by Mister E.
entry for the magical worlds contest
|Paulo Crews stood before the gate. He had not believed his eyes when he had first read his uncle's will. "Why am I here" there was nothing here Paulo thought to himself, just a gate with stone gargoyles perched atop two stone pillars on either side of a wrought archway that led to an empty field. As Paulo approached the gate he felt an irresistible force suddenly pushing him from behind until he was flung forward into a vortex of swirling colors.
When he came to his senses he was standing at the edge of a high cliff he looked around and saw another gate identical to the one he inherited from his uncle in the middle distance off to his right. Off to his left he saw a rope bridge spanning a bottomless chasm. Behind him was a vast featureless plain although Paulo thought he could see a tower on the horizon.
As Paulo tried to decide which direction to go in he saw hulking creatures coming over the bridge he turned toward the tower saw similar creatures coming from that corner as well. He turned toward the gate and began walking. He heard a gibbering screech as the first creature that reached the end of the bridge spotted him. He began running. The creature that had spotted had five legs the head of a centipede and the tail of a scorpion and it stood six feet high at the shoulder.
The creature was right behind Paulo as he leapt through the gate. Then he was sliding on a sheet of ice. When he turned he saw that the spider scorpion had followed him behind it he could see others of its kind had followed it. Then with a crack the gate closed slicing the last creature to come through in half. Then its companions immediately turned and began to devour their hapless companion.
Paulo was sliding uncontrollably down a steep slope. The spider scorpion was spinning uncontrollably. He saw the gate at the bottom of the slope. The gate was inside a gigantic mouth with thousands of curved teeth.
He lay for some time panting on hot sand. Then Paulo sat up slowly and looked around his t shirt was already soaked with sweat and his shorts were damp with other fluids. He saw a collection of huts a short distance ahead. As he entered the village a woman came out to meet him, she had long blue hair and green eyes. She spoke in a lilting accent she said “we have been waiting for you Paulo Ignatius Crews. And we stand ready. But first you need food and water, I am Ithiel” Ithiel gave a hooting cry and figures began rising out of the sand. There were twenty women in all at first they all seemed identical to Ithiel but as he watched them closely he began to detect subtle differences in mannerisms and appearance.
They led him to one of the huts. The huts seemed to be larger on the inside than they appeared on the outside. In the hut they led Paulo to there was a long table that could comfortably seat forty. They ate a simple meal of dates and figs and sweet water.At dusk they set out. He asked Ithiel “how did you know my name” Ithiel was silent for some time then said “long ago we were told by our village elder that when the time of testing would end one you would come to lead us out of this place.”
She was silent for a long time. Then up ahead she saw the gate shadowed against the gibbous moon. Paulo saw her shiver whether from fright or excitement he could not tell in the gloom. He could tell that this gate was different from the others he had been through. This gate exuded a palpable menace. As Paulo stepped through the gate he could feel Ithiel gripping his arm tightly.
When opened his eyes was standing next to him speaking frantically but he could not hear her. He was standing on a pinnacle of stone with only enough room the two of them to stand side by side. He saw a flash of something metallic and Paulo heard Ithiel scream. Then she was gone, without thinking Paulo dove off the pinnacle. He caught Ithiel as they went through the gate.
Paulo only had a moment to think before they plunged into deep water. The change came as such a shock he almost let go of Ithiel. As they broke the surface they coughed then he asked with surprise “you can swim?” after a moment she said “Yes, we came to the place you found us through a gate, same as you, the place we came from had many lakes and rivers. After taking a few moments to get their bearings they began to swim, after some time he realized that their clothes were gone. Paulo blushed as he felt his body reacting instinctively to her presence
Paulo Crews could barely move he lay there for a long time taking in large gulps of air that was redolent with the smell of rotting leaves. After a while he heard a chirping sound off to his right started to get up but then paused as a face appeared in the leaves in front of him. “Boo” it said laughing as Paulo jumped out of his skin.
“Who are you, where did you come from, why is your face all lumpy, what have you got in your pockets?” the leaf creature said with a giggle. Paulo said “What are you.” The creature scratched its non-existent chin then said in Paulo’s voice “what ARE you.”
Paulo was taken aback by the response but recovered quickly. He responded “then he looked over to Ithiel had lain but she was gone. Thing in front of him said “I am Sir Leafheart the guardian of the Forest of the Lost; do not worry about Ithiel she has been sent home.”
Paulo For some strange reason found himself liking this curious creature. After a brief pause it continued “my time alas is coming to an end this forest is beset by dangers. I can already feel my spirit draining away. As the Forest so to do I” as Paulo watched the wind picked up and blow away more and more of the creatures substance. Finally all that was left was a glowing acorn now said the creature’s disembodied voice “to become the next guardian of the Forest you must eat my heart.”
Okay thought Paulo here goes nothing as he grasped the heart. As he held the heart Paulo’s hand began to throb painfully. He popped it in to his mouth. As he chewed the heart it gushed a sweet fluid that after a few moments began to numb his entire mouth.
As he swallowed the numbness began to suffuse Paulo’s entire body. He closed his eyes and in his mind he could see his body. His body was emitting a pulsing green light. He reached out and touched a tree with his hand. He could feel the sap running through the tree pulsing in time with his own. He began to feel a tingling in his legs a and knew instinctively that he needed to run.
Paulo began to run. He ran and ran with the trees blurring by. When he stopped he was at the edge of a small pool. Paulo looked at his reflection in amazement; his face resembled a gnarled old tree stump. As he straightened he felt looseness in his joints. He began to straighten and without even thinking almost pushed over the tree that he had propped his hand against. He began to move again then Paulo stopped short. He was at the edge of the forest.
He saw stumps as far as the eye could see. Off in the distance he could see smoke from one no twenty massive bon fires. He moved towards the fires. As he got closer he saw that celebrants were human. But there was something off about them. Paulo roared his rage. They only came up to his knees there were many of them. He only felt a slight tickle as the creatures surrounded him and began to chop at his legs with axes. He began kicking at them sending them flying in every direction. When he grew tired of stomping he picked up a log from a bon fire feeling the heat on his palms he began to swing left and right he began to feel tired. Then looked around and saw that he had killed all the creatures.
He began searching for more bonfires. to the west he found several longhouses after he had destroyed them. he looked at the sun and saw that it would be setting shortly. he headed back to the Forest. as he stepped under the trees the gate opened before him. as he stepped through the portal he heard the voice of the forest say "you have done your duty. now go to your rest."
he stepped out of the gate in front of his house. he remembered then that his car was at the field where he had found the gate, but that could wait till tomorrow.
as he climbed the steps he paused in front of the red front door. he hesitated then turned his key in the lock. his uncle had been such a dominant force Paulo's life that it was hard for Paulo to believe he was gone, the door way yawned empty then he stepped in to the house then closed the door. he breathed a sigh and felt an overwhelming sense of loss. he began to get undressed just letting the clothes lay where they fell.
as he entered the bed room he noticed something in the bed. He almost shouted when he saw a pair of lambent regarding him levelly from the bed. He breathed a sigh of relief when he heard ithiel say " are you hungry i, can see if I can cook you some dinner"
after a moment Paulo replied "no, i just want to sleep, in the morning I will cook us some breakfast." then he crawled in to bed beside her and was soon asleep.
the next morning Paulo slept late and when he woke he was alone. at first he thought it had all been a dream. then he heard the clattering of pans in the kitchen. He went down stairs to see what was going on. as he entered the kitchen he saw Ithiel standing in front of the stove. "oh you're up" she said cheerfully "I'm making some eggs, im afraid its the only thing i know how to make."
Paulo hesitated then asked "are they scrambled?" Ithiel replied brightly "Yes, scrambled eggs is the only thing I know how to make." then she began plating them. he thought to him self as he began eating they were quite good. after he finished he said "i am going to call my aunt to see if sh can give me a ride to get my car." to his surprise she said "your car is in the drive way."
it cant be he thought to himself i must be dreaming. but sure enough when he went out to check his car was in the driveway as he looked at it more closely he saw that all four tires were flat and there was moderate damage to the rims.
Paulo went back inside shaking his head. he called his boss and said "i'm not going to make it to work today." his boss replied "in case you have living under a rock this past week you just won the lottery, you are now worth $100,000,000!"
Paulo hung up the phone and grinned. wow I am rich he thought to himself. he turned to Ithiel who had been watching with an unreadable expression from the kitchen door.
he said to her pack we are going on a trip around the world..