Categories > Original > Fantasy > Monster

Day 1

by Togot 0 reviews

Tyler finds himself summoned to a new world

Category: Fantasy - Rating: R - Genres: Drama,Fantasy - Warnings: [V] - Published: 2019-08-10 - Updated: 2019-08-10 - 10317 words

Tyler’s eyes shot open as the house began to shake. His mind raced, trying to make sense of the situation. ‘Earthquake?’ he thought. ‘No, we never get those here. Well, whatever it is, I’d better get out of the basement before I’m buried alive!’ Tyler started to head for the stairs, taking his sword with him since he already had it in hand. He had barely taken a step before a ring of light shot up from the ground around him. ‘What the hell?’ Before Tyler could react, a small black hole appeared beneath him and quickly grew to the size of the bright ring, and Tyler let out a surprised yell as he fell through it into blackness.

‘What is this?’ Tyler wondered as he looked around at the absolute nothingness engulfing him. He no longer felt like he was falling, and when he looked up there was no sign of the hole he had fallen through. ‘Am I dead? No, I’m still self-aware. What is this then? Am I in a coma, a delusion? What the fuck?’ His mind raced through all of the possible explanations, and dismissed them just as quickly. This just didn’t make sense. Tyler looked down and saw a tiny faint light. It quickly grew, just as the black hole he had fallen into had, and Tyler fell through again and hit solid ground.

Tyler found himself on a cold stone floor in a dark room. He lifted himself up with a groan and looked around, trying to get his bearings while his mind worked through what was going on. His body felt sore from the fall, and his injuries from his fight hadn‘t healed either. He could see that there were four blue flames on head-high stakes around him that dimly lit some kind of pentagram painted on the floor beneath him.

Tyler’s entire body was aching as he got up to his knees. His hand bumped into something at his side, and he was surprised to find that it was his sword. ‘Did this fall through with me,’ he wondered. Seeing the blade made Tyler feel immense relief. It was something familiar, something he knew was real, and having a weapon gave his some illusion of safety even though it had done nothing to prevent what had happened. He tightened his grip on the wooden handle. This was real.

“That’s it?” someone said. The voice was that of a woman. Tyler’s head snapped around in the direction it had come from. A fresh wave of fear and panic shot through him as he picked himself up into a crouch. The knowledge that he wasn’t alone, and hadn’t been aware of it unnerved him greatly. He was more thankful than ever for the sword he still held.

Tyler squinted into the darkness, trying hard to see the source of the voice, but the blue flames seemed only to illuminate the small area where he was exposed. Since he couldn’t see anything, Tyler strained his ears to listen. He heard clothe ruffling, feet on stone, and breathing from more than one person. The noises were on all sides of him, adding to his anxiety.

“This is….disappointing,” said another voice, this one a male. His tone was calm and arrogant. It made Tyler instantly dislike its owner without even having to see the guy’s face.

“Disappointing?” said another woman, sounding angry, and maybe a little frightened.

‘Three of them,’ Tyler thought to himself.

“We’re risking our lives on this Endeavour, and this puny thing is our reward? It looks weaker than a Tomen.”

“Alanna, my dear,” the man said in a smug, condescending tone. “You are letting your disappointment due to unrealistic expectations blind you to our success. Yes this creature is small and pathetic, but we have proven the spell’s concept is sound. We need only make some adjustments to achieve our goal.”

Tyler’s fear was quickly being replaced by anger. He had no doubt that he was the one being called small and pathetic, and that pissed him off.

“What about this thing?” asked another man. “Malenia will be furious if she discovers what we’ve done.”

“The answer to that is simple,” said the arrogant one. “We get rid of it.”

There was no mistaking the insinuation, and Tyler felt a knot form in his stomach. These people were talking about killing him as if he were some lab rat. Had this been some crazy science experiment? No, they had referred to it as a spell. Magic then, but that was ridiculous. Tyler focused his eyes in the direction that the arrogant man’s voice had come from, and as his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he spotted a shadowy silhouette standing just beyond the light’s reach.

The figure moved, and suddenly a sphere of fire appeared and blinded Tyler who had been looking straight at it. Tyler shielded his eyes, and a moment passed as they adjusted to the sudden brightness. He fought hard to squint and see through his fingers at the form in front of him. When he managed to make out the face, Tyler’s shock made him forget the discomfort. The man wasn’t a man at all, he was an animal.

The creature stood upright like a human, but his face was covered in in brown fur. It had a snout that was somehow twisted into a smirk as it looked down at Tyler with merciless eyes. It’s outstretched hand had claws, and a ball of fire was floating just beyond its palm, somehow without burning the fur or the fabric of the black cloak the beast was wearing. Tyler’s mind lost the capacity for rational thought and fell back on instinct. The creature laughed as the ball of fire shot towards Tyler.

‘Dodge!’ screamed a voice in Tyler‘s mind, his own voice, and his body obeyed. He dove and rolled out of the way as the fireball passed by. Tyler’s mind was flooded with emotion and impulse. Fear, panic, anger, and murderous rage pushed aside his reason. That thing had just tried to kill him, and the best way to protect himself was to kill it first.

He screamed as he rose to his feet and charged at where the monster had been. With the light from the fire gone, and Tyler‘s night vision ruined, he was going in blind, but he didn‘t care. Tyler raised his sword high, and the beast reappeared with a new fireball. The creature smiled as the ball grew in size and flew at Tyler. There was no way for him to avoid it.

The flames enveloped Tyler, but he felt no pain. His momentum carried him through, and his blade came down into the monster’s left shoulder, slicing through its collar bone and several inches into its ribcage.

The look on the creature’s face was one of surprise and disbelief. Tyler was completely unharmed from the flames; not even his clothes were singed. Tyler didn’t understand it, and he didn’t care. He pulled down, and the blade cut through the creature’s body, slicing a few inches deeper before it came out. The beast dropped to its knees, touching its bloody wound with its right hand and looking at the red-stained fur before collapsing to the ground, dead.

“Termall!” cried one of the women. Tyler spun around and saw that there were four others. His eyes were working better now that he was out of that lit circle, and he could see that he was the only human being in the room. The monster closest to him, a female with a strange white and black stripe pattern, began to raise her hand the same way the dead one had.

Tyler reacted instantly. He rushed at the female creature and swung up and wide with his right hand, slashing her extended arm to prevent her from shooting a fireball at him. He then twisted his grip, grasped with both hands for power, and brought the blade down like an axe. He buried it into the side of the creature’s neck. It was too angled to decapitate her, but it did the job. She collapsed like a puppet with cut strings, and Tyler knew that she was dead as well.

Tyler didn’t wait for the other three to attack. He rushed at a nearby male with black fur and swung the blade horizontally. It struck the creature in the right side and went deep enough to hit his spine. Tyler followed through with the slash and eviscerated the monster before diving for the last male, one with white fur and a black spot over its left eye. Tyler stabbed forward as the monster raised both of its hands.

A massive bolt of lightning arched out at Tyler, but as before, he came through unscathed. He didn’t even feel it. Tyler drove the tip of his sword into the creature’s chest. It winced in pain as Tyler pivoted the handle down, slicing open a larger wound. Tyler then withdrew the weapon and stood before his enemy. The creature dropped to its knees and then collapsed on its side, clasping at the deep wound. Tyler stood panting for a moment, his face covered in sweat, his eyes wide with shock. Countless thoughts and feelings tried to flood his mind, but Tyler shook his head to rid himself of them before turning his attention to the last one.

The remaining female was furthest from him. She had dark fur, almost a mix between black and blue from what he could now see in the dim light. She looked terrified, but she had picked up one of the candle stick poles and held it like a staff. Still running on adrenaline, Tyler rushed at her screaming like a madman. He swung with a downward stroke, letting the blade’s weight add to its power. The girl blocked it with the metal shaft. Tyler’s sword jarred his wrist so badly that he thought he might drop his weapon. The creature wasn’t shaken by the impact at all.

Undiscouraged, Tyler swung again, this time from the side. Again the female creature blocked his attack, and she took a swing of her own, but what she held in her hand was not meant to be a weapon, and the attack was clumsy. Tyler managed to dodge it by jumping backwards. He then lunged forward before the creature could recover. Rather than swing for her with the blade, he brought the handle up and struck her in the face with the pummel.

The creature was stunned and fell to the ground, dropping her steel staff. She quickly crawled away, unable to get back to her feet as Tyler closed in. She soon found herself backed into a corner with nowhere to go. Tyler saw something odd pass behind her eyes; they took on an odd sort of clarity, and her face seemed to relax. The part of Tyler’s mind that was still thinking realized that she was accepting her fate. She had given up.

She still looked terrified, and if she had been human, Tyler would have stopped, but she wasn’t. She was some kind of monster, and she and her friends had tried to murder him. Tyler raised his sword to finish her off. He would at least try to make it quick.

A door that Tyler didn’t even know was there exploded with the force of a grenade. Tyler ducked his head as wooden splinters showered him. When he looked up, another monster was standing in the doorway, but this one seemed different than the others. It was another female, but she wasn’t wearing a hooded robe. She wore an elaborate outfit of loose white and pink fabric that reminded Tyler of the ridiculous costumes celebrities wore to award shows. She had a longer muzzle than the others, but it seemed slightly narrower. Tyler thought she resembled a polar bear. Her white fur and yellow eyes made her seem almost angelic, especially with the backlighting from whatever laid beyond the door, but her large size and demeanor made her seem solid, and the way she carried herself told Tyler that she was a serious threat.

The six foot tall creature casually walked into the room. Her movements were smooth and graceful despite her wide hips and surprisingly large bosom. She looked at the four dead bodies strewn about as if they were a curiosity and nothing more. She didn’t seem bothered by the scene at all. She turned her cool eyes to the last survivor, and Tyler did the same after mentally scolding himself for forgetting about her. Distracted as he’d been with the new arrival, the last of the five could have taken him by surprise, but when he looked at her, he realized that he was no longer the focus of her attention.

Her eyes were fixed on the large woman with an expression of pure terror on her face. Tyler could see her entire body trembling as the white one looked down at her while a long moment passed in silence. Tyler couldn’t decide on a course of action. ‘Should I run for the door while these two stare off?’ he thought. ‘No; I don’t know what’s out there. Might be more of them. Finish off the small one then? No, I don’t know how fast the large one is. Don’t want to give her an opening. Kill her first then? No; I don‘t know if she‘s a threat yet…I’ll see what happens first; keep my options open.’

“Alanna,” the white one said. “Would you care to explain what’s going on here?” she had a calm, cool voice that was both strong, yet soft. It was deep without being masculine, as if she were used to speaking with authority without overdoing it.

The female on the ground opened and closed her mouth several times, but no words came out. The white-furred woman waited patiently. The look in her eyes sent a chill down Tyler’s spine. “Malenia, w-we, we were just, um…” the hooded female’s voice faltered again, but the Malenia finished the sentence.

“You were just conspiring behind my back to cast a forbidden spell against my wishes. Is that about right?” She spoke in a casual tone and even raised her right hand as if inspecting her nails, but it seemed like a very serious accusation. One which the hooded female made no attempt to dispute.

Alanna’s eyes widened even more, and she pointed a finger at Tyler. “That thing killed Termall and the others; it’s a monster!”

“Oh?” said Malenia as she turned her attention to Tyler.

‘Bitch,’ Tyler thought. She was trying to save herself by turning the big one’s attention on him. He felt a knot of fear form in his stomach. He tightened his grip on his sword and took a defensive stance. He knew that his form was far too rigid to react quickly, but he was too tense to relax. He tried his best to harden his expression as he met the creature’s imposing gaze. Her large size and cold eyes made him feel very small. Every instinct Tyler had told him that this thing was dangerous.

‘Fuck,’ he thought. ‘Guess I should have attacked when I had surprise on my side. Oh well, at least neither of them have a weapon.’ But that fact did little to boost his confidence. Malenia looked large in a very intimidating way, and she didn’t seem to have any fear of him at all. He wondered if she had used a fireball to blow open the door, or if she had simply punched it. Had that been why she had inspected her finger nails?

“You mean this young creature who was forcibly ripped from his home and brought here against his will, and is clearly scared out of his mind?” Malenia said, and Tyler could have sworn that her expression softened as she spoke. She almost looked sad. “Hard to imagine why he wouldn’t react favorably to such circumstances.”

Alanna began to sputter and managed to say, “But Termall-”

Malenia turned her eyes back to Alanna, her expression becoming cold and pitiless. Alanna stopped talking. “Termall defied me, and he paid the price,” Malenia said. Her tone was even, but there was no missing the threat it carried. “I can only hope that his death will serve as a deterrent to any who forget that I am the head mistress of Haven, so that future deaths can be avoided.”

Allana seemed to shrink under Malenia’s gaze, and it was clear that she had nothing more to say. She looked away, unable to meet with the large woman’s judgmental stare, and Malenia‘s eyes narrowed. She seemed satisfied that she had stifled the other creature. “Now, go to your room and wait there quietly. Once I have finished cleaning up this mess, you and I shall have a very long talk.”

Alanna bowed her head and said, “Yes, Headmistress.” Her voice was timid and subdued. It didn‘t sound like she was looking forward to that conversation. She slowly got up and walked out of the room, looking as though her spirit had been given a death sentence.

Malenia kept her eyes forward as the girl walked passed her, as if she didn’t see her. Once Alanna had left, Malenia turned her full attention to Tyler. He watched as the look on Malenia’s face changed from cold and hard, to sad and sympathetic. It was an alarming contrast, and the two simply stared at each other for a long silent moment.

“Can you understand me?” Malenia asked, her voice soft and gentle. Tyler gave a slow nod, and Malenia flashed a bright smile, revealing very large, very sharp teeth. Tyler’s eyes widened with shock, the sight sending a jolt of fear straight up his spine. “Excellent.” she said, and then she was gone.

Tyler blinked, thinking his eyes had played a trick on him, but she just wasn’t there anymore. All of his sense became hyper alert as Tyler felt extremely vulnerable. ‘Where is she?’ he thought as his mind raced through countless scenarios. ‘Right? No. Left? No. Behind!’ The realization caused Tyler to react reflexively. He spun around, swinging his sword in a wide arc to his right. Malenia’s hand grabbed his wrist like a vice. The strength with which she held him was unreal, as if she could shatter his wrist without any effort. Tyler tried to pull away with his whole body, but he couldn’t even budge her finger. He changed tactics and twisted his lower body, trying to sweep the monster’s legs out from under her, but it felt like he had just kicked a tree.

Tyler saw Malenia’s face. Her expression was calm, almost warm. A faint smile curled her lips as though she were mildly amused by his efforts. That pissed him off. She had a hold of his right wrist, but not the sword. He let it go, and it dropped. He caught it with his other hand, and swiped at her mid-section, and she was gone again. The sudden release, momentum of his swing, and awkward position sent Tyler stumbling, but he quickly recovered.

He spun around again to find Malenia standing calmly several feet away. ‘That’s one scary bitch,’ he thought. What he said was, “What the fuck are you?”

Malenia laughed out loud at his question, a lighthearted, pleasant sound. “Rather blunt, aren’t you?” she said. “A little tact goes a long way. I shall answer all of your questions to the best of my ability, but first, let us go somewhere a little more...” She looked down at one of the corpses only a few feet from where she stood. “comfortable.”

Tyler half expected her to teleport, or whatever it was she had done, to the door, but instead she walked swiftly to the exit, passing him by with hardly a glance. Her confidence was infuriating to him. The message she was sending was crystal clear: You’re no threat to me.

The thought of just doing what she wanted was an idea Tyler was averse to, but what were his options? Being disobedient out of spite seemed like a bad idea given the current situation. Hell, he wasn‘t even sure what the current situation was. What the hell was going on? He could still feel the strength that had held his wrist, and the image of those teeth scarred the hell out of him. He decided it was best to play along, for now.

As Tyler walked after her, he noted that she seemed less bothered by the dead bodies than he was. The bodies. The word made his stomach tie itself into a knot as the realization of what he had done hit him. He’d killed four…people? Animals? Just what the hell were they? They spoke and walked like people. That girl had shown real fear in her eyes, even if she wasn’t human. Was he a murderer? No; they’d tried to kill him. He was defending himself.

Tyler gave one last look at the bloody corpses on the ground. It seemed wrong to just leave them there like that. Didn’t this woman say she was going to take care of them? No; Tyler remembered the words she had used. “Clean up the mess.” Is that all they were to her, or had she been referring to him?

He stepped through the door, letting his eyes go out of focus to widen his peripheral vision. It was a trick he had learned back in grade school when going through doorways to help him spot ambushers.

There was no one waiting for him. No ambush, no traps, no anyone other than the tall woman who was strolling away from him without so much as a backwards glance. Something about that made Tyler angry. It was as if she just expected him to follow her like a good little boy. Tyler had always found it condescending when a teacher or principal acted as if you had no choice but to obey. He looked down the hall in the opposite direction.

‘Maybe I should make a run for it,’ he thought. ‘But where am I going to go? I don’t know where the fuck I am, much less how to get back home.’ Tyler smiled to himself and shook his head. ‘What am I talking about? This isn’t real. I probably got a concussion or something from that fight the other day. Yeah, that’s it. I’m just dreaming.’ He turned and walked after Malenia, though he followed at a healthy distance.

Murdered. The word crept into his mind again, as did the faces of the ones he had killed. All of them were frozen in twisted surprise, fear, and pain. No, it hadn’t been murder. They had tried to kill him, hadn’t they? Their intentions had been clear, but they had been powerless. Their attacks hadn’t done anything to him. Had he really needed to kill them? He’d never killed anyone before.

Tyler shook his head and pushed the thoughts away. It was a dream, just a strange coma dream. It wasn’t real, couldn‘t be real. He would dick about for a while to pass the time until he woke up in a hospital where a doctor would tell him he’d taken a hard knock to the head. Tyler took another step, feeling the solid stone under his shoe. He felt a light draft caress his cheek, and he remembered the feeling of his blade cutting through flesh. It sure didn’t feel like a dream.

Tyler looked around, taking in his surroundings for the first time. He realized that he had lost track of how long they had been walking. He’d been too lost in his thoughts to register how empty this place was. The hall had a high ceiling, plenty of doors, all of which were closed, and no windows. The walls had little blocks with glyphs that he didn’t recognize. They were spaced out, most were next to the doors, but some stood alone. Where they decorations or directions?

Everything was stone. The walls were a light sandy color. The floor was white and polished like marble. The ceiling was arched and a bit darker with hanging lights spaced out, though there was something odd about them. Tyler couldn’t see any chain holding them up, or any kind of casing to them. They seemed to be just balls of light floating in the air far above their heads.

The hall finally opened up into a larger room. Tyler stopped a moment to look around and take it in. It was roughly round with three more halls branching off of it. In the center there were four curved couches that formed a broken circle together with a round table in the middle. There were a few similar couches along the walls. Some curved, some straight depending on what they had their backs to. There was very little decoration, yet it was still pleasing to the eye.

Tyler noticed that Malenia had stopped to wait for him near one of the hallways on the opposite side of the room. She stood there patiently, looking at him with cool eyes, but Tyler had had enough of silence and asked, “Where are you leading me?”

“My office,” she said.

Tyler looked around the room again. “What’s wrong with here?”

Malenia tilted her head and looked at the room herself. “If you insist, but know that there are over one hundred individuals within these walls. I have ordered them all to remain in their rooms for their safety as well as yours, but I suspect our conversation may be a long one, and I cannot expect them to wait. Soon this room will be flooded with noise, and bodies, and I don’t want anyone near you until you’ve calmed down.”

‘Over a hundred of them?’ Tyler didn’t like the sound of that. He looked at the room again and could just imagine it filled with furry people. It was clearly a social hub. What was this place? He looked back at Malenia and said, “Two questions before I take another step. Where am I, and what are you?”

Malenia sighed, though there didn’t seem to be any real emotion behind it, as though she were being overdramatic for show. “Simple enough questions,” she said. “Though I suspect the answers will be lengthy ones. For now, know that you are within the walls of Haven, though I doubt that name will mean anything to you, and I am Malenia, headmistress of Haven, and an elder of the kannin race.”

‘Kannin race?’ Tyler thought. Were they aliens, or some undiscovered species in hiding, like Bigfoot? “Where in the world are we? What country, what continent? Is this an island?”

“As I said, it will be a lengthy explanation, and I suspect it will be difficult for you to accept. I would prefer for us to be more comfortable, and my office does have such soft seats.” She said the last in a more carefree tone with a bit of a smile, and she turned and walked away once again without looking to see if he would follow.

Tyler felt the same sting of irritation, but the situation hadn’t really changed. He had nowhere else to go. He followed her, now with new questions to ponder as he walked. So many questions, answers, and arguments went through his mind that he started to get a headache, and that just raised further questions. Could you get a headache in a dream, or was that just a result of his brain swelling while he sat unconscious in a hospital bed?

As Tyler’s mind raced, his eyes wandered to the only interesting thing within his field of view: Malenia. She had hair like a human’s, thought it was white with pink highlights, like her dress. It was tied into a thick ponytail down her back that stopped just above her waist, but Tyler could see that the white, silky fabric she wore was cut into a low V in the back, showing that her whole body seemed to be covered in short, white fur. The pink highlights were actually a kind of sash wrapped around her waist, the ends of which hung down alongside her right leg.

Tyler also noticed that she didn’t wear shoes. In fact, she didn’t even seem to have heels. Her feet seemed padded munch like a dog’s or a cat’s though her toes seemed bigger than a humans. It was a wonder how she could balance with feet like that. Her ankles, if that’s what they were, looked to be tightly wrapped with purple cloth in the same manner that a kick-boxer bandaged his knuckles and feet.

Malenia turned left and started going up a spiraling staircase. Tyler followed a few steps behind. He continued studying Malenia until she took a step that moved her dress in just the right way for Tyler to learn that the kannin race didn’t seem to believe in underwear. It was only a glimpse, but it was enough to make him snap his head down. “Something wrong?” asked Malenia without turning to look at him.

Tyler hadn’t said anything aloud, and she hadn’t been looking at him, so Tyler found it odd that she’d notice his reaction. His embarrassment distracted him from dwelling on it more, so all he said was, “No,“ and he continued to follow, keep his eyes glued to the steps for the rest of the way up.

He was still feeling embarrassed by the time they reached the top which led to another hallway, though this was one much wider than the others had been. The walls were covered in artistic carvings, though none of them were anything Tyler could make sense of. They were sweeping designs that made Tyler think of wind or possibly waves. There were small holes here and there that let light through, but they were too small to see out of.

They came to a very large set of doors with a prominent symbol above them. It looked like a yingyang had been broken in half with a third one added in an odd sort of triangle, like three tadpoles were facing each other. The doors themselves were carved wood with the images of two kannin making elaborate bows and their sweeping hands nearly touching where the doors opened.

Malenia stepped forward boldly, and for a moment Tyler thought she was going to walk right into the door, but then they opened wide to allow her in. Tyler followed, expecting to see door hops of some kind, but there was no one else in the room. The doors closed on their own once he was out of the way. ‘automatic wooden doors?’ Tyler thought. ‘Ok, that’s a new one.’

He turned away from the doors and almost gasped. Malenia’s office was larger than the average house, and it had one hell of a view. The entire wall opposite the door was a glass window, curved into a semicircle. To Tyler’s left sat a small round table with two chairs opposite one another. To his right was a large book shelf, and next to that was a smaller shelf with several items which Tyler couldn’t identify. Malenia’s desk was at the back of the room in front of the large window facing the doors. She sat down facing Tyler, and gestured to a seat on the other side of the desk.

As Tyler slowly approached Malenia, he couldn‘t take his eyes off the scenery behind her. He could clearly see mountains that appeared to be close by, and he wondered just how high up they were. Blue, cloudless skies revealed another shock. Though it was not yet dark, Tyler could clearly see two moons in the sky, one slightly smaller than the other.

‘Yeah,’ Tyler thought as he stared wide-eyed at the scenery. ‘This is going to be a long talk.’


Tyler eyed the chair with suspicion. It was carved wood and fancy-looking with nothing threatening about it, but he couldn’t help feeling paranoid. Malenia smiled and said, “I assure you, if I wanted you restrained, I wouldn’t have to go through such elaborate measures to do so.”

Tyler conceded the point, though he didn’t like the insinuation. He sat down, not wanting to put her veiled threat to the test, but he did move the chair back a bit. The chair seemed to be made of the same wood that the door and desk were. It had a padded seat and back which he found surprisingly comfortable. It was the kind of chair old rich men sat on in front of a fire place to drink scotch and smoke cigars.

He placed his sword across his lap, but did not let go. His knuckles were turning white with how tightly he’d been griping it the whole walk up here. He regretted not recovering the scabbard before leaving that room. Now the blood on the blade was soaking into his jeans. The sight of it made him feel sick to his stomach, and he realized that he had probably dripped a trail all the way up here. ‘Please let this just be a dream,’ he thought again.

Malenia sat quietly, watching Tyler closely as if studying him. Tyler pulled his eyes away from the crimsons-stained blade and returned her icy stare. The slightest grin appeared on her face, or at least Tyler thought it was a grin. It was hard for him to tell given the shape of her face. He had once had a dog that had smiled every time it was frightened, so projecting human emotions on her facial expressions might be a mistake.

“Before we begin, do you have a name?” Malenia asked.


“Tyler, such an interesting name.” Malenia’s voice was kind, but very formal, as if she were a secretary. “I would like to apologize for the current situation. No doubt this has been very traumatic for you.”

‘No shit,’ Tyler thought. “Look, could you just skip the p.c. bullshit and tell me what the fuck is going on?”

Malenia shook her head and sighed, “So much for tact,” she said. “Very well. You have been transported here, I know not from where, by one of my staff. This action was against my explicit instructions and I suspect, against your will.” She smiled at Tyler, rather condescending, and added, “Does that explain things for you?”

Tyler suspected that she wanted to add, “You little smart ass,” to the end of her sentence. The truth was that she hadn’t explained anything he hadn’t already figured out. He needed real answers, but it seemed she was going to drag this out. “Where is here?” he asked, “Are we in America? You speak English pretty well for a six-foot bear lady.”

Malenia tilted her head and looked at Tyler with a queer grin for a moment. “Interesting,” she said, more to herself than to him. “I suppose I should explain that I am not speaking whatever language you are hearing.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?’ Tyler said, getting angry. “You’re speaking the same one I am: English!”

“No,” Malenia said patiently, “You are hearing English. Haven has an enchantment on it which automatically translates any words you hear. There are people from many clans here, and it helps if they can all understand one another. Normally, when one hears a word for which there is no equivalent, there is no translation, and you simply hear the word as it is. For example, I have no idea what English is. There is no equivalent in my language, so I hear it as you say it. Everything else I’ve heard you say has been in my language.”

“Ok, this is giving me a headache.” Tyler said, rubbing his eyes. “What do you mean, ‘enchantment’?”

“I mean magic, of course.” She said it as if it were obvious. “Granted it’s a rather complicated spell, but nothing too impressive.”

“Magic,” Tyler repeated, sounding unconvinced. He wanted to point out magic wasn’t real, but then six-foot tall talking bear women that could teleport shouldn’t have been real either. The others in that room had been throwing fireballs and lightning bolts at him. He decided that there were only two questions he really wanted answered. “Where the fuck am I, and how do I get home?”

Malenia eyed him thoughtfully for a long moment before she spoke. “As I said, one of my staff brought you here using a forbidden spell against my expressed wishes. Since I do not recognize your species, I would venture a guess that you are from another world, perhaps even another dimension altogether.” She paused a moment to let Tyler take in what she had said.

Tyler’s mind reeled from the implications. He had already guessed he was no longer on earth, but there was just something about hearing it said that made it seem all the more final. Perhaps he had been hoping for some other explanation, like it was an optical illusion or, well, anything.

And she said that he’d been brought here with a spell, that magic was real. That was ridiculous. Even if this was another world with aliens, magic didn’t exist. A mix in the translation then? Perhaps whatever technology they had was so different than anything on earth that magic was the closest approximation, but didn’t she say that the translator itself was an enchantment? Tyler’s mind went in circles until he felt numb.

Malenia tilted her head slightly and gave a small grin while she watched him try to work things out in his head. Her haughty attitude annoyed him, but he wasn’t about to make an issue of it. Not after what she’d done to that door. Had that been magic?

Tyler closed his eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out in a defeated sigh. “Alright,” he said. “I can either accept that everything you’ve told me is true.” He shook his head, “Or accept that I have suffered a concussion, and I’m hallucinating all of this.” He raised his head and looked her in the eye. “Given how ridiculous this all seems, I’m inclined to believe the latter.”

“Oh?,“ Malenia said, raising an eyebrow. She seemed to be finding this all very amusing. “So what do you plan on doing?” She indicated the room with a wide gesture. “If this is all just a delusion, then nothing that happens here matters, but,” she narrowed her eyes and looked at him with a gaze as sharp as a dagger, “If this is real, can you really afford to treat it as anything but?” She leaned forward and smiled, revealing very large, very sharp teeth. “I don’t think that’s wise, do you?”

In that moment Tyler felt his throat tighten up and a shiver go up his spine. He couldn’t believe how someone could go from being casual and friendly, to downright terrifying just by smiling. He tightened his grip on his sword, more thankful than ever to still have it. ‘Damn it,’ he thought, ‘should have killed her when I had the chance.’ Every muscle in his body tensed. The moment she made a move for him, Tyler would strike.

Malenia straightened up, and re-sheathed her teeth behind her lips, and just like that, she appeared relatively harmless again, but the spell was broken for Tyler. He would not be letting his guard down around this creature again. Malenia looked him over as if appraising something she might buy. “There’s no need to be so tense,” she said soothingly. “I simply do not want you getting hurt because you’re making light of your situation.”

‘You’re the one who keeps treating this like a joke,’ Tyler thought. Malenia’s rapid shifts in tone were mentally exhausting, and it was pissing him off. He didn’t say anything about it though, not after seeing those teeth. He spoke very carefully, not taking his eyes off of the creature sitting across from him.

“Ok, let’s say this is all real. How do I get home?”

Malenia frowned, or seemed to, and looked down at her desk. “That,” she said, “May be difficult. I’m afraid I have no idea where you are from, and therefore I do not know where to send you. Thankfully Alanna is still alive, so she may be able to shed some light on the specifics of the spell. Hopefully that will help, but I’m afraid the girl won’t be in any condition to talk until morning. You’re not the only one who has been through a trauma today, though I’ll understand if you find it difficult to feel pity for her, given the circumstances.”

Tyler thought of the girl from the room, the one that had lived. He had killed four of her friends, and nearly her as well. It was true that he had mixed feelings about that. And now she was his best hope of going home? That was a whole new level of awkward.

“The creatures I…killed,” Tyler said. It sounded surreal to hear himself say those words. “Why did they bring me here? What did they want with me?”

Malenia eyed him carefully for a moment. “Termall, like most kannin, desired more power. I suspect he thought summoning a creature from another world would grant him that power. Power, which he no doubt, promised to share with the students who helped him.”

“Why can’t you just magic me back right now?”

“I’m afraid it’s not that simple,” said Malenia. “Summoning something is relatively easy. You don’t need to know where it’s coming from, only what you want, and then draw it to yourself. To send something away from oneself, on the other hand, requires an intimate knowledge of where it is being sent, and even then it can be very dangerous. For example, if someone were to send another person to this room right now, they might not know that you moved your chair back, and that person could appear with the chair’s leg sticking through their foot.”

Tyler didn‘t like what he was hearing. He understood the concept, and it made sense. At least as much as magic could make sense to him. “So I’m stuck here,” he said, more to himself than to her.

“For the time being,” she said, keeping her voice pleasant and cheerful. “You have my sincerest apologies for this inconvenience,” Malenia continued, sounding like a receptionist at a hotel or an airline. “And you have my word that I will do what I can to make you comfortable while we find a way to send you home. I realize that you likely have many more questions, but why don‘t we give you time process what I‘ve told you and continue tomorrow when you are rested.” She gestured toward the doors behind Tyler, and he turned to see them open by themselves. Another creature came through holding Tyler‘s scabbard in her hands with a cloth on top of it.

“I have arranged a room for you,” said Malenia. “Balla will show you the way. I assure you, she means you no harm, so please refrain from killing her.”

Tyler’s head snapped back to Malenia, shocked by her words. He wanted to feel insulted that she thought he would kill the girl without her asking him not to, but then he had just killed four other creatures, so rather than feel angry, he felt guilty. He gave her a nod, and got to his feet. His legs were surprisingly weak, but he didn’t stumble as he walked over to the girl.

Balla’s fur was different shades of brown, but the majority was a light honey color with darker highlights that seemed to frame her face like a painting. The effect was stunningly beautiful, to Tyler’s surprise. Her hair was much darker, almost black, and tied in two thick braids, one on the right side of her head and the other on the left. She had on loose-fitting clothes similar to Malenia’s, only different in color. The dark red seemed to compliment her fur rather nicely, but it still looked like something a fashion model should have been wearing. Her pale blue eyes stared at Tyler as he came close. He probably looked just as strange to her, but when he got closer, she lowered her gaze as if afraid of him.

It made Tyler uncomfortably self-aware, but he didn’t say anything. He took the white cloth and wiped the blood off of his sword before accepting the scabbard and sheathing his weapon. He slipped it inside of his belt and nodded to the girl. She bowed her head, turned and walked ahead of him. As Tyler stepped through the door, something occurred to him. ‘Wait a minute,’ he thought. ‘How the hell did she arrange a room for me? I just got here, and she’s been in my sight since I met her.’ Tyler turned to look at Malenia as the doors closed. She was sitting at her desk, her chin resting on her folded hands, and she was smiling at him in a way that made him very uneasy.

Tyler’s freshman year, he had joined the chess club. He quit after a month due to every other member being insufferably smug to overcompensate for their social awkwardness, but one of the members was exceptionally good. Every time he set up an opening gambit, he’d give Tyler a look as if to say, “you’re mine.” Malenia was giving him that very same look, and he didn’t like it at all.

The doors closed, and a shiver went up Tyler’s spine that spread to the rest of him. He turned to see Balla waiting patiently for him. She seemed uncertain, but calm. Given that she had just heard Malenia ask him not to kill her, Tyler was surprised that she wasn’t more fearful. He started walking after her and she turned to continue on.

Tyler noticed that the hall leading to Malenia’s office had two doors. There was the side entrance that he had taken with her, and another larger entrance directly across from her doors. Balla headed for these large doors, and like Malenia‘s they opened automatically as she approached, and Tyler was blinded by brilliant light. Once Tyler‘s eyes adjusted, he realized that the doors opened outside to a bridge of some sort. Across from it there was a stone tower much like one would expect in a castle. The walkway was wide enough to support three people shoulder to shoulder, and it was lined with a waist-high walls, but no suspension support that Tyler would see. Given just how long the thing was, he had serious doubts about its stability.

He noticed that Balla had stopped to wait for him again. He felt embarrassed about his hesitation and followed after her carefully. Once outside, a warm breeze swept through his hair as he looked around. The place really was surrounded by mountains like a giant outer wall in the distance. He stepped to the edge of the walkway and looked down. He could see that he really was in a castle. Far down below was a courtyard of sorts, surrounded by a thick stone wall with a large tunnel-like archway acting as the gate leading out. The walkway Tyler was on was directly across from entrance to the castle, and as Tyler looked down at the small people below, he felt sick.

They were very high up, and Tyler was overcome with nausea and vertigo. He slowly dropped to his knees and pressed his head against the cool stone, staring at the smooth rock beneath his feet. He breathed through his mouth. ‘Slow, deep breaths,’ he thought. ‘Just don‘t puke.’

“Are you alright?” Balla asked. Her voice was oddly neutral. There was a hint of concern, a dash of curiosity, but nothing more.

“Yeah,” Tyler said breathlessly. “I’m just…” Tyler shook his head. “I don‘t like heights.”

Balla looked out at the open sky, unbothered by it. “Would you prefer to go across on the ground level?” She asked. “Malenia wished to keep you away from the others, but if this is too difficult-”

“No,” Tyler said, before she could finish. He took one more deep breath and got to his feet. He resisted the urge to look over the side again, knowing that his stomach would not forgive him for it. “I’m ok.”

Balla tilted her head slightly and looked at him. Her eyes flicking up and down his form as if trying to make up her mind about something. Eventually she gave a short nod and turned to continue across.

Tyler followed, his heart pounding in his ears. Every gust of wind made him tense up for fear of being blown off the edge even though he was walking down the middle of the bridge. Desperate for something to think about, anything other than how high up he was, Tyler noticed that the walkway didn’t have an arch to it. He had expected a bridge this long with no support from above to be at least slightly arched to help take the weight, yet it was completely flat. He made a note to himself to take a look at it from the ground later on if he got the chance to figure out how it worked.

Then he wondered what else he’d get to see. Suddenly the possibilities of his situation flooded over him. If this was real, he was on an alien world. What kinds of weird things would he see? Were there monsters, space ships, new technologies that no human had ever dreamt of? For the first time in what seemed like hours, Tyler‘s mood brightened, his problems overshadowed by excitement. This could be first contact with an alien race, and he was humanities ambassador. Not the best choice or the best first impression seeing as he’d killed four of them moments after arriving, but still.

Tyler began to wonder if he wanted this to be a dream after all. The situation was a small inconvenience for him if he could be returned home, especially if he could bring proof of his encounter. Perhaps this was the first step towards a beneficial relationship between worlds! Then Tyler’s more practical side spoke up. What if Malenia’s intentions were not benevolent? He had seen the look in her eyes, remembered how she had just walked over her own dead as if they were furniture. If these creatures really could use magic, showing them the way to earth might result in the enslavement of humanity, or was that just the Sci-Fi channel talking?

Tyler’s brain went into overdrive, going through scenarios, weighing options, predicting outcomes, doing risk assessments in order to get a feel for the situation. Alien invasion stories had always seemed ludicrous to Tyler, but now that he was in such a situation, he couldn‘t afford to ignore the possibility. More questions came pouring in. How could he determine the nature of their intentions? If they were hostile, should he give up on going home? Should he try to stop them? How could he do that? Was he really willing to sacrifice himself over this? There were too many questions and no easy answers. The whole thing was starting to give him a headache. Then another gust of wind came up, and he was right back on the bridge fearing for his life.

It wouldn’t have been so bad if Balla had talked, but she was as silent as the infinite sky above, and that was another part of the problem. There was no noise up here except for the blowing wind, which was the last thing Tyler wanted to hear. The only other noise was the click of Balla’s claws on the bricks as she walked.

‘Almost there,’ he told himself. ‘Just keep going forward, stare straight ahead, and don’t look over the side.’ Despite that, his mind played scenarios of the walkway they were on crumbling under their feet, or an earthquake knocking them over the edge, or a gust of wind just tossing him out into midair where he would fall to his death. Tyler really hated his mind sometimes.

They finally reached the other side, and the doors opened automatically. ‘Must be magic,’ Tyler thought jokingly to himself. It was far more likely that they just had sensors like the doors at K-mart.

Once indoors again, Tyler let out a long sigh, happy to be away from that bridge. Balla seemed to get dizzy for a moment, and she put a hand against the wall to steady herself. She touched her forehead with a hand as though she had a bad headache, and Tyler noticed that she was breathing heavy. It seemed he wasn’t the only one who had a problem with heights.

“You ok?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said, though her voice was shaky. “A moment please.” She seemed to be saying something under her breath, and a moment later she straightened up, apparently fine. She continued on as if nothing had happened. Tyler hesitated to follow her, wondering what that had been about, but decided that he had enough on his plate without trying to figure out the behavior of these things. He just wanted to lie down, go to bed, and wake up in a hospital where a doctor would tell him this had all been a bad dream.

Balla led him down another spiraling staircase and down more hallways lined with doors until they came to a long stretch with only a few rooms. Balla went to the one all the way down at the end and pushed it open. She waited by the door as Tyler went inside. There wasn’t much to the place. A bed which sat low to the ground was against the wall opposite the door. A small cushioned chair sat with its back to the bed facing a little round table in the corner. It was lit by a single glowing ball at the center of the ceiling.

“Cozy,” said Tyler. The place felt like a sterile prison cell. There were no windows, no paintings, and no pictures. Not even a dresser. Still, Tyler hadn’t been expecting much.

“These rooms are isolated from the others, so you won’t be bothered,” said Balla. “We use them for new arrivals so they can adjust.”

‘New arrivals?’ thought Tyler, though he did not ask. Was he not the first human to come here?

“Do you need anything?” Balla asked. She hadn’t followed him into the room.

Tyler looked down at his blood-stained shirt and jeans. “A change of clothes would be nice.” His voice carried the air of melancholy that the sight evoked in him.

Balla seemed confused by the request, but nodded and left Tyler alone, shutting the door behind her. It closed softly, yet it still sounded like a cage being locked to Tyler‘s ears. Was he a prisoner now? No, this wasn’t real. It was all just a coma dream. Tyler took off his pants and shirt, tossing them on the ground at the foot of the bed. The air felt chilly on his bare skin. Somehow it made him feel even more vulnerable. He didn’t like the thought of sleeping in just his underwear and socks, but he couldn’t stand feeling the clotting blood on his clothes against his skin anymore.

He sat down on the bed. It felt surprisingly soft, like it was one big pillow. He just sat there, staring at the floor, feeling numb. ‘It’s just a dream, ‘he thought over and over again, as if thinking it enough times would make it so. Eventually his practical nature won out, and he began looking at the walls more closely. The blocky stones seemed like little more than decoration. There was no mortar that he could see. Half a millimeter in the grooves, the rocks seemed fused together. He managed to find a weak spot and used the wooden stool to break off a small chunk.

He broke the stone in half and spent the next hour chipping away at the smaller piece. The room echoed with the clicking of stone against stone as he worked it down into a sharp, curved knife. He looked over his work. It turned out surprisingly well for something he’d seen in a movie. It wouldn’t be good for much, but Tyler just felt safer having an ace up his sleeve. Malenia knew he had a sword. She wouldn’t know he had this.

He slipped his new shank under his pillow and laid down, pulling the blankets over him. They were as smooth as silk, yet comfortably warm. He was wondering how to turn the light off when it dimmed on its own, as if it knew he wanted to sleep. Tyler closed his eyes, hoping that when next he opened them he would be back in the real world. ‘It’s all just a dream,’ he thought to himself right up until he fell asleep hugging his sword.


Malenia entered Alanna’s room and found the girl sitting on the edge of her bed, looking pitiful. She looked up at the headmistress, and then quickly averted her gaze. Melanie walked up to her slowly without saying a word. She stared down at the small girl for a good long moment, letting the silence grow like an oppressive fog around them. She could feel Alanna’s fear and tension growing by the second. When it was just about to snap, Malenia spoke.

“You deliberately disobeyed me,” she said in a cool tone. “You conspired with one of your masters to go against my decree, spent months working in secret to shield yourselves from my sight, summoned an innocent creature from who knows where, and when he wasn’t what you wanted, you tried to kill him.”

Malenia paused, giving the girl a chance to lie or make excuses, but Alanna made no attempt to deny any of it. She simply sat there, stiff and staring at the floor.

“Do you know why you are still alive?”

“No Headmistress,” Alanna said, her voice little more than a whisper.

“It is because you are the only one who knows the specifics of Termall’s spell, and you are going to tell me how he obtained it, what he planned to do with it, and the specifics of how he cast it; Every single minute detail. You are going to tell me how he veiled himself from my sight, what he was trying to summon, and what he promised you that was worth betraying me. You are also going to become that boy’s aid for as long as he is with us.”

Alanna looked up in surprise, and for a moment it seemed as though she would protest, but Malenia’s steel glare stifled the girl’s objection in her throat. Alanna lowered her head again, resuming a submissive posture.

“Oh yes,” Malenia said. “You will take responsibility for your part in bringing him here. You will be his shadow, his servant, his protector if the situation calls for it. You will guard him as though your very life depended on it.” A smile appeared on Malenia’s face as she added, “Because it does. If anything happens to him…”

Malenia leaned down and took Alanna’s chin in her fingers, turning the girl’s face and forcing Alanna to look at her. Malenia’s eyes betrayed no pity for her as she said, “I promise, you will regret it.”

When Malenia was satisfied that the massage had sunken in, she released Alanna and straightened up. She reached out with her right hand and pressed two fingers against Alanna’s forehead between her eyes. The girl’s pupils dilated, and she stared into nothingness. The two women stood frozen for several minutes, Alanna occasionally wincing with discomfort. When Malenia removed her hand at last, Alanna’s head hung low. She breathed heavily, and her eyes remained dull and unfocused.

Malenia sighed. “Well, that complicates matters,” she said. Alanna slowly lifted her head to look at the headmistress. Malenia offered her a warm, motherly smile so that they ended things on a positive note. “Now get some rest dear, “said Malenia as she walked out of the room “You will need it.” As she closed the door, the fur on Alanna’s cheeks became damp with tears.
Sign up to rate and review this story