Episode 2-- It's Just My Imagination Running Away With Me (right?)
"Ow..." Samantha's head was spinning like a top. She attempted to stand, but the waves of dizziness and nausea were too much, and she sank back to her knees. What happened? She was fighting. She won, she guessed. Then-- she was falling. Now she was here. Where was here?
She opened her eyes. 'Here' was not the hallway outside of class. Nor was it the nurse's clinic. 'Here' was a huge chamber, decorated like a palace or temple of some sort, with the main feature the two whopping huge doors behind her -->the Gate<-- whatever. 'Here' had a girl prostrate before her.
The girl in front of her raised her head nervously. "Is this wrong?" she asked. "I've never summoned anyone before." The girl had long, green hair, an oval face, piercing blue eyes... in short, she was beautiful. She was dressed in a flattering yet functional dark suit of clothing-- more suited for sneaking around than maintaining a temple.
And of course, Sam couldn't ignore the large pointy ears that poked out from the girl's head or the tail that swished independently behind her. Interesting. She might as well play along with the dream, so...
"Who are you?" Sam asked.
The girl stood. "I am Kichi Kengo, of the village of Elyria, of the realm of Gokashi."
"From New Jer-- Tokyo, in the 'realm' of Japan," she added derisively. "I'm--"
"NOOO! What have you done?!"
The two girls turned at the new voice. A tall figure stood in shadow at the other end of the hall. He was dressed in a red robe with a golden crest at knee length. In his right hand he clutched a gnarled wooden staff engraved with strange symbols.
"What _now_?" Samantha asked.
"A Red Mage..." Kichi said in disbelief.
"Correct." The mage stepped forward, into the light. He had dark, ashy brown-gray-olive skin, and a shock of chin length silver hair. His yellow eyes glinted red, scanning the two, then squinted into triangular slits. "I am Tenzil Ravensbourne, last of the Red Mages. And in the name of the Wizard Amaro, the Chosen One will be destroyed."
"I have the funny feeling he's talking about me," Sam announced to no one in particular.
"A Red Mage..." Kichi repeated dully, eyes glazed over.
He struck, with a gesture of his staff sending a bolt of blue energy towards Samantha. 'That looks like it's gonna hurt,' she thought as the bolt struck her in the chest.
* * *
Gokashi was not a land without magic. Conversely, it was full of it. Kichi's race, the Elves were magical, the Temple was magical, the fairies and merpeople were magical, and the spring a mile from Kichi's house that turned people to stone, that certainly was magical. So there was no shortage of magic. There was just a shortage of magic users.
Most wizards, mages and sorcerors had died in the FireWars a few years before. To be sure, magic using had in no way died out, but finding people proficient enough in magic to be an actual mage was not an everyday occurance. And Red Mages... no one had seen them since the great wizard Amaro disappeared three years ago. So one can understand Kichi's surprise at the man's entrance. Of course, that's not the reason she didn't move to protect Samantha. That was because she was under a spell.
* * *
Kichi watched the beam of energy lance through the air as if in a dream. In fact, it was a dream, or near enough... she knew she was enchanted, but she couldn't break it so... The beam slooowly flew, and it slooowly hit Samantha, and it slooowly engulfed her in blue light. It was quite pretty, Kichi thought absently. But... shouldn't she be doing something to help her? But then, should the Legendary Hero even need help?
"It's not her," the mage said, relieved. "There's still hope."
Not her... Instantly the spell was broken and Kichi could think clearly again. Which was good, as things were beginning not to make sense. "What do you mean by that? How do you know that? What did you do to her?"
Tenzil crossed his arms. "I did nothing. The spell I shot off was to gauge magical capability. At present, this girl has none. So I don't know who she is, but she's not the Hero."
No, things definitely weren't making sense anymore. Kichi swallowed, saying the only words that came to mind: "'When the Gate opens at the time of most need, the Legendary Hero will come to purify the world with Light.'" She stared fiercely at the strange man. "Now that our darkest hour has come, the Goddesses have given us a savior." She pointed to the chosen one, who gave him the disdainful look he deserved. Actually, no, she just looked confused.
"Me?" she asked, beginning to pay attention.
"No," Tenzil answered.
"Yes," Kichi continued patiently. "You're the Legendary Hero, Lexus, come to save the world from evil and corruption."
"Hold on," the girl said. "You're telling me I'm supposed to be some legendary hero chick named after a luxury car?" She threw up her hands in annoyance. "What sort of stupid dream is this?!"
Kichi ignored her ranting. "No..." she thought aloud. "The Gate opened for the first time in centuries... they've got to send a Goddess, or Hero, or _somebody_ important... right?"
"Not necessarily," Tenzil returned. "With the current state of the world, I think the Goddesses enjoy playing with us. They've decimated and broken the population through war, they've allowed us to be ruled by corrupt and inept emperors, and our hopes, the Nine Wizards, have been taken away."
"Exactly!" Kichi agreed. "That's why the Gate opened-- to give us someone to help!" The boy looked less than convinced. "Look. Why would they send her if she was just normal?" she challenged the mage, gaining confidence. "Come on, just look at her! Her tiny ears, her lack of tail... she's definitely not elven."
"Hey..." the girl protested.
"True," he conceded. "Those are some strange clothes," referring to the odd skirt and jacket she wore. "And she *did* come from the Gate... I'll need time to look into--"
"HEY!" she shouted. "I'm not some science experiment! I'm--" she paused, lowering her voice. "I'm Samantha Kouketsu. I'm here because I'm dreaming. And in this dream I'm the hero, so I'll help you with your little quest," she finished haughtily.
"Well, aren't we lucky," Tenzil replied, earning him a frown and an elbow from both girls. "Ow..."
* * *
Tenzil wasn't so sure about Samantha's worth as a heroine. However, she *had* come from the Gate. That counted for som-- He heard something... "Wait-- listen!" He turned towards the way he'd entered, head cocked. "We've gotta get out of here."
* * *
"Imperial guards?" Kichi asked.
He nodded, heading for a different exit. "Come on," he called back impatiently. "Or do you want to get caught?"
The girls shook their heads, following him.
So they ran. Tenzil led them through the mazelike hallways of the Temple, positive that he was going the correct direction. After passing seemingly the same door for the third time, he wasn't so sure.
"Where are we?" Samantha asked. "Lost, I'd wager," she answered. "Don't take the lead if you don't know where to go."
He just growled in reply. He did know where to go. However, the Temple was different... stopping their progress, just as it had earlier...
That was it! The Temple was trying to protect them. It was a magical place.. it had prevented him from stopping Sam from coming through the Gate; it must be keeping them from leaving by his route. "All right. New directions. Let's go," he said, opening the door.
He emerged outside, on a ledge about ten feet above the main entrance. "Damn," he commented as a crossbow bolt whizzed past his head.
Samantha paid little attention as she crossed through the door, lost in her thoughts. This was all just too unreal, even for a dream. If she'd known she had this kind of imagination, she wouldn't have paid that kid to do her creative writing assignments. But then, what else could it be but imagination? People just didn't see elves and people who could use real magic (like that guy, who had done *something* to her, without even asking). 'I guess I was hit a little too hard by that guy, or I ate some bad sushi or something,' she thought.
She was jangled from her reverie by something hard. It was Tenzil. "What are you doing?" she asked, irritated. He pointed downwards. There were little men. They were running around and pointing at them. "Is this supposed to be dangerous?" she asked.
"Only if you don't like getting shot," he said darkly.
"What do we do?" Kichi asked. "We can't get back inside." The door was gone.
"I'll take care of it," Tenzil said, beginning to chant softly. "Lord of confusion, master of illusion, hide us from our enemies. /MULTIPLE ILLUSION!!/" They were suddenly surrounded by groups of themselves. "Come on," Tenzil yelled, "Before they figure out the trick." He ran up the mountainside, around a ridge and down towards a nearby forest.
Kichi motioned for Sam to follow, but she was intrigued by the image magic. Nearly mirror images, they moved as she did. "Incredible," she noted.
"There's no time for this," Kichi said, pulling the real Samantha after Tenzil.
Sam halfheartedly followed, engrossed in the tiny men at the ground. They were running around even more now, and they waved little sticks, shooting wildly. 'What an intense dr--' Sam stopped at a sharp pain across her shoulder. Looking down, she saw she was bleeding. "Kichi..." she said breathlessly. The elf looked back at her, worried. "This... this isn't a dream is it."
Kichi soundlessly shook her head.
"Oh God..." Wide-eyed, Sam dropped to the ground, unconscious.
Ep. 2 by Erin Ellis