Four teenagers are yanked from their lives into the world of Elorium where the old fairy tales have come alive. They make a deal with a stranger they don't trust and are pulled into old stories, trying to figure out who their grandparents were, and how to get home.
A moment passed and the door opened on silent hinges. A diminutive man with pointy ears, thinning hair and an enormous smile making the corner of his blue eyes wrinkle. He was dressed in a three piece tux that looked as if it had been slept in, his bow tie hanging untied around his neck. Three pair of eyes blinked in silent disbelief as the shrunken servant broke the silence.
"Wonderful! Now you're all here. Mr. Jackson will be so pleased." The three statues on the front step continued to blink at him. "Come in, come in." He turned and began to walk into the house. "First a little chat, then some food and I'm sure you'll want to get cleaned up." He passed an eye over the mud covered, sap encrusted, rope burned, bare footed teenagers. "You've had a busy day." He disappeared into the house.
"Did anyone else get the impression we were expected?" Andi asked the other two still staring at the ajar door.
"And that there are other's like us?" Quinn added. Fredrick just nodded, not taking his eyes off the unknown of the dark interior.
"Do we go in?" Andi questioned.
Quinn turned back toward the direction they came, hands on her hips. She looked over the darkness creeping in from the setting sun, the ostentatious grounds and the black forrest beyond. She rotated back and looked into the dark maw of the house.
"Do we have a choice?" Quinn asked back.
"I've got to be honest." Andi confessed. "Even if it is dangerous, a trap, whatever; food and baths are a severe temptation at this point."
"Then in we go."
Fredrick took the lead, straightening to his full height and suddenly giving off an aura of protection the girls had not felt before. It pleased Andi and irritated Quinn. Pushing the door open further they eased into an opulent room that would have put the TajMahal to shame. The arms of a floating double staircase swung from an upper story to embrace a checkerboard marble floor so highly polished it mirrored the Phantom of the Opera chandler above. The ceiling from which it hung was a geometric mosaic of stained glass several stories above their heads. They caught sight of their guide waiting for them by a door sandwiched between the arms of the staircases. Andi glanced at the shoes still hanging in her hands. She wasn't about to stuff her filthy toes in them now. Feeling guilty of their dirt crusted feet they quick-walked past victorian era stuffed furniture and Picasso inspired art in gilded frames.
"We'll meet in the garden, the other boy is already there." They continued down a wide hallway covered in oriental carpets and a glass ceiling that created a giant window into the next story. The effect was dizzying like walking through a room within a room. "I am Harland by the way, I hope your stay here will be comfortable."
"Do you mind me asking," Andi guiltlessly questioned, "what you are?" A pure white statue caught her eye. The form vaguely mimicked the human body from certain angles, but it was at odds somehow with the bold patterned wallpaper and dark wooden pedestal it posed on. Harland had turned and regarded her seriously. "I mean," Andi back-peddled, "people don't have pointed ears outside of sci-fi conventions where we're from."
Harland gave her an oddly amused smile. "What do you think I am?"
"Well," Andi was starting to regret her impertinent query and looked to the others for help. They stared back with shocked eyes. That made her angry. She had no idea where she was, with people she didn't know, she had disappeared that morning and talked to birds and now tiny pointy eared servants were leading her deeper into an imposing and odd house. Somebody had to start asking questions; this is how horror stories started.
"I think you're an elf." She finally shot defiantly at him.
That earned her a full laugh, deep from someone so small. "And you would be right! You might do alright here after all." He gave her an appraising look. "But no more questions until we see Mr. Jackson. He wants to explain things in his own way."
They continued through the house passing through sitting rooms with heavy drapes and marble fireplaces opposite space age molded chairs facing a wall devoted entirely to a single tv screen. A library with towering stacks and invisible servants rolling by on ladders, and at one point they must have been close to the kitchen by the clatter of pans, chatter of people, and aromas wondering out to meet them.
At the end of their hike they passed through a modest arch into a covered porch overlooking some kind of public park that backed up to the sea. Looking more carefully it became apparent that the acres of flowers, trees and shrubs were part of the mansions extensive grounds.
"Is that... a golden apple?" Quinn was gaping at one of the fruit trees bumping against the overhang. She turned toward the others and twitched in surprise. Sprawled in one of the chairs, head thrown back and jaw slack, snored the cliche California surfer from the top of his salt encrusted, sun-bleached, sunburned head to his baggy cargo shorts. This must be they other boy Harland had referred to. Fredrick and Andi joined her staring at the fourth, and hopefully last, displaced teenager. Harland approached him with a wicked grin and poked him in the side.
Dylan slammed back into consciousness to find Cob with more expression on his face that he thought possible, and a bruised side.
"That's not funny Cob."
The elf's grin widened and he shook his head. "I'm his twin, Harland. Having a good nap Mr. Peterson?"
"I was." Irritation colored Dylan's voice.
"Did you know you snore?" asked an unfamiliar voice not unkindly. Andi entered his field of vision and Dylan felt embarrassment pool quickly into his feet. It was like seeing a Barbie doll come to life, albeit dressed strangely in a blue cloak. A doll with earnest grey eyes leveled at him. He stood to quickly and pricks of light danced in the perifrial of his vision as tried to tug at his lost Mariner's cap. This is when he caught sight of Fredrick and Quinn over Andi's shoulder and cut off a groan. The embarrassment dam broke quickly roaring through his body and rolling its way into his reddening cheeks. Could he physically die of embarrassment? He would have been happy to be attacked by an Orca again instead of being told he snored by this tounge-tying beautiful stranger.
Harland conducted the introductions with unrestrained glee, surprising everyone with his knowledge of their names. "Dylan Peterson, please meet Fredrick Avery, Quinn Neely and Candide Grace."
"And I," interrupted a quiet voice from the doorway, "am Mr. Jackson."