Found when lost

A mysterious cobbled path in the middle of the Amazon catches the attention of a pair of conservationists, Genevieve and Jared. Where it leads them defies reason, logic, and has more than a little adventure in it too...

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1. Found when lost

Found when lost

 

   ‘I don’t believe you!’ Jared’s partner, Genevieve, said hotly.

   ‘What?’ Jared said, spinning his map that had been upside down before Genevieve noticed.

   ‘What? What?! We’re lost that’s what! We’ve been walking round in circles for three hours now and you’re reading the map upside down!’

   Jared blushed furiously and turned his face to the map to hide his red cheeks. ‘No we’re not lost; we’re just a little off track that’s all. Look – we’re here and the nearest road is over here about a mile away – all we have to do is follow the path.’

   Genevieve stared around at the jungle surrounding her. The thick canopy of the Amazon hung above them whilst thick bushes and plants pressed in from all sides, their fronds as long as the twenty-year old woman and wafting in the light breeze that blew. The rainforest was full of sound; howlers, frogs, snakes and the odd elephant trumpet now and then backed with the constant drone of bugs with their clicking and buzzing. There was not a path in sight.

   ‘I don’t see a path, Jared,’ Genevieve growled.

   ‘Sure there is, it starts just over here – follow me.’ The lithe twenty-five year old strolled off into the greenery, which parted then closed behind him like a set of emerald curtains. Genevieve followed the black-haired man grudgingly, her own black hair tied in a tight bun so it did not get caught on the many jungle hindrances.

   They walked for another half an hour before Jared’s lively step faltered and he began to slow. Eventually they stopped and he tried to consult the map again, striking blue eyes darting across the paper as he ran his hands through his hair causing the sweat to spike it up in irregular patterns. Genevieve stared at the man, his tanned arms poking from ragged holes in his shirt where he’d ripped off the arms and his heavy-duty walking boots tied tight up.

   The pair of them worked for a local conservation company and had been sent into their patch of the jungle to make sure no poachers had decided to start up in the area or any other threats to the ecosystem had arisen. Between them on their two-day expedition they had found none and had been heading back to the road which would lead to their land rover some way off but soon they had become hopelessly lost, despite Jared’s optimism that they weren’t.

   She sighed and dropped her bag beside him before walking out of the clearing they were in, leaving him to his map and with only her large kukri knife at her waist.

   It was as she was about to take a leak in the bushes that she noticed something in the dirt at her feet. It seemed to a small stone lump, but it wasn’t like any rock she’d ever seen for it was too geometrically smooth and shaped, so she bent over and brushed the dirt away.

   She gasped. It was a cobble. A cobble like the ones she had seen in square after square back home in England when she had been a little girl. A cobble like those in the streets of the local village. A cobble that was very out of place in the thick foliage of the jungle.

   Sweeping away more of the dirt she realised there were more cobbles – then she slowly looked up and saw hundreds of the little bumps leading away into the jungle.

   Calling Jared over she cleared more of the earth from the cobbles and managed to reveal an area of the little rocks six by five before he arrived. His reaction was greatly similar to hers and he stared at the man-made path leading off in shock.

   ‘When I said there was a path I didn’t mean it quite that literally.’

   ‘Come on,’ Genevieve grinned, grabbing her backpack from his hands and setting off along the thin pathway.

   ‘Are you sure we should?’ Jared questioned.

   ‘Jared, there is a miniature street in the middle of the jungle – doesn’t that strike as something along the lines of Indiana Jones? We came out here to explore, now lets explore.’ She grabbed his hand and dragged him after her and they followed the cobbles for several hundred metres before they stopped abruptly. On the edge of a five hundred foot cliff.

   ‘Ah,’ Jared said.

   ‘Yeah.’ The pair were just about to turn away from the incredible view when the earth beneath their feet shifted violently and Genevieve felt her feet leave the ground and saw the jungle behind her vanish over the edge of the cliff as she tumbled over the side.

   She screamed loudly, Jared’s cries behind her telling her she at least wasn’t going to die alone. Looking down she saw the canopy rushing up to meet her and she knew if the impact didn’t kill her the injuries would.

   All of a sudden and to her utter shock there was a loud tearing sound and the air around her shimmered violently before the scene below her changed from green canopy to a bright blue lake. Her eyes grew wide but she had no time to ponder on what had just happened for the surface of the water barrelled up to meet her and she quickly tucked herself into a ball before she felt the impact.

   It rattled her bones and she felt her muscles scream out for a moment before she was deep underwater and her hands were paddling violently to pull her upwards. Surfacing she gasped in breath and heard Jared spluttering behind her.

   ‘Ouch,’ he groaned.

   ‘What’s up with you?’ she asked.

   ‘Do you know how much a belly-flop from that height hurts?’ Genevieve winced and chuckled quietly before turning to the shore which was a short distance away – some four hundred feet. Again, she gasped, and heard Jared echo her.

   There on the shore appeared to be a village, wooden huts suspended above the water on thick poles and with wooden walkways connecting them all. The village built someway up the steep slopes to the rear of the houses before the incline became vertical, mirroring the other cliffs that surrounded the village except to the right and behind of the floating pair, where a thick river branched off to the right and the land ascended steeply but not vertically to their behind.

   ‘Where are we?’ Jared said.

   ‘I… I don’t know.’ Genevieve replied, ‘But let’s go find out.’

   With that she started swimming strongly towards the shore and within ten minutes was hauling herself out of the water, her backpack heavy and soaked on her back and her clothes clinging limply to her saturated arms. Although she had kept her head up her hair was still heavy and wet and she turned to help Jared out.

   ‘Good morning my friends, now what are you doing in the lake with all your clothes and bags on?’

   The pair of them swivelled round and looked up to see an ancient-looking man, his great white beard tangling over his robes and hair long and smooth, staring over them, a little smile on his face.

   Genevieve was lost for words; she hadn’t been expecting someone like this to live here. Despite his decrepit look he was a tall man and leant heavily on a well-used walking stick with both hands as he observed them. The carvings in the wood were just as ornate as the curling patterns on his brightly coloured robes which depicted flowers and plants of every description all intertwining with one another. His tanned face contrasted with the sharp white of his beard and hair whilst from within their sockets his eyes gleamed with mischief and joy.

   ‘Erm… beg your pardon… sir, but…’

   ‘Where are you?’ the man offered, raising an eyebrow.

   ‘Yes, sir.’

   ‘There will be none of this ‘sir’ malarkey if our talk is to continue – I am Fell and I am Guardian of the portal you just passed through.’ He indicated the shimmering air some two hundred feet above the surface of the water.

   ‘Portal?’ Jared asked incredulously.

   ‘Indeed, young man, a portal between dimensions. It is a shame that your world cannot grasp the fact that there are more worlds than your own, but that is beside the point for if you are to return home, we must be on our way post-haste.’

   Genevieve head whirled – portals? Dimensions? Inter-dimensional travel? It was insane. But it appeared it was real so she guessed she would just have to go along with it.

   ‘We can get home?’

   ‘It is possible,’ the old man Fell said, ‘though not the way you came for I am afraid that is a one way trip. The other portal is across the land and reachable within two days. First however you must travel to the Oracle, for I may be a Guardian but I have no great knowledge of the outside world beyond this village. The Oracle will be able to tell you how to cross the land safely and point you in the right direction. You will travel on a ship to reach the Oracle on the island of Sentor.’

   ‘Has this happened before?’ Genevieve asked.

   ‘More often than you’d expect – I’d say we get several hundred humans blunder into our wake every five years or so.’

   Jared gasped and Genevieve allowed the old man to help her up.

   Fell lead them along the maze of walkways before they arrived at a jutting dock where he purchased some rations from a fellow standing at a cart. He handed them to Genevieve and Jared, explaining, ‘It is little over a day’s journey to Sentor so the rations I presume you have and these should serve you well enough.’

   ‘Thank you,’ said Genevieve gratefully.

   Suddenly there was a loud honking and Fell grinned. ‘Ah, your ride is here.’

   For what seemed the hundredth time that day the duo’s mouths dropped open in awe. Around the bend of the river came four tiers of enormous white sheets of sail, the light wind billowing them outwards and dragging the hull of the beautiful ship through the water. A great spur protruded from the front of the ship and two levels of cannons could be seen on the side along with a row on either side of the deck, whilst the cabin which jutted out from the back of the ship rose above the deck. Pillared rails and banisters to the steps of the ship were partially obscured by the rigging and many hooks hung down from the sails. The deck was a hive of activity as crewmembers scurried about attending to their duties and starting to bring in the smaller sails.

   Genevieve tore her gaze away from the ship though her mouth was still open as she turned to Fell. ‘How will we find the Oracle?’

   ‘Trust me, she’ll know when you arrive and she’ll find you.’

   Jared looked anxious, incredibly out of place in this new world, although Genevieve was loving the thrill of this unexpected adventure.

   ‘This is incredible,’ she said.

   ‘Indeed,’ Fell said sadly, ‘but not without its costs.’

   ‘How do you mean?’

   ‘Our land is ruled over by a fellow who thinks that outsiders from your world are a threat to our safety. Should he find you he will have you executed, so I warn you against making yourselves too obvious – after all it’s not easy being a human in a world of elves.’

   ‘Elves?!’ Jared cried. That was it – he fainted.

   Genevieve caught him and looked up at the elf. ‘Was it something I said?’ Fell asked.

   ‘No,’ she said, swallowing the misbelief.

   ‘Oh, I nearly forgot – here.’ He handed her a pair of scimitars. ‘Just in case,’ he smiled.

   ‘Thank you.’

   The ship docked behind them and Genevieve turned to look as the crew scurried off onto the dock. From behind her she heard Fell.

   ‘Goodbye Genevieve.’

   He knew her name? She whirled round, but Fell was gone.

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