Introduction – The Land That Never Was

“So this thing, its real right? It’s not just another unexplained phenomenon that’ll be discussed tomorrow?” asked a voice.

“Yes, like the many times you’ve asked this question before, its real” replied the man in front of him.

“Are you sure? You know that people didn’t believe in gravity before right? Until Einstein came in” the other man stated as he walked through a swarm of mosquitoes. He didn’t mind actually, they hardly tickled.

“You don’t know who discovered gravity do you?”

“Wasn’t it Einstein? It could Rutherford or one of those greek philosophers. I don’t really know; never did pay that much attention in school.”

“And yet you passed,” said the other man, slightly shocked.

“It’s called cramming and everyone knows that schools don’t really show how smart you are, just how you perform on standardised tests. Well, the point is those foreign theories were proved as scientific discoveries using the scientific model, or something like that.”

“I’m surprised you know about the scientific model. Anyway, what I am about to show you doesn’t exactly follow the laws of physics.”

“What do you mean?” asked the burlier man, a quizzical expression on his face.

“As humans, we have bent the laws of nature to our suits. We went from being at the bottom of the food chain to being on top of it. We have flown without wings and travelled faster and farther than any other species on the planet…”

“Yeah,” interrupted Mike, “But we didn’t break the laws of physics, at least I don’t think we did.”

“You’re right, we didn’t,” replied Jason, “but who is to say we can’t? If the laws of nature can be broken, it is reasonable that so can the laws of physics.”

“Still not buying it.”

“Fine!” Jason exclaimed, exasperated. “At least keep silent for the rest of the journey.”

Mike complied … for a while. “You mean to say that wherever you are taking us to, people fly and walk through walls? And you expect me to believe that.”

Worn out, Jason made another attempt at explaining the situation to his less than average colleague. “Yes and no. Let’s say that this phenomenon, ‘the breaking of the laws of physics so to speak’, let’s say that it has rules.”

“You’re saying there are rules to breaking rules.”

Jason ignored him and continued, “Let’s presume it can be taught, learnt, improved. Let’s say that, over there, people learn it as we do physics or maths. And like some of us, or more say you, there are people who aren’t as talented in these subjects.”

“Are you saying we’re going to Hogwarts? Isn’t there a train we’re supposed to catch?”

“You know what, just forget it.” Jason gave up; he was exhausted. They were supposed to be looking for a journal but he had spent the better half of the day trying to explain what they were doing to Mike, and he had yet to see fruit for his efforts. “Let’s just stop here and spend the night.”

“Why?” asked Mike, clearly oblivious to the fact that he was the reason,”It’s just a little bit past noon. Didn’t you say that the journal was important?”

“Yes I did, but it can wait, for now. How about you sit down and I tell you a story?” asked Jason, desperately wanting Mike to keep silent, even if it was just for a moment.

“Sure, as long as it isn’t the one about the World War 3.”

“You mean the New World War.”

“Yeah, that one, you’ve told me that one before.”

“It’s not, it’s about what happens after it; what happened as a result of the war.”

“Like a post-apocalypse.”

“Of a sort.”

“Sounds nice. I like where this is going, always love that kind of stuff as a kid,” said Mike as he sat down,”I’m all ears.”

“You remember the two sides of the New World War”

“Between the wizard and the humans.”

“…Yes, the war was fought between the mages and the mortals.”

“Same difference.”

Jason almost began a full rant on the why the two were different, that labels had meanings but he sighed instead; he didn’t want to get annoyed by Mike although he knew that was not Mike’s intention. At least he was listening now, so Jason resumed, “Anyway, the mortals thought the best way to counter the mages was a preemptive strike and so they invaded Sharhea.”

“You’ve told me this before, about how Sharhea is the mystical earth on the other side, and the seven or so kingdoms.”

“Yes and do you remember where the battle was fought.”

“The battle was fought in Bridgeonfort because it was the only way to pass through from one side to the other.”

“Correct, and what happened?”

“The wizards managed to fend off the invasion but suffered heavy damages in Bridgeonfort,” said Mike, slightly annoyed. He was the one supposed to be asking the questions,”I thought you were going to tell me something new, you’ve already said all this before.”

“Have I told you what happened after the mages drove off the mortals?”

“You said something about a barrier being made to prevent us from crossing over.”

“Yes and no. The mages created a maze, a maze between, the two worlds. Only those who knew the way could cross from one side to the other. It served as both the gate and the gatekeeper; the bridge and its watchman.”

“So like that famous greek labyrinth involving a minotaur. Except the miniature is the maze itself.”

“Exactly but no one knew the way or how to cross.”

“But wouldn’t that make that effectively separate both sides of the world … oh!. That was their intention.”

“Not completely. You see, the maze was made by seven leaders, one from each kingdom. But one, the one from Bridgeonfort, wrote down a way to navigate the maze; a path to cross the bridge.”

“Greekus Titanus”

Jason stopped talking; he was speechless. He had never told Mike about this and yet he knew the most important person involved. He doubted that his colleague had done some research on Sharhea; not only was that information hard to get but Mike didn’t strike him as the kind of guy that put a lot of effort into mental pursuits. “How… how do … do you know?” asked Jason, stammering.

“To be honest, I don’t. It just came to me out of the blue, maybe I’ve heard it before.”

Jason doubted that, most of the population wasn’t aware of what happened or why the war was fought as it was over on the other side. They just saw a lot of their children being sent to fight another war and were surprisingly satisfied with that.

“Anyway, I thought Bridgeonfort was the place most affected by the war.”

“It was, it was the place where the war was fought; the battle ground. But there was a problem.”

“What?”, asked Mike, an eager look on his face.

“Bridgeonfort had more mortal elements than the other nations. I’ve told you how the nations over there are like mystical versions of our continents and how they all have roots in this world as we do in theirs.”

“Yes you have.”

“Well, Bridgeonfort was a business hub; a trading centre between this world and the next. The only problem was that only the rich and the powerful knew about it.”

“How was that a problem?”

“Well those in power wanted what the mages offered for themselves; they weren’t satisfied with just buying it, they wanted to own it.”


“So they caused the war, they funded the government and told them that the mages were plotting against them, that they were going to start a war.”

“So that’s how the war started, kind of ironic isn’t it.”

“Yes, but one leader still had faith in the mortals.”


“The leader of Bridgeonfort.”

“That Titanus guy?”

“Yep, that’s him. Unlike his peers, he thought that science and the mystic arts could coexist, could produce something better. So he formed the beginnings on alchemy.”

“But I thought you said they were separate, like good and bad.”

“Yes they are separate, but what about if they were joined; merged. Think of the possibilities.”

“Ok, what is this alchemy?”

“Well its a branch of the mystic arts that deals with equivalent trade.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Basically, it stated that if you have something, you can always get something else, something you want, by trading it for that thing. However, you only get the amount of what you want by the amount of what you trade.”

“So like money.”

“Yes but some things are more expensive than others.”

“Oh! Like 10 dollar notes and 100 dollar notes.”


“That’s interesting, so what happened.”

“Before they left, and before the maze was built, the mortals helped rebuild Bridgeonfort, after all it was their only way out or in. With the help of a bit of alchemy that Titanus gave to those mortals he trusted, Bridgeonfort was built back to its near glory.”

“Why did Titanus give them alchemy?”

“He didn’t think we were inherently evil, just ignorant. He didn’t know that sometimes those two can mean the same thing.


“Well anyways, making the maze took most of the power out of the leaders making them effectively powerless.”


“Well before all his power went out, Titanus made a journal detailing how to cross the maze; the bridge between the two worlds.”

“Wouldn’t a map be better.”

“The maze changes, its not fixed path. After they war, the mages cut nearly all the mortal elements of Sharhea. Hence, Sharhea effectively just floats in space, hanging on by only a thin thread; a map would be useless.”

“So how do we know where the journal is.”

“Titanus put it in our world believing that only those who truly seek our knowledge can have it.”

“But he gave us alchemy, do we still need more knowledge?”

“Well the alchemy he gave was to a few, and only the basic parts of it. Also, it couldn’t be transferred or learnt; it wasn’t of the physics we knew.”

“Does that mean that science was wrong?”

“No, not wrong, just different.”

“So how again do we know where the journal is?”

“Well, Bridgeonfort was our equivalent of Australia.”

“Australia, the land down under.”

“Yes, the land down under. Well, the entry to Bridgeonfort was somewhere in the middle of the Australian desert. We’ve traced the point to be somewhere around 10km of this place.”

“So what does the journal look like.”

“… I don’t know, I don’t have that information.”

“So are we just going to know when we see it.”

“I’ll assume, its not like it was made on the mortal side of things. Maybe it is shiny or gravity doesn’t affect it. Maybe a space-time distortion of some kind”

“But wouldn’t that make it easy to find, kind of defeating the purpose though.”

Jason was stumped, Mike had a point but there was no use worrying that night; they had spent the most part of the evening talking and Jason was getting tired. “Well, I don’t know,” Jason said as he turned over to fall asleep,”We’ll just have to find out tomorrow.”

And there was no sound heard from them for the rest of the night, just the peaceful breeze and the animals of the dessert. And the sweet dreams of a world beyond.


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