Author's note: I wrote this a while ago. It's not completely revised and the spelling and grammar may be... Show full author's note »
Chapter ThreeI blink awake, lost and disoriented. I’m leaning against a tree in a very beautiful place. It’s midday. Where am I? When I try and look around a pain slices through me, leaving me breathless. When I can move again I trace the throbbing knot with my fingers at the back of my head. I push on it, testing the damage and wince from the pain. I must have hit it pretty hard. I eventually get to my feet, ignoring the dizzy and nauseous feeling that threatens to take over. I’m unbelievably weak so I
“Larson.” A voice said from behind me. It belonged to the girl. I knew before looking. But, that can’t be right. This doesn’t feel like a dream; I guess it never did but, this is all too much. I carefully turn around to face her, switching arms to lean against the tree that helps hold me up. “I’m not dreaming am I?” My voice is rough with sleep. She looks confused but answers anyway, “No.” It sounded more like a question. Before I could say anymore something jerked at my chest and pulled me back against the tree with great force. I hit my head on the bark and I scream in agony. I slide down the bark; it scrapes the back of my arms, until I’m sitting on the ground. I look down and a rope, made from something I’ve never seen before, is wrapped tightly around me.
A woman walks out from behind the tree and glowers at me. She must have been the one to tie me up. She has straight brunette hair, with a hint of red, which rides down to the middle of her back. Her eyes match her hair exactly and she is also beautiful, though she is very different from the girl. She is much taller and her ears point out from underneath her hair. Her clothes look to be made from leafs and the long strap attached to a bag full of arrows is around her torso. She has many, what looked to be tattoos, down her arms and on her stomach. They were all black and were random markings of nothing I could name.
She kneels down beside me and places a hand on my shoulder. Her face turns from a snarl to shock. All is still and silent while the woman looks far into the distance, past anything in my sight. Then she takes a deep breath and looks at me. She smiles. “My name is Audrina.” She says to me. “Welcome to Cardinair.” I look over her shoulder to the girl from my countless dreams and she smiles shyly at me. I look back to the woman named Audrina and force a smile, hoping it looks genuine. “I’m Larson.” I say. “I know.” She says while gracefully standing up to her feet, like a very skilled dancer. While she cuts the rope with a small dagger that was at her side she explains, “I am what you call an Ontarion. Ontarions all have different powers. For instance, one of us can run with super speed, another can create illusions to everyone else’s untrained eye. But, I can touch someone and see their entire life from the time they were born to the time I place my hand on them.” She shrugs. “You could say I just lived your entire life with you.” I blush, not wanting to think about what she saw on those crazy weekends I rather not remember. “I’m sure you have many questions.” Audrina laughs. “But, I’ll leave Ava to answer them.” She looks back at the girl who stands aside, out of the way.
“Ava.” I smile, letting the name roll off of my tongue. Ava blushes a crimson color and looks away. Audrina threw the rope off of me and says, “You’re welcome to stay with me.”
“You’re very kind. But, I’ll stay with Ava.” Audrina laughs heartily; the sound is beautiful. “The both of you can stay with me.” I sat up and my head throbbed. I let out a smothered cry and Ava unexpectedly rushes towards me. She kneels down beside me and places a small, cold hand on the knot at the back of my head. I stare at her relaxed face and find myself lost in her somehow. It’s that sensation that drowns me when I look at her. She drops her hand and meets my eyes. I watch her lips move when she says, “What is he?” She is looking to me but speaking to Audrina.
“A human.” She says from behind me. Ava’s eyes grew and she jumps up.
“Don’t worry.” Audrina says; I can hear a smile in her voice. “He means no harm.”
Ava relaxes the tiniest bit and nods. “Is your head better?” She asks and at first I’m confused at her words. When I remember I search for the knot at my head but, there isn’t one. “How did you do that?” I ask but in the distance there are many voices calling for Audrina. She frowns and says, “If he stays here for long you are both welcome to stay in my home but not tonight. I forget, the others wouldn’t accept him well.” Ava nods and tells Audrina to go search for the others that still call her name in the distance. Audrina agrees and before she leaves she says to me, “I’m expecting to see you very soon, Larson James McKinley.” My mouth drops, she really did live my life. I hardly ever give out my middle name to anyone. Then she looks to Ava and says, “He arrived here at the watchmen tower.” She points and just above the tall and colorful trees I can see a tower. It had to be the one I was just on top of yesterday. Audrina turns away and runs with the agility and grace you only see in movies with extremely good special effects.
“She’s an Ontarion?” I ask Ava. Ava smiles and nods with excitement. I stand up, surprised that I feel okay now. “And what are you?” She doesn’t say anything. Instead, she walks over to me and places a hand on the sleeve of my jacket. Suddenly we are deeper into the forest. I look around at the new setting amazed but, also horrified. “How did you do that?” I whisper. She shrugs and says, “I’m a witch.”
I chuckle, unconvinced. “Excuse me?” I say.
“I’m a witch.” She says with more deliberation.
“No,” I shake my head. “I heard you but..” I trail off, my unspoken words are forgotten. My mind feels like it’s going to explode when I come to the conclusion that I am in a new world entirely. And in this new world there is such a thing as magic. I swallow hard, loosing my grip on reality. I shake my head and bring my hands to my face, pushing my palms into my closed eyes. Then I laugh. Ava looks at me curiously. “I’m sorry.” I say. “This is just so crazy.”
"This is so new to you." She says, it isn’t a question. "What's it like to step into another world?"
I look around thinking about her question. The trees were very different from the trees I am used to. These trees look as if every multi-colored leaf was patterned with every branch. The color of their trunks is a brighter shade of brown. They look so...Alive. I knew the change was because my eyes are seeing in a totally new dimension...Or was it for a different reason? Was everything in this place so naturally beautiful?
"It's like...Dreaming." I say.
She nods, her eyes wide.
"So." I laugh. "This place," I look around and see ever more colors that don’t exist in my world on various surfaces of the foliage around us, “This place is real. I'm actually here." I laugh again. I look back at the witch and she stood still, quietly observing my every move with awe. I walk towards her. "You." I couldn't stop smiling. "You’re actually real." She nods and giggles beautifully. "Last time I checked, yes." I chime in laughter with her.
"I knew I don't have the imagination to dream this." I look around towards the heavens and watch as the leaves swayed alongside the wind in a erythematic pattern. I look back at her." And I definitely don't have the imagination to dream up someone so perfect like you."
Her face flushed crimson red as she smiles nervously. The entire process of that small change in her face is so entirely breathe taking, it made me want to touch her, and it made me want to hold her. "Sorry to embarrass you." I said with a sincere apologetic smile.
"No, no." She waved her hand. "It's ok."
I nod. "May I ask you something?" She asks kindly.
"Anything you wish."
"What's it like...In your world, I mean?" She smiles with bright lavender eyes.
"Oh." That wasn't a very interesting question. "Well...It's nothing like this for instance." Was all I said.
"So, what is it like?"
I struggle for the right words. I could tell that she's hoping my world is far greater than her own. "Uh.. Well.. There's really nothing to tell." I shrug. Her smile started to fade. "Oh, please do try." She said. "I'll help you. What does it look like there?"
"Oh um... Pretty similar to here.." I look around. It wasn't all that similar. Sure, you could tell the trees were trees and the flowers were flowers but in my world none of this beauty from the trees and from the flowers would exist. Cardinair looked to be painted by the most skilled angel in all of heaven. I’ve never seen anything like it. Other than the witch herself. "Except for the colors...Some we lack.."
Her face brightens up again. "I heard we have the same sky. Is it true?"
I look up, peeping around the dancing leaves and see the clouds moving swiftly from East to West. "I think we do, actually...Wait." I looked back at her. "You said you heard that.. You knew about my world?"
"Yes, we Cardinarians study your world from time to time. We have a history with each other.."
"A history?" I was utterly shocked.
She looks down, hiding her face. "It was a very long time ago. I don't like talking about it." Her tone sounded as if she was in pain. I want to hear of the history but, won’t speak of it if she doesn’t want to. Especially if it hurt her. I would never want to hurt her. Not even for anyone else’s benefit or my own for that matter.
"So what else?" She changed the subject but still looks down at her fingers.
"Well..." I thought for a while. "There's no such thing as magic there."
"There's not?" She looks up, a small wrinkle in between her eye brows. She is puzzled.
I laugh. "None. I mean some people like to believe there is but in reality they know it's not real."
"But you-you've seen it. So you must know the truth."
"Hmm..." I ponder over that for a moment." This all still feels like a dream."
She nods and we both smile at each other. "I wonder why my world brought you here. Why you?" She says, more to herself.
"You know you’re not the first to visit here." She said.
"What do you mean? First human?"
She doesn’t answer. Instead she looks up with a twisted expression on her flawless face.
"What?" I ask.
"Shh!" She turns her head, listening to something in the far distance. I listen too. It was the faint noise of horse hooves plowing through the soil ahead of us. Her expression turns to worry.” We’re not alone."
"Another friend?" I ask, trying not to show the fear that is spreading through me.
"Not exactly.” Was her only reply.