I’ve been trying to get better about writing in the morning, to get into a routine. My recent boost of energy combating my recently diagnosed anemia is helping tremendously in that regard. So this was a prompt not related to any classes. I found it in a Writer’s Digest Creativity Workbook:
Take a typical setting for a horror or fantasy novel–a creepy old house, a castle–and jot down ideas for atypical characters and situations that might take place in that typical setting.
Long, long ago, when I first started writing in my world of Dadreon, I started a story about a college girl from Michigan who finds a door to my fantasy world. So this seemed the perfect opportunity to re-introduce her and her strange companion and guide.
Out of Place
Krista awoke to deep forest sounds and dead leaves in her hair. The concert of crickets and songbirds should have been soothing, but the sounds and accompanying sights set her on edge–she’d not been near any large stands of trees, only the thin walls of pines between sects of farmland, separating crops and acting as windbreaks. Huge, old trees–so large they blotted the sun and left only dead leaves and needles to gather beneath them–went as far as Krista could see in every direction.
Her mind fought to recall what had led to her waking here. She remembered the school day. She remembered her conversation with Derek–that made her wince and the dull ache return to her chest. She remembered going for a walk. Then, she remembered the farmhouse and the sudden storm and… the door.
“Shit.” She expelled the word like a breath, quietly but with a mixture of emotion. She wiped her sweating palms on the thighs of her jeans and tried to take everything in.
Krista felt around for her backpack and found it beside her. It seemed intact, all of her books and even her wallet still there. So she’d not been robbed in her sleep.
“Hello,” came a sudden greeting.
Krista spun around and met the gaze of an odd creature that had not been there seconds before. She had never seen anything like it, and instead of replying, merely stared.
About the size of a small retriever, it sat on its haunches much like a dog and even cocked its head curiously. Instead of a dog’s muzzle, it had a much longer snout, resembling something more like a crocodile’s mouth, but fuzzier, and with two giant, lower tusks protruding from between its lips. Intelligent black eyes watched her and its tiny, round ears twitched and swiveled, taking in the sounds all around them. Instead of paws, the creature had hooves, small and delicate like those of a deer.
“What…?” Krista whispered.
The creature’s ears pointed forward and it perked up, and seemed to… smile? “Hello. It is a greeting. Usually a similar greeting is spoken in response.” The creature, who spoke perfect English though with a strange accent, made a sudden noise like a chuckle, apparently amused at its own attempt at humor.
“You talk,” Krista said. She wasn’t sure herself if it was a statement or a question.
“And so do you!” the creature replied, chuckling some more.
Krista found herself fascinated with the movement of the creature’s lips and only realized her quiet staring when it once more spoke.
“I have never met a human face-to-face, but I have seen them often enough to realize you seem out of your place. Between that and seeing you have no weapons, I thought it might be safe to approach you and see if you are needing help.” The creature continued to study her.
“Maybe I have a weapon in my bag,” Krista bluffed. She thought quickly and realized, despite the overused phrase, “The pen is mightier than the sword,” that was unlikely to be the case here. Did it think her weak? Did it toy with her before attacking? It seemed benign enough, but she had no experience with any such creature.
“Perhaps, but if so, that would seem an impractical place to keep it.” It continued to chuckle, apparently quite amused by everything both of them said. The sound was disarming, but Krista remained on edge.
“You seem to know what I am, strangely, but what are you?” the girl asked.
“Oh! Skipping right to introductions. Very well. I am a kzaar. My name is Xye.” It smiled, the oddest expression Krista had ever seen on an animal. Then again, she had never met a kzaar before.
“I’ve never heard of any such thing,” Krista said. Xye’s smile faded. “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to sound rude. I’m just a tad disoriented.”
“Indeed. No offense taken. It’s just that not many of my kind still exist. So not many have heard of kzaar.” Xye’s eyes wandered from Krista to her bag and back again. “By what are you called?”
“Krista. Krista Kunom,” the girl replied. Somehow the exchange of names settled her nerves, and she began to look around again. It did not help her bearings any, but she had to try something.
“Well, Krista-Krista Kunom, it is a pleasure to meet you.” Xye’s smile returned.
It was Krista’s turn to laugh. “No no. It’s Krista Kunom, but most of my friends just call me Kris.”
“Kris then,” Xye replied.
“Okie, so now that we know each other. Where exactly am I? Am I still in Michigan?” Krista asked, still not sure she was ready for the answer.
“Hmm.” The kzaar’s face crinkled in an amusing display of thought. “I’m not familiar with that city. This forest is the Lost Vale. The nearest human city is Weir, but it’s quite a walk, several days. The elves have a city closer, Haliaetus, but I’m not sure how welcoming they’d be to one of your kind.”
Krista’s stomach did a somersault inside her. She was not in Michigan anymore.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
This story and all related material are the original works of Awaiting the Muse and Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti. All rights reserved.
Awaiting the Muse by Effy J. Roan AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://awaitingthemuse.wordpress.com/.