Grim knew not to panic. There had to be a simple answer for this.
He scanned the giant trees, yet nothing was recognizable. It was certainly nowhere he had ever been before. The forest was cold and eerily quiet. He sat and thought things through.
The last thing he remembered was Aunt Patrice calling his name. He was going to hide the stones before he was caught with them.
‘Young gentlemen don’t play with stones that whoosh you away to bizarre places’, he could imagine his Aunt saying. Of course, with the others gawking at him from the attic staircase there was no chance of keeping the stones secret now.
Grim sighed and looked around.
If I get back.
The same colored stones encased in the brass fingers sat in a neat circle before him.
What had he done? He put his hand in the center of the circle.
He stood up.
A whirring sound interrupted his investigation. Grim craned his neck to find a giant structure sailing far above the trees. It was a sleek wood and metallic ship attached to the underside of a massive elongated balloon. At its aft end were propellers moving its great hulk through the sky. Grim sucked in his breath as he watched it go by, slow and powerful, like a whale.
Beside it flew smaller ships with a similar design and turbines that propelled them with ease around its great bulking weight like an escort.
Grim side-stepped as he watched, kicking the stones askew. The air ships soared toward a snow-capped mountain in the distance upon which he could see a great city with a large castle-like structure.
Flying air ships.
Grim scanned the trees, wondering what sort of land he’d come to. He’d never of heard of flying galleons.
Then he jumped.
A person stood at the edge of the clearing. It was a girl close to his own size and age. She looked similar to their neighbor, Ming, with tanned skin and almond-shaped eyes. She wore a long, midnight blue dress with a white cape around her shoulders. A thick leather belt entwined her waist with pouches and odd gadgets hanging from it. Strapped across her head were goggles, not much larger than his own. Everything else would have appeared normal about the girl except she had bright purple hair that stood on end, in a higgledy-piggledy sort of manner. Grim could just imagine how quickly Aunt Patrice would pounce on her with a brush.
The young girl opened her mouth to speak and the words that came out were from a foreign language. Yet what was even more peculiar was that Grim completely understood her.
“Hello,” said the girl.
He tried to figure out how he was able to comprehend her. He wasn’t sure how to respond.
“Hi there,” Grim finally said, and his mouth dropped open. The words that came out of his mouth were in the same foreign language.
“MynmisTreena,” said the girl. She spoke rather fast and peered into the forest. Her hands and feet fidgeted like she needed to go to the bathroom.
Grim followed her gaze into the dark woods, but found nothing there.
“I’m sorry, what did you say?”
Grim blinked. “A little slower, please.”
The girl giggled. “My… name… is …Treena.”
“What-a-funny-name,” she said, a little slower than usual, but not by much. “I once met a man who had an odd name. He was from the Southlands. They’re strange down there. Are you from the Southlands?” The girl sucked in her breath only at the end like she was rushing to get it all out at once.
“I don’t know where here is,” Grim said. “What language are we speaking, and you talk very fast.” Grim tried to casually kick the stones into a little pile behind him. He needed them to get back and didn’t want this girl fiddling with them.
She giggled, exhaled, and then spoke at a pace that might be considered more normal, but not by much. It was like listening to chipmunk-speak. “This is the Forest of Nothingness,” she said and glanced behind Grim’s legs. “And what do you mean ‘what language’? There is only the Common Tongue. Well, except for The Unseen. They speak a language of their own.”
This was all proving a bit much: stones that hurled you to strange lands, flying air ships, mysterious languages, and spiked purple hair.