Happy Friday, fantasy readers! Here’s Chapter 11 Part 1 of Saving ForeverLand.
If you didn’t get a chance to read the previous chapters, remember to check those out. I’ve included the links below:
Sarah was surprised by the scene before her as she exited the portal. Looking down at the unfamiliar mirrored floor, she wondered where she had landed. But knowing that she had clearly pictured her mom and dad before portaling, Sarah felt confident her parents were here somewhere. She let out a sigh of relief. I’m safe. That’s all that mattered now. She had to get out of there- she had to leave ForeverLand. Even though she was supposed to be the hero, right now, Sarah felt like a small child, and all she wanted was to be with her parents after her sudden outburst in Cave #1.
Just thinking about the past hour was making her pulse increase. How could they all lie to me? She crouched down head in her hands, holding back a scream. She closed her eyes and all she could see was Josh’s face. The eyes that just the other day made her swoon, now seemed like daggers aimed right at her heart. I trusted him. Shaking her head, she cleared the image of Josh’s brown hair, light eyes, and goofy smile. Obviously, I was just stupid.
Resigned to move forward, she used her hands to push herself up from the ground. Now to find Mom and Dad. Unsure of where to start, she began to walk into the ever-growing space. It was like a dark tunnel that kept getting longer and longer - no end in sight. “But how am I going to find them?” She wondered aloud as if some guide would appear before her any second.
That’s when she heard it. At first, the swishing was soft, almost unnoticeable, but after a few more steps, Sarah couldn’t ignore it anymore. It sounded like a violent storm was approaching, though there were no visual cues to suggest bad weather. When she finally saw the tornado forming, Sarah froze. What was I thinking? I could be walking right into a trap.
The wind picked up and her hair started to blow off her shoulders, but then all of a sudden everything stopped. Sarah couldn’t see more than a foot in front of her for a few seconds - the darkness was blinding, but she definitely heard something.
“Is it Elozar?” She heard her dad ask before she even saw he was there. “No, I don’t think so,” her mom replied. Sarah still couldn’t see her parents, but then it was like someone flipped a switch and the world was light again.
Adjusting to the brightness, Sarah blinked a couple of times and rubbed her eyes to make sure what she was seeing was real.
When the familiar figures of her parents remained in place, just about two feet in front of her, Sarah finally decided that this wasn’t a figment of her imagination.
Like a child coming home from summer camp, Sarah ran right into her mom’s open arms. Burying her face in her mom’s chest and feeling the comforting pat of her dad’s hand on her back, Sarah broke down. The tears started falling and the sobs grew louder, but at that moment she just needed her parents to be there. No one said anything until Sarah finally calmed herself, stifling the cries and drying her eyes, before stepping out of her parents’ embrace.
Before Sarah could begin to explain, Frank jumped in. “What’s wrong?” “Not that we’re not glad to see you,” Amanda added, “but why aren’t you back in ForeverLand?” Sarah was ready to tell them everything - about Josh,
Elozar, the lies - but then she hesitated. What if they knew about everything too? Can I even trust my parents anymore?
Deciding there was only one way to find out, she asserted herself. “Did Elozar tell you all the details about why I had to save ForeverLand?” Crossing her arms over her chest, the girl waited impatiently. She was sick of beating around the bush - now was the time for answers.
“Well,” Frank started, “we knew what Elozar told us all those years ago - that you had powers that wouldn’t be accepted in Leisata, and that ForeverLand was the only place safe for you.” Amanda nodded in agreement and continued to explain.
“You see, we didn’t know if it was all true back then, but after you left, The Chiefs came for us. We were put in prison, but we managed to get away by using Elozar’s wand to bring us here.”
“That’s when they found us and told us everything - that you were destined to save ForeverLand from some evil Bender that was out to destroy your world,” Frank sputtered as if saying it all quickly would make the danger go away.
“And you just took his word? Just like that!?” Sara yelled. Both her parents looked shocked at the sudden outburst, but Amanda was able to gain her composure quickly.
“We didn’t believe him when he originally told us about your powers, and look where that got us?” Holding her husband’s hand, she continued. “The fact that you’re still safe and far away from The Chiefs is enough to make us trust that Elozar was telling the truth.” Sarah looked into her parents’ eyes and saw so much life, determination, and trust. I must have been just as gullible.
Hating to be the bearer of bad news, Sarah broke eye contact before explaining what else she knew. Unsure of where to start, she got straight to the point. “The evil Bender that’s out to get ForeverLand wasn’t always bad. Elozar might actually be the reason he went bad in the first place!”
“Elozar helped us save you, Sarah,” her mom spoke carefully. “He’s the reason you’re still alive.”
“But they all knew - Elozar, Omor, even Josh. I don’t know what’s true anymore. I mean, if they didn’t tell us the whole story…” Sarah trailed off. Frank stepped closer to Sarah and put his hands on her shoulders.
“Honey, I know that this has been a lot to take in, but hear me out,” he said. “Yes, Elozar left out some of the story, but did you give him a chance to explain? Did you even let them tell you why they did what they did?”
“Well…um,” Sarah muttered, twisting her hair around her fingers as she tried to think of a good rebuttal, but came up with nothing. “I mean, I guess maybe I should have let them try to explain…”
“And,” her mom interjected, “the thing we care about the most is keeping you safe. If Elozar and the rest of them can do that in ForeverLand, why not follow their lead? Despite leaving out some details, they haven’t really steered us wrong so far.”
Embarrassed by her childish behavior, Sarah felt her face flush and looked down at her feet. “Maybe I overreacted a little bit,” Sarah admitted. “Do you think I should go back?” She looked up at her mom and dad, hoping they could tell her what to do. Then she saw her mom’s eyes get a little wider, and her dad smiled at something over Sarah’s shoulder. “What?” Sarah asked, confused, but then when she turned around she smiled too. “Josh! Omor!”
Sarah’s trainer waved awkwardly as he and Omor walked toward her. Sarah couldn’t wait any longer; she ran to Josh, hugged her arms around him, and leaned her head into his chest.
“Hem, hem.” Sarah turned back and saw her mom and dad watching closely. “I think this our cue to go,” Amanda said. Frank let out a small chuckle. “Yes, I believe we’ve done our part here. Josh, Omor, take care of her,” he instructed firmly. “And this time can try to remember that Sarah doesn’t approve of lies of omission.” He raised his eyebrows inquisitively. Omor’s deep laugh echoed around them, while Josh and Sarah giggled quietly. With that, the tornado that had reunited Sarah with her parents just a few minutes ago came back and swept them up in its wild wind. It moved back the way it arrived, and her parents were gone once again.
Now it was just Josh and Omor left standing on either side of Sarah. “Sorry I left,” Sarah said sheepishly.
“Well we’re sorry we weren’t completely truthful,” Josh responded for both himself and Omor. Omor nodded solemnly.
“To be clear,” Omor said, “we were just following Elozar’s”-
“That’s not an excuse,” Josh said. “Not for me.” He paused and Sarah wondered what he would say next. “I shouldn’t have let this whole thing go on as long as it did, and I’m sorry Sarah. It’s true - Hadoo wasn’t always bad, and Elozar did play a role in that, but Hadoo still needs to be stopped.”
Confused, Sarah looked from Josh to Elozar, searching for more information, but Josh didn’t explain further. Instead, Omor spoke up. “Let us show you.” He extended one hand out to Sarah, the other to Josh. Sarah recognized the look in Omor’s eyes, so she wasn’t surprised when the familiar swirl of light appeared before them, though where it would take them, she could only guess. Omor stepped forward, pulling Josh and Sarah behind him. Sarah noticed that Josh looked just as lost as she did - perhaps Omor hadn’t included him in his plan. Ready to get some answers, Sarah followed Omor through the portal, prepared to end up anywhere. The last thing she saw as she stepped through was Josh trailing just behind her, but she was fairly certain he followed.
Things are moving along well with The Great Substack Story Challenge! Check out the table of contents on the Fictionista’s site, which lists all the newsletters/writers participating. We’re currently up to Chapter 5: