A/N: so, this is a little idea I had while thinking about Acacia's character, anf how I really wanted to see more of her in the books throughout OoF and CoTB. It is currently planned to just be a few chapters that span the years between the end of OoF and the start of CoTB, as I can make up scenarios without much research as to continuity, but it could potentially grow.

Acacia woke with a start, heavy breaths and shaking spasms racking her body. All around her was dark, a blanket over her eyes as she tried to look around. An awfully familiar smell hung in the air, and the sound of water flowed somewhere nearby. The mud stuck to her skin in greasy clumps, falling from her arms as she lifted them over her head. Her arms where back to normal, no longer frail or scrawny. Her breathing slowed, but she lay still, looking up at her arms.

This wasn't Heaven. But she had died! Shouldn't she have gone straight through to the Glorious Kingdom? A tear fell from her cheek, then another. She lay there, sobs now rocking her body, for a long time.

Why hadn't God let her into the city of Heaven? Had she not served Him faithfully? She didn't understand!

"Hello? Is everything alright?" a male voice called out, startling Acacia. She fought her sobs down, at least enough to stop and sit up, folding her knees up against her chest. A figure slowly took shape in the darkness, walking forward as if walking on unsteady ground.

"I heard someone crying, is everything ok? I don't mean anyone any harm." The voice called again, and Acacia looked for a place to get out of the open, but there wasn't anything close, nothing that wouldn't be easily noticeable.

"I am alone, and lost. I don't know where I am." Acacia called out lightly, her voice spiking through a sob.


Sam walked down the street, swiveling his eyes across the road and the houses lined along either side. The weird creatures still looked around, the big hairy men that had no regard for anything, Caitiff, someone had called them.

None showed themselves as he walked, either having moved to different areas, or hiding. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end, and Sam spun around. An older gentleman was walking a few paces behind him, and stopped as their eyes locked.

What are you doing walking out here alone? It's not exactly the safest thing to do these days." Sam asked him, suddenly nervous. The man raised an eyebrow as he responded.

"The same goes for you, young man, but here we are, might I talk with you a moment?" the elderly man asked with a smile, his skeptical look now gone. He had a bundle in one hand, which he held a little behind him, as if pretending that no one would be able to see it if he held it at his side.

"I guess, but I'm not much of a conversationalist." Sam responded, and the man strode forward. As he stopped next to Sam, he held out a hand, which Sam took with a small amount of hesitation.

"My name is Enoch, and I have a friend who is in need of your help, walk with me while I explain, I do not have much time." The two resumed walking down the street after having introducing themselves, Sam shifting his eyes from the immediate area to the man named Enoch now walking alongside him.

"I am in need of your assistance, my friend, another friend of mine needs someone to help them on a journey of sorts, and I was directed towards you by the Most High. I take it you are a religious man?" Enoch asked as they walked, a strange, almost sad look in his eye. Sam shrugged, frowning slightly.

"I grew up in the church, if that's what you mean." Sam responded, but his eyes were drawn to a flicker of movement near a house up ahead.

"Partially. Anyways, a dear friend of mine has died in the world of Second Eden, and now resides in the Valley of Shadows, for God has another plan for her in mind." Enoch continued his explanation, making Sam shift his focus to the man again.

"Another world? Valley of Souls? Listen, just because I grew up in the church doesn't mean I believe everything a man says claiming to be from God." The retort left a funny taste in Sam's mouth, and he slightly regretted saying it, seeing the look on Enoch's face.

"I assure you, they are very real, but I am asking a lot more of you than to simply believe they exist. I am asking you to answer a call, to become a servant of God, and stand as a warrior in events to come." Enoch turned his eyes to the sidewalk giving Sam the vague impression the man was insulted.

"I'm sorry if I came off as rude, but the world is turning strange. You can't trust people you meet on the street. But, for the sake of curiosity, what, exactly, do I have to do with any plans that God could make? Couldn't he wave his hand and be done with it?" Sam asked, the movement that had taken his interest had turned out to be a cat. But he was still looking, just in case.

"He could, but that would turn out very differently. He likes to use servants on earth to show others the love He offers, that He may be glorified and more find their way to his seat in Heaven. All I can say of your mission is what has been shared with me by God. You would act as a companion to my friend in the Valley of Souls, and help her through trials of both mind and spirit. Will you help? Will you answer the call?" Enoch stopped suddenly, turning face-to-face with Sam. "My time is running out, so please, choose quickly."

Sam weighed his thoughts, frowning. Sure, he believed there was a God, but would he send a seemingly over-zealous man to recruit people and send them to strange places that had names out of a storybook? But if this person did need his help, and he was being called to do it, why should he not answer? He wasn't leaving much behind… and it sounded like he was needed elsewhere. Deciding, if anything, it would make for an interesting story, Sam nodded.

"Alright, I'll tempt fate. I accept." Enoch frowned.

"Only to tempt fate?" the wizened old man looked in his eyes, as if searching for something.

"Well… no, I'm not sure how much I buy into the whole 'God calling me' thing. I'm not exactly well qualified for what it sounds like you are asking. But, should God be the one calling, I guess I'm not exactly one to refuse, either." A ghost of a smile touched the corners of Enoch's lips at that, and he then presented the bundle.

"Interesting. You will need this eventually, but do not open it yet until you find one called 'The Maid'. Now, all you have to do is walk to the end of the street. If you will excuse me, I have a wedding to go attend to." After the bundle had passed hands, Enoch stepped away, and disappeared with a small wave. Sam stared, dumbfounded at what had just happened.

"Guess I'll just keep walking then…" Sam muttered to himself, keeping a slow pace as he walked down the street. With each step, the world around him seemed to dim. Was night falling already? No, the sun was still high. What was happening? No clouds covered the sky, but the air felt… heavier. Suddenly, Sam's foot hit mud and he slipped, almost falling to one knee. The houses disappeared, replaced by an eerie scene on a riverbank, the water flowing by looking black and oily. It smelled dreadful, and Sam coughed, even as he looked around in bewilderment.

What had happened? Was this the Valley of Souls? Was something like this even possible?

"Hello?" Sam called, but no voice responded. Not even an echo of his voice reached back to him, just the sound of the water.

There wasn't much around him, but Sam stayed put, not knowing which way would help or hurt to follow. No one seemed to be around, and without a light to combat the dark, there wasn't a whole lot he could do except wait for something to happen that would prove helpful. But how would he keep going? He had no food, and the water here seemed unsafe. He had no shelter, and no light, and now suddenly felt very, very stupid at listening to an old man who could appear and disappear at will.

A sound reached his ears, was someone… crying? It seemed to come from up river! Sam gripped the bundle tightly, walking slowly as the world around him was revealed but by bit. The sound got louder, and eventually, a lump came into view in the distance.

"Hello? Is everything alright?" no response, but the sobs died down slightly.

"I heard someone crying, is everything ok? I don't mean anyone any harm." As the lump got closer, Sam could slightly make out the profile, someone was sitting on the riverbank, curled tightly against themselves. A weak, feminine voice called out to him.

"I am alone and lost. I don't know where I am."

A/N #2: chapter one had a bit more dialogue than I originally intended, and I don't think I did Enoch's character justice, but it's a start! Hope you enjoyed it, and feel free to leave any advice or comments for later chapters!