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    1. #1
      Member Umbrasquall's Avatar
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      Internet archiving is a wonderful thing. I managed to dig this RP up from Dreamview's old Adventurer's Hall. Me and Amethyst barely started this RP before Adventuer's Hall was taken down. I'm posting it here so it doesn't get lost. This was written over two years ago, so my writing may suck a little.

      ~

      Alexander

      Alex looked out of the school bus window as more lights from along the highway flashed by. Besides the occasional lit overpass and passing car, the road was dark but for the bus headlights, and the stars. Alex had never seen stars so bright. Even though it was true that they had finally left the bright skyline of Chicago, which contrasted sharply with the shadows of the suburbs.

      He sighed. It was his 18th birthday, and he had been forced to waste it on a useless field trip, though he had tried hard to convince his art teacher to let him skip. A tour of the Metropolitan Art Museum just wasn’t the way he wanted to spend one of the most important birthdays in his life. To make it worse, the entire class had to walk around the entire time, visiting all the exhibits available. Alex was pretty worn out. The only reason that he paid any attention at all during the tour was because Mrs. Hennings told them what they learned from the guide will be a major part of their exam.

      Of course he really hadn’t wanted to skip completely. A part of him wanted to come anyways, because Amy Temple, one of the girls in his grade he sort of liked, maybe, was also in his art class. He looked from the window to look a few seats in front of him. He could hear her talking to one of her girlfriends, he strained to hear the words but all he could catch were fragments of the conversation. He sank back into his seat. Whatever.

      The surface of his seat was cool, and Alex relaxed. He still haven’t had the nerve to ask her out yet (Of course, he was working on that one) even though they had worked together on art projects a few times.

      Alex leaned back further until he was lying down completely in his leathery seat, stretching his legs out into the aisle a little. He listened as the other students attempted to talk to each other over the constant drone of the bus engine.

      It was a soothing moment actually. He was tired from the day of walking around and now allowed his mind to wander a little, thinking of what he was going to do over the weekend. His eyes settled on the EMERGENCY hatch on the roof of the bus. Alex closed his eyes; the image of the red lettering burned into his mind. He wondered what it would be like to have to use that exit.

      ~

      Alex opened his eyes to darkness. Well not total darkness, since somewhere there was the flash, flash, flash of a red emergency light. He sat up, realizing with a start that it was silent on the bus. There was no talking students, no rumble of the engine.

      “Shit! Did I get left behind at the school?” Alex thought as he jumped up from his seat, angry that no one had bothered to wake him up when the bus arrived back at the high school. Wait a second; Alex paused as he noticed that he wasn’t alone on the bus. The entire class was here, and they were all sprawled on their own seats, seemingly asleep. He saw Amy, in the same seat as before, two rows up, leaning against the shoulder of her friend.

      What’s going on here? Alex thought. He began to be panic. Had there been an accident? Are they dead?

      Then he saw something that disturbed him. He had thought it was pitch dark outside before, but it wasn’t because it was night, but because something covered up the outside windows. A small trickle of it slid down through a small crack and made a pile at his feet.

      It was sand.

      What the heck? What’s the bus doing buried in sand???

      Alex pushed himself through several rows until he came to the front of the bus. The driver was slumped on the wheel.

      Okay this is weird.

      “Argh, what’s going on?”

      Alex jumped, turning to see one of his classmates, who had awoken and was now rubbing his eyes. He swiped at his window in a disoriented fashion as he adjusted to the flash of the emergency light.

      Alex scratched his head. “Uh, no idea actually.”

      "What the..." The guy said as he saw the rest of the sleeping class.

      Fortunately the silence didn’t last any longer (For Alex was embarrassed since he couldn’t remember the guy's name) because the rest of the bus’s occupants began to stir as well.

      Confusion was apparent in everyone’s expression as they adjusted themselves. Some of them caught in awkward positions. It took a while before a baffled Mrs. Hennings finally spoke.

      “Um does anyone know what happened?”

      Everyone shook their heads, and a few murmured negatives. Suddenly a shrill squeak rang out and almost gave everyone a heart attack as a girl who had opened a window had five gallons of sand dumped onto her.

      “This is certainly strange.” Mrs. Hennings continued after everyone had calmed down again.

      “It most certainly is.” A cracked voice called out from the front of the bus. It was the driver; an old man who seemed that he should have been halfway through his retirement instead of driving a bus. “I believe we’ve been beamed to another world.”

      “What?” Asked a confused Mrs. Hennings, along with many similarly bewildered students. A few nervous laughs rang out at the absurdity of the old man’s claim.

      The driver shook his head. "It’s true I tell all of you. Cars have been disappearing around the highway we were on for decades now. Mysteriously vanished. Gone forever. I know because my stepfather was a victim. He too was sent to another world, but he managed to make it back.”

      Mrs. Hennings shook her head in a bemused fashion. “You said the highway we were on? Where do you mean we are now? Oh never mind, students, we have to find a way to get out of here. Your parents will sue me if I don’t get you home tonight. What time is it anyways?”

      Alex checked his glowing watch, then tapped it to make sure it was still running. “Uh It’s 11:30.”

      “Eleven thirty? Oh it’s really late already! I can’t believe that we were all out for four hours? Oh Christ… how did this happen?”

      There was a squeaking sound like nail on chalkboard that caused Alex to flinch along with several others. One of the guys had managed to open the EMERGENCY roof hatch.

      “Mrs. Hennings!” He called out. The sand only comes up to the roof! We can get out from here!”

      Mrs. Hennings still seemed a little dazed. “Oh well carry on Shawn. Get everyone out of here first I guess?”

      ~

      It took a while for the entire proceeding but after about thirty minutes all twenty-four kids and two adults were able to scramble up out through the hatch. Several had brought their book bags.

      Alex shielded his eyes from the wind and looked around.

      Well that explains the sand. They were in the middle of an immense desert that stretched beyond into all the distances as far as anyone can see. The sun was rising on the horizon behind them.

      Matt, one of the guys Alex ate lunch with at the museum, spoke up in a voice of incredulity.

      “Well we definitely aren’t in the same time zone anymore.”

    2. #2
      Member Umbrasquall's Avatar
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      Amethyst

      As she walked away from the museum, paintings and sculptures floated in Amethyst's head. All in all she found the experience rather enjoyable, though other field trips would have been a bit more enjoyable. With that thought in her head she boarded the bus and took her place towards the front, dearly hoping that she would get to sit alone.

      As the rest of her classmates came on she decided that it wouldn't be possible and ended up sitting next to someone bearable, but she didn't know him all that well. When all were seated and the bus began to move, Amethyst listened to the buzz of conversation that she was never a part of, but didn't think badly of it. She was often called quiet, but she simply didn't have anything to say and preferred to listen in on the conversation that Mr. Hennings and the bus driver were having.

      Time passed and her seat-mate grew drowsy. In what seemed an absent-minded manner, his head slowly dipped down and he leaned closer until his head was on her shoulder. Rolling her eyes, she didn't complain. She was used to it. She couldn't sleep in a moving vehicle but figured that those who could deserved the right to sleep as soundly as possible. Rather, she looked at the mirror in the front of the bus and saw Alexander in the back staring at Amy....again. Not many people know of his crush, but Ame didn't have much else to do except watch others and so this was no mystery to her.

      Eventually, Amethyst's eyes began to grow heavy in tandem with the rest of the bus. Her muscles tensed only enough to keep her body from moving while it slept and she soon found herself unable to remain awake for once. However, something managed to irritate her nose and a quick sneeze woke her up.

      She gasped at what she saw. Oh, no, she thought at the sight. She knew exactly what was happening and hoped against all hopes that she was wrong. The insight she gained from looking at what was before her was almost too much for her mind to handle and so she looked away.

      That knowledge fled from her mind as she opened her eyes and saw a red light flashing. Turning her head she saw that most everyone was still sleeping except for Alex and a couple others. Then she saw the sand out-side of the windows and gasped. "What happened?" one girl asked.

      One girl had opened a window and sand began to filter in. There was little dust that came from it but it was enough to cause her to sneeze. A brief glimpse of what had transpired flashed in Amethyst's head, but before she could recognize it, it was gone. Then the driver began explaining what had occurred, but it seemed no one believed him. Even Amethyst was having trouble. Eventually, one of the guys opened the hatch in the roof and when sand didn't come pouring in, we discovered that we could get out.

      It took a while for everyone to climb through the hole, but it was done. Any spirits they had dropped when they saw the scene before them: Sand. Miles and miles of it in every direction, with the bus underneath it all. "Well, I've been wishing for excitement," Amethyst told herself. "Too bad it had to happen to everyone else." With that, she resettled the bag on her back and said to her teacher, "Well, we can't blame this on the bus company." He only chuckled.

      Hoping she'd remembered to fill it up, she reached back for her water bottle. She was pleased to see that she had been at least that smart and unscrewed the cap. She began to drink it when she heard something thunk at her feet. Replacing the cap on her drink she looked down and saw a bottle of water, similar to hers, laying on the ground with the liquid draining onto the sand. What on earth? she though.... Shaking her head, she thought that she must have forgotten and brought two bottles.

    3. #3
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      Alex

      It took a while more before they realized that they couldn’t stay where they were. The early sun was already causing waves of shimmering heat to radiate from the sands. After some deliberation and with no other way to decide, a quarter was flipped and they headed west.

      “The most important thing is not to get separated right now.” Said Mrs. Hennings as they walked on. The sun cast hot beams on their backs.

      After around two hours or so some of the class were already visibly tired. None of them were used to traveling such a long distance without a car, and in sinking sand at that. The group of students began to stretch, some lagged. Alex noticed that for a long time now the bus driver had not said a thing, though he was keeping up with the group.

      Another hour passed.

      Alex was one of the people in the vanguard. His throat felt dry, and heat moved up around his body in waves. He turned around to look behind him, and noticed that one of the girls had stopped and knelt on the ground and was crying. A group of people gathered around her. Alex stumbled over. The girl was crying. Alex recognized her as Holly Whitman, a senior in his English class.

      “This can’t be happening.” The girl sobbed, “I want to go home.”

      No one laughed. Alex felt dizzy.

    4. #4
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      Amethyst

      Looking down at Holly, who she had only talked to once or twice, Amethyst felt a great swell of empathy. Ame had been away from home a bit and so it didn't faze her too much, but she knew that Holly was one of those stay-in-town girls. Getting close to her, she offered one of her water bottles. Holly just looked at her for a while as Amethyst just smiled in what she hoped was an encouraging manner before taking it and drinking about a quarter of the water. "Thanks," Holly said softly.

      "No problem," Amethyst replied. "We'll get home before you know it." Then she offered the water bottle to some others until it was gone. She knew that they'd need it, but it was better to drink it now in hopes that they would find some place to be rescued sooner rather than later. However, looking around, she wondered just how close anywhere would be.

      They started moving again, towards the sun so that they'd be going in a straight direction. Those that had hats put them on to protect themselves and those that had any kind of extra clothing were encouraged to make some kind of covering for their faces to keep from getting burnt. Though many looked rather ridiculous, no one laughed.

    5. #5
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      Alex

      Alex shook his head at the bottle of water that was handed to him. “I’m okay, let someone else drink.”

      Matt frowned. “Don’t be stupid Alex, take some water.”

      Alex faintly smiled and grabbed the bottle. He took a quick gulp of the refreshing liquid. It was warm from the heat.

      He passed the bottle on and looked at the girl that had given out her water. She was a quiet girl that always sat by herself during art class working. Dammit. He couldn’t remember her name; he was never good with names. Instead, he nodded as a gesture of gratitude and hoped she wouldn't notice that he had forgotten her name.

      They walked on. The sun was almost blinding as evening approached, Alex’s face felt like it had been scorched by flames. Wow he was dumb, he should have covered himself up like a lot of the others did. He was going to regret it, if he ever got out of here.

      “We can’t go on like this” Matt pointed out to everyone at large as the class took a break. “Some can’t walk much further.”

      “What do you suggest we do then?” Answered an annoyed sounding junior.

      Matt gave the kid an angry look, who promptly shut up. Matt was quite an intimidating guy; he was on the school’s soccer team. He sighed. It was mid-afternoon now, and still there was no sign of the end of the desert. Several people had almost collapsed from exhaustion. The students who had brought water bottles shared, but even that option was quickly fading as they groups meager water supply slowly drained empty.

      “What’s that?” Someone called out from the left.

      Alex turned his head to see.

      What is what?

      “That! Those dots in the sky look like birds.”

      Alex squinted his eyes, using his hand to shade out the sun. Indeed, there were several gray dots gliding along the western horizon.

      “There’re no birds in the desert!”

      Matt shrugged, “Where there is life, there’s…”

      Many of the class shouted out loud as they broke out for towards the flying dots that marked hope. Alex choked out a cheer. The hope of an end to the inferno desert had given the students energy, all they cared now was to get water to drink, no one even thought of wanting to return home.

      Alex heard a cry behind him, and managed to restrain his rush to turn and look. His eyes widened as he saw Amy Temple lying on the sand. She looked worn out.

      Uh oh. He thought, temporarily frozen in place.

      He went back.

      She looked up in surprise as he took her hand and pulled her up. Amy was having a little trouble keeping her balance, and leaned against him.

      “Thanks Alex.” She managed to whisper.

      Alex’s dry throat suddenly choked up as he tried to speak. “I… uh… sure!” He noticed that almost everyone had passed them by now.

      “There’s water! A whole lake! It’s just up ahead over this dune! Come on!” Matt had come back from the front and yelled at Alex and the others.

      “Let’s go. I’ll help you.” Alex said, turn his attention back to Amy.

      She nodded.

      Alex’s head felt dizzy. Amy was still leaning on his body, it wasn’t romantic or anything, and she had sand in her hair and smelled like sweat and the sun. But it was something.

      Just then, the girl that given him water earlier trudged by, and gave him a serious look. Surprised, Alex quickly cast his eyes away and thought he saw her roll her eyes.

      Slowly, they made progress westward towards water.

    6. #6
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      Amethyst

      She kept going, though it seemed to be getting hotter. She looked on helplessly as Amy fell to the ground again, and when Alex ran over to her the smirk she normally would have wasn't there. Not only did Amy look like she was in trouble, Alex's face was getting redder and it looked like the water he'd drank wasn't enough. In these temperatures a person could get dehydrated all too easily. Giving him a serious look, she kept walking.

      Before long, Matt came funning in Alex's direction proudly proclaiming the discovery of water. Dubious, Ame wondered, "How can there be a lake in the middle of the desert?"

      Apparently she'd spoken out loud because Matt replied, "Does it matter?"

      Amethyst shrugged, not wanting to argue and went to see for herself. When she reached it, she did see that there was a large amount of water just sitting there in the sand. Always the skeptic, she looked at the crystal clear liquid, not sure whether or not it would be safe to drink. Any number of things could be wrong with it, but when she turned to someone and asked they just blew her off and went to drink from it. Mrs. Hennnigs was the only one who seemed to be considering the safety of the water, but for some reason was doing nothing to stop her students. The bus driver, who was taking his time in getting to the lake opened his eyes in surprise at seeing it. When he reached the shore, he placed two fingers of his right hand into the water, only to pull it back a moment later.

      "Everyone get away from the water," he said. Most of the students ignored him. "Get away from it!" he said more forcefully. "There's something wrong with it!"

      There were a few students who hadn't drunk, including Alex, Amy, Matt, and a couple of others and when they tried to approach the water, the bus driver tried to stop them. When he was having trouble, Amethyst threw in her lot with the man and pulled them away from the lake. "There's something not right about this!" she yelled. "A lake with no river or anything to feed it suddenly appear before us in the middle of the friggin' desert! Does anyone else wonder why that might be?"

      "Oh, come on!" one student complained.

      "It's cold!" another added.

      Amethyst glared over at the small group who hadn't touched the water, her look doing well enough for a threat. Don't you dare, she thought. There's something truly wrong! She hoped at least Alex and Amy would have the brains to believe her.

    7. #7
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      Alex

      The two barely made it to the edge of a crystal clear lake before collapsing. The rest of the class was still a bit away up the western coast. There was some shouting occurring between the bus driver and the students.

      Too thirsty to care, Alex crawled a few feet and dunked his head into the lake, greedily sucking in the liquid. He didn't hear the hurried footsteps come up from behind him.

      Alex choked as the girl dragged his head out and pulled him away from the water. He turned around to see Amy, who had been about to take a drink herself, looking back at the girl with a puzzled look.

      "Ame what are you doing?" Amy asked.
      That’s her name… right.

      "Don't drink the water." Amethyst answered, "There's something funny about it. There shouldn't be a lake here."

      Alex looked around him. The waterline stretched about a hundred feet to the left. He looked for the river that fed the lake, but to his surprise he couldn't find one.

      "Huh, this is a bit weird. I mean, where is the water coming from?" Alex said.

      "It might be an underground spring." Amy replied. "But Ame's right, we can't take chances yet. Where's the others? Did they all drink?"

      "Most of them." Said Ame. The three walked back to join with the class.

      Some people, despite the efforts of the driver and Ame, were still drinking from the lake. Others had backed off until the water could be confirmed as safe.

      Then Alex felt a wave of nausea.

      "Ugh..." He grabbed his head. Then many of the students around him were also on their knees and backs, many of them groaning. Alex felt someone grab his shoulder.

      "Alex! Are you okay???" He heard before blacking out.

    8. #8
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      Amethyst

      Amethyst looked over at Alex, worried about what was going on. Her worry wasn't helped when a few moments later he fell over unconscious. "Crap," she said. Others around her had also passed out and she looked on, wondering what was happening, trying not to voice her thought of I told you so. Amy was bent over Alex, asking him if he was alright but now only time would tell.

      Before long, though, Amethyst also noticed that the kids were starting to slide slowly across the sand towards the lake. It wasn't at a very fast pace but it was noticeable enough for her. "Guys," she said, "we need to get them away from the lake."

      As if that message had been heard by more than those around her, the kids started moving faster towards the shimmering water. Luckily Amy was right next to one and managed to grab a hold of his arm. At the same time, Ame grabbed onto Alex while the teacher and bus driver worked on keeping another kid out of the water.
      “No!” Ame heard a scream. She turned around and saw several of her collapsed classmates disappear underneath the surface of the lake. Several people around froze in horror, watching the surface of the water, which was now being thrashed by an unseen force.

    9. #9
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      Alex

      Alex came to in a darkened room. His head felt heavy. What happened? He looked around. He was lying on the floor of what seemed to be a large tent of some kind. The floor was bare except for a clay plate that sat on the floor near him, in which some incense was smoking. In each corner and at the center of the floor there were several wooden poles that held the canvas above his head.

      Suddenly someone drew open one of the flaps, light shined down on his face. Alex blinked and shielded his eyes.

      “Alex!” Matt appeared in front of him. “You’re awake, finally!”

      “Where are we?” Alex tested his voice, his throat hurt.

      “We’re in a village. Some of the people here rescued us from that waterlion in the desert.”

      “Waterlion? What?”

      “It’s that lake. It turned out that it wasn’t a real lake at all. The liquid is poison secreted by the creature to drug animals that drank it, then it drags them in.”

      Alex fully woke. “I drank it!”

      Matt nodded. “Yeah, you and a lot of stupid idiots did. But everyone’s been given the antidote, you’re the last one to wake up, it’s been two days.”

      “Two days? Is everyone else alright?”

      Matt looked at the incense. “No. Some of us didn’t make it out of the water in time.”

      Alex stared at Matt in disbelief.

    10. #10
      Member Amethyst Star's Avatar
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      Okay... it's been a while, but let's see what I can come up with. Others may feel free to jump in as there's still, well, plenty of room!

      Amethyst

      Amethyst sat in her own tent, glad to be out of the sun. That day seemed hotter than the last two days had been, but it was her good fortune that the caravan had arrived when it had, bringing much needed food, water, and shelter. Even more so, they had helped the remaining students who had drank the waterlion poison but had not yet been pulled in, Alex included.

      When they came, those who were still awake were dragging those who weren't as far away from that "lake" as possible. Judging by how out of place the students and the two adults looked in the desert, it was fairly easy to tell what had happened. One of them spoke English and was able to converse with Mrs. Hennings and find out what occurred, but they decided to share more of the details when they were out of danger. Not far from there they decided to set up their camp and the healers began their work to draw the poison out of the students' bodies.

      The first one woke up a day later, woozy and disoriented and feeling a fair amount of nausea, but he was mostly back to normal after getting some food and water in his stomach and spending some time on his feet. He was filled in on what had happened and then rejoined the other students who were still just as confused as he was.

      Mrs. Hennings and the bus driver had spent some time talking to the caravan leaders with the help of the interpretor. Both sides were kind of disappointed at the lack of information that there was as far as how they had arrived, or more importantly, why they had been taken from Chicago. They hoped that there was a reason... one that they would be able to find out sooner rather than later.

      Amethyst had spent the time walking around the caravan, looking at the items that they carried and watching the people go about their business. She wasn't able to understand what they were saying, but they were very welcoming and hospitable and she did her best to mind her manners, something she was glad that the other students were doing as well. If there was one thing that she couldn't stand, it was someone who lacked a level of civility. She came across too many people like that and hoped that she would help to set an example for others to follow.

      Two things in particular sparked her curiosity, though. First off, as she walked among the people, she occasionally thought that she heard a language that she could kind of understand. Once, when she was passing by a couple, she could have sworn that they were speaking in Russian to each other, a language of which she had a general grasp but was not fluent in. However, when she turned to look at them, she found that they were now speaking whaever they had been speaking before. Other time she thought she heard Spanish, but the same thing happened.

      The other was a bit more intreiguing to her, personally, and she chose to keep it to herself for the time being. Sometimes the members of the caravan would show her some things and once or twice she held them herself. When that happened, though, as she was picking the item up, she found that suddenly there was a second one on the sand, identical to the first. Thinking back to what had happened with her water bottles, she began to wonder. Any time she tried to duplicate the results, though, it didn't work. With that kind of uncertainty, she decided to keep it quiet and puzzle it out later. It was probably a fluke.

      In the mean time, she thought about her family and hoped that they weren't worrying about her too much. They knew that she was strong and would survive as long as she could, but none of them knew what had happened. I wish I did, she thought.

      "If there was one thing the lucid dreaming ninja writer could not stand, it was used car salesmen."

    11. #11
      Member Umbrasquall's Avatar
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      Sorry about not posting sooner. I haven't been able to access the Internet on this computer for the past few days. To make up for it I wrote two posts. Hehe. I left gaps in the middle so you can have a chance to fill them in if you'd like Ame. Otherwise just continue as usual. Note my writing may suck, I have not written anything for a very long time.

      Crap the formatting has failed me. Sorry for the bad formatting.

      Alex

      Alex tested his muscles as he stretched his back and legs. He had come out of the tent to face a small crowd of people. It seemed that Matt had informed the others that he was awake. Several villagers stood off to the side, a few kids peeked out at him, most hidden behind their mothers or tree trunks. Ms. Hennings and Amy were both there too.
      Several people seemed relieved to see him standing up. Alex almost laughed when he realized the villagers probably thought of him as someone important, to have everyone waiting for him like this.
      “Uh, hi.” Alex waved a little.
      “Oh thank goodness you’re okay Alex.” Ms. Hennings rushed towards him, arms open.
      Alex moved back a little in surprise and almost tripped over the edge of the tent. Matt saved him by clapping him heavily on the back. “Alex’s going to be fine. It looks like the poison’s been cleared out of his body. He just needs to take it easy for a little.”
      Ms. Hennings stopped in front of him, grasped his hands in both of her own and looked closely at his face. Suddenly she collapsed to her knees, and began to sob. “We shouldn’t be here, you should be with your families. What did I do wrong to deserve this?” She wept.
      “Ahh…” This was all too much for just having woken up. Alex looked around frantically; everyone else looked away. “It’s okay Ms. Hennings, I’m sure we’re not that far from home…”
      The mention of home seemed to upset Ms. Hennings even further, so Alex quickly tugged himself free and moved away. One of the girls finally came towards the distraught Ms. Hennings and tried to comfort her as Matt came out of the tent with some tissues. Alex backed himself up more until he felt someone touch his arm.
      He turned to face Amy. “Hey,” Alex said warily, wondering if she was going to cry too. Not a bad image actually, Amy crying for his sake. But the faint thought quickly vanished as she appraised him with her clear eyes.
      “Let’s give her some space.” She pulled him further away from the other students surrounding Ms. Hennings. “So you’re okay then.”
      “Yeah I guess so.” Alex replied, relieved to be moving away from the scene.
      “She’s been crying a lot, Ms. Hennings.” Amy answered the obvious question. “A lot of us are missing.”
      Alex didn’t point out that they were probably dead. He guessed that she was just avoiding the word too.
      “Where are we?” Alex asked as they moved through the foliage toward a cobblestone path at the edge of the clearing.
      “No idea.” Amy brushed aside a long tendril of a vine-like plant and pointed at a small patch of garden filled with what looked like large purple strawberries. “But we’re pretty sure it’s not Kansas.”
      Alex grinned. “Guess not.” He examined the fruit from a distance as they walked past the garden. “I’m a little hungry.”
      “You should be. You haven’t eaten in days.” Amy smiled back. “The main village is up ahead, we can get you some food there.”
      “Great! Ah, what time is it?” Alex asked as they reached the paved trail. It was considerably easier to walk on compared to the soft bouncy soil of the forest floor that they had passed through.
      As the trail opened up to a large square, Amy gestured with her hand to several women villagers coming in from their right carrying baskets of clothing. “About midmorning, all the women are about done with the daily laundry by the creek.”
      Alex blinked as his eyes adjusted to the extra light the sun cast around the large open area and looked around. The square itself was paved with gray and blue cobblestones like the trail they just took. Several more tent structures lined the sides of the open area, though all of them were smaller and more decorated then the one he had been in. A few women sat outside the entrances of the tents on wooden stools, chatting as they worked on knitting or peeling vegetables as they chatted. Some of them looked up as the two students passed by.
      “They all speak English.” Alex observed as brief bits of conversation drifted past them.
      “So they do.” Amy confirmed.
      “So… we’re still in Illinois right?”
      Amy shrugged in response. “I don’t think there are any reservations close to where we live. And you can see that these people aren’t Native American in either case.”
      As Alex pondered her answer, they stopped in front of a woman cooking something in a pot over a fire. Amy bowed as the woman gave her a steaming bowl of something, and a big purple strawberry from a basket of various fruits. Amy handed the bowl of soup to him and they sat down on two upright logs close by. A larger stump served as a table.
      “Who is that?” Alex asked.
      “The cook.” Amy laughed. “You thank her for the food by bowing.”
      Alex stood up and bowed towards the woman, who nodded back at him.
      “Bowing huh? Not really an American custom.” Alex asked as he examined his soup. It was dark and looked vegetarian.
      Amy bit into her giant purple strawberry. “That’s true…” Purple juice dribbled from the fruit and over the thumbtack-sized black seeds.
      Alex stared.
      “What?”
      “Nothing.” Alex broke his gaze and sipped his soup. Salty. Not bad though.
      As they ate Amy filled him in on what he missed during his “coma,” as the villagers called it. Out of the total 24 students that were on the field trip, only 10 were accounted for, including themselves and excluding Ms. Hennings. The old bus driver was here, but usually kept to himself and seems to have completely disappeared since noon the day before. Several people were out searching for him in the forest and along the eastern beaches.
      “The beach?” Alex asked in surprise.
      “There are mountains too, the natives call the range the Jagged Peaks; we’re surrounded by it in fact. Some of us went to check them out. They’re very tall, the mountains. There’s even snow on the tips. The villagers tell us that another, much larger desert is on the other side. They called it the Vast Barrenlands.”
      “You guys seem to have a good grasp of the geographical layout around the area then.”
      “And we still don’t know where we are.” Amy sighed, picking at a ring in the tree trunk with her finger.
      Alex smiled. “Actually, I’m pretty sure I read about the invasion of Kansas by giant purple strawberries and poisonous desert water monsters in the news just the other day.”

    12. #12
      Member Umbrasquall's Avatar
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      Alex

      Alex shifted uncomfortably in his hammock. It wasn’t being very accommodating to his movements, and groaned in protest against the weight of Alex’s body. It had been three hours since everyone had gone to bed. Unfortunately, because he had been sleeping for so long after he was poisoned, he didn’t feel tired at all.
      He had spent the day looking around the village. There were 70 villagers in all, 25 men, 29 women and 16 children. He found out from the others that the village was structured around a loose system of both farming and hunting and gathering. The village occasionally moved with the seasons and owned several goats. There was no trace of modern technology, the houses were constructed from wood and a leathery, dried canvas made from the leaves of a local tree. And although the villagers owned many metal tools, including saws, hammers, and even a screwdriver, they did not have any knowledge of metal casting, explaining that the tools had been passed down from previous generations or traded from others. Matt and Amy took him to the beach, a ten minute walk through the forest, and showed him were the villagers went to fish and cut firewood. With nothing else to do, some of the class helped out with the chores where they could. At the end of the day, everyone had dinner around a fire kept for them by the villagers, and retreated to the two tents set aside for them for the night.
      Alex listened to the faint sounds of the forest outside the tent. Again, he went over what they knew so far about their situation.

      1. They were not anywhere in Illinois. In fact, by the sheer size of the ocean he saw in conjunction with the others’ description of the mountains, he doubted that they were anywhere in the United States.
      2. They were almost certainly not in the same time zone, as many of the students had difficulty sleeping at night during the first few days.
      3. No one was familiar with some of the vegetation that grew around the area, they look strangely alien even.
      4. 14 students of the class were lost, presumably dead by waterlion poison. Alex’s throat felt dry as he remembered some of their faces.
      5. The rest of them had found a temporary shelter in the form of the village. While the villagers were friendly enough, and spoke English, they do not recognize the existence of places such as Chicago, Illinois, the United States, Canada, Africa, China, Asia, or Europe.
      6. The bus driver was still missing.

      Alex tried to roll over, but failed and instead decided to climb out of the hammock. Maybe he should take a walk and make himself a little tired. He tied his tennis shoes and quietly slipped out, so as to not disturb the others.
      The village was silent but for the chirps of insects in the foliage. A half moon cast misshapen shadows onto the ground of the village square. Alex circled around the village center a few times and then headed for the path to the beach.
      The sounds of insects grew slightly louder as he entered the forest. Alex used his memory and the moonlight as a guide and was soon greeted by the sharp saltine smell of the ocean and the sound of the surf breaking over land. The branches gave away to the wide expanse of the beach he saw earlier in the day.
      The beach was empty, and seemed even larger than it did during the daytime. The white sand took on a pale hue in the moonlight. Alex strolled over to the waterline and crotched down close to the sand, which was still radiating heat, and gazed towards the horizon. The sky was clear and cloudless, and thousands of stars blinked down at him. He had never seen so many in his life.
      As he looked around, he caught sight of a shadow a ways further down the shoreline. Someone was standing on the beach, looking up at the sky. Alex recognized the short stature of the figure as belonging to Hunter.
      “Hey! Hunter.” Alex called out as he stood up and jogged towards him.
      Hunter looked down at the call, adjusting his glasses on his nose. “Yo, Alex. Come look at this.”
      Alex stopped by the teen and looked up to where he was pointing.
      “See that constellation up there?” Hunter traced across several stars with his finger.
      Alex followed the line, and recognized three distinctive stars. “That’s… Orion’s belt!”
      “Yes, you can see almost the entire constellation. See there’s Rigel, the large bluish one.”
      “Wow. Neat.” Alex said as he tried to find other constellations that he recognized. Soon giving up, he asked: “So you couldn’t sleep huh?”
      Hunter seemed to ignore the question. “I’ve been looking, the stars all check out, for the most part anyway.”
      Alex nodded slowly. “So? What does that mean?”
      “It means that we’re still on Earth, or at least very close to Earth.”
      “Still on… wait you mean that you thought we weren’t on Earth anymore?” Alex asked in surprise.
      “I considered the possibility. Yes. Think about it, why are there so many things, plants and animals that we don’t recognize here?”
      “But the people here speak English.” Alex protested.
      Hunter shrugged.
      Alex looked up again. “What do you mean that the stars check out ‘for the most part’?”
      Hunter shifted around a little, and finally sat down on top of the warm sand.
      “Well… I wasn’t able to find Betelgeuse for one. It’s one of the brightest stars in Orion and definitely should be visible. And also, there are a lot of extra lights up there. Take a look at that one, about two stars to the right of Rigel.” Hunter pointed.
      Alex followed his instructions and saw a very bright star. “Is it… blinking?”
      “Yeah, it’s not the atmosphere either. It’s flickering too much.”
      Alex watched for a while as the bright point blink on and off several times. “What is it then?”
      “I’ve been watching it for a while. I think it’s man-made.”
      “It’s what?” Alex blinked himself.
      “A space station. I’ve considered other possibilities: it can’t be a spinning asteroid with one reflective side because it moves at the same speed as the background of stars. And there are no variable stars with a luminosity difference ratio that large. Nothing else natural can flicker like that, so it has to be man-made. It’s in geo-synchronous orbit so it doesn’t move relative to the surface of the planet. And at that range it’s too big to be just a satellite.”
      Alex tried to absorb the information and considered Hunter’s assertion. “Why is it blinking?”
      “Beats me. But there are others, most of them don’t blink though.”
      “But there aren’t any space stations like that are there right?”
      “No, there aren’t. The only space station humans have ever built is the International Space Station, and that’s in an orbit that is much closer to the Earth, only about two-hundred miles up. That thing is more than thirty-thousand miles above the surface.”
      “So who built it then?” Someone asked from behind them.

    13. #13
      Member Amethyst Star's Avatar
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      Thanks, Squall. My writing's a little rusty as well, at least as far as this. I think it'll help, though, when we figure out in which direction this is going.

      Amethyst

      "So who built it then?" she asked from behind Alex and Hunter.

      Amethyst had been sitting in the forest before they came. With as... accomidating as the tents were, she still felt rather confined within them. The feeling had reminded her of being back on the bus, confined with the other students as they were being driven back to school, leading then to remembering all that had happened so far. She had been trying not to cry, partly to keep a brave face for the others, partly to keep from waking the other girls in the tent, and partly because she hated to cry. So, to try and keep her eyes as clear as possible, she quietly left and headed to the forest towards the beach.

      She was thankful for the familiar sound of the wind through the trees and the rhythm of the water passing serenely over the sand. It brought familiar feelings of good memories and she was able to smile. She even climbed a tree for old times sake and felt just a little bit closer to the stars.... including one that was blinking faintly in the sky. It was a beautiful night, though, so she didn't think anything of it.

      Below her, Alex walked by on the path and headed over to the beach. As he approached, not far behind him was another kid... Oh, what was his name?

      "Hey! Hunter!"

      That was it. She had never really talked to him much, but she knew that he was rather smart compared to most of the people in their class. The two of them started talking, and the subject came up of where the lot of them were right now and she decided to climb down from the tree and join them. They were just talking about that flashing object in the sky, which Hunter labeled as some sort of space station.

      After asking who built it, the other two turned around and saw her there in the moonlight. "Oh, hey Amethyst," Alex said.

      "Evening, Alex, Hunter," she replied. She waited for Hunter to continue.

      "Well," he began, "I don't know. It could be something that could have been recently launched and we didn't know about it. It could even have been something launched on the day we were brought or sent here or whatever happened. That wouldn't explain how Betelgeuse or some of the stars are missing, though. I'd even go so far as to say that it's possible that some alien race may be traveling here or have even visited here already and are waiting up there for something. Who knows?"

      "With all that's happened," Ame said, "I'd be willing to believe that. There's really no way to tell right now with the limited information that we have."

      "Perhaps," Alex added, "finding out what that is could help to give us an idea of what happened to us. Maybe the villagers could give us some information, or at least point us in the direction of some way of finding out."

      "Well, let's ask them in the morning."

      There was a pause in the conversation, so for a little while the three of them just stared at the water. Memories once again came back to Amethyst, reminding her of good times. Still looking past the other two she stated, "When I visited San Diego, one night when I was at the beach, I waded through the warm water across the soft sand, and just began to sing in the moonlight. It was so simple, yet so satisfying and that became one of my favorite memories of that whole summer."

      "You sing?" Alex asked.

      Ame shrugged a little. "Yah. I'm no professional, but I can carry a tune."

      "If there was one thing the lucid dreaming ninja writer could not stand, it was used car salesmen."

    14. #14
      Member Umbrasquall's Avatar
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      Alex

      The next morning Alex woke up with a mild headache.

      "Argh." He groaned. Maybe the poison was still affecting him after all.

      Rolling off of his hammock and almost treading on someone's hand, Alex made his way carefully to the entrance. He was almost there when he tripped over someone's bag. Falling flat on his face, he mentally smacked himself for being so uncoordinated. He turned around and noticed that the bag he had tripped over had spilled and its contents were now rolling across the ground.

      What are these? Rocks? He picked up one of the roundish, green stones. It was very light and porous. It felt cool to to the touch.

      "Like it? Have one."

      Alex looked up to see Matt sitting up from his spot on the ground, looking up. "What is it?"

      "It's a wild vegetable that grows around here, called the Rocolam. The native guys showed me how to pick them. They're encased in hard shells that are attached to the sides of trees. Some kind of parasite. It's good, go ahead and take it with you."

      "Thanks, I'll take one then." Alex grabbed two and walked outside, letting the tent flap fall closed behind him. From inside the tent he heard a muffled voice.

      "Hey I said you can have ONE!"

      ~

      Not bad, Alex thought as he munched on the vegetable. It was crunchy and not unlike a cucumber. He strolled to the edge of the village, finding some natives wrapping up what looked like large quantities of straw into bundles. Hunter, Amethyst, and Amy were off to one side chatting with a native.

      "Hey what's up." Alex said as he walked up to them.

      "Morning Alex." Amy said, turning to smile at him. Alex swallowed hard, the large lump of vegetable in his mouth went down his throat painfully.

      "So it's a four day journey over the pass? And then?" It seemed that he was still engrossed in the conversation.

      "Morning Amy." He croaked, quickly taking another bite when he realized he didn't have anything else to say.

      "What's that you're eating?" Amethyst asked him looking at the gray-green mass in his hand.

      "Uh... it's a rock lamb or something. Matt had some and gave them to me."

      Amy leaned closer frowning. "Is it good?"

      "It's alright. Like a cucumber, you want to try?" He offered the other rock to her.

      "Umm... I'm not that hungry. Thanks though!" Amy turned back to look at the native. "Anyway he's telling us about some kind of ruins. Hunter asked him about the lights you guys saw in the sky last night."

      Alex felt pain at the rejection. He thought he saw Amethyst smirk at the edge of his vision.

      Alex shook off the thought and walked a little closer so he could hear the conversation. Hunter was gesturing with his hands.

      "How big? A mile? Two miles?" Hunter extended his hands out.

      The native shook his head. "Non, much much larger. It is the Eternal Ruins, stretching to the horizon and beyond."

      Hunter turned to Amy and Alex. "Sounds like some kind of a city. He says the ruins are constructed out of the same stuff their tools are made from."

      "Steel buildings? That's not very economical." Alex said, finishing off his rock lamb.

      Hunter nodded. "I think we should go check it out. It's the first thing he said when I mentioned the lights in the sky. This "Eternal Ruins" place must be where we can find some answers."

      "Where is it?" Alex asked, watching the villagers pack more straw together. "Are they leaving for this place perhaps?"

      "No, they are going to move further north to avoid the heat. The ruins are over the Peaks, and beyond the Vast Barrenlands, far to the south. It'll take at least four weeks to get there. But there are some villages along the way."

      "Four weeks?" Alex repeated. "That doesn't sound like a journey that everyone can make."

      "We're going to have to pick some people to make the trip then." Hunter shrugged. "Only a few of us need to go, the rest can stay here with the village. We'll be back after finding some answers."

      "'We?' So you're going? You and who?" Alex asked carefully.

      "You're coming too."

      "What? Right of course I am." Alex laughed.

      "Matt's already offered to go exploring before this. I'm sure he'll be coming." Hunter said, looking at the tents.

      "I'll come too." Amethyst offered.

      Alex sighed and shook his head. He bit into the second rock lamb. "Fine, let's see if we can get some more people to go. We'll need to start getting ready, it'll be a long trip."

      "Okay then it's settled." Hunter looked at the round vegetable in Alex's hand. "What IS that you're eating?"

      Alex smiled brightly. "It's a rock lamb. You want some?"
      Last edited by Umbrasquall; 06-28-2007 at 09:53 AM.

    15. #15
      Member Amethyst Star's Avatar
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      Amethyst

      "You most certainly are not going!"

      "But Mrs. Hennings, we can't just stay here! At least if we go to the Eternal Ruins we might find some answers."

      "Alex, four weeks is a long time to waste if you're not certain of finding something." She looked around, seeming pleased at this logic. It was obvious that she was not keen on going anywhere.

      "Well, we don't have any better ideas."

      "And," Amethyst added, "The caravan is going to be leaving soon. We have to decide what we're going to do soon, and at least this way we're going somewhere."

      "Going with the caravan is going somewhere! You have absolutely no guarantee of finding anything across those mountains, and how many of you have actually traversed a mountain pass and made it through a desert? I'm sorry, but Chicago is neither of those." Mrs. Hennings was becoming quite emotional at this point.

      Amethyst figured she knew what was going on. Mrs. Hennings was and always would be a teacher, and one of her goals was to look after her students. After having lost so many - and after the bus driver took off - she was unwilling to allow her students to put themselves in harms way again. If they found a way back, she wanted to bring as many kids back to their parents as she possibly could. It was an understandable sentiment, but after several days of just waiting around, it was time to do something about their situation.

      "Mrs. Hennings, I know what you must be feeling right now -"

      "Don't put words in my mouth, Ms. Star."

      Very calmly, Amethyst replied, "I'm not. I want you to know, however, that I am unable to wait any longer for an answer to come. We need to go looking for a way home and right now going to the Eternal Ruins is our best option." Mrs. Hennings was about to interject again. "Please don't interrupt me. Sure, probably none of us have had survival training, but I know that we can learn what to do from the people here who have been in the mountains or in the desert. They can give us an idea of what to expect and how to make it out alive. We were already told that there are villages along the way, so we will be able to get supplies and help if we need them.

      "Also, not everyone will be going. Personally, I trust Alex and Matt and Hunter; I know they're not going to do anything stupid or try to be heroes. Others, I know are not strong enough to come, so they will be remaining with the caravan.... But we are going. It may take a while to get there and back, but we will find you and let you know what we've found out. Who knows? Maybe you will have found some answers, too, and you will know how to find us."

      Alex and Hunter looked at Amethyst and she could tell that they were in agreement. Ame didn't say it, but she knew that right now they couldn't be her students; they were explorers on a mission, one whose outcome affected all of them.

      "I can't believe I'm hearing this! This is..." She couldn't find the word.

      "We're going." Amethyst was adamant. Hoping to smooth things over a little, though, she added, "We'll stay until the caravan is ready to move out and gain what knowledge we can. We'll get what we need and you have our word that we will be careful."

      "But..."

      "I've said what I'm going to say, Mrs. Hennings. I don't mean to be rude, but I'm going to excuse myself to start getting ready." With that, she left, wondering if Hunter and Alex would stay in the tent and say anything more. However, she had another reason for leaving. There was someone she wanted to talk to before she became sidetracked with the planning.

      ***

      Amethyst found her on the beach in a borrowed sleeveless shirt and shorts, swimming a few yards from the shore. The smile on her face and her joy at being in the water was refreshing; no wonder Alex admired her. "Amy!" she shouted to get her attention over the softly crashing waves.

      "Yah?"

      "I need to talk to you. Could you come here for a minute?"

      Amy agreed and headed back towards shore. When she was within distance that Amethyst could talk to her, the latter began to speak. "Here's the thing. I know you weren't sure yesterday whether or not you wanted to come with us, but I'll be blunt about this: you're going."

      Amy made a face as if she'd just smelled something wierd and for a little while she couldn't think of anything to say. "Um, did I hear you right?"

      "Yes. You're coming with us to the Eternal Ruins."

      Another pause. "Well, I was actually thinking about staying. It's a long journey and I'm not sure if I could make it. I'm not exactly an athlete. And besides, I don't know if Alex would want me to come. He just acts... different when he's around me."

      "I'm no athlete, either, and forget about Alex. I'm not going to be the only girl that goes on this trek, and you're the only other girl I would trust to make it all the way there. Sure you may not be muscular or what not, but we're going to be together, so we'll be able to help each other out. As for Alex..." She had to chuckle a little bit. She doesn't know? "Don't worry about him. Boys are just a little wierd sometimes."

      Amy sighed and looked around, searching for a response. "Are you sure about this?"

      "I'm positive." She gave Amy's shoulder a little pat. "We'll be fine."
      Last edited by Amethyst Star; 06-29-2007 at 03:31 AM.

      "If there was one thing the lucid dreaming ninja writer could not stand, it was used car salesmen."

    16. #16
      Member Umbrasquall's Avatar
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      “Sorry Ms. Hennings. It looks like we’re going.” Hunter shrugged as they watched Amethyst walking away. “We can take care of ourselves, really. And we’ll be back as soon as we find out what’s going on around here.”

      Ms. Hennings didn’t reply immediately, but rather sank heavily onto a tree stump. “I guess you all don’t think my instructions are worth listening to anymore do you?”

      “Well we are rather far from school. As far as we can tell.” Alex said. “And we’re not little kids, we can think and plan for ourselves, and Ms. Hennings, if we don’t do anything, we might be following this village around for a very long time before we find out anything concrete about where we are.”

      Ms. Hennings sighed. “Do any of you know how to survive out there by yourselves? This isn’t a camping trip. What if one of you gets hurt? Or sick with some strange disease? There’s no medicine here.”

      “Actually…” Hunter began. “We do have some things. I grabbed the emergency kits from the bus just before we left it.”

      Alex stared at Hunter. “You had the emergency kits? Why didn’t you say so sooner? I was poisoned!”

      Hunter looked at Alex as he pushed his glasses up. “Because you were fine, the villages knew what to do. What were we supposed to do, give you aspirin?”

      Ms. Hennings broke their squabble by standing up. “I am still against this journey, but I know I can’t stop you from leaving.” She started walking away. “That girl Amethyst… why does she have to be so stubborn?”

      “We’ll be fine!” Alex called after Ms. Hennings. “I used to be in the boyscouts!”

      “Were you really?” Hunter asked Alex as Ms. Hennings left the immediate hearing range.

      “No.” Alex shrugged. “Thought it’d make her feel better if I said that.”

      “I thought you wouldn’t be a scout.” Hunter laughed and started back to the boys’ tent.

      “What’s that supposed to mean?”

      Hunter waved his hand as he walked away. “You don’t seem like the type. Get your stuff together, we should leave as soon as we can.”

      ~

      It was morning of the day after when the class gathered in the open area in the center of the village to see them off. There were many goodbyes, see you soons, and everyone wished them luck. Many of the villagers also gathered to see what the commotion was about.

      “Seems like a lot of trouble to see us off.” Matt said, and when he noticed that Alex wasn’t listening but rather looking dazedly in another direction. “Hey! Earth to Alex!”

      Alex jumped. “Sorry. But why is she coming?”

      “Who? Amy? Don’t tell me you’re disappointed about that?”

      “But it’s too dangerous!” Alex protested.

      “Aww that’s cute.” Amethyst had come up from behind them. “But you guys shouldn’t be so cocky because we girls can take care of ourselves. Besides I wasn’t about to be the only girl on this expedition.”

      “You weren’t going to be, at least for a while.” Ms. Hennings walked into the circle with someone’s backpack on her back. “A guide from the village and I are coming with you all.”

      After much debating, an agreement was reached. The guide and Ms. Hennings would go as far as the base of the mountains, to make sure that there would be no problems. Then they would come back to meet up with the rest of the village as they moved north along the coastline. Ms. Hennings wanted to stay with the group for longer, but had little choice as the guide refused to go any further than the mountains.

      “So everything’s settled. Let’s go then!” Matt took the lead along side of the guide. The group marched out of the main clearing and towards the eastern forests. In the distance, they could spot the snowy peaks of the mountains before the emerald canopy of the forest finally enveloped them.

      “Almost a full day before we get to the base of the mountains.” The guide, whose name was Revik, explained to them as they walked. “We will spend the night there, then I will come back in the morning with Ms. Hennings.”

      “Sounds reasonable.” Hunter said as he broke a path through the bush with a long stick he had found. “What’s after that?”

      As the guide began explaining the path they should take up the mountain, Amethyst came up and walked level with Matt and Alex.

      “So Alex, why did you think that this trip was too dangerous for Amy, but not for me? Am I not a girl too?”

      “Ah…” Alex stalled, trying to think of a response.

      Amethyst laughed and dropped back again, to where Amy was picking through the path that everyone in front had cut.

      “She’s evil.” Alex said. “I’ve come to this conclusion over many days of observation.”

      “Have you now.” Matt looked distracted by something else.

      “What?” Alex said, a little annoyed.

      “Nothing, it’s just weird. When I packed the first aid kits today I found an another exact same set sitting in my bag.”

      “What there’s two sets of kits?”

      “I don’t know, I could have sworn there was only one set in my bag when we got off the bus.”

      “Maybe you had too many rock lambs.”

      Matt chuckled. “I’m not the one who brought an entire bag of them on this trip. Hey, who’s that up ahead?”

      Alex looked, and saw a figure leaning with his back against a large tree directly in front of the group. “Is that… Lance?”

      The group stopped in front of the tree. The teenager was wearing loose black traveling clothes made by the villagers, and a bag sat at his feet. His dark hair fell in front of his closed eyes.

      “Lance? What are you doing here?” Matt asked when Lance didn’t seem to show any signs to acknowledge their arrival.

    17. #17
      Member Amethyst Star's Avatar
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      Amethyst

      Amethyst

      The trip was just starting to get fun but then, "Tell me he's not coming with us!"

      Amy looked up from her feet at her rather emphatic whisper and saw the black-clad Lance standing there with his pack, acting as if he hadn't noticed their arrival. "Lance?" she called out. Before he replied, Amy turned and asked Amethyst, "What's so wrong with him?"

      That guy has flirted with every girl in our class, she thought, not even adding an except me to what she was thinking. "He's not bad or anything, but... he just gets on my nerves."

      Alex was now addressing Lance as they approached. "What are you doing here, man? I thought that you were going north with the others."

      "I thought about it, but I changed my mind. Do you mind if I go with you guys?"

      "Do you have enough provisions?" Amethyst asked quickly, rather hoping that he didn't and would have to go back.

      "Yep, I've got everything I need right here." He reached down and patted the bag that he had at his feet.

      "Well," Ms. Hennings asked, "what exactly did you pack?"

      He looked kind of annoyed at having to explain himself, but began to list off the items that he had stored in the bag. "I have a couple of spare clothes, a canteen for water, rations for a few days.... The villagers gave me a cream that's supposed to be some kind of sunblock. A knife, my sunglasses, and a few other small things."

      Crap. She resigned herself to the fact that he would be going. It was then that she was even more grateful that she was dragging Amy along.

      Ms. Hennings still didn't seem too keen on another one of her students leaving, but from the way she was looking to get moving again, Amé figured that she just wanted to get as far as they could before the sun went down. In a sense, she agreed, hoping that when they started walking she wouldn't have to focus so much on the newest addition to their group. The mountains still seemed quite a ways away and she hoped that they really could make it there before the sun went down, not knowing where they would be spending the night.


      As the day wore on, Amethyst was grateful that she had worn her tennis shoes to the museum that day and they were new enough that she knew that they wouldn't wear out very quickly. After the first hour her feet had started to ache a little, but she knew that she would just have to work though the discomfort and eventually it went away and she was able to enjoy the landscape around her which changed very slightly as they continued to walk mile after mile. The trees began to grow taller and more sported needles than leaves, making their walk under the shade one showered with pinpricks of light.

      When they stopped for lunch, instead of pulling out their own rations, their guide showed them around the forest a little, revealing plants and roots that were edible. Some of them were very tasteless, but he showed them how to pick a couple of the local herbs and that helped a little. There was one plant that Amethyst took a liking to: fittop. It was a leafy little plant that grew close to the ground and had very broad, dark green leaves with tiny little spines on them. She was facinated to find that if one tried to just pick the leaves, the spines would become rigid and act much like a nettle, but all one had to do was to gently blow the spines off, allowing the picker access to a peppery-tasting, somewhat succulent leaf.

      All in all, their lunch was rather educational, and also allowed Amethyst to keep her mind off of some of the more unpleasant elements of their party. Luckily Amy was sporting a brave face. The way that she pulled her shoes off and rubbed at her feet when they stopped showed that she was feeling more discomfort than she let on. You'll get used to it after a while, Amé though, but decided not to say anything.

      As they approached evening, they came across a river that flowed with clear, cool water. The guide had intended to run into this landmark and while they walked he explained that they were to follow this river in the direction of the mountains and were warned not to deviate from it. While some unfriendly creatures frequented this river to drink, if they stayed close to the bank it would be easier to avoid them. It also led straight to a village that the group was supposed to reach before heading over the mountains, but it was too far for them to reach by nightfall, so they would have to keep going without Ms. Hennings or their guide.

      They spent that night a short distance from the river, just far enough away where they could still hear it. There was a tent for the boys and one for the girls. Since Lance had joined them, the guide chose to sleep outside. Amethyst assumed that he would not be getting any sleep, but rather be on watch for any potential danger. Either way, the rest of them fell asleep without any trouble.
      Last edited by Amethyst Star; 08-16-2007 at 05:12 AM.

      "If there was one thing the lucid dreaming ninja writer could not stand, it was used car salesmen."

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