Adventure Fantasy Fiction

My shaky hand reaches for an ornate, gold door knob. It’s attached to a towering, six-panel mahogany door with a pointed cathedral top. 

“Remember,” a voice says behind me, “once you enter, you’ll only have protection for three minutes. You’re the quickest girl I know, you can do this. Get in. Get what we came for. And get out.”

I know this already. But hearing it spoken aloud gives an air of urgency that makes my heart beat faster. I swallow. “What if I can’t find it?”

There’s a beat of silence before a quiet reply, “You have to find it.” 

I take a deep breath, nod my head once—as if the gesture will convince the rest of my body that everything’s going to be fine—then my fingers are wrapping around the handle and turning. 

The heavy door creaks open and immediately, everything feels off. The sprawling room is too still. Sound is too absent. The air is too stagnant. My hand flies up to the hourglass around my neck and I exhale, reassured that I’m still moving forward with time. 

Slowly, I step into the room, still grasping the protective neckpiece. It’s eerily quiet, except for the whisper of sand slipping through the funnel, reminding me, “Time is ticking…for you, little thief. Time is ticking…for now, little thief…” 

The same cannot be said for anything in the richly furnished room before me. 

Four people stand frozen in the last animated position they held. One white-knuckling a knife, legs crouched as if preparing to pounce with a sneer carved into his profile. The next two faces are suspended in shock—eyes wide, brows raised, lips slightly parted. And the fourth…the fourth I can’t bring myself to look at yet. 

“A time lock is an equally effective and dangerous tool,” I recall him saying. “They’re extremely hard to come by. The one in the family vault took our brother three years to find.” 

I step into the warmth of a sunbeam, disrupting petrified particles of dust. If only I could have warned him back then. 

As my feet pad forward on a luxuriously thick rug, a path of pristine air is left in my wake where dust refuses to collapse in. I scan the room for a familiar, wooden box. My hand grazes crowded bookshelves, rifles through cluttered desk drawers and disrupts the contents of a closet overstuffed with elegant clothing. I cringe when my shoulder accidentally brushes a hand frozen in mid-air.

“Once a time lock is in place, it’s nearly impossible to break,” he continues in my mind. He lowers his voice so low that I have to lean in to hear. 

“But, there’s a rumor about a key. It’s just your standard, run-of-the-mill key. Except…”

His brown eyes are dancing when he says next, “How it was created makes it unique. This key is pure glass formed from super-heated sand. Specifically, sand that came from the shores of the Temporal Tides. After it’s heated, it has to be submerged in those waters to set in its final form.”

He flashes a mischievous smile before cracking open the lid of a wooden box, just enough for me to catch the sunlight glistening on a small, glass object. 

Now, the sunlight is fading and my heart begins pounding. My search becomes more frantic. I need to find this key. And I need to find it fast. I glance at the hourglass and see that nearly half the sand has hit the bottom. 

“Time is ticking…for you, little thief. Time is ticking…make haste, little thief…” it urges as it continues falling.

I tear through the rest of the room, willing the key to reveal itself. But, after what feels like an eternity, I find myself panting from the effort and left empty-handed. My thoughts drift to the unsettling reality that the it may no longer be here. And if they key isn’t here, the most likely place it would be is with the same traitorous brother who cast this time void. 

I fight the panic rising in my chest, willing myself to think logically. If the key isn’t here, then I can’t break the time lock. If I can’t break the time lock, then I can’t set him free. And if I can’t set him free…what am I going to do? 

My eyes move to the one face I haven’t been able to look at until now. 

His face is frozen in hurt—eyebrows furrowed, lips downturned and mournful eyes gazing into empty space. Fingers are splayed on his outstretched arm, reaching for someone who’s no longer here. My eyes squeeze shut and rage boils as I picture the conniving wretch who trapped him in this time and space.

I take a steadying breath. 

Coax my eyelids open. 

And find his gaze again. 

His unblinking chestnut eyes are glowing in the fading light. I will them to look my way, but nothing changes. The sand around my neck sighs a final warning, “Time is ticking…for you, little thief. It’s almost gone…act now, little thief….”

I glance at the hourglass around my neck. Less than a third of the sand remains. 

The pools of golden brown in his eyes remain focused beyond me. My heart clenches as the uninvited memory continues replaying.

“You said only people who’ve faced the ‘endless eternity of death’ have seen the Temporal Tides.” I say, my eyes narrowed. “I remember because it’s probably the most dramatic thing I’ve ever heard you say.” 

His smile doesn’t falter and he cocks his head, “Did I say that?” 

He meets my suspicious stare for a moment longer before his eyes drop to the box and he snaps the lid shut.

“Well, the endless eternity of hunger is a more immediate concern right now,” he replies and grabs my hand. “Let’s go.” 

I gasp with a sudden realization, thrusting me back to the present. 

“You’ve been to the Temporal Tides.” I murmur to his statuesque form. That’s the only way he could have come into possession of an eternity key. 

“And if you made it there once,” I muse aloud, “you can find your way back again.” 

Hastily, I grab a pen and scribble one word on a scrap of paper. I tuck the paper between my knuckles so it’s prominently sticking out from the back of my fist and raise my hands to the chain around my neck. The sand is still rushing, but has no words for me now. 

I lean in close, tighten my fists and quickly calculate my projectile. 

“Come back for me,” I whisper, and I thrust the necklace over my head, towards his rigid figure, right before the world stands still.


It feels as if I’m waking from a centuries-long slumber. My joints are stiff, my mouth is dry and the world is fuzzy and dimly lit. Two petite hands are hovering near my face but they’re not moving. A small piece of paper is sticking out from dainty fingers. 

I hear nothing but a steady whooshing that sounds like it’s coming from my chest. The back of my neck tingles with the tug of a small chain settling into place. My awareness moves to the aching fingers of my outstretched hand. I flex and loosen them, feeling the tingle of blood rushing back into my extremities. I blink once, twice, then my surroundings come into focus. 

I step back, awakening the ridged muscles in my legs, and my eyes land on one word scrawled onto the scrap of paper. In her familiar handwriting, I see: 


My eyes snap to the motionless girl behind the note. Suddenly, it feels like the ground is falling out from under me. My fists clench. My ears are ringing. Every fiber of my being is howling at me to stay, to help her, to find a way to undo this. But a small, logical recess of my mind repeats her message. 

So I run. 

My leaden feet lurch past three more sets of glazed eyes. The world tilts as my wobbly legs fail me and I stumble to the floor. My muscles scream as I push myself up and rush to the edge of the room. 

The crash of my own body hitting the floor rattles my bones. I’m on the other side of the doorway when I hear the whooshing near my heart sputter into silence. I glance down to see the last granules of glittering sand falling through an hourglass funnel. 

I vaguely notice someone rushing towards me, eyes wide, as if expecting someone else should have come smashing through the door. 

My brain quickly arranges the puzzle pieces, filling in the gaps. The last thing I remember was a sinking feeling as I watched my brother smirk while he opened the time lock. Then nothing. So much nothing. Then her, hands frozen on both sides of my face. And a temporal amulet dangling around my neck. And in this moment, I know three things. 

I am going to forge a new key. 

I am going destroy the time lock. 

And then…my lips raise in a bitter grin…then, my brother will have hell to pay. 

January 26, 2024 17:09

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Alexis Araneta
15:16 Feb 19, 2024

Truly enjoyed this, Brianna. You have a gift for imagery. Lovely job!


19:18 Feb 19, 2024

Thank you, Stella!


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Michał Przywara
21:38 Jan 29, 2024

A fun fantasy tale :) I like the creative solution she comes up with, when she realizes she can't succeed here. It's an act of faith in the other character, but also sacrifice on her part. The family drama is central, which is nice because it keeps us grounded, and it lets the fantasy elements be incorporated seamlessly. No big exposition dumps, just smooth story. The ending's a cliffhanger, true, but *her* story does come to an end. At least, for the foreseeable future. This piece could work as the prologue to something longer. Is it pa...


15:29 Jan 31, 2024

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and share your insightful feedback, Michal! I’d love to publish a book someday, but just flexing my short story craft for now. So, who knows, maybe more to come with this story in the future…


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