Here's the first actual chapter of the story! I'm honestly really excited to be writing this. I've had this idea for a long time, but I didn't have the motivation to actually get up and do it until recently. My current plan is to post a new chapter every Friday! It's a goal for myself that I intend to stick to. Thank you guys who have reviewed the prologue! You're all so nice, and I'm excited for you to keep reading and find out what happens! The characters and settings belong to Brandon Mull, and the little things at the ends of the chapters are song lyrics (so far all from John Mark McMillan, who also inspired the title for this!)
There were many good options for places that Eve Dalgorel could or should be right now, and the Blackridge Woods were not one of them. Where was she? If you guessed the Blackridge Woods, you would be right.
Eve was the youngest of the three children of the rulers of the Fair Folk at Terrabelle, the Fair Folk settlement at the dragon sanctuary Wyrmroost. Her parents had always been overprotective of her, which clashed unpleasantly with her adventurous personality. This was the reason for her being here at this moment: she was seeking adventure, and she knew for a fact that it could be found in the Blackridge Woods. If her parents knew she was here, she would get scolded or maybe lectured (just about the worst punishments she ever got for disobeying them, which didn't exactly do an amazing job at discouraging her disobedience), but they were out on official business today, which made it perfect for this trip.
Eve took a deep breath and marched further on. She was on a path, but it wasn't a commonly used one. It was only slightly worn; she could barely even see it. She had to be very careful to watch where she was stepping to make sure she didn't trip on a root or a rock or a small animal, though she hadn't seen any of those yet. The path was almost blocked in some places by bushes or trees growing into the path, so she pushed them aside and continued on her way.
The forest was silent. In most cases, that would be quite unusual, but not here. Not unusual for the Blackridge Woods. Eve could almost physically feel the eyes watching her, but she wasn't scared. She had been here before, and she knew what to expect. Well, she couldn't really say she knew exactly what to expect. She knew how her last experience with this place had gone, but she also knew that the Blackridge Woods were usually an unusual place. Here, one should never pretend like they knew—things could change in the blink of an eye.
Speaking of the blink of an eye—Eve blinked once, and it was almost like she was in an entirely different place. Had she been able, she would've refrained from blinking completely since she had entered the forest, but unfortunately, even the Fair Folk needed to blink. What previously would have appeared as a normal forest to one who didn't know what it really was now bore no resemblance to any ordinary forest.
The trees were black and dead, the underbrush was much more thorny than bushy, the ground was all muddy, the sky seemed to be darker, and a dense fog permeated the area. Eve whirled around, looking back the way she had come to look for the physical boundary between the normal and the grotesque scenery, but as far as she could see through this fog looked exactly the same as the way before had. She took a couple steps forward, hoping to pass back into the normal area, but there was no change. Eve could feel a tiny sliver of panic creeping up on her, but she squished it down. Slowly, she turned to continue on in the direction she had been going, but she couldn't find it. The barest semblance of a trail she'd been following before had disappeared. Every direction she faced looked like a carbon copy of where she had looked before, and she came to the realization that turning around had been a very bad idea.
Taking a deep breath to ease her panic, Eve picked a direction and stuck with it. She marched ahead, feigning confidence. If there was anything she had learned from her old friend Seth, it was to keep hold of confidence and a positive outlook, especially when there were creatures nearby that fed off of fear, which Eve was 98% sure there were.
In a dangerous turn, Eve let her thoughts drift. The confidence she was trying so hard to maintain made her think of the person who had taught her the trick. Seth Sorenson had been one of the co-caretakers of Wyrmroost for only a week or two before it had fallen for a brief period of time and then been reestablished with a new caretaker. Eve hadn't seen him in…what was it, six years now? She was eighteen, and she was pretty sure the last time she'd seen Seth was when she was twelve. That was the same age she'd been when they first met in the first place, but it felt like they'd known each other a lot longer than they really had. The most opportunity they'd had to talk, which had been when he'd taught her that confidence trick and told her of many other adventures and such things, had been after they'd both attended the Dragon King Celebrant's Feast of Welcome and had to walk back home. At the time, it had seemed like a terrible development, but now Eve considered it one of her fondest memories. Soon after that, something had happened and Seth had lost all of his memories, and Eve hadn't seen him since (well, not exactly…).
She climbed over a large rock in her way, abandoning any foolish notion of keeping mud off of her hands as she used them to help. She dodged low-hanging tree branches and sharp thorns from both the branches and the bushes as she continued her rambling walk. In the past few years, her friend Kendra, Seth's older sister, had become a regular visitor to Eve's home in Terrabelle, even though she was no longer a caretaker of Wyrmroost. There had been a time when the whole sanctuary had fallen, but it had been safely reestablished. Kendra brought Eve news of outside happenings and occasionally the opportunity to go somewhere with her (and Eve considered any sort of traveling an adventure). Kendra had been the one to tell Eve about what had happened to Seth. Eve knew that Kendra hadn't seen Seth at all over the past few years either. Kendra had seen him and spoken to him multiple times after the last time Eve had, but he seemed to have vanished off the face of the Earth since then.
What Eve hadn't told anyone—not even Kendra—was that she had seen Seth again—once. Well… she was pretty sure it had been him.
After Wyrmroost had fallen (which Kendra had told Eve was partly Seth's fault), the Fair Folk had tried to stay in Terrabelle, but their protections hadn't been as strong as they'd thought, and they'd had to flee to the original home of the Fair Folk at a different dragon sanctuary—Selona. They hadn't had to stay there as long as they'd feared, but it was while they were there that Eve could've sworn she'd seen Seth again. There were a lot of Fair Folk there, larger crowds than Eve was used to, but one day she had spotted a familiar face among them. It had come as a shock for her to see Seth there because that was a completely different dragon sanctuary and Seth didn't know who he was and he'd just been at Wyrmroost—but then again, so had Eve and her family. But the Fair Folk had ways of getting around. Before Eve could even completely process the fact that she was seeing someone she shouldn't be seeing, he'd vanished into the crowd. The rest of the time she was in Selona she had kept an eye out, but she never saw him again, and before too long the Wyrmroost Fair Folk were headed home.
Eve sighed to herself and continued walking cautiously. This was what she was here for, anyway, right? She came out here looking for adventure, and that was what she was getting. She tried to pay extra attention to the details around her to be sure not to miss anything important.
In the years since the last time she'd seen her old friend, she'd wondered plenty of times what had happened to him. They already knew that he was missing his memories, but the guy who had kidnapped him at first had lost him, and then he'd gone off on his own, but that didn't seem like enough to make him disappear off the face of the planet. The most logical explanation was that something bad had happened, but Eve didn't like to think about that. She decided to move her train of thought over to what she should be expecting on this adventure.
Eve's surroundings seemed to be frustratingly similar to the exact way they had been ever since they switched over to creepy mode, but she thought she could feel a foreboding feeling, a malevolence in the air. She took a deep breath to remind herself not to get scared, and she looked for any physical change to go along with the energy.
At first, Eve couldn't see anything different than the same thing she'd been seeing for too long now. She kept walking. But a dark shape in the corner of her eye made her do a double take. Through one particularly shadowy stand of trees, Eve could make out the shape of a stone archway, like the remnants of an old building. She stopped where she was and looked at it curiously. Stone archway! She took a step closer. The archway seemed like it might have been beautiful once, before it was abandoned in this unfrequented forest.
Seeing a completely random doorway in the middle of the woods made Eve feel compelled to walk through it. That would be a completely normal response for anyone in this situation. But she hesitated a moment and studied the archway. She could see through it, but she could not see past it. The trees, fog, and general darkness of the spooky forest made the other side of the archway look too dark to see anything over there. Wanting to go through it was a reasonable response, but in this forest, Eve was absolutely certain that there would be some sort of consequences. There was no doubt in her mind that this archway was magical.
She weighed her options for a moment. She didn't know where she was or how to get home, the forest had turned creepy on her, and there was an undoubtedly cursed archway in front of her. Her most sensible course of action would probably be to keep wandering and hope she'd find her way home, although her chances of that happening were slim. She would probably die if she did that, but it was a better option than going through the arch, which, as Eve stepped closer once more, was definitely emanating a strong malevolent energy.
Eve looked around her.
She stepped through the arch.
i've been chasing mercury and lightning