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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Again?!?

Hey, faithful readers!  I have been working all day and am only “home” for about an hour, which is by no means enough time to write a story, especially not the 13th part of a complicated, continued story.  And I can’t write late when I get home tonight, because I have another job tomorrow morning and need to actually get some sleep.  So, I will be writing this week’s story tomorrow (Tuesday) night.  Sorry, but life is a big cookie, and that’s the way it crumbles today.

See you tomorrow,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2010 in Announcements

 

Kingdom Found part 12 (story #55)

Well, here we go.  What started as a single experimental story is coming up on three months running!  Time to find out what happens with Morty and Amanda, Mountainlost and Nestra, Amelia and the doctor (who is now a troll).  I think I see where it’s going, but I’m as curious as you to find out how it gets there.  And we’re off…

KINGDOM FOUND part 12

“Oh, you may not remember it, little interloper,” Amelia said to Amanda, “but go through the portal you did.  I sensed someone had gone through already when the doctor and I returned to it.  We stepped into the portal and I saw you and your mother.  I cast a spell of visions to distract you, but your mother still went through the wall, damn her.  I grabbed the doctor and went through at almost the same moment, but it was still two months later in Gold Legend by the time we arrived.  I told him to find her and take care of her so she could not foul up our plans.  Then I went back to Morty, for I could not spare anymore time at the wall to see what happened to you.”

“That’s not true,” Amanda said, “that can’t be true.  Any of it.”

“Nothing could be more true,” Amelia sneered.  “But, how could I have known that the doctor’s way of ‘taking care of her’ would be to trick her into a love affair?”

“Love affair?” Amanda cried.  “With that awful man?  Never!”

“Oh, yes,” Amelia replied.  “It took him awhile to perfect the potion to turn people into trolls, but he realized right away that the fealty spell I put on him ran through his blood.  He puts a few drops of blood in every bit of troll potion!  And he put some of it in your mother’s wine at dinner his first night there in Gold Legend.  Where your heart lies is everything, and it is blood that makes a heart beat.”

“My mother disappeared when I was eight,” Amanda said, on the verge of tears.  “We didn’t cross your stupid wall; I would remember that!”

“No,” I said, standing up and facing her.  “No, Amanda, you wouldn’t.  Because you don’t want to.  And I don’t blame you.  But I still owe you everything.  If not for your love of your mother and of Gold Legend, I never would have found my kingdom.”  I turned to Mountainlost and Nestra.  “Thank you for everything,” I said to them.  “Whatever happens, I know where my true home is.  I believe I know why the wall fell this morning, and why Amanda doesn’t remember you.  I’ll do my best to make things right for her, but I first I have to put things right here.”

The woman I had known as “Mother” looked at me with a hint of surprise and pronounced disbelief.  “Trying to claim your destiny, now, are you, boy?” she said.  “How quaint.”

Turning slowly, I pointed my finger directly in her face.  “You shut up,” I said.

She stood up and grimaced at me.  I think she was trying to look hurt, but her anger was getting the better of her.  “How dare you speak to me that way!” she shouted.  “After all I’ve done for you!  I raised you as my own!  I gave you food and shelter and had the doctor turn a troll into a man just so you’d have a father here on earth!”

“You kidnapped me and killed my real parents,” I said coldly, “that’s what you did for me.  And you have waged war on the only family I have left in two worlds.  Because of you, this girl doesn’t have a mother, and can’t even remember why.  You may have done all of this to win your father’s love, but that doesn’t mean your heart is or was in the right place.  Where your heart lies is everything, and yours is selfish.  And evil.”

Amelia’s eyes were wide with rage and her face was bright red.  “Who are you judge me this way?” she screamed.

“I am a prince of Gold Legend,” I replied evenly, “and I’m not as frightened of magic as the doctor was, or as dependent on it as the king and queen.  I used the simplest power this morning before I even knew what was happening.  It may have taken the doctor ten years to believe enough to break down your wall, but he did it, and the worlds are breached.  And now my wish can be granted just as his was.”

Mountainlost and Nestra stood, while Amanda remained seated, staring at me.  Amelia’s jaw dropped.  “No,” she said, but it was too late.

“I wish with all my heart, ” I said, “that these humans were trolls no longer.”

A massive cry went up from the troll army, but there were two different sounds.  One was the sound of trolls changing quickly and perhaps painfully back into human beings.  The other was a horrifying cry of rage and I suddenly realized that she had already told us that not all the trolls were transformed humans.  Part of the troll army had begun as trolls, and they were furious at losing so many of their ranks.  As people became human again, some ran away in fear, but most stood where they were, angry and looking ready to fight.  Proud of myself, I was about to shout a rallying cry when I heard Amelia scream, “ATTACK!”

The fealty spell.  I had forgotten about that.  Whatever evil biological twist came from the doctor’s blood in the potion had not been reversed, just the appearance of the army.  We now had an army of humans to fight against.

The battle was engaged immediately, and it was brutal.  Anything that could be used as a weapon – a rock, a stick, a piece of burned furniture – was picked up from the ground, for troll-sized weapons are of little use to a human.  The army of Gold Legend poured up the steps and around the foundations of the burned out town hall and placed themselves as best they could to defend us in the middle of the ruin.  One of the soldiers grabbed Amelia, not realizing she still had the potion in her hands.  She took a drink and spit on as many people as she could with no care for whose side they were on.  Five people began to shrivel and I saw my proud moment slipping away.

I turned to Mountainlost and gave him back his sword.  “No, Prince Morty!” he said, “you must be able to fight!”

“I’ll find a weapon,” I said, ” but first I need to make sure Amanda is safe!”  I turned to Amanda, still sitting in her chair with fearful tears in her eyes.  “Come with me!” I shouted above the melee.  “You’ll be safe, I swear it!”

She only took a moment to decide, then reached out and grabbed my hand.  As we turned to run for the back of the building, I heard Amelia shout, “you!  Get them!  Quickly!”  I looked back and a man burst from the crowd.  It was Amanda’s real father.  He had been turned and, while my wish had made him human again, he was fighting on my “mother’s” side.  And he meant to kill us.

“Father!” Amanda cried.  “What are you doing?”

The only weapon he had was a troll-sized blade, but it was still more than I had.  “Get down!” I shouted to her, and swung a metal-gloved fist for his face.  He ducked under it and came up with his elbow in the back of my neck.  I heard the metallic thud of his arm against my helmet and was doubled over by the blow.  It must have hurt him like crazy, but he didn’t seem to mind at all.  Without waiting to see if I was out, he turned towards Amanda.  I was on my feet in an instant.

“No!” I cried, and leaped onto his back.  He was forced to his knees and Amanda scooted backwards.  A random man in the crowd tried to grab her from behind and she instinctively punched him in the nose.  He fell with a howl and I thought that maybe she hadn’t forgotten quite so much as she’d meant to.

Her father rolled over suddenly and I tumbled off of him.  He smashed his hands down on either side of my neck and, even through my armor, it hurt something awful.  He jumped up and turned towards Amanda again.  Still on the ground, she looked up at him and shouted, “Father!”  He hesitated for the briefest of moments and then moved forward with his fist raised, troll-blade still in hand.

I forced myself to my feet and grabbed his arm just before it descended upon her.  I wrapped my other arm around his throat and shouted in his ear, “it’s your daughter, man!”  Once again, I sensed a hesitation in him, so I pressed the point.  “It’s Amanda!  Your daughter!  Look at her!  Look at her!

And he did.  I felt the tenseness in his arms slacken.  There, in the midst of a raging battle, a moment of calm swept over the three of us.  I let him go and he looked down at her.  “Amanda?” he said, and she nodded.  “I’m so sorry…” he choked, and then looked over his shoulder.  I followed his gaze and saw Amelia staring at us.

“What are you waiting for?” she said.  “Kill them!”

And suddenly, he wasn’t waiting for anything.  He was running at Amelia.  “Monster!” he screamed, raised the little troll-blade over his head and buried it in Amelia’s shoulder.

She allowed herself only one moment of surprise before upturning the doctor’s potion bottle and dumping it all on his head.  As he shriveled down to the ground, she pulled the blade from her shoulder and bared her teeth at him.  “Bad choice,” she said, and ran him through with his own blade.

“Daddy!” Amanda shouted, springing to her feet.  I ran to her and pulled her in the other direction, away from Amelia.

“Everybody loves you so much, don’t they?!” Amelia cried, pointing at Amanda.  “You’ve been ruining everything from the very beginning!  So sweet!  So lovable!  HA!”  She turned and shouted to her army all around her.  “Get her!  Bring her before me!  I will kill her in front of all of them and then they will fail!”

Upon hearing this, the army of Gold Legend redoubled their efforts to hold off Amelia’s army, but the struggle was fierce.  Suddenly a form burst over the heads of all.  It was Bibble-kins.  Sailing over friends and foes alike, he landed with a great thud just in front of us.  Clouds of ash and sheets of burned paper flew into the air around him.

"Get her to safety!" Art by Maria Gullickson

“Get her to safety, my prince!” he said, and turned towards the troops with a snarl.

I had told Mountainlost that I would find a weapon.  And so I did.  As I ran towards the back alleyway with Amanda, I stooped and grabbed some half-burned paper and a bit of charcoal from the ground.  Leaping down the blackened back steps of the town hall, we ducked between two dumpsters and I began writing on the paper as fast as I could.  “What are you doing?” Amanda asked.

“Listen,” I said, “Bibble-kins will hold them off, but they’ll be here in a moment.  You must let yourself be captured.”

“What?” she said.  “No way!  You heard what she just said; she’s going to kill me!”

“I heard what she said,” I replied, “but you’re going to have to trust me.  Can you do that?”

She looked at me hard for a moment before finally replying, “yes, I think I can.  I don’t know why, but I think I can.”

“I’ll be happy to explain it to you,” I said, “but this isn’t the time, and it definitely isn’t the place.  It isn’t even the right world.”

“So you keep saying,” she said, and looked at the piece of paper in my hand.  “So, what’s that?”

“When you go before her,” I said, handing her the paper, “say this.”  She read the paper and looked at me quizzically.  “Trust me,” I said.

Suddenly, I heard soldiers coming down the steps.  Giving Amanda a quick wink, I rolled behind the other dumpster and watched from a hidden position.  Amanda stood as the soldiers approached.  I wish I could have seen the look on her face, because it made them stop in their tracks.  Without waiting for them to grab her, she strode up the back steps and approached Amelia.

“Daughter!” Mountainlost cried as he saw her approaching.  “No!”  All fighting died down as everyone turned to see what would happen.

Amelia grinned and evil grin.  “Ah, nobility,” she said as Amanda presented herself.  “Nice to see you still remember that.”  Amanda said nothing.  “Now,” Amelia continued, “I will kill you and break the final shreds of spirit in your feeble little army.”  Still, Amanda said nothing.  “Any last words?”  Amelia concluded.

“Yes,” Amanda said.  She looked at Mountainlost and Nestra.  Then she looked over her shoulder at me.  Then she said, in a voice loud and clear and strong, “my mother’s heart beats in me strong; my mother’s heart lives in me long!”

And then she was gone.

TO BE CONCLUDED

Yes, that’s right; I am predicting unequivocably the end of this saga with next week’s story.  We’ll all have to wait a week to see if I’m right, though.  🙂

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found

 

Kingdom Found part 11 (story #54)

Okay, here I am back at my own workstation and the orchestral film score shuffle is ready to go.  Last week, Morty’s own mother saved Doctor Desnipes from death by turning him into one of his own trolls, and then admitted it was she who had brought Morty to our world from Gold Legend years ago.  Let’s see what happens on the heels of that!

KINGDOM FOUND part 11

“You?” I said.  “You brought me here?”

“Oh, yes,” my mother replied.  “When I saw the vision of your future, leading Mountainlost’s army to victory, I couldn’t let you stay there.  I couldn’t let you help him.  All my plans would have been ruined!”

“Your plans?” I said.  “What are you talking about?  We’ve lived here all this time–“

“While the doctor carried out my plans in Gold Legend,” she finished my sentence for me.  “Oh, I helped as much as possible from this end by sending him new troll-bait whenever I could.  I had to build my army, you see.  And using people from both worlds built it up so much faster.  It’s amazing how many people will say the words you tell them to if you make them promises.”

“The words!” Nestra exclaimed from the edge of the crowd.  She and Mountainlost were slowly moving through the trolls, who were paying them no heed, intent only on my mother.  “You know the words?”

“Stupid woman,” my mother said without even looking at her, “I invented the words.  The same day I invented the wall.”

“The Wall of Worlds?” I asked, my heart almost stopping.  “You created the Wall of Worlds?”

“Of course,” she replied with a genial nod.

“Butterflies,” Amanda said, still sitting on the ground.

“What?”  I turned to her and she shook her head.

“Nothing,” she replied.  “This is all insane.”

“I saw the words in a vision,” Nestra said, “but I didn’t see where they came from.”

“I needed some way to travel, of course,” my mother said.  She turned to Nestra and the king, who were now only a few feet away from us.  “I do regret that the words are so simple and rudimentary, but I was only a child when I came up with them, and the magic behind them.”

Mountainlost shook his head in confusion.  “It is a noble… A sentimental theory of magic which makes the words work.  How could someone like you have chosen such magic if your intention is as evil as the Doctor’s?”

“Who are you to judge my intent?” my mother cried, stepping towards the king.  “In my youth, I was as pure as any of you!  I couldn’t help the magic born in me!  I was not so lucky as your queen; to have understanding parents and caring friends, and a whole royal court to love me!  My father never understood, and all I wanted was to show him something beautiful.  We were all each other had.”  She turned to me.  “My heart was in the right place, you see, Morty.”

“The wall,” I said, shaking my head.  “Why did you create the wall?  How?”

“Please,” she responded, “do sit and talk with me.”  I looked and saw that five chairs had appeared out of nowhere.  My mother motioned to the king and queen, then to Amanda, who was still sitting on the ground.  The trolls all looked on in rapt attention, while Bibble-kins and the army of Gold Legend traded confused and suspicious glances.  The five of us took our seats in the middle of that burned out building and waited to hear what my mother would say.

“I had visions long before I ever saw my vision of you, Morty,” she said.  “When I was a young girl back in Gold Legend, I began to have these visions of other worlds, even other times.  But when I told my father about them, he said there was no such thing as visions of the future.  He told me to quit playing and keep my head in the ‘real world.’  Ha!  His real world of poverty and sickness that had killed my mother could never match up to the worlds I saw in my head!  I wanted to show him I was right.  I wanted him to see what I saw.  But he couldn’t have visions like me.  I had to find a way to physically go to these other places, don’t you see?  For my father.  So I wished for a visible barrier between worlds.  And, as your king and queen know, wishes have a way of coming true in Gold Legend, as long as they are from the heart.  I created the wall outside of space and time, and the words to cross the barrier.  It was my greatest feat.  And my greatest failure.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“You stayed at the wall, didn’t you?” Nestra said softly.  “You didn’t realize how outside of time you were.”

“You’re half right,” my mother replied, her voice growing cold.  “When my wish was granted, I stayed at the wall, but only for a short time.  When I did go through the wall itself, this was the first world I came to.  In my innocence, I tried to tell everyone I met where I had come from.  No one believed me.  And then I met him.”

With that, she pointed down at the troll that had lately been Doctor Desnipes.

“Oh no,” I said.  “Please tell me he’s not my father.”

“What?” mother said.  “Don’t be silly.  Of course he’s not your father.  I have no idea who your father was.  And I only met your mother for a short time.”

“My mother?  You’re my mother!”

“No, you thick-headed boy, I’m not!  That’s what I’m trying to tell you.  Don’t make me tell it all out-of-order.”  She looked around briefly as if to ask if there were any other objections, and then she continued.  “He was older than me, but younger-looking and charming.  He told me he was a doctor, a ‘man of science,’ but he was still intrigued by the things I said.  We talked on the porch of his house for nearly an hour before he asked me to prove what I said was true.  I took him by the hand and wished to be back in Gold Legend, not realizing that wishes here are not so easily granted.  We just stood there and nothing happened.  And then he laughed at me.”  At this point she kicked the little doctor-troll, who didn’t seem to have a clue what was going on.  “It made me angry.  And there is power in anger.  So I used magic.  For the first time ever I used real, dark magic, not just wishes.  I opened a portal behind this very building and led the doctor to the Wall of Worlds that way.  We plunged through the wall and–” here, she turned to Nestra and Mountainlost, “–I suppose you can guess what we found.”

“You say you talked for an hour?” Nestra asked.  The woman I had known as mother, but who would now just be Amelia to me, nodded.  “I would guess that many hundreds of years had passed in Gold Legend upon your return,” Nestra concluded.

“Over seven hundred,” Amelia agreed.  “My father had been dead for centuries.”

“I’m sorry, my lady,” Mountainlost said, but was cut off before he could continue.

“Keep your sorry,” Amelia spat.  “It was your own father who told me how much time had passed.  We arrived in your forest and found my father’s house to be completely gone.  Not destroyed, just gone.  I was confused, terrified.  The doctor was no help, either; he was completely dazed by the fact that everything I had said was true.  We walked though the forest and crossed the field to your castle.  It had never been there before, I didn’t know who lived there.  We were taken inside and your father told me what year it was.  I was hysterical.  I ran from the castle and Desnipes followed.  Then he had the thought that if time had moved that fast while I was in his world, time may be moving just as quickly on earth while he was in mine.  He begged me to send him back immediately.”

“But time does not move that way in this world,” Mountainlost said.

“We didn’t know that,” Amelia snapped.

“Why?”  I asked.  “Why does time move the same here and at the wall, but not at the wall and in Gold Legend?”

“Because in Gold Legend a simple wish can take you to the wall,” she replied.  “Here, wishes have no real power, so once I used dark magic to open a portal from here to the wall, this place and the wall itself must co-exist for there to be any traffic between them.  But, I took care of myself before I brought the doctor back here.  I cast an enchantment in Gold Legend so that, as long as I live, time in Gold Legend would move as time here does.  It is only at the wall that time is meaningless now.”

“As long as you live,” I said.

“Yes, as long as I live,” she replied, “and that is also when I came up with the words.  With the ability to travel between worlds without stopping at the wall, I never had to lose time like that again.”

“We found that as well, when I gave Amanda her words,” Nestra said.

“What words?” Amanda asked.

“Your inexplicable amnesia really does grow tiresome, my dear,” Amelia said, her eyes narrowing to slits.  “You have nothing to do with this, after all.  You’re a by-product.  An unwanted guest.  A useless toy.  Now, stop interrupting.”

“Lay off her, Amelia,” I said.  “Let’s just get to the point.  You brought the doctor back here and then, what?  You blamed this world for your father’s death?”

“Yes!” she cried so loudly that Amanda even looked up from her sad, confused staring at the ground.  “I blamed this world, and the doctor, and the wall!  I blamed Mountainlost’s father–“

“You blamed everyone but yourself,” I said, but she ignored me.

“–and when I returned to Gold Legend, I didn’t go to Mountainlost’s castle.  I went far beyond your castle and found a deserted house in the mountains.  I wished and I wished and I wished for my father to return, but it doesn’t work that way.”

“Some things are beyond wishing, my lady,” Nestra said.

“So I found.  Wishing can change things, even create objects, but it can’t create living beings.  Wishing my father alive again was the same as wishing to create a new living thing.  This I learned from listening to the magic.  So I eventually stopped wishing for anything at all.  But the longer I lived in that house in the mountains, the clearer my path became.  I had to destroy the Wall of Worlds.  I tried wishing it gone, but it was now tied to earth, where wishes don’t come true.  So I decided to build an army.  An army to destroy both Gold Legend and Earth.  With both of them gone, the Wall would have no purpose.  I began to build an army of the most vicious creatures I had ever encountered.  The trolls were willing to help, but there weren’t nearly enough.  And then, I thought of the doctor.  A ‘man of science.’  Perhaps he could help to make more.  I had determined to cross the barrier again when I saw you.”

She looked at me hard and my skin crawled.  This was the woman who had raised me, the woman I had called “mother” for the past ten years.  And she was now looking at me with such anger and spite that I had to look away.

“That’s right,” she continued, “I saw you in a vision, and knew that you were meant to deliver both worlds from my grasp.  So, I resolved to kill your parents, kidnap you and bring you to this world.  Using a fealty spell, I would convince the doctor to switch places with me and go to my house in Gold Legend while I took over his house here.  There, he could use science to figure out a way to multiply the trolls while I raised you as my own.  For, when and if your destiny arrived, how could a boy fight against his own mother?”

She laughed then.  A cold sound, riding the wind of my adopted world.  And I wondered if she was right.  Sitting here, calmly discussing the past, a life I had known nothing about, were we deciding the fate of two worlds?  Or was the final fight yet to come?  And, if we were yet to fight, could I really fight the woman who had raised me as her son?

Then I heard her continuing her story.  “But I made a mistake,” she said.  “I knew that in order to trap the doctor in Gold Legend, I could not give him his own words to cross the barrier.  I had to open the portal in this world again and have him cross through the wall as swiftly as possible.”

“So, that is why he has been trying to find a way out of Gold Legend for all these years,” Mountainlost said, “because you trapped him there!”

“Whatever you say,” Amelia said with an impatient flick of her hand, “the fact is that once I arrived here, I opened the portal before taking the boy to the doctor’s house.  And, in the time it took me to get there, put a spell on him, and bring him back–” she turned and stared at Amanda, “–someone had gone through.”

Amanda’s eyes grew wide.  “Me?” she said.  “What are you talking about?  I’ve never been through any portal!  I think I would remember that!  Why would I want to forget something like that?”

And suddenly I knew.  It all added up and I didn’t know why I hadn’t seen it before.  I knew why Amanda had forgotten everything, I knew how to win this war, and I knew whether or not a boy could fight the woman who had raised him.

He could do it.  For the right woman.

TO BE CONTINUED

Once again, I was pretty sure I knew what was gonna happen this week and, while the pieces of the past are coming together as I’ve started to anticipate, I really thought this installment was gonna go a different way.  I hope you all liked it, because it’s not what I thought was gonna happen at all.

Dear story, I am still trusting you.  I hope you are still right.  Love, me.

See you in six (or so)

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found

 

Hello, friends and neighbors…

Sorry for the delay, but I am house-sitting tonight and my online time is limited.  I will be back at my own workstation and writing the new chapter of KINGDOM FOUND by tomorrow afternoon.  Thanks for waiting!  And our receptionist, Michael, would surely thank you in advance for being gentle when you call and yell at him.

See you tomorrow,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2010 in Announcements

 

Kingdom Found part 10 (story #53)

Once more unto the breach, dear friends…

KINGDOM FOUND part 10

There was a sudden and furious pounding on the front door.  I turned just in time to see it splinter inward.  The Man-at-Arms burst through it as though pursued by demons.  Which, as it turned out, wasn’t far from the truth.

“Get him in here!” he cried to those behind him and, to my horror, I saw four soldiers rushing onto the porch carrying Mountainlost.  His armor was hanging ragged from his right side and his face, neck and arm were covered with blood.

“Into the kitchen!” I shouted and ran ahead of them.  I threw everything off of the kitchen counter so that they could lay him down.  Nestra rushed in behind them, weeping and reaching for his face.  She was whispering words I could not understand.

Suddenly, the front windows burst inward.  I rushed into the hall in time to see trolls pour in like a hideous gray flood.  The army of Gold Legend was upon them in an instant.  The battle was met once again, but the odds seemed more in our favor this time.  There were not as many trolls as before, and the more we cast into sacks, the better our chances.  I heard an outcry of pain in the kitchen behind me.  Turning back I saw Nestra bending low over Mountainlost, rubbing her hands on his wounds.  “Keep them away from here!” the Man-at-Arms shouted to the army.  “We must have time to heal the king!”

“We hear and obey!” several soldiers replied and redoubled their efforts to repel the trolls.  I ducked back into the kitchen and tried to ignore the fact that my childhood home was now a battleground.

“What happened?” I shouted at the Man-at-Arms.

“We did as you commanded, my prince,” he said, removing his battered helmet.  “We spread out across the town looking for them.  It was the king who found them first.  The town hall where I slew the troll earlier has been burned to the ground.  They were gathered in the ruin, the doctor and all his trolls.  The king sent a detachment out to find the rest of us.”

“What?” I said.  “I told everyone not to engage them!  Why would he gather everyone to fight?”

“He gathered them not to fight, Prince, but to rescue the lady Amanda.  The doctor had put a sleep on her and left her at the fringe of the building.  The king told me that with your mother still slowing them down, we should be able to grab the princess and be gone in a flash as long as no one looked upon your mother.”

“There does seem to be some wisdom in that,” I conceded.  “What went wrong?”

“They were on us in an instant!” he replied.  “I moved to take the princess and the trolls moved with the speed of Gold Legend!  I did not see your mother, prince, but he may have put a sleep on her as well.  Whatever the case, we moved no faster than they, and they were expecting our arrival.  The trolls swarmed over me and then took the king.  The doctor burst through the ranks and didn’t even give me a second glance.  Before anyone could stop him, he spit some of his foul potion onto the king!”

I looked back at Mountainlost who, despite his wounds, was definitely not a troll.  “It didn’t work?” I asked hopefully.

“Yours is not the only enchanted armor, Prince,” the Man-at-Arms replied.  “The queen knew not what enchantments we might fight against, and her powers are weak against the doctor’s potion, but it saved the king from being turned.  It tore the armor apart, though, and you see what the trolls did to him.”

“My prince!” a shout went up from the battle in the other room.  “We are undone!”

“Protect the king,” I commanded the Man-at-Arms, and bolted for the front of the house.  As I ran, I heard screams rising among the people.  Somewhere, very far behind me it seemed, the Man-at-Arms shouted a warning.  And then I saw him.

The doctor himself was standing in my doorway.

I tried to cease my momentum, but I only manged to fall down in front of him.  In an instant, he had bent over me and his hand was on my neck.  All the fighting stopped as troops and trolls alike turned to see what would happen.  “Are you the leader foretold?” the doctor sneered in my face, squeezing my throat.  “Are you the one to save the world?  I’m disappointed in you!  I set a perfectly good trap and you send your king out to do your dirty work for you?  And you expect to be a leader of all?”

“They…  could move faster without me…” I choked.

“Ah!  So you did realize the malleable nature of time!” he replied as a smile stretched across his ugly face.  “Perhaps you’re not a total loss after all!  So you sent them out without you to speed things along, did you?  And what good it did them!  Did you think I wouldn’t see them coming?  Did you think your silly queen was the only one with magical sight?”

“I already know you have magical sight,” I managed to say.

He laughed out loud.  “You don’t know half as much as you think you do,” he said.

“I know you’re not welcome in my house,” I cried and placed my feet against his stomach.  I shoved with all my might and he let go of my throat, falling backwards onto the porch.  We both turned over to stand up and I realized too late that, with our backs to each other, Doctor Desnipes could move with otherworldly speed.  I turned as fast as I could and found that he was already on his feet, his potion in his hand, a mouthful of it already prepared to spit.

The Man-at-Arms was already halfway up the hallway, pushing soldiers and dancers and trolls aside.  “Stand off, villain!” he cried, “the prince will not be harmed!”  I raised my arm across my face as the doctor spit out a mouthful of purple liquid.

I felt nothing.  No spray, no dissolving armor, no change in me.  Looking quickly to my left, I saw why.  He had doused the Man-at-Arms.  With no helmet to protect him, the transformation was already beginning.  “A sack!  Quickly!” I shouted to the soldiers behind him.  As his body shriveled and he looked up at me from inside his own armor, I cried, “we will change you back!  I swear it!”  Then his armor fell to pieces, and three of his soldiers fell on him with a sack.  I was grabbed and spun around.  I found myself once again face to face with the doctor.

“I think not,” he said.  He slipped his hand around my throat again.  “And it is you who are not welcome in my house,” he said with a grimace.  With that, he spun me around and dragged me off of the porch.  His trolls jumped out the windows and the door after him.  “I think it is time we put an end to you and your little ‘destiny’,” he growled.  I struggled to free myself from his grasp, but it was no use.

The army of Gold Legend poured from my house behind us.  “Stop, Desnipes!” one of the soldiers shouted from the throng behind us.  The doctor turned with me still held firmly in his grasp.

“By all means, follow us!” he shouted back.  “I would love to see how an army of dancers fights with no leaders left to them!  But know this: if you harm me in any way before we return to the rest of my trolls, they will know.  And they will kill the hostages.”  Then, looking at me, he sneered again.  “You’re slowing me down, boy,” he said.  “I do so wish you would just fall asleep.”

And suddenly everything went black.

When I awoke, I was standing in the burned out town hall.  The Man-at-Arms had spoken true; the place was demolished.  The walls were burned to cinders and the offices inside had been reduced to rubble.  There was burnt paper and splintered furniture littered everywhere.  And, on all sides, there were trolls.  All of the trolls.  Outside the borders of the building stood the army of Gold Legend.  They were still forming ranks around the building, so I figured I couldn’t have been there long.  Looking to my right I saw that Amanda was standing there with me.  She may have been asleep when the Man-at-Arms saw her before, but she was awake now and she looked more terrified than the last time I had seen her.  Just beyond her, my mother stood with her back to me, yelling at the doctor.

“How could you?” she shrieked.  “The time has come!  His destiny is at hand!  Ten years ago, you told me–”

But at that point, the doctor saw that I was awake and smiled grimly.    My mother, seeing the look on his face, stopped talking.  He pointed over her shoulder and she turned to look at me.  “Oh, Morty,” she said, “this isn’t what I wanted.  This was never what I wanted for you.”

“It’s not your fault, mom,” I said.

The doctor started to laugh again.  I was getting pretty tired of how funny he thought this all was.  He stepped past my mother and stuck his finger in my face.  “You really are pathetic as leaders go,” he cooed.

“I’m pathetic?” I returned.  “What about you, you twisted freak?  Your army is a bunch of trolls!  My army fights for me out of loyalty to Mountainlost and his kingdom!  Your army fights because you forced them to love you with that freaky potion of yours!”

“Any one of  my army would gladly give their life for me,” he said.

“They already have!” I shouted back.  “Their lives were something totally different until you changed them!  They were my friends and my townspeople!  You couldn’t just be satisfied changing your own people, you had to come here and change mine, too!”

“You really don’t know what you’re talking about,” he replied, his anger visibly growing.  “These people are more mine than yours.”

“Why?” I asked, “because I originally came from Gold Legend?”  His eyes opened wide.  Finally, I’d been able to surprise him for once.  “Yeah, that’s right,” I said.  “I know about the visions.  I know about my ‘little destiny’ as you call it.  And I know where I came from.”

“Well,” he said coldly, “I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.  Of course Nestra would tell you about her vision.”

“Not just hers,” I continued, “she told me about yours as well.”

“Mine?” he replied.

“Yes,” I said, pressing my advantage, “I know that you saw a vision of my destiny back in Gold Legend.  What I can’t figure out is why you bothered to bring me here ten years ago.  Why not just kill me then?”

“I?” he said, and began laughing again.  It was infuriating.  “You stupid little boy,” he said when he finally had control of himself.  “I had no visions!  I am no sorcerer!  And I most certainly did not bring you here from Gold Legend!”

I looked over at my mother, all the wind leaving my sails.  “Mom?” I said.  “You told Mountainlost it was a man…”

“Oh, Morty,” she replied, “I never said the doctor brought you.”

“But, if he didn’t tell you I would one day wear a prince’s armor, who did?” I asked.

“I did,” came a voice from the crowd.  I looked and there was Mountainlost.  His wounds were healed, but his armor still hung ragged at his side.  Of course, Nestra’s healing had moved swifter without me there, but she couldn’t repair his armor.  He was being supported by soldiers on either side, with Nestra standing just behind him.  “It was a promise I made her when I followed you here and swore to see your destiny fulfilled.”

“Then,” I said, turning slowly to face my mother and the doctor, “who brought me here?”  The doctor smiled.  My mother did not.

And it was then that Amanda tried to make a break for it.

She turned and started running through the trolls.  I guess she’d had enough and thought that no one was paying attention to her anyway.  Whatever the case, she was wrong.  Before the doctor had even finished yelling “stop her!” the trolls were already upon her.  They dragged her down to the blackened floor of the building and held her there.

“No!” I shouted.  “Leave her alone!”

“Useless boy!” the doctor exclaimed as he pushed roughly past me.  “Hold her, trolls!  Don’t let her get away again.  I’ll teach her to run from me!”  He bent over her and said, “horrible little princess, it’s a shame you don’t remember who you are.  It would make it so much more satisfying when I kill your whole family in a few minutes.”

I tried to run to her, but the trolls held me back.  I didn’t know what I would do anyway, since the doctor had disarmed me while I was asleep.  But I had to try.  I began to furiously swat the trolls off of me, much as the Man-at-Arms had done in the castle battle earlier this morning.  Slowly I began to move forward through the mounds of trolls.

“I’m not a princess, I’m just a girl!” Amanda yelled in his face.  “And you’re a monster!”  With that, she spit directly in his eye.

I saw his arm rise up and I literally threw a dozen trolls off of me at once.  His arm descended against her face and she fell to the floor with a shout of pain.  From the edge of the building’s foundation, I heard Mountainlost shout, “Prince Morty!  Remember your grand entrance!”  I was confused until I saw him hurl his sword over the heads of the trolls and remembered my own blade lying in the castle courtyard during our first battle today.

The doctor heard the sword clatter to the ground behind him.  As he stood up straight, I leaped into the air and somersaulted across all the trolls who stood in my way.  For the third time today, everything seemed to be moving in slow motion.  At least everything but me.  Because this time, I think it was for real.  In that moment, saving Amanda from the doctor was more important than anything else in the world.  I think that my heart was suddenly where hers belonged; in Gold Legend.  So I moved with the speed of my original home while the doctor was too concerned with her to move at any other speed than that of our world.

Retrieving the sword, I stood up and ran it through Doctor Desnipes up to the hilt.

Art by Sasha Reneau

He looked at me with utter bewilderment for a moment, then looked down at Mountainlost’s sword sticking out of his guts.  “I told you,” I said.  “I told you what I would do to you if you ever hurt her.”  I pulled the sword out of him and he fell to his knees.

As blood began to trickle from his mouth, I heard my mother’s voice behind me.  “Not yet,” she said, and stepped past me.  She reached down to the doctor’s side and grabbed the troll-potion from his belt.  Too surprised to stop her, I watched as she uncorked the bottle and took a large swig from it.  Amanda scrambled away from the doctor as my mother spit his own potion all over him.

The transformation was quick and, as he shriveled down, so did the wound in his belly.  By the time he was the size of the other trolls, his wound was practically gone.  He looked up at my mother plaintively.  She smiled down at him and then turned to me.

“That should hold him for a little while,” she said, and then her eyes grew sad.  “I really am sorry, Morty,” she said, “this really isn’t what I wanted for you.”  She put her hand on my face and finished sadly, “I really had much better plans for you when I brought you here from Gold Legend.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Hmmmmm…

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found