Hey, look at me, writing this installment one week after that last installment. It’s like I’m on a schedule or something. I’ve got the orchestral shuffle ready to play my creative muse back to life again, and I don’t wanna waste anymore time trying to think of clever introductory things to say. Let’s do this.
KINGDOM FOUND part 15
The doctor stood slack-jawed for a moment as Amanda waited for him to engage in combat. “But,” he said finally, “you were… You forgot them. You forgot everything! The cat, the boy… Everything!”
“Well, now I remembered everything,” she replied evenly. “The years you were enemy to my father. The friends and family you turned into trolls. The part you played in my mother’s death. I remember it all. But most of all, I remember thirty seconds ago when you were beating on an unarmed prince.” The doctor stole a glance down at me and then nervously returned his gaze to her as she finished. “The past is the past and I can’t do anything about it. But I can do something about the present. Now, are you going to fight me or not?”
I took the opportunity to crab-walk out from between them and stand up. The doctor continued to stare at Amanda and, I must say, I was inclined to do the same. I recalled how radiant she had looked that morning as we rode on Bibble-Kins’ back through the forest and across the field. The light that was in her then was a pale comparison to what I saw in her now. She looked at me sideways through the visor slit in her helmet, and I somehow knew she was smiling at me. I tried vainly to stop a small, surprised laugh from escaping my lips. She wasn’t afraid. She wasn’t tense or angry.
She was having a good time.
"She was having a good time." Art by Eric Jansen
The rivalry of years past, the pain of the morning’s revelations, the fear of forgetting everything – all were gone. She really wasn’t trying to goad the doctor into a fight because of anything he’d done in the past. She was just defending me. She had only come back for me.
“Well?” she said, returning her gaze to Doctor Desnipes.
“No,” he said finally. “No, I’m not going to fight you.” He dropped my sword to the ground and his shoulders sagged. “I would die,” he said. “I’ve already died once today.”
“Smart man,” Amanda said and took a step back from him. She remained on her guard, but made no more move to engage him. Knowing that I didn’t even need to watch my back to do it, I bent to retrieve my sword. As I lifted it, I remembered how heavy it had felt when I’d first tried to enter a battle with it this morning. It didn’t necessarily feel lighter now, just easier to manage.
As I stood, I saw the doctor looking at me. Still crazy, I thought. He might try anything. Then he spoke, and I realized how frightened he truly was.
“You’re going to kill me anyway, aren’t you?” he said. “After everything I’ve done, I guess you think I deserve it. And what can I do? I don’t have my army. I don’t have a witch on my side anymore. I don’t even have a house, thanks to you and your wishing.”
Well, that was the answer, wasn’t it? I shook my head and internally reprimanded myself for what I was about to do. Why should I help my enemy? The great enemy of my new kingdom? The answer was pretty simple, really; if I succeeded, he wouldn’t be my enemy anymore. And, as far as he would know, he never would have been at all.
“Amanda, ” I said, keeping my eyes on the doctor, “I assume Amelia still lives, or else you wouldn’t have come.”
“Yes,” she replied, “time is short. But she lives for now.”
“Good,” I said. “Then there is time for you to tell the doctor why you forgot us for a time. I think he needs to hear it.”
She looked at me and raised her visor. I saw a sadness steal across her face. “You know why I forgot?” she asked.
“I’ve guessed,” I said. “It’s the only thing that makes sense. And no one can blame you. In a moment of sorrow that deep, I might have wished for the same thing.”
“Wished?” asked the doctor, still looking like he expected either one of us to run him through at any moment.
“Yes, wished,” Amanda said. “After you left the castle this morning, King Mountainlost told me what had happened to my mother.”
“Ah,” Desnipes interjected, some of his evil nature returning to the surface, “so, he told you that he himself killed her, eh?”
“He told me that he killed the monster you created,” she spat back. The doctor’s shoulders slumped again and he waited for her to go on. “When he’d finished his story, I didn’t know what to do. But I knew I couldn’t stay there right then. I needed to get away. To think things through, or maybe just to be alone. I didn’t really care right then. So I said my words and found myself back here in this world.” She turned to me. “That was surprising,” she said, “but I was grateful that I didn’t disappear, anyway.”
“The words were meant to make us pass between worlds,” I said. “It didn’t matter whether the wall was intact or not. That’s how I knew they would send you back to Gold Legend from the town hall.”
“I know that now,” she said, smiling at me. “But not this morning. I was so sad. And, when I returned here, my grief made me forget the most important thing I could have remembered at that moment.”
“Are you saying that grief turned you into an amnesiac?” the doctor scoffed. “That’s the most preposterous thing I’ve ever–“
“That’s not what I’m saying,” Amanda interrupted with a flick of her sword in his direction. He flinched impressively and said no more. “What I forgot was that the worlds were breached. And that meant that wishes could come true here.”
“You wished you could forget everything about Gold Legend, didn’t you?” I said.
“It was an idle, foolish wish,” she said, nodding. “But it was granted. I found myself standing in the middle of a street wearing armor for no reason. I had no idea how I’d gotten there, so I took off the armor and decided to go home. No one was there of course, so I went to the school. I guess you were both there for the rest.”
“Then, how did you remember everything?” the doctor asked. “Why have you come back?”
“You knew, didn’t you?” she said to me. “You knew what I’d do.”
“Of course I did,” I said. “I could see it in your eyes, behind the wish that had destroyed your memories. When you said you trusted me but didn’t know why, I knew it would work. Because part of you wanted to remember. So, I figured if you went back to Gold Legend, that part of you would be so strong that it would wish to be free. Or at least that you would wish to know what was going on. And I hoped that was all it would take.”
“It was,” she said. “And by the time I’d gone to the armory and gotten another suit of armor, everyone was returning. I saw what had happened to Amelia, and I knew what it meant.”
“Now your memory’s even better than mine,” I said a little shamefully.
“But you…” she said, pointing at the doctor. “No one knew what had happened to you. I saw what happened to my earth-father. I saw many people from school and from town. But, after the transformation, no one knew what had happened to you.”
“I hid,” he said smugly. “I’d been through a lot.”
“We’ve all been through a lot,” Amanda said.
“And it’s enough,” I added. They both looked at me. I stepped forward and looked hard at the doctor. “I told you,” I said, “if you didn’t stay away from her, I’d kill you twice. And I mean to see that my enemy is truly gone this time.”
“I knew it,” he muttered.
“Don’t worry, I’m not going to stab you again,” I said. “I’m just going to make a suggestion. The rest is up to you.” He knitted his brow but said nothing, so I continued. “Amanda and I are going to leave now. And we’re going to leave you here. You won’t have your army. You won’t have your witch. You won’t even have your enemies. You’ll be a nobody. You’ll be a missing person.” The words stung, but he waited for me to finish. So I did.
“But if you can believe in magic for five more minutes, you don’t have to remember any of that.”
The doctor looked up into my eyes, startled. It only took a moment for my implication to sink in. “You want me to… wish away my memories?” he asked.
“Your memories of Gold Legend, yes.”
He kept staring at me. A war of indecision played across his face in a cycle of anger, sadness, disbelief and resignation.
“Amelia never gave you your own words,” I said. “Once we leave, you will have no way to return to Gold Legend. And as soon as Amelia dies, time there will leap ahead of this world. All you’ll have left is bad memories. Unless you wish them away.”
Amanda took off her helmet and stared at me. Her eyes were wide, but not with shock or disbelief. It was wonder I saw on her face. I guess she hadn’t thought of this.
For a moment it looked like anger was going to win in the doctor’s eyes. Then his shoulders slumped and he looked away from me and down the street. “Can I at least have my house back?” he said pitifully.
“I will not rebuild that house,” I replied. “But I will never set foot on this world again, either. There is precious little time left before that breach across town closes forever. Use your wishes wisely.”
I stepped away from him and over to Amanda. Our eyes locked. “Spoken like a true prince,” she said softly.
“Let’s go,” I said and took her hand.
As we walked away so the doctor would not hear our words, we heard him cry out behind us.
“What if I don’t do it?” he yelled. “What will you do then?”
“I will still be the leader foretold,” I yelled back. “I will still be the one who saved two worlds. Who will you be?” He said nothing, and I turned to Amanda.
“All by yourself, did you?” she said with a sly smile.
“I couldn’t have done it without you,” I responded. “I couldn’t have done anything without you.”
“Well, it was you who saved my life,” she conceded.
“And it was you who saved mine,” I returned.
“Yeah, well,” she said. “You tell it your way and I’ll tell it mine.”
And, with that, we kissed. And I somehow knew everything was going to be all right. We would make it back to Gold Legend before Amelia died. The doctor would not follow. The trolls would leave us alone. And Amanda and I would live in Mountainlost and Nestra’s castle for the rest of our days. I knew these things in that moment. How did I know them? Call it a vision. They run in my family. Sort of.
When we finished our kiss, she kept her face very close to mine and said, “Bibble-Kins gave me your message.”
“Good,” I said without a moment’s hesitation.
“Would it surprise you to know that I love you, too?” she asked.
“Of course not,” I said and kissed her again. “After all, aren’t I your chosen mate?”
She smiled and grabbed my hand tightly. “Since we were eight years old,” she said.
“Wait, you’ve known this whole time?” I asked, remembering all the time we’d spent not talking to each other throughout school.
“Of course I have,” she replied simply. “Haven’t you?”
I guess I couldn’t argue with that. There was no point wondering why we hadn’t spoken to each other before today. It was just the way things were. Everything had happened just as it was supposed to, and when it was supposed to. Does that mean it was fate or destiny? Maybe just some kind of magic? I would have said I wish I knew, but that sort of language was dangerous where I was going.
“Let’s go home,” she said, “our kingdom awaits.”
“A kingdom is nice,” I said. “But what I need is a family. Mountainlost, Nestra, even Bibble-kins– They’re my family now. And, you…” I kissed her on both cheeks. “You’re the best kingdom I’ve ever found.”
She nodded and kissed me and then turned and opened her mouth to say her words. Before any sound came out, she stopped and said, “oh no. Morty, my love, I’ve forgotten. You don’t have any words to say to cross over!”
I squeezed her hand tighter still. “Trust me,” I said.
She smiled. I think she knew right away what I was going to say. And, as she said her words and crossed over the barrier between worlds for the last time, I said my own words.
“Amanda’s heart beats in me strong. Amanda’s heart lives in me long.”
And, with that, we were gone. Gone home.
Whew! Well, it’s been a ride, but I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Next week, we’ll all have to shift gears back into one-offs for a while, filled with goofiness, “fourth wall whimsy” and dooftopodes.
Anybody got any suggestions about what you’d like to see in future stories? Bring ’em on! Maybe I’ll try to include some next week, maybe I’ll just stockpile suggestions for a rainy day… You never can tell what’s gonna happen around here. Anyway, thanks a million if you’ve read the whole “Kingdom Found” saga. I’ve really enjoyed writing it. Now, onward and upward! Or something like that.
See you in seven,