Luka awoke on what appeared to be a tour bus. She could have sworn she had fallen asleep in her bed, had she been kidnapped? Looking around, she tried to figure out where she was. It looked almost like the city she had come from, but it was different somehow. Everyone was dressed strangely, some as vikings, others in togas, but not a single person wore a pair of jeans, or even a t-shirt. She appeared to be in a park, but instead of benches, there were beds.
"Welcome to Deorum Land, you're very lucky mortals," Luka looked to the front of the bus upon hearing the voice. Standing in the isle was a woman who appeared to be a tour guide, dressed in a blue formal vest and slacks, complete with a shiny name tag. "We are expecting one more, so while we're waiting, I'll address any questions or concerns you might have. Sound alright?"
Looking around, Luka saw roughly a dozen other teens, all looking just as confused as she felt.
"Excuse me miss?" Luka spoke up, looking a the tour guide. "Where are we? How did I get here?"
"We are in the Land of Deorum. More specifically, we're in the city of Omnisia, in the Mortal Gardens city park," the woman asked. "As for how you got here, to this day we aren't sure. Every century since the beginning of time, roughly fifteen mortals will appear in the gardens. For their comfort we have beds placed in the gardens when the mortals are set to appear, but there will be more on that when our next mortal arrives. For now, you each need to write your name on the tag you are about to be given, you may right something you would prefer to be called, but you will be called that for the rest of your life so choose wisely."
Luka looked down at the fold-down tray in front of her, and before her eyes a gold name tag similar to the one given the guide was wearing. Picking it up Luka examined it, then looking at the pen grew confused.
"How are we supposed to write our names on a metal name tag, with a felt tip marker?" Someone behind Luka asked.
The guide smiled. "It's a magic marker, and the tag itself is magic as well. It will translate anything written on it so that anyone who looks at it can read it, much like the bus is translating everything I'm saying into a language each person who hears me can understand." She looked out the side of the bus. "If you look to your right you will see the last mortal to arrive for the century."
Luka and the other teenagers on the bus turned to look out the windows on the right of the bus. One of the beds had begun to glow gold, and a person was beginning to appear. They started out faint and barely visible, and gradually started to become more solid. Soon there was a sleeping boy on the bed and it stopped glowing. A young man in a white toga calmly picked up the boy and set him gently down in a seat on the bus.
"Thank you Hypnos," the woman nodded to the man.
The man nodded and stepped out of the bus. Pearly white feathered wings appeared on his back, and with a flutter he flew off into the sky, where other people and creatures could be seen flying about. The boy stirred in his seat and woke up.
"Wh-what? Where?" He looked around.
"Good afternoon everyone, I'm Empanada but you may call me Panda if you prefer. I'm known as the Roman goddess of hospitality, and I'll be your guide today," Empanada smiled as she looked around at the groggy teens in front of her. "Welcome to Deorumland, we hope you all have a wonderful time living here. For those of you who are wondering, it's a bright and sunny Saturday afternoon, one thirty to be exact. It's twenty-four degrees celsius, or seventy-five degrees fahrenheit."
"How did we get here?" The new boy asked, looking around at the others in the bus.
"Nobody knows for sure, but just like everyone else on this bus, other than myself of course, you appeared on one of those beds," Panda gestured out the window. "This has happened once a century, every century since the beginning of time."
"What's going to happen to us now?" The girl in the seat across from Luka asked.
"Unfortunately, no one has yet been able to figure out a way to send you back where you came from. Not that you're not welcome of course, you most certainly are!" Panda insisted. "However, we have put our best efforts into insuring you will live comfortable lives here. I will be giving you a guided tour of the entire city, answering any questions you might have. After that you'll be brought to one of the city's many human care centers, where you can decide where you will go and what sort of career you're interested in."
"Why do you keep calling us 'mortals'?" Another teen asked.
"I was waiting for that question. I should probably stop calling you mortals, however that is what we call you here in Deorumland. The reason for this is that while we are immortal, or nearly so with our lengthy life spans, and very rarely get sick, whilst you humans get sick and injured easily and die in a very short period of time, therefore bringing us to the conclusion that we are mortals and you are not," Panda explained, before turning to the man driving the bus and telling him to go. "Now we will begin our tour, and feel free to stop me along the way if you have any questions or concerns."
There were a few nods, and everyone seemed to understand as the bus got moving.
"We are currently at the Axis Mundi, otherwise known as the connection between the worlds. If you look to your left you will see the gate itself. If you happen to come to this spot on the same day as the Norns, Fates, or another all-seeing entity, the gate will allow you to see into the human world, otherwise known as Earth, Midgard, Gaia, Tellus Mater, as well as others. The Axis Mundi was discovered many millennia ago, and no one knows the exact date of its discovery or creation. For those who are wondering, The Axis Mundi is located in the center of Mortal Gardens Park, near the heart of the city Omnisia." Panda told them, gesturing to everything she was pointing out.
A girl in the back raised her hand. "Like omnisum, as in having more than one religion?"
"Yes, clever isn't it? Our multicultural capital city having a name that by definition is having multiple religions," Panda explained, bright smile never faltering. "We are now leaving the park, if you look around you will notice that our methods of transportation varies wildly, from modern vehicles such as this one to riding on mythical beasts or carriages. On your right you will see Hermes fly past on his winged shoes. Hermes is known to you as the ancient greek messenger god, if you were to ask your scholars would have told you he is said to be a mischievous fellow, and the protector of travelers, thieves, and athletes with the power to travel between the realms."
Luka looked out the window, curious to see more people in this strange place. A man was flying by the bus at a leisurely pace, though he didn't appear to have any wings. Upon closer inspection he did appear to have wings, only on his gladiator sandals instead of his back. He wore a white tunic, with white shorts underneath. He had shaggy, dirty blonde hair and a toned figure. He had on his head a winged helmet and at his side he carried a brown messanger bag and a golden staff with wings at the top and a pair of snake like creatures wrapped up around it.
"Hermes is the head of postal services here in Deorum, much like I am the head of immigration services," Panda told the bus. "I will try to point out as many important deities as I can to give you the best idea of who you will be working for and with in the future."
"Will any of us ever be heads of something?" A boy in the back asked.
"If you can out do a god," Panda told him. "Now if you look at your fold-down tray, you will see a map of Deorum has been given to you."
Luka looked down, and there was indeed a map. For a world map, it looked quite small, maybe the size of North America.
It had many cities, towns, and harbours, though everything was spread out leaving room for forests, lakes, rivers and farmland. Luka saw some names she recognized, such as Asgard, Mount Olympus, or the Garden of Eden, but she also saw many unfamiliar names, such as Takama-Go-Hara, Laestrygon, and Shambhala.
As the bus continued to move, Panda continued to point out various people, places and landmarks and Luka decided to pay close attention. She wanted to have many adventures in this strange new place.