Casey, an average man from Los Angeles, wakes up and finds himself trapped in a mystical realm. He must join forces with a shady wizard to find a way home.
Casey woke up, drenched with sweat. The last thing he could remember was driving home from work. It was dark out, and he was driving down a road that wound its way through the hills north of town. He followed the road around a bend…
His head was pounding, making it hard to think. He looked around his bedroom, but his vision was blurry. The room felt different, though. There was a foul stench coming from somewhere. A mixture of hard-boiled eggs and sweaty crotch. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and leaped from the bed when his vision came into focus. He definitely wasn’t in his apartment.
He was in what appeared to be a rickety loft built against one wall of a shack. The walls were made of scraps of wood, the roof was nothing more than a bunch of long sticks and branches, covered with dried grass. The bed he had been laying in was a burlap sack, stuffed with straw. And it smelled. Everything smelled. The stench of sweat and unwashed bodies invaded his nostrils. Below him, he heard a door creak. He looked down and locked gazes with a short, stout man. He was wearing a threadbare shirt and equally threadbare pants.
“Thief!” the man shouted as he trundled towards the hearth and grabbed a long metal rod. Casey jumped from the loft and crashed into the man as he was about to swing the rod at him. The man flew into the corner of the hovel near the hearth. Casey plowed through the door, ripping it off its hinges.
Outside, the sun peeked above the horizon. There was a chill in the air and the grass was wet with few. Casey bolted down a path, beaten down from who knows how many trips between the house and wherever it led. Behind him, he heard the man curse as he stumbled on the broken door.
Casey left the path and ran towards the woods, pumping his arms and legs furiously. He glanced over his shoulder and saw the man struggling to catch him. Chris said a silent thanks to his ex, who had bought him a year-long gym membership for his birthday a few months ago. The ground sloped down toward a wooded ravine. Chris looked behind him again, and the man chasing him was nowhere to be seen. He picked up speed, but his foot slipped on the damp grass, sending him rolling the rest of the way to the ravine. The trunk of a fallen tree broke his fall.
He grabbed a branch of a nearby tree and pulled himself to his feet. He looked down at his filthy clothes. Dirt and grass stains from his tumble into the ravine turned his white t-shirt a brownish color. A rock had ripped open one leg of his sweatpants and left a long gash across his calf. He looked behind him, but he still didn’t see the man.
Casey climbed further into the ravine, treading carefully in his bare feet. There was a creek at the bottom of the ravine. He followed it east, towards the rising sun. When he was sure the man in whose home Casey had woken up wasn’t following him, he stopped to rest.
Casey took in the surroundings as he washed the gash in his leg. Nothing about this area was familiar. Casey lived in a third-floor apartment in the city. The only ravine he knew of was in the park a few blocks from his building. But he didn’t remember there being a thatched room hovel on top of a grassy hill. He needed to find a town or a city or something. He needed to figure out where the hell he was.
He crossed the creek and climbed out of the ravine. There was nothing around him but grass-covered hills. In the distance, he thought he saw a thin column of smoke rising from the horizon. With no other options, Casey started walking towards it.
Casey’s mind drifted as he walked. He thought maybe he would see something that would jog his memory. But all he saw was grass and the occasional tree. After about an hour of walking, he came upon the source of the smoke column. It was a small village, like something out of a renaissance fair or fantasy movie.
The village was a cluster of shacks and the occasional stone house. The peak of a larger building jutted out above the thatched roofs of the others. He entered the town and felt the eyes of its citizens staring at him. Most of them wore the same clothes as the man who had chased him into the ravine. Baggy tunics that were made of wool, with a belt or length of rope tied around their waists. Most of them didn’t have sleeves. Casey wondered if the ones with sleeves served as the upper class.
Casey worked his way down the street, which wasn’t much more than a dirt path between a cluster of shanties. He passed a group of women wearing loosely fitting blouses and simple brown skirts. They stared at him as he passed, whispering to each other and giggling.
The building with the taller roof slowly revealed itself as Casey walked through a market area. The building appeared to be a tavern or inn. At least that was what he thought, based on his experience at role-playing games.
“You there!” A man standing among baskets of fruits and vegetables. Casey stopped and looked behind him. There was no one there.
“Me?” He asked, pointing at himself.
“Yes, you!” The man said, waving Casey towards him. Casey walked up to the man. He was around the same height as Casey but thin. Almost close-to-starvation thin. White tufts of hair poked out from under a wide-brimmed hat.
“Hello, young master.” The man smiled, revealing a mouth full of broken, yellow teeth. “You are strangely dressed. Are you from around here?”
“Umm, no. A-at least I don’t think so.” Casey said, wondering how he was able to understand this man. Other than having a strange accent and speech pattern, he spoke perfect English.
“Ah, are you lost then?” The man paused, looking around before whispering. “I know of someone who can help you.”
“In the tavern, over yonder.” The man nodded his head toward the large building near the center of town. “There’s a wizard. Name’s Rhiun.”
“A-a wizard?” Casey asked, thinking maybe he misheard the man. “Like a magic-wielding wizard. Named Ri-yoon?” He finished, trying to imitate the old man’s pronunciation.
“Yes, yes!” the man exclaimed. “Surely she’ll be able to help you get home.”
“Okay,” Casey said, stepping away from the man. “Thank you. For your help.”
The man smiled and nodded, before saying, “Welcome to Aveinha.”
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