A/N: This is a collab I did with the wonderful Akshaya Sutrave! There are two parts to my story, so Part 2 will be attached shortly. I'll link Akshaya's when hers comes out :)
Slight TW for family violence
Adreanor was a deceiving place. Its colourful flora, lively city and its beautiful people were nothing more than illusions. Illusions they’d forced themselves to believe were theirs. In short, Conall Sylfaren was starting to hate it here.
“Conall, where in Strenius’ name do you think you’re going?” She was screaming again. He had thought his mother had learnt that Conall wouldn’t listen to her enraged yells, but he supposed he was wrong.
“It’s none of your business, Mother,” He murmured, and she scoffed.
“None of my business? Sons of Sylfaren shouldn’t talk back to their mothers, and neither should they wander off wherever they please. Should I tell your father?”
‘Why don’t you?’ He wanted to challenge his mother’s words. To fight back. ‘He always sides with you.’ But he never did.
“Aren’t you so clever, Conall? Trying to sneak out when your father isn’t home? I forbid you from going anywhere.” He was so tired of hearing the same things over and over again, but speaking up meant disciplining, and Conall was sick of that too.
“I’m home!” The sound of the front door closing startled Conall. His mother shot him one last glare, before calling out to her husband with a smile on her face. As soon as she headed towards the front door, Conall bolted.
‘Anywhere that’s not here.’ He thought to himself as he ran, his bag full of items he’d need for the next few days. He would come back when his parents stopped being control freaks or when he ran out of supplies. He was willing to bet it’d be for the second reason. There was no escape in that house. He had been pricked and prodded until he was shaped to his parents’ liking. It had been like that for his whole life. Conall didn’t know where he was going, but he knew he was running through some meadow, that led to a forest. It’d shelter him for the rest of the afternoon, and he could climb a tree if his parents came this way. Immersed in his thoughts, he tripped over a tree root, his hands marginally saving him before he could fall face first.
“That looks like it hurt.” A melodious voice mused, and Conall sat up hastily, looking for the person who had spoken. He looked around and saw a girl with a playful smirk on her face. She was sitting on a fallen log, had penetrating blue eyes and hair that looked like the blackest of midnight. ‘She doesn’t look like anyone I’ve ever seen in our realm.’
“I haven’t seen you before,” she paused, “ever.”
“Who are you?” Conall breathed, scrambling a few metres away from her.
“You can call me Em. Who are you?” She queried, and Conall didn’t
know if he could trust this foreign girl.
“How about we make a deal? I’ll ask you the questions I have, then you can ask me the same. Alright?” He suggested, and the girl hesitated slightly before nodding. Even though he’d just entered the forest, Conall could see a lake that was not there before. He looked back. The meadow was still there. “Where are you from?”
“Earth? Is that not where this is?”
“Earth?” Conall repeated to himself. As much as he hated history, this name had never come up before.
“Yes, Earth. How do you not know where that is? We’re living on Earth right now!” The girl frantically waved her hands in wild gestures as she freaked out.
“No, we’re in Adreanor,” Conall said firmly, but even then, he wasn’t sure if he was anymore.
“Ah-dren-nee-or.” The girl pronounced each syllable slowly. “Weird. Are you high? Such a place doesn’t exist,”
“I’m an Adreanorian. I’ve lived here all my life.” Conall frowned.
“That is impossible.” Em scoffed. “I studied World History. You can’t just make a new country!”
“I didn’t make it up!” Conall burst out, exasperated. The girl looked shocked at his sudden change of emotion.
“Let’s say you didn’t. Why haven’t I heard of it before?”
“If you come over to me and stop sitting on that log, I can show you.” Conall sighed. “Even if you don’t trust me, I promise it’s a real place.”
“Right.” Regardless, the girl hopped off the log and stepped closer to Conall. A white spark flared between them, and the girl shrieked from the pain.
“What was that? You tricked me!”
“I didn’t do anything,” Conall spat, “stop accusing me of everything when you don’t know me!”
“That’s just it! I don’t know you!”
“How was I supposed to know you couldn’t pass this tree? I didn’t know your realm existed until a few minutes ago.” He huffed, and Em retreated to her trusty log.
“I think you should let me ask you questions now,” she looked at him, daring him to suggest otherwise. Conall wisely kept his mouth shut. “Name?”
“Conall.” He muttered, suddenly feeling more apprehensive.
“Conall.” He repeated a bit louder, and she nodded, her eyes showing her confusion.
“You didn’t tell me your surname,” he reminded her, “we’re doing a trade of sorts.”
“Fine.” She exhaled reluctantly. “Emmeline-Chanel Sun Yoon-Ah.”
“Well, that’s a mouthful.”
“Are you insulting my name?”
“No. I am simply stating it’s a bit of a mouthful,”
“Then what’s yours?”
“Conall Erolith Sylfaren,”
“That’s not even English!”
“And yours is?”
“Well, partly. Half of it is Korean. Still, it’s better than yours!”
‘Korean?’ Conall thought inwardly. “Right.” He sat down, leaning against a tree, careful to not cross the invisible line that had sparked Emmeline.
“Tell me about yourself. Why are you here? Do you have a family? Emmeline shot a few quick questions.
“Do I look like someone who doesn’t have a family?” He asked, genuinely curious.
“No, you look like a pompous bastard with your weird clothes and good looks.”
“First of all, they’re not weird. They’re extremely common clothes in my realm. Secondly, you think I’m good looking? He watched a light blush spread across her cheeks.
“I don’t. I just haven’t seen anyone like you before. It’s surprising.”
“You don’t know any dark-haired, golden-eyed, tan-skinned teenage boys?”
“Again, I don’t. You didn’t answer my questions, by the way.” She retorted, and Conall sighed again. He wasn’t sure if meeting Emmeline was a good thing or a bad thing.
Conall didn’t know how long he’d been sitting in that damn forest. Not that he’d tell Emmeline, but he enjoyed her company. A lot more than he had expected. They seemed to be inside some space that was a border between their realms where they could both see each other, but not touch or go near each other. The invisible line hadn’t been forgotten. Had Emmeline stood there for any longer, something worse than being sparked would’ve happened. That’s what Conall predicted, anyway. Emmeline was fascinating, to say the least. She was an only child, living with her parents, and she had quirks and charms he’d never found in another person in Adreanor. She loved school but hated her school system, really wanted a pet turtle, had an obsession with poetry and strongly disliked her parent’s way of raising her. He hadn’t related to anything more when she’d said that last one.
“Do you ever feel like you’re trapped in a box, and you’re told the box is safe?”
“But in reality, it’s the only thing holding you back?”
“Yes, exactly!” Emmeline exclaimed. “Sometimes, I think my parents forget I’m their daughter, not a puppet,” she trailed her finger along the rough grooves of the tree’s trunk. “I like talking to you, Conall.”
“It’s mutual.” Conall smiled. His parents would kill him if they’d found out he was conversing with a stranger from another realm. No, they’d probably think he was crazy and lock him up for the rest of his life. Though, they already did that. It was a miracle he had escaped.
“I think we live in adjacent universes since it’s not quite parallel,” Emmeline guessed, “most of the things in our lives are the same; technology, animals, education systems, but we have different names for ethnicities. Korean for you would be…?”
“Klirocairn. You’d be half Klirocairn and half Azeronan.”
“That is pretty cool,” Emmeline remarked. “Gosh, what time is it? I
probably should go,” she checked her watch, “does time here follow Earth’s or Adreanor’s?”
“I don’t know. It’s probably different.” Conall watched Emmeline stand up, dusting down her jeans.
“I would shake hands, but you know,” Emmeline saluted to him, “this has been a strange experience. Until next time, Mr Sylfaren.”
“And to you, Miss Yoon-Ah.” He waved, and a smile grew on her face. “What?”
“It sounds funny when you say my surname. I like it.” She laughed, before turning around and going deeper into her side of the forest.
As if the first miracle wasn’t enough, Conall was able to get back into Adreanor, only to find not more than three hours had passed. It had certainly been at least four or five in that border, which meant time worked differently. He set up for the night, snacking on a protein bar that was in his backpack. He couldn’t see any signs of his parents or a search party which was a relief. Chances were he had at least another day if they were properly scouting to find him. It had been four o’clock when his father had come home, so it was seven now. If he were there, his mother would be serving up dinner, then once they were all done, she’d make Conall clean up everything after. He would be lying if he said he missed washing the dishes. He was surprised when Emmeline said she wanted to go home. Then again, he didn’t blame her. Why would someone hang around with a person with the likes of him? He fell asleep with flashes of dark hair and blue eyes in his mind as he lay in his sleeping bag, resting under the night sky.
The morning sun woke Conall up from his slumber, as he blinked, trying to recall why he was lying in a sleeping bag outdoors. The memories came flooding back after a few minutes, and he wondered if he’d see Emmeline again today.
‘Should I be thinking about her this much?’ Conall wondered to himself. ‘I’ve never had a real friend before. Maybe that’s why.’ Whatever the reason was, Conall wanted to see her. He neatly packed his things into his bag and marched over to the forest. Using his judgement and memory from yesterday, he found the log Emmeline had been sitting on. It was risky, but Conall wanted to test out the powers of the invisible line. He took a deep breath in and stuck his arm out. Electrifying tingles when down his arm, as the shock made his arm feel numb. He drew it back, yelping in pain.
“God, Conall. We really can’t keep meeting up like this. You’re always hurting yourself in front of my presence.”
“Hi there, Mr Secretly I’m A Sadist.”
“I am not a sadist!”
“I know,” she smirked, “I just like seeing you riled up.”
“Do you now?” He asked, rolling his eyes. He rummaged through his backpack and pulled out an apple. “Would you like one?”
“Please.” She nodded, and Conall threw the apple over to her. She caught it cleanly and inspected it for a moment. “Isn’t it supposed to disappear or am I seeing things?”
“The apple didn’t even spark when it went through.”
“So does this mean if an object is thrown completely through in one motion, it remains intact?”
“I think so?” Conall pulled out the second apple. “Throw me back the apple, Em.” He requested, and she did so. The apple was still fine. With both apples in his hands, Conall threw them through the barrier. Emmeline managed to catch one, but the other disappeared with a flash of white light.
“Well, there goes your apple, Con,” Emmeline said after a moments pause.
“Wait there, I’m going to get some sticks.” Conall hurriedly got up and searched the forest for some similar-sized twigs. In the end, he got four and threw them all through the barrier. Just like the apple, only one stick got across, and the other three vanished.
“Should I throw myself through the barrier to see what happens?” Emmeline suggested, and Conall sighed.
“I don’t suggest you do that. Besides, how would you even throw yourself over?”
“I don’t know? I’d probably stand on the log and throw myself over.”
“Nothing could wrong,” Conall remarked dryly, and Emmeline laughed. His heart stopped as he watched her dark hair blowing in the wind, her laugh like a song sung by angels.
‘Get a grip, Conall.’ He chided himself inwardly and looked away from her.
“I think you should be the one to cross the border, if that’s what it comes to,” Emmeline pointed out, “you’re like a magical being from another realm. You’d be able to survive if you got sparked.”
“Well, using that analogy, you’re a magical being from another realm in my eyes.”
“But do you think I’d survive the spark?”
“I plead the fifth,” Conall responded, and Emmeline burst out into laughter again.
“You’re funny, Con. When was the last time I’ve laughed this hard? I don’t even know.” She giggled, and Conall’s chest tightened.
“I’m glad someone thinks I’m funny.” He mused. A strand of hair had come loose from Emmeline’s ponytail, and he had the sudden urge to tuck it back in for her. Not that he could. And every part of him hurt as Conall realised how badly he wanted to be on the other side of that border.
Conall found himself running again. He’d been meeting up with Emmeline for a week now, and he was running low on supplies. He was planning to go back home, and grab as much as he could before his parents spotted him. He was going to cross the barrier tonight. Yes, he had specifically told Emmeline not to do what he was about to do, but it was better than living in Adreanor. He was in front of the house now, staying out of the security camera’s line of range. Using the touchpad and putting in the passcode, Conall slipped through the back door and raced into his room. His parents were both working at this time, so he’d be safe. He stuffed his essential belongings into his backpack and a duffel bag, as well as ran to the kitchen to throw in whatever food they had leftover.
“Where are you going, Conall?” His mother’s voice broke the silence, as he looked up and saw his mother sitting in the living room. “I asked you a question. Where are you going?” His mother got out of her seat as he sprinted out of the house. He could hear her screaming his name, and then his father’s, and suddenly both of his parents were chasing after him. They had been waiting for him, Conall realised. They’d known he would have to come back sooner or later. Thank goodness he had the speed advantage over his parents. He’d throw them off his trail by going into the forest, before jumping through the barrier. He wasn’t even sorry as he raced through the trees, and heard his mother yell out in pain when she had fallen. One graze wouldn’t kill her. It was nothing compared to the beatings he’d received.
“Conall?” A timid voice echoed in his ears, and he saw Emmeline on the other side. “I haven’t seen you for two days! Where have you been?” She asked, the worried look in her eyes made Conall’s heart ache. He threw his duffel bag through the barrier and then his backpack.
“Em, move out of the way.” He hollered as he ran, knowing his father was still helping his mother.
“You’re going to jump? Conall! What the hell are you doing?!” She shrieked, as he climbed up a small tree.
“I have to throw myself over somehow.”
“Conall, if this doesn’t work… You know what’s going to happen!”
“I don’t care. I have to get out of Adreanor. I want to be by your side!”
“And you’re going to risk your life for that? That’s so foolish, Con!” Emmeline’s eyes were wide, but Conall ignored her. He had to cross this barrier no matter what.
“Conall! Where are you?!” He heard his father roar from the distance. He was running out of time.
“I-is that your father?” Emmeline murmured as she backed further into her side of the forest.
“Yes. Start running, Em. I’ll catch up to you. I promise.”
“I’ll carry your things, alright?”
“Okay. Get going.” Conall took one last look at Adreanor. He had never wanted to be part of that colourful illusion anyway. He heard his father scream his name again, but he didn’t turn around. He simply jumped through the barrier.