Marcia jolted out of her sleep and looked over at Lucinda who was stirring. The sun shining through the windows told her that morning had arrived. What a terrible nightmare, she thought to herself. She stood up and stretched while Lucinda got out of bed.
Neither of them got good sleep, but both felt a surge of energy as they realized where they were. “We got to figure out what is going on,” Marcia said, as she stood over Lucinda who was seated on the bed.
“I don’t know how we are going to do that. I guess we will have to continue searching around, it’s not like we have any other choice.”
Marcia wondered if her dream had any meaning to it. It was often told that dreams would often lead people when they were in their darkest moment. She didn’t know whether she should try to find the center of the city or stay away from it. The nightmare was terrifying. Marcia shared her dream with Lucinda.
“I don’t know about exploring the middle of the city,” Lucinda said after Marcia finished. “I mean, the dream could have been warning you not to go in that direction.”
“That’s a possibility, or it could have been leading me in that direction because that is where we are supposed to go.”
“I’m not comfortable with the idea of facing those things that you spoke off,” Lucinda said.
“From what I understand, dreams are often symbolic of things in real life. Those monsters could have just been fears that I have about being here. Who knows if the castle is real even. The lightning around it didn’t look real.” Marcia answered.
“I guess you’re right. Well, I’m in if there is any chance that we can find some answers. How about trying to find some elven bread first. Most cities have elven bread stored somewhere.” Lucinda was right. Elven bread was often stored in cities in case of a famine since it was both filling and didn’t spoil.
The two of them explored the city for hours and finally came to a building where there was elven bread. It only took a half of piece each and they were both full. They gathered some elven bread and knapsacks to take with them in case they wouldn’t be able to return in a while.
They made their way toward the center of the city. There seemed to be plenty of evidence that people just got up and left what they were doing and went somewhere. There was laundry hung up that was half taken down. In many of the homes they peered in there was cooked meat and vegetables half eaten on the tables. There appeared to be no animals left and the only sign of life came from the cactuses and trees that were scattered throughout the city.
As they came to the center of the city, there was no castle like there appeared in Marcia’s dream. In fact, there were no buildings. The center was just a bunch of sand that looked like it had been swirled around, and the swirls led to the center. Buildings surrounded this circular area on all sides but within the circle there was no sign of life.
Lucinda looked at Marcia, “What do you suppose this is?”
Marcia continued to examine the inside of the circle, “Possibly a vortex of some sort. I have the feeling magic was used here and some kind of spell was done. I can almost sense the magic surrounding this place.”
“I see what you mean. Do you think this magic swallowed up everyone in the city?”
“Possibly,” Marcia said. “But what kind of wizard could use such powerful magic? The use of magic drains the strength of a wizard or witch, and I don’t know any that would be able to live through this magnitude of a spell. Magic just used for healing requires the healer to rest for several hours, but to make everyone in a whole city vanish? That seems impossible.”
“I know what you mean,” Lucinda responded. “There had to be a force larger to use this kind of magic. A dragon perhaps?”
“Dragons can do some powerful magic, but still, this is too much for even a dragon. There must be something else that exists in Zalonia that can conjure up something even more powerful.”
“Are we even sure we are in Zalonia anymore? What happens if the portals led us somewhere else?” Lucinda wondered.
Marcia thought for a moment, “Well, it is possible. I wish I knew more about the portals. Do you know something that I don’t know?”
“I have read legends that the portals can send beings into different worlds that are replicates of Zalonia, but different. These worlds are often desolate and dangerous. I don’t remember much but I do remember reading that one was full of deserts.”
“Why didn’t you tell me this sooner?” Marcia demanded, feeling a little upset with her friend. She noticed that she had been feeling more irritated with her overall ever since Lucinda confessed that she was a spy.
“I didn’t think of it. Everything just happened so fast and I didn’t think this land was desolate because we found a city,” Lucinda protested.
“Yeah, a desolate city. We could be in great danger. Do you know if there is a way to get back to Zalonia?”
Lucinda looked away as she was trying to recall what she read, “I think we must find another portal.”
“Great! So, we are stuck here with our lives on the line unless we are able to find a portal in a huge world where we don’t have enough supplies to live on in order to search for the portal?” Marcia was upset and frightened.
“I guess you could put it that way. There must be a way out though. People have been able to live and tell about these worlds, so they must have escaped somehow.”
Marcia thought for a minute, “I suppose you have a point. We need to think up some ideas. Possibly by first checking out this sand dune in the middle of the city.”
They both stepped on the sand dune, after a minute Lucinda said, “This is strange, this sand is hard as a rock, but it looks like it would be fluffy.” After a few more minutes of walking, it seemed like the sand became softer and softer.
Marcia then said, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
“But it may lead to the way out. I mean you came here in your dream.”
“My dream was full of monsters and scary things, plus it was a castle, not a sand dune. What happens if we are walking into a trapped?” Suddenly Marcia felt her boots begin to sink into the sand. “We need to get out of here!”
“Yes, and quickly,” Lucinda said as she tried to move her feet. “I’m stuck!”
“Me too! And we are sinking fast!” Marcia yelled terrified. Within a few seconds the sand had reached her belly… and then her neck. There was no escape as they were both pulled under.