Don’t Look Back (Monday)
In her rush to get away from her pursuer, she ran. Tiana tried not to look back, but couldn’t be sure that she had escaped. Each look back cost her time. Her pounding heart and burning lungs reminded her that she was still alive. Tiana prayed that she would be able to reach the ruins deep in the woods beyond Campanella Point. Only there would she be safe—it was only there that the bells of the ancient city promise to keep her assailant at bay.
The Chase (Tuesday)
Nothing else mattered, he thought, other than catching his prey. It had been too long since he had his fix and nothing was going to stand in his way to get what he wanted. She had fought hard when he had first grabbed her. He had always enjoyed a good game of cat and mouse, and when she escaped his hold, he willingly let her run. He followed her scent on the air like a hound tracking game.
Unexpected Visitors (Wednesday)
The old witch had been watching the woman as she ran closer and closer to her sanctuary. She watched as her legs gave out just before reaching the dilapidated stone wall that separated the ruins from the surrounding landscape. Closing her eyes and feeling with her mind she reached out to the woman who was now struggling to crawl over the wall. The old witch could feel the woman’s pain and exhaustion and wondered why she still persevered.
An icy chill spread through the old witch as she caught a glimpse of the shape shifter breaking through the trees.
Sanctuary... or is it? (Thursday)
Tiana barely managed to scramble over the wall. She dropped to the ground with a hard thud and as she tried to catch her breath, thought to herself, something’s missing.
“Hickory Dickory Dock… the mouse ran up the clock… the clock struck one…” She could hear him chanting as he came closer. “Can you hear it, my prey? Silence! There are no bells here!”
Shhh my child, Tiana was startled to hear an old woman’s voice in her mind, don’t move and don’t make a sound.
The Escape (Friday)
Look to your left my child and you will see an archway, the voice of the old woman continued in Tiana’s mind, when I tell you to run, run as hard as you can!
Tiana could see the archway and wondered where the old woman was hiding.
“Stranger, you are not welcome here!” The old witch called out to the shape shifter.
“Stay out of this old woman, I’m here to collect what has escaped me!” His growl came from nearby Tiana’s hiding place and her heart beat jumped a few notches higher.
“I am warning you, Stranger, leave or suffer the fate that others believe as legend.” Her voice was stern but steady.
“Where is my prize?” He was becoming angry. Tiana could tell that he had turned away from her and was now going towards the old woman’s voice.
“You will find her not, for she has come to a sanctuary.”
RUN! Tiana heard it echo in her mind and she rolled over and ran, her legs ached from the exhausted run earlier. As she neared the Archway she stumbled and fell to her knees. Get up and run you idiot! The old woman’s voice screamed in her mind. Tiana pulled herself up and ran again until she felt the crumbling stone that made up the archway. Tiana was transfixed. Stepping through the archway she no longer saw the landscape of the ruined city, but colors of red, yellow and blue.
“Amazing.” Tiana said out loud and walked forward with her hands outstretched. As quickly as the colors had appeared, they disappeared leaving Tiana disoriented. She blinked a few times to allow her eyes to adjust.
The ruined city was no longer ruined, but quite intact. Bells, deep and resonating filled Tiana’s ears while she stared at the people around her busy with their daily chores. Ahead of her she could see the staircase that led to the bell tower and looking up at the top of the building she could see the circular bases of the largest bells.
Where am I, Tiana strangely wondered to herself.
Destruction & Instruction (Saturday)
Nothing else mattered, only his orders from his master to capture that which had escaped him. Desperately he wondered where his prey had disappeared to when she entered the archway. Turning his attention to the old woman his rage was met with her ice cold stare.
“I have said, you are not welcome here stranger.” Her stern voice gave her more confidence than she felt.
He smelled magic on the air and new she was responsible for his loss. “Where have you sent her witch?”
“Oh dear…” The old witch said, mockingly, “is something missing?”
Losing his patience he crossed the wall and charged her changing as he did into a lion of massive proportions.
She stood her ground surrounded by her circle of grey ash and sang incantations of old.
Her singing brought a pain to his head that he had never before experienced. He felt his head was going to rip in half, and suddenly he burst into blue flames. The ashes left behind were carried on the wind towards the sea.
The old witch, exhausted, hoped that the girl would be helped on the other side.
Tiana looked around her in wonder. She jumped at a touch on her arm and looked down to see a small old woman with white hair tugging at her arm.
“Come quickly, we must get you to safety.”
“Who are you? And where am I?” Tiana struggled to keep up with the woman as she weaved through the city toward the bell tower.
“My dear, you are in Gringerni, my name is Celestine, and from the looks of it you recognize my voice.”
“You are the one who saved me, who sent me through the archway!” Tiana new this was the voice of the old woman who had helped her to escape. She also knew that she was no longer deep in the woods beyond Campanella Point.
Arriving at the top of the bell tower the old woman gestured for Tiana to have a seat.
“Young lady, I did not save you, you most likely saw or heard a different person from a different world.”
“How can that be?”
“There are many worlds, parallel that exist. We can all move between them if given the correct gateways. I am a gate keeper, and you most likely saw another me who is also a gatekeeper.”
“Why are we here?” Tiana’s eyes were huge trying to take in everything.
“This is the only place to keep you safe. To keep you from seeing yourself… uh… your parallel you.”
“Why can’t I see the other me?” Tiana was curious about all she was learning.
“There are grave consequences to everything Tiana, and your other you is learning to be a gatekeeper to take over after me, and so you shall be come for the other me.”