When Bailey was still a student, her class had taken a trip through a park where the fields were crowded with colored wheat and flax and smelled like the inside of a bakery. She had hung back from the main tour group - no one noticed her slipping out - and had lingered by the largest patch, simply taking the scenery in.
This place she wakes up in, it reminds her of that. The plants shine spun gold with the sun, and she sees endless plains of it, on and on and on. The last thing she remembers - a banquet, except she was alone, and there had been the Administrator Kendrell, and a glowing sword and - ah. So that's what had happened. Nothing for it, she supposes, not with Kendrell and his group out there and herself in here. The Country, it seems like.
Except, Bailey never really thought about it before, and she wasn't sure whether she was supposed to be alone. Almost alone - as soon as she had stood, there was a peculiar feeling of air being sucked out around her that had passed almost as quickly as it had come, and in its wake, there was her owl, confused and shaking until she picked it up and soothed it like she would a frightened child.
"Come, it's alright," she says in her quiet voice, "Shh, I'm here."
And who else? Bailey thinks she can spy a dark shape on the horizon, breaking the clean divide between the clear blue sky and the rustling wheat and grass, a house. Sure that must be someone, someone who knows what happens now, what happens in the Country, now that she's stuck here - there was no going back, after all.
Nothing to do but to go towards it, so she does, owl settled into its usual place and feet unsteady. The house was something out of a history log, back when Bailey had done reports after reports of how people had lived, before Cloudbank became what it was - what it is. When she knocks there is no answer, and when she experimentally tries to open the heavy door, it swings open like it's welcoming her inside.
A finely furnished room greets her, lines and lines of bookcases with thick tomes - empty pages and all, when she plucks one out and flips through. Even a perch for her owl. This wasn't someone's home, it was hers - her own apartment, sans, well, everything that had made it Cloudbank.
And the Country becomes very desolate, in all its golden fields and pigment blue sky, its endless miles stretching further and further. Where is Cloudbank, with its chaotic changes, with its amassed history and precedents she could always turn to? It's lost to her, now. Lost as soon as Administrator Kendrell plunged the glowing sword into her chest.
Talons dig into her shoulder, and her owl flaps at the window. Bailey opens the window out of habit and her companion takes off, as he was back in Cloudbank, following routine. The sun had begun to set, painting the blue sky with yellows and reds, with no input from her, no voting screens or choices of color - it's odd, to say the least.
"What now?" she says to the imitation of her home, to the Country itself, if it was listening to its people's voices like Cloudbank had. Her voice echoes through the dark corners of the room, and there is no answer.
She's struck with the horrible thought that this is it, this is all that's ahead of her. And what of her owl, her closest and only companion? If he never came back - found life in the Country with open skies and open fields and no buildings or lights more favorable than with her - what then? No one here besides her. No archives to look to for advice. No Cloudbank. It was taken from her.
Her chest tightens, her breaths come fast and shuddering, and - Bailey stops. Grabs onto the windowsill, and ducks her head down, and her thoughts come screeching to a halt as she closes her eyes. Panic later, she thinks, you have all the time in the world. You'll figure something out. It's fine, he'll come back. He always does.
Bailey leaves the window open, and leaves out a bowl of water. Then, she heads to the imitation-bedroom and forces herself to sleep. Tomorrow, she'll take stock of what's here, and then, she'll continue on.