OK, this day did not go quite as planned. Of course, they never do. He is used to that. One day, it's a barefoot Tibetan monk going "ooommm" outside his window; the next, being chased by an angry mob of squirrels, none of which speak any Western language. Life has been weird for so long that a normal day would be abnormal. He is not even too worried about being in prison. He just wishes it was on Earth.
Helge-Dag sighs and gently shakes his head to get long strands of pale hair away from his face. But even that movement brings the headache back. And the hair, of course, doesn't budge. It knows he is helpless now, with his hands chained on his back. He may be agile, even for a 17 year old, but not quite that agile. And the chains are solid cold steel; they don't take kindly to struggling. No more sympathetic are the four armored guardsmen who keep watch over him. If anything, the one he can see in the corner of his eye seems to be leering at him. Why are they even there in the first place? Why is even he here?
The day started much like any other day, up to and including going to school. It was the usual craziness and the usual loneliness. Seeing the strange looks people gave him, and never ever knowing what they actually thought. The usual.
After school he went to the ancient stone circle in the pastures behind
the old farm. That was the rub, of course: Random event of yesterday was
an unsigned letter in his mailbox. Well, practically unsigned. It read
in its entirety:
Helge-Dag did not know either of them, Regards or Cneko. And he hadn't had any plans of going to the stone circle anyway. He knew where it was, only a quarter's walk from home. But the more he thought about it, the more curious he became. And not just curious, but rebellious. As if some random stranger could decide where he could or couldn't go! So eventually he went to the stone circle.
He approached quite stealthily, in case it was some kind of trap. To the best of his knowledge he had no enemies who would like to kill him or seriously hurt him. Humiliating him, however, was quite another matter. Other boys had done that since kindergarten, if and when they could. But it had still been daylight, and the terrain was quite open there. No one was in sight.
Once he reached the circle, he had noticed how tired his legs were. He sat down and rested for a while. He did not rise when the fog came drifting. He did not rise when the faint chanting reached him. By then he wanted to get up, to get away, to get home. But he couldn't. The rhythmic chant held him transfixed, as the fog deepened into a silvery nothingness, till he couldn't even feel the ground under him. It felt like he was falling, falling, falling ...
The world had come back, had stopped spinning. But he wasn't where he had been. These standing stones were still all standing, still sporting their rune-like inscriptions. He wasn't able to understand the language, or even the letters. But he did understand that he was surrounded by a choir of men in brown robes, who ceased their chant as they saw him. They vaguely looked like monks, but not very friendly monks. And then this guy in a violet hooded robe lifted his staff, pointed it at Helge-Dag. There was a crackle of energy, a sharp numbing pain, then nothingness.
He had woken up in a shaking, creaking cart. They had tied his hands and feet and just thrown him in like a sack of grain. He struggled to sit up. And that's when he saw the forest.
There was not a single tree. The forest consisted of ferns and those green round stems, like he had seen in Science Illustrated. Forests from those really old times ... Cretinopherous, Orthopedrium, whatever they were called; the time when dinosaurs lived, or before.
These guys weren't dinosaurs, or at least they didn't *look* like dinosaurs. The way they behaved, though ... He had asked this armored guy for an explanation - OK, demanded an explanation - but the fellow had just struck him down. When he came too, he was chained here, and his head hurt. Uncultured swine.
Later this creepy fat guy, bald and wearing purple robes, had come in along with that violent in violet. They had talked a lot in a strange and ugly language. The hooded guy, the violet one, had held some kind of rod or torch in front of Helge-Dag, and it had burst into blue fire. The purple had looked almost worried for a moment there. And after that, there had been four guards instead of two.
Helge-Dag has already deduced that the fat purple guy must be the king here, and probably the one called Cneko. The hooded one is clearly some kind of sorcerer, and is probably the "friend of Cneko" who lured him here in the first place. It all makes sense now. And now he is trapped here, in a dungeon in some medieval dinosaur world!
"Darn you, Cneko!" shouts Helge-Dag in sudden defiance. "Darn you to heck!" The guards leer at him.
And then he sees the light.Chapter 2.