(reminder, Ch2 is to be split in half to be Ch2 and Ch3).
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CHAPTER 4: Snowdrift
Jessicas eyes flitted open, staring upwards through a sycamore tree into a night sky. The moon was half full, and her eyes took a moment to adjust to where she was. Her head was leaned back into some roots, propping her head like a pillow. The rest of her body lay on some soft, but chilly grass.
She turned her eyes downward, out of the line of sight of the stars and towards the landscape around her. As her eyes adjusted, she saw snow just about everywhere she looked. The landscape was not completely covered in darkness and snow, but almost…almost. Jessica lay in what seemed to be the largest patch of clearing around in her line of sight.
Not that she could see very far, as there were small hills all around, leading up to the foothill to some mountains. She couldn’t quite tell how far the mountains were, as she had no idea how tall they were and there were no other trees around for her to gauge their height.
Jessica stood up, and wrapped her arms around her, feeling the chill in the air. She took a deep breath and puffed out, testing to see if she could see the warm air escape. She could. Looking around in all directions, she couldn’t quite figure out which way to go, and so she headed away from the moon, figuring she must be headed east and towards the sun. She walked for what felt like hours, up and over the hills with no sign of life anywhere.
In a valley between two hills, Jessica stopped for a moment and looked at the moon. It didn’t appear to have moved at all during her walk, but she knew she had walked for at least a mile. She put her hands up to her shoulders and rubbed them briskly.
“I wish I could warm up somehow.”, she muttered. Her fingers sparked again, this time the ball of light hitting her own skin. Immediately, a warmth began to flow through her, followed by the tiniest bit of tiredness which quickly faded. This new heat kept her warm and gave a bit of psychological push to keep her moving up the next hill.
Once there, she stopped dead in her tracks. At the base of the next hill were two small purple creatures. About four feet high, with large horns adorned on their heads. After a moment Jessica realized they were wearing helmets which fit snugly over their big ears. Each wielded a stick with a nail on the end, and they were staring up the hill, smiling up at her. Their eyes gleamed with some kind of intelligence, and Jessica figured for a moment they must be reasonably smart to have weapons and helmets, but she didn’t really want to find out.
As she’d been walking she’d been thinking about this new energy source, this new power she seemed to have. Right now, she chose not to think at all. She acted on instinct, doing as she’d seen the man in the alley do. Jessica drew one fist close to her chest and simply…grabbed. She was only a little surprised when her fingers clasped on to something cold. Without stopping to look down at it, she flung her arm forward and pointed towards the creatures.
A ball of energy flew out of her palm, down the hill towards the creatures. In a moment, the ball had struck the first one in the chest, sending it flying backwards with smoke rising from its chest. It landed in the snow a ways away with a thump, and didn’t move. Jessica stumbled to one knee, surprised at the drain to her own self it took to do what she did.
The other creature snarled, its lips curling upwards and revealing short teeth, each one jagged and clearly meant for ripping meat apart. It advanced up the hill towards Jessica as fast as its short legs could carry it. Jessica, still on one knee, gripped her other hand towards her chest, flinging an energy ball towards the creature. The moment before the ball hit the creatures’ face, it gave a shriek. As it tumbled backwards down the hill, Jessica collapsed now onto her other knee, her strength dissipated.
She knelt there on the ground for a moment, trying to sort things out. What were those creatures? What was that ball I threw? Where did this come from? Where the HELL AM I? Lost in confusion, energy drained, Jessica forced herself back up to her feet. She knew she had to keep moving and find some form of shelter, and preferably some food too.
As she took her first step down the hill, she saw three more of the creatures coming across the hill opposite. Jessica looked up at the sky, towards a God she had not talked to since she was five.
“COME ON!”, she said.
She took a deep breath and tried to gather her strength for another fight. Her first throw produced an energy ball that fizzled into nothing about halfway to her target. This produced the same reaction within her as the first throw, dropping her to one knee. She took a deep breath, and watched the creatures advance on her. They could tell she was exhausted and out of her league. Still, they approached with caution. If they’d gone a little faster, they might have been able to kill her and run away, but their caution cost them their lives.
A moment later, all three of the creatures seemed to explode into a puff of purple body parts as an energy ball appeared from the top of a nearby hill. As Jessica watched the monsters die, she held her breath, waiting to be next for whatever other creature was out there waiting.
“Get up, girl.”, came a vaguely familiar voice. It took her a moment to place it, and then she realized she knew it from the alley : Treynor. She stood up, looking for him. Her eyes spotted the wizard (what other name did she have?) across the way on the next hill. Slowly, she walked over towards her rescuer.
“What were those things?”, was the first thing she asked.
“I have no name for them, I just kill them on sight.”, said Treynor.
“Where the hell am I?”
“You are now in my home realm. It is called Narthast.”
“Great. How about you sending me back to *my* home?”
“I cannot do that, girl.”
“Only he who brought you here can send you home.”
“Great. So who brought me here?”
“You ask too many questions, girl. But I would surmise it was Malteus.”
“Whatever. Last one, then. Is this magic? What are these light sources I keep shooting out of my hands? Why am I so tired?”
“You said one. That was three.”, he said. “But I shall answer all in due time... provided you come with me. I will train you, teach you how to use this power that Malteus gave you.”
Jessica stopped talking for a moment and pondered her own thoughts. She hadn’t realized it until now, but as they had started to talk, they also started to walk. She now saw over the foothills a small fortress built into the base of the mountain.
“And if I don’t?” Jessica asked.
“Then I leave you here to die in frozen snow.”, said Treynor.
Every instinct within Jessica told her this was a bad idea. She had always hated authority in any of its various guises, from parents to principals to teachers. Now she was being faced with a decision to either give in and accept that authority, or to be left out in the cold, literally. Wasn’t much of a decision, as she thought about it. Jessica decided that she would have to play this mans game, and try to find a way out and on her own the first chance she got.
“I’ll do it.”, she said.
“I know.”, he said.
“F you.”, she said.
“Teenagers”, he said. “They don’t change from one world to the next.”
The two walked on in silence for another mile or three, eventually coming to the entrance of the castle. As they got closer, Jessica could now make out the spiraling buttresses, three in total. Each one with a flag waving across the top. (add descriptive text here)
They walked into the front doors of the castle, into a large foyer with stairs leading off in all directions. Now that she was inside, Jessica felt the air was warmer in here, and no longer had the need to rub her shoulders anymore. Looking around, there were a few other creatures around which seemed to be servants rushing to and fro, keeping the castle in order.
As Jessica looked around, she felt a gust of wind blow past her as the main doors closed with a loud bang. The sound was that of a finality, and Jessica felt as though those doors would never open for her ever again.
“What have I gotten myself into?”, she thought.