Chapter 2:


The Second Route

 “We are here!” Lina proudly welcomes us in front of an aging but still sturdy two-story house.

“We are back in this wretched place,” Rina mutters as her posture stoops.

“Don’t say that!” Lina lightly chops Rina on her head, “you always complain about this.”

“It doesn’t look wretched at all,” I say, half-truthfully, “I would say it looks cozy.” And that was the truth.

The two girls look at me and exclaim in unison. “Really?”

“Yeah, really,” I lipservice them somewhat, it’s been a while since I have been to a place like this.”

Lina opens the door and leads me with her hands inside, “I hope you don’t mind the place.” She ends with a smile.

A generous lobby welcomes me. It is like a hotel shrunk down in size. It has comfortable sofas that I reckon would be able to serve as beds, and there is the wooden reception desk adorned with gold and silver plating running across. The walls are wooden too following the same pattern as the reception desk. Beside it is a hallway and a set of stairs going up to the other two floors.

I look around once again, “So is this a hotel?”

“Hotel?” Lina places her finger on her chin “Well, I do not know what that means but this is an inn.”

My mouth drops, “Y—you call this an inn?” Yeah, right, an inn should have golden and silver designs on the walls.

“Do you dislike it?” Lina asks.

I wave my hand, “No, the complete opposite. I am very impressed.” I bob my head to emphasize my point.

“Thank you!” Lina promptly bows and hands me a key, “Here is a key to the room,” she shows me the stairs, it is labeled as room one. That would be on the second floor.” Lina leads me upstairs to the front of a room with a sign labeled, “1.” So far, the same language.

I look at Lina, “Are you sure it’s ok for you? I mean, I have no money and all yet.”

Lina shakes her head, “It’s ok. We shelter lost travelers often, especially in the summer season.”

I insert the key to the doorknob, “So, that makes me an unusual visitor?”

“Well… yes,” Lina hesitates, “with the snowstorm and all too. Take this as my form of payment.”

I turn the knob, “Huh?” I face Lina, “payment? for what?”

Lina quickly corrects herself, “I—I mean an act of charity.”

“A—alright then.” I open the door to a medieval-themed hotel room or their typical town’s inn. “Wow.”

“I’m glad you like it,” Lina bows and starts closing the door for me, “Come down to the lobby if you need me.”

“Will do.” The door closes and I sigh.

I dive into the soft, luscious bed to gather my thoughts, “What is happening right now? Did I get invited by a girl to their house without paying in return? This is crazy!”

Perhaps this is something I wished for, attention. I don’t have many things when I ended up in this place. I didn’t have my phone, or my radio, let alone my plane. Well, I crashed it. Wouldn’t make sense if it still existed anyway. But I did have my clothes, a civilian pilot suit, which is a relief. Well, what I’d call a ‘pilot suit’ anyway consists of a waterproof coat, a plain white shirt underneath, and comfortable cotton pants. I call it my ‘pilot suit’ because I wear it when I fly my plane. But there is no plane.

Soon thereafter, I made my way to the lobby.

Lina promptly greets me standing behind the reception desk, “Ready for the tour?”

“Yes, please.” I look around and see Rina sulkily sitting on a sofa.

“Whatever…” Rina mutters not putting an effort into a goodbye with her hand.

We make our way onto the dirt path beginning from the edge of the town for the inn is located at the end of the path. They have a mix of wooden and stone fences as their boundary’s protection. Several small, humble houses line the road. Some are soon to be covered by moss, but it's clear that they aren’t abandoned, yet, possibly. As we approach the town’s center which is a fountain out of supply of water, businesses start to line the sides of the roads, and the dirt path is replaced by grey gravel. Most are selling their season’s harvest for the agricultural-oriented stores, and some sell tools and weaponry suited for hunting, and drivers of horse-drawn wagons and carriages are loitering around, hollering for a customer to rent for their services. Surprisingly, there are no new, unusual fruits or some kind but there are various melee weapons already obsolete from use from the entire world, let alone my home country. It feels like I time-traveled to the past, but I am not certain of it yet. But all those new and odd things I saw didn’t pique my interest, but what did is an odd, purple banner. In it has some kind of hat in an eye, and that eye is in a middle of a circle that has a line coming down from the top-right to the bottom left.

“Lina,” I point to the banner,“ what is that?”

“Oh,” Lina follows my hand, “that is the Aura Guild.”

I furrow my brows. “What is that?”

“A guild for Aura users,” Lina answers as if I was knowledgeable in the subject.

“Aura users?” My brows furrow much more.

Lina patiently explains to me, “Aura users use their environment to their will basically. This is what makes them unpopular.”

“Unpopular?” My head starts to hurt.

“Yes,” Lina’s expression grows dark, “especially hated by the Kingdom of Sitierra.”

I pause for a moment to decide the next question I will ask, it is either, “Where is that?” or “Why is that?” and I decide to choose the former.

“Southeast from here.” Lina points in a general direction.

“Will you please find me a map?” I ask a bit more respectfully.

“Follow me,” Lina beckons, and I trail Lina as she leads me into a shop at the town’s center. She goes into the shop casually without hesitation. She is familiar with the shop. Lina calls out to a guy behind the shop’s counter “Feris, may I borrow a map from you?”

“Sure,” a well-toned but not too intimidating man responds in a cheery tone as he hands Lina an aging, brown paper rolled up and tied at the middle with a string like a scroll, “here it is~!”

“Ew!” Lina flinches in disgust as she hastily takes the map, “When will you stop using that tone?!”

“It is okay since you will be my wife,” Feris smiles, “won’t you?”

“Very weird,” I mutter.

“Absolutely not!” Lina turns to face away from Feris.

Feris’s tone changes to a heavy tone. “Give me back my map.”

Lina groans in irritation, “Fine, I’ll be your wife in a nation,” she says teasingly as she half-drags me out of the shop, “in your imaginations!”

“Hey! You littl-” Feris scrambles to move out of his desk, but he does not bother to chase us.

But Lina starts to run from the shop until we are out of sight. I needed to run to follow her.

“Hah… hah…” I take a deep breath before I speak, “that’s how you pay gratitude? Rude.”

“No, he gets special treatment,” Lina acts normally as if she didn’t just run a marathon.

I wipe the sweat off my face. “How long have you known each other anyway?”

“Since we were kids,” Lina answers nonchalantly.

“Ahuh,” I think back to the tease Feris gave to Lina, “why not?”

“Why not… what?”

“I mean, you and Feris would look like a good couple,” I chuckle.

Lina grimaces. “He is disgusting. He went crazy since his lips touched alcohol. That’s why I hate him now.”

“Is that so?” My eyes open wide in an unexpected statement. Sounds like a shallow excuse.

“A-anyway,” Lina hands me the slightly crumpled map, “here is the map.”

I look at the map and sigh in relief. It was in the same language. But I scan the map and realize, this isn’t what my country looks like. I scan the map frantically at where the familiar geography leads me but find none similar to my memory. It was a completely different map… of a completely different world. My legs tremble below me and I kneel to the ground dropping the map on the low grass.

“Deliruu-kun, are you alright?”

I shake my head, “I’m alright. Just got tired from running. That’s all,” I laugh to hide my shock.

“I’m sorry for making you chase me,” Lina slightly bows apologetically.

“It’s alright… alright,” I resume looking at the map, but this time in a composed manner. There is no helping it now. This might be another world.

At the middle of this map is a small circle marked as Lunis, and I trace my fingers diagonally to the southeast and find a larger circle marked as the Kingdom of Sitierra. North of Lunis is the words written as ‘The Endless Plain.’ To the east of the middle is a circle labeled ‘Carith City’ which is situated near the shore, and the body of water next to it is labeled ‘The Unknown.’ The Carith City’s circle is similar in size on the map as the Kingdom of Sitierra though its circle is cut in half because of the map’s size. Directly south of Lunis is labeled ‘The Corridor’ with mountain ranges flanking it the plain making it aptly named. As I can tell, this is not an island, but I can’t be certain because the map is not large enough causing it to cut off the west side. The map isn’t detailed, but it shows more circles indicating towns scattered across the map. There are towns in the mountains, but most in the plains, but the town of Lunis is the closest to Sitierra.

“Do we have a bigger map than this?” I say as I finish examining the map.

“Maybe,” Lina’s posture slumps, “but I do not want to ask again.”

“Nevermind,” I weakly laugh, “this is enough for now.” I look intensely at Lina trying to read her face.

Lina squirms around uncomfortably. “Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Are there any more kingdoms?” I look toward the border of the town where the snow-covered plains immediately end.

Lina supports a finger on her chin. “I think there are three more that are not on this map.”

“What are their names then?” I look up to the sky.

“Kingdom of S-s-i, umm…” Lina tries to recall but gives up, “I don’t remember, sorry.

“I see, I look at Lina and bow slightly, that’s enough information then,” I sigh. No, I’m screwed, but anyways, “Thank you.”

“It’s no problem.”

I look up to the cloudy sky and sigh once more. This world isn’t my world, and I’m supposed to be dead.
N. D. Skordilis
Ana Fowl