An original story
by Erin Ellis
characters and concept by Elizabeth Lindhag

   The GateWay Temple was deceptively small.  Built into the side of 
Ontlex, the smallest of the Lexus Mountains, the simple architecture
of the Temple gave no indication of the massive, grand chambers
inside.  Certainly the green-haired elf hiding in the shadows wouldn't
ever have believed the comparatively small structure held the Gate, 
were it not for the fact she had been inside, and seen the Gate 
   'It likely is some sort of magic,' Kichi thought.  Kichi didn't
know much about magic, so she quickly pushed this thought out of her
head.  She was here for more important reasons than determining *how*
the Temple was built.  She needed to *use* it.
   Kichi turned her attention to the guards, armored men sent by the 
Emperor to 'protect' the Gate.  She didn't understand why protecting
the Gate meant keeping most people away from it.  People couldn't even
worship here anymore.  However, a nearly abandoned Temple would be 
perfect for what she planned to do-- she was going to open the Gate.
   The guard turned to his companion, who was snoring softly, just as 
he had been every night at this time for the past two weeks.  Then the
guard left his post to relieve himself, just as he had every night at
this time for the past week (once he figured out his companion would 
be asleep).
   Kichi stifled a giggle.  Imperial guards were so predictable. 
After a quick look around to be sure she wasn't being watched, she 
entered the GateWay Temple.

                     *          *         *

   The dozing guard cracked open one eye to watch the tall elf slip
inside the Temple.  'It's about time,' he thought, disgruntled.  'This
image is hard to keep up!'  Fully awake now, and no longer looking
much like an Imperial Guard, the man followed Kichi inside.  If she 
was planning on doing what he thought she was, she *had* to be stopped
before trouble started-- trouble that could change the course of the
planet itself.

                     *          *         *

   Kichi moved swiftly and quietly through the GateWay Temple.  She 
*couldn't* be caught, not after having come so far...  She peeked
around the corner.  She'd made it!  The Gate!  After a quick look to
make sure no one was around, she approached the Gate.
  "Wow..." she breathed.  "Impressive..."
  'Impressive' was a mild way to describe the Gate.  Two immense
doors, crafted out of (petrified wood? stone?) a richly textured
material that looked as if it had stood well before the Temple's
construction, and would survive well after its fall.
  Around the Gate was a border of stone insets in the wall.  They
alternated red, pink, purple, blue and yellow, the colors of the land.
On some of these stones were pictures, many of the tale of the land's
creation, others described tales of those who had come before from the
Gate.  Still other stones bore runes and messages in the Olde Tongue--
warnings about the dangers of using the Gate, prayers to the Goddesses
for mercy.
   Kichi paid no heed to these warnings; in fact, it was doubtful she
even saw them (not that she could read them anyway).  She was
absorbed in the doors themselves.
   Easily twenty feet high, the double doors of the Gate gave the 
definition of solidity.  The huge slabs had been painted (or maybe 
this was the real color; Kichi couldn't tell) a brilliant deep purple.
Gold and silver flecks embedded in the portal only added to its 
magical quality.
   Entranced, Kichi walked right up to the door and touched it before
realizing her actions.  The instant her fingers came into contact with
the Gate, she felt a Presence.  She tried to pull away, but could not.
Her mind (or was it her mouth?) began screaming in terror.  A mistake?
   After an instant that was eternity, the Presence spoke: "I am that
which is.  Who are you that attempts to open the Gate?  Many before 
you have tried and failed, their stories inscribed on the stones 
around you."
   Kichi took a deep breath.  "My- my name is...  I am Kichi Kengo of 
the Empire of Gokashi.  I am here... I seek aid in overthrowing the 
Empire.  Since... since the FireWars, the Empire has become more and 
more corrupt, taking money and property, breaking-- breaking apart 
families..."  The tremor in her voice grew with these words.  She 
swallowed and continued.  "Guardian, the Nine Wizards have been 
imprisoned.  I need to save them, to restore the world... but I cannot
do it alone.  Please, give me a savior for this world!"
   The Presence was silent.  Finally...
   "Granted."  Instantly, the outer rim of the Gate was outlined in 
black light, followed by shafts of pure white that blinded the elven
girl.  After an eternity... the Gate was opening... and the world
would be saved.

                     *          *         *

   Samantha Kouketsu was unhappy.  She had only been in Japan a week,
and she already hated it.  "Why'd we have to move here anyway?" she
   She ran a hand through her short, brown hair and set a determined
scowl on her face.  It wasn't *her* fault she was in trouble, it was 
these punks!  *She* wasn't the one talking in class and annoying the 
new girl.  *She* wasn't the one making lewd comments about the class'
female population.  And if she *had* taken her thickest textbook and
beaten the culprits with it, how could you blame her?  She deserved a
medal, not two buckets to hold in the hallway.  "Who designed this 
stupid punishment anyway?" she asked in English.
   "What's wrong, Amerika-jin?  Too good to carry buckets like the 
rest of us?"
   Sam tossed her head.  "Well, as a matter of fact..."  She gave them 
a pointed look.  "*Dogs* would be higher class companions than *you*.
They'd have far higher intelligence as well."
   "Ooh... Shiro, are you going to take that?"  Shiro's buddies were
all abuzz.  No one messed with Kogarashi Shiro.  No one.
   Shiro frowned, crossing his arms (all had dropped their buckets by
now).  "Hmm..  I guess you *do* live up to your name, gaijin.  
Kouketsu in your language is what... 'snob'?
   She walked to him unfazed, staring the shorter boy in the eye.  
"And you live up to yours... 'shorty'."
   The boy's eyes flashed with anger.  "That's 'KogaraSHI', not 
'Kogara'!"  He balled his fists in rage.
   Samantha just sneered at him.  "You wanna fight, little man?"
   "Go for it, Kouketsu-san!" cried a voice from behind her.  Sam 
turned her head to see a classmate waving at her.  And she wasn't 
alone.  By now, the pair had drawn a considerable crowd.  The hall
monitor, other classes, and even the teacher had gathered to watch the
American and the bully face off.
   Sam smiled, turning back to Shiro.  "Looks like the home team is on
my side-- urk!"
   The shorter boy had taken the opportunity to throw a punch.  With a
painful crunch, his fist connected with her jaw.  Her brain took this 
opportunity to question the wisdom of acting so belligerant towards
the obviously stronger Shiro. 
   "Too late now," she muttered, stumbling back.  Regaining her 
balance, she propelled herself towards him, knocking him down.
Unfortunately, she overbalanced, and fell herself.  
   Shiro, being more accustomed to being knocked down, quickly
recovered and straddled her, slamming his fist repeatedly into her
pitiful attempt at a block.  "Take it back," he said with each punch.
   'Samantha!' her mind screamed.  'You're no fighter!  You failed 
self-defense class!  Why are you sitting here getting beaten?  GIVE 
   "No," she said aloud.
   Shiro paused at this outburst, accustomed to victims begging for 
mercy, not calmly refusing defeat.
   While he pondered this, she kneed him in the groin.  He fell to the
side, squealing in pain.  She slowly rose to her feet, not noticing 
the astonished crowd that surrounded them, not noticing the teachers
snapping back to reality and moving to keep them separated.  What she
did notice was the faint "Granted" in the back of her head, followed
by the black square that formed under her.  Shafts of light outlined
the square, and before she could cry out, she was falling...

                     *          *         *

   The Gate opened.

   Kichi prayed for a savior.

   And Samantha fell through.


Author's notes...

A note on Japanese names.. 'Kouketsu' means 'high', 'lofty', or 
'high-minded', according to my kanji dictionary... I took this to mean 
'snobbish' (hey.. if it doesn't quite match, it's a spur of the moment 
insult.  gimme a break.)  'Kogara' means 'short (build)', according to 
the online Japanese dictionary  
(, and 'Kogarashi' is a 
valid male first name.  Don't ask how Sam would know his first name. ^_^

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