Finally thought of an author's note.
I started Beyond Another World just after Oh Captain, my Captain and My Own Anime (see my main page) but unlike these two stories that are finished, Beyond Another World is still undergoing a major re-write. It didn't even have a title until fictionpress asked me for one.
This story is told in the point of view of Magenta, the guardian of the Mystic Lake (who's supposedly female since such mystical entities are supposedly neutral), in case there be any confusion since the first chapter doesn't establish the gender of the narrator. In the meantime, hope you like this story. Constructive criticisms will be highly appreciated.
BEYOND ANOTHER WORLD
The wind whistled through the trees. That's all. No other living being could stand to live within the realm of the Mystic Lake.
Over a hundred centuries ago, a very powerful wizard named Aquarius cast a spell on a lake in a clearing in the Southern Forest for it kept a legendary relic-a vestige from the very genesis of Arcadia, the fourth entity from the Great Star. Legend has it that whosoever possesses the relic shall be granted unimaginable power.
Throughout time, evil had in many attempts tried to obtain the powerful relic. Thus for its safety, the relic had been sealed away in the middle of the Mystic Lake. The relic itself is protected by shards of thick ice that have also formed on and around the lake through the ages, that which grows thicker still.
Hidden in the Southern Forest. Whispered about as myth by all of Arcadia. Attempted by no creature, man, or mage. It remains undisturbed to this day.
I should know.
I yawned for the 5,426th time this year and settled back in my seat, nestled in the branches against the trunk of a tree a few meters away from said Lake. I did say 'no other living being could stand to exist within the realm of the Mystic Lake'. None, that is, other than me. Of course, I was magical.
My name? I didn't really have a name. Although a soldier who passed by 4,000 years ago called me Magenta, from the color of the tunic that I wore and because my hair was a long flag down my back the color of the sky at dusk.
I remembered him well. Poor guy. I had hoped he wouldn't be like all the others and listen to me to give up his pursuit of the relic, but he was greedy all the same. He died just like the rest of them who ever attempted to take the relic from its resting place.
That was my job. Turn away anyone who ever passed this way, accidentally or otherwise. I was sort of a Guardian to the relic and the Mystic Lake.
In the early days, knights and mages flocked this area in hopes of getting the legendary relic, using brute force, daring skills or great magic, but no one has ever succeeded. I saw all of them die from my spot up on this tree ever since the beginning. Although, I have to say the number of attempts was exponentially going down by the century.
I mean I hadn't seen a single soul pass by this time around, which was partly good—for the cause—and partly bad because, as you may have imagined, this particular job was as boring and lonely as…anything, and took about enough effort as well…nothing.
Sometimes I even wished some foolish knight would drop by and saunter to his death just so I could have some entertainment, other than braiding my hair in a million strands, which I have done a thousand times before.
I took out my worn reed leaf flute and played along with the streaming wind, closing my eyes at the calm. After a minute, I yawned again. 5,427, I mentally kept track.
Damn this boring life.
A commotion, sounding faint, made me sit up just at the brink of sleep, alerted such that the tree I was perched on swayed a little. I stood up and pounced quickly to a few trees nearer to the direction of the noise. Then I climbed up to the top of one tree and squinted to see.
The nearing twilight made it difficult to see anything clearly except to determine that the ruckus was coming from the village nearby. Arcain was the only village anywhere remotely near to the Southern Forest. It was a very small village with a population that consisted of hunters and gamekeepers, a population that decreased steadily every year.
Accidents have been known to happen around mystical Forests, when villagers sometimes wandered too far into the realm and were never to be seen again—which by the way was no fault of mine. Most of these accidents happened when I wasn't around. And when I am around, I normally am able to turn them away one way or another. I was very good at my job. Why do you think the relic remains where it is?
The riot dissipated and I sighed heavily, having seen nothing exciting that might get me through the rest of the solstice. I climbed back down and headed back to my tree, hopping from branch to branch, in no real hurry.
I longed to visit the village, longed to go anywhere for that matter but I was forbidden outside the Southern Forest. It was part of my, shall I say, duty to stick around the Lake. My existence depended on it.
I reached up both hands to grab a branch above me and pulled myself up on it. Having nothing to do as usual, I got up on a handstand and practiced walking on my hands on the wobbly tree branch.
I bit my lip as the branch shook with the wind and furrowed my eyebrows to concentrate. I pushed off one branch and landed on my feet in the next tree. I did a complicated cartwheel, which took me almost a thousand years to perfect, to come to rest on a handstand position in the following tree and continued walking on my hands on its branches.
I obviously had too much time on my hands. All I did all day, aside from guarding of course, was count things, do gymnastics and think. Think about life outside the Forest. Imagine all that I should have been witnessed to being around for centuries if I weren't only restricted within the Forest. Then again, one observes that events have a tendency to repeat themselves and that history hasn't changed much. Only the people it happens to, the culture, their attitudes, their dreams.
Sometimes when I attuned myself to people's thoughts, I get glimpses of things and fragments of feelings that seemed to hint towards a feeling of wistfulness and it settles on me, in me. I was so weary of these woods.
I crossed my arm over the other on the branch carefully. A breeze blew again and the Forest swayed with the wind. I looked up briefly to see how far I was yet to my tree. I didn't see that the branch I was on was bending beyond its tolerance. The branch started to crack from the trunk and I began to fall as the branch gave way.
"Ow!" I squeaked as I landed on the wild grass below. "Damn," I frowned sputtering my long hair out of my face as I sat up on the ground. I looked back up at the tree. I'd fallen from very high and I felt it. My rear end felt it.
"Ow," I groaned again. I started to stand. I had to get back to the Lake.
I heard a twig snap suddenly and whirled around alerted. The sound echoed guiltily through the empty Forest. I narrowed my eyes at the shadows behind the trees. "Who has come?" I posed the standard question in my halt-and-beware voice, only it seemed to lose some with me not up in my threatening big tree.
I looked around furtively. The wind answered me.
Then my eyes caught movement from the right. I turned quickly. "Who goes there?" I prompted, menacingly.
After two seconds, a figure stepped out from behind a tree.
I squinted to see clearly. The figure stepped into the faint light. It was…not a man but not a boy…something in between. He seemed to be tall, with dark, disarranged hair, and was wearing an unusual set of clothes. His breeches were loose and his navy blue shirt donned a big check mark with some words under it that I didn't understand.
"What are you doing here?" he asked, looking at me weird. "Are you lost?"
I pursed my lips. I really would come off more credible if I were up in my tree. Damn my stupid handstands.
"This place is dangerous," he continued, waving me away. "You better get out of here."
I blinked. That was a switch, I thought. He was worried about me.
He shrugged when I still didn't reply and turned to go in the direction of the Mystic Lake.
"No!" I stepped forward, raising my hand to stop him. "You mustn't go any further."
He stopped and turned back to look at me blankly. "I mustn't?" he repeated in ridicule.
I had to roll my eyes. My tongue was still a throwback to the Ages. I'd forgotten that languages had evolved in the last couple hundred years. "I mean," I started, "you'd better not go in that direction if you know what's good for you. You must be looking for the village. It's that way," I pointed in the other direction.
He looked up where I pointed then back at me. "I just been to the village and trust me, babe, this direction is good for me," he informed me.
I creased my forehead. Babe? I was over 10,000 years old.
He continued to walk towards the Lake.
"Wait!" I went after him. "Please do not go any further. You must believe me. This is for your own safety." I tried to keep up with his long strides.
"Look babe, my safety is my business," he told me firmly.
"As the Guardian of this Forest, it most certainly is my business," I declared authoritatively. "And I am not a…babe," I made a face as I said it.
He paused and turned to me. "Oh you're the guardian," he said as if in realization then his expression turned flat. "So?" he asked shortly and kept walking.
My smile faded when I saw he was not about to cooperate. I frowned. "Fine," I shrugged and spotted my tree. I drifted up to it and watched him walk past below. "If you keep going, you'll die," I called down to him. "No living thing can withstand the magical barrier around the Mystic Lake."
He stopped walking.
"Are you here for the relic?" I prompted.
"If that relic is a broken piece of glass," he replied after a pause, "then it looks like I am."
He started to walk again but stopped again when I continued, "No one who has ever tried to obtain the relic has survived these woods," I said loudly. "Trust me. It will do you no good to try to get it."
That made him look up at me in my tree. I felt my words sink in. I always did feel better up in my tree. The Forest was my territory. I smiled regally down at him.
Then he asked, "What's your name?"
I blinked, surprised. "The last person who asked me that died too," I replied instead of answering. "He tried to reason about how badly he needed the relic. I'm afraid it does no good to explain to me. I can't help you," I said. "I can only warn you. Please leave while you can."
He studied me from head to foot before his eyes met mine again. "What's your name?" he repeated with a seemingly friendlier tone.
"Um…" I started to explain that I didn't really have a name then reconsidered. "I was named Magenta," I said.
"Magenta," he echoed with a smile, taking in my clothes and my hair. "That's creative."
I tilted my head slightly, regarding him with a look.
"I'm Josh Richards," he informed me.
I blinked and noted, wondering why he had two names. "It's nice to meet you, Josh Richards," I said nonchalantly. "It would be nicer if you went on your way—away from here."
He looked me up and down again as if to evaluate his situation. After a pause, he shook his head. "I'm sorry Magenta but I can't do that," he said. "I'm not…really from around here and I need the—relic," he tried out the term carefully, "to be able to go back where I'm from…to go back to my family and friends."
Family. Friends. I was unfamiliar with these words. I furrowed my eyebrows.
"I need it to get home," he amended.
My eyes lit up. That word I recognized.
"Yes," he nodded, seeing that I understood. "I need it, see? I've heard of your relic thingie and all the incredible things it can do, but I don't want it to rule the world or anything. I just want to go home. Surely the Guardian of the relic can sense that I don't have any evil intentions."
I did. But that was beside the point. "This is not a test. The relic simply must stay in the Lake. I've told you it does no good to explain to me," I reiterated.
He looked irritated. "Then what good are you?" he demanded, turning to go off in a huff, still headed for the Lake.
I groaned. "Oh damn," I sprang from tree to tree lightly following him. "Look, you've gone too far—"
"You look," he cut me off. "You have no idea what I've had to go through just to get here. There's already like 10 armies after me. If I don't get to the relic and get the hell out of here, they're gonna kill me anyway so would you just-," he paused in mid-stride.
"Oh no," I blinked knowingly and jumped off the tree in time to catch him as his knees buckled under him.