The Earthling Chapter One

Thufir Hawat and Lady F – The Earthling – Chapter One

I found Thufir Hawat in a role-playing forum, and he turned out to be my fellow-countryman, a fact that made both of us feel mirth. We decided to play a game in which a young gentleman from Earth lands on Alpha Gem, in order to meet an incredibly powerful and beautiful witch. Welcome to read The Earthling Chapter One.

At 24 – a year more than the usual for university students studying for their last exams, due to having been in a language school – Boris was a young guy for his time and place.

Which meant that he’d be expecting his second or third kid in some other places of the world, including some not far away. But in 2019 Bulgaria, he was considered to be barely an untried and untested youngster.

That was outside of the doorsmen circuit, where he was considered tried and tested. At least at the couple of doors, he’d been working…though he knew enough not to approach the most dangerous places, where steroid users dwelled and thrived. Still, a guy needs a way to pay his tuition – and have some spare cash – and what better way than to put your hobby to use?

Well, he could have been selling books, putting his other hobby to use. But having over a decade of martial arts practice, due to persuading his family to enroll him at an early age after reading an old comic book, he felt it would be much more fun to work the door…not to mention providing a better opportunity for social contacts.

Reality had proven him mostly right so far, apart from the busted nose. An older doorsman he knew from the gym had taken him under his wing and taught him a lot of lessons. Though none has proven more useful than “always watch for the knife”…

But right now Boris wasn’t at a door. Instead, he was in a train, which was to take him – slowly and not really comfortably – to Stara Zagora. He hoped to find some fun there.

Or so a female Tinder user had promised him. In fact, she’d mentioned having a younger, but rather an adventurous sister, too. Girls liked a “bad boy image”, so Boris carefully cultivated one – extremely short hair, metal rings, and leather clothes went well together, and most women couldn’t tell a real tattoo from a temporary one – while laughing inwardly.

Most such women, he’d noticed, wanted a bad boy who’d love, respect and protect them. Actual bad boys, in his observation, were likely to backslap women who contradicted them, and he’d have to intervene more than once to protect stupid chicks from their own boyfriends. With time, he’d grown to really despise those occasions and those who provoked them.

But now he had a couple more hours to travel, the time was hot, and he needed a way to relax until he came to the destination. What better way than to try out the assorted mushrooms he’d been given by a friend on a reenactment show.

“Tell you what, Boris, those are really fun. I’ve been tryin’ to find the place where I got them again ever since I tried them a second time!”

“Why a second, Peter?”

“‘Cuz I always see the same thing when I take them, man! If I take any other strain, I don’t see it. Only with those ‘shrooms.”

“You know you’re halucinatin’, right? Right, Peter?”

“That’s what I thought, man. But then I thought…hey, what if someone else takes them? Listen, do me a favor. I’d give you a dose free. Here’s a description of the place, but you promise me – man’s word – not to read it until you’ve done the ‘shrooms and came back, OK? Then you write down what you saw, and then you can read it. If it’s at all similar, you promise to bring me both the sheets, OK?”

“What’s to say I wouldn’t just copy your own text just to fuck with your head?”

“That’s why I came to you, man. Other guys might do some shit like that. You’d do some stuff like that…though you’d pull the real sheet from your pocket and show it to me. But if you promise you won’t, you will keep your word. Do you want those mushrooms?”

“…You’ve always had the best mushrooms, Peter. Deal. But tell nobody, OK?”

Because Peter was right, of course.

And now that almost the whole wagon was empty, Boris felt he could pull Barsclaw, his trusty knife, and cut the mushrooms.

The mushrooms, though, had no effect. The train continued on, and Boris winced.

OK, there was an effect: he was now feeling cold. Damn. Shivering in the summer, despite wearing a leather jacket?

Ridiculous.

“Peter, your ‘shrooms sucked this time”.

Still, he noted it duly. That’s when he noticed the snow entering through the open window.

Snow in summer? Fuck…

What was more, he felt the train had stopped moving. And he saw a snowy forest, with a white, seemingly marble palace, lined up even more starkly on the background.

Hesitating momentarily, he ripped the envelope open and read on it.

It described a palace in a winter forest.

Just a moment more of hesitation and Boris jumped from the train. He went towards the palace, and then looked towards the front of the train.

There were no rails in the front.

Concluding that there was no way for the train to move from its place, Boris ran towards the palace. Help was going to arrive soon, he believed. But he had to find out what in…whatever this place…was going on.

That was the moment when he heard the train moving. Turning back, he tried to run and catch it.

But the train was faster. And it disappeared into a shimmering void, which closed after him, leaving only the empty air. Behind the place where the portal had been, there was now more forest.

Winter forest. And he could hear wolf howls.

“At least I’ve still got Barsclaw”, he smiled darkly to himself. That, and – as it turned out – Peter’s description, a phone with no coverage – Tinder was still open – and his clothes. Which were, while relatively hot for the weather where he came from, woefully inadequate for this climate.

Well, all things considered, he just had to try and reach the palace, Boris concluded.

Beforethedarknessfalls, the wolf-howls reminded. Wellbethereinthedarkinthedarkinthedark, another replied.

“One thing you must admit to Peter”, Boris said out loud while walking.

“His mushrooms are never boring!”

***

The conductor checked the compartments after the weird accident, more in order to center himself than for any practical reasons.

There was a note in one of them: “Feeling cold. Seeing nothing. Peter…

Wait! Snow?”

The passenger, however, was missing. But there was no way anyone would be stupid enough to get off the train in the weird conditions…

Right?

Masha Antonovna and Natasha Pavlovna were sitting next to the fireplace amidst two separate clouds of cigar smoke. Both cousins were enjoying hot tea in porcelain cups with the national ornaments of the Empire. The girls put sugar lumps in their mouths before they sipped and blew in the cups to make the tea temperature bearable. Drinking tea together in the afternoons was a venerable tradition of the Sasha Empire – the girls spent time together exaggerating every gossip in the palace – a royal amusement.

“So, I visited Olegovna, the magickal practitioner, yesterday.” – Masha announced in her bell voice. “I told her about that dream of eleven crows flying around me. She said that they were harbingers of true love. She dropped a few drops of lavender oil in my coffee cup to make further divination. Guess what, we will have a visitor… someone foreign, who owns a knife with a name.”

“Don’t listen to Olegovna,” – said Natasha “the poor woman is usually drunk from lunchtime. Do you remember, when she predicted a great hurricane in the Sasha Empire, and everybody in the Empire evacuated to Fairland? We were almost to start a war because of her. No, don’t listen to Olegovna. The world-class mediums have the healthy habit of never being concrete. Besides coffee and lavender – sounds much like ale with pears, doesn’t it?”

Both girls giggled merrily. The fireplace was roaring, it was cozy and warm in the salon of the Castle Château de la Chatoise – founded by a pure-blooded Prince from the Kingdom of Angelique, who moved in because he admired the culture of the Great Sasha Empire – especially for their hospitability and world-famous tea tradition. He brought up his granddaughters in the spirit of the Empire and even gave them local names.

Life in the castle was orderly and merry, but not easy. The climate was really very cold, especially for visitors, and Masha was busy the entire time, accepting frost bitten visitors – as she, independently of her young age was one of the most accomplished witches in the Empire. Guess what most people came looking for. True love. “True love under a spell is not true love,” she explained, but people insisted her to charm their love interest. Which she did. As for herself – she was waiting for “The Divine Spark” – a love blessed by the stars.  

Masha and Natashenka were interrupted with a loud knock on the door of Château de la Chatoise and Masha wrapped herself up with her red wool scarf and went to open the door herself because greeting at the door was part of the etiquette of the Sashean world-famous hospitality.

She opened the door and greeted the visitor. She knew she was the most attractive woman he had seen, with ginger hair, with bright blue eyes, dressed fashionably and impeccably, beautiful as the sun. So she was going to excuse his reaction.  

She smiled and implored:

“Have you come to me for true love?”

“Hi. Warmth and directions, please!”, Boris – for the visitor was indeed him – answered automatically. Then he actually blinked away the tears the cold rain had brought to his eyes and realized how beautiful the girl was.

“Eh, first. It’s not that I’d mind finding true love…at some point. But right now, I’m cold, I’m not sure where I am, and I hear something that sounds awfully like wolves. Being eaten by wolves usually precludes finding any kind of love, so… Oh, wait. Is that simply some kind of customary greeting that I’m unfamiliar with?”

That was not what she expected, but she had obligations to her guest. “I am Masha”- she smiled warmly. “Masha Antonovna. I am happy to see you!” – that was indeed the customary greeting of her people. Followed a warm handshake… “Goodness, your hand is frozen. You’ve got some ice on your eyelashes as well! Why are you dressed like this in the midst of the Great Sashean Winter? You must come from afar. Do come in! We have to thaw you.” And she took him promptly in the salon with the roaring fireplace. Natasha had left, but there were cookies and the silver Samovar on the table was still full of hot herbal tea.

While he was holding the hot cup with both his hands, to try to warm them, she managed to look at him. He was dressed outrageously funny and wore so many rings that he probably had six wives at least – for Sashentsy people the ring was a sign of a relationship. Also, he probably was very poor for all the rings were iron.

“Obviously you are a lover of art because you have got a picture on your body. Are you serious that you know not where you are? That’s the Great Sasha Empire, Castle Château de la Chatoise. Yes, we have wolves nearby but they are rather friendly, some keep them as pets. I still prefer horses, but people are different. So you are not looking for true love? What wind brought you here in such case?”

I am a freelance writer: an experienced, quality, flexible, original, excellent freelance writer. That's what my fans say about me: "Obviously you are smarter, hotter and more sexually motivated than other women, but still you find ways to stay single."

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