Okey dokey, sorry for the delay, friends and neighbors. But here we are, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ready to write up a storm. Well, not literally. Well, actually I don’t know that. There may end up being a storm in today’s installment. Heck if I know.
KINGDOM FOUND part 9
I stood outside my mother’s house for a moment, unsure of what to do. How could I possibly know where the doctor had taken them? Would he be hiding somewhere here in town? Or would he take them back to…
I turned suddenly to the Man-at-Arms. “Send a detachment!” I ordered. “Send them back to the breach in my school. Make sure the doctor has not taken them back to Gold Legend. I will stay here with the King and begin the search for them here in my world.”
He nodded to me. “With your permission, I will lead them myself, Highness,” he said.
“Do it,” I replied and watched as his detachment ran back the way we had come. When they were gone from sight, I turned to the king. “Tell me all,” I said. “The truth of what has happened in the past may help us find them here and now.”
“The truth, Prince Morty,” he said, choosing his words carefully, ” is that I don’t know all. Nestra’s magical sight is a gift, but it is not bound to us. We are bound to it. Many years ago, she had a vision, and I followed that vision.”
Turning to the queen, I asked, “what did you see?”
“I saw a boy,” she replied, “taken from his home. I did not know why, but one thing I knew: this boy was special and would one day decide the fate of all Gold Legend. His life could not be left to mere chance. So I sent Mountainlost after him.”
“What boy?” I asked. “Taken from where?”
“Taken from Gold Legend,” the king said. “Brought here to this world. Nestra is not the only one with magical sight. Someone else had seen this boy’s future and removed him from his rightful home. It was a place of no special importance in Gold Legend, but from it issued a future king with the power to save us all. Or destroy us.”
“What are you saying,” I asked, trembling. “Are you telling me that…” I couldn’t continue, so I just stopped and looked at the king.
“Prince Morty,” he said finally, “what do you remember of your life before you were eight?”
What did I remember? Nothing. Nothing but stories my mother had told me. She had always told me that I had injured myself horseback riding when I was eight, and that was why my memories were gone. I had never questioned her story. It seemed so silly to me now, but I didn’t know how to tell the king that. I suddenly realized that the first thing I could really remember in my life was the day I had seen Amanda in school on the first day of second grade. Tell me that’s a coincidence.
I opened my mouth to speak but, before I could answer, I heard the Man-at-Arms cry out my name. The entire gathered throng turned around and looked where the cry had come from. At the back of our ranks, the detachment was already returning.
“Man-at-Arms!” I cried, “why have you returned?”
He looked at me strangely. “My prince,” he said slowly, “we have done as you asked. We have crossed the breach and returned to the castle. There was no sign between here and there of the doctor or his army.”
“What?” I said, forgetting for a moment the troubling story the king and queen were telling. “That’s impossible. You left here but a few moments ago. There was no time…”
“My prince,” he said again, “we went as fast as we could, but we marched for well over an hour!”
“No,” I said, “you just left.” Turning to Mountainlost and Nestra, I continued, “please tell me I’m not crazy. They did just leave, didn’t they?”
Mountainlost looked sternly at the Man-at-Arms. “The prince speaks true, Man-at-Arms,” he said. “You have been gone but a few moments.”
“I swear to you, my king,” the Man-at-Arms said, “I do not know what has happened. We performed the task set before us. We would not shirk.”
“I know you would not shirk,” the king said a little more gently, “but this makes no sense. There was no time–“
“Time!” Nestra said suddenly. We all turned to face her. “The worlds are breached,” she said, looking around at the assemblage, “and time may be upside down, inside out, or otherwise mixed between the two worlds.”
“Go on,” I said, although I didn’t really wish her to. I knew I wasn’t going to like this.
“Time is different in Gold Legend than in your world, Prince Morty. If time here moves as time at the Wall of Worlds, then a moment here may be a year there, just like time at the Wall. With the worlds breached, time itself may not know how to behave. It is possible, is it not, that when a soul from Gold Legend moves in this world while the Wall is breached, he may move at the speed of our world.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” I said, “why would we all not be moving at such a speed?”
“We left you!” burst out the Man-at-Arms. “When we left this street, we were no longer in sight of you, Prince Morty, nor you us. Is that it, my queen?”
“I think it must be,” she replied, nodding slowly. “While we are with you, or in your sight or the sight of anyone from this world, Prince Morty, we must move at the pace of this world. But when we are not–“
“That’s how the doctor moved so quickly,” I said as at least one piece of this crazy puzzle started to make sense. “And that’s how they wreaked havoc on the town so quickly.”
“And that is why he must turn everyone he sees into a troll so quickly,” added the king. “Once they become an agent of Gold Legend, he can once again move freely, unencumbered by their knowledge of the time of this world.”
“But, wait,” I said, suddenly recalling the conversation we had been having before the Man-at-Arms’ arrival, “if you’re telling me what I think you are about my youth, then the theory still doesn’t make sense.”
“What do you mean?” Mountainlost asked.
“Well, correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re trying to tell me that I was brought here from Gold Legend when I was eight, had my memories stolen, and have lived here ever since. Does that about sum it up?”
“You are taking the news remarkably well, Prince,” Nestra said.
“I guess I just don’t have time to be shocked right now,” I replied, marvelling at how deeply I meant it. “I’m tired of wanting to cry, and I’m tired of being surprised and I’m damn tired of not knowing what’s going on.” I turned to the king. “So, you brought me here when I was eight?”
He shook his head. “No, Prince Morty. I merely followed you here. Nestra had a vision that a boy who would change the course of Gold Legend’s history had been taken to another world, and she gave me words that would take me there.”
“Like Amanda’s words.”
“Yes, like Amanda’s words. The words put a stopper in the passage of time, so that my time here would pass the same in Gold Legend and ages would not pass before my return.”
“Like Amanda’s words, ” I said again.
“Again, yes,” he replied. “The words brought me here.”
“What were your words?” I asked.
“I dare not say them out–”
“Out loud. Yes, of course,” I said. “You would automatically move between worlds. Like Amanda.” I looked at Nestra. “Is that what made her lose her memory?” I asked, “travelling with the words while the Wall is breached?”
“No,” Nestra replied. “There is some unreadable magic at work in her. The words know better than to alter a person.”
“All right,” I said, and turned back to the king. “Tell me about my mother.”
“Yes, Prince,” he said. “I spoke with your mother and she told me that a man had come, bearing you. He had told her that yours was a noble fate, and that you must be kept safe until such time as you were needed in Gold Legend. He had told her that one day you would wear a prince’s armor and defend both our worlds. She could tell me nothing of the man. Whatever magic had brought him here was already fading from her memory. I told her I would return one day to see that your fate was properly met.”
“If she forgot the man,” I asked, “why did she remember you when you arrived here today?”
“Magic is jealous,” Nestra said. “It may be forgot, but it wants to be remembered. Seeing the king here today must have made her forget that she had forgotten him.”
That was a little hard for me to wrap my head around, so I just went forward with my questions. “If you’ve known about me for ten years or more, then why did you not just tell me all of this earlier this morning?” I asked.
“I could not be sure,” the king replied, shaking his head sadly. “The only time I saw you here in this world, you were asleep in a darkened room. Seeing you this morning, I had no way of knowing if you were the same boy or not. Amanda choosing you was a sign. The armor allowing you to bear it was a sign. But until you brought us here to this house, I couldn’t be sure. When I saw the house again, when I saw your mother, I knew. And now it is time for you to claim your destiny, Prince Morty.”
“But, if that’s true,” I said, “then I am, in truth, a citizen of Gold Legend and not this world at all. So why does my presence hinder your speed?”
“Because your heart is here in this world, Prince Morty,” Queen Nestra replied. “You have lived here for so long, and your concern for your mother is so great, that your heart keeps you tied to this world no matter what story your bloodline tells.”
“Where your heart lies is everything,” the king said.
It made sense. In a weird way that would have been completely alien to me before this insane day, it made sense. But that wasn’t the best part.
“Okay,” I said, “that’s good. And it gives us a definite advantage we’ve been lacking until now.”
“What is that?” asked the king.
“With my mother and Amanda with him, the doctor will have to move slower. Whatever has happened to Amanda, she definitely believes herself part of this world and only this world right now. And my mother has no reason to have her heart anywhere else. So he and his army will have to move at the speed of this world.”
“You’re right,” the king said, a smile decorating his otherwise lined and worried face. He looked at Nestra, and she smiled as well.
“That is an advantage,” said the Man-at-Arms, “but we still have no idea where they went. And we, too, must move at the speed of this world.”
“Not exactly,” I said. I turned to the assembled crowd not knowing if they had any idea of what was going on or not. Many were in earshot, but many were not. I had to trust that, as the king had told me, they would follow what I said. “People of Gold Legend!” I cried, “we must separate into groups! Fan out across the town and look for any sign of the doctor, his army, Amanda or my mother! Move quickly and quietly, and when you find them, do not attempt to engage! Return here immediately! Whether you find anything or not, everyone is to return here in an hour! Do you understand?”
A loud cheer went up from the crowd.
I turned to the king and queen. “All right,” I said, “go. I’ll see you when you return.”
“You’re not coming with us?” Mountainlost asked.
“Of course not,” I replied. “I’m going inside, out of sight. You can all search the town and be back here in no time as long as I am not with you. That is, if we’re right about how time is moving in the breach. If we’re not, I’m just wasting everyone’s time and risking Amanda’s and my mother’s lives.”
The king put his hand on my shoulder. “Then, let us pray we are right,” he said.
The queen smiled again. “We will see you soon, Prince Morty,” she said.
Bibble-kins and the Man-at-Arms nodded to me and I turned and walked into my house. As soon as the door closed I turned again and looked out the window. Everyone was already gone. Just like that. I walked away from the window and had just enough time to wonder once if our theory was correct before all hell broke loose.
TO BE CONTINUED
See you in six,