Noridem is a land of magic and mysticism, where anything and everything can happen. The people live under the rule of a benevolent emperor and explore the boundaries of existence. They get their amazing powers and abilities from the dragon fruit, which grows in abundance throughout the land. However, the evil sorceress Nephra has cast a hex on almost all of the dragon fruit, making it toxic to Noridemians and robbing them of their strength, and the king of his health.
Existing parallel to Noridem is our world, and in the city of Baltimore, Austin roams the streets, searching for a place to call home. While fleeing a street gang intending to harm him, he falls through a mystic portal leading him to Noridem. It is no accident that Austin is here, however, as he is destined to bring Noridem out of darkness and restore balance to the land—one of the legendary warrior lovers.
To do that, Austin must find a way to control his newfound magic while helping Noridem’s bravest warrior, Blue, find the Genesis Stone, which will break the hex when combined with the Exodus Stone possessed by Nephra. To succeed, they must endure many trials and explore the most treacherous corners of Noridem. In the middle of their quest, new and powerful feelings emerge, and Blue and Austin soon must face two obstacles—true darkness and true love.
Austin couldn’t see anything but red at first. Was this what things looked like if you’d been blinded? After falling through the ground—was it falling?—all he’d been able to see were swirls of color as he found himself whisked away from his nasty encounter with the Scavengers. Now he was only seeing red, and he was concerned that something might be wrong with him. Once he tilted his head a little, he discovered that the red he was seeing was the ceiling. The ceiling for what, though? Where was he, and what had happened to him?
As he tried to sit up, a pair of hands gently grabbed his shoulders and pushed him back into a reclined position. He glanced to his right and saw the hands belonged to a pale, young woman with raven black hair and a dark green kerchief. Her face was warm but worn, like she’d seen a lot of life in such a short time. Austin knew the feeling.READ MORE
“I’m glad you’re finally awake,” the woman said. “You’ve been through quite a lot, so you need to rest.”
Austin’s eyes darted around the room. “Where am I? How did I get here?”
“You are in my wagon at the mouth of the river. We’re near the Forgotten Forest.”
“The Forgotten Forest? What are you talking about?” Austin shook his head in disbelief. “The last thing I remember was being attacked by one of the Scavengers. Then I felt the ground beneath me disappear…” He glanced at the woman. “You must think that sounds completely crazy.”
The woman smiled. “Not at all. In fact, you fell from the sky through a portal.”
“Fell from the sky? Maybe I shouldn’t be so concerned about my sanity and instead be worried about yours. Where I live, if you’re falling from the sky, you’ve been tossed off a skyscraper.”
The woman’s smiling expression changed to confusion. “What is a skyscraper? Is it some kind of strange bird from the land you come from?”
Austin was about to question the woman’s sanity again when he suddenly had what could only be described as a Dorothy Gale moment, that feeling in your head when you realize you’re no longer in Kansas—or in Austin’s case, Baltimore. Had he been scooped up by some tornado and dropped in some crazy, mixed-up land?
“Madame, what land am I in now? I’m from a place called Baltimore, a community in the United States, but I’m guessing from what you’ve said that I’m nowhere near where I was before.”
“You’re in Noridem. I’ve never heard of this Baltimore you speak of, nor have I heard of the United States. However, I’m guessing you’ve never heard of Noridem, either.”
“You’ve got that right. Hey, do you mind if I sit up? I promise I won’t try to run away or anything. I’m just feeling kind of weird and vulnerable lying down.”
“Very well, but do it slowly. I don’t want you to hurt yourself more.”
Austin slowly reached a sitting position, and as he did so, he felt a few aches and pains. He figured he should be grateful. If he really fell from the sky like this gypsy claimed, he should be broken and bleeding, not carrying out a regular—if not slightly ludicrous—conversation.
“Tell me about this Noridem. You mentioned we’re located near a forgotten forest or something like that. How did the forest get its name?”
“The name of the Forgotten Forest is as old as time. However, the legends say that there was a time when we had an emperor that only catered to the needs of certain folks—those who were rich and culturally refined like him, who believed like he did, who had amazing magical powers that he could use to suit his own aims. Those who did not fit into those social circles were cast out. Many of them found refuge in this forest that had never seen the footprints of an emperor. Over time, the place became known as the Forgotten Forest because it was where the unwanted, the unclean, the forgotten if you will, came to live their lives.”
“Sounds like I’d be right at home in this Forgotten Forest.”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean.”
“I’m an orphan where I come from. I never knew my parents. I was shuffled to different homes to be cared for by different people. There was never really a place I could truly call home. When I turned eighteen, I was shuffled out of the foster care system and had to live on my own. Many times, I sleep in back alleys. Occasionally, I find shelter at the home of another person, sometimes in their bed. Still, I don’t think I’d be very welcome by your emperor.”
“Oh! Emperor Pretek is not like the emperor from hundreds of years ago. He is a kind and benevolent ruler who cares for all of his people and who is concerned when they are in crisis. The emperor must be extremely concerned now that dark times have fallen upon us.”
Austin rubbed his shoulder to relieve a sudden twinge of pain. “Dark times? What do you mean? Did I drop into the middle of some civil war?”
The woman shook her head. “Not a war. Not yet. Our land has been besieged by a dark hex. I’ve heard rumblings that the evil sorceress Nephra found a spell that delivered a plague on our land. It has turned the life-giving fruit we consume to survive to morsels of death, and the dragons that help pollinate this fruit have been put to sleep.”
Dragons? Sorceresses? Morsels of death? Nothing was making any logical sense. Was Austin even conscious? Was this some crazy dream he was having like the one he’d had about bird people and enormous fungi? It was not normal to fall through portals and end up in a strange woman’s wagon. He was wondering if he should be fitted for a strait jacket.
“So, mysterious stranger. My name is Erzabet. Do you have a name?”
Austin smiled and nodded. “I’m Austin. It’s good to meet you, Erzabet. I appreciate everything you’re doing, even though I have no idea how I came to be in… What did you call this place again? Noridem?”
Erzabet chuckled. “Correct. Well, Austin from the land of Baltimore, you should probably try to get a little more rest. You’ve been through quite an ordeal, and we probably shouldn’t have you move around too much until we know exactly how you came to be with us. I’ll check in on you in a little while, but don’t hesitate to let me know if you need anything.”
“I will.” Austin reclined and turned on his left side, so he was still facing Erzabet. “Thank you for your hospitality. Not many people where I come from show this type of kindness.”
Erzabet looked sad. “Sounds like you’ve escaped from hell itself, Austin. Of course, if things get much worse here, Baltimore might suddenly look very good indeed.”
Austin looked down at the bed of straw he was laying on as Erzabet stepped out of the wagon. While he was certainly glad to not be the latest victim of the Scavengers, he wondered if he was better off. Maybe Erzabet was a little loony, with talk of dragons and their fruit, but Austin couldn’t help but feel something strange in the air—like he was right where he was supposed to be, but that might not have been a good thing. He tugged at the gold earring in his left ear, something he commonly did when he was perplexed or concerned. How could there be a place like Noridem? It didn’t even sound real. Pandora, yes. Krypton, yes. Noridem, no freaking way!COLLAPSE