A Long Way Home: Chapter 5A Chapter by Izabellla
Suzan finds out that the world is stranger than she thought. After a mysterious warrior comes to her rescue, she is pulled into a dangerous circumstance that will change both of their lives forever.
With the everyday routine consuming me again, I forgot all about that day and the dark-haired girl I had saved. And when, one day, powerful sneezing filled the house, I had more important things to panic about than the faint threat of unmasking. Lightningale fell ill.
Under any other circumstances I probably wouldn't have considered this a threat, but here… People in this world suffered from different than where I came from, so everything could be potentially deathly. Moreover, dragons… dragons deal with human diseases differently. A common cold could mean certain death for Gale. Especially for him.
As could be predicted, my friend refused to accept my help in healing him for a long while, too proud to admit that he had surrendered to an illness. Not until the room he had adapted for his lair was covered with tissues to the point when moving around was hindered, did he finally let me treat him; and did it with great disgruntlement, I might add. However, it was no use, as none of the medicines worked. I needed to find some medications from my world, or at least something of a similar composition.
I knew from the memoirs I'd read as a child that many
people were send to other worlds to explore; they were called the
Wanderers. Equipped with the wide knowledge gained by special training,
they ventured into the unknown realms and later shared their knowledge
in essays and journals that could be used to improve our own lives.
However, not all of those who had passed through the Gate had returned. But some of them were fugitives, like me, and settled in the new environment where they could live their lives as they pleased. New world meant new rules: here any Wanderer seeking aid would be welcomed. At least, that's what I'd read. The only thing left for me to do was to find a Wanderer and hope he would be willing to help.
But how to find someone who tries to blend into his surroundingsas well as possible? How to find someone who could be anywhere in this wide, populous world? I'm sure it would take me months, if not years to locate such a person; all the while Lightningale would either recover or give in to the illness, causing the undoing of both of us. Undoubtedly, thatwould have been the case, if it was not for a coincidence. Coincidences seem to be common in my life nowadays.
as a bouncer at the "Rave Party", perhaps the worst club in the city, I
had met many weirdoes. I never paid much attention to them; at least
not before they began causing trouble and I had to 'ask' them to leave
That's how it went this time: only when I had to separate a group of young, drunk fighters did I notice someone who didn't fit in with the crowd. The man was in his forties but the time had already left its mark on his face. He reminded me of someone I'd known from the past days. However, the impression disappeared as soon as the unintelligible mumbles of a drunken man left his lips, together with drops of blood and one lonely tooth. Not dwelling on him anymore, I threw him outside, where he landed on one of his former adversaries. The young rebel didn't even notice the additional weight on him, intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness.
When I went back inside the club, the waitress was just starting to clean the broken chairs.
"You need help?" I offered, mangling the native language of this world.
The girl shook her head. "I can manage. But would you be so kind as to escort this fellow from under the table? I think he's got enough."
Said fellow was lying with his face in the fragments of glass from the 'tulips', slightly widening the pool of blood marking the tiles. It was a usual sight for this time of night; here, 2 a.m. was usually struck by the sound of the bodies of drunk-off-their-asses clients hitting the floor. I stooped to lift the man and something golden lying amongst the litter caught my eye. Throwing the unconscious body over my shoulder, I hid the familiar gold oval in my pocket. Not until I was outside did I pull it out and, under the faint flickering light of a nearby street lamp, was able to admire the coin from my world, strung on a leather strap.
"Hey! Wake!" I shook the lifeless man, praying to gods for him to wake up, if only for a short while. "It is your? Answer!"
In response, I first heard a pained groan, then a load of obscenities that told me explicitly about my family's conduct five generations prior. But soon all his rage was gone, together with air as his ribs met my foot. His gaze absently swept the object which I put right under his nose on outstretched hand.
"'t's not mine, 'am at-… ate-… atheist," he stammered and again entered the dream land, leaving me confused as to the meaning of his words. One thing was clear: he did not come from my world. But in that case, whose coin was it?
The face of the strange yet familiar man I saw a while ago appeared in my mind. It was so deformed by the blows it received that I could not be sure if he was Lumiporttian. Chances were small, but what did I have to lose?
The group I had separated earlier had already crawled away in some unknown direction, but I could still find the guy if I was quick enough. I only stuck my head inside the club to yell "Be right back!" before I set off to look for the mysterious ragamuffin in the nearby alleys. The 'right' soon turned into an hour, then two. There was no trace of the man in question. If it wasn't for the job I could lose going on long breaks like that, I would have kept searching. But under the circumstances I had to return to "Rave Party", disheartened.
However, I did not give up whatsoever. Despite being tired after the night shift, I headed out once again when the sun rose. I had no trail and I knew that such a hunt could take months but the small discovery gave me hope. It was the only thread that could lead me to some Wanderer; and so I had to follow that thread, like Theseus in one of the legends of this world.
I soon found out that following the thread was much harder than I thought. For days I travelled all over the city, but to no avail. I was searching during the day and working at night; a whole week of little to no sleep was starting to take a toll on my health. I walked through the streets, absent, barely remembering why I was walking anyway. But the coin in my pocket and the vision of the man's battered face in my mind didn't let me stop tracking, even when my legs didn't want to carry me any further. These and the thought of the inevitable doom of Gale's death; this I could never forget about, even if I wanted to.
Lost in such gloomy thoughts, I was passing one of the lesser known streets, when a window of some antique shop caught my eye; one small thing thrown sloppily between an old cookbook and a secular kettle, to be precise. It was a decorative paper knife. For the residents of this world it probably looked just like thousands of others: it was of a rather coarse shape with a wooden hilt. The blade overlapped the wood, enlacing it with its metal branches; at the base of it proudly sat, slightly blurred by time, the crest of the Kingdom of Lumiportti. Bingo!
The door of the shop creaked loudly and unpleasantly as I entered. Although the sound could successfully substitute for a bell, no one appeared behind the counter. It was dark and stuffy inside; the air smelled of dust and old books. The antique shop looked like it didn't have many customers and, judging by all the old stuff scattered chaotically around, I wasn't surprised. I pulled the coin out of my pocked and directed my steps towards the back of the shop, praying to gods for my quest to end here successfully.
"Excuse me! Someone is there?" I called, my heart beating rapidly. I hesitated by the counter; so many things could go wrong… But I guess I had no other choice, didn't I?
Before I could take another step, a balding man emerged from the store room. He was the same one I threw out of the club a week before; I recognized him at once, although bumps and bruises no longer distorted his face.
"Can I help you?" His voice was screeching and senile, too old for his age. Moreover, I heard a tinge of a familiar accent. Or maybe I just wanted to hear it?
"Is it your?" I held out the hand with the coin towards him.
"Where did you get it?" He grasped the golden oval before I was able to back off. His yellowed nails gashed my skin like claws.
"Does the name Lumiportti ring any bells," I asked in our language, deciding to put all my eggs in one basket. I saw his eyes widening before they narrowed into slits.
"Get out." His harsh tone threw me off track. I don't know what I was expecting, but surely not that.
"Just listen; I need your help…"
"I said get out! Or do I need to make you?" He took a gun from under the counter and pointed it at me. Even if I was equipped with something besides a whip and a small knife, I could not win against firearms.
Cautiously, I backed out of the shop. Though I didn't back out of convincing its owner to at least listen to me; not in the least! The fact that I was able to find a Wanderer so close was a real gods' gift! And who am I to waste such gifts?
However, I needed to come up with a suitable plan to turn the tables on that man. Him owning a gun caused my chances to shrink considerably. It was one of this world's creations that terrified me: forged from cold metal and yet spitting flaming bullets, fast as lightning and loud as thunder… Wait a minute, spitting flaming bullets? Just like dragons!
An idea started forming in my head. If I compared this man holding a gun to a dragon, I could easily use the methods I've been taught to outsmart him. When a dragon notices you, your life practically depends on its whim and how fast you can run. So what's the easiest way to defeat a dragon? A surprise attack, of course!
Luckily, the setting was perfect to carry out my plan: a quiet and rarely visited neighborhood surrounded by old tenements, full of shady curves and narrow alleys. I hid in one of such alleys, just next to the antique shop, waiting for the man to step out of his shop. I pulled a knife out of my boot and skulked, ready to fight.
Time went by inexorably, but few people passed through the street, it was getting dark. Bored out of my mind, I started to fiddle with the knife, balancing it on a finger. When would he finally come out? When is he going to close the shop? I didn't check it. I sighed, cursing silently my foolishness and vehemence. Just then I heard creaking of the door and clinking of keys. I peeked around the corner: the Wanderer was just closing the shop. Crouching, I readied myself to spring into action…
The man looked around and walked down the street, away from my hiding. Oh no, no, no! I can't let him get away! Panicking, I searched for some foothold, some opening. At the end of the alley, I only saw a couple of trashcans, a clothes horse and the tenement buildings surrounding the yard, with small sparsely built balconies… Here come my footholds!
Without much thinking, I ran further into the alley and, deflecting off the trashcan's lid, jumped high. Still, I barely managed to catch one of the balustrades. The balconies were fairly high and far away from each other, but I kept climbing higher, struggling, my hands slipping on the cold metal. Taking my whip out of its hiding place, I used it as a rope, pulling myself up to the last floor. Just a few breakneck jumps and I was finally on the roof.
I looked around, searching for my target, but couldn't notice him anywhere. Starting to panic again, I ran forward. The tiles crunched under my feet, some of them sprang aside, making me stumble now and again. At last I saw him: he was just turning right, behind a building across the street. Darn it!
I sped up for the right run-up and jumped as far as I could. Not until I was already in the air did I realize that I would not be able to reach the building. I won't make it. I won't make it. I won't make it! My instinct took over and I lashed my whip, catching it on a streetlamp. I swung like a pendulum till my feet finally touched the roof. And just when I was about to stand straight, something pulled me back. The whip got stuck! I let it go in fright, teetering dangerously on the verge, but I was able to catch my balance at the very last moment. I peeked over my shoulder longingly on the whip dangling from the streetlamp, but I knew I did not have time to retrieve it now. I'll come back for you later, I promised regretfully and set off, carefully monitoring the receding man.
Soon I drew level with him, but couldn't get my hands on him because of the people walking down the street. Fortunately, a perfect opportunity presented itself. The owner of the antique shop turned into one of the alleys that was actually an entrance of a tenement building. I jumped swiftly down, catching the balconies along the way to slow down the drop and landed perfectly on the man's back, making him fall flat on the pavement. Before he was able to come back to his senses, I twisted his arms behind his back and put the knife to his throat.
"Now you'll listen to me," I said in our language for I was sure now he was a Lumiporttian.
"Let me go! You have no right! I'll never go back to Lumiportti," he yelled and though it had much sense at the beginning, the last sentence threw me off track.
"Shut up," I hissed, afraid that his screams would draw the residents' attention. "No one is forcing you to go back!"
Strangely enough, the man calmed down a bit. "What do you want then," he panted, his face in the concrete.
"I don't want anything to do with you. I finally managed to find peace here and my own place to live, I don't need any trouble."
"I can get you trouble all right," I hissed maliciously right in his ear. I doubt I would ever put this threat into practice, partly because I wouldn't even know when to start on that, but it was apparent that this guy needed some encouraging.
The man was silent for a while, apparently considering my words. "What do you want," he finally asked.
"I need medication."
He tried to turn his head to see me and I noticed surprise on his face. "Medication?"
"You don't look ill," he repined.
"I'm not. I need the medication for my friend."
"This world has enough medicine and doctors of its own so you wouldn't have to pester innocent Lumiporttians."
"The local drugs don't work."
"The local drugs can heal any human illness!"
"My friend is not human."
He turned his head again, even though it was evident that it caused him pain. He studied me carefully. "I suppose this is not the best place for such a conversation. Let's go to my place."
I agreed hesitantly but held the knife to his throat the whole time so he couldn't do anything anyway. With one jerk I pulled him to his feet by the collar of his shirt and pushed him forward, nearly knocking him over.
"Lead the way."
© 2012 Izabellla
A Long Way Home
AboutI'm materialistic, selfish feminist with homicidal tendencies, who live with Horacy's life philosophy (stoical-epicurean philosophy). I have music addiction and pink-repugnance. And you wouldn't want .. more..
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