For the longest time my mind felt trapped in the spiderweb called wind. I was all alone in the middle of a dry empty plain where the sun shined high in the sky and the wind blew all the time. I felt compelled to collect the sand, but all of my attempts always ended once it sifted through my fingers and rode the air to places I’d never reach. I started to hate that place and decided the only other thing I could do was nothing at all.
And so, I sat down on the ground and crossed my arms. The wind immediately vanished and I suddenly became very aware of how alone I really was. I almost started to regret my action before something else happened; the sand started to move! It came from all directions around me and swiftly collected itself into a massive ball that casted a shadow as big as a mountain. A dull ache appeared where my heart was and I once again felt compelled to do something. I stood up and walked towards the giant ball. Without a hint of hesitation, I carefully placed my palms upon its surface and the sun disappeared.
Blue text flashed across my eyes as I fell through a door that opened in front of me. I quickly looked around and expected that same dry plain to meet my view, but it was something else entirely! A lush green forest filled with tall trees and singing birds greeted me like an old friend; the musical notes of the birds soothed my ears and the wonderful fragrance of the trees mixed with the wind to create a cool atmosphere. I never thought I’d escape that place so the biggest smile formed on my face and tears welled up in my eyes.
I looked back to see how I got here and saw a strange dome shaped pod in the middle of a clearing in the forest; the remnants of a hexagonal pattern could be seen underneath the thick moss that grew over it. I looked inside hoping to find a clue of what happened, but aside from a pristine interior, there was nothing to be found. I felt a bit dejected, but I was still excited to learn more about where I was. The area around me was part of a circular clearing with trees surrounding most of it. However! I found a path leading through the forest I could follow. There really wasn’t anything else I could do so I steeled myself and went on my way!
I wandered through the winding grass path for around an hour before realizing something; my feet were cold! It seemed like it was morning so the dew collected onto the grass. On top of that, all these sensations have been overwhelming. It was like I had been using my whole body the wrong way right up until I fell out of that pod. I sighed and looked up at the sky. That blue color was the one most familiar to me and all I had ever known. So why is it that everything I’m seeing and feeling somehow so familiar? Why do I know what a ‘tree’ is? It was all a big mystery and that pod and myself seemed to be the only clues. Anyway, I didn’t know anything else so my best bet was to just keep moving forward.
I walked for a little longer down the path. The calm nature of the forest made me want to stay there forever, but a part of me felt like I would regret not venturing out. Amidst my daydreaming, I nearly missed the fact that the trees were clearing out in front of me! I snapped myself to full attention as I ran through the trees and into the warm sunlight. A sudden fierce breeze blew into my face and I instinctively closed my eyes. I opened them just a moment later and saw the most dazzling sight; the small mountain I realized I stood on top of allowed me to see the forest in all directions! I could see treetops while looking down from here and mountains further away dominated the horizon. A large lake sat nestled into the lower forest with a town built around it. It was only a few hundred feet away so my mind was dead set on reaching it! It felt like fate guided me here by the hand and l was ready to receive my reward. A huge grin formed on my face and I took the first step towards destiny… onto thin air!
“WAAAAH!”, or something like that, was what came out my mouth as I tumbled down the side of the mountain. My ragdoll of a body tore through branch after branch and smashed against sharp boulders before gracefully coming to a halt at the base. It wasn’t a great life but I was happy to experience this one day of happiness. I closed my eyes and waited for the darkness to come. I waited and waited but nothing happened. In fact, my body didn’t even hurt! I sprang up and searched my body for wounds only to find myself to be in the same condition aside from my torn clothes. No matter which way I looked at it, this wasn’t normal. People aren’t supposed to survive a fall like that without a single scratch!
I rubbed my head and ultimately shrugged. My big grin reappeared and I continued on my grand journey. I took another step and the ground collapsed underneath my feet! I didn’t have the energy to scream so I just crossed my arms as I fell into the abyss.
The air rushed past my body faster than any wind I’ve ever felt and it didn’t take long before I came crashing down onto the stone ground with a sickening thud. I was only half surprised I was still alive given my recent mountain tumbling experience. I laid there with my back against the rocky ground and looked up. It was pitch-black with no signs of where I fell from. Suddenly, I saw that blue text scroll across my eyes again and the once black environment slowly lit up. I sat up and the first thing I saw were these massive square stone columns that were spaced out about two hundred feet from each other. They supported the stalactite-filled ceiling that seemed as untouchable as the sky. The next thing I saw was something I wished I hadn’t seen; I had been thinking that the ground felt weird so I stood up and looked down to see myself standing on top of a giant snake!
I stumbled backwards and fell onto the real ground this time. My knees felt shaky and I couldn’t stand. I looked back at the snake and braced for an attack while closing my eyes. Rather than me becoming lunch, nothing happened at all. Aside from the usual underground noises, there was silence; not even the crickets were chirping. I mustered up the courage to stand and walked over to the snake’s head. My jaw nearly hit the floor once I saw it. Its entire head had been flattened like a pancake and a purple blood spilled out everywhere like some sort of blueberry sauce. Wait! Couldn’t this have happened from that thud earlier!
I looked away from the snake corpse while trying to whistle, but no sound came out of my mouth. Instead, I heard the sounds of footsteps quickly approaching my position alongside loud yells! I quickly looked around and saw a group of about ten men dressed in leather armor and long cloaks. One of them held onto some sort of staff while the other nine pointed sharp swords at me. I instinctively put my hands up and spoke.
“Wait! I’m not your enemy!” I shouted.
My words didn’t get them to lower their swords, but a guy with brown hair and sharp features stepped forward. He seemed to be their leader. He held onto his hilt with a strong grip as he looked at me and spoke.
“Wμɑϝ ɑʁԍ λou doᴉnმ μԍʁԍ ĸᴉd? Don’ϝ λou ĸnoʍ ᴉtƨ dɑnმԍʁouƨ ɑʁound μԍʁԍ!?” he said.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?” I responded.
The man looked slightly annoyed but still responded. Right before he did, my ears popped and the sound of static could be heard for a split second.
“ I said,” he paused. “What are you doing down here, kid? There are rumors of a legendary rock-type titanoboa snake around here that has been causing havoc recently. Unless you have a deathwish, you should get out of here immediately!”
“Did it look like that?” I asked, pointing at the pancake snake.
“Yes it di-!?” He cut himself off.
He and the rest of his group had their mouths open while a few others let their swords fall onto the hard ground with a metallic twang. He tried to collect himself the best he could and spoke again.
“D-Did you do that!?” he asked with perplexity.
I had a feeling if I answered honestly things would get out of hand so I carefully considered the question before responding.
“Ah, no I did not. It was like that when I fell here,” I lied, glancing at the ceiling.
“Fell?” he questioned.
“I was walking around outside and the ground collapsed under my feet,” I finished.
The man’s eyes widened for a split second before he returned to normal.
“I must say, I have a lot of questions for you but they can wait. This is no place for casual conversation. I don’t sense any malicious intent from you so I’m willing to give you the benefit of doubt,” he said while sheathing his sword and giving a command for his men to lower their weapons.
I felt a wave of relief wash over me as I heard those words.
“At the very least, can I have your name? My name is Eugene,” he continued.
It was strange. I’ve never thought about my name during all that time in the empty plain but as soon as Eugene asked his question it felt like I could clearly see my name as if it was etched upon my heart.
“Mark,” I replied. “My name is Mark.”
“Clark, load the monster into dimensional storage and then let's get the hell out of here.” Eugene said to someone.
Dimensional storage? What was that? The man named “Clark” was the one with the staff and he had black hair and simple features. He walked over to the giant snake and muttered something too quiet for me to hear. The tip of his staff glowed an intense blue color and the snake disappeared into thin air! I’ve never seen anything like that and it left me in awe. After that was done, Clark returned to the group and started chanting something I could actually hear.
“Oh heavenly god that governs over this world, I pray thee to lift our bodies out of this deep dungeon and transport us to the town of Sapphire. Party Teleport!”
The tip of Clark’s staff glowed with an emerald intensity and strange symbols formed on the ground. In the next moment, a white light engulfed us and I felt weightless for a split second. The light faded shortly after and the scent of food tickled my nose while cheers erupted all around me.
The room around me was scattered with round and rectangular tables. The chairs sat a wide variety of people; some of them looked like thugs while others had more friendly expressions. We stood on top of a large rectangular platform that occupied an entire strip of the interior of the building. It had other groups of people teleporting in. It seemed each groups’ teleportation was contained within each circle symbol on the wooden platform
“Alright guys, I can take it from here. Take a load off and don’t wait up for me!” Eugene beamed. “Mark, please follow me,” he added.
I wondered what was so important for Eugene to single me out. I couldn’t read his character at all. Even though he wore a smile on the outside, a part of me felt like it was fake. Maybe I’m just overthinking things, but I’d have to pick my words with him. This way of thinking felt wrong, like it went against my nature, but I’d have to push that feeling aside for now. Eugene saw me stuck in my mind and responded in a way that felt like he was reading me like a book.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ve decided to put my trust in you for now. All I ask is that you do the same for me.”
It seemed all I could do was go with the flow so I gave a nod to Eugene. We walked down the steps to get off the wooden platform and I followed him through the maze of tables towards the back of the building. We walked up towards a counter and on the other side was a tall bald man with thick muscles; he looked like he could rip you in half. Eugene leaned towards the man and whispered something in his ear. They exchanged quiet whispers before the bald man entered a back door and disappeared. He returned a few minutes later and said just one thing.
“He will see you now.”
He will see me? Just who was this “he”? I wondered. Before I could think about it any longer, Eugene ushered me into a side door away from the counter and we twisted and turned through numerous hallways until we stopped at a double door crafted out of gold with a lion door knocker. Eugene knocked it twice and we entered.
My eyes wandered around the new room for a few seconds; I took in all the fancy furniture and saw numerous books on shelves glowing with a faint light. My gaze stopped once I saw a man with grey hair and expensive-looking clothes sitting in a leather chair behind a desk and across from me.
“Thank you, Eugene. That will be all,” said the man.
Eugene gave a single nod before he closed the door as he left, leaving me fully exposed to the cold stare of this mysterious man.
“I’ll have to admit, I was skeptical when I heard about a young boy falling into that dungeon. However, I can see you greatly resemble one of those ancient races from the legends,” he said.
“Resemble?” I questioned. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Seems I got a little ahead of myself. Please, sit,” he added.
I walked toward a chair in front of him and sat down. I got a better look at the man’s face; he had a scar across his right eye and wore a monocle on his left.
“My name is Alfred and I run the guild here. I’ve already gotten your name from Eugene, but that's besides the point. I brought you in here today to see if you really are from that ancient race,” he said.
“And what race would that be?” I questioned.
A sly grin appeared on Alfred's face and he continued.
“History knew them as “androids”; they were humanoid creatures not birthed from mothers, but rather, places called “factories”. They possessed great strength and are even said to have surpassed their human creators in nearly every way. War ensued and the humans just barely survived. Before we go any farther, please place your hand on this,” he said as he took a large blue ball out of his desk drawer.
My mind raced with dozens of questions as I processed that new information. I glanced towards the large ball in Alfred’s outstretched hand and It had the same blue color as a clear sky. I cautiously took the ball into my hand and tensed up. At first, nothing happened. Suddenly, the ball turned blood red before being speckled with bits of blue! Alfred snatched it from my hands with raised eyebrows and a full grin.
“What does this mean!” I nearly shouted.
Alfred regained his composure and cleared his throat before speaking.
“It means,” he started. “That you possess a very small amount of magical energy in your body. I would have thought it impossible for androids, given their mechanical nature. It seems you are not entirely inorganic.”
“What's so special about this magical energy?” I asked.
“Let me tell you a tale. This one is much newer than the ancient stories of humans and androids.”
I sat on the edge of my chair with excitement.
“About a thousand years ago, the world shifted and humans were gifted with great power in the form of magical energy. People felt spells enter their minds and it allowed them to instantly heal wounds, travel great distances, and generate attacks out of thin air among numerous other possibilities we haven’t explored. However, the dungeon came along and brought dangerous monsters with it. In truth, the dungeon and our world are in two separate dimensions. The ground didn’t just collapse under your feet, but rather, a gate formed and you fell through. We built these towns around these gates and brave adventures enter to subjugate the evil monsters.” he finished.
Magic!? A dungeon in a different dimension!? Monsters!? What the heck, that sounded crazy. And on top of that I was supposed to be something called an android? It felt scary to think of, but at the same time, I felt my heart beat with excitement. Alfred’s face turned back to being series and he spoke again.
“You seem to not know much about this world so I can only offer you this. Help us push back the monster and I’ll help you learn about your past as long as I live!
I didn’t need to hear another word and I responded with a fire raging from deep within.
“Sounds like fun!”