Stormy – Another World Ch. 2

Archival Note from The Jewel Riders Archive: This story is presented as it was originally published on Stormy’s “Avalon” fan site in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It is presented for archival purposes and for the enjoyment of the Jewel Riders fandom. If you are the author of this story and wish to have it removed from the Jewel Riders Archive (or wish to share more!) please email us at archivist@jewelridersarchive.com. Happy Reading!


Another World 2, by Stormdance

Claimer: they’re all still mine, and you still can’t use ’em without permission. Except Merlin who’s his and the “real” characters you see bits of.

Stormy babbles: I have to warn you guys, the girls are in middle school/junior high, and that’s not a nice place to have to spend six hours a day! This story is not entirely a children’s book world; bad things will happen both realistic and magical.

Another World part 2

 

“So how do we find these two more people?” Tamsin whispered.

They were on the bus, squashed into a seat and surrounded by the screeching of their peers. It was a very un-magical place to be talking even a little bit about magical things. Gwennie shrugged, “Keep your eyes open I guess. The jewels should… if this game is real they should show us somehow.” Saying it made it ugly, like the game was so fragile that one touch of the real world would get it dirty beyond repair.

Tas shuddered, feeling the same thing. “It’s a secret mission, we need to find the right people without the wrong people finding out.” That made it better, armored their secret against the touch of the world. “Did you bring them?”

Gwennie nodded, “In my lunchbox, the bottom compartment has two zippers.”

“So?”

“So I locked them together. Our reputation would be shot if anyone saw them!”

Tas giggled and made the thumbs up sign. “Good. Mine’s at home, locked up.”

“Why do we lock them up? It just feels like…” a sort of hush or chill settled around them, “Like something unfriendly might be looking for them.”

Tas nodded, “I know what you mean. We must be totally nuts.”

“Mmhm.” Gwennie nodded. “We still have to find the other two. None of our group, they’re too… ditzy.”

“We have to talk to people we don’t know, without letting them know what we’re talking about. Great.”

_*_

Gwennie didn’t see her partner-in-nuttiness at lunch, and they didn’t get time to talk in English class, so she was alone with her thoughts in the middle of the school noise. She figured they’d need magical help for this finding the other people thing, but it was hard– hard– to get it to feel right. Hard to think right. Too hard. Stubbornness flared in her chest; if that wouldn’t work, she’d do it by logic!

So, logically who would want to be in a game like this? Not the normal popular people for sure. She took a look around. Half the class looking at the teacher or their books, at least two still asleep in the back, one listening to headphones and totally zoned out… Gwennie had an urge to laugh at her fellow humans.

One interesting person: Two rows over, a girl with white-blonde hair had a spiral notebook open next to her binder and was scribbling away, carefully ignoring the teacher without seeming to. Gwennie knew her slightly; she was nice in a distant sort of way like she had no use for people and only liked books. A possibility. Gwennie racked her brains and came up with the girl’s name: Kitty something.

OK, I’ve got a possibility. Now what do I do? Reality intruded itself again in the form of the English teacher finally noticing neither of them were doing any work and descending like a fury.

_*_

In PE they were running around the school. Supposedly running; what the students actually did was to jog when the teachers were looking and walk when they weren’t. So with the class strung out around the whole school, one could actually get a little privacy. Tas and Gwennie were just coming to a corner when they heard a commotion out of sight.

At least four male voices echoed together, indistinguishable, “Witch! Her mom runs a witch store! Ooooh, gonna put a spell on us? Hey Forest, can you turn me into a toad? Huh, can you?” Forest snapped some answer in her brassy African-American voice, and they heard the sounds of a scuffle.

Gwennie and Tas stuck their heads around the corner just in time to see Forest McCoy elbow a guy in the stomach. One of the other guys had been knocked on his rear on the pavement, and the other two were standing back in amazement. Tas gasped, “Better run, there’s a teacher coming!”

“Thanks!” Forest told them with a grin, and ran on ahead.

Gwennie pulled Tas after her before the boys could collect themselves and maybe choose them as targets. “Hey, wait up!”

The black girl looked back, and slowed down so they could catch up. “Hi.”

“Hi! You’re Forest, right? I’m Tas, Tamsin, and this is Gwennie. What did those guys want?”

Forest shrugged, “My mom’s a hippie. Still. She and grandma have a health food and new age store. It’s no biggie but some people… yeah.”

“Yeah.” The other two agreed.

“New age… isn’t that like witchcraft? Doing spells? We won’t tease you about it, we’re just interested.” Gwennie assured her quickly.

Forest nodded without breaking her step; they were still walking, just out of hearing distance of bunches of students in front and behind. “It’s not, like, devil worship, more about loving the earth and being environmentalists and nice people. But yeah, they do spells. I don’t much, so don’t ask me to do one for you.”

Tas realized something and giggled, “Lemme guess, all the girls want love spells!”

“Yep!” Forest exclaimed, drawn into her amusement, “As if they couldn’t do their own. Spells’re easy.”

Gwennie blinked. Someone who knew about magic and said it was easy? What an unexpected… whatever. Maybe it wasn’t the same kind of magic though. She caught Tas’ eye and gave her a “ya think?” look. Tas gave a little shrug and an even littler nod.

Forest hadn’t noticed them telegraphing each other, only the little space of silence. “That’s me, so what about you?”

“What about us? Tas is the Japanese animation freak of the school, I’m, uh… I can sing and my mom decorates houses.”

They spent the rest of the class talking. Gwennie and Tas had always gotten along so well, made kind of a single unit with their different and alike interests. Now they were discovering another person could be added to that unit without unbalancing it. Gwennie hoped, really hoped Forest would be another of the people in the game.

_*_

Kitty was the first in the choir room last period. She dumped her backpack in a corner, getting out as usual her notebook and pen. She sat down on the risers as the rest of the class straggled in, and went back to what she’d been doing in her last class: frowning into the notebook. The story she was trying to write was just not working; she couldn’t keep the cities and the lands straight for her angel character to travel through. Since this story had been not working for two days, she had a half page of scribbled-out stuff and was about ready to bang her head on something.

Grumbling under her breath, Kitty decided to try drawing a map again, it was worth a shot. She hardly noticed as the rest of the soprano section sat down around her, waiting for the bell. First a compass rose: she drew a diamond, then drew sharper points coming off the diamond’s dull ones, then four little points to make a relatively even eight-pointed star. Now the coastline would curve like so, and…

_*_

Gwennie sat in her place on the risers, quietly happy after last period. Good things, good things were happening! And best of all, today was almost over and since she’d done her math homework in science she had no homework.

Then she happened to glance over at Kitty’s notebook, and got a shock. The Starstone. The rest of the drawing looked like a map, but the compass was clearly a drawing of the blue jewel. A tingle of excitement entered the air. Gwennie reminded herself ruefully that she’d wanted magical help; well this was as good a sign as one could want. Um. “Hi Kitty, what’cha’ drawing?”

Kitty turned to look up at her, “Just a map for my story.” She said guardedly.

“It looks really interesting.” It wasn’t a lie, it did. Gwennie could see the names on the map, and sounded a few out under her breath.

Kitty saw what she was doing and smiled a real smile when she saw that Gwennie really was interested, not faking it. “It’s the magical land. Two people from earth come there to be angels and defend the world from the forces of evil. Pretty typical plot.”

“I dunno, I like the bit about angels. Do they get wings?”

“Mmhm.” She turned back in her notebook and Gwennie saw a picture of a man and woman with wings, dressed in some kind of armor. It was not amazingly well drawn, but better than many.

“Wow. I’m jealous now.”

They couldn’t say any more because the teacher handed out sheets of music for the upcoming show and started talking about what they needed to be better at, and class got underway.

_*_

Another week went by without incident as far as Tas and Gwennie knew. The two of them were swept up in various family things and couldn’t get together except at school or really talk there. The game got on a short pause, sitting in the backs of their minds like a patient treasure chest that doesn’t mind how long you take with other things before you open it.

Forest found herself invited into Tas and Gwennie’s group at lunch, and while she didn’t have much to say usually she was a welcome addition. They were planning for Halloween, party or trick-or-treating or what? My brother’s going to egg someone’s house! Want to play the ouija board in my basement? Oh no, those things are evil! No they aren’t, if you’re careful! Hey, chill, Halloween’s about candy not ghosts! Forest did not approve of that statement, and gave the speaker a good lecture about it since she knew the real meaning of Halloween from her family’s religion.

Kitty was still a little strange, like she couldn’t figure out why Gwennie would possibly be friendly to her without some nasty reason. But since Gwennie did her best to keep being friendly and honest, the other girl slowly started acting more natural. It didn’t hurt that they both liked fantasy books; Gwennie had read a few, but Kitty had read everything and knew about the authors too since she planned to be one.

If they were the other two for the game, it would be a strange group. But good. Complete somehow. Now there was one big question: how to ask their new friends if they wanted to be in the game. Gwennie thought up a half dozen plans but decided they were all stupid. Tas’ answer was “just say it and see what happens.” But that wouldn’t work; Kitty would think they were laughing at her, and Forest was so confident and certain… nothing would work, far as Gwennie could see.

_*_

“You guys! Want to go get ice cream and go to Target? I hafta get some face paint for my costume!” Forest called, appearing in the courtyard before the first bell.

Gwennie, Tas and Kitty all nodded, saying in various ways that they had nothing better to do and wouldn’t miss a free ice cream since Forest was paying. So after school that’s what they did.

They cased the drugstore, mostly the Halloween costumes. They decided to have a party for the four of them only, since the rest of the crowd was talking seriously about doing something wild that Gwennie didn’t even want to know about. They all ended up digging out change to buy makeup and stuff. Kitty got blue hairspray and black lipstick, saying she’d never have the guts to wear such even on Halloween, but she had to at least have the option to look cool.

Afterward, the little group sat with their crinkling bags and loaded backpacks at a table in Baskin Robbins and chatted. Mostly about school and Halloween plans. Just talkin’.

You don’t have much time! Just like before, the words zinged by from nowhere to nowhere, leaving a sense of urgency behind. Gwennie bit her lip; she didn’t have a clue how to say it! “Guys? Tas and I have a really cool game going, like a role-playing game. Want to come over to my house after this and find out about it?

The voice-or-whatever must have stayed around; Gwennie sensed it saying It’s important to Kitty and Forest, and new confidence filled her.

 

 

 

 

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