Through the Door (part 1)

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door.

As Arianna passed through the portal, a strange tingling sensation prickled her skin as the images ebbed and flowed around her.  They stretched and yawed, becoming as elastic as gum, twisting, folding, and winking into and out of existence.  Nausea induced by visual vertigo welled up inside her.  Shutting her eyes to the kaleidoscopic images, she reached into the air around her, seeking resistance to ground her senses.  Suddenly, her feet touched a soft surface, and warmth bathed her face.  Opening her eyes, a vast expanse of waist-high green grass stretched before her. On the periphery, the trees’ leafy tops rose above the grass.

The tender tips brushed against her outstretched palms as she pushed through the grasses.  The smell of hay and honeysuckle drifted on the warm breeze. The buzzing of insects weaved in and out of her cognition.  What was this place?  The book said nothing about where the door would lead — only that it would open where she willed it to be, which she had hoped would be home.  So again, where was she?  Even as she pondered this, she drifted closer to the trees, their dark green forms swaying slightly in the breeze, standing sentinel on the boundary of the field.  Dark shadows yawned beneath the boughs as gold slants of light shifted and folded into the sparse underbrush as the leaves rustled in the canopy.

A narrow path passed between the underbrush, plunging deeper into the darkness, passing from light to dark and back again.  She hesitated.  Where would this lead?  But even as the question lingered, the fact remained any way she went would leave her with the same dilemma.  So she stepped upon the path and moved into the shadows.  Coolness bathed her skin, sending a brief shiver down her spine.  The canopy rustled, splashing light around her.  Dried leaves and pine needles crunched under her feet.  Sounds of running water drifted on the breeze, becoming more pronounced as she walked.  Passing around a bend, her eyes spotted a small stream crossing the path. At the juncture, some stepping stones disturbed the constant flow of the water, bending and redirecting it.  Beyond the stream, the trail disappeared into a clearing filled with yellow and white flowers, which moved slowly in the warm breezes.  She pulled up short, however, when her eyes fell upon the person squatting next to the stream.  A woman dressed in rags with long gray hair kept her head bowed as she slowly washed her hands in the stream.  Her hands and arms glistened as the blood that covered them sloughed off into the water, turning red as it snaked further into the woods.

Arianna gasped.  The woman looked up slowly. Her deep-set, reddened eyes studied the young woman before speaking.   “Why have you come back?” the woman demanded, “Haven’t you done enough?”

“I’ve done nothing,” Arianna protested.  “I’ve just arrived here.”

“LIAR,” the woman shrieked, pointing a bony finger at her.  “I saw you yesterday with that man.  You came to the village and said you would help, but then you did this,” she said, holding up her bloodied hands.  “Have you no mercy?”

“I don’t understand — I’m alone, and I’ve never been here before.  What do you say I’ve done?”

The old woman studied her, slowly stood up, and stepped closer.  The taut and pallid face frowned steadily as she approached, her red eyes fixed on Arianna’s.  Suddenly the old woman’s face relaxed, and her eyes softened.  “You are not that girl, though you could be her twin.  What is your name?”

“Arianna,” she told the old woman, who hissed loudly, causing Arianna to start.

Clucking her tongue, the old woman shook her head, “This is sorcery, then.  For the girl has your name too.”

Numbly, Arianna stared.  But I have no sister.  How could this be?  She glanced down as her mind churned, then her eyes spied the red leather-bound book in her hands.  “Excuse me–what is your name?”

“Rhinna,” the old woman answered.

“This man you say was with her.  What did he look like?”

“Tall, thin.  He has dark hair and clothing and carries a cane with a silver wolf’s head–“

“Dathon!” Arianna interjected.  “Yes, I know of this man.  But how did he get here?”

“I would ask the same of you,” Rhinna replied, her eyes narrowing.

Arianna felt light-headed.  How could she explain the book?  “I was traveling and got lost; that is how I came here.”  She looked around, “But what is this place?”

“You are in the Kingdom of Aldewater. I live in the nearby town of Eldgharst.”

“I’ve never heard of this place,” Arianna replied softly.  But the door only opens to where I will it, or so the book said, so why did it send me here?

“This, Dathon, you speak of — how do you know this man?”

Did she dare to say it?  How would Rhinna react if she did?  She struggled with the dilemma for a moment, then finally said, “He is my husband.”

[Story continues here.]

6 thoughts on “Through the Door (part 1)

  1. Pingback: Red… « Jae Lei Nyght

  2. This is an experiment in extemporaneous serial writing from an initial writing prompt. I have no idea where this is going, but it should be an adventure. Tack on ideas if you like, I’ll consider incorporating them.


  3. Pingback: Through the Door (part 2) – AI version | Greg C. Miller, Author

  4. Pingback: The AI experiment | Greg C. Miller, Author

  5. Pingback: Through the Door (part 2) — Consolidated version | Greg C. Miller, Author

  6. Pingback: Through the Door (part 3) — AI extended version | Greg C. Miller, Author

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