Will fell into inky blackness which consumed him like the plunge into water. He opened his eyes beneath the surface, but saw nothing. He kicked his arms and legs frantically as his lungs tightened. He fought to the surface, and when he broke the skin, he breathed in all the air he could, gasping and calling out for help. The sky above him was beautifully clear and blue, but around him there was nothing but water. He felt light as if he weighed barely anything, tide battered from behind, pushing and dragging him back and forth in the waves. He was forced to push himself further upwards each time the water rose and threatened to engulf him. He called louder but felt his breath running out, his voice going hoarse.
Suddenly, something touched his leg, and before he could kick out or react, it grabbed him and pulled him down. He screamed for help, leaving himself with no air before he was submerged. The thing kept pulling him down, down, down until blackness somehow grew darker, and then he was falling, out of the water into mid-air.
He hit the ground on his back, though he prepared for pain, he felt none. He laid still for a moment, trying to understand what was happening to him, he realised that he was now bone dry, and above him he could see the black water rippling, like the world had been skinned inside out. He reached out his arm and felt stones, he looked and saw the ground was gravel, and coursing at eye level was white, scentless mist. He sat up slowly, feeling the moisture of the mist on his cheeks like teardrops, then he stood. Once he had, the mist surrounding him began to twist, swell and shape. He watched, mesmerised, as it became houses, then people, first naked, then mist clung to them, pigmenting and thinning to clothing that materialised as they were in motion. The mist continued to transform until there were lampposts, horses drawing carts full of crates and market stalls on wheels selling cut flowers, fresh milk and vegetables. The mist settled, draining into the ground and disappearing. Will span around and gazed, wide-eyed, 'where am I?'
*One Year Prior*
The village was very small, barely a speck on the land with no more than fifty residents. The village square where Willow Avaric stood had only a little space for vendors, a single water pump beside a wooden bench and lampposts on the perimeter. Will stared around at the people, each was vastly different from the flower girl holding out violets to passersby, to the man in a thin linen shirt hoisting milk containers off of a high cart through the back door of a delicatessen. The boundary of the village was shown by a spiked wooden fence which rose at least seven foot high. The gate was wooden too, and carved in the middle was the name of the village: CASTIA.