foothills, where I guessed we would continue to go into the ever-freezing mountains. They looked at us in the distance, daring us to traverse their peaks.

I felt transported back to the Donner party at the sight of those mountains. But we would make it…right? Galefre knew his way around this country, didn’t he? I didn’t want to focus on thoughts that we wouldn’t make it out of here alive. We approached a small building on the outskirts of the town. It was square looking, with a thatch roof and whitewash. From what I could tell, it looked like something you’d see from the Salem Witch trials. Well, not exactly that time. But close to it. Antoine demounted himself and walked the horse to the stables at the side of the house. He tied the horse to one of the poles made for such reasons and came to assist Galefre in getting me down. Once I was down Galefre demounted also and tied his horse next to Antoine’s, where they panted happily. Galefre went to the large curved door and knocked quietly. He looked back at Antoine and I and then knocked in a more urgent way. There was a scuffle from the inside of the house, and then the door opened to reveal a middle-aged man with a boy at his side, peering curiously at us. “Rondle!” Galefre exclaimed before put the man in a vice-like hug. “Galefre! Didn’t think I’d see you for a long time!” The man smiled like he had found an unexpected Christmas present. Galefre instantly put a mask over his face however, “I’m sorry Rondle, but this is more a trip of urgency,” He glanced over his shoulder to bring Antoine and I to his attention, “I have need of two of your horses. Desperate need.” The man’s, Rondle’s face turned stone also, “What’s happened?” Galefre whispered something in Rondle’s ear. “Yes, you may have two of my horses. I’m sure that the two you came here on will suffice as payment. Now go! But,” And here his face lightened somewhat, “You must come again as a guest and not a customer.” Galefre smiled, “Yes, I will come and visit sometime, when I can.” Rondle waved us off towards the stalls, and took his boy back inside the dark cottage. We found two new horses, and Antoine returned me to Galefre to attach the saddles onto the new horses. He put the two horses in the stalls where we got our new ones. Galefre hoisted me up the same way as before, but this time he made sure I had an extra blanket from the bag.

“Where to next?” Inquired Antoine. “Up into the mountains. We’ll go over them and then down into a larger city on the other side. There is where I’ll try to explain things as best I can, it’s where we’ll be the most safe for now.” We galloped out of the town and into the lonely night once again. The hills got steeper and sharper as time passed. Pine trees replaced the scrub brush and oaks. The mildly cold air was replaced with frigid air as we got higher into the mountains. “Th-th-thanks for g-giving me anoth-th-ther blanket!” I scratched out at Galefre. He laughed, “You’re not used to the cold are you?” But he already had an obvious answer, shivering right into him. “Grr-rr-rrrr!” I tried to get out evenly between shivers. “J-just be m-glad that you have two blankets and Gale! I have nothing but a coat!” Antoine said, trying to force out his stumbles in wording. We reached the top of the mountain at what must have been just before dawn. Because when we got there, the clouds were starting to dissipate and the sun was coming up over the valley, which was now far off in the distance. “It will be warming up soon, then you’ll wish back for the night!” Galefre said, smiling into the darkness that would soon change into light. We stopped there, in a thicket of trees that gave view to the valley on one side, and another valley on the other. I could see lights wakening in houses I couldn’t see in the other valley, what must have been the city Galefre said would be our refuge. Galefre dismounted and got me down at the same time, then grabbed one of my blankets to put down on the ground, set me on the blanket, my back against a tree, to prop me up. Antoine dismounted also and tied the horses up at a tree, feeding them some apples from one of the bags. “Is anyone else hungry? I’m going to cook us some eggs,” Antoine stated, getting out a small stove-like thing from one of his bags and unwrapping five carefully wrapped eggs from another of his bags. “I want one please!” I exclaimed, a little too loudly in my mind, in my haste to make sure he marked one of the eggs mine.

“I’ll just have a slice of bread,” Galefre said, and went to get his slice of bread from one of the bags he had packed. Once everyone had ate and relaxed for a bit, the sun had already made it’s way up a quarter of the sky. “Do you think they’ll catch us now? Can’t we go back to the camp? By now everyone must be panicking,” Antoine said as he played with some pine needles. “No. It’s been started. And now they’ll continue to come until they find her,” His eyes glanced in my direction, “We can’t risk them finding her.” I knew I had to tell him, make sure he knew everything, “They already have.” Galefre gawked at me as if I had grown gills right here. “What do you mean ‘They already have’?” He asked, shock that matched his earlier shock to the key. “They already have,” I stated as if to a three-year old. “When did this happen? On Earth?” He asked, his shock at my knowing more than I should giving way to interrogation. “Yes. I’m at some old, but beautiful castle. And it’s snowy there,” I was trying to hide the fear in my voice though. The castle was beautiful, and would love to have lived there at some point in my life, but I was scared to go back there and face the unknown. I had not learned anything of that. But, I had not read the myths/legends tab at that website. “They got to you?” His started chewing on his piece of bread again. “Yes,” I admitted with reluctance. “When did this happen?” He demanded. His tone had hardened into that of a military commander asking information about the enemy. “In the morning….” I said shyly. “How did they find you though?” He demanded again. “They saw the light from my eyes. It was four in the morning. I went outside. The moon came out. And I kind of fell off a cliff,” I repeated all that had happened in short, chopped up sentences. “Fell off a cliff?” His tone was livid in anger. “Umm, yeah. The moon had retreated behind the clouds again, and my flashlight wasn’t working anymore. I was trying to wander back towards my house…and I fell off the cliff. That’s when he caught me.”

“He?” His tone had become a bit more relieved at hearing that I was not hurt. “Yeah. I don’t know who he is. But this man with wings caught me and flew me to the castle I was telling you about. I tried to pry the information concerning where the castle is from them, but they wouldn’t tell me. They kept telling me I’m some sort of lost queen...?” I let the sentence end there, wanting an answer to that question. “Yes, they would think that. But…you’re just a girl who wasn’t told the things you should’ve been told ahead of time,” He sighed and continued, “How am I going to rescue you when I myself am only a child?” “Wait, you are Hakon right?” I needed to make sure I was correct in my assumption. “Yes. I don’t even want to know how you knew that.” Antoine had been glancing back and forth between Galefre and I for a while now, “You both know I have no idea what you‘re talking about right?” We both glanced at him, “Yes. Sorry. I will tell you whence we arrive in the city.” “You had better….” He trailed off, and then went to work getting everything ready for our departure. Antoine and I ate the eggs hastily once they were done, then we were riding our way down the hill again. The sun was shining on my face, and I wished that I had taken Galefre’s offer to put one of the blankets in a bag. I was burning alive. “Oh….” I moaned from the heat. “We’ll stop in a moment to let the horses drink at a creek not far from here. You’ll survive till then.” While Antoine led the horses to water, Galefre took both of the blankets off, sending a relief of cold air across my skin. “How will I be safe from ‘them’,” I used a foreboding tone, “when all I can do is slump against inanimate objects and talk?” “You won’t have to for much longer. In the city there’s a wise medicine woman who will most likely be able to heal your great wounds,” He said calmly, packing the blankets tight into the bag and then closing it. “How in the world is that possible?” I said, shock and disbelief evident in my voice.

“You have entered a world that only ancient legends talk about Aisling,” It made me shudder thinking about how much more knowledge I evidently still had to gain. I kicked myself inwardly for not reading that other tab before going to my doom outside, in the snowy white of night. “You’re not still cold are you?” He was starting to open the bag again, having noticed my shudder. “No, just scared of what is to come. And how surreal all this seems.” He turned back towards me and laughed, “Trust me, when I found out what I was at three years old and heard all the stories, well, I got nightmares for weeks on end!” His face clouded over and he appeared slightly angry, but before I could question, he changed the subject, “Tell me, how much do you know?” “Only the essential knowledge it appears,” I said with disgust for thinking I knew a lot more than I did, “But don’t worry. When you explain everything to Antoine and me, well, then I’ll know all…or most. Why are you going to tell Antoine anyhow? Just because he saw my eyes? Don’t you have some potion for that? Make him think he saw something else? Erase the memory altogether? Amnesia?” “Yes…but it just doesn’t seem right doing that to Antoine. And I’m sure I’ll be able to trust him, and if not…well, we’ll have ways of taking care of that.” But he saw my horrified expression, “We’ll just have to make sure all of them don’t remember him saying anything!” That made me relieved. But also scared, how much magic was there that everyone didn’t know about? Antoine returned then, and Galefre attached the bag back onto the saddle. “Ready to continue on our way? We’ll make it there by supper time I assume.” But as we rode towards the town that would hide us from all supernaturalprying eyes, I started to doze off. Galefre tried stir me into a more awake mood when he noticed my drooping head. But I couldn’t respond. My eyelids closed against my own consent, and I couldn’t help but just fall wherever I did – against the horse’s mane, against Galefre, back and forth, back and forth. The daylight was just starting to wane and turn a soft pink in the horizon when I blacked out.

~~~~~~~ I flew carelessly through the blackness again, trying to soak up as much sleep as I could in this dreamless state between worlds.

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