Act I - 01 The Call

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 Act I

Sojourner

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It was a little hot and a little humid, but nowhere near unbearably so. She could feel the trickle of sweat on her brow and the warmth of the hard surface beneath her. There was also a strange wetness on her other cheek and a strong, almost rank smell she vaguely recognized. Her head hurt and felt heavy; like it was made of lead. The rest of her tingled and retained a lingering ache, but it was fading with each passing second. Somehow, she managed to open her eyes. She blinked them slowly, letting them adjust to the shaded sunlight, and also to take in what she was seeing.

Stones. Grayish-white-tinted stone. And legs. Four of them, thick and bulky and covered in short, dark fur. There were small drops of drool in front of the paws, which were scraped here and there, matching the light scars further along. When she looked upwards, she found the large head of an equally large dog. It was a mastiff, and now that it realized she was awake, it made a soft whine and licked her with its slobbering tongue. She made a sound of disgust as she quickly sat up and wiped the slime from her face, and then had to push her hands against the dog's chest to keep it from licking her again.

"Stop," Catherine commanded, using the voice she always used with her own dogs. The mastiff made a chuff before it backed off and sat down, watching her expectantly. She raised a brow. "What? I don't have treats and I don't even know you. I'll give you pets if you... er... if... uh... where... where am I?"

Stone buildings, at least three to four stories tall surrounded her. She was at the back end, where the two sides met—an alley. There were a handful of dark, wooden doors, all of them closed, and many windows shared the same fate. A couple of laundry clothes lines hung above with garments strewn about. A few stacks of crates were here and there—she was actually slightly behind one obscuring her view to the exit—and she noticed some tools such as brooms or buckets or cloth spread out near a ladder. When she leaned forward, she could see the brightened street, and beyond that was the sunlight glittering off a river. It was there she spotted a small crowd of people walk by, and felt her stomach drop a little.

While she knew she wasn't in a usual place—she didn't know any city or town with buildings or alleys like the one she was in—but the people... their clothes... they were...

'No, no, that can't be right. I... I have to be at a Renaissance Festival or something or... but... why... the hell would I be here? I was in Scotland! I was in my family's castle! I was... I was...'

Catherine's heart skipped a beat and the flare of panic scalded her insides as the memories started to come back. That wasn't entirely true, though; she couldn't recall it perfectly. It was blurred; sporadic—like trying to recall a dream from the night before. She caught glimpses: a burst of light; the symbols; the man; the pain. It made her body shake and breathing difficult. She brought her hands up to clutch her body, but pulled them away at once as if shocked when she felt a hard surface press against her side. She looked to her hand and found the very thing that had done all this.

"No... no, no no no no," she whimpered, eyes wide as she gazed at the Clock. It was still there, in her right hand. Briefly, she thought it was stuck there—that it really had been burned into her hand—but then it fell to her lap when she her limb shook too much. It was cold now, and the single hand was set to the twelve mark. She just wanted to shove it off, run away, and keep on going. She wanted nothing to do with it and whatever the man had wanted. She just wanted to go home—go back to her family! To escape from this nightmare!

"Wake up!" she hissed, smacking her face and biting her tongue. She squeezed her eyes shut, wishing this wasn't reality, but she knew it was. This was too real to be a dream. Too much had happened. She was awake.

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