OTW Book 1 – Prologue

OTW Book 1 – Prologue

Avery knew they would never really understand what made Ryder the way they were. Their adoptive sibling had always been something of a quiet, enigmatic person. Not that they minded, of course. They’d come to terms with Ryder’s silent perceptiveness a long time ago, and they honestly couldn’t imagine their blue-cloaked best friend being any different than they always had been. Still, that didn’t change how frustrated and downright confused Avery was at the moment.

“Ryder, can you please tell me why we’re here?” Avery inquired. Judging by the way the sun was setting, it was nearing dinnertime, and Avery’s stomach was adamant that they should be home and getting some food by now.

“Hmm?” The way that Ryder blinked a couple times before turning their head to look at Avery with somewhat dazed, milky white eyes signified immediately that they’d been deep in thought on something. “Didn’t I tell you already?”


Ryder sometimes had a habit of being so quiet and pensive that they said things to Avery inside their head instead of out loud without even realizing. It was a pretty vexing trait of theirs, but Avery was used to it by now. 

“Oh, my apologies. I thought we’d agreed to watch the sunset together. Why didn’t you ask sooner?”

It was Avery’s turn to blink a few times. They brought one charcoal-black hand up to about where their mouth would be, resting their face against the fist in a pensive expression. The bone-white porcelain of their mask was pleasantly cool against their skin. At long last, they pointed at Ryder with their other hand. “Good question.”

The chuckle their friend emitted was such a pretty sound. It was a noise Avery had heard a million times before, of course, on every sunny day spent exploring the woods together and every night having campfires on the beach, but it never grew old. It never failed to calm their nerves and make their heart soar. They watched the dying light of the sun catch on the gold trim of Ryder’s signature blue coat, and they closed their eyes for a moment and let themselves sink into the moment. It was trending towards autumn right about now, and the California air was certainly getting a bit more of a chill to it, but not enough to be noticeable just yet without taking a moment to really try to feel it. The shadows of the forest were long, and the way that the sun dipped behind the trees made the red bark of the redwoods look as though it was blazing with flame. If Avery had thought to bring their guitar with them on this outing, they might have even been inspired to pluck out a few chords and improvise a song.

“Remember you can always ask me when you’re confused, Avery,” Ryder said gently, reaching out and touching Avery’s shoulder with one of their slender, delicate hands. They’d always been as nimble and lithe as the ocean breeze, while Avery was a massive sequoia in comparison. “I’ll never judge you for it.”

The larger of the two smiled. Neither had any visible mouth, but you could always discern a happy expression on either land spirit just by the sparkle in their eyes and the way their cheeks lifted. “I’ll keep that in mind,” they replied, chuckling because they knew they’d probably forget within the next hour or so. It wasn’t that their memory was bad, per se, just… weirdly selective.

From the hill the two were perched on, they could see the main road leading into the nearby town. Ryder’s eyes tracked a standard-looking Honda pilot – boring gray in color with a few scuffs in the paint on the roof – as it moseyed its way along the gentle twists and turns of the asphalt. It was followed by a pair of moving trucks with “DAN’S MOVING CO.” written on their sides in all caps with big, blue, bold letters. Avery paid it no mind, though, as their stomach growled again, causing them to sigh and cross their arms over their midsection, grimacing slightly. 

“Hungry?” Ryder asked, not even bothering to glance over at them. It wasn’t really a question, anyways. Avery had always had a big appetite, and it was rapidly approaching dinnertime anyways.

“Definitely. How’d you guess?”

The gentle banter Avery initiated made Ryder chuckle, but they didn’t engage, instead turning to look down the trail behind them as they stood up. “Just a hunch, I suppose. Shall we go home and get you fed?”

Avery gently took the hand that Ryder held out for them, standing up and immediately beginning to head down the barely-discernible forest trail the pair had traveled up earlier like an eager dog. “I thought you’d never ask!”

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