“In harmony all worlds are one, in chaos all worlds are as one. By the stream of time are we all connected as one by the Source, and by the power that runs through my veins open to me the Gate that is as one to this anchor, open the way to Zomarran!”
Aria opened her eyes to see an explosion of flashes in a multitude of colors, like shooting stars in the darkness beginning to turn and swirl. The water that surrounded her turned blue and began to be sucked noisily into a swirling void that formed in the center. The portal became larger, sucking up the energy of the water and her own energy as she fed it her power through the Gate Stone. The colors coalesced into multitudes of blue veins with bright flashes of brilliant white light. The portal wobbled and shimmered as if it would collapse and fade into nothing. It steadied a fast clockwise spin to gravitate around a hollow black-filled center. She steeled her concentration on her destination’s image, clear in her thoughts. She had done the first half of the incantation correctly.
She walked up to the doorway, her escape to a new place, a new time, a new beginning. She had done this jump a couple of times, and each time was the same nervous tension that ate at her stomach and the second thoughts that made fear snake through her veins. Forcing her fear aside and calming her nerves with several deep breaths, she put one foot surely in front of the other and stepped into the vortex. Light and colors rushed by her silently as her destination appeared to get larger, the tunnel snaking this way and that, turning her upside down several times.
Then she was stepping out into the warmth, her feet padding softly on lush grass and the springy step of peat moss. The smell of the bog and air tinged by the salt of a nearby ocean filled her nose. The sky looming with pale blue clouds high in the atmosphere with streamers that trailed across the sky moved by an unseen wind. The valley stretched out a carpet of earthy shades and smudges of green before her. The spattering color of various wildflowers encased the valley in the safety of an embrace cradling the beauty within and keeping it hidden. She saw low stout trees gnarled and twisted at odd angles and then further across the landscape her signpost. The massive old oak seemed entirely out of place as if it was trying to swallow up the valley. Aria stared in awe at her surroundings as birds darted past her in a flurry of aerial acrobatics, and a soft breeze played through her hair and clothes. The air smelled fresh and crisp.
A flash behind her drew her attention. She turned to see a brilliant explosion of color and light and then nothing. The Stone had glowed a deep blue hue for a moment, now the color slowly faded, errant streams of energy wisping from its surface. The Stone simply looked like a stone carved with a symbol, the one she knew as the symbol for Altaris was the last part to stop glowing. Her body filled with joy and exaltation as she took off, running toward the oak, jumping, skipping, and dodging the soft parts of land that could swallow her if she weren’t careful.
She knew this terrain well. She had been here enough times to know where to step and where not; she had left herself markers to alert to dangerous areas. She ran to the path she had found. The sky overhead still blue but streaked with more clouds now. She inspected the thick trunk for handholds thinking if she climbed up, she could see the whole valley from the top, perhaps gain a sense of direction.
She tried several times to climb up the stout trunk, but trying to climb an oak tree was nothing like the fruit trees in the village's small orchard. Finally, she was able to clamber to the top and up into the branches. She perched herself on a thick, sturdy branch and looked out over the valley. The clouds coming in from the east were dark and foreboding, the air now laced with the earthy scent of impending rain. A flash of lightning cut across the sky in a jagged arch followed by the rumble of distant thunder. Aria felt a slight twinge of panic. She needed shelter from the storm. She couldn’t make out any viable shelter and needed to get out of the tree, definitely not the smartest place to be when the storm hit.
She climbed down, the thunder getting louder and closer. She slipped on the last part of the trunk and jumped down onto a smooth stone patch the tree had grown over. Her fingers caressed a flaw in the stone. She thought she had touched a crack in the rock, but as her fingers felt along, she realized it was a pattern. She hurriedly cleared the debris and loose dirt. Etched into the stone lay writing of some kind. She couldn’t read most of it, some areas were faded, but she did recognize the one symbol that was also on the travel stone—the symbol of her home, Altaris.