Portal Ch. 04bytenicka©
When I gathered my senses to me, I knew I was back in the museum and I had to return as quickly as I could.
Each second was an hour.
Each moment was a lifetime.
I stared at the stone as I touched it, chanting the words, but nothing happened.
No spark. No lights. Nothing.
"Oh Vytex..." I breathed, frantically thumbing through the tome for maybe a different set of chants that might work. But no matter what I did, the power of the stone did not evoke the swirly portal for me. I stared at my watch in horror. One hour I had tried to return. One hour would mean at least a week had passed in the other world. He would have to be dead by now.
I covered my face with my hands and felt a sadness that shook me to the very tips of my toes. Why had it happened that way? Why couldn't I have lived happily ever after? I pushed my recovered glasses up on the bridge of my nose and sighed loudly as I failed at the chant yet again. I was not going to stop. I would not give up!
It was near midnight when my body nearly gave out on me. I had been chanting for hours upon hours and knew I had to rest to continue. So, I gathered up my coat and purse and made my way back home to my apartment. It seemed as if I had been gone for ages, when in reality I had not been gone long at all. My cats didn't seem to notice anything different about me, other than the odd clothes I was wearing. I stepped into the bathroom and flicked on the lights, startled at the appearance of the boy in the mirror. But it was just me. I pulled off the borrowed tunic and held it to my face, breathing in the scent of the other world. I pretended like I could smell Vytex's scent upon it, but it had been too freshly laundered too recently for that.
I stripped off the pants and stepped into the shower, washing away any reminders of what had happened only a seemingly few hours earlier. As I washed between my legs, I felt a soreness within my vaginal cavity from my first sexual encounter. It wasn't unpleasant; it simply served as a reminder of what I had given away and what I had lost. And that was when the tears began to flow.
"Oh Vytex." I wept, holding myself up in the shower as I cried for the man I had grown to love. "I wish I had your arms around me now." I was so desperate to have him with me, but he was literally a world apart, and it only caused me to weep harder.
Finally, drained, I exited the shower and climbed into my bed. Sleep did not come to me for a long time and when it did, it was filled with nightmares of the man I had lost and left behind.
I went in early, intent on making the portal again. But I was side-tracked by Dave.
He called me into his office and sat me down at one of his guest chairs. He studied his computer screen for a while, as I sat fidgeting, stressing about time wasting. Already it had to be weeks in the other world as long as I was taking to return and so each second that I sat doing absolutely nothing but waiting was driving me crazy.
"I've gone through our security files, Kendall." Dave began, face grave as he spoke. "It looks like you've been having some mighty odd visits here after hours." I grimaced, unsure of where he was heading with his comments. I knew there was not a camera in the Celtic section, so knew he couldn't be seeing the swirly gate.
"You can explain this, right?" He turned the screen around to show me entering into a lit hallway wearing my Juliet costume I had wore the last trip to the other world. I knew I had to think fast. No way could I lose my job now - I'd lose access to the tome and stone.
"Uh yes, I was doing a... self study of the pre-medieval era and felt it better to be in costume to truly take in the time period. I hope you don't mind." I studied his face to see if he was buying my lies. His bushy eyebrow rose. "I should have checked with you first. I'm sorry." I continued glibly. "If you want me to check with you in the future, I will gladly do that." I had to remind myself not to freak out. Being home was so completely different. People were able to be condescending to me. They wouldn't curtsy or bow. I was not royalty.
I hated it.
"Yes, well, do that then." I wasn't sure if I had him convinced. "And for crying out loud, get yourself a man." He smiled to show he was teasing me and I relaxed, sighing subtly in relief.
"Yes sir!" I stood slowly and saluted him, turning to go.
"Wait, Kendall." I turned back around, dread creeping up my spine. "You look different today. I can't put my finger on it. You're actually glowing." His eyebrows rose in surprise. "You got some!" I laughed at him, knowing he'd take it the way he should -- as if it were an impossibility for someone like me. But in reality I laughed because I knew it was true. I HAD 'got some'. And from a pointy-eared Drow, no less!
As soon as I was dismissed, I rushed to the Celtic display. But it was occupied by visitors to the museum. All day I watched, waiting, agonizing over the time that had passed by.
Every second ticked away was as if Vytex's life was bleeding out to me. I knew he had to be dead, but the not knowing was driving me near-insane. I was relieved when it was near time to close up and people were exiting the museum. It was my chance to try and open the portal without an audience. But before I could reach out and touch the stone, I heard footsteps behind me. I spun to find Dave there, staring at me curiously.
"Kendall, are you staying late again? Studying?" He went past me to reach out and touch the stone, patting the rock as if to reassure himself I hadn't done anything bad to it.
"Uh yeah, is that okay?" I asked him, marveling at the way I had kept my cool around him all day long. Normally I would have been stuttering and stammering, at a loss of words to say.
"Sure. Just try to not stay too long. You need your beauty rest." His words were not meant to be callous, and I knew that. An outsider would have winced at the comment about my beauty rest, but I knew better. Dave was just being Dave. But before he exited the display area, he turned to me and asked, "Have you seen Marcella in the last few days? She's not called in. I hope she didn't ditch us without notice. I hate that."
I shrugged and watched him leave, not carrying about the pretty teen part time co-worker of ours. She led tour guides in the afternoon after high school was done and in all of her time there, I had always been so jealous of her youthful beauty. She was gorgeous in every way. My opposite. The blonde girl was the shy, innocent type that attracted the older lechy type men. No wonder Dave was missing her. The bitterness that I had felt with the thought of her surprised me. It also made me want to go to the other land immediately so that I could feel pretty again.
I set my glasses down and began to speak the phrases to summon the portal. I knew them by heart now, having repeated them over and over again.
Approximately twenty four hours from the time I had come back through the swirly portal, I managed to summon a returning gate. I wasted no time in jumping into the portal and scrunched up my eyes as the disorientation took over. I should have known to brace myself, knowing I would have a possible harsh landing on the other side, but I was unprepared when I landed on broken stone. I fell on my side, landing hard upon the crumbled rock and heard something snap within me as I dropped. Fortunately, I had covered my head this time and my skull was unharmed.
When I sat up, my side caught and my breath became ragged. I was grateful to be wearing loose clothes as my new body shape molded into them easily. Hiking up my shirt, I saw my side was an ugly reddish color and knew I must have cracked a rib on impact. Ouch! Each time I breathed it felt as if my lungs were on fire and I wondered how I could find Vytex if I could barely move. Closing my eyes, I put my hand over my side and thought about having no pain, no broken bones. The strange words flowed from my mouth just like when I was healing Vytex. Almost instantly, I felt relief and checked the wounded area once more. It was free of any sign of the harsh landing -- I had healed myself!
Amazed at the fact that I could heal, marveling at the magic that encompassed the world I now was a part of, I took in the surroundings of crumbled ruins. When my mind started putting shapes together, I gasped as I recognized I was not in a set of ruins, but the Drow Palace! At least what used to be the palace. It looked as if a tornado had torn the place apart, vines had latched onto stone in various places and I wondered what had happened. That was when I noticed the birds.
There were so many! When I approached a group of them and they flew away from me, I knew what they were -- carrion eaters. There were bodies everywhere wearing the Drow armor - something had completely wiped out the entire Drow protectors. With the knowledge, I felt my heart crush again. Surely Vytex was a corpse among the bodies strewn haphazardly here and there. So much death! I shook my head at the carnage, wondering once again what force could have done such a thing.
I made my way into what looked to be servant's quarters and found an old servant girl's clothing, generic in color and style. I had to blend in if I was to find out what had happened and see if I could help stop it in some way. At least I knew I could heal the wounded. It was too late for the Drow, but perhaps moving on to the Old Ones and Humans there, I could aid them before it became too late for them. If it wasn't already, of course. The dress was a little snug, but I was satisfied with it as well as the boots I had found that were a little too big, but worked.
Soon I was walking on a path that looked as if it would take me through a mountain pass and the gravity of the journey struck me. I stopped, staring down the long road ahead. I had always been flown to and from the Drow palace. Judging from the bird's eye view I had always seen, it had to be an enormous distance between the lands. How was I going to get there before night fell? How would I get there in a month for that matter?
Sighing, I shook my head and began to walk anyway. I knew it was probably a stupid idea and that I should just call up the portal and return home, but I still felt like Vytex's world was my home. He might be dead, but I felt drawn to him still. Perhaps some sort of essence had been left behind at his death. I'd not let his memory fade, for sure.
It did prove to be a bad idea. About half way through the pass, less than an hour or so, I had to rest. My feet hurt and I realized just how much of a wimp I was. I couldn't do it. I simply could not walk the probable days it would take me to get to the other side of the mountains. And when I came across a rockslide in the path, I knew I was finished. I could not traverse such a large obstacle! The wall of stone that surrounded three sides was stories tall and would take me a day just to climb it. And there would be no guarantee that there wouldn't be more mountains beyond the next peak if I did make it over.
"This is hopeless." I grumbled, turning around to return back to the ruins of the Drow palace. Perhaps I could scavenge something to eat so I could formulate a different plan. I began the relatively short journey back and fretted as it was getting late in the day by the time I arrived back at the destroyed courtyard. I had bigger problems than food or darkening skies though. Once I entered into the open area of the ruins, I froze. Ahead of me, sniffing the ground was one of the winged lizard things. My heart began to race as I knew I'd be in trouble if it saw me. Without a Drow to control it, I'd be an easy meal. I contemplated calling the portal once more when the thing turned its head to me. But I hesitated. It did not seem aggressive. It stared at me as if it were lost and began to whimper like a puppy.
"Hey there, big guy." I spoke in soft tones, hoping it wouldn't bounce over to me and eat me in one big gulp. "I won't hurt you." I told it, feeling ridiculous for the words. Like I could hurt it! "Easy. Easy." I stepped closer, but the lizard beast lifted its head in alarm at me. It seemed almost as if the creature was afraid of me. The thought made me want to laugh but I kept tight control over my emotions. I could not afford to spook it. Not if I wanted to use it in some way.
"I would be careful, miss." A soft voice trilled in my ear and I spun to see a Drow maiden standing behind me. She had moved so silently, I had not heard her. I'd have to work on that!
"What happened here?" I asked her, but the moment I had turned, her eyes had grown wide in alarm and wonder. She must have thought me another Drow at first. "Hey, it's all right. I am on your side." I told her, lifting my hands slightly to disarm her alarm.
"You are part of the palace staff?" She inquired, eyeing my servant's dress with wary curiosity.
"Not exactly. I'm from another world." I told her, not wanting to lie. I'd not want to lose her trust by lying and being caught in the lie. "Please tell me how all of these Drow warriors were killed?" I sat on a broken bench, trying to keep my balance so I didn't fall on my butt.
"It was the Prince of the Old One." She sat on the grass near by, turned in a way so that she could keep an eye on both me and the large lizard beast. "He was pushed back in defeat at one point, but then the Druid Priestess fell from the sky and was sacrificed. He took her power and has rained destruction on all people of all lands." She covered her face as she said the next words, "It was terrible."
I scooted a little closer, folding my legs under me, mostly because I was about to fall from the broken stone.
"It's all right. I'm here to help." I felt so minuscule, knowing my words were just that -- words. But a thought struck me from what she had said. "Wait, you said the Druid Priestess was sacrificed?" She nodded and I scratched my head. But I wasn't. I had slept with Vytex, which should have nullified my 'pureness'. Plus I was fairly certain I was still alive.
"Can you tell me about this Priestess?"
The peasant girl shook her white-haired head.
"Nay, I am just a farmer's daughter and was away in the fields gathering when it all happened." I nodded at her reply. It would be up to me to find out then. "Oh, but I have heard her described from the surviving farmers. She was young, golden-haired. Like straw."
My heart leaped into my throat. Blonde? Fell from the sky? Could that have been...?
"Uh was she pretty? Do you know her name?"
The girl just shrugged.
"I am sorry, miss. I know nothing more." She climbed to her feet and looked to the darkening sky. "I should return back home before it gets too late. My father will need me back at our farm. Our fields are in disarray. We will be hard-pressed to get the harvest done before winter falls." I watched as the Drow bowed her head and began to walk away. She stopped briefly to stare at the lizard monster. "I would give him roses if you can find them."
I began to search the grounds, but they were a mess. Stone upon stone was overturned, buildings collapsed within themselves. Vines clung to everything as if no one had been in the area in a very long time. I knew I had to hurry. I did not want to remain in the cemetery of the Drow, which is what the place had become for Vytex's warriors, when night fell. At last I found what the lizard beast must have been searching for -- a solitary rosebush. I plucked a few buds and brought them to the large creature's mouth, shutting my eyes in pure terror as it approached me. I held the buds out on a flat palm, hoping against hope I'd be able to keep my hands. I could see the thing take a chomp and my arms along with the roses.
When I felt a soft touch on my palms, I opened my eyes to see a long tongue extended from the beast's mouth as it gathered the roses carefully and brought them to its huge maw. Munching on the roses, the lizard thing looked as if it were actually contented and I relaxed slightly. Perhaps it was not carnivorous. I nearly screamed when the lizard beast rubbed its head against my shoulder, sending me backwards onto my rump. I stood slowly as it stared down at me curiously. If I had been prepared for it, I would have stayed on my feet. Blushing I began to reach out hesitantly, hoping it would let me pet it.
"Mmmmmmm." It sighed as I patted the scaly hide.
"You like that?" I patted more, both hands rubbing and scratching as it made happy noises at me. I began to make my way down its neck, patting as I went along until I touched its back. I wondered if it would let me ride it. As I patted, all thoughts of riding were put aside as I felt something push me from underneath my foot. I glanced down quickly to note his head flattened against the ground, nudging me up so that I was pushed very steadily onto his back. The beast actually wanted me to ride! So, on his back now, without a saddle this time, I sat, watching in terror as he began to flap his wings and lift us up into the air.
"Whoa! Whoa!" I grabbed his neck and held on for dear life, never being much of a horseback rider. The wind began to whip my face, but I noticed we were not moving. We just hovered over the ground. I had to make him go, but how? Then I remembered what Vytex had told his beast when he had been shot with an arrow.
"Vaaaa vaaaaa vaaaaa!" I tried to imitate the sounds Vytex had made when he had rescued me from Prince Anithis' chamber. It worked and soon we were sailing off into the sunset. Well, I was more or less hanging on for dear life as we sped into the horizon. I did not know how to direct the beast, so I just told it "Old ones! Go to the Old ones!" hoping it could understand me. I kept my eyes closed until I felt the movement slow and the wind stop trying to rip me from the lizard's neck. He had landed us in rows and rows of rosebushes.
"You stupid beast!" I ranted at it, angry as it began to dine on the plants. "I said Old ones. Does this look like—" I stared off into the distance, recognizing the marble buildings. It had brought me to the Old ones territory after all. I slid off of its back as carefully as I could, still landing in a puddle on the ground with a grunt and patted its shoulder as I stood. "Thank you, lizard friend. You did well." I spent a few more minutes patting and praising it before heading to the main grounds. I had to confront Anithis and make him pay for his actions. I didn't care if he had somehow got a hold of power, I had to do it.
And if he had murdered my co-worker, Marcella, who had somehow gotten herself to these lands like I had, he would pay.
"Halt! You there!" I froze when I heard the harsh voice behind me. When I turned, I stared curiously as one of the Old ones approached, sword out at the ready and pointed at me. When he came closer, he must have recognized me as he gasped softly.
"Forgive me, my lady. I did not realize it was you." He pointed to the largest of the marble buildings. "King Anithis is expecting you."
Uh oh... King? This should be interesting, I thought to myself as he began to escort me to the palace...and to my fate.
To be continued...
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