Chapter 1: Landing
“Alright everyone, we’ve arrived”, announced the Riverman.
Aliya looked up from where she lay on the boat and as her vision cleared from her exhausted sleep, she caught sight of her new home.
Beyond the approaching pier lay a landscape as if from another world. "Actually this probably is another world." Some was what she'd deem fairly normal, the pier, the little settlement behind, the stone buildings, the grassy plains rolling over the landscape. Horses, donkeys, and ox roaming the plains, all of it seemed familiar. Even the hearth at the village square with its gently burning fire and the inhabitants milling about performing their morning shores that was all normal.
But what lay beyond the little village left her disorientated and confused.
Five monolithic towers arranged in a star-like formation with each of the towers at the tips of the star shape. In the middle of the towers a translucent sphere lay suspended in the air. A strange blueish glow emanated from the towers forming something akin to a layer of fabric, a fabric ebbing and flowing with energy. Sparks raced across the surface of the "fabric". The sphere suspended between the towers rotated sporadically with no rhyme, reason, or pattern to its movements. Strangely there wasn't a sound in the air out of the ordinary. Birds were chirping, bees were buzzing, and waves lapped against the shore as the light of the morning sun gave the world a golden hue.
“You’re not the first with that look on your face”, quipped the Riverman while finishing his knot to tie up the boat.
“What is that? Where is this place?”, asked Aliya her exhaustion finally having let up enough so she could begin dealing with her situation.
“Oh yeah, I'm supposed to make the announcement”, said the Riverman turning to the remaining passengers. “Alright everyone, congratulations, you're the ones who made it.”
“You have plenty of questions, I have little time.”
“You'll figure things out soon enough, but for now I welcome you to your new home." With a magnanimous wave of his arm toward the village and the lands beyond he continued.
“Welcome to Bridgeworld.”
As the last of the passengers left the boat, Aliya remained seated, mesmerized by the sight before her.
“Hey little lady, I haven't got all day.” The Riverman said dismissively.
“How does it do that?”, Aliya whispered aloud.
“Well, you’re asking the wrong person. I’m just a man with a boat. Does it seem like I'd be the one to know about weird energy, massive towers, and invisible spheres? If you're looking for answers you won't find them on the boat, now scram." The Riverman replied.
“Why did you bring us here?” Aliya asked tearing her gaze from the towers and looking the Riverman in the eyes.
“You're part of the migration, it's my job to bring you here”.
“But why are we migrating? Where are we migrating from? Why doesn’t anything make sense? Why don’t I remember anything?!” Aliya exclaimed feel a wave of panic rush over her as she clutched her head in confusion.
The Riverman looked on in silence, his gaze a little gentler than before. Aliya calmed herself down and looked up.
“I’m sorry, I’m just a little tired I think.” She said as she regained her composure.
"You needn't apologize, the panic attacks will subside as you begin your new life here. We've all been through them..." The Riverman's gaze fixed on the middle distance as he trailed off.
Seeing this Aliya stepped onto the pier and as she was about to leave she turned around and stretched out a hand to the Riverman.
“I’m Aliya, at least that’s what I think my name is, it’s written on this little pouch tied to my wrist.”
Returning to his senses the Riverman shook her hand and replied.
“Nat, but most people call me the Riverman. I'm one of a handful sailing these waters but there are plenty more across Bridgeworld. My friends stick to Nat though. Nice to meet you, Aliya.”
As she turned to go on her way Nat shouted after her.
"Swing by the Rivermen's hut sometime, and I'll cook you something."
“Sure, I’ll come by,” replied Aliya.
“Oh, and pay a visit to Anton in the village. Half the people think he’s crazy, but some say he used to be a Quester. So he’s the most likely to know what goes on in there.” Nat said as he gestured towards the translucent sphere.