The Fae Worlds

Underwater

At first everything was normal enough. Waking up in a bed. Going through the next steps on autopilot, up until the point when the curtains were opened. It was then autopilot stopped dead.
“What the…?”
Reid reached out with one hand to look for a way of opening the window, to find it was impossible. There were no handles. Probably for the best, after he took a few moments to work through the emotions, and accept he really was seeing water outside. Had he actually managed to do something as stupid as open the window he’d probably have flooded the room. Possibly the entire building, depending on how things worked.
Breathing in deeply, Reid stepped away from the window, trying to work out what his next steps were. Obviously he wasn’t at home, unless something very strange happened in the night. Turning, he looked around the room, seeing how different it was to the one he’d gone to sleep in. Glancing back at the window he knew there was only one possible explanation. Fae magic had sent him to another world, and it was entirely possible he was in Atlantis.
Laughing at himself for a second, Reid shook his head, before focusing once more. He needed to learn more about where he was, and why he’d ended up there. From what people said there was almost always a reason for them ending up on whatever world it was. Most of the time they were there to do something to help, because there was something wrong, so the likelihood was he’d found himself on whatever world it was for that very reason.
Raking a hand through his hair Reid studied the room in more detail. It was purely a bedroom, nothing more, with no books he could see anywhere. Not like his bedroom, but then everyone was different. Walking round the room he checked everywhere he could for any sign of why he might be there. Nothing, apart from clothes. He looked down at himself. Maybe it would be a good idea to make use of the clothes before he went out to see if he could find a room with the answers he needed.
He’d pulled on a pair of trousers, nothing like the jeans he’d have worn at home, when the door opened. Reid stared at it, grateful he had at least managed to get something on, before they truly stepped into the room, and he smiled.
“Bell.” A wave of relief swept through him. He wasn’t on his own. “You okay?”
Shrugging, Bellamy smiled back. “I have no idea, Reid.” She closed the door. “You?”
“Pretty much the same.”
Attention back on the clothes Reid pulled on a shirt. It wasn’t as though the two of them hadn’t been around each other wearing far less, but there was something about the situation which made him want to be dressed. The clothes were another sign of how he wasn’t home. Better than nothing, though.
“The entire building is underwater. I have found doors, all without handles, so I’m at a loss as to what it is we’re supposed to do next.”
“Have you found a library?”
“Not so far, but I haven’t explored everywhere. I found this corridor, and thought I’d check the rooms, to find I wasn’t on my own here.”
“Any sign of the others?”
“Unfortunately no. I was half expecting to be on my own, so this is better than I thought it would be.”
Breathing in deeply, relieved it was at least the two of them, Reid raked a hand through his hair. “I think what we need to do the most is work out why it is we’re here. Once we know we have a chance of getting back home, sooner rather than later.” He shook his head. “At least we’ll be able to tell an interesting story to everyone when we do.”
“There is that.” Bellamy shrugged. “I can’t imagine what it was like for the first person to go through this. At least we have some idea of what’s happening, while they…” She looked at the window. “Ending up here, without knowing there’s a chance of getting home, is an awful thought. We know, thanks to them, it’s likely we will be able to get back, although it’s probably going to take far longer than either of us want it to.”
Reid stared at the same window, mind on how best to respond to Bellamy’s words, because she wasn’t entirely right. Not with how things were at home. It was better, in a way, he wasn’t there, and had some time to work through his emotions. Granted ending up on another world seemed a rather extreme way of getting the time, but it wasn’t something he had control over. At least, for him, there was a slight silver lining, and he could hold on to it when things got hard. They were going to. They always did when someone ended up on another world.
“I’m pretty sure whatever this is we’ve been thrown in at the deep end.” Reid stepped over to the window. “Not only literally, considering where we are, but also when it comes to the kind of world we’re on. Whenever we play games we go for the hardest possible mode, right from the beginning. This is going to be similar.”
“Hence us ending up underwater.” Bellamy joined him by the window. “Okay, so, you said you thought finding a library would be the best thing to do.”
“We might get lucky. We might not, but a library is the best place for us to find the answers we need to the questions we have. If we don’t find them there…” He shook his head. “Well, then I’m out of ideas. Usually, with situations like this, exploring is the best thing to do, but exploring looks like it would probably end with us drowning, so maybe not the best plan.”
Laughing, Bellamy rested a hand on his shoulder, and Reid looked at her. As their eyes met he was reminded of the reason his relationship was in jeopardy. Not Bellamy, exactly, but the disconnection he had from Nicky, because it seemed like they had so little in common. In the early days they’d found places they could connect, and as time passed those connections didn’t feel like they were enough. As much as he wanted to make things work he wasn’t sure forcing it was the right choice to make.
Bellamy sobered. “You’ll find the answer here, one way or the other.” She studied him. “I know it can be hard to walk away from a relationship after you’ve been together for so long, but if it’s not working…” She shook her head. “Who am I to give you advice on something like this? My longest relationship was six months.”
“You aren’t wrong.” He sighed. “Finding a way to make it work is harder when it seems like the other party isn’t interested. Nicky… sometimes I think she doesn’t see the problems. We do still have good times when we’re together, but it’s skin deep. I want more, and I’ve tried talking to her about it, because I think we could get back to the point where we have a truly multifaceted connection. Only she’s not putting the effort in I hoped she would.”
“Seeing things from another point of view’s hard, Reid. Especially when things seem fine to you.” Bellamy shrugged. “For now it’s not something you can do anything about. Nicky isn’t here, and we need to focus on being here.” She turned away from the window. “Let’s go hunting for a library.”
Nodding, Reid stepped over to the door, opening it and stepping aside to let her through first. “You know the place better than I do, so lead the way, Bell.” He smiled. “Maybe we’ll get lucky and find the others too.”
“Maybe.” She stepped out into the hallway, where, for a moment, he could almost forget they were in a building underwater. “I don’t know if it would be all of us, or just some of us. Nine people all being drawn to the same world… I suppose they could split us into groups, so we need to find each other, and during the time we’re apart we learn different things about the world. Some of the places we’ve been drawn to do seem to have a set up similar.”
“Especially the RPG worlds, although we normally pick survival games to play.”
“As much as it’s likely this is survival too, it’s going to be more than a survival game – there’s going to be a… I was going to say storyline, but this is a real world. The people here aren’t a part of a story. Learning how the worlds are more has always been complicated, and being here…” Bellamy gestured with a hand. “Whatever happens this isn’t just a game. It’s real life for so many, and we’re here because we’re needed.”
“Possibly needed. There’s a chance we’re not here to help, but almost all the worlds people have been drawn to it seems whoever’s been chosen was needed.”
Bellamy glanced back at Reid. “Most of them have had magic of some kind.”
“With what we know I wouldn’t be surprised if more than half of us have magic in our bloodline somewhere. The fae have been journeying to Earth for decades, not caring about how they might affect us, and with them having to ask us for sanctuary it’s just become obvious. Had it never happened those of us who did have some connection to the fae would never have known about it.”
“You’re probably right.” She sighed. “I made the decision a long time ago I wasn’t interested in learning magic. Now I might not have a choice.”
“Could you have gone to the School?”
“Mum did, so it was more likely I’d be strong enough, but she accepted the decision I made. Both my brothers are there now, although we don’t talk much about it. They don’t entirely understand why I walked away from what they believe is our birthright. Sometimes I don’t entirely understand it either. I just felt like it wasn’t right for me.”
“There are those who say there’s a reason for everything.” Reid smiled. “You might have made the choice you did to make it easier to learn magic here, only you had no way of knowing it at the time.”
A silence followed his words, and when Bellamy looked back at him the look on her face told him she’d been thinking the very same thing. “Mum, due to her choices, was lucky enough to get to know the fae Queen better than most other people, and I remember Willow saying to me once she was sure there was a reason for my choice. Even if none of us knew what it was right then we’d find it out at some point.”
“What’s Willow like?”
“Exactly the way she seems. Willow truly believes in what she’s fighting for, even though the fae are often too set in their ways to be willing to accept anything different. Travelling to Earth was something they did purely because they didn’t have any other option, and I think they thought Willow would find a way to… I don’t know exactly how to put it into words, but they want there to be a disconnection between them and all the other races on Earth. They don’t want to be a part of the world, unless, of course, they can control it, which was never going to happen.
“Had it not been Willow who made the decision there’s a chance everything would be different.” Bellamy laughed. “It sounds so stupid to say it out loud, but had her father survived then I’m certain one of two things would have happened. He’d have either made the decision to take over, or he’d have made it so the fae didn’t have to be a part of the world they’d changed so much. Willow was never like him. She was also not meant to be Queen, meaning there were certain things she was never taught, which I think helped her more than learning them would have done.”
Reid nodded, thinking of the times he’d seen Willow on TV. She was willing to talk to anyone who asked, doing her best to help those who needed it, even though she’d always been honest about how complicated it could be to work around the others. How the majority of her Council would always view her as being too young to make the decisions she was, because she lacked the understanding they did. Hence them blocking her every time she tried to help those who were struggling thanks to their unexpected arrival.
“One of my cousins is strong magically.” Reid sighed. “I remember her talking about the School, and how hard it was to be there. She works with a different group now, with Willow’s blessing, to help those who aren’t able to find their way in.”
“I know Willow does everything she can to help those who are working outside of the set up she created, because she’s constrained by the Council. There are signs things may be changing, as the older fae are losing their control, but it’s not easy. From what I’ve seen a lot of the older fae want to cling to how things were, as it’s so much simpler than accepting change.”
“Yeah, it is.”
“We aren’t so different to them, Reid, and they aren’t so different to us.” Bellamy shrugged. “Sometimes it’s too easy to see them as being entirely alien. In reality they’re as led by their emotions as we are, leading to some of the choices they make being less than logical. Like with us. Accepting the fae hasn’t been a simple thing for anyone, because they do have differences, and those differences, their magic, has changed our world in ways we’d never thought possible.”
“Do you think the fictional worlds exist due to the fae, or were they always here?” Reid raked a hand through his hair. “With how things are it seems like they were always here, and, in some ways, the fae being what they are made it possible for them to get the help they needed.”
“It’s definitely possible they were already here. I’ve thought about it before, and I don’t think we have any way of knowing for certain one way or another. However it came to be we can hopefully do something to help if that’s why we are here.”
They continued down the very long corridor in silence, checking doors as they went past, but there was no one in any of the other rooms. Each one it was possible might hold a library, or someone to explain why it was they had been drawn to the world, and yet they were all empty, like the entire building had been abandoned.
Reid glanced back, seeing how far they’d come. A building so big would normally have staff of some kind. No one being there led to him having more questions about where they’d found themselves, although it was possible there might be a reason for it. Someone knew they were there, and wanted to be the first one to talk to them, so there was no one around.
Then Bellamy made a sound. It was her success sound, and Reid knew she’d finally found something. She stepped into whatever room it was, Reid following her, to find she’d found both a library and Carla. Carla already had her nose buried in a book, but looked up when she heard them. She smiled, looking almost relieved, gesturing for them to join her at the table, closing the book up as she did.
“Waiting was the hardest part of this.” She looked between the two of them, running her tongue over her bottom lip. “I have a story to tell you, and it’s not an easy one to tell.”
Bellamy and Reid shared a look, the confusion in their eyes identical, before turning back to Carla. “You knew we were going to be here?”
“Yes, and no. I knew someone was going to be here, but I couldn’t be certain who it would be, so…” Carla nibbled her lip. “It being the two of you makes sense.” She breathed in deeply. “Honestly, I don’t know where to start with this. Telling anyone was… I made the decision a long time ago it would be easier for me to walk away from who I was entirely. Now I’m here, and it complicates things.
“I know the two of you have some idea about the other way this can work. How people from worlds believed to be fictional can end up on your Earth.” She shook her head. “It’s not as rare as it might seem, because there are people in place to help anyone going through the transition, and most of the time they don’t appear in public places. Fortunately.
“Saying they is still easier.” She glanced around, and Reid knew she was buying time. “About a decade ago I was one of those people who found themselves on Earth. It’s become home now, but once, a lifetime ago, this was home. From what I’ve been able to find this was my home.” She looked at the two of them again. “No one’s here, which…
“Getting back, for so long, was all I wanted to do. I’d been drawn away in the middle of something I knew would change my world for good, and being on Earth felt like abandoning my people. Now I think there was a reason for it happening, because this city…” She shook her head. “We are here for a reason, although, for now, I can’t be entirely certain what it is. I think, probably, we’re here to fix the problems I was trying to fix before. Only it’s different now, as there’s no one else I’ve found so far to tell us why there’s no one here.”