The forest hung silent, paused in expectation of Lagressa’s answer to Beth’s question.
“Do you know what you’re offering?” Lagressa asked.
“I know that I could wind up somewhere that I don’t want to be,” Beth said.
“Do you have family?” Lagressa asked.
“Yes. That’s why I want to do this. I can’t stay here.”
“There are other methods of traveling between the worlds,” Lagressa said, continiuing to polish the moonlight blade. “Ones which you must already have access to in order to have traveled here.”
Beth looked at the book in her hands. It told the story of what was currently happening in the Blessed Realms, and what would happen. It had to be related to her being absorbed by Elgamire. That didn’t really help though. The paperback didn’t feel any different than it had when she first picked it up.
“I don’t know how I got here. Or how to get back.”
“Learning the answers to those questions would be safer than testing a new Silence Breaker.” Lagressa slid a smooth stone down the edge of the blade. She pushed it slowly and gently but a shower of sparks followed the movement of her hand.
“I don’t know if I have time to figure things out,” Beth said. “I’m supposed to be back inside for class soon.”
“The rivers of time flow at many different rates. It’s possible almost no time has passed on your homeworld at all, that’s common with some shadow worlds.”
“My world isn’t one of shadow worlds. It’s not connected to the Blessed Realms at all.” As she said that though Beth wondered if she was right. The book was one connection, and there had to be others. How else could the author have been written a novel that so closely resembled a real place?
“We’re all connected,” Lagressa said. “I’ve tried to escape that reality for most of my life, but it keeps coming back to haunt me.”
“That was one of the themes of book four,” Beth said.
“Book four?” Lagressa asked.
“Not important.” Beth said. “I think I need to risk the Silence Breaker still though. Maybe time isn’t passing in my world, but I won’t know that until I get back there.”
“There’s a worse fates than arriving in a disagreeable realm,” Lagressa said.
“If we focus though won’t the blade only open portals to lands where we can survive?” Beth asked.
“Survive? Yes. Escape? No.”
“Ok. that would be bad. How do travelers deal with that sort of thing usually?”
“Some perils can be avoided by not traveling alone,” Lagressa said. “Others by acquiring the right tools before traveling to a new world, but even with the most trusted of allies and the best of plans, there are still worlds that cannot be escaped.”
“Their shadows can’t be cut through?” Beth asked. This was an area the previous novels hadn’t covered and the thrill of learning more about a favorite setting lit up Beth’s eyes.
“The travelers don’t want to,” Lagressa said. “The most difficult realms to leave are the ones where the travelers find that they want to stay and settle down. It’s possible that the Blessed Realms are that sort of world for me.”
“But you’re making a Silence Breaker?”
“Yes, but is it for me?” Lagressa asked. “I thought it was, but hearing your plight I feel a tugging at my heart to give the blade away.”
“I couldn’t ask for that,” Beth said, stunned at the idea of winning such an amazing prize.
“That’s good, because I’m not going to give it to you,” Lagressa said. “The whims of my heart change like the tides. I have friends in this world, but we walk along different paths. For as much as my affection binds me to them, I still wish to be able to fly free.”
“You’re an explorer. That’s what drove you to the shadow worlds before.” Beth like that aspect of Lagressa in the earlier stories, and hoped it was true in this reality too.
“In that I suspect we are alike,” Lagressa said. “There are not many who would speak with me so calmly. Especially not knowing what I am.”
“I have an advantage there. I’ve read about you. So I kind of know you already.”
“And what did your stories tell you about me?”
“That you were brave, and kind, and not like you appeared on the outside,” Beth said.
“Pleasant lies,” Lagressa said. “Is that why you approached me?”
“No. You called to me. I didn’t know how true the stories were, but I couldn’t just leave you here.”
“Why?” Lagressa asked.
“Because if I did then I’d never know what you were really like.”
“And so are my suspicions confirmed. You are an explorer too Traveller, though I don’t believe you have accepted that yet.”
“I’m nothing special,” Beth said. “The farthest I’ve ever travelled to is across town, and we’re not in that big of a town.”
“What we have done, and what we will do are rarely the same things,” Lagressa said. “I would advise that you consider where you stand now, and what drove you to this place. My own wanderings would have been much easier if I had let the sight of my homeworld go much sooner than I did.”
Beth imagined leaving her home behind forever. As tempting as it would be to get away from Amy and her crew, the thought of losing her parents too was terrifying. Unlike a lot of kids in school, Beth liked her parents. They were supportive and understanding and they made being a family look easy. Just the thought of what her disappearance would do to them turned her stomach.
“That’s advice which you will have to grow into though I suspect,” Lagressa said, rising from her seat. “If you are still committed to leaving, let us see how well I’ve crafted this Silence Breaker.”
Beth nodded and stepped forward, knowing that she would have to hold the hilt of the blade while Lagressa swung it.
“Focus on where you were,” Lagressa said and lifted the blade high above them to point at the unseen sky.
Beth thought of the sunlit courtyard of the school. She pictured the Science and Math building and the tree she’d been reading near. She didn’t have the best or most vivid imagination, but as the Silence Breaker descended she called to mind the feel of the blades of grass under her hand and the smell of the tilled earth.
The Silence Breaker encountered some kind of resistance as it fell but in a bare instant it’s slice was complete.
Beth opened her eyes and saw a cut in space hanging before her. It looked just like the earlier books had described it, with edges the sparkled with rainbow lightning.
On the other side of the rift though was not the sight she’d been expecting.
Parell Prep was visible. The Science and Math building was in full view. But everything was dark.
It was night time there too.