A boy; a girl.
A thief; genius.
He can’t afford a packet of gum; she has three houses, all with private chefs.
Fate, Destiny, and Dimensions can bring two opposite worlds together.
But it can also tear them apart.
Folen felt around the Library’s window, looking for a lock he could open. The night was pitch black, except for the moon shining above him. The wind whispered in his ears, sending a shiver down his spine. Folen allowed himself to focus as he heard the familiar click and eased the window open. He pushed himself over the ledge into the library, landing on the floor silently. The library was dimly lit, and Folen made his way through the bookshelves until he reached a familiar pile of blankets in a far, abandoned corner of the library. He, after a long day, sat down and pulled a piece of bread out of his coat, along with two scrolls he’d nicked off a woman who claimed to be a dimension-traveler. Welcome home, Folen Green.
“Madam Romero, shall I get you anything else for the night?”
Amriel shook her head, still posing herself as feeling ill, “That’ll be all. Please do not return, and have no one disturb my room.”
The man, one of Amriel’s many servants, nodded his head before leaving the room saying, “You have four exams coming up. I suggest you are well enough to study.” Then, the door was shut.
Amriel took her opportunity. She studied the tree outside her window, watching the leaves dance to the wind, figuring out where to place her hands on her way down. Amriel slid her windows open, grabbing her bag and throwing in two scrolls she’d come across in the village square, and climbed down the tree onto her garden. She landed on the ground silently, the village roads only being lit by candle-lit lamp posts. From there, everything else was natural. Amriel took one more deep breath before starting for the Admont Library.
It was After Hours, so it made sense for the library’s gates to be locked. However, Amriel couldn’t help but let her heart sink as she tried to open the door to the library. After many failed attempts, she decided to search for another way in. The library was quite humongous, so it would be a coin toss to choose which outer wall to search first. Right, Amriel. Try going right.
While Amriel thought it was her subconscious advising her, it was actually the spirits within the library. It was Fate that spoke to Amriel that day, and fate it was that Amriel would find the window Folen had forgotten to close. And it was Destiny that told Amriel,
“Go ahead. Climb in.”
It didn’t take long for Folen to finish his dinner. Consequently, he went to sleep rather quickly, stomach empty, wrapped in thin pieces of fabrics he called a blanket. It had only been a few minutes, but Folen’s peace was disturbed by a loud thump coming from the window he’d come in through. He got up quickly, brushing off crumbs from his coat and hiding the scrolls under his blanket. He crept through the shelves towards the window, making sure to stay hidden.
Then, he saw a girl. She was average height, average build, and had ginger hair that had been poorly hidden under a black cap. She was wearing a black, long dress, one that reminded Folen of trees. She also had a bag- cross body, brown leather- a rather expensive one. She probably has food in there. Folen stayed still for a moment, deciding whether he should approach the girl or keep his distance.
“Go to her,” he heard a voice say.
So he did.
As soon as she was in the library, Amriel pulled off the black cap she’d used to hide her hair. She also took off the black dress she’d used to hide herself, leaving only a black shirt and black pants.
Even though the night was warm, Amriel felt a shiver down her spine and knew she wasn’t alone. She could sense it. Still, she followed her instinct and went through the library, up a grand staircase, and stopped at a set of doors- magnificent, tall, white doors.
“Those never open,” A voice said from behind her. Amriel turned to see a young boy, around her age. He was extremely scrawny, had shabby brown hair, and his pale skin was dirty. The boy walked over to her, seemingly confident.
“So I’ve heard,” Amriel responded, “it’s just…” she looked the boy up and down, choosing her words carefully, “you might find it silly but I found two scrolls outside a lunatics carriage today, and they said some things about dimension travelings that occur in this library-”
“After Hours,” the boy interrupted.
Amriel stuttered, “Yes, exactly. How did you know?”
The boy’s brown eyes shone in the moonlight and he sighed, “I have the other two scrolls.”
The only sound in the library was Amriel sucking in her breath.
The girl stretched out her hand, the wave of panic passing over her face at what he’d said. “Madam Amriel Romero, daughter of Captain Arrow Romero and Doctor Dawn Romero.”
Her handshake was firm and businesslike, something Folen didn’t think was possible for such a soft-looking girl. He gave her his best attempt at a smile, “Folen Green, son of a woman and a man whom I have no recollection of.”
Curiosity washed over Amriel’s face, but she shook it away and reached into her bag. Though the library was only lit by the moon, Folen could see her pull out two small scrolls, both bound by red string. Amriel didn’t look at him as she unbound the first scroll. You don’t know me, I could rob you and leave you bloodied on the library floor and never be found. Why do you trust me? Almost as if she could hear his thoughts, Amriel looked up and gave Folen a knowing smile.
“Well, aren’t you going to get your scrolls?”
Folen smiled at me, obviously not understanding the gravity of what he possessed. Still, he motioned for me to follow him and I obliged. We made our way through the shelves, passing Fantasy, History, Biographies, and more. Finally, we reached an abandoned corner of the library. It was a place you’d only find if you knew what you were looking for. There were scattered pieces of cloth that resembled a dog bed, and a single, unlit candle. Folen dug underneath some of his “blanket” and presented two scrolls.
“Shall we get to it, Madam?”
Her eyes were green, dark- a sage color. Amriel smiled at me once more, “According to what I’ve read, if we present all four scrolls to the door it will unlock three dimensions: Elysium- the place of beauty, Harlem a world of magic, and the Shadowlands- but we should try to avoid that dimension and get back here. We have to watch the time. The portals only open when the library is closed. To get from dimension to dimension we must hold hands. One scroll will be returned to us to get back home.”
Folen knew he couldn’t contribute much, since he couldn’t read. “I agree. No coming back after After Hours.”
That seemed to be enough for Amriel. She reached in her bag and pulled out an old watch and a box of matches.
“Are we lighting the library on fire?” Amriel couldn’t tell whether Folen was joking or not, so she shook her head. He couldn’t be such a fool, could he?
Then, the two went back through the shelves and back up the stairs, almost in complete synchrony. Amriel still held all four scrolls, each would allow them one trip through the Portal. They finally went back to the door, which had appeared to grow taller while they were away. The rims of the door shone gold, unlike the white it’d been before.
“Would you like to do the honors or shall I?” Amriel held out the two scrolls she’d taken, which Folen took without saying a word. This girl is certainly something. He opened the first scroll, then the second. Amriel followed suit.
“We have to organize them in order,” Folen said. He’d gotten that much from eavesdropping on the dimension-traveler.
“Good thinking,” Amriel crouched down and began reading through each scroll. She picked them up and moved them around.
Finally, she stood up, looking proud at her work. The handle of the doors came to life, sending light through the Admont library. The light flicked for a moment before disappearing. Only a linger of silver dust was left around the handles. Without second thought, Amriel grabbed the handles and swung the door open.
Folen was sucked in by a bright light, and everything around him changed. The old, dark library walls were replaced by bright blue skies. Hard wooden floors were replaced by soft grass- a lake to the distance. The scent of old books was replaced by the smell of fresh bread and honey. Looking down, Folen noticed that his clothes had been completely changed. He was dressed all in white.
Amriel was similarly dressed in a white dress. Her red hair was no longer messy, but curled onto her back. She looked up at Folen and smiled. It was a sincere smile and a friendly one.
Folen took a step forward. Then, another and another, until he was running towards the lake. The sun shone on his back, but it did not burn. The wind blew through his hair, and he felt free.
Amriel was running shortly behind Folen. Something had changed in him, in her, upon arriving at Elysium. There was a lightness she had not felt for a long time. When she reached the lake, Amriel threw herself in.
She allowed herself to be enveloped by the water, not minding her manners or thinking of exams.
Folen jumped in as well. They both swam and talked and played. My parents died long ago. That’s why I don’t remember them, he had said. After a while they grew tired and climbed out of the water. Amriel noticed that her clothes were completely dry.
They stood before each other. “Shall we get something to eat?” Folen asked.
Amriel thought for a bit, “Probably not. We don’t know what the effects would be.”
Folen looked upset at this, but layed down. Amriel did the same. They spent some time looking at the clouds until Amriel remembered that time was of the essence. “Folen,” she shook him. “It’s almost one in the morning. We must keep moving.”
He sat up, looking sad, “You’re right. Let’s continue.”
Harlem was very different from Elysium. The skies were navy blue, but lit with millions of stars of different colors. Unlike the silence and tranquility of Elysium, Harlem vibrated with energy, and people of all types made their way around.
“What would you like to see?” Amriel said. She was still wearing her white gown.
Folen had one simple answer: “Everything.”
The dimension of magic was indescribable. Amriel and Folen got to have their minds read by a witchling, were able to control elements- water and fire- and learned some spells with wands, which Amriel mastered with ease. Each building soared into the sky, and the floors with things to do were endless.
They made their way to the town square, where food carts advertised all sorts of magical delicacies. Folen went to take some, but Amriel stopped him.
“We can’t. We don’t know what will happen.”
Folen made his way to another stand- a jewelry one. "Then at least take this ring as a promise of our friendship."
The ring was blue-stoned, beautiful. Amriel smiled, "Friendship through every single dimension."
Folen was pleased with this and looked around. A group of musicians had appeared out of nowhere. “Let us dance, Amriel.”
And so, they did.
Enchanted by Harlem, it took a while for Amriel to remember that the clock was still ticking. It was five in the morning when she checked the watch again. The library’s After Hours would end in four hours.
“Folen,” she stopped middance.
His face said he understood what they must do. “To the world of pains, sorrows, and death.”
To the Shadowlands.
They were separated. That is the first thing Folen noticed when his feet landed on a hot rock. Everything around him was darkness except for flurries of bright red fire. Amriel was nowhere to be seen. Though he hardly knew the girl, Folen had come to care for her quite a lot during their adventure. His instincts kicked in.
“Amriel!” her name echoed through a dimly lit hallway, and the stones beside him turned to glass, revealing an equally conflicted Amriel. She looked at him, but didn’t move. Suddenly, the darkness spoke.
“These hallways will be filled with your biggest weaknesses. Succeed, and you shall return home.”
Folen looked at Amriel to make sure she’d heard something and she nodded. The glass between them turned back to stone.
Folen was on his own.
Amriel had no clue what awaited her, but she knew Folen would be there with her. Her steps were light as she went into the darkness. What is my weakness?
“You will know soon,” answered the darkness.
And it was so. Amriel was a girl of intelligence. Her greatest weakness was using it to the fullest. Amriel was not brave. Fear was her weakness. Amriel was never hungry, and starvation was her weakness.
Still, she endured through exams. Pages and pages and pages of questions and answers. She did every single one. Then, she faced Fear. She forced herself to not show anything but bravery. She refused to look anywhere except Fear’s eye. Then, hunger flooded her stomach. She knew it wasn’t real. She told herself over and over. You will get through this.
And so, Amriel defeated Darkness, and she was released to a staircase. Folen was there as well.
Darkness spoke: “Time is of the essence. Run up these steps and to the door. Amriel has the scroll. Just don’t let me catch you.”
They took off running up the stairs. Darkness slowly began creeping behind them. Amriel ignored the ache in her legs. She ignored her longing for rest. Folen and she were far ahead of Darkness.
“We need to stop,” Folen said suddenly, only a few steps below Amriel.
“What? No, we can’t. We don’t have time.”
“It was wonderful knowing you, Amriel Romero. I hope we meet again soon.”
“Folen don’t!” I don’t understand.
But it was already too late. Folen gave himself to the darkness. All Amriel could do was continue climbing up towards the white door, one scrolls in hand, and go back to reality. The library’s After Hours were over.
One thing Folen knew that Amriel didn’t was that he had failed in the Shadowlands. He had forgotten their rule. Hunger overwhelmed him, and he’d devoured every single sustenance in sight. And for that, he paid a price.
I woke up on a warm floor, daylight seeping in through windows. There was no one and nothing else around me, only rows and rows of books. I blinked a few times, brushing red hair out of my face. Then, I stood up and brushed off bread crumbs from the night before. The Admont Library would open soon, and there could be no trace of me left. I round up my old coat, picked up the scraps of cloth I called blankets. and made my way towards the window. I looked in my reflection, and a young redhead girl with green eyes smiled back at me. I pushed open the window and climbed out, but memories began to rush through my mind as my feet hit the ground. Folen. It was all a dream.
Except for the ring, bright blue stoned, still on my ring finger. Our promise of friendship. Through every. Single. Dimension.