I wake up to an ache settled over my entire body, pain and soreness flooding through my entire existence. I’m on a tiny brown cot, a ridiculous and oversized coat thrown over me as a blanket. It smells of earth and coal, a weird homey sort of scent.
I struggle my way to a sitting position, sucking in the cold air and the memories slowly creeping in. I try to wrap my mind around the whole situation, but that takes too much energy. I instead stand up slowly, and grab my sword that had been gently set at the foot of the cot. My brain takes a second to comprehend that I’ve started calling it ‘my sword,’ and I look around the room and vaguely realize from the haphazard walls that I must be in one of the huts and thus still in…another dimension apparently. Or whatever.
Walking toward the door, I hear the voices of Finn and what I assume is the magical appearing lady in the room outside. The angel on my right shoulder loses the battle as I lean in to eavesdrop, the little devil on my left rubbing her hands together deviously.
“…know where this is?” Finn’s speaking, and, boy, is he not happy. I thought he was angry before, but that was nothing. “You said this was going to be different. You said you had changed it. You…”
“Finn.” The woman cuts in, in a condescending tone. Like how you would speak to a child who doesn’t understand not to put the coin he found on the ground in his mouth. “It’s not that simple.”
Bam. Something was hit. “But it is, Neva. You just don’t want to see it. She’s seventeen. Nothing’s changed.”
This Neva scoffs. “Everything has, Finn. You were gone for four years. I did what I had to, and you think that makes me just like them. Finn, someone had to deal with the shit you left on everyone’s doorstep after disappearing.”
Damn. This is better than cable. There must really be some history here.
“This is the reason I left, Neva. This antiquated belief that we can do whatever we want.” He’s nearly shouting.
“It has never been like that and you know it. We help people, Finn.”
Bam. Again. I try to stifle my laughter. It doesn’t work.
Suddenly the door is flung open in my face, and I’m looking back and forth between Finn, who stands directly in front of me, one arm still on the door, and Neva, arms crossed and lips pursed, reminding me of my old principal. She seems to be about Finn’s age, with extremely pale skin and silver hair tied in a neat bun. Her arms are crossed over a grey suit, and she looks like she belongs in some skyscraper realtor in New York City, not surrounded by a dusty, long-abandoned village in another dimension. I’m not sure how Finn knew I was listening, but I’m still struggling not to laugh.
“Hi.” I squeak out to Finn.
“Hi.” He says back, his voice still with much of the anger it had two seconds ago. But he softens slightly, relaxing his body to let me out of the bedroom.
There’s not much in the main room. In fact, there is actually nothing but a half-broken table. Assuming that was the source of the loud bangs, I snort at the sight of it.
“That poor table. It didn’t even have a say in this argument.” I smile at Finn.
He smiles sheepishly back, then shrugs.
“Well, I suppose there’s no pretending you didn’t hear any of that.” Neva states.
I hand Finn his ridiculous jacket and say, “Yeah, not likely. In fact, I think there’s a beast or two in the forest that woke up ‘cause of it.”
I didn’t think it would be possible for Neva to frown more. I’m proven wrong.
“So, Elizabeth. I suppose you are wondering who I am.” She fingers a manila folder in her hands.
I sigh. “Frankly, not really.”
She purses her lips. Damn, sarcasm does not sit well with her.
“My name is Neva, or Councilwoman Neva to you. I come from the realm Auroralium, and I am the leading member of the wegferend council.”
She pauses. She wants me to say something. I don’t. Finn coughs next to me, filling the silence.
“Alright, alright, I’ll give, what the heck is a wegferend?” I surrender.
“I am glad you asked.” She quips, as if she wasn’t internally begging me to. “The wegferends are us. Well, Finn and I specifically.”
Before she can go any further, Finn turns to me. I can still nearly see the steam coming off of him.
“Wegferend is an ancient word of our realm meaning wayfarer. Basically, a bunch of people years ago found the first Doors out of our realm, entitled themselves with the name wegferend, and set out on a quest to infest all the dimensions under their democratic rule.” The sarcasm is bleeding off of him in the last statement. I knew I liked him. Neva rolls her eyes.
“No.” She says, as if he got an answer wrong on the oral pop quiz. “Wegferends set out to explore the Planescape, discover new peoples, and unite the realms for a better life for everyone. We travel to everywhere and anywhere, not just to better our own understanding of the Planescape but also to give aid to those in danger or political issues. Several hundred years under our belts, and there is still so much of the Planescape we have not discovered and helped, like here for example. Goodness, Finn, you don’t need to make it seem like we’re the worst thing out there.”
She refocuses on me and hands me the manila folder. “We think that you will make a perfect wegferend apprentice. Usually we begin a little later, but at seventeen and from what you’ve displayed so far, we think that it…”
“Woah, woah.” I interrupt. Like I do. “’Displayed so far?’ Was this all some test?” I gesture with my hands to indicate this ordeal.
“Well, I mean I wouldn’t say…” Neva begins.
Finn leans into me. “Yeah. Test.”
They both wait patiently for my response.
“So you threw me…into a different dimension…that you all know nothing about apparently…with just a sword…as a test?” I piece together.
“Yes!” Neva seems impressed I understand. “The creature you encountered was merely coincidental, so we took that as an opportunity to create a situation which may very well occur in the future, leaving you wounded and confused. Except Finn intruded, offering you shelter and aide when…”
“Are you out of your mind?” I exclaim. “You threw me to the wolves—or beasts for that matter—literally! And now you’re blaming Finn, who, in fact, saved my life, from a test for…”
Finn steps in front of me, or more importantly in between my sword and Neva, and puts his hand on my arm. Why I am comforted, I’m not sure, but Finn’s gesture calms me slightly.
“Elizabeth. Ignore her for a second.” He says softly.
“Gladly” I mutter under my breath.
“Look. There’s a bunch of politics involved in this. Why, I don’t know. And honestly, I don’t care. I left four years ago, went and traveled through the dimensions on my own, as you probably picked up from before. I’m back now with them because I believe it may not be the same. The wegferends as a group have the chance to become what they were meant to be—a group of travelers and explorers and adventurers. But that’s another story. Neva told me she had a potential apprentice who I might be able to stand—and who might be able to stand me. But I don’t honestly care at all about what she and her council think.”
She makes a tiny offended noise behind Finn, but she lets him continue.
“I have never taken an apprentice. I’ve been begged to by more than just Neva. And I agreed this time, for some odd reason. But I have never wanted to until now. Elizabeth, I can show you some amazing things. Some crazy things. Some horrible things, too. But hopefully we can fix those. Listen, I’m not a team player.”
He laughs that odd laugh. The one that hasn’t seen much light in years.
“And it will not be easy. You can see, all the weapons I’m holding? All the scars on my hands? These’ll be yours too. It’s not easy, and we fight hard fights—much harder than these beasts. But there is so much beauty too. And I promise you—and I don’t make promises—but I promise you I can help you become the very best version of yourself.”
He’s so serious. He stretches his hand out, letting it ask the question for him. I want to laugh, but for some reason I can’t. This is insane. To become this is to literally become a fairytale. Like the dark kind, the Grimm Brothers. Not pretty, not easy. The logical thing is to say no. To go back home. Without scars, without weapons, while I still can. But I can’t shake that feeling, that adrenaline-filled, heart-pounding feeling when I faced the beasts. Plus, when have I ever been logical?
Sword in one hand, I shove my other into Finn’s. And he smiles, the first real, eyes-lighting-up smile I’ve ever seen on him, and I follow him, racing out the door into this new world—or worlds—of mine.
Check Back Next Week for Part 1 of The Adventures of Elizabeth 2: Cliff’s Edge!
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