Return of a Princess (Nydanna & Falcon]

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  1. #1 Scripturient, Feb 24, 2016
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
  2. Kellum The moon was high in the sky, the training yards long since empty, but the headmaster remained in his office with dozens of folders opened up in front of him. Kellum Thecaryn had been the headmaster of Windmorrow for over fifty years now, hoping to last another fifty years before old age forced him into retirement. The elf had never been a guardian, yet his position left him in charge of every single one of them, deciding which guardian would protect which noble, when things needed changing, and when it was time to switch things up. For an elf who had never had the privilege of serving as a protector, he did a fairly decent job of pairing nobles with their most compatible guardian; of course it was a little bit more than luck involved with it. It was common knowledge that the circumstances of his birth were the reason that he had never become a guardian himself.

    Born from the illicit affair between a noble man and a female guardian, Kellum became something of an oddity in Windmorrow society, possessing his father’s psychic abilities rather than his mother’s magic. It was the reason that he had never become a guardian himself, but had trained for the job either way. That did not mean he did not serve his kingdom in other ways, but those tales were left told in speeches meant to send off his newly graduated guardians, and occasionally a private lecture for those still in training that needed to find their way. They were well known, yet at the same time secret, something like legends that no one truly believed, but everyone knew.

    For now though there were no trainees to worry about. No instructors reporting to him, or nobles stopping by to remind him of their son’s and daughter’s upcoming birthdays. The hallways were empty. The trainees all asleep in in their dorm rooms, resting for the next day’s training. There was no one awake at the hour, other than Kellum himself; or so he thought.

    There was a knock on the door, a startling sound in the silence of his office. Kellum rose quickly from his seat, shuffling across the room on limbs that had grown stiff from remaining seated for too long. The door opened to reveal a middle aged elf, dressed in the royal colors of hunter green and gold, baring a sealed envelope in his hand. “Master Kellum. A message from the queen.” The elf gave a curt bow, thrusting the message into Kellum’s outstretched hand hastily. “Her majesty requests that you read it straight away. She says that it is urgent.”

    The headmaster nodded his head, dismissing the messenger with the wave of his empty hand. The envelope was torn open, but Kellum didn’t need to read the message to know what was inside; he’d been waiting for it for nearly eighteen years. His intuition was right on the ball, the paper had only one line written on it in the queen’s immaculate scrawl. ‘It is time.’ No signature necessary. No explanation or further expansion of the three words were needed for the headmaster. There was only one reason that the queen would be sending him notice directly at this late hour of night; she had predicted danger for the one person outside Windmorrow’s walls that needed the most protection.

    A heavy sighed passed through his lips, Kellum discarding the paper unceremoniously on top the folders already cluttering his desktop. The kingdom was about to become chaotic with a flurry of activity, preparations no doubt beginning before the headmaster could even send the selected guardian on his way, hoping that he had fully prepared the young elf for the challenges he was about to face. Kellum felt a great deal of sympathy for the guardian, regardless of the countless years spent training for his assignment. He would be the first to travel through the portal to seek out his charge, one who was completely unaware of her importance, or even aware of her own true nature. The guardian would not only have his hands full trying to gain the young woman’s trust, but he would have to do so without the assistance of anyone else.

    The headmaster returned to his desk to begin typing away at his computer, still amazed at human technology, and the fact that the queen had managed to procure such advances for the kingdom without fully exposing their kind to the human world. He supposed there were a few nobles who had a part in assisting with that, aware of a number of elves who possessed minor mind control abilities that could easily erase all memories of elven existence. The updating of Windmorrow had taken a full year to accomplish. Although small in comparison of most human countries, the kingdom was certainly not a mere speck on the map. There had been an exchange of sorts, a few deals that he as headmaster had been included in. Humans were allowed into Windmorrow for the first time, working in secret to begin adding what was required to advance the country into the technological age, the process made simpler by the magic and powers possessed by noble and guardian alike. What should have taken nearly a decade to accomplish was completed well within a year.

    Throughout time, elves had crossed into the human world, disguising themselves among the people to learn everything that they could about the technologies of man. It was a necessary evil considering how closely the two worlds were bound, a mere portal keeping them separated. The queen’s parents had decided that Windmorrow needed to be kept up to date with human technology, and sent out over a hundred elves into the world to begin the process. From there Windmorrow began its modernization. The first step; electricity. From there it was nothing but constant change for the better, although many still relied on the old ways of doing things. Kellum had watched as the castle was renovated, no longer lit up by candles and lamps, but with ornate chandeliers and light fixtures. Messengers were replaced by phone lines, and within the past five years, those had been replaced by cell phones and computers. Their technology was still behind that of humans by a good few years, but they were nowhere near where they had been eighteen years ago.

    It was the birth of the princess, and her planned disappearance that sparked the need for technological advancement and a need for connection to the human world. Most of the citizens of Windmorrow were blindsided by the queen’s sudden and unexpected obsession with pushing the kingdom into the technological age. There were rumors of course, but no one save for a handful of nobles were aware of the true reasoning behind it.

    The princess was born, everyone was aware of that fact. One day the queen was pregnant, and the next day she was not. No one knew where the princess was, but there was no panic over her absence. The princess was alive, and well, but her whereabouts would remain a secret until such a time that she was old enough to return to her rightful place. Everyone understood the reasoning for it, and did not question it. They simply waited for the announcement, living their lives as if there was no princess at all, but anxiously awaiting her arrival. And who wouldn’t? The future queen held a great deal of importance, even more than her own mother.

    Although not quite a noble, Kellum was the only person in all of Windmorrow who knew the full truth of the princess, from where she was hidden, to when to expect her impending arrival. He had been called to the queen the very same day of the princess’ birth, the royal imparting to him what his task was. It had been his job to find an ideal guardian, one who would not only watch out after the princess when she made her return, but would venture into the human world to retrieve her when she finally came of age. That time had finally arrived, and it was now Kellum’s task to send out the selected guardian.

    Loren Torindeal had spent the majority of his life being trained for this very task, receiving an education in not only the basic knowledge needed by a guardian, but information that he would need to survive in the human world as well. Of course there was a great deal that could not be taught, but Kellum was certain the young elf possessed enough to be able to survive beyond the portal and bring the princess back where she belonged. Before he could do that though, Kellum needed to make some preparations. A house had already been purchased for this very occasion, the headmaster hoping that there had been no change in the princess’ location within the past year since. Enrollment in school was required, along with the basic essential necessary for the guardian to live outside the walls of the kingdom for the next month. So much to do, and so little time to do it in! First and foremost, Kellum decided as he abandoned his computer and rose from his desk. Loren needed to be informed that his duties were set to begin, and that his years of training were not to be put to use.

    Vacating his office, Kellum marched through the dimly lit corridors, passing the empty classrooms into the silent dorm hall. The dorms were divided up by ages. The younger, newer trainees were roomed in groups of four, eventually moving upward until they earned their own private room. Currently, there were forty seven trainees, the majority of them still years away from becoming a full-fledged guardian, only a dozen of them were housed individually, with Loren having endured the longest stay of all of them. The male had been treated differently than the others, not only because of his role, but because of the grueling training required because of it. He had never been grouped with the others trainees, and while he did attend training with them, there were specified classes that he attended alone. Not to say that his position didn’t give him certain benefits either. Loren was given all the latest in technology once it came out in the human world, so that he could remain up to date on the trends of the average teenager. He was allowed to watch television and movies that were popular as well, all in the hopes that when he was released into the human world, he would have at least something to converse about with the princess once he encountered her. The biggest flaw in their plan was that no one truly knew anything at all about the young royal.

    From the moment she was placed with her human family, the queen had ordered absolutely no contact at all with the girl. Occasionally one of the older guardians would be sent out to ensure that the princess’ family remained in the same home, which to their dismay, had not happened. For nearly six months they had lost track of the girl untl she resurfaced again in an entirely different state. Kellum thought the queen would have been worried about it, but the woman seemed rather pleased that her daughter was further away from the portal rather than panicked.

    They knew very little about the princess’ day to day life, other than the fact that she lived as a normal, teenage girl and was currently in her final year of schooling. She lived with comfortably with her surrogate family, who seemed blissfully unaware that the girl they were raising did not truly belong with them. The last guardian to check up on the princess a few months ago had returned with updated photos and a wealth of information that had not been known to them prior. The news was rather distressing. Kellum had thought for sure that the queen would have called for the Loren to be sent the moment she learned of the princess’ childhood traumas through various newspaper articles brought back by the guardian. However, she waited, not wanting to risk pulling the girl away too soon. With the changes in the human world regarding abductions, it was decided to wait as close to the princess’ eighteenth birthday as possible before pulling her out of the human world and bringing her back to Windmorrow.

    However, there was another flaw to that plan, one that they had predicted, but never truly expected. It started a months ago when the guardians protecting the portal were attacked by a large group. Had it just been warriors of Embervance, Kellum was certain things would have worked out in their favor of waiting. But no, it was not just Embervance who had attacked, but a group of trolls and orcs as well, confirming what he and the queen had feared. The king had allied himself with other dark beings, and had now set his sights on getting to the princess before she could finally return to Windmorrow. Unlike the queen, the king needed to get to the princess before her eighteenth birthday. They had managed to keep her location a secret, or so they thought, but after the attack it became rather obvious that information had been leaked, and the king was fully aware of the situation. He had only a few weeks to get his hands on the princess, which made him desperate. The reports that came after the attack confirmed their worst fears. At least three Embervance warriors had made it through the portal. A small group of guardians had been sent through to try and track them down, but returned empty handed. Kellum had suggested to the queen that they retrieve the princess then, but the queen held onto her position, wanting to wait just a little while longer. They were quickly running out of time though, and now Loren had a month to reach the princess and convince her to return with him. Not a lot of time at all, and a great deal of pressure was put on the young guardian’s shoulders. Had Kellum not selected the elf himself, he might not have had faith that Loren could accomplish his task. With what little insight they had about the princess herself, and the rushed time frame they were dealing with, there was still a possibility that perhaps the guardian may not succeed and would have to rely on more aggressive methods to bring the young female home.

    There was one thing that was absolutely certain though, the one fact that pushed Kellum to knock loudly on Loren’s door to rouse the elf from his sleep. The princess had to be in Windmorrow on her eighteenth birthday, or all hell could possibly break loose, along with her enchantments.

    Knocking once more, Kellum called out as loudly as he could without disturbing the other sleeping trainees. “Loren. It’s time. Gather your things and meet me in my office within an hour.” Certain that the message would have the same effect as a bucket of ice water, the headmaster scurried to return to his office to finish up the necessary arrangements. Once the young guardian was through the portal, he would be on his own until he returned. There was still so much to do, and nearly no time to do it in. As long as he managed to get Loren through the portal and on his way before morning began, Kellum would consider his day a success.
    • Love Love x 1
  3. The moon continued along its arch in the star studded sky giving evidence to the fact that it was now the time of night, or early morning, where most reasonable beings
    should be safe and sound, slumbering in their beds.

    Counted among the number of those sleeping soundly was Loren Torindeal, a young elf and guardian. A book lay open, dropped unceremoniously on the floor beside his bed.

    Shoulder-length, ebony locks tousled about his head as he shifted against his pillow, somehow avoiding waking him as a few slipped up his nose. A long fingered hand gripped a well loved blanket, keeping it pulled over the broad shoulders against the chill of the night air coming from the window he had insisted on leaving open. He always kept his window open, unless it rained. It was easier to wake to the sound of the birds that way.

    That was not to be the manner of waking this time.

    The headmaster's words carried through the door and seeped their way into dreams mainly centered around a hike in the woods and a blue robin. Loren woke with a start, and a muffled "Coming," was all that was needed to give acknowledgment that he had received and understood the missive.

    He was as fast as he could be for a young man just rolling out of bed before the crack of dawn. Presentable clothing was donned, tangled hair brushed, and then a single large backpack quickly packed until it was stuffed to the brim. In addition to the required amount of clothing went several electronic devices (wired to work in the human realm), toiletries, and the unfinished book. His knives were strapped into place, hidden beneath his clothing, and after a quick splash of water on his face Loren shouldered the pack and left.

    Loren didn't bother locking the door behind him. Everything he owned was on his person or in the bag and it was with no certainty that he could say he would be returning to that room even if he did successfully complete his mission and retrieve the girl. Loren was sure that was what he was being called for. He had only spent his entire life training for this.

    The young elf kept his foot falls light as he made his way down the long hall past the rooms of his sleeping classmates. He knew he'd miss them. With some he had grown as close as siblings. Those doors he let his fingers trail lightly across the frames as he passed.

    It was within thirty minutes after waking that Loren reached the headmaster's office and with a firm, but quiet, rap on the door he announce himself.

    "I am here, Sir. Is it time?"
    • Love Love x 1
  4. Kellum Kellum wasn’t surprised to find Loren in his office before the allotted time had run out. The young guardian had to have suspicions on the reason he was being summoned without needing an explanation. The headmaster didn’t motion for the younger elf to enter the room, but instead rose from his seat, dug into the drawer to his right to withdraw a manila folder and met Loren in the hallway. “That it is, and I’m afraid we don’t have much time to waste. I would have preferred you leave earlier, but the queen has her reasons for holding it off as long as she has.” It was not Kellum’s place to question the queen, and he would never say a word against the woman. However, a month to get Loren established into the human world to form a relationship with the princess was certainly cutting it close. Kellum had suggested sending Loren the moment they learned of the attack, and the possibility that there was a noble leaking information to Embervance. The queen had rationalized that sending the guardian would have made it far easier for the warriors who’d gone through the portal to track the princess down, and Kellum reluctantly agreed. He’d held Loren back, although now he had to wonder if they had done more harm than good.

    Passing the folder to Loren, Kellum motioned for him to follow. “All your necessary paperwork is in there. You’ve already learned about the human’s need to keep track of everything, so you’ll know what to do with it all. The keys to the house you’ll be staying at are on the other side of the portal with one of the guardians.” So much to go over! Kellum felt as if he was leaving everything out, but they still had some distance to walk. The academy was the closest building to the portal, the idea that the guardians housed there, along with those still in training would be the first level of defense, and give the army enough time to prepare in the event that something or someone unexpected managed to come through. It was still a five mile walk, and they needed to make haste to reach their destination lest the guardian miss his ride.

    “There’s a bus ticket waiting for you, and Ridley….that’s who I’ve assigned to help you out for the next few days. He’ll only be staying long enough to get you set up in the princess’ school, and teach you what we were unable to teach you here. He’ll be returning to his post once you’ve settled in.” Having anyone who appeared older than the princess would put the entire task at risk. Again, human kidnapping laws and the increase of vigilance surrounding teenagers and adults would make things difficult, and the last thing Loren needed was the hassle of another guardian being investigated by the police. His sudden appearance was already going to raise a few eyebrows. It was better for Loren to work alone, and he was trained for it.

    “The house has been stocked, although from what I’ve been told, human food isn’t the most palatable. The electric and water are all set up as well. Once you’ve settled in, I’m certain I don’t have to tell you that your main priority should be trying to get on the princess’ good side.” How easy would that be? Kellum could not give the guardian any advice at all on his most important task. No one could. There had been glimpses of the young woman, and of course there was the picture he had placed in the file along with all the other information the elf would need. Once he was through the portal, in the human world though, there was no chance for him to ask any questions.

    “Contact is prohibited, I’m afraid. We don’t know exactly how much the Embervance warriors have learned during their time in the human world.” The fact that the Embervance warriors were out there still troubled Kellum. Had they tried to make contact with the princess? Were they already working on building a relationship with the girl? The last thing they needed was for the princess to forsake Windmorrow and head off to be with her father. That didn’t strike the headmaster as possible though. The king was ruthless, responding to everything and everyone with violence. He would not be concerned with ‘wooing’ Jocelyn to his side, because he had no plans on keeping her alive once the queen was dead, and that was what would happen if he managed to get to Jocelyn first.

    Kellum grew silent as they broke through the treeline into the densely populated forest that served as a barrier and another line of defense between the portal and the kingdom. It was Loren’s time to ask whatever had popped into his mind amongst the overload of information he had just received. Once he breached the portal, he would have only Ridley to rely on, and after that there would be no one. Kellum could only hope that the training he’d received would be enough, that he could manage to fool the human’s he was forced to encounter into believing he was a regular, teenage male. Hoping felt foolish considering what would happen if Loren didn’t succeed. The entire kingdom, and the human world were both in danger, and everything relied on the young guardian’s shoulders.
    • Love Love x 1
  5. Loren
    Loren had a hard time finding a definition for the emotions he felt as Kellum led him away through the compound and then the woods towards the portal gate. Apprehension was probably the best term he could settle on. He could tell something was bothering the headmaster about the whole scenario, but at the same time Loren knew better than to ask.

    Loren carefully stowed the keys and the folder safely away in his pack as they walk, his ears picking up every detail and his mind stowing the memory so he could later recall it word by word. Always better to be safe. It was a comfort to know he'd have Ridley's company, at least at the start. Loren had a profound respect for the older elf and felt sure that even if it was only for a few hours what he could learn from the other in that time would be of great benefit.

    Still he wouldn't deny the uncertainty he felt at the whole thing. He didn't know the girl he was supposed to find, didn't even know anything about her, never-mind how to talk to her. But he was supposed to do much more than talk. He was supposed to convince her that everything she knew was a lie, that she was from another world, and to come home with him. It was a daunting task, and a hard one to bare. He knew the kingdom needed her that it was necessary for her to return to her birthright in hopes of preventing calamity, but at the same time coercing anyone away from their home didn't quite feel right.

    As they broke the treeline the headmaster fell silent indicating it was Loren's turn to speak. The young elf did so, pouring out all the questions he had thought of in a stream. Better to get them all out while he could. Loren knew their time was running short.

    "If contact is prohibited how do I let you know we're ready to return," was the first query to leave his lips, shortly followed by, "Should I assume there's extra cash in case of unexpected expenses? Is there a plan for us to return? Do we have a set cover story or is that something I should ask Ridley? And Sir, do we know -- is there anyone else looking for that I should be aware of?"

    Loren carefully kept his gaze on Kellum's face, refusing to look apprehensively over his shoulder to the space where the portal would shortly be opened. He was nervous, afraid to fail, he would be a fool if he was not. But Loren knew he would also be a fool to give into those emotions and let them sway him in his duty. There could be no distractions here. Only the job.
    • Love Love x 1
  6. Kellum Kellum was pensive for a few moments, debating how to answer the young guardian’s questions. There were very specific reasons why communications with Windmorrow was prohibited, mostly for Loren’s safety as well as the princess’. Things were laid out in very certain terms, and while Kellum didn’t like most of them. “The main reason that you’re not allowed to communicate with me is to protect your place in the human world. As I stated earlier, Embervance’s warriors have not been located. We have no idea what they are capable of. They’ve had inside help from someone within Windmorrow, and we don’t want to take the risk that any communication from you will be traced to your exact location. We’re going under the assumption that the enemy is out there blind, and we want to keep it that way.” Fortunately, there were very few who knew the princess’ exact location, and even that was questionable. It was always possible that her human family could have moved at any point, but it that was a risk they had to take.

    “I’m afraid you’ll be on your own when it comes time to return. We have no idea how long it will take you to get the princess to agree to come along with you, or the circumstances. We can hope that she will come along willingly and the two of you will not be followed, but until it happens we won’t know.” Kellum offered a small smile of assurance, patting the younger elf on the shoulder. “That doesn’t mean you’ll be alone. Ridley will remain on the other side of the portal, and I’m sure the two of you can arrange some form of communication.” The lack of information about where and when Loren would be returning with the princess was one issue. The other issue was that they could not send any more guardians outside the portal. There was already a high alert within the kingdom, and with the princess’ inevitable arrival, that did not look to be diminishing any time soon. There was still quite a bit that needed to be done before the princess’ arrival, and finding the traitor amongst their ranks was of the highest priority.

    “Money isn’t going to be an issue.” Kellum began, deciding to add a bright point to the situation. “And your cover story is already established. Ridley will go over it with you during your trip. He’ll be able to give you all the information you need that I do not have. Unfortunately, to keep things from getting into the wrong hands, the queen and I both decided to keep all the information pertaining to the human world and where you’ll be going on the other side of the portal. Ridley’s is among the highest rank gurdians, and he was hand selected for this task as you were.” Ridley was trusted for one particular reason; he was the son of the queen’s guardian. Had he been a bit younger, he may have been chosen to be the princess’ guardian, but as it was the elf was happy to assist in the princess’ retrieval.

    The thick expanse of trees began to thin out, giving way to an inconspicuous, windowless, brick building. If it weren’t for the uniformed elves surrounding the structure, most would have assumed that it had no value at all. The elves guarding the building visibly tensed the moment that Kellum and Loren broke through the trees, only relaxing when the two became clearly visible. Kellum was saluted with the usual sense of respect, while Loren was eyed up with a bit of scrutiny, and a tiny sliver of curiosity. The headmaster dismissed the salutes with a wave of his hand, but did not give the order to put the males at ease. “Pay close attention to the young elf beside me. I want you to memorize his face. He will be returning within a month, and I expect that none of you will give him, or his guest any trouble when they arrive. Is that understood?” The princess would still be in her human form, which made it much easier to explain away her arrival without anyone learning of her identity. Once the enchantment broke, it was up to the queen to decide how to announce the princess. Of course Loren would need to be part o that process, but no need to burden the boy with that now; he had enough on his plate. “Remember his name, and pass it along to the others. If I find out that any of you gave him a hard time, you’ll be cleaning the bathrooms of every school in the kingdom with a toothbrush for the next year!”

    Threat delivered and received with a few grimaces and one very loud groan, Kellum motioned for Loren to step inside past the heavy wooden door which was thrown open by the two guardians posted nearby. The moment the door was open a soft hum could be heard, not loud enough to be painful, but steady enough to become a bother after a while. “We won’t want to stay inside for too long. After a while the sound will start to get to you. “ He paused, remaining outside the doorway. “If you have any other questions, you may want to ask them now before we enter. This will be your last chance to ask me anything. After this, you’ll have to rely on Ridley.”
    • Love Love x 1
  7. Loren

    Well, Loren supposed, even if communication were cut off to this side at least he could still get through to Ridley. The young elf felt confidant that the other would have some plan, at least a better one than Loren could come up with at the moment. Loren had originally thought he'd have a few days to plan things. "The best laid plans of mice and men" or so the saying went. At least he thought that was it. One of those human phrases he'd picked up during his years of study.

    It was also a comfort to know that money wouldn't be an issue. If there was one thing Loren had learned in his classes, from watching their TV, and from reading their books, it was that a great deal of problems on their side seemed to stem from a lack of cash. He wasn't naive enough to believe his sources told the whole truth on the matter. Loren was well aware that the sources of his exposure had been designed mostly for entertainment purposes. But still, better to be prepared and avoid that particular issue than not. As for the cover story, he was curious to know what it was, how did one explain a teenage boy moving to a new city to live alone? but he could wait.

    Loren found it a bit uncomfortable to be introduced to the guards in the manner he was, like he was expected to return as some great hero when in reality no one would know the identity of the person he brought back. But he tried to hide his unease under a cool and calm exterior. There were expectations of him as the man chosen to complete this task, and he could not began showing off his uncertainty. Loren figured that if he had been the sort to tend towards arrogance in his duty he would not have been chosen for this. The young elf tried to comfort himself with that idea.

    As they stepped through the door Loren felt sure he'd had another question, but the hum and the mission before him had driven it from his mind.
    "I feel like I should ask something else, but I can't remember it at the moment." Loren admitted. "I'm sure it'll come back while I'm going over things with Ridley though --" He kept his voice low so only Kellum could hear.

    A moment later Loren took a deep breath and turned toward the portal, stepping onto the ramp that had been raised to lead through the center of the ornate circular gate constructed in gold and polished bronze. Several rings surrounded the perimeter, the first and the last displaying something akin to a mathematical equation if you knew how to read it, Loren did not. He did know that when the two rings were in perfect sync the portal would open. The central ring was about as wide as the other two placed together, the phases of the moon displayed proudly through the center of it, each as big as a shield, glowing a rich cyan. Various symbols which Loren had always thought looked a bit like star constellations seemed to float in the space between each shield.

    More impressive than the gate's construction, or so Loren had always thought, was the swirling blue vortex that compromised the portal's essence. Just looking at it filled Loren with awe. To him it was like looking as the source of magic itself. He had never seen anything filled with so much raw power as this. Every hair on his body seemed to want to stand on end as he almost felt the roaring swirling mass along with the hum that filled the room. It was if the portal touched all his senses and not just sight or hearing.

    Another deep breath and Loren shouldered his pack, after making sure he really did have everything, walked up the ramp and stepped through.

    There were no words to describe the sensation properly. The closest Loren could get would be to imagine plunging into a pool of ice water and then being dragged down by a swirling current. Except it wasn't down, it was forward and through. And the current itself seemed to tingle with every touch and if it were filled with static electricity, not enough to warm the chill, but enough to set every part of his body tingling as if it were about to fall asleep.

    It seemed to last forever, and it seemed to last an instant.

    When he landed on the other side Loren immediately collapsed to his knees gasping for breath. He was so focused on getting himself back for a moment that he failed to immediately notice his surroundings.

  8. Ridley Ridley could think of about a million other things he’d like to be doing with his time other than sitting by what most would see as a shoddy cabin in the middle of nowhere, waiting for some clueless human to come staggering around. Normally he might have asked his partner to cover him for a few hours while he wandered into the town an hour away to entertain himself. Humans weren’t exactly the best conversationalist, but even he had to admit that there were quite a few decent authors to rise up from their ranks. His favorite pastime had been to stop in the town’s library to grab a few books to waste his time with, but tonight Ridley had been ordered to remain at his post to await Loren’s arrival.

    The cabin was an enchantment, only visible to humans who ventured too close to the portal. To Ridley, it was a whirling blue vortex in the middle of a clearing with nothing else around in sight save for an actual cabin hidden away in the trees. That was his home away from home, the small domicile where he and his partner Saiharah lived while on duty. It wasn’t much, but it kept the rain from soaking them through, and kept the cold from seeping into their bones. What more did they need when their true home was on the other side of the portal? Apparently he needed a bit more, because after a while he ended up going absolutely stir crazy hoping that at least one human would make the mistake of staggering up into the woods. It never happened, and Ridley found himself growing bored with his job.

    Today was different though. Today he wasn’t going to be just standing around protecting the portal from absolutely nothing. Today he got to abandon his post, and this time around he did not have to worry about coming straight back. No, it wasn’t all fun and games, but it sure as hell beat doing nothing at all.

    The moment that the portal became active, Ridley was on high alert, a part of him cautious that perhaps someone other than Loren managed to slip through, but not quite paranoid enough to prepare to attack. He watched at the younger guardian collapsed to the ground, his travels catching up with him in an instant. He could remember the feeling of vertigo that came with traveling through the portal the first time, but now he could travel back and forth without much more than a flip of his stomach when he got to the other side. Loren would probably need a moment to gather himself, and Ridley was quick to lend the elf a hand. “Easy there, Loren.” He stated as he rushed over to the younger elf, helping him to his feet but keeping a grip to hold him steady. “The first time’s the hardest. Don’t rush yourself trying to move. You’ll end up throwing up if you do.”

    Ridley was calling out to his partner, mindful of Loren’s current state. “Saiharah, bring me a bottle of water, and start the fire back up. We’ve got company.” Knowing that the female would comply, Ridley turned his attention back to Loren. “Just watch your step and walk slowly. By the time we get to the cabin you should be feeling a bit more like yourself, if not I can give you something. Human medicine is utter rubbish, but if you’re going to be passing yourself as one of them, you’ll have to get used to it.” The elf had to stop himself from rushing the poor boy, wanting nothing more than to get on the road and away from his post for a short time. But there was much to do before they could be on their way. For starters, the enchantment needed to be placed on Loren before he could even think about stepping out into the real human world, and of course there was the plan to go over. Yes, there was a great deal to do, and Ridley was anxious to get started, but first, Loren needed a moment to recover and wrap his head around the fact that Windmorrow was now behind it.
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  9. Loren
    Loren was grateful for Ridley's steadying hand, and his advice. It would be a shameful thing for him to start this journey with being sick. There was also the implication that Ridley himself had felt this turned over, inside out, feeling at least once by the very fact that he was offering advice and that brought Loren some comfort. It mean the skin-stretched-too-tight sensation he was getting was not some strange adverse reaction on his part, but rather a well known side affect. It wasn't comfortable, but at least it was normal.

    The water was welcome relief. Loren tried not to guzzle it down, the cooling feeling as it slid down his throat more than welcome, controlling that impulse and instead taking small sips. Focusing on that instead of the strange sensations in his body allowed him to calm, and eventually rise shakily to his feet where he was grateful for Ridley's steadying hand as he was led to the cabin and settle inside.

    The crunch of the dry leaves and gravel underfoot sounding almost too loud in his ears as he tried to adjust to the sounds of this foreign world. The bird calls were slightly pitched to different notes, the wind made a different sort of woosh through trees that were not the same. Maple here, Loren thought, not oak like those on the home side. It truly was a new location.

    The cabin itself looked like a comfortable home, though Loren could see certain modifications made to aid those inside in case of an attack. He hoped Ridley and his partner had not felt too abandoned out here in the middle of nowhere. At least it looked like they had not wanted for supplies. A moment later they were through the door and Loren found he was about at the end of what his legs could handle.

    "That has to be the most bizarre thing I've ever experienced," the young elf muttered as he settled onto a chair, still sipping at the half-full water bottle. "I don't suppose it gets better on the return trip?"

    But after a moment he had shaken all portal questions out of his head. There were more pressing things at hand. His questions on the portal could wait for later, much later.

    "I'm sorry," he started haltingly as his body finally began to relax and he found he could take larger sips, "but I don't know much about the actual plan. I'm not even sure the headmaster knew what he wouldn't tell me. After all the fewer people that know a secret--" He grinned slightly and left the rest of that particular saying unfinished.

    "I am most grateful for your hospitality," he continued, this time making sure to include Saiharah as well as Ridley in that statement, "so I truly hope you won't take it the wrong way when I ask if we can move through plans and explanations now instead of waiting. I am feeling better so I should be completely well again by the time we finish."

    There was no hiding the fact that his legs were still a little shaky.

    "Perhaps we can start with the cover story?"

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  10. Ridley Ridley saw the problem with Loren the moment that he opened his mouth and began to speak. The elf had been in the human world often enough to know that teenagers were hardly the most gracious of creatures, in fact, they were hardly what Ridley would have considered human at all. He couldn’t keep the grimace off his face, knowing that he had his work cut out for him if the younger guardian was going to survive in the world of a human adolescent. He would be eaten alive! Fortunately, the younger elf had combat training, but that wasn’t going to be of much use inside a school. Then there was the fact that the princess wasn’t exactly the most social of creatures herself from what little he had observed of her. Yes, he had gone against orders to take a closer peek at the young woman, at first to confirm the story that the queen and Kellum had told him, but to garner at least a little bit of information about the princess. How could he in good conscious assist Loren if he himself didn’t know anything about the girl?

    Ridley wasn’t one to let a single obstacle get him down. They still had a few days until Loren would be thrust into the barbaric world of human high school, a jungle that even he himself wouldn’t want to brave. He could whip the boy into shape easily enough, but what he couldn’t do was prepare him for actually facing the princess. “Well, for starters, Loren, you might want to tone down the civility just a bit. I know they gave you lessons about what it’s like out here, but….” Now how did he go about explaining it to the male without scaring him off? The human world was a mess of bitter, nasty people with only a few decent ones thrown into the bunch to keep them all from destroying each other. Ridley had taken a rather cynical view of humans since he began his job on the other side of the portal, but of course he knew that most of his view was obscured by the source he got his information from. However, he did know that teenagers, no matter where one went, were the most unpredictable of all.

    “Your cover is easy. Your parents are divorced, and your father…….” The guardian paused to smirk at the younger male while Saiharah rolled her eyes, already accustomed to Ridley’s ill-timed sense of humor. “Anyway, I’ll be taking you to the school myself since you need a parent to actually enroll you. Your identification states that you’re eighteen years old, which means you can live in the house all on your own without anyone calling the authorities. It’s a good thing since I’ll be traveling to Japan for business once you’re all tucked away behind a desk.” So much to go over! Ridley tried to organize his mind and focus on the task at hand, but with the number of topics that needed to be discussed, and the importance of each and every one, it was difficult to keep on track.

    “The headmaster gave you most of the paperwork you’ll need. A state identification card, which you’ll need to keep on you at all times. A social security card, issued under that name. Make sure no one gets their hands on that. The last thing we need is the police knocking on your door for purchasing bombing materials all because someone used your numbers.” Realizing he was getting ahead of himself, the elf waved a hand, shaking his head at the younger male. “Never mind all of that. First thing is first. You’ll need your enchantment placed. Normally a spell would be placed on you, but that would lock away your magic, and there might be a need for it.” The elf grinned, holding up a finger before darting back behind the desk, nearly knocking Saiharah out of his way in the process. “We’ve come up with a solution for that.” Rifling through the drawers, Ridley began to shove the contents around. He grumbled for a few moments, finding the object he sought buried beneath piles of paperwork. “Here it is!” Yanking the small cardboard box from the drawer, Ridley returned to Loren and held it out for him. “Don’t worry about the jewelry. It’s not uncommon for males in the human world to wear necklaces. It’s a simple chain, so no one will really pay too much mind about it.”

    So much to go over! Ridley paused, retracing his scattered thoughts. “Now where was I…” The cover was only mildly important, at least in his mind. What mattered the most was actually dealing with the princess, to which the younger guardian would need all the help that he could get. “I know you wanted to go over your cover, however I feel that a warning is necessary.” His fingers snapped, the guardian once again losing his train of thought. “The princess…..the princess…..that is what you need to be warned about!” He commented in a distracted tone, his eyes scanning over the area to search for something. Saiharah came to the rescue, handing him the very picture that he had been half-heartedly looking for. He snatched it up with a grateful smile, and quickly handed it over to Loren. “This is the princess. Her human name is Jocelyn Turner, but I’m certain the queen will want to change it. Anyway…..against the request of Kellum, I have been keeping an eye on our princess whenever I get the chance to. The last time I saw her was…..”

    “Three weeks ago when you read about a home invasion in her neighborhood.” Saiharah responded for him, giving Loren a small smirk. “It’s been this way ever since the headmaster told us about her. He ventures off to check up on her whenever he hears about something negative happening anywhere in her vicinity.” It was obvious from her tone that the female didn’t approve of her partner’s methods, but like any good partner, she watched his back whenever he needed it.

    Ridley didn’t blush after being ratted out, only jerked his shoulders in a quick shrug. “I’m just doing my duty to make sure the princess remains safe. I kept out of her sight. She wouldn’t know me from the next man that walked own her street.” He saw nothing at all wrong with what he was doing, although he kept it quiet from the queen and the headmaster. Ridley wasn’t sure they would be nearly as accepting as his partner was. “Anyway, the princess is certainly a unique character….not in a bad way. She’s….well, I can’t tell you in certain terms how she is, but I can tell you that I believe she’s aware that she is not where she belongs. Call it a hunch, but that’s what I thik. I don’t know that for sure, as I haven’t truly had any real interactions with her. I have watched her among humans, even her own family.” Ridley knew that his words were probably cryptic, and he wished he could explain it more eloquently, but he couldn’t’. All that he knew was that his intuition told him that the princess, on some subconscious level knew that the human world was not her home, and if that was true, Loren might have an easier time with his assignment than he was thinking.
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  11. Loren
    Loren winced when Ridley reminded him to be considerably less civil than he was. He knew that, or rather she should know that, he'd seen enough human TV and other media to have a general idea that their society was as a whole considerably less polite than the one he was used to. But it still somehow felt wrong to him to act in such a manner to his superiors or, he hoped, his friends.

    Yet he was now getting the impression that human teens were somehow even less polite than the rest of society. The idea of behaving in such a manner himself was a little disturbing but he was going to have to be in order to blend in. Well, with any luck it wouldn't be that bad so perhaps he could start out mild, and let the humans be his guide to the prober behavior? Still, no need to start now. He could practice later once they actually got into human society. Especially if Ridley was supposed to be posing as his father. As Loren understood it most human teens were not supposed to get along with their parents.

    Loren supposed that might be true for his home as well, but then he wasn't exactly a good testament for that. He didn't exactly live at home and as time had gone by his time with his family had grown less as he had gone in to more advanced and specialized training. He got along with his family because they had so little time together recently arguments simply weren't worth it. Light but he hoped he didn't let everyone down!

    "Playing the broody, abandoned, teen with no social life and probably some authority issues," Loren mumbled to himself pasting in the label of a character usually included in most human media. "Got it." And for just a moment, as he thought it over, he frowned and looked the part.

    As Ridley went over the necessary paperwork Loren set his water aside, pulled the envelope out of his pack, and carefully looked over and tucked each mentioned item into the included wallet. His own personal wallet had been left in his dorm room to insure no screw-ups in grabbing the wrong thing. After adding an appropriate amount of cash, and stewing the rest safely in the pack again, Loren stuffed the human wallet in to his back pocket and took the necklace Ridley now offered him.

    "So I simply put it on and remove it at need?" Loren ventured to guess as he draped the chain over his neck. That seemed simple enough.
    Instantly his form changed. Oh he was still his own build and height and looked decently like himself, but he was now the human version of himself. Eyes less brilliant, ears that boring round shape, skin a bit pinker in tone, and other more subtle changes.

    But a second later he was all devoted attention as Ridley mentioned a warning.

    For a moment all Loren could do was stare at Ridley and blink in confusion. Had the man really just copped to disobeying orders and spying on the girl? But then, wasn't knowing anything better than going in blind?

    After a brief internal struggle on the matter Loren had to accept the actions and trust the older elf wouldn't have done it without a valid reason, and saying nothing at all on how he might have chosen differently, Loren leaned forward to listen to the rest.

    "So what you're saying," Loren started seeking clarification when Ridley was done, "Is that it might be better to seem a little out of place myself, and try to draw her in with the commonality of our mutual oddities?"

    If that was true he might be able to befriend her as it were, develop some "fantasy" story about another world and see what things she felt were out of place in the human one. It was a half baked plan, but it might be a start to an approach.

    "Can I ask, have you seen if she has a close circle of friends and what they are like?"
  12. Ridley Ridley had gotten Loren to consider how he spoke before he opened his mouth, but he had no idea how to prepare him for the shock he was about to face. He knew the young man had been exposed to the human world by various means, but what he saw in movies and on the news wasn’t going to prepare him for the reality of it. Ridley had offered to train the guardian himself, but Kellum insisted that he did not want Loren to be too comfortable being among the humans. Now he was wondering if perhaps the headmaster had been aware that their quarry would most likely feel more comfortable with someone who stood out in the same way that she did.

    “Those sorts are a dime a dozen.” Ridley proclaimed with a smirk. “You’ll fit right in.” Human adolescents were the weirdest, but he kept that opinion to himself to remain on task. Time was running away from them, and they’d need to hit the road soon if they were going to get to the bus station in time to catch their bus. “Whatever you do, try not to fit in. For some strange reason they seem to hate that more than anything. The harder you try to mix with them, the more they get on you for it.” That was all the warning her could really give on the subject, better prepared for the final question than any of the others. He wasn’t an expert on the princess, but he was the closest that they had, and even his knowledge was extremely limited.

    “Well……” Ridley treaded carefully, not wanting to give the wrong impression about the princess. Saiharah, however, wasn’t willing to let him get away with skimming over the important details.

    “The princess is a loner, by choice.” The female replied, shrugging off the scathing look she received from her partner. “He needs to know the truth, Rid. Stop trying to sugar coat things for him. I didn’t say that she was incapable of making friends now did I?”

    Ridley sighed heavily, running a hand over his face to wipe off his disgruntled expression. “Yeah, yeah. We don’t know that she can’t make friends, we just know that she hasn’t. In fact, the only human I’ve really seen with her associate with is her surrogate family.” And there it was, the full truth. The princess was an outsider by her own choosing, but the reason behind that was still a mystery. “It’s still possible that she may warm up to you. You won’t know until you give it a shot.” Optimistic? Ridley didn’t really have much of a choice. If Loren failed to get Jocelyn to trust him, getting her back to Windmorrow was going to be a nightmare. The last thing any of them wanted was to drug the poor girl and abduct her, but that would be their last option if she didn’t come along willingly.

    “Look, we can worry about that after you’ve met her and she’s shut you down completely.” Ridley motioned for Loren to get up, already gathering his own things that would be needed for the next couple days. He threw on his own chain, his face scrunching up as his features morphed into his human enchantment. “For now we need to get on the road. We’ve got a long ride ahead of us, and this is your chance to get in some practice before you’re on your own.” Ridley waited for the younger guardian to pull himself together, tipping a salute to Saiharah. “Hold down the fort, Sai. I’ll be back in a few days. Make sure you get word to the headmaster that Loren made it through alright.” The female nodded her head, waving the two males off.

    “Have a good trip. Might want to grab a bag or two for Loren in case he gets motion sickness. It is his first time in a car after all.” The warning didn’t go unheeded. Ridley backtracked to grab two plastic bags and tossed them over to Loren. “Keep those handy. Won’t know how you handle car rides till you actually get inside.”

    Leading Loren outside to a black SUV, Ridley nodded to the passenger side. “Hope you’re ready for a long ride. Getting to the bus station won’t be too bad, but the bus ride is going to be horrible. Cramped quarters. Sometimes loud passengers….it’s not very fun.” He climbed into the driver’s side, waiting for Loren to get inside before starting the engine. “Hope you’re ready for this.” He grinned over at the younger man, trying to sound as encouraging as possible. “There’s no turning back now.”
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  13. Loren
    "A loner by choice --" Loren repeated the words to himself with a nod. Well at least that would be easier than trying to talk to her when she was always surrounded by a gaggle of friends. If human TV was any indication of the truth getting past the friends was always the hardest part. And if the princess was a loner, maybe she might be more open to the idea of an oddity like him seeking conversation. Loren had no doubt that even if he did attempt to fit in, as Ridley advised against, he would still stick out like a sore thumb. He suffered no delusions of this being easy.

    Unlike many elven teens his own age, Loren did know what a car was. His exposure to human media had left him with a quite thorough understanding of the machine in fact. Loren even believed he had developed something of a decent knowledge base. He could tell the difference of made and model from a photo, recite company histories from memory, and he even know stylistically which he preferred over others.

    The problem was he had never ridden in one. He had no idea what it felt like and no one to tell him what to expect. And he was almost embarrassed to confide this to Ridley.

    It was with a forced look of calm that Loren climbed into the passenger side, placing his pack at his feet, and buckling him. The motion sickness bags were placed in the door pocket within easy reach just in case. Loren could just imagine the humiliation of needing to use them and he mentally prepared himself for the worst. When the car started he could feel the rumble of the engine through the seat beneath him and a second later found him white knuckling, one hand on his belt, the other on the passenger side grab bar. The vehicle wasn't even moving yet.

    When it did Loren visibly stiffened. As Ridley drove them down the drive and on to the road leading out of his hidden place of residence Loren shut his eyes. He could feel the world shifting beneath him as they moved. A moment later he decided that he'd be much more comfortable if he could actually see where they were going, and a few minutes after that he began to relax.

    His stomach was hardly reacting at all. The trouble was more mental than anything, the idea that the feeling of movement he felt was caused neither by his own will or his direction of an animal he was riding, but by the subtle movements Ridley was making with the large wheel that steered the vehicle and the amount of gas pushed through the system. Loren had known all this before, but theory and reality were very different things.

    Only when he assured himself that Ridley did in fact know what he was doing and was not going to send them sailing into one of the trees that lined the road was Loren finally able to speak again.

    "Is it better driving than being a passenger?" he asked after a moment. His eyes now tracked the various signs that moved past them as his brain tried to calculate the speed they were actually traveling. "And am I going to have to learn to operate one of these?"

    For some reason the thought of the last question was actually kind of thrilling.

    And there there was the realization that as soon as they boarded the bus Loren would be having his first true interaction with humans. Might be a good time to try on the "son" act and see how convincing of a role he could play.

  14. Ridley Ridley chuckled, but kept his eyes glued to the road. He wasn’t exactly an expert on driving, but he had the hang of it; that didn’t mean he was confident enough not to pay attention. “Driving isn’t all that much fun. There’s a lot of rules you need to remember, and humans are extremely aggressive when they get behind the wheel. But, it is much nicer than sitting and watching the roads.” He should have driven them straight through to their destination, but Ridley thought it would be a lot easier on both of them if they could spend the trip going over his plans for the princess, and to help the younger guardian come up with an escape plan. There were certainly plenty of options, most of which would be easier and faster than taking a bus. The problem was, most of them were traceable.

    Would he have time to teach Loren how to drive? He would, but there wouldn’t be nearly enough for him to get his license in order to drive. “I could teach you, but you won’t be able to legally drive. To do that, you need to go through driving school, and you would have to have someone who already has their license drive with you for a year. If you were caught driving without the necessary paperwork, you would be arrested and that certainly would not go well.” No, they did not need that to happen. Loren’s enchantment would be removed, and that spelled trouble for everyone, not just the guardian and the princess. “I will teach you.” He decided, wanting to give him an opportunity in case of an emergency and he needed transportation in a pinch.

    The bus station was an hour away, the tickets already purchased with a credit card under his human name of Rodney Clarence, one of many names that he used. He had another which was the one linked to Loren and his human ID. “We can’t get you a license, but if it comes down to it, and you have to make a quick get away with no other options, you’ll be able to travel. It’s faster and safer than going on foot.” Of course he wasn’t advocating illegal activity, but if it came down to it and there were no other options left, was certainly better than he and the princess getting caught by the king’s men. “I’m not sure if the princess has her license, but if she does, it’ll probably be best if you let her do the driving. She’ll know the rules of the road, and if you get pulled over by the police, they will simply give her a ticket and let her go.”

    That was if the princess came along willingly, a topic they hadn’t quite explored yet. They were both being hopefully optimistic that she would simply go with him. “We haven’t talked about what happens if she doesn’t come along with you.” He dared a peek over at Loren, frowning at the younger male. Loren didn’t seem all that aggressive, and he had to wonder what would happen if the princess fought with him when it came time to go. A month was definitely cutting it close. The princess had to be in Windmorrow before her transformation, which was going to be confusing and painful. Ridley had not been filled in on what would go on, but he could guess. Her powers would manifest without the princess being able to control them, which would put anyone around her in danger. Her form would change, but to what extent he did not know. He hoped that Loren was better prepared for the occurrence than he was.

    “You do have a plan for that, don’t you?” With his eyes back on the road, Ridley waited for Loren to give him his ideas, but before the young man could say anything, Ridley was offering a small bit of advice. “And before you start, I would not suggest revealing yourself to her before she has accepted the possibility of our existence. There are humans aware of our kind, but most are in the dark and for good reason. They will use you for science experiments if the wrong people find out what you are, and trust me, it will be very painful.” Forget the fact that Loren was an elf. If they learned that he possessed magical abilities, they would tear him apart to discover the source of them. He doubted that even the queen would be able to get Loren out if he was captured in any way. The humans would deny that they were holding him, moving the elf from one location to another while performing horrific experiments. He wouldn’t wish that one anyone at all, not even the king’s men who actually deserved it.

    “Whatever you do, do not let anyone see your true form if it can be avoided.” Ridley continued with his lecture, uncharacteristically stern in his speech. “Only reveal yourself to Jocelyn when you’ve gained her trust, and if you are certain she will not panic. Until then, you are going to have to rely on good old fashioned charm, and perhaps some reverse psychology. Act like you’re not interested in her at all. Throw in a few mild insults. Teenage girls are always more interested in the boys who don’t care about them.” Insulting the princess was certainly a lot to ask of the man who was tasked with seeing to her protection, and Ridley expected to hear some gripes from Loren over the suggestion. It was the only real advice that Ridley could give him, at least while the princess remained a mystery to them both. “All else fails, try buying her something expensive. I’m sure you’ve seen on TV how well girls respond to shiny things. The princess can’ be that different.”{/fieldbox]
  15. Loren
    Loren wasn't sure if he found the declaration that he was going to learn to drive at some point comforting or alarming. On one hand it could be useful, on the other hand the idea of being in control of a machine speeding along at neck breaking speeds was as unnerving as it was thrilling. But now was not the time to worry over it.

    As they drove his stomach began to settle and he was able to pay better attention to what Ridley was saying.
    "If the princess doesn't come with me?" Loren repeated wearily, "Yeah I have a plan for that--" his voice sounded a bit grim at that statement. Loren's plan amounted to nothing short of kidnapping, though not in the obvious way. Still, he was fairly sure that if his hand were forced in that manner he would be dealing with the fallout for years to come and while the queen would be happy to have her daughter home, the princess would most likely never trust him again. Deservedly. If he was forced to those measures Loren felt sure he would have a hard time trusting himself.

    Better if she came willingly.

    Better if she came willingly knowing the truth instead of under some misrepresentation.

    Loren's eyebrows rose as Ridley continued giving advice. Not because Loren believed Ridley hadn't put any thought into it, but because he believed Ridley was missing a few pieces. The older Elf was telling Loren to treat the lady as a human, when only moments before he had been telling Loren he believed the girl was beginning to suspect she was somehow different. Or was that what Ridley has said? It was what Loren had understood, however, and it was hardly the sort of thing he could determine one way or the other without meeting her himself first.

    "With all do respect, Sir, I believe the combination of gifts and insults together is frequently received as some sort of odd human courtship ritual. A declaring of interest in a way that is hoped not to be obvious. Considering the forbidden nature of that sort or relationship, I hardly think it wise to risk such a misunderstanding. And I doubt you're suggesting I attempt to seduce her?"

    He winced as he heard himself speak and leaned his head against the window. Ridley had already reminded him once that humans of any age were hardly that polite. When he spoke again it was with the intention of curbing his flow of words in the attempt to sound more "normal."

    "There's something else most folk're drawn too. The new and unusual. Figured I'd try the disinterested new-kid approach first and see what happened." Loren couldn't help the slight smirk that crossed his features. "Broody, abandoned, teen with no social life and authority issues, remember?"

  16. Ridley Ridley let out a groan of agony as Loren spoke, giving the younger elf a hard time for his uptight way of speaking. The kid was going to be torn apart in high school, not physically, but certainly verbally if he continued acting the way he was. “Cut the sir, will you? If you can’t call me dad, just call me Charlie, at least out here. The name I’m going by is Charles Ridley….not very creative, but it was the first ID I came up with when I started on this side of the portal.” It was the first, and in this situation, the best cover that he had. Charles Ridley was a bank, who dealt with international accounts. It gave him a valid excuse for long absences, and kept people from questioning him too much about his lack of a personal life. Ridley was the last name Loren would be going by as well, which he hoped would make it easier on the kid to remember his cover name.

    “Look. I’m not saying you have to date her, but girls are generally a bit more open when they think a boy is into them. You’re going to have to woo her a bit if you’re ever going to get her to trust you, and if that means bending the rules a bit, then do it. No one is going to know other than the two of you.” Ridley knew he shouldn’t be encouraging that sort of behavior, but if it came down to a choice of the princess coming along willingly, or Loren having to take drastic measures, he’d take the bending of rules. “You’re in the human world now, Loren. There’s no lines drawn between them. You’ll have to explain how things work once you get back, but just remember, that’s not how it is out here.” Ridley had to laugh at Loren’s overdramatic way of phrasing his suggested approach. “Seduce her? She’s a teenage girl, Loren. Of course I’m not suggesting you seduce her. I’m suggesting that you……” How could he phrase it? He didn’t want to say manipulation, but that was exactly what it was. He was essentially telling the guardian to use the princess’ emotions against her.

    “You’ll find that human females are silly, romantic creatures. The prince…..Jocelyn might not seem like the rest of them, but chances are she still the same way, just better at hiding it. It may very well work to your advantage if the girl happens to develop a crush on you, as long as you remember your place. By the time she gets back to Windmorrow, she’ll be too distracted to remember how she felt, and there will be plenty of nobles throwing their son’s at her.” Harsh? Yes, even Ridley could feel himself inwardly cringing at what he was saying. The alternative though, that was even uglier than the reality of letting the girl develop a crush to get her to do what they wanted.

    Rolling his eyes at Loren’s words, the elf huffed an exaggerated sigh. “Whatever you think will work kid. Just remember, you’re the one stuck dealing with her for the next century, and we all know how nasty some royals can be when they’re ticked off with their guardians. Better watch yourself or the cushy little room you have in the royal wing might turn into a doghouse outside rather quickly.”

    Ridley glanced down at the clock on the radio, gauging just how much time they had until they reached their destination. He had only fifteen minutes to curb Loren’s tone and demeanor before they were both forced to put on a show for the humans. “But whatever you do, don’t be throwing around words like seduce….and try to tone it down a bit with the speech. When we’re at the bus station, listen to how people talk and try to copy it the best you can, and don’t be afraid to throw in a few vulgarities here and there.” He sighed again, this time realistically. “I told the headmaster he should have let me pick what you watched. The man stubbornly refused to listen to my advice though. I think he’s convinced that the princess is going to be a replica of her mother no matter who she was raised by.”

    No one was truly prepared for the princess, at least not realistically. Nearly two decades away from her own kind and thrust into a world that was not her own was bound to cause quite a bit of difficulties when the young woman discovered the truth. There was a chance that even if she came back with Loren willingly, she might not except her life inside Windmorrow. Just as there was a chance that she might turned into a spoiled brat the minute she realized that she was royalty. Loren would be the one dealing with her throughout it all, and he would have to learn quickly how to handle her. “I’ve already given you my theory. So I’m going to give you some advice that you can choose to ignore if you want. When you’re around others, try to blend in. But when you’re around the…Jocelyn, be yourself. If she already feels out of place, and she sees that you’re different as well, then she might accept you easier. Plus, after listening to how you go on, she might actually believe there’s a whole other world out there, because you sure as heck don’t sound like you belong in this one.” He was teasing the elf, mostly to force Loren into recognizing the issue and correct it before he ended up being harassed.
  17. Loren
    When Ridley gave him his cover name, Loren immediately fished out his ID to take a look at his own. When he saw it he rolled his eyes. Torrance Ridley. Apparently someone was less than creative when coming up with covers. Well at least it was close enough to his actual sir name he'd remember to answer to it, and close enough it wouldn't feel like a lie.

    Loren put the ID back and sighed as he leaned back in his seat listening to Ridley continue. He was still very uncomfortable with the idea of misleading the princess in any way that could be taken romantically, and odds were that would never change. Loren was certain there had to be another way. He only hoped he could figure it out in time.

    "I know, I know," Loren groaned in response to the chiding on his more formal way of speaking. "I'm workin' on it." it wasn't so much that he hadn't been given the option to watch the coarser things, it was more that Loren's own gentle nature and tendency towards formality had won out. That and the desire to watch the things he enjoyed over the ones that were probably more realistic. He had no one to blame for that other than himself, unless one wanted to blame the instructors that had let him get away with it.

    He was listening though, and hanging on every word, absorbing the information just in case. Light but he prayed he didn't screw this up.

    When they got to the bus station Loren slung his pack over his shoulder, stuffed his hands in his pockets, and slouched as he followed Ridley to the ticket office. His ears caught snippets from the conversations between the people milling around them, his brain tracking speech patters and picking out those belonging to the humans near his own age. There was a marked difference depending on who they were talking to as well. Ridley was right. Loren was much too formal. And the group of boys by the soda machines in sagging pants and tank-tops passing what looked to be a cigarette between them, they were down right vulgar.

    He couldn't do that, Loren decided, be that offensive. Instead he picked out the words of a youth at about 16 in tow with a woman who was probably his mother. The boy was sulky, but moderately polite, in a sort of a "I'm here because I have to be," sort of way. The boy seemed to be receiving instructions on how to care for a younger sibling while the woman was on a trip for the weekend. His answers displayed intelligence and that he was, in fact, listening, even if they were short and blunt. That, Loren decided, was a good place to start.

    A moment later it was their turn at the ticket window and Loren shifted his attention to the conversation Ridley was having with the clerk. Any questions directed to him he answered as quickly as possible, managing a far off look that implied he'd much rather be doing something else with his day than a bus trip. It seemed to pass. But the look was more due to the fact that his brain was shuffling through the proper form of address for Ridley than any actual acting. Charlie didn't feel right for a person who was supposed to be his parental figure, and he couldn't say Dad without thinking of his own father. Add in that he was supposed to be a broody human teen . . .

    "Hey, Da," he murmured finally as the tickets were purchased and the pair made their way toward the loading area, "What's the new school supposed to be like anyway?"

    Loren hoped that was better. Da, a shortened form of Dad that might have carried over from a childhood habit, and the awkward grammar in a question that wasn't phrased for politeness --

  18. Ridley Ridley gave Loren the freedom to move about as he pleased once they got inside the station, viewing it as a learning experience that he sorely needed. Television alone was not nearly enough for the guardian to learn the mysterious ways of humans, not when they portrayed themselves in stereotypes and often overlooked the very factors that made them different. He may give the race a hard time, but there was a great deal to be respected about many of the humans he encountered. Loren had yet to learn of that. He had never truly witnessed up close and personal the compassion and understanding that the majority of humans were capable of, or the friendliness that was often frowned upon by their own society. Openness was not a quality that many elves had, and most would have rather died from embarrassment than reveal anything personal about themselves to a stranger. Humans were a race that liked to share, even if what they were sharing didn’t paint them in the best light.

    He managed a straight face at Loren’s attempt at talking normally, but inside he wanted to laugh. The poor kid was trying, he had to hand it to him, but he was trying too hard. He let it go, cutting Loren a bit of slack rather than continuing to ride him for what he knew wasn’t going to change overnight. He was going to be in for a culture shock, and after glancing away from the ticket booth, the guardian found something that would deliver it a bit quicker.

    He pushed the cash through to the clerk and quickly grabbed the two tickets that were slid over to him, keeping one for himself and handing the other to Loren. “Well….it’s not like anything you’ve ever gone to.” Ridley gave an enigmatic smirk, beginning to lead the younger guardian toward the terminal where their bus would be stopping. He had purchased tickets to New York City, deciding that it would be best to take the longer route to get to their destination. They still had no idea where the king’s men were, and it would be much safer for the princess if they did not lead the enemy straight to her doorstep. It would add a few more hours of travel to their journey, but Ridley would rather be safer than sorry. “From what I’ve seen though, it’s centered around its football team. I didn’t get a chance to have much of a look though.” No, he’d have to fill Loren in on the difficulties of entering a school when one wasn’t a student or parent. Of all the things that put his mind at ease about the princess attendance of a public school, it was the fact that no one was going to get to her while she was there, not unless they were family.

    Ridley stopped, intentionally taking a seat near a young couple who were too busy pawing all over each other to take notice of their unexpected observers. The woman, no older than nineteen was sporting quite a few piercings and a mess of baby pink hair. The man she was currently wrapped around was dressed in army fatigues with dog tags around his neck, equally as engrossed in his girlfriend as she was him. If Loren was going to survive out in the human world on his own, without getting his face pounded in often, he was going to have to adjust to witnessing such events without staring.

    “We’re going to make a stop in New York.” He proclaimed, acting as casually as he could even though he himself was rather uncomfortable with what was going on next to him. “We’ll get a car from there and drive the rest of the trip. It’ll give you a chance to learn your way around, so you won’t get lost when I have to leave.” No, Ridley still didn’t like leaving Loren alone to fend for himself, but he had to agree with the headmaster. His presence among two teenagers was going to look suspicious, and chance were Ridley would be the one getting them all caught. It wasn’t usual for a man to travel alone with a couple adolescents, and regardless of his ‘relationship’ to Loren on paper, the fact that neither of them were related to the princess would still raise a few brows. Two teenagers traveling alone wouldn’t be nearly as questionable.

    “We should be getting to the new house sometime tomorrow. It’ll give you a chance to explore a bit before I enroll you in school. There’s a few kids in the neighborhood you might be able to befriend.” Yes, they were close to Jocelyn’s house, and if they were lucky, Loren might be able to run into her before he began school. It would definitely work to his advantage if he had the opportunity to talk to the girl outside a school setting, maybe even get her to help him with his adjustment. That was wishful thinking on Ridley’s part, but something was better than nothing at this point.

    The call came for their bus over the speakers, and Ridley quickly got to his feet and motioned for Loren to follow. “Come on. Let’s go get a seat before the bus fills up. You might not want to pick one in the back though. That’s close to the bathroom, and no one wants to sit there.”
  19. Loren
    Loren's eyes landed on the squirming couple and he looked away almost immediately, a slightly pink tinge coloring his face. He had know human's were much less concerned about showing such private moments in public, but he had never imagined it to quite this extreme. Still, it was none of his business so he tried his best to focus on Ridley and not the couple.

    The stop in New York was something Loren felt he should know was special. If the human media was to be trusted, New York was a a major city and one many people seemed to want to visit. But without having grown up in the culture, Loren knew he was missing out on the context that made in so important. Still he knew enough to know that if Ridley thought passing through and getting a car was a good idea it probably was.

    The idea of getting time in the neighborhood before starting school was a welcome one. Especially as it came with the potential to meet the lady in question before she could become too concerned with lessons and such.

    When it came time to board the bus Loren carefully chose a seat near the front without being in the very first few rows. far enough from the bathrooms to be palatable, but far enough back that the other passenger's conversation could potentially drowned out their own.

    After stowing their hear in the overhead bin Loren turned to Ridley. "You want the window? or can I?"
  20. Ridley Ridley gave Loren a wave, allowing him the window seat while he settled himself down by the aisle. He had already seen most of the landscape, and knew what to expect from the world outside. Loren would need to adjust, and rather quickly to how the human world worked, how fast paced and hectic it usually was. For an elf, it was easy to become overwhelmed by humans. They outnumbered elves by the billions, and their carefree nature, at least when it came to all matters elves considered private, would throw anyone off. Just the group that loaded onto the bus was probably enough to knock Loren off balance, a mixture of old and young, tidy and sloppy; and of course, the groping couple from earlier. The elf had to give a quiet chuckled when they took a seat only a few seats in front of them. Yes, it was going to be an interesting trip.

    The elf settled into the seat, wondering if they would ever discover what the king’s men had been up to during their time in the human world. The queen had ordered no investigation, and no one had heard or seen a trace of any of them since they had breached this side of the portal. He had wanted to pursue them when he learned, but the headmaster had refused. He had, of course, checked out the princess’ neighborhood to make sure there were no new neighbors that could possibly be the group, but there was nothing to worry about as far as he could tell.

    “There’s a house a few doors down from ours. You’ll want to keep a close eye on it when I’m not around.” Could the king’s men afford to purchase a house? Ridley doubted it, but he doubted that they’d be above breaking in and making themselves at home. “Especially at night. They can’t hide themselves during the day, at least I don’t believe they can. From what we’ve learned from our sources from….” He’d almost slipped and said the king’s army, but quickly corrected himself before he made such a huge mistake. “the other side, they’re focus on on strength training. But no one has gotten in close enough to see what goes on behind the scenes.”

    Ridley settled back, wondering exactly how well the detour in New York would go. He personally hated going there. The smell alone gave him a migraine, and the sounds were even worse. He would have gladly gone straight through to their destination, but he thought that Loren could use the exposure to city life, and he definitely could deal with learning a few slang words to throw into his vocabulary. “If you’d like, we can take a quick trip around the city when we get there. It’s not a long drive to the house, and you might find some things of interest there.” As uptight as the younger elf was, he highly doubted he’d be interested in anything but a learning experience.

    “And you’ll have the weekend to settle in, get a feel for the neighbor. Maybe scope out a few routes to and from your school.” And hopefully bump into the princess on his way. Loren would need to get a feel for his surroundings before Ridley would feel comfortable enough to leave the younger guardian to his own devices. But once he was certain that Loren was developing a relationship with the princess, he would definitely have to make his way back. “Maybe you’ll make a few friends as well. I’ll feel better going off to work knowing you’re not completely alone.”
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