River flopped into the front-facing train seat, propping their feet up on the one opposite. The sky outside the window was dark as the dreary station platform, lit sporadically by the orange platform lights. Working at an after school club was great for lie-ins, but the commute home was dark, wet and cold. They resettled their headphones over their ears, glad for the noise-cancelling ear pads that muffled the train’s clatter as it pulled out of the station. River let their gaze blur and their mind wander as the English countryside sped invisibly past.
Suddenly; the train gave a lurch, tossing River and the other passengers to the floor, before the whole carriage rolled sideways and the world became a blur of pain and noise.
When River came to, The first thing they noticed was the discomfort, it pressed into the haze of their brain like a pile of jagged rocks being lain on. A groan burst from their lips as they shifted their weight and squinted through eyes unwilling to open. Above them was a cloudy sky, brighter than what they had viewed from the train, lit from within and without a sickly green. Either that was some freaky new pollution bullshit, crazy unbelievable government-experiment-style science craziness, or they were going mad. River decided.
They must have rattled their brain when the train… The train! They bolted upright suddenly, hissing when a number of aches and bruises made their presence known in response to the sudden movement. They stared around, ignoring the stinging as their eyes adjusted to the brightness and their mind reeled from the situation around them.
How in the heck did they get from a slightly dingy First Great Western carriage to the side of a mountain?! A decidedly rubble-strewn, eerily lit, Dragon age resembling mountainside? Panic gripped its icy claws around River’s heart as they scrambled to their feet, clutching at their side and wincing. They appeared to be alone and the area remote, what should they do? What could they do? Were they dreaming?
River forced theirself to stand still and focus. They focused on their breathing until it slowed to a slightly more normal rate. They re-opened their eyes. Still standing on a mountain. Still alone. Shaking slightly.
As the adrenaline receded River became aware of the harsh wind chilling their face and hands. Stuffing their hands In their armpits they became aware of something else that had been subconsciously troubling them. They were wearing someone else’s clothes. Gone were the fluffy boots and baggy sweatpants, the fluffy-hooded coat and headphones. River gave theirself a quick once over, and then reached for their ears. The half-bare feet and prevalence of green in their new wardrobe hinting at the truth discovered by their frantic hands. Pointed Ears! Elven ears?! what?!
At this point they would very much like to wake up. Their ribs twinged unpleasantly and they returned their hands to the warmth of their armpits. They must be sleeping really strangely to be feeling this uncomfortable in their dream. There was only one thing for it. River recalled an occasion they had accidentally woken theirself up by holding their breath, (The dream had involved swimming and ice.) and decided to try to recreate the event.
Standing, shivering, in the cold and holding their breath, this dream was a lot less exciting that their usual. Also colder. The urge to gasp for breath grew and River determinedly held on. Any minute now…. Their vision began to swim, they felt light headed, and still the dream persisted. Finally they had to concede defeat and they doubled over, gasping in lungfuls of the frigid air.
Not a dream then. Or at least, not a normal one… might they be in some kind of coma? Or maybe, and they snorted slightly at the thought, they had CS Lewised their way into a fictional realm via train crash. After all, if the Pevensies can do it! Either way, not treating this... thisness seriously would likely prove uncomfortable in the least, and deadly at worst. A calmer, more thorough search of the area revealed a sheltered area behind a rock, protecting a battered pack and what seemed to be the remains of a makeshift camp.
River hesitated, these things had to belong to the body? Person? They were currently inhabiting. A wave of guilt and revulsion passed through them at the thought, regardless of the in-game view of what must be some sort of possession, taking over someone’s body did not sit well with them. They stood for a moment, wrestling their emotional response and as they looked upon the camp once again they experienced a flash of a memory not their own.
Arriving in the mountains to seek news of the conclave (the divines conclave!) and finding this spot, setting out their meager belongings in a small camp where they would not be discovered. Feeling the ground shake and moving around the boulder to get a view of the Temple. Green light. Pain. Darkness.
So… their Elven host had been staying at the edge of the valley when the explosive opening of the breach knocked them unconscious? They were lucky they had not been nearer the temple or they would probably be dead. River flexed their fingers as they considered, they can’t have been out for too long, in this weather they would have been suffering frostbite or something.
At that reminder of their situation, their need for warmth overtook their distaste for rummaging in someone else’s things and they opened the backpack. Rolled up in the top they found a blanket which they gratefully wrapped around theirself. As well as the blanket the backpack held some coils of rope, a folding knife, a wooden box that rattled when shaken and opened to reveal a selection of sewing needles, fishing hooks, reels of twine and thread and a small, light piece of wood. There was also some clothes, bandages, and dried meat, the sight of which had River’s stomach rumbling.
As River chewed (and chewed and chewed) their way through a strip of the dried meat they considered what to do next. Just considering coming up with any kind of long term plan make their head ache so they decided to focus on short term survival first. Girl guide though they might have been, River had no idea how to survive alone on a mountain. They glanced up. Especially when the sky above said mountain was spewing out rocks and monsters.