This is another chapter/part/installment of a collaboration with the soon-to-be-renowned author J.R. Wagner . His parts, found below mine (can also be found at the link. More on his forthcoming book Exiled, book one of The Never Chronicles, can be found here. My parts are going to be mostly raw and unedited, unless I find a little extra time. Enjoy:
I was massaging my wrists where the ropes had been, waiting on the offered measure of Dragon Necter, when the dog trotted through the door.
Manny and I greeted the dog by name and I reached down to scratch him between his ears when he sauntered over to sniff my pant leg, almost losing my hand in the process. Wow, for a mild mannered looking Springer Spaniel, Buddy sure was testy.
“Watch it, Grant,” the dog snapped, “you’d do well to remember your place around here.”
“Umm, Buddy…” Manny started.
“Save it, Manny,” the dog said as he turned three times on the carpet in front of Manny’s desk, “I’ve heard all about the prophecy, and I aint buying it.”
“But,” was all many was able to get out before Buddy snarled at him.
“Fine, Buddy,”, Manny said, “but Davis is gonna be pissed if you don’t at least act like you believe in this stuff.”
“After the couple of days I just had, I don’t really care,” The dog said, resting his snout on his paws, then lifting his head to say, “Some races out there you just can’t reach.”
The dog returned his head to his paws and shut his eyes, signaling the conversation was over, at least his part of it. I knew, though, he would be listening to everything Manny and I said, ready to correct us at any moment. I have always wondered why that scientist gave dogs the ability to speak to humans. Sure, it was only through their minds, but during the conversation it sure seemed like the dog was speaking out loud, heck, different dogs had different voices, or was that in my head too?
“My head hurts Manny, pour another measure of that Nectar, will ya?”
“Awww, Grant,” Manny whined, “I don’t have much left.”
“Hey, I’m the Sentinel and you are my Mage, we should be able to get all the Nectar we want, back in circle one.”
“Like she’s gonna let us go clear back to Circle one,” Manny said.
“If you told her you needed supplies or something, yanno, like eye of newt or toe of dog…”
The dog chuffed.
“Sorry Buddy, I meant toe of frog,” I continued to brow-beat Manny until he agreed to at least ask Davis if we could start my training in Circle one, back with the young ones, as far away from the one who breached as possible, and as close to the Nectar as possible.
“How do you think she got over the wall?” Manny asked, as he was collecting the stuff he was going to need for a trip to circle one.
“I don’t know,” I admitted, one minute she was kicking ass on her side, the next she was climbing, I didn’t wait around once it was obvious she was gonna make it.”
“I don’t blame you,” Manny said, while trying to choose between his dirty grey shirt and his dirty brown shirt, opting to take them both in the hopes he could find time to wash them.
“She’s the Searcher,” Buddy said from his place on the floor, “If you want to buy into that prophecy crap.”
I'm dead. No other possible explanation exists to explain what I'm seeing. In fact, I'm not sure I can explain what I'm seeing. I'm in a room. It's large as we consider rooms but inside the dwellings of old it would be considered medium-sized. I'm seated. In what I'm not sure because at the moment, I cannot move my body -otherwise my senses seem to be working rather well. The temperature is comfortable. I can't remember being comfortable in years. I smell something -whatever it is, smells intoxicating. My body feels clean despite not being able to feel it. The perpetual layer of grime that exists on all dwellers of Earth seems to have been washed away.
In front of me is the largest pane of glass I've ever seen. Two women standing side-by-side with their arms outstretched couldn't reach both left frame and right. Large wooden planks (Wood! can you imagine?) covered the floor from my position to the window. Only one other thing stood between where I was sitting and the large window. A small table (also wood) and two chairs. The tabletop was empty.
Through the window (this is the best part) is an expanse of green rolling fields that tapered down to a rocky shore. Beyond, blue water. Blue! I'd never seen such a brilliant shade of blue. Looking out into the green and blue expanse must have touched something in the recesses of my memories because I find my eyes filling with tears. I can't explain it. I haven't cried since I was a little girl. They roll down my cheeks. I try to wipe them away only to remember I am unable to move at all.
Shore birds rise and fall on the air currents above the water. Some type of grazing animals munch on the green in a large bunch. They're all a dirty white color. Rather than coarse hair matted tight to their bodies, they seem to defy gravity with what could only be the softest of coats.
A loud creaking noise followed quickly by a sound I cannot identify takes my attention from the distance. I see movement out of the corner of my eye. I want to wipe away my tears -embarrassed that another person will see them. Then again, I'm dead so what's it really matter?
"Beautiful, isn't it?" a woman's voice says.
"Yes," I reply, letting go of my desire to begin interrogating and allowing myself to relax just this once.
"Are you able to move yet?" she asks, walking into my field of vision.
She is old -much older than anyone I've ever seen. Guessing from the wrinkles around her eyes I'd say she's probably twice my age. She has long, dark hair -almost as dark as her skin, and soft features. She doesn't live like the rest of us. She smiles, looking deep into my eyes. I feel her right then, in my head. She's trying to calm me down but the sensation of someone inside my mind is unnerving. She must have sensed this because she immediately backs out. When you're dead, I guess anything is possible.
"You need not fear," she said. I detect an accent -nothing I've ever heard before.
"Where am I?" I ask. The sound of my own voice is startling. The gruff, grainy, bark-like timbre is gone, replaced by a smooth, almost musical quality.