“What is that thing doing?” Bayani asked as he backed away from the table. He grabbed Peter’s shoulder, wanting to keep him away from any potential danger.
“Do not be afraid,” James told the group, his voice sounding somehow different that it usually did. Otherworldly, mystical, Cerys wasn’t sure which word she should use to describe it. “Roll your D-20, Cerys. We have to keep playing.”
Cerys gave Himeko a worried look, but when she nodded to her, she let her green-speckled die leap and dance down the length of the table. She leaned in to look down a the number that landed face up.
“Nineteen,” she half-whispered, and gazed around when she heard her voice echo.
“Several vines shoot up from the ground, grabbing the goblin by the ankles. When it struggles, the vines spiral up its legs, and it cannot go anywhere.”
They heard an angry screeching as though from another room. The crystal mass glowed brighter, and from it a glow spread out across the table. It made the dark, varnished wood change, taking on an older look, something more rustic. The scattered dice disappeared, replaced by beads her, random chunks of metal there, a few polished stones. The soda cans became an assortment of glass jars, some bulbous, some with corks keeping their contents locked inside. The shiny, smooth hardbound books became thicker tomes, leather-bound and dusty.
“My character sheet…” Himeko said as she picked up what had only a moment ago been a sheet of white printer paper. Now it was yellowed parchment, the ink some or of scrawled writing instead of what the printer had st down.
Peter squeezed his boyfriend’s hand as the glow continued to spread and change the room. The goblin was still screeching and fighting the vines holding it, and James was not stopping in his explanation of the game.
“With the goblin put in its place, the four of you decide to enter the mage’s cottage to discuss what to do with him next. As nice as it would be to get rid of him, doing so might angry the rest of the goblin population, and that is the last thing that anyone in this realm needs.” As he spoke, the modern bookshelves changed into things both old and simple, the wood hardly worked, scattered with the evidence of living so close to nature, the books on them laid down in all sorts of positions. The cottage that appeared and surrounded them was equally disorderly, light streaming in through dirty windows so unevenly that it was almost hard to see the mess. “You can see the the magician lives on her own, more dedicated to magic and spells than to tidying up.”
“This looks just like your room at home,” Peter scoffed as he looked around.
“Just how far are from her room, though?” Bayani asked nervously. “What happened to James’s house?”
Cerys glanced quickly around the room, looking here and there, trying to get hear bearings. Then she saw the one familiar object in the room. “The crystal,” she gasped, seeing the multicolored mass of crystal on the old oaken table. It still glowed, but only deep inside and with a slow pulse. “Did that thing bring us here?”
Everyone turned to watch James reply, their expressions a mixture of fear, distrust, and awe. James gave a slow nod. “Let me say, before anything else, that you are here only because of the important qualities that you all possess. We are not trying to hurt you, my father would want me to say, but to be fair and fully honest, this is not the safest place to be.”
“What?” Bayani did not look pleased. “Then why on Earth are we here?”
“First of all,” James told him, his expression completely serious, “this is not Earth. Secondly, we need your help.”
“Where are we, then?” Himeko wanted to know. She gazed out the front door, which still stood open; it looked Earth-like enough, though far in the past, or at least somewhere very rural.
“Carawick,” James told them. Then he took a slight bow. “James Saravel, son of the Baron of Carawick, at your service.”
That was when everyone realized that his clothes were different.