Happy Birthday, Kallie! I hope you enjoy this story :D I love you, sister, and I want you to remember that you are one of, if not the, sweetest person I have ever met. You're so kind and caring all the time :) That's a rare trait in people, and you have it and it is so genuine. You are amazing and don't you forget it! Love you, and I hope you enjoy this! :D *hugs tight and hands 18 cookies* Happy 18th!! :D
Alice sat at the table eating her cereal and watching her absent-minded mother wander around looking for her sunglasses, which were sitting smugly atop her head.
"I just saw them, where could they be?" Matilda King said as she walked into the kitchen to check once more.
"Mom," Alice said in her quiet voice.
"Yes, dear?" Her mother said, still looking around.
"You have a hair sticking straight up." Alice said with a straight face. Her mother reached up to check and realization dawned on her face as she felt her sunglasses.
"Thank you, honey." She said as she took them off of her head and put them on.
"What would you do without me?" Alice asked with a small smile.
"I don't even want to think about that." Her mother said as she leaned down and kissed Alice on the top of her head. "I'll see you after work."
"Okay," Alice said.
"Do you need a ride to school?"
"No, I think I'll walk today." Alice replied.
"Okay, sweetie." Her mother said before giving her another kiss on the head, and then walking out the door.
Alice took a few more minutes to finish her cereal before she too left the house, grabbing her backpack and heading out the door.
The day went by as usual, boring teachers and too much homework.
When the final bell of the day rang, all of the students ran to the exits, trampling others in their stampede to get out.
Alice managed to duck into a classroom before she was trampled, and she waited there until the other kids had all left before she peeked out and began walking out of the doors.
She took the back way home, or as she liked to call it the Scenic Route. She climbed over the large rocks until she came to her usual spot, a little opening by an especially large boulder and she sat down and leaned back against the stone and closed her eyes and breathed in the forest air.
She'd always loved the fact that she had a forest in her backyard, a place for her to go and clear her head when she got stressed. It was so peaceful here.
She heard a loud snap and stood, startled, her eyes looking around for what could have caused it.
She'd seen bears around here before, and one mountain lion, but neither of them, or any deer, had made that loud of a snap before.
She did a 360, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. So she shrugged and sat back down to begin her homework.
* * *
Malark leaned against the tree as he waited for his beast to return from its hunt. He glanced up at the full moon and figured he had another half hour before he would have to drag it back by force.
The Grenra could only be controlled in the mortal world during a full moon, and even then the handlers had trouble keeping it under control.
He looked around again as he heard the loud snap that signaled that the creature was close, and saw it.
It stood hunched over, like its arms were too heavy for it to stand up right, its head was the smallest part of its body, with its torso being the largest, it looked like a puppet reject that had been given growth potion.
It's skin was the color of the earth, and it towered over the tallest man. It snarled, showing its fangs as it obediently came forward, its eyes somewhat glassy, but getting clearer.
He turned and touched a knot on the tree he'd been leaning against and the trunk started to glow. The Grenra walked forward into the light until it disappeared, Malark, after one more look around to make sure they weren't being observed, followed, and the tree sealed up behind him.
* * *
Alice jerked awake, looking around in confusion at her surroundings. She was still in the forest.
Cursing, she gathered up her things and ran home, mentally preparing herself for the worried rant her mother would give her for being home late without telling her she'd be late.
She got to her house and slowed down, getting her breathing under control before she walked inside. She opened the door and braced herself for the torrent of angry words, but none came.
She looked around at the dark house.
"Mom?" she called. "I'm sorry I'm late, I fell asleep doing homework."
"Mom?" She said, dumping her backpack by the door and went exploring, looking for a note. She glanced at the phone and saw that there was a message. She hit play.
"Hi honey, I got called into work and I ran out of the house so fast that I forgot to leave a note, so consider this the note," Her mother laughed. "There's some casserole in the oven if you get hungry, I figured you'd fallen asleep in the woods again. I'll be home late tonight." * * *
She finished her homework, got something to eat, and then sat on the windowsill in her room, looking out at the forest.
She saw a strange light from the center of the woods, then it disappeared just as fast as it had appeared.
"What was that?" She asked herself, trying to see it again, but it did not show.
She heard the front door open and close, so she went downstairs to talk to her mother,
That night, as she lay on her bed reading her favorite book, she had the oddest sensation that she was being watched.
She looked around her room, but, naturally, there was no one there. She glanced out her window and thought she saw a pair of purple eyes staring at her, but when she tried to focus more closely, they were gone, leaving her wondering if she'd imagined them.
She drifted off to sleep, imagining what could have purple eyes like that.
* * *
"You what?!" He screamed as the servant told him what had happened.
"Sir, I just thought tha-" The servant began, but was interrupted.
"No you didn't think!" The man screamed. "If you had used your brain, you would have known that 'checking in on her', as you so eloquently put it, was a moronic idea and wouldn't have done it!"
"I'm sorry," The servant said. "But Malark had taken his pet out, and I had to be sure that he didn't harm her."
"Malark did what?" The man asked, his voice now dreadfully quiet.
"H-he took his pet out." The servant stuttered. He hated it when his master took that tone, that was when things usually took a dangerous turn.
His master was silent for a moment. "Summon Malark."
The servant bowed and hastily left the room.
* * *
Malark walked boldly into the room, not bothering to knock, and shut the door behind him, effectively slamming it into the servants nose.
"Malark." The man said.
"Golen." Malark said in greeting, and waited for Golen to speak.
"You know the law," Golen started in a menacingly quiet tone. "Yet you choose to disobey it; why?"
"You mean The Grenra?" Malark said. "I had to let him hunt, unless you want him to turn on your subjects."
"Do you realize how close you came to killing the girl?" Golen demanded, spinning around to face Malark.
"The girl?" Malark asked, taken off guard. No one ever spoke of her.
"Yes." Golen snapped. "You came within a meager three miles from her home!"
Malark stared at him in shock. "What?" He asked.
Golen calmed himself down at the look in Malarks' eyes. He truly hadn't known.
"Next time, do not disobey the laws." Golen said. "Because of what you did, my servant felt the need to go check on her, and there is a chance she had seen him."
Malark was silent, taking this all in. "Did she?"
Golen shrugged. "We do not know, but we shall assume she had."
Malark nodded and turned to leave.
"Malark," Golen said, and he stopped. "Don't venture into the Otherworld again unless you want severe reprimand."
And with that, Malark left the room.
* * *
The next day, Alice was still pondering the strange sight outside her window. Her day went by in a blur of friends' faces and mean teachers assigning too much homework.
When it finally came time to go home, she couldn't get out of the building fast enough.
"Alice, wait!" A familiar voice called from behind her and she reluctantly stopped and waited for her best friend to catch up.
"Jeez you run fast." Ophelia said as she bent double to catch her breath. "Why are you in such a hurry?"
Alice gave her a 'are you kidding?' look and Ophelia laughed and they walked out of the building together.
"Oh come on, schools not so bad." she said.
"Oh yeah? Do you have a million tons of trigonometry homework? Do you have to write two essays that have to be at least two thousand words each? or perhaps you have a science project due by tomorrow?!" Alice snapped.
"Jeez, calm down Allie, you're sure in a mood." Ophelia said. "What's eating you?"
Alice took a deep breath to calm herself. "I'm sorry, I'm just..." She hesitated, unsure if she should tell Ophelia what she saw yesterday.
"What aren't you telling me?" Ophelia asked. "You know I can always tell."
Alice sighed and dragged her out of earshot of the other kids and told her what she saw yesterday, expecting Ophelia to laugh at her and call her crazy or that she'd been doing too much homework, but she didn't.
She listened intently and when Alice was done, she paced, like she always did when she was thinking over a problem, the thing is, Alice didn't know what the problem was this time.
After five minutes of pacing, Alice had had enough.
"What?!" The word seeming to explode out of her, stopping Ophelia in her tracks.
"Sorry, I'm just thinking." She said, twirling a strand of her bleach blonde hair on her index finger, another sign she was thinking something over.
"About?" Alice asked. "It's just a weird thing that I saw; I was probably just more tired than I thought I was."
"Yeah, you're probably right." Ophelia said, though she seemed to voice the disbelief that Alice herself was feeling at her statement.
That night, as Alice sat there, trying to concentrate on her homework, found herself looking out the window at the forest, trying to get a glimpse of what she had seen the previous night, but with no luck.
"Alice, dinner's ready." Her mother called up the stairs.
"Coming mom!" She hollered back, taking one last glance out of her window before she headed downstairs for some lasagna.
* * *
Malark sat at his desk, writing on a piece of parchment to his mother, who was away on business, about what had been happening. He still could not believe he had gotten so close to the girl without knowing.
He was careful in his wording, not telling the exact location he was at when he took out The Grenra, so as not to alert anyone who might intercept the letter to her whereabouts.
When he was finished with the letter, he sealed the envelope and set it aside for the courier to take it to his mother.
He blew out his candle and lay down on his bed, wondering what the girl would be like if he met her, wondering what his life would be like if he had come across her that day in the woods.
Before he knew it, he was drifting off to sleep, thinking those thoughts.
* * *
"Any weird sights last night?" Ophelia asked when she saw Alice running up to the building. She had overslept again.
Alice shook her head as she bent double to try and catch her breath. She had run almost the entire way to school.
"Aw, that's too bad." Ophelia said, though she didn't sound too disappointed.
The bell rang and they both hurried to their respective classes for the day.
* * *
Renalda was sitting at her dressing table, brushing out her long, dark hair when her servant knocked on the door.
"Come in." She said, still running the brush through her hair.
Her maid opened the door and walked in, keeping her eyes down, as it was rude to make eye contact with someone of noble blood.
"A letter came for you, my lady," The maid said, holding out the letter. "From Malark."
That got Renalda's attention, and she stopped brushing her hair and took the letter from her son, and almost opened it right there with the eagerness of a newborn kitten.
"Thank you." She said, dismissing the maid, who left immediately.
Renalda ripped open the envelope and read her sons letter, almost dropping it as she read how close he had come to the girl.
She stood and started pacing around the room, trying to think about where her son could have been that he would come so close to finding her.
She sat back down and re-read and re-read the letter, trying to read between the lines and figure out where he had been.
* * *
As Alice was walking from her last class to her locker to get the rest of her homework, she thought she heard a voice whispering to her through the chaos of the hallway.
She stopped and turned around, thinking it was someone playing a prank on her, but no one was even looking at her.
She shrugged to herself, dismissing it as having little to no sleep last night, and continued towards her locker.
She glanced around again before entering her combination and opening the locker door.
All of her homework came shooting out at her, and she cried out both in surprise and pain, as some of the books hit her in the face and slammed into her feet.
She leapt back, wondering how her books did that when she knew she'd organized them specifically so that that didn't happen.
"What are you screaming about?" One of the jocks asked her as he passed.
She glanced at him and then back at her locker, and it was pristine. All of her books were as she had organized them. She stared at her locker in shock.
What had just happened?
She closed her locker door without getting her homework and walked quickly out of the building, her mind elsewhere as she walked passed the buses and kept walking until she was out of civilization and the houses became few and far between. She eventually reached her house, perched on the outskirts of the forest. Without taking her usual stroll through the forest, she walked right up her drive and into her house and went straight to her room, closing the door behind her.
She dumped her backpack on the floor and laid down on the bed, staring at the wall, trying to think over what had happened and whether or not she was losing her mind.
* * *
Malark walked through the courtyard, his mind elsewhere. His thoughts strayed to many things. His mother, the Grenra, and the mysterious girl. His thoughts stayed on her the longest.
What was she like? Was she carefree or uptight? What did she look like? Did she have red hair or brown? Golden or black?
He shook his head as if to rid himself of those thoughts and left the courtyard, heading into the forest, which always helped him to clear his head.
He heard a branch break behind him and he turned, seeing someone, a silhouette, whose features were blocked by the castles fires.
He opened his mouth to speak before the figure launched themselves at him, knocking him into one of the trees.
He hit his head and the world spun, but he tried to stand, to get a good look at his attacker, who was now kneeling by the base of one of the trees, and seemed to be writing something on the trunk.
Malark got to his feet and half walked, half stumbled forward.
His attacker got to their feet and turned, their features still darkened to him and, with their head down, threw themselves at him, and, though he tried to struggle, he was thrown into the base of the tree.
He was expecting a solid thud when he hit it, but there was no sound, because there was no impact. He had gone through the tree. It was then that he realized what the figure had been doing. He had turned the tree into a gateway, and now Malark was falling through it, into the world beyond.
* * *
"Hey mom," Alice called. "I'm going to study in the forest, I'll be home later."
"Okay hon, see you later!" Her mother called back from the living room as Alice walked out the door.
She followed her usual path into the forest until she got to her usual place and sat down, she set her backpack down and began pulling her books out when there was a massive flash of light that blinded her, and then something heavy hit her, knocking her to the ground.
When the light faded and she could see again, she looked around for what had hit her and froze when she saw it. It was a boy about her age, lying unconscious on top of her math books, her other books now laying all over the place.
* * *
She stared at him, unsure of what to do about this new development. She sat there, chewing on her fingernail.
Her phone rang and she leapt three feet. She crawled over and began rummaging around in her backpack until she found it, watching the stranger to make sure he didn't wake up while she spoke, she answered it.
"Hello?" She whispered.
"Why are you whispering?" Ophelia asked, also in a whisper.
"Why are you whispering?" Alice returned. "Are you mocking me?"
There was a long pause. "Yes. Yes I am." Ophelia responded, still whispering.
"Ha ha, very funny." Alice said. "Now why are you whispering?"
"I broke into the principals office." Ophelia said, keeping her voice low, though no longer whispering.
"You WHAT?" Alice asked, her voice louder than she had intended and she cringed and glanced at the man again, though he was still unconscious.
"They gave me a 75% on a test when it was clearly 85%." She said.
"You broke into the principals office over 10% of a grade?!" Alice said.
"Because I didn't want to let them get away with cheating me." Ophelia answered calmly. "Now why are you whispering?"
"Don't change the subject," Alice said.
"The subject has been retired, get over it." she said. "Now why are you whispering?"
"Something weird happened again." Alice said after a moments hesitation.
"What happened?" Ophelia asked, suddenly serious.
"Okay so, I was getting ready to study in my usual place, and just as I am getting ready to sit down and get to work, there was this blinding flash of light and then something hit me and knocked me off of my feet." Alice explained, finding the words spilling out of her. "There's an unconscious man lying on my books right now."
"What does he look like?" Ophelia asked.
"Do you really think now is the time to be going boy crazy?" Alice said.
"Just answer the question."
"Fine, he's got dark hair, and looks to be pretty tall," She said, getting to her feet to get a better look at him. And handsome, she thought to herself.
"Are you at the usual place?" Ophelia asked. "I'll be right over."
"I thought I already told you where I was, why don't you ever pay attention?" Alice asked.
"I'll be there in five minutes." Ophelia said right before hanging up.
"Bye," Alice said irritably into the phone before also hanging up and putting the phone into her backpack.
She sat there for all of five minutes before Ophelia showed up. When she walked into the clearing, Alice leapt to her feet. "Jeez, what did you do? Hop on the Flash's back?"
Ophelia ignored her and walked right over to the still unconscious man and knelt next to him, silently cursing as she got to her feet, looking around the clearing at the trees.
"Which direction did he come from?" she asked seriously.
"Uh, that way." Alice said, pointing south towards the tree that had seemed to be the focal point of the blinding light.
Ophelia walked right up to the strange tree and placed her hands on the trunk and closed her eyes. "Damn," She muttered after a moment. "Not now, not yet."
"What's wrong?" Alice asked. Ophelia glanced at her, but didn't respond.
"Get home." She said. "And lock your doors."
"What are you talking about?" Alice asked. "What is going on? Who is he?"
"He's someone you should not have met yet." Ophelia said. "And you can't know yet."
"Can't know what? Why won't you tell me anything?"
"Because you can't know yet, things are happening too early." Was the infuriating answer. "You'll have to trust me."
"How can I trust you when you're acting like this?" Alice demanded.
"I'm sorry, but it's vital that you don't know anything yet; I will explain later." Ophelia said. "Now please, go home."
Alice just stood there, glaring at her.
"Now!" Ophelia yelled, startling her into action.
She turned on her heel and stalked through the forest back to her house, fuming.
* * *
Malark groaned and held his head as he sat up. He was sitting on something hard and he looked down to see what it was and saw something written in one of the Earthen languages. It appeared to say 'Algebra 101.'
He looked around at his surroundings and saw a forest clearing similar to that of the one he'd been in, except this one had a boulder in the center.
Someone cleared their throat and he turned to look behind him and saw Aliandra standing there, tapping her foot.
"What the hell are you thinking?" she demanded angrily. "You know that it's not time yet!"
"What are you talking about?" He asked.
"She saw you!" Aliandra almost shouted. "You blithering swamp troll!"
"Swamp troll?" Malark repeated, holding in the smile that threatened to break out on his face. She glared at him.
"What were you thinking, coming here?" She demanded.
"I didn't do it on purpose!" He said defensively, getting to his feet. "I was out for a walk in the forest when someone attacked me and shoved me through the portal."
"What?" She asked after a moment.
"I was attacked and then shoved here." He repeated. "I didn't exactly mean to come here."
"Damn it, they're working to break the prophecy." She said, chewing on her thumb nail.
"Who is?" Malark asked.
"You don't know?" She asked, surprised.
"They didn't exactly tell me every detail, just that there's a prophecy involving a girl that no one is allowed to contact." He explained.
"This is not good." she said. "We're going to have to try and explain this to her."
"Can't you just tell her to be quiet and not to ask questions?" He asked.
"She's not a pet, Malark, and she happens to be quite stubborn so, no I cannot tell her to be quiet, and I most certainly cannot tell her not to ask questions."
"And you call yourself a Guardian." He said, rolling his eyes. Aliandra made a visible effort not to reach over and smack him.
"You're the moron who went into the woods during dangerous times and got your ass kicked and then thrown through to Earth, what's your excuse?" She said. "I think you wanted to come see her, just to be rebellious."
"I resent that." He said, though he had wanted to see her, he hadn't intended for this to happen.
"Whatever, it doesn't matter now, we have to keep the prophecy in motion, and that means explaining things to her." Aliandra turned and started walking.
"Wait," Malark said, and she stopped but didn't turn around. "We can't risk it,"
"Then what do you suggest?" She asked.
"Couldn't we wipe her memory?" He said.
Aliandra was glad she was facing away, so that he could not see the shock on her face. "What do you mean 'wipe her memory'?" She demanded. "That is illegal and you know it, prince or not."
"Do we have a choice?" he asked.
"Yes, we tell her." She said. "And that's the end of it."
"No its not, I am the one in charge here and I order you not to." He said.
She stopped walking and turned slowly to face him. "You order me?"
"Yes." He said, unsure now that he saw the look in her eyes.
"You order me? Do you have any idea who I am?" She said, her voice low. "I am Aliandra Kalari, Guardian of the first ward, and adviser to the Royal Crown, and you dareclaim you are superior? You are a naïve, selfish, arrogant little brat who needs to be taught his place in the world." She said, her voice raising. "I am not the one who screwed up here, you are; I have the authority to make the decisions should something go wrong, and trust me, something just went very wrong, so I have decided to tell her, and THAT'S FINAL!" she yelled the last two words and turned and stalked through the trees to Alice's house, leaving a very stunned Malark behind her.
* * *
Alice sat on her porch, anxiously tapping her foot, waiting for Ophelia to come and explain things to her. She got to her feet and walked around on the porch before settling on the porch swing.
Eventually, she saw Ophelia stalking through the trees and up to the house; the stranger was running behind her, trying to catch up.
When Ophelia reached the porch, Alice saw the most serious expression she has ever seen on her best friend.
"What's wrong?" She asked.
"A lot of things, but we'll get into that in a bit." Ophelia explained. "There are some things that you should know, starting with this idiot behind me."
Alice's eyes flickered to the man, who was just now reaching the porch, gasping out a lung.
"What about him?" She asked, wondering why Ophelia was calling him an idiot.
"For starters, I think you should know his name and then we'll go from there." Ophelia said. "His name is Malark."
"That's an odd name." Alice said.
"He's an odd person." Ophelia said, making Alice laugh. "Now, we have some things that we need to tell you, alright?"
"Okay," Alice said. "Is this the part where you tell me why you've been acting weird and why I keep seeing these weird things?"
"Yes." Was the answer.
"What?" Alice asked, shocked. Usually in these situations its always 'Oh, well, you're not ready to know yet' and then they'll only tell you what's going on when they're hands are forced.
Her heart leapt at the thought of being able to know what was going on without having to jump through hoops.
"Yes we're going to tell you what's going on, and some of it may surprise the hell out of you so try and prepare." Ophelia said.
"How am I supposed to prepare when I don't know what kind of information your about to tell me?" She asked.
"Good point." Ophelia said after a pause.
"I thought so." Alice said.
Ophelia paused, gathering her thoughts together, before explaining. "Okay, the first thing you should know is that there are worlds that intersect with yours, some that overlap at times and others that you can only reach after many many many steps."
"Okay," Alice said. Where was she getting at?
"Malark and I are from one of those worlds." Ophelia said, broaching one of the lesser shocks.
"What?" Alice asked, an unsure smile breaking out on her face as she tried to figure out if she was joking. "Ophelia, if this is one of your practical jokes I'll-"
"My name isn't Ophelia," She said. "It's Aliandra."
Alice opened her mouth to speak, but couldn't.
"Aliandra Kalari, to use my full name." She said. "This is Malark Oblarn, and he is one of the princes of this world."
"One of?" Alice asked.
"Yes, one of."Aliandra said. "There are many different kingdoms, you could say that our world is like this world once was."
"Medieval?" Alice said.
"Yes." Came the response. "And there is a prophecy about a great danger looming over one of the princesses of one of the most powerful kingdoms in the land."
"Okay, but what does this have to do with me?" Alice asked, and just as the words left her lips, she understood. "Oh no, no no no no no!"
"Yes," Aliandra said again. "You are that princess."
"No! My name is Alice Darwin, I was born and raised in Florida!" She put her hands on her ears, hoping to block out what they were telling her.
"No you weren't," Aliandra said gently. "You were born in our land, and brought here for your safety, and your mother knows this."
"What?" Alice said. "My mother?"
"Yes, she is one of the Guardians that was given the task of keeping you safe."
"No, no that can't be!" Alice protested. "I'm from Florida and my mom was born in New York!"
"No, you were both born in our world," Aliandra said. "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, we were not supposed to tell you this early, but Malark got himself kicked to this world and now we have no choice."
"Why are you lying to me, Ophelia?" Alice asked. "This joke isn't funny anymore."
"I'm sorry to say that I am not joking."
"But you have to be." Alice said, her voice breaking as tears threatened to fall.
"Princess, listen to me," Malark said. "I know this is a shock, but your going to have to get over it."
Aliandra elbowed him hard in the ribs for that.
"Don't call me princess!" Alice almost shouted. "My name is Alice!"
"I'm afraid its not." Malark continued, despite the glare he was getting from Aliandra.
"What?" Alice asked.
"We were forbidden from using your name, for fear that it could be used to find you," Malark explained. "But your name isn't Alice."
"Then what the hell is it!"
"Demitria." He said.
"My name is Alice!" She yelled again before running into her house.
"Well," Malark said after a moment. "That went well."
Aliandra punched him, making him topple from his perch on the porch railing before running after Alice.
Deanna froze at the sight of the men who'd been chasing her. They had a man she'd never seen before with them, sitting comfortably on one of the beds.
"Are you going to get us out of here?" The youngest of the men asked, who she remembered from what she'd overheard in the forest was Finn. His voice shook slightly.
"Depends," She said. "Are you going to not try to kill me?"
"What?" The man she'd freed said, swinging to face the others. "You said you didn't want to hurt her!"
"Bart, calm down." The singer, Cayle his name was, said. "I promise we wont hurt her."
"I want a promise, from all of you, that you will not hurt her at all." Bart said, ignoring Cayle's words.
"Okay, okay, we promise." Cayle said.
Deanna stepped forward and unlocked the door; Finn practically ran through the door.
When everyone was out of the cell, they began walking back to the dungeon door; when they were at a corner, Deanna paused and turned to face the others.
"Okay, so, this is where things get complicated." She said.
"How so?" Cadman asked.
"Well, the guards don't know I took the key." She said simply. "And I don't want to get the maid who brought me here in trouble, so we'd best go our different ways."
"How? The only exit is that door." Finn asked.
"Well, you can wait until we've gotten far enough away before escaping." Deanna said. "I just need ten minutes to get the maid away, then maybe they'll forget she was here."
"I doubt that."
"Why, Alroy?" Finn asked.
"Because guards rarely remember guests being present at these kinds of things," Alroy explained. "They tend to just remember the familiar face."
"Damn." Deanna said.
"We'll find another way out and meet at the stables." Cayle said.
"There are two stables," Deanna said. "One for the people who live here, and the other for visitors, and, apparently, prisoners."
"Do you know where the other one is?" Cayle asked.
"No," Deanna said. "It's off limits and the maid wouldn't show it to me."
"Well, that's inconvenient." Alroy said. Deanna shrugged and began walking down the hall.
She got three feet before freezing and slowly turning back towards the group.
"I don't suppose you found..." She trailed off, leaving the sentence unfinished for fear her voice would break up.
Cayle got the message.
"We did." He said. "Or rather, he found us."
Deanna's face lit up and she felt as though a weight was lifted from her shoulders. She turned and started back down the hallway.
* * *
She walked back into the guardroom, closing the door behind her.
Alissa was pacing nervously, and she stopped mid-stride when Deanna came back in.
"Can we go now?" She asked, heading towards the staircase, not waiting for an answer. Deanna followed silently after slipping the dungeon key back on the hook.
The maid led her back to her rooms and left without a word. Deanna entered her room and closed the door behind her and walked over to the bed and sat down.
She glanced at the dresser and saw that the clothes that she'd arrived in were there, cleaned and folded.
She got to her feet and walked over to the dresser and took her clothes down and walked into the bathroom to change.
* * *
Cayle walked through the maze of cells, trying to find another way out, and doing his best to ignore the cries of the other prisoners.
After exploring for what seemed like hours, he wandered back to where the others had been, and got there at the same time as Cadman, who'd also gone to try and find another way out of the dungeon.
Finn looked up at their arrival. "Any luck?" He asked.
Cayle shook his head.
"I think I may have found something," Cadman said. "It's just hard to see in the dark, so we may need a torch."
"Where is it?" Alroy asked.
"I don't know, but I'm sure there's a torch around here somewhere," Cadman said, looking at the wall for a torch.
"No," Alroy said. "The thing you found."
"Oh," Cadman said. "It's over that way." He motioned in a direction.
"Helpful." Alroy muttered.
"Can you show us?" Cayle asked.
"Sure." Cadman said, turning on his heel and walking back where he'd come from, the others following behind.
She ran down the beach, casting occasional glances behind her. She couldn't believe this was happening. And so early in the morning.
This had to be some kind of record.
She changed direction slightly, running for the cover of the trees, hoping to lose her pursuer. She paused briefly to catch her breath, looking behind her. She saw slight movements heading for the trees and she bolted again, deeper into the cover of the trees.
Her lungs were burning and her legs were screaming. She saw a small opening in one of the trees, just large enough for her to get through, and she ran for it, diving in.
She righted herself and found that the opening was larger than the actual crevice. She reached out and found some branches that she used to semi-hide the opening, leaving just enough room for her to see out.
She rested her head against the wood and took deep breaths, trying to get her breathing back to normal.
She looked out the small window she'd left herself to see out of, she saw nothing. No rabbits, no deer. Nothing one would expect in a forest.
She couldn't hear anything either, she realized. No birds sang.
It was incredibly creepy.
There was no sign of her pursuer, for which she was grateful, it gave her time to rest. Not that she could stretch out her legs in her hiding place, but it was a small price to pay, she reasoned.
She wiggled about until she was at least semi-comfortable, and she set to watching the forest outside, as she thought back to what had led her to being here in the first place.
* * *
She sat down at the table, munching on a bagel, thinking back to a weird dream she'd had that night. She shook herself as her twin brother came in and went straight to the fridge, as he usually did, and grabbed the milk, which, again, he usually did, and drank from the carton.
Which was why she refused to drink the milk. At all.
He finally noticed her, sitting there, staring at him. He gave me a look that said "What?"
And I pointed at his face. "You have a milk mustache, and milk running down your chin."
He wiped his face with his sleeve. "Thanks." He said. She shrugged and took another bite of her bagel.
He sat down next to her and also grabbed a bagel from where their mother had lain them out earlier that morning.
"Sylvia is coming over today." He told her through a mouthful of bagel. "So could you do me a favor and make yourself scarce later?"
Sylvia was his girlfriend and she was a stuck up snob, in Sally's opinion.
"Sal?" He asked. She looked at him.
"Yeah, ok, whatever." She said.
"Sal, you ok? You seem distracted?" He asked.
"Well," She began, then hesitated.
"Well what?" He asked.
He was her brother, older by just two minutes and twenty-four seconds, but he might make fun of her if he knew of the weird dreams she'd been having.
She finally sighed and told him about the dream. She watched his expression change dramatically, from concerned brother, to about to burst out laughing, to a serious, weirded out one that she had never seen on his face before.
"That was..." He began, then paused, searching for the right word. "Odd."
"Sally! Harry!" Their mother called as she walked in the front door. "I'm home!"
They had been named after their mothers' favorite movie: When Harry met Sally. They both hated their names.
"Hi mom!" Harry said as their mom walked in the kitchen.
"Hi sweetie," She said. "Sorry I had to run out on you two today, but there was a mess at the office which, naturally, I'm the only one who knows how to fix, which is strangely convenient considering I'm still the newbie."
Their mother worked at a law firm, Brighten & Carl, and she would often get frustrated that they would throw most of the workload on her because, as she would say "They're lazy."
"It's no problem, mom." She said. "Did you get it fixed?"
"Finally," Her mother answered, getting the milk out of the fridge. "It only took about half a million years."
Sally smiled at her mothers' joke, but the smile vanished when her mother began pouring the milk in her coffee.
"Uh, mom," Sally said. "I wouldn't drink that."
"Why not?" Her mother asked. "Is it expired? I just bought it, it should still be good."
"It's not that it's expired," Sally explained. "It's just that Harry.."
"You drank from the carton again, didn't you?" She asked, looking pointedly at Harry, who was trying to slump down on the stool and hide behind his bagel.
"Maybe," He said, dragging the word out a bit.
Their mother put the carton on the counter. "What have I told you about drinking from the carton?" She said.
"Uh," He said, trying to remember. "That it's bad manners?"
"That, and?" She said.
"Uh." He said, looking desperately around the kitchen, as if an item might jog his memory. "It's, uh.."
"It's rude and it's inconsiderate." Their mother said. "There are other people in this house besides you, Harry; once you move out and get your own house then you can drink from the carton all you want, clear?"
"Crystal." He said. "Sorry, mom."
She sighed. "It's ok; what am I going to do with you?"
"I say hug him and squeeze him and call him George." Sally suggested, earning a jab in the rib by her brother.
Her mother glanced at the clock. "You'd better get going if you don't want to be late."
Sally got up and grabbed her backpack and headed for the door.
"Bye mom! See you later!" She called as her brother followed her out the door.
"So, what do you want to do tomorrow? First day of summer vacation and all." Harry said, walking backwards up the sidewalk.
"You know I hate it when you do that." She commented. "I don't know; go to the pool, I guess."
"But we go there every year!" He whined. "I wanna go to the amusement park."
"Why don't you take Sylvia?" She asked. He snorted.
"And mess up her makeup? She'd never get past the gate."
Sally stopped. "Why do you stay with her? You know she's a snob, so why are you still dating her?"
He paused and thought a moment.
"Don't hurt yourself." Sally said absently as a new memory of her dream drifted to the surface.
She saw a horrifying face, and an arm reaching out towards her, screaming her name.
A car honked as it past and made Sally practically jump out of her skin.
"Hey hey hey." Sylvia said as she pulled up alongside the sidewalk and parked.
She got out and ran over to Harry and hugged him.
"Oh, hi Mary, I didn't see you there." She said.
"It's Sally," Sally corrected. "And that's ok, didn't notice you either, despite that outfit."
Sylvia glared at her and turned her back on her and focused on Harry.
"Want a lift to school?" She asked.
"Sure, can Sally come?" he asked.
She shook her head. "Sorry, car only seats two."
"It's a convertible that seats five." Sally pointed out, looking pointedly at the car. "If you want to make an excuse not to have me along, fine; just make sure that I can't see the car."
Sylvia was speechless.
"You know, syl, I think I'll walk today," Harry said. "It's a nice day, and I want to spend some time with my little sis. You understand, right?"
Sylvia's lower lip began to tremble. "You hate me don't you?" She said, her voice sounding on the verge of tears. "Fine, I can take a hint."
She spun and walked over to her car, started it up, and drove off.
"Quite the charmer you've got there." Sally commented as she started down the sidewalk again, leaving her brother and his girlfriend to take the car.
The day went by as usual, boring History assignments, and obnoxious math ones. Eventually, the horrendous day came to an end, and she was allowed to go home.
She passed the park on her way home and paused. It had been a long time since she'd last been here.
She walked up to the slides and walked up them like she used to all the time when she was a kid. She slid back down and laughed when her momentum took her forward too much and she flew off of the slide and onto the plastic grass that covered the play-area.
She dumped her backpack on one of the picnic tables and continued to run up the slides and then sliding back down; and then she ran over to the swings and swung as high as she could before leaping off to see how far she could get.
It was good to be a kid again.
By the time she got back to her backpack again, she had been laughing so much she was practically bent double and her sides hurt like crazy. She sat down and let the laughter die a bit before she attempted to walk home.
When she finally got her laughter under control, she picked up her backpack and began walking towards the trees which led to her house when she an odd sound made her freeze. She stood there for a moment, listening.
It sounded like a cross between a lawnmower and a cow having a who-can-make-the-most-obnoxious-sound contest.
"What in the world..." She muttered as she started walking towards the sound. She was about to pass a large oak tree when someone grabbed her from behind, placing their hand over her mouth to keep her from screaming.
She squirmed, trying to shake whoever it was off.
"Be still." The person whispered in her ear. She stopped struggling, but she was still shaking in fear. Was she being abducted?
Something passed the oak tree caught her eye and she tried to turn her head to look at it, but the hands wouldn't let her. "Don't move." the voice said.
She looked out of the corner of her eye to try and see what it was and her blood went cold at the sight of it.
It had the face of an otter, the antlers of a moose, the torso looked like that of a bodybuilder, and the legs were that of a horse.
She whimpered, the sound muffled by the stranger's hand.
It paused a moment, sniffing the air, and then it held out its hand, and, with the claws of a grizzly, carved a symbol in the air.
It started glowing and the creature stepped inside, vanishing in a flash of light.
The stranger released her and stepped back and she spun to face them.
Behind her was a man with golden hair and bright blue eyes glued on the spot where the creature had just been.
"Who are you?" She managed to croak.
The man ignored her and walked over to the place where the symbol had hovered just above the ground.
"Albertron." He muttered. "What the hell is it doing awake?"
"What are you talking about?" Sally asked. "What was that thing?"
He looked up at her, his eyes searing into hers. "You will forget what you saw."
"No I won't who can forget a mutant bodybuilder?" She said. "Answer my questions! Who are you? What was that?"
He paused, his eyes studying her.
"Albertron." He said.
"What is that?" She asked. "What's an Albertron?"
"It's a creature that is supposed to be asleep." He said, his eyes once more studying the ground.
"Are all of them asleep? Are you its babysitter? Did it not want to take a nap anymore?"
He looked up at her again. "There is only one Albertron and that was it; it is supposed to be asleep, and no I am not a, as you said, 'babysitter,'" He said.
"What's your name?" she asked.
"Why do you ask me that?" He asked, his eyes narrowing slightly.
"Did I strike a nerve or something?" She asked. "What's wrong with wanting to know someone's name?"
"You are only human after all, I should not expect you to know my culture." he said and brushed passed her.
"Hey!" she said, running after him, dumping her backpack on the way. His eyes were on the ground, following some trail only he could see. "What are you doing?"
"You ask a lot of questions for a human." He said, not taking his eyes off of the ground.
"You don't give a lot of answers." She retorted. "This whole mysterious thing is getting old real quick."
He stopped and looked up at her. "You are a pest."
"Well thanks," she said sardonically. "I try; are you going to answer my questions?"
"No." he said and continued walking.
She stopped and just stared after him as he walked and turned and stalked back to her backpack, glanced back at him and saw he'd knelt on the ground again.
She rolled her eyes at the human bloodhound and started walking home, putting the entire event behind her.
When she got home, she saw Sylvia's car outside and groaned. She didn't see her mom's car so she just continued walking past her house, pulling out her cellphone and dialing the home phone.
"Hello?" Her brother asked.
"It's me." She answered. "I thought I'd let you know I'm heading to Jordan's house."
"Oh, uh, alright." He said. There was a pause. "You saw Syl's car, didn't you?"
"I see; I'll call you when she's gone."
"Thanks; talk to you later."
And they hung up.
It took her twenty minutes to get to Jordan's house. And when she rang the doorbell, Jordan's mom answered the door.
"Hi Sally." Mrs. Garde. "How are you?"
"I'm good, you?" Sally said.
"I'm alright." Mrs. Garde answered with a smile. "Does Jordan know you're here?"
"No, it was kind of a spur of the moment thing." Sally said, and then elaborated when she saw Jordan's moms expression. "Harry's girlfriend is at the house."
"I see." Mrs. Garde said with a laugh. "You still don't like her, huh?"
"Not even a little bit." She answered. Mrs. Garde laughed and stepped aside to let Sally in, closing the door behind her.
An hour later, she got a call from her brother, saying that his girlfriend had left.
She began the walk home, thinking about all the homework she would have to do, as she could never study at Jordan's house and she found herself thinking about the mysterious man in the park and the horrible creature she had seen.
That thought brought an image of the creature into her mind and she shuddered away from it.
Then she heard the growl.
* * *
Bram walked around the bare patch of trees in the park, waiting for the creature to show its face again.
He's pictured it in his mind a hundred times, yet it still didn't show. He cursed, looking up at the setting sun.
Just as he was about to call it a night, he felt it.
He felt the creature re-enter this reality and spun, ready to attack it, but it wasn't there. He stood there, puzzled, when the breeze brought a blood curdling scream to his ears and he cursed, taking off in the direction of the scream.
How had he forgotten the girl?
* * *
Sally ducked a swipe of those grizzly claws as it advanced on her, and all she could do was run, trying not to cry in terror.
The creatures' otter face was fixed in a snarl, showing fangs that looked like they belonged on a saber-tooth tiger.
It swiped again and this time she couldn't dodge all of it, and the force knocked her to the ground, winded.
It was on her in nothing flat, its claws ready to disembowel her or take her head, she wasn't sure which, but she found herself wishing for the decapitation, at least then she'd be dead faster.
Suddenly, something silver thudded into its chest, sending the creature reeling away, batting at it with its claws, scratching itself in the process.
The man from the park walked up firing what looking like an old fashioned pistol at the creature.
She tried desperately, not for the first time, to remember what he had called it but to no avail.
The man knelt next to her, not taking his eyes off of the creature, and pulled her to her feet and shoved her behind him and started backing up, firing another shot as the creature began walking forward.
It snarled, showing its fangs again.
"Don't think about it." The man whispered to her. "It gets stronger the more you think about it, so just clear your head, try and think of puppies or kittens."
She closed her eyes and pictured her favorite book, Skulduggery Pleasant being autographed by the author, Derek Landy, and she kept that image in her head.
"Good, just keep doing that." The man whispered.
She heard the creature snarl and then the gun again and she put her hands on her ears to try and block out the sound.
"Okay, you can open your eyes now." The man said and she did.
"Where is it?" She asked, scanning the ground for the body.
"It left, decided you weren't worth the effort if it had to go through me and my gun." He explained.
"Right.." She said. "Are you going to tell me who you are this time?"
He paused and she could of sworn she saw the wheels turning in his head as he thought it over. "You can call me Bram."
"Bram? As in Bram Stoker?" She asked.
"I do not know who that is." He answered.
"Okay then, Bram, what's going on? What's with the whole mysterious act?" She asked.
"It is my job to protect the humans, and you are one of them," He said. "The less you know, the safer you are."
"Yeah, a lot of good that did me." She muttered.
"You summoned the creature because you thought about it," Bram said. "But how did it know to go through your thoughts?"
"What do you mean?" Sally asked.
"It usually ignores human thoughts, but for you it seemed to go out of its way to attack you."
"Well, don't I feel special." she said sardonically.
"There's something different about you," He said. "I don't know what it is, but it's there, and it appears to have attracted things from my world."
"Well, that's not scary at all." she said with a nervous laugh. "What do I do?"
"Go home." He said simply. "There's nothing you can do, just keep thoughts of that creature OUT of your mind, I don't like making house calls."
"What am I supposed to do if it comes back?" She asked as he started walking away.
"Hide until I get there," He said. "I'll be able to sense if it comes through again."
she opened her mouth to say something but he was already out of earshot, she glanced around her before breaking into a run towards her house.
* * *
The next few days went by without incident, and she managed to keep pictures and thoughts of the creature from her mind, though thoughts of the mysterious Bram were stubborn and refused to leave, and at one point she briefly wondered if thinking about him would summon him, before shocking herself out of it.
She did NOT have a crush on him.
But some part of her wondered how much of that was the truth.
Three days after the incident, she had almost gotten back to her normal routine, though she still had weird dreams every night.
That afternoon, as she was walking home from school through the park, some instinct told her to hide, and she listened to it, darting behind a tree.
There was a strange sort of buzzing sound, similar to the sound the crea-
She stopped herself before she could fully form the thought, and she amended it. Similar to the sound she heard at the incident, and disappearing just as quickly as it had arrived.
After a moment, she heard voices speaking in a language she didn't recognize before they conveniently switched to English.
"What language are we speaking now?" One of the voices asked.
"I believe it to be English, how remarkable." The second voice sounded full of almost awe.
"I have never spoken English before, how does it sound?" The first asked.
"Glorious, how does mine sound?"
"Gentleman if you could stop talking for a moment." A familiar voice interrupted the men's' chatter.
"Why have you brought us here, Bram?" The first asked, sounding all business now.
"I have found an interesting case." Bram answered. "A human who can summon monsters."
"That's not so unusual." The second said. "We've had cases where humans think up something that they believe is completely original and then we have to capture their 'pretend' creatures and lock them up."
"I know, but this girl doesn't have that kind of... imagination." Bram said. "She was walking home and summoned the Albertron."
"The Albertron?!" The second man exclaimed.
How did she summon THAT?" the first demanded.
"I have no idea, but she must be pretty powerful if she can summon one of the most dangerous creatures in existence."
Sally's mind was full of questions. Powerful?
"What do we do?" the first asked. "Someone that powerful won't allow their memory to be altered."
"I know, that's why I didn't." Bram said.
"What do we do?" the second asked.
"We keep an eye on her, but do not talk to her unless she's in danger." Bram said. There was silence, and Sally guessed that the other two men were nodding.
She heard footsteps and she walked quickly away, making sure to keep the tree between her and their line of sight.
The entire walk home, she kept thinking about what they said. How were they even creating those portal-things? She thought. closing her eyes and picturing the symbol the incident had created, making the same movements in the air as it had.
When she opened her eyes, she wasn't on the sidewalk anymore: she was in a forest.
She spun in a full 360 and took in her surroundings.
Everywhere she looked there were trees. She lived in the city, there shouldn't be this many trees except in the park, which only had a couple of trees.
She heard a rustle in the trees behind her and she turned. And then she heard it.
The familiar growl.
She gasped and dropped her backpack and ran, not knowing where she was heading, just that she had to get away from that thing, eventually ending up at a beach, she looked behind her and saw the bushes moving as the thing, the Albertron, followed her.
She picked a direction and began running.
* * *
She peeked out of the hole, holding her breath, but never seeing anything. Her breath came heavily as panic spread through her.
She closed her eyes and concentrated on Bram's face, hoping to somehow contact him the same way one could summon the creature.
She shook her head, a smile spreading across her lips. She still couldn't bring herself to say the things name, just in case she summoned it, even though she wasn't sure if the summoning worked if you were in the same place as it was.
She caught her breath as she heard footsteps echoing through the trees, she waited for the creature to step into her line of sight, but it never did, the footsteps instead walking off.
She released her breath and tried to adjust so that her foot, which she was sitting on, didn't go to sleep.
She closed her eyes again and concentrated once more on Bram, hoping against hope that he would show up and scare the monster off with that gun again and take her home. Please, please, please. She said, almost projecting the thought towards him. Help me.
And then she felt something she wasn't expecting. She felt a sort of pull at her mind and she could picture Bram, his face puzzled before it vanished.
Before she knew what was happening, she was drifting off to sleep.
She awoke suddenly to the sound of heavy breathing right outside her hiding space. She held her breath, though her heart was pounding so hard she thought the creature outside could hear it.
She saw the creatures torso and knew it was the Albertron. She clamped a hand over her mouth to stop from whimpering.
It paused just outside her hiding place and she waited for it to turn, see the unusual leaves that were covering her hiding place and discover her.
It turned to face the tree, and her heart started pounding in her chest even harder than it had been.
She closed her eyes, waiting for the inevitable.
Then, she heard the gunshot.
She opened her eyes and saw the Albertron, now facing away from her, with a familiar silver bullet sticking out of its chest.
Bram was here.
Sally almost sobbed with relief as more gunshots rang out, echoing loudly through the forest, sending the Albertron reeling with each bullet.
It snarled and lunged, but Bram shot it in the eye. A perfect shot.
The Albertron stood there for a moment, like it couldn't believe that just happened.
It snarled before turning and running through the trees, its footsteps echoing until the sound faded.
Soon after, Bram came into her view.
"Are you here?" He asked, looking around at the top of the tree.
She moved the leaves and stared at him.
"How did you know I was here?" She asked.
He looked amused. "You told me."
"I did?" She asked.
"Yes." He said.
He smiled. "First things first, let's get you out of that tree, and then you have to tell me your name."
"It's Sally." She said as she took his hand and crawled out of the tree, her legs giving out when she tried to put her weight on them. How long had she been in that tree?
"How did I get here?" She asked. "One minute I'm walking home, the next I'm standing in a forest."
"Your abilities are very strong." He explained as he began leading her through the trees. "You were able to teleport yourself to this reality, with the Albertron."
"But how?" She asked.
He stopped and began tracing a symbol in the air, which began glowing. He grabbed her hand and led her through, and they were in the gym at her school.
She laughed. "I never thought I'd be so happy to see this place."
"Go home, get some rest." He said. "You'll have to wait for answers, I'm afraid, as I don't have all of them right now."
"Just, promise me you wont hide anything, or be elusive anymore, that's really annoying." She said. "And what exactly do you mean by 'my abilities'?"
"I mean your abilities," He said. "You summoned the Albertron, which is no easy task, and you did it without realizing; you transported yourself to the Albertrons prison, which again, is not something for beginners, yet you did it with any seeming effort. I do not know what kind of abilities you may possess, but I will find out."
"How?" she asked, images of UFO probes coming to mind.
"Don't worry, it won't hurt." He said, turning on his heel and walking towards the gym doors leading outside, he opened them, pausing just before he passed through and turned back to her. "And another thing: you were able to contact me from that dimension, which I'm not sure how you managed that, as it gives even the most advanced psychics trouble."
"You're saying I'm psychic now?" She asked.
He nodded. "Indeed you are; but not the kind you see on your television. I'll be in touch."
And he left, leaving Sally alone in the gym with her curiosities.
After a moment of thinking over all that had happened, and when she was sure she wouldn't faint, she walked out the doors he'd left through and headed home, preparing herself for a long wait until she could get the information she needed.
She only hoped she wouldn't have to wait long.
Happy Birthday, Sky!! I hope you like this birthday story I wrote for you, sorry it's kind of long, but I heard a rumor you like long stories lol Hope you have an awesome birthday and get everything you wanted and lots of cake. Oh yes, we can't forget the cake :D *hugs and hands birthday cupcake*
The maid, Alissa, showed her the armory and the scullery, the kitchen and the stables, which made her miss Krennan all the more. She was curious where the visitors' horses were kept, since Alissa told her that all guest horses, and horses seized, were kept in a separate stable, but they weren't allowed to see it, and Deanna didn't really want to get Alissa in trouble, so she let it slide and they continued on the tour.
As Alissa showed her the gardens, she thought about how best to bring up the dungeons.
* * *
"So, nice weather we're having, huh?" Cayle said after what seemed like hours of silence.
His friends just glanced in his direction. He sighed.
"Any idea how we're gonna get out of here?" Finn asked in a small voice.
"Working on it." Cadman said from where he sat by the bars.
"Finn, why are you shaking?" Alroy asked, noting Finn's shaking hands. Finn shrugged.
"No reason." He said; Alroy gave him a look and he sighed. "Fine; I don't like tight spaces."
"You're claustrophobic?" Alroy asked, and Finn nodded.
"And all of us crammed into this cell isn't exactly helping." He said.
"Understandable." Alroy said, nodding. "We'll get out of here soon, I'm sure Cadman has some idea running through that thick skull of his."
"That's it!" Cadman roared as he lunged at where Alroy reclined on one of the bunks. "What the hell do you have against me?"
Alroy simply looked at him without moving. "I could ask you the same thing."
"I don't trust you," Cadman said, glaring daggers.
"Oh?" Alroy said, not sounding surprised.
"You show up randomly, won't talk about your past, you evade every question we ask about your past and where you come from; not exactly the kind of attitude that inspires trust." Cadman said.
Alroy began to respond, but was interrupted by laughter.
"You all make so much noise, a deaf man would complain." A voice said from the next cell.
"Who are you?" Cayle asked, getting to his feet.
"Me? I'm a nobody." The voice said. "But you seem to be more than that considering the company you keep."
"What?" Cadman asked.
A chuckle. "You'll find out."
"Where are you?" Cayle asked, trying to see through the dark corridor.
"I'm down a spell," The voice said. There was a sound of rustling, and then curses.
"Curse these chains," The voice said.
"We can free you, if you'd like." Cayle offered.
More laughter. "How can you free me if you can't even free yourselves?"
"We'll find a way." Cayle answered.
"So tell me," The voice said, curious. "How did you get yourselves thrown in here?"
"Apparently we trespassed." Cadman said.
"Apparently?" The voice asked.
"We have no idea how we got here," Cayle explained. "We were passing through, following the trail of a girl, and then the next thing we know, we were arrested and then told we had trespassed and needed to await trial."
"What girl?" the voice asked.
"What?" Cayle asked.
"You mentioned a girl." The voice said. "Who?"
"Uh, her name is Deanna." Cadman said, confused at the change in topic.
The voice didn't respond.
"Do you know her?" Cayle asked.
"I did not get her name, but there was a young woman thrown in here not two days ago." The voice said.
Cadman and Cayle shared a glance. "Could we have caught up to her already?" Cadman asked.
"It's possible." Cayle said.
"Caught up to her?" The voice asked.
"Yes we're, uh, searching for her." Cadman said.
"Not to hurt her, though?" The voice asked, a strange edge to his voice.
"Course not." Cayle said before he knew he'd spoken.
"Good," The voice said. "I like her."
"Who are you?" Cayle asked again.
"I told you," The voice said. "I'm nobody."
"What's your name?" Cadman asked.
"Haven't got one."
"Can you give us a name?" Cadman asked.
"Hmm," The voice said. "Call me... Bart."
"Bart?" Cadman and Cayle said together.
"Yes, I rather like that name." Bart said.
Cadman and Cayle shared a look.
The door to the dungeon creaked open and footsteps could be heard, but they were lighter than the guards'.
They approached quickly, stopping at some of the cells, coming closer and closer with every second.
The footsteps grew ever so close and then they paused outside a nearby cell.
"What are you doing here?" Bart demanded. "If you got away you should stay away!"
There was the sound of metal on metal and then the sound of a door swinging open, and then whispers.
"Thank you," Bart said, relief obvious in his voice. "Now get the others?"
"Others?" A female voice asked and Cayle caught his breath as the footsteps came closer and a man's face appeared at the cell door and then turned to face someone behind him.
The other person approached and everyone's, except Alroys, jaws dropped. The woman who appeared at the cell door was the person they had spent months searching for.
The woman was Deanna.
Deanna was still frozen to the spot, and the conversation became a blur. How had he found her?
That was the question that her mind kept repeating, over and over again.
The conversation continued in the other room, and, once she had her wits about her again, she assumed he had passed sentence and put them in the dungeon.
She turned and went back to her room, the reason she had come was completely forgotten. She walked with determination she had to find a way to get to the dungeon.
* * *
Cadman was letting loose a string of curses as he tried to break the bars of their cell.
"Cadman, just let it lie." Alroy said calmly from where he sat on the tattered bed, his head resting on the wall; his eyes were closed.
"How can I let it lie?" Cadman demanded. "We're stuck here until that ass upstairs decides 'what punishment is most suitable for trespassing,'" He mocked the kings voice. It was a very poor impersonation.
"You're not going to help anything if you get us killed by the guards." Alroy responded. He seemed almost abnormally calm.
"Why are you so calm, Alroy?" Finn asked from where he was sitting in the corner, watching the room warily.
"This so called 'king' is no such thing, he's a Baron that got dishonored and so he went to an out of the way forest, built himself a castle and called himself a king. He's a worthless little brat who threw a temper-tantrum simply because his daddy wouldn't die."
They all looked at him, surprised at the hate in his voice. He opened his eyes to look at them.
* * *
Deanna was sitting on the bed again, trying to come up with a plan to get to the dungeon, since she figured they wouldn't let her just walk in, would they?
There was a knock at the door and Deanna stood to open it.
"The king requests your presence." The guard said, his face stern and he looked like he didn't have any laugh lines at all.
"Lead the way." Deanna said as she closed the door behind her.
The guard lead her back to the throne room, where the king still sat upon the throne.
He smiled when he saw her.
"Hello," He greeted. "I hope you found your rooms comfortable."
"Indeed," She said, wondering when he'd get to the point; she didn't think he'd called her out here to discuss her sleeping arrangements.
"It has occurred to me, though I fear I have addressed the matter too late, that you have not yet had a tour of my palace."
She blinked in surprise. Well, she thought, this is lucky.
The king had called over a young maid, who kept her eyes averted. "Alissa, could you give Miss..." He paused. "Oh dear, we've spent a few days together and I don't even know your name."
He had an apologetic light in his eyes.
"It's alright, I'm afraid we're even in that respect," Deanna said. "My name is Deanna."
He smiled. "My name is King Devron." He turned back to the maid. "Please show Lady Deanna around the palace."
The maid bowed and walked towards the door, Deanna followed her.
The riders were approaching quickly, and, now that they were closer, the group could see that they were soldiers.
"Probably a patrol," Alroy said, sitting in his wagon, arms resting on his legs as he watched them approach.
"You think?" Cadman said, his voice having the slight hint of sarcasm. "I can spot a patrol a mile away without your help."
"Be nice." Cayle said.
"Announce yourselves!" The man leading the riders said, once he was within shouting range.
"We are but a group of travelers, sir, passing through." Cayle shouted back.
There was a sharp bark of laughter. "You take me for a fool? You are no mere travelers!"
"Sir?" Cayle asked.
"Drop any weapons you may have on the road." The man ordered. "And then dismount."
"Now!" The man screamed.
They all unsheathed their weapons and dropped them on the road before dismounting, hands in the air.
"Was that so hard?" The man smirked.
* * *
Deanna sat on the cushioned bed, staring in amazement at her surroundings. She was sitting in an elaborately decorated room, with ornate ceramics sitting on oak dressers and tables.
Paintings of landscapes hung on the walls; and the canopied bed was draped with burgundy silk, with matching bed-sheets, and a large quilt lay on the bed, adding more color to the intense room.
She couldn't believe it was hers. It was quite the jump from the prison cell she'd woken up in. She stood and began wandering the room, looking more closely at the furniture and the ceramics. They were all quite valuable.
She paused when she passed a painting of an open landscape with wild horses running free and it made her think of Krennan and how much she missed him. She found herself wondering what had happened.
A sudden thought occurred to her and she ran out of the room, trying to find her way back to the throne room.
She passed a maid with short brown hair that she had pulled back off her face with a bandana and asked for directions. The maid, after a short pause, pointed her in the right direction and soon she was running through the halls once more, trying desperately not to fall flat on her face.
She came to the door from which she had been lead through after it was revealed she wasn't this Marianna everyone kept talking about.
She was about to burst through the door when something made her pause. She could hear voices through the door and her curiosity got the better of her and she put her ear against the door.
"-care!" A man shouted; she recognized it as the voice of the lord of the castle.
"But, my lord," Another man whimpered, the terror clear in his voice. "The girl!"
Deanna wondered what girl they were talking about.
"I don't care what you have to do!" The castle lord said again. "Convince him that she is his daughter!"
"My lord," Another man spoke up, his voice cautious, but not filled with fear, like the others. "If he does not believe we have his daughter, perhaps we should send him proof?"
"But what?!" The lord demanded. "We don't have anything of his daughters' to send him; he wouldn't believe some ribbon or a lock of hair, it would have to be something personal that only she would have or a note with something that only she would know written on it! He's too smart for that!"
There was a pause.
"Perhaps we could ki-" The man began, but was interrupted by a loud banging sound that made Deanna jump.
"My lord! We caught intruders in the land," A new voice said, his voice dripping with glee at his capture. "They claim to be travelers, but how lucky can we get? First the girl, and now them? They're obviously working together!"
"Thank you, Captain," The lord said tightly, obviously annoyed at the interruption. "But why don't you leave the allegations to us?"
"What girl?" A voice that sounded familiar asked.
"You dare address the King of the Shore?!" One of the original voices said indignantly.
"King of the what?" The familiar voice asked, slightly amused. "That's the best name you could come up with?"
Then it finally dawned on Deanna who the owner of that voice was. And she stepped away from the door in shock. How had he found her?
The voice belonged to the boy she had encountered in the woods, the one who she's heard singing.
She admired herself in the mirror. Her blonde hair hung loose about her shoulders, bringing out the green dress, which in turn made her light green eyes really stand out.
She had to admit it, there was no way around it: she looked pretty.
That was a rare thing for her to see, that she actually looked pretty in something, as she had always seen herself as ordinary looking.
She looked at her reflection for a few more moments before finally being able to drag herself away to go exploring some more, now that she wasn't in just a bathrobe.
The skirt slid on the rough carpet, and it took all of her grace to not trip and fall flat on her face, and even that wasn't working so well, as she kept tripping over the long skirt, with only her reflexes saving her from landing face first on the floor.
This was harder then it looked.
* * *
The horse was very, very noisy. He would whinny, and stomp his feet constantly when they'd stop for the night, or when they'd stop for lunch. The only time he was quiet was when they were moving.
"That horse is getting on my last good nerve." Cadman said eventually.
"Agreed." Alroy said.
"He can't help it," Finn said. "He's anxious to find her."
"Finn's right," Cayle said. "Once he finds her, he'll calm down, trust me; but until then, we need to be patient with him, my guess is this is the longest they've been separated."
As if in response, the horse tossed his head and snorted.
"Fine." Cadman said with a sigh. "Whatever, I just wish he wouldn't be so... What is that?"
He'd glanced off to the side and noticed a group of riders, heading straight towards them.
* * *
She made her way back to the bathroom she'd come from, and looked around a little bit, but, deciding that simply looking around a bathroom, waiting for someone to show up to show her around, she left and began exploring.
She made her way down the hall, peeking in doors. At one point, she found a library, with shelves upon shelves of books, which simply made Deanna depressed: she couldn't read.
She closed the door and continued exploring until she came upon a door that was ajar, she could hear people talking, and she couldn't help herself. She stopped just outside the door and listened, though she didn't recognize either of the voices.
"No! I will not!" One voice, a man's, said indignantly. There was a hrmph sound, and a sound of wood on wood.
"Aha! Take that!" Another voice, also a man's, said. "And you will! When I win, you will clean my horses stall for a month, that was the deal, and so you must hold."
"And if I don't?" The first voice challenged.
"Then you shall be locked in the dungeon with the other prisoners."
There was a pause. "Is she down there?"
"No," The second said. "Didn't you hear? It was a case of mistaken identity."
"But why is she still here if it was a mistake? Shouldn't she be on her way?" The first asked.
There was a hesitation. "I shouldn't tell you this, but I will anyway, because we're friends, right?" The second asked, sounding like he was about to confess a deep dark secret that boarded on treachery.
"Of course we're friends." The first said.
A pause, and then, Deanna could hear an intake of breath. "The lord is planning on-"
"What are you doing?" Someone demanded from inside the room.
"Uh, Haley, what are you doing here?" One of the men asked.
"You and you're stupid chess games and conspiracy theories." The girl named Haley said.
Figuring she wouldn't be hearing any more of the lords plan from them, Deanna continued on down the hall, wondering who this Marianna of the Shore was, and why everyone thought that her and Deanna were one and the same.
Deanna had been escorted out of the throne room and into a bathing chamber, where the two maids who accompanied her attempted to wash her, which Deanna was more than capable of doing herself. She explained this to them, but apparently, all royalty couldn't bathe themselves. She dismissed them and then proceeded to sit in the steaming tub, finally being able to relax.
When she was done, she put on one of the robes that had been laid out, as apparently one of the maids had stolen her clothes, presumably to wash them.
She began wandering around, curious as to her whereabouts and those of her horse. That thought concerned her more than anything. Where could he be? Is he safe? Is he... dead?
That last thought made her freeze.
He couldn't be dead, could he? She forced those thoughts from her mind.
* * *
"Can you tell the horse to calm down?" Cadman said testily as the horse they had found stomped his feet impatiently as the small party sat around the fire, eating. "We're trying to eat and he's not helping anything by acting up."
"He's anxious is all." Finn said. "No need to get upset with him; he just doesn't see why we're wasting time."
"Wasting time?" Cadman repeated.
"Will you two stop already?" Cayle interjected. "I swear, you two are worse than an old married couple."
They looked at each other.
"OK," Alroy said, walking back into the small clearing. "I have filled the water-canteens."
"Thanks, but you really don't need to announce it." Cadman said.
"I felt like it." Alroy responded, dropping the canteens by Cadman and walking closer to the fire to see if there were any leftovers.
* * *
Deanna found one of the maids who had first showed her the washroom cleaning a suit of armor in one of the hallways.
She walked up, trying to make some sort of noise so as not to scare the poor girl.
The maid took a quick look at the armor, before nodding to herself and climbing down off of the small step-stool she had been standing on.
"Your missing the shield." Deanna said calmly, examining the armor as well.
The maid yelped in surprise and spun around.
"Sorry." Deanna said. "I didn't mean to startle you."
"That's alright." The maid said between gasps of air. "What did you need?"
"Where are my clothes?" Deanna asked.
"Being cleaned." The maid responded, her hand over her heart in a still surprised position.
"I'm sorry again." Deanna said. "I tried to stomp a bit when I got closer."
"That's alright." The maid repeated.
"Uh, so, if my clothes are being cleaned, what do I wear in the meantime?" Deanna asked after a pause. "I can't just go around in a bathrobe."
"Follow me." The maid said, folding up the step-stool and placing it next to the armor before walking off to the left, Deanna right behind her.
The maid led her through a door into a dressing room and looked through the wardrobe, picking out a few dresses and placing them on the bed.
"Which one do you like best?" She asked Deanna, who was looking suspiciously at the dresses.
"I'm not a big fan of dresses." She said.
"Which one do you like best?" The maid repeated, ignoring what Deanna had said.
She sighed and began going through the dresses until she found one she liked. An emerald green one, that wasn't too fancy or too poofy, like most of the other dresses were.
"That one?" The maid asked, and when Deanna nodded, the woman grabbed it and hung it up on the wardrobe door and began taking measurements, first of the dress, then of Deanna.
"You're in luck." She said after a few minutes of this.
"What?" Deanna asked.
"It's your size, no adjusting required." The maid answered. "Would you like help into it?"
"I think I can figure it out." Deanna said. The woman nodded and bowed slightly before leaving, closing the door behind her.
Deanna looked at the dress, still hanging on the wardrobe door. In this light, it almost seemed to shimmer.
She walked forward and took it off of the door to put it on.