A World Beside Our Own

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After School

We suddenly appear in Luna’s house and she lets go of me.

I turn and face Luna. “You don’t like Sala, do you?”

“I don’t trust Sala, she’s Fae. They are manipulative and mischievous. That she latched on to you so affectionately, so quickly worries me.” Luna says softly. Her hand comes up and caresses my cheek. “I’m just trying to protect you.”

“So, that wasn’t jealously I felt just then?” I say teasingly.

Luna puts her arms around me and pulls me in for a hug. “I would be lying if I said I felt nothing for you. But if you are to accept mother’s blood, we will become sisters. A romantic relationship between us would be unwise.” I relax in her arms. She smells so nice. I wish there could be more between us. “So I will love you in other ways.” She finishes.

“How did your first day go?” Ashanna’s voice breaks our tender moment. Luna lets go of me so I can turn around.

“I met a few of my teachers, and I made a new friend today.” I smile, turning to speak to Ashanna.

“So, are you going by your legal name in school?” Ashanna inquires with a bit of concern.

“No, Rose said it would be unwise, till she can file emancipation papers and legally remove my parents’ rights to control my life. So I chose a more female name and even changing my last name.” I start, I pull out my school ID and show it to her.

“Simiathlas Rasmussen.” Ashanna reads, and she quirks an eyebrow. “You are that comfortable in my care, that you chose me as your adoptive mother? We’re to be more than you foster family?”

“You’re not upset, are you?” I’m worried now, I know Luna said her mother wouldn’t mind, but I still need to hear it from her.

“I’m honoured that you want to be part of this family.” She smiles and pulls me in for a hug. “My little New Leaf has started a new life outside of their human comfort and has embraced it. I am happy that you feel safe and welcome here.”

“Hantalëcin Emenya.” Thanking my new mother, time to practice my Elvish if I’m going to become one.

Ashanna lets go of me and looks down at me proudly. “I have a feeling you will do great things in this family. But lets not rush your transition, there is much to prepare for the ritual.” She holds me by the shoulders. “Do you have many lessons to finish?”

“I brought some homework,” I nod. “There’s an entire history that I need to relearn. And there are things in my herbalism book that I’ve not seen before.”

“You are a very studious child.” Ashanna smiles.

“Well, when you don’t have many friends, you apply your energy where it can be useful.” I say sadly.

Ashanna gently cups my chin, making me look at her face. “Do not be ashamed of your talents, child. You are very smart, be proud of your achievements.”

“Okay.” I smile.

“Now off you go, supper will be ready in an hour.” Ashanna smiles.

I nod, grab my backpack, and head upstairs. Luna has set up a desk facing hers in the bedroom. I guess I could call this our bedroom now. She’s working on the computer with a schoolbook in her lap. I pull out my books and start working on my lessons.

“I’m a sophomore now, so - if you have questions - just ask, I can help.” Luna says without looking up from her work.

“So, do you go up in grades as fast as normal students do?” I ask, as I open my history book.

“No, I’ve taken a unique approach to learning.” Luna smiles. “This year I’m taking standard academic courses, like you would have learned in the city.” She starts. “Next year will be devoted to magic and sorcery, followed by another year of alchemy and botany.” She looks up from her computer. “There is so much to learn outside of what you have seen in school nettinya, once you gain a longer lifespan, you may want to do the same. There is no rush growing up when one can experience millennia compare to a human century.”

“That’s an interesting way of looking at it.” I say thoughtfully. “Calling me your sister already, are you?” I say as my mind translated ‘nettinya’ as ‘my sister’.

“Whether it be by blood, or simply by name. You have chosen to become a Rasmussen, so you are going to be my sister.” Luna smiles affectionately. “Are you okay with my calling you such?”

“I find it rather comforting, actually.” I smile. “I miss my older sister. I haven't seen her since she went away to college."

“The moment I saw you in the woods, I knew we would share a bond, becoming family explains our connection.” She smiles lovingly.

I actually don’t find her fanged smile threatening anymore. I break away from her loving eyes. I have to remind myself that we’re going to be a family now, and I shouldn’t fall in love with my sister the way my heart is yearning. I get my head out of those thoughts and focus on my social sciences book. While studying Elven society is more of a history lesson. If I am going to learn of my people, I need to see how they lived to understand more about how I will grow myself as a person. Funny that my ancient ancestor was a druid. My mother always said I had a green thumb, and a way with animals that was uncanny. Maybe it’s always been in my nature, but has been dormant?

Once I’m done with the book, I pull out my laptop, and start searching for current druid societies and practises. I know that neo-druidism will differ from my Elven heritage, but I feel I need to reconnect with who I really should be. While there are druid orders still in the old world, the closest group I found here calls itself The Order of Bards Ovates and Druids. Hmm.. Here’s a good start.

Ungo comes up and mreows at me. I turn and pick her up. “What is is my dear, is supper ready?” She rubs up against my face and mroews again. Ashanna calls up for us as I’m getting up. I put the cat down and she guides us downstairs.

“How did you know?” Luna asks, looking at me.

“I have a connection with animals.” I smile. “It’s as if I understand what they want.”

“You said your ancestor was a druid, correct?” Luna asks and I nod. “Perhaps you have always had that in you, and it now slowly re-awakening.”

“That would be interesting. However, I noticed how the cat was very much attached to Cassandra.” I smile.

“Cassandra found a stray cat that was pregnant five years ago.” Luna says as we walk down the stairs. “They took the cat in and raised the kittens. The Montgomery family kept the mother and one kitten, giving away the other three. Soon as Ungo was old enough, we adopted her.” We enter the kitchen. “Cassandra is a witch, like druids, they naturally draw animals to them as familiars or companions.”

“Do you think I will be strong like you or them?” I ask curiously.

“Well, if you chose the path of transition, it is unlikely you will grow much stronger than you are now.” Ashanna replies sadly. “It is why I would lean towards transformation if it is an option. I would still like to see if there is an option to find an Elf, to not inherit my family’s vampiric curse.”

“Our world couldn’t be the only realm that held elves, is there a way to reach one somewhere else?” I ask thoughtfully, settling in my chair.

“That would be your role-playing game knowledge kicking in. You are hoping there are other planes of existence?” Ashanna smiles.

“Well, is it possible?” I ask again.

“There might be ways. We’ll need to talk to Penny & Melody Rivers, they might know of a way. They are the only mages I trust. If there is a means to reach your Elven kin that no longer reside on the mortal plane, they may know of a way.” Ashanna replies.

We dig into my supper. Ashanna made a creamy Alfredo sauce over noodles. I can taste mushrooms and onions and garlic… I suddenly look up, surprised. “You can eat garlic!?”

“It takes some effort, but yes, there are vampires who are resistant to pain of garlic. We require it for some of our tonics.” Ashanna replies.

“Would anyone in the school be able to help?” I ask between bites of creamy noodles.

“I would like to keep our enquiries to people I trust.” Ashanna replies. “Mélodie de La Rivière is not native to this plane, her aura is not fully human. If anyone knows of the outer realms, it will be the Rivers, and I trust them.”

“Sala finds her presence comforting, which has lead Luna and others to suspect that Mrs. Rivers has some measure of fey blood.” I reply thoughtfully.

“You are very versed in paranormal creatures for a human, are you sure you’ve not studied outside of your kind?” Ashanna looks at me in wonder.

“I spend a lot of time looking online for mystical creatures and interesting lore. I've been building this campaign setting I was going to run Kevin and a couple of the girls through.” I reply.

“Leave it to a geek to find out about the mysteries of the universe without realizing it.” Luna smiles and giggles. “It would explain how everything that’s happened these past three days hasn’t totally freaked you out.”

“Part of my mind feels like I’m playing a fantasy game, and I’m in gamer mode - trying to absorb and learn everything I can, to solve any puzzle that might be thrown at me.” I say thoughtfully.

“At least you are keeping an open mind.” Ashanna smiles. “You are being very brave.”

Speaking of brave… “Can I… try a bit more of the blood fruit?” I ask hesitantly. “The last piece didn’t hurt me at all.”

“No, it didn’t, which concerns me, but so has your aura strengthened. It is possible that your body is metabolizing it somehow…” Ashanna looks thoughtful.

“Emmya, how much is safe to consume?” Luna asks.

“Anything more than a segment or small slice could be fatal, but lets try something twice the size of the last one.” Ashanna says hesitantly. I can understand her worry to not hurt me.

She gives me a thick slice of a section of fruit; I poke it with my fork and pop it into my mouth without hesitation. The plasma fruit still tastes horrible, so I chew it quick and swallow. I’m reaching for my glass of juice to wash it down when the room suddenly starts spinning and I fall off the stool. Luna is quicker than her mother to move and catch me before I hit the floor.

I don’t know how long I fell unconscious for, but I feel... different when I open my eyes. Luna and her mother are looking down at me, I’m laying on… a couch?

Ando pantaren yassen, ramba neaya tarnë,” I say as I open my eyes.

“Did you see that? Her eyes were green for a moment!” Luna says surprised caressing my cheek, I can feel the worry from her. Wait, how can I feel her emotions?

“How do you feel, child?” Ashanna asks with gentle worry.

I frown, and my head aches. “Oh! That might have been too much at once.” I groan.

“You are still pale, are you thirsty?” Ashanna asks in a motherly tone. And I nod.

Luna comes back with a glass of water and a straw. I take the straw and suck back some water. Oh, that feels better… I smile.

“Some colour is returning to her face.” Luna says.

I am sorry I took too long to absorb the blood fruit hinanya, I tried to cast an anti-toxin as fast as I could to lessen the poisons, but it’s not working. Before the next step you will need a few days to recover, please eat no more of that fruit - for your sake.” The voice of Lairelindë speaks in my mind.

“Your aura is much stronger now, and your hands glowed for a moment, to stabilize your body. How did you do that my child?” Ashanna looks at me with grave concern.

“My fore-mother Lairelindë said she tried to cast an anti-toxin to clear the poisons from the blood fruit.” I say weakly.

“The elf from your dreams?” Luna says, remembering the name. “The one who gave you your name, she just spoke to you?”

I nod slowly, not wanting to jar my head too quickly.

“A gate opens where a wall once stood…” Ashanna says thoughtfully. “That is what you said when you opened your eyes, do you know what that means?”

“That my ancestor has found more than a window from the Dream?” I say as the only explanation how she just spoke to me now, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t dreaming just then.

Suddenly my head fills with Elven song, words, spells, it’s almost too much information all at once. “Aini’emenya, no! That is too much!” I groan.

“Simia, what’s wrong?” Luna says in a panic.

I relax as the information trickles down to something I can start seeing. “My ancestor is feeding me the millennia of information that she knew when she was alive, all at once! It was a little too much.” I sigh as I can see words and images flash by my eyes like memories.

Ashanna sits up. “The Druid is using blood magic to pull herself out of the Dream. I should have known that’s why you were craving the blood fruit…”

I lay there thoughtfully for a moment as I feel a confirmation through my mind. “Yes. Though even she admits that my body can’t take anymore of the fruit for several days before it’s safe again to try further.”

“What is she trying to prove by nearly killing you!?” Ashanna gets annoyed.

“She… wants.. To be… a caster... in the ritual of transformation… and not just a passenger in my… Ascension?” I say as I’m trying to translate what Lairelindë is feeding me.

“So now she’s a passenger in your mind, will she take control of your body?” Ashanna looks at me concerned.

“No.” I say with conviction. “She can only see through my eyes and speak to me, she can’t make me speak or move against my will.” I reply. I blink and gasp. “She’s teaching me spells! So much knowledge! Aini’emenya, I don’t think I can cast half of what you are showing me!” I say as I see her spell book through my mind, like I’ve written these spells myself! Wait, how is it I know I can now cast spells?

“Athelas.” I say with a moan as my stomach knots. The women look at me confused. “Kingsfoil, Royal Herb. I look through Lairelindë’s memories of herbs. Basil, would work as an alternative.”

“I know where it is.” Luna says and runs into the atrium to get some from the greenhouse. She comes back a moment with a few leaves. “Whatever do you need this for?” she asks, confused.

I can see the spell in my mind, Lairelindë tried an anti-toxin spell, but was missing the spell component. I crunch the leaves in my hands, bruising them, I lift my shirt and place the leaves on my stomach where it’s cramping with the poison.

envinyatasina hora sangwa.” I cast the spell to heal my body of the poisons and take a deep breath as the pain goes away. “Much better.” I smile, “Thank you for that spell.” I say out loud.

“Amazing.” Ashanna looks at what I just did. She reaches over. “The fever is receding, and your colour is returning to normal. Do you feel any more pain?”

“Just a light ache for how long it took to treat it.” I sigh. “I feel like I know so much more now! I know all these healing and plant spells, like I’ve known them for years!”

“Careful Simia, you don’t know if what she is feeding you is correct.” Ashanna warns me.

“What would she gain in misleading me?” I ask, “besides, it’s as if I’m looking at her spell book. Like her eyes are now my eyes. What she’s seen, I’ve seen, heard, smelt, felt… it’s amazing!”

“Her eyes have a green tinge to them.” Luna says, looking at my face.

“Do you think they’ll stay like that?” I ponder curiously.

“Hard to tell, but your aura is definitely that of a Druid now: a green thread weaves through your body, streaked with brown and turquoise, it’s beautiful!” Ashanna says looking past me. “But we’ll take this slowly now, selyenya, I have a right to protect you from what this is developing if I need to.”

I take a moment to argue with Lairelindë about how I see Ashanna as my mother and so she has maternal rights over my god-mother, and I nod. “She agrees. You have the final say as to my care.”

“You call Lairelindë, Aini’emenya,” Luna says thoughtfully.

“My God-Mother sounds better than constantly calling her my ancestor.” I smile.

“As long as your godmother doesn’t override my authority, then I think we can manage having her in your head. It might help you learn more about your Elven heritage, as you get first-hand historical knowledge from her.” Ashanna smiles.

“I think I’m ready for bed now. That took a lot out of me.” Does my voice sound as tired as I feel?

Luna helps me to my feet, I’m still a little dizzy and off-balance. My sister helps me upstairs to the bedroom and helps me get undressed. Somehow I don’t feel embarrassed being beside her in only underwear. She hands me a night shirt it feels so comfortably feminine and smells like Luna I hug it to my body, taking a deep breath and smile.

“Thank you.” I smile. “For everything.”

Luna kisses me on the forehead and smiles. “Sleep well nettinya, I will be close if you need me.”

“Okay, love you” I say happily.

“Love you too.” She smiles and caresses my cheek before going back to her computer.

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