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{o0. f o r w a r d}


Hello everyone!

Welcome to Legends of Eterra, an original novel by yours truly. I think I've finally gotten the hang of this writing in the area/posting collaborative stories gig, so I'm going to try posting it here. It doesn't seem as neat or well put together as the arena, but I suppose it'll do. The chapters are numerical by post number. I'd make them into links, but all you have to do is scroll down.

I am very happy I finally got around to writing this. It's been a long time coming, and here's to hoping I'll finish it. This is my favorite genre to write, and I've been having a ton of fun so far. Special thanks to my beta-readers, Nebulous-Chaos + Serenity Reed!

If you'd like to make a comment/suggestion/criticism, post here! From now on, I'll link the chapters to the individual posts.

Title: Legends of Eterra (working title)
Genre: Fantasy/Action/Adventure
Rating: Pending
Summary: Ellenore Hensley is a recent high school graduate about to start her first semester of college. However, fate has other plans, and Ellenore will soon find herself in the colorful world of Eterra, where she and her new found companions must explore and discover the hidden legends of this world before it is consumed into total chaos.


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GLOSSARY

WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Albion (AHL-bee-on): Ellenore's hometown. A small community with 134 people, predominately farmers and people in the agriculture industry. Albion is located on the southeastern side of Oklahoma.
Alexander Difaldi (Alick-ZAN-dur dih-FAL-dee): One of the arbiters
Annie Hensley (ANNE-ee HEN-slee): Ellenore's mom.
Arbiter (ARE-bitter): Special Vientillan soldiers that take orders directly from Ashurei. Five in total.
Ashurei (Ah-SHUU-ray): The main antagonist of the book. Chousa's older brother, and the current king of Vientilla. Responsible for the death of the Vientiallan royal family and attempted to murder his younger brother, Chousa. He is holding the orb of Yggdrisil, and seeks out the other two talismans to access the guardian tree, Yggdrisil's core.
Balthazar Zanatos (BALL-thuh-ZAR ZAN-uh-TOHS): One of the arbiters.
Chousa (CHOH-suh): The supposed "dead" prince of Vientilla, and the rightful heir to the throne. Ten years ago, he was "murdered" by his older brother. He is holding the sword of Yggdrisil.
Dietrich Vennadier (DEE-trick VEN-uh-DEER): One of the arbiters.
Ellenore "Elle" Hensley (EL-eh-NORE HEN-slee): The heroine of the book. She is holding the mirror of Yggdrisil, which was found on the meteorite that crashed into her town.
Faris (FAIR-is): The feisty, spunky 15-year-old living with Leni, his aunt, in the Rowenwood.
Feychii (FAYE-chee): A vibrant yellow, squash-like fruit with a delicious pink center. Don't eat the shell, though, you'll regret it.
Finneas Solamyn (PHIN-ee-US SAHL-uh-MIN): One of the arbiters.
Giorna Eseilla (Jee-OR-nuh ee-SAY-luh): A stern, serious youth who "protects" her good friend Tyberious. She was once an arbiter, but was kicked out when it was discovered she was a woman.
Jim Hensley (GYM HEN-slee): Ellenore's dad and the owner of the Hensley Farm.
Leni (LEH-nee): Faris's aunt. A strong woman by nature who lives in the Rowenwood. She has taken care of Chousa for the past ten years.
Oramedes (aura-MAY-dees): A slummy, sleazy industrial city of equally slummy people. Located in the middle of the desert, the people here operate and do business at night to avoid the heat during the day.
Orion Nazeel (oh-RYE-in nah-ZEAL): One of the arbiters.
Retica (REH-tih-KUH): The mage responsible for sending the meteor to Elle's town. He enclosed the mirror inside the meteor and hurled it into space, in an attempt to remove it from Eterra, and Ashurei's reaches. He is the only one capable of doing this.
Rowenwood (ROW-in-WOOD): A village up in the trees. Chousa's home for the past ten years. Leni and Faris also live here.
Rythais (rye-THAY-is): A kingdom in between a valley. Not much is know about this yet.
Talismans/Treasures of Yggdrisil: The sword, mirror, and orb. All are required for access to Yggdrisil.
Tuyula (tuh-YOO-lah): A fairly large neighboring town to Rythais lying further west. Chousa and Elle encounter it while passing through.
Tyberious "Tye" Roman (Ti-BEER-ee-US ROW-min): The aristocrat who essentially runs Tuyula.
Orion Nazeel (oh-RYE-in nuh-ZEAL): Serious, driven, and stern. Orion is the commander and chief of the arbiters, and the one responsible for planning the missions they've been assigned.
Vientilla (vee-EN-shi-LUH): A great kingdom now launching war onto Eterra in an attempt to unite it under one rule. This kingdom was once the holder of the treasures of Yggdrisil.
Yggdrisil (IGG-dri-SIHL): The great tree and guardian force of Eterra.

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Q & A

with Dietrich Vennadier

User Image It's come to my attention that my presence in this post is needed. After a discussion (read: begging) with Eterra's author, Autumn, she proceeded to tell me her..."thoughts" on what she thinks would be beneficial to the audience. I'm not stoked on the idea, quiet honestly. I'm not sure how entertaining you morons will create any sort of difference in how fast she writes, but between you and I? Autumn would take an entire century to write anything if she could. My thoughts aside, I'm here to answer your questions.

So, humor me, faithful Eterra readers. I'm eager to answer whatever idiotic questions you may have. You can ask me about Eterra, my job, your job (though if you're reading this, I doubt you have one), relationship advice - I'm all ears.

Oh, and one more thing dear reader? I'll answer you if I feel like it. Don't take it personally - I just have a life to live, and quite frankly, it's more important than yours.

Sincerely, but not yours and hopefully not ever,

-D

-

Hello Dietrich,
I have a question, and I hope it's pertinent:  What is life like in the service of Ashurei?  You sound quite proud of yourself...and so it seems odd a man like you follows orders as such.  What do you think of your boss?

Sincerely,
Tina


Dearest Tina,

You seem to be the victim of a misunderstanding. Being an arbiter isn't about following the rules when it comes to idiots like Ashurei. Be that as it may, I get my orders from Orion, who, in my opinion, needs to retire and leave his job to me. But since I don't foresee that happening anytime soon, I'm forced to do as he says...sometimes. Orion may tell me what to do but, Tina, I do what I think is right, and most of the time, it is right. Someone has to take charge of Ashurei's piss-poor management skills, and isn't going to be Orion, because Orion is giant p***y who can't say no to anyone. That said, I suppose I don't take orders from anyone but myself. Let me give you an example:

So, a few weeks ago, I was out overseeing an occupation and doing an evaluation, and everyone came with except for Alex, because Alex is a sulky, lazy dolt, and no one likes him except for Orion. And no, I'm not biased. Orion comes to me and says the following:

"Oh, Dietrich, la la la, Ashurei says you have to go back to Vientialla because he wants you and Alex to go fetch him something from Rythais, blah blah blah."

And of course, I inquired about what this "something" was, knowing Ashurei, because I figured it was something worthless. And I was right, it was worthless, and Orion knew it to, but just like I said before, Tina, Orion just couldn't say no, could he? So he says:

"Oh, Dietrich, can't you just shut up and do what the king says, la la la" and then I said, "Well, Orion, I think it would be a waste of my talent to question an entire town on the whereabouts of Chousa, I think that's FINNEAS'S job, don't you think?" and then Orion has the nerve to come back at me and say, "Disobeying the king is a serious offense."

Yes, Orion, disobeying the king is serious offense, but he's also a stupid, obnoixious, spoiled excuse for a king, and you know it. So anyway, *I* had to go back, regardless of my opinion - which was right, by the way, because I usually am - and babysit that stupid lazy dumbass of an arbiter called Alex and go fetch information from a remote city off the coast of god knows where.

Oh, the life of an arbiter! I especially love this question because it's about me. What can I say? I travel around Eterra, tell citizens what to do, receive an exceptionally high amount of pay, and live in Vientialla. Our quarters are atrocious, but at least they're structurally sound. Balthazar likes it; you should ask him about the time he wedged his axe into the wall. Orion wasn't thrilled about that. He's still attempting to receive restitution in damages from the council.

It's a simple life, really.

Kind of sincerely,

-D

Dear Dietrich,
Thank you for your answer to my previous question.  I'd like to ask a follow-up, if you don't mind.  It seems you aren't fond of your boss or your coworkers.  However, if forced, is there one of these people you'd prefer over the others?

Thank you again for your answer,
Tina


Dearest Tina,

...I would kill myself before choosing a preference.

You must not understand how frustrating it is working with stupid people all the damn time. In fact, they'd cease to exist if it wasn't for me. Everyone owes their lives to me because I'm the only one that ever does anything. The reason we're productive is because I'm an arbiter.

How hard is that to understand?

-D
UPDATES

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August 30th, 2012: HEY THERE GUYS, WHAT'S GOING ON? REMEMBER WHEN I USED TO UPDATE THIS THING? It's a miracle. Chapter XVI has finally arrived! Enjoy! s**t is about to get real!

November 28th, 2011: Chapter XV: Valley of the Departed is now available.

October 2nd, 2011: Chapter XIII: Ambiguity in record time!

September 27th, 2011: Hey guys! Squeezing in an update just before October. Chapter XII: Chancing the Precipice is here!

June 11th, 2011: Hi everyone! Long time no see! Chapter XI: Manhunt has been posted! Enjoy!

February 14th, 2011: Happy Valentine's Day! ENTRY #7: ALEX has been added. Chapter XI is almost done and on the way!

EDIT: Here are the links to the other entries:
Entry #4
Entry #5
Entry #6

January 9th, 2011: Happy new year everyone! I've added something new to the thread. It's called "Q&A with Dietrich Vennadier". Feel free to ask my favorite arbiter a question of your choosing. It can be found underneath the glossary. Have fun!

December 24th, 2010: Chapter X: Oramedes has arrived! Merry Christmas, everyone!

October 23rd, 2010: Entry #2 and Entry #3 have been added~

October 21st, 2010: Hey guys! I've added something brand new to the thread. I'll be making several entries on who I would choose as cast members if Eterra was a movie. You can find the first entry here:

ENTRY #1: ELLE

October 19th, 2010: Chapter IX: The Aristocrat of the West, Part III, at long last, is finally finished. I have NO excuse, either. All I can hope is that after this is clear, the writing will come a lot easier. NO clue why it took me so long, since it seems like such a simple chapter.

July 30th, 2010: Chapter VII: The Aristocrat of the West, Part I has been added! Not sure how I feel about it. Thank you all so much for the love and the reviews! Glossary has also been updated to add different terminology you might have seen in 7. Not much to say otherwise!

July 22nd, 2010: Chapter VI: Revelations has been added! Can't say that I'm 100% happy with it. The end dialogue needs work. In this chapter, I've been exceptionally careful about my descriptions. I hope it shows!

July 19th, 2010: First update! Five chapters done so far. I think the best part about writing is not knowing where the ******** you're going. Leaves room for all sorts of surprises.

I've changed the layout of this thread somewhat; I'll allow people to post here for the sake of saving people the trouble of sending me a PM. Since Gaia doesn't allow double-posting, I can't make a separate discussion forum, so to make navigation easier amidst all of the scrolling, I will place links to each post at the content table on the first post. Hope this helps! And happy reading!
CHAPTER I: The Calm Before the Storm

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Albion, Oklahoma, August 15th, 1993

Ellenore Hensley was on her way home to eat dinner with her family for the last time.

In her father’s old ’78 Ford F100 Ranger, she traveled down an old, dusty road at dusk, the engine softly growling as it rolled across the desolate cornfields belonging to the small farms that were scattered across the small town of 134 people. In the back of the truck, a german shepherd barked at a two boys riding their bikes on the side of the gravel road. The truck’s windows were rolled down and in the driver’s seat, Ellenore smiled widely as the summer’s warm air infiltrated her blonde locks. The truck was kicking up dust and debris that created a fine brown mist, billowing from behind the truck as it rumbled across the dusty trail.

The summer of 1993 in Albion had been more dry than usual. There hadn’t been a thunderstorm in almost four months; it was leaving the crops dry and lifeless and the livestock hungry; something that families in Albion couldn’t afford to lose.

Ellenore turned her head slightly to the left. She could see the sun setting behind a giant crater; all that was left after a meteor had hit almost five years ago.

It had become a huge conversation piece when it had hit, and it still was. No one was supposed to go near it, but it certainly didn’t stop the two boys, who were now sliding down the sides of the large depression into the center of it. They had carelessly left their bikes in the wake of the last rays of twilight. Ellenore shifted her glance between the crater and the road, something she often did as she was driving on this lonely road towards her home.



The smell of potatoes and gravy were filling Ellenore’s nostrils before she even laid her hand on the handle of her front door. Max, the german shepherd, was quick to jump out of the truck and stay behind Ellenore. When she turned the handle to open the door, Max slipped past her and dove in before she did, quickly trotting to the kitchen where the source of the fine smells were. Ellenore shut the door behind her.

“I’m home,” she announced, placing the keys in a small bowl on the table off to the side, casually walking into the kitchen, where her mother and Max were waiting. Max was sitting now, looking patiently at the bowl of mashed potatoes and asparagus sitting on the counter. His bushy tail swished back and forth happily, and he cocked his head, in hopes that some small morsel would drop to the ground. Ellenore’s blue eyes scanned the room as her hand rested on the side of the threshold. Her mother turned around.

“Elle,” she said, a disappointed look passing over her face, “You’re late.”

“Sorry,” she muttered half-heartedly, grabbing a plate from the cupboard and returning to the counter to dish some potatoes from the bowl. Max let out a soft whimper.

“Where did you go this evening? I was expecting you back by seven,” she added sharply, “You weren’t off by that crater, were you? You know your father doesn’t want you around there.”

“No, Mom,” Elle rolled her eyes, “I wasn’t by the crater. I went to go fill Dad’s tank up,” she finished, taking a bite out of her asparagus, turning on her heel to sit down. Max was immediately on his feet and followed her to the table.

“Elle,” came another low tenor from the far corner of the room. Emerging from the other room was Elle’s Dad, who looked like he had just come from outside. His shirt had a hint of dirt and other debris on it. It was fairly common to see him walking around their house with soiled clothing; as a farmer, he often worked long hours in the hot Oklahoma sun in the summer time, tending to the crops, which were suffering because of the four months they had gone without any rain. He sat down, his hand reaching over the scratch behind Max’s ear, which made his tail swish back and forth happily.

“How much was it to fill up the tank?”

“$16.00 even, I think?” she replied, eating another strand of asparagus. Elle’s dad reached forward as if expecting something.

“I gave you a twenty, lady.”

Elle grumbled and reached into her pocket to retrieve the remaining four singles she was hoping to keep from her dad. She slapped it in his palm and he retreated, just as her mother came around with the rest of dinner to put on the table. When she took a seat, she cleared her throat and started to talk as she broke off a piece of bread. Elle starred quietly down at her plate.

“When do you move in your dorm?” Elle’s dad nonchalantly asked. Elle looked up from her plate. Her eyes were almost sullen. She had suddenly forgotten that she was moving out in less than a week to start her first semester of college at Oklahoma State. Though she had reminded him dozens of times, Elle obliged to answer his question again.

“Next week, Monday,” she answered. Her dad nodded approvingly, “Thought about anything you’d like to do?”

I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to do with my life, Dad.

“I don’t know yet,” Elle shook her head. Her mother piped in quietly.

“She’s got plenty of time to think about it,” she reminded her father, “Right, Jim?”

“I suppose,” he replied reluctantly. Elle fell silent. It was a subject she struggled to avoid; talking with her father about her future was often heated, so Elle was careful not to bring it up. However, she couldn’t control what her father was thinking, so when he brought it up, the answers were often short until he would eventually change the subject. Elle, however, was just as worried as her father. It was such a huge change in such a short time; the only thing she was sure about was that staying in Albion was not an option. The phone suddenly rang, cutting through the tension of the subject. Her mother pushed herself away from the table to answer the phone.

Max was grumbling again from underneath the table. Elle sneaked him a strand of asparagus when her father looked casually over at his wife on the phone. Max lapped it up with one gulp. Satisfied, he trotted off into the living room to look out the window.

“Want to see something cool?” her father chimed in, getting his daughter’s attention.

Elle’s eyes fell on her father, who was reaching inside his pocket to pull something out. She watched him with curiosity as he withdrew a pendant from his pocket, handing it to Elle. Elle, in turn, raised her eyebrows at the item in her father’s palm, carefully lifting it to examine it herself.

“Where did you find this?” she asked with a small smile on her face. Her father reclined back in his chair. Elle examined the treasure that her father had found. It was a jade pendant with dragons that were carved into the sides. It’s intricate pattern surrounded a small mirror that lying in the center. Elle’s mystified expression was looking back at her and she looked into the mirror.

“Ben from across the road found it near the crater. Said he didn’t want it, so I took it. Wonder how much it’s worth?” he wondered absently. Elle clutched her hands around the pendant.

“N-No, don’t sell it!” she protested, “It’s too pretty.”

Her father laughed, “Alright, Elle. You hang on to it for me. Don’t lose it now, you hear?”

Elle looked back at his twinkling eyes. She smiled, nodding and looking back at her new-found treasure.

“Don’t tell your mom I was over there, though,” he added, “She’ll kill me.”

Just then, her mother rounded the corner. She had finished her telephone conversation and sat back down to finish her dinner.

“There’s a large storm coming in from Missouri. That was Laverne on the phone. I can’t believe she’s still living in St. Louis with her husband; they were talking about moving to Chicago. We were talking about the big storm they just had, so I forgot to ask,” her mom rambled on. Elle wasn’t paying attention. She as looking at how beautiful the pendant was, lying in her hands.



The wind had picked up significantly. It was rustling the trees outside of Ellenore’s bedroom. Max was curled up at the foot of her bed, fast asleep. Elle had fallen asleep on her side with the pendant still clutched in her hand. The trees had been rustled so violently that they were scratching up against the window. Max lifted his head suddenly, awakened from his slumber. He looked out the window, eyes carefully scanning for anything out of the ordinary. His eyes moved upwards to the sky; the clouds were moving more quickly now, and rain began to fall, softly, than progressively more hard as the clouds moved in. Max leaped off of the bed and began barking at Elle. He was circling and whining before sitting down and waiting for her to wake up. Ellenore stirred, sitting up to look at her dog, frustration written across her tired face.

What,” she hissed in the darkness at her dog, who whined again, “What’s the matter with you?”

Max’s whining progressed into loud warning barks, twice, three times in a row, spaced out by a few seconds, then coming in doubles and triples again. Elle looked out the window as the rain hit her window pane in hard droplets. It wasn’t long before the hail started raining down on her entire house, creating clanks and clicks and loud rattling noises that rattled on every window in her house, including her own window. Max’s tail was flippant; it swished back and forth with urgency and he barked a few more times. Elle rushed to her feet and downstairs, where her mother, frantic, flew around the corner and bumped into Elle by accident with a short yelp before grabbing her daughter’s arms to steady herself.

“Elle, I-I was just coming to wake you,” she said through breaths, “it’s the storm, I was just getting up to close the windows!”

“Where’s Dad?” Elle asked, eyes falling into a spell of anxiety.

“He’s outside, we went to go cover the crops,” her mother said, walking around her daughter and reaching for the nearest window to shut it. Her father came bursting into the door. His presence demanded silence; Elle and her mother both looked at him.

“There’s a tornado that just touched down, it’s headed this way. We have to get to the basement. Now.”

Though he wasn’t loud, there was a sense of urgency that was intertwined with each word. The windows began to rattle maliciously with the wind, rain, and hail, raiding anything it’s path and coming down at full force. The entire house rumbled and vibrated as the sound of thunder roared above them, flashes of light that shone through the windows beckoning more forceful sounds onto the house, and the land above it. With another rumble and loud clap of thunder, the wind thrust the door open, and the gusts of wind that came barreling through the significantly smaller passage way knocked over books, dishes, and lamps without mercy. When her father opened the door to the basement, Max was the first to plow through and rush downstairs. When her parents rushed in and reached for her hand, there was a low, ominous rumble.

It wasn’t thunder, they noted, but something much larger.

The wind tunnel that had terrorized the small town of Albion ripped off the front wall of the Hensley home, with resulted in the screaming of Elle’s mom, but for Elle, everything went silent.

Elle’s hands slipped from her father’s powerful grip. The pendant that her father gave to her was still clutched in her palm. It twinkled brightly before Ellenore completely disappeared into darkness, whipped away into the malevolent winds.

Within seconds, Ellenore was gone.
CHAPTER II: Beyond Earth

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Ellenore awoke with a jolt.

The first thought that traveled across her mind was that she was not in her bed despite what her wardrobe might’ve suggested, but on a bed of grass. There was a pungent smell that filled her nostrils as she laid there, on her stomach, head turned to the side. The smell of wet grass, something that was familiar to her. It was dark, still night, or maybe early morning one might presume. With a small moan and with every bit of strength left in her body, Ellenore commanded her body to move. She lifted herself up, legs curling from in back and coming in front so she could sit up right and observe her surroundings.

The trees, the bushes, the plants…everything was shrouded in the darkness of the night, but Ellenore couldn’t remember the last time she saw a forest in Albion; or even the colorful flowers on the bushes that surrounded the clearing she found herself in. She looked upward. The canopy of trees offered a small opening above her so she could pear into the night sky, which was as clear as day, the stars twinkling brightly. The faint glow of something behind the trees – the moon, Ellenore hoped – lit up the night sky faintly, only offering the smallest of visibility around her.

There were creeks, chirps, and several series of clicks. Were they bugs? Ellenore didn’t know – she had never heard a cricket make a clicking sound before. Upon further examination, Elle spotted something curious; a small bug, which she mistook for a firefly, flew towards her, spreading its wings to glide. It’s wings, she noted, were of a design that was so intricate, and colors that were so vibrant. Oklahoma didn’t have anything outside of spiders, mosquitoes, or moths. This insect, however, flapped it’s wings once or twice, gracefully, like that of a bird, and landed it’s long, centipede like body on the hand that clutched the pendant. Elle’s eyes followed the intricate insect to her hand. She lifted it carefully, pendant still within her grip, and carefully examined the butterfly like creature. The wings were glowing a bright, fluorescent pink, that turned to a vibrant red, and a cool, royal blue before changing into a bright yellow and lifting itself into the night air, flying away.

Elle’s attention was turned to the pendant.

She had completely forgot she had it. It drew back to the past events – what had happened? Elle held her forehead with her other palm.

The storm…she thought, drawing the events together, It’s a miracle I’m alive. That tornado pulled me up and spat me out a few miles down the road I bet. I can’t believe…I can’t believe I’m still alive.

Elle pulled herself to her feet. Her tank top and her plaid pajama bottoms were soiled with dirt and grease, and her face had traces of dirt on it as well. Her hair was disheveled, as one would expect after being swept up in a violent tornado. Ellenore had a better look at the forest; it didn’t show any sign of an exit, only an endless path around her. With one glance at the pendant, she twirled around.

The glowing butterflies with the centipede bodies were dancing above her in a line, following one another, twirling around in a pattern, but never breaking their strict formation. They changed colors as the happily fluttered into the still, night air, and into the bushes.

Where am I…?

Elle followed the trail of glowing insects; they were her only lighted path. As she walked through the dense, thick wood, she found herself climbing over large roots, tripping over some, and climbing through thick brush. The line of lights that the bugs created steadily trailed along, as if waiting for Ellenore to catch up, and falling back when she was far behind. Their light was shining down on bushes with colorful flowers and their buds, life forms that Elle had never seen before in her life, let alone in Albion.

The chirps and the clicks slowly morphed into a fluttered, multi-toned cooing that sounded like a series of owls serenading each other in the dead of night from rooftop to rooftop. They echoed one another and invoked other night sounds to join their early morning chorus; something Elle was not familiar with. She found herself tripping even more over vines and plants of the like; it was hard to see anything when it was this dark, surrounding by tall trees that blocked out any light.

If I keep walking, Elle reassured herself, I’m bound to find something I recognize…

The bugs twirled and danced just above Elle’s head. Curiously, she followed their trails instead of where she was going and stopped for a minute to look at their intricate pattern of flight. In the same minute that she stopped, there was a rustling noise, followed by collective laughter in unison with several hoofs stomping the ground, the silence of the forest immediately broken. The sounds of the hoofs and the noises coming from within the forest scared the glowing bugs; their ethereal light disappeared and their strict flight pattern broke away into a series of frantic flutters, essentially dissolving into the dense wood. Three horses emerged behind Elle, who turned around to look.

There, seated upon the horses, were three, large, burly men were riding on each one. They were all very tan; it was apparent to Elle that they were out in the sun a lot. Farmers in Albion were also tan for the same reason, but these men didn’t look like farmers, at least not to Elle. She turned around to face him, and their laughter came to a sudden stop, and their lips formed frowns. They all looked at each other and back at Elle, who was significantly smaller than their muscular forms. Elle’s lips parted to say something, but she was interrupted.

“Who the hell are you?” the one on the right rudely spat. Elle cringed somewhat at his words. They were accusatory, demeaning; it wasn’t a question, it was more of a demand. Elle inhaled to answer, but he cut her off again, “a little late to be wandering around at this hour, huh, little girl?”

Elle didn’t respond. Her head drew back, as though she were guilty of something she didn’t do.

“W-Weren’t you in the storm?” Elle asked, her voice several octives higher than his, “it’s moved on now, but there was a tornado that touched down here. I-I got swept away in it, and it must have carried me all the way here. I don’t know how far it carried me, though. Am I-Am I-Is this still in Oklahoma?” came her meek reply.

Her series of sentences were met with a confused silence as the men exchanged glances with one another. Their stern frowns became knowing, mischievous smiles.

“Yeah, your still in Oh-kula-hoema,” the one in the middle mimicked her pronunciation, “we even know where your parents are, too!”

“R-Really? I haven’t seen you around in Albion, you must be from Muskogee or something, right?” she replied. These men, however, didn’t look like they were from Oklahoma. In fact, Elle noted, they didn’t even look like they were from the United States.

“M-Musko-Musko-gee?” the middle one answered, “M-Musko-of course! Of course!” his confusion turned into affirmation as he looked at his friends, “Muskogee, right, guys?” they nodded in agreement, chiming in nods and sounds of agreement. Elle fell silent.

“You don’t sound like your from Oklahoma,” Elle mumbled, “Are you sure-“

“Tell ya what,” the middle one stepped forward on his horse. In the little light that there was, she could tell that his tan features were accentuated with dark locks that didn’t even reach past his ears, “Why don’t you come with us? We know where mommy and daddy are.”

“What’s that in yer hand?” the one on the left drew forward. His face became visible as well, though still shrouded in the darkness of the night. There was a long scar that reached from his forehead and down past his right eye; it was then that she noted the man didn’t have a right eye. He was harsh-looking; he too, had dark hair like the man in the middle. The third stayed behind the first two. With each advance, Elle took a step back.

“N-n-nothing,” Elle replied, voice waivering at their advances, “I-I’m actually p-p-pretty sure this is Oklahoma, so I’ll just go this-this-way, but th-thanks any-“

“I don’t recall saying you could leave,” she was interrupted loudly by his booming, over-powering voice and his presence, “What’s in your hand? I asked you a question, you’d be wise to answer it.”

Elle froze.

Just RUN.

Ellenore scampered backwards and finished three leaps before the third man on a horse cut off her path. She was surrounded.

“Now what?” the second laughed, “We told you we’d take you back to Oh-kula-hoema, right? What’s wrong? What’s with the pathetic face? You scared?”

Her hands were shaking as she clutched the pendant, holding it to her chest with another hand over it. She said nothing, letting them pass words to one another. At some point or another, Elle could have sworn they started speaking in another language, but she was too frightened to pay attention.

“Blonde locks of yours might make good rope, huh?” the other piped in. He withdrew a large blade from the sheath he carried behind him. It was stained with brown spots – presumably dried blood – and rusted from the rain, weathered from battle. He caressed the tip with his first finger, eyes falling on Elle’s frightened form.

Suddenly, the man behind her captured her upper arm, large palms easily accounting for her entire bicep. Amongst their laughter, Elle could only let out a terrified screech for help.

The cry for help, miraculously, was answered.

There was a sharp sound of steel leaving a sheath, and the sounds of another individual running towards the group. He was like a streak of white cutting through the darkness, blade eerily glowing with an ethereal light, like the insects who were dancing above her head a short while ago. When Elle opened her eyes, there was a boy with a sword who landed in front of her and took another leap towards the burly man on the horse. Through the darkness, Elle wrenched to get her arm back, and when she succeeded, she fell backwards and out of the mysterious boy’s path. The seemingly glowing sword cut through one of their necks, and the silhouette of a head whizzed past her own, landing only a few feet in front of the blonde, who scampered back until her backside hit a fallen tree trunk, unable to speak or scream.

The battle continued. The boy with the sword twirled and was fluid with his movements, as if dancing to a song of violence before he removed another limb from the other man on the right, who roared in agony and disappeared on his horse into the night, along with the other man, who remained untouched, though fearing for his life. The headless body of the unfortunate one fell limply to the ground as the horse scampered off into dark oblivion. The boy landed on one knee, sword at his side. Elle was given the chance to examine it, if not for split second until he gained his stance once again and turned to face her terrified face.

When he advanced, Elle visibly winced at every step that he took towards her. Amidst the fighting that had taken place, the night had began to turn into early morning, the pale beginnings of morning seeping through the trees, signaling daybreak, though very faint. From her position on the ground, the figure that had advanced toward her bore a serious face, covering a deep, dark sadness that wasn’t visible to anyone seeing him for the first time. He had long, milky white locks that were tied back neatly with a few stray pieces hanging forward beside his cheeks. His eyes were a striking, light blue, sitting with seriousness above his high cheek bones and defined jaw line. His lips parted somewhat, eyes narrowing and squinting somewhat at the girl kneeling before him.

He looked like he had been traveling for some time, but didn’t bare any sort of mark of exhaustion anywhere. Quietly, carefully, he sunk down to Elle’s level, who looked at him in complete shock before streams of tears began flowing down her cheeks. He looked at the object that was clutched in her hand, and with some simple gesture, reached forward without any hint or murmur of a voice, outstretching his palm. Elle reluctantly showed him the object in her hands, and he took it from her, examining it carefully before returning his glance to Elle, who was visibly shaken by the series of events that had taken place. He was studying her with a stern look before opening his mouth to speak.

“Where did you find this?” he finally spoke, lifting the pendant to her again in his hand. His voice was soft, smoothly connecting word to word. Elle didn’t respond. Her voice was frozen, she couldn’t let out a sound except for small whimpers above harsh, irregular breathing. The boy stared at her, awaiting her reply. When none was to be had, a he asked again, only louder, and more firm.

“Where did you find this?” came the question again. He wasn’t accusatory or vicious, but solemn. His voice, though soft, demanded grace and respect. Still, Elle was frozen, her limbs paralyzed. The only movement she was able to muster was the involuntary quivering of her bottom lip. Her eyes lost his gaze, looking absent-mindedly to the side and then across the ground. It was though she hadn’t heard the boy’s question; she was too engrossed in the events of the past twenty minutes. The boy seemed to sense Elle’s state of mind. He shifted his weight.

“What is your name?” he asked simply, after failing to obtain an answer to his previous question, “What is your name? Can you understand me?” he quickly added, “Tell me your name.”

His question became a demand. Elle’s eyes found his face again. His previous words were like gibberish, but the last four words were as clear as crystal.

“Ellenore,” she whispered through small, shaky breaths, “My name is Ellenore.”

“Ellenore,” he repeated her answer firmly, “Ellenore, I need you to focus. Where did you find this?” he articulated more clearly, asking the question for a third time.

Ellenore fainted.
CHAPTER III: Chousa

--------

Ah, so that’s where you were hiding. I’ve been waiting some time for you to appear, you know.

“-!?”

Elle’s eyes shot open, a small gasp escaping her pink lips. Her gaze was met with a ceiling made of twigs that were tightly woven together, six feet from her face. When she ventured to think her ordeal was a nightmare, the unfamiliarity of a ceiling made of twigs only crushed any hope she had. She was still in her tank top and was wearing her plaid pajama bottoms. Her blonde mane was still unruly and her face was still holding traces of dirt, possibly a bruise from when the storm plopped her to the ground. She rose carefully, but her back was sore, and her arm was still throbbing from when the men before had clutched it; she was sure a bruise would form later from the iron grip.

A soft, fleece blanket covered her. There was the soft pitter-pattering of drizzle hitting the roof, and Elle had come to notice that the walls were made of the same material. There was a threshold with a small cloth hanging from it, providing only a hint of privacy. It wavered somewhat at a sudden draft. It was cool within the chamber, but there was too much moisture in the air; the humidity was making Elle suffocate. With a deep breath, she pulled herself to her feet from the small, comforting cot on the floor, the fleece-like blanket falling to the ground from her form.

Her bare feet felt the strength of the twigs, their rough bodies prodding gently at her soles. With each step, she inched closer to the threshold. There was a series of voices that became more and more audible with each step. Elle didn’t touch the cloth, however, she peeked through the cracks, but she couldn’t see anything more than a small, make shift kitchen with wooden chairs, a table, and even dishes. A black pot hung over what looked like a kindling.

Seems like a dangerous idea…this entire house is made from twigs…

Elle focused on the conversation being had.

“Hasn’t she come out yet?” came a male voice. Elle glanced over to the side of the room – a younger boy, more childish, sat in on a wooden stool, back turned to Elle’s eyes, “She’s been sleeping, for like, ever,” he finished, biting into an apple – at least that’s what Elle thought it was.

Nothing is as it seems here. That apple probably isn’t an apple…she quietly reminded herself of her new reality.

Faris,” an older woman replied sarcastically – Elle could see her brewing something up in the pot as stirred with a ladle, “Don’t act like you’ve never slept more than 14 hours in your life span. Yggdrisill knows your more than guilty of it.”

I’ve…I’ve been asleep for 14 hours? W-What is Yggdrisill?

“Yeah, but I got up eventually, didn’t I? This chick has been in there for more than that, hasn’t she?”

“When people are tired, they sleep,” the woman retorted harshly. “Now shut up and come eat.”

With a sigh, the boy who the woman address as Faris jumped to his feet, taking another bite out the apple. His hair was forest green, and he had ears that were seemingly more pointed than usual. He was barefoot also, and was wearing grey pants and a ripped shirt. The woman, who appeared more plump, was wearing a light blue dress with an apron tied around her. In the pocket of her apron she had several cook utensils. She watched the plump woman dip her ladle back into the pot and pour it into a bowl that Faris was now holding out. Elle retracted somewhat, as if afraid to be seen.

“Where’d Chousa go?” Faris mumbled, “…still being a dumb brooding sob on the bridge, per usual?”

“He’s waiting for that girl to wake up,” the woman replied, almost whispering, as if being discreet, “He’s been so quiet ever since he brought her back here. He mentioned something about something she was carrying. I wasn’t paying attention, he was speaking too quickly.”

“He’s always quiet and sulky – how can you tell the difference?”

Chousa…is that his name? Is that…the boy who saved me? And I was carrying – oh no! That pendant!

Elle suddenly opened and closed her fists and brought her hand up to her chest, in sudden realization that she wasn’t clutching it in her palm anymore – the boy had taken it from her.

He must still have it then. So I’m not dreaming…this…this is real.

Elle backed away somewhat, as if debating whether or not to show herself in front of the people who were just talking about her. What did they want with her?

Moreover, how do I know if they aren’t like those men from last night? She thought anxiously.

Where am I?

With all of the courage she could muster, Elle walked firmly to the threshold and hesitantly pulled the red cloth away, her presence revealed from behind the curtain. The plump woman turned around, saw Elle, and let out a slight yelp.

There was an awkward silence. Faris looked back at Elle from behind his seat and snickered at the woman.

“Nice job, Leni.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry, dear,” Leni, the woman started, putting a hand over her small mouth. Her round face produced a small smile after retracting her hand, “you just startled me. I’m glad to see you awake, though! Chousa told me to tell you to meet him when you woke, so why don’t you just step outside that door there. He’s out there somewhere, you’ll see him.”

Elle didn’t say anything. Her eyes only looked at Leni’s caring brown orbs that soon returned to her pot on the kindle. Curiously, Elle walked across the foyer and to the door. Faris watched Elle with a mischievous smirk on his face. When Elle reached forward to push the door outward, he let out a chuckle.

“Nice pants, weirdo.”

FARIS,” Leni spat sharply. Faris quietly snickered again. Elle, however, was not concerned with her appearance. When she pushed the door open, the humidity was more apparent than it was in the hut. She pushed the door closed and took in her surroundings.

In front of her was a labyrinth of bridges, all made from wood, and several hutches, like the one that she had emerged from, planted at various levels of what looked like a forest of exceptionally long trees; they extended far into sky, disappearing into what looked like a mist from above. The entire village sat in a cloud with trees throughout, it looked like. The series of bridges connected upwards, downwards, in spirals, and the soft glow of fires from within each hut were bright. Ellenore had no idea what time it was. There was some light, obviously, but it was emitted softly, and it dully illuminated the forest in an eriee green. As she began to walk, the twigs and structures made noises of distress, which made Elle nervous. She stopped to lift up her foot and look underneath, focusing on the cracks. She couldn’t see much.

This entire set up doesn’t seem stable. Everything is made of wood!

She looked up and twirled to take in a panoramic view of her surroundings. The sounds of distant bird chirping and the wind sweeping through the village were all around her. It sounded as though the entire village was within a wind tunnel; it was at an exceedingly high altitude, from what Ellenore could gather.

This…this is not Oklahoma…

“Ellenore.”

The familiar voice came suddenly, interrupting her intense study of her surroundings. She turned to face the figure who called her name. When she spun around, she was face to face with her silver-haired savior. Now that there was more light available to her, his features became more defined. He was taller, almost five, maybe six inches taller than Elle, and his shoulders and arms were soundly built as they sat at his side. Like she had seen before, his hair was an eriee silver color that was pulled back into a short pony-tail high above his neck, with a few loose strands that fell past his cheeks. His hair was an ethereal silver, a hair color that Elle had never seen before. He was something she’d never seen before. His skin was a smooth ivory, with pale lips that formed a firm line. His face was serious, stern; a face that Elle wanted to know more about.

“Y-Yes?” she answered, “I-I mean, thank you. Thank you for what you did…last night.”

His icy orbs regarded her with curiosity before shaking his head.

“No, think nothing of it,” he said quietly. “I need to speak with you,” he paused, outstretching his hand, the jade pendant lying in his palm, “…regarding this item.”

Elle said nothing; what was there to know? She didn’t know anything about where it had been or what it was even doing in Albion by the crater, or where her father’s friend had found it. It had simply come into existence, and it landed in Elle’s possession; it was her father’s really. She was only hanging on to it for a little while.

“I-I don’t know anything about it,” she answered dejectedly, “I really don’t…I’m sorry,” she apologized. The boy shifted his weight.

“Can you tell me…where you found it?” he asked. Elle pursed her lips somewhat before opening her mouth to answer.

“A friend…of my father’s found it…by the crater in Albion,” she offered, but she was only met with a confused look. Elle’s heart sank. A small voice in the back of her head was reminding her about the possibility that she was in a place far away from Oklahoma.

“Crater…in…Albion?” he asked. “Where…is this Albion?”

“Oklahoma,” Elle answered instantly. “It’s a small town, so I’m sure you haven’t-“

“O-Oklahoma?” he offered, interrupting Elle. Elle nodded.

“Y-yeah, Oklahoma,” she replied. Again, her response was met with an even stranger look.

“I’m sorry, Ellenore. I don’t seem to recall an Oklahoma anywhere in my memory,” he replied smoothly. “Perhaps…you could explain more about your village?”

Elle’s heart sunk further. The boy had no clue where or what Oklahoma even was. She had never heard of anything like this happening in her life – how could a mere tornado take her far enough away to a place where Oklahoma was unheard of? Her eyes fell casually to the side as she stayed silent to think for a while.

“W-well,” Elle started, “It’s not really a village, it’s just…a small farming town, on the eastern side of Oklahoma,” she started her explanation. The boy was silent until he thought she was done. Elle continued, “in the USA.”

“U…S….A?” he repeated. It was then that Elle concluded that he had no clue where or what the United States was. Where was this place? Elle couldn’t imagine a place where the United States of America was unheard of. Elle continued her explanation.

“It’s….it’s a different country on earth,” she added. Again, her response was met with a blank stare. The blank stare then turned into look of subtle anxiety. The boy parted his lips somewhat, regarding Elle’s appearance.

“Come with me,” he said quietly, turning around, not turning to see if Elle was following. She did as she was told, and followed him across a bridge. As Elle was walking, still barefoot, she took in her surroundings. When she looked down, it was a misty abyss; she couldn’t tell how high up the village was, or maybe how low it was. Regardless, the thought was unnerving, so she focused her attention on following the silver-haired boy through the labyrinth. She followed him up spiral cat-walks, all created by the same intricately woven twigs as the house she had emerged from; how it was standing was beyond Elle. With each step, creeks, cricks, and cracks emitted from every angle of the twigs below her, but she tried to push the thought of anything breaking from her mind. As they ascended further and further into the trees, the mist began to clear, and the sky became more clear, more blue like she had remembered the skies in Albion.

Clouds were scattered about here and there, the warmth of the sun was hitting her skin, and the different life forms in this place were making their sounds and fluttering about, in and out of the trees. When they reached the stop, the view was simply amazing. The two of them stood on a wooden platform, looking over the land, that had more colors than Elle had ever seen in her life. When she surveyed the miles of land that were outstretched before her eyes, she came across a view that was infinitely more disturbing than anything she had ever seen in her life. It was a view she had never seen anywhere before in her life, the skies of Albion included.

A huge gasp escaped Elle’s throat as both of her hands came to cover her mouth. The boy watched with mild interest at her reaction.

In the boundless blue sky were three moons; they were next to on another in a row at a slight arch, bending towards the bright light in the sky (what Elle thought to be the sun, but certainly not anymore) and varying only little in size. Respectively from top to bottom, they moons appeared to be of a red, purple, and blue hue. It was too perfect, they were floating there in what seemed like perfect harmony. Also decorating the sky was a large arch in green and yellow hues that extended up and down, a large planet sitting in the middle presumably; the arch, then, was the ring of an identified planet – nothing Elle had ever dreamed of seeing in her entire life.

This, however, was the moment at which Elle realized she was farther away than she thought. Much, much farther away.

“Have you seen this sky before?” the boy asked, disturbing her trance. Elle shook her head, still in shock at the beautiful, haunting display of planetary objects in front of her.

The tornado that had whisked her away had whisked her more than several miles – the storm had whisked her several light-years away.

This is a nightmare. There’s no way this can be real! Elle thought frantically, storm systems can’t do that! They don’t even reach that far into the sky! How would I have even escaped the atmosphere? How was I even breathing in space?

How-How did I-


“How did I end up here?” Elle thought aloud. The boy, who seemed to put together the pieces of the missing puzzle, opened his mouth again to reply.

“If this isn’t your world…” he began, “What is the name of the world you come from?”

“Earth…that’s…that’s the name of my home…planet,” Elle answered.

I can’t believe I’m saying this. I can’t believe this is happening. How am I-how am I going to get home? How can I talk to my parents?

“You’ve never...visited other worlds before?” he asked. Elle shook her head vehemently.

“N-no, this stuff isn’t-this stuff isn’t common from where I’m from! I mean, we-we can travel in space, but-but-but—“ Elle sputtered, struggling to speak, “I-I mean, this-it’s crazy-this, I can’t even…I can’t even speak right now, I just-I don’t even know how this happened, I didn’t even know it was possible!” she nervously chattered away. The boy raised a hand to silence her. Elle fell silent, as if controlled by the movement of his outstretched palm. Her pendant was still tightly clutched in his other palm. He extended it to her, giving it back. Elle reached out to take it. When she wrapped her fingers around her pendant, the boy looked at her sternly again.

“You need to leave. Immediately.”

“…?” Elle was confused.

Leave? What does he mean? Leave this village? And go where? I don’t even know where I am!

“I don’t know where this village is, how can I leave-“

“Leave this world. Go back to your world. And take that pendant with you,” he spoke. Elle’s eyes grew wide. Dumbfounded, she searched for words, but they only came out in panicked sobs. The boy, startled by her reaction, paused for a minute to study her.

“What do you mean go back!?” she screeched, “How? How can I go back when I don’t even know how I came here!? I don’t where I even am, let alone go back! Please,” she sobbed, tears running down her cheeks, relentless in their own right, “Please help me,” she begged. “If you know someone who can get me out of here, then please, tell me!”

Frantically, she began spinning around, pacing in circles as if formulating some kind of plan. Her hand gestures her erratic, waving all over the place maniacally as though swatting invisible nats flying over her head. She was speaking, chattering away to herself before turning to the boy, and covering her face with her free palm.

“I know of someone that might be able to help,” he began quietly.

Elle looked up.

“Y-you do?”

“There’s a mage who lives in Rythais…a city far to the west of here. I…can’t promise anything, but he’s the best I know, and I’m sure he’d…explain how you got here…better than I can, at least,” he replied. Elle blinked.

“Do you…know how I got here?”

“I’m not sure if my theory is correct,” his voice became considerably more bitter and hostile, “but I have reason to believe you were summoned here.”

“…S-summoned?”

I was summoned? By who?

“Who could have done this?” she asked.

The boy fell silent. He disregarded her question.

“I’ll ask Leni to make preparations for travel. In the meantime, you should rest as much as you can. You’re going to need your strength,” he turned his back to her, “I won’t make any guarantees of your return to your world, only that I will make every effort to see to it you return to your world. I’m sorry…you’ve been involved in all of this, Ellenore.”

“It’s Elle,” she corrected. “Just call me Elle.”

“Elle. Very well,” he began his descent into the village. Elle followed.

“So…do you have a name?” Elle began carefully. An exhausted look passed over his face briefly at Elle’s question, followed by a distant, nostalgic façade, as if he was deciding whether or not to tell her. Instead, her question was answered with a brief, ‘yes’. Elle furrowed her eyebrows.

“Well…what is it?” she asked, almost annoyed. The boy took his time again to answer.

“Chousa,” he answered reluctantly. Though circumstances suggested her demeanor be otherwise, Elle smiled politely.

“Okay, then…Chousa it is,” she replied. “Is…that it? You don’t have any other names? Like a last name? Or a middle name?”

“Chousa…is all you need to know,” he answered sternly.

When they descended, the mist began layering into the thickness that Elle recognized. The bright sky and the scattered clouds disappeared in the sea of leaves, the thick canopy blocking out any warmth, leaving only the humidity. The humidity, the mist, or her surroundings didn’t quite bother her.

Elle couldn’t help but wonder about her new found companion.

There is always more than what meets the eye.
Okay, Now, I'm just going to point something out. This is very key to your story. See, there was this huge, f'ing massive, almost dominating the news everyday event that happened in 1993. Now I don't know if this ever got covered, there was a huge ******** flood. And, I hate to say it, but, there was no drought going on in Oklahoma. In fact, there would have been slightly the opposite. Let me demonstrate.

User Image - Blocked by "Display Image" Settings. Click to show.

See those 18 and 24 inches of rain over Southwest Missouri, well there's a thing about those weather patterns. Those storms that drop that rain there, they come in over Oklahoma.

Next time, do your homework.
CHAPTER IV: Yggdrisil

--------

The bright sky belonging to the heavens of Eterra was soon to fade into the darkness as night came. The three moons that were once hanging at a slight arch within each other were now hanging at a perfect 90 degree angle; the red moon had traveled over to the far east of the sky, leaving the blue and indigo moons to hang in a perfect vertical line with on another. They lit the sky with their three, eriee hues, in place of the single moon Elle had become used to on Earth.

Beneath the canopy of the trees, the trio of moons were hidden, and the usually dreary, dingy village below was enveloped in the total darkness of the mist. The soft glow of lights in the huts were the only illumination in the area. When Chousa and Elle had returned under the canopy earlier that day, Leni was quick to offer Elle something to eat, but Elle had lost her appetite ever since landing on Eterra. Leni’s pestering eventually resulted in Elle’s desire to eat, but not by much. Ellenore couldn’t help but feel sick to her stomach. She wasn’t simply far away, she light-years away. Even if her parents had somehow found her by some cruel twist of fate, they wouldn’t see her for many years.

Moreover, her parents didn’t know where she was (and neither did she, really) and she had no way of telling them or informing them of her welfare. The thought of being ripped away so violently and so suddenly and not even having a chance to tell them how she was…she feared she was more worried about them then they were about her. She had never felt this much longing for home in her life. Mom, Dad, and her dog, Max. Never in her life had she felt so compelled to see them, especially after the storm had torn away the front half of her home so viciously.

Will I ever see them again? …No, she thought quickly, I can’t think that way. I just have to follow Chousa until I can find a way home. I guess I…I guess I don’t have any choice but to trust him, she thought hesitantly, stirring her soup idly. Leni, who was sitting across from Elle, watched her with mild interest.

“Don’t tell me you don’t like the brew,” Leni started, catching Elle’s attention so that her head peeked up at the source of the voice. “Don’t hurt my feelings, Ellenore.”

“It’s Elle,” she corrected.

Elle,” Leni sarcastically repeated, “you stir that anymore and the herbs will dissolve. Then it’ll taste terrible.”

Elle didn’t care. Not that she was outspoken about her lack of caring; she didn’t want to hurt Leni’s feelings, but there were bigger things to worry about than Leni’s herbs dissolving into a perfectly good “brew”.

Isn’t brew a term you say when you’re making tea? “Brewing” tea?

“What did you say this was?” Elle asked curiously. Leni looked at her with a dead-pan face.

“A brew?” she cocked and eyebrow.

“Uh…what’s a…brew?” Elle asked innocently.

From the other room, there was a howl of laughter, presumably Faris. Leni inwardly growled at Faris’s reaction to Elle’s otherwise idiotic question, but Chousa had explained everything to Leni even before Ellenore awoke from her deepened slumber. The girl isn’t from our world, he said, she isn’t from anything remotely like Eterra, as if to tell Leni she was dangerous. But Leni, knowing Chousa, knew that Ellenore was harmless.

“It’s what you’re eating, honey,” she added, suppressing laughter in her voice, “that’s called a brew here. What do they call it where you’re from?”

"Soup," she replied, "and the word brew refers to tea. When you're brewing tea, you have a brew of tea.”

“Oh, I see,” Leni nodded. “So, did you learn anything about Chousa today?”

No. He didn’t seem too concerned about whether I was alive…all he seemed concerned about was my pendant.

“Only that he wants me to get away from this place as soon as possible.”

“Oh,” Leni said. “Well…that’s not very polite, is it?”

Elle didn’t answer. The only thing she could do was swirl her “brew” around quietly, waiting for Leni to leave or change the subject. Chousa had quietly retired for the evening, much to Elle’s dislike. She still had so much to ask him, things that he never answered despite all of her questions. He seeme disinterested in answering them, almost as though he had lost his patience with a small child. The answers, then, would not come from Chousa, but Leni.

“Leni…where is this place?”

Leni stopped to look at her.

“Are you telling me that Chousa asked all of these questions about you, told you to get out, and then didn’t bother telling you anything about Eterra?” Leni asked. Elle paused before shaking her head. Leni sighed heavily.

“You’d think I’d have taught him some manners in the ten years that he’s been here,” she grumbled angrily, getting up to put her dish in a giant basin, washing the water through. She returned to her seat to talk to Elle. The glow of the lantern hanging above the ceiling was fading. Elle noted the wick was running out when Leni had finally returned, sitting down to face Elle.

“This “place”…. This world is called Eterra,” Leni explained, “…and as for our exact location, right now? We are located on the southern end of the world, in a place called The Rowenwood.”

“Rowen…wood,” Elle repeated.

What strange names. Eterra, Rowenwood…

“In case you haven’t noticed, it’s a village built entirely in the canopy of the trees.”

“Why not build it on the ground? Why all the way up here?”

“You don’t see us getting invaded, do you? It’s up here for a reason. Less susceptible for an attack, right? It’s safe up here. There’s many families that move up here, especially during these hard times.”

She’s right. It’s like birds that build their nests high in trees to prevent them from being attacked. Sometimes they build them in our orchard on our farm and Dad has to go and knock them all down or the plants won’t grow…

“Is it…common for villages to be…attacked?” Elle asked in a hushed tone. Leni nodded.

“Never used to be like this,” Leni reclined. “Not before the war.”

“What war?”

Leni paused, looking at Elle and cocking her eyebrow further. There was another intense cackle from the other room. Leni cast a dark glance in Faris’s direction before continuing.

“You really are from a place far away, aren’t you?” she asked rhetorically. “Please excuse my nephew. He’s rude, but…he’s a perfect example of how much this war has taken away from us.”

“What do you mean?”

“This war killed his parents. They killed my sister. Faris was only five.”

Ellenore felt her heart being tugged at. She couldn’t believe someone so innocent being put through something like that. She pictured her parents being murdered mercilessly. She couldn’t bare the thought. Thinking about losing anyone close to her made her feel sick again. She set the bowl of soup aside and listened to Leni’s explanation.

“When Faris was only five, his entire home was destroyed. It was one of the first villages to be razed in the raids of the Kingdom of Vientialla. Back then was the start of the war that overtook this world and turned it into complete mess. So many people being killed, villages being burned to the ground, families being torn apart…all of those things became more and more a reality as the years went on.”

“Who started the war?”

“Vientiallans. There was an uprising. The king was mercilessly overthrown. The rumor goes that the oldest prince killed his entire family in a violent rage, and as the only blood heir left to the throne, was made the king at only 16 years old. He has the blood of his mother, his father, and his younger brother on his hands. They were all brutally murdered. According to some of the stories, it was a gruesome execution. They believed it had something to do with the treasure that the royal family of Vientialla keeps.”

“That’s awful,” Elle whispered. “I don’t understand how you’d want to kill your own family.”

“Don’t look at me, Elle. I don’t get it, either. Even if it was for some family treasure. I’d do anything to have my sister and my parents back.”

“What’s their family treasure? Why would he want it, anyway? If he’s apart of their family, I don’t understand why he’d want to keep it for himself if he could just share it with them.”

“I don’t know what the treasure is. No one really talks about it, but everyone says their treasure is the key to the heart of Yggdrisill...They say whoever has the blessing of Yggdrisil’s core becomes Eterra’s eternal guardian. Something like that, anyway.”



Yggdrisil?


“What…is Yggdrisil?”

Leni paused, waiting for Faris to start doubling over. When nothing came (which was surprising) she continued with her explanation. With a small smile and a mystic sparkle in her eyes, she started to talk.

“There are giant roots all over this land, Elle. You’ve probably seen them. They belong to the sacred guardian tree of Eterra. We call it, “Yggdrisil”. Yggdrisil…is the living spirit of Eterra. It watches over everything, knows everything, understands everything. That’s what we pray to everyday for the war to end. When people die, they are with Yggdrisil. They are never dead. Their spirit is within the roots, and Yggdrisil takes care of their spirit when they pass. This tree…has been here for as long as Eterra has existed.”

Elle listened with fascination. Princes, kings, queens, kingdoms, sacred trees…they were the makings of another world unlike her own. Yggdrisil was a some sort of "magic tree" that watched over Eterra. Elle listened as Leni rambled on about the magic of the tree. She quickly remembered stumbling over large roots when she was walking through the forest the night when Chousa had come to her rescue.

Could those roots…have been the roots of Yggdrisill?

“Where is it located?”

“North of here,” Leni answered simply, “but it lies on an island in the direct center of the six continents. Chousa probably has a map somewhere. He’s always looking at it, constantly mumbling to himself and pointing around on it as if he’s making some sort of battle plan.”

“Who…is he, anyway?”

“Beats me,” Leni replied, “but he saved Faris. And for that, I owe him my life. So he lives here; I take care of him.”

“H-he saved Faris?”

“You didn’t think a five-year-old just wandered here by himself, did you? Ten years ago, Chousa brought him to my doorstep. He said that as he was passing through a recently raided village, Faris had asked him to take him here. So Chousa took him here and made sure he was safe.”

“How far is the village from here, anyway?”

“Not far, but further west. Easily a five day walk,” Leni explained, “and Chousa made sure he was safe. So…even though he does his own thing…he means well.”

Elle snorted, “Even when he says to go back to where I came from?”

“Yes,” Leni smiled knowingly, “Chousa knows what he’s doing. He may not be the most…tactful person on the planet, but…you’ll be safe with him. He’s a smart kid. He knows what he’s doing.”

The lantern above them was wearing on the wick further and further until the room had become as dark as the outside world. Faris’s snoring radiated loudly from the room and Leni had finally retired for the evening after staying up late to talk to Elle.

The foreign sounds of the wildlife outside of the hut were keeping Elle up long after she had wandered into the room to sleep. She found Chousa sleeping on another cot next to hers. He was sound asleep, but he wasn’t loud, almost graceful with each breath that he took. His back was turned to her. His hair, usually pulled back into a messy pony tail, was loose, sprawling over the pillow.

In total silence, Elle could hear everything. The sounds prevented her from even shutting her eyes. She wasn’t sure what she feared more; the thought of this entire hut breaking and tumbling towards the forest floor, which was probably even more darker than their current position, or some giant dinosaur or bird-like animal with razor sharp teeth ripping her to mere shreds.

A combination of the humidity and those thoughts rattled her brain, making her sweat. She felt sticky and desperately yearned for the cool release of a shower. She closed her eyes, but the darkness that covered her eyes was no different that the darkness she saw while having them open. Elle waited for her body to go to sleep. Maybe she’d wake up and this entire world would be the result of an elaborate dream.

However, it was just that. This place was far too elaborate to be a dream.

~

When Elle awoke the next morning, Chousa was gone. The hut was considerably lighter than last night, obviously due to Eterra’s sun rising over the horizon, signaling the start of a new day. Elle rolled over and looked at the empty cot beside her for a few minutes. She could hear the distant chatter of Leni, and Faris’s not-so-graceful voice chattering away with his aunt. Chousa’s voice almost cleared the air when he spoke, though he was so quiet, Elle could barely tell it was him speaking. When she pulled herself upwards and was on her feet, she was moving forwards to open the door. When she opened it, she found Faris lounging as he seemed to usually do around in one of the chairs, and Chousa, who was now wearing a tattered brown cloak with the hood resting on his back, was face to face with Leni.

The two of them turned towards Elle, who emerged from the room, in the same dirty clothes that she had been wearing for more than a day now. Leni looked her up and down, examining her before coming towards her with a bundle of fresh garments in her hands. Chousa didn’t do much. He looked at Leni and then looked outside, seeming to show a vague disinterest in their actions. Elle put her hands up.

“N-no, that’s okay, Leni, I don’t nee-“

“No one wants to look at a dirty mess. Go change.”

Unsure of how to react, Elle could only gap and look at the pile of clean clothes that Leni had given to her. When she changed, it was as though she had changed her identity – she felt like someone completely different, someone who belonged on this planet. Perhaps, this was Leni subtly telling Elle that she stuck out like a sore thumb. Now dressed in a suede skirt, a simple tank, knit booties and a cloak that was eerily similar to Chousa’s, she took her place next to Chousa in between the threshold of the door. The two of them looked at Leni’s figure, who was now crossing her arms, looking rather accomplished.

“Right then, off you go.”

Leni reached her arms forward and embraced Chousa.

“You be careful, you hear?” she murmured softly. “Stay out of trouble. Stick together. Elle, you keep an eye on him.”

Elle snorted.

“I’ll try…” she mumbled.

“May you have Yggdrisill’s blessing,” Leni whispered.

With a soft ‘thank you’, he retreated, hand on the hilt of his sword. Ellenore’s pendant was tucked into a matching suede knapsack that she was given. Leni had done well to prepare them; out of the corner of her eye, she could almost see the nervousness in Leni’s stance after she shut the door. Elle looked apologetically back behind her.

I should have thanked her.

Chousa took to the front of Elle, leading her down the series of staircases to the forest floor.

-

There was a white horse that waited impatiently for the duo. It sneezed, shaking it’s head as if shaking off dirt, and nodded it’s head at the sight of Chousa approaching. The reigns were tied to a tree branch, which Chousa was quick to untie as Elle cast her glances to the never ending planes. When they made it out of the forest, the sky was far brighter than when she had first seen it. The distant, pastel moons were watching closely, and the bright star that warmed Eterra was high in the sky. The heat was almost unbearable. A slight “whew” escaped from Elle’s lips as she went to remove the cloak that Leni had given her along with the other garments.

Chousa, with little effort, climbed the horse and tugged at the reigns. Elle looked at him blankly.

“What?” she asked.

Chousa paused, blinking.

“Come on. Climb on,” he instructed. Elle gaped. She lived on a farm her entire life, that much was true, but she had no clue how to mount a horse.

“D-Do I…Do I just…?”

Elle awkwardly put her foot forward twice, hesitantly reaching forward to grab the saddle. The horse moved somewhat at Elle’s grip. Chousa steadied it, watching Elle with mild interest. Her small hands gripped the side of the saddle, but the stirrup was far to high for her to even stick her foot in. After a mere five minutes had passed, Chousa sighed somewhat impatiently and jumped off the horse with ease, coming around to help Elle.

“Okay,” he said simply. “If there’s one thing you need to learn while you here, it’s learning how to mount a horse.”

Elle fell silent.

“Put your foot in the stirrup.”

Chousa held the reigns firmly in his grip, steadying the horse. Elle looked helplessly back at Chousa and then back at the stirrup.

“That stirrup is too high! I can’t put my foot-“

Put your foot,” Chousa said firmly, interrupting her whine, “in the stirrup.

With a huff resembling that of a small child, Elle awkwardly put her leg into the stirrup, hopping a few times with her other foot. Gently, Chousa grabbed her wrist and put it towards of the many leather loops on the saddle. She gripped it firmly.

“Pull yourself up,” he instructed. Elle looked at him, a scowl on her face.

“You know, that’s a lot harder than it actually sounds-“

Pull yourself up,” Chousa commanded. “By the time you’re done mounting this horse, the sun will have made three revolutions around Eterra. Do it.”

With a hint of determination passing over her face, she attempted to pull herself up. Failing, she came back down on one foot, the other still within the stirrup. The second time she started to pull herself up, Chousa stepped forward and put both hands on her waist, hoisting her up. Elle pulled her other leg over the saddle – not so gracefully, Chousa noted – and was now sitting up right on the horse.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Yes,” Elle grumbled angrily.

Chousa jumped up a few seconds later behind her, grabbing the reigns and whipping them slightly. The horse began to trot forward across the plains. As they were moving across the plains, Elle looked above her. She had never seen a sky so clear or so blue. There wasn’t a single aircraft in the sky; the only things flying around were life forms that were singing a happy tune. The wind in her face reminded her of driving down the desolate roads of Albion with the windows rolled down.

By the time the sun sunk down into the horizon, they had arrived in Rythais.
CHAPTER V: The Tables Turn

As the sun began to set over the kingdom of Rythais, Elle immediately observed that it was nestled in between two mountains. When it began it’s descent into the horizon, it was shining through the valley, casting an eerie illumination as the couple riding the white horse trotted into the valley, hoods drawn and expressions solemn.

Elle was exhausted.

She and Chousa were riding horseback almost all day, with minimal breaks. Chousa seemed opposed to stopping for too long if at all, even if Elle insisted that they stop for food or water. He also didn’t seem to know what was worse; stopping or listening to Elle’s complaining. To Elle, Chousa had seemed very set on his goal to get to Rythais and ultimately get Elle back home, which Elle was more than okay with. She wanted nothing more than to leave this place for good and reunite with her parents. Going back to Oklahoma was the only thing she could think about the entire way.

I don’t think he cares that much, but he sure is in a hurry to get rid of me, Elle thought as their horse walked at a slow pace towards the wooden gates, and I’ll be so relieved when I go back…I can’t wait to see Max again.

Elle’s daydream of being home again was interrupted when Chousa suddenly dismounted, the sudden movement completely catching her off guard. He landed on the ground, dirt kicking up at the impact of his landing, and proceeded to walk forward towards the gate patrol. He remembered when the gates were open all day and only closed during the night hours; in this day and age, however, it was closed permanently and people were let in one by one. Elle watched Chousa exchange words with the gate patrol, and both of them gave a firm nod, opening the gates. When Chousa came forward to grab the reigns and walk the horse in with Elle still riding, he was quick with his words.

“Keep your hood on, and look down. Don’t look, talk, or stare at anyone,” he instructed. Elle opened her mouth to protest, but Chousa had beaten her to the punch. “Understand? And don’t take that pendant out unless I tell you to.”

“Yeah,” Elle replied, “but why?”

“Just don’t. The explanation isn’t important.”

Elle furrowed her eyebrows and her mouth turned up into a pout. Elle wasn’t surprised at Chousa’s words; no explanations, only orders. Elle tried not to let his ways anger her; especially when she was so close to being home. Once this they saw this mage Chousa had been talking about, she’d be home in no time, and Eterra would be nothing more than a distant memory. Elle did as she was told and kept her head down, hood falling forward to hide her face completely.

Just a few more hours. Then I can just leave and forget about all of this.

Somehow, Elle felt as though she would swallow those words.

The horse walked steadily into the kingdom walls. The wooden doors slowly closed behind them. The streets were empty; at dusk, the shops had closed, the children were indoors tucked safely into their beds, and only the homeless beggars dressed in burlap sacs roamed the streets with cotton bags, blindly asking for money. Stray dogs played in the alleyway, barking at one another; their barking echoed upwards into the night sky, bouncing off of the brick buildings. When dusk turned to a royal blue, Chousa had stopped outside of a large, black door in an alley way, a lighted torch flickered brightly next to it. With three hard knocks, Chousa drew back and waited. Elle took a peek from out under her cloak.

There was some shuffling from with inside the building. With the sound of silverware falling to the ground in a series of tings, pings, and clanks, Elle winced at whoever behind the door attempted to answer Chousa’s summon. When the door opened, it was only opened an inch, just enough for the person inside peek out, ever so cautiously. An old man greeted them, significant wrinkles abundant on his tired, withered face. His eyes were alive, and alert, despite his other physical features. They were staring at Chousa. In return, Chousa smiled.

“Retica,” Chousa spoke the old man’s name. The old man’s eyes lit up. He studied Chousa for a few moments, before he succumbed to his senses. “Retica, it’s me. It’s Chousa.”

Retica starred at Chousa in total wonder. His tired, old face looked at Chousa, and he shook his head with utter incredulity. His hand came out to gingerly touch Chousa’s arm. His touch turned into an affirming grip, as if to make sure the young boy wasn’t an apparition.

“It’s you,” the old man whispered, pulling him into a warm embrace. “After all of these years, Chousa. Praise Yggdrisil, you’re alive!”

Ellenore couldn’t help but feel out of place as she sat awkwardly on the horse, watching the old man embrace Chousa dearly. They were old friends, that much Elle could tell, but the old man was almost brought to tears. In fact, Elle could have sworn that she caught a single tear falling from the old man’s face; however, it was dark and Elle was tired from the long journey from the Rowenwood.

“Please, come in! Please,” Retica motioned with his hands and opened the door. Chousa turned to Elle.

“C’mon, let’s go,” he told her. Elle dismounted – rather clumsily, Chousa added silently to himself – and solemnly followed Chousa into the small housing unit that belonging to Retica.

Eterra’s sun was below the horizon now– the three moons cast their eerie glow upon the Kingdom of Rythais.

~

The inside of Retica’s bungalow was rather dingy. Quaint, Elle noted, but dingy. The glow from the lanterns hanging from the ceiling did little to improve the overall quality of the room. She looked around curiously at the books on the shelves, which were littered with cobwebs and dust. There was an equally dingy and battered couch that sat up against the brick interior. Elle, unsure of herself, seated her self warily on the couch. Chousa had taken a seat on the same couch, on the other end. He was looking intently at Retica, who had now put several plates of food on the table. Ellenore was eyeing them hungrily, but she didn’t want to be rude. So, instead of eating, Elle remained quiet, like Chousa had instructed her earlier.

“Er-ah-Chousa,” Retica stammered, glancing back and forth at Elle. Instead of finishing his statement, he weakly pointed in her direction. Chousa cast a hard look at Elle. Though he didn’t say anything, his eyes told her to talk.

“O-oh, I’m sorry,” she apologized. “My name is Ellenore. Ellenore Hensley.”

Retica drew back in acknowledgement, “Ellenore,” he repeated.

“Yeah, but you can just call me—“

“You have a different aura…than anyone I have ever encountered. Where are you from?”

“Uh…” Elle drew back, casting an anxious gaze at Chousa, who said nothing, waiting for her to explain everything.

I guess this is the time to talk.

“I’m uh….” Ellenore paused, “I’m from…somewhere very far away. It’s called…Earth,” she replied.

Retica’s face contorted into a puzzled look. As if Elle was speaking in another language, he furrowed his eyebrows and looked back at Chousa, as if wanting him to translate.

“She has the mirror.

The old man’s face drastically changed. His mouth gaped open, searching for words and trying to understand how that could be possible. He glanced back and forth at Chousa and Elle, when finally, his eyes rested on Chousa, who said nothing after his initial response. Elle took the pendant out the suede knapsack she had been carrying throughout the day.

“You’re talking about this, right?” Elle offered, holding the pendant forward so the old man could take it. Retica lifted the pendant out of her hands, inspecting it carefully.

“It’s…the same one. I don’t believe it,” he looked at it with great trepidation.

Elle frowned.

“’The same one’,” she mimicked the old man’s words. “What do you mean? Have you seen this before?” she asked. Retica lowered the pendant and looked at Elle, his eyes were twinkling with astonishment.

“Don’t you know what this is?” he asked. Elle shook her head.

“No,” she whispered. “My dad’s friend found it in a crater.”

“Crater…” Retica repeated. It seemed he was lost in thought. He and Chousa exchanged glances knowingly.

“The mass of rock you withdrew from Eterra and thrust into the heavens with the mirror…it landed on her village,” Chousa explained calmly. Retica sighed deeply, “How could this be? That mirror was supposed to be forever gone—“

Ashurei,” came a low growl from Chousa. It was the only name that could bring tension into a composed room, the only word that could bring Retica back from whatever daydreams or thoughts he had running through his mind. It was the only name that could bring anyone to total silence without fail.

“You…you’re sure about this?” Retica asked, still in disbelief.

“I wish I wasn’t. We have to send her back, with that pendant. That’s why we came here, Retica. I need your help. We have to send her back before Ashurei…”

Chousa trailed off. Retica frowned.

“As soon as possible then. Tomorrow morning,” Retica instructed, “we should have enough time, then.”

Their plans were interrupted by a short sob from the third person in the room. Both of them turned to observe Elle, who was now holding her face in both of her palms. When she looked up from her hands, her eyes were blood shot. Her nose and cheeks had turned a rose red.

“Are you trying to tell me,” Elle started, another tear falling down her cheek, “that you were the one who crashed that meteorite into our town?”

“We had to remove the pendant from Eterra somehow…so…yes, by proxy, I suppose that’s what happened. I do apologize, my dear, if that helps any. It’s not as though I was intentionally aiming for anything in particular, but you have understand, it was imperative for Eterra that we remove that pendant from our world.”

Elle gritted her teeth.

“It doesn’t!” she shouted. “How-How could you this? You don’t know…you don’t know how that’s affected our town! And for both of you to be so…so casual about this, I-I-“

Clearly upset, Elle ran from the room and slammed the door to the other room behind her. She couldn’t even finish her sentence. The two of them were talking as if the meteor was nothing of concern. She was nauseous; she couldn’t believe what she was hearing. What they didn’t understand was that the meteor of 1989 that had crashed into Albion had changed the course of an otherwise happy, bustling town. The unhappiness and distraught that Albion had struggled through for the past five years…the culprit was a mere fifteen feet away. His apologies did nothing.

His apologies…they won’t bring back the lives that we lost.

-

Albion, Oklahoma, April 28th, 1990

The importance of the emancipation proclamation is—Ah, no, that’s not right. The importance of the emancipation proclamation is the true wonder of Abraham Lincoln being—Ugh, that’s not right, either!

Elle threw her pencil across her desk in frustration.

I’m never going to get this paper done.

She was sitting upstairs in her room with the windows open. After temperatures had reached almost 90 degrees earlier, the heat conceded and the night gave Albion a cool wind. The breeze that passed through the open window played with the curtain gently. Elle starred blankly at the piece of paper in front of her, littered with eraser marks and haphazard scribbles in an attempt to start her paragraph over. She rested her cheek lazily on her fist as she zoned out, waiting for the next relevant thought to reach her. A door slam kicked her out of her daydream and vibrated her desk.

“You know Jim, not everything is my fault,” came a female voice from downstairs, “and you need to start realizing that. I told you that I turned the drip irrigation on today and no, I don’t know why it didn’t cover as many acre-feet as we expected!”

The rant was met with an irritated sigh.

“I didn’t say it was your fault, Annie – I’m just frustrated. We should have had rain by now. The weather patterns have changed, I don’t know why.”

“Can’t you call Ben? He has a working irrigation system on his farm, why can’t you call him?”

Because Annie, we just don’t have the damn money to DO that! We aren’t goddamn doctors, Annie, we work on a farm!”

“…What is that supposed to mean?”

The urgency in the voice did nothing to receive an answer.

“We aren’t doctors, so that’s why we can’t support ourselves? I get it, Jim. I get that we work on a farm every goddamn day and we get nothing in return, but we aren’t useless.”

“That’s what you can consider us if we don’t get any rain.”

There was a swift, resounding smack. Angry footsteps marched across floor and the slam of a door vibrated the room again.

Elle absent-mindedly smudged the lead around her paper with her finger.

~

Elle opened her eyes.

A dream?

She lay there for a few seconds, recalling the past events. She couldn’t even remember falling asleep, yet here she was, peacefully resting on the bed in another room, alone. Though it only took her a few seconds to remember, Elle winced at her behavior earlier as she recalled sobbing and leaving the room, slamming the door behind her. She closed her eyes to force herself back to sleep, but to no avail – she was wide-awake. Her blood-shot eyes were now starring at the brick ceiling in the darkness, hands clutching the sheets as she blankly gazed into the dark.

I should apologize in the morning. That wasn’t right of me…I shouldn’t have yelled at that man like that. It wasn’t his fault the meteor….

Her thoughts drifted into nothingness. She had never felt this exhausted in her entire life; her mind was too drained to put together a coherent thought. As she was lying there, all Elle could think about was how she was going to get home.

I hope he doesn’t put me on a giant pile of rock and hurl me into space…

Elle closed her eyes and lay there with blank thoughts for a few minutes.

The door opened suddenly and slammed shut the second it was opened. With a huge gasp, Elle sat up, terrified. The sudden disturbance was like a clap of thunder that unexpectedly announced its presence in the sky, except the clap of thunder was Chousa – or at least Elle thought it was; the darkness wouldn’t allow her to see the details. Affirming her conclusion, Chousa’s voice cut through the darkness.

“Get under the bed,” he ordered, urgency in his voice. “Move!

Clumsily, Elle fell from her bed, tangled hopelessly in sheets, and scampered underneath the bed, yanking the sheets with her. From under her hiding spot, all Elle could make out was Chousa’s silhouette cautiously peeking through the doorway. His eyes were suspicious, almost anticipating something ominous to come breaking down the door at any moment, only louder than what he demonstrated a few moments ago. His hand, Elle observed, was clutched tightly around the hilt of his sword.

There was a series of loud footsteps – someone, or a group of people had come into the small, brick quarters. Retica’s voice was as a cool and as calm as Elle remembered. He was talking to someone, but Elle didn’t know whom. Chousa craned his head and moved it around to get a better look from the small opening he head behind the door. His adjustments stopped, and he intently starred at the events that were taking place outside the door.

Faintly, Elle could hear the conversation.

“Are you the only individual staying here at the moment?” came a stern voice.

“Why yes,” came Retica’s voice, irritated, “and can I ask what business you have in my home at this hour? I’m an old man. Where are your manners? Hasn’t anyone taught you to respect your elders?”

Chousa gripped the door handle.

The intruders seemingly disregarded Retica’s banter. They took books from the shelves and plopped them to the ground, curiously looking around and shuffling through drawers, making a general mess of things. The books and items landed on the floor with vibrating clunks and thumps; each noise was grinding on Elle’s nerves.

“What in the name of Eterra are you looking for? How rude,” Retica went on.

“If we find out you’re lying, there won’t be any second chances, old man. Are you the only one here or not?”

“Yes, of course I am!” he replied defensively. “I’ve nothing to hide.”

“Chousa,” Elle whispered from under the bed, “what’s going on? Chousa!

QUIET,” came his sharp reply. Elle fell silent and clutched the sheets to her body.

“So,” the smarmy voice continued, “suppose I asked you if you knew the whereabouts of a certain…someone…you’d tell me, correct? I mean, after all, you wouldn’t lie to a Vientillian arbiter, would you?”

Chousa grinded his teeth.

“Of course not,” Retica dismissed. “I don’t have any friends, for goodness sake. I’m a old man, I live here by myself, why would I-“

“Well, the unfortunate part about this predicament is that whether or not your hiding anyone, we still have orders to end your life.”

“By whom?” Retica’s voice challenged.

“It’s not important.”

Soon after, Elle could hear the unsheathing of a blade, and a sickening squish. Retica’s cry of pain lasted three seconds; the last sounds escaping his body were cut short by a blade that rammed through his abdomen. Elle squinted her eyes shut. Chousa quickly shut the door and tried to keep his cool. Retica’s lifeless body fell to the floor with a loud thump. Chousa didn’t need to see his body to know that Retica’s life was taken mercilessly.

Elle held back her sobs, placing her hand over her mouth to muffle her breathing, which was coming more rapidly. The voices came to a stop, but the footsteps continued. As they approached the doorway, Chousa held his body up against the door.

“Elle,” he whispered, “come out from under there. We’re going to run.”

“What? No-no! Are you crazy!?” she said through quiet sobs. Chousa sighed. He was aggravated; Elle was whining again and there was no time.

Do you want to die?” Chousa asked rhetorically. “Get up and come here, now!

Elle did as she was told. She crawled out from under the bed, sheets falling from her form to the floor. She grabbed her suede knapsack and her cloak and prepared herself to do some serious running. Elle could already tell what Chousa was planning. He certainly wasn’t going to stay here and fight. As predicted, Chousa turned to Elle.

“I need you to stay as quiet as you can,” he ordered, “and stay behind me. No matter what happens, stay as close to me as you possibly can.”

Chousa backed away from the door, and Elle stayed behind him, standing as close as he had instructed. Six, booming, harsh bangs rattled the door. Elle clutched Chousa’s shirt.

Six more. Chousa withdrew his sword. When the final six bangs stopped, there was an eerie pause, and then everything exploded into a fury of chaos. The door was busted down mercilessly, revealing five young men, possibly around Chousa’s age standing at the ready. The door swung open and the bright light that was cast upon the both of them in the dark room made Elle squint in her eyes shut. When she could finally open them, one of the men in the back of the group starred in total awe.

“Holy s**t,” the man in the back proclaimed at the sight of the silver-haired boy standing in the darkness. “It’s YOU!

“Did you miss me?”

Chousa charged forward out into the open, Elle tailing behind, doing as she was told. As he flew out, Chousa snagged one of the men by the collar, and slammed him into the wall with every force in his body. The arbiter didn’t have time to regain himself before Chousa threw his body into the others. Elle had moved herself to the far end of the room, terrified to be involved in Chousa’s wrath. From the other end of the room, Retica’s body, lying lifeless in a circle of scarlet, starred lifeless at the ceiling. She covered her mouth in horror at the sight. Before she could study it for too long, Chousa was already yelling at her.

“ELLE!” he screamed, “RUN! GET OUT OF HERE! GO!

In a flurry of terrified sobs, Elle ran to the door, turned the handle, and let herself out into the alleyway. Without looking back at her pursuers, Elle tore down the pathway, as fast as her slender, pale legs could carry her.
Alright, this works a LOT better IMO.

Nebulous-Chaos is a genius. @_@
Chapter One-
Quote:
....I find the 'special' text in titles and things to be... slightly annoying, but I'd probably do it myself, so I can't hold that against you. *cough*

01. Calm Before the Storm

Nice opening line! Not only do you give us information, but you also set things up. Kudos! I can't do that.

Getting started:
Oh, a description of the make and model of the vehicle. Is that pertinent?
Also seems like that particular sentence rolls on for an eternity, but I could see how that would tie in with the 'emptiness'.

"a german shepherd barked at a two boys" Extra 'a' in there.

You do seem to have a bit of a problem with connecting too many parts together in a sentence, so they run a bit long.

"The truck was kicking up dust and debris that created a fine brown mist, billowing from behind the truck as it rumbled across the dusty trail." Redundant. The trail is dusty. The truck kicks up dirt... into dust. Be careful about the imagery.

"...after a meteor had hit almost five years ago." In this and the next sentence you use 'had hit' in succession. The second would be better if it were just something like 'then', since you've already stated the time.

"...who were now sliding down the sides of the large depression into the center of it." It's a crater. No matter where you're sliding, it's probably going to be toward the center.

"They had carelessly left their bikes in the wake of the last rays of twilight." 'Wake', 'last rays', and 'twilight' all mean the same thing. Redundant.

You stated at the beginning that she was heading home. You don't need to state that again so soon.

Passive verb-ery: You say the smells 'were filling' the air. This is a passive verb, which you should avoid. Try to tend toward action verbs, in this case, 'filled', to keep the pace up in your writing. Ex: instead of 'He was jumping', say 'he jumped', unless specifically pointing out a past action. Even then, however, action verbs are better a lot of the time. Passive verbs are often used in speech, but try to avoid them in writing. If you already know that, just ignore me, but be aware that I've found some.

You could really simplify this opening paragraph to the house. It's rather cluttered. 'The dog is bounding out of the truck, the dog is bounding past her, the dog bounds in ahead of her'. You've got a lot of stuff going on for relatively little action.

Is the dog extremely pertinent? Why has Max gotten more description and character than our own main character? Seems a bit unnecessary. Likewise, she looks around 'with blue eyes'. It's going to get on my nerves if I need to hear about people doing things with 'descriptive objects' rather than just 'looking around'.

Elle's mom: "Son, I am disappoint."

"...added sharply," The comma should be a period, since the descriptive verbal tag is separating two complete thoughts rather than interjecting between a singular thought.

'"I went to go fill Dad’s tank up,” she finished,' She stopped speaking; I'm aware she's finished. The tag that she was finished is redundant.
Also, you've made '“No, Mom,” Elle rolled her eyes, “I wasn’t by the crater. I went to go fill Dad’s tank up,” she finished, taking a bite out of her asparagus, turning on her heel to sit down.' all one sentence. Every little action and how she does it doesn't need to be described. Also, you say that all at once she spoke, ate, and turned to sit. Try to avoid 'as', because it means multiple things are being done; if you mean that she did one thing, and then another, try to make it clear.

'...another low tenor' ANOTHER? Her mother is a low tenor? Or is the dog? If you meant another voice, then I understand, but...

Only capitalize dad or father when it replaces a name. 'Elle's Dad' shouldn't be. Also, you've got more description of dirt than is really necessary. 'Dad came from outside. He was covered in dirt. He was a farmer, so he often walked around in dirty clothes. He took care of the crops, in summer! Don't want people to think he tends something else in winter or something. Did I mention the drought for four months? Oh, at the beginning? ...And it's obvious that it's summer from the dust and heat?'

"Oh! I completely forgot that *exposition exposition exposition*. Of course, I need to think this so that the reader will be up to speed, instead of actually thinking more like a human would. After all, the dorm has already been mentioned, but the readers aren't smart enough to connect dorm with college!" Everybody calm down.
Dad's response: 'Oh, okay, *exposition*. I'm obviously saying this for the sake of the readers, because it's really unlikely that I didn't already know when my own daughter is moving out.'

*Expositionary paragraph that we probably could have already understood from the previous exchange, cliche as it was, whichs tells about Elle's feelings rather than showing them*
I suppose I should be happy that she even HAS a family, considering most heroes are inexplicably orphans.

"She watched him with curiosity as he withdrew a pendant from his pocket, handing it to Elle." He withdrew and handed it at the same time. The man is talented.

'It was a jade pendant with dragons that were carved into the sides.' Feels like you went out of your way to make that sentence passive! 'that were' is unnecessary.

'It’s intricate pattern' 'It is intricate pattern'? Possessive it is 'its'. (You probably already know this.)

'Elle’s mystified expression was looking back at her and she looked into the mirror.' How about something simple, like 'Her reflection stared back', or 'She saw her reflection'? I mean, her EXPRESSION stares back? Also, she's already looking, or how would she see it? No need to state she's looking again.

I believe 'alright' should be 'all right'. It's a distinction that's best looked up, because it can get confusing. (Here's a link about what most people have told me: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/is-alright-all-right/ )

It's not necessary to say her mother finished the phone conversation. She was on the phone, and then returned; it's already obvious that she wouldn't leave the phone unless she was finished.

'It was rustling the trees' Passive. 'It rustled' would be better. You've got a lot of passive sentences in the paragraph, and considering that this would be an 'urgent of dangerous' situation, they only get in the way and slow things down. It makes it feel a bit forced, since you've put little action in and then slowed it down.

'...she said through breaths, “it’s the storm, I was just getting up to close the windows!”' 'Through breaths' sounds awkward. 'breaths, "it's...' should be 'breaths. "It's...'.

'...eyes falling into a spell of anxiety.' Um, what? What does that even look like?

I like the ending. It actually worked, and interested me. And no, I wouldn't know this was alternate universe unless I'd read the synopsis.

Here's what I thought:
Your writing is about a 4 out of five here. You've got some stylistic issues, but overall it's very good. There were few grammar mistakes, and just some rules to learn about structure and flow. Some exposition sits obviously out there, and some things are over described.

Overall I'd give you a 3/5. This is because of a horrible, terrible thing that will forever kill my reading experience unless fixed early on: Who is Elle? I know more about her dog than I do about her. I know nothing about her personality, her likes, only that she's anxious about college and is some kind of anxious daughter teenage thing. Is she funny? Too serious? I have no idea, because you gave me nothing. She has blue eyes, is going to college, can drive, and has parents and a dog. And a love for shiny things. But other than that, why should I care? I don't. So I'd say you're about fifty percent there. I need a character to tether me--the only reason I really liked the ending was because it was simple, to the point, and I could imagine the responses of her parents to find her missing.

I'd say you're halfway there, so keep it up, and I'll get started on the next part. =3


Chapter Two -
Quote:
Ah, so she snaps awake, eh? I like how you've described the smell and feeling first. I know that I know whether it's cold or hot before I ever open my eyes. However, it's a bit clunky. I can't really pinpoint what it is about the description that made me question it.
You don't need to state that she's going to observe when she right after starts to look around.

'Pear' should be 'peer into the sky'.
...This bug. Seriously. I just don't know what to think. Trying to imagine it makes me think, 'Does everything glow and sparkle? Even the vampires? Are eyes going to be changing colors for completely inexplicable reasons?' I'm sure it'd be pretty, but what point does it have for the ecosystem?

'She had completely forgot' should be 'she had completely forgotten'.
"Toto, I don't think we're in Oklahoma anymore..."
Still, I'm seeing WAY too much passive. Were dancing --> danced
...I have a horrible feeling that exposition is waiting on the horizon. Long-winded exposition specifically fed to me through the guise of Elle.

Love the image of the owls right there. In fact, the whole paragraph right before it, describing her trek, I just really like.
"early morning chorus; something Elle was not familiar with." ; should be a comma.
'Surrounding' should be 'surrounded'.

"There, seated upon the horses, were three, large, burly men were riding on each one." 'Department of Redundancy Department, may I help you?'
I can already see that she's pretty meek right there; it's not necessary to say so.

Hey look guys, we found a crazy! What should we do with her?!
...Are these guys naturally evil or something?

This boy must be purple, since his introduction is quite flowery!
A few run ons in there; it's just a matter of flow--with action scenes it's usually best to have short, to the point sentences.
'The blonde'. I know now that Elle is blonde, but calling her 'the blonde'? She's the only girl there, right? She doesn't need a descriptor other than she/her, really.

"Yo, my name is Capable Male Protector. If there's a female hero, you can bet I'm here to save her. How you doin'? Oh, this?" *kicks head away* "That's not important."
Amidst the fighting that had taken place, the night had began to turn into early morning, the pale beginnings of morning seeping through the trees, signaling daybreak, though very faint. -Okay, calm down! It's morning. I understand. I'm pretty sure I can tell on my own, using the simple word 'morning'.

This kid better have a good reason for walking in and slaughtering everybody. It's not like he knew exactly what was happening.
The narrator is practically monologuing about how deep and serious this guy is. What the heck is up with that? It shouldn't be spelled out. It should be shown.
Oh great. A white haired pretty boy. I'm intrigued, however. I'm interested in this guy. I'll just ignore the part about sadness and wait for it to be shown. =/

Thank you for fainting, Elle. When you wake up, no doubt there will be exposition.

Overall I think it's interesting. You've managed to show Elle as shy, though I think it could have been improved a little earlier as to her personality. It just seems she's really scared now. I'm interested in this boy who kills first for the sake of a single cry of help and asks questions later. Keep it up!


I very much enjoy this, especially in how it helps my own writing. =3
Serenity Reed
Review stuff

OH GURL.

I enjoy your reviews more. <3
Why thank you. redface

Comments on Chapter Three -

Wait wait wait, her pink lips? You're really going to open with that? Next I'll be hearing about her slender pale legs. (You wouldn't...)
"Elle's eyes, like limpid blue tears, opened, and a sigh escaped her pink lips. She rose upon slender arms and delicate wrists, and her golden hair fell like a wave over her ivory shoulder." Maybe if the narrator was in love with her or something, but, seriously...
A few longish lines in there. Instead of 'her blonde mane' how about 'hair'? If not, why not just go all out: 'her wispy golden tresses'. 8U A delicate wheatfield!
I don't mean to offend here, but I rather dislike when things get flowery. Nothing against flowers...

You use the same words close together sometimes. Like soft fleece and soft pitter-patter.
"There was the soft pitter-pattering of drizzle hitting the roof, and Elle had come to notice that the walls were made of the same material." 'The same material' caught me. Connected to this sentence, it seems like it would be referring to the subject, which is drizzle. So I had to stop and think in order to see that it was talking about sticks. Just needs some more clarity.
Wow, twigs? They must have put a LOT of work into making a house out of such small material. "Seems like a dangerous idea" indeed. ಠ_ೃ

It's a kitchen, so why is 'even dishes' such a surprise?
He's younger and childish at the same time. Could it be that he is a child? *mind=blown*
My reaction to Yddrisill: Oh, yeah, that tree. Yeah-dry-sill. Yggisill. Ih-dri-sill? WHY
Also, 'Son I am disappoint' once more.

Also, you've already adressed him as Faris, so 'the boy who the woman address as Faris' is unnecessary. His ears SEEMED more pointed, or were pointed? 'To seem' means that it isn't what you think. Actually, I have problems with the whole of this description. There are two people, right? Yet you compare them to others and each other and... it's just really cluttered and confusing.

Dude, this Faris kid is awesome. XD "Chousa's SOOOOOOOOOO emo. It's his TEARS that fill the rivers!"
Elle seems like a gullible person.
You say things like 'as if' or 'seemed'. If it IS what's going on, just say so. You don't need to beat around the bush.

Caring brown orbs. Orbs. Can't they just be called 'eyes'?
"Excuse me, Mr. Faris. I was concerned with my appearance right when I woke up, but now I couldn't care less about your critiques of my attire."
Elves in trees. Well, this isn't a cliche. And they speak English too, with American slang. There are a lot of phrases and wording that remind the reader that this is a story.

Math, Ellenore, math! You fainted at dawn and were asleep for fourteen hours! It's not that hard! That means it should be like, eight o clock. At least seven, if it's a long summer day. If their time is anything like ours, at least.
Thanks for remembering my voice, Elle! I thought you'd forget, considering you were in shock and tired and I only spoke a few sentences. You have a really nice memory, eh?
Hmmm. Chousa. What should I think about this guy...? They both seem, at this point, to be PAINFULLY shy... (Not orbs again!) Does he have some kind of dark and depressing past?
Actually, I'm kind of glad he hasn't come across as the 'affable and laid-back male companion to the female hero' which is honestly becoming a cliche. Sadly, those are my favorite types of heroes, next to 'quiet'. As long as they aren't 'complete idiots' I'm usually fine.
And you totally describe his hair multiple times. Just calm down~ okay? I mean, it's SILVER hair. Of course there are very few people 'used to it'. And if she cared about weird hair colors, I'm sure she'd have freaked out more about zomg green hair.

"I know where we are! We're in Britain! I always knew the English were weird. Is it time for tea yet?"
Oh god, these people talk more slowly than Yuna in FFX.
Chousa: "Look guys, I found a crazy!"
"I'll call you Luna, because you're a lunatic!"

...I mean, really, it should be something like night time, right? ...What time did she get there?
Why can't we just write 'Elle gasped'? Though I suppose she'd be doing that a lot...
'The boy' is frequent. I'm pretty sure at this point that his name is Chousa, so it'd be acceptable to use it once in a while. =/
We're in SPACE
SPACE BRITS

Why does every fantasy world feel the need to have multiple moons? I suppose it's cool, but still...
"You've never visited other worlds before? Come ON, Elle, EVERYbody's done it. Let's go. GET IN THE CHOPPA."
Instead of 'Elle was confused' how about 'Elle stared at him'. Simple, to the point. It gives about the same feeling, but shows instead of telling.

JEEZ Chousa. Way to be nice to the sobbing little girl.
Man, she trusts this guy pretty quickly...
That last line... Yuck. Exorcise it. It's way too 'obvious foreshadowing'.

...Hmm. I'd say this one is not as up to par. Lots of exposition and DUN DUN DUN. I feel like it could be handled in a much better way than it was. STILL I find myself barely able to respond to Elle, which is probably the key thing we want to get in this situation. Also, I feel she should question a LOT more. Look around, be active--even if she isn't answered, I think we should learn more about this place. I like to think in terms of video games; we should start learning of life and characters before we set out. Also, Elle needs to go clearly to a state of 'I'll get home no matter what', because it still seems like she's in a 'this is a dream' stage. I don't think she'd move that quickly to 'okay with it'. =3

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