Approaching the house from the ground up was excruciatingly exhausting. My eyes fixed on Amalia. It was to be expected as she was considerably younger than the rest of the sentinels. Her aura was dominating, her head held high and her back straight.
The professor and Amalia seemed to have history, since their silence spoke more than words. Bartholomew and Rahil were caught up in some discussion regarding bridges between worlds. Bartholomew seemed to be leading in the discussion, while Rahil was oddly silent. Bartholomew still wearing his ceremonial robe seemed to me to be a much more traditionalistic man. His speech was quite calm and calculated, in contrast to Rahil who was all over the place with his aggressive speech pattern.
Amalia was starting to catch up with the professor, but his focus seemed to be strictly concentrated on the escalated road that lay in front of him. He was clearly forcing distance between him and the rest of the group.
“How’s the library?”
Amalia finally caught up to him, but the professor kept on walking in silence ignoring her.
“You know you don’t have to-“
“Why don’t we play this game which I truly adore? It is called ‘who can stay silent the longest.’ I’m quite good at it.” The professor turned to her and arrogantly uttered.
“My intentions were pure, with no foul intent.” -Amalia pouted.
“I frankly don’t care.” The professor forcibly smiled, his smile quickly fading as he continued to walk up the mountain.
“So, you are just going to be an arse the entire time?” Amalia raised her voice.
“Well, if minding my own business counts as being an arse, then yes. I’m going to stay an arse for the entire time of your uninvited stay”.
“I am still shocked that you have an apprentice, even an imaginary one.” Amalia sarcastically uttered.
“Have you hunters ever kept silent?” The professor stopped and turned to Amalia.
“Have you alchemists ever heard of the act of keeping yourselves clean and pleasant to look at?” Amalia countered.
“Now, that’s just a poor generalist viewpoint.”
As the professor and Amalia argued, Bartholomew abruptly stopped and stared at the ground.
“I sense turbulence.“ He uttered, but no one listened. “Amalia.” He called out. “Amalia!”
“What!” Amalia turned toward Bartholomew.
“What do you hear?”Amalia stopped and turned her ear to the sky, her gaze relaxing from her angered state.
“Lung.” they both uttered in unison.
Seconds later a long and scaly dragon appeared from the sky nearly colliding with our group. It seemed energy based, with luminescent stripes pulsating in a light blue hue. With its monstrous claws it grabbed onto the side of the mountain above us, gazing down as we ran up the rock in sheer terror.
I was utterly frightened by its gargantuan size and ghastly appearance. My body felt numb, as we ran up the rugged mountain, zigzagging between the trees and the rocks. The horrid dragon was perpetually charging at us, shooting from its mouth streaks of energy, knocking me down twice in the process.
We were close to the house which was situated on top of the mountain, our chance of escape slim.
Bartholomew turned to face the dragon and began to move giant rocks in its path. His confrontation was for the most part in vain, as the lung had incinerated everything that was hurled in its way.
As we approached the house the dragon leaped into the air, once more striking us with streaks of energy, this time hitting the house.
The professor shouted out in anger as his long black coat flapped from the waves of the impact. He wrathfully turned to the lung, striking it with lightning, causing but little damage.
As the bone-chilling beast towered, gazing down at us with his fiery blue eyes, its mouth opened and blazed once more, but this time Rahil intervened, and blocked the beast’s destructive energy with his concentrated inferno.
The stand-off between Rahil’s fire and the dragon’s energy was spectacular. With both reciprocating flaming blasts from one another. The professor hastily made it to the peregrination crystal but hesitated to touch it. He closed his eyes and tried unsuccessfully to concentrate.
As a blast, which Rahil deflected from the beast and hit the house, the professor finally touched the crystal, only for it to crack upon impact.
“Cursed crystal!” The professor exclaimed.
Just before shouting the words, another blast hit the house, this time knocking us all to the ground.
“Bartholomew! Get us out of here!” Amalia shouted to Bartholomew.
He stared up at the crystal and quickly grasped it. Amalia hastily stood up and took out the stick that was on her back. From it she formed a bow, taking an arrow from her hip. Aiming at the creature she let the arrow fly.
As the creature approached, roaring with anger, the professor leaped up and pulled Rahil into the house.
It was as a painful a ride as the previous time although my excitement replaced most of the pain. Coming out of my dazed state, I awoke to dry and scorching weather.
Still disoriented, I rose to my feet and to my surprise viewed sand everywhere. As I walked out of the demolished house for the first time, I stepped on sand which had a different texture than the rare beaches of England. Dunes of sand were everywhere. I looked, for kilometers on end. Just sand.
I speedily ran to the top of one of the dunes to gain a better view of the new environment and to my dismay, saw more sand as far as the eye could see.
“Augustine!” The professor shouted as he fastened his dirt-brown vest.
“Up here!” I shouted back.
The professor slouching his shoulders, and in an un-enthusiastic voice, replied, “Have you perhaps forgotten your predicament?”
“Just follow the tracks up the dune!” I uttered.
The professor then went back into what was left of his house, and attended to Amalia, Bartholomew and Rahil. They were particularly affected by the travel and needed a moment to process what had just happened. Sitting on the porch of the house they watched as the professor brought out a stick which he impaled into the ground, taking out some tools from his coat, which he screwed on top of the stick.
“Where the hell are, we?” Amalia weakly inquired.
“It seems as though our fellow companion, Bartholomew, has transported us in the middle of the Saharan Desert.” Rahil exclaimed as he clumsily left the house and sat on the porch.
“I haven’t used a peregrination crystal in years. Also, I did not have the exact location of your Athenaeum.” Bartholomew added.
“Excuses…” The professor muffled as he metaled with his instrument.
“Excuses!? Weren’t you the one who cracked the crystal?”
Bartholomew stood up to confront the professor, but the professor did not return his answer. “We are lucky to even be in this realm, traveling with a cracked crystal!”
The professor face was a mask of dread, and seriousness as he moved away from the tool.
“Looks as if we aren’t so lucky after all,” the professor uttered.
I turned my gaze forward and noticed a colossal sandstorm approaching which extended hundreds of kilometers in height and length. Green light crackled beneath it.
As everyone entered into an unsettling silence, the professor finally broke it with a bloodcurdling edict.
“Welcome, to the realm of the forgotten.”