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The Inter-dimensional Station

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Old 01-19-2007, 03:33 PM
Annabelle (Offline)
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Default The Inter-dimensional Station

Chapter 7

“Honey, what do you think it is?” A small old elf, adorned in a woolen shawl and a blanket pulled about her shoulders, asked her husband who was a gaunt dwarf.
Inside their immense and spacious barn, the couple had discovered Janet curled up upon a heap of straw near the middle of the building. Her clothes seemed pretty damp, and she shivered at intervals as drops of water from her moist hair trickled down across her face.
“Sugar, I just don’t know. It is too small to be a giant’s child and too big and awkward-looking to be an elf,” Grandpa Coco the dwarf responded.
Granny Jen the elf said, “The poor thing looks like it gotten a bit of a chill; do you think that it is dangerous?”
Without an answer, Grandpa Coco prudently approached the girl and knelt down beside her. “I don’t believe so dear, but I would advise to keep away from it, I… sugar?” Granny Jen had walked up to the other side of Janet and placed her blanket over the girl. “Dear…” Grandpa Coco began, but Granny Jen said, “This is obviously a young creature; no matter what it is, it doesn’t deserve to catch its death shivering in our drafty barn.”
Grandpa Coco walked to the other side of Janet and embraced his wife tenderly, “You have always been so nice to any creature, big or small, that has wandered onto our properly. That’s one of the many things that I love about you.” They kissed and embraced each other warmly.

Janet found herself flying through the air over a crystal-clear ocean that sparkled like foil when the sun’s rays touched its surface. Prodigious brown wings were spread out on her back, barely moving, allowing the cool zephyrs to do the work for her. Then, a roar penetrated her reverie and engendered her to gaze over her shoulder. A small rip in space had appeared, revealing a whirl of brown and yellow colors within. From this vortex, a dragon’s head and body slid through.
“Cain!” Janet cried out joyfully, as the jet-black dragon with a white underbelly flew towards her.
Cain flew up to her and said, “Sister, it has been a long time.”
Janet smiled, “I’ll say that it has! I was worried about you! You have not visited me for two whole weeks!”
Cain gave an exaggerated sigh and playfully prodded her with his muscular tail. “You know that there has been a lot of commotion with the other dragons because of the opening of the new dimension. All of us are unsettled about it, and it is unknown whether or not it has a dragon protector.”
A calm breeze whispered past the two dragons as they looked affectionately at each other, as if it was the first time they had gazed upon each other in months.
Janet advanced and embraced her brother in the air, “I just miss you so much when you are not around…”
Cain laid his head upon Janet’s shoulder as he said, “I know, I know, everything will be fine Lionia.”
Lionia? Janet thought, is that my name? Am I me in this dream? Who is Lionia? Cain is her brother? My brother?

Janet awoke to the tantalizing smell of cinnamon rolls and the warmth that can only be provided by a home. She found herself wrapped up in a wonderful blanket, but there was only one problem: she couldn’t move! Finally, she realized why; someone had tied her arms behind her back and her ankles together. Upon opening her eyes, Janet saw that she was on a small circular mat in what appeared to be a small living room. Portraits of elves and dwarves hung on each wall, and small pine or palm trees were placed in every corner. In the midst of all this vegetation, there were only two apparent places to rest, upon the mat, and upon a shabby antique-looking couch behind her.
From where she was, Janet could peer into the next room, the one that engendered her stomach to rumble and her taste buds to protest fervently, the kitchen. At best, she could see a small table set up in the middle of the room and the stack of cinnamon rolls she had smelled earlier upon a counter near the sink, but she could also hear something boiling; it smelled like soup….
Meanwhile, Tobias had tracked Janet’s scent to the lake. He looked at the barn and dashed towards it, only to discover that she was not inside. For a little bit, he sniffed around the stalls, growling each time he saw the ropes and metal claws. Finally, he discovered the bundle of straw in the middle of the building that Janet had slept upon, along with the scent of an elf and a dwarf.
His eyes widened in recognition at the scent, “Granny Jen and Grandpa Coco…” he whispered, before dashing out of the barn and beginning to head South of the barn in his bat form. As he flew over the forest, he began to notice a gradual change in the forest. By the time he reached a small thatched house deep in the woods, it could be dully noted that all the trees and vegetation looked dry and close to death.
The forest did not hold its lush green vegetation up towards the sun; instead, the trees bended near the ground, with rapidly deteriorating leaves and thinning figures. No bird sang, and no animals wandered through the forest’s undergrowth.

Tobias took all this in with shock and a hint of terror as well, for he could tell that such an epidemic would spread throughout the entire forest. He descended towards the house.
Meanwhile, the sound of boiling water succumbed to the threatening sound of metal claws opening and closing. Something deep within Janet told her that this wasn’t good, even though she had not known where that assumption came from. From around the doorframe to the kitchen, a set of iron claws, like those Janet had seen in the barn, appeared, held by a charismatic-looking old elf with a pink apron and little bifocals upon her thin beak-like nose.
“Who are you?” Janet asked in awe; she had never seen an elf like this before, only in movies and fairy tales.
For a moment, the elf paused. She actually seemed to be hesitating a little bit. The first thing that she said however was more of a remark to herself, “It can talk…”
Janet felt a bit perturbed deep inside when the elf said, “It,” but figured that she shouldn’t try to start an argument. After all, she WAS the one tied-up and unable to move.
Finally, the old elf cleared her throat and said, “My name is Granny Jen, dear.” She unclenched the metal claws and Janet saw to her terror that they were traveling toward her neck, “Wait!” she exclaimed, trying to buy time, although she didn’t know for what, “Are you really an elf?”
This engendered Granny Jen to lower the claws a bit, much to Janet’s temporary relief. “Well, of course dear. My elf heritage goes back for several generations, with hardly any marriages outside of our species. In fact, I have a small album that mostly uses pictures to show my family tree.” She seemed ready to put the metal claws down, and Janet began to smile, until a dwarf entered the room carrying a long sharp knife.
“Jen Jen! What are you doing?” he exclaimed, watching the closed metal claws being placed on the ground.
“I was just getting the family album Rog Pog,” she replied, and then began to lift up the claws again, engendering a terrified gasp from Janet.
“Well, we can look at the album after we get this over with Jen Jen, so we can enjoy it,” expounded “Rog Pog,” “let’s have breakfast first.”
Janet shuttered as Granny Jen nodded sweetly at her husband, “You’re right, as always honey; let’s eat!” Both of them advanced toward the frightened girl, who now had beads of sweat dotting her forehead and tears at the corners of her eyes.
Suddenly, the shattering of a widow was heard, and into the room flew a brown bat.
“Tobias!” Janet cried out.
Tobias flew between Janet and her intended assailants and became his human form. “Stop right there!” he demanded, “Granny Jen, Grandpa Coco, what are you doing?”
Janet’s shout of relief caught fast in her throat, “You KNOW these people?”
Tobias didn’t hear her but continued to chastise the old elf and dwarf in a rising tone of voice, “Why do you have this human bound? You can’t possibly be thinking of consuming her? I thought that you were usually vegetarians?”
Both Granny Jen and Grandpa Coco lowered their implements and said nothing for what seemed a long span of time. Finally, Grandpa Coco stated, “There is no vegetation left for us to find food in; the whole forest is bare and barren of any fruits and edible victuals. We had to start feasting upon our own animals to survive.”
Tobias inquired, “Why is this forest dying?”
Granny Jen shook her head and said, “The lost of food in the forest is a direct result of a terrible disaster that has recently occurred. All the creatures that refuse to leave their homes in the forest are starving.”
Janet watched this rapid interchange of information and arguments with a sick feeling in her stomach. These desperate creatures had been planning to kill and eat her, just as they did to their other animals. She suddenly felt a pang of guilt for ever eating meat and shook her head to disperse it. Too many crazy things were happening to her all at once, and she felt that too much was being asked of her. She thought about the brown dragon, and the serpentine creature’s desire for her to seek something; all she wanted to do was go home to her dimension, but it seemed as if she was stuck for now.
With all these contentions building up inside her, Janet attempted to stand up but fell over, engendering everyone to turn and look at her.
“Well,” Tobias declared, “You won’t solve anything by eating one of the keys to our salvation.”
“One of the keys to our…? OH!” cried out the old couple, “This is a….?”
Tobias nodded, and Granny Jen let out a small gasp of fright and ran over to until Janet. “Oh dear; we should have realized that she was a human! But…. how did she get to the Venn dimension?”
Tobias shifted uneasily on his feet and glanced from Janet to the old couple guiltily.
“Oh, I understand,” said Granny Jen, “times have been hard for you; but, you still do not plan to take her to…?”
Tobias gravely shook his head and sighed.
“Poor dear,” Granny Jen said feelingly.
Janet looked from Tobias’s sad countenance to Granny Jen’s concerned expression, and at Grandpa Coco’s crestfallen eyes. It seemed as if she were in the middle of a personal conversation of which she proved the only one ignorant of its significance. To penetrate the strident silence that followed Tobias and Granny Jen’s exchange, Janet asked, “Do you know what is killing the forest?”

“Are you sure that we shouldn’t ask someone for directions?” Syril inquired as she closely followed Malace through the dense forest.
Malace whipped around towards her, “Who would you ask? A tree?” he snapped sarcastically.
Syrill narrowed her eyes slightly, “You do not have to be so aggravated all the time; what’s the matter with you?”
Malace pointed a long sharp claw at the nurse and was about to say something in response when the pair heard a rustling in the nearby bushes. Immediately, the black panther shot forwards and slapped a paw across Syril’s mouth, “Shh!” he ordered, as the nurse glared at him out of the corner of her eye. A growling followed the disturbance in the silent forest, echoing throughout the vicinity.
Syril pried Malace’s paw off of her mouth and sniffed the air, “It is a big feline of some sort.”
“Nice observation,” said the voice of a leopard, who slowly slinking into the glade. It drew and withdrew its claws and snarled, licking his lips.
Malace pushed Syril aside and took out his Electren whip, “Don’t worry, I’ll have this poor excuse of a cat running in a few seconds with my whip.”
The leopard snarled even deeper, and his eyes had taken on a red glint, “A poor excuse?”
Malace branished his whip, but Syril deftly grabbed his rapidly circulating wrist. “No,” she said firmly, “this cat doesn’t look like he wants to hurt us; he just looks hungry.”
Malace slapped a paw to his brow, “Of course he wanted to hurt us, especially if he is hungry! He wants to kill and eat us for food!”
Syril placed her hands on her hips and glared at him threateningly, “That isn’t necessarily the case!”
Malace scoffed at her and said, “This isn’t some sort of nature walk with cuddly little critters that clean your house when you sing! There are beasts and predators out here!”
Before long, the two were engaged deep in her own argument, forgetting about the presence of the leopard, who now stood staring unbelievingly at them; he sat down with a perturbed grunt and tried to wait patiently for them to finish.

At the same time, Granny Jen and Grandpa Coco sat upon their one couch before an apprehensive Janet and an inquiring Tobias.
“A few weeks ago, we learned that a powerful creature had taken up residence in our forest, one of fire. It began by terrifying the creatures of the forest and driving them away, and then it began to destroy sections of our forest home.”
“That’s terrible,” Janet interjected, “Why would it do that?”
Grandpa Coco looked at her, “We have no clue; all we know is that within the next few days, the whole forest will begin to wilt, and even we will have to move.”
Tobias prompted, “Then we will just have to chase that menace away, right?” he looked towards Janet, who shrunk back slightly at this suggestion.
Grateful tears formed on the rims of Granny Jen’s eyes as she said, “Really? You’ll do that for us? This truly is a miracle!”


Malace and Syril were still exchanging fierce arguments and an initially perturbed leopard began to become more and more consternated. Finally, tears appeared on the edges of his eyes, and he began to wail aloud, “Woe is me! Woe to my deprived stomach!”
The arguers both stopped and turned to look at him. Syril said, “Oops, I guess we forgot about you being there…”
“FORGOT!” screeched the leopard mournfully, “everyone forgets Numba, the lowly leopard, the tired and careworn cat, scavenging what he can from a doomed land.”
Syril walked up to him concernedly and gently patted the feline on the back, “Everything is going to be alright… please, what is it? Um… Numba, please tell us, why do you say that this land is doomed?”
With a sniff, Numba related the same tale Granny Jen and Grandpa Coco had related to Tobias and Janet. Instead, at the end of this narrative, a contemplative silenced ensued. Finally, Malace grunted and turned and began to walk away, but Syril didn’t move and exclaimed, “Malace! How can you think of leaving Numba and the other forest inhabitants in this situation without trying to help them?”
With an authoritative snort, Malace muttered, “It isn’t our problem; we shouldn’t interference in something these denizens have probably brought upon themselves.”
Numba whimpered and Syril’s eyes widened in disbelief, “How can you say that? These creatures need our help!”
Malace continued to walk away slowly and said without looking back, “Are you coming or not? We have our own worries.”
By this point, Numba sat in a crouched position with his head bowing pleadingly, almost touching the ground in his desperation. Syril knelt down and used a delicate hand to gently and slowly lift the bemoaning leopard’s head up and whispered, “Don’t worry; come with us. I’ll convince him somehow.”
Numba sniffed and said softly, “Thank you, thank you….”
“Syril,” helped him to finish his sentence.
So Numba and Syril began to walk deploringly after a seemingly impassive and stubborn Malace deeper into the forest.

Janet and Tobias spent the rest of the day with Grandpa Coco and Granny Jen, who insisted that they build up their strength for taking on the terrible creature that was ravaging their forest home. Both spent the day in a pensive silence, only speaking when absolutely necessary and silently helping the old couple with their daily tasks, such as gathering firewood and bringing in buckets of water drawn from the fresh lake’s water near the old barn about two miles away from their home. Tobias meditated on an appropriate strategy to employ against this threat, and also, he tried to figure out the best way to protect Janet during the assault; he saw no method by which Janet could assist in the fight, unless… the brown dragon he had seen and heard in the cave… but he shook it off. Lionia wouldn’t use the little power and energy she has right now to fight what seems so minor a battle.
Janet filled her thoughts with questions on why she had wound up in such a strange world and how she could possibly get home. Earlier, Tobias had suggested that she travel to the next town and ask someone there, but that appeared impossible now, with this “delay.” She became so engrossed in her own worries that she did not even think about facing the danger to the forest at all. The biggest thing on her mind was getting home; she wanted to go back to life as she knew it.
The day gradually disappeared, retreating before the shade of night. Janet stood in the kitchen, helping Grandpa Coco to prepare what the couple declared as pretty much the last of the meat from their animals, which made Janet feel a little pang of sympathy for the creatures that had to perish, but she reasoned within herself that the couple had to do it to survive. When Grandpa Coco finished slicing up the meat, he threw the pieces in a big pot of water over a small fire in the kitchen and waited for them to boil. Janet looked at him, with his rugged and scarred hands and careworn face, he looked similar to a crestfallen soldier who has seen many battles and lived to tell about it.
“Why is it that your wife and you have stayed for so long here, even if it meant that you might be on the brink of starvation?” the question came out of Janet’s mouth so quickly and unconsciously that she immediately regretted what she had said, but Grandpa Coco did not appear to get upset at all. Instead, he said, “We have lived in this forest all our lives; we grew up here and grew dependent on the forest for our wants and needs. We did not care what lay outside of our forest; the only way we knew to live was in and with the forest and its numerous creatures. Now, we are too old to travel well and too set in our ways to conform to another lifestyle than the one we have held for so many years.”
“Are you saying that….?” Janet cut herself short and Grandpa Coco nodded, “Yes, we would rather perish than leave our forest, even though we told you earlier that we might have to move soon. We said that to give both of you the reassurance that, even if this forest is completely destroyed, we would move on to another home, but that was a lie, a cover-up.” His voice began to quiver slightly as he continued, “perhaps the real reason that we said it was to make ourselves feel braver, so that we might do it, but it has long been evident that we would perish by leaving our home. Remember this about life young human: the things that you have today may not be the same things you have tomorrow, and the sooner and better you are able to comprehend that and be flexible and open-minded in your life, the easier it will be; it’s too late for my wife and I.”
Grandpa Coco’s discourse caused Janet to think more deeply on what she had thought about earlier in the day, and she felt ashamed.
While Janet and Grandpa Coco worked in the kitchen, Tobias sat outside of the couple’s small house, looking up at the gradually filling moon. He heard the sound of the front door opening and turned his head to see Granny Jen standing there with a small wool blanket. Tobias noticed that there seemed to be more wrinkles around her lips and eyes than usual as she walked over and offered him the blanket.
“Thank you,” Tobias said, gratefully accepting the blanket; then he turned his head back up towards the night sky.
Granny Jen sighed and said, “You’re thinking of the full moon and the red moon, aren’t you? I have heard much about you, and I know that you have a wide knowledge of the inhabitants of the different dimensions, being around as long as you have.”
Tobias interjected, “It wasn’t meant to be that way…” He lifted up one hand towards the moonlight and watched sadly as it transfigured into a wolf’s paw.
“I know,” Granny Jen, sitting down beside him, “you are one of the last inhabitants of the lost dimension of PennNee, all of which are believed to be under spells and enchantments.”
A small chilly zephyr swept through the night, wistfully ripping the dried leaves of several trees from their branches. Thousands of leaves littered the charred ground, a constant reminder that a destructive force lured deep within the forest. For several moments, the pair sat there in the night without speaking, just feeling the moaning wind and desperate sighs of the forest.
“Time is running out… for the dragons, and the rest of the dimensions,” Tobias said.
Granny Jen placed a soft hand upon his shoulder, “There, there now; you’ve finally found one of the creatures chosen by the dragons to save our dimensions.”
A wolfish growl emanated from deep within Tobias, “but she does not understand the power that she holds deep within her; I can tell that she is reluctant to let go of what she knew from her past and accept her current situation. I can see the fear and desperation in her eyes.” He transformed into this wolf form, which was beginning to look more rugged and wild with each passing day.
Granny Jen looked at him and said, “You must tell her; she must know the truth, and the eminent war we are facing with the Delta dimension.”
Tobias’s stomped a foot, “I can’t do that; such knowledge would make her want to leave more than ever, and what happens when she learns that I served the Delta dimension? What would happen then?”
“You had your reasons…”
“They shouldn’t have driven me to work for the force that is tearing the dimensions apart!”
Granny Jen said firmly, “No matter what occurred in your past, you must tell her.”
Tobias shook his head and said, “No, I just told you that I can’t…”
“Then you’ll let her keep searching for something she doesn’t understand? Something that might be hidden from her until it proves too late to return things to normal?”
“Things will never be normal again…”
“But you have the ability to make them better than before!”
Tobias turned his head towards her and snarled, and Granny Jen could see the fierceness in his eyes overpowering his better nature; she knew that she would not be able to get through to him at the moment, with the moon almost full and his enchantment beginning to take hold of him once again. With a half-bark, half-growl, he dashed into the forest, leaving Granny Jen standing, looking after him sadly, “that girl is one of the keys to freeing you, if only…”

A blazing campfire warmed those sitting around it. “Look! Look!” Numba exclaimed, and held out his paws between the campfire and the side of the old barn near the lake; the shadow of with combined paws resembled a rabbit.
Syril clapped and said, “That’s really good Numba.”
“How about this?” the large feline asked, moving his paws into different positions and producing a shadow that looked like a human talking.
At this, Syril’s jaw dropped in amazement, but then she began to giggle. Finally, both of them broke out into full-out laughter. Malace sat on the outskirts of the fire’s glow in the shadows and seemed perturbed to see his two acquaintances having so much fun. Syril turned her head and saw him staring at Numba and her, and she said, “Why don’t you come closer to the campfire Malace? You’ll stay warmer; would you like to make some shadow puppets with us?”
Malace gave her an indignant look, “Shadow puppets? Shadow puppets? That is a game played only by little kits; besides, there are more important things that we need to focus on; I haven’t forgotten why we are here in the first place.”
With a sigh, Syril turned her head away from Malace; why couldn’t he see that it was alright to have fun every once in a while in life?
Numba said to Syril, “He’s grumpy. Don’t worry Syril, he should come around sooner or later, and then he will help us save this forest and not be such an unemotional tabby.”
“Unemotional tabby?” asked a highly aggravated Malace. He stood up and stormed over to Numba. The large cat tried to flee, but Malace grabbed him by the tail and gave a giant yank, resulting in a large screech from the cat that sent shivers down Syril’s back. “Stop talking to Syril as if I am not here. I have ears, and I am not emotional!” Malace released Numba’s tail and began to stomp away towards his original sitting place.
As he left, Numba turned and said to Syril, “He is grumpy and has violent mood swings.”
“THAT’S IT!” Malace shouted as he whipped around and pounced at Numba. This time, the feline contrived to dodge, but Malace began to chase him around the campfire. Syril watched them squabble for a bit until they both managed to fall into the lake with a cry of surprise as they penetrated the icy cold water. Syril walked over to the lake’s edge and signed jokingly, “What am I going to do with you two?”
Malace asked, “What are YOU going to do with us two? I think that the question should be directed at you and your fuzzy pet there.”
This began more arguing, where Malace’s eyes teemed with anger and Numba’s with playful mirth.
Later on that night, after Malace and Numba had warmed up near the fire, and after much grumbling from Malace, the trio laid down for the night near the slowly dying flames of the fire.
Syril awoke at what she assumed was somewhere around midnight to find Malace wide awake, sitting cross-legged at the lake’s edge. She quietly stood up and pasted a snoring Numba towards the panther.
“Sit down if you desire it,” Malace muttered without looking up at her; he continued to stare out across the lake.
Syril prudently sat down beside him and asked, “What are you looking at?”
Malace said, “I’m looking at the lake.”
“What about it?” Syril patiently asked, hoping to draw him into a conversation.
Malace’s eyes took on a pensive glow in the moonlight, and he expounded, “This lake has such an easy life. It just stays the same like this forever. Things change upon and below it, but it never does; the water that came from up the stream stays here and cannot go any further. I envy it.”
Syril looked at Malace and studied his face; in the moonlight, she didn’t see a perturbed and constantly irritated panther that went out of his way to make everyone miserable, what she saw instead was a creature worn down by life and wishing for peace and tranquility.
“This lake will never be more than a lake until it is destroyed; you have the ability to keep changing and growing, not to remain like this lake; that is a very special thing Malace.”
The panther looked at Syril out of the corner of his eye and saw a determined and confident creature sitting there. For the first time, he chuckled, “I didn’t know beings like you could think that deeply and philosophy.”
Syril exclaimed, “Hey! Is that an insult?”
Malace said, “It wasn’t meant to be… just something that I learned from this small talk.” He stood up and said, “Goodnight Syril,” and then went to lay down by the diminishing embers of the campfire.
Syril looked after him and whispered under her breath, “goodnight… Malace.”

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