Chapter 1: Awakening part 1
It was a deep-set sort of hurt starting at the base of his skull and reaching up and around the top to sit there on his crown like a lead anchor slowly pressing down and crushing his head flat as a pancake. That was literally the only way he could describe the pain he was in at the moment.
And to add to that there was this damned rain, pelting on his face and tickling as it slid off, which now that he thought about it was a funny thing to be worrying about, seeing as the pain in the back of his head should be a much more pressing concern than the mere raindrops annoying him, and yet, it was those raindrops that got more of his attention for some reason.
As such it was to his great relief when someone leaned over him and blocked out the rain with their own body. “Oh, Nath!” a hauntingly familiar woman’s voice called out, as a hand reached down to brush away some of the rain. “Hold still dear the footman has been sent for the mender, please honey, don’t move.”
Nath? That was different, he logically knew it was a shortened version of Nathaniel, but he had no recollection of ever being called Nath. And that voice… “Mom?” he asked, forcing one eye open and attempting to look up at the figure crouched over him. It took several seconds for him to make out any more than a simple shadow against the darker sky. But then he was able to make out the face.
And it was the face of his mother, though not as he remembered it, it was younger, like when he was a young adult, or a teenager. The last real memory of his mother he had was when she passed away a year or so ago, at age 68, and yet, here she was, whole, hearty, young, and looking down at him with a face that was creased with lines of worry.
“Shh, Shhh, don’t move Nath,” she tried to say the words calmly but there was a hint of hysteria in her voice, and she looked up and around as if she was searching for something. “Where is the mender!?” she called out and several people stepped into Nathaniel’s line of sight, though he found he didn't recognize any of them, part of that might have to do with the fact that he couldn't make out any of their faces, like they were unfocused, or shadows or something, and they crowded around the two of them.
“Ma’am, it is nearly a quarter mile to the mender’s home and-”
“Make way!” someone called and the small crowd of shadows parted as another joined their number, this one walking around to lean down on the other side of Nathaniel and to peer over him like his inexplicably alive and younger-than-he-remembered mother. The first thing he noticed about the man, as man he was, was the long blond hair and rather effeminate features, sort of like Orlando Bloom Legolas in the Lotr movies, which was when he noticed the ears. While they were longer than the aforementioned elf, and dipped down instead of pointing up, they were still decently elven in nature.
“What-” he started but the words were cut off by the pain when the man reached his around either side of Nathaniel’s head and carefully lifted. There was a gasp from his mother and several of the shadows as the elf man did this, and Nathaniel’s vision started to fade almost like he was about to black out from the pain. Carefully the elf prodded and felt along the back of his skull and down the attached spine, well, Nate assumed it was carefully, seeing as this man seemed to be a medic of some sort, but to him it felt like someone was stabbing him with red hot pokers wherever his fingers touched any part of his head.
“Severe damage to the spinal column as well as trauma to the brain, perhaps internal hemorrhaging of the brain,” he said as he stopped probing.
“Can you mend it?” his mother asked her voice more frantic than a few seconds ago.
“Yes, but I cannot restore loss of function,” he said softly.
“Loss of function?” his mother breathed the words like her saying them would make them so.
“With injuries like this and possible internal hemorrhaging of the brain, there is a good chance that there has been severe damage to the brain itself, meaning your son could be reduced to the status of a little more than a mindless child, not aware enough to even feed himself, sometimes it is kinder to let them succumb to the injury, madam.”
“You said sometimes, meaning this is not always the case?” she asked, her eyes pleading.
“Then mend it,” she demanded.
“Mend it!” she growled the words, her teeth bared.
“Very well,” he sighed, closing his eyes and began to chant, it was not in any language Nate had ever heard, and it sounded weird, almost like he was hearing it in an echo chamber, or like the reverb had been turned up on a pair of headphones. And as the elf man began to chant there was a golden light that seemed to start in his eyes and then envelope his hands, both of which still held Nate’s head. The light grew larger, brighter as the chant continued, and as it began to block out his sight he started to feel the pain in his head recede, and a warm heavy blanket seemed to settle over him, and without even realizing he was slipping away he closed his eyes and fell deeply asleep.
His first real coherent thought was to be thankful for the lack of that damned infernal rain. The second was to go over everything that he just had happen and to tally up in his mind in a coherent chain of events, which was exactly when the memories of James and his rather interesting conversation with the, well, Nate didn't really know what James was, perhaps he should just call him an angel? That coupled with the fact that he had seen his already passed away mother, though younger and clearly still alive, as well as the pain in the back of his head which coincided with the angel’s story led him to believe that he hadn't had some hallucination or really vivid dream, in reality, he was on an alternate version of earth, a reflection as James called it. Despite all of the evidence, it was still a hard thing to really wrap his head around.
Speaking of his head…
Carefully he brought his fingers up and felt the side of his skull before working them back between it and what felt like a pillow, probing for the bright spots of pain he had felt when that elf ha-
His hands froze as the memory of the elf man resurfaced, that, most definitely was not a normal memory, what with the ears and the chanting and. His eyes snapped open, and he was eternally grateful for the fact that there were no blinding bulbs to burn his unadjusted pupils. The room was dark, not black like at night, but simply unlit by anything other than a single window and a small fire in a hearth on the far corner, and the window was streaked with rain as it pelted down from a leaden sky, so all in all a pretty dark room. Due to this it took several moments for his eyes to adjust to the light and as they did so he carefully sat up, finding that though his neck felt a little stiff, like he had slept on it wrong, he was able to move freely and without pain.
As he sat up the thick padded comforter that had been tucked around him slid down and he was surprised to find that he appeared to be naked under the sheats. He was pretty damn sure there had been clothes on him when he had first gotten to this version of earth, which meant someone had taken it upon themselves to undress him before laying him down, he fervently hoped that it had not been his mother…
The room itself was rather richly appointed in a strangely dated sort of way. It seemed to have been constructed of horizontal wooden planking with gaps as wide as his hand between each plank that was filled in with what looked like mortar or something. All the furniture also appeared to be constructed of wood, all of which was in a natural shade, no paints, only hardwoods. All along one wall was a series of tapestries that seemed to be depicting a progressive story of some sort of battle.
This did not look good.
His eyes fell to electrical plugin level, and he scanned the room, first one way then the other, looking for anything that resembled an outlet. He found none, and with a sinking feeling deep in his gut he looked up. For a moment he had a glimmer of hope, there hanging from the ceiling was a chandelier, he was about to breathe a sigh of relief when he noticed something odd about it. Fully casting aside the blankets and standing up he got a closer look. There was something dripping down one of the fixtures, something white and-
His heart sank, now that he had gotten a closer look at it he knew exactly what it was, it was wax, wax because this was no electrical chandelier, rather it was a tallow one. The chill bite of the air on his bare flesh snapped him out of the funk he was in and he looked around for some clothing, he could think about the implications once he was dressed somewhat. There in the corner not far from the fireplace was a wardrobe of sorts. Stepping down from the bed he made his way towards it when a flicker of motion caught his attention, turning quickly, his hands going down to cover the area between his legs he realized it had only been a mirror’s reflection of his own movement. He was about to dismiss it off of hand when he noticed something, something rather odd.
“-no way in hell,” he whispered to the mirror as he drew up in front of it. The man standing on the other side of the glass moved his lips at the same time, and even approached the mirror the same way Nate did, but it wasn't him. Or rather it wasn't the him that he remembered. The person reflected to him was not an almost fifty year old man with a few extra pounds around his middle and a clean shaven face. This person was young, fifteen, maybe sixteen if Nate had to put his finger on an age, and he had a trim and muscled figure that Nate had not seen since his days on the football team half a lifetime ago. The brownish red hair was pulled back in a ponytail that was held in place with what looked to be a leather strap, though several strands of hair had escaped, and on his face was a beard of sorts.
Nate had never had a beard, not that he couldn't grow one, but rather that his father had always shaved and his mother had always said men looked more respectable without them, and so he supposed subconsciously that had somehow stuck, and he, despite the relatively young age at which he needed to start shaving, made sure he shaved daily. Besides, growing a beard was itchy and had seemed to not be worth the effort to him.
The other him, apparently had not agreed, seeing as there was what could only be called a short beard sitting there on his chin. It was a full beard in terms of the hair density, but it also had been cut close to his actual jawline and chin, making it short. The oddest thing about it was the fact that, for some reason the other him had decided to shave the mustache off, he had an Abraham Lincoln thing going on…
He shook his head, casting off the oddity of it, and once again made his way to the wardrobe in the corner of the room. Upon opening it he found that there were quite a few clothes, not a ton, but quite a few, and they seemed to consist of oddly shaped pants, short sleeve shirts that were much too long and would hang down to mid thighs, and undergarments that resembled longjohns of a sort. Shrugging to himself he pulled out a pair of the underclothes, pants, and what he supposed was a tunic and started to put them on.