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Kingdom Found part 15 (story #58)

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.

THE END

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,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found

 

Kingdom Found part 14 (story #57)

Well, well, it has been a while, hasn’t it?  Sorry for the delay and here’s hoping it’ll be worth the wait by the time I finish with this week’s installment.  I just spent two hours re-reading the whole saga to get back into the flow, so I’m all caught up (on my own story!) and ready to go.  Hopefully you’ve all done some re-reading yourselves, or perhaps you remember everything already.  Either way, let’s go back to the point where “everything was lost in the moment I drove that troll blade into Amelia’s heart.”

KINGDOM FOUND part 14

As soon as the blade was buried in Amelia’s chest, I heard a sound like the loudest thunderclap ever struck in heaven echoing from the other side of town.

“No!” Nestra screamed and rushed over to where I knelt with Amelia sagging on top of me.  Blood rushed over my hand and I drew it away in disgust, leaving the blade in her heart.  Amelia fell to the ground, clutched weakly at her heart for a moment and then went limp.  All around us the fighting died down, and I knew it would be the last time.  As life left her, the fealty spell weakened.  It was finally the true end to the fighting.  I couldn’t understand what Nestra was so upset about.

“What have you done?” she cried as she bent over Amelia.  To my great shock, she began to whisper words over our fallen enemy.  She was trying to heal her.

“What have I done?” I returned.  “I have taken down our enemy!  I have undone the fealty spell that makes our own people fight against us!  I have fulfilled my destiny!”

Nestra looked up at me with utter panic in her eyes.  “‘As long as I live!'” she said through panicked breaths.  “That’s what she said, Prince Morty!  ‘As long as I live!'”  I shook my head in bewilderment.  I really think I was making an effort not to remember at that point.  The enormity of what I’d done was too much to accept right away.

“Oh no,” I heard the king mutter behind me.  He rushed forward and lifted Amelia’s head.  There was no response.  “Is she..?”

“She lives,” Nestra replied.  “But barely.”

As they spoke, I forced myself to remember.  And my panic immediately matched theirs.  I took care of myself, Amelia had told us.  I cast an enchantment in Gold Legend so that, as long as I live, time in Gold Legend would move as time here does.  If she died, time would leap forward in Gold Legend while we, pretty much the entire population of the kingdom, remained here.  The entire population save one.

Amanda would wither and die and be hundreds of year’s worth of dust before we returned to her, if we ever even could.

Someone pushed past me.  It was the Man at Arms.  He looked down at Nestra holding the witch who had been my mother.  Not knowing how weakened the fealty spell might be, I tensed myself for a fight.  Finally, he spoke.  “My queen,” he said, “tell us what to do and we shall do it.”  She looked up gratefully but, not having any idea of how to proceed, she returned her gaze to Amelia and continued whispering over her.

“Can’t we just wish her back alive?” I asked.

“Some things are beyond wishing,” Nestra said sadly from the ground.

The king stood and looked at me sternly.  “We must get her back,” he said.

“Back to Gold Legend,” I replied.

“Yes,” he said.  “We must get everyone back.  Before she dies.”

“All right,” I said.  “I will give the order for everyone to wish themselves back across the border.  We’ll be home in no time.”

“Oh, Prince,” Nestra said, taking a quick break from her healing words, “you have used the magic, but you do not understand it.  It will take all the magical energy around me to keep her alive, even for a short time.  There will be no wishing in her presence now,  not as long as she lives.”

A perfect paradox.  We couldn’t wish ourselves home as long as she lived, but if she died we may not have had a home to return to.  There was only one thing to do.

“Get her to the breach,” I said to Mountainlost.  Turning to the Man at Arms, I continued.  “See that they move swift and sure.  I fear the thunderclap we heard was the magic failing.  The breach may not be open much longer.  If it remains open at all.”

“What if it is closed to us?” he asked.

“Then God help us all,” I replied.

Mountainlost looked at me quizzically.  “You’re not coming with us, are you?”

I shook my head.  “This world may not be my true home, but I cannot leave it like this,” I said.  “If no magic will work while Nestra is keeping my moth–  Amelia alive, then I will wait here until you have all gone from this place.  Then I will use what wishing time remains in this world to rebuild.”

“Even if we make it back to Gold Legend,” the king said, “if she dies before you can return, you will be lost to us forever.”

“Once I’m through wishing things right here, I will cross the border.  I swear it.”

“And if the breach closes?”  Mountainlost asked.

“I won’t need the breach,” I said.  “It is a noble, a sentimental theory of magic that makes the words work, remember?  I know what to say.”

After a moment, the king smiled.  “I believe you do,” he replied.  “Just see that you say it in good time. We’d hate to lose you, even to a noble end.”  He then turned to survey the assembled throng of humans.  Here and there a few trolls still stood but, with no army to back them up, they were in no mood to fight.

“People,” Mountainlost said in a commanding voice, “this war is over.  If you are of earth, return to your homes and remake your lives as best you can.  If you are trolls, return to Gold Legend and bother us no more on pain of death.  If you are my people, we march.  Now and swiftly.”

“Pick her up,” Nestra said to the Man at Arms.  Several others rushed forward and helped him lift Amelia while Nestra continued to move her hands over the wound and whisper words of healing.

The army of Gold Legend moved out.  I stood in the burned out ruin of the town hall and watched them go.  Many people from my home town watched in bewilderment as well, and then began to slowly head for their homes.  As the army filed past me, many of them waved or shook my hand or cried and called me “highness,” but one stopped.  It was Bibble-kins.  “Don’t be long, now,” he said.

“I’m right behind you,” I replied, and found suddenly that I had to choke back tears.  He looked at me sadly a moment longer, then nodded and turned to leave.  “Bibble-kins,” I said, and he turned back to face me.  “If you see Amanda–” I said, and then stopped myself.  “When you see Amanda,” I corrected, “tell her…  Tell her that I love her.  That I’ve always loved her.”

Tears stood out in his eyes.  “What if she still doesn’t remember you, my prince?” he said.

“Tell her anyway,” I replied.

He hesitated a moment longer.  “What if she doesn’t remember me?” he said through tears that finally fell.

“Remind her,” I said.  “Now go, you big, beautiful fuzzball.”

He smiled and nodded and turned away.  I watched him leave knowing that it would be his fluffy black tail that would disappear last, telling me when to start wishing the town back in order.

****

I rebuilt the town hall first.  I thought about making a huge wish to cover all the destruction that had been made, but I realized that “normal” people from earth need some sort of order to hang onto.  The town had been destroyed and almost everyone knew it.  So just snapping everything back to normal would probably be as much of a brain scramble as anything else that had happened this day.  So I wished things up one at a time, and got creative with things like scaffolding and partially built top floors.  Hopefully, by the next morning, everyone would be part of the rebuilding of the town and it would all work itself out in the end.  By then, I hoped to be long gone.  They could sort out what was left.

Eventually, I got around to the street where I grew up.  There wasn’t too much destruction there, but I walked down the street anyway.  Some of my old neighbors watched me from the safety of their windows.  I waved at the first few I saw, but when they scuttled back from the windows in fear, I kind of gave up on being friendly.  These weren’t my people anymore, and I guess they knew it as well as I did.

When I got to my old house I just stood there for a moment.  This was where I had grown up.  This was where I had loved a woman who turned out to be the enemy of everything that was true in my life.  This was where I was lied to for years, where my real life was stolen from me.  I had wished the rest of the town back up.  This house I wished down.

When nothing was left, not a stick, not a brick, I turned and walked back up the street.  I would give the town a quick once over and then make my way to my real home.  I could only hope that the army had made it to the breach, and that Nestra was still managing to keep Amelia clinging to life.  I could only hope.  But as I reached the end of the street and turned, I saw what was waiting for me just past the corner and I stopped hoping.

It was Dr. Desnipes.

He was leaning against a tree just watching me.  There was still a hideous gash in his clothes where I had stabbed him earlier, but apparently the transformation of turning into a troll had sealed the wound even when he was returned to human form.  He smiled at me and I saw in his eyes that he was quite literally insane.  I guess dying and turning into a troll and then turning back into a human will do that to you.  Especially when you were at least halfway there to begin with.  He stepped forward and pointed a bony finger in my face, all the while holding his other hand behind his back.

“What have you done with my house?” he said.

“I destroyed it,” I said evenly.  “It destroyed me, so I destroyed it.”

He laughed.  “How melodramatic,” he said, stepping closer still.  “Tell me, little prince, are you done rebuilding this wretched town?  Because we have unfinished business, you and I.  And, as you may recall, it’s not really your town after all.  It’s mine.  So, are you done playing savior?  I find the role very ironic, considering that all of this is your fault.”

“My fault?” I said.  “You’re the one who broke down the wall.”

“And you’re the one who wished her across it,” he returned.  My heart sank.  I guess he could see it on my face.  “Oh, yes,” he continued, “I wished the wall down this morning, and I knew I’d let people in.  But I still didn’t know I could get out.  I thought I might die if I crossed the breach, you see?  I was still so frightened this morning.  So I was making trolls left and right in that forest, avoiding the hole in the world.  And then I saw her.  Your little princess just appeared at the top of a hill and she was dancing, dancing.  She danced right out of Gold Legend and into your arms.  And I knew then that the barrier could be crossed.  You see, silly little prince?  You were my key to finally getting out.”

“You were there?” I said.

“I saw you dancing,” he said, stepping closer.  “I saw you kissing.”  He sneered as though the act disgusted him.  “I would have crossed worlds right then, but her awful cat-monster showed up.  So I ran.  And I determined to gather my army, so I could cross worlds in triumph and finally come home!”

“So, what do you want now?” I asked.  “All these years, you’ve been trying to get back here, and now you’re here.  What do you want from me?”

“I want my army!” he screeched, losing his composure entirely.  “I spent ten years building an army to come back and take this stupid little town!  This state, this country, this world!  Do you think I want to be here as a nobody?  As a missing person?  I want my army!  I want my power!  And I WANT MY HOUSE!”

With that, he pulled the sword he had taken from me earlier out from behind his back and thrust it at me.  I leaped out of the way and lost my balance on the curb.  Falling into the street, I tried to roll and gain my feet again, but he brought the sword crashing down on my back.  My armor caved a little and the sound was deafening.  He struck me repeatedly, not even trying to pierce my armor or stab me, but just thrashing me to keep me off my feet.

“You took everything from me!” he cried while beating me with my own sword.  “Everything I’ve been working for, everything I’ve thought about and wanted for the last ten years!  You took her away from me!  I did it all for her, and now she’s gone!  She’s gone!  I loved her, and she’s gone!”

“It was just a spell!” I shouted, trying to roll over and face him.  “She put a spell on you to make her love you!”

“It doesn’t matter why!  After ten years, it doesn’t matter!  You took my hopes!  You took my dreams!”

I managed to roll over onto my back and look up at him.  He was out of breath and staring down at me with wide eyes.

“And you tried to kill me,” he finished.

All I could think of was the breach closing across town, and Amelia slowly dying, and my chance of returning to Gold Legend while my friends still lived fading further away with each moment I stayed here in this world.  I saw him raising the sword above his head for a fatal strike, and made my peace with the fact that, if they were safe, it might just have to be good enough for me.

That didn’t mean I couldn’t get in one last jab.

“I didn’t try to kill you,” I said.  “I did kill you, you crazy bastard.”

He brought the sword down with all his might, and it stopped a foot away from my face with the loudest clash of metal I have ever heard.  I looked to see what had stopped his blade and there standing over me, shining brilliantly in the afternoon sun, stood Amanda in full battle armor.

Art by Holly Knevelbaard

“Trying to kill an unarmed man, Doctor?” she said.  “And here I thought we were fighting civilized warfare.”

The doctor backed away, fear etched across his face.  Amanda lowered the visor on her helmet and raised her sword in challenge.

“My father, the king, sends his regards,” she said.

TO BE CONTINUED

Well, that was fun.  Hope it was worth waiting for.  Next week should be a capper.

See you in seven (for real),

the SotWC

 
 

Kingdom Found part 13 (story #56)

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.”

Great.

“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,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found

 

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

 
1 Comment

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

 

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

 
2 Comments

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

 

Kingdom Found part 9 (story #52)

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

"Morty and Company" art by Eric jansen

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

Hee hee.

See you in six,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found