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The Other Side of the Grass (Book 1)

By Kristin Dugas All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Adventure

Blurb

After finding herself stranded with her three friends in an unknown world filled with magic and war, Catherine Risterra's first priority is getting back home. But, after discovering that falling through that portal might not have been an accident and that she has abilities far beyond what she could have imagined in her wildest dreams, Catherine is just starting to feel like she belongs. That is, until she begins to realize that her story is no fairy tale. Join Catherine, John, Kyle and Lena on their journey to The Other Side of the Grass. Where the grass may be greener today, but the armies will probably trample it tomorrow.

Chosen Paths

It is not one specific moment, which causes a child to grow up. Instead, it is as if all of the events, the memories, and the heartbreak are waves crashing upon a wall of rocks, which meets the sea. Over time, the wall forms cracks and small pieces take the plunge into the cold depths. This is how the wall remains. It is brought down so slowly that one would never be able to decided exactly when it was no longer of use. This is how a child grows up, not with one life-changing event, but with little moments. However, often times it seems as though one choice can lead to so many of the moments, so many of the waves that brought the wall down, that it might as well have brought it all down at once.


Peterborough New Hampshire was a fine place to grow up; an ordinary town filled with ordinary people. At least that is how Catherine Risterra always remembered it. She remembered the peaceful street she grew up on, with only a few houses scattered carelessly down it. Every one of them similar, but none of them as similar as hers to the blue colonial it stood beside.

Catherine Risterra and her younger sister Lena would like to have said that they grew up in that house on the peaceful little street in Peterborough. Unfortunately, the sisters and their neighbors, John and Kyle Flynn, would have to grow up somewhere else. Somewhere much less forgiving than the grassy field that lay just over the property line behind their houses.

Of course, the four children would have each other, and that was about as much as they could ever ask for.


It was late June when the four friends chose a path that would change the fate of their lives forever. Of course, one could always argue the path was never really chosen at all. But, that is a matter of opinion.

The day was uneventful at best, actually it was quite dull. If the excitement of summer, which filled the hearts of children until the end of July, had not been present, then one might have found the group inside watching television and grumbling about the heat. Thankfully, on this mild summer day the four friends had chosen to combat their boredom outside in the field behind their homes.

“I want to play princess, because I am the princess of everything!” Lena waltzed around the big stone next to the maple tree in the field, walking with her nose in the air, flipping her gorgeous blond hair, and gazing at herself in a handheld mirror with her sky blue eyes. She had a level of self-confidence that her older sister Catherine could never match and was wittier than everyone, apart from Kyle.

Beyond that, Lena was still young and was completely convinced that she was a princess. Though she did participate in games such as tag, she told the others they were pointless and filled with nonsense. Instead she found being worshiped, like the true princess she believed herself to be, much more enjoyable.

“I call being a knight!” Kyle laughed “Catherine and John can be peasants!” he taunted as he brushed his dirty blond bangs out of his eyes. He knew that technically it was supposed to be Lena’s turn to pick a game and hoped a bit of a laugh would make Catherine and John forget how much they hated playing princess.

“I am not playing princess.” John disputed. “You always want to play princess. Couldn’t we try playing something else like soccer or football?”

“You’re just upset because you don’t want to be a peasant.” Lena laughed as she pulled herself on top of the boulder “Besides no one wants to play football, it’s all we ever play when it’s your turn to pick a game. Don’t you get sick of it; I mean you already play on a team for it.”

“You guys just need to give it more of a chance. I swear once we get better it will be fun.” John persuaded his chestnut eyes twinkling.

“Lena, would you just pick something else. We played princess last time it was your pick, and to be honest it’s getting a little old!” Catherine grumbled as she crossed her arms. She was getting sick of the other’s constant bickering about picking something to play and was highly considering just going into her garage and grabbing her bow and arrow.

“Fine we’ll play tag! Not it!” Lean shouted as she darted off as her sister Catherine rolled her eyes; it was too obvious Lena had been planning this all along.

“Not it!” John and Catherine replied in unison. They smiled and high-fived, knowing that with Kyle as the tagger, they would have the best chance of winning.

“I’m always it,” Kyle complained as he kicked the grass in front of him “and it’s not fair because you’re all faster than me.”

“Well if you don’t like it you better say ‘not it’ before someone next time!” Catherine tormented as she ran off into the tall grass, her wavy brown hair bouncing up and down over the back of her black t-shirt.

Kyle stuck out his tongue at her before he began counting “One, two, three, four.” Kyle peeked his leafy green eyes through his fingers to see if his friends were listening to him count. “Eighteen, nineteen, twenty! Ready or not, here I come!” Kyle finished counting as quickly as he could. With less time for them to get a head start he actually had a chance to catch them.

Kyle walked through the grass looking for someone to tag so he wouldn’t be ‘it’ any longer. Up ahead he saw John. He sprinted after him, but John heard him coming. Kyle and John sprinted across the field and before they all knew it Kyle was chasing Catherine and Lena as well.

Up ahead Kyle saw a green tint in the tall brown grass, he assumed it was just a patch of lower grasses that weren’t dried up because of the heat. He quickly forgot about it and continued running because he was closer than ever to catching the others. Before any of four friends knew what was happening they felt a falling sensation as they tumbled through the green tinted spot in the grass.

Green blurs swirled before their eyes as the world spun all around them. A cold wind burst at them from all sides and Catherine swore she had hit her head on something, there was no way that this was real, she must have just tripped. Then one on top of another John, Catherine, Kyle and Lena fell onto the cold hard ground of a world they had never seen before, a world very different from their own.

What happened?” Catherine asked as she shook her throbbing head.

“I’m not sure but could you get off of me!” John cried. He had ended up on the bottom of the pile and the combined weight of the other three was crushing his rib cage.

All four stood up and brushed themselves off and began to look around, their brows furrowed in confusion. The sun had not risen, but one side of the sky was lighter than the other. It looked as if the sun were just about to peak over the horizon.

Catherine looked to what she assumed was her west. The emerald green field they stood in stretched out for what seemed like forever. It was the most immense span of land Catherine had ever seen unbroken by trees or buildings and it was simply gorgeous. It was in this moment that Catherine became very concerned. This did not look like New Hampshire at all. Even the snow covered mountains that lay beyond the fields, rising up like broken bits of the Earth, looked nothing like the ones that she had seen before.

“Hey, guys, I do not like this very much.” Catherine said as boldly as she could. She could just barely make out the quiver in her voice that, had the others not been so terrified, would have clued them in to how uncomfortable she was in this situation.

“Me neither, I want to go home!” Lena screeched. She ordered it as if with the flick of their fingers, the others could bring her back.

“Come on let’s go find someone to ask them where we are.” John reassured them as he walked away from the snow-covered mountains toward the rising sun, hoping that they would run into someone soon. In the pit of his stomach John had a terrible feeling that getting back home wasn’t going to be very easy at all.

The four children walked until the sun was high in the clear blue sky. Lena insisted that they had been walking for days, but Catherine assured her repeatedly that it had only been a few hours, especially since the sun hadn’t even set yet. It must have been sometime around the third hour that the group finally came across a sign. The sign stood at a fork in the path, one went through a grove of trees, and another went around the trees and to their right. The sign read ‘The Forest of Faces’.

“Forest of Faces?” Kyle asked quizzically, one eyebrow raised in confusion “What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means we have faces.” A giddy voice replied. The children looked all around them but did not see where the voice had come from. “I’m right here.” The voice spoke once more, this time it seemed less than pleased at their lack of attentiveness. The children looked into the grove of trees to see a tree with a face on its trunk, smiling right at them.

Lena screamed and hid behind Catherine, startled by the discovery of such a creature. Catherine just stared at the peculiar tree and exclaimed, “You can talk!” bluntly to the tree.

“Yes, it just so happens that I can.” The tree with the smiling face said “I am Lenny the oak tree.”

“You are a talking tree named Lenny.” John repeated as he picked up a large stone from the ground. The others all looked at him with confused looks on their faces, unsure of what he was going to do next.

“Yes, I am Lenny the oak tree. How long does it take you to catch on?” The tree said just as John took the rock and dropped it on the top of his head. John recoiled quickly and almost swore before he remembered he wasn’t supposed to do it in front of his younger brother.

“What did you do that for?” Catherine whispered as she looked at John as if he was crazy.

“I thought I was asleep or something.” John grumbled as he rubbed the top of his head where the rock had hit.

Lenny cleared his throat and the children quickly turned their attention back to the talking tree who was obviously a little bit impatient.

“But trees can’t talk.” Kyle informed Lenny before he had a chance to speak again. Perhaps he believed that by insisting it was possible the tree would simply stop.

“How would you like it if I said you couldn’t talk?” Lenny defended himself in an aggravated voice.

“I guess I wouldn’t like it, but there is a difference because, I am not a tree.” Kyle chuckled uncomfortably.

“I don’t see why it matters that I am a tree.” Lenny replied confidently as he crossed his lower limbs as if they were arms.

Catherine stared at him then explained, “It matters because trees aren’t really supposed to have faces.”

“Or talk.” Lena murmured under her breath. Lenny heard her and glared.

“Why did you think it was called ‘The Forest of Faces’ if the trees didn’t have faces?’ Lenny asked the children in a somewhat mocking tone.

“Fine you have a face; you can talk too, ok? But could you please tell us where we are?” John sighed. He was not a fan of this whole conversation and though he still questioned whether he was asleep or not, it didn’t look like he was going to be waking up anytime soon.

Lenny chuckled “You are in the Forest of Faces in the middle of The Other Side of the Grass.”

“Wait, The Other Side of the Grass, what does that mean?” Catherine asked suspiciously.

“Well the realm of Avion, the Great King and Defender of the Elements. Lenny laughed he was obviously quite amused by the question “Silly children. Wait you aren’t humans right? You’re gnomes or something, correct?”

“I am not a gnome!” Lena stomped her foot “I’m a princess!”

John rolled his eyes “She isn’t a princess,” Lena scowled at him as he turned his attention back towards Lenny “and of course we are humans.”

Lenny suddenly stopped laughing and his face froze in place. “Humans in The Other Side of the Grass! Humans! Sound the alarm!” He shouted at the top of his lungs.

Other trees in the forest soon turned around to face the children as well. They all had faces and soon they were all screaming in unison together “Humans, humans, sound the alarm!”

“Calm down!” Catherine yelled as she held her fingers inside of her ears.

“You must go, quickly!” Lenny shouted as he shirked away from them as if they were some ticking time bomb that could go off at any moment.

“We are trying! We want to go home!” Kyle whined at Lenny, he was exasperated from the day and from trying to comprehend when the world went wacky.

“Where should I send them? Which path shall they take?” Lenny consulted with the other tress.

“Left to Lembes, right to riches.” One of the trees murmured to Lenny. Catherine looked at the tree and raised an eyebrow, she was confused to say the least.

Lenny turned back towered the children “Left to Lembes, right to riches!” he shouted.

“I don’t want to go to Lembes I want to go home!” Lena shrieked, she was about to have a princess meltdown if the others didn’t get her out of there quickly.

“She doesn’t want to go to Lembes?” A tree asked Lenny.

“Right to riches!” Another tree shouted, as he hoisted one of his lower branches in the air.

“These trees make no sense!” John shook his head. “Come on let’s go left. Maybe there are people in Lembes.” He said as he began walking toward Lembes, dragging Lena by the hand after him.

“LEFT TO LEMBES!” The trees exclaimed as the children walked to the left of the sign that read ‘Forest of Faces’ into the heart of the forest.

After a few minutes of all of the trees around them chanting ‘Lembes’ Lena lost it. “I am the princess and if you don’t shut your tree holes I’m going to take off your heads!” She screamed, her face turning a particular shade of red that would have accented her blue eyes wonderfully, if she hadn’t looked as if she would murder a whole forest of trees.

Catherine rolled her eyes at Lena, she had never really understood her sister too well. Thankfully Lena’s screaming had done something positive for once and for the rest of their long walk through the forest was silent.

Once they reached the edge of The Forest of Faces, they came across a river and another sign that read ‘Lembes’ with an arrow pointing down into the swirling clear water in front of them

“Lembes is a river!” Kyle exclaimed in frustration as he sat down dramatically in the dirt.

John sighed “How are we supposed to get home now?” He had just about given up hope.

“Cross the Lembes!” A tree in the forest behind them shouted excitedly. It obviously had not heard Lena’s threat from before.

“Oh shut up!” Catherine shouted as she held her head in frustration. “Come on let’s go.” She continued as she pulled off her shoes and stepped into the water.

“You want me to wade across a river that could have fish living in it; in my favorite jeans?” Lena asked as if it was the most ridiculous thing she had ever been asked to do. Which, at this point in her life, it probably was.

“Yeah, we kind of need to get home. Remember?” John pulled her and Kyle to the river’s edge. He was determined to not let them keep the whole group hung up.

Lena took off her shoes and stepped into the river. “This isn’t that bad after all.” She smiled as he toes touched the rocky bottom “It’s actually kind of warm.” Her face lit up.

“I disagree completely! This was a terrible, terrible idea.” John frowned as he waded as quickly as possible across the river, he certainly did not think it was warm. On the contrary, he thought it might as well have been ice water.

After a good five minutes of splashing around, Lena finally came out of the river. Catherine just rolled her eyes again as Lena came skipping out of the Lembes river dripping wet. I guess suddenly her favorite jeans weren’t as important as she thought. Catherine thought as she shook her head and started walking along the path in front of the others.

The group passed an enormous weeping willow shortly after crossing the river and continued walking through a small grove of trees. When they came to the other side of the trees the four children saw in the distance a magnificent castle overlooking a royal blue bay with glistening white cap waves crashing against the cliffs near the castle and gliding gracefully over the white sands of the beaches bellow. The castle had torrents and walls taller than anything they could have imagined, the windows were long and ornate, letting the afternoon sun glint off them and bounce into Catherine’s eyes.

“It’s beautiful.” Catherine said quietly. Her wavy brown hair was blowing back from her face in the sea breeze that came skirting up from the field stretched beneath them.

“You can say that again!” John replied as he too stared at the castle in admiration. He felt a sudden sense of belonging as he gazed at it.

“My new home!” Lena exclaimed as she began running for the castle. She was obviously overcome by the sight and hadn’t seen any of her other surroundings.

“Lena, stop! Watch out for the cliff!” Catherine shouted as she ran after her younger sister. Lena was headed right for an eighty-foot drop to the field where the castle stood in the distance. She was far too excited about the castle in the distance to notice the cliff at all.

Lena screamed as she went over the edge. Kyle, John and Catherine sprinted to the edge of the cliff; they looked down to see Lena sitting on a giant blue dragon with her hands pressed tightly over her eyes.

“Am I dead yet?” Lena called up, her hands still over her eyes. She didn’t seem like she was going to open them any time soon, which was a good thing for the others, they were worried she’d freak out.

“No Lena, but don’t open your eyes or you might have a heart attack!” Kyle laughed. He was so amused that this would happen to her, it was almost too perfect, the princess saved by a dragon.

The majestic blue dragon slowly beat its wings until it landed on the cliff next to where Kyle, John, and Catherine stood. The dragon was light blue with an aqua marine underside. It had a long tail with a fin at the end and flowing wings. On its forehead, it wore a silver tiara with a royal blue stone in the center.

“Lena, I think you can open your eyes now.” John spoke cautiously “But whatever you do don’t scream.” He warned her, the last thing he needed was for all of them to be killed, or worse, eaten by a dragon. Not today, just not today. John thought inwardly with frustration.

“How am I not dead? Did a unicorn catch me? Or was it a Pegasus?” Lena’s excitement began to rise when the others did not reply fast enough.

“Not exactly, just open your eyes slowly and get off the… whatever you want to believe it is.” Catherine instructed Lena calmly. She had no problems with annoying talking trees, but dragons? This was getting a little out of hand.

Lena opened her eyes and stared down at the blue scales beneath her. She was rather startled but recovered quickly, taking deep breaths so she wouldn’t scream. She then looked up to see the face of a dragon, its yellow eyes staring into hers. “Yikes!” Lena quickly covered her mouth after the word had escaped, but she knew it was already too late.

The dragon smiled “You need not be afraid, I am here to help bring you to the castle. The trees in the Forest of Faces told me there were humans about, and that you would be needing escorts.” Her voice was kind and young, despite what the four children had expected.

Lena almost feinted when she heard the dragon speak, however she was able to hold herself together enough so that her jaw only dropped a foot or two. “I am Lena. What is your name?” She asked politely after she had recovered.

“I am Tesesta, dragon of the seas.” The dragon told Lena and the others, as she finished three other dragons rose up behind her “and these are the other dragon leaders.” She motioned to the three dragons that had risen behind her with her flowing wings.

A strong looking green dragon stepped forward toward the children. “I am Fliestor, dragon of the forests.” The dragon rang out in a deep strong voice that would make trees shake. His wings were like giant leaves, the spikes on his back brown like tree bark. The spikes down his back made him look more like what the children expected a dragon to look like. He wore a crown of twigs and leaves with a green emerald in the center. He bowed before Kyle whose eyes were wide with excitement. “My lord, I will be your escort.” The dragon told him. Kyle’s face lit up and he scrambled up onto the dragon’s back a little too excitedly, startling the giant beast a little before he laughed it off jollily.

Next, a fiery dragon stepped forward and bowed before John. She was red with an orange underside. Small orange spikes ran down her back and her thin tail. Her wings burned with actual fire and the horns on her head rose like a tall crown. Sitting among these horns was a gold tiara with a red ruby in the center. “I am Renadia, dragon of the volcanoes. I will be your escort.” The fiery dragon spoke to John. John nodded to Renadia and mounted her silently; he was trying his best to mask his uncertainty. He did it well, only Catherine noticed.

Finally, the last dragon stepped forward. He was all black with yellow spikes down his back and yellow spikes at the tips of his wings and of his long tail. A golden crown was perched on the black horns on his head; in the center of the crown was a black stone. There was a sharp horn on his nose and his tail was long and strong. His claws were sharp and dangerous and his eyes were bright yellow. The black wings on his back were far larger than the other dragons, yet he was sleek and aerodynamic for flight. The dragon bowed before Catherine, as he came up from the low bow a smile spread across his face, revealing his sharp white teeth “My lady, I am Vartines, dragon of the skies. It would be my honor to escort you to the castle.”

Catherine smiled and something inside her jumped as she mounted Vartines. It could have been her heart leaping in her chest from the excitement of the day, but she thought it was something deeper. Her soul leaping from her body to fly through the cool air next to her, to feel the clouds as she passed them.

The dragons took off at once, each with one of the children riding on their backs gripping tightly to their necks so they wouldn’t fall off.

Kyle began looking giddier than ever “Guys you know we are riding on dragons right? Real live dragons!” He exclaimed to the others as if they hadn’t even noticed.

Lena giggled “Look! No hands!” she let go of Tesesta’s neck for a moment before she couldn’t take it anymore.

Catherine’s spirit soared to be up so high looking down at the fields and at the castle that was approaching quickly. She felt free and more alive than she had ever felt before. Most importantly she felt at peace. Even though she was breathing new air under a new sun in a whole new world, Catherine felt truly at home. It was a feeling that she had never encountered before but would learn to know quite well in her future.

John shouted to them all “I really hope I’m not dreaming!” he laughed. Catherine smiled back to him. Me too John, me too. She thought solemnly.

They all laughed at John as the dragons landed in the courtyard of the castle. Fairies of all colors came out to greet them. They were not like the fairies Lena had seen in many of the books she had read. The fairies here were as tall as they were if not taller, with butterfly thin wings on their backs. Most of them wore odd clothing made of leaves, and had brightly colored lips and hair. They helped Lena, John, and Kyle off their dragons but stayed clear of Catherine and hers.

Catherine looked quizzically at the large group of fairies surrounded the others but wouldn’t come near her. She didn’t understand what was going on.

“Don’t mind them; it’s me they are avoiding.” Vartines whispered to Catherine as she dismounted and walked around to look into Vartines’ eyes as he spoke. “It seems I frighten them a bit.” Vartines paused and cocked his head. “You are not like other human girls I have met.” Vartines smiled mysteriously, it was as if he knew some secret Catherine could not quite catch a hold of.

“I would say you’re not like other dragons I have met but I haven’t met any other dragons.” Catherine smiled as she waved goodbye to Vartines. I’ll have to ask why I’m so different. Catherine thought to herself as she broke into a jog to catch up with the others.

She followed John who was being led by a fairy with red shining wings and white hair. They were talking about school, but Catherine wondered what they could possibly have in common.

“I’m so glad I don’t have school for another month.” John was saying in an excited voice.

The fairy laughed “Lucky you; I have classes later on today. Also, I have a big test on elemental shifts tomorrow.” She giggled like the girls that Catherine despised at school, the ones who always acted dumb on purpose and followed John around constantly.

“I don’t even know what that is.” John smiled and shook his head. “This place, it’s all so overwhelming, so incredible.”

“Avion’s castle is truly magnificent.” The fairy laughed again as two of her friends fell into step next to her and John. “I have to get to class now. I guess I’ll see you around?” she asked as she touched his arm lightly.

Catherine rolled her eyes Here we go again, apparently John can even get girls of another species to follow him around like puppy dogs. She thought angrily. This girl hadn’t known John for five minutes and she was already all over him, she didn’t even know the first thing about him.

“Yeah, see you around, Selena.” John waved goodbye, his head cocked, he looked slightly delusional to Catherine.

Of course in the back of Catherine’s mind she knew she couldn’t really blame him. I mean they were fairies, it’s not like they had those back in New Hampshire so it was almost acceptable to stare. Almost.

Kyle ran up to Catherine, who was just falling in step with John. “This is like a real castle guys. Come on!” He shouted as he jogged by and grabbed Catherine’s hand. His excitement was almost contagious and Catherine felt herself smiling a bit as she jogged with him.

Kyle pulled Catherine after him through the hallways of the castle to a large room. The high ceilings made the room feel even bigger than it actually was, which if you asked Catherine was utterly unnecessary considering how enormous it was. The ceilings were painted with beautiful images of what Catherine assumed were the constellations that one would see if they looked up at the night sky in this strange land. The large brass chandeliers lit up the ceiling, but their light was barely noticeable over the incredible brilliance of the afternoon sun, which flooded the room with light from an enormous stained glass window opposite them. Catherine couldn’t exactly make out what the image was but it looked like some kind of seal.

In addition to blinding her from the window, the brilliant white marble floors bounced sunlight into her eyes and made it difficult to see across the great room. What Catherine could make out was the outline of a large beast, which sat on what Catherine could only describe as a royal throne. The beast was like nothing she had ever seen before, a winged lion. It was the stuff of fairy tales, but at this point Catherine wasn’t all too surprised. It seemed this whole world was made up of fairy tales.

The way the beast sat in the throne commanded an air of dignity and respect. From this point on Catherine would imagine him every time she heard the word ‘royalty’. For this is what royalty was meant to look like.

Lena was standing in front of the winged lion, speaking with him as if it was perfectly normal and rational that he could speak back. Catherine smiled to herself. At this point she would have been more concerned if he couldn’t talk, with the way things were going so far and all.

“Then we fell through some green swirling thing in the grass and then we walked for-like-ever. Oh and then we met a tree named Lenny. He was really annoying! He and the other trees kept shouting ‘Left to Lembes, right to riches’. Oh then we swam in the Lembes river until finally the pretty dragons came and picked us up.” Lena spat out as fast as she could. When she finished she took a deep breath then looked up at the lion with a small smile. It seemed Lena had no real regard for how royal the beast looked, she felt like she could talk to him like she did to everyone else.

“Interesting, very interesting.” The winged lion pondered. His voice was just as deep and commanding as Catherine imagined it would be. She only hoped she would never hear him yell. “Would you like to introduce me to your friends Lena?” He asked curiously. His tail swinging back and forth behind him, methodically.

Lena perked up. “Of course, this is Kyle and John, they are brothers, and this is my sister Catherine.” Lena motioned to Kyle, John, and Catherine. She seemed pleased with herself for being the one who told the story of how they arrived here.

The winged lion spoke. “It is a pleasure to meet you, I am Avion, king of this castle and of The Other Side of the Grass.”

John, Catherine and Kyle bowed. It seemed like the polite thing to do at the time, considering he was the king. Besides, he was rather frightening.

Avion continued. His voice a bit jollier than it had been. “You are welcome to stay at my castle as long as you like.”

“Thank you, but we were wondering how we could get home.” John told Avion, he couldn’t help but wonder how worrier their parents were getting. They had already been gone far too long and John feared that they would not be able to explain their absence when they returned.

“Yes, yes, understandable; that will require me to open a portal, which I haven’t done in many years. It may take a while for me to relearn the process, though I will look into it immediately. In the mean time I will have someone show you to your rooms.” Avion replied solemnly.

He rang a small bell on the armrest of his throne twice and a white dove came flying in from the hallway the others had come from.

The others turned to focus their attention on the dove, but Catherine couldn’t help but stare at the great winged lion in front of her, Avion, the king of The Other Side of the Grass.

The dove landed on the ground in front of the four children and bowed first to Avion, then to them, before speaking “I am Benny, his royal highness’s steward. If you would follow me I will show you to your rooms.” With that Benny flapped his wings and rose from the ground and proceeded towards the door they used to enter the throne room.

The children followed Benny down a corridor to their right. Then they ascended three flights of stairs and walked down several hallways to a tower where Benny opened the door to a grand circular room.

In the room there we comfortable plush chairs and tables with a large assortment of cushions strewn across the furniture and the plush rugs. To the right there was a large fireplace where a group of cushions had been arranged into a comfortable grouping on the floor and a small desk with a few books laying on it. On the other side of the circular room was a set of stairs leading up again.

As children followed the dove across the room to the stairs, he began speaking. “This level is where you may relax; it is your private sitting room while you are here.” The dove spoke as they crossed the room. They ascended the spiraling staircase of the tower until they came to a door on the right. “This is the boy’s bedroom.” Benny said as he ushered John and Kyle into the room.

It was large and circular like the last one, only in this room there were four beds, each with a different colored satin cover spread across it. John sat on the red bed and Kyle next to him on the green before Benny spoke again. “The washroom is up one level. Boys needn’t go any higher in the tower than that.” His voice was sharp and it made John chuckle.

With that Benny gave John and Kyle a curt nod before escorting Catherine and Lena up the last two flights of stairs to their bedroom. It was exactly like the boys. The four different colored satin covers on the beds, next to each an enormous wardrobe. In the middle of the room was a low table with plush chairs around it. A perfect area to play cards or to sit and chat. Besides that and a tall, thin bookcase which was crammed with leather bound books, the room was rather bare. There were no paintings or pictures. Though the fine rugs should have made the space feel homey, Catherine felt as though it were deserted, or at least that no one had stayed in this room in quite a long time.

As Catherine stood, almost frozen by the door, as if she could almost feel the room’s last occupants glide by her like ghosts, Lena stepped forward and sat abruptly down on the blue satin bed across the room. The window above it had the best view by far, of the ocean and a few dots of green riding the waves, which Catherine and Lena could only assume where islands off the coast.

With a sigh, Catherine stepped farther into the room and found her feet carrying her to the bed to the left of the door. Catherine smiled as she brushed the bright yellow satin laid out across it. Her window faced the direction from which they had walked, Catherine hoped it would let her have a glimpse of what she could only imagine would be a brilliant sunset.

Catherine looked next to the enormous wardrobe that sat next to her bed. She threw the doors back to find an assortment of clothing that reminded her more of something she would see in some sort of play. Then again it did match the castle quite well. Most of the clothing looked frilly and excessive, even for fairy tale clothing, if that’s what this was. In addition, like the room itself it all looked like it hadn’t been touched in some time, everything even had a fine layer of dust across it.

Lena’s wardrobe contained clothing of a similar style as Catherine’s. When she saw what it had to offer her she stepped back and raised an eyebrow at her sister. “Raid all the other wardrobes?” She asked playfully.

Catherine smiled at her little sister. It was a silly thing to do, yet Catherine had a feeling she wasn’t going to be very fond of the oversized dresses that filled her wardrobe. She nodded. Going to have to find me some pants. She thought to herself.

Ray’s boots clicked on the stone floor of the throne room as he made his way across the room. The sun was just setting and the room was growing dark but it was still easy to make out the large figure that sat perched on the throne. “You called.” Ray said simply, it was more formal of a statement than he meant to make to such an old friend but sometimes he had a hard time addressing Avion properly.

Avion smiled and looked up from the large book he had been reading from a stand in front of the throne. “It is finally time to melt down that old dusty thing.” Avion chuckled. “I thought this day would never come. If you must, dilute it with some other metals, we’ll need eight of them I believe.”

Ray shook his head slightly out of surprise “You really think they’re the answer?” He was not as sure as Avion was, but the idea of it excited him.

“I can feel it. Besides, no one has come through the portal since…” Avion trailed off, struggling to put words to the last encounter he had with a human.

“I know.” Ray stepped in, smiling sadly. “Well I can get to work on them now if you wish. Of course the enchantment won’t be the same you know.” He pondered as he stroked his chestnut beard.

Avion sighed, “Yes of course, I figure that it is better than nothing. At least it will keep them safe for some time.”

Nodding, Ray bowed slightly to his old friend and made his way out of the room. For the duration of the walk back to his workshop Ray’s mind was swimming with memories. When he finally sat down to get to work, he could hardly think straight. Sighing Ray decided that it had been quite a day and that it was time for bed. He would finish this project another time when his mind was less cluttered with thoughts.It is not one specific moment, which causes a child to grow up. Instead, it is as if all of the events, the memories, and the heartbreak are waves crashing upon a wall of rocks, which meets the sea. Over time, the wall forms cracks and small pieces take the plunge into the cold depths. This is how the wall remains. It is brought down so slowly that one would never be able to decided exactly when it was no longer of use. This is how a child grows up, not with one life-changing event, but with little moments. However, often times it seems as though one choice can lead to so many of the moments, so many of the waves that brought the wall down, that it might as well have brought it all down at once.

Peterborough New Hampshire was a fine place to grow up; an ordinary town filled with ordinary people. At least that is how Catherine Risterra always remembered it. She remembered the peaceful street she grew up on, with only a few houses scattered carelessly down it. Every one of them similar, but none of them as similar as hers to the blue colonial it stood beside.

Catherine Risterra and her younger sister Lena would like to have said that they grew up in that house on the peaceful little street in Peterborough. Unfortunately, the sisters and their neighbors John and Kyle, would have to grow up somewhere else. Somewhere much less forgiving than the grassy field that lay just over the property line behind their houses.

Of course, the four children would have each other, and that was about as much as they could ever ask for.

It was late June when the four friends chose a path that would change the fate of their lives forever. Of course, one could always argue the path was never really chosen at all. But, that is a matter of opinion. The day was uneventful at best, actually it was quite dull. If the excitement of summer, which filled the hearts of children until the end of July, had not been present, then one might have found the group inside watching television and grumbling about the heat. Thankfully, on this mild summer day the four friends had chosen to combat their boredom outside in the field behind their homes.

“I want to play princess, because I am the princess of everything!” Lena waltzed around the big stone next to the maple tree in the field, walking with her nose in the air, flipping her gorgeous blond hair, and gazing at herself in a handheld mirror with her sky blue eyes. She had a level of self-confidence that her older sister Catherine could never match and was wittier than everyone, apart from Kyle.

Beyond that, Lena was still young and was completely convinced that she was a princess. Though she did participate in games such as tag, she told the others they were pointless and filled with nonsense. Instead she found being worshiped, like the true princess she believed herself to be, much more enjoyable.

“I call being a knight!” Kyle laughed “Catherine and John can be peasants!” he taunted as he brushed his dirty blond bangs out of his eyes. He knew that technically it was supposed to be Lena’s turn to pick a game and hoped a bit of a laugh would make Catherine and John forget how much they hated playing princess.

“I am not playing princess.” John disputed. “You always want to play princess. Couldn’t we try playing something else like soccer or football?”

“You’re just upset because you don’t want to be a peasant.” Lena laughed as she pulled herself on top of the boulder “Besides no one wants to play football, it’s all we ever play when it’s your turn to pick a game. Don’t you get sick of it; I mean you already play on a team for it.”

“You guys just need to give it more of a chance. I swear once we get better it will be fun.” John persuaded his chestnut eyes twinkling.

“Lena, would you just pick something else. We played princess last time it was your pick, and to be honest it’s getting a little old!” Catherine grumbled as she crossed her arms. She was getting sick of the other’s constant bickering about picking something to play and was highly considering just going into her garage and grabbing her bow and arrow.

“Fine we’ll play tag! Not it!” Lean shouted as she darted off as her sister Catherine rolled her eyes; it was too obvious Lena had been planning this all along.

“Not it!” John and Catherine replied in unison. They smiled and high-fived, knowing that with Kyle as the tagger, they would have the best chance of winning.

“I’m always it,” Kyle complained as he kicked the grass in front of him “and it’s not fair because you’re all faster than me.”

“Well if you don’t like it you better say ‘not it’ before someone next time!” Catherine tormented as she ran off into the tall grass, her wavy brown hair bouncing up and down over the back of her black t-shirt.

Kyle stuck out his tongue at her before he began counting “One, two, three, four.” Kyle peeked his leafy green eyes through his fingers to see if his friends were listening to him count. “Eighteen, nineteen, twenty! Ready or not, here I come!” Kyle finished counting as quickly as he could. With less time for them to get a head start he actually had a chance to catch them.

Kyle walked through the grass looking for someone to tag so he wouldn’t be ‘it’ any longer. Up ahead he saw John. He sprinted after him, but John heard him coming. Kyle and John sprinted across the field and before they all knew it Kyle was chasing Catherine and Lena as well.

Up ahead Kyle saw a green tint in the tall brown grass, he assumed it was just a patch of lower grasses that weren’t dried up because of the heat. He quickly forgot about it and continued running because he was closer than ever to catching the others. Before any of four friends knew what was happening they felt a falling sensation as they tumbled through the green tinted spot in the grass.

Green blurs swirled before their eyes as the world spun all around them. A cold wind burst at them from all sides and Catherine swore she had hit her head on something, there was no way that this was real, she must have just tripped. Then one on top of another John, Catherine, Kyle and Lena fell onto the cold hard ground of a world they had never seen before, a world very different from their own.

What happened?” Catherine asked as she shook her throbbing head.

“I’m not sure but could you get off of me!” John cried. He had ended up on the bottom of the pile and the combined weight of the other three was crushing his rib cage.

All four stood up and brushed themselves off and began to look around, their brows furrowed in confusion. The sun had not risen, but one side of the sky was lighter than the other. It looked as if the sun were just about to peak over the horizon.

Catherine looked to what she assumed was her west. The emerald green field they stood in stretched out for what seemed like forever. It was the most immense span of land Catherine had ever seen unbroken by trees or buildings and it was simply gorgeous. It was in this moment that Catherine became very concerned. This did not look like New Hampshire at all. Even the snow covered mountains that lay beyond the fields, rising up like broken bits of the Earth, looked nothing like the ones that she had seen before.

“Hey, guys, I do not like this very much.” Catherine said as boldly as she could. She could just barely make out the quiver in her voice that, had the others not been so terrified, would have clued them in to how uncomfortable she was in this situation.

“Me neither, I want to go home!” Lena screeched. She ordered it as if with the flick of their fingers, the others could bring her back.

“Come on let’s go find someone to ask them where we are.” John reassured them as he walked away from the snow-covered mountains toward the rising sun, hoping that they would run into someone soon. In the pit of his stomach John had a terrible feeling that getting back home wasn’t going to be very easy at all.

The four children walked until the sun was high in the clear blue sky. Lena insisted that they had been walking for days, but Catherine assured her repeatedly that it had only been a few hours, especially since the sun hadn’t even set yet. It must have been sometime around the third hour that the group finally came across a sign. The sign stood at a fork in the path, one went through a grove of trees, and another went around the trees and to their right. The sign read ‘The Forest of Faces’.

“Forest of Faces?” Kyle asked quizzically, one eyebrow raised in confusion “What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means we have faces.” A giddy voice replied. The children looked all around them but did not see where the voice had come from. “I’m right here.” The voice spoke once more, this time it seemed less than pleased at their lack of attentiveness. The children looked into the grove of trees to see a tree with a face on its trunk, smiling right at them.

Lena screamed and hid behind Catherine, startled by the discovery of such a creature. Catherine just stared at the peculiar tree and exclaimed, “You can talk!” bluntly to the tree.

“Yes, it just so happens that I can.” The tree with the smiling face said “I am Lenny the oak tree.”

“You are a talking tree named Lenny.” John repeated as he picked up a large stone from the ground. The others all looked at him with confused looks on their faces, unsure of what he was going to do next.

“Yes, I am Lenny the oak tree. How long does it take you to catch on?” The tree said just as John took the rock and dropped it on the top of his head. John recoiled quickly and almost swore before he remembered he wasn’t supposed to do it in front of his younger brother.

“What did you do that for?” Catherine whispered as she looked at John as if he was crazy.

“I thought I was asleep or something.” John grumbled as he rubbed the top of his head where the rock had hit.

Lenny cleared his throat and the children quickly turned their attention back to the talking tree who was obviously a little bit impatient.

“But trees can’t talk.” Kyle informed Lenny before he had a chance to speak again. Perhaps he believed that by insisting it was possible the tree would simply stop.

“How would you like it if I said you couldn’t talk?” Lenny defended himself in an aggravated voice.

“I guess I wouldn’t like it, but there is a difference because, I am not a tree.” Kyle chuckled uncomfortably.

“I don’t see why it matters that I am a tree.” Lenny replied confidently as he crossed his lower limbs as if they were arms.

Catherine stared at him then explained, “It matters because trees aren’t really supposed to have faces.”

“Or talk.” Lena murmured under her breath. Lenny heard her and glared.

“Why did you think it was called ‘The Forest of Faces’ if the trees didn’t have faces?’ Lenny asked the children in a somewhat mocking tone.

“Fine you have a face; you can talk too, ok? But could you please tell us where we are?” John sighed. He was not a fan of this whole conversation and though he still questioned whether he was asleep or not, it didn’t look like he was going to be waking up anytime soon.

Lenny chuckled “You are in the Forest of Faces in the middle of The Other Side of the Grass.”

“Wait, The Other Side of the Grass, what does that mean?” Catherine asked suspiciously.

“Well the realm of Avion, the Great King and Defender of the Elements. Lenny laughed he was obviously quite amused by the question “Silly children. Wait you aren’t humans right? You’re gnomes or something, correct?”

“I am not a gnome!” Lena stomped her foot “I’m a princess!”

John rolled his eyes “She isn’t a princess,” Lena scowled at him as he turned his attention back towards Lenny “and of course we are humans.”

Lenny suddenly stopped laughing and his face froze in place. “Humans in The Other Side of the Grass! Humans! Sound the alarm!” He shouted at the top of his lungs.

Other trees in the forest soon turned around to face the children as well. They all had faces and soon they were all screaming in unison together “Humans, humans, sound the alarm!”

“Calm down!” Catherine yelled as she held her fingers inside of her ears.

“You must go, quickly!” Lenny shouted as he shirked away from them as if they were some ticking time bomb that could go off at any moment.

“We are trying! We want to go home!” Kyle whined at Lenny, he was exasperated from the day and from trying to comprehend when the world went wacky.

“Where should I send them? Which path shall they take?” Lenny consulted with the other tress.

“Left to Lembes, right to riches.” One of the trees murmured to Lenny. Catherine looked at the tree and raised an eyebrow, she was confused to say the least.

Lenny turned back towered the children “Left to Lembes, right to riches!” he shouted.

“I don’t want to go to Lembes I want to go home!” Lena shrieked, she was about to have a princess meltdown if the others didn’t get her out of there quickly.

“She doesn’t want to go to Lembes?” A tree asked Lenny.

“Right to riches!” Another tree shouted, as he hoisted one of his lower branches in the air.

“These trees make no sense!” John shook his head. “Come on let’s go left. Maybe there are people in Lembes.” He said as he began walking toward Lembes, dragging Lena by the hand after him.

“LEFT TO LEMBES!” The trees exclaimed as the children walked to the left of the sign that read ‘Forest of Faces’ into the heart of the forest.

After a few minutes of all of the trees around them chanting ‘Lembes’ Lena lost it. “I am the princess and if you don’t shut your tree holes I’m going to take off your heads!” She screamed, her face turning a particular shade of red that would have accented her blue eyes wonderfully, if she hadn’t looked as if she would murder a whole forest of trees.

Catherine rolled her eyes at Lena, she had never really understood her sister too well. Thankfully Lena’s screaming had done something positive for once and for the rest of their long walk through the forest was silent.

Once they reached the edge of The Forest of Faces, they came across a river and another sign that read ‘Lembes’ with an arrow pointing down into the swirling clear water in front of them

“Lembes is a river!” Kyle exclaimed in frustration as he sat down dramatically in the dirt.

John sighed “How are we supposed to get home now?” He had just about given up hope.

“Cross the Lembes!” A tree in the forest behind them shouted excitedly. It obviously had not heard Lena’s threat from before.

“Oh shut up!” Catherine shouted as she held her head in frustration. “Come on let’s go.” She continued as she pulled off her shoes and stepped into the water.

“You want me to wade across a river that could have fish living in it; in my favorite jeans?” Lena asked as if it was the most ridiculous thing she had ever been asked to do. Which, at this point in her life, it probably was.

“Yeah, we kind of need to get home. Remember?” John pulled her and Kyle to the river’s edge. He was determined to not let them keep the whole group hung up.

Lena took off her shoes and stepped into the river. “This isn’t that bad after all.” She smiled as he toes touched the rocky bottom “It’s actually kind of warm.” Her face lit up.

“I disagree completely! This was a terrible, terrible idea.” John frowned as he waded as quickly as possible across the river, he certainly did not think it was warm. On the contrary, he thought it might as well have been ice water.

After a good five minutes of splashing around, Lena finally came out of the river. Catherine just rolled her eyes again as Lena came skipping out of the Lembes river dripping wet. I guess suddenly her favorite jeans weren’t as important as she thought. Catherine thought as she shook her head and started walking along the path in front of the others.

The group passed an enormous weeping willow shortly after crossing the river and continued walking through a small grove of trees. When they came to the other side of the trees the four children saw in the distance a magnificent castle overlooking a royal blue bay with glistening white cap waves crashing against the cliffs near the castle and gliding gracefully over the white sands of the beaches bellow. The castle had torrents and walls taller than anything they could have imagined, the windows were long and ornate, letting the afternoon sun glint off them and bounce into Catherine’s eyes.

“It’s beautiful.” Catherine said quietly. Her wavy brown hair was blowing back from her face in the sea breeze that came skirting up from the field stretched beneath them.

“You can say that again!” John replied as he too stared at the castle in admiration. He felt a sudden sense of belonging as he gazed at it.

“My new home!” Lena exclaimed as she began running for the castle. She was obviously overcome by the sight and hadn’t seen any of her other surroundings.

“Lena, stop! Watch out for the cliff!” Catherine shouted as she ran after her younger sister. Lena was headed right for an eighty-foot drop to the field where the castle stood in the distance. She was far too excited about the castle in the distance to notice the cliff at all.

Lena screamed as she went over the edge. Kyle, John and Catherine sprinted to the edge of the cliff; they looked down to see Lena sitting on a giant blue dragon with her hands pressed tightly over her eyes.

“Am I dead yet?” Lena called up, her hands still over her eyes. She didn’t seem like she was going to open them any time soon, which was a good thing for the others, they were worried she’d freak out.

“No Lena, but don’t open your eyes or you might have a heart attack!” Kyle laughed. He was so amused that this would happen to her, it was almost too perfect, the princess saved by a dragon.

The majestic blue dragon slowly beat its wings until it landed on the cliff next to where Kyle, John, and Catherine stood. The dragon was light blue with an aqua marine underside. It had a long tail with a fin at the end and flowing wings. On its forehead, it wore a silver tiara with a royal blue stone in the center.

“Lena, I think you can open your eyes now.” John spoke cautiously “But whatever you do don’t scream.” He warned her, the last thing he needed was for all of them to be killed, or worse, eaten by a dragon. Not today, just not today. John thought inwardly with frustration.

“How am I not dead? Did a unicorn catch me? Or was it a Pegasus?” Lena’s excitement began to rise when the others did not reply fast enough.

“Not exactly, just open your eyes slowly and get off the… whatever you want to believe it is.” Catherine instructed Lena calmly. She had no problems with annoying talking trees, but dragons? This was getting a little out of hand.

Lena opened her eyes and stared down at the blue scales beneath her. She was rather startled but recovered quickly, taking deep breaths so she wouldn’t scream. She then looked up to see the face of a dragon, its yellow eyes staring into hers. “Yikes!” Lena quickly covered her mouth after the word had escaped, but she knew it was already too late.

The dragon smiled “You need not be afraid, I am here to help bring you to the castle. The trees in the Forest of Faces told me there were humans about, and that you would be needing escorts.” Her voice was kind and young, despite what the four children had expected.

Lena almost feinted when she heard the dragon speak, however she was able to hold herself together enough so that her jaw only dropped a foot or two. “I am Lena. What is your name?” She asked politely after she had recovered.

“I am Tesesta, dragon of the seas.” The dragon told Lena and the others, as she finished three other dragons rose up behind her “and these are the other dragon leaders.” She motioned to the three dragons that had risen behind her with her flowing wings.

A strong looking green dragon stepped forward toward the children. “I am Fliestor, dragon of the forests.” The dragon rang out in a deep strong voice that would make trees shake. His wings were like giant leaves, the spikes on his back brown like tree bark. The spikes down his back made him look more like what the children expected a dragon to look like. He wore a crown of twigs and leaves with a green emerald in the center. He bowed before Kyle whose eyes were wide with excitement. “My lord, I will be your escort.” The dragon told him. Kyle’s face lit up and he scrambled up onto the dragon’s back a little too excitedly, startling the giant beast a little before he laughed it off jollily.

Next, a fiery dragon stepped forward and bowed before John. She was red with an orange underside. Small orange spikes ran down her back and her thin tail. Her wings burned with actual fire and the horns on her head rose like a tall crown. Sitting among these horns was a gold tiara with a red ruby in the center. “I am Renadia, dragon of the volcanoes. I will be your escort.” The fiery dragon spoke to John. John nodded to Renadia and mounted her silently; he was trying his best to mask his uncertainty. He did it well, only Catherine noticed.

Finally, the last dragon stepped forward. He was all black with yellow spikes down his back and yellow spikes at the tips of his wings and of his long tail. A golden crown was perched on the black horns on his head; in the center of the crown was a black stone. There was a sharp horn on his nose and his tail was long and strong. His claws were sharp and dangerous and his eyes were bright yellow. The black wings on his back were far larger than the other dragons, yet he was sleek and aerodynamic for flight. The dragon bowed before Catherine, as he came up from the low bow a smile spread across his face, revealing his sharp white teeth “My lady, I am Vartines, dragon of the skies. It would be my honor to escort you to the castle.”

Catherine smiled and something inside her jumped as she mounted Vartines. It could have been her heart leaping in her chest from the excitement of the day, but she thought it was something deeper. Her soul leaping from her body to fly through the cool air next to her, to feel the clouds as she passed them.

The dragons took off at once, each with one of the children riding on their backs gripping tightly to their necks so they wouldn’t fall off.

Kyle began looking giddier than ever “Guys you know we are riding on dragons right? Real live dragons!” He exclaimed to the others as if they hadn’t even noticed.

Lena giggled “Look! No hands!” she let go of Tesesta’s neck for a moment before she couldn’t take it anymore.

Catherine’s spirit soared to be up so high looking down at the fields and at the castle that was approaching quickly. She felt free and more alive than she had ever felt before. Most importantly she felt at peace. Even though she was breathing new air under a new sun in a whole new world, Catherine felt truly at home. It was a feeling that she had never encountered before but would learn to know quite well in her future.

John shouted to them all “I really hope I’m not dreaming!” he laughed. Catherine smiled back to him. Me too John, me too. She thought solemnly.

They all laughed at John as the dragons landed in the courtyard of the castle. Fairies of all colors came out to greet them. They were not like the fairies Lena had seen in many of the books she had read. The fairies here were as tall as they were if not taller, with butterfly thin wings on their backs. Most of them wore odd clothing made of leaves, and had brightly colored lips and hair. They helped Lena, John, and Kyle off their dragons but stayed clear of Catherine and hers.

Catherine looked quizzically at the large group of fairies surrounded the others but wouldn’t come near her. She didn’t understand what was going on.

“Don’t mind them; it’s me they are avoiding.” Vartines whispered to Catherine as she dismounted and walked around to look into Vartines’ eyes as he spoke. “It seems I frighten them a bit.” Vartines paused and cocked his head. “You are not like other human girls I have met.” Vartines smiled mysteriously, it was as if he knew some secret Catherine could not quite catch a hold of.

“I would say you’re not like other dragons I have met but I haven’t met any other dragons.” Catherine smiled as she waved goodbye to Vartines. I’ll have to ask why I’m so different. Catherine thought to herself as she broke into a jog to catch up with the others.

She followed John who was being led by a fairy with red shining wings and white hair. They were talking about school, but Catherine wondered what they could possibly have in common.

“I’m so glad I don’t have school for another month.” John was saying in an excited voice.

The fairy laughed “Lucky you; I have classes later on today. Also, I have a big test on elemental shifts tomorrow.” She giggled like the girls that Catherine despised at school, the ones who always acted dumb on purpose and followed John around constantly.

“I don’t even know what that is.” John smiled and shook his head. “This place, it’s all so overwhelming, so incredible.”

“Avion’s castle is truly magnificent.” The fairy laughed again as two of her friends fell into step next to her and John. “I have to get to class now. I guess I’ll see you around?” she asked as she touched his arm lightly.

Catherine rolled her eyes Here we go again, apparently John can even get girls of another species to follow him around like puppy dogs. She thought angrily. This girl hadn’t known John for five minutes and she was already all over him, she didn’t even know the first thing about him.

“Yeah, see you around, Selena.” John waved goodbye, his head cocked, he looked slightly delusional to Catherine.

Of course in the back of Catherine’s mind she knew she couldn’t really blame him. I mean they were fairies, it’s not like they had those back in New Hampshire so it was almost acceptable to stare. Almost.

Kyle ran up to Catherine, who was just falling in step with John. “This is like a real castle guys. Come on!” He shouted as he jogged by and grabbed Catherine’s hand. His excitement was almost contagious and Catherine felt herself smiling a bit as she jogged with him.

Kyle pulled Catherine after him through the hallways of the castle to a large room. The high ceilings made the room feel even bigger than it actually was, which if you asked Catherine was utterly unnecessary considering how enormous it was. The ceilings were painted with beautiful images of what Catherine assumed were the constellations that one would see if they looked up at the night sky in this strange land. The large brass chandeliers lit up the ceiling, but their light was barely noticeable over the incredible brilliance of the afternoon sun, which flooded the room with light from an enormous stained glass window opposite them. Catherine couldn’t exactly make out what the image was but it looked like some kind of seal.

In addition to blinding her from the window, the brilliant white marble floors bounced sunlight into her eyes and made it difficult to see across the great room. What Catherine could make out was the outline of a large beast, which sat on what Catherine could only describe as a royal throne. The beast was like nothing she had ever seen before, a winged lion. It was the stuff of fairy tales, but at this point Catherine wasn’t all too surprised. It seemed this whole world was made up of fairy tales.

The way the beast sat in the throne commanded an air of dignity and respect. From this point on Catherine would imagine him every time she heard the word ‘royalty’. For this is what royalty was meant to look like.

Lena was standing in front of the winged lion, speaking with him as if it was perfectly normal and rational that he could speak back. Catherine smiled to herself. At this point she would have been more concerned if he couldn’t talk, with the way things were going so far and all.

“Then we fell through some green swirling thing in the grass and then we walked for-like-ever. Oh and then we met a tree named Lenny. He was really annoying! He and the other trees kept shouting ‘Left to Lembes, right to riches’. Oh then we swam in the Lembes river until finally the pretty dragons came and picked us up.” Lena spat out as fast as she could. When she finished she took a deep breath then looked up at the lion with a small smile. It seemed Lena had no real regard for how royal the beast looked, she felt like she could talk to him like she did to everyone else.

“Interesting, very interesting.” The winged lion pondered. His voice was just as deep and commanding as Catherine imagined it would be. She only hoped she would never hear him yell. “Would you like to introduce me to your friends Lena?” He asked curiously. His tail swinging back and forth behind him, methodically.

Lena perked up. “Of course, this is Kyle and John, they are brothers, and this is my sister Catherine.” Lena motioned to Kyle, John, and Catherine. She seemed pleased with herself for being the one who told the story of how they arrived here.

The winged lion spoke. “It is a pleasure to meet you, I am Avion, king of this castle and of The Other Side of the Grass.”

John, Catherine and Kyle bowed. It seemed like the polite thing to do at the time, considering he was the king. Besides, he was rather frightening.

Avion continued. His voice a bit jollier than it had been. “You are welcome to stay at my castle as long as you like.”

“Thank you, but we were wondering how we could get home.” John told Avion, he couldn’t help but wonder how worrier their parents were getting. They had already been gone far too long and John feared that they would not be able to explain their absence when they returned.

“Yes, yes, understandable; that will require me to open a portal, which I haven’t done in many years. It may take a while for me to relearn the process, though I will look into it immediately. In the mean time I will have someone show you to your rooms.” Avion replied solemnly.

He rang a small bell on the armrest of his throne twice and a white dove came flying in from the hallway the others had come from.

The others turned to focus their attention on the dove, but Catherine couldn’t help but stare at the great winged lion in front of her, Avion, the king of The Other Side of the Grass.

The dove landed on the ground in front of the four children and bowed first to Avion, then to them, before speaking “I am Benny, his royal highness’s steward. If you would follow me I will show you to your rooms.” With that Benny flapped his wings and rose from the ground and proceeded towards the door they used to enter the throne room.

The children followed Benny down a corridor to their right. Then they ascended three flights of stairs and walked down several hallways to a tower where Benny opened the door to a grand circular room.

In the room there we comfortable plush chairs and tables with a large assortment of cushions strewn across the furniture and the plush rugs. To the right there was a large fireplace where a group of cushions had been arranged into a comfortable grouping on the floor and a small desk with a few books laying on it. On the other side of the circular room was a set of stairs leading up again.

As children followed the dove across the room to the stairs, he began speaking. “This level is where you may relax; it is your private sitting room while you are here.” The dove spoke as they crossed the room. They ascended the spiraling staircase of the tower until they came to a door on the right. “This is the boy’s bedroom.” Benny said as he ushered John and Kyle into the room.

It was large and circular like the last one, only in this room there were four beds, each with a different colored satin cover spread across it. John sat on the red bed and Kyle next to him on the green before Benny spoke again. “The washroom is up one level. Boys needn’t go any higher in the tower than that.” His voice was sharp and it made John chuckle.

With that Benny gave John and Kyle a curt nod before escorting Catherine and Lena up the last two flights of stairs to their bedroom. It was exactly like the boys. The four different colored satin covers on the beds, next to each an enormous wardrobe. In the middle of the room was a low table with plush chairs around it. A perfect area to play cards or to sit and chat. Besides that and a tall, thin bookcase which was crammed with leather bound books, the room was rather bare. There were no paintings or pictures. Though the fine rugs should have made the space feel homey, Catherine felt as though it were deserted, or at least that no one had stayed in this room in quite a long time.

As Catherine stood, almost frozen by the door, as if she could almost feel the room’s last occupants glide by her like ghosts, Lena stepped forward and sat abruptly down on the blue satin bed across the room. The window above it had the best view by far, of the ocean and a few dots of green riding the waves, which Catherine and Lena could only assume where islands off the coast.

With a sigh, Catherine stepped farther into the room and found her feet carrying her to the bed to the left of the door. Catherine smiled as she brushed the bright yellow satin laid out across it. Her window faced the direction from which they had walked, Catherine hoped it would let her have a glimpse of what she could only imagine would be a brilliant sunset.

Catherine looked next to the enormous wardrobe that sat next to her bed. She threw the doors back to find an assortment of clothing that reminded her more of something she would see in some sort of play. Then again it did match the castle quite well. Most of the clothing looked frilly and excessive, even for fairy tale clothing, if that’s what this was. In addition, like the room itself it all looked like it hadn’t been touched in some time, everything even had a fine layer of dust across it.

Lena’s wardrobe contained clothing of a similar style as Catherine’s. When she saw what it had to offer her she stepped back and raised an eyebrow at her sister. “Raid all the other wardrobes?” She asked playfully.

Catherine smiled at her little sister. It was a silly thing to do, yet Catherine had a feeling she wasn’t going to be very fond of the oversized dresses that filled her wardrobe. She nodded. Going to have to find me some pants. She thought to herself.

Ray’s boots clicked on the stone floor of the throne room as he made his way across the room. The sun was just setting and the room was growing dark but it was still easy to make out the large figure that sat perched on the throne. “You called.” Ray said simply, it was more formal of a statement than he meant to make to such an old friend but sometimes he had a hard time addressing Avion properly.

Avion smiled and looked up from the large book he had been reading from a stand in front of the throne. “It is finally time to melt down that old dusty thing.” Avion chuckled. “I thought this day would never come. If you must, dilute it with some other metals, we’ll need eight of them I believe.”

Ray shook his head slightly out of surprise “You really think they’re the answer?” He was not as sure as Avion was, but the idea of it excited him.

“I can feel it. Besides, no one has come through the portal since…” Avion trailed off, struggling to put words to the last encounter he had with a human.

“I know.” Ray stepped in, smiling sadly. “Well I can get to work on them now if you wish. Of course the enchantment won’t be the same you know.” He pondered as he stroked his chestnut beard.

Avion sighed, “Yes of course, I figure that it is better than nothing. At least it will keep them safe for some time.”

Nodding, Ray bowed slightly to his old friend and made his way out of the room. For the duration of the walk back to his workshop Ray’s mind was swimming with memories. When he finally sat down to get to work, he could hardly think straight. Sighing Ray decided that it had been quite a day and that it was time for bed. He would finish this project another time when his mind was less cluttered with thoughts.

Write a Review Did you enjoy my story? Please let me know what you think by leaving a review! Thanks, Kristin Dugas
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