I've re-done this chapter so hopefully all mistakes are gone!

Your's for eternity,

DD

Chapter 1: Before the Beyond

The sun came down relentlessly and ruthlessly. It spared no one of its heat, baking any open skin red. Maria wiped away a trickle of sweat from her brow and glared angrily at the scorching sun. Stands of her ebony hair, that had come loose from the bun, stuck to her neck in sticky strands. She groaned in agitation and glanced at Nate.

Nate was her aggravating older brother who happened to be married to Maria's best friend, Jade. He worked as an archeologist and scientist, so he made a lot of money. All of the crazy adventures he had taken her on were funded by his research team, as was the one they were currently on. He had gotten this crazy idea of working his baby sister out of a depression that didn't exist. He thought that she was still depressed over the breakup with Kyle four months ago. Kyle was a pig. He wasn't worthy of having Maria hung up on him. Didn't he know she had caught him cheating so it really didn't hurt her feelings? Since she had already planned on breaking up with him, the cheating incident had given her a reason. But all of this adventuring wasn't only for her; it was for him to get a chance to find fossils and relics dating back to BC.

The village they were traveling to was said to have mysterious ancient relics and great deal of strange stories. Far off in the African planes the village sat. It was small and remote, so not many people knew about it. Maria was surprised the Nate had found it. The village of Rhobe-Shun; a place of mystery. She was excited to see what new mysteries it held for her and her friends.

Maria glanced at the map in her hands and blew out a frustrated breath. Today was going to be a long day, she thought. She glanced at it again then at the path they were on, but she couldn't tell if they were going the right way. That seemed to be a problem since if they got lost, being in a remote area and all, it was very unlikely anyone would find them.

She turned towards Nate and growled, "Oye, Nate! Do you know how to tell if we're going the right way because I have a sinking feeling that we are not."

He grunted and snatched the map out of her hands."Okay Maria. This is the last time I'm showing you! Do you see this spot right here?" he pointed to a winding path that lead to a small circle. "That is the path we will follow. And here." This time he pointed to the circle, "That is the village Rhobe-Shun, which you know is where we are going."

After Maria muttered her apology she started to look around. Dry, dead grass covered the plain with brown tuffs. She could hear horrid calls of animals in pain and every time she heard it she wince. She wondered what animal it was and what it was being hunted by. There was also a stray canopy tree a couple yards away from where they were walking and it appeared to have a sleeping black panther in it. She shuddered and kept walking.

Jade sighed in boredom and looked at Nate, "Honey when are we going to be at this village because I'm tired and worn out. I probably have thirty-million blisters on my feet."

He checked his watch and looked at the map again, "Well I'd wager we have about a half hour to an hour left until we get there. I'm sorry dear about your feet. Maybe next time we go walking in the Safari you'll where flat boots instead of high-heeled boots." he said with a smile.

True to his word, a half hour later they arrived at Rhobe-Shun. Maria and Jade decided to wander around. Nate on the other hand went to see the village's shaman chief to ask permission to view the village's relics. He now stood in front of the chieftain's hut wondering if he should announce himself. Before he could make the decision however a teen dressed in the traditional color white of the apprentice of the Sangomas. This made the boy most likely the son of the current Shaman Chieftain or the next chosen Shaman Chieftain. The boy was chosen by his ancestors to be the next Shaman of his tribe. He stared at Nate and spoke to him in sign language, "You...Come with me..." Then the boy walked into the hut and turned and motioned for Nate to hurry.

Once inside the boy shut the opening in the hut. Nate now stood in front of the most powerful man in the tribe, Iglulik Angakok. He stared at Nate and spoke in English, "Your name, Tell me your name."

"My name Shaman Chieftain is Nate Jamestones. I have come to view and take notes on the various relics of your village. I am an archeologist, a man who records and finds history and historical objects. If i have your permission I would enjoy very much the opportunity to be able to research and note your history."

The Shaman Chieftain seemed to stare right into Nate's very soul, "Boy...you have my permission, but if you do not believe the history of a certain relic it shall make you believe." And with that the Shaman Chieftain Iglulik Angakok dismissed Nate without another word, signaled the boy to escort them to the relic hut.

Nate spotted Maria and Jade speaking to the villagers around a campfire. They seemed to be enjoying themselves, and Nate hated to have to be the one to make it end. Luckily when they glanced his way and saw the boy, they got up, apologized to the people, said goodbye, and walked towards him.

"We were wondering when you'd come back." Maria saw the boy and turned to him, "What is your name, Sangomas?"

He glanced her way and spoke barely above a whisper, "Ucingolwendaba..means messenger.."

Maria smiled and held out a hand. The boys face contorted in shock but then he reached out hesitantly shaking her hand, "I am Maria Jamestones and that's Jade she is my best friend and my brother's wife."

Ucingolwendaba's eyes shifted to Jade, "Must..take you to...relic house." He mumbled then turned and started walking again. They followed him to a hut that was 3 times bigger than the Chieftain's hut. "Here..is the Relic Hut..." and he bowed and walked away, leaving them alone, or so they had thought. Because once they were inside, they found Iglulik Angakok waiting for them. The great Chieftain of the tribe. He was said to be one of the most powerful Shaman in the history not only of the small village, but also the surrounding ones.

Stunned each in turn bowed to the Chieftain, "Nate Jamestones...I have come to tell you about a relic...you do need they history yes?" Nate nodded and the Chieftain continued and held up a statue of a little man with a book and a circle in his hand, "This relic has been passed down by several generations because of its unique ability. It has a habit of making those who do not believe in it disappear into an alternate dimension. And I can tell that you my friends do not believe me. You may not now but by the time you awaken in the morn you shall know beyond a doubt. I tell you to look inside before it is too late for this is a test of the heart."

The Shaman let his words sink in and then continued, "By the morn you will have been to this world and back, and you may have great losses of dreams and friends, but you may also gain these things as well. I warn you children be safe and keep an eye out for each other because that world is full of dangerous things. When you return you will have what you sought here young Nate! A story unlike any other."

The trio stared at one another and nodded in silent agreement. Whatever was to happen they would take care of each other no matter what. Maria looked straight into the Shaman Chieftain's eyes and exclaimed, "We accept!" and turned and walked out of the hut. She was ready for anything they threw at her. Nate and Jade bowed to the Chieftain and quickly followed her. Iglulik bowed his head and sent a prayer to his ancestors asking them to keep them safe. They were just starting life. Sighing he got up and walked over to his bed. Climbing into it he suddenly felt very old. Sending people off on this mission aged him more than time ever could. He could smell the death as he drifted off to sleep.

That night, when Ucingolwendaba went to check on them, they were gone...