The doors shut and all was pitch black, I couldn’t see where I was going and suddenly, my foot hit a rock and I went flying downhill.
I yelled and stretched out my hands to save myself and fall into someone.
“Hey!” the person grunted, then we went tumbling down, and ended up with me lying on top of someone.
“Ouch…” I groaned, rolling off the person and onto my back.
Then a soft glow lit up the hall, coming from several torches aligning the walls of the passage. My eyes quickly adjusted and I turned my head to look at the person I had crashed into and found myself just inches away from Mason’s brilliant blue eyes.
“Oh- um- sorry.” I stuttered and jumped up.
He just smirked and got up, “No problem.”
Meanwhile, Ms. Clark was walking ahead of us while Erica had turn around and was staring at us- well, really me. And she had a wide grin on her face, which, honestly, scared me.
Slowly, I dusted myself off and started to walk towards Erica, bracing myself for whatever she was going to say… but she didn’t say anything, just smirked at me and elbowed me in the ribs.
I glared at her but before I could say anything, Ms. Clark shouted to us at the end of the passage, “Hey, hurry up or I’ll leave you here!”
Curious, I ran up to her standing at door with a lion on it. But the door wasn’t as big as the last one but it was still large and it had the same lion, poised and ready for action.
Suddenly, I felt a sense of familiarity- like I had been here before. But the feeling wasn’t quite the same. What is it?
While I was thinking about this, Erica had walked up to me and tugged my shirt saying, “Hey, are you excited? This is our first retrieving mission and I’m pretty sure we’ve completed it!”
I raised an eyebrow and scoffed, “What? This is another joke right?”
But before she could answer, Ms. Clark said, “Watch Alison Walker, just wait.” Then she pushed open the huge doors; it swung inwards and a bright yet warm light rushed in through.
I blinked and watched Ms. Clark, Erica, and Mason as they walked towards the light, slowly getting eaten up by it.
Cautiously, I followed them- and in a flash of light, found myself in a huge clearing. I looked around in shock, “What- no- how…” I stammered, spinning in a circle and taking in my surroundings. There were little wooden houses scattered all over the area and trees bordering the ends of the clearing. How did I get here? I spun to look behind me and gazed up at a large rock with a gaping hole in the center.
While I was gaping at everything, someone had snuck up behind me and tapped me on the shoulder. I jumped a whole foot in the air, ready to run away- until I realized that it was Erica.
“Do you believe me now?” She grinned at me; her eyes alight with joy, “You don’t know how long I’ve waited to show you! My best friend is here at my paradise!” As she said that, she threw her arms out and her red hair swirled around her.
I closed my eyes and shook my head, “Erica, what is this place?” I asked, trying to avoid telling her that I didn’t actually believe her.
She beamed at me, “This is where we- us Ringmasters- live! Hey, this might be a good time to take you on a tour! Where’s Mason… Oh, I found him! Mason! Come here and help me show Allie around!” She cried out, waving Mason down from the trees.
“What were you doing in the trees?” I asked when he landed next to us.
“Just telling everyone that it’s safe.” He said simply, turning around and gestured with a hand to the shadowed sides of the trees.
And with that, people began to stream from the forest. My eyes widened as I caught a glimpse of several weapons in the men’s hands- guns, swords, bows, and arrows- but they quickly hid them and I didn’t see anymore.
“Hey everyone! We’re back from the mission! And we’ve got Alison Walker!” Erica announced to the group of people, “She needs some time getting used to it and fitting in so help her out the best you can ok?”
There was a slight pause- then a loud cheer erupted from the crowd and they surged forward, clapping Mason and Erica on the back and saying things like; “Nice to meet you!” and “Welcome!” And, reluctantly, I began to feel comfortable and almost believed that Ringmasters existed- almost.
After everyone had congratulated Erica and Mason for a good completed mission and welcomed me, they all went back to whatever they were doing before, some entering the cozy looking homes and some returning towards the woods.
Erica was excited for showing me around and dragged me and Mason towards the thick forest while pointing things out, “So where we came from, over there,” she said, pointing at the rock tunnel we entered through, “is called, simply, the Rock- how original right? And the houses are made of wood so if we’re under attack, we can burn the homes and run into the forest.
“The girls and boys live in separate places, of course. The girls’ dorm is over there,” she pointed at a long horizontal house that was a slight pink color to the right of the Rock, “And the boys’ dorm is on the left- in that blue house.
“Over there is where the lead Ringmaster lives and where the Officials gather together and make decisions, the Main Building. And that’s where Ms. Clark went to report about the mission.” Erica gestured to a large silver building in the center of the clearing. Its shape was just like the dorms but it was bigger and the windows were trimmed with gold.
“The building between the boys’ and girls’ dorms is the Medical Center. Its just a hospital where the injured go.
“In front of the Medical center is the cafeteria. Everyone goes there to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
“Ok, let’s go into the forest now! There’s a lot that I want to show you so we have to hurry before the sun goes down. That’s when the woods get dangerous- never leave the dorm until wake-up call, ok?” said Erica. I just nodded my head and we turn towards the forest, passing the girls’ dorm and entered the shadows made by the giant trees.
Sorry everyone, this chapter took a little longer than expected so I tried to make it a long one. I hope you enjoyed it!
Read on: Chapter Nine