Lilflower
The Change
CHAPTER
1
Prologue
Sari crouched.
She dared not move a muscle unless she had any wish of getting devoured by a bear, or a wolf.
Or a dragon.
Sari sighed. That would be silly. No dragon could come to the Demira Lands. Just as no human could travel to their land...
Or so it was believed.
Sari looked down at the green grass she knelt in, and around at the green plain, which held only grass, a small creak, and her. Then she looked up at the stone path that led to a bridge.
The bridge.
On the other side of that bridge... on the other side of that bridge was a place that no man or woman had ever set foot on. Fog lingered on the bridge, obscuring her view, and all that Sari could make out of the place was distant brown rock. But soon that would all change, soon she’d be able to see whatever lay on the other side of that bridge...
Because soon she’d have crossed it.
Sari took a deep breath and stood. The time had come. She had to cross it. For the sake of science, she had to find out what the world was like on the other side of that bridge.
Sari began to walk forward. Her stomach lurched suddenly as she felt a slight kick in it. She swayed for a second before regaining her posture, and continued walking. Conner had told her that she was foolish to attempt such a dangerous, risky mission while pregnant, that she should at least wait till the baby was born, but she had ignored him. Partly because it was just her determination to actually be the one to cross the bridge, partly because deep down she was afraid that if she waited any longer, she would lose her courage to do it, and then she’d never have her questions answered.
Sari reached the bridge. She paused for a moment to just let herself fully comprehend what she was about to do. It had taken her whole life to track the bridge down, and now she was about to cross it... if she could.
What if she couldn’t? After all, if the creatures of the other side couldn’t cross it, then who was to say that she could? What was the difference?
The difference, she thought firmly, is that those creatures are untamed, wild animals, but I’m a human being and a scientist. That’s the difference.
Riling up her confidence, Sari took a deep breath and stepped onto the bridge.
She placed one foot in front of the other, not thinking about how she was crossing the most important and most dangerous bridge on the planet, not thinking about how something could go awfully wrong, not thinking about how the bridge could crumble at any second and cause her falling down the dark, endless abyss, falling to her death. She just focusing on walking across the bridge.
She stopped suddenly. Somehow she knew that she had reached the halfway point. How? Perhaps it was just how the bridge’s stone floor stopped curving upward and instead lay flat, or perhaps it was just her gut instinct. Either way, she somehow knew.
Well, here she went. One more step, and she’d be out of the Demira Lands. One more step, and she was at the mercy of dragons and who knows what else.
Don’t think about it that way. She told herself firmly. Just think about all the amazing things that are waiting on the other side.
She closed her eyes tightly.
One... two... three.
She opened them and took one big step.
She wasn’t sure about what she was expecting, but she felt the change immediately.
The temperature soared from a cool fifty-eight degrees Fahrenheit to about a hundred degrees. Sari immediately regretted wearing jeans and a long sleeved t-shirt.
The smell and texture of the air changed too. Before it had smelled like morning dew, but now it smelled like rotten eggs. The air felt much denser, too. Sari tried to walk but appeared to move in slow motion. Everything seemed heavier.
“Change in gravity.” She mused, although it was awfully hard to say, for it felt like she was trying to speak with fudge wedging her mouth shut. “Just the question is, how much does the gravity change?”
Sari continued down the bridge sluggishly. After quite a while of moving at the pace of a snail, she reached the end of the bridge and stepped off.
Sari looked around in wonder, or, at least, tried to, for all there was to see for miles was orangish red rocks.
“Well... now at least I don’t have to wonder anymore what Mars looks like, now that I’ve seen this place.” Sari pointed out to herself, trying to be optimistic. She desperately wanted to wander farther in hopes of finding something more than rocks, but she also knew that due to the gravity change it would take hours just to walk five hundred yards.
Still, she knew that this was a once-in-a-lifetime discovery, and that she had to keep going, so, going against her common sense, she began slowly walking further and further into the world. She could make out mountains in the distance, but could tell that it would take several days to reach them if the gravity was normal, and several weeks with this gravity.
Sari walked for hours. As she walked, it grew increasingly harder, mostly because she was getting tired, and the baby was getting harder to deal with too. It was going to be due earlier than the doctors had predicted.
But Sari trudged on. She couldn’t let this opportunity escape her. She walked until she collapsed, then, after a moment of rest, would recollect herself and begin walking again. At first she only collapsed every hour or so, but soon she began collapsing more and more, until she collapsed and attempted to stand up again, but fell back down, then tried again, only to fall down again.
On the fourth try to stand up she finally gave up. She would have to rest. She looked up and was surprised to see that the sun was setting. She had spent all day walking. She would have to spend the night in this odd place.
But in the middle of plain sight? A dragon or some other mystical creature could find her and crush her to smithereens!
I don’t really have a choice though, do I? she realized.
So she lied down and closed her eyes, too tired to notice how uncomfortable the rocky ground was, too tired to realize how hot she was, too tired to realize how painful the kicks the baby was giving were, too tired to realize anything else.
A moment later, Sari fell asleep.
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