Hello there, faithful readers. Tremendous apologies for the unexpected week-long hiatus. Things got very busy which was, by and large, a good thing. Anyway, we’re back and ready to get started on Chapter 13. First, though, a disclaimer:
If you were to go back to the beginning of this whole story, you would note that we have now caught up to where the story first started. You would also note that the first paragraph of the story was written in the present tense, meaning that, in order for the tenses to match up, the remainder of the story would have to be written in present tense. To be perfectly honest, I would simply find that very annoying, both as a writer and a reader. “I am doing this, she is doing that…” Ugh. Therefore I will promise that, whenever I edit and compile the story as a single novella, I will rewrite that first paragraph to be past tense (“there I was behind the dumpster,” “I knew it was time to man up…” That sort of thing) and am now going to continue as if that was the case. Is this breaking my own rules? I don’t think so. I’m not disregarding story, just tense. And, as I said, it’ll be much easier to write and to read. So, let’s do it, okay? Okay.
[editor’s note: earlier this week, one of our faithful readers said she doubted that the story would actually finish in chapter 13, and basically inferred I was presumptuous to have made such a claim. Well, writing this note after having written this chapter, I will go ahead and prepare you all for the fact that… She was right. This story doesn’t wanna end yet. I will make no more claims, and hope you don’t mind me being wrong about that.]
KINGDOM FOUND part 13
Amelia stared in disbelief at the empty space where Amanda had been just a moment before. “That’s impossible,” she croaked. “She had amnesia! She had forgotten how to cross the–” She stopped suddenly and looked back to where I was still hiding behind the dumpster. “You!” she hissed between bared teeth.
Well, here it was. My moment of truth. I guess you could say my destiny was at hand. And what was I doing? Hiding behind a dumpster. Not how I would have imagined such a moment. But this was no mere cowardice. I had a plan. As I stepped from behind the dumpster, I was just hoping and praying I hadn’t forgotten anything like when I wished the trolls to be human. Anyway, it was too late now.
“Me,” I returned, removing my helmet. Amanda had bravely approached Amelia after stepping from behind the dumpster. I had no intention of doing any such thing. I stood there defiantly, but did not move. And, as I had hoped, she started towards me.
“You told her what to say!” Amelia cried. “You forced her across the barrier!”
“What barrier?” I said, trying to appear innocent. “The wall has fallen. There is no barrier, right?”
Still coming towards me, her army and mine both falling in behind her, she pointed at me, her lips curled in a sneer. “You know,” she said, and then shook her head. “You know that the words are made to travel between worlds without stopping at the wall. You know what this means, don’t you? It doesn’t matter if the wall stands or falls; the words still transport one back and forth. The doctor never understood it, nor your silly king and queen. What makes you so special?”
“I was raised by a witch,” I said with a smile. She lifted a condescending eyebrow. “And I told you once before,” I continued, “I am a prince of Gold Legend. And, according to you, I am the one who will save two worlds.”
“I said you would try.”
“Is that what your vision told you? That I would simply try? I don’t think so. If that was the case, why this elaborate scheme of raising me on earth? Why try to turn me to your side? Why not just kill me?”
She descended the stairs of the ruined town hall and faced me in that alleyway. “I told you,” she growled, still trying to frighten me, “I knew your destiny would fail if you fought for me rather than against me.”
“How often have your visions been wrong?” I asked.
“My visions are never wrong,” she returned.
“Exactly,” I said, still smiling. “You never killed me because you knew you couldn’t. Your vision told you that you wouldn’t. Isn’t that right?”
She returned my smile with no warmth. “You must think you’re very clever,” she said. “But look behind me. I don’t have to kill you, little boy. I have a whole army to do it for me.”
So, I had forgotten something. Wonderful.
Then a voice called over the heads of the men who had been trolls. “That won’t be so easy, witch!” called Bibble-kins. A rallying cry went up from the army of Gold Legend and the once-were trolls turned to them, side-by-side and face-to-face. Any of Mountainlost’s army was ready to sacrifice themselves for me. I knew I couldn’t let them down. And I was pretty sure I wouldn’t. Pretty sure.
"That won't be so easy, witch!" Art by Josh Judd
“Oh goody,” Amelia said, rolling her eyes, “another battle.”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “We won’t have anyone left to fight if we break the fealty spell.”
“And you think you can undo my magic?” she asked incredulously.
“I thought I’d try with your first spell,” I replied, “or don’t you remember where we are?”
She looked around, then, and it clicked for her. The adventure of her youth. The anger and the dark magic.
“It never really went away, did it?” I said. “You can hide it, but it’s what ties earth to the wall, isn’t it? That’s what you said. And it’s right here where we’re standing.”
“Good Lord,” she whispered, and then focused on me again. “What are you going to do?”
“What you never could,” I said, and wished that her dark portal to the Wall of Worlds would become visible.
Suddenly, the alleyway behind me was gone. Through a mist, I could see the Wall of Worlds. It stretched away forever but at the point nearest the dark portal entrance, it was a shambles, the result of Doctor Desnipes’ wish to merge the worlds and go home. I wasn’t actually inside the portal, but a few steps would take me to it, to the place where time was meaningless. More importantly, a few steps would do the same for Amelia. I reached out and grabbed her by the hand.
“Let’s go, Mother,” I said.
Her eyes grew wide with terror. She ripped her hand from mine. “You wouldn’t!” she said. “Take me to the wall and Gold Legend will age generations before you emerge! Your new family–“
“Will be safe,” I finished her sentence for her. “Your vision told you I would deliver both worlds. There was no promise I would be there to see it.”
“Prince Morty!” Mountainlost called.
“You are my family now!” I called back. “It doesn’t matter what happens to me. I will see you are safe!”
I guess my performance was pretty convincing, despite the depth of my lie. I had no intention of going to that wall. But Amelia was sufficiently frightened. She began to gibber and stepped backwards. “No,” she whispered, “not again, not again. Hundreds of years. Hundreds, hundreds. Not again…”
I advanced on her as her army stood amazed, watching her cower. “You think I can’t undo your magic?” I yelled. “For years, you wished the wall to be gone, but it remained! The Doctor wished for it to fall and, even as his wish was granted, the wall remained! Why? You told me yourself!” I walked up the stairs and towered over her as she fell to her knees. “The wall was linked to this world where dreams don’t come true!” She looked from me to the portal and back again. Tears stood out in her eyes and she shook her head, not understanding. I was fine with that. “Well, the worlds are breached,” I said, “and wishes can come true here now.”
Nestra understood first. “I will wish with you, my prince,” she said. Bibble-kins looked at her and smiled, then turned and nodded to me. Mountainlost took only a moment longer.
“Good,” I said, as more soldiers and dancers from Gold Legend smiled and nodded. I reached down and grabbed Amelia by the collar. I looked hard into her eyes and repeated, “you think I can’t undo your magic?” She stared up at me and, in that moment, I think she understood.
“I wish this portal closed forever,” I said.
“I wish,” said Nestra.
“I wish,” said Bibble-kins and Mountainlost and the whole army of Gold Legend.
“And,” I continued, “I wish that the Wall of Worlds was no more.”
Amelia screamed out loud. I had my back to it, but she had a front row seat to her handiwork vanishing from existence. Behind me I could feel a rush of wind as air rushed into the space that the portal had suddenly left behind.
Breathless moments passed and Amelia continued to stare past me. I saw in her face the knowledge that her first wish and her first spell had both just been undone. Sorrow, relief, and anger all played in her eyes. That which she had been scheming and planning for all these years had just been accomplished without her. In spite of her. And without a fight. She sagged to the ground and I let her go.
I stepped past her and her army did not stop me. They were all staring at her, crumpled on the ground. I walked to the king and queen. They smiled and embraced me. Nestra was crying. From behind us, I heard the sound of Amelia crying as well.
At least I thought it was crying.
As the sound rose, however, I heard it to be laughter. An evil, maniacal laughter. I turned slowly and saw her standing again. She turned to face me and the darkness in her eyes was truly terrifying.
“So smart, aren’t you?” she said, knotting her hands into gnarled fists. “Well, you forgot something, savior of worlds.”
“The worlds are still breached,” she said, pointing back in the direction where my school lay across town, “and you’re not the only one who can make wishes.”
“Oh, Amelia,” Nestra said, “why continue with this? You yourself said that all you ever wanted was to destroy the Wall of Worlds! Now it is gone! What more is there to gain?”
“Well,” said Amelia, rolling her eyes again, “I do have my pride.” She raised her arms like a bat and opened her mouth to speak, but I stepped forward.
“Mom,” I said, and she stopped. “Don’t,” I said.
She looked at me hard until someone stepped from the crowd that surrounded her. It was the Man-at-Arms. “Shall we take them, my lady?” he asked.
She cocked an eyebrow at me and said, “I wish you would.”
He raised his arm in the air and shouted, “CHARGE!” The army of Gold Legend fell back as Amelia’s army charged forward. I guess Amelia knew what I was going to do before I could complete the thought.
As I opened my mouth to wish the fealty spell away, she scooped up a troll blade and threw it right at my unprotected head. As quick as thinking, I found myself wishing that I had the reflexes to catch the blade in mid-air. Thank God for small favors. My hand was before my face in a flash and the blade stopped an inch from going into my eye.
Art by Libby Barringer
She hadn’t killed me, but she had sufficiently distracted me. In an instant, she was upon me, her hand on my throat much as the doctor had grabbed me earlier. The rage on her face was sickening to behold. I stared up at her as she forced me to my knees in a perfect reverse of our earlier situation. “You’ll have to kill me to remove the fealty spell,” she spat as her troops ran past us, “and you can’t kill your own mother, can you?”
I looked deep into her eyes and said, “you’re right. I can’t kill my own mother.” She beamed a wicked look of triumph. Until I finished my thought.
“Because you already did that.”
Behind me, I heard queen Nestra scream something, but I couldn’t make it out.
Everything was lost in the moment I drove that troll blade into Amelia’s heart.
TO BE CONTINUED
Well, let’s just keep on truckin’, then.
See you in seven,