Estantia's First Story
This story is the first of Estantia
's time as the great guide. What more can I say? This is my first remembered story, the basic plot was when I was 5, I added the bits before and after.
And stop thinking dirty when all the kids have to be taken to their beds...
The group of people listened anxiously to the roar outside the room they were in and tried not to think of anyone out there in the storm. The beds lining the long room down here contained scared eyes watching the group of adults sitting on their own beds.
By unspoken agreement all of the children moved and huddled in a group between two of the beds where the littlest child sat wide awake and staring. The 25 or so children were being looked after by a woman at the moment, young, but seemed old enough to remind scared minds of mothers.
“How long will we be here for?” asked a toddler cautiously, tucked into Estantia’s side with his head on her lap. Estantia thought and replied honestly, “As long as the storm lasts, my love.” She didn’t mention that they were still hiding from whatever had chased them and her other adult friends here.
“ ‘Stantia, Can you tell us a story?” asked the little wide-eyed child opposite her, this caused a wash of murmurs,
“Tell us a story!”
“Oh yes, please do Estantia,” said a deeper voice. One of her companions with dark curly hair was standing close by, listening to her and the children. Estantia hushed them all with a grin at the man wearing the hoodie.
“Which one? There are so many.”
“One we haven’t heard before!” mumbled the boy on her lap around his thumb.
“One of mine then?”
“You make stories?” asked a child, aghast, firelight flickering off wide eyes.
“There are many, many of them too little one. Shall I start at the beginning?” The man froze as he heard this, staring at Estantia before quietly becoming part of the group, complete with toddler.
“Right at the beginning it is then. Once, long ago, there was a girl, about your age, five years old in fact. Her name was Lizzie and she had long brown hair and bright hazel eyes."
"One Sunday morning at home she had been watching Sonic The Hedgehog on TV was feeling bouncy. She jumped down off the sofa and ran as fast as she could towards the stairs...”
Lizzie jumped and landed, her right foot square in the middle of the bottom step. Suddenly she felt her foot go through the step and she fell.
The world around her became a swirling funnel of reds, blues and purples that formed the walls she arrowed past to the black opening at the bottom. She didn’t scream but there was a whirling howl of white noise as the world became black.
She opened her eyes to find she was standing at the top of a crowded, bustling, street. This place was hot. She looked around as she wiped her forehead, wondering which way to go before walking down the street she was facing.
All around her stall holders at the sides yelled their goods to the world, and shoppers eagerly inspected the wares, but there was something... odd... about the customers and sellers. They obviously belonged in this reddish stoned place with wooden stalls and barrels of whatever they put in them.
Someone barged past as they joined a que. Lizzie looked up and apologised when she realised what she had been missing, some of, well most of, the people in the street weren’t entirely human, this one had cat ears and nose and... she glanced down, yes, a tail too.
The person looked down her, it was definitely a her, nose at the girl and sniffed before turning away.
Lizzie suddenly felt very, very alone. She ran to a wall and sat behind some of the barrels, moving them slightly to make a little circle around her with one end open. The frightened girl looked out from between the barrels and cried.
Soon the fright changed to excitement, irrepressable spirit bubbling up, what an adventure! Lizzie’s eyes sparkled as she watched this strange new world. Lizzie sat for a while after she’d stopped crying, deciding what to do. She was in a place where she knew no-one, had nothing, and she was hungry.
Nervously she walked out from behind the barrels to try and find directions from someone. Suddenly the shopkeeper screamed, “THIEF!” Lizzie looked around in panic and saw no-one stealing, then looked at the direction the stallholder was looking.
Two strong guards grabbed Lizzie’s arms and she felt herself being pulled backwards...
Their grip wasn’t too strong due to her size, she ducked under and started to run, fast. She ran away, and hardly noticed the people blurring as she ran from panic. She looked back to see how far the watch were behind her...
WHAM! She smacked into something and fell on the floor. She was helped up and unthinkingly apologised, “Sorry,” Lizzie said to the pale chipmunk-like person she’d collided with, “I didn’t look where I was going.” Now she saw that the one who’d picked her up was a... was she imagining things? A blue hedgehog, just like So...
It hit her as she spotted the two-tailed fox who’d aided the chipmunk, she was in Sonic’s world? How? But...
There was a shrill whistle and several people wearing the watch uniform rounded the corner. Lizzie jerked upright without support, “Excuse me,” she said politely and zoomed off, leaving a small dust puff where she’d started off.
“She went nearly as fast as you Sonic!” said Miles after a pause.
“We have to follow her,” stated Sally firmly
“I had a dreadful feeling you’d say that...”
Lizzie sprinted off, turning over the idea in her mind. Sonic’s world! She’d gone into a story! How could she get home? Did she want to? Her thoughts were interrupted by something catching up with her. She ran faster, willing herself to outrun her pursuer.
She drew away a little, but they still drew up next to her.
“Hey! Slow down a bit will ya? I’m having trouble keeping up!” Lizzie’s panic shot up and she lurched forwards, the movement sending her to the cobbles, where she realised who her pursuer was. She gulped and scrambled to the wall where she crouched in fear, instinct was running the game now.
Miles and Princess Sally soon caught up and stood next to Sonic, who was still watching the girl in bewilderment. “I told her she’d be safe with us, she didn’t seem to hear...”
The watch arrived soon afterwards and walked confidently up to the small creatures, “Well done sirs and miss! Now step aside and we’ll deal with the wretch...”
The three didn’t move.
“Excuse me, we need to apprehend the criminal...” Princess Sally put on her royal manner like a cloak and addressed him.
“Thievery, your highness.”
“Then where is the stuff she stole?” Lizzie blinked a bit, these three she’d never spoken to in her life were defending her? She looked on in frigid shock as the talk continued.
Sonic took her hand and pulled her up. “We’re off to the Palace. Come on, it won’t hurt you...” he said gently as he walked and waited for her to follow. Lizzie stuck close to Miles, Sally and Sonic as they walked, keeping away from the Watchmen surrounding them.
They passed huge white buildings, more bazaar-like streets until they come to a huge room. She stood in front of the king and watched him as time passed. Talk buzzed in and out of her ears as her eyelids drooped.
“Poor mite. She’s asleep on her feet, permission to take her to a bed, your Majesty?”
In the night no-one noticed a golden necklace form around the neck of a five-year old child. The pendant glinted in the light falling on her soft pillow.
Lizzie opened her eyes and looked up at the three faces standing over her. “Thank you.” she said in a whisper.
“No problem, payment is being our friend, accept?” said the hedgehog cheekily.
“You’re offering me friendship with a Princess, a flying fox and a hedgehog who can run faster than sound?”
The three animals looked confused, “How did you know?” Lizzie paused at this question,
“We have plenty of time.”
As Lizzie explained her audience’s eyes grew wider. When she finished there was a silence, broken by Lizzie, “Should we just go and play planes?”
“Planes?” asked the others.
There was laughter as four people ran around the public garden with arms outstretched, “Weee!”
“Look! I can be a helicopter!” Miles bent down and whirled his tails in a circle above his head until he hovered an inch off the ground then lowered, “see?”
“Want a race Lizzie?” asked Sonic, panting slightly.
“I won’t be very good...”
“Nonsense, you ran faster than me yesterday!”
“I did?” The two stood side by side as Sally held up a handkerchief. She let it go and the two ran, Sonic moving ahead easily without panic to make Lizzie fast, “Slowcoach!”
“Am not!” Lizzie yelled and ran faster, arms out...
Her feet suddenly lifted off the floor and she gained height. Her eyes shot open in horror and her balance wobbled, sending her curving at high speed...
There was a clonk as she collided with a lamp-post and fell to the floor unconscious.
When Lizzie awoke again there were five faces looking at her, the three friends, the king and a doctor it seemed.
“A slight bump, your Majesty. Nothing more. But how did she get this injury?”
“She flew into a lamp-post...” said Sonic wearily, he was ignored by the adults.
“What I want to know is what this is.” said the king, putting his fingers under the necklace, “this wasn’t there yesterday. Explanation, youngling?” Lizzie looked in confusion at the necklace.
“That wasn’t there before...” she said quietly to herself, “I don’t know sir.”
“Did you steal it?” At this Lizzie jerked upright, her hand round the pendant,
“Me? Steal? Your Majesty I’ve never, ever stolen!” the pendant glowed in her hand and she let it drop around her neck.
There were the letters TGG making a line underneath a unicorn rearing and a sitting cat. A dolphin wound through the letters and a bird flew over the other animals. They could all be clearly seen in the glow, but how they were attached wasn’t clear.
The King murmured, “If you’re truly that than that’s explained everything.”
“What? I’m the what?”
“The Great Guide.”
Everyone was crowded round listening to Estantia now, having drifted over to her tale. Most of the children had fallen asleep on laps, but one remained awake, with all the adults.
“Is that the end ‘Stantia?” The little wide-eyed child asked. Estantia smiled in the dim firelight at this, “No, that was only the beginning,”
“Then what happens next?”
“Well, in that visit to them Lizzie learnt how to fly alongside Miles, run with Sonic and many other things before she was dragged home.” she paused for a second, “but the real end of the story is years later, and the end keeps changing all the time. At the moment, it ends with a room full of firelight and a child asleep...” Estantia let her voice fade as the last child closed his eyes, then stepped back.
She smiled gently, the firelight flickering over her face.
There was a calm silence as her adult companions watched her sleepily. “Come on, you’ve had your bedtime story, go and go to sleep,” her joking voice was infused with magic and lulled them towards slumber. Some slept alongside the children, others made it to their beds.
DMP touched her arm gently, “Lizzie...I didn’t know...” he said and stopped, uncertain how to continue.
“Yes, I understand” the woman said gently, steering him towards his bed.
“Yes, all those years.” Estantia saw a question forming and answered it,
“You’ll hear more, trust me.”
“That’s good.” Something in the tone made her look at his eyes. He smiled.
The story now ends with a grin.