The first thing Milo felt upon waking was surprise that he was waking at all. From what the doctor had said, he should be dead by now, but he could not deny that he felt very much alive. His last memory was his parents by his side as he lay in bed, coughing and barely able to breathe. His parents had spent every last shilling they had on the doctor, but it was already too late. There was nothing the doctor could do for Milo with how sick he had become. The doctor had said he expected Milo to be dead before morning, expressed his condolences, and left. His parents were beyond grief at the loss of their only child and hugged him tightly as they sang him to sleep for the last time. Milo could remember drifting into a dreamless sleep, and that was the last thing he could remember before waking up here, wherever here was. He could tell just by the sensations surrounding him that he was not in his bed, possibly not even in London any more - London never smelled this clean. Of course, Milo wasn't even sure if what he was smelling was clean since he had never smelled clean before in all his ten years.
Milo finally decided it was time to open his eyes and find out exactly where he was. Unfortunately, opening his eyes didn't do much to tell him where he was as it was nowhere that he was in any way familiar with. He was laying in a field with a bright, sunny sky overhead. The scene was so beautiful and so peaceful, Milo was sure it couldn't be anywhere on Earth.Am I dead?
he thought. Is this heaven? It's like Blake described it. But the priests and bishops always talked about streets of gold and pearly gates, and I certainly don't see any of those around here. Maybe kids have a different heaven than grown ups. But then what would happen when my parents died? They would never see me again. They would never know what happened to me, and I'll never know what happened to them.
At this, Milo felt overwhelmingly sad. His parents had never been able to give him much, but they had loved him with everything they had, even to the point of spending all the money that they had managed to scrounge together on a doctor even though they knew they would likely go hungry for at least a week afterwards. For all he knew they might already be dead from grief. As Milo considered these things, he sat up and cried. This can't be heaven,
he decided. Heaven is supposed to be happy. If this were heaven, I wouldn't be sad right now. But if this isn't heaven, then where is it? It can't be hell. Hell can't be this beautiful, and I would certainly smell and feel if there were fire and brimstone around. This must be some sort of purgatory, but it doesn't look like that either.
Milo was thoroughly and utterly confused. His tears had dried as his thoughts carried him past worry for the fate of his parents back around to the more pressing matters of where he was and what was going on here. He stood up to get a better view of where he was. He was, as he had previously ascertained, in a field. The field extended as far as the eye could see in all directions, or at least as far as his eye could see. Due to his size and the tall grass, he really couldn't see all that far. He certainly couldn't see as far as the other people, which he was starting to take note of. There were four other people in the field with him - two girls and two other boys - and he was the shortest one of all. He was also the youngest one, judging by the looks of the four other people, all of whom were dressed in very strange clothes.
Immediately, Milo began looking around for escape routes, hiding places, and other ways to evade these people if they tried to attack him. Milo was particularly wary of one of the boys, though Milo really supposed he counted more as a man. The man in question was big and muscular and looked dangerous. The other boy looked harmless enough, but Milo had enough experience to know that just because someone looked harmless didn't necessarily mean they were harmless, and this boy was still bigger than him, which meant that Milo would still be at a disadvantage in a confrontation against him.
Milo's attention was drawn to one of the other kids as one of the other people approached and the kid began shouting in a language that Milo didn't understand. Milo instinctively moved away from the kid, crouching low in the grass to avoid being seen as he listened to the strange words. This went on for a short time before Milo heard something in his head.
"Translator Level 1 acquired!"
Milo wasn't sure what to make of this, but he could suddenly understand what the person was saying. Milo did not abandon his distance or his crouched position, though. He was still the smallest kid in the group which made him the most vulnerable, and therefore a target for anyone bigger and stronger than him. Milo didn't have long to ponder these things, however, as the voice in his head spoke again.
"Welcome to Kairelith. Your new life begins here. Please accept the goddess Kaireth's blessing as a commemoration of your arrival."
At the new words from this mysterious voice, Milo felt a strange feeling inside himself. He couldn't describe it if he had been asked to - his vocabulary was too limited for such a task, and he doubted there were even words to describe the sensation even if he knew every single word in the English language, or any language for that matter. But as suddenly as the sensation began, it left, but not completely. Somehow, Milo knew that this strange feeling had changed him somehow, but he had no idea how. He checked over his body and nothing looked any different from what he remembered it looking like before, so whatever it was hadn't changed him physically, but he knew that he was somehow different now. He again had very little time to ponder this before the voice spoke for a third time.
"Decide your path. A second chance was given to you by the merciful goddess, use it wisely."If that voice in my head speaks again, I'm going to have to give it a name,
Milo thought idly as he wondered over what the voice had said. Decide your path? What path? There are no paths here. Everything looks the same in every direction.
Of course, that was when things decided to get not quite as much the same as they had been moments before. There were suddenly several bubbles hovering in the air. They popped and became people - dangerous people by Milo's estimation. They were dressed in armor and were clearly strong and likely had weapons on their person as well. Milo didn't wait to find out, though. He didn't even wait for any of the newcomers to speak. As far as he could tell, these men were dangerous and they meant him and the other kids harm. Milo wasn't going to wait around and let that come to fruition. He turned and ran just as fast as he could.