Chapter 6: Homecoming and Godfather
I waited in room while Tina and Jamel slept. Arlen stayed outside, there was a gulf between us that I didn’t think would shrink anytime soon. I drew out the Destiny Clock and opened it. I smiled as the Red Hand moved slowly around the dial, it had broken free of the Silver Hand and was now moving at its own speed. The Red Hand carved with roses was still crooked but that was how it should be, after all Jamel is a monster and beautiful because of that.
I continued to stare down at the clock as time passed. Eventually I heard movement from one of the couches and looked over. It seemed Tina was waking up. I rushed to her side, “Hey Tina, how are you feeling?”
I heard her groan and then she opened one eye, “My back hurts.” Leave it to Tina to state the obvious. “Did you manage to save her?” Questioned Tina.
I nodded, tears in my eyes. I was very glad Tina was alright. She had been my friend for years, even if we did argue a lot, and I cared about her safety.
“Good, nobody likes being caged.” Tina responded slightly groggily. It seemed like she was still mostly out of it but I as surprised at how much she understood the situation. Has she just been pretending to be carefree all these years or was it her instincts that told her everything she needed to know, I’m not sure. She grinned before laying her head back down and falling asleep again.
I reached up and stroked her hair softly. “Thanks Tina.” I managed to whisper, I didn’t know if I would have been able to do everything without her.
It was a little while later that Jamel also began to wake up. She shook her head, caused the couch to looked like it was drenched in a waterfall. As she sat up I walked over and said, “Good morning hideous, I hope you slept well.”
I smile broke across her face. I guess today was just a day for first smiles, though I cared about her smile more then Arlen’s. “Good Morning.” She said in a hushed voice, “I never thought I would say that again.” She looked over at Tina before speaking again, “I looked like your friend is going to make it, that’s good.”
“Actually it looks like both of my friends are going to make it.” Jamel looked startled again. I guess she just wasn’t used to having people call her friend.
“It seems I have gotten smaller again. It looks like I’ll have to get used to this size again.”
“That’s fine, there are plenty of things that you can only do at that size. However if you don’t mind getting bigger again there is a silver-clothed jerk staring at us through the window that you could get rid of.” I pointed over my shoulder and Arlen who had been standing outside staring at us since Jamel started to wake up.
Jamel looked nervous as stared at her bother through the window. “But I couldn’t, he is my brother. Even when I was big I couldn’t hurt him. I couldn’t even break away from his grip.”
“Is that so, I guess you still have a ways to go as a monster.” She laughed, a warm friendly laugh so unlike the cold voice she used to speak in. I was glad to see her laughing an smiling, so I asked her the question I had been wanting to ask her. I lowered my voice to make sure Arlen couldn’t hear me, “Then how about you run away with me? Me and Tina are going back to our homes, how about you come with us?”
The look of shock appeared again on her face, “But I couldn’t....” She looked out the window at Arlen and stared at him for a second. Then she turned back to me and a smile appeared on her face. It was the naughty smile of a child who was about to do something bad, I thought it suited her. “Do you have a plan of escape?”
I ginned back at her before whispering across the room, “Did you hear that Tina, it seems I’ve convinced our monstrous princess to let us kidnap her.”
One of Tina’s eyes peeked open. She might have been able to fool other people into thinking she was still asleep but I knew her too well. “Is that so? Well, don’t worry, escapes are my speciality. On the count of three I want both of you to escape through the back door. I’ll distract him and then catch up with you later. “One... Two... Three...”
Tina sprang into a sitting position before I could even blink. Then a slit second later she yowled and jumped through the window at Arlen. Why did she only think up crazy plans? When Arlen was distracted I grabbed Jamel’s hand and pulled her up off the couch. Then together we rushed out the back down and down the ally. I tried to avoid giggling as that might have given our location away to Arlen.
“So where are we going?” Jamel asked we as we ran down the street.
“Well, I was hoping that you’d be able to help us with that. Me and Tina have been trying to find our way back to the old world for some time now, do you know a way there?”
“The Old World, but don’t they hate monsters there? What if they make fun of me?” She looked a bit nervous at the prospect.
“Then hit them a few times, that’s what monsters do right? And don’t worry if that isn’t enough I’ll come rescue you from then too. Isn’t that what friends do for each other?” I tightened by grip on her hand as we leapt over a small ditch.
“Right, Friends. Turn left here.” The followed her directions and turned down a small alleyway. “There is a small permanent gate that the city used to use to get supplies. I don’t really remember where it goes but I do know it leads to the Old World.”
“Thats good enough for now. Which way is it from here?” I continued to follow her directs as we raced down the city streets. Eventually we reached a small empty plaza.
“This is it. Father and some of the city people knew how to open it, I think Arlen does too, but I’m afraid I don’t know what to do from here. I’m sorry...”
I shook my head and looked around the plaza, “What sort of monster apologizes when they haven’t done anything wrong?” I looked around the plaza trying to figure out how to open the gate. I closed my eyes and thought. Tina would be back soon and Arlen would probably be following her. I didn’t have much time. I stuck my hands in my pockets as I thought. Then feeling it I brought out the Destiny Watch and flicked it open. Bix or Zero would probably know what to do in this situation. What had Zero said about how to leave. She had said that the Silver and Red hands would guide me. I smiled, I didn’t think I would be able to find a way to open the gate... but I didn’t need. Now I just needed to wait for Tina and Arlen to get here.
When Arlen arrived at the plaza it was empty. The looked around looking for Tina whom he had been following. It didn’t take him to long to find scape of clothing on that ground that used to be part of Tina’s clothing. It must have accentually have fallen off when Tina had been here. Arlen said something under his breath, he must have been cursing our escape. However it didn’t look like her would just let us escape. It seemed like he must have come to the conclusion that we had escaped through the gate. He moved over to on of the large pillars on the side of the plaza. He placed his hand on it and said a few words, then suddenly the air began to swirl in the center of the plaza. The gate was opening. Soon a simmering portal appeared before him.
“See I told you he would fall for it.” I said as I stepped out from behind a nearby tree.
“Your so clever Ema, I never would have thought of that.” Said Tina as she followed behind me with Jamel.
“You... you tricked me.” Said Arlen as he glared at us past the shimmering portal.
“Don’t worry, you’ll have a chance to chase us in the Old World, I mean you were planning on doing that anyway weren’t you? Now!” I shouted and Tina and Jamel followed me as I rushed toward the portal.
I heard Arlen yell, “Come back here!” as he chased in after us. As we stepped into the gate I heard the sound again. The sound of ticking. The clicking that I heard in my dreams. The sound the hands on the Destiny Clock make where they move. Why I heard that sound as I passed through the gate I didn’t know.
When the light from the gate had faded I found myself standing the center of a street. I heard the loud horn of a car honking at me. It took me a second to realize I was standing in the middle of a sidewalk and that the light had just turned green. Tina and Jamel were standing right next to me looking as confused as I felt. We quickly vacated the street and moved onto the sidewalk which was crowded with people. I was trying to figure out where we were.
Jamel seemed to stand there agape looking at everything with a look of wonder on her face. I realize that it must have been years since she had been in the Old World and the Old World this definitely was. Jamel did look a little younger then me and Tina, she looked like she was 14 or 15 so she probably didn’t remember much about the Old World is what the old couple said was true. This was probably all very new to her.
“Hey, Ema. This is Traz.”
I looked over at Tina and replied, “Really?” I was quite surprised, what were the chances that the gate would have taken us only a couple of hours walk away from our home. It seemed too unlikely. I had a sinking suspicion that the Destiny Clock was somehow responsible for bring us this close. The fact that I didn’t see Arlen anywhere helped cement that suspicion.
“Jamel, my house is this way. It will probably be ok for you to stay at my house for now. My Mom is a demon, but she can be quite understanding at times.” I shuttered a little, while it was probably true that mm would accept Jamel’s presence without to many question it was also true that she would probably be frightfully angry that I had been missing for two days.
I let the way toward my house, however each footstep was more hesitant then the next. I wasn’t certain but I might have been more scared now then when I had faced the beetle in the mushroom forest.
Tina patted me on the shoulder and said, “Good luck.” She then took off down the street toward her house.
“Traitor!” I yelled after her as she fled. Tina’s mother was much more forgiving then mine, Tina probably also be punished but it wouldn’t be as scary as dealing with my mom.
“Are you sure I’m going to be alright?” Jamel said nervously. It seemed me and Tina had been scaring her with our antics.
“It will be fine... for you. It isn’t your fault we have been missing for two days after all.” I let out a fake little laugh.
All two soon I was standing outside my house with Jamel at my side. There was a strange car parked outside and I wondered whose it was. The license plate showed that the car was from out of state but that really didn’t give me any clues.
I took a deep breath and walked up to the door and knocked. I was preparing for the worse and truly hoping that it would be my dad who opened the door. He would have given me a knowing smile and snuck me in without my mom knowing... but alas fate is cruel.
“Where have you been young lady.” I cringed, my mom was standing there holding the door open. I knew she was upset, she only ever called me ‘young lady’ when I was in trouble. “Vanishing with Eglantina for two days without telling anyone, what where you thinking.” She wasn’t asking questions, she was lecturing. “I’m going to make you regret worrying me.”
She grabbed my by the collar and pulled me inside. Mom glanced at Jamel and said, “What are you waiting for, come in.” Jamel made a sound that was like a mouse squeaking and stepped inside.
My mom basically dragged me up the stairs. “Rollin has guest over so your going to get cleaned up and then go say greet him.” Rollin is my dad’s name.
“What? Why do I have to meet him?” I had been forced into the bathroom by my mom and was getting ready to take a shower, it was no use trying to avoid following my mom’s order.
“He is an old collage friend of Rollin’s and he is your godfather, even though you haven’t seen him in ages. So get clean now. And what did you do with your clothes!”
Godfather? I didn’t know that I had a godfather, but wasn’t it a bit strange for him to be visiting now. But my mom had told me to get clean and meet him so get clean I did. Once my shower was over I found my mom had laid out some clean clothes for me and to my dismay it included a skirt. I really disliked wearing skirts, but now wasn’t the time for trying to oppose my mom so I put it on anyway.
“Now get downstairs. Rollin is in the living room with his friend. You have already kept them waiting long enough.” My mom pointing me toward the stairs. She then put a hand on Jamel’s shoulder. Jamel looked like she had been standing there wondering what to do the whole time I was in the shower. “You’re getting clean too missy. Now get in there.” She pushed Jamel into the bathroom. I didn’t get to see what happened next because I had finished walking down the stairs and into the living room.
I stopped suddenly, my jaw hanging open. “Ah, Ema! Welcome home, I thought you were back. Mom was being quite loud.” My dad stood and picked me up in a big hug. For some reason he always called mom Mom. “This is my friend from collage, and your godfather. You haven’t seen him in what? Ten years?”
“Eleven actually.” The man replied. Yah right I thought, lier. What the hell was he doing here.
“What a coincidence. I wasn’t expecting to meet my Godfather just after I arrived home.”
“I was surprised too!” Said dad loudly. “To think he would call me out of the blue like that saying he was in town and wanted to drop by.
Happened to be in town, my foot. If this was just a coincidence then I would eat my socks, the ones I had tromped around in for the last to days and that my mom would probably be burning because they were so awful.
While my dad was talking loudly I said to the man in a nasty voice. “It is a pleasure to meet you Mr. Wizard Dragon, I didn’t expect that the discoverer of the New World and the person who caused the Great Change was my Godfather.”
I stared at the man with patchwork skin sitting at the living room table who was calmly sipping tea. Bix smiled in a knowing way, “I don’t know how those rumors got started. It is clearly a lie that I’m a dragon and that I caused the Great Change.”
What and you are a wizard and the person who discovered the New World? My father, still not really paying attention to us, said, “You probably don’t remember, but his name Bixuman Falldreck. You probably didn’t remember that he was your godfather but you might have heard of him before. He was one of the leaders of the Unknown Expedition so he has been in the news a few times.”
“I’m glad to see that you have grown up well. You are turning out to be quite a beauty. I’m sure all the boys leave love letters for you.” Said Bix, I couldn’t tell but I was almost certain that he was teasing me.
“Love letters are a bit old fashion don’t you think. However there are some strange boys out there, I mean just a couple of days ago this strange man gave me a weird watch. I’m not sure what sort of gift that is supposed to be.” I stared at Bix, if he was my Godfather why did he hide that when I met him two days ago. It was possible that he didn’t recognize me, but after all that had happened I didn’t buy that. It would have been too much of a coincidence if that was true.
“A watch? What a strange gift indeed. You will have to show it to me sometime.” Bix laughed. He then turned to my father and began asking trivial questions, catching up I suppose. It seems Bix wasn’t going to say anything, maybe because my dad was still here. I listened to them talk for a few minutes before Mom interrupted. She was leading Jamel, who was now clean and wearing one of my sets of clothes which were slightly large on her. Her crystal blue water like hair now sparkled in the light. I hadn’t realize she had been so dirty, I suppose that in her time in the castle basement she hadn’t been keeping herself clean.
Father and Bix turned to looked at her, “Oh, is this a new friend of yours Ema?” My dad looked down at her. He stroked the fur on his chin, it looked really strange seeing a wolf-man do that but I was used to his oddities. “A strange looking girl isn’t she.” He looked down at her and smiled, “Well make sure to take care of my daughter will you. She always needs more friends.”
Jamel smiled back and nodded, “Sure, monsters always stick together.” My father burst out laughing before patting her on the back which knocked the wind out of her. He probably thought she was joking, though I knew she was serious. She was probably relieved that my family fit all seemed to fit the monster description. I supposed I was sort of the odd person out. I didn’t really look like a monster, maybe I was just an honorary one.
It felt nice to be home once again, even if I had to deal with my mother’s punishments. (I was sure I was going to be grounded for a week, at least) While I had enjoyed a lot of my time in the New World it was good to finally regain some of my old routine. Even if the routine wasn’t the same as it was before it still felt good.
I didn’t think that Bix had just stopped in to pay a visit to an old friend. I’m sure he was here to send me around for some harebrained reason. It made to annoyed that he had sent me off from the church with the upside down waterfall when I could have just gone with him and arrived at my home safely. Of course then I wouldn’t have met, or save, Jamel so it was probably for the better. Though even that might have been part of his plan.
It seemed Bix wasn’t ready to tell me anything yet, so after talking with my Dad for a couple of hours bid us goodbye. However he did say he was staying in the area for a while longer so he would drop by occasionally. I knew I would get a chance to talk with him eventually.
After Bix left I needed to soft out the details of what to do with Jamel. I was still formulating a long term plan but for now I managed to convince my mom to let Jamel stay here for a couple of days at least. I lied and made up a story about how her guardians were forced to leave town on business and she needed a place to stay while they were gone. I’m not sure my mom completely bought it, especially after my tall tale about what I had been doing the last couple of days. Yet, she eventually agreed to let Jamel stay with us for a while.
It seemed like everything had been dealt with, at least for now, and that I would be returned to my regular old life once again. Little did I know how wrong I had been. I had forgotten that Zero had said that I had already met four of the Hands, I guess when she told me I must have assumed that Bix had been the fourth. It hadn’t crossed my mind that the fourth hand could have been someone I had known in the Old World.