My senses began to come back. How long was I out? I tried to look around, but the room seemed blurry and out of focus. There were bright lights. Did I get taken to the nurse’s office? Was I that far gone? I tried to focus. I could make out people in white, and I was lying on a bed. Am I in the hospital? I rubbed my eyes. Slowly the world came into better focus.
Tall beings in long white robes circled the area. Most of them sported long hair, pulled back behind their pointed ears. The lights I saw were floating orbs of pure energy, that sat caged behind small wooden structures that stood upright like a staff. Great, I’m still in dreamland.
“Oh, good you are awake.” A tall elf woman walked toward me. I recognized her as the girl from before. “How are you feeling Alyza?”
I started to get nervous. I couldn’t believe I was still here. Maybe I was so tired I fell into a coma. “So, I’m really here? I really died back on earth and now I’m in a higher state of existence?” I spoke but couldn’t believe the words I was saying.
“Please don’t pass out again, but yes. You really exist in this plane now, which means your old life is over. You were the next Alyza in line apparently.”
I sighed, and tears began to well up in my eyes. I looked at the elf woman. “So, my mother thinks I’m dead? I can really never see her again?” I sobbed.
“I’m sorry, but she doesn’t just think you are dead. Your old body died; you no longer exist on that plane. However, it does not mean you will never see her again.” She paused, and looked down, as if she had this conversation many times before. “Though it does mean she will never see you again.” She spoke quietly and I could see sadness behind her own eyes. I tried to imagine how many other Alyza’s just like me that she had to explain all of this to. I tried to be strong.
“So where is here, and what exactly am I doing here? If you give me some sort of hope I’m sure it wouldn’t be so frightening.” I tried to look at the woman with happiness but tears still streamed down my face.
“You are a guardian. In fact, the others will be here soon to take you to the academy. Now that you are here you will help enforce the laws of this realm. The Guardians are the main force of order on this plane. Creatures such as vampires, who need to feed on humans.”
“Wait there are such things as vampires? Cool!” I interrupted.
“They must go to the guardians weekly to be given their asset.”
“What’s an asset?”
“It allows them to enter the realm you are from for a short while in order to feed before returning. Everything done by the guardians is meant to keep your realm in balance.”
“So I’m basically a middle earth police officer?” I spoke jokingly, trying not to sound scared as hell, but the elf woman looked at me as if I had begun to speak another language. Which brought new thoughts to my mind. “How do you know my language?”
“We speak many languages, and all guardians are from your realm. They once lived there as well. So, although there are many other languages here, yours is most common in fact, we call it, common tongue.” She continued to speak. As she did, I realized I was lying under a sheet entirely naked.
“So, um.” I paused, “Where are my clothes?” I tried not to sound like I was freaking out on the inside. I was, but I desperately tried not to show it.
“We have some new attire for you, given to us by the guardian core. They had it sent through the portal. I can get it for you if you’d like.” She smiled, and it was warm. The look on her face made me feel calm.
“Please, if you would.”
“Of course, dear, I will return shortly.” She spoke and then trailed off. Her every movement seemed beautiful, as if she was constantly dancing everywhere that she walked.
I looked out the open side of the building that was nearest to me. We were very high up. It was almost unnerving. From here though I could see the entire city. It was beautiful, like a storybook place that I could only dream of seeing for real. Large white trees spotted the landscape. It looked like many of the buildings were built from the pristine wood that these trees were made of. I watched in awe for a while, and wished I had my sketchbook. This would have been a beautiful place to draw. A few moments later the woman came back into the room. She handed me a pile of leather and placed boots at the foot of the bed. “Here you go, I hope they will suit you well.” She smiled.
I stared at the clothes and was sad that I no longer had mine. I put them on. Long tight leather leggings, and a top that was essentially a leather corset with tank top straps. There were two shoulder guards, and a pair of bracers. The entire outfit was topped off with a leather belt. I wasn’t even sure what it looked like on me. There wasn’t a mirror anywhere. “Do I look okay?” I asked.
“Stunning really. Just like the last Alyza, I’m sure men will be swooning over you.” As she spoke, I suddenly realized I didn’t have makeup on.
“So, is there a place I can get makeup?”
“I do not understand, what is makeup?”
“It’s like face paint, for beautification.”
“Ah yes, the last Alyza was fond of our appearance rods. Elves are very fond of beautification. Here, hold this.” She handed me a short black rod, it felt soft like wet wood. “Now imagine the places you’d like to modify, hold that picture in your mind, and wave it over the area.” I did as she said. I imagined my eyeliner and black makeup, though to go with the leather, I decided to only imagine a slight peachy, matte for my lips. I waved it over my face and hoped for the best.
“Did it work?” I looked up at her. Suddenly I could see more clearly and assumed I at least had eyeliner on.
“Once again you look stunning. Your eyes have a heavier black than the last Alyza but still stunning. It makes your pale silver eyes more vibrant.”
“So, do you know what a mirror is, and can I use one?” I asked trying not to insult her perspective of me.
“Of course, hold on a moment.” She grabbed a branch off a table. The gnarled wood was mostly straight till the top where it swirled around and then came to a large hoop at the end, like a giant bubble wand. She dipped it in water and waved her hand over it. She began chanting in a language I had never heard. Her words seemed to echo over themselves as she spoke. Moments later, she pulled the branch from the water, and within the hoop on the end a glistening glass like disk now sat.
“That was amazing! How did you do that?” I nearly shouted as she handed the mirror to me. I did look amazing. I couldn’t believe doing my makeup was that simple. How is something like this even possible?
“Elves know many magics, I could teach some of them to you if you are patient enough.” She smiled. “The last Alyza was more focused on action and physical strength. It takes a special person to do magic but I see great promise in you. What do you prize?”
“Knowledge for sure, in my realm I was an artist, and I loved to read books. Patience is what I was built on.”
“Then after your initiation, come back anytime and we can work on some magic.” She reached out to take the mirror from me. I handed it back to her and she walked back to the bowl of water. She held the mirror above the bowl and waved her hand. The water fell from the branch and splashed into the tiny pool below it. She placed the wood back on a table and grabbed something else before returning. “Here take this with you.” She handed me what I thought looked like a scroll. “It is a scroll of magic fundamentals. It will teach you the very basic laws of magic.” Her voice sang to me.
Ha I knew it was a scroll, nailed it!
“The guardians are here Alyza, it is time for you to go. Show the scroll to your superiors. It will be worth it to you I promise.” She smiled and helped me off the bed. I realized she was much taller than me. I was only five foot two inches, and she was at least six foot. She towered over me. She guided me across the room and down a set of stairs. Everything here seemed to be built of a beautiful and pristine white wood. On a closer inspection I realized the steps were nothing more than carved branches that perfectly stuck out down the side of an enormous tree. They were framed by a decorative railing made of the same wood. It smelled of nature, and the falls in the background caused me to slip into a weird sort of trance. So I tripped coming down the last step as we walked through an opening into the giant tree. It was difficult to walk in the leather attire. I wasn’t used to it. The boots I wore were heavy, and clunky, I really missed my heels.
Inside the tree was a large open hall. The walls were carved into glorious hollow windows filled with branches that stretched across the openings, creating a beautiful display of elven ingenuity. I assumed the entire place was crafted with magic. Large carpets of red and blue adorned the floor while silks of various pastel colors draped from the wooden ceiling above us. Across the room was a large ornate door that I could only assume led outside the magnificent tree, into the city.
The robed woman walked me toward a group of men that stood against the wall to my right. Even from across the room I could tell that they all towered over me. They looked at me in disbelief as we approached them. “Is this really the new Alyza?” the man whom I assumed was in charge spoke to the elf woman. His voice riddled with a better-than-thou attitude that made me feel inadequate for even existing.
“Indeed sir, she is. Take good care of her. This one is unique, and I have high hopes for what she can accomplish.” The elf woman looked down at me and smiled. I felt as though she could feel my anxiety, and she was trying to boost my confidence.
“We will.” His gaze turned to me. “Okay recruit lets get you to the academy. Huey waits for no one, and his impatience knows no bounds.” He commanded. I gave the woman a quick hug. She was the only person so far who made me feel welcome and comfortable. The man motioned for me to follow. I did so, but quietly, I still couldn’t believe all of this was happening. They brought me to a large stone circle that stood upright against a wall. Runes and symbols were etched across the front all the way around the ring. An elf stood on both sides. Unlike the other elves I had seen they wore elegant blue robes, embossed with gold patterns that looked like vines.
They began to chant. Their voices echoed over each other and filled the chamber. I couldn’t comprehend the words but as they spoke a blue swirl of energy ignited and stretched within the ring. The energy moved and rippled like a small pond. Without a second thought the men walked toward the ring and stepped through. The last man to step through turned to me and motioned for me to come with him.
As I stood in front of the ring I reached out to the mystical energy. It was cold, like placing your hand above ice. I was as terrified as I was excited to see what was on the other side. It was amazing to think I'd be stepping through a portal and instantly transported to somewhere else in this crazy world. I no longer believed I was in a dream. I took a deep breath and tried to put aside the emotions that were bubbling up inside me. If I had to be here, I figured I might as well make the best of it. With great reluctance, touched by a sliver of fear, I stepped through the portal.