Morgana woke to the streams of sunlight piercing through the overhanging tree. The air at this elevation still chilled her to the bone. She sat up and rubbed her arms, then peered over to the archway. She noticed a slight shimmer to the opening, but the lands beyond appeared more foreign than she expected. She looked over the arch’s stones, each stone appearing to have a different symbol.
She recalled Misses Taylor insisting she take a book of symbols. She opened her pack and began thumbing through the pages. As she compared the symbols to the book, she realized the symbols represented different places. She wondered why an arch would have these symbols. The capstone was a compass rose; that symbol she understood. This stone was well out of reach, and stones making up the upper curve were without symbols. The other stones aligning each side of the arch each were carved with various symbols and shapes.
She searched for the first symbol, a stick figure with three roots, a main line, and five arrows shooting out from the top. Finally she located a similar symbol in the book. This symbol represents trees and forests. The second symbol was a flattened U shape with a horizonal line in the distance. As she flipped through the book, she finally found something similar, but no horizonal line. This symbol represents a boat. The bottom symbol she recognized as mountains. She smiled to herself, starting to understand the symbols somewhat.
The top right symbol contained wavy symbols similar to the mountains. She returned to the book to make sure she understood what she was seeing. There were two interpretations for this symbol, hills or sand dunes. She contorted her face, trying to make out the details to determine which symbol it was.
She stood up and loaded her pack on her back, then approached the gate with the book still in her hand. She compared the symbols, unsure of what it meant. She ran her hand over the symbol and the gate began to glow. Startled, she stepped back. All of the symbols began to project images into the opening, rotating through each symbol. She stood before the gate, amazed and frozen in place.
She had not translated the remaining two symbols when she heard a loud screech behind her. Instinctively, she ducked down as the talons of a large eagle grazed her head. It was time for her to get out of dodge, but the only exit from its attack was through the gate. She ran forward, unsure of where she’d end up and hoping there was a way back.
As she neared the opening, some tangle roots caught her foot, tripping her. Her hand reached out to the arch, touching the stone with the flattened U, to break her fall as she passed through the archway. She disappeared from the mountainside. The eagle landed atop the archway and shifted to look for another prey.
Morgana continued falling as as she passed through the gate and landed face first, splashing into shallow water. She sat up and looked about. Shallow fishing boats floated in the body of water ahead of her and strange mountains floated above the horizon in the distance. She looked behind her; the archway remained, but the opening had been bricked up. Two Sakura trees framed the archway.
Morgana knew she wasn’t home any more.