A Long Way Home: Chapter 4

A Long Way Home: Chapter 4

A 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.


Chapter 4

As soon as my feet touched the filed rock that formed this strange world's surface I knew that hiding there would not be an easy task. Even though it was nighttime I saw no stars in the sky. Instead of tall pine trees, sleek spruces and branchy swordtrees, all that surrounded me were giant houses made of glass, metal and some sturdy material called concrete. It seemed that they leaned their huge, reinforced heads toward me and tightened around me in a suffocating embrace, smirking ominously with their wide windows. I felt cornered, although there was no sign �" apart from a few windows lit with artificial light �" of any people lurking around, wishing to spill my blood. Behind my back, I heard my dragon groan restlessly. Was I hearing things or was there a tinge of fear in those sounds?

"Are you scared?" I whispered to my companion.

He only snorted at that and straightened his stance proudly, as if saying "Are you crazy, little human? Me, the mighty beast born of fire, air and water, scared?"

I laughed, although the shaking of my voice made it sound more like a nervous chuckle. In that moment, and I remember it well, even though a year has passed; in that moment I decided to discard fear and welcome this world as my own. After all, I didn't have much of a choice; I'd made my choice and now this strange dimension was to become my home.

Besides, warriors are not supposed to fear.

Instead, a feeling of hopelessness started to accompany me. This world was so different than my own. I was surrounded by creatures I knew only from the journals written by the Wanderers. Dogs with short ears and sharp teeth, a bit similar to our koira, but eating meat rather than plants. Cats looking like overgrown kissa. Sparsely colored birds that feared humans, like small, shy cousins of lintu. Flora was also different; paltry and paler in most cases, and what's more, scarcer in number. The grey of office buildings and pitch black of the streets dominated the scenery of the Mechanoworld. The gloomy buildings seemed to drain all color and energy out of their surroundings. Even the people were grey and gloomy; with time, I also started to succumb to the influence of the large agglomeration.

The biggest problem, apart from the language barrier, turned out to be finding a place to live. This world was permeated with bureaucracy through and through. Every man, animal or machine, even some plants, needed to have a number of documents telling about every aspect of their existence. Lightningale and I, having no identifications, were illegal immigrants and frankly shouldn't even exist; especially my companion, seeing as this place was not populated by dragons. But it was relatively easy to get the necessary papers for myself, with the invaluable help of the forger's underworld. I registered myself in this world under a false name to blend in even better. However, Gale's issue still remained unsolved, and, as the days went by, more and more 'burning'.

I adapted an old abandoned house into a place for us to live. I found myself a job in a nearby club. I worked hard to change my image so that I would differ as little as I could from the citizens. Keeping away from the spotlight, I studied the daily life of the People of Technology. The good thing was that staying anonymous was easy among the hundreds of thousands of similar empty faces, like blank pieces of paper.

While I was conducting observations, Lightningale stayed at 'home'. Coming back after a long day, I told him about everything I saw, heard and smelled. About clouds grey with toxic dust, about self-propelled metal wagons with no horses pulling them, about boxes with little people locked inside that kept entire families entertained. He listened to my stories, fascinated. Sometimes I brought him some souvenirs and he collected all of them carefully in his room like treasures. Every day I fished for newspapers in the streets and both of us learned the strange whistling language of the natives from them. With a spark in his yellow eyes he stared at the peculiar jumble of letters and I knew he was just as captivated by the new world as I was. This dimension was something new, unknown, like the legendary City of the Ancients that was said to be hidden inside the Suuori Mountain and guarded by an enormous karju. However, when he thought I wasn't looking, the dragon turned his eyes to the window, gazing longingly at the sky. And though this time there were no bars obstructing the view, I knew he felt just like he did back then, incarcerated in the Palace dungeons, waiting for years to meet his death.

All the while, I started to miss home more and more. The initial amazement slowly gave way to depression, fuelled by the gloomy essence of the Concrete City. The more I saw, the harder I hated this world and its inhabitants. I felt as if I entered a huge battlefield, albeit one when every hostility was carried out in secret, under the cover of fake smiles. People here stole and lied whenever they felt like it, without even batting an eyelid. And I had to learn to live that way too, to survive, although I did it with reluctance and every time it made me feel disgusted with myself. After all, this is what I had wanted to get away from: all the deception and cruelty! I had wanted to mark my own paths and stride down them with a warrior's pride, just as I was trained to do! However, the pride slowly but steadily crumbled, till the giant boulder anchoring my soul became nothing but a little pebble, a crumb that could easily be blown out by a gust of Evil.

"At least I am free," I consoled myself. Though it was nothing but a delusion. This world with its hazy principles and materialistic morals constrained me in its own subtle way. It blunted my senses, silenced my free will and mind, turning me into a slave of the system. I was slowly becoming a part of the same gray masses I so despised. People without faces, like a horde of zombies, chased after the ideals imposed on them, their only worry being whether they would make ends meet. They wanted only to survive, not live. Assimilating, I also fell into this vicious circle. It spun too fast for me to escape and it never ceased its movements, no matter how loud I screamed, "Stop! I want to get off!" Although I did not belong in this community, I allowed myself to be sucked into its dull routine.

That's why I was surprised with my behavior on that fateful day. That evening, when I heard screams coming from a nearby apartment building, I should have ignored them, as I usually did. As everyone would do. But instead, I ran in for the rescue. Maybe it was the years of training that sprung to life at that moment and made me fight. Maybe it was the faint cry of my conscience that tried to awake from its slumber. Maybe it was pure curiosity. Whatever it was, now I can do nothing but thank the gods who led me to the right balcony and pushed me into action. Just now, because when the short wrestle was over with and my mind caught up with my actions, I feared I had exposed my identity too much.

"Izabela Tuho. To your services." I tried to hide my horror behind a mask of humor, bowing theatrically.

The dark-haired girl I had rescued from the excessively bold thief was so confused that a spark of hope appeared in my heart; hope that she would forget or mistake me for a strange hallucination. I ran away quickly, straight home, skipping my job that day.

As soon as I walked through the threshold, Lightningale appeared in front of me, happily scraping his restless tail over the walls. Any other time I would have kicked his scaly a*s for it as I had told him time and time again not to devastate the wallpaper, but this time I couldn't even find my voice. At once, my companion became serious, his tail stopped wagging. He felt something was off; who wouldn't? I was trembling like a leaf in the wind; my palms were so sweaty I could barely hold the keys.

"What have I done…?" I whispered in horror. When the first fright passed, the gravity of the situation hit me. Dark thoughts began flooding my mind, horrible visions of the consequences of my recklessness, accompanied by a recital of 'What If…?' questions. Unmasking. Police uniforms. Soldiers from my world. The God of Fear.

I was alternatively sweating and freezing cold, and trembling so hard that at one point I didn't know if it was me or if it was the ground that started shaking. I didn't even notice the wet streams that started pouring down my cheeks. Had I reacted like that to anything in my world, I would have been surely taunted mercilessly or even reprimanded by the teacher; after all, weakness does not befit a warrior. However, at that moment I did not remember what was befitting and what was not, and even if I had I would not have been able to stop the panic attack. The only being that could reproach me for acting improper to my profession was now nudging my arm, making soothing noises, and seemed to be almost as anxious as I was.

My legs gave out and I fell limply to the floor. My lungs didn't want to hold air. Only one sentence was going through my mind: "What have I done?" Over and over it thumped around in my skull, louder and louder until I couldn't concentrate on anything else; not on the absence of oxygen in my struggling lungs, nor on Gale, puffing next to me more and more uneasily. Nothing else mattered.

And just when I thought that I would never be able to resurface from this pool of madness, that I would drown in it, my only companion being my own fears, a faint sensation of touch pushed its way into my mind. Something was leaving wet trails on my cheeks, something that wasn't tears. I managed to focus my eyes but became immediately blinded by the wet thing sliding over my lids.

"Eww," I groaned with disgust, wiping dragon saliva off my face. "Lightningale!" The reptile, whose tongue was just dampening my hair, received a blow to the muzzle. I couldn't help but laugh hysterically.

Gale growled happily, glad that he had been able to pull me out of the panic's claws. He laid his head on my shoulder, purring resonantly. The vibrations washed over me, calming, although I still couldn't hold in the convulsive sobs that shook my body from time to time. I pushed my face into the dragon's neck, feeling the smooth scales on my cheek and struggling to even my breath.

"I was irresponsible, Gale," I mumbled as I finally settled down. "I exposed my identity too much. We could get in trouble."

My companion flapped his wings nervously and emitted a questioning murmur.

"I rescued a girl… from a thief... on a balcony…" Only when I said it out loud did I realize how stupid it sounded.

As if to confirm this, the floor shook as Gale fell on it laughing. I was sure it was a laugh; I had never in my life heard a sound more distinctive and easier to recognize. It sounded like a mixture of barking and loud panting.

"Hey, don't you laugh at me! It's a serious matter! I knocked this guy out with my whip! If the girl tells anyone and if they find us…"

The dragon ceased rolling on the floor for a moment but only to cast a critical look at me. He seemed to say: "A lot of 'ifs' you've got there. Overreacting much? Or did you bump your head while you were fighting and now you're delirious?" However, the quasi-serious atmosphere didn't last long as he burst out laughing once again, unable to contain his amusement.

"Stop making fun of me, if you please…" I made a grumpy face at him. "Though… maybe you're right… And I'm just overreacting again…" I stood up on wobbly legs. "We can't do anything now anyways. We just have to wait… and face what will come…"

But nothing came. Nothing but the next day, and another one after that, and another… There was no sign of the danger I expected on the horizon, which only served to confirm me in my belief that this constant state of insecurity we lived in made me paranoid.

© 2012 Izabellla

Author's Note

This one, as opposed to the three previous chapters, is from Izabela's point of view and was written entirely by me.

English is not my native language, so if you spot any mistakes, please, let me know.

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Added on May 18, 2012
Last Updated on May 18, 2012
Tags: fantasy, dragon, warrior, girl, world, danger



Warsaw, Poland

I'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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A Story by Izabellla