Gender: Male Age: 21 Location: N/A
|Introduction: This is not my Storie|
Part 1: Learning the Ropes
Donald White threw his book bag into the corner. School had been another bad experience. Even at age seventeen, he couldn't seem to fit in. Class was okay, but any time he had to mix in with the other kids, life was unpleasant. Buddy Selsner had decided that Don was a good target for his fun this day, and so he had nearly been late to class trying to stop his bloody nose. He didn't tell anyone about it: the last thing he needed was for Selsner to think he was a snitch. He slumped into his chair, and woke his computer out of Sleep Mode.
"Donny, dinner's in an hour!" his mother called up from the bottom of the stairs. He cringed when she called him that. It made him sound like he was three.
He logged onto the Internet, hoping to find something to divert his attention from his bad day. His connection zipped along, and soon he was sorting through his email, most of it junk. Normally, he would just delete all of it, but one caught his attention. Its subject line was "The Mother of all RPG games".
Although the title was cliched at best, Don opened the email. He was an avid RPG fan, and had played every computer-driven and online RPG in existence at one time or another.
The email merely directed him to a website, saying, "You won't believe what this game can do!" Yeah, right. He clicked the link anyway, being bored and curious.
The link took him to Zemlia Nov Games. He had never heard of this company, and he thought he knew all the RPG developers. He saw that the company was obviously small, as their website was only a few pages, though well-constructed. He noticed that they were only selling one game at the time. It was called "Dragonseeker". He clicked for a description.
You have entered the land of Zemlia Nov. Magic and mystery abound. The terrain and the animals are unfamiliar, and danger lurks around every corner. You have been armed, armored, and instructed in the ways of the land, but there is no substitute for experience.
Zemlia Nov is a dangerous place, and not everything is as it appears. Not only the creatures will seek to do you in. Can you survive long enough to find a way out of Zemlia Nov?
You and your team, should you choose to bring help, will have to survive the terrain, the creatures, and the inhabitants of Zemlia Nov to escape back to your world. Bringing help is strongly advised.
Can you locate the yellow dragon? Will it help you if you do? Or will you and your party be forever trapped in Zemlia Nov?
Dragonseeker is on the cutting edge of RPG simulation. You will feel immersed in the world of Zemlia Nov. So real, you may forget about the real world! If you're looking for the best role-playing game ever invented, Dragonseeker is the game for you!
Money-Back Guarantee: If Dragonseeker is not the most realistic role-playing game you have ever encountered, return it for a full refund of the purchase price, including shipping. We will even pay for you to ship it back to us!
PC/Mac on a single CD - $74.95 plus $4.95 S/H
Don thought the description was overly melodramatic, and kind of cheesy, but to tell the truth, it did have his curiosity aroused. Besides, the guarantee made sure that he wouldn't lose out on the deal. He reached for the box he kept his spare money in. This was money he'd earned, separate from his allowance. He was often asked to work on his friends' parents' computers, and so he had a fairly good income from that. He counted out what was in the box, and found it to be more than enough to purchase the game.
He had already made a standing arrangement with his father about ordering things online, and he also already had his father's credit card number memorized. Don hit the order button, and quickly filled in the necessary information. He decided to spend the extra $5 for second-day delivery, so that it would arrive before Saturday. It would give him and his friends something to do.
The game arrived on Friday. It arrived in a padded envelope, and was nothing more than a single disc in a jewel case. Already, Don felt a little cheated. He'd expected at least a fancy box for $75. The disc itself didn't even have any fancy graphics on the label, just a black label with gold lettering. He took it out, and flipped it over. Well, at least it wasn't a CD-R disc. It had been pressed like a normal CD.
He popped it into his machine, to see what it would do. As the screen graphics came up, he did have to admit that they were pretty damned good. The opening animation was very lifelike. He watched as a warrior battled a large, winged animal that he did not recognize. It had four legs in addition to its wings, but he never got a good look at the beast's head. The last scene showed the warrior, lying dead on the ground. Words came onto the screen, leaving the image in the background. "Will this be you?" it said.
The game brought him to a menu. He chose "Instructions".
Welcome to Dragonseeker. You are about to enter a world of dragons and fairies, of monsters and elves. The land is full of magical and dangerous creatures. Your job is to survive long enough to make it out.
Your goal, as a Dragonseeker, is to find the yellow dragon. Only it can lead you safely back to Earth. Only it knows the secrets of Zemlia Nov.
Before you can enter the game, it will ask for several pieces of personal information. These are used to help it create your character(s). Please be honest with your responses. These are not the characteristics of your character, but your personal statistics as a player.
After these questions are answered, you will enter character generation mode. The game will ask you to define your character(s), and then it will ask you if you wish to extend the size of your party. The screens are self-explanatory.
Once you have defined your party, hit the "Enter Zemlia Nov" button. The game will then begin. It is self-explanatory from that point on.
Enjoy Zemlia Nov, and good luck, Dragonseeker!
Don figured there must be an extensive online help, for the instructions to be so short, but he was used to dealing with computer games, so he figured that nothing could be too difficult for him. He went to the "Begin New Game" option, and the screen brought up a list of questions. He saw that the list did, indeed, get very personal. It was when he got down to "Time of last sexual encounter", that he began to wonder what they might need this for. He properly entered, "Never" from the list. He was glad no one was around to watch him do this just now.
He filled out all the other questions, which got more and more personal. It took him nearly ten minutes to fill it all out. When he was done, the game asked, "Save personal profile in encrypted format?" He clicked "Yes".
Next, he brought up the character generation screen. He was just about to scroll through his options when his mother called him to dinner. He closed down the game, and left. He figured he'd go ahead and wait for his friends to show up the next day to continue.
Susan was running late, and she hated to be late. Worse, she couldn't even blame it on her little brother. Well, "little brother" was her joke. Even though he was a year older than her, he was also four inches shorter than her, and she never let him forget it.
Susan Ipswitch had never melded well with her new family. She'd been in the Stelwicht clan for only three years, and she didn't get along all that positively with either Gill, her older step-brother, or John, her younger step-brother. She felt like they were both just complete losers, one a nerd, the other a gang member at age fourteen.
She pulled her car in behind the one already in the small driveway. Apparently, Julie and her brother Paul were already here. It was a weekly gathering at the White house, the three brothers and the three sisters would get together. The boys would do something stupid on the computer, and Susan and her friends would usually go to the mall or watch TV. The girls had come to know each other only because the boys always hung out together, but they had grown to be friends.
She opened her car door and was assaulted by the humid, stale air of the day. It had rained all last night, and there were puddles and mud everywhere. She had not parked on the street because of the huge mud puddle in front of the house. She looked at the yard, which was a murky mess. The Whites never bothered to keep up their lawn other than a weekly mowing. She frowned. She wasn't going to get her shoes dirty, as her brother had just done by walking through the muck. She walked down to the sidewalk and made her way toward the walk leading up to the front door.
She never saw the car coming. It almost had to be a teenage airhead who wasn't even thinking. Before she knew it, there was a wall of filthy water descending on her body. She screamed in surprise and disgust as her clothes were drenched. She stood there, looking like a wet cat, her arms held away from her body as her sopping clothes hung on her.
Gill had turned when he heard his sister's scream. He tried not to laugh at her. She had been so prissy about her clothing. To see her covered in mud was a sight to behold. He only wished she'd been wearing white, to further humiliate her. She had been a bitch to him ever since entering the Stelwicht house, acting like the queen of the ball, even though she wasn't even the oldest. Gill was seventeen, like his friend Don and their mutual friend Paul. They hung out together at school, and they'd spent every Saturday afternoon together for the last six years, barring a few here and there.
Gill watched as his sister stormed up the walk and past him into the house. As she passed, she said, "Not one word." Gill nodded as he chuckled to himself, and then followed her into the house.
"What the hell happened to you?" Kate asked. Kate was Don's sister. At fifteen, she was the youngest girl in the clique. She never forgot it, either. She was a JV cheerleader, even in her freshman year, but she still felt like she was a second-class member of a three person group. Her brown eyes conveyed a look of concern as her mouth twisted into a frown.
"Some goddamned moron splashed that fucking mud puddle all over me!" Susan answered. "Look at my clothes! Now what the hell am I going to do?"
"Well, you really need to take a shower and dry off," Julie offered. Julie was Paul's sister. She was a slut, plain and simple. If it was cute and male, she would go after it. There was a running joke at school about whether having only two legs was a requirement. Julie indignantly ignored these barbs. She was the best-looking girl in her class, and she knew it. She was 5'6" tall with short black hair and a body to die for. She was a junior varsity cheerleader, with Kate. But Julie knew, deep down, that she was varsity material while Kate... probably wouldn't make the cut. Julie was a cheerleader because football players went out with cheerleaders. Football players fucked cheerleaders, more to the point, and Julie loved sex.
"And what the fuck am I supposed to do about these?" she said, exasperatedly pointing to her clothes. "Go naked?"
Gill smartly kept his mouth shut at this point.
"Maybe Don has an idea," Kate said. She went to the bottom of the stairs and called out, "Don! Can you come down here a minute?"
Don hustled down the stairs, wearing loose jeans and a black T-shirt with an American bald eagle on it. "What's up, sis... Shit, Susan, what happened to you?"
Before Susan could go off again, Kate said, "She got splashed from the puddle out front. She needs to get dry, but she doesn't have any clothes here, and mine won't fit her..."
Don looked at her for a moment. For just a second, Susan thought he was being sleazy. But then he said, "She looks like she's about Mom's size. See if there's something of hers that she can wear, at least until she can get home and change."
"Your mother wouldn't mind?" Susan asked, unsure.
"Nah," Kate said. "She won't be home for a few hours, anyway."
"Okay. Thank you, Don, for thinking of it." Susan had to grudgingly admit that it was a good idea. Had by a nerd, but wasn't that what nerds were for? Ideas? Certainly they weren't good for much else.
"Sure thing. C'mon guys, I got a new game for us to check out."
The three boys moved back up the stairs. Julie turned to Kate and said, "Your brother sure is smart."
Kate nodded. "Sometimes I wonder how come I didn't get any brains like him. But then I remember that I'm the athlete. He probably couldn't run a hundred yard dash without a trip to the hospital." The girls had a laugh. "C'mon Susan, we'll find something for you to wear. Then you can hop in the shower."
Upstairs, the boys had already booted the game, and were through the introduction screen. Don pulled up the menu, but was greeted with a new question:
Would you like to load saved personal data? (Y/N)
Don said, "I entered my data last night." He entered "Y", and the hard drive whirred. Then the computer indicated it was ready for further entries. He turned to the other two and said, "I don't know why it wants all this info, but the questionnaire gets very personal. I think we'd all feel better if each of you answered them alone."
They each agreed, and Paul entered his questions first. He had to pause when he ran across the question, "Given no regard for feasibility, what would be your favorite occupation?" He thought hard, and then finally entered, "Feudal Lord". That seemed in context for the program. He still thought this was more about defining a character than his own personality.
A few minutes later, and Paul emerged, to let Gill go back into the room and enter his own answers. Gill went along unconcerned, answering even the most personal questions. Near the end, he came down to, "Enter your favorite sexual fantasy." This stopped Gill cold. Oh, sure, he had one. But was he going to be stupid enough to tell the machine? Sure, Don said the data was encrypted, but he also knew his friend was a hacker. How secure was it?
Gill flip-flopped for a minute or two, but decided what the hell, and went ahead and typed in, "To have my step-sister as my devoted servant in all matters, sexual and regular." The computer chewed on this for perhaps a microsecond before popping up the next question, and Gill moved on.
Meanwhile, Susan had chosen some clothing from the closet of Kate's mother. They were hardly stylish, but at least they appeared like they'd fit. She'd have to go home as soon as they decided what they were going to do, so she could change. She didn't dare borrow another woman's underwear, so she was without any of that kind of thing, and she didn't go out like that.
Presently, she turned on the shower to a very hot setting, and climbed in, letting the water cascade down over her ample bust, and trickle between her legs. She sighed as the water eased her tensions from the last few minutes. Dammit, why did they have to come over here every fucking weekend? Surely there was something better she could do with her time. She'd much prefer to be on the archery range, pretending to shoot arrows through Gill's head time and time again.
With all of the personal data collected and stored, the three stood together as Don clicked on "Character Generation". First, it listed Don's name, so this was to be his character. He had a fairly short list of possibilities.
"Hmph," said Paul. "Not much there to choose from. Hope you didn't pay a lot for this game."
Don said nothing as he scrolled through the list. It wasn't much, he admitted, but he'd make the best of it. He chose "wizard". The game told him to wait, and then it suggested suitable clothing, which he could alter within parameters. He made a few minor changes, including the color, but left it alone for the most part. After that was done the game printed out:
Setting character parameters based on questionnaire answers.
"What the hell does that mean?" Gill asked. Don just shrugged. It asked for Paul to come in next, and so he sat down. As he began to scroll his list of characters, it was immediately obvious that his was much longer. Paul looked at Don.
"I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with the way we answered the questions in the first part."
Paul shrugged and turned back to the list. He saw one that surprised him. He highlighted it and clicked on "What is this?"
Psionic: An individual capable of manipulating the world around him or her through the use of mental power. This differs from magic in that the source of power is internal, rather than external. Master psionics are capable of such skills as limited-distance teleportation, and mind control.
"Cool!" said Gill. Paul agreed with his assessment. This was the kind of character he'd always wanted to play, but none of his DM's would ever let him. Said he wasn't suited to it. Bullshit.
Gill came in, and, given his size and skills, his choice of character was obvious. Gill was a weight-lifter, but he was also smart. He had a hard time fitting in at school. The jocks ignored him because he studied, and the nerds were nervous of him because he was a jock. It was a no-win situation, and he was just glad that these two guys had known him long enough to be his friends regardless. Gill chose "fighter". He chose his own costume as well, looking reminiscent of Robin Hood, he supposed, but without the bow. His weapons of choice were sword and quarter staff.
With all three of them having selected characters, they assumed the game was to begin. They clicked on the "Enter Zemlia Nov" button.
Your party contains only three people. Six are available. Would you like to expand your party? (Y/N)
"Now what?" Gill asked in exasperation.
"I'm not sure," Don said. "It says we can have six people in our group. I remember the ad said that bringing help was strongly recommended. Maybe we should add the extra three?" The other two agreed, and so Don answered yes. The computer came back with:
Your party is complete. Remaining three characters will be configured during transfer. Please click to enter Zemlia Nov.
Don clicked the button.
There was no special sound or sight to follow the clicking of the mouse. Only a vague nauseous feeling greeted the travelers. The room dissolved around the boys, and they were suddenly standing in a forest. This was odd both because Don had been sitting at the computer, and because computer programs generally don't do such things.
They glanced around quickly, noting the trees, and the sudden hush of the forest. They were standing at the edge of a grassy meadow in the midst of a wood, the sunlight streaming down on them. It was a warm day, but not hot, and the humidity here was significantly less than it had been outside Don's home.
It took none of the three very long to realize that they had not been transported alone. Standing about fifteen feet from them were Kate and Julie, who had astonished, almost panicked, looks on their faces. And five feet away from them, standing in the open area of the meadow, was Susan.
Susan was dripping wet.
Susan was naked.
The boys gaped as Susan, realizing her predicament, looked around in alarm, trying to cover herself, and finally running for the nearest bush. Gill let loose with a wolf whistle, and it earned him a nasty look from his sister.
"What the fuck are you looking at, you perv?" she retorted.
"Nice bod, Susan," Gill shot back.
It took a little longer for Don to realize that there was another person who was somewhat chagrined. And he smacked himself mentally for not noticing her differences earlier. His own sister, Kate, had changed dramatically.
Kate had been slightly more than 5'2" tall. Now, she would barely make the 5' mark. Her auburn tresses had been replaced with fine silver hair, which had somehow grown from shoulder-length down to the middle of her back. And her eyes, normally a dark brown, now glowed with an almost golden color. She looked a little sick, as if she were about to pass out. Don hurriedly moved to her side.
Kate grasped onto him tightly. "Don, what's going on? What's happened to me?"
"I'm not sure, sis," he responded. Paul brought Don's attention to a pile of objects in the middle of the meadow. On the very top of the pile was a scroll. Don went over and picked it up, starting to read it before he even thought about the fact that it was in modern English.
Welcome to Zemlia Nov. The articles included in this pack should prove useful, perhaps essential, to your survival. Included are clothing to appropriately attire your characters, weapons to properly arm them, and other sundry items that you should find of value.
No other objects will be provided for you. Anything you may find along the journey, you may keep, so long as the entity currently possessing it does not, or can no longer, object. Take heed of what you carry: Some articles will be more trouble than they are worth.
The only way to return to Earth from Zemlia Nov is to locate the Yellow Dragon, whose name is Vernior. No instruction can be provided to you as to where to find Vernior. However, we do recommend that you begin by travelling North.
Good luck on your quest, Dragonseekers! May the Fates and the Fairies watch over you.
"What the fuck is going on here?" Susan screamed from her safe hiding behind the bush. "What have you guys gotten us into?"
"Settle down, Susan," Don said without thinking. He didn't often speak forcefully to people, even those younger than him, but his mind was working on autopilot at the moment. He started to sort through the pile of items. The bulk of the pile was clothing. He set these out so that they could look at them. For the boys, it was easy to tell which outfit was whose, as the boys were very different sizes. Also, the outfits provided them were those they had described at the beginning of the game.
For the girls, each outfit carried a tag. Don set Kate's on top of his robe. He handed Julie hers, and he gave Susan's to Gill. Gill walked over to her, bearing his gift. She was still fuming, but she accepted the clothing with as much grace as she could manage. She did not like the dirty look she was getting from Gill, though.
"Thanks a lot, you little... sir," she said, and then blinked twice in surprise. Sir? Sir is not what I'd meant to say, was it?
Gill looked at her a little strangely, but then just shrugged and walked away. He picked up his own clothing, looking it over. He didn't figure he'd have much trouble getting into it, and he walked over to a group of trees to change. Julie had already departed with her clothing to a thicket near Susan, and Paul had followed Gill.
Don picked up Kate's outfit and gave it to her. She still looked a little shaky. "You gonna be okay, Kate?"
"Don, what's happening? Why am I different?"
"I don't know, kiddo, but we'll get through it, all right? Now, why don't you go change with the rest?"
Kate moved off in a slightly different direction from the others. She had always been very shy about her body. Don watched her go before picking up his robe and heading toward Gill and Paul. He had his clothes changed in less than two minutes, for it was simply a robe, after all, although he'd never worn one with a hood on it. It was a deep blue color, and came all the way to his ankles. He noted, as he put it on, that the inside was littered with pockets to stash items in, while still keeping them in easy reach. The robe had a silver fastener at the waist, rather than a belt, which was unusual, but it still fit him well, and allowed him to move freely.
He was about to see how Gill looked in his new outfit when he heard his sister scream. He was immediately running to where she had gone to change. He came around a bush and saw her standing in the middle of a dense group of trees. Although she had managed to put her skirt on, she was standing bare-chested.
Without even finishing his examination of her, he blurted, "Nice knockers, Kate." She blushed furiously, but then it dawned on Don why she had screamed. Extending from behind her shoulders were two large wings, her wingspan perhaps ten feet across. The wings were made of feathers, but the feathers were an iridescent material that shimmered in the dappled sunlight coming through the trees. Kate was on the verge of tears, and Don went to her quickly, wrapping his arms around her.
Or, trying to. The wings made a normal hug difficult while they were extended, and so he ended up wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her to him. She wept in his arms for a few seconds, and then she cried out, "I'm a freak!"
"Shh, shh. No, you're not, Kate."
She backed away from him and demanded, "Oh, no? Then what the hell do you call this?" she gestured to herself, forgetting, again, that she was not covered up.
Don noticed, now that he was closer to her, that Kate's ears had also become pointed in her transformation. Finally, it occurred to him what had happened to her.
"I call you a Winged Elf," he answered. "And a damned cute one at that," he added without much thought. His sister blushed again.
"Great," she cried. "I'm not even a person anymore!"
"Katie," he said, using a name she normally loathed, but at times like this it made her feel better. "You're still a person, okay? You're still my sister. You've just got wings is all. I still think you're the prettiest girl I know."
She wiped at her eyes and smiled at him. She held up the thin fabric of her top. "What the hell am I supposed to do with this thing?" she asked.
"Go without it?" he quipped. She swung it at him playfully. "Let me see it." She handed him the garment. Though it would cover her fully in the front, it was unlike any shirt he had ever encountered. The back was nothing more than a few thin strips of fabric, with metal clasps to fasten it. "Want me to try to figure it out?" he asked. She nodded tearily.
First, he figured out which way was up. This wasn't overly difficult. Then he moved to his sister, almost reluctantly covering up her wonderful chest, which had not shrunk in proportion to the rest of her body, and so looked even larger than before. He wrapped the top strips of the garment around her neck, fastening them in place. The second set wrapped around her lower back, going below her wings, and fastened in place. She squirmed a bit.
"What's the matter?"
"My boobs feel a little cramped."
"Well, adjust them!" he said with some exasperation. "Do I have to do everything?" He raised his eyebrows lecherously at her. The conversation between them was odd. Kate and Don had always been close, but this sort of flirtation was not part of their normal routine. Not that Don didn't find his sister to be a total babe, especially now, but he normally did not have the confidence to make those kinds of comments, even to her.
After she made the necessary maneuvers, Don walked around her, looking at her from all sides. "Well, it's kind of a strange top, but you look good in it."
"Yeah, well, it's no weirder than the panties were," she said glumly.
"Oh, what about them?"
"They're kind of... rough."
"Let me see," he said, again without thinking. Before she could protest, he'd lifted up the back of her skirt to see the panties, made of a course cotton-like material, but not nearly as soft as what a woman would be used to. He ran his hand over it, not really thinking about the fact that he was caressing his sister's ass.
She wiggled at the feel of it, though she definitely did not find it unpleasant. "At least the crotch is soft."
"Really?" Without another word, he slipped his finger down between her legs. He wasn't trying to feel her up, but wondered what the material was. She stiffened as his finger slid along her nether regions, feeling the material of her new panties. She wondered why he was acting this way. She wondered why she didn't resist. She wondered if he was going to stop soon. Then she wondered if she really wanted him to.
Finally, his curiosity sated, he put her skirt back down and walked back around to face her. "Well, we're all just going to have to make the best of it. We'll find a way out of here."
"Oh, Donny. I'm scared." Unlike his mother, Kate had a way of saying his name that made him feel warm and cozy. She hugged him, and he again put his hands around her waist.
"I'll look after you, sis," he promised.
She looked deep into his eyes, and saw his promise there. She leaned in and gave him a soft, quick kiss on the lips. She had never done that before, but neither of them commented on that fact.
"Thank you," she said, and then laid her head against his chest.
Eventually, Kate settled and wiped her eyes. When she was finished, the two headed back into the meadow with the rest. Everyone stared openly at Kate's newest surprise. Paul and Gill gaped at seeing someone they had known for years transformed from a normal, if pretty, teen to a beautiful winged Elf. Julie was also in awe.
Susan was still her smart-assed self, though. "Damn, girl, what costume party are you going to?"
Kate's reaction would not have been favorable, but Don's response was immediate. "Shut the fuck up, Susan." His voice was a deep, dark warning that no one had ever heard from him before. Susan thought to give a comeback, thought better of it, and kept her mouth shut. Kate squeezed her brother's arm in thanks.
Don moved back to the pile of stuff, which was still considerable. The first thing he noted was a sword. He automatically assumed this was for Gill, as he was the only person who might know how to use it. Gill removed the blade from its sheath. The finely crafted blade glinted in the sunlight. He hefted its weight, checking the balance before sheathing the sword and attaching it to his right hip, for Gill was left-handed.
There was a large bow also, and this he gave to Susan. She accepted the weapon, feeling its weight and balance before slinging it over her shoulder. She picked up the quiver that was lying at the edge of the pile, and examined one of the arrows.
"There must be some pretty nasty animals around here," she said, withdrawing one arrow completely. Everyone could see that the arrowhead was serrated and large.
"Well, at least we won't starve. You should be able to bring down a buffalo with that thing!" Julie gushed. Susan looked at her as if to say, "You moron", but kept her peace about it. She returned the arrow to the quiver, and fastened the quiver onto her back.
Paul was given a staff, which looked sturdy enough, but which he would need mainly for walking. Although he was a full six feet tall, Paul had trouble with his left knee: it was a gift from a car accident several years before. He leaned against the staff, his arm still mostly hidden beneath the black cloak he wore. The cloak hid dark gray clothing and a pair of black leather boots of the type worn in the middle ages. He actually looked very comfortable in his garb.
The items were dwindling quickly. It appeared that there were no weapons for the rest of the bunch. Julie was not upset: she had no idea how to use one anyway. Kate, however, was annoyed.
"What the hell am I supposed to use?" she asked.
"Your wits, I imagine. You can fly your way out of danger."
"Only after someone teaches me how to use these things."
"Practice, sis. Only practice can teach you how to fly. Should I take you up in a tree and push you out? That's how mama birds do it." He grinned at her, and she swatted him with a hand.
There were other items of use, including food, in small pouches, and water in plugged gourds. Don distributed everything evenly, and no one questioned why he was the one doing the deciding. After all of that was done, the only thing left was a small book. He opened this to reveal a series of spells and lessons on magic. He figured this was for him, as the wizard of the group. He stashed it away in one of his many interior pockets.
With the items distributed, the group sort of mulled about, uncertain of what to do next. Kate, having an open area to work with, attempted to learn how to use her wings. She made several false starts before lifting clumsily into the air, tipping this way and that.
Don watched her closely as Paul came over to him. "What do we do now, boss?" Apparently, Paul had easily accepted that Don was the leader of this particular group.
"I'm not sure. The scroll says to head north. I can't really see any reason not to."
"I suppose. Who gets the compass, by the way?"
"For now, I'll take it. Later on, after she gets better at that," he nodded at Kate, who was trying with some minor success to get the hang of flight, "I'll let her be our scout."
"Works for me. When do you want to head out?"
Don consulted the compass, and then looked at the sun. It was very low in the west, and there would be only a little daylight left. "Why don't we camp here for tonight, so we can get our bearings. We can set off in the morning, and see if we can't make it out of here."
"You think we can find this dragon in a day?"
"I don't know. I can hope." He settled down to look through his book of magic, while keeping one eye on his sister. Paul went over to tell the rest what they were doing. Susan wanted to protest, but something inside her prevented her from speaking out. She wondered what it was about this place that had her so off-balance. She just wasn't herself. Calling her step-brother "sir"? Letting that geek tell her to shut up? What was going on?
As the sun began to set, Don cleared a spot in the center of the meadow, and gathered up some kindling. It was a moment before he realized that they had no way to light the fire.
"Um... guys? Anyone want to take a crack at rubbing sticks together?"
"The Indians used to use their bow against wood to start a fire," Kate offered.
"Their bows weren't this big," Susan replied not unkindly. "And I don't know how to do it anyway," she admitted. Susan hated that. She never admitted her ignorance to others.
"Damn. We're going to be cold tonight if we can't start a fire." The temperature was already beginning to drop, as the sun had sunk beneath the tree tops.
"Isn't there something in that damned book?" Gill asked him.
"Hmm. Let me look real quick." Don flipped through some pages, and stopped on one. "Here's a spell for a fireball... I'm not sure if... oh, wait, yeah, here's one that makes just a little fireball. I don't know if I can do this, though."
"Give it a try, Don," his sister encouraged.
He tucked the book away after memorizing the words and movements of the spell. He concentrated and began the chant, moving his hands around a small invisible ball. When he concluded the spell, nothing happened except for a brief flicker of light. Susan snickered, but Gill gave her a dirty look, and she quieted. It was strange for her, but she wrote it off to the unusualness of the day.
Grumbling, Don dug the book back out. He flipped open to the page, and read it again, very slowly. He re-memorized the spell, and checked to make sure his hand motions were right. He set the book down, and tried again. This time, he cupped his hands so that they faced outward at the end of the spell.
A small ball of blue flame jumped from in front of his palms, and landed in the pile of kindling. Very quickly, the kindling caught, and, as the blue fire died, the orange glow of a normal fire replaced it. Don smiled in triumph.
"I hope you get better with that," said Gill. "I don't want you to have to check the manual when there's some big honkin' monster coming at us."
"Hey, it's my first day. What d'you want?"
The group ate their meal around the fire, quiet and immersed in their own thoughts. The siblings each sat together. Kate actually leaned against Don, while the other sisters merely sat close to their brothers. Soon, it was time for bed.
"Should we keep watch?" Paul asked.
"For what?" Susan replied immediately.
"Exactly my point," he retorted.
"Probably a good idea," Gill said.
"Okay. The guys will keep watch. Paul, it was your idea, so you get stuck with first watch. Gill can take second watch, and I'll take the last watch.
"How come you get to sleep the longest?" Julie asked.
"Actually, Gill's the only one with a shitty job tonight," Don answered. "And we'll rotate, so that no one gets stuck with it all the time."
That settled, the group settled onto the ground to sleep. Don rolled up his old clothes into a pillow, and lay down. His sister lay beside him, her back to him, her face to the fire. She snuggled back into him to help keep warm in the chilled night air. He put his one arm over her protectively, and then he leaned over and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He saw her smile slightly in response.
"G'night, sis. See you in the morning."
"Night, Donny," she murmured, already falling off into slumber.
Don settled back, his head resting on his makeshift pillow. He closed his eyes and it wasn't long before he was asleep. He was sure he was going to need it.
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