Matt and Bob had finally begun to notice that they weren't actually anywhere in particular that they recognized. The fleeting memory of the cottage had long been waved off by the half-brothers, and they were busy discussing more often than not that they realized that something was probably off. Okay, after all, one couldn't fault them as it was well recognized that they were half-troll, and though it is known they had some specific strengths, vicious fighting skills, coupled with a few other nasty traits, were predominately the nature of such predatory creatures. Both of their mothers had fae and whore mingled together if the truth be known, which it was.
Thus it had taken them more than a few centuries to gather that they weren't where they last remembered that they'd been in the kingdom, or anywhere else that they'd ever been, at any time. The cottage in the woods with the pretty woman and then the angry one wasn't much more than a passing image in their thoughts, little more than a scattered dream that haunted both of them. The naming ceremony had actually grown more than a little bit fuzzy with the passing of time, but even that didn't matter as they were beginning to find the twilight that they were in wasn't actually very friendly. Up until the feeling of wrongness began to tap at them both, they'd actually been having a pretty decent time. They had nobody bossing them around or telling them that they were stupid. A vacation to the two princes, until that weird feeling of possibly being in danger worked into their minds.
The princes were absolutely right. True darkness had begun to creep closer as they stayed lost in the otherly place, in which the darkness was avidly trying to find a spot inside their world, to nibble at and fill with a sea of corruption and untold horrors. It didn't happen over night, but it was only a matter of time as Rena found them.
Adrienne was still at the cottage gathering dry brush, and laughing at the clever trick she'd played on the young men oh-so-long ago.
So it was that Adrienne was completely unaware of Rena's power and her equally insane focus on the princes. Had she been gloating less and watching the amber drops more, she would have possibly noticed that they'd changed as Rena played with the magics that had been cast.
Rena had come inside one evening on Adrienne's nightmare, undetected, and spit on both drops, allowing her influence and unknown access. The brothers had noticed a shift in their world, but they weren't knowledgeable enough about such things to be able to explain it to themselves, much less their sibling. After all, the princes had grown up having focused more on courtly manners, royal rules and sharp swords than the kinds of magic that filled the kingdom. But it must be noted that while they both had a vague awareness of magic, throughout their lives they had been mostly sheltered from such things like spells and curses -- other than when they were children and they whispered dark bedtime tales to scare each other. Together the two could fight their way out of most situations, but with Rena's dark spell it was something entirely different.
This would have gone on for probably many more decades, if not centuries, had it not been for the simple fact that the kingdom was completely dying. Rena's evil would have cloaked over the princes' new lands and choked them a final death with nobody having been the wiser. Yet it came to be that the missing princes were impacting what was happening back at home, and the sorrow and despair of the royal court and subjects who remained was swirling in the ether, and causing more and more disturbances in the thread of reality where the royals lived. So a decision, after the symposium had long passed, was eventually made by a few of the varying types of gods, that it was time for them to interfere deeply with what was happening. They weren't the entire original cast of characters from the earlier symposium, but there were enough to create a vortex of power, and they set about making a radical change. The din from the fae, trolls, fairy, ogre, humans and other assorted magical creatures from the kingdom's lands were constantly buzzing in their minds with the pleading to their various gods and goddesses to either save them or outright kill them -- which was heartbreaking for all to hear, both in the lands and amidst the gods and goddesses. For without curses, whispers and the love of their followers, be they humans or fae -- what have you -- the gods and goddesses would wither and die in a way. Worship, fear and love fed them. That wasn't mentioned in even casual conversation at any gathering or symposium between any of them. As words added to the power structures found in the lands so too did the words -- negative or positive -- grow the power in the pantheon of the gods.
They had finally gathered together, and with a firm resolution to create a change, they used their strengths and pushed all four of them elsewhere. Adrienne, Rena, Matt and Bob were the focus of the intervention -- some of their followers, had they known would have called it divine intervention -- and the symposium that had formed for this direct and deliberate act had quickly sent the four all into the dark and magical twilight and far into the distance. It wasn't where Matt and Bob had been, but far-flung from their world and the memories of all of them that they had unintentionally left in all of those in the dying lands. Nobody really missed Rena or Adrienne, and Matt and Bob were totally erased from all history and memories of those in the land. With all traces of their princes removed from the kingdom, the healing began slowly. The mothers forgot why they were looking for anyone, much less their own flesh and blood, and all the seers and magical folks who had been in the court were fogged from any thoughts of what had been happening or any ideas of why they were even there. The gods and goddesses found themselves torn by the result, but they also knew that there were no other options available to them at that moment.
Despite nature's desire for true order, recovery was sluggish as the natural order of the lands sought to bring back what was cast out. Nature was torn asunder by the forcible removal of the four, but it wasn't easily recognized by any breathing creature. and the gods dismissed it as nothing to worry about now that they had gotten rid of everyone who had been upsetting their followers. Now and then a feeling of loss and sadness washed over the mothers, but they had been more than somewhat enchanted, so that emotion would slowly fade, while leaving a touching hurt that stayed inside them.
Of course as it was, Matt, Bob, Rena and Adrienne weren't awake for a long, long time. The gods and goddesses had decided to allow time to ease the soul deep pains and aches from their being viciously torn from their homeland along with the renewal growth in the kingdom -- it was slowly reviving and memories were staying erased. The four all began to show signs of awakening. Their bodies twitched and had spasms that seemed to flow from one to the other without interruption. The mossy hillside where they had been transported was seemingly artfully strewn with their unresponsive bodies. They had been there for decades held by the gods' spells and their own stubborn wills.
Yes, the four had been ripped from their known universe, and in the case of the princes, unknown worlds, but they were all stubborn, willful creatures. Enchanted, they didn't thirst or hunger, they just were. So it took time for any of them to challenge the world they were thrust into ... but eventually they found a hole.
During the years after they had slowly awakened, the four discovered that they were inexplicably stuck together. They talked and found out how they'd all been led astray by their parents. Rena and Adrienne figured out quickly that the two princes weren't precisely the sharpest knives in the drawer, but they in turn hadn't known anything about the two ladies; and their court-trained skills didn't do much to assist in talking to the women but did allow them to fence well. Which the two princes took advantage of, and they feigned and danced around the hillsides with swords they'd fashioned out of wood they had rubbed and edged on rocks.
Adrienne and Reba took more time to figure out if they were partners or enemies. The gods had taken time to ensure the world they had launched them to wasn't dangerous, but hospitable and it would not be a challenge for them to survive in the land.
It was a lovely wish by the gods, but sadly, not overly planned. They had stranded them in an undiscovered corner of Earth.
This is why everything changed.
I breathed in deeply, hearing the voice from my dream that had been shoving the tale of the trolls and their world stop talking. "Wake up now, Delilah Monroe." I knew that I was in the middle of some unknown weirdness. The pillows beneath my head were temptingly soft. I remembered how I'd fallen from a church alcove into another spot and bid to learn. The bed I'd been told to enjoy came with a price. The cat was still snuggled against me, as when I'd begun to see the tale in my mind scape. I hated trolls to my very fiber and what I'd envisioned while hearing an unseen narrator spin the story was far different than what I'd personally seen in her world. My parents had been killed by trolls, and I'd been trained over half my life to kill them. I'd spent years slaying and imprisoning trolls. Shaking my head free from the tale I sat up and sighed.
"Okay, come out come out. What the hell was that about?" My voice was scratching and the cat murmured and arched up while kneading into the space next to me. The slight rumble of a purr soothed me and I automatically stroked the muddled fur of the brown and gray cat. He didn't look nearly as small as he'd been when he'd first decided to trust me and follow me. The act of petting him made me calm down a bit. I really needed to find out his name.
"He likes the name Jeff for some reason." A disembodied voice tumbled around me. I blamed it on the acoustics at first, and then while mentally admitting that it could be something more supernatural, I finally sighed and asked, "Voice only or do you plan on showing yourself?" I had asked softly, not wanting to sound demanding while I started scritching Jeff beneath his chin. His louder purring alerted me to the acceptance of the offering. He shoved harder into my hand and I looked around to see if anyone was coming forth. My hand wasn't far from my backpack, so I could snag it and run if the need arose. In my mind I had to acknowledge it wasn't necessarily going to be a viable option after having seen the magic and spells from that other world.
Jeff continued to purr when a darkly cloaked figure finally emerged from the shadows of the cavern. Momentarily I stopped petting and earned a tapping of a paw on my hand. I resumed the petting intermixed with soft scratching and Jeff resumed purring loudly. The shadowy figure didn't seem to bother Jeff so I decided to not let it bother me. That said the pit of my stomach was clenched and I was breathing slower and mentally ready for anything.
At least that was what I'd thought. I was wrong.