|The Grotto unbeta'd
Author: Elppaenip PM
They were always warned to stay away. And after a drunken escapade on the beach, three teens find themselves in an alternate universe. The Otherworld, where they must stay for sixteen months before they are able to return to their parallel. In a world completely different, yet eerily similar they must adapt with the help of some friendly locals.het later, rated for language.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Words: 3,314 - Published: 07-15-12 - id: 3041979
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
We had all heard the warnings before. 'Don't go to the grotto, it's dangerous.' 'People go in and they never come back.' 'You'll be killed.' Well suffice to say, I never was a very good listener. So me and a couple of my good friends got a little drunk off my friend Hayley's parent's beer stash, and started cavorting around the grotto. Okay more than a little drunk. More like shitfaced, stumbling over pebbles drunk. So we started fooling around about the grotto and the ocean. Kicking over mossy boulders, splashing in puddles-that kind of adolescent tomfoolery. All that eventually landed us in the mysterious grotto. To be quite honest, it wasn't very spectacular a spectacle for all the exaggeration the rents gave it. Just a dark, rocky tunnel that ended short and smelled damp and of the sea. Especially while we were pretty tipsy, it was quite the let down. So we sat ourselves down on the still wet floor, and started drinking from our couronne lite beers. Of course, that's when it happened. When we'd started calming down, getting ready to crash and burn. Of course that night had to be a new moon. What luck right. That's how it all started. How me and Hilary and Thomas all like to say we've been 'spirited away'.
When we sat down in the cave we started kicking at the walls all crazy like is when it occured. Of course, like I mentioned, we were horribly drunk. But then the water on the grotto floor started glowing really blue. Blue as in like aquamarine-this-is-some-magic-shit-going-down-here-blue. Then probably ten seconds later my head got fuzzy and we all passed out. When we woke… well we weren't in Kansas anymore Dorothy. My head hurt like no one's business when I came to, and my eyes ached like nothing else when I opened them to bright otherworld sunlight.
I gingerly sat up and looked around. The trees around the small plot of land we were sprawled across looked like they were at least a hundred feet tall, and they were ornamented with those thingies you'd use to glean sap from a tree with buckets hung from them. Well that's exactly what they were actually. The enourmous trees were also a deep brownish blackish color. After I noticed that is when Hayley and Thomas started to wake up. Before they did though, something further sort of surprised me. The earth was damp beneath us, presumably from the freaky grotto floor-water, and around the circular area we were strewn about in was a burn dirt-looking ring. That wasn't the weirdest part though. After that ring of burnt-damp earth, grass, or whatever it was looked like it carried on with flowers and other fresh plant life like nothing had disrupted it.
Then Hayley and Thomas groaned their disapproval at their hung-over selves and I empathized immediately. Hangovers suck. Then they sat up, did their in-awe gandering at our odd surroundings, then looked at me like I looked at them. With a resounding 'what the everloving fuck happened' look smack dab on their faces. I shrugged. Hey, I didn't know anything either. We heard the footsteps then. Startled, we all scrambled to our feet and huddled together, putting Thomas out in front of us as if he would protect us as the solitary male of the group.
He came through the bushes at that moment. Looking smoldering, wearing minimum clothing and sporting a wicked six-pack. His appearance was noticeably odd to us though. His skin was an almost ashen shade of grayish-purple, his hair jet black and braided in two tiny braids with a longer one down his back. Then when he saw us, he looked surprised, but then he grinned with some sort of recognition, and he looked even more surreal than anything we'd seen in our reality. His canines we're definitely longer than average. Immediately what crossed my mind at that moment was 'vampire'. Holy shit right. A vampire, and a hot one at that. Belatedly I also realized he had two piercings on the top of his lip to the left and right of his philtrum just before his lips ended. It looked sexy as hell. To top it off he also had pierced, pointed ears. What on earth… strike that what on wherever this place was, is he? That's when he spoke, once we'd had time to assess the dead-sexy creature.
"You've come at last through the portal; May I escort you to the village?" I felt about ready to swoon. His voice was like a melody, in a medium-deep timbre, and dipped in an accent I couldn't place, though his manner of speech was oddly formal. We stood there dumbstruck. Disregarding his odd visage, he looked like he could possibly be our age. Then he spoke again, with a more bemused pitch. "You… don't know what I'm talking about, do you?" With all of our cognitive abilities at that moment, we managed to nod 'no' and he got an adorable confused twist in his smile. "Well then you're in for a good shock, follow me, we'll get you some food and shelter and explain a little more of this to you." And with that, he started walking. And with not much else to do, we scrambled to follow his quick pace.
When we arrived at the gates of his village a couple of things occurred to me. One, I was developing an odd crush on this weird dude who's name I didn't even know, and two, our surroundings looked so much like a video game it was ridiculous. Swaying trees and other plants of unknown origin, wild animals, and then of course, him. Come to think of it, we never got his name before, but I guess there was always time for that later.
The gate guards upon seeing him, and us in his company, opened to gates right on up and then he led us through the 'village'. In my humble opinion this was a pretty damn upper class village as far as villages go! He led us through a market place and to what looked like it could be a town hall type building. People cleared out of the path we walked as soon as they caught sight of us. All of them with relatively ashy/grey skin and gorgeous, shiny looking hair styled in all kinds of ways. When we reached the town hall looking building, he knocked on the door in a specific way and was let in almost immediately with us trailing behind.
After entering the premises, my first thought was that I very wrong in thinking 'town hall'. The inside of the place was almost like a tavern mixed with a greenhouse, though it appeared to be a very fancy establishment nevertheless. Right away an older looking gentleman greeted us and clapped him on the back. Then he whispered something in what sounded like another language to the older man, whose eyes widened just slightly. Then finally the older guy spoke,
"Hello there, welcome to the village of Myrtle." The name rolled off his tongue with a flourish, "I hear that you are unaware of your situation," He paused and smiled warmly, "Shall we have a seat in the next room to inform you of your situation?" Surprisingly it was me who spoke up.
"Yes… please." I added the please to be polite, but I was so confused then. I wouldn't be for long however once we sat down in a sparsely decorated, albeit comfortable room to discuss.
"Please, have a seat," I said warmly to the newcomers. I was surprised to learn that they had seemingly no idea what was going on. That isn't often the case. Usually others will port into the area and not need much help or supervision at all. An unusual occurrence this. The three young porters each took a seat as I signaled to Rythian to bring some tea out. He ducked into the kitchen door and I sat across from the three puzzled looking young ones. "So, you three… are unaware of the situation correct?" I asked softly. When porters came unknowingly to the otherworld, bad things tended to happen. They looked to each other as if goading one or the other to say something. Eventually the one who spoke up earlier, the blonde, on replied.
"That's right," She said quietly. They were still culture shocked it seemed, having only just arrived in the otherworld.
"Allow me to explain for you. This is the OtherWorld. A world parallel to whichever world you've just dropped in from. I'm guessing earth judging by your hair and clothing. Now in every parallel world there are many ways you can access teleport-points. From what Rythian has informed me, you came by the grotto. Now usually parallels will know of these points, but most people from earth are quite oblivious. That would be you," Pausing to let this sink in, I took a breath and began speaking again, " You must have been in the just right place at the just right time to get here, very lucky by all accounts. A new moon on earth comes once every tide here so we always anticipate guests at this time," The three sitting looked dumbstruck, trying to process the information, so I paused once more. During my pause, Rythian came back in the room with a set for tea. He went to the three humans and offered some. They all answered with nods 'yes' and accepted it. I began again, "As far as any scientific reasoning for this… there isn't much. It's just magic really, not to mention luck in your cases. And now here you are, though regretfully, you won't be able to get back until a full rotation from now." I ended there. That would be enough to cover the concept without frying their minds with information they can't yet comprehend. They sat there dazed for at least 10 minutes, milking their tea. As I waited, I also took a sip of my tea and signaled Rythian back.
Rythian, we'll need some food and bedding set up for them please Rythian nodded his assent and went to procure what was asked. Looking back to the three humans, the one in front looked ready to speak; and that she did.
"So… let me get this straight… we've been magically teleported to a strange land and we can't get back for how long?" The human spoke the words slowly and with growing confusion and possibly anger.
"Yes. As for how long you'll be stuck here, a full rotation." I replied amiably.
"A rotation… of what? How long is that?" Oh right; they don't understand our measurements.
"A full rotation is about the length of… about sixteen human months." I replied placidly. The humans gaped at me. Of course, sixteen months must be a significant amount of time if it is the same amount of time it takes for a full rotation.
"Sixteen months! That's almost a year and a half!" The human exclaimed worriedly. I could sympathize, but in honesty that's not so bad. Usually it takes longer to access our own world's portals, after such a recent teleport. However, there hadn't been any for quite a long while before now.
"Yes, though you're welcome to stay here longer if you'd like." Usually people liked to stay for longer because they would become accustomed to the Otherworld.
"I'm sure you're tired though, and hungry? We'll be eating in a little while, you should dine with us." I offered. Their shell shock was plain on their faces, but they also looked quite hungry and tired as well. The three nodded 'yes' and I smiled at them, then beckoned for them to follow me.
There was no way this could be real. I know I've heard it with my own ears, seen with with my own eyes, tasted it with my tongue, but this couldn't be reality. Magic and portals? It's too much like a video game or fantasy sci-fi novel. We nodded hollowly when the gentleman offered food and rest and stood mechanically to follow him.
He led us down three halls, all integrated with the same foresty/greenhousy yet sophisticated and simple décor as the rest of the building. Other people in the building looked at us with calm, smiling faces, and I wondered if this could just be an elaborate dream of some sort. In no time we arrived in what appeared to be a mess hall set up with 3 rows of two long, possibly wooden tables and benches each, and the kitchen in the back. It smelt heavenly whatever was being cooked in that kitchen. Especially after having nothing but about four bottles of beer in our stomachs from that night. Was it only last night? Too many things have happened so far for me to process it all logically. Not that a sixteen year old like myself should grasp at this situation normally.
The man led us to the yet unoccupied table nearest the kitchen to the far left. We each took our seats just as mechanically as we had been walking, and said nothing. Just looked at the gentleman escorting us around. Then a thinner girl wearing a food stained apron and sporting an intricate up do came out of the kitchen doorway and smiled at us, then proceeded to talk with the gentleman in an unknown language. Presumably what their accent originated from. When the talked, their voices sound almost like fluttering or slithering, then at some points sharp angular noises came out of their mouths. It was really interesting, nothing I'd ever heard before, and undoubtedly not of earth. After they discussed, the waifish girl scuttled back into the kitchen and the gentleman walked back over to us.
"The food should be here soon." He said simply, and with a warm smile on his relatively handsome features. Looking at him now (what else is there to do?) I realize he looks like he could be like a mayor or someone from old money. His face is intriguing, angular, but warm. He also has a scar on his left cheek from just below his eye tracing to mid cheek.; an interesting place for a scar. His hair is also tied back, and ever so slightly graying at the roots. I realize I've been staring this whole time, scrutinizing his looks so I look sharply at something else. Out of the corner of my eye I can see he's smiling with amusement glittering in his strangely grey/silver colored eyes.
The people here are exotic looking, and I want to know if they're really vampires. At least then I would be able to kick a Twilight fan's ass in an argument because I'd know I was right. That'd be fun. I crack a smile for the first time since I've been here with Hayley and Thomas, who've been nothing but silent this whole time. They regard me strangely. Their eyes are asking me 'what the hell is so funny?' and the thought makes me smile more. I must look deranged.
Then our food arrives. The waifish girl brings in two platters at a time twice and a basket of what could be bread. The gentleman says something warmly to her in their weird, fluttery language, and I assume it's gotta be 'thank you'. Then she scuttles off again, and brings back a jug carrying some sort of amber liquid and goblets. Yeah, real honest-to-goodness goblets! It feels almost medieval. On her last trip out, she brings plates and silverware and sets them down, then retreats into the kitchen for the last time.
Steam seeps out from under the metallic lids of the platters, fogging them up on the outside, and the gentleman grabs the stack of plates, which I quickly counted. There were five plates. Me, Hayley, Thomas, and the gentleman made four altogether. I wondered why there was an extra plate then. Most likely someone would join us. But then the gentleman removed the lids from the platters and all thoughts flew out of my mind. The smell was even more heavenly up close. The first platter held what looked and smelled like some kind of meat that had been cooked and marinated in a spiced sauce and my mouth watered. When the gentleman unveiled the second platter, what lay on it appeared to be a grain-like food. Something like rice. It also smelled delicious, and was mixed with some other foods that looked like small roundish vegetables. Under the third platter was a stringy looking vegetable that could be a root, and it smelled pungent, like it was also marinated in a spiced, mouth-watering concoction. Around it were a few little bowls full of sauces or other little vegetables. Finally, the fourth platter contained what looked like another kind of meat, but more along the lines of a chicken and it smelled tangy and sweet, reminding me of orange chicken.
Then the gentleman's deep, polite voice rang out as he pointed to the initial platter. "This is meat from an animal we call harbingers. They're not easy to hunt, but during this season is when they migrate back to this area. They're meat is good for making jerky and other cured meats as well as this. It's seasoned in a sauce containing a vinegar derived from suwali plants around the village and peppers, among other things." He smiled when he was finished explaining. My mind was starting to run in circles with this information. Also, hunting! They had to hunt their animals for food? I wanted to think it was primitive, but the idea just sounded so fulfilling, and everyone knows organic food is better anyways. The town I live… lived in may not be full of a bunch of health freaks, but we know what good food is. The gentleman moved on to the explanation of the next dish. "This is a grain that only grows locally. You could equate it with your parallel's 'rice' it is relatively plain in flavor, but it can be amped up with a variety of spices and other vegetables like the ones in this dish." He didn't go into much elaboration on that one, and I wonder if it's because he didn't want to overload us with information just about the food. Then he spoke again to explain the 3rd platter. Although I didn't want to be flooded with information, I wanted to know what we'd soon be consuming.
"This is a dish made from a fairly common root known to our people as a tapha," the gentleman paused, "like the first dish, it has been marinated/soaked/brined? in a mixture of different spices, vinegar, and peppers. The dishes around it are filled with a few different condiments that any of the other dishes can be paired with."
A/N: Okay, that's it for the first chapter. Short, I know, but it's just a start. Chapters from now forward will probably be about 6 pages in length or longer. If you like it, or have any constructive criticism, leave it in a review. Remember, reviews are what makes the world go 'round ;)