My final attempt to make the damn plot work.
Ethan Argent is a peculiar teen. Living in a tense home situation forced him to watch people and their reactions. Knowing when his parents were about to go ten rounds in the squared circle saved him a lot of heartaches. Today it's used to gauge Ms. reynard, the woman who was about to purchase him.
He studied the crimson chapeau adorned with feathers, and then the Japanese parasol covered in water colored cherry blossoms. Despite the smile on her face, Ethan could see the grief and sorrow in how she moved, and the words she chose.
Immature hands lifted the car axle like it was paper. Ethan focused, and little sparks danced around the rusted metal. The steel clanged against the cement floor.
A muted clap came from the lace gloves, "Impressive. How does your magic work?" she asked.
"No magic here, just plain old superhuman," Ethan said.
Ms. Reynared looked at the old Russian mobster and smiled, "Name your price."
An opportunistic smiled appeared on Mr. Yashin's face. "I believe I can make you a fair offer. Step this way into my office." His hand pressed against her back and guided her.
Mr. Yashin didn't leave the office with Ms. Reynard. She walked up to Ethan and pulled him close to her. The young man was not one to judge, but this Reynard woman had crazy written all over her. She was weird and wore the paint peeling grandma perfume. He shoved her. The aristocratic woman slid across the cement floor.
Tears dropped from her eyes like rain. "Why did you do that?" She sniffled. "I was trying to be affectionate."
"I don't know you. You could be a serial killer or some pervy weirdo."
Ms. Reynard looked confused. She pressed her finger to her lips. "What is a serial killer?"
Ethan studied her for several minutes to see if she was joking. Spoiler, she wasn't. "Are you from an Amish community or something?"
What was going on? Was she the champion of world ignorance? Even the Amish knew what a serial killer was. "Who are you?"
A silver pocket watch appeared in Ms. Reynard's hands. "I am in a hurry," Ms. Reynard said, tapping her foot. "You have to make a choice, Ethan."
It didn't make sense to Ethan. Why purchase him and then offer a choice? He didn't like it but had to play along. "Consider my curiosity piqued."
"As of this moment, you are free. You can stay here and try to make your way in the world without help."
"What is option two?"
"We leave together. However, all explanations will have to wait until we reach our destination. I need the answer now." Ms. Reynard fidgeted with the gold ring and bowed her head. "I'm sorry it has to be this way."
It wasn't a hard choice to make. Ethan had been kidnapped, bought, and sold in the space of a few hours. None of which would've happened if Ethan had planned his adventure better. "I will come with you." he paused and under his breath added. "At least until I have a chance to escape."
"What was that, Ethan?"
Ethan thought she heard. She watched him for ten long seconds before a bright smile touched Ms. Reynard's face, and she clapped her hands in a girlish manner. "Excellent. Please follow me," she said. Her hands motioned him outside.
The hard slush crunched beneath their feet. Rays of moonlight illuminated the polished black ice littered with jagged rocks for vehicle traction. "Where is your car?"
"I don't have one. I know none of this makes sense. I promise you...," Ms. Reynard said in an apologetic tone. Ethan couldn't help but think she was afraid he would leave her. Why was he so important to her?
"Relax, I am not going anywhere any time soon. I tend to stand by my choices, even the stupid ones." Ethan followed her into an open field. There in the center of the ankle-deep snow was a rope ladder and a large hole. "Ms. Reynard?"
"Why did you lead me to this hole? Do you plan to bury me alive?"
A lacey hand covered her mouth, and Ms. Reynard giggled. "No. I need you alive. We have to climb down the ladder."
Ethan thought Ms. Reyanard was a mental ward escapee. It seemed senseless to climb into a hole filled with mud, slush, and ice. "Ladies first," he said as he pointed to the hole.
Ms. Reynard adjusted her chapeau and hung the parasol on her arm. "Don't mind if I do." She stepped down the ladder. "I will see you on the other side."
Ethan watched her vanish into the darkness below. He waited for five minutes and speculated as to what could be at the bottom of the hole. Not a peep came from the blackness below. Ethan pressed the flashlight button on the smartphone. The flash of light almost blinded him, and he nearly fell in the hole. He waited until his sight readjusted before giving the hole a second look. His silver eyes could see the mud-brown edges, but nothing else.
"This is crazy. It's just a hole. Ms. Reynard is probably waiting with a rag soaked in chloroform." The icy wind blew across his face, and Ethan shivered. "I'll take my chances in the hole."
He touched the knotted wood and examined the rope. "This isn't nylon." He continued to climb down and then paused. "Shouldn't I be at the bottom by now?" He mustered up the courage to look down. More darkness waited for him. The air didn't smell like earth or soil, which was odd. "Are we going to China?"
Five minutes later, the air in the hole shifted to a heady sweet scent. Ethan felt his cheeks warm in the light of the sun. Wait, wasn't it nighttime at the top of the hole? Maybe they had climbed to the other side of the world, after all. Instead of eroded soil, his hands felt the rough bark of a tree.
Heavy winter boots touched the lush green grass. Flowers and exotic plants dotted the landscape. Linen white hawthorn branches waved in the wind. "At least I know where the smell is coming from." He didn't recognize any plants aside from the Hawthorn trees.
"Welcome to the enchanted land of Rathmore," Ms.Reynard said in an excited tone. I know you have a million questions. Once again, please wait until we are safe behind closed doors to ask them."
Ethan looked at Ms. Reynard and reached for the trust required to continue the journey with her. He couldn't find it, not today. "I don't have questions. If I do, I will find the answers myself," he said as he shouldered his pack.
"Excuse me," Ms. Reynard asked.
"For the slow of mind and hearing impaired, this is me leaving," Ethan said before he bolted down the gravel road. Trees and bushes passed in a blur. "How fast am I going?" He got the answer when he kept pace with a horse going full gallop. The man atop the horse almost fell out of his saddle in shock. He stared at Ethan.
"What can I say? I ate my vegetables growing up," Ethan said, turning down a road that was labeled Rathmore. He slowed his pace to a walk. "How was bad was this decision?"
The answer became clear the moment his feet touched the faded cobblestone. The city was a giant renaissance fair. Carved marble statues vibrantly colored murals and stylish stained glass greeted him, in his western clothing. Nobody else was wearing jeans and winter clod hoppers.
He could smell the bakery, a scent ruined by the pungent aroma of horse dung. "I am so screwed." He said. People on the street were pointing at him. Men in chainmail and guard hats watched him with suspicion. "Just passing through. Nothing..."
"You there stop in the name of Lord Schaefer, Duke of Rathmore." A guard shouted. The sound of heavy boots followed the words.
"FML," Ethan said as he started to run. "Catch me if you can."
He tore through the streets. He wasn't sure if the guards were following him, but he wasn't going to stop. He saw a sign, "Dipper Haven." and turned down the road.
Dipperhaven looked like the slums of Rathmore. Thick patches of black mold crept up the side of buildings like cancer. Broken glass windows let the sounds of poverty into the night. Scantily clad women walked the streets looking for men to pay for their service. A couple of men did the same. Homeless people gathered around trash can fires for warmth. It was the perfect place to hide. Anyone who saw him averted their eyes.
"First things first, I need a place to stay." Ethan cautiously walked through Dipperhaven. There were plenty of buildings to choose from, and they varied in their mold content. His luck changed when he found a room without a trace of black stains. Thick cobwebs hung from the ceiling like macabre streamers, a thick layer of dust covered the simple furnishings. A single oil lamp sat in the center of a small table.
Ethan rummaged around for the lighter he packed and lit the lamp. He spied a cot in the corner of the room next to the window. Ethan peered out the window. He could see most of Dipperhaven, and the entrance to the crime-ridden area.
"I think this place will do nicely. Now to figure out how to survive in this weird city." It was time to bring out the big gun to solve the problem. Dust flew everywhere as Ethan cleaned off the cot and pulled it away from the window.
The small mattress padded him in all the right places. Ethan drew the Captain Canuck statue from the bag and sat on it on his stomach. "Why did I run away? I traded a potential home for this hole in the wall. It seems stupid looking back, now."
A hand felt every small detail on the statue's face. "I suppose it's too late to mend fences with Ms. Reynard. What do you think?" He saw the writing at the base of the statue. In bold black letters, it said, "I stand on guard for thee."
"With all my powers, I could be a superhero. Dipperhaven looks like it needs one, and I need a way to survive." Ethan had a plan. He needed to execute said plan, but how?
The statue balanced on his stomach once more, "How would you do it, Captain? Start at the bottom and work your way to the top? I may have powers, but my inexperience will get me killed if I start too high on the food chain. Reconnaissance is my best bet to get a bead on what is going on."
Exhaustion crept up on Ethan. The last forty-eight hours had been quite the adventure, and he fell into a deep sleep. In the world of dreams, a pinhole of light appeared before Ethan. It slowly expanded to reveal a shining realm. Thick green grass grew everywhere, predator and prey frolicked in the field twenty feet from where he stood. In the distance, a white marble structure loomed on the horizon. It cast no shadow.
Ethan's silver eyes stared at the herringbone brick path. "I may not know much, but I know this dream is not mine." Not that he had a problem with the dream itself, it was nice to be fully dressed in one for a change.
The journey to the structure seemed to take seconds. It looked like a grand temple. Ethan wasn't crazy about any religion since the incident in a church. "It figures my dream would lead me to a place like this."
He entered the temple. Women holding large bronze basins lined the walkway to the altar. The gold-trimmed carpet was left unblemished under his feet. "Don't places like this have benches?" The room was empty, except for the statues and the altar.
A bejeweled woman wearing an elaborate cloak and cowl tended a bronze basin. The water moved in irregular spirals. "What brings you here?" she asked in a gentle tone. She didn't look up from her work?
Ethan looked around and gave her a funny look. "Well, I don't I think I came here on my own. I don't dream about happy things. The church makes sense, but you are a mystery."
A soft bell-like laugh came from the woman. "Who do you think I am?" A slender finger stirred the cauldron.
"I ate some tuna fish sandwiches earlier, and scientists say food can affect our dreams. However, I don't think this is the case here."
The woman looked up, and Ethan was content to stare at her. The glow of motherhood surrounded her face. Ethan panicked when the woman walked around the altar and embraced him with her thin but strong arms. His hands fell to his sides, and he closed his eyes until it was over.
More bell-like laughter reverberated off the empty walls. "What am I going to do with you? I could send you back to your world with no memory. However, I can feel your strength and purpose."
"Who are you again?" Ethan figured he had met her somewhere in the course of his life.
"Who do you think I am?"
"Mary Sue Banjo, master of the hootenanny."
"I hate guessing games," Ethan said in a flat tone.
"I am Danu Goddess and keeper of this realm." The woman said in a proud tone.
"Good for you. Put me back." Ethan said in an irritated tone.
"Don't you want to decide on your destiny? You don't have one here, you know." Danu said in an offended tone.
Ethan put his face in his hands. "Look, Mary Sue, if you are a goddess, figure it out. Make me a superhero, and I won't have cause to complain."
"What about love? Do you want to have a romance for the ages."
Ethan stared at the goddess with shock and awe. "Aren't you supposed to know everything?"
"As long as you don't have a destiny, I can't help you. Now romance or no?" The goddess asked again.
"Sure, why not," Ethan replied. "Are we done?"
"Would you like it to happen sooner or later?" the goddess asked in a proper tone. Her finger continued to stir the bronze basin."
Ethan threw his hands in the air. "I permit you to change my life as needed. Lord knows I don't know what I want or need. As long as it doesn't end up like my parents, I am okay."
Danu's finger stopped, and she walked up to him. "Are you putting faith in my ability to guide your life?"
"I am putting faith in the conversation ending amicably. We will talk about how things turned out when I'm dead, assuming any of this is real."
Danu pushed him with a single finger, " I guess there is only one way to find out.
Ethan awoke with a start, he looked around and put his face in his hands. "FML, how did I get here."