Legends of Lodenzia
part 1: the crashlands

 1    Nathan strained to get one last look at his parents waving goodbye on the shore, as the S.S. Discovery set sail into the vast, blue ocean.  Why did they decide to send me to my grandparent’s house in London?  he thought At least I’m not alone.  He felt a hand on his shoulder, it was his twin sister, Natalie.  “it’s not fair” he murmured    “Come on! It’ll be fun to visit England and see Big Ben, and the Tower of London, and Stone Henge….”  Nathan ignored her and sighed.  “It’s only for the summer,” she said soothingly     “Yeah, but we are going to go through the Bermuda Triangle!”  He shuddered at the thought.    “That’s just a bunch of stories, it’s not true,” she said with a laugh.  “It IS true!” shouted Nathan “I read a book about it!”    “whatever, believe it if you want.” She answered rolling her eyes.

    The ship tossed and turned on the waves all night and Nathan debated weather it helped him sleep, or if it was a nuisance.  Then next morning he woke up to find the sea calm and blue.  Breakfast on the boat was delicious, he enjoyed stuffing himself with waffles, toast, yogurt, and bacon.  Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.  He thought.  Natalie ate salad for breakfast.  Salad, always with the salad, that’s all she ever eats.  Nathan thought  She says she’s a ‘vegetarian’  I’m sure she just made that up so she didn’t have to eat Mom’s meatballs.  Ugh.  But that doesn’t explain why I always see her eating sushi when Mom isn’t looking. Seaweed and sushi, bleh.  The day was unexpectedly enjoyable.  Nathan had fun exploring all of the places in the ship.  There were two other families on board with them, they were all fairly nice.  The sunset on the ocean was beautiful, the sea reflected it, making it appear bigger.  By the end of the day, he was exhausted and happy to go to bed.

    The next day went by quickly, the captain of the ship showed Nathan how to drive the boat and which button does what.  Dinner that night was amazing, it was spaghetti and meatballs (good meatballs this time) when Nathan went to bed, he decided that the rocking of the boat was nice and helped him fall asleep.  Before he knew it, he was asleep.        

    2   On the third morning he awoke and stepped out of their cabin to find a very dense mist surrounding the ship.  He squinted to see more than 3 feet ahead, but it was no use.  Natalie walked out of the cabin shivering “this mist came out of nowhere!” she exclaimed.  Nathan saw the water start to swirl near the front of the ship.  He figured it was a normal thing on the ocean.  The swirling grew larger, until he witnessed the entire ship begin to be swept around by it.  Nathan felt sick, all the color drained from his face.  He had never sailed before, but he knew that this was not normal.       The entire ship was being sucked into who knows what that thing was.  Natalie was screaming, Nathan knew that it was inevitable, anything they did now would not stop them from falling into the giant whirlpool.  Before he knew it, he was screaming too as the ship heaved from under them without warning.  It was falling into the vortex.  The boat flew sideways.  Nathan felt himself sliding toward the stormy ocean, he desperately scrambled for a handhold on the slick, wet surface of the boat but grasped nothing Nathan tumbled across the slick deck and plunged into the waves, his screams barely heard above the roar of the wind.        

    3  Nathan felt the sun beating down on his back as he lay face down in the sand.  He opened his eyes a crack, surveying his surroundings.  Through his blurry focus he saw the Discovery nose-down in the sand, the wreckage of multiple other boats, big and small.  His mind was foggy, and he tried to remember what just happened.  He heard a groan a few yards away.  His mind suddenly became awake and his head flew off the sand.  That was Natalie!  He ran to her and began prodding her awake.  Her lips were dry and cracked and any water that had been on her had evaporated into salt in the cruel sun.  Or was that suns?  He peered into the sky to confirm that there were indeed three suns.  Natalie coughed and opened her salt caked eyes. “where are we” she croaked, her voice hoarse. “I don’t know, some kind of desert”  Nathan was surprised to find his voice, too, was barely a whisper. “I’m thirsty” she said weakly.  Nathan realized that his throat was very dry. “Me too.” he sighed.  Where are we going to find some water that isn’t salt water?  Not like we would find any of THAT either, everything just dries up in this wasteland.  “Let’s go find some shelter from the heat of these suns”     They moved themselves into the remains of the Discovery Nathan went searching the other ships (and some aircrafts) for any resources, but to no avail. He saw none of the other passengers.  When he returned to their shelter Natalie was sleeping.  At the thought of it he suddenly realized how tired he was.  They could worry about surviving tomorrow.  He curled up next to his sister and fell asleep.        

    4 Nathan was dreaming.  He was on a boat, but it was sailing on air.  Under him was a strange land, it seemed familiar even though he had never seen it before.  His boat flew closer toward a watery section of the landscape.  Closer and closer until he was a few feet from the ground, he zoomed through a lush jungle.  He flew silently into a cave.  It was darkness.  He squinted to find a small hint of light, but it was like the darkness were a liquid, drowning him in it.  He panicked and tried to scream, but nothing would come out.  Until he saw a light.  He turned his head toward it, a spark of hope in the dark world.  He reached out to it, fingers straining to reach it.   The light spoke “Nathan!” it was strange, it sounded like Natalie.  “Nathan!” the voice said again.  He felt himself pulled out of the dream and lying on the sand under the boat.  It was Natalie!  But something was wrong, her voice was fearful and hushed.  “Nathan!”   She hissed once more “there’s something out there!” Nathan blinked at her     “well good, maybe it can help us and explain some things”     “I don’t think it’s human.” she said worried, “listen to this.”  Nathan crept to the side of their shelter to listen.  He heard sounds, it sounded like high-pitched gurgling mixed with a car horn honking.  It was horrifying.     “THAT is definitely not human.” He gasped “whatever it is, we are definitely not on earth anymore”  Natalie raised her eyebrow     “What tipped you off, the THREE SUNS?”  Nathan put a finger to his lip, his eyes wide with fear.  Natalie closed her mouth.  They’re coming closer.  The gurgling noises were getting louder.  Nobody breathed.     A small creature that resembled a long black pac-man ghost with small legs and long spindly arms with three sharp knife-like claws on the end of each.  The creature was about 4 feet tall (not including the arms which were two times as long as the body) Nathan practically laughed, he had been afraid of this little thing!  What a joke!  Granted the claws looked imposing, but he could easily beat this thing with his bare hands.  It made a shrill beeping noise.  Around twenty more creatures appeared.     “…Maybe they’re friendly?” suggested Nathan     “Well, we’re about to find out.”  The creatures advanced upon them, one was holding up a rope.     “Are they trying to tie us up?” Nathan asked     “I think so.” Natalie said nervously.  One of the creatures made a high pitched scream and all of them attacked the siblings.  Natalie screamed as one jumped on her shoulders, using it’s arms to vault onto them.  Nathan gritted his teeth and clenched his fists, his blood boiling at the sight.  Nobody messed with his sister but him!  He tore the thing off of her and kicked it away from them, but another one took the opportunity to grab his legs and trip him, he fell hard to the ground.  Three more creatures jumped on him and tied his arms and legs with the rope.  How they knew how to tie a knot was beyond him.  He watched helplessly as they swarmed Natalie and tied her as well.  After deciding that they were securely tied, the creatures, about four each, picked up the children and carried them away.  They did not know what just happened, where they were, and what those THINGS were, but one thing was for sure.  It was not good.        

    5 The little creatures had carried them for what seemed like hours, taking shifts carrying them.  Nathan’s throat was so dry he probably couldn’t speak now if he tried.  The things carried them until the three suns set, creating a spectacular show of oranges, pinks and yellows splashing across the sky.  The creatures set them down and created a fire with some pieces of boat one was carrying.  Whatever they were, they had to be intelligent to be able to make fire, Nathan observed.  One of the things walked up to him, he squirmed back as far as he could being tied.  But then he realized it was offering him a bowl of water.  It cut the rope with it’s long claws and handed him the bowl and what looked like fried rattlesnake.  He didn’t touch the rattlesnake, he wasn’t THAT desperate yet.  When he drank the water, it felt amazing, it was the best water he had ever drunk.  He finished the bowl in a matter of seconds and held it out to the creatures asking for more.  They ignored him and continued making their gurgling noises at each other.     The stunning colors of the evening faded and soon there was only a thin strip of light on the horizon.  He laid back on the sand wondering if this place even had stars.  He couldn’t see the sky through the light of the fire the creatures had made.  He sighed and rolled over.  Nathan heard a hiss as the things extinguished the fire with precious water.  He looked up at the sky and gasped.  Above him he saw hundreds upon hundreds of moons littering the night sky.  Their light shone upon the desert making it almost as bright as day on earth.  He couldn’t drag his eyes off of them.  They were… beautiful.   He did not sleep that night, mostly out of worry.  Also it was way too hot to sleep, even at night this place was like a sauna and he didn’t want to miss the splendor of the moons.  He looked up at the stars filling the spaces between the moons and wondered if his home was one of them.        

    6   The next morning the creatures gave them another bowl of water and what looked like some cactus fruit.  They untied Nathan and Natalie’s legs and let them walk, but kept a strong hold on the ropes connected to their hands.  They walked in the heat for some time, all the while Nathan was making an escape plan.  It wasn’t gonna be easy, even if they did make it away from the things, they would die in the desert.  Around noon they walked near a canyon.  Nathan had been watching the canyon for some time and decided it was there they would make their escape.  He grabbed a large lizard off the sand and leaned over to Natalie and whispered “Get ready to run for that canyon when I say so”  He felt bad not telling her ahead of time, but he had to do this now.  Before Natalie could realize what was going on, he threw the lizard into the face of the creature holding their ropes, then grabbed Natalie’s arm and sprinted for the canyon.     “you idiot!”  She screamed “now their going to be angry at us!”     “they’ll have to catch us first!” he panted “they’re never going to be able to with those tiny legs, it’s a miracle they can even walk as fast as us!”  He smiled at his own ingenuity.  Natalie looked behind them and screamed.  Nathan looked too.  The creatures were using their arms to propel them forward, like how a gorilla walks.  Stupid, stupid!  How did I not think they would do that.  Now they’ll catch us for sure.  “Okay!  Okay!  That was a very stupid move!  But now we have to try to make it to that canyon anyway!” He said to his sister     “Then what?!”  She yelled angrily “Hope they don’t follow us in a canyon?!”     “No..” Nathan said through heavy breaths “Hope they don’t climb rocks!”  Natalie was very mad at him, he could tell that the red in her face was not sunburn.  But she decided to concentrate on running and yell at him later.     Nathan and Natalie sprinted toward the canyon as fast as he could, but he knew he couldn’t keep it up, the creatures were only around 10 yards away.  His breaths were heavy and quick, he could hear his heart pounding in his chest, and felt his footfalls upon the sand.  His vision was blurring.  He saw himself entering a canyon. His head was spinning, he couldn’t think straight  What’s going on? Where am I? What do I do now?  His sight began to blacken, the last things he observed were a flash of white light, and a soft ringing noise in his ears.        

    7   He was flying again, no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t stop himself from entering the cave.  The darkness surrounded him once more.  The light appeared again, and he strained to look into it.  A figure appeared in the light.  It was a strange woman, almost all of her skin was tattooed (except for her face)  she was wearing strange clothes, had no pupils in her eyes, and had very pale skin.  She looked directly at him and spoke one word “Help.”     Nathan groaned, he felt stiff and sore.  His heard soft voices next to him and blinked his eyes open, he found himself inside a small hut, Natalie was sitting next to him with a bowl of water.     “What happened?”  He groaned, rubbing his sore legs.     “Well, we were kidnapped by what these people call ‘Mist Dwellers’ and were going to be sold as slaves to their tribe before you stupidly decided to run from them, we ran into a canyon and you passed out from exhaustion, then this tribe of people saved us by using large mirrors to scare off the Mist Dwellers, and we are in their village right now!”  Natalie smiled.  Nathan blacked out again.     He woke up with a start as Natalie splashed the water she had been holding on his face.  He laughed and seized the last of the water, drinking it down quickly, he was wide awake now, and felt better than he had before they fell into this.. place.     “Can they answer some questions like WHERE THE HECK WE ARE!?”     “Eric can answer that”  giggled Natalie     “Who’s Eric?”  A figure entered the structure.     “I am” a male voice said.  The figure walked up to him “I’m glad to see that your up.  Keep drinking water, most of the reason you blacked out was of dehydration”  Eric handed him another flask of water.  Nathan took it gratefully     “Um, can you kind of tell us where we are and how we got here?”  He said between slurps.     “That’s a tall order”  The man laughed “get comfortable, I’ll try to sum it up best i can.  Nathan crossed his legs and smiled.  “Okay, so as Natalie explained earlier, the Mist Dwellers took you, they have the ability to create voids between dimensions.  They use it to steal objects and creatures from the outer worlds and sell them as exotic pets, decorations, or slaves.   This village was formed from humans who escaped them.  We built a safe home where the Mist Dwellers cannot reach.  They hate to climb rocks, and we debate wether they can even do it.”  Nathan flashed an ‘I was right’ smile at Natalie, who rolled her eyes.  “We have extra security precautions too, like those mirrors on the guard towers.”     “What do you eat, or drink?” Nathan was very curious now.     “We scavenge the Crashlands, the place where the ships land when transported to this world, for supplies.  We have found seeds and with much effort we grow our own food.  We also have some of our best and most able climb the Endless Mountain range and trade with the people out of the Crashlands. Then they come back and bring us blankets, plants, and other supplies”     “So, how did you get electricity, because that fan over there is running” Nathan said gesturing to a weathered fan in the corner of the structure.     “That is an excellent observation!”  Chirped Eric, clearly pleased “Here, the plants and flowers are the most superior species.  Each has a unique type of orb inside of it.  The most commonly harvested plant is called a “Ninglie” their orbs generate power and are used in almost every house past the mountains.  Unfortunately, the more powerful the orb, the more dangerous its defense is.  Ninglies have powder on their petals that irritate your skin and make you miserable for a few weeks.”  He walked into a closet and returned with a pot that had a small plant that resembled an indigo tulip.  “This is a Ninglie, they give their orbs to you if you are kind to them.” He put the plant on the table and strode over to the fan.       Eric reached over to the outlet and pulled it out of the wall.  Instead of wires behind it, like Nathan was used to, it was like a pull-out drawer with small yellow glowing orbs inside of it.  They were a little bigger than a standard marble.  Eric picked one out of the outlet and handed it to Nathan.  It was warm and felt like glass.  He rubbed it with his fingers, enjoying the smooth surface.  “The Ninglie orbs have strange effects on human items, do you have anything with you?”  Nathan felt around in his pocket and brought out a laser pointer.  He handed it to Eric, who promptly unscrewed the bottom, dumped out the batteries, and dropped the orb inside. At first the orb just stayed on top of the laser pointer, too big to fit inside.  But then it shrunk to fit inside of it.  Nathan watched, transfixed.  “go outside to try it” cautioned Eric.  Nathan nodded and headed out the door, eager to see what would happen.        

    8  Nathan shook the small device as he walked a safe distance away from the hut, hearing the orb clanking around inside.  Natalie followed him until they were a sensible distance away.     “what do you think he meant by ‘strange effects’?” Nathan wondered aloud.     “I guess we’ll find out,” said Natalie, unsure of what to think.     Nathan aimed the laser pointer at a nearby rock and turned it on.  Immediately a fine beam of blinding red light streamed out of it.  It radiated heat.  Nathan screamed, dropped the device, and curled into a protective ball.  It clattered to the ground.  A few seconds passed, and Nathan decided that it was okay to inspect the results of the laser.  When he stood up, the rock was cut in half.  The cut was smoking and had a dim glow at the edges.     “That was…. AWESOME!”  shouted Nathan.  He scooped up the device.     “please don’t shoot it near me again” groaned Natalie.     “I’d like to see any of those Mist Dwellers come near me again with this!” Nathan laughed swinging it around.     “careful where you’re pointing that!”  Natalie lifted her hands protectively in front of her face.     “let’s go tell Eric what it can do!”  Nathan skipped back to the hut.    

    When they entered the complex again, they found Eric in deep conversation with another man they didn’t recognize.  When they arrived, Eric stopped mid-sentence.  A flash of worry passed over his eyes, but was gone before Nathan could recognize it.     “Hello again, children.” Eric said “look who just came back from over the mountains” He gestured to the strange man sitting at the table.  “This is Raymond, he is our messenger from over the mountains.  He has brought us some news and supplies from outside the Crashlands.”  Raymond waved at them.     “When did you come to Lodenzia?”  He asked     “Lo-whatnow?” Nathan was confused.  Raymond looked at Eric who shrugged.     “Lodenzia is what the natives call this world.”     “Oh, okay then, we came a few days ago.”  Nathan answered     “Come look at the new things I brought from over the mountains.”  Nathan walked to the table and saw many things littering it, big and small, tall and short.  Raymond picked up a map that laid on the table.  “This is a map of all Lodenzia”  He spread out the paper over the table. He pointed at a mountain range surrounding a country labeled ‘Crashlands’  “This is the Endless Mountain range.”  His finger scrolled over the paper and landed on a small canyon inside the Crashlands. “This is where we are.”  Nathan studied the map for a long time, tracing his finger along the countries and missing his home.     “is there any way to go home?” he blurted.  Raymond looked at him sadness filling his eyes.     “no, not that we know of.  I’m very sorry, but this is your home now.”  The dam that held his hopes of going home burst and impending reality crashed down on him.  He tried to speak, but his voice refused.  There were so many questions whirling around in his head, but the only thing that came out was     “I’m very tired, where do we sleep?”  Eric, glad for a new topic in the conversation answered by saying     “We have extra huts for new people, I will show you to yours.”  Nathan yawned and trudged after him followed by Natalie, who had said nothing since Raymond had brought the truth to them, a tear sparkled in her eye.  She kept her head facing the ground.              9  Nathan opened his eyes to the fuzzy dream world.  He tried to walk, but there was an invisible barrier in his way.  It was like he was inside a glass box.  He blinked and looked below him.  He was soaring hundreds of feet above the ground.  He powerlessly flew closer to the ground until he was near a mountain.  He stifled a gasp as he saw himself, Natalie, and Raymond climbing the perilous mountains.  A strange multicolored bird flew overhead.  Himself on the mountain pointed at it.  Then the ground rumbled and an avalanche of rocks fell down from the mountain and collided with his dream self and his companions, when the rocks subsided, they were gone.     The dream changed and he was inside the darkness once more.  The strange woman appeared again.     “You must come and save me!”  Her voice was urgent.  “Join Raymond in his next journey over the mountains, find me in Riven-dia!  I have warned you in the vision of the coming danger, so you may avoid it.  Make haste!”  There was a flash of light and Nathan was returned to his bed.              10  Nathan awoke in a cold sweat.  He checked to make sure that Natalie was still there, just in case.  She was awake too.     “Bad dream?”  He asked.  Natalie looked at him and nodded.     “There was this weird tattooed lady and she asked me to follow you, I know weird right.”  Natalie was about to go back to sleep when she noticed the look of shock on Nathan’s face.     “The same lady came to my dream and told me to go with Raymond on his next trip over the mountains.”  Natalie eyes grew very large.     “We just got here!  Maybe that was just a coincidence.”  Nathan could tell Natalie was worried.    “Let’s go outside, I’ve been wanting to show you the moons.”  Nathan tried to change the subject.     “Fine.”     Nathan and Natalie headed for the door, or rather the curtain because doors were hard to drag across the Crashlands to the village and it didn’t get cold enough there that you would need a door.  Moonlight poured through the thin blanket, but then two tall silhouettes stepped in front of it.  Nathan retreated back a few steps unsure wether the figures were friend or foe.  Then he heard the voices of Eric and Raymond and relaxed a little.  He placed a finger to his lips, looking at Natalie and listened intently to their conversation.     “No, absolutely not.” Eric’s muffled voice spoke.     “I know their just kids, but the seer made it very clear to me to bring them to Riven-dia.  We don’t want to get in trouble with the whole race, do we?”  Raymond pleaded     “Let’s just ask them what they think before we jump to conclusions.”  Eric sighed.  Before he could think, Nathan threw the curtain back.  He walked out into the light of the moons, and stood by Raymond.     “I want to go with him.  I, too have had a dream about this ‘seer’ and I think we should go.”  Raymond looked at Eric and smiled hopefully.     “Fine!  But just there and back”  Raymond and Nathan exchanged a silent look of excitement.  “But if they get hurt in the least bit, you’re answering to me.”     “Of course.  Nathan, Natalie, go pack whatever you need, we leave at dawn.”  Nathan felt bad for Natalie, she was just forced into this and had no choice.  “Oh, but before we go..” Raymond reached into a satchel around his neck and brought out a food that looked like a rainbow colored cucumber.  “This is a Language fruit,” He said “Eat it, and you will be able to speak and understand most languages in Lodenzia, except the ones that aren’t sophisticated enough to make sense out of.”  He broke it in half and handed them each one.  “You each eat this before we leave, and pack plenty of water.  We have a long road ahead of us.