Chapter 3 - The Quest of the Traveling White Knight
UPDATE 04/27/2022 Illustrations coming soon.
A hole opened high in the sky with no sound nor fanfare. It was just a dark tunnel that came from the world above. From within in it, a woman’s body was flung out with the gateway closing right after. She was unconscious and falling to the ground quickly. Her form was surrounded by a dark black billowing cloak that covered her body thoroughly to keep her warm from the cold air. Beneath her was a forest. Miraculously, her body not once impacted a tree, and the closer the ground came, her body started to slow down. It slowed enough that instead of hitting the land, she was gently deposited on the grassy floor.
Eve’s eyes were closed as she lay with limbs sprawled out. There was a noticeable difference in her appearance and state of dress. Her hair had grown longer and been placed in a simple bun held by a leather string. On her face, she wore a mask, dark as night and covering the upper portion of her face. Her tunic had stayed, but her trousers had changed. They were no longer tight or snug. They now hung loosely on her legs, with multiple belts that had individual purposes. Her hands were covered in leather gloves. At her feet, she wore black cavalier boots that were brand new and unblemished. At her sides were two long swords and at her feet a dagger, all three sheathed.
Abruptly, her body came alive. Her eyes opened wide and she stared into a void that no one but only she could see. Her chest then heaved as she took deep long breaths. Her body jolted as it rushed to determine what injuries she may have received. She then panicked as her mind worked to remember what had occurred. She only knew she was alive, but she was still disoriented. Still trying to piece where she was and who she was.
She flipped onto her hands and knees as the coughing worsened. An object of unknown properties rose from her stomach to her throat, making it difficult for her to breathe. Tremors wracked her body violently. Not long after, she expelled the food she had previously eaten. Afterward, there was only bile left to spew that turned into empty gags. With nothing left, she fell to her side. She felt weak and tired. It was as if she hadn’t slept for many moons.
She mentally messaged her eyes as pain bloomed at her temples. She remembered the sounds of cheering drunken idiots, talking to a villager, and a hole opening underneath her. Then, nothing else. Wait, the villager. He was a silly-looking fellow… What was his name again? Goode? No! Good…fellow…
Puck was fey. He had spoken truthfully. He had just snapped his fingers, and now she was—Where am I? Is this his world?
A groan escaped her lips. “Bloody hell,” Eve rasped in annoyance. She relaxed and closed her eyes to just listen to the world. The forest seemed to be nothing different. Same sounds, she thought happily and slowly became drowsy. Her peacefulness was broken as something poked at her nose. She opened her eyes, disgruntled as it continued. At first, there was nothing to see. Then, there was for a fleeting moment she noticed quick blinking and fluttering illuminated living beings.
“What is that?” She squinted her eyes on the tiny thing. It was like nothing she had seen before. Her eyes widened as one of the creatures flew down and landed on her nose. She found it weighed almost nothing.
The creature was a tiny glowing person with translucent butterfly-looking wings. Its clothes were made from foliage and flowers. When she noticed its hair, Eve couldn’t help but grin at its turbulent state. She guessed it was not pleased with her actions because the little thing started to make faces at her, showing off its sharp little teeth. Eve blew air at it mischievously, which caused the tiny thing to lift away. It shook its fists angrily at her. She swore it was calling her all sorts of names that were not kind, but its squeaky voice just made it adorable. As its tirade continued, Eve started to laugh. It narrowed its eyes and swopped down. The bugger decided to latch on to the tip of her nose, biting.
“Yeouch!” Eve cried. She was surprised to find the creature had formidable teeth and swung at the beast with her right arm forcing it off her nose. It didn’t fly that far away. She rubbed her injured appendage to soothe the pain. Then, a gasp escaped as the creature came back in a flurry. It attacked her with its little hands, scratching. Tired of its game, the blasted thing pointed its little finger at her mockingly, laughing. Soon it was joined by others. Not finished with their antics, they pelted Eve with pebbles before finally flying away into the forest. She wondered if those evil winged creatures were the fairies Puck had angrily spoken of. If they were, he had been right about them. They like to bite.
Eve once more and tentatively touched her nose. It still throbbed. If she saw another fairy, she was going to kill it. Before she could act on such a thought, she needed to move. With little grace, she sat up with a loud groan. Her bones creaked and cracked in protest as if they had been overused. She rubbed her eyes. It was then she noticed the difference in her state of dress. The bandages and wraps that she wore to hide her womanly figure were no longer present. Instead, there was a lace-decorated garment that now supported her breast. Her tunic had been fitted to her size and customed to her body. It was even slightly open to show her cleavage. She attempted to close the blouse more but was unsuccessful. She felt her new wear was inappropriate and one she would have never dared display in public. For this, Puck was added to her death list with the fairies for giving her such a new outfit. The rest of her dressing, Eve did not mind. Her primary issue—other than the tunic that belonged on a harlot—was the mask.
This was the first time for her to wear a mask which outraged her sensibility. Only those with villainous hearts wore such articles of clothing. She was not a villain. She was a knight. She lived by a code, old as it was. She was determined not to wear this mask no longer, even though her purpose in this world was to be Puck’s thief. Her fingers eagerly searched for the edges of the disguise to find that nothing held it in place. No buckle, no strap, nothing. So, she pulled on just the borders themselves, but the mask did not budge. She cried in frustration startling the animals nearby as she attempted to pull the guise off repeatedly. Each attempt was unsuccessful. Exhausted, she gave up, scratching the mask in self-loathing at her weakness.
Eve took a deep breath. She needed to calm herself. Her first steps in this world would be determined by a plan that she has yet to make. What do I know? What do I do?
Eve began to pace, worrying her bottom lip as she contemplated the past events. It amazed her how much had happened in a short amount of time. Yes, it started when she died, and if Puck spoke truthfully, she has been changing since then. Yet, it was him that brought up her secret in an attempt to blackmail her into doing his deeds. She was going to kill him but at the time, feeling there was nothing to lose, gave him a chance to prove himself of his existence—the existence of feys. She was positive that nothing was going to happen, but then he had snapped his fingers and the ground had opened underneath her feet. She fell, became unconscious, and woke up in a world that was allegedly not hers. She was also dressed as a thief—which she admitted she technically was—and left in the middle of nowhere with no map to assist her. She was pleased to find Puck at least gifted her with weapons. Weapons that weighed less than her own. She strapped them on appropriately in case she was attacked. She started to search for a way to find where she was and if she was in another world.
She looked around. The forest was familiar and the same time, not at all. It looked like every other forest she had traveled. The only way she could confirm her location was to walk in a single direction and hopefully find a village. The village will prove if she had been poisoned and moved or in a new world filled with magic. She was not pleased with the unknown distance she was to travel, but that was the only way she would determine her location. She will have to keep her eyes open for water and food to survive wherever she is heading.
As she walked, she realized there was a calm beauty and mystique to the forest that she had not paid attention to while traveling with company. Now, with time in her hands, she was able to take in all of its mysteries and wonders. She had forgotten there was a harmonization to the creatures. Also, the silence in the forest allowed her to think about her life and the future. She knew that once she was done with the quest, Puck would send her back home. All she could look forward to were more deaths, either be it hers or ones she inflicted on others. Then, if she survived the war, she only had to once more worry about her secret and her extended family finding out. She doubted she would be asked to stay in the magical world she was supposedly in as she would be stealing from a well-known magical king. She could make a plea, but again, she was Puck’s thief. Or, if she was lucky, she could be killed by the said king. Then she would just be another missing soldier. She shook her head. Pity. It isn’t me to run with my tail between my legs, she thought to herself glumly as she continued hiking through the forest.
She stopped walking. Once she reached any civilization, she would need to put more thought into her following actions. She would also need to find assistance to get back home or a direction to Oberon. But before she could, a single question presented itself to her: When did the forest become silent?
She had been so deep in thought she had not realized how much time had gone by. The sun had been hidden slightly by the trees when her adventure had started. Now, it was overhead. How she had not noticed the changes and the gutted deathly silence worried her. She needed to get out of her head and quickly. The forest now gave off waves of foreboding. It was eerily that it sent shivers up her spine, which rose the tiny hairs at the back of her neck into attention. Additionally, she was uncomfortable that her breathing was the only sound. Worse, it was unnaturally loud.
In an instant, the stillness was broken. The pebbles vibrated and jumped from the ground. From the tress came many frightened animals. Even the predators were stampeding. They all ran past her with looks of fear on their furry faces. The last creature flew past and once more, there was quiet. It was short-lived. The ground once more shook vehemently, soon her body moved with the trembling, and she worked to keep herself in a standing position. She was overcome with the urge to run away; the primitive instinct hidden deep inside instead caused her to be in a paralyzed state, leaving her mind to be rampant with chaotic fear at the unknown that was progressively coming closer.
Further out in the distance, where the forest ended, Eve witnessed a storm of dust peeking through the foliage. The storm did not settle when it hit the tree line. Instead, it became stronger. The trees, roots and all, rose up in the air and dropped one by one to the ground. They crashed with a symphony and resounding thud that rang and reverberated. Her heart jumped in sync with the impacts. As they quickened, so did the knowledge that her end was finally near if she didn’t hide.
After her death, she had rushed to meet Saint Gabriel. She ached for the end of her life with her arms wide open like a fool and ringing a bell. It was her attempt to prove there was nothing wrong with her but not this way. Not where she did nothing or could do nothing. It was pitiful and despicable to die without fighting back.
She was suicidal, not idiotic.
“Come on, move you fool,” she mumbled harshly to herself. “This is not how we die.” She gave one last mental shove and managed to stumble away to hide behind a tree. Her movement was just in time as ugly ghastly beasts emerged. They swung their wooden clubs with iron spikes. On and hanging from the tips was torn flesh or skin. Eve could not be certain from a distance she was at. Disgusted, a gasp flew from her mouth, and to muffle the sound, she clapped her hands on top.
The creatures stood still and what she saw was astonishing. A wonder. And…
She counted seven filthy, large and imposing giant monsters that reeked of something fierce. The stench of them towered above the smell of her own men who have walked through wet and humid lands wearing their equipment and weapons. Her men were roses compared to these brutes. She wondered if any of these mythical savages ever became sick from their lack of hygiene.
The monsters stood almost as tall as the trees that they had not yet destroyed. If Eve had to guess, they were about the height of the pilaster buttress that supported the castle walls of Dover. Their skin was a dry green with patches of muck and grime that covered the bulk of their frame and the little clothing they were clad in. Each of them wore a leather vest that varied in design but stretched tightly over their chest. Kilts hung from their bulging hips and were held by a vast belt. Their feet were protected scarcely by meager, thin, and small sandals.
“I smell somethin’,” the only monster with a cone-shaped helmet that lay heavily over his eyes growled as he sniffed the air. His head swiveled in her hidden direction. He must have been the leader. Instead of looking for an escape, Eve was surprised by a single fact she did not think was possible: I…I can understand them.