Chapter 3 – Scriven

The shadows had disappeared as did the school. They were standing in a green and lush meadow, filled with grass and several different sorts of plants and small flowers, a large forest lay several kilometres in front of them and behind them they could just make out the start of a mountain range. The sky was blue, with a yellow round circle of fire and there were no clouds anywhere. It looked like they were in Switzerland now or at least something similar. Anna had seen lord of the rings several times and this looked slightly like middle earth or maybe New-Zealand. It could have even been Scotland on a good rainless day, although that was harder to believe.
Anna stared at Josh he bore a large foolish grin on his face and looked as though he at least thought everything was back to normal ‘we are home’ he stated.
No we aren’t Anna wanted to answer but for some reason she didn’t. She looked around again and had to admit that it did look like home, they were somewhere else maybe even close by to where they were previously but it could just as well be somewhere further away.
Josh was still grinning; a big happy grin, Anna looked at him and almost absent minded started counting how many teeth he was showing. There were quite a few of them. As Anna stared at him a strange shift was happening to Josh’s grin, it was slowly retracting and morphing into something different in fact his whole face was morphing and contracting in fear, his eyes were not focused on her though they were staring at something in the sky. Anna followed Josh’s gaze and saw a large beast flying past, she stared open mouthed at the creature of legend, of fantasy of her very own imagination. The creature had two wings and a large tail, it had dark red scales and Anna loved them, she even had a poster of several of them in a multitude of colours hanging on one of her walls in her room. It was a dragon. The red dragon was a fire breathing dragon, Anna recalled, there were also blue dragons that breathed out ice and lived in frozen lands and there were also green dragons, although she couldn’t recall what they breathed, poison? She remembered that there were also Chinese dragons but those were very different and she wasn’t completely sure about black dragons.
It was Josh who shook her out of it, not by physically shaking her but by screaming something incoherently, it was the scream that finally made her stop staring in shock and understand that they weren’t home yet. Anna grabbed Josh by the hem of his shirt, covered his mouth to stifle his scream and pulled him down to the ground. Dragons had very good eyes although they could get really bad eyesight depending on their age. Whatever the situation it was a bad idea if a big red dragon saw you or heard you which it most likely now did.
Josh stopped screaming and was now cowering on the grass, they were relatively lucky that the grass was long and so could at least offer some protection, Anna in turn was glancing every now and again at the sky trying to see if the dragon was coming for them or not. It seemed that they were safe for the moment, the dragon flew past very quickly, it almost seemed like he was being chased but what could possibly chase after a dragon?
Flying high above them in the distance was another creature, it was this creature that was giving chase to the dragon, it was still far away and they could not see it clearly, but as it was nearing they noticed that it wasn’t just one creature it was a flock of them. They all looked alike except for the leading creature. The leading creature had the face and body of a woman but it definitely wasn’t a woman for intertwined within the arms, hairs and waist were serpents, their mouths hissing and tongues sticking out. It wore a black robe and had large black wings that carried it very swiftly through the air. The woman’s face had a cruel and ugly twist to it, it was a terrifying sight, one Anna knew she would never forget, the beast was flying very quickly and it looked as though it was catching up with the dragon, which was lucky for them, she had the feeling that if the animal would have seen them they wouldn’t be around for much longer. There were about 12 monsters of a different sort but still quite similar flying behind. They had the body of a large bird and the face of a woman, although the face didn’t really resemble any woman, for if it did it would be the ugliest woman Anna had ever seen. They were all flying in formation chasing the dragon.
It was only when the beasts and monsters were far away in the distance that Anna allowed herself to breathe a sigh of relief and remove her hand from Josh’s mouth and they both got up. ‘What was that?’ she asked Josh.
It took Josh several moments to compose himself enough to actually manage an answer. ‘You mean the dragon or the Erinyes?’ he asked.
‘The Erinyes’ she answered somewhat surprised that Josh knew something that she didn’t. For some reason it annoyed her that Josh knew the name of the second animal they had seen.
‘That’s from Greek mythology’ Josh answered and looked at Anna. She motioned for him to carry on and as he did his eyes shone with excitement ‘they are one of the worst monsters in Greek mythology they are very intelligent and vicious, I think it was responsible for the torture of the dead in Hell or at least it was something like that, I don’t really remember the details. I think they used to punish the wicked but because they were so vicious no one dared speak their name, they are bad news. They have a sort of servant I guess which work for them and those are the Harpies that flew behind them.’
Almost as if the Erinyes heard them a screech echoed through the open space and they both stopped talking and crawled quickly back onto the grass. After several moments of cowering in the grass with nothing coming after them they got back up.
‘Do you think it was chasing the dragon?’ Anna asked.
‘It could be, I don’t really know why it would but I guess a Erinyes and those Harpies could attack a Dragon. I’m not sure if they could win against them, although the Dragon was running away. Erinyes are immortal so maybe that’s why the Dragon flew away.’
‘How do you know so much about Greek mythology?’ she asked.
‘I love Greek mythology’ he answered with a shy little smile ‘Not just Greek mythology though’ he added ‘I love fantasy as well and everything from dragons to dinosaurs and I love the Neverending story…’
‘Book or movie’ Anna cut him quickly.
‘Book, definitely.’
Anna stared at Josh with new found respect, she always assumed he was just a little cry baby it took her by surprise that they shared so many common interests. Strangely it annoyed her slightly as well, that Josh knew all about the Harper or Harpy or whatever that thing was and she knew nothing at all about it. She was always proud of her knowledge on almost any fantastical subject and here was Josh who seemed to know more about it then she did. But she smiled, dragons was her subject he wouldn’t more than her when it came to dragons. ‘What about the dragon we saw?’ she said ‘Did you recognize it?’
Josh looked shyly at the ground. ‘That was an evil fire breathing dragon’
He was good she had to admit that but… ‘How many different kinds of dragons are there?’ she asked confident that she could name more dragon sorts than he could.
Josh stared at the sky in thought and finally said ‘I’m missing a few but there are red, blue, green, white, yellow, grey, purple and black coloured dragons. There are also the metallic dragons that are silver, gold, bronze and all of those and there are other ones that I’m forgetting’ Josh paused for a moment trying to remember which ones he was missing. ‘Ahh’ he cried suddenly remembering ‘There are also rainbow dragons and brown, did I say brown already? That’s all I can remember now’ he resigned.
Anna stared at him in shock he knew more about dragons than she did. She made the list in her head just previously and forgot all about the rainbow dragons, she wasn’t actually even sure they existed and she forgot about the white and black ones which she knew about but simply forgot. The metallic ones were new to her as well; in just two little answers Josh had shaken her belief to the core, from the fantasy queen she thought she was, she had descendent lower than Josh. How many others were there that she didn’t know about? She always felt that she was a loner stuck in her own imagination, much to her own pleasure but maybe she was wrong. She pushed the thought away from her mind; it would do her no good now, the only good thing the questions gave them were a few moments of peace and escape from the harsh reality they were in. It was time now to face reality again and get home. Josh probably still had the ring, so all they needed to do was use it and get out of here. She didn’t have her toy anymore so it was all up to Josh.
‘Let’s get out of here’ she said to Josh ‘do you still have the ring?’ she asked. Josh nodded. ‘Good then use it and let’s get out of here as soon as we can.’
Josh took the ring out of his pocket and put it on his finger, this time Anna grabbed hold of him, she wasn’t going to let him go and disappear on her again. Josh grabbed hold of the ring around his finger as he has done previously with one finger on the rock and one on the other side. He tried rubbing it, turning it, twitching it, but nothing seemed to work. Josh didn’t disappear and they were both still standing in the same place.
‘Let me try’ said Anna. Obediently Josh took off the ring and handed it over to Anna who put it on and tried the ring out as Josh had done. But just like before, it was clearly not working anymore. They were stuck in this alien place, with no way to go back home.
It was the monsters that they had seen that made them stop thinking about home for the moment. They needed to find somewhere safe, that was the first priority then and only ten they could try and find a way to get home. So without a too long pause for sorrow or letting depressing and sadness take root Anna said ‘Let’s get out of here before we become lunch to the next monster that passes us.’
Josh didn’t argue and just nodded his head. He didn’t question her on why she asked him all those questions previously he just followed her. This is why she felt he was spineless, it was the same in class he was always quiet afraid to say anything. This was the first time he had actually talked, or maybe he talked to other people, she never really did pay attention to him before.
Anna marched in the direction opposite to the forest. She decided that the forest would be more dangerous than the opposite although they couldn’t really say anything yet, in the horizon that could see a mountain range with what looked like snow covering the peaks but prior to the mountain range they could see nothing. Anna felt as though it was going to be a long walk indeed.
‘Anna?’ Josh hazards a question.
‘What is it Josh?’
‘Where do you think we are?’
‘Must be someplace where fantastical creatures come alive, or something like that’
‘Do you think it’s only evil creatures or do you think there are also good ones around?’
‘I guess both of them are here, but I can hardly know can I?’ she retorted.
‘Maybe we can cry for help and one of the good ones will come to save us?’ Josh said hopefully.
‘Look Josh, think about it, what did you see flying above us just now? Do you really think that if we call for help it will just arrive?’
Josh didn’t answer her; he stared at the ground slightly embarrassed. She didn’t mean to make him feel bad, but he had to face facts. They were somewhere strange and magical where several creatures from the imagination and mythology just showed up, that meant trouble. Crying out for help would only make things worse, they had to fight for themselves and get through this. If she had to carry Josh with her she would.
Without looking back, Anna started walking along the long green grass towards the mountain range. Josh said nothing and hurried after her. They walked for several miles and the mountain range seemed no closer than when they started. It was still a long way away, and although Anna decided that was the best way to go, she now was not so sure anymore. She looked up at the sky, the sun was in the middle of the sky (she couldn’t tell the difference, if indeed there was a difference, between this sun and the sun of back home), noon, normally she was having a sandwich right about now, although she wasn’t really hungry now in this weird place, it was strange how familiar certain things were and how alien at the same time.
‘Ouch!’ cried an unknown voice from beneath her.
She stopped in her tracks as did Josh. She listened carefully trying to make out another cry, but there was nothing. She looked through the grass looking for the origin or the owner of the voice when suddenly it started laughing uncontrollably.
‘That isn’t even close to the direction I was in’ it said and it was now clear that it came from behind her. Anna turned around and looked at Josh. There was no one else there except from him.
‘Where are you?’ she asked.
‘Right in front of you’ said the voice.
Anna turned to the front, but again she couldn’t see anything.
The voice laughed again ‘Not there look down’.
Anna bent and looked through the grass until she saw a little figure of about 10-30 centimetres in length. At first she thought it must be a dwarf, but it looked nothing like a dwarf. It wore an all white suite and had long green grass where hair should be. He had a large beard and his eyes were really strange too, one was blue and the other was green. Anna stared at the creature suspiciously; she turned to Josh who looked just as astonished at the creature.
‘Do you know what this is?’ she asked him.
Josh shrugged his shoulders, nodding his head. It was clear he hadn’t seen it either.
‘That was very rude!’ said the creature ‘You could have just asked me what I was. But now, I don’t think I shall tell you.’ The creature turned his back to them in contempt.
‘I’m very sorry mister, we only just arrived and we don’t know where we are, or even what this place is and we already saw a dragon and some winged woman thing…’
‘Harpies and a Erinyes’ said Josh quickly.
‘Yea those’ confirmed Anna ‘and all we really want is to go home’
‘Go home?’ asked the creature. ‘Where is home then?’ he asked.
‘Home is earth’ said Anna.
‘Earth?’ ventured the creature.
‘Yes you know, big planet with a lot of sea and cities and buildings and other things like that’ replied Anna.
‘I don’t think I have ever heard of it’ said the creature. ‘And if I have never heard of it then you must have made it up.’ The creature concluded.
‘No I promise we didn’t’ said Josh desperately. ‘We are just really lost, and we need to find a way to go home’
‘But’ said the creature ‘if you only just arrived here and you don’t know anything about this place how do you know about Harpies?!’ asked the creature. ‘If you know about them it means you are from here and you just made up a story, and I will make sure that you will be punished severely for it!’
‘No please’ cried Josh ‘we are not lying, those things are part of our mythology. We made them up a long time ago and somehow here they are real’
The creature listened to this contemplating, rubbing his chin with his small hand, finally he said ‘Tell me, is there a land on this earth of yours, where they call themselves slavic?’
Anna stared at the creature, than she turned to Josh who was staring up into the sky, deep in thought. ‘Is that related to Slovakia, or Poland?’ Josh asked.
The creature thought for a minute and smiled ‘I think it must be Poland’ he said. ‘That’s where I am originally from you know.’ he said tapping the side of his cheek. ‘They had really good fields there’ he said wistfully.
‘How did you get to be here?’ asked Josh.
‘Well the world, just sort of exploded one day.’ The creature said, he wasn’t done though as he seemed to mule this over and added ‘But not like a real explosion, more like a ripping of the world. It was like the world tore itself apart.’
‘That’s not what happened to us’ said Josh. ‘we got sucked into this world, actually it was more like we passed through one place and then found ourselves here’
‘Well if you passed through you must be able to pass back’ said the creature.
‘Yeah we tried that already’ said Anna ‘and it didn’t work.’
‘Maybe somebody made you pass through to here.’ Said the creature.
‘Yea maybe’ conceded Anna, the thought sent shivers down her spine, so she quickly continued ‘now are you going to tell us what and who you are?’
‘Oh, yes sure. I am a Polevik my name is Boris.’ He said smiling.
‘Well I am Anna and this is Josh’ she said pointing at Josh who was still standing behind her. ‘We are both human’ she added not completely sure if that was what Polevik meant. Or did he mean species? ‘Or Homo sapiens. That also works’ she added.
Boris the Polevik simply nodded to her, but Anna wasn’t sure he understood.
Josh who was quiet most of the time suddenly said ‘wait, if your world tore itself apart from ours and we have no record of it anywhere on our world, then that means you must be really really old.’
‘Well not really old’ replied Boris the Polevik ‘rather immortal.’
Both children stared at him open mouthed and gasping. Boris didn’t seem to think too much of it though. ‘Almost everyone here is immortal or very close to it. If they are not immortal than either they are very difficult to kill or they are protected by something.’
‘Protected by what?’ asked Josh when he was able to speak again.
‘Oh the usual: Amulets, rings that sort of thing’ Boris answered casually.
‘Does that mean that I can become immortal?’ asked Josh unable to contain his excitement.
‘Sure, not sure you would like it though. It sounds good at first but then when you realize you will go through every day forever, it is actually tedious. Don’t get me wrong I don’t really want to die either,’ Boris added quickly ‘but it’s just so boring here.’
Both Anna and Josh didn’t really know how to respond and so they just kept quiet. Anna decided it was best to just change the subject altogether. ‘Boris, what species are you?’
‘Species?’ asked Boris.
‘Yes, are there more Polevik or other things like it?’ asked Anna.
‘Well Polewiki are I guess part of the faeries or pixis. We don’t really get along with the others though. Most of them are too rude and quite annoying actually.’
‘Wow, faeries. Like the tooth faerie?’ asked Anna.
‘The tooth faerie?’ asked Boris.
‘Yes, you know she comes to you at night when you lose your milk teeth and if you put them under your pillow, she takes them and leaves you something nice in return. Usually money.’ Explained Anna.
‘What does she do with the teeth then?’ wondered Boris.
Anna stared at him in surprise ‘I don’t know’ she finally replied.
‘Sounds fishy to me, but it could be something faeries do. Most of the ones I know, would terrorize you, or try to manipulate you. They wouldn’t give you anything in return unless it was something cursed. I haven’t really been in contact with other faeries for about a hundred years or so, so it might be different now. But generally they are a bad bunch, can’t be trusted.’
‘That doesn’t sound like the faeries I know about.’ Said Anna.
‘Well…’ said Josh ‘I have read some stories about faeries where they are usually evil creatures that only look after themselves.’
Boris nodded in agreement ‘Now that sounds like faeries.’
‘But you just said you are a faerie.’ Called Anna.
‘I did’ said Boris smiling a big smile. ‘But don’t worry the worst I used to do was send people the wrong way. Or punish some lazy people, but that’s about it. Now I just like sitting in the fields and relax.’
‘Don’t you have a family.’ Asked Josh.
‘Sure I do,’ answered Boris ‘why do you think I’m in the field? Can’t stand being in the house the whole time. Every day the same things, go do this go do that, so instead I just stay here in the fields.’
‘Where do you sleep then?’ asked Josh
‘Here in the field, weren’t you listening?’
‘But then when do you see your family?’
‘Oh once a year.’ Replied Boris nonchalantly.
Anna and Josh both shared a look. To see your family only once a year was an insurmountable amount of time. How could you not miss them, or at least visit them in the holidays like you did your aunts and uncles? It was a difficult idea to grasp, and both had problems with it. But if you were immortal maybe things like that didn’t matter anymore. Actually maybe nothing mattered anymore when you were immortal.
Josh who was still not clear on several issues asked ‘Boris, when the world tore itself to this place, how did that exactly happen?’
Boris thought for a moment and then said ‘The world used to be a big ball, it was then broken into a separate field, there was this really big light when that happened’ Boris seemed deep in thought, going back a long time in his memory. ‘I don’t know if it was the light that split the world or that the light was just the after affect. But what I do know is that after the bright light, we were all shut off from the light. It was as though the whole world. No the universe itself, shut off. There was no light, or stars or anything in the sky, even the bigger gods and more powerful deities could do nothing but stare and wait for something to happen. Eventually something did, when the darkness passed there was another moment of brightness where the stars and the universe came back. Only there were changes, the gods could not move between realms anymore, and the people were gone. People like you, we had no idea where you all went to but you all disappeared. That meant that all the gods and creatures that lived off of souls died. All the other realms collapsed and that is it really we have been living here ever since.’ Finished Boris his history lesson.
‘What do you mean the other realms collapsed? What other realms?’ asked Josh.
‘Well places like Hell or Heaven, and all the equivalent realms that were run by all the different gods and deities, they all disappeared and the gods that ran them ended up here.’
‘Didn’t that cause a lot of problems?’ asked Josh.
‘Oh yes, there were years or centuries, I don’t really remember, either way it was a long time where everyone tried to get the upper hand. Fights broke out everywhere and that quickly escalated to all out wars. At the end the world got split into several different places of which this is one.’
‘Is now everything ok?’ asked Josh.
‘As ok as it can be, I haven’t really been part of any of it. I found it stupid to go to a full all out war between immortals. The most that you can hope to achieve is to destroy the world or trap the others. You could never really erase the others, so I just kept out of it. Luckily no one cared about the fields here, so I just stayed here and skipped the whole war thing.’
‘I have never seen a war.’ Answered Josh gravely.
‘That’s a good thing.’ Said Boris. ‘Although if I am honest about it, now there are even more problems than when there were wars. Now everyone is looking out for themselves, so they do whatever they please. It’s a good thing no one ever bothers me here, well except for you too.’
At this the two of them felt slightly ashamed. But at least now they knew a lot more about the place they arrived in. In shock Josh realized they had forgotten one important question. ‘Can I ask you one last thing?’
Boris shrugged.
‘Could you maybe tell us what the name of this world is?’ he asked.
‘It is called Scriven.’ Answered Boris.

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