‘This can’t be happening,’ Kerry thought as she rubbed her temple. She had never known who her mother was. Her father refused to speak of her, besides, he was far too engaged with his own doings to tell her of such things. Kerry shook her head.
“Impossible,” she said. Kerry refused to accept that her mother was alive, much less the Guardian of Darkness. ‘It was bad enough growing up without a mother, there’s no way I am going to accept that she is alive AND Satan’s sister.’
Cassandra laughed. ‘Some things never change. Humans refuse to accept the truth of the situation because its inconvenient.’ She stood to her feet and loomed over Kerry.
“The truth does not require you to accept it, dear. The truth is absolute. Whether you accept it or not, the truth remains.”
“God, this can’t be happening to me.”
“It’s not as bad as it seems. Follow me. It’s time for your test.”
Cassandra and Kerry walked through the door and exited into a mountainous region, unlike the blizzard they had left. They stood on a cliff that overlooked a green forest.
“Wow,” Kerry sighed. “Look how beautiful…”
“And dangerous,” Cassandra replied. She pointed at the large mountain in the distance. “You see the mountain there?”
“Yes, I see it.”
“At the top is a portal. Reach it, and you will travel back to me. Your test is complete once you’ve returned.”
Kerry stared at the old woman. She frowned and her eyes narrowed. Her breathing became shallow, and Kerry approached Cassandra.
“I know you don’t think you’re leaving me here. I’m not staying. There’s no way I am taking this test. That’s not why I came.”
“Child, you have no idea why you came here. This was set into motion long before you entered the world. Ah, lest I forget, you’ll need this.”
Cassandra handed Kerry a notebook and a pen.
“This is the land of the Onok. They’re terrible beasties. You’ll know them when you see them. They are a cross between a rhinoceros and a crocodile. Truly despicable looking things. Yes, they can talk. I wouldn’t pay them no mind. The Onok are liars, one and all.”
Cassandra turned to leave, but Kerry grabbed her hand. She turned and gave Kerry a cold smile.
“Why did you give me a notebook and pen?”
“To protect you of course.”
“How are these things going to protect me? Why not a sword or a cannon?”
Cassandra touched her cheek and said, “how delightfully human. Open your mind and shape that which will be.”
Without another word, Cassandra vanished. Kerry was left all alone in the vast world of the Onok. Kerry stared at the mountain. She had no choice now. It was a long walk to the mountain, and if she planned on leaving this world, she needed to get started.
Kerry’s steps came easy as her momentum built going down the hill. As she drew near to the forest, the shadows seemed to lengthen. Low guttural growls sounded from within the forest. She stopped. Kerry craned her neck to look for the sun, it sank into the far horizon.
“This is great, Kerry. Well done. You’re trapped out here with creatures that are rhinos and crocodiles. How could this get any worse?” As darkness fell on the forest, Kerry walked to an overhang and leaned against the cool stone.
She thought of her dad. Kerry missed him. His excitement had spurned them through some tough times, but then horror hit home. ‘If only I had not come across the AshenCrot.”
17 Days Ago:
“Come, Kerry. The sun has gone down on us. We must find some place to camp,” Hank Watkins said. He pulled himself to his feet and stretched to his full height of 5’7. Years had passed since he last visited the Realm of Nothingness. In all his time away, nothing had changed. Thus, it was known as Nothingness. The Realm served as a world where balance and consequences were coveted. It was as close to a utopia as one could get.
He and Kerry walked to a set of ruins and bedded down. Hank sat down and pulled out his notebook and pen. He scribbled ‘fire’ on the parchment, and a campfire appeared out of the mist.
“Wow. How did that happen,” Kerry asked.
“There are rules to the Realm of Nothingness,” Hank replied. He wrote ‘sleeping bags’, and two sleeping bags appeared. He stretched out on one, Kerry on the other.
“What kind of rules, daddy?”
“Every race has a magical item, such as this pen and notebook, with this I can pen our essentials into being. The only limitation is your imagination.”
“So, you could make us immortal? Write out diseases and crime?”
Hank laughed. Kerry’s questions and excitement made his tired, blue eyes twinkle. ‘She looks like her mother,” Hank thought.
“No, sweetie. Such things are part of living. Death is part of it. Human nature always blocks the path to true enlightenment.”
“Oh,” Kerry sighed. “So much for it being useful in the ‘real world.’ I figured we could use it to make home better.”
“It only works here, I’m afraid.”
Hank closed his eyes and drifted into a sound sleep. Kerry fell into the same slumber. From across the plains, a set of gray, malicious eyes watched them.
A few, short hours later, the sun rose from its bed. Hank blinked and stretched. Kerry yawned.
“Good morning,” she said.
“Where are we headed to, dad?”
“We’re going straight to the Gate of Moments. The Council must be warned of the return of Draxel Hun.”
“Hun, never heard of him.”
Hank grinned and nodded. Kerry winked at him.
“A little early for puns, isn’t it?”
Together they pulled out of camp and started across the plains. The eyes that watched them last night, followed their movements across the plains. The predator stalked it’s prey. Some things never change.