Happy Friday, fantasy readers! Here’s Chapter 5 of Saving ForeverLand.
If you didn’t get a chance to read the previous chapters, remember to check those out.
Note: Our regular illustrator was out this week, but we were lucky enough to have Isabella Misanes fill in with the artwork for Under Leisata. Check out her bio at the end of the chapter.
This one is a full chapter, so the estimated reading time is a bit longer: 12 minutes.
Frank and Amanda couldn’t see anything. They were only going off of the sound of each other’s voices. There were no lights in the cell, and because the sun had set, it was pitch-black inside. With no windows, not even the moons could offer solace. Leisata’s three moons, Alabar, Juli, and Bona, though surely shining bright outside, were out of sight for Frank and Amanda, trapped in what appeared to be a solitary confinement cell from an old-world prison.
The ground was dirt - no one had bothered to place an actual floor in the cells. The four side walls were solid rock, enhanced by the Chief’s own invention, the XMachina, which would ensure that the couple could not escape. The XMachina was Chief Luis’s anti-magic protector. Working for the past hundred years to develop the technology, since that first bender appeared in Leisata, the Chiefs created the XMachina as part of their prison. He didn’t have it when he trapped the first one, so he worked tirelessly until he had a way to prevent any of those freaks from escaping ever again. The Chiefs vowed to keep all magical beings in the cell until otherwise disposed of. But in this case, Chief Luis was holding the parents there.
Chief Luis knew that Frank and Amanda had information - he just had to draw it out of them, and since they weren’t forthcoming thus far, they would remain in the cell, with no food or water.
“Honey, what are we going to do?” Frank asked his wife in an urgent whisper. With all the technology the Chiefs had invented, Frank didn’t trust them not to be overheard.
“What can we do?” Amanda asked, defeated. “Obviously we can’t give them any information about ForeverLand.”
Then her face changed. Though she still appeared upset and scared, Frank noticed she had that glint in her eye that she always gets when she’s mustering up some much-needed strength.
“We’ll have to endure,” Amanda said. “We have to stay strong…for Sarah.” A tear trailed down her face and finally fell, hitting the dirt below.
Amanda and Frank turned toward the cell door, where they saw Chief Luis, tall and foreboding, entering the cell and slamming the door shut behind him.
The Chief’s face said it all - mouth in a straight line, eyebrows furrowed in frustration, and nostrils flaring. He had enough. It was time for this couple to talk. He pointed across the cell at the bare wall.
“Stand over there,” he yelled.
Frank and Amanda looked at each other and nodded in agreement. Then they walked back to the wall and waited for their next instruction.
The Chief pulled out a controller from his pocket, and while Frank and Amanda didn’t know what it did, they knew it couldn’t be good.
The Chief smirked, cruelly. “Let’s see if this loosens your lips,” he muttered under his breath. Then he pressed a button on the controller and four holes appeared in the wall behind Frank and Amanda. The holes appeared by their sides and the couple, though confused, remained still, waiting for what was to come. Then, chains shot out of each of the holes, wrapping themselves around Frank and Amanda, binding them to the wall.
“Part of the XMachina,” Chief Luis said proudly. “Invented it myself, not exactly for this purpose, but I think this situation warrants some force.”
He turned the dial on the controller and the chains tightened. Amanda felt the metal digging into her legs, while Frank suffered through the choking feeling as the XMachina pushed on his throat.
“Now,” the Chief said calmly, “that we’re all nice and cozy, let’s talk.” He took a few steps forward so that he was inches from the couple, towering over them in his giant-like form. Chief Luis had to be at least seven feet tall, with the stature of a grizzly bear. He had a slight hunchback, though no one knew what caused it, and his head was bare - not a single hair had grown in all his years as Chief. Chief Luis had been around as long as Frank and Amanda could remember, along with the other Chiefs in his order. No one dared challenge the Chiefs of Leisata. The Chiefs never aged, appearing to be around the age of 50 for as long as anyone knew them. They had a strong hold on Leisata and its citizens because no one knew how to survive without them. While the Chiefs were controlling, they also ensured that every citizen had a home, food, education, and all of the basic comforts they desired. How could anyone argue with that?
So what if they were told what they could learn, what they could talk about, and how the society would be structured? At least they were safe. They had been warned of the terrors of the other magical worlds, and most of the citizens of Leisata lived in fear of ever being exposed to magic. They were trained to report any oddities in the world - anything that seemed out of the ordinary - to the Chiefs, who promised to take care of everything and keep order.
Chief Luis reflected on his reign over Leisata as he stood across from Amanda and Frank, who were struggling against the chains that were continuing to tighten around their bodies.
The Chief attempted to reason with the couple. “You know that I only want what is best for Leisata and all our citizens, don’t you?” He didn’t wait for an answer. “I’m doing this for your own good - for the good of our world. We can’t have magical beings escaping and using their powers to do God knows what.”
“She’s our daughter,” Amanda cried.
“You can hurt us,” Frank said calmly, “but we will not allow you to hurt her.”
“I’m trying to save your daughter,” Chief Luis explained. “We need to rid her of the evil energy inside her. And the only way to do that is for me to find her. My new technology, the XMachina is almost ready, and that will allow me to strip Sarah of her powers and make her normal again. Then, she can come home and stay with you, her family. That’s what you want, isn’t it?”
Frank and Amanda were warned about this years ago when Elozar first arrived. He told them that the Chiefs would try to convince them that he was trying to save Sarah, but it was a lie. The couple didn’t believe Elozar at first, but after he showed them the flashback to the first timebender’s imprisonment, and attempted murder, they were inclined to believe that, if by the very rare chance Sarah actually was a TimeBender, Chief Luis would not help her. At the time, Frank and Amanda didn’t really believe Elozar’s story, but now - now that he had returned and taken Sarah somewhere safe, they knew they had to trust him. The Chiefs were after all TimeBenders, and now that Sarah was among the magical beings, her parents had to stay strong to protect her.
The couple didn’t know what else to do, though. Right now, it seemed like their only option was to remain silent and be tortured here in the Chief’s prison. They would die to protect their daughter - that much they were sure - but there had to be a way to stop the Chiefs. There had to be a way to put an end to this hunt and destruction of magic in Leisata.
Frank wondered for a second why Chief Luis couldn’t even allow the TimeBenders to live in another world. Why did he need to hunt them down? What were they doing to hurt anyone if they were completely separate from Leisata? It seemed like there was more to this story that they didn’t understand, and Frank was determined to uncover the truth. Frank was about to tell Chief Luis that he knew he was lying, but then he stopped himself and looked at his wife, urging her to trust him with this next move. She nodded ever so slightly. Frank let out a sigh of relief, knowing that Amanda was on his side.
“You’re right, Chief Luis. We just want Sarah to come back to us, and if you have a way to make that happen and keep her safe, then maybe we should really sit down and talk.”
The Chief stared into Frank’s eyes, trying to determine if this was a trick. Frank tried to empty his mind - he had the sense that the Chief could read his thoughts, though he wasn’t quite sure how. He just knew that he needed the Chief to believe him, to trust him. That would be the only way to put a stop to this madness, once and for all.
Finally, Chief Luis looked away from Frank and moved on to Amanda. Thankfully, Amanda didn’t need to hide anything because she had no idea what Frank’s plan was. She tried to stay calm as the Chief’s almost black eyes bore into her own for what seemed like an hour, before he finally blinked and turned around, facing away from them.
Frank and Amanda were still struggling behind the chains, but then the Chief held up the controller and hit the red button. Suddenly, the chains disappeared - Frank could breathe freely again and Amanda rubbed her legs where there were indents in the skin from the chains.
The Chief cleared his throat. “I am pleased that you are both being reasonable. As I said, I only want what is best for everyone in Leisata. Now that I know you are with me, we will make an excellent team.”
He turned back around to face the couple, appearing almost friendly, though Frank knew this was all a ruse. Frank reached out his left hand to shake the Chief’s, and the Chief returned the gesture. Amanda hesitated, then did the same. She really hoped that Frank had a solid plan to get them out of here.
The Chief opened the door to the cell and led the couple down the dark, narrow tunnel. They followed the path up the steep incline, leading them out of the prison and back into Chief Luis’s office. lights were blinding as Frank and Amanda climbed up and out of the door on the floor of the office. The Chief, however, seemed to adjust to this lighting in merely a second.
They hadn’t seen the office when they were brought to the prison yesterday - the other Chiefs had captured Frank and Amanda after finding their passageway where they had brought Sarah to safety. When the couple was blindfolded and dragged back to the office and tossed down into the prison, they weren’t aware of their surroundings, but now, as they adjusted to the lights and looked around, they noticed that the Chief’s office was unlike anything they had ever seen.
All four walls were lined with books. Frank and Amanda ogled for a moment, before realizing that these were all fantasy books. No one in Leisata was allowed to own books like this - as everyone knew, any mention of magic was censored by the Chiefs. But no one really thought about where all these books would go. Where were all the records of magic in the world if the citizens of Leisata could not access them? Well, Frank and Amanda finally knew the truth - the Chiefs were keeping all of these books locked up in the office. The strange thing was, everything looked like it was worn - the books were falling apart as if someone had read them time and time again. Who had read all of them? Frank wondered. It seemed unlikely that the Chiefs were reading these books for entertainment over and over - there had to be some other reason for the collection.
“Ah yes,” Chief Luis acknowledged, gesturing around the room, “I see you noticed my books - well how could you not?” He chuckled. “This is for my research,” he stated seriously.
“Research?” Amanda asked curiously.
“Yes,” Chief Luis replied. “I have been conducting extensive research on magic since I first took office, and I am working tirelessly to track down and destroy any hint of magic in Leisata.”
Frank looked at his wife and saw the terror.
“Destroy?” Amanda asked. “I thought we were going to find Sarah and bring her home?”
“Of course,” Chief Luis said. “But before we can bring her back, we need to destroy the magic that is infesting her. We need to destroy it all. I know about their world - ForeverLand, they call it. I just don’t know how to gain access to the space myself. I have no way of moving between worlds like they can with their powers, so we need to devise a plan to draw Sarah back to Leisata. Then, we can remove the magic - we can save her.”
Amanda was starting to get convinced that Chief Luis might actually have their best interests in mind. It seemed like a reasonable goal - to return Leisata to a state of normalcy…
“Hem, hem,” Frank coughed, though Amanda knew that was just his way of getting her attention.
Chief Luis began to ramble on about different strategies for getting Sarah back. “We can lure her with a message from you, or…”
But Amanda was only looking at Frank now. He stared pointedly at the back corner of the room, and when Amanda followed his gaze, she understood. There were more of Chief Luis’s inventions, hidden behind his desk, though Frank immediately noticed what must have been the XMachina that the Chief had mentioned. It looked similar to the device that had nearly strangled Frank in the prison below Leisata, and both he and Amanda were well aware that this device was intended to harm. Spears were sticking out of the top, and they looked like they could be launched at something. The chains were wrapped up along the coil in the back, but it was clear that these were not ordinary metal chains - they were glowing bright green and Frank thought he could hear a soft humming coming from the corner, too.
“But that wouldn’t work either…Damnit!” The Chief yelled in frustration, forcing Amanda and Frank to turn away from the corner so as not to let the Chief know they were privy to his new technology.
Chief Luis held his head in his hands as if he were trying to keep his skull from exploding.
“You two are useless!” he screamed. “You’re not offering any help here. You’re supposed to have some idea of how to contact those things in ForeverLand.”
Frank stepped towards Chief Luis and spoke up. “We do have an idea,” he said suddenly. “You just didn’t ask us for our input and you didn’t give us a chance to help. We can help. We can take you to the communication unit in our home. It will allow you to contact Elozar and we can ask him to let Sarah visit us.”
The Chief’s eyes lit up with excitement. “Excellent! Why didn’t you say so earlier? Let’s go - there’s no time to waste!” He shuffled to the door, looking back to wave Amanda and Frank along. He was like a small child rushing to receive his birthday presents.
Amanda looked at her husband, confused. Then she leaned into his ear and whispered, “but we don’t have a communication unit. What are we going to do when he finds out you’re lying?”
“It’s fine,” Frank replied as he made his way to the door, right behind Chief Luis.
Amanda was worried, but Frank counted on this. He didn’t want Amanda to know what was going on. He didn’t want to put her at risk. It was better this way. He had a plan, and now he just had to make sure he executed it effectively.
Everything was riding on this moment, as Frank followed Chief Luis back to their old home in the middle of Leisata. The streets were pitch black - it must have been midnight by the time they got to the house - not a soul in sight on the streets, nor light on in any of the homes they passed.
“Hem, hemm,” Frank coughed loudly again, this time to get the Chief’s attention. When Chief Luis turned around, Frank was ready. Frank whipped the long chain from under his belt out and it wound itself around Chief Luis.
The Chief screamed in pain as the chains wrapped themselves tighter around him, binding him to the lamppost in front of the house. Amanda’s jaw dropped. How? Where had Frank gotten the chains? Were those part of the XMachina? She wondered. But everything was happening so quickly.
“Run!” Frank yelled. When Amanda didn’t move, he grabbed her hand and dragged her through the front door, rushed to the kitchen, and opened the cabinet under the sink
“What are you doing?” Amanda asked.
“Saving Sarah,” he replied as he reached inside the cabinet and pulled out the thing that Amanda forgot about, the thing they swore they would never use - Elozar’s wand.
Frank waved the wand in a swirling pattern like Elozar had instructed him all those years ago, and prayed that it would work.
A swirl of rainbow light appeared in front of them and Frank didn’t hesitate. He jumped through the portal and pulled his wife in after him, not knowing where they’d end up, but hoping it was somewhere safer than Leisata. And so, the portal sucked them through into nothingness, and the couple was engulfed by darkness, leaving no trace of their existence.
Guest Illustrator: Isabella Misanes
Isabella Misanes is currently a sophomore at Stony Brook University pursuing a major in Computer Science and a minor in Digital Art. She has been digitally illustrating since 2013, and she specializes in drawing the human figure. The intense expressions characteristic of Japanese anime inspire her. She loves to focus on facial expressions and body language to convey human emotion within her art. With her creative and technical skills, she aspires to become a video game designer.