Saturday, June 17, 2017

When Worlds Collide - Chapter Four

Nat came to the end of his ball of twine. He was at the edge of a forest, which obscured his view of what he thought might be the Pipe Stones. He sat down on a log and wished he had brought yet another ball of twine. This was the end of the second. He pulled the bottle of water out of his lab coat pocket and took a long draw. He would have to go back and be better prepared the next time. He had not seen any sighs of humans in the area. He did hear wolf calls earlier, but it seemed far away. He saw birds and at one point, thought he saw deer off in the distance, but his long-range vision was not very good. Next time he would also bring a pair of binoculars, or perhaps add that feature to the googles, after all, it was the second time he wished he had them.

He marveled at the vegetation around him. The forest was dense and looked very old even to his untrained eye. No one had ever logged this – perhaps never walked through it. He was starting to convince himself more and more that he had discovered some sort of parallel world. He would have taken samples of flora, but it all appeared so normal. He spotted oaks, pines, some birch and the undergrowth consisted of recognizable ferns, mosses and toadstools.

He rose to his feet, stuck the water bottle back in his pocket and turned to follow his string back home. He was more than surprised to see a very little person, perhaps only a foot tall standing in the edge of the forest where it met the meadow. The little woman wore a leather dress with beadwork on the sleeves and hem. She had a hat that consisted of what looked like pieces of bark fashioned together with leaves and flowers tucked into it or perhaps growing from it. The vines trailed down from the hat into her long coal-black hair. She had tawny brown skin and deep brown eyes that seemed to dance with mischief. But the most surprising, and gut churning, thing was what she held in her hands. Wrapped around the tent peg Professor Nathaniel Clayborne had driven, as an anchor, into the ground by the gate, was the twine all neatly wrapped. She had been trailing along behind him winding it up as fast as he was laying it down. Like Hansel and Gretel, Nat was now thoroughly, totally lost.

“Oh no… no… no… no…” he muttered, as he stepped over the log. “What have you done?”

The little person giggled and with a quickness that reminded him of a squirrel she sprinted off at an angle into the forest yanking the twine from his hand and trailing it behind her like the tail of a kite.

“Wait!” he called, as he frantically stumbled after her. “Please, you have to show me the way back.” He vaulted over a downed tree trying his best to keep the white of the twine in sight. She was so well camouflaged that if she had not had the string she would have disappeared from sight… And that is what she did. The string kept getting shorter and shorter as Nat desperately tried to keep it in view. After a frenzied dash over, under, and around obstacles, he saw the last of the white disappear, and with it, the last link to home.

He stopped dead in his tracks gulping air from the mad race through the forest. “Please…” he wheezed. “Please…” His knees buckled and he fell to the forest floor in exhaustion and despair. How was he ever going to find his way home?


Ky sat politely on his haunches waiting his turn. There was plenty for everyone. The buck the pack took down was good sized. Ky could see Nila was eating for a new litter back at the den. Her tits were engorged with milk. She wolfed down huge chunks of the deer. Jak ate his fill and then let Vita move in for her share. Vita was Nila’s oldest daughter still with the pack and often acted as nursemaid to the alpha female’s litter. Once Nila finished then it would be open season for the young males of the pack including Ky. The three young blacks often argued over the remainder of the kill, but Ky was almost fifty pounds heavier than them, so he had no trouble getting his fair share. Once he ate his portion, he would wander off to a nice shady place in the forest to sleep.

When it got dark, he would make his way back home. Time was almost opposite here from Raven’s part of The Realms. Once he got home, he would have just enough time to clean up at his room in the hostel before he had to report back to work with the grounds crew.

His room at the hostel was rarely used except for clean-up and keeping a few small valued, but not valuable, possessions. Ky had the ability to fashion his clothes as an option when shifting, so he didn’t need a wardrobe. However, on occasion he would find himself living day after day as a human. Human was his base form and eating was free in Raven’s area of The Realms. The head vamp wanted to keep his blood supply well fed, so there were food carts and a Barter Street where just about anything could be found. A shifter who spent too much time in another form could get lost in that alternate body and not be able to pull themselves back. Ky reveled in the fact that he could change into a variety of beings and enjoy all they had to offer. He was most fond of his wolf-self and his cat-self, but that was just because he was most familiar with them.

So, he used his room for clean-up and a place to crash for the night. He had some trinkets he picked up over the years, which made the room seem more like home. A clump of yeti fur when one of the beasties took exception to his passing through their region to Nayenezghani’s. An arrowhead he found while digging a hole for a rose on Raven’s estate (proving the vamp had not always ruled that area). And, a string of flowers given to him by Lidia over two years ago. They were all dried up. He hung them from the mirror over the small dresser supplied with the room. Other than that, the room had a bed and a chair. Nothing fancy.

Ky bid the pack good-bye after finishing his meal. He found a comfortable moss lined hollow between the roots of a huge oak and curled up for a snooze, but his mind kept drifting to Lidia.

Lidia was sweet and kind. Her parents ran a flower stall on Barter Street. She had been his first and only love. They were both young and unlike other humans, she marveled and delighted in his ability to change and surprise her with his shifter choices. She would often wear him out by asking him to change from one being to another. She wanted to feel the fur of a bear, the wings of a Shedu, and the scales of a Lamia. It was such fun while it lasted.

One day she disappeared. Her family looked. He looked. She was never found - most likely scooped up by a vampire, and hopefully drained, for the alternative was to have been turned and he would not wish that for anyone, much less Lidia. For ages, Ky contemplated breaking into Raven’s mansion to see if she was there, but then finally decided, he really didn’t want to know. He really hoped with the alternative, that she was dead.

He kept the dried flower ring she set on his head the day he turned into a unicorn for her and took her for a romp through six gates in quick succession. She had squealed with glee and laughed so hard when they splashed through the waves of Neptune’s world that she almost fell off. She was a delightful companion. He missed her.


Nat tried to be logical, but as evening approached, he grew more and more desperate. The woods had him all turned around and eventually he even lost track of the meadow and which way it might have been. Damn it! He was a city boy. He didn’t know how to find his way home. He wouldn’t even have known how to use a compass if he had one, which he didn’t.

When he stumbled on the bear, he was sure he was going to die in this godforsaken place.

Are you enjoying this adventure in The Realms?
Why not pick up the First Book in the Twin Cities Series...
Shifting in The Realms

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