Stormy – Another World Ch. 3

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 3, by Stormdance

Disclaimer: The girls are still mine; most of the “real” Riders aren’t. No copyright infringement is intended, yadda yadda yadda.

Stormy babbles more: The game is partly based on a real Milton Bradley game, “Tales of the Crystals” A really great, cute roleplaying game. It’s mostly out of print, but you can still find it occasionally and for any JR fan it’s a game worth looking at. Not that us **teen year olds could find anyone to play with.

Another World part 3

“So, this game is real? How real?” Out of the crowd and bustle of real life, Forest’s voice became less brassy-loud and she could sound serious much better.

Kitty’s blue eyes were sparkling excitement, so bright it seemed to light up the yard where they were sitting or rather, crouching crammed in to the little hollow in Gwennie’s backyard. The day had turned brisk despite the sunlight and they were all huddled up. Gwennie was about to suggest they move inside, but the whole magic thing seemed to work better outdoors.

“We don’t know how real, we haven’t had much chance to test it. But if you guys are sure you want to play…” Tas teased.

“I’m in.” Kitty said solidly, all traces of her guardedness gone for the moment.

“Um…” Forest cringed, but finally said, “I think this might, I dunno, have more problems than you can see. I got haunted a little while ago, and that’s not normal. There’s magical stuff out there that I don’t know a thing about except that it’s way too big for us. And whatever’s in those bags has a lot of magic. It’ll attract them.” Once she’d gotten going she spoke with the certainty of someone who’d been raised knowing this stuff, as indeed she had.

The four of them kind of looked around at each other, looking back, excitement in their eyes. The excitement of suddenly feeling the world isn’t quite what they’d thought, as old as time and as unstoppable. Forest grinned, “OK, I’m in.”

The formalities completed, Gwennie dumped the two unclaimed jewels out of their bags onto the grass. In the late sunshine they blazed. Forest picked up the Moonstone, “Perfect.” She said happily.

Kitty moved her hand over the Starstone, then grabbed it and held it over her head. Suddenly all the light concentrated in the jewel, and the friends gasped as its white light seemed to fold down around Kitty. For a moment she seemed to be wearing something different, a trailing skirt and top decorated with ribbons, then the image faded. Kitty herself just looked stunned.

“Our jewels didn’t do that!” Tas exclaimed. “What was it?”

“I don’t know.” Kitty told them, still stunned, “Can we go inside? I’m colder suddenly.”

Upon coming indoors they were caught by Gwennie’s mom and the time, and hasty arrangements for dinner had to be made. They vanished down to the basement with their pizza and breadsticks. Kitty and Forest looked over the other stuff from the game, but nowhere did they find a clue about the pyrotechnics the Starstone had done.

_*_

For Gwennie, life split. The normal half often seemed so… yucky. Ugly. But sometimes safer too. The magical half was cleaner, purer, more exciting but occasionally terrifying. One of the little terrors in it was Kitty; the little blonde girl seemed to live more and more in the magical half of her life, as if the normal half was entirely ugly and she couldn’t bear it. This worried Gwennie, though she wasn’t sure why.

Little things were starting to happen to all four of them that could be considered magical. They’d all felt like someone was looking for them, they’d all had strange dreams. Real or not? Was it all real, or not? The four of them were coming together more strongly, like they were getting ready for something. And what had happened with the Starstone? Adding all this up in her head frightened Gwennie; she suddenly wanted to be a normal kid like before. But only for a second.

_*_

Kitty was walking through the hall to her locker; she’d gotten out of class a minute early for good behavior. Suddenly hands shoved her against the bank of lockers, hard. The normally timid girl saw red. That was all they did, but Kitty whirled to face them, her hands curling into fists. It was all instinct, she couldn’t fight two girls twice her size, but it happened anyway.

There was no fight or anything, they all just went to class after that. But Kitty did so very shaken. She hadn’t known she would react like that. She also hadn’t known anyone would try to hurt her. Why would they? She wasn’t that different… It was a reminder, Kitty decided without knowing she had done so, a reminder that you couldn’t trust the world. Not this world anyway. But other worlds, other worlds like her stories or the world promised by the Jewel Rider game… She thought of those worlds, held the thought close, and was all right.

_*_

“Our move.” Tas said into a silence. The four of them were again in Gwennie’s basement, their base of operations since the weather was so unpredictable. It was a cozy room, brown tile floors and old bright rugs and sofas, along with a stack of boxes of miscellaneous junk.

“What do you mean our move?” Kitty was hunched over her notebook, sketching.

“The game. We should try doing something with these powers we’re supposed to have. Going forward, why haven’t we been?”

Gwennie shrugged, “Too busy.” Which was actually the truth, unfortunately. Forest always had sports practices to go to, or Tas had her flute lessons or someone had to go shopping for something, or else they were busy thinking about these things.

Kitty finally looked up, “I agree, let’s try something! Um, like what?”

“What do you want?”

“To do some magic, doesn’t matter if it works as long as we do some!”

The words were like snowball going down a hill, everyone’s interest added to everyone else’s. In a minute books were put aside and jewels gotten out.

“Do you know what these things are made of?” Forest asked suddenly, “I thought they were plastic, but they don’t scratch.” Everyone shrugged at that, but it made the excitement stronger.

Tas gave a wicked grin and held her jewel up, “Heartstone power, make up!” Nothing happened, and Tas shrugged and claimed it was worth a try while Gwennie and Kitty laughed and called her a loon.

Gwennie gasped suddenly and dove for the game box’s hiding place, “Hey! I know how to jump start this game, there was a tape in here that should be like messages from Merlin telling us what to do!” She paused in the act of pulling the box out, “Did we all forget?”

They all had, and it was seriously creepy.

In another few minutes Gwennie had brought down her tape player and they were all set up and gathered around. “Well here goes.” Gwennie said, and hit play. The first thing they heard was birdsong, as if this had been recorded next to an open window. Real birdsong, too, not one of those chirper thingies.

Then Merlin spoke. “Hello, earth people. I am the wizard Merlin.” It wasn’t an old voice like most Merlins on TV; whoever spoke had a clear voice with an edge of smile to it. “I’m glad to see the four of you together, you look like a good team. I can’t give you many clues, mostly ’cause I don’t have all the answers either. Sorry about that.” There was a little pause, “Avalon and earth only touched once before, when King Arthur Pendragon came here from earth. Whatever you’re looking for must be from that time, the person who put this curse on the girls was. See what you can do with that, I’ll try to find out more.”

Another pause. They were all listening intently, Kitty in particular looked like she was trying to puzzle something out.

Merlin continued, “And I have to warn you, you may have an enemy. I can’t… can’t tell you what happened here, not all of it. But a wizard named Summer crossed over into your world, probably to keep you from completing your quest. Only probably, Summer is not the most predictable of people. To put it mildly.” Definite exasperation there! “And she’s one hot wizard. You can’t let her stop you!”

And then, suddenly, the play button popped out and the player refused to play any more of the tape no matter how Gwennie fiddled with it. Eventually they gave up trying and sat back to talk. The fact that the tape had turned itself off was an obvious thing to yell about and they did, but had to settle down eventually.

“What did you think of Merlin?” Kitty asked, “He sounded way young, like a guy our age almost.”

“So maybe he has the fountain of youth! It has to be him!” Forest exclaimed.

Tas was frowning, playing the conversation over in her mind. “He was a very verrrrrry good seiyuu.” She said lazily, “Um, that means voice actor. Like for cartoons. Either very good, or the real thing.”

“How about what he said? Something from the days of King Arthur and we have a wizard hunting for us.” Gwennie gave the new subject and waited for reactions.

“How do we fight a wizard?”

“We haven’t tried the power of these jewels! They could do a lot.” Kitty said earnestly.

Forest looked sideways at her, “Power? Kitty… nevermind. Any wizards come after me, I’m going to run away!”

“But something from King Arthur time? That happened way over in England, how are we supposed to do anything about it?”

Gwennie stood up, “I propose that we move this discussion to the library where we can actually find answers about this stuff! Bring your jewels, everyone.”

“Yes your majesty.” Tas said, and stuck out her tongue.

_*_

The library in walking distance of Gwennie’s house was a very small branch of the Denver Public Library system, but it had a few big reference books on King Arthur and a few of the classics on the subject. Kitty mentioned her way to research such things was to read all the fiction about it and figure out what the accepted story was by what the fictions had in common. This sounded more fun than reference books, but everyone agreed it would take too long.

Gwennie’s book fell open to the single most classic image: a stone, with an anvil on top and a sword embedded in the anvil… “Are we supposed to find the sword?”

Kitty was flipping through another volume, now she turned it to face the others. A picture, obviously an “artist’s rendition” type of picture. A huge silver cup decorated with Celtic knotwork and gems. Above it, Kitty smiled and raised her eyebrows.

“Um.” Everybody said.

“Well it’s supposed to have healing powers. The legend of the Holy Grail was based on older Celtic mythology about a cauldron of birth and death. In other stories anyone who drinks out of it is supposed to be healed of anything but death or loneliness.” She blinked,; that ‘death or loneliness’ bit had come out of her mouth without her intending to say it.

Forest shook her head, “Too perfect an answer. Not to mention impossible.”

Tas didn’t agree, “Hey, it’s supposed to have powers of rebirth, couldn’t it be reborn itself here? In my story it appears when the three magical thingies are brought together. One of those things is a jewel, too…”

“Hey, why is it your story?”

“Cause I know it and you don’t.”

Tas finished triumphantly and no one else said anything. Gwennie let part of her mind work to put the pieces of ideas together into something that would work, and zoned out.

_*_

That night Gwennie had a long think and discovered she didn’t believe as much as she wanted to in the game. Not if she could, and Forest could, still think of it in terms of what was a good plot device and what wasn’t. It was so fragile! Like walking on thin ice over a chasm, one wrong word, maybe even a wrong thought, and they would all fall back into not-believing and into the ugliness of daily life so hard it would hurt. Maybe hurt some of them more than they could stand.

But the tape had stopped right on cue. Things had happened. Maybe the ice they were walking on wasn’t thin, maybe it was thick and slippery, and any step they’d be catapulted into… what? More magic than they could handle?

Gwennie wasn’t sure which idea scared her more. She got out her Sunstone and gave it a good long glare, then put it in her pocket and went to get ready for bed.

 

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