A Moment Between Worlds
By Violet Day
Date: January 12, 2018
Ch. 77

Tessa had no idea what kind of dangers lurked in the forest at night. “Would it be safe to sleep here?” she asked Amien, not expecting an answer but hoping for one.
His eyes fluttered open but he didn’t seem to focus on anything. “No,” he said. “The capitol… it’s close by.”
“Okay,” Tessa said. So they were near the capitol. That must be where the castle was. “But I don’t know how to get there.”
Amien didn’t seem to hear her. He kept talking deliriously. “That bird… I know that bird. It belongs to Cyran...”
“The court sorcerer. The one who corrupts our good King Mathus.”
Tessa wondered what that meant. Did the evil sorcerer know they were there? Was he trying to kill them? She put the thoughts out of her mind. She had more important things to worry about. “Are you feeling better?”
He blinked, comprehension returning to his eyes. “I… I don’t think I am in mortal danger.”
“Can you walk? Let’s get to that capitol. You need rest, I think. Right? Rest would help?”
Tessa’s barrage of questions seemed to go over his head somewhat but he nodded and held out an arm to her. She pulled him up, simply ignoring the pain in her shoulder as she did so. She wasn’t the one at risk here. She had a stupid physical wound, while Amien had… she didn’t really know how to describe it. Amien was wounded in the very essence of his body. Or something.
She supported him and they began to walk again. Of course, she forgot her backpack in the clearing and had to prop Amien against a tree to go get her bag. When she found it, looking sad and damp and lonely under the tree they had rested under, she remembered there was a first aid kit in there.
When she got back to Amien, he was passed out in the sitting position he had left him in. Oh. Okay. Once she was sure he was breathing, she sat down next to him and took out her first aid kit.
She clumsily cleaned the wounds on her shoulders. One shoulder was only scratched and bruised but the other was bleeding steadily and sported the deepest, most painful wounds Tessa had ever experienced. She winced and teared up as she applied disinfectant and readymade bandages. Well, at least now she wouldn’t have to worry about dying of an infection in a fantasy world.
“Okay Amien,” she said loudly. “I’m all bandaged up and you’ve had your rest. Let’s get to this city before it’s completely dark out.”
He parted his lips. “Sleep,” he murmured.
“Yeah,” Tessa said, yanking him up from the ground. “You can sleep once we’re there. So what way is the capitol?”
Amien opened his eyes slowly and looked up at the sky which was a pale lavender. The sun had just slipped down past the trees. “I… The castle is…” He gestured to the left with his head. Or maybe he was just passing out again.
Either way, Tessa didn’t really have any choice. She had to get them somewhere safer before dark. She began to trek through the forest, thoughts racing through her head about everything that had happened that day, Amien stumbling incoherently behind her.

Thankfully they were only a few minutes from the edge of the forest. The trees began to thin and opened up into a wide field. A well traveled dirt road ran along the forest and curved into the field. Tessa followed it with her eyes and saw that the road led to a wall. Behind the wall a grand city on a hill was visible, a castle of dark stone glittering against the sunset sky at the top of the hill.
“Amien,” she said. “We’re almost there.”
He moaned, sagging his weight into her.
Okay. Well. It seemed like Tessa would be on her own. She was in a completely new world and had no idea what the socially correct way would be to explain her situation or if there was one. She couldn’t really say something like “Excuse me, I came from another world with this court sorcerer, can you help me out?”
Her vision blurred as she continued to help Amien hobble down the road. Her shoulder stung. She was pretty sure she should change the dressing, but thought it was more important to get to the city before dark.
The sound of horse steps neared them from behind. Tessa turned and saw a cart led by a gray horse with a peasant in the driver’s seat. Was it called the driver’s seat? Tessa was pretty sure it wasn’t, but she didn’t know how else to think of it.
The cart stopped by her and Amien. Great. Now she would have to think of answers to hard questions.
The peasant, a balding man wearing what looked like a feed sack, leaned down from the seat of the cart. “Get in the back of my cart, good people, and I will bring you to the village.”
Tessa blinked. That was so nice! No questions asked, this man just knew that they needed to go to the village.
“Wow,” she said. “Thank you so much.” She got in the cart, which turned out to be full of some kind of fruit or vegetable that reminded her of a melon but seemed much stronger. She pulled Amien in, who promptly collapsed into the melons, eyes shut.
“Are you from far away?” the man asked as he ordered the horse to continue towards the city.
“Yeah,” Tessa said, then remembered she hadn’t heard Amien say “yeah,” ever. “Yes,” she corrected herself. If she was in this fantasy world she might as well try to make her speech fit in.
The ride to the city gates went silently. The man didn’t say anything else. When they got to the gates, two guards stopped them.
“What are you bringing into the city?”
“Turtle fruit and two travelers,” the peasant said.
“Good King Mathus praises you,” one of the guards said gruffly, looking into the cart. Tessa peeked over the edge of the cart, wondering if “good King Mathus praises you” was some kind of greeting or if the peasant had actually done something praise worthy.
The other guard took two shiny gold pieces out of a bag at his hip and handed them to the peasant driver.
Had he just been paid to bring her and Amien into the city?
A minute or two once they passed the walls, the peasant stopped the cart.
“Come on out,” he said.
Tessa helped Amien out of the cart. He seemed a little more alert now after his short nap in the cart.
“Where are we?” he asked Tessa in a low voice.
“I don’t know,” she said. “The city.” She left Amien standing uncertainly near the back of the cart and walked over to the peasant. “Thanks for the ride. I had a question –why’d you get paid by the guards back there?”
The peasant snorted. “These days there’s a monetary award for bringing travelers to the capitol. It’s to promote tourism I believe.”
“Okay,” Tessa said. “Thanks.” Maybe that was just how things worked here? But it still seemed a little strange. She would ask Amien about it. “Is there an… inn nearby?” She didn’t think she had ever used the word “inn” in her life before, but it seemed right in this context.
“Right here,” the peasant said. “Good, solid inn. Not too expensive. Do you have money?”
“No,” Tessa said.

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