An Alternative Present Prose in Emynea | World Anvil

An Alternative Present

Written by EBelt

As seen in

There are certain times in people's lives where virtues are tested. When patience is stretched to its limits, when self-control is pulled to its boundaries. Mine are being tested right now. Five years to develop night vision goggles that give off no light. Seven years to find a living Shadow Tongue Clematis and another three years until I saw a bud. Now, it is just a waiting game. A game of eternal patience, until the bud blooms, then I may discover the secrets to every single what-if of my life.

Annie's Goggles

I slip on my night vision goggles and start creeping my way through the deep caves in the Tenebrous Chain. Seven years ago I would have been terrified of getting lost in the never ending cave system, falling into some black goo, or getting sucked into the dark water; but I had walked and crawled through this path so many times, it felt ingrained in the back of my skull.

The caves start to get narrower and slowly form into tunnels. I add a bit more magic to my goggles trying to get more light; it slightly helps, but only slightly. I turn only to get nearly blinded by streaks of bioluminescent plants before the path goes completely black. I always forget that section.

As I approach the Clematis, my heart starts to race. Three years and I have yet to see my Clematis bloom, but this time I will! As I approach the flower I think I can see the vague outline of the bloom. My heart starts to beat faster. Just a few more feet and I'll have my bloom! My answers. The one thing I need...

I reach forward but all I feel is a small, tightly closed bud.

It was a long, slow, struggle back to the sunlight. Another day. Another failure.

Back home, I lounge around wallowing in self-pity. A horrible acidic brew of grief and failure bubbles in my stomach. I don't like giving up. I don't like admitting failure. I can either wait or give up--and I'm tired of choosing between the two!

There is a quiet knock on my door.


Go away! I'm busy. I don't have time for you
I shout at the door

The knocks just get louder and I groan. I really don't want to deal with people now! Maybe my untamed, wild curls and the dark bags under my eyes will scare them away. I open the door.


I glance down

Oh, hi Kara.

The little girl in front of me smiles

Hi, Zia!
her smile wavers

Are you okay? You don't look very good.

Kara is my apprentice. She's a sweet, smart blonde little thing that seems to have no past. I never ask her about it and she never talks about it. I sigh as I let her inside.


I'm fine
I say

She steps into the lab room where several of our experiments have been stewing. She smells one and takes a sip of another.

Well, things seem to be all right with my brews. How is yours coming along?
she looks at me with expectant blue eyes


I don't want to talk about it
I snap

But what if you need to?


And what if I don't!
I give her a look

Kara gives me a long sad look

I huff at her, still in a crappy mood

Fine, be that way. I am going to continue working on my successful projects, while you go back to sulking!
she turns back to her projects with a disappointed look in her eyes. A few minutes later, she asks

Oh, how are your Void Bees?

Void Bee No Background

I curse and scramble to my feet. I get into the special suit I made to negate the affects of a sting, in case i ever got one. I go outside and check on the Void Bees. Kara stays inside but watches me from the window. I double check everything before heading back inside.


Everything's fine
I say

Oh, Zia, what would you do without me?
Kara smiles and giggles.


Probably just forget about the Void Bees for a day
I shrug, giving her a small smile
She looks like she's about to say something but just shakes her head and finishes the rest of her brews. She likes to talk and laugh to herself as she does her work, which reminds me of my teacher. He took a certain joy in everything he did. Perfection was the standard for him but not the goal. He was happy when he worked. Not working was one of the worst punishments he ever recieved. He smiled when creating a new potion. He danced when I understood something. He laughed when we made things together. He made me fall in love with magic.

Later that night, after Kara leaves and I assume went home, I grab one of my teacher's journals and read one of the entries. I have read his journals several times over, but I hope this time reading them would get me out of my stupor. I skip past the updates on potions and start on his nightly routines, where he reflected on the day. For this entry he wrote:
I did not like today. I spilled several chemicals and stained my favorite jacket. One of my potions exploded because I put too much milke in it. And I made my apprentice cry because I shouted at her. Apologizing is not something that I like to do and I especially don't want to do it to my apprentice! Admitting your wrong, even though you're right, is even harder. Thankfully, the sun has set and my apprentice seems to have mostly forgiven me. Tomorrow is another day. I will always be grateful for that.

Tomorrow is another day. I smile, how did my teacher always know what to say?

I wake up the next morning with the sun in my face. Always a lovely feeling! I grab an apple, try to comb my messy curls, before giving up and shoving it into a bun, put on my shoes, get dressed and grab my things. Not necessarily in that order. I walk out the door with a smile on my face. It is a new day today! I take a bite of my apple and try to calm my excitement. There is no guarantee, but there is a chance. I smile as my mind gets ahead of me. All the possibilities. All of the alternate places. The alternate presents.

I approach the caves and take a deep breath. This could be it! No more what-ifs. No more questions. No more sleepless nights of haunting regret. Just answers. I walk the same path like I have for the past several years. I walk through the caves, crawl through the tunnels, get blinded by bioluminescents and take a few more turns before I see my Clematis.

I reach out my hand and there it is! The soft petals of a blossom. No more the hard, firm bud, but the wide soft petals. I start digging out the Clematis, my hands trembling. I am so close! I just need it to not touch any light. I pull out my bag and gently place the flower inside. I tie the bag and then zip it into another one. Both negate light. Hopefully, that will be enough. I am sure it is but one can always be overly cautious--especially when it comes to plants that disappear in puffs of dark smoke when interacting with light!

I slowly start making my way back to the front of the tunnel. I walk through the caves my hands still trembling. This is it. It is almost time. All my what-ifs could be answered by tonight! I clutch the bag to my chest sticking to the shadows and trying to avoid bumping into anyone. I breath a sigh of relief once I finally make it home. I close all the blinds and set up panels, making sure no light gets into my house. I set a sign outside for Kara to let her know why my house is like this. I know she will be able to figure it out, but just in case.

Clematis, Azowyr's Bloom

Once my house is light-proof I take the Clematis out of the bags. I can't see it, but I know it must be the most beautiful thing in the world! I know I should probably take the plant outside and plant it among the Void Bees that way I won't have to go back to the caves to look for more, but not yet. I hold the plant for a few seconds longer thinking about which alternate reality I should live first. Finally, I cut off a few of its roots before putting it back into its bags and securing it. I slip out through the side door of my house to lessen the light coming into the lab and suit up.

I walk outside around the Void Bees and set up the Clematis' new home. I am almost thankful for the years it took me to find the Clematis. It gave me time to perfect its environment! It is shaped like a lean-to with the "leaning" side being against the Void Bees' home. The other sides are enclosed and wrapped with light repellant material several times over. Inside the Clematis' home, it is rocky with moist soil and stone poles for it to climb.

I poke open the holes into the Void Bees' home before grabbing several pieces of specially made tubes. Surrounding the tubes is the same material the Clematis bags are made out of; this will help keep the plant safe yet allow it to be pollinated. Once all the tubes are properly in place, I step out of the Clematis' home and walk back into mine. I find the bags and hurry outside. I dig a hole and plant it in the farthest corner away from the door. Hopefully, that will keep it safe when I go in and out, at least for now.

Void Bee No Background

Void Bee No Background

Void Bee No Background

Void Bee No Background

Void Bee No Background

Void Bee No Background

When all that is finally done, I wait a few minutes to make sure the bees enter through the tubes. Some of them do and start flying towards the Clematis. I take an excited breath. It is happening! I slip out of the door, and hurredly close it, before running back to my house. It is finally time for me to make that potion! Finally time to enter an alternate present, to answer my what-ifs.

Void Bee No Background

Vibrant Clematis


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