Chapter 2 ~
Bonnie opened her eyes slowly. There were furry white, cottontail-looking clouds, which seemed to drift, lazily by, winking at her, although she did not understand how clouds could blink- through garish bright blue. Groaning, she rolled over onto her stomach.
"Ah-eeeeek!" Startled she abruptly pushed back from the small dip in the grass she had lain within. Before her eyes opened wide, brightly colored was the picture- she supposed it was a picture- of some kind of King. The wisely portrayed old man in the gilded frame opened his mouth and howled once again.
"No, no, no." She shook her head. This could not be happening. Where in the world was she? Strangest- strangest. Suddenly she stopped moving. Reluctantly she glanced up into the face of a man whom she'd thought to be a large rock. Of course, the dark clothing he wore had the appearance of a soft, fine fabric, brought expressly for the man in question. She opened her mouth slightly. The fabrics he wore billowed upon the heart of the wind, that spiritedly whipped around them both, but Bonnie thought the wind, for some reason, was sentient- as it spun around her, she felt rather warmed. It wasn't chilling. She swallowed.
"S- sorry, sir." The man raised a thinly penciled eyebrow at her.
"What, may I ask, are you doing, so far away from home?" Her breathing visibly quickened.
"How do you know I'm far away from home?" Her voice cut through the noisy air in the high-pitched squeal of a young girl- ironically . . . however, the man bent, and, as her heart thudded against her breast furiously, pulsing, the man neared her height. He lifted her chin up with long white fingers.
"I did not know you were far away from home." A hawk soared overhead that drew her attention with the cackling sound that ingratiatingly annoyed her, as she turned back to the man. His lips flipped upward in a rugged manner that rather than seeming arrogant, made his face a bit awkward. "Did you come without your overnight bag?"
"What?" she asked, confused. He shook his head. Bonnie wondered if he had jet-lag. "I- think I'm lost. Sir? Are you alright?" she questioned him. He raised an eyebrow once more. "Yes. What should you ask?"
"Well, you seem funny. Like, well, maybe you need to go to bed." The man observed her contemplatively. Black hair on either side of his white face looked like lanky curtains, perhaps so that they could serve to hide the purple smudges under his eyes, or the lines etched into his face that made his features harsh.
"You look sick," she blurted. The man gave a low chuckle, before crossing his arms over his chest. He looks like the front stage of a theater, Bonnie thought, enchanted by the dark, thick black robes beneath the dark curtained hair, with his deep black eyes that wanted to bring her hands up, to touch those onyx gems. A matinee. I've never been to one. Wow.
"Sir, you have black eyes," she said wonderingly. He smirked. But his answer was quiet.
"I never saw black eyes before." She glanced around herself. It was some kind of a forest. Tall trees populated the area in which she had landed, sweetly populated with wild animals, whose scamperings were regularly punctuated with loud sounds of various calls of different birds. "I'm not from around here. I don't even know how I got here." She bit her lip nervously. "Umm . . . perhaps, perhaps you could help me." The man did not answer her. He had turned and was walking away from her. "Sir!" She ran to catch up with him. "Sir, wa-ait. Please." I don't understand him. His head bowed, the black robed person sank to his knees upon a fallen tree stump. The man shook his head so that his black hair fell shaggily over his face, obscuring his features from her. She approached him tentatively. "Sir. I was wondering whether you'd be able to help me find my way back home." He only grunted in response. Bonnie didn't understand. After several minutes the strange man lifted his head. His gaze was shiny, reminding her of a brand new penny.
"Child you are," he scoffed. Sadness crept into her blue eyes. Perhaps- perhaps she didn’t really want to go home. And perhaps he would shun her as well . . .
"Sir, you don't need to. It's alright. I can be a responsible adult . . ." He emitted a strange sound. It seemed a bit strange, but she realized that he was actually laughing.
"You're- laughing," she stammered, with her head still bowed.
"What of it?" he questioned, with a sheer touch of hostility.
"It's alright," she aired out. "Just that I haven't heard it. Laughing, I mean," she stuttered, now working quickly through the mess she had made. "I mean- " a blush crept into her cheeks to suffuse her whole neck, that washed her whole face thereupon, like a heated flood. She was painfully ashamed. "I didn't mean that I never heard it," she said in a high-pitched shrilling, "it's just, that my mother and father- well, they don't laugh much." Anger colored her tone. Her fists clenched. Breathing heavily, she did not know that the stranger had locked his eyes upon her face in an avid, frank stare of marked curiosity. The third finger of his left hand gently stroked his right knee crossed over his left legs. Both of them were silent. But, something in the tension, betwixt them did not seem comfortably quiet. Bonnie was on the verge, actually, of an explosion.
"What is it with you?" she demanded. "Talk to me!" she yelled. "I need answers . . . where am I? Who are you? How did I end up here?" The man's lips quirked. He held up one hand and said,
"One." Bonnie jerked her head up. His lips now formed an eerie smile. "You are permitted to ask me one question." Faint curiosity showed behind his black orbs, and his staring upon her increased in its intensity. She would meet his challenge.
"Who are you?"
"My academic title is Professor Abast." Awe struck her.
"You are a professor, sir?" He shrugged. After a slight pause he made a short clicking sound.
"It would seem so."
"But . . . there doesn't seem to be any schools here? Well, are there?" He shook his head.
"It doesn't matter. Bonnie- "
"How do you know my name?" she cried, immediately. He sighed, and his shoulders slumped.
"Come," he said, after a moment, lending his arm to her as he rose. "It is time for you to understand. Where is the picture of Merlin? We will start there."
"The picture of Merlin?" she asked, wonderingly. "You mean the one that was next to me when I woke up?" she cried.
"Smart girl," he muttered in a low voice, rolling his eyes upward.
"I am used to insults, sir," Bonnie stated boldly. He raised his eyebrows challengingly at her, a movement she adopted within her own pretty white young face. Upon that, he turned his own face away from her. His left shoulder slightly quivered as Bonnie watched him. She vaguely came to think that he might be laughing. "Lead the way to Merlin," he told her roughly. She bowed her head.
"Yes, sir." But she continued to observe Professor Abast's turned head with a sly expression- much to his chagrin! Presently he cleared his throat.
"Bonnie . . . you still have not told me how you got lost." She crossed her arms.
"I have no idea why, nor why you know my name Professor." He pinched the bridge of his nose with pressure.
"I should not have known it. I wish indeed that I did not know it." He slipped his pinky finger in his mouth whilst watching her thoughtfully.
"You aren't giving me a good answer." He watched her downtrodden eyes fall.
"Honestly I think that you are one of the most difficult children that I've ever known." Bonnie simply frowned.
"I've never been described as good, so that doesn't actually hurt me." He looked, for an instant, surprised.
"Why would you think that I am trying to hurt you?" he huffed out with a bite in his tone.
"Oh. I don't," she said a little too hastily. Her voice might float in the air around them to the trees only, for they were just as silent in their reply.
"But Merlin, you are not serious about having me take the girl," he said to the portrait.
"I am perfectly serious," the aged wizard in the portrait answered him, in a cracked, reedy voice. "You must take her. She belongs with you now." Professor Abast parted his lips to a small row of half-showing teeth. The old wizard held up a hand. "You must take her. This is said and done. Old news, as they say." He chuckled heartily, but as his eyes crackled with fire the professor stepped back. He nearly swore to the Heavens as he stamped his feet into the Earth. Why and precisely how such an act was accomplished he had no desire to know, although he rapidly crossed the clearing. Then he clasped the arm of the girl waiting.
"Bonnie, come with me now." She shook her head. Two tears dripped slowly from her crystal gaze right at him.
"You must," he insisted. She blinked. "Will I go back to my parents?"
"No," he stated, wondering apprehensively what she would declare after this admission. She simply smiled at him, throwing him in a rare instant, off his guard.
"Then- I don't care where we are. I'll go with you." He met her eyes steadily. "We are in a land of magic," he said in a soft voice.