(a tale from the rainbow's end)
Chapter One: O'er the Rainbow
June stepped off the rainbow staircase, almost regretfully, but full with the excitement that adventure brings. She was at the edge of a forest that was almost too green, too lush to be real. The tree trunks were a deep chocolatey brown, and their leaves were of the purest emerald. Suddenly, June had the sense of being left alone. She spun around to find the rainbow was gone from the ground, painting the sky instead.
"Now where am I?" she ventured, stepping through the forest, searching for signs of civilization.
"Yes, where indeed?"
The voice startled her. She spun around, searching for its source. "W-who are you? Where are you?"
"Here," said the voice, coming from behind her. June turned to see no one.
"And here." This time the voice came from her right side. This time when June turned, she saw a butterfly, lit on one of the deep brown tree branches.
"Amazing," June breathed.
The butterfly cocked its head at her and slowly flapped its wings. "You are new here."
"Yes," June said slowly.
"Welcome," it sang, taking off. "Welcome to Tallasand!"
"Tallasand," June whispered. "So that's what this place is called." She started in the direction the butterfly had flown, and it wasn't long before she came upon a small village. Charmed at its quaintness, for there was no technology apparent, June figured the best place to go would be the General Store, located on the very outskirts of the town.
Chimes tinkled as June stepped into the store, filled with knicknacks and neccessaries for everyday life.
"Good afternoon, Miss," the man behind the counter said. "What brings ye here?"
What, indeed. "A good day for shopping." June smiled amiably.
The man seemed not to buy her explanation. "Ye've got the looks of the Other World about ye."
June turned, interest piqued. "What other world?"
The man scratched his beard. "I believe they call it . . . Earth, methinks. On rare occasion, one crosses over to there from here, or from there to here."
"And you think I've 'crossed over?'"
"I didna say ye did; I said ye looked as though."
June bit her lip. "And if I had come from this . . . 'Earth' . . . where would I go now that I'm here?"
"Most go 'n' see Cap'n Jim. He takes 'em where they needs be."
"And how would one find Captain Jim?"
"Ah, 'tis a three-days' walk from here to the harbor." The man smiled. "Ye are from the Other World, aren't ye?" When June merely shrugged, the man turned and called into a back room, "Teddy!"
"Yes, sir," came the reply as a young man about June's age of fifteen entered the store. "Good day, Miss," he greeted with a friendly smile.
The man nodded at June. "The lass wishes to find ole Cap'n Jim. Perhaps ye could show her the way?"
"Of course." Teddy went back into the store room and returned with an old-fashioned leather jacket which matched his eyes, his hair, and almost even his skin, all a light, sun-seasoned brown. June followed him out of the store.
"I suppose I should tell you my name," she began.
Teddy frowned and nodded. "Fair guess."
"Name's June. June Lily. I . . . I've never been to this world--to Tallasand--before."
Teddy stopped, turned and looked her square in the eye. "Tallasand? Did you say Tallasand?"
"I-Isn't that the name of this world?"
"No. This world is Chalder." He resumed his stride.
June hurried to keep up with him. "Then what is Tallasand?"
Again he stopped. "Do you want someone to hear you?"
"Why would I . . .?"
"Do not mention that name again. Please." Teddy's eyes held such grief, such fear, that June felt compelled to agree. She nodded, and the two began walking again. They had not left the outskirts of town before Teddy turned toward another store.
"I thought Captain Jim was a three-days' walk," said June.
Teddy grinned. "And so we need supplies."
June watched as Teddy picked out food, rope, and other neccessities. Once finished, he escorted her to the road out of town.
"Three-days' journey to the peak of that mountain." He pointed off into the distance. "There we meet Captain Jim, and there you may ask whatever you wish."
"You mean . . ."
"Yes." Teddy took a deep breath. "Shall we begin?"
The two set out toward the mountains.