Friday, June 23, 2017

When Worlds Collide - Chapter Five

Ky heard a bear roar followed closely by a panicked human scream of terror.

He sprung to his feet and dashed toward the sound, bounding over fallen trees and the fern beds below them. He leaped across a stream and came around a clump of blackberry bushes to find a man just barely hanging from a tree limb above the head of a highly disturbed bear.

The mother bear had obviously been grazing with her two cubs when the man must have stumbled on her. He was lucky he made it up the tree and even luckier that Ky showed up. The bear was pushing the tree, causing it to violently sway. It was on the verge of toppling.

Ky barked and growled behind the bear to get her attention. She turned fearful of her cubs, which were safely behind her from the human, but now close to a good-sized wolf with its teeth bared.

Ky had no intention of attacking the cubs and he knew changing into a bear would only bring more trouble, but if he could run the cubs away, mom would follow. He snarled at the closest cub. The little bundle of fur hightailed it under a log and out across a clearing to a tree, which he proceeded to scurry up. Seeing his brother take off, the little female cub followed suit. Seeing her cubs run, mom was finished with the human equation, and teeth and claws were turned toward her new adversary. Ky had speed and agility on her. He played cat and mouse with her a bit as the man continued to hang from the limb above.

The bear swatted, but all it caught was grey fur, much like the yeti did when Ky had his encounter with it. Ky kept freighting back further and further away from the man and toward the cubs. Eventually, Ky’s wolf-form faded into the forest undergrowth changing into a mean tempered, but relatively harmless badger. The bear’s targets were slowly melting away. She huffed at the retreating badger, and had totally lost interest in the human up the tree. She wandered off in search of a quieter place to browse.

Ky waited until the coast was clear. He shifted into a human, of Native American descent, in the buckskins worn by those in the area and headed back to check on the man up the tree.


*****


“Can I help you?” Ky called to the man as he stepped out from behind the blackberry bushes.

“Watch out,” the man warned in a stage whisper, “there’s a bear!”

“I think it’s gone.” Ky turned in a circle. “Nothing here now, but you and me.”

“Thank heavens.” The man sighed with relief and let go of the branch, he had his long legs wrapped around, to drop from the tree. He pulled his lab coat down and brushed it off. Spotting his water bottle on the ground, he picked it up and put it back in his pocket. He then gave Ky his full attention.

“I am so pleased to have found someone here.” He extended his hand.

Ky didn’t take it. “I think it was I who found you,” he corrected.

“Indeed… true… very true.” The man dropped his hand a bit embarrassed.

“You’re not from here,” Ky pointed out the obvious.

“No, I am afraid I am quiet lost.”

Ky studied the man’s clothes. They were unlike anything he had ever seen. Something about the stranger made him leery of telling him any more than he had to. “Where do you call home?”

“St. Paul,” the man answered without hesitation. “I am Professor Nathaniel Clayborne.”

Okay… He was a mundane who somehow stumbled into The Realms by accident. Ky didn’t think that was possible, but hey… weirder things had happened in The Realms. “How did you get here?” he asked.

Clayborne fidgeted and fiddled with a pair of googles around his neck. “Where am I?” he responded, ignoring Ky’s question.

“Where do you think you are?” Ky could play this game as well as the mundane could.

“You’re Native American, by your dress… Are you here for stone to make pipes?”

They were not getting anywhere at this rate and the sun was beginning to set. Ky had to head home soon.

“Where did you come in?” Ky asked.

“If I knew that, I wouldn’t be lost,” he replied in an exasperated tone. He ran his fingers through his straight blonde hair, and sighed deeply as if making a final decision, then went on. “I started in a meadow. I was playing out a line so I could find my way back. When I reached the edge of the forest, I turned to find a little person behind me gathering it up as I went. The little demon took off into the forest. When I chased her, she disappeared and I found myself completely turned around.”

“Not a demon,” Ky corrected, “a Laurel. They love playing mischievous jokes on people.”

“Well, I did not find it funny,” the professor huffed.

Ky was tempted to change into his wolf-form and just scent out the man’s trail to take him home, but he didn’t want to reveal his true nature to a stranger. Instead, he stepped in close and took a deep whiff of the man. When the professor tried to pull away, Ky caught him by the shoulders and held him in place. He took another deep breath as the man’s eyes rolled in question and he tried to lean away from him.

Professor Nathaniel Clayborne had a very distinctive smell even to Ky’s slightly muted wolf senses as a human. He let the man go.

“Follow me.” Ky started out toward the meadow at the edge of the forest.

It wouldn’t do any good tracking his scent from where they were. He had obviously wandered around and muddied it with every animal trail he crossed. When they got to the meadow, Ky walked the edge until he found where the man entered. From that point, there was hardly a need to use his sense of smell at all. The grass was bent down in a clearly visible trail from where he and the Laurel had made their way to the forest.

Nathaniel followed him, but he didn’t do it quietly. He was full of questions that Ky didn’t feel inclined to answer.

“What’s your name?”

“Ky,” he replied grudgingly.

“Are we close to the Pipe Stone National Monument?”

“Not sure,” he said over his shoulder.

“Do you live around here?”

“Nope.”

“Why are you dressed in buckskin?”

“Why aren’t you?”

“What’s a Laurel?”

It just went on and on until they reached the end of the trail.

The trail just stopped.

Ky was not familiar with a gate located here. He stood for a moment and scratched his head.

“I don’t understand,” he finally said.

Behind him, Nat put on his googles and with a light hand pushed the young Indian to one side. “You found it!” he exclaimed with a shout of relief.

It was Ky’s turn to ask the question. “Found what?”

“The entrance,” the professor said, he turned around to look at Ky wearing the googles that had been around his neck. “Here, let me show you.” The man took Ky by the shoulder and before he fully understood his intention he had shoved him ahead and into a very bright white room.

***********

If you are enjoying this tale set in The Realms
Please help yourself to a FREE copy of 
Book 1 - Shifting in The Realms

Click HERE!



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