(Kelly was written by Kelly Blanchard while Jacob was written by Jacob Settlemyre)
Lorrek knelt on the ground in the clearing of the garden near the stream. He hadn’t moved since Kelly arrived. She was surprised he was here because he knew she had another interview today in this place, but it was good to see him. He’d been preoccupied lately, and she knew whatever he was doing in the Magic Realm right now took a lot of concentration because he was here in the gardens, and he was kneeling. Most of his magical border patrol, he could do while standing, but if he knelt, it meant the magic he was using took more strength than usual, and he didn’t want to collapse when he emerged, so he knelt.
Kelly sat on the log, which was quickly becoming her favorite place to sit while waiting, and pondered if she should change the location of her interview as not to disturb Lorrek, but suddenly Lorrek opened his eyes and looked straight at her. “Your visitor is here.”
She glanced to the entrance of the garden but saw no one, so she opened her mouth to ask what he meant.
However, Lorrek lifted his hand and gestured, opening a portal from her world to this world right before her eyes. On the other side, Kelly saw the bewildered Jacob Settlemyre standing there—uncertain what to do. Should he walk through the portal that just opened in front of him?
Kelly leapt off the log and stood in front of the portal, motioning for Jacob to come in. “Come on. It’s safe.” When he saw Kelly, relief flooded his features, and he did as she said. As soon as he stepped into the garden, the portal disappeared, and he looked back for it as if wondering how he would get home, but Kelly smiled reassuringly. “Don’t worry. Lorrek will open another one that’ll take you home when you finish.”
Having mentioned the sorcerer prince and knowing that Jacob was reading her fantasy story, Kelly turned to introduce the two and was surprised to find Lorrek standing. “Lorrek, this is Jacob Settlemyre. He’s been reading about our story. Jacob, this is Prince Lorrek.”
Jacob looked over to the Prince and nodded. “It is nice to meet you Prince Lorrek and thank you for bringing me here.” Jacob smiled at Kelly before heading over to her. “Hi Kelly! This is amazing. Do you spend a lot of your time here?” He looked around the area and saw the log his host had been at before and walked over to it. “May I sit here?” He continued observing the area around them.
“Nope, not sitting there.” Kelly shook her head. “We have someplace we’re going. This was just the meeting area. Besides, I don’t want to bother Lorrek. He has a lot to do. Come on!” She motioned for him to follow as she headed for a narrow part of the shallow stream and leapt over it. “I hope you’re up for a small hike. You said you wanted nature, so here you go.” She smirked at Jacob. “Now, as we walk, we talk. So tell me, when did you first get interested in writing?”
Jacob glanced around at the trees once more. “Okay this sounds fun. Where are we going?” He had to jog to catch up to Kelly. Every part of the forest intrigued him so it was hard for him to keep up at first. He smiled as Kelly motioned for him as she crossed the narrow part of the stream. “Well, I guess it was a few years ago when I had to do a group creative writing project for my English class in high school. I struggled a lot, but ended up enjoying the end piece.” Jacob stopped and crossed his arms for a minute. “My current girlfriend ended up doing NaNO in November that same year and won. I was one of the few she let read her story after she won which added to my interest.” He followed after Kelly.
“You’ve better keep up. I’m not responsible if I lose an interviewee in these woods—though I haven’t done that yet.” Kelly chuckled to herself. Once Jacob caught up with her, she gestured to the hill they were to climb but then began up it. “Quite awesome about your girlfriend winning NaNo. That’s quite an accomplishment. Have you done NaNo?” She raised her brows as she glanced his way briefly before looking ahead to their path.
Jacob laughed as he imagined himself lost in the forest. “That would be interesting for us both if I got lost.” Jacob looked up the hill and back at Kelly. “This isn’t that bad. Let’s go!” He grabbed an old stick on the ground. “Would you like one?” He looked over to Kelly as she mentioned NaNo. “Yeah, my girlfriend was really proud of that since she was only a freshman in high school.” Jacob smiled as he thought about doing NaNo. “I have not sadly. I am planning on doing it this year or maybe next. I was not even sure exactly what it was until recently.” He kept pace with Kelly as they walked the hill.
“Well, you’ve better do NaNo this year! Or else!” She gave him a firm look but then smirked at him. “But anyway, what kind of stories do you find yourself writing? What genre?”
“This place is amazing, so I can see why your interviewees have chosen this location!” He chuckled to himself. He decided to focus back in to the conversation. “I will definitely try it! Six months is plenty of time to learn and practice. I guess it’s just a bit daunting, but what better way to learn?” He smiled at her. “I generally find myself writing stories that are post-apocalyptic or fantasy. I enjoy both and as you can tell really enjoy nature so I try to let that influence my writing as much as possible.”
Kelly nodded at his words, but they finally came to the top of the hill. She motioned to the castle ruins on the other side of the hill. Archways and pillars lined what used to be corridors and chambers. Most of the walls were razed to the ground, but some still stood—half their original height but still proud, and a lone tower stood strong as if the guardian of these ruins. “That’s why I brought you here.” Kelly glanced at Jacob to see his reaction.
Jacob followed after Kelly and stared wide-eyed at the ruins. “Woah! This is cool!” He ran over to the walls and his hand brushed against the old stone. A shadow led him to the tower which loomed over them showing how strong the castle used to be. “Who used to live here?” He looked back to her and smiled. “This is awesome!”
Kelly laughed at his excitement. She had guessed right that he would like this place. She came down into the ruins and folded her arms as she walked then shrugged. “It predates the current Cuskelom itself. No one really knows what this place was. Lorrek could find out, but he prefers it to stay a mystery.”
Then she nodded and spread her hands out to their surroundings. “You’re welcome to explore.” But then she gave him a stern look. “But don’t get yourself hurt. Otherwise I’ll have to holler for Lorrek to heal you.” However, they still had a conversation to continue, so she went to her favorite boulder to sit on and plucked a question out of her mind. “So, do you read a lot?”
He continued walking around the area exploring the ruins nearest to Kelly. He could barely contain his excitement. “Interesting that it predates Cuskelom. Well, if Lorrek wants it to be a mystery, I guess we should let it be then.” He smiled as he walked around and saw the boulders near the castle. “I’ll try not to get hurt. It might ruin the fun and you said Lorrek was fairly busy.” He laughed again as he imagined what kind of people may have lived here. “Sorry, back to the conversation.” He decided to lean against a tree near by. “I do enjoy reading and try to put as much time into it as possible. It’s a great way to escape the world as I am sure you can relate.”
Kelly nodded. “So, of all the stories you’ve read, what is one scene that really stands out even after all this time? Preferably not something you’ve read recently.”
Jacob crossed his arms and closed his eyes as he thought back to his favorite stories. He was quiet for a few minutes before he decided on one. “Back in high school my mom had bought me a book series by Ted Dekker called the “Circe Series”. The one scene that really sticks out to me is when the main character discovers that he is responsible for saving two worlds. One when he is awake and the other while he is dreaming. He is extremely dedicated to both and knows that he has to sacrifice himself in one world to protect both sides. It just stuck out to me because he gave up everything in the real world for one where he had only known it a short time. He had built a new life and decided his old one wasn’t worth as much.”
“Wow—that’s quite a scene. I can see why you can remember it after all this time.” Kelly smiled as she nodded, but then she let her gaze wander over the ruins as she considered another question. “So, are you working on a story right now? Or practicing? And by the way, practicing is very good. It’s absolutely necessary to find your writing voice.”
Jacob opened his eyes and smiled after remembering the story. He looked over the landscape and noticed some plants behind the boulders. “I am trying to work on one currently, but am having to figure out what is going on. I have about 13,900 words right now which really surprised me.” He sat at the base of the tree and looked up to Kelly. “It is definitely practice for now, but hopefully it’ll turn into something. It is based loosely off of a dream I had a while back. Oh and yeah, I definitely agree that practice with writing is necessary. It is a bit of a challenge though.” Jacob looked out at the ruins again.
She nodded. “All good things will be difficult at first, but they’re worth it.” She then rose to her feet and motioned for him to follow. “Come on, I can tell you want to explore around the ruins a bit, so walk with me—although our time is almost up.” She led him past the tower, her hand brushing over the moss-covered stone, and she glanced over her shoulder at him. “So what inspired the story you’re writing?”
Jacob pushed himself off the ground and dusted himself off before following her. “I was always told anything worth doing won’t be easy. I just decided to seek out a master in the subject.” He smiled as they continued walking. “That moss is really green!” He touched it and felt how soft it was compared to the rougher stone it covered. “I would definitely like to explore a bit more.” He walked around the tower and caught up with Kelly. “Anyway, I used to have this weird reoccurring dream and it was hard to forget so I started a dream journal. It had to do with mutants, animals, machines, and a really big war. I’m hoping it will be enough to make a story.”
“I’m sure it will be.” Kelly smiled reassuringly as she glimpsed his way, but then she looked up at the waning sunlight and frowned. “We need to get back before it gets too dark. Sorry you can’t stay here longer.” She gave him an apologetic look but then led the way out of the ruins, up the hill, and made her way back down again. “So, one final question, I suppose. Of all the books you’ve read, what one character really stands out to you? And why?”
Jacob nodded and smiled back. He then looked up and saw the sun beginning to set and the sky become painted with oranges and blues. “We probably should be heading back. Anything come out at night?” He thought about all of the nocturnal animals from back home. He looked happy at the evenings events and followed after his guide. “Very good question Kelly. I would have to say Eragon stands out the most to me. He was a farm boy destined for something much bigger than himself. He lost everything, but rose over his problems and ended up becoming a great leader. It reminds me that where you start at doesn’t’ necessarily determine who you will be.” He stepped over root and jogged to catch up with Kelly.
Kelly looked ahead and saw Lorrek approaching them with a grim look. She halted and gave him a sheepish smile. “Sorry, kind of lost track of time.”
Lorrek nodded. “Good. The land shifts at night.” He glimpsed around at the shadows, and Kelly knew he saw things she couldn’t, but she wasn’t about to question them. “You should both return to your world.” With a gesture, he opened a portal before them. He nodded to Jacob. “It will take you home.”
Kelly hugged her arms close to her and gave Jacob a smile. “Hey, it was really great chatting with you, and fantastic meeting you! We’ll chat more online, I’m sure. Sorry this conversation has to end!”
Jacob followed Kelly’s gaze and saw Lorrek approaching and smiled. “Sorry I really enjoyed the ruins. We ended up losing track of time.” Jacob saw Lorrek and Kelly looking around, but didn’t see anything so he shrugged. “Thank you Lorrek. It was really nice meeting you. Take care!” Jacob looked over to Kelly. “Thank you for inviting me! I really enjoyed chatting with you and getting to explore the area. It was great meeting you! I will talk with you more online in a little while. Take care!” He smiled looked back at the area around him and the setting sun, and then he stepped through the portal taking him home.
Note: Jacob is a budding writer. The story he mentioned in this interview is his post-apocalyptic story, ‘The Survivor’s Sacrifice’, which he continues to work on. In the meanwhile, you can find him on Facebook:
Facebook: Jacob Settlemyre