Authors note: This story started a very long time ago. The first chapter is 80% new (completely re-done) material but after that it was only checked for errors to make it flow better. I do plan to remodel the entire "Lab" portion (chapters 2 and 3) as well as the end of chapter one (the last 20%) to make them sound better, up to date, and interesting. After chapter 3 the excitement picks up once more (as writing continued from that point on a year after I started this story – a time where my writing skills had improved 10 fold) bare with me on these two (in my opinion) lame chapters...

This story is NOT my best work, (I don't know why I'm still uploading) Maybe one day I'll come back and re-write it. I only checked for errors when posting new chapters, this story needs to be re-written. But if anyone is interested in my older work - this is it. If you want to see something more recent and well written - please check the story World War Four - The Vampire Wars.


Lost, confused, and in awe a boy looked up to the sky from a-top an awkward building. Where am I? He wondered, what am I doing up here? He stumbled forward in a daze to look over the edge and felt himself fall, passing into darkness before his body slammed into the road beneath.

It's chasing, closing in, Peter's sweat soaked black hair stuck to his forehead as he ran. He spun his head around to see if it was still following. His hair gleamed in a ray of sunshine that clashed though the forest cover, its black thread quality almost unreal. He turned back around, he couldn't see it, but it was sure to be following him. He brushed the sticky hair out of his eyes with his slightly tanned hand cursing his blue long sleeve shirt and black jeans in the humid forest. The hair on the back of his neck stuck up as he sensed it once more, without hesitation he stopped, the black shadow was creeping along the forest floor a few feet in front of him, as if waiting for an ambush. No. He veered around it, in a desperate attempt to get past it. Suddenly it was underneath him again, it had jumped once again.

Shit. A grey, damp boney hand reached out of the depths of the shadow, trying once again to grab at his leg. Its stiff grip barley missed his leg snatching jeans, the grab slipped, Peter stumbled but managed to stay on his feet as he picked his body back up into a full on sprint. Why? Why was it chasing me? What was it?! Questions flowed though his head as he continued to run. His pockets began to fill heavy, despite it being almost empty, whatever it was it was wearing him down.

His sprint slowed into a jog once more hoping this time it wouldn't come back. Peter looked around with his off sync jog, the trees looked bigger, a lot bigger than when he first entered. For the first time since he entered the forest he gazed around in his run, they were absolutely massive. He tried to trace a tree's trunk but his eyes got lost in the distance as he looked up; the first branch was barley visible and the further into the forest he went the larger they got. It was dizzying rounding around the trunks now boarding 1000's of feet across. He tried to push himself faster disregarding the amazing sights, he had to keep going or else the monster following him would catch him.

***

- Four hours earlier -

Peter opened the door of the dated pawn shop. It rattled, a bell attached to the top corner of the door rung as he walked though the doorway. Dust covered everything in the shop. Out of all the fascinating, old, and rare items in the store he had his eyes on one thing. He eyed scroll placed gently on a red cloth located in the display window he walked past, that. It was the only thing occupying the massive, grimy window. Everything in this old store matched its age if not older, and the price marked on each item was outrageous. Red and white danger signs marked almost every item. Peter walked around the dusty table placed shortly after the door, on the table was several boxes and a sign 'non-powder firecrackers, Dud rate: 37% Price: 200 fed's each,' unbelievable. After wrapping around the table he continued down the single file corridor that followed. Four small isles protruded from each side of the corridor. Each isle was barley large enough for a person to squeeze though and had shelves covered with rusty junk that piled to the rooftop. More small red and white danger stickers stuck to majority of the objects, the stickers seemed to shine because they repelled the dust and dirt.

He finally crept to the rubbed smooth counter in the back of the shop and rung the little bell placed conveniently on it. No one responded as if the racket from the door wasn't enough to tell them someone was in the store. Peter was excited the day he could afford the map has finally come thus waited patiently for help.

The single uncovered bulb above the shopkeeper's counter flickered once and its yellow glow wavered before it shut off suddenly. The little amount of light in the store from its single bulb went dark, for a moment Peter was blind before his eyes adjusted to the dim light shining in from the musty windows.

"Yes!" an aged voice called out from the depths of the building. An old man scurried towards the doorframe that was built carelessly a few feet left of the counter. The man shoved the wool curtain covering the doorframe out of his way and approached the counter. Wool, now that's a rare fabric only harvested on a few planets. Strict laws make its harvest so minute it's almost impossible to get your hands on it unless you're on the harvest planets. The old man looked up, noticing the dimness of his store "Ah, that blasted bulb went out. It was my last one too. I'll have to buy a few more from my supplier. One grand each, I sure wish I can get some better bulbs this next time."

Peter sighed at the old man's ramblings. He glanced over; beside the counter he noticed a box full of light bulbs. Without even letting Peter talk the shopkeeper started once more, "those! Ha, at six grand each brand new I rather take my chances with the used bulbs; you can easily get a decent time with them." The shopkeeper hunched over the counter, close to Peter's face, and looked him in the eyes "so, boy, what do you want from me."

"The map," Peter tried his best to make his voice sound stern, and certain.

"The map! I have ton's what planet do you want? I don't have the planet were on, Harmenage, but I got some nice finds. Kelos, Dreton Foe, I even got one of Eeicol 8" he hushed his voice to a whisper "that planet is said to not even be in the federation's territory…"

***

It's gone! The shadow stopped following him completely, he must have finally gone too far into the forest for it to follow. Peter stopped running after fifteen minuets of uneventful jogging. He decided now was a good time to catch his breath. Judging the time he has been running he must have gone at least three miles into the forest by now. Good thing his slim body and well built running skills kept him in shape.

After being bent over his knees for a few minuets Peter finally caught his breath. He knew not to stay still for too long, because if you stay still for to long your muscles cool down making running again so much harder. Then he realized, it was really dark this deep in the forest. He looked up once more into the depths of the large trees, this time he could see nothing at all, only large trunks shooting up as far as the eye can see. Not a single ray of light gleamed onto the surface, the treetop cover was to dense. Dark, he thought for a moment, that could be a disadvantage to him, what if the shadow still followed?

He felt a cold wet hand reach under his pant leg and wrap around his ankle. He tried to pull himself away, but the grip held to powerful. As he tugged at his leg the arm pulled in the opposite direction, he fell over. Peter looked frantically around, it had caught him and there was nothing to help him, there is nothing in this forest, yelling would not doing any good. He tried to struggle, to slip away from the death grip.

***

"No, not any of those," Peter glanced back to the head of the store; he nudged his eyes closer to the display window, trying to peak a glance at it from behind the rows of shelves. "I want that one," he pointed in the general direction.

"Ah!" the old man perked up, noticing an expensive but extremely dangerous sell. Not being the kind to send his clients to death he quickly snapped out of his salesman mode "Don't be silly boy, what would a skinny kid like you want with the likes of that!? It's dangerous, deadly, and the fraud odds are high, not to mention it's extremely expensive."

"How much?"

"Are you listening? I won't sell you your own death!"

Peter leaned over the counter and pointed at a black and white sign above the counter that said 'Will sell anything as long as you have money' "That sign says otherwise, now how much?" Peter was determined to get the map, for some reason from the first day he crossed the store window several years ago he wanted that map.

"40,000 feds, fraud rate 89%, I haven't, and won't, like anything in this store, check for legitimacy, I just buy and sell." The shopkeeper rattled off back in his salesman voice.

"I'll buy for 35,000."

"Do you even have the money? 40,000 and I'm not changing it, I rather not give such a dangerous tool to you anyways."

"Fine, 40,000" Peter tossed two credit card like cards onto the counter top. One of the cards was marked in the corner with white bulky letters 30,000 while the other said 20,000 "I want my change" Peter smirked.

***

"Get the hell off of me!" Peter yelled at the hand, frustrated. He tried to claw at the dirt in a futile attempt to drag himself away, but he wouldn't move at all. "What do you want?" Peter struggled to reach into his empty pocket. He pulled out a worn out folded scroll and continued "is this what you what!? You can have it! Just leave me alone!" Peter chucked the scroll at the grimy hand, the scroll bounced off the hand and drifted off into the distance. The hand made no motion for the scroll, it wasn't the target.

Peter, seeing the scroll didn't work, tried once more to crawl away from the hand. He heard a thump behind him, something else came out of the ground. He didn't want to look, this thing was going to try and kill him, and he still didn't know why. He tried to kick at it, he thrashed his free foot at the hand and hit something, but it wasn't his mark. He must of hit a body, he tried to turn around now to see what he hit but was stopped when a heavy body lunged itself on top of him. It quickly let go of his leg but transitioned its free hand onto the back of his head. He couldn't turn around to see it as the monster held him down.

***

The storekeeper kept the 20,000 and swiped the 30,000 card on a grimy card swipe, once finished he gave back the card that now said 10,000 in white letters. The old man slowly walked around the counter and began to make his way down the narrow isle beckoning for Peter to follow. When he finally reached the showcase he carefully blew on the scroll and placed his hands onto it. He waited 30 seconds before slowly rising his hand with the scroll and motioned for Peter to take it. Peter reached out to take the scroll, but old man snapped at him and he withdrew "ah, ah! Be careful, I don't know were you got the money, or why you want this map but be careful, every world is a dangerous one for someone with a void in their heart and this map in their hands."

He released the map in his hands and ushered Peter to take it, Peter took the map and responded. "I don't know why I want it, or what for, but when I first saw this map four years ago my mind was made up, I yearned for it, wanted it every day from that point on. Finally this time has come and I have the map, now its mine."

"Well, it's yours. For Transal."

"What?"

"It means good luck."

Peter left, the Wondering Map finally in his hands.

The shopkeeper stared at the empty red cloth in the display window for a few moments before swiftly turning around and walking back into his room behind the shop.

***

The monster, now completely on top of Peter dragged its face up against Peter's ear. He tried to struggle against it, but it was no use, he couldn't see anything except the ground or even try to escape.

Peter's ears started ringing as the creature held his face down, he could feel its warm breath on his left ear. The ringing grew worse as a warm liquid ran down the side of his face, blood. A whisper rung in the distance as the ring became more and more intense. He couldn't think of anything else, the rest of his body felt like it was missing; suddenly his entire world was engulfed in the painful buzz, the constant flat tone that was so extreme it felt like his ear drum would explode. It felt like death, his head started throbbing; this is how it's going to kill him, blind to its victim, to kill it by trauma to the brain. He tried to move his hands; he had to get away from the buzz. He tried to cover his ears, but he couldn't. He tried to look around but realized everything was black, his eyes were not working. This monster was going to kill him, kill for some map?

***

Only a mile until he reached the edge of the city! He couldn't wait any longer, he opened the map as he was walking and at first saw a blank page. Slowly, as if water color showing up on a page exposed to light for its first time, the paged started to fill. First it started with a perfect circle that resembled the city he was in. Directly to the right of the city was a thin row of Arrows signifying trees. To the North and South the thin row tree's expanded in every direction as if sketching the edges of two large circles in either direction. After the forest a thin grey area that resembled grass land and then a large white area, a desert. At the opposite edge of the map was a mountain range that veered off in either direction.

After the map finished itself, a small yellow line began to carve its way across it. It first started in the city and spread though the smallest point of the forest. After crossing the forest the line changed into a strait path that trailed though the desert halfway. Then it switched into a wild curving frenzy before it dug into the mountains and ran off the map.

After the line finished white words appeared on the top of the page 'This is what you desire, take flight and move now. Help is in your path, there is no time to delay, supplies are of the essence.'

Peter was still walking when the map finished, he looked up and could see the edge of the forest in the distance. He can feel it, something was wrong with him being here, something needed fixing and for some reason his gut his instincts told him to get this map and trust it. He folded the map and stuck it back into his pocket.

He passed the last houses on the street, their fenced in backyards, and nicely trimmed grass yards faded into tall uncut grass. The tall grass in the field shot higher than the fences of the houses and towered over the road. The thick black road he walked on turned into uncut, unfinished pavement. The road looked like a half done job, as if the steam roller rolled down the trail once and never bothered to finish on the way back.

After half a mile on the road he came across an old one story white concrete wall. The wall was worn down with age and had black streaks of dirt raked across it from top to bottom. The white wall ended on either side of the road and a sloppy red brick arch protruded from the top of both edges. Giant hinges stuck out of either side of the white wall, the door that was on the hinges looked like it had been removed years ago.

Once he passed though the door the road turned into a short dirt trail that ended a few feet after the arch. After the trail ended there was several upturned rocks covered with moss and weeds. Small deciduous trees were sparsely scattered about the rocks. The further he went into the forest the more dense the trees became. After a few minuets the upturned rocks vanished and left only scattered tall trees, the ground littered in their brown leaves. The forest darkened despite it being midday, the tree's allowed only a dim light and a few rays to hit the surface.

A circular shadow suddenly stood still in his path, the shadow was odd because there seemed to be nothing to create it. The shadow started to slowly move towards him, something was wrong.

***

The ringing was now completely constant, it was everything, it engulfed him. The pain started to fade away; it was blurred out by the intensity. Finally he could hear the whisper, a shaky voice rung out of the buzz, but slowly became clearer. It said slowly

"If you are the key, don't break the lock."

The ring exploded with new found power as the creature rolled off Peter's stunned body and fell into the ground. It sunk beneath the surface as if a fish diving into water.

Slowly the pain receded and the ringing quieted. Peter was finally free from the monsters grasp, after a few moments he could feel his limbs once more. He rolled over and sat up staring into the darkness until his vision turned into silhouettes, then blurs. Slowly everything came into focus and his pain evaporated. He rubbed his ear with a finger to notice a think streak of dried blood running down the side of his face. With a few scratches at the blood it pealed off and a few chunks came out of his ear, making it look as if it was never injured. After his sight cleared only a slight pain like a minor ear infection remained in his ear. Finally he had the strength to consider the words the monster said to him, the key? He wondered, what's that suppose to mean? Confused he stood up and strolled over to the tossed map, he stuck the map into his pocket once more knowing the creature wasn't after it after all.

He looked around and concluded these trees were indeed huge, some as big as houses. The trees were in diagonal rows, as if planned, the distance between each tree was nearly the same. Were the hell was he? Was this place even real? Maybe it did kill me, what if I'm in the afterlife right now? What if? He felt like an ant amongst this forest of the gods