I was just minding my own business. Trying to forget about the fact that I’m just a clone and relax for awhile. And what do I find when I check Facebook? A status update from Heather. Normally, this would be no cause for alarm. It would just be something about work or school, often phrased in a humorous manner. Today? Today her status update sent a chill down my spine. The status update mentioned that she was going to go exploring. Once again, a seemingly innocent act. However, she said she was going exploring in a certain forest, one I haven’t been to since… well, since I arrived on Earth. While I am sure that the path to Renolia was and is closed… I couldn’t just let her wander around that forest alone.
I put on my old adventuring clothes. I’ve only worn them once, although the original Tim wore them practically every time he went to Renolia. I never really thought about it, but he must’ve made an exact duplicate of his clothes using the same magic he used to form me. Just like me, you can’t tell that they are made out of magic rather than matter. They should work fine.
I set off to find Heather. I walked through the forest, calling her name a few times. No response. I was starting to get a little worried when something in my pocket beeped at me. That was particularly strange given that, as usual, I had left my cell phone at home. I searched my pockets until I found a strange amulet I had picked up just prior to… no, sorry. The original Tim picked it up just prior to cloning himself. It must’ve been cloned with the clothes. The inscription on it says “To those who seek, passages may be found.” Passages… plural? That could've been bad. The amulet was circular, with an intricate design on one side. The outermost part of the design consisted of two concentric circles, with a few lights in between the circles. I turned a bit as I was examining the amulet, and the lights shifted to reflect my change in direction. I figured that it was probably acting as some sort of compass. I turned until the brightest light was straight in front of me and walked towards it. As I walked, the light got brighter.
With no warning, the light shut off. I stopped where I was. After a second, an image appeared over the amulet. It showed ruins surrounded by a forest. I noted that oddity and continued forward. Before I had taken five steps, it was obvious something was different. The trees were spaced differently and had a different kind of bark. The air seemed thinner, and it was warmer than it was a minute ago. The Sun seemed to have shifted from one side of the sky to the other. There was no doubt in my mind that I had crossed over into another world.
As I was observing my surroundings, I happened to look down. There were what appeared to be footprints leading up a trail on a hill. Conditions weren’t very good for the creation of imprints in the dirt, so the blobs could have been made by anything. Still, it was all I had to go on. I followed the path. When I got to the top of the hill, I took a good look around. There was a small valley on the other side. The path continued for a ways and ended up in what appeared to be a ghost town. If Heather had seen that, she definitely would have explored it.
I left the path and headed straight for the town. As I got closer, it became more and more obvious that the place had been abandoned months ago. There was no sign of human life. That is, until I found a crumpled piece of paper on the ground. I listened closely, and I could just barely make out the sound of footsteps on the cobblestone road. I followed the sound until I saw Heather. She was in an old building with a caved in roof. I looked up and saw a dragon perched atop the nearest wall. It was looking inside the building, at my cousin. Its posture reminded me of that of a cat about to pounce. I said “Uh, hi Heather. You should come with me. Right now.”
She turned, obviously surprised. “Tim? What are you doing here?”
I looked up, impatiently. “Looking for you. Now, let’s go.”
“Is this Renolia? Why do we have to go?”
“We have to go because this is not Renolia, and you are not safe here. Neither of us are.”
“Not Renolia?” She looked puzzled. “What do you mean? Where are we then? And what’s not safe about it? I haven’t found anything here to be afraid of.”
“One question at a time. Geez.” I thought for a moment. “Tell you what, if you come with me now, I’ll answer all your questions once we’re back on Earth.”
She frowned. “Why not now? I don’t see what the danger is. Besides, I found this really cool --”
At that point, the dragon stumbled. A chunk of the wall broke off and landed a few feet away from Heather. I yelled “We’re leaving!” before grabbing her by the wrist and running away from the dragon. I took out the amulet and used it to show me which direction the passage was in.
“Ouch!” Heather pulled her wrist out of my hand and stood there rubbing it like a petulant child. “Was that a dragon? Is that why we’re in danger? Why didn’t you just say so?” She pointed at the amulet. “And what is that?”
“Yes. Yes. Because you’re fond of dragons, and that one would eat you if you gave it half a chance. This is a sort of compass that will help us find our way back. Now, please. Keep running. The dragon appears to be designed for short dives or flights. If we get a significant distance away before it reacts, it should be either unable or unwilling to follow us.”
Heather glowered, but acquiesced. “I just wish I could’ve gotten a better look at it is all . . .” she muttered.
“Take a picture, it’ll last longer,” I said with a great deal of sarcasm. I continued running towards the passage back to Earth. After awhile, I stopped to see where Heather was. She was, in fact, taking a picture. I urged her to hurry up and she begrudgingly followed. As we neared the passage, I looked to the sky. Several dragons were circling overhead. Heather began reaching for her camera again, so I pushed her through and then went in myself. Why did she have to get herself lost on another world? Stupid girl.