13 year old Nadine Foster left her arms crossed as she uncrossed her legs and opened her eyes. She didn’t move otherwise at first, no good to be spotted before you’re fully awake. She shifted her shoulders back and forth a little, feeling the scrape of tree bark. She had been sleeping in an evergreen canopy? No, she definitely went to sleep in a public house. Had the Prophets done something? Things got a little tense there at the end, but she’d been sure she hadn’t been followed. Besides, she didn’t really think those wannabes could have done anything without waking her anyway. Nadine was a light sleeper.

Reaching down Nadine was relieved to feel her bow and quiver. Shouldering the familiar weight she quickly descended the tree like an arboreal cat. She had mixed feelings about being back in the forest already. She’d have to go through a lot of wilderness if she was going to find her father, but it had been so nice to finally be in a town for once. To be around other people. Heck, even the creepy doom-saying Prophets were better for a while than being alone.

Reflexively, Nadine slipped from shadow to shadow. She seemed to be alone in this forest, just like she always was in the forest haven her father had found for her. Still, no daughter of the famous Flint Foster was ever going to be caught off-guard just because she’d thought she was alone. No, anyone or anything that she might encounter, Nadine would know long before they did. Soon enough she heard laughing and splashing water. It sounded like a couple of girls about her age actually.

Nadine silently slipped to the edge of a clearing on the far side of an old playground like the ones her father said he played on when he was young. There was a teeter-totter, a couple swings, a short slide, jungle gym and merry-go-round—all weather worn with faded and chipped paint that must’ve been beautiful at one time. Someday Nadine wanted to see something man-made that was still beautiful. But for now she snuck through the playground to watch the pond beyond from behind the merry-go-round.

There was a girl maybe a little older than Nadine with dark hair and glasses dressed in a whole pristine school-uniform. She was laughing as a smaller brown-haired girl in skins swam back from the middle of the pond with a stick in her mouth! Did the smaller girl have dog ears? And a tail too, Nadine could tell as the little dogling got out of the water and shook herself off before returning the stick to the one in the uniform.

“Oh my gosh!” The one in the uniform was still laughing, “That was… You really enjoyed that?”

“Throw again! Horera catch this time!” The dogling nodded eagerly.

Nadine couldn’t help laughing herself, which drew the other two’s attention. Just to be safe she leapt up onto the bars of the merry-go-round to crouch with her bow ready, but her gut told her she could trust these two. “Hey! I don’t suppose either of you know where we are? I’m a little confused how I got here.”

The one with the uniform shook her head, “Sorry, I don’t really know much about it.” Then she pushed her glasses back up her face with the middle fingers of her right hand before muttering to herself, “Odd… How long has that playground been there?”

“Woof!” The dogling came barreling at Nadine with a gleeful expression. “Horera Horera!”

Horera, if Nadine interpreted the sounds she was making correctly, was a lot faster than Nadine expected and had sprung up onto the merry-go-round with Nadine before she had time to even stand up. Nadine managed to keep her balance as the merry-go-round spun so rapidly the world seemed to blur. Horera for her part grabbed onto the rail and panted up at Nadine.

“Friends now!”

“Sure!” Nadine laughed, and then did a standing back-flip off the spinning merry-go-round to land on top of the jungle gym. “My name’s Nadine, by the way. Nice to meet you!”

“Audrey Prince.” The one in the uniform waved, apparently hesitant to approach the playground.

Nadine had a good feeling about these two. She was glad she’d finally decided to leave the forest haven.



4 Responses

  1. Sarah says:

    And so the group is united… but what happens now???

  2. Elsie says:

    are all the girls from different time periods…?

  3. Andy says:

    Kinda weird seeing a playground there. I had thought they were in fantasy-era, but I don’t think Merry-go rounds are that old… Flint Foster is a stuffy name. XD Or at least it gives me that impression the way it was written. Horera is cute still. ^^

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