Fantasy Urban Fantasy Speculative

The windows appeared before them out of thin air, hovering before them until they seemed to stretch before their eyes. The effect is akin to staring up at a mountain in a dream. The higher you look, the higher they stretch, distorting at the edges, becoming unreal, menacing things. If the mountains were to float closer and closer until landing right in front of you. Thick carvings along the frames depict scenes that seem to shift while you study them, blue on the left window, amber on the right. A small plaque set in a raised stone directly between the windows shines for a moment as if a beam of sunlight has crossed silver. The carvings on the plaque were in a strange and otherworldly language. 

Keeley Branshaw spent her childhood being told she imagined every wondrous and magical thing she saw. Every friend she made was scared away by her "overactive" imagination. At least, that was the phrase her mother used. Her mother also used to say that her friend Nym was part of that "overactive" imagination. She held the firm belief that if she couldn't see it, then it wasn't real. No matter how hard Keeley would protest. As a teenager, she learned to keep things to herself, and she even managed to make a friend or two. But can they be called true friends if they only knew a part of who she is? She stood before the windows now with her not-so-imaginary friend Nym Raventime at her side, and for the first time, she felt validated. Everything she saw had been real. "They're stunning."

"And they're not even deadly," Nym says approvingly. "Not a lot of that anymore." He chuckled as Keeley looked around the windows, waving a hand. Even his presence in her life over the past year hasn't tampered down the wonder in her eyes at the sight of such magical things like floating windows. 

"What?" Keeley turns to look at him. Her friend had chosen a male form for this visit. Like all creatures from the Ether or the Sleeping Place, he could change his form on a whim. He has black hair and purple eyes with a fair skin tone. Though she had red hair and freckles, she had more of a tan thanks to her visits to the beach than he did in this form. "So if I choose wrong, I could die?"

"You wouldn't necessarily die," Nym says. "I'm here, after all." He flashes her a grin that reveals too-sharp teeth. "All monsters beware a visit from Raventime."

Keeley glances at him. Her friend often boasted about his fearsome reputation, but she had yet to see it in effect. "You promise? I'm not going to suddenly step through the window into the mouth of an animal that eats me whole all Big Bad Wolf like?"

"I promise you nothing like that will happen. You're safe from death with me," Nym promises.

She stares between the windows. The blue-rimmed window reminded her of bright sunny days when the sky was so clear that as a little girl, she would dream about flying through the clouds. If she closed her eyes, she could almost feel the warmth of the sun on her skin. The amber-rimmed window reminded her of a forest path filled with leaves that crunched under her feet when she walked. The silent echo of the crunch always made her feel like she was on an adventure. She closed her eyes and took a step forward. Opening her eyes, she saw the amber window in front of her. "I think this one?"

"Nice choice," Nym says. "The blue makes me think of how unpleasant drowning is."

Keeley stares at him. "Not at all what I got but... good to know what you're thinking." She turns her attention back to the window and reaches out to press her hands against the glass. It felt cool to the touch and sent a tingle against her palms. "Here I go... You may need to nudge me."

"Certainly!" Nym says, stepping up to prop his chin on Keeley's shoulder when he leans forward to look. "You have to open it first," he stage-whispers.

"I'm working on it." Her hands felt a little shaky. She couldn't even begin to predict what lay behind the window. She pushes against the glass and lifts it up. A cool breeze brushes against her cheeks, sending a chill through her. She sticks her head through the opening and looks around at her surroundings. The scent of pine and dirt greets her, but she couldn't see anything within the void. 

"See?" Nym says when they are not immediately attacked or sucked into some swirling, whirling vortex of death. "We're in one piece." As he spoke, a breeze picked up behind them. Nym wraps his arms firmly around Keeley as the breeze turns into a gust, and they are blown through the window. Nym encourages Keeley to keep her head down and her eyes closed as they are swept off their feet and sent careening through the blackness of the void. He counts the seconds until he is rudely interrupted by their landing.

Keeley lands hard and has to struggle to regain her balance. Her head felt lightheaded, and she was immediately dizzy upon standing. Even with her eyes closed, she felt as if she was flipping upside down. "Is it safe to open my eyes?"

"It is," Nym says, rubbing his back as he sits up. "Though it appears I spoke too soon, earlier."

Keeley opens her eyes. "That was more... That was just more than what I had expected." She pats herself down to ensure she's in one piece. Then looks around to take in the strange new world. "Wow..." She was stunned by the giant trees before her. She had to walk around one just to look behind it. The thickness of the trunks made her feel like she was the size of an ant. 

"Fascinating," Nym says, approaching the tree and placing his hand on it. He closes his eyes for a minute. "Fascinating," he says again when he opens his eyes.

"Where are we?" Keeley asks. She couldn't even see the tops, just trunks, and branches that seemed to spiral toward the sky together in a never-ending stretch. "It's huge!"

"A place more firmly settled in reality than the one we just left," Nym says. "How positively wonderful."

"Wonderful is good." A loud clap in the distance sounded like thunder. "What's that noise?" She couldn't see the sky to tell if it held gray clouds. The ground begins to shake, knocking her from side to side. "Nym!" She has to hug the nearest tree to keep herself from falling over as Nym struggled to do the same. "What is happening?!"

Nym studies what lay above the best she could, in what she hoped was the direction of the sky while bouncing around from the increasing boom of thunder. He notices a shadow streaking through the trees, coming closer and closer to them. He curses. "Back to the window!" He hisses. "Back to the window right now!"

Keeley lets go but nearly falls in her attempt to walk. Nym grabs her arm and drags her forward into a run. "What's happening?!" She catches sight of a giant foot with giant toes that were the size of her head. "What is that?!" The next thing she knew, the window appeared in thin air. As soon as she got the window up, Nym had his arms around her waist and sent them flying through.

June 07, 2021 20:28

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