I was absolutely frozen in place. Now there wasn't a dragon trying to kill me -- because I'd luckily jumped from an alternate world back to mine. I wasn't precisely sure if I could do it again. I knew in the back of my mind that the dragon had wanted to kill me, so I certainly couldn't pop back there. From everything I knew, suffering didn't need to happen as a rule. Humans tended to pull at the strings of dragons without a single thought as to what could be the harm to torment such vicious deadly creatures. Having talked with Sapphire, I had heard about how, many ages ago when dragons roamed freely, they were captured and tortured until they either died or gave up their treasures. I empathized with her and truly understood. But at the same time, that last dragon only wanted to gobble me up like a tasty appetizer. Some things went without saying, and from the growls and the swipes of its claws I wasn't under any illusion that that dragon would suddenly want to be my new best friend. In my world view, friends didn't become meals to be crunched fatally between fangs or teeth. Especially teeth longer than my damn arms and legs. Not a pretty thought, but I'd seen it happen to crappier creatures than me, and I really meant no harm.
Stupidly I'd popped automatically into another nearby cave, one that I'd been looting a long time ago. The moment that I landed inside the old cave from my past, I knew I'd made a mistake. It wasn't the precisely same.
Dirt, small rodent droppings, shards of old pottery, adobe walls -- they were all here, but the memory of what used to be in this place in time had shifted, and there were some added bits and pieces that weren't at all the same.
Damn, I knew that I'd completely screwed up. Who was I kidding? This was a monumental fuck up.
There were new symbols and etchings on the walls that didn't look old or in the least casual. The energy bouncing off the signs made me want to vomit really bad, but I didn't see a nearby bathroom and wasn't going to smell my own retched waste indefinitely. Not on my agenda anytime in the near future. And I couldn't hear Uncle Harry in my thoughts. Usually in the background there was a constant buzz of awareness. I knew all I had to do it reach out and his voice would warmly wash over me. I desperately wanted to hear him ask me, "Esmeralda, my child, what did you do now?"
It reminded me of being in the other worlds and that further made my tummy do somersaults and rather pushy back flips that threatened to erupt despite my desire to keep my innards just where they belonged. Slowly inhaling, I sat on the ground and let my mind tumble. I don't know how long I sat and pondered but it was more than a few minutes. I slowly looked around and shook my head.
The air seemed to be thickening and possibly I was running out of time. There was no way to be sure, but I was positive that I'd set a clock ticking once I popped into the cave, and I was inside the trap something had set for me since my last visit. I was just hoping whomever had the dinner bell chiming for me inside this cavern was long dead or unable to hear it -- either way would work for me.
As I pushed my way off the dirt floor, I felt a pang and pop in a few of my joints, so I gathered I'd been zoned out for longer than I'd realized. I'd had dreams before that seemed to last for days, only to wake up and find out I'd only been sleeping for an hour... Now I felt like I'd been running through my life in minutes, but from the twinge of my spine I'd probably been sitting there half a day. I pulled the silver sword out of my back sheath and walked to the middle of the room. I saw no markings in the dirt and nothing within touching distance. Sucking in a huge breath of air, I decided to cross a boundary I'd sworn to never venture. It wasn't a good idea, but the only idea I could come up with and I could feel the pressure of the 'what if' coming closer.
Sketching a circle in the dirt clockwise with the tip of the silver blade I made a glyph I'd been told was mine long ago by one of Uncle Harry's witch friends. Standing in the center of the circle I looked up and I spoke words softly, "Come light, come night, come take me home."
A flash of green -- then crystalline shards of prismatic lights flashed out and I saw something huge and feral drop from the nothing into the room I'd been stuck inside. And then I wasn't.
I wasn't there in the cave, I wasn't in Uncle Harry's library or my bedroom. I just wasn't.
Everything went purple-black and I fell off the edge of any known reality. I don't think I could even take a breath of air and didn't fear what seemed to be my death. I felt love flowing over me -- accepting and comforting non-judgmental love. Faces of many flew past me. Tears ran down my face of sheer joy. I was and I wasn't alive. And not a single cell of my body cared. Earth flew into my pores. The sadness of the dying creatures and the excitement of the new ones being born. I was alive and yet I wasn't. I was in the workings of the world and yet I wasn't anywhere near my home. I was and wasn't.
Then the pain began. Every single bit of my body I'd ever bumped, cut, broken or bruised sang out the horror and renewed the pain of the original injuries. Waves and waves of ripping and tearing of my sinew and my blood boiled beneath my skin. I was locked in death and yet I was staggeringly alive. I was living and yet I was dying. The tears of joy turned to running horror filling streams of acid ripping at my tissues and bubbling through my veins. This was hell. Literally hell as I saw it and I wasn't able to free myself from the path I was on. Coughing at the sulfur nightmare and the visions of skeletons, zombies, vampires, werewolves, fae creatures, dragons, goblins and the unknown creatures I'd seen in the past vaulted before my eyes and froze me in the fire. Was I truly dead?