I woke up in a dark room. As I slowly opened my eyes and glanced around, I noticed a couple small chandeliers were the only source of light. There was no one else in the place except me. My left arm was bandaged, but after a few moments I could let out a relieved sigh; I was able to move it, so fortunately it didn't break. Then all of a sudden memories rammed into my mind, and my head started to ache again. I remembered everything that happened, the surprise, Oasis, and then the motorbiking, and.. the accident. I bolted up and almost fell off the narrow bed. Taking a deep breath, I tried to calm myself, saying that if I was here, they -whoever 'they' was- must have found Seth too, in time before... The thought sent shivers down my spine. I looked around again, forcing myself to think about something else. The room was rather empty, and every piece of furniture, except a small night-stand beside the bed, was pushed to the wall, as if a lot of people had to fit inside at the same time. No hospital equipment around, only a small basin filled with slightly red water ('Blood.' I thought) on the night-stand. There were a couple metallic pieces soaking in it, and I realized that they were parts of my late motorbike. I guessed they stuck into my arm when I fell on them, and I couldn't help the grimace that appeared on my face in the next moment. Beside the basin, I found my keys.
"I guess I won't be using these anymore..."
I muttered to myself sadly, as I took them in my hands, and reattached the key-ring that Seth got me. I noticed a bunch of clothes at the end of my bed, and my face flushed red as I realized that I wasn't wearing anything but my underwear. A little too self-conscious, I got up with a groan, then dressed up, barely noticing how weird the clothes were; dark brown pants, black leather boots, and a yellowish, loose linen shirt. All of them have seen better days, that was obvious, and although they seemed rather old, they were clean, and I didn't complain. I put Seth's key-ring into my pocket, and just as I reached for the knob, the door opened, and a tiny old lady stepped into the room. I believe she was about seventy years old, she had long, silvery hair, and her suntanned face was full of wrinkles. When she saw me, she nodded her head a bit, then put down the basket that she was carrying. I only realized how hungry I was when the smell of freshly baked bread reached my nose.
"I see you're awake... good, very good. I brought you something to eat, but I see you can stand, and that's also good, very good." the old lady scratched her chin, then continued "Don't go anywhere, you need to regain your strength first. I promise, all of your questions will be answered..."
She added, and before I could say anything, she turned around and hobbled out on the door, muttering something similar to 'good, very good'. I didn't have a better idea, plus my stomach was growling as if I swallowed a tiger whole, so I grabbed the small basket and sat down on the bed. I barely finished my first loaf, when I heard approaching steps, and soon the door opened, but this time it wasn't the old lady only. A group of people, men, women, even some kids, walked inside the not-very-spacious room, and finally I understood why all the furniture was moved to the side. Obviously, this wasn't the first time they came in to see me, and that realization made me extremely uncomfortable, to say the least. I squirmed awkwardly on the bed, the unknown faces and the strangers' gazes making me uneasy, so I quickly swallowed the last bite of bread. Everyone was talking at the same time, it was way too crowded and my head was still hurting.
"Quiet, people! We'll never find out who this boy is, if we're acting like little children! Quiet!"
The speaker, a large, muscular man hit the nearest table a couple times. The crowd suddenly went silent, and I could feel that everybody was looking at me. Eighteen pair of eyes, to be exact, aimed right at me, and to be honest I was getting a bit of a stage fright. I felt like I didn't have time for all this, I had to find Seth, or at least make sure he was all right, but I also wanted answers. What the hell was going on? Why wasn't I in a normal hospital? Who were these people? After all I decided to take advantage of the silence created by the large man, who, by the way, strongly reminded me of a bear I saw in the zoo back when I was a kid.
"What's this place? Why did you bring me here?"
I asked, though my voice wasn't nearly as strong as I had hoped, and slightly cracked at the end of my sentence. I cleared my sore throat, while waiting for the answer, watching the people's faces. There were some who seemed calm, some were frustrated, and some looked like they were surprised that I could talk at all. In the end, bear-man stepped forward.
"You are in Wenris, boy. We brought you here, after we found you on the shore, barely breathing. My name is Einar, I am the mayor of this town. This is my house." he said, glancing around with proud pithy, then aiming his dark eyes back at me "And now tell me, what is your name?"
Some of the people nodded in agreement, watching me as I blinked a few times, surprised.
"On.. the shore?" I mumbled, furrowing my eyebrows "Wha-- How? What happened? ...Wenris?"
I have never heard of a town with a name like that. Einar shook his head, taking a rather cautious step towards me, his greying brown beard flopping around menacingly as he spoke.
"Answer me first! What is your name, and what business do you have in Wenris?"
I was about to stutter something as an excuse, when I heard a new voice from the other end of the room.
"Father, I don't think he is completely conscious yet. You should wait with the questioning."
The crowd parted, letting the owner of the voice forward, a guy about the same age as me. He was leaning against the wall, watching from behind, but now walked up to Einar, and continued.
"Miriam should have not convened a meeting, not yet."
The pungent look and the remark he gave her apparently offended the old, silver-haired lady. After showing her tongue to the guy, like a little kid, she crossed her arms and turned away with a pout on her face. Unlike her, I was unbelievably grateful, and though Einar didn't seem too happy, he nodded after a few moments and motioned the others to follow him out of the room. After everyone was outside, my 'savior' quietly closed the door, then turned to me and pulled a chair over to the bed, facing me.
"I apologize for my father's behavior."
He said while sitting down, lazily crossing his legs.
"He doesn't really like strangers, especially in his own house. But there wasn't enough space for you anywhere else, not to mention that Miriam is the best healer in Wenris. That old hag is brilliant, though she is a little crazy."
A slight smile appeared on the guy's lips as he casually ran a hand through his shoulder-length, dark blonde hair. Just like Einar, he was quite muscular, but he was a lot slimmer than his father. His face was smooth, his brown eyes gleamed cheerfully.
"My name is Eithan, son of Einar." he continued, nodding his head towards me "What's yours, phasphei*?"
"Uh, what? Oh, um... Jayden.. son of John..?"
Yeah, I tried. Then I quickly added;
"Um, did you find another guy? He has black hair too, green eyes and he's a little younger than me. My brother.."
"I'm sorry, son of John." he said as he shook his head after a few seconds. "You were alone when we found you" it seemed like he was about to continue, but his face suddenly darkened. "Actually, Gamish did discover some human footprints in the sand, close to where you were found. But the tracks... disappeared after a few meters." he said slowly, then cleared his throat. I felt like he wasn't telling me something, but I decided to wait with it.
"Sooo, what is this place?" I asked after a few moments, as I glanced around the room again, then looked back at Eithan. The guy seemed a little confused.
"Well, as you heard earlier, this is my father's house in Wenris. We're in Dalerion on the plain of Tarenor, and this is the eleventh season of the fourth era."
I raised an eyebrow at him, staring with an idiotic look, and parted lips. Even after a few minutes, all I could say was:
Clearly, Eithan couldn't wrap his head around my reaction, and he was about as confused as I was. He leaned forward a little, furrowing his eyebrows as he studied my dumb face.
"You must have really hit your head..." he muttered softly "Or maybe you weren't primed at all. I mean it happens, but most humans know the kingdom... "
Yes, he was definitely talking to himself, his gaze absentmindedly wandered off, and settled on a tiny bug running around on the wooden floor. And I just sat there, staring at him, still rather puzzled. When Eithan said 'humans' it sounded a lot like we weren't the only human-like species in.. wherever we were. Also, 'kingdom'? Did he mean the UK or something? How the hell did I get here? I just couldn't figure it out, this whole thing didn't make any sense.
"Where are you from?" Eithan asked finally, as his eyes returned to mine.
"Los Angeles." I answered slowly, but after seeing the guy's vacant look, I added, "Um... It's in the USA."
"I've never heard of it."
Alright, yes, I get it, Wenris must have been a tiny town, but he didn't know what the USA was? And he talked about being unschooled? My eyes widened slightly, but Eithan didn't let me gawk for long. He stood up, and motioned me to follow him, out of the room. Stepping out on the door, we got to a narrow corridor, that was about as dark as my room, only lit by a couple candles. Without any hesitation, Eithan turned left, and led me through the passage, until we reached the end; two doors facing each other, and a tiny, dirty window. Eithan knocked on the door to the right, and after receiving no answer, he opened it and walked through. This room was made out of the same, warm brown wood as the corridor and the one I woke up in, though the two windows let in more light. And the place was a mess. In the middle, a wooden table stood, laden with all kinds of books and writings, and a rickety-looking chair behind it. But the old, leather-bound books covered not only the table, but almost the whole room. Some were stacked in shorter towers, and some seemed like they were just thrown into disordered piles. I noticed a bookshelf in the other end of the room, which looked as if it was ready to give out under the substantial amount of parchment rolls and dusty books that were stacked upon it. Between all the papers and volumes, different swords, axes, hatchets, spears and other weapons lay, which I had no idea what could do to a person, but honestly I did not want to find out. Eithan walked over to the table, stepping over the scattered documents with masterly ease, whereas I managed to knock down a tower of rolls although I tried my best. Eithan glanced back at me, but didn't seem bothered by the parchments. Instead, he just motioned me to come over to the table, while he fished out a folded paper from one of the piles. He carefully opened it, revealing a map.
"This is Dalerion." said Eithan, then glanced at me, while I stared at the paper with my jaw dropped. I have never seen a continent with a shape like this, not even similar. While my gaze explored the map, Eithan watched me, then pointed at it after a few minutes.
"Here's Wenris, where we are now. Where's your town?"
"M-my town?" I muttered confusedly, slowly looking up at Eithan. I blinked a few times, then stared back at the map.
"Oh, my town, of course, um... It's not on your map." I said slowly, glancing at the blonde guy. Eithan was visibly surprised first, then narrowed his eyes and shook his head.
"That can't be. Every human town is marked on this map." he said with utter certainty in his voice. I let out a sigh, and rubbed my forehead with my fist. How is possible? Was I just hallucinating? Or dreaming? Did I fall through a magic wardrobe? ...Did I die? Whatever the case may be, Seth was here too, and I tried to concentrate on him, and that I needed to find him. To be honest in my mind I was constantly battling myself, because the childish part of me was fascinated and excited about the unknown world, and the sensible part was simply freaking out.
"Alright, come on, let's get you outside, and breathe some fresh air. You look quite pale." Eithan patted my shoulder, then headed outside. "I'll show you the town."
I followed him without a word, out the room, through the corridor, and down the stairs. The dingy old wooden steps creaked under our weight. When we finally reached the street, I had to squint. Although it was late in the afternoon, the sunshine hurt my eyes after the house's dim lighting. Einar's two-story home stood on a small hill, a bit away from the others. You would probably be able to see the whole town from the roof, as it didn't seem to be too big. It must have rained recently, as the narrow streets were rather muddy, but I could only see one or two racks of cloud, leisurely drifting through the light blue sky. Between the tiny, closely built houses I could see a thin, greenish blue streak of the sea. Eithan headed towards the town, with me after him.