The Other Way Around -1-

This is fantasy. I promise it is, well, at least to my knowledge it is? If you can prove it otherwise contact me. I would love to open a travel agency :) He* I might even go there myself.

Yor.
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Enacting those dreams one stand within, while spanning the years of ones youth is not necessarily a pleasant vista. There was this time, Me fairly young, that I meet this lovely girl. Her interest of me waned as her perception off me shrunk, acceding to mine foibles and all too human shortcomings. Me a virgin, if now that is the right description, and she a veteran of several successful campaigns, so as I desperately tried to impress her with my maturity and male allure I didn’t dare to let her on to my insecurity.

And as she then craved that final consumption I’m afraid she found me sadly wanting. That’s life for you, one should, at least that’s my reckoning, always try to stand, true that is, to what one are. Sex and power seems, as I look back, to be the two main offerings this world uses for our keeping.

Even those that don’t easily reconcile themselves to the strictures of this rigid world, sooner or later fall into that trap. It may well be so that we all are predisposed for those wanderings of our body and mind. That’s at least my belief. And those failures, disappointments and short spurts of glory will, I assure you, remain a heritage in all of us. But alas, I see that I’m starting to digress. So, let’s make this tale unwound.

I was born on a bleak midwinter morning, taking my first ragged breaths as the wind bleakly wailed shaking our tiny cottage, My father my mother barely knew, he had introduced himself as a sailor and as sailors go, only marginally more trustworthy than a mink. So she did her best with what stood at her disposal. We were never rich and always needful, we seemed to live at that brink of destitution wherefrom there is no return.

As I’ve came into my eighteenth birthday she caught a cold that didn’t want to go away. Abruptly it evolved itself into a fully blown pneumonia. So as the spring unfolded itself I found myself, for the first time in my life utterly alone. Being without wealth I decided to make her the coffin myself. It was a slow undertaking, I found that I missed her much, also that I felt a great sorrow for the way her life had came out to. I knew she had tried her best, as to her understanding and abilities, to bring me up as a good and decent person.

But here I was, a lad of eighteen without family, work or profession, laying my Mother to rest with the help of only the parish priest and some few people that had come to know her. The spring had now fully arrived and with it was the sweet promise of summer. As the priest said some final words about ‘ a toll well done’ I found myself raising my head up towards that bleak blue sky, there in I saw a single bird of prey circling high above. A falcon I thought it to be, slowly circling the edge of the Forrest. Suddenly I longed to be up there, with it, no more bound to this earth, to this earthbound clogging. And somewhere in my mind I could hear my mother’s voice again, weaving one of her tales. ‘Once upon a time there was’.

After the funeral I went to live with a neighboring family for a while, but food was scarce and as there were no work to be found, I realized that I had to move. I collected those few belongings I owned and prepared myself as well as I could for my journey into the unknown. I remember well the morning I left. It had a clear sunny feeling to it, with a hint of strawberries and wet green grass clinging to the air. I remember how the road warmed my bare feet, and how the small huts off the village wavered in the strong sunlight. Summer was upon us and everything seemed filled with new life. As I already told you we were poor, still, my mother had found the will in her to teach me how to read. As we only had that one book I took it with me.

She had found it one day she said, out in the forest as she was looking for mushrooms. Resting there, as if someone just had left it in the middle of a clearing, not buried or hidden or anything. Wrapped in an old leather cloth, waiting for her to find it. To my shame I must admit that I doubted her story, but I did treasure the book, even though there was much in it that was incomprehensible to me. In it were tales about ancient wars. Heroes and Heroines, also mysterious tales about the land, with words seeming to implicate that even the land was alive, there were also many strange maps, some of them of a most detailed and time consuming nature. Even as a small child those maps had made me want to travel. Now at last, I felt that I was on my way.

Another strange aspect of my book was that every time I opened it I would find new chapters in it. Chapters that I somehow had overleaped before, well, enough said about that. Even though the people of our village didn’t have much, they freely shared what little they had with me, both food and blankets. So I felt if not ready, then at least willing to undertake this journey in good faith. Slowly the small hamlet receded behind me. I know not how long I walked those first days, the woods were filled with squirrels and all sorts of wildlife. With every turn of this meandering trail it introduced me to new wonders. After some more days of walking I found myself starting to wonder if this wood ever would end. Somehow it seemed to grow on my mind, and as my memories dimmed, the remembrance of my hamlet seemed more and more remote.

On my sixteenth birthday my mother had given me an harmonica, it was of some strange metal with drawings of a Ship on it, she told me that it was a gift from my father and I liked it very much. I remember playing on it softly as I walked under this green canopy of trees with the blue sky gleaming over it. Soon enough there was dusk again, I found a little clearing just aside of the trail and there I made my bed for the night under an old gnarly oak tree.

I took some bread and the last of the sour cheese and then laid myself to rest with my book as a pillow. I woke up of a fright, freezing in the cold air, as it was near morning but still dark. I decided to make a fire of some sticks I had found the day before, and then proceeded with making myself some tea, Suddenly I felt very alone, it was an extremely desolate feeling, I started to read my book in a futile hope of forgetting it. As I was freezing I held the book to near the fire, so near that it started to smoke. As I drew it back, the pages I was reading were starting to change, it was as if a veil were taken away from them, and there suddenly seemed to be an untold depth to every page.

It scared me stiff, but I still wouldn’t let go of my book. Slowly one particular page seemed to enlarge. Raising itself from the book it took the shape of a shadowed portal. I found it very hard to see, that portal, still I felt an irresistible beckoning emanate from it. Without remembering how I found myself standing there, just before it, one awkward step after another closer, I knew that if I took that next step, nothing could ever be the same. So I stopped there, feeling both scared and confused. It was then i heard that sharp voice, resonating from the inside of the portal. ‘Well, make up your mind, boy! Are you coming or not?' Those words resolved my doubts, and I took those few steps forward that were to shape my life forever.

The wizard’s lair..

I do not know what happened after that last step, it was somewhat like coming out in the sun from a dark cellar, I just couldn’t see any more. It was like a whirlpool of colors and shapes and the geometry of my world seemed to have taken its leave. ‘Edward, the boy seems confused, see what you can do to help, Edward!’ I heard a dragging noise and felt someone pushing me against a hard surface. There was a welter of impressions attacking my senses, all combined with that feeling of being stark naked in front of an all seeing eye, I can’t say that I enjoyed it overmuch.

‘Hrrm, so what have we here’ I heard a voice, ‘Not to skinny, nayee let’s see, let’s see if it can move shall we ‘ now I heard a slithering noise like a very big snake undulating towards me. ‘Boyy’ with a sibilant hiss ‘Turn around, boyy’. Until then I didn’t even knew that i had been standing there staring with my nose inches from the wall but, as the voice commanded me so I did, I glanced around furtively trying to get my bearings again.

It seemed as if I was in some sort of underground chamber, there was a floor of mosaic and tapestry’s hanging over the walls and in front of me there stood? I don’t really know how to describe it, it looked as a man but the proportions were subtly wrong. The eyes studying me were more alike the eyes of a reptile than those of a man, I froze. The apparition smiled ‘ahh, so we’re awake then! Good morning, and a tasty morsel to’ it licked its thin lips with a daintily forked tongue ‘ yess, sso nicce to meet you. What’s your name boy? Haalloo! Anybody there?’ he slithered back one step. ‘ Slightly retarded, are we? ’

Now I heard a second voice chirping in ‘ Oh stop you scaring the boy witless Edward. At least give him a chair to sit on, Can’t you see he’s confused.‘ I looked behind and there she stood, she, at least. was definitely human and lovely too. Sun streaked hair and those dark jade green eyes smiling at me warmly as she came forward. I hastily raised myself from the chair the ?Man? had brought.

‘My Lady’ I tried to bow, ‘I’m so sorry to intrude, I was just sitting reading my book when.’ She moved her right hand in an negligent manner, ‘Relax boy, nobody’s going to bite you, what’s your name?’ She was as beguilingly beautiful as a Midsummer’s Morning, I almost forgot to answer as I found myself falling into those pools of green light, ‘Name? Ahh yes? My name, ahh? Laurel, My Lady, Laurel at thine service.‘ Like a overgrown fumbling idiot I just stood there. She was slightly shorter than me, and breathtakingly lovely, a poem created out of summer and light. ‘I beg your pardon My Lady, but, where am I? Are you a dream?’

Yes, it had to be, I thought. This was a dream and a strangely fine one to. She looked at me appraisingly ‘Perhaps you should sit down after all’ she said with a slight frown. Now I could hear that slithering noise again, as something massive coiling and uncoiling rhythmically. ‘No, she said ‘you’re not dreaming, young Laurel’ She smiled up at me ‘We, my friend and I were traveling when we heard the chimes, as we came here we found you appearing as from nowhere, so if there is a dream here I would say it’s ours.’

I listened to her incomprehensibly. But then I suddenly saw the stonewalls starting to ripple as if they were going to fall in. I hurled myself at her, prepared to protect her at any cost, simultaneously screaming ‘Watch out! It's a cave in’. She was wonderfully soft to land on and for a moment I forgot all about the walls, as I found myself buried nosedeep into the fragrance of her bosom. Drawing for air at the same time as I found myself spitting out some small strands of her hair I managed to say ‘do not despair my Lady, I will protect you, to my very death.‘ Then somebody grabbed me from behind and I found myself suddenly dangling from a four-fingered grip.

‘Emilia, has the boy tried something foolish with you? Should I send him to his deliverer? ‘ I tried franticly to turn around ‘ Sir, take heed, the walls are crumbling. Let’s get to safety, Sir! ’ To my consternation and dismay the Lady on the floor started to giggle, Edward, whom I now knew it to be, also gave out a choked guffaw ‘Ahh, my young fiend, so the walls are falling in are they! ’ Then he shook me as a cat would shake a mouse. ‘Caving in! Falling walls! What shall we do with this. Thing! Emilia?’ She rose herself from the floor, ‘Now dear Edward, don’t be to harsh on him, he did try to protect me, with his own body, no less’ Here she studied me again much in the same way as a cat will study its next prey.

‘I’m not normally taken to freeloaders and stowaways’ she said with that small frown showing itself again. ‘But this boy seems to me none of it, and he acted I believe, ‘ and here she almost started to giggle again ‘from the best of intentions. No Edward, he will add some spice to our travel and somewhere in this methinks there are puzzles to solve.’ His hand slowly let me down to the floor. ‘Well Emilia, then he will be your responsibility. You will have to teach your pet some manners, my dear.’ Now the hands turned me around and the man? Bent down to stare into my eyes. ‘Listen closely now boy. This Lady has taken it upon her to take you in as her own. Now you belong to her household, and you will act accordingly, with dignity and grace. You’re lucky, had it be left to me..’

He was a terrifying sight to behold as he hunched before me. I couldn’t help but feel that the safest thing for the moment would be to consent to his wishes. ‘Yes Sir, I will try my best. I promise Sir’ as I tried to look into those cold yellow eyes, each brown pupil ringed by a small red line. I’m nobody’s fool, the first chance i get I’ll be off, I promised myself. ‘Don’t be so harsh, said I, ‘ the Lady’s voice coming from behind me, now commanding me, ‘come here Laurel .’ Edward reluctantly let lose his grip and I retreated slowly, without daring to turn around Suddenly I felt her sweet redolence surround me, and a voice whisper in my ear. ‘ He’s such a fusspot, isn’t he. Relax boy, no harm will come to you.’.

She then raised her voice and said ‘Come with me now, we will have to clean you up and get you some new cloths to methinks, what have you been doing with your self? Sleeping in the woods?’ She took me to a room with a window opening to what looked like a purple sky with strange formations of clouds sailing by, both over and under me. ‘Undress boy’ she said. I looked at her startled out of my reverie, not knowing what to think, why did she want me naked? I backed up against the wall saying ‘My Lady?’. Slowly a smile appeared on her lovely face. ‘Oh’ she said, ‘shy, are we? Now, what can you have that I haven’t seen a thousand times before boy?’ That said, she turned her back on me and clapped her hands.

Out from the air there came a voice ‘Yes mademoiselle, your command? ‘ ‘Give this boy some new clothing and a bath please, and make sure he’s clean, then bring him to my chamber.’ She turned to me again. ‘Now boy, don’t get any thoughts in your head now, go trough that door and wash your self, and don’t come out until you’re clean, you hear?’ I bowed, slowly circling around her, making sure that she couldn’t reach out to rip my clothes of, as I went to the door she had pointed out. That room was even stranger than the first one, everything in it was white. There was something that looked like a hole in the middle of the white-tiled floor, when I went closer I saw that it was filled with water.

There was also in the far corner a very strange contraption, somewhat like a chair, but within it a waterfilled hole instead of a normal seat. Alone at last I felt free to undress, slowly I inserted myself into the warm water. Maybe the small one is a dwarfs bath? I thought as I felt the water seep into my bones. ‘Boy!’ I frantically reached for my clothes as I dived down to the bottom. ‘You will find soap and a towel in the cupboard on your left side, there will also be some new clothes there for you.’ She wasn’t there, it was only her voice I had heard. I lifted my wet clothes up from the pool and laid them back on the floor. What a scare I got!

They surely must be mighty Magicians I though as I dried myself. Somehow my old clothes had disappeared while I was bathing, I had no choice but to use new ones The clothes were clean and soft to the skin.. As I finished my bath I had noticed the walls starting to undulate again, it was like seeing a slow ripple flowing through what seemed to me as hardened rock. It gave me a squeamish sensation seeing it, and I felt glad to leave the bathroom for the other room where I could look out the window. As I stood there I found that the view from the window had changed, where it before had been a purple sky, there now where only a seemingly blur of lines and colors.

While trying to see trough those to what laid behind I heard a dry cough, ‘ Sir, this way please’. I almost fell out the window trying to turn around, at the same time as my feet seemed to have left the floor floating of their own, startled as I was of the sudden sound. There was nobody to be seen anywhere, Now, I must admit that I seriously started to fear for my sanity at this time. Mayhap I had been overcome by robbers in my sleep? This could be the result of a hard blow to my head ? Or could it be that I was sick? I fumbled for my pulse, yes I had one, no two it seemed, both going very fast, strange, next I pinched myself. That hurt.

‘Sir, the Lady are waiting, please follow’ That damned voice again! ‘Show yourself, buffoon' I called out as I feebly fought to get a hold of my faculties, ‘Oh, sorry about that’ I heard the voice again. ‘Not from a civilized frame then? Look at your feet Sir’. I looked down, on my left big toe sat an impish creature, all dressed in gleaming blue. ‘This way Sir.’ It said as it started to flow away in front of me. I followed meekly, at the same time listening to the imp muttering under it’s breath ‘as if I don’t have anything else to do, having to show savages around, stupid ones to!’

It stopped in front of a strange looking entrance. ‘In here sir, and may i say that it been a pleasure meeting you’ at the same time muttering under its breath ‘ you oafish lout’. It knocked diffidently at the door and disappeared with a ‘pop’ leaving me standing, feeling awkward. 'Come in boy’ I heard her voice, the door opened as of it’s own accord, from the room inside there could be heard a faint tingling noise. It was as if there were drops of water falling constantly. I stepped into the room, there were draperies and tapestries hanging from the walls displaying strange sceneries, and as I looked closer they somehow seemed to move.

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