1: Welcome to Louhi


The air was thick as I fell. I had that weightless, horrifying sense of dread as my spirits dropped along with my body. The first impact I made with the stairs sent shooting pain down my left arm and leg. I flipped on the stairs and rolled from there. I could tell that my head hit several times and then the swirling void in front of my eyes faded to nothing. After that…I woke up. It felt like only an instant later, but as I soon heard, it was far longer then that. I was about to experience my first real moments at Louhi…

I was light but somehow in terrible pain. The moment that my mind started moving in its semi-conscious state, my entire body ached from the inside out. It was somewhat dull though, like a pressing pain. I groaned lightly in anguish and then slowly tried to open my eyes.

Sterile, white ceiling…not that I expected anything else…but wait…what did I expect? I slowly blinked as this odd thought occurred to me. I had no idea where I was…but that bit of information did not cause me any real distress. The question of location was suddenly quite unimportant considering I had no other real thoughts in my head.

I put off any sort of panic for a bit while I tried to move my head and glance around the room. Sunlight filtered in strongly from the window to my right and I could just see the gently waving branch of a tree right outside the window. The entire room was white except for this square of sky in my line of vision. The walls, ceiling, and bed I lied on where all that stark, bright color.

"Oh! You're finally awake! I'll call the nurse!"

I heard a voice, obviously female, from across the room and then there came the sound of a door opening and then closing. I thought I heard some murmurs between that and the time that the door opened again, but it didn't strike me as important. Next sounded the clicks of heeled shoes on the hard floor and then a woman's head appeared above me. There was vivid concern on her face and she immediately put her hand to my forehead.

"Miss Randolph! You're finally awake. How do you feel?" she asked.

Randolph? Was that my name? I sighed and tried to think of something to say.

"I feel okay…I guess. I mean, I hurt everywhere but other then that I can't really complain."

The nurse, or so I assumed, smiled and then she stepped back as another person came into my line of sight. It was a girl, young and quite pretty with long, pale hair that swept across my exposed arm while she tried to get a better look at me. She was nearly white, just like the room. That was all I could tell about her. The only things dark about her appearance was her black eyelashes her red lips, and the dark blue bow tied around her neck.

"Wow! You're already up! After you took that fall, you were asleep for two whole days. The nurse said that you only suffered minor injuries though…" Her voice was soft but not coquettish like a little girl despite her looks.

"I fell?" I queried, catching only part of what she said.

The nurse appeared along with her, with a concerned look on her face.

"You mean you don't remember? Well, I suppose that should be normal since it was just your accident,"

The girl smiled. "Oh. So you don't remember what happened? I thought I'd ask you since it was so strange at the time. I can't really recall anything except seeing you fall."

I frowned at her. "And you are…?"

"Oh, I'm Lorea Berthold. I introduced myself when I showed you around. You can't remember that?" she asked.

"No…" I answered simply. I wondered when I should ask about myself but the look on the nurse's face was already quite distressed.

"What is the last thing that you did? That you remember you did, I mean," the nurse demanded.

"Uh…" I trailed off and my eyes slid back to the window.

A long period of silence stretched out among us and then the nurse spoke again.

"Miss Randolph?"

I sighed. "Randolph? So that's my name?"

The nurse gasped. "You mean you can't remember your own name?"

I managed to get my eyes off of the window and I nodded. "No. Nothing."

Lorea looked at me with giant eyes and the nurse rushed away from my bedside. I heard a strange beep and then a man's voice.

"What is it, Mia? I'm up to my neck in paperwork here."

"Headmaster, It's Miss Randolph…"

"What? Did she finally wake up? I do hope that her relatives won't sue us…"

"No. She did, but she doesn't seem to remember…"

His voice suddenly was much louder. "I DON'T CARE. Just get some sort of statement from her so we can give it to her family."

"But, sir…she can't remember anything!"

"…"

"…"

"…"

"…Sir?"

There was another long pause and then he asked, "What?"

Nurse Mia sighed. "She doesn't remember anything about herself. Not even her own name apparently."

"…That might be better in the end. I can tell her parents that…and since she can't remember anything about it…they'll obviously be too distressed at that news to do much else."

Nurse Mia clicked her tongue and she released the button with another short beep. I looked up and put my hands, palm down, on either side of me to try and prop my body up. She shook her head and moved in to bunch up the pillows behind me as l inspected myself. There really didn't appear to be much wrong with me at all. There was only a small bandage on my right ankle, as I found when I lifted the white sheets. I was in a simple, white pair of loose pants and a shirt. I couldn't tell much about myself except that my skin was slightly pale along with the sheets. I was also thin…or so I guessed since there wasn't much of me there.

"So what's my name?" I queried as I looked up at her. I was feeling dull, unimpressed by everything around me.

Lorea smiled and she sat down at the end of my bed. Now that I was upright, I got a better look at her. She was petite all over and she wore a white, plain uniform top that was tied at the high color with a navy blue bow that trailed down the front as long as her hair. She also wore a navy pleated skirt and long white stockings. She dangled her feet at the end of the bed and smiled lightly at me.

"I know at least a couple of things that you want to know. You're name is Emine Randolph. You told me to call you Ema. You're a first year here, like me so I guess you're around 17 too."

Nurse Mia pulled out a bag from under my bed and she put it on my lap carefully.

"You had this with you when you fell. Maybe there will be a clue in there. I'll send for a doctor as soon as I possibly can. Until then we'll have to hear what your parents want to do with you."

I looked at her blankly. Parents?

"What do you mean by that?"

"Well, if you can't remember anything about yourself don't you think that they'd want you home to recover? At least I would think so."

I guess time would tell. The mention of parents didn't bring back any sort of memory, be it good or bad so I didn't know what to think. I merely busied myself by opening the bag. The contents were unimportant mostly. I just saw some books with my name written on the inside and a pair of extra clothes. But Lorea did say that she was showing me around at the time so I guessed that I didn't need to have anything important with me.

"…So this means that I'm a student and this is a school? A boarding school?"

Lorea laughed and she briefly clapped her hands together and swung her legs high in the air.

"Great deduction. You are currently enrolled at Louhi Academy for Girls. It's an exclusive school so you can bet that you're family is quite wealthy or at the very least well connected."

So this was a rich school as well. I couldn't tell from the never-ending white around me. I noticed that my hair had fallen into my eyes at some point, clouding the light with dark turquoise. I pushed it back and felt for the ends, two inches or so below my chin. There were some longer pieces in front and on the side but I couldn't tell the overall style.

"So when can I leave here?" I asked. For some reason, the moment I sat up I noticed that my pain was getting less and less. Nurse Mia pursed her lips and she felt my head again, brushing back my hair and letting it fall in front again.

"…Well, your external injuries really don't prevent you from leaving right now but I'm not sure that you're mentally stable enough to depart from my care just yet," she explained.

That certainly sank my spirits. This place was too dreary…and too white. I thought I would go crazy if I stayed for longer. I threw off my sheets and swung my feet over the bed to nurse Mia's horror.

"I'm fine. I don't want to stay here any longer. I swear that I'll be good and come back if I feel even a little ill," I said in earnest. That was the first time my words sounded anything but tired and detached. It made at least a little impression on the nurse and she slowed in her movements.

"Miss Berthold…may I speak with you for a moment?" the nurse queried, taking Lorea's arm and pulling her lightly off the bed.

They moved out of the room again and I got to my feet. Behind the bed, on a small shelf, was a pile of clothing. I pulled it down and noticed that it was the exact same thing that Lorea wore. It must have been the uniform for Louhi. I glanced back at the door and quickly changed. I was trying to tie the ribbon from my position on the bed when they suddenly came back in. Mia clicked her tongue at the sight of me but Lorea smiled warmly.

"It's hard to tie it if you're not in front of a mirror," she said as she swiftly crossed the room and came to stand in front of me. Lorea grabbed the ends of the ribbon from my hands and she neatly tied the ribbon in a matter of seconds. The young lady then grabbed my hand and pulled me away from the bed.

"We'll be going now, Nurse Mia," she said.

I nodded to the woman and she sighed and picked up her clipboard again.

"Just be sure to come in first thing tomorrow. You can go to your classes later."

I glanced back at her just as Lorea opened the door and we moved into the hallway. At least it wasn't blank. Oddly enough, the floors and ceilings in the hall were black while all the walls and doors were pure white. I could immediately hear the sound of female chatter off in the distance but my guide turned the other direction and pulled me along.

"Now, this is right near the front of the school, right by the offices of the lesser people who work here. The Headmaster and his people have their own building right in the middle but normal students can't get inside. I told you all this before but you obviously don't remember."

She slowed as we came out of the narrow hallway and into a large room surrounded on all sides by high windows that allowed light to spill in from the outside. Plants lined one of the walls and there were doors at the far end.

"Now this is just a sitting room but the rest of the campus where we live and go to school is just out these doors. Louhi's a beautiful, well-tended campus. We get all sorts of money since it's all all-girl school and all the people who go here are loaded. Many wealthy former students like to donate to the school that got her started."

This was all a bit too much at one time. Lorea talked rapidly the moment she got rolling and her voice gained strength and conviction while she stated things that she obviously knew to be facts. She still had my hand tightly in hers and she directed us outside the sun bleached room and into nature.

For some reason, it seemed much less bright when we were physically outside. I put my free hand up to shield my eyes and I could see an entire garden of buildings laid out, going upward rapidly toward what appeared to be a cliff of some kind. There were so many, too many for me too count all at once.

"Don't worry. It looks daunting but it becomes really familiar quickly. You see, Louhi is where you go when you graduate from your secondary school. There are programs here that can take you eight or nine years but most people start that younger. There are at least 800 students here right now. The standard programs ones are four years long. I'm a first year but I came here for secondary…the affiliated school down the street. Your classes will be pretty small and you'll regularly run into the same people over and over."

I wasn't sure what to think of that. So it was a crowded campus but when it came to what I would be doing, that wouldn't be so?

"Where are we going?"

Lorea stopped and she looked back at the building we came from as she thought my question over.

"Since you're beat from waking up I think I should just take you to your room and leave exploring for tomorrow. Is that alright?"

At this point, I was ready to crash again after seeing the size of my new world, if these parents of mine would allow it. I hoped they were good people at least. I nodded and Lorea dragged me along again while she raced along.

There were quite a few women outside, and a few men as well but they wore different uniforms and nametags that advertised their positions as gardeners and security personnel. Only a couple of girls called out to us and when they did, they only spoke to Lorea. Something about a sister. I ignored most of it and my mind coasted along until she stopped her furious pace.

"This is it! Our dorm. Oh, I live here too just so you know. The rooms are all single…well mine isn't since I share it with my twin sister but all the rest are. It's a nice place…we're categorized here by the scores we got on our minimum tests. The girls here are all pretty much at the top of their respective classes. So you're lucky!"

The building was right at the peak of the cliff, beside two others but in a position of obvious importance. I could count twelve stories. It was made of some sort of black stone and there were windows, but they were old-fashioned and curved right at the top.

Lorea led me inside and I was relieved to see that the interior was old-fashioned and comfortable, and visibly well-kept. The floor was black marble but the furniture and the walls were crème colored. The main room had an extravagant chandelier hanging down over the central seating area and a grand staircase led further upstairs.

"Oh! This must be Miss Randolph! I do hope that you're okay now!"

I turned in place to see a cheery older woman who threw down a book and hurried from behind the tall front desk. She smiled and took both my hands.

"Look at you, you're just beautiful. But then all the girls here are so what was I expecting? I'm glad that you're okay, dear. I'm your Dorm Mother, you can call me Sail."

I retrieved my hands from her grip gently and managed what I hoped was a smile. Sail did seem a bit happier for it.

"I'm…Ema Randolph if I remember correctly…" I said, looking at Lorea for confirmation. She let out her breath and nodded.

"Yes…you see, Ema has lost her memory so she doesn't remember much of anything. I hope that you'll help her along too," Lorea said.

The woman's eyes and mouth widened in surprise and she took a step back as if she was scared that I'd shatter if she got any closer.

"Oh my dear, that's so terrible. Not to know who you are. Well, I had the maids put your luggage in your room some time ago, after you first got here. Everything should be ready for you to have a good night's sleep."

Lorea cut the woman off there by pushing me toward the stairs. I only found that a little odd as it seemed that Sail might have something else to say. She grabbed my hand again and led me up the stairs along with her.

"You're on the 11th floor along with me and my sister. Don't worry, we're just going to take the lift from the second floor. They just didn't want to make it obvious on the lower floors since they're trying to give the building a certain look so it can be a bit of pain to get to."

We went up yet another flight of stairs and then Lorea took a sharp left. Just as she said, there was a lift there, an old fashioned one with only a metal gate and no doors. She ushered me inside, closed the doors, and then pressed 11.

The lift took a short moment to start. The machinery inside of it groaned its protests before it made its ascent. I moved back until I was resting against the wall and watched as the floors passed us by.

"So how are you feeling?"

My eyes moved over toward her and Lorea smiled to encourage me.

"…I'm tired but I'm glad to be out of that room. I know I wasn't there for long…but it felt like a long time."

She smiled. "I'm sure it did...I came by those two days after classes just to make sure you hadn't already gotten up. I was so worried since I was the only one nearby when you fell."

I didn't really want to think about that yet. My head hurt the moment I did.

"…What time is it anyway?" That was the best way I could think of to change the subject.

"It's just a little past five. It's nearing winter so the sun goes down just before seven."

That was an odd piece of information. She looked a bit sad at her own words for a moment…but I must have imagined it because a moment later she was all smiles again.

The lift came to a stop and Lorea opened the doors just as someone stopped outside of the elevator.

"So here you are. I was beginning to wonder."

Lorea smiled and she jumped out of the elevator to meet up with the person right outside. I didn't even have to ask to know that this was her twin. The girl beside her was nearly her double in face. She was a bit skinner all over and her hair ended at her shoulders at one even length. The color was exactly the same though. The new girl put her hand on her sister's shoulder to steady her and her eyes turned to me.

"Sorry Zara, I was going to check on the new girl again. She woke up so I brought her back here. Oh, Ema, this is my twin sister, Zara."

Zara frowned at me but I didn't really react much.

"You look strangely good for someone who fell down two flights of stairs," Zara said. Her voice was noticeably gloomier than her twin's.

"…Oh…thanks…" I muttered and then looked out at the corridor, curious where my room was. Lorea took my hand again and she half hugged her sister.

"Don't be so critical Zara. Ema doesn't remember anything. I'm just going to take her to her room."

I suddenly felt a weight leave my shoulder and I half turned to see that Zara had my bag in her hand and she put it over her own shoulder.

"I'll at least take this the rest of the way for you. My sister can be so careless toward the ill."

For someone who didn't appear at all to like me on sight, she was being very polite. I nodded and Lorea continued to guide my way.

My room was two doors down from the end of the hall. Lorea reached into her pocket and pulled out a key.

"The nurse gave this to me. She said that I should give it to you when you look like you're feeling better." She turned the key and the door clicked open.

The room was far larger then I would expect…but I wasn't sure where this expectation originated. The entire space was nearly as big as the nurse's office. A queen sized bed was pushed against the far wall, complete with a heavy canopy and curtains tied to the bedposts. The rest of the room consisted of a large dresser, a sofa, a large desk near the door, and a small table and chairs near the balcony. I only glanced at it before Lorea pushed me toward the bed.

"You should get sleep and worry about all this tomorrow. Don't worry…"

I was right at the end. For a moment I thought I felt more pain in my neck and I was about to speak when suddenly a great heaviness took over my entire body. I blinked slowly and then fell forward, exhausted. I was asleep before I really even realized I was on the bed. It was so strange. I thought I heard something rusting somewhere in the haze of that sleep but I was far too weighed down with exhaustion to even partially awaken.


Note: This is a more recent attempt I made to craft a fantasy story with a supernatural touch. I decided to make it first person so that the reader will feel the same confusion as the main character.

Thanks for reading!