Dawson Leary was a normal teenager. School, love, family, friends, these were all important to him. Yet, recently two of those things had gotten very messed up. His closest friend, Pacy, had ruined their life-long friendship by falling for the love of his life, Joey. It had been three months, but he still hadn't forgiven them. He wasn't sure he'd ever be able to. It was especially painful at moments like these.
Pacy and Joey making out ten feet away from him was not something Dawson needed to see when going for a walk. Jealousy welled up inside him, a jealousy so strong he could practically feel the emotion stretching from him to the nearby couple. Dawson turned to leave- or at least tried to. He couldn't move. In front of him, Dawson noticed that Joey and Pacy were frozen also. Then, the three of them disappeared.
Alanna was very annoyed and when she got annoyed, she tended to do stupid things: such as challenging people to duels. Lucky for the rest of the castle, she was keeping her temper. If she didn't keep her temper, well, very bad things could happen.
Spells usually came easy for Alanna. She could even make them up herself, but this spell was old, very old, and very, very difficult. Alanna was trying to feel the emotions of the people around her. Once the spell worked, it would be very useful for battles, trials, and a number of other things. The only problem was the spell didn't work.
With a frown, Alanna picked up the ancient sheet of parchment and tried again. An idea struck her. She could look for a specific emotion, instead of looking for all of them. After a moment of consideration, Alanna choose a very powerful, and very obvious, emotion: jealousy.
Raising her hand and concentration, Alanna sought for traces of the emotion. The response she got almost knocked her off her feet. She had not known it was so easy to get sucked into someone's feelings. Straining against the onslaught of emotion, Alanna pulled her mind, yanking it away. She felt something come with her, but did not think anymore. Her entire world had gone black.
Pacy blinked his eyes. What had happened? One minute he had been with Joey and the next He looked down; well at least Joey was still with him. She appeared to unconscious.
"Joe?" He shook her. "Joey are you alright?"
"Hmmm Pacy? What happened?" She looked around. "Where are we?"
Pacy didn't have an answer for that. They were in a small stone room. Across from them was a wooden table covered in books, liquids, and other strange things. Pacy saw a glint of copper under the table. He turned his head and surveyed the rest of the room. There was little else, except for Dawson?
Joey had noticed the same thing. While she went to revive Dawson, Pacy examined the table. The books gave him no clues. They were in a strange tongue that he couldn't read. Pacy looked under the table to see what that glimpse of copper had been.
A petite woman who looked about twice Pacy's age was lying on the stone floor. Her hair was a bright red and her face harbored a few scars. The clothes she wore looked like they belonged in a Robin Hood movie. Pacy laid a hand on her arm.
In a flash, the strange woman was up and had grabbed Pacy's shoulder and knocked him to the ground. Pacy noticed Dawson and Joey shrink against the far wall.
"Ouierrouw? Plahfoihw ldfnb zpoijv?" The woman asked.
"What?" Pacy asked. "I can't understand you."
The woman sighed and muttered something under her breath. Suddenly Pacy could understand her. "Who are you? What are you doing in my workroom?" Pacy realized she was still speaking the same language, but somehow he could understand it.
"You know," He remarked. "I could ask you the same question."
"What? Is this your workroom?" The woman grinned. "Just because I've been forbidden to challenge men to duels on personal grounds doesn't mean I actually follow that rule. At least, when the King isn't around."
Pacey turned to Dawson and Joey. "Please tell me she did not just say the words `duel' and `king'."
"Sorry, Pace, but I think she did." Joey replied.
"Something tells me we're not in Kansas anymore." Dawson muttered.
"Kansas?" The woman looked confused. "You must be far away indeed. I have never heard of Kansas. It is in the Mortal Realms, isn't it?"
"Look, lady," Joey said. "To say were lost is an understatement and we don't even know how we got here. So, any help you can give us would be appreciated. And please don't challenge Pacey to a duel, he'd probably accept." She added.
"You have no idea how you got here?" The woman asked. She frowned for a moment, and then recognition lit her face. "Before you came here, were any of you, perhaps, feeling jealous?"
Dawson grinned sheepishly. "That would be me."
"And was it perhaps about your relationship?" She indicated Pacey and Joey.
"Well, then I must apologize, for it is I that brought you here."
"You brought us here?" Joey repeated. "But how?"
"A slight error in my spell, I do make errors occasionally."
"Spell?" Dawson asked.
"You mean Harry Potter's real?" No one laughed at Pacey's joke.
"Who is Harry Potter?" The woman looked bewildered.
"Never mind." Pacey said. "We'd like to know who exactly you are."
"Me?" The woman asked. "I am Alanna, the sole female knight of Tortall and King Jonathan's Champion."
"You're a knight?" Joey asked skeptically.
"Yes," Alanna said wearily, like she'd had this conversation far too many times. "I won my shield as fair and fair can be. No because I was sleeping with Jonathan or because I use my magic or anything like that."
"You were sleeping with a King?" Dawson asked.
"You know, Daws, that isn't really any of our business." Joey really didn't want to offend this formidable woman.
"Oh, that's alright, the entire kingdom knows." Alanna replied cheerfully. "Now, I want to know who you are."
"I'm Dawson Leary."
"And I'm Pacey Witter."
"You don't happen to be related to the famous Harry Potter, do you?" It took the three a second for them to realize Alanna was joking.
Just then, a knock sounded at the door. "Lass, diner's ready. Shall I tell the cook ye won't be comin'?" An accent voice sounded from the other side.
"No, come in, George." Alanna replied.
The door opened and in stepped a handsome, brown haired man. He started when he saw the teenagers. "By the crooked god! Who are they?"
Joey was still very confused. She'd never believed in things like magic and wasn't taking the experience well. Pacey wasn't doing much better. It seemed that only Dawson was able to accept this strange magical realm. Then again, he had always loved the supernatural and unexplainable.
They had been in Tortall for one and a half days now, yet it seemed like forever. Having Pacey and Dawson in close proximity to each other was hardly a good thing. Now, because the tension was even higher, they would snap at each other for the slightest offense. Joey hated being in the middle of it.
But at the moment, she had something else to worry about.
"Are you ready?" Alanna asked the three of them.
"It's not like we have much to bring." Pacey replied.
Alanna nodded and led them to a courtyard. There, stood four tall, prancing horses.
"Um are we taking those?" Dawson asked uncertainly.
"Of course, what else would we use?"
"A car?" Joey suggested.
"What's a car?"
"Great." Pacey muttered. "Just how long did you say this ride to Corus would take us?"
"About two days." Was the reply.
"Well it's going to take us far longer, none of us really know how to ride."
When they stopped for the night Joey's entire body was one big ache. She had never ridden a horse for more than an hour before. Alanna hadn't said much, but Joey was sure she was very annoyed at having to waste many days taking them to see the king.
The king. That in itself was enough to make Joey nervous. She knew from history class that kings usually exploited their people and cared mostly for themselves. He could probably have her killed with a gesture if she didn't follow the protocol correctly. What if Pacey did something stupid, like laugh? What if Dawson started trying to introduce Tortall to the concept of electricity? The possibilities were endless and unfortunately, not very pleasant.
The four of them were sitting around a small campfire. The horses were grazing nearby. Joey's head rested against Pacey's shoulder. Alanna was polishing her sword.
On a whim, Joey rose and went to where Alanna sat. It would be nice to have a conversation with the formidable lady. "Where we come from, when knights were around they were never female." She commented.
"And where I'm from it's the same." Alanna replied, smiling slightly. "I disguised myself as a boy for eight years to win this thing." She indicated the shield next to her.
Pacey and Dawson looked up with interest and Joey was relived that they didn't seem to find it that strange. "Like Mulan." Dawson said softly.
"She's a legend." He explained. "She disguised herself so she could fight in a war in her ailing father's place. It sounds kind of like you."
"Did anyone know?" Pacey asked.
"A few close friends, including the crown prince. He's king now."
She nodded again. "When he took the throne he made it legal for a girl to become a knight. In fact, one is there now." She paused for a moment, then continued. "She's the reason I haven't really had a conversation with Jon for four years."
"We definitely can relate to that." Dawson looked at Pacey. "Losing a close friend can be very hard."
"What happened?" Joey asked.
"Kel, the girl studying to become a knight, was put on probation for a year. She wasn't accepted as a page in the beginning, because she was a girl. And Jonathan agreed!" Her voice had risen. "I don't think I'd ever been so angry in my entire life."
"Betrayal by one you thought you could trust." Pacey said quietly.
"But now I'll have to face him." Alanna said. "And I'll have to forgive him."
Joey wondered if Pacey and Dawson could ever do that.
Corus was a large, bustling city. People sold things on the streets and talked loudly. At least they did until Alanna rode by. Then a hush fell over the crowd, followed by a few excited whispers. Soon a cheer rose from the commoners. It seemed that they were well liked.
After a few minutes, they reached the palace. It was huge! Joey had never seen a single building that was so large. Hundreds of people could live in it and hundreds more could fit.
Alanna led them to a large stable. Once inside, she gave a low whistle.
From above, in the rafters, dropped a short, blond man. "Can I believe me eyes? Alanna?"
"In the flesh." She grinned. "How are you."
"Oh, I'm fine. What ye doin' here? World was ye haven't spoken t' his Majesty in quite a while."
"Well, something's happened."
"Does it have anything t' do with yon?" He indicated the three teenagers standing slightly behind Alanna.
"Yes, you'll probably here about it soon enough. I'm taking them to Jon now."
"Alright then, I'll take yer horses. Tell his Majesty, yer husband miss, not the King, that I send me regards."
"I will Stefan, it was nice to see you again."
"That it was." Stefan pulled himself back into the hayloft.
As Alanna led them through the palace, Joey couldn't help asking her a question. "Why did Stefan call George `his Majesty'? Is he some kind of king?"
Alanna smiled. "Oh he was a king- the King of Thieves. Jon got him to turn respectable eventually, said he didn't want to have to order his execution one day."
"So they were friends?" Dawson asked. "A king and a thief?"
"Best of." Alanna replied. "Though I would call it a prince and a king, Jon wasn't the king yet but George definitely ruled. They had the same views on most things, including me." She turned to look at Dawson and Pacey. "I'm sure you can relate to that."
They didn't have to answer, for they had reached the King's chambers. Alanna knocked on the large door.
It was opened by the most gorgeous man Joey had ever seen. He was perfect in every way, from his coal black hair, to his piercing blue eyes. "Alanna?" He asked incredulously.
"Hello, Jon. I figured was should bury the hatchet, so to speak. Especially since Kel's been off that horrible probation thing for three years now."
"You really mean it?"
"Of course I do." She paused. "As long as you promise it won't happen the next time girl wants to become a knight."
"I swear," He said solemnly and held up his hand. He pulled her to him and kissed her. "It's good to have you back, Alanna." He seemed to notice the teenagers for the first time. "I might have known you had an ulterior motive. Well, come in and tell me what you're really doing here."
To Pacey's surprise, King Jonathan was very down to earth. When Dawson addressed him as `Your Majesty', he had replied firmly, "Call me Jonathan." He seemed genuinely concerned about their dilemma, and promised to have his chief mage look into it.
"But now," The King said, after about an hour of conversation. "You three must be exhausted and I have four years to catch up with Alanna. If you don't mind I'll send a servant to take you to the guest rooms."
Pacey was only too happy to oblige.
The bright glare of dawn woke Dawson up; he had forgotten to close the curtains the night before. It took a moment for him to remember he wasn't in his room in Capeside anymore, but in a foreign palace. After using the chamber pot, changing his clothes, and washing himself as best he could without a shower, Dawson was ready to face the day. A rumble in his stomach reminded him he hadn't eaten more than a few grapes in almost a day. He had been too tired the day before to think about eating when a warm bed was near. Opening the door, Dawson went in search of a kitchen.
After ten minutes of wandering, Dawson was very lost and beginning to regret his actions. Few people were up so early and he seemed to be in an area of the palace that was deserted. Then, Dawson saw a pretty girl about his age walking down the hall, arms filled with clothes.
"Excuse me," He began.
"Oh!" The girl was so startled she dropped what she had been carrying.
"I'm sorry, here, let me help you." Dawson bent to retrieve the garments.
"No, it's my fault, I just didn't expect to see someone in this wing of the palace. It's a way few take." She took the clothes from Dawson.
"Well, I'm lost," Dawson told her. "I was hoping you could show me to a place where I can find some food."
The girl frowned slightly. "I can show you, but first I have to bring these clothes to my mistress."
"Who is your mistress?" Dawson asked curiously. "These don't look like women's clothes."
"Squire Kel." Was the reply.
"Oh!" Dawson exclaimed in recognition. "I've heard of her."
"I'm sure you have." She didn't look at all happy now. "But let me tell you now, she works just as hard- if not harder- than any of the boys."
"I wasn't saying she hadn't." Dawson said hastily: he didn't want to lose his potential guide. "Alanna told me of her and if she's half as interesting as Alanna, I'd love to meet her."
"You know Alanna?" The girl looked alarmed. "You must be a noble, I am terribly sorry that I was rude "
Dawson laughed. "Me? A noble? No, actually I'm from a different realm altogether."
Now she looked even more alarmed. "Are you a god?"
He was slightly taken aback by that question. Were these people polytheistic? "Of course not! I'm just a poor working class citizen who's very lost and very hungry."
"Well, that's a relief." She replied. "I'm Lalasa, I'm a seamstress."
"And I'm Dawson," He racked his brain for a profession, he didn't want her to think he was young. "I'm a photographer."
"A pho- a what?"
He sighed. "You don't have cameras, do you?"
"No, what are cameras?"
"Umm well, I'm kind of like- like a painter. Cameras capture an image of someone and I use operate them."
"Your realm is strange indeed." Lalasa commented. "Come, I should bring these to my lady before it gets much later."
Once they started out, the walk was relatively short. On the way, Dawson and Lalasa talked and Dawson realized he was beginning to like her a lot.
"Here we are." She stopped at a plain door wooden door in a row of other plain wooden doors. The only distinction was the name Keladry inscribed on a plaque. Lalasa knocked.
The door was opened by a tall girl with close-cropped blond hair. "Lalasa! I was getting worried."
"That's my fault, miss." Dawson told her, he didn't want Lalasa to get into trouble. "I was lost and stopped Lalasa in the hall."
"Oh, it's fine." Kel said cheerfully. "The palace can be a bit confusing. Are you new in Corus."
"He's from a different realm where he was a photo a photo something." Lalasa added eagerly.
Kel raised an eyebrow. "Really?" She asked, skeptically.
"Honest." Dawson replied. "You can ask Alanna if you don't believe me."
"Alanna? You know Alanna?" Kel asked, not skeptical anymore.
"Yeah, she's the reason I ended up here. She's in Corus right now and made up with Jon."
"She's in Corus??" Kel practically squeaked.
"My lady worships the Lioness." Lalasa explained.
"Well, I certainly don't have to ask why." Dawson said with a smile. "I'm sure you'll meet her soon, she was very eager to get in touch with you."
Lalasa smiled at Kel's surprise. "I really should take Dawson to the mess hall." She said.
"Of course, Lalasa, I'm sorry I kept you. It was nice to meet you Dawson."
Lalasa led Dawson to the mess hall. It was a large room filled with tables. At the moment, only a few were filled. "Well, here it is." Lalasa said awkwardly, she seemed reluctant to leave.
"Um Lalasa " Dawson said, just awkwardly. "I really don't know what your customs are um "
"Where I come from, I would ask you out, but I have no idea how to do that here."
"Ask me out? I don't understand."
"Okay " Dawson was at a loose for words. "Would you be interested in in having a romantic relationship with me?" He could feel the blood rushing to his face.
Lalasa broke into a smile. "I'd love to."
Pacey stretched and opened his door. He knocked on the door next to him. "Hey Potter! You up?"
"I am now." Joey muttered, but when she opened the door she was wearing fresh clothes and had brushed her hair. "Is Dawson awake?" She asked after giving him a kiss.
Pacey shrugged. "I haven't gone there yet." But then he saw Dawson walking down the hall towards them; a smile lit his face.
"Hey Daws. What are you so happy about?" Joey asked.
"I just met the most amazing girl. She's beautiful, nice, interesting, I think I'm in love." Joey and Pacey exchanged a glance.
"Um, Dawson, what about when we have to go?" Pacey asked, hesitantly.
Dawson shrugged. "I just asked her out, who knows if it will even work."
Pacey didn't want to argue when it was obvious Dawson was very happy. "So, are we going to meet Jonathan's chief mage today?"
"Probably," Joey replied. "But first I want to eat."
"You're in luck," Dawson told her with a smile. "I know the way."
After a delicious meal, a servant approached them saying he was to take them to see Numair, the chief mage. The servant led them up a flight of stairs to a door with the names Numair Salmalin and Veralidaine Sarrasri engraved on a plaque. After knocking the door was opened- by a small dragon.
Joey yelped. "Don't worry, miss." The servant told her, to the dragon he said, "We need to speak with Master Salmalin, please. Is he in?"
Pacey was very surprised; the servant had acted like he was speaking to a human. Could the dragon understand them?
Apparently it could. After it gave a shrill whistle, a very tall man with long dark hair came to the door. "Yes?"
"My lord, His Majesty has sent these three foreigners to you in the hope you can help them." The servant said.
Recognition dawned on Numair's face. "Ah, yes. Won't you come in?"
Pacey, Joey, Dawson entered his chambers. They were a mess. In the adjoining room was some furniture, including a bed, and that room looked clean enough. But the room they entered was scattered with something that looked remarkably like bird droppings. In one corner, a young woman was bent over a sparrow with a broken wing, eyes narrowed in concentration. To Pacey's shock he noticed the wing straiten out before his eyes and soon the sparrow was flapping it again.
The woman sighed, placed the bird in a basket and rose from her chair. "Oh!" She exclaimed, surprised at the visitors. "I didn't know you had visitors, Numair."
"These are the three Alanna told us about." Numair replied. "Dawson, Pacey, and Joey."
"Nice to meet you," The woman said. "I'm Daine. Sorry about the state of this room and myself." She waved at her clothes, which were also covered in bird droppings. "I'll go change, how `bout taking them into the sitting room?"
Numair nodded and led them to a much cleaner room with pretty, flowered furniture. Pacey was very relieved that he wouldn't have to sit on a chair with bird droppings on it.
"Now, I'm sorry, I forgot to introduce myself. I am Numair." The man said, after they were all seated.
"We guessed." Joey replied. "Can you help us?"
"Well, first I have to understand what exactly happened. Daine and I hadn't seen Alanna for quite a while, so I didn't get all the details. Is it true you are from another realm?"
Dawson shrugged. "We aren't sure what to call it. I didn't any other place besides are universe existed."
"We know of four realms." Numair told them. "This realm, the realm of the dead, the realms of the gods, and the realms of chaos. If your world is another realm, than that opens up the possibility of many realms we do not know about."
"I don't mean to be rude," Joey began hesitantly. "But you mentioned the realms of the gods. Do you know that your gods exist? How do you know the realm even exists?"
Numair laughed slightly. "What are their no gods where you come from?"
"Many believe one god exists, but few, if any, are positive He exists." She explained.
"That's interesting." Numair looked fascinated. "How can people worship something if they are not sure it exists?"
"Numair," Daine had come into the room. "You can learn all about their culture later, now is the time you should be answering their questions." Up close, Pacey realized she was much younger than she had appeared. Not much older than Pacey himself. He wondered if she and Numair were lovers. Numair looked almost twice her age. With a stifled grin Pacey recalled that his first lover, not to mention teacher, had been almost three times his age.
"Right." Numair's voice jolted Pacey back to the present. "To answer your question, Joey; yes, we know the gods exist."
"Matter of fact," Daine added. "My parents are lesser gods."
Magic was one thing, but Pacey found this statement a little hard to believe. Apparently so did Joey and Dawson. "Your parents are gods?" Dawson asked, skeptically.
"You think I'm crazy." Daine observed. "Fine, I'll show you." In a quite voice she whispered. "I request the presence of the green lady." A moment later a tall woman clad in green, including a green veil, appeared in front of them. The three teenagers jumped.
"Daine? Is something wrong?" The voice sounded slightly alarmed.
"No Ma, I'm sorry I summoned you." Daine replied. "It was just very important I proved to these people that gods exist."
"You don't believe in the gods?" She sounded appalled.
"They're from another realm." Numair explained.
"Oh, hello Numair." The woman said. "Well, Daine, I really ought to be going. I wouldn't want Mithros or the Goddess to find out I was visiting with my daughter."
"Bye Ma." And the woman vanished.
"Okay, we believe you now." Pacey announced.
"Good," Numair said. "Now, to continue our discussion "
When they left a few hours later, Dawson's head was spinning. Numair had gotten into a technical discussion of magic that he could only half understand. Still, it was fascinating. In all the movies Dawson had seen, usually a magician could basically do anything he wanted. But here, magic had rules that were impossible to break. Numair promised to start on the problem as soon as possible.
But now, Dawson wasn't sure he wanted to leave.