Aretherra Volume One | Welcome to Aretherra, Tryn

Welcome to Aretherra, Tryn

    She took a few fumbling steps forward and then backward, desperately trying to gain her footing in the warm sand. The natural gravity on Aretherra is greater than in orbit on the colony. Everything was different in this place. The young woman had come a long way since she awoke in the medical pod, in orbit, in space. She could hardly believe what she had been through, even after she had herself experienced such amazing and deadly events. Even after so many portals, leading to so many places, and after all of that, to actually travel through space, via a magical portal, she was here now and here she would stay.

She was tired and the effects of the gravity made it allthemore difficult to walk. But her stubborn nature wouldn’t let her give up trying. Finally, it was something else entirely that made her stop trying to walk forward, and she finally dropped to her knees. The hot sand burned against her tender knees. Everything looked blurry, slightly out of focus. Beyond a short distance, she was unable to make out much of anything, just more sand.

In addition, her hearing seemed muffled, along with it, her equilibrium was off. At this moment, she wondered if she was injured somehow by the portal, or did she lose time again.

She knelt, slumped over, with her eyes firmly shut for a few minutes. Slowly opening her eyes, she grabbed two handfuls of sand and let it sift through her fingers. With steadfast concentration, she watched the sand fall and as the final few grains tumble off her hands, Her eyesight eventually came into focus. Ironically, with her clarity of sight returned, the reflected light shimmering off the sand was so blinding that she had to squint, just to see much of anything. She looked around at her surroundings and all she could see was more sand. She was confused, as she was sure that she had not entered the sand portal she chose one nowhere near it. “Where is this place?”, she thought to herself, “Where did that portal bring me?”

As if someone or something was addressing her question, her other senses seemed to be trying to answer her questions. She looked up and saw a white bird floating in the wind. After flapping its wings a few times, the gull disappeared over the dune straight in front of her. In the same direction, she could hear the call of many more gulls and at the same time, she heard a sound that made her pulse quicken. Maybe she wasn’t in that desolate sand place but a place entirely different.

As soon as she got to her feet, she was running. Sand kicked up behind her as she quickly, but cautiously ran toward the great dune. She had never run on sand before and with every step, she found the experience more taxing than enjoyable. Each foothold seemed to fight against her as if she would have been sucked beneath the surface, should she stop and standstill. However, her excitement, mixed with her will to keep moving, no matter how difficult, kept her moving forward.

She couldn’t imagine the seemingly simple task of running on the sand to get any more difficult, but it did. The dune was twice as hard to climb, but she did so using both arms and legs to scurry up to the top where she paused among random tufts of seagrass. Her pulse quickened as she stood frozen in her own space and time. She did not want this initial moment to pass like all the others. Because at that moment, for the first time in her life, she felt that all things were possible.

She stood in awe as she looks out at the ocean, the sand, the blue sky, and beyond, where the sky met the distant waves at the horizon. On top of this dune of sand, standing far above the beach below, she could see far out into the endless expanse of the sea. Somewhere floating over the deep, between landfall and the line of the horizon, she could see the black mass of several boats with full sails. She breathed in the moist salty air and could smell the scent that carried in the wind. She could imagine the multitudes of fish, strange aquatic creatures, and all sorts of living things that swam and scurried beneath the waves.

She sat on the top of the dune, with her feet buried in the warm sand, and enjoyed this welcome rest. She was tired and felt as if she could sleep for days. She dug her feet into the sand, up to her ankles, and looked out across the water as far as she could see. Her view was obstructed by a blanket of fog that hovered over the surface as if compelled by a mystical force. She let her mind wander for a small while, imagining a fleet of ships hiding in the fog, completely masked by the mist. Their tall masts reaching up, pointing at the stars, who were also hiding behind a blue sky. She smiled at the thought, it seemed that magic and mystical forces were everywhere, quietly governing the laws of nature, space, and time. These musings, in light of what happened to her when she was in space, made her wonder who or what is really in control? Does she have any influence over her destiny? Or is she the victim of fate? A small cog in a vast, complex, and unyielding machine; whose function and destiny are preordained by forces unseen and uncaring.

All of these thoughts gave little comfort to her and part of her wholly rejects such notions on their face. She had enough of deep thinking, for now, so she laid back onto the warm sand and closed her eyes. Seconds later, she was asleep.

Tryn’s Dream | Apophydon or Xyvaen Flashback story. HERE

She snapped opened her eyes and felt the pain of her fingernails digging into her palms. She was grossly disquieted by what she just saw in her mind’s eye. Images and words so vivid still that she jumped to her feet without thinking. She crouched slightly, as if in a fighting stance. Her chest felt strange, sort of powerful, and then the feeling surged down her arms and made her hands tingle. All of this was strangely familiar, as she had dreamt of this happening to the boy in her dream. This was the same sensation she felt in that split second when the bolt of energy from the soldier’s rifle struck her in that corridor on the space station. Holding her hands up in front of her as a defense was a futile attempt at defending herself. However, when the energy bolt struck her body, somehow it gathered within her and then was cast out again through her arms. She had a crazy thought, maybe she could do that again. But where was the energy coming from this time, when there was no one else around her, seemingly for many miles.

She raised her head high and looked out over the water, the fog still hovered over the waves. She knew what she had to do and for the first time, she believed that she could do it. She summoned every ounce of strength from deep within her and raised her arms, clasping her hands out before her in a V that pointed out over the water. With a great effort, she tried to send energy from her body, but nothing happened, save a few thin veins of crackling energy down her arms.

Keeping her arms outstretched before her, she closed her eyes and tried to clear her mind. Again she tried, but this time she imagined the energy bolt gathering in her core and firing from her arms. Suddenly a white-hot bolt of energy left her body, traveled through her arms, and shot out from her hands! In an instant, the energy bolt flew over the sand and waves that crashed on the shore and straight into the fog bank over the water. She could see a flash of blurry light somewhere in the middle of the fog, and then lines of energy traveled out in every direction. The scene was beautiful and soon the lines of energy could not be seen anymore. She stood still and looked at her hands for a while. How could she do this? Who was she? Her mind raced with many questions, so many questions, she feared she may never have any or all of the answers she desired.

By the time she finally lifted her eyes to the water again, the fog had all but burned off. Only a few whips of water vapor remained the thin layer of fog closest to the water’s surface. No sooner had she noticed, the remaining fog dissipated with the last tiny blue lines of energy. She had somehow summoned powerful energy from out of nothing, save her own body. She then cast this energy almost a mile through the air, into the middle of the bay, where it then burned off an entire bay of thick fog. She chuckled at the notion that this event shocked her, after everything she’s seen over the past few hours, this surprised her. However, she wasn’t prepared for what she saw next, because it would change everything. Across the bay, she saw a big beautiful city.

From her vantage point, on top of the windswept dune, by the water’s edge, she could see for miles in every direction. The city stretched for miles in both directions, along the other side of the bay. She marveled at the great buildings, tall bridges, and towers that scraped the sky. The glass of a million windows sparkled in the rising morning sun. She followed the glistening city as it finally met land’s end, where the waves danced in the wind to the horizon, where the sun still kissed the edge of the sea. The sight of this great city was so much to behold, that she wondered how she didn’t see it before.

A cooling salt-tinged breeze swept off the water, across the beach and up the dunes, through the seagrass along the dunes of sand. The song in the wind was at once melodious and dissident as it joined the crashing of waves below and the gulls soaring high above. However, in her solitude, she heard the unexpected voice join the symphonic chorus pleasuring her auditory senses. A voice called to her saying, “Tryn, I’m here.”

The young woman immediately dismissed this voice as another figment left from what she had experienced while on that cursed space station. Who was this Tryn person? Why that name again? She knew she had to move from this place, but she wasn’t sure if she or her unexpected fog and light show was seen by the people across the bay. She wasn’t sure if she was being watched at this very moment. She shook her hands, which still tingled from the release of the energy, and smiled. When she ran through the portal that leads her to the sand, she had no idea where she was going and in her haste hoped at the time that her hasty choice would not lead to her demise. Thinking back now, it seems she made the right choice. She didn’t know at the time, that this portal lead to a city, to the possibility of finding food and shelter and people who might help her. While she considers herself in good fortune at the moment, she then considered that any or all of the other portals could have also lead to civilization. Like all of the others, this door did not reveal its secret from simply looking through the threshold. She had to walk for a while to find the city across the bay. She wondered, could the other portals also hold secrets beyond the view from the threshold?

While it was engaging to consider the many possibilities that the other doors in the portal room could have availed her, she had to embrace the present and seize this moment and this place. The sooner she got to the city, the better. But first things first. Something has been bugging her since she left the portal and came to the edge of the bay. When she rose to her feet and ran from the portal, she never looked back. Was the portal still there, where she left it earlier? Immediately she turned and ran back to the three trees she saw when she first arrived. She quickly found the place where she had knelt earlier when she first arrived, but she did not find the portal. Again she wondered if she was going crazy. Did she take a single step from space, through the portal, onto the warm sand? She smiled at the lunacy of such a thought, but she knew it happened.

The truth is the truth, no matter how unbelievable it might be on its face. The truth was that she was in a magical portal room and she used one of the doors to come here and now the portal is gone. She concluded that the portals can only be used from the portal room as an entry point and once used, the portal is either gone or cannot be seen at the point of its destination. This made her reconsider everything, because her eyes may be deceiving her. She walked past where she fell to her knees and slowly crept in the direction of where she believed the portal had stood. With her hands held out in front of her, she kept trying to feel something other than the warm breeze that swept over her. After walking several paces, she turned and retraced her steps to where she had started this silly procedure. She then walked over to a new area, trying once again to feel the portal with her fingertips, should it be invisible or cloaked. Then she felt something hard. She could not see it, but it was smooth and cool like stone. It was stone, the outer part of the portal that brought her to the planet’s surface. It was still there, just hidden from view. Wow! She thought. Another in a long line of amazing things she’s seen in the past few hours. She smiles because this was one amazing thing that she could not see. With this mystery solved, she set out for the city.

After she made her way to the beach, she set out walking along the shore, making her way inland, away from the open sea and the ascent of the morning’s yellow sun. She knew that she had been walking for an hour or two, because her shadow, which was keeping her constant company throughout her walk, had shrunk in length by half. She had been following the water and looking down at the sand or across to the city for so long that she had not noticed the tall rock face of the cliffs that now bordered the edge of the beach on her left. She could not remember when the landscape had shifted from dunes to rock cliffs. She turned and followed the rock wall and saw that it appeared to extend for miles along the narrow beach by the bay. A mystical changing portal room in space was one thing, but changing landscape?

The thought of this frightened her, because if she could not trust her own eyes, her senses, then she may be in real danger. She did consider that perhaps she had walked far enough down the beach, all the while absent-minded and not observing her surroundings, to the point where the dunes simply could not be seen from her vantage point. This thought gave her some comfort. Maybe she simply couldn’t see the dunes from here, but they are still there, just beyond the towering cliffs, yes unseen from this angle. This surge of rational thought gave her some solace, however, her pace quickly told her something else. She felt frightened and began to run down the beach. Sand kicked out behind her, tossed away behind each of her ever-increasing fasts dug steps. She knew something else was causing her to feel suddenly afraid, but she was not sure what it was yet. Innate instinct took over, some part of her deep psyche told her to take flight and run. The feeling grew in her mind, followed by her usual questions. Was something was wrong? Was she was in danger? She was not going to stand idle and wait, so she kept running, until she heard it again, the voice.

She stopped in her tracks when she heard it. It wasn’t like the first time, this time was as if a woman whispered right next to her ear. She looked around, up and down the beach, along the cliff’s edge, and to the top where birds of prey made their nests. She looked to the water and across the bay. She was alone. Besides, how could anyone whisper in her ear while she ran from a seemingly senseless and unknown fear? She was ready to dismiss this as another imagined thing that her ever-thinking mind had conjured up as a manifestation of her fear. And then she the woman speak to her again.

“You are close. Run Tryn, run.” Said the woman’s whisper, even louder than before.

She shivered with fear and excitement and quietly said to herself, “Okay.” She wasn’t sure why she responded this way, or at all for that matter. Something in her knew that this voice was speaking to her. She still was unsure if the voice was real or in her head, but deep down, she knew that somehow this was for her.

The sense of purpose, of direction, from the voice, gave her comfort. Comfort in any measure, was very welcome right now for her. She could see the beach came to an end up ahead, where the rock face of the cliff wrapped around the western edge of the bay. The high rock wall continued around the bay until it tapering off until it met the city’s edge. As she continued to run down the beach, she caught sight of what looked like a waterfall cascading from the apex of the cliff at the end of the bay. As she drew closer, she could make out the scope and details of what surrounded the falling water. However, nothing could prepare her for the sheer size and meaning of this landmark. She did not know that this was an ancient and mystical place, a source of great power, secrets, and mysteries for the people of Aretherra for millennia.

She craned her neck back trying to take in the massive scale of the enormous specimen of falling water. She stood a considerable distance back from the tossing and splashing, bubbling and churning waves of the tidal pool at the base of the waterfall. And yet, even from this distance, the flying spray of cool water, the resulting offspring of the inevitable force of gravity and velocity, seemingly to pierced her skin with a singular mind of its own. She squinted toward the top of the waterfall and noticed what appeared to be manmade features flanking both sides of the falling water. Circular emblems, with assorted markings and nautical icons, were carved and hewn in the face of the rock. Near the bottom, just above where the falling water crashed into the pool below, there appeared to be a darker area in the rock, outlined by what appeared to be pillars. The voice called out to her again.

“Tryn. I am here.” The voice of an old woman repeated three times, which seemed to be getting louder with each step and the closer she drew to the waterfall.

She knew what she had to do. She made her way around the outer circumference of the pool’s stone wall, toward the base of the waterfall. Where the pool wall met the face of the cliff a hidden staircase, barely wide enough for one person, leading up to the pillars at the base of the waterfall. The steps were wet and steep and made from a slick black stone, similar to the walls of the portal room. Her bare feet slipped on every other step, but she was able to hold fast to the rock face on her left and maintain her composure as she climbed. At the top of the 47 steps, she stood before a sheet of falling water, on the precipice of the waterfall. From where she stood, the water not only obscured her path but effectively blinded her from seeing anything but water. She had no choice, she had to go through.

She plunged her hand into the cascade of falling water. The water was not cool, nor was it cold, but strangely seemed to have no discernable temperature at all. The water was in that sweet spot of temperature, that few people ever experience during their lifetimes. A temperature that so closely matched the external temperature of a person’s skin, the water neither feels cool or warm to the touch. This is how the water felt to her at least. She could feel the force of the water against her hand, but not a perceivable temperature. She smiled and waved her hand back and forth through the cascade of turquoise liquid. Lowering her arm, she took her first step through the waterfall and immediately could feel the water pound against the crown of her head. She closed her eyes tightly shut and took another step, which would be her last under the waterfall.

Suddenly, her entire world went dark, as she was plunged into an abyss of muffled darkness. She could feel nothing but the beat of her racing heart and extreme pressure in her ears. She couldn’t breathe through her nose anymore and began to swallow water. Then her head hit something very hard and sharp. She could taste blood but still could not see anything. Suddenly she felt her entire body change. She groped against her chest and down to her legs. Her body was still there to the touch, but it wasn’t. In her mind, she forced herself into a fetal position, wrapping her arms around her legs, just below her knees. Although she could still feel nothing from her normal reality, in her mind’s eye, she effectively remained tucked in a tight ball, with her head and face tucked between her knees. She held onto her own body with all of her might. In direct juxtaposition to her mind’s eye and her perceived state of being, She could feel her arms being pulled directly outstretched to her sides. At the same time, her legs too were being pulled straight in the shape of a V. Her muscles stretched and her joints ached as her body was being pulled and stretched by an invisible, inconceivable force. The pain was relentless and unforgiving, yet she could not fully make her mind associate with her experience.

It was as if she was in a trance, fully encompassed and possessed by her state of being, given and taken both body and soul. She had no immediate conscious thoughts. At one level of consciousness, she knew that her body lay suspended a few feet below the surface of the pool, below the waterfall. She could feel her limbs outstretched and see the water splash, bubble, and churn at the surface level above her. Her mind could also see her body remain tucked into herself, held in a fetal position. Her face buried deep between her knees, afraid and defensive. Another part of her felt suspended in a blank void, yet she could see a seemingly endless cascade of memories, of people, places, and events, many she had not seen before. She saw many things that she did not remember and had no real memory of in the first person. The flashes of images, sounds, bright lights, and utter darkness continued and flashed before her mind’s eye at an ever-increasing rate of speed until she saw a young man with dark hair. At once all of the images and words stopped, and she focused solely on this young man. She felt like she had seen him before, he was familiar to her, like her own image was from a mirror’s reflection. The features of his face were like a scene from a memory. Who was this boy?

At once, her body was lifted out of the water and for one moment she remained suspended over the surface of the pool. Unbeknownst to her, several hours had passed while she was under the surface of the pool. It was much darker outside now, as the setting sun cast a glorious red hue across the heavens for one final moment before the black of the night took command with its host of a billion shimmering stars. At once, the waterfall stopped flowing and the surface of the pool became calm, like the smoothest glass. The pool reflected the crimson sky above as it continued to lose its luster to the coming dark of night and the brightest of the night’s stars eagerly added their light to the beauty of the evening sky. Already keeping watch from its heavenly perch, was the waning moon, Lhunoz. Her body moved over the surface of the water, as she remained in an altered state of consciousness.

Headfirst she moved toward the face of the cliff, her arms and legs still outstretched until she began to rise higher and higher from the pool’s surface. Her limbs were now relaxed, with her arms at her sides and her legs closer together, she floated up the face of the cliff, where the water had once fallen only moments earlier. Halfway up the cliff, between the two sets of carvings, an entrance to a cave was revealed behind where the water normally fell. Ornate columns of carved black stone marked the sides of the entrance. Above the mouth of the cave, a single word in a foreign language was carved, “Aed”.

She floated through the doorway and was laid gently onto the stone floor of the cave. She would not awake until three days later.

    Nearly three days later, she remained in a very deep sleep, still lying near the entrance on the cave floor. The roar of the waterfall rushed by several feet away. She dreamed many strange things during the past three days, but nothing could prepare her for what she saw at this moment.

A beautiful young woman stood at the threshold of a doorway leading to an impossibly long and ornate corridor, lined with what looked like hundreds of framed doors. The thunderous roaring of rushing water consumed and penetrated her entire body; a sound that surrounded her and although she knew it was very close, exactly where this noise was coming from she could not place. Little did she know, this was a real hallway, one of many such places, deep inside the residential section in the palace of the King of Vysuvia. The palace stood located in the capital city, far away on the surface of the planet. It was almost impossible to comprehend the enormity of space between where she stood and the hallway on the other side of the door. She was standing in an ancient portal room, which was part of a space colony in geosynchronous orbit above the planet some 20,000 miles below. But from her perspective and in true reality, the passageway on the other side of the threshold was close enough for her to reach out and touch if she wanted.

Wanting to see more, the young woman stepped closer, scanning the space beyond as her eyes adjusted to the dimly lit hallway. As she placed her left hand on the upper frame, leaning in for a closer look, some of her chestnut brown hair bounced past the frame of the door. For a single moment, a lock of her hair touched the warm air of the corridor beyond. Worried that she had gotten too close, she pulled her head back away from the door frame and tossed the errant lock hair back over her shoulder, where it joined the rest of her hair, that ran halfway down her back.

Moments later, with her eyes fully adjusted to the darkness, she could see many points of light, evenly spaced along the walls, leading off into the distance. She could make out smooth, pattern-covered walls, leading to an arched, wood-carved ceiling, that looked down from high above at the fancy wooden floor below. Finally able to see these features, she guessed that this portal leads to a house of a king or a rich person and believed that those were lanterns or lights of some kind that lined the walls of the hallway. She continued searching for other details, but there were not many more to see. Other than being able to determine the basic size, which looked to be wide enough for three people to walk side by side through, most of the corridor was flawless and beautiful, for a hallway.

Although the space looked clean and lit by the numerous lanterns, something about this hallway looked abandoned, at least unused for a long time. This spooked her a little and she decided to forget about this portal at once. With an uneasy feeling in the pit of her stomach, the young woman took a couple of steps back and reached for her arm, about to touch her tattoo. Suddenly her entire body froze, save for her racing heart, which pounded in her chest as fast as the sound of running footfalls coming toward her from the depths of the corridor. As the racing feet grew louder, the fast and light footfalls echoed along the walls, bouncing up the hallway toward her. With every step, she grew more afraid of what was coming toward her. Even more so, she was curious about why would someone be racing toward her.

Normally, the young woman never feared the unknown. She had a propensity to fearlessly leap into situations that were wholly unfamiliar and most likely perilous. This was a fact about herself that left her surprised, but she quickly rationalized her state of mind, given everything she’d been through recently. She took another step back and kept her handheld over the tattoo on her left forearm, just in case this turned out to be something dangerous. Her heart was still racing and all she could do was squint into the darkness, hoping to see something, long before it saw her. Finally, from the darkened passageway, a hooded silhouette flew into the light.

Lit only by the small lights that hung upon the distant part of the hallway, and specific features or physical details of the runner remained unseen. Plus, the runner remained completely hooded and continued to look down,  obscuring the face in the process. She wondered if she would ever see this person’s face before the runner collided with her. The runner finally looked up and to her amazement, he was only a boy, most likely a pre-teen, with piercing and soulful blue eyes. The boy slid to a stop, still about twenty feet away, just as their eyes locked on each other. In an instant, the boy’s expression changed from abject sadness to that of wide-eyed shock and surprise. She noticed that he was more shocked to see her standing in a doorway than she was to see him race into view. She felt a little guilty that this fact gave her some solace at this moment.

The boy made an about-face, ready to run away, back to the dim recesses of the corridor, but something made him stop. He slowly turned to face the young woman again, but this time he looked at her with forced bravery in his eyes. As he squared his body to hers, he raised his countenance to meet her eyes, with a look of self-confidence and determination. It was obvious that his bravery was a little more than self-delusion at this moment. Somewhere or from someone, he has learned to face the unknown, confront danger, and possibly even run toward certain death, with the unflinching resolve of a warrior. She felt bad for this handsome boy and that was her main concern, he was only a boy.

She looked upon his young face, he was almost a teenager, and it looked as if he had been crying. His eyes were bloodshot, his cheeks still wet, where tears had flowed only moments before, which made her sad to witness. Her heart ached for him and all she wanted to do at this moment was hug him. Even though his wet eyes, the boy looked on her with as much strength as he could project, keeping his eyes locked in her direction. Could this young man have lost someone close to him? She lowered her arm away from her tattoo, there was no danger here, she was just worried about him.

She wanted to help him, to hold him and tell him that things could get better in time. She tried to give him a little smile, to let him know that she meant him no harm. But for her effort to show kindness and compassion, the boy’s face remained stern and unchanged. She kept smiling at him and then saw something she had seen before. Behind his frightened, but tough mask that he wore for her, behind the evidence of sadness and inner turmoil, she could see the real him more clearly, the longer they stared at each other. There was a hint of wonder that had seen this before in herself. His false facade was cracking and his mask began to fade from view. This became more evident as he began to shift his eyes between her, the portal, the hallway walls around it, and the strange portal room behind her.

She raised her hand as a gesture of hello and held it there, timidly hoping that he could reciprocate. The boy looked her over, from head to feet and then met her eyes with his again and his entire demeanor softened and became almost welcoming. He raised his hand and gave it a small wave back and forth. She did the same and they both smiled at eachother. Seeing the boy smile filled her with joy. The longer they both kept their hands raised, occasionally waving them hello at each other, made the situation become almost comical and they both sensed it at the same time. He took his other arm and wiped the tears from his face and eyes with the end of his shirt sleeve. It was then that they both began to laugh, but continue to give little waves of greetings with their raised hands.

She wanted to take this to the next level and was about to say “hello” to the boy  when the door to the portal slammed closed between them! Did that just happen? She placed her hand on the primary symbol again and nothing happened. Angry and frustrated, she kicked the door, which hurt her foot much more than it damaged the door. She walked away and paced around the room. She had to get back to him and did not want their meeting to end like that. She tried to begin the portal opening sequence three more times and with nothing to show for it, she slumped onto the floor and began to cry.

    She could hear the rushing of water long before she could open her eyes. Her breathing was uneven and her eyes were wet from crying in her sleep.  She was unaware that three days had passed since her experience in the pool at the base of the waterfall. The last thing she remembered, besides distant memories of a boy in a corridor, was floating between the carved black columns at the cave’s entrance, high above the surface of the pool. How this happened and who could have done this to her is all she cared about. She then was consumed with the experiences of the pool. Although her memory of the what she saw during her trance was vague and jumbled, a puzzle made from a thousand pieces of a thousand other puzzles. At least for now, she was far from being able to decipher, and a long way from understanding, what she experienced. Until she could make sense of what she saw, these questions would remain unanswered.

A chorus of water drops splashing on wet stone, whose syncopated rhythms echoed and surrounded her, as they reverberated off the cave walls. The rush of the falling water at the cave’s entrance bounced around the cave’s interior with no relief. The roaring sound, like an approaching cyclone, invoked an undeserved sense of fear, but in her fertile imagination, it struck a dark chord of terror in her heart. For unclear reasons, she felt afraid. Although she knew that she was able to open her eyes, the safety and security that she felt, being hidden away behind her closed eyelids, made her resist opening them a while longer. Her mind circled around to her experiences in the pool again.

Buried below the surface of the waves, she lost all conception of time and had no real sense of space. She was unaware of her surroundings, beyond knowing that she was under water, all sense of self was replaced with multiple, abstract levels of her metaphysical self. She was consumed by confusion, of this she was certain. Everything else that worried her, like where she came from, how she got there, even who she was, in those moments under the water, those questions became utterly unimportant and somehow unreal. Like a freshly built facade, who’s lacquer-covered veneer cloaks the real structure beneath. The newly accessible, previously unobtainable facets of her consciousness, concealed her known sense of self and rational perceptions of reality. She could not describe, let alone understand, what she saw and experienced in that pool. She was determined to discover more, because she wanted very badly to experience this again, but she wondered if she ever would?

“You will.” A woman’s voice softly and confidently responded in the darkness.

    She felt her heart jump, the second that she knew she was not alone in this place. Something about the voice in the darkness did not inspire fear, but this did not mean that she was not in danger. She became instantly concerned with how long she had been laying there and how long had this woman been watching her? She waited for a moment and then barely opened her eyes enough to see through her lashes. It was too dark to see much more than a stone wall and a thin ribbon of water flowing next to her right hand. Suddenly she felt ridiculous, like a child hiding under the bed from imagined monsters and bumps in the night. She snapped her eyes open, pushed her arms hard against the cold floor and in one fluid motion she was on her feet. She assumed a defensive stance, she wished for nothing else in this moment than to be armed with a weapon, so she could defend herself.

“Who’s there? Show yourself.” The young woman projected loud enough to reach the darkest corners of the cave chamber. She turned and looked around the large room, which looked nothing like a cave. There was enough light glistening through the falling water behind her to shed a dim light over most of the room. Waves and shards of light illuminated every surface, which to her surprise was ornate, constructed from the finest materials, and ancient. Glancing around the room, as she hoped to spy the woman that spoke to her, she saw that the walls were made from hewn black and white stone. The floor, cold and damp against her bare feet, was inlaid with an impressive spiral pattern of alternating white and black veined stone. Glancing upward, she noticed that the ceiling was held up by hand-carved beams of light and dark wood, taking turns as they circled the room. Between the beams, were the most curious paintings, scenes that depicted the history of the planet. Finally, again she saw the symbol with the hand carved foreign letters of aed. She asked herself, “What does that mean?”

“In time, in time. All will be explained and you will remember. But first things first.” The voice of the old woman spoke from the egress at the far end of the room.

The young woman could not see beyond this point, as the space past this opening was completely unlit  It was as if a detached voice called out from the void, liberated from physical form, taking no shape, as if a spirit or entity was calling out to her from beyond. These thoughts invoked a streak of fear in her that was unwelcome and unusual. Since when was she afraid of the dark? She cracked a smile and thought, since a voice called from it, speaking to me like it knows me, like it can hear my inner thoughts. No matter the source, should the voice be from a real person, or in her head;she was not going to run away from this, besides where would she go? She must delve deeper into the cave, into the darkness. This may lead to the answers that she deeply craved and she knew deep down that she had to stand and face this woman, damn the consequences, this was destiny. For the first time in her life, she knew she was on the right path. The pool, the waterfall, transcending reality while in a trance and her vivid dreams of the boy while she slept, all of that meant something. All of that had a purpose, of this she was sure and following the voice was the next step.

“I am coming. Please, show yourself.” She called again, as she ran across the spiral floor, toward the entrance to the dark void. “Wait, I want to speak with you!”, she yelled while standing at the edge of the room. She tried to emote more confidence than she actually had, but in reality she was more nervous about this than she had been since she woke up. She held her breath and raised her leg, ready to take her first step into the void. She was not sure of what waited for her beyond this room. She still could not see anything at all, only darkness, black, a void. A void, the word kept circling her mind, like the stone pattern on the floor of the room she was about to leave. She feared that if she took a step into this nothing, she may be standing on the edge of a great, bottomless pit, or a mile deep mine shaft and not a flat stone floor. Her foot slowly descended toward the dark, featureless space before her. She pointed her toes, hoping to feel something soon and not just more air, empty space, the void. Further and further she reached her foot and she continued to feel nothing below it. Then suddenly, she almost feel forward into the place that she feared. She pulled her foot back and stepped back into the room when she heard the voice call to her again.

“You must have faith. Without it, you will fail. Without it, your worst fears will consume and destroy you. Follow me.” Said the old woman from the black beyond in a flat and unforgiving tone. The young woman shook her head and thought about how crazy that sounded. But this did nothing to deter her from wanting to follow and speak to this woman. If this was some kind of test of faith, whether she had the strength or heart to follow and face her fears, then she was determined to pass, literally.

She paced around the stone room, as she did in the portal room before, and after a few times around, looking up at that strange three-letter symbol the entire time, she was psyched up enough to press on and follow this voice into that unforgiving void. From the center of the room, she began running from the eye of the spiral. She picked up speed and confidence with every step, shedding all fear as she bolted toward the unknown. At the doorframe, she planted her left foot and launched herself into the waiting darkness. She sailed through the air for a couple seconds and came down hard, hitting the floor of the corridor that was there the whole time. Her right foot caught the floor at a strange angle, which caused her to collapse into an awkward ball of legs and arms, flailing about her torso as she tumbled down the hallway. Torch lights ignited into flames simultaneously, all along the walls the moment her right foot caught the floor, which meant that her embarrassing summersault was fully lit for the viewing pleasure of the old woman. 

The young woman’s ego was damaged far worse from the tumble than was her body. She was quite embarrassed and wonderred what inspired her jump in the first place. The irony of her embarrassment was not lost on her, as she realized that she was actually concerned what this old woman thought of her. When until this very moment, as she looked up from her kneeling position toward the end of the corridor, she had not yet seen and proven to herself that this other woman even existed. The old woman, once again, stood in shadow, in front of a large wooden door, at the end of the hallway. She could only make out minor features, shades of black and gray, part of a total outline in silhouette of the woman looking down at her. The woman wore a full length black cloak, with a hood that came down far enough to obscure her entire face, save for her chin. The woman turned and stood a couple feet back, facing the door, with her back to the young woman.

The old woman stood with her head bowed before the door, she softly chanted a few words and then tapped the door three times with her staff. At once, all four sides of the dark wood door began to glow. This reminded the young woman of the portals and she stared in wonder at another source of some kind of magic. The door creaked open and the old woman hurried through the opening and kept walking at fast pace.  As she rose to her feet, and started after the woman, the door began to close of its own volition. She slid through the remaining space between the closing door and the frame just in time. This made her wonder if the woman really wanted her to follow in her footsteps. The door slammed shut and she stopped and looked around the massive room where she now stood. The old woman stood many paces ahead, with her back facing her still. A strange blue light on the far, opposite end of the room, slowly pulsated and soaked the entire room in a strange shade of blue.

The room was easily over 40 feet tall and once again, constructed as a perfect circle. Twelve columns reached for the vaulted ceiling, which seemed to be made of an iridescent material of some kind. In fact, much of the room seemed to be absorbing and reflecting the blue light. The longer they stood in this room, the brighter all of the surfaces became. Standing still, just beyond the dark wood door, she looked upon the cloaked woman and watched as she raised her right arm out beside her, pointing her index finger into the air. At first it was no larger than a mustard seed, a tiny ball of light that was very bright for its size. When it grew to the size of a grape Tryn could see that the ball of light clung to the Woman’s fingertip. In the pale blue light of this great room, only the woman’s hand and half of her forearm could be seen at first, washed in a yellow glow.

The woman raised her staff with her other arm over her head pointed her glowing finger to the top of a staff, to meet a seated gemstone. The glowing orb left her finger at her command and entered the stone, causing it to be consumed by the yellow light, which grew in intensity and depth of color. The cast from the glowing gemstone bathed the surrounding area and the inner curve of the nearby support columns. As soon as her staff was lit, the old woman raced across the rest of the room, to the right of the blue glowing light, where she uttered some more foreign words to open a waiting door. Running, she tried to catch up with the woman, down fading from view down another corridor, beyond the opening.

Barely making it through another self-closing door, she continued to follow the woman further through a series of long dim corridors and circular rooms. She was too captivated by her pursuit of the old woman to consider why she was walking so quickly, never slowing down and never looking back. So she followed the silouette and the amber light from the woman’s staff. After each corridor, they went down long flights of stone and wood-made spiral staircases. Each stairway lead to a large wooden door, with a room made in the round, just beyond. The pattern of passing through the succession of a corridor, a spiral stairwell, then followed every time by a new circular room became so expected, that she began to wonder if they were walking in circles. This thought was ironic and funny to the young woman, while they passed through the fifth in a series of round rooms, she laughed as she called to the old woman, several paces in front of her.

“Are we going in circles?” Her question echoed around the room. The cloak of the old woman cast a towering and ominous shadow across the spiral stone floor. It was no surprise that the old woman did not respond or slow down. In total, neither woman spoke another word during the next hour, as they passed through several more sets of rooms, stairs and halls. Everything she saw beyond the waterfall, looked like the inside of a giant mansion, built with care, from the finest materials, and not a vast underground complex. During their subterranean journey, as the two woman hiked further and further into the depths of the planet, ever pointing downward. The young woman began to question her sanity, why she followed this woman in the first place.  She wished that she could run away, back to the beach, when she did not sense danger, or worse being lead to her demise by a strange woman with a glowing staff.

She was relieved to see something different at the end of the latest hall. The old woman stood, with her palms raised in the air, as she chanted something weird into golden door. The door seemed to glow from the surrounding light from numerous torches and lanterns hung on the wall, flanking both sides of the entryway. The door, with its orange glow, that danced along the sides of the corridor walls, illuminating the ornate carvings set in the surface of gold, beckoned her to come in. At the end of her chant, the seals on the gold door came undone and she pushed the door open with one hand. The young woman was relieved that finally, they had arrived somewhere. She didn’t care where they were, just that they had arrived to this place.

The doorway opened up into a vaulted chamber, that the young woman guessed was about 40 feet in diameter. More than anything she had witnessed during their long trek underground, the architecture in this place felt formidable, as if this room did not welcome her presence. The circular shape of this chamber was the only similarity that is shared with the others. Unlike the others, this room was very old, an ancient society must have built this. The bright yellow-orange hue that washed every surface of this circular room, was a striking difference from the otherworldly glow of blue-purple that she saw in every other room. The doorway where she stood, was the highest and outermost point of the circumference of the chamber. From here, she looked down at the central level of the multi-tiered floor, where the flames of wood-burning fire danced among the surrounding jagged stones. Each of the three tiers ran the circumference of the room, stepping down toward the middle.

Surrounding the firepit on the lowest level of the room were five chairs carved of stone. Each chair looked wide enough to sit two large men abreast. The great chairs stood over six feet tall. At the top of each was a carved symbol, gilded in gold and silver, with inlaid precious stones and gems. The chairs looked more like thrones than simply furniture for anyone to casually sit upon. As she looked around the chamber, the old woman stood, facing the flames, as she warmed her hands by the fire. Hidden beneath her hood, she was still unable to see woman’s face, which made her a little uneasy. So far, the only proof that this person was a woman, was her voice. With her features hidden, she began to wonder if this person really was a woman.

On the middle level of the room sat stone benches, evenly spaced around the room and may have sat over forty plus people at one time. As she stood in the same place by the door, she noticed numerous columns of polished black stone, which were erected every several feet, as they acted as supports for the vaulted ceiling. From each of these columns ran a wide vein of black stone, up the vaulted ceiling, where they met at the apex of the dome. She traced one of these onyx beams to the center of the ceiling, where she gasped, in surprise at what she saw. Not only was she surprised by the beauty of what she saw, but because she had seen this before. A stained glass window sparkled from the fire below. Refracting and reflecting points of multicoloured light cast in a thousand directions against curved ceiling. Inlaid in the middle of the stained glass, were the three letters she had seen in the portal room, by the waterfall and in several of the rooms up above; she looked upon the mysterious three letters of: aed.

“Come stand by the fire.” Said the voice of an old woman.

The young woman shrugged and figured that she may as well go to the fire below. She had followed this strange person this far, deep into the recesses of this place, at this point, what harm could be done? She made her way down the three steps to the center of the room and walked between two of the thrones, where she took her place by the fire. She held up her hands and warmed them by the flames. Heat from the flames felt better than she could have imaged, given that she was chilled to the core from the long walk through this cold and damp inner kingdom. She looked across the flames at the woman, finally able to facing her for the first time, but her cloak hung low off the top of her bowed head, still covering her face from view. The curiosity was getting to her and mischievous thoughts made her smile again, because she wanted to leap over the fire and pull back that silly cloak.  

She was stunned as the woman immediately responded to her thoughts by saying, “Come child. I do not doubt that you could leap over this fire. However, you would never be able to touch my cloak.” Wide eyed and mystified, she cast her gaze across the flames at a loss for words. The woman then turned and took her seat in one of the massive chairs. Resting her hands on the armrests, the woman sighed and finally looked up at her. While she knew that the old woman had finally allowed her face to be seen, she resisted the temptation to look right away. For now, she continued looking at the fire, ignoring the old woman’s stare from across the fire pit. 

“Look at me girl. You’ll see that I appear to be an old woman after all.”

“How did you know…” She began.

“What you were thinking? Is that really what you want to ask me?” Responded the woman, as the young woman still pretended to be captivated by the flickering  flames. All of this was very frustrating and at the same time pointless somehow. How do you have a conversation with a person who knows everything you know, long before you think or speak of it? But this could be an opportunity, such a person could be a wealth of knowledge, if she could ever find the right key to unlock the secrets and answers she desired.

“I’m not sure who…” She tried begin again, but stopped mid-thought. In the end, her curiosity got the best of her; she finally looked up at the woman. Glowing waves of light lit her face well enough to see her features and she could tell that the woman who sat across from her was indeed very old. She felt relieved that her senses had not deceived her, that she could tell so much from hearing this woman’s voice. There was something more, something far beyond the obvious frailty that was obvious in the tone of her voice. There was a certain intangible quality, giving her words the weight of a lifetime of experience and the confidence that comes from the wisdom from living countless days.

“Tell me, which whom do you ask of me? The boy, or yourself?” The woman questioned her, her train of thought, completely interrupted. How did this woman do this? How could she know all of these things? She suddenly had a frightening thought, could she know about her dreams as well? No, that would be ridiculous. She shook her head and cast her eyes at the fire again, squinting and thinking. Numerous questions crowded her mind and the indecision showed on her face. She darted her eyes between the fire and back up at the woman again, wanting badly to scream out everything at once. Instead, she tried to remain calm and put on an act of false security. She knew that the old woman would probably see through any attempted act or pretense, all of which felt wrong anyway. There was no deceiving this woman, so she put aside any attempts of trying.

As she squinted into the fire, more confused than ever, a log snapped in two, brilliant sparks of sun-colored orange and yellow soared into the air. Each spark as bright as the next, was carried off by the rising heat, but died as soon as it was born. She looked up at the woman and knew what she must ask next. Slowly she looked up at the old woman, who looked at her with a knowing gaze. She tossed her eyes to the right and then up at the glass ceiling, anywhere but the woman’s stare, as she built up the nerve to ask her next inquiry.

“Who, who am I?” she stammered, barely getting the words out. The second the words tripped from her lips, she wanted to suck them back in again. But the words were out there and she felt embarrassed that she asked in the first place. She wanted nothing more than to know who she was, to know her name, any information about herself at all, these things were the most important information she cared about. But to ask this of the old woman felt strange and she was suddenly self conscious and paranoid. She turned away from the fire and walked back between two of the large chairs, where she stood with her hands on her hips and her back to the woman.

“Finally, you ask the right question.” The old woman smiled and slowly nodded in her direction. She turned around and faced the old woman, unable to hide the look of anticipation in her eyes.

“Tryn is the name that you were given at the time of your creation. It is a very old name, given to girls a long time ago. You are very special, Tryn. Your bloodline is very old, you have ancestors that go back to the ancient times, when your world was young and went by a different name. Although you have no family to speak of, no parents or siblings; there is the one who will be special to you.”

“I am Tryn!” she whispered in exclamation. After everything she had been through since she awoke in space, Tryn could not believe she had gone this long without knowing who she was. “You said I have no family? Did they die, or leave me?”

“Not exactly. You will know everything, in time. I can tell you that, among many others, you are an orphan. You were raised by people who were not your family.”

Tryn took a deep breath, hoping to stay the feeling in the depths of her chest, the fluttering anxious feeling that continued uncontrollably. What did all of this mean? Was it the truth or was this all a lie? Why would the old woman lie to her? She did not even know who this woman was; she just appeared from the darkness after Tryn’s experience in the pool. Tryn began to walk around the fire pit, toward the old woman and looked at her with intense skepticism. She stood a few feet from the old woman, now close enough to hopefully determine the woman’s honesty, Tryn studied the woman’s face as she asked her next question.

“Who are you? Why did you seek me out?” Tryn asked, which caused the old woman to nod and gave a slight smile. She looked up at the ceiling as she answered Tryn’s question.

“You can call me Auriga, but that is not what you wanted to ask me. You need to know so much else. If you hope to make it to him in time.” The woman raised her left hand and feebly pointed at Tryn. “You must find him. Yes, there is much to learn, but finding him before…finding him is paramount.”

“Who am I supposed to find?” Tryn asked. The woman smiled at her for a moment before answering as she sat back into the great chair, with both of her hands gripping the dark crystal-looking orbs at the ends of the arm rests. She looked on Tryn with caring eyes.

“The boy in your dreams of course.” The woman answered with a wry smile.

“But how do you know about him? I thought those were just dreams, my dreams. Are you telling me that he is real? He is out there somewhere?” Asked Tryn.

“He is very real. He is out there and he is much closer than you can imagine.” The woman answered matter factly.

“Who is he? Why do I have to find him?” Tryn asked wondering what could be so special about this boy and about her, for that matter.

“Who he is, you already know. The reason why you must help him must be yours and yours alone. You must decide.”

“I am confused by what you are telling me. How can any of this be real?” Tryn pleaded to Auriga. She was about to take most of her words on faith alone, until she spoke of the boy in Tryn’s dreams. Even among the marvels that she had witnessed, many of which came from her own body, something made her doubt that the woman had intimate knowledge of this boy.

“Why do you doubt me child? You got your lack of faith and your stubbornness from him. You would be better served if you became more like the boy.”

“Okay, right there. What does that even mean? I get it from him? Who are you talking about?” Tryn replied in frustration.

As soon as she asked these things, the light of the room faded into darkness all around Tryn. Auriga sat with her eyes closed, her face only lit by the amber glow of her staff. A moment later the entire room, even the fire pit, had faded to black, leaving the two woman alone in nothingness. Tryn was scared to move and she only dared to turn her head as she looked all about her, but the room was gone. Only Tryn and Auriga remained in the black place. Tryn closed her eyes and when they opened again she was instantly in her dream again, flying, suspended high above the back garden of the house, where two searchers stood directly below.

This time everything felt different than it had that night, as it had in the dream. This time Tryn knew who she was and that she was just speaking to Auriga in the room a second before. She did not feel frightened, angry, and anxious as she had the first time she went through these events. This time she was herself, looking through the eyes of this person in the dream. She looked up at the dark and cloudy sky and raindrops pelted her face, blurring her vision. As she looked away, down toward the searchers below, something caught her attention in the direction of the house. Tryn’s eyes darted back to the roof of the house, where she saw a reflection in a skylight of her floating body. By instinct, she leaned toward the window, which made her fly closer toward the roof of the house, until she was only a few feet away. When she arrived close enough, Tryn could not believe her eyes, it was the same boy from the portal dream. But unlike that dream, she was the boy in the reflection. His reflected movements matched the ones that she made toward the window. Was he in her dream all along? If he was, did he lose his parents and fall asleep in the forest that night?

No sooner had she realized this, she felt the cool stone floor beneath her feet again and she saw everything from the house and garden fade to black. She blinked and saw Auriga again, sitting across from her and looking her way. Just as Auriga waved her hand, the room faded into view and the fire was restored, all exactly as it was before. What was this kind of magic? Tryn backed up and took hold of the nearest chair in an attempt to hold onto reality. She traced her fingers along the smooth stone of the chair’s armrest.

“Tryn? Do you understand?” Auriga asked. Tryn paused and considered everything that she just witnessed. Auriga’s mind-bending method of delivering this information could have unintentionally clouded Tryn’s ability to decipher the central message. Lines were being crossed, the veil between the dream world and her waking consciousness had fallen. Tryn worried that she could no longer trust her own perception of reality. She considered her dream about the boy, the horrifying loss of his parents and his narrow escape into the night. Now Tryn knew that the dream was not hers, that she was dreaming about what this poor boy experienced. Now she knew this was the same boy she saw through the portal. Tryn only had one question left, the one nagging concern that she must have answered. If the boy was real, were any of the vivid dreams actually real?

“I do understand.” Tryn finally answered. “But I must know, if the boy is real, are my dreams real too?”

“In time, you will learn that it is possible for some to make their dreams become reality. When you are ready, when you need it most, reality can become what you make it. For some, it is possible to shape reality to their will and bend it to fit their needs. Tryn, there is no wall, there is no dividing construct that traps reality on one side and endless possibilities on the other.” Auriga answered. Tryn looked at her, wearing the puzzlement on her face, unable to hide the fact that she thought Auriga’s words more cryptic than ever.

“How can any of this be possible? I do not feel special. Aside from my name, I can not remember anything about my life. The only thing I remember about my childhood may actually be someone else’s memory. This boy you say I know, but who I have never met and may never meet. I do not know who I am, why I am here and where I am supposed to go next.” The frustration was pouring out of Tryn as she rebutted Auriga’s words. These things were her reality. As far as Tryn was concerned, this was all that mattered.

“You have seen things Tryn, amazing things, even in the short time since you woke up in that place in the sky. Have not those things challenged your perception of reality?  Believe me when I tell you, you will see a great many more things in your lifetime, things that are far more challenging than anything you have seen in your short life. Even though it may bring you pain, one day soon you will learn all you wish to know about who you are and where you came from. On that day you will have to make a choice between which destiny you wish to fulfil, which road you will travel for the rest of your days.”

“You keep speaking to me in riddles, somehow avoiding the answers to the questions that I have. I want to run out of here and get on with this grand plan that seems to be pre-written for me. If I must find the boy, then I will do so.” Tryn wasn’t trying to be sarcastic, but her words gave Auriga pause.

“The choices that you make will determine your own fate, as well as millions of others, including those that you love. One day, you will take part in amazing events as and travel to places that exist on the other side of the veil, crossing the boundary between our world and another. The outcome of these events may literally change reality for everyone, hopefully for the better.” Tryn considered Auriga’s words and again, doubted much of them.

Does this mean she was going to fall in love? Why would she ever get involved in anything so monumental? Tryn couldn’t imagine being part of something that would alter reality and affect the lives of millions. If she had her way, she would simply hide out somewhere and keep to herself. But even as she told herself these things, she did not believe them. Something deep inside of her cared and wanted to act.

“Are there others like me?” Tryn changed the subject.

“Like you? No, you are special.” Auriga gave a slight smile as she calmly replied without emotion.

“You said I have a destiny, that I must choose. How will I know the right choice to make? I can not have my actions, all of my decisions affect other people, that is too much to bare.”

“Tryn, my child, on the day when you arrive at your life’s crossroad and two paths lay before you, at that time you will have to choose. One path will lead to darkness, pain and death. But if you choose wisely, the other path will lead to the light, to a union with someone you love that will define you both, and to certain victory.”

    “I have to know, somehow I have done these incredible things with my hands, my body, my, it’s just, I can not make sense of it and I have no answers and I want to know what this means.” Tryn pleaded for an answer.

    “The answer to this question is not as clear as everything else I have told you thus far. There will be others that you will meet, who possess some of the same abilities that you have. There will be some who will do share any of your abilities, but have special and unique powers of their own.” Tryn considered this for a moment while she looked at her hands, thinking about the energy she had casted from them on two separate occasions.

    “What do I do know, where do I go?” Tryn wondered out loud, hoping for some guidance.

“Find him. Find him now Tryn. This is your one and only task. Find him, protect him above all else.” 

Upon these words, Auriga waved her hand in the air and the room disappeared again, as a strong breeze blew Tryn’s hair all about until it landed on the front of her right shoulder. In the brief moment as the breeze blew and the room faded to a brilliant white light, she was momentarily blinded and naturally closed her eyes to keep the light from hurting her eyes. When she opened them only a second later, everything that was just there, the round ancient room, the fire pit, Auriga sitting in the giant chair, all of it was gone; completely replaced by evergreen.

Tryn quickly held her arms and shivered in the cool air as she now stood in a very old evergreen forest. She hopped from foot to foot trying to avoid standing for too long on the fallen orange needles mercilessly stabbing her tender bare feet. The sun was still a couple hours away from setting but was leaning heavy in the western sky heading for the horizon, soon it would be nightfall. As Tryn tried to find comfortable footing, she continued to worry about the coming temperature overnight. She had no shelter, no items to help start a fire, no shoes, and worst of all, she had no idea what direction to travel and where this mythical boy may be. The scent of smoke danced in the cold wind, calling out to an unknown part of her, a deep and unseen memory, but one of comfort and warmth. This alone was what she needed, if she did not survive the night, what good would she be to this mythical boy? So she set off in the direction she assumed was north.

Tryn could hear the distant sound of rushing water and guessed that a river may run somewhere off to the west. But with night becoming an ever present threat and the vast thickness of forest between her and the sound of water, she dared not go that direction. Instead she kept the setting sun and the sound of the river to her right and enjoyed the sparse layout of the evergreens, especially since the needles did not hurt as much after a while.

Tryn guessed that she had been walking for an hour through the evergreens toward the hope of finding shelter and food beyond the treeline. The sun had set far sooner than she expected that afternoon. Tryn did not know that on both sides of the river were mountains and she was walking through a river valley toward the only village in a hundred mile radius. Because of this, the sun always set early and came up late, iitsradiance having to crest the top of the mountains on both sides before shining upon the valley below.

While she walked Tryn had nothing but time to think about all that she had seen and of the words spoken by Auriga regarding her so-called destiny and this mythical boy she was supposed to find. She had grown tired of being told what she should do, how she should do it, and who she should find. As soon as Tryn smelled the welcoming scent of freshly baked bread and saw the lights of the village ahead, she stopped in her tracks to turn and look behind her into the dark forest from whence she came.

“No more. I am done.” Try said to herself with an air of confidence she had never expressed, much less retained, since she awoke.

Try walked into the village and as she passed by the local inn at the edge of town, she told herself that she was done chasing other people’s dreams. No more would she bow to the wishes and demands of strangers and their tall tales of far-off places. Try committed herself to reject the notion of having a destiny. She would follow her path, her mind, her own rules from then on. At that moment her real-life began with a smile and a skip in her step. At that moment, for the first time, she was happy and she believed that she would find a new life in this quaint little village by the river.


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