Chapter 1: Two worlds of the same dimension
Mitchell gazed out her window from the top floor of the orphanage. Anyone else who saw the building would have called it The Station Square Foster Care System (SSFCS), but Mitchell knew better than anyone that the place was definitely an orphanage. A place for children who were abandoned, abused, and forgotten. A place where people came, day after day, night after night, to take these children to stay with them for a little while. But after a day or two, the foster parents would throw the child back into the streets and the lost child would find itself back where it started, on the footsteps of the SSFCS, waiting for someone else to take them in, and then coldly reject them. Mitchell watched the people down below as they walked from place to place, each following a busy schedule, each not bothering to glance up or even look at the poor, lost little girl. Mitchell turned her face away from the window and leaned her head against the cold, metal, bed frame, her long, uncombed and uncut, brown hair hanging over her face, hiding her eyes, her face, and her tears.
She had been here her whole life, ever since she was a babe. She never knew her mother, or her father. All she had ever known, her whole world, had been the foster system and the people working in it. Any children she had grown up with, or had known at a young age, had been adopted and left her to live with their new families. Their new homes. They probably had forgotten her. Forgotten her existence. They probably didn't even remember who she was, probably thinking she had been a dream, a ghost, an imaginable friend they had thought up in their own minds.
She jumped out of bed and walked over to the mirror to the far right of her small room. Her brown hair made her face unrecognizable, and it had grown so thick that she had trouble pulling it back. Her face was white and freckled with big brown splotches along her cheeks. Her eyes were big and green. She blinked as she gazed at her reflection. She was, in a sense, pretty. But she could never consider herself to be beautiful. Not like the blonds and blacks, with their brown, blue, and black eyes. Besides, it wasn't like anyone could see her eyes anyway, and if they could, would they even care? She looked down at her clothes. She wore a lavender and Christmas tree green long sleeve, jeans with ripped seams and holes around the knee cap, and green sneakers with red soles and strings.
She bit back tears as she looked at herself again in the mirror. She was ugly. No one wanted an ugly girl. She turned away from the mirror, wiping away tears, and got back into bed, gazing at the rotting ceiling above her. Soon, someone, one of the foster system staff would come for her, telling her that someone had come for her, her next pair of foster parents. She sighed morosely. Might as well get it over with. It's not like she cared. Not anymore.
Meanwhile, in another world:
Arid ran a gloved, armored hand over the hilt to the sharp blade of the sword. He was sitting atop a tall, wide, rock, overlooking the kingdom of Camelot in all its glory. Never before had he seen such a breathtaking view. And never before had he been a member of the Knights of the Round Table. The protectors and the defenders who kept Camelot safe from evil forces. Like a regular group of heroes, of Freedom Fighters. And Arid was a part of it. A part of ALL of it. He gripped his sword by the hilt and stood up, his back to the edge of the forest called the Deep Woods. Beyond the Deep Woods was the Shrouded Forest, and beyond that, the mountains that led into the unknown. He had come here often, to escape his duties, to escape the busy market place, to a place free from all of that, a place where he could be at peace, where he could reflect, where he could hear himself amid the noise.
Arid felt the breeze as it blew through his hair and into his eyes. He had spent his whole life in the woods of Mercia, so he knew how to navigate through every tree, around every rock, and every river. But Camelot, was the place of legend, the enchanted place in stories. Not anymore. Arid looked to the sky. The sky was a calming blue, white clouds dotting the horizon. The sun light reflected off of his armor, giving him the appearance of a Knight of Shining Armor. Arid heard the birds singing, the deer tromping around in the woods, and the barking of wolves. He felt almost like smiling, but he didn't.
He came here for a reason, not just because he wanted to become a knight, but because he wanted to follow his sister's dream. Because she was the one who wanted him to become a knight. A Knight of the Round Table. He blinked back tears, his mouth set in a stern line. His sister who was gone. Who had been taken from him. Who was either dead or alive for all he knew. The tears ran down his face, and were carried down to the forest below by the wind. She was his reason he was still alive, his reason for living. She was all he had left of his family. But he had lost her too. His hand gripped his sword tightly, till he thought his knuckles were going to pop.
He sighed and wiped the remaining tears away and faced the land in front of him, primarily setting his sights on the castle that stood amidst a sea of trees. That was his destination, the place he was returning too. His knightly comrades were going to be wondering about him soon enough. He had better return to them. He turned his back on the sky and the castle, and trudged into the dark forest behind him. A burden of his own depression bearing down on him in every step he took.
Chapter 2: Two hearts, One story
"Miss Barner, your new foster parents are waiting to see you." said a polite, brown-haired, beaming, young female foster worker as she poked her head into Mitchell's room. Mitchell opened her eyes, eying the young woman. "Coming." Mitchell said as she jumped off her bed and fixed her hair and straightened her clothes as best as she could. Not like she cared what she looked like. But still, it wasn't like there was any difference. Mitchell followed the woman down the hall to the meeting room, the room where she would sit in a chair and talk to her new foster parents, tell them a bit about herself, and them telling her about themselves. The old routine that Mitchell had grown accustomed to for SO long.
She stepped into the room and the woman closed the door behind her, giving Mitchell and the foster parents a chance of privacy. Mitchell sat down in a swivel chair and turned to face her new foster parents. They looked friendly enough, as Mitchell observed. The man was tall and his shoulders were very broad, wearing a flashing white grin that reminded Mitchell of the smile worn by advertisement people. His eyes were sky blue, and his hair was cream colored. The woman beside him was short and delicate looking, her hair a chestnut brown and her eyes were a twinkling green. She also wore a smile similar to her husband. It kind of made Mitchell get chills. She tried to smile, but failed.
"It truly is a pleasure to meet you at last, Michael." the man said, shining his brilliant teeth in her face. Mitchell winced when he called her "Michael". Though, she wasn't surprised. A lot of people, both foster parents and kids alike, saw her as a boy at first sight. Whenever she went to a school with her foster siblings, she was always teased and made fun of by the girls and boys alike for her likeness to a boy and a girl. It was almost as though the world was completely oblivious to her gender and thus to the obvious that she was, indeed, a girl. The couple caught her look and instantly realized their slight mistake. "Sorry about that, Mitchell." said the man slowly, giving her an apologetic smile. Mitchell didn't smile back. "So, Mitchell, what do you like to do?" the woman asked sweetly. Mitchell sniffed and blew her hair out of her face as she replied gruffly, "I don't know." The woman and the man looked at each other and then back at Mitchell, whispering something to each other. Mitchell jutted out her lip in a rude pout and narrowed her eyes crossly at the couple. "W-Well there must be something you like right?" asked the woman persistently. "Yeah, do you have like a favorite sport or something?" The woman looked daggers at her husband who only shrugged his shoulders innocently.
Mitchell bit her tongue in agony. These people knew nothing about her. And if they couldn't even see she was a girl, then how good would they be as foster parents? Mitchell shook her head and got out of her seat, heading for the door, her head bowed and her shoulders hunched. The man and the woman looked at each other, unsure if this was allowed. The man then got out of the chair and reached out to grab Mitchell by the arm. "Now, now, you don't have to leave right now do you?" The minute the man's fingers brushed gently against her arm, Mitchell whirled around and met face to face with the man and angrily shouted in his face. "I'm sick and tired of this! Every day is the same! Every day is unchanging! You people expect me to go along with this, well I'm not going to! I've had it with you people!!" She angrily slapped the man across the face and ran for the door, opened it and slammed it behind her, not looking back to see the shocked man and the crying woman. Mitchell darted down the hallway, her face stained with tears. Many of the foster care employees shouted and tried to stop her, but she barreled past them like they weren't even there. She ran out the door and down the sidewalk, past startled people, and through alleyways, and she kept on running till she was completely out of breath. Panting, she looked around her, and instantly knew where she was. She was standing in an overgrown forest standing next to the open front gate of an old, long-since abandoned house. Her hidey-house. She was at last alone. She let out a reluctant sigh and stepped through the gate.
Arid pursued his target, dodging rocks and trees with ease. His target was a thief that had killed the wife of the merchant he had been robbing. Far behind him, Sir Galahad and Sir Leo followed. Arid had insisted he could handle it, but they had insisted nonetheless. Though, since Arid was far more skilled with the terrain, both knights had lost each other, Arid promising he'd find them as soon as he caught his fleeing target. The thief surely was adept at fleeing, but since they had been running for a long time, the thief seemed to be wearing out and would soon slow down.
Arid doggedly chased his target till the thief had stopped running, leaning his back against a tree, out of breath. Arid, too, stopped running and looked at the thief. The thief was a young, brown cat, a black cloak slung wrapped around his body and his slim body trembled as he breathed. From underneath the cloak, Arid could see that the cat was bone thin. Arid felt pity for the cat, but he nonetheless had a job to do. He slowly approached the thief, his voice gentle so as not to scare it. "Come, I won't hurt you." The cat's eyes widened with fear but it made no move. "If you're here to kill me, please just do it then." the cat said, its horrid body trembling again. Arid looked at the cat, a look of shock an horror on his face. "I can't do that. It's not right." The cat got on its knees and held up its hands pleadingly. "No. Please Sir Knight, kill me now. Please!" Arid stopped, standing at least two feet from the cat. "I know your scared for what you did, but I assure you the judges in Camelot are strict but fair. There your punishment will be decided." The cat's eyes began to water. Arid wanted to look away but he couldn't. "No! No! Please! I didn't mean to kill to her! She screamed and startled me! I-I was holding the dagger when she startled me, and I-I.."
The cat made a sudden mad dash at Arid, madly swinging his dagger at Arid, who barely missed the attack, kicking the cat to the ground, his foot on his chest, pinning him down. The cat's dagger was kicked away. The cat started to cry again. "Please Sir Knight! H-Have mercy! Someone as terrible as myself deserves to die by your sword and yours alone. Please, I beg you!" Arid bowed his head, biting his lip till it stung. He didn't want to. He simply couldn't bring himself to kill the thief. It just wasn't right. "Listen, I can't, alright. You don't deserve to die, at least like that. Come, I need to take you to my friends." The cat quieted, his eyes darting here and there, searching for a weapon, till its eyes rested on Arid's dagger at his side. Arid's head was still bowed so he didn't see the cat as it reached for his jasmine dagger. "Please, you need to come-" A piercing cry followed by a gurgling noise broke through the still forest air. Arid quickly turned to the cat, and his face paled. In the distance, crows caw-cawed and beat their wings. The cat's eyes were wide open, its hands clenched like talons around Arid's dagger. Blood flowed in pools around the cat and out of the wound where it had stabbed itself with the dagger, right in the throat. A sob caught in Arid's throat and he coughed, his head leaning over the cat. Tears welled up in his eyes. The cat moved its mouth slowly. Its voice was very low and hoarse, and it coughed up blood. Though the words were not very clear, Arid knew what the cat was saying, "Thank you." A single tear rolled down the cat's cheek, and then, the cat died.
Arid looked down on the cat, its cold, white hands holding the dagger, its eyes glassy, and lifeless. "No.." Tears rolled down Arid's face like a wave. "No!" He punched himself and pulled his own hair. "NO!!" He heard footsteps approaching, but he didn't care. He felt gentle, yet firm hands latch onto his shoulders and pulling him up. He heard Sir Galahad and Sir Leo comforting him and assuring him it wasn't his fault. But he ignored them. Because one thing he knew was certain: the thief had died by the hands of the dagger, of his mother.
Back at the Castle grounds..
Arid lay in the stables, his hands wrapped around his knees, his head buried into his legs. He sniffed and cried for a long time, till a voice startled him from his trauma. "Sir Arid, are you seriously this pathetic?" Arid recognized the voice as belonging to Sir Lancelot, but he didn't even glance up at him. He still wore his armor from the chase, which was coated with blood and tear stains. "You wouldn't understand." He could feel Lancelot's shadow hovering over him, but he didn't even peek. Then, he felt a sharp kick of pain in the side. Followed by another kick, and another. Arid groaned and looked up Lancelot as the kicks subsided somewhat. Lancelot had been pulled back by his son Galahad and Sir Leo. Lancelot pulled out of their grasp and glared down at Arid menacingly, almost threateningly. Arid shuddered and tried to stand up, only to fall down again. His breathing came out in painful gasps, but he managed to sit up.
Lancelot's voice was cold and biting. "He was just a suicidal, cowardly thief. Nothing more." A fury rose up in Arid, a fury he couldn't hold back if he could. "He was a living person! Just like you and me!" Lancelot's lip curled back into a snarl his hand raised to strike Arid again, but he was held back by his son again. "I am nothing like that burgling, murdering, scoundrel!" Arid snarled and tried to stand up, only to fall back down again.
"Please Dad! Don't!" Sir Leo, Knight of the Clover, nodded his scaly head knowingly. "You should listen to Galahad, Lancelot. You could learn something some day." Lancelot ignored Sir Leo, his eyes latched on Arid. Slowly, he lowered his fist, and backed away. He turned his back on Arid, and though he wasn't looking at him, Arid could feel Lancelot's penetrating eyes boring through him.
"You're a knight now. So you better start to act like it." And then he strutted out of the stables. Arid accepted Sir Galahad and Sir Leo's help as they helped him back onto his feet and led him to his dorm. "Don't listen to Lancelot, Arid. My dad can be pretty mean at times." Sir Galahad shrugged and blushed. "Yeah, don't let him get to ya!" agreed Sir Leo as the two set Arid down on his cot.
Arid said nothing, and after the two left the room, Arid cried again, his face tilted to the setting sun outside his window. "Sister.. I miss you."
Chapter 3: An Encounter in the Forest
As darkness descended upon the overgrown forest, the stars and the moon shone brightly in the black sky. Mitchell sat on the porch of the old house, her face lit by the light from the moon. The boards beneath her groaned with her weight, but she knew it was mostly out of old age. The moon shone fully, its brightness illuminating the forest below. Mitchell brushed her hair out of her eyes and sighed, her mouth turned into a sad line. The Full Face of the Moon beamed down on her in a comforting way, like a mother to a troubled child. Tears ran down Mitchell's face and her bottom lip trembled.
"I-I.. I wish.. I wish.." She buried her face in her hands and wept, leaning her head against her curled knees. "I wish.. I wish thing's were different.. I wish I had a person I could call a friend.. Someone, that could understand me.. That I could trust.." She turned her tear-filled gaze up to the Moon. "Please.. if you do listen.. I wish for a friend." Above her, the Moon winked.
Arid sat atop a tree, looking up at the moon. The visor of his helmet was lifted up, his eyes gazing up at the Full Face of the Moon. Arid rubbed his hands together till he felt his palms burn. No matter what he thought, he couldn't shake what Sir Lancelot had said. "You're a knight now. So you better start to act like it." And the face of the thief came to his mind, the eyes looking at him, hollow and dead. He shook his head and moved his hands around one another, trying to distract his mind, to escape the memories. The Moon looked down on him, its kind eyes peering down on him. His brow knit together as he tried to remember a Camelot rhyme sang by the villagers on nights like this, when the moon was at its fullest. His mouth ran over the words one by one, and then he began to murmur them softly.
"The Mistress Moon is out tonight, blanketing the town with light so bright, and yet she'll shine forevermore, in heavenly light till the daylight breaks the sky."Arid let out a sigh, and looked down at his hands. He could picture his sister for just a moment, an eerie, ghostly hallucination of her hands enveloped in his own, before the vision faded away entirely. He balled his hands into fists and tears fell onto them. "I'm sorry sis.. I should have helped.."
Then, he felt a hand on his shoulder and his eyes were wide with fright. "Arid, it's alright. It's just a memory." The voice was kind and feminine. Arid slowly looked up and was face to face with Merlina. He pulled back, and her hand fell away from his shoulder. "What are you doing here, Merlina?" He remarked with more rudeness in his tone then he would have intended. Surprised at his impolite manner, he got down on one knee and bowed. "Pardon my rudeness, m'lady. I haven't been myself."
Merlina gently put her hand under his chin and lifted his eyes to meet her own. "It's alright Arid. I know." Arid moved his eyes away from hers. "No, you don't. No one knows." He stood up and turned his back on her. He wanted to be alone. He wanted peace.
Behind him, Merlina stepped gracefully from branch to branch till she stopped, her face and robes illuminated by the moonlight. Arid turned to her and walked to her side, also looking up at the moon. A silence issued between them, until Merlina, her face still turned to the moon, said, "I have a mission for you, Arid." Arid doesn't respond. "Another world, needs you." Still no response. "I'm going to send you between worlds, ours and theirs." Arid glanced at her, and then looked at the forest below. Merlina sighed and turned to go. She paused, however, her face only a few inches from Arid's face. "If you've made up your mind, and have decided to go on this quest, talk to Mistress Moon, and she and I will take you." And then she was gone. Arid blinked once, twice, and then he looked up at the Moon. Though his face revealed nothing, his eyes did. His eyes reflected the chivalry and goodness he felt in his heart. And he knew, without thinking, what he should do. He lowered his visor and his right hand lowered to his sword at his side.
His expression, once rough and hidden by his tears, brightened and softened as he gazed up at Mistress Moon. He kneeled, his head bowed. "I accept your quest, m'lady. And I await your instructions." A calm wind blew over the forest, brushing gently against Arid's face. And there were words in the wind. "Sir Arid, we will take you to the world from whence you are sent. And, once you arrive, you'll meet a young girl who need's your help. You know what you need to do so no more needs to be explained. Are you ready?" Arid hesitated for a moment, and then replied, his head still bowed. "How will I be able to return once my mission has been accomplished?" There was a brief pause. "We will call for you when the time is right. Are you ready to depart, Sir Arid, Knight of the Desert?"
Sir Arid nodded and rose to his feet. "If there is someone who needs me, I will help them. It would be as she would have wanted." A bright light surrounded him, a bright blue glow that lifted him into the air, where he then vanished in a blinding light, leaving only the Moon and the night sky behind him. And he was gone.
In the forest:
There was a flash of light, a boom of thunder, and a powerful gush of wind that pushed through trees and tall grasses, shaking the foundation of the old house, and knocking Mitchell onto her back at the force and suddenness of it. Her face, first full of confusion, soon changed to a mix of excitement and curiosity as her head immediately swiveled to the sky above, at the beam of light in the sky. As the beam of light slowly vanished into the night, Mitchell was already on her feet and running towards the area the light had come from. Her unseen path led her to a clearing in the forest, where the trees parted so as to form a wide circle. Moonlight shone on the area and tall grasses grew everywhere she could see. Her eyes scanned the lit area, but as far as she could tell, not a thing stirred or came to her attention.
"Maybe I was imagining things." She thought to herself with a sigh. Then, as she turned to go, something flashed in the corner of her eye, a glint of light reflecting off of metal. Her head turned towards that light, only to find nothing there once more. Her eyes scanned the area once more, her gaze falling on something in the clearing she had overlooked. It was a wizened old tree, its trunk twisted and misconfigured, its branches dead, being too old to bear leaves, and twisted to the sky above. A strange wind blew against Mitchell's face, and she shrank away into the shadows of the forest. "Okay, this place got spooky fast." "Okay! I'm leaving now!" she called out to no one in particular. The wind wrapped around her hair and latched onto her shirt, dragging her forward, towards the old tree. Mitchell screamed and tried to fight against the wind, only for her to lose to a being she cannot see nor hurt. And so, the wind pushed her forward, and only when she stood before that tree did the wind loosen its hold on her. Then, there was silence.
Mitchell stared up at the tree, her face sickly pale. She had come to this forest ever since she was a little girl, and never had she experienced anything such as this. She wanted to run, to escape, to return to the orphanage where she would be safe. But instead, she stood there, her body trembling, and her face raw with fear. She felt something watching her, and she immediately broke her gaze away from the tree, just in time to catch the glimpse of a mysterious figure that stepped out from behind the tree. The figure wore a light yellow suit of armor, his face hidden behind a visor. The moonlight danced upon his still form, his silhouette flowing behind him. Yellow hair flowed from his visor and shone golden in the moonlight. But Mitchell's eyes caught none of this. Her eyes were fastened to the sword which the figure had one hand on, the fingers gripping the handle. The figure took a step toward her, and Mitchell screamed and ran back the way she came. The figure pursued her.
"Wait! Miss!" the figure called after her, hoping his words would reach her. He had not intended to frighten her, he just wanted to talk to her. But, whether she heard him or not, she didn't stop. The figure sighed and ran on.
Mitchell didn't know whether to turn around to see if the figure was gone, or run on in the darkness, blind and lost. She tripped on roots and rocks, but managed to regain her feet and continue to run. Whatever pain or fear she felt now, it was gone, replaced only by a firm resolve, to give herself as much space as possible between herself and that.. thing. She couldn't even put it in words what that was, so strong was her fear. The figure continued to pursue her, its path unaltered by the trees and rocks it made contact with, its stride never stopping, its speed never slowing.
After what seemed like forever, Mitchell finally neared the old house she loved so dearly. She made no pause as she ran through the gate, and up the stairs, though they creaked in protest, and once she stood on the porch, only then did she look into the forest. Nothing could she see, but nonetheless, she opened the door and ran inside, slamming the door with more force than she thought was necessary. The door groaned, but stood firm. From within the safety of the shadows surrounding her, she pressed her back against the door, and slid onto the ground, her arms wrapped around her legs, her head resting on her arms. For the moment, her pounding heart managed to reduce to calm.
But then she heard a knock.
It was a soft knock, gentle on the rotting wood, but it was enough to jerk Mitchell's head up and her body along with it. She pressed her weight against the door, her hand on the doorknob, her ear to the door. She could just hear the figure's breathing, and could just make out a hint of his armor through the cracks of the door's frame. "Miss? Please let me in."
"Leave me alone!" she shouted through the cracks of the door. There was an edge of fear in her voice and the figure seemed to notice this. He shook his head and removed his hand from the sword, an action which relieved Mitchell somewhat, but still kept her on edge.
"I know you're scared, miss. I would too. But you can trust me! I'm not going to hurt you!" There was no response, and the figure sighed as he guided his hand to his visor. From the other side of the door, Mitchell held her breath. "As a form of trust, I'll let you look in my eyes. Maybe you can find some trace of honesty and truth in there." And he removed his visor.
Mitchell sucked in her breath. He was Mobian. His eyes were purple, his skin peach, and his fur was yellowish-gold. His hair blew in the wind, and his ears were just visible. She could also see a long yellow furred tail, that just managed to not touch the ground. For the moment, she stood there, taking it all in. She had always thought the only Mobians to visit Station Square were Sonic the Hedgehog and his friends. But now, she knew that was untrue. But even though this comforted her somewhat, she still was afraid of the strange, armored Mobian. She readjusted her grip on the doorknob and hissed through the cracks in a still fearful tone. "Who are you?"
The Mobian knelt before her and bowed, his hands rested on the hilt of his sword. "Fair maiden, I am Sir Arid, Knight of the Desert, but you may call me simply, Arid the Shrew." He then rose and met her eye-to-eye through the cracks. His eyes fastened onto hers, and for a brief amount of time, Arid thought he saw a flash of relief in her eyes, but that was soon replaced by a look that, even though he was much older than her, made his blood turn cold.
"Go away! Leave me be!" The knight, hurt by these words, even though he had offered her so much trust, stepped back till he stood halfway on the creaking steps. Mitchell, first thinking he would leave, almost wanted to attack him as he replied to her words in a gentle, chivalrous voice, putting his visor back on his face as he did so saying, "Very well, m'lady. I will go and try to prove my trust to you in other ways. For now, you must rest. I will see you in the morning." He then bowed and ran off into the woods. Mitchell, once his armor had disappeared into the dark forest, slid onto the floor, and moaned. "This can't be happening. This can't be happening." But it was happening. And nothing could she do to prevent it. Her wish had come true, or what she thought was it. Driven into exhaustion with the events of the day, Mitchell was obliged to sleep on an old mattress in the living room. "I have my own knight." she muttered under her breath, and then laughed. Then she fell asleep.
Arid stood in the clearing where he had met the girl. His face was directed up at the Full Face of the Moon, but his voice addressed someone else. "Merlina? Are you there?" "Yes, Arid. I am here." Arid licked his lips, and his hands gripped his sword in both hands, adjusting their grip. He wasn't sure how to put this, for he was not one to complain, but nevertheless, he ended up saying it anyway.
"What am I supposed to do with her? The girl? Is she really the one?" "You know the answer to that. You're trying to be her friend. For that is what she wished for, and, whether you deny it or not, it is also what you wished for. Is it not?" There was a pause, and Arid felt his mouth go dry. "Do I really want that?" "Be her friend? How?" "How does Merlina know? Not even she can guess what I want." The Moon smiled down on him. But it was Merlina who still answered. "In the one way you know how to do. I wish you luck, Arid. And farewell." "Wait! Merlina!!" Arid shouted into the sky. But Merlina was gone. And there was only the Moon. Arid muttered something under his breath and headed into the forest, his thoughts swimming with Merlina's words. "Is that really what I want? A friend.."
Chapter 4: Too Much Pain, Too Much Heartache
When Mitchell awoke from where she lay upon the mattress, she coughed on a cloud of dust that was stirred as she shifted on her mattress. When she at last stood and walked to the door of the hidey-house, sunlight poured through the cracks in the door. Mitchell blinked and smiled when she opened the door and stood in the doorway, letting the warm sunlight bathe her dust-covered skin and hair.
For just a moment, everything seemed perfect, and everything that had occurred the night before, was all just a faint memory, just a dream. However, that was until she saw him.
The knight from the night before. Sitting on the rickety steps of the house, his back to her, his head tilted to the sunlight above.
Mitchell mentally groaned and started to retreat backwards. "Oh great.. what's he still doing here.." A floorboard creaked beneath her and she froze as the knight turned around to look at her. He had put his helmet back on, but took it off so he could smile her way.
Before Mitchell was two steps into the doorway, the knight was already standing beside her.
"Well, good morning to you, m'lady." the knight said as he bowed humbly to her, making Mitchell's face glow bright red. When the knight arose, one look at her flushed face and he quickly turned away, muttered something under his breath, and gestured with his hand for Mitchell to follow him. Mitchell hesitated, unsure whether or not she should follow this being she had summoned through a single wish.
Looking behind him to make sure the girl was following him, Arid paused mid-step at the gate and, with a sweeping bow, stepped to the side and opened the creaking gate open.
Not seeing any other way out of her current situation, Mitchell reluctantly stepped through the open gate, fixing her hair and dusting herself off with some dignity as she followed Arid under the overhanging trees.
When they reached their destination, Arid waved his hand in an indicating gesture to a small clearing in the forest. Mitchell had to bite her lip hard to suppress a gasp of surprise. Sitting in the clearing were several wood stacks and bundles of grass stacked in organized piles. There was also a round circle placed in the center of the clearing, formed out of several round, polished, grey stones. In the center of the fire pit, were a stack of sticks recently placed. There were also two moss "mats" beside the fireplace and Arid nodded to the mats with a smile.
"Your seat, fair maiden." he said with another sweeping bow. Mitchell shot him a cold look and felt her cheeks flush red as she reluctantly sat down, arms folded. The knight, however, didn't seem to notice the looks given to him, for he immediately set to work with lighting a fire. When a sputtering flame arose and steadily devoured the wood, Arid turned to her and stood by her side.
"What would you like to eat today, m'lady?" inquired Arid as he waited patiently for her reply. Unable to take it anymore, Mitchell stood up, straightening, gave Arid a pouting face and glared down at him so fiercely, that the knight instantly shrank back.
"My name is Mitchell Barner. Not miss, not m'lady, and not fair maiden. It's just Mitchell Barner, that's all it is, and all it will be." And with that, Mitchell was off, running as far as she could from the knight, who, bewildered and dazed, stood there for a moment, and then ran after her, calling out her name and apologies as he pursued her.
Tears ran down Mitchell's face as she ran to her hidey-house, through the gate, through the doorway, and into the living room, where she curled up into a ball and cried.
When Arid arrived at the house, he wasn't sure whether or not it would be considered polite to enter without an invitation, but when his ears picked up the muffled sound of crying, he entered and peered into the living room, his eyes watching Mitchell's shaking figure, a look of compassion and curiosity on his face.
Walking over and crouching by her side, Arid politely inquired as to what was the matter. "What is the matter? What is the matter? You are the matter! That's why!" Mitchell instantly had uncurled and knocked Arid to the ground, pinning him against the floor like Mitchell would have done with a rat scurrying through her room.
"Please, mi- I mean Mitchell Barner! Please! I mean you no harm! Please! Stop!" Arid pleaded with Mitchell, his knightly code forbidding him from defending himself from his bigger and taller opponent. But Mitchell didn't cease, and each time a blow fell, another tear rolled down her cheek and onto Arid's sandy, blood-tainted armor.
"I never wished for this! I didn't mean for this to happen! I don't need you!" Mitchell couldn't help it. Every time she saw Arid's pleading face as he begged for her to stop, trying to comfort her through her tears, every time an old, fractured memory arose to her broken mind and made her heart ache all the more.
"Please! Stop it! Please!" Mitchell screamed as the children taunted her. The cries of the boy who had pulled her hair rose to her ears. The bruises she had given him rose to her eyes. More tears. More laughing. Unable to take anymore, Mitchell allowed herself to draw back from the heavily breathing knight, and pushed the hair back from her face as he, struggling and rubbing his bruised limbs, rose to his feet.
"I'm.. sorry. I.. I didn't mean too. I just-" Arid held a finger up to her lips and gently stroked her face with his hand, wiping the tears away from her face. "It's okay. I.. I understand." Mitchell then pulled her face from his and bowed her head. "No, you don't."
"I understand now, Merlina." Arid thought to himself with a sigh as he lifted Mitchell's face up to his. "No, I do. Let's talk about it." Arid withdrew his hand and, ever so gently, took Mitchell in his arms and carried her out of the house.
Mitchell held tightly onto Arid shoulders as he set off at a run. "So, this is what it is like. I always wondered what this would be like, but never thought I'd actually be able to do it before." Mitchell thought as a small smile came to her lips and she closed her eyes.
At G.U.N. headquarters, a black and red hedgehog paced back and forth, occasionally glancing back at the reports at a table beside him. The reports stated what the police had found out, a 12 year old, orphaned girl had runaway from the Station Square Foster Care building, and hadn't returned, or been found. There had also been eye-witness reports that a strange white light had shot down from the moon and landed in the huge forest surrounding Station Square. Of course, a disappearing girl was something of a matter that the police could easily handle, but what was that beam of light?
An agent of G.U.N., Shadow, with his partner, Rouge, had been given this assignment: to investigate the cause of the beam of light, and find out what it means.
A couple of minutes later, Shadow and Rouge were heading to the forest, but one question kept spurring its way into Shadow's mind: Were the girl, and that beam of light, connected, somehow?
Back at the forest..
When Arid gently set Mitchell down, Mitchell found herself standing on a branch of a tall tree and instinctively wrapped her hands around the trunk of the tree, and fearfully looked down. Arid softly took one of her own hands in his own and, when she turned her face to his, every instinct wanting to pull her hand from his grasp, he smiled her way and nodded to the sky in front of them. When Mitchell followed his gaze, she gasped, and all fear, all grief, all hatred, vanished in an instant.
It was such a beautiful view, and Mitchell smiled as she slowly, carefully, slipped into a sitting position on the branch of which she was perched. Arid leaned against the trunk and folded his arms, looking around the forest with content. He was where he belonged. He looked at Mitchell. A small breeze blew Mitchell's hair out before her. She's looks almost like a princess. Arid smiled at the thought. Mitchell turned to him and frowned.
"What?" She asked, irritated. Arid lost the smile. He slid into a sitting position. "I brought you here because I wanted to tell you something." Arid swallowed and looked at his hands. "I understand what you're going through, or at least something close to it. I-I lost my sister."
Mitchell irritation passed. She looked at Sir Arid and saw he was shaking, tears running down his face, hitting the grass below. Something inside of Mitchell stirred. She reached out and pat Arid on the shoulder. Arid shuddered at her touch, but didn't look up. "She was my family. As her brother I had the responsibility to take care of her. And I-I failed..." The memories overpowered Arid's senses, leaving his vision blurry with tears.
"I... I'm sorry." Mitchell whispered. Arid wiped the tears away and was silent. A few minutes passed in silence between them. Then, Mitchell spoke
"My family didn't want me." Arid looked at her, sensing the connection between them that Merlina had hinted at. Mitchell gazed forlornly at a family of robins in the tree in front of them. "No one wanted me. I tried SO hard, too. People just don't like me. They think I'm UGLY!" She cried. Arid reached out to comfort her, but she held up a hand, pushing him away. His eyes wandering, Arid spotted a patch of daisies not too far off. Nimbly, he landed and strode over to the patch of daisies.
By the time Mitchell's tears dried up, Arid was striding back to the tree, his hands behind his back, a smile on his face. Mitchell looked at him, and despite herself, curiosity bloomed.
"W-What's that?" She asked, drying her eyes. Arid smiled and scrambled up the tree. Arid placed a woven flower crown upon Mitchell's head.
"A crown fit for a princess," said Arid. Mitchell took the crown off her head and rubbed a finger over the daisy petals.
"But, I'm not a princess." Arid shook his head. "You are now. And I, Mitchell Barner, are your knight. Tell me whatever you ask of me and I will obey." Mitchell laughed and placed the crown back atop her head. I, Mitchell Barner, am a princess. As much as she marveled at the revelation, she couldn't believe it to be true. Stooping on one knee, Arid bowed.
Chapter 5: A Super Sweet Afternoon
Mitchell was like any normal, ordinary, 12 year old girl, until she wished upon the Full Face of the Moon for a special person to come her, a person she could call friend.. but nothing in this world could have prepared her for what happened next..
Meanwhile, on another world, looking up at the same Moon, a lonely individual is wishing for something, or someone, to make his life whole again.. or will he get more than he could have ever asked for.
For better or for worse.
Mitchell Barner (main character)
Arid the Shrew (second main character)
Sonic the Hedgehog (cameo)
Miles "Tails" Prower (cameo)
Knuckles the Echidna (cameo)
Mia the Shrew (cameo, mentioned in Arid's backstory)
Sir Lancelot (Shadow)
Sir Galahad (Silver)
Sir Leo (Leo the Lizard)