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Kingdom Found part 12 (story #55)

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

KINGDOM FOUND part 12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Get her to safety!" Art by Maria Gullickson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then she was gone.

TO BE CONCLUDED

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

See you in seven,

the SotWC

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

 

Kingdom Found part 11 (story #54)

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

KINGDOM FOUND part 11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What do you mean?” I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

“My mother?  You’re my mother!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“As long as you live,” I said.

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

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

“What words?” Amanda asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He could do it.  For the right woman.

TO BE CONTINUED

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

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

See you in six (or so)

the SotWC

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

 

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

 
2 Comments

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

 

Kingdom Found part 8 (story #51)

I’ll tell you something, I’ve actually been trying to figure out what’s gonna happen this week, and I have no idea.  I have come up with dozens of questions that I don’t know the answers to, so I am just gonna have to trust the story to tell itself after all.  Which is fine, since that’s the point of the club.  It’s just that the story is getting so big, I thought I needed to help it out some.  Well, the story isn’t listening to me, so I better resume listening to the story!

Here goes…

KINGDOM FOUND part 8

“What did you say?” I asked my mother.

“You’re wearing a prince’s armor,” she replied, “just like he said you would.”

I couldn’t believe my ears.  “What are you talking about?” I said, but she was already moving past me.  She stepped through the doorway and surveyed the people of Gold Legend gathering on the lawn and spread throughout the street.  Further up the street, the doctor’s army of trolls still approached, but their progress seemed to have slowed.  My mother searched the crowd with her eyes and finally settled on King Mountainlost.

“Hello, King,” she said.

“Greetings, my lady,” he replied.  “It has been some time, has it not?”

“Yes, it has,” she replied.  “Why have you come back now?”

“What?” I shouted before he could answer her.  “Mountainlost, you’ve been here before?  I thought the wall had never been breached before!  I thought only Amanda had crossed it, and maybe that awful doctor, if he’s not lying about it.”

“Oh, he’s not lying,” said the king.  “He knew of the wall long before I did.  I will tell you all, Prince Morty, but right now there is no time.  The trolls are almost upon us.  Please, trust me and hurry.”

“Trust you?” I said, near tears.  “Have you told the truth about anything?  For ten years you kept the truth from Amanda, and it seems you’ve told me half-truths at best!”

“We are at war, Prince Morty!  I told you what you needed to know.  And I’ve always told Amanda what I thought was in her best interest.”

Amanda started tugging on her chains and shouted, “told me what?  I’ve never met you before!  I don’t know what’s going on!”

My mother kept her gaze on Mountainlost.  She seemed to be trying to decide something.  Finally she spoke.  “You can’t have him,” she said.

“My lady,” Mountainlost replied, “he has come to us of his own free will.  It is done.  There is nothing you can do about it.  You know that.  He is wearing the armor already.  You know what that means!”

“Then I’ll take off the armor!” I said, and grabbed at one of my gauntlets.  But, at that moment, a cry went up from the back of our ranks.  The trolls were upon us.

The Man at Arms turned from our conversation and raced back up the street.  “Capture all you can!” he cried.  “Only kill in self-defense!”  Bibble-kins lowered his back for me to climb on, but I stood rooted to my front porch.  He looked at me sadly for a moment, and then turned and bounded up the street to help fight.  I looked at my mother and saw that she was crying.

“Mom,” I said, “what is going on?  I thought I understood, but now…”

“Oh, Morty,” she said, “he’s right.  You have to fight.  You have to go with them.  It’s time you found out the truth, but right now, you have to fight the king’s enemy.  Just like Nestra said you would.”

“Nestra said..?  How do you know the king and queen?  How did you know about the armor?  Mom, I don’t know what to do, here!”

“Yes, you do,” she said.  “Fight.  Fight for what is right.”

“I DON’T KNOW WHAT’S RIGHT!” I screamed, frustrated to my breaking point.

“Then trust your mother!” she yelled at me, and I could see she was getting angry.  “Yes, you deserve some answers, but this is not the time!  Now, go!”

I reluctantly drew my sword and  looked over at Amanda, but she would not return my gaze.  She was looking at the ground.  I walked over to her and put my hand beneath her chin, raising her eyes to mine.  “I’m sorry,” I said.  “I don’t know what happened to you, but I could really use your help right now.  I wish you could tell me what to do.”

Her eyes focused sternly on mine.  I figured she was about to yell at me again, but she didn’t.  To my great surprise, she said, “fight.  Like your mother said.  Fight the battle you must and get out of here as fast as you can.”

“Amanda?” I said, a lump in my throat.  “Is that you?”

“What?” she said, fear spreading across her face again.  “What do you want from me?  I’m just trying to help; I don’t know anything!  Just go do something before we all get killed!”

I looked from her face to mother’s and knew it was true; it was time to fight.  But what Amanda had said made me realize something, whether she had intended it or not.  We needed to get out of there.  This was not the final battle.  If nothing else, I had to convince Mountainlost of that.  My fight was not with the trolls right now.  My fight was with myself.  And with Mountainlost, if he wouldn’t listen to me.

I ran up the street pushing past terrified dancers who had not yet joined the fight.  I reached the edge of the battle and looked for Mountainlost.  He was there, right in the center.  The sight was similar to what I had witnessed at the gates of Gold Legend this morning.  Troops were fighting and knocking trolls every which way, trying to get them into sacks and capture them.  Except this morning, that plan had been working much better, for there had been less of them.  Now, the soldiers were overrun.  Even Bibble-kins was covered from head to toe with trolls.  They were gnawing on his legs and pulling on his fur.  The Man at Arms was buried under a pile of trolls and the king was covered from the waist down.  I saw that even Nestra was trying to join the fight.  I grabbed her by the arm.

“No, my queen,” I said, “stand back.  I will fight.”

She looked at me and cocked her head to the side.  “Are you sure you can?” she asked.

“Are you sure I can?” I said.

She smiled.  That was all the answer I needed.  I dove in.

The first thing I did was help the king.  I swept as many trolls off of him as I could, trying not to look into their shriveled little faces for fear that I would recognize someone.  He looked and saw that it was me, and a smile lit up his face.  “The cat!” was all I managed say, but he understood.  We both turned and began sweeping trolls off of Bibble-kins.  He, in turn, grabbed a mouthful of trolls off of the Man at Arms.  As the Man at Arms stood, I shouted to him, “sound the retreat!  Do it now!”

He looked at the king in confusion.  Mountainlost looked at me with fire in his eyes.  “Retreat?” he shouted.  “We are not an army of cowards!  If this is where the fight is to be–“

“But it’s not!” I shouted back, cutting him off.  “Look about you!  The doctor said this morning that Gold Legend was not the ground for the fight.  Well, I say THIS is not the ground for the fight!  And if it is, why is the doctor not here with the trolls?”

Mountainlost looked surprised for a moment, and then turned to look at the battle again.  He couldn’t argue with my observation.  How can a man have a final battle with his enemy when his enemy isn’t even there?  He nodded to the Man at Arms.

“Retreat!” the Man at Arms called out.  “Fall back to Prince Morty’s house!”

We turned and, though the king was right and we were no army of cowards, we ran.  Ran back down the street to where my mother and Amanda were waiting for us.  Or, rather, where they should have been waiting for us.  When we arrived at the house, they were not out front where I had left them.  Running inside, I called for them over and over.  They were nowhere to be found.  They were just gone.

Running outside again, I was about to tell the king to take the troops and continue down the street to evade the trolls, but when I looked up, I realized it wasn’t an issue.  The trolls hadn’t pursued us down the street.  They had, in fact, simply watched as we ran away.  When they saw me emerge from the house, all the trolls started pointing at me.  And they all started laughing.  It was a hideous sound, worse than the cheering I had heard earlier.  Then, they simply turned and ran in the other direction.  And I knew.  Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I knew.  The fight with the trolls had merely been a diversion.  He’d come and gone unnoticed.

Doctor Desnipes had taken Amanda and my mother.

TO BE CONTINUED

Okay, that works.  The mystery deepens, and the peril gets greater.  Sorry I didn’t trust you, story.  I’ll be better next week.

See you in seven,

the SotWC

 
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Posted by on March 23, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found

 

Kingdom Found part 7 (story #50)

Well, here we are again, and the ride continues.  Last week, Morty ordered an apparently amnesic Amanda to be taken into custody as Dr. Desnipes and his trolls began the invasion of this world.  Now, the army of Gold Legend is marching with no clear destination, hoping to save two worlds with no clear idea of how to do it.

Is their trust in Morty founded?  Let’s find out…

KINGDOM FOUND part 7

I decided that the best way to go would be to leave through the main entrance of the school parking lot.  With trolls headed in all directions, we could not pursue them all, but I had a feeling that finding out which way the doctor had gone was of paramount importance.  But as soon as we left the school grounds, I realized I had underestimated what we were dealing with.

We marched through the streets and were astounded at the level of desertion and destruction already apparent.  Hadn’t the doctor and his trolls arrived just moments before we had?  Yet as we neared the center of town, I saw no one human.  No one “real.”  There were trolls running from building to building, and they all seemed to be laughing at us.  But the screaming I had expected, the fighting and the horrified townspeople…  There was none of that.  Just smoke and destruction.

Amanda, chained at the wrists and pulled along with us, was dumbfounded.  As we passed the steps of the ruined town hall, she yelled up at me.

“What did you do?” she shouted.  “What’s happened to this city?  Where is everybody?”

"Just then, a troll came screaming out the front door..." Art by Josh Judd

Just then, a troll came screaming out the front door of the town hall.  Leaping through the air, he landed on my back.  With reflexes that surprised even me, I pulled him from my armor and hurled him to the ground.  In an instant, the Man at Arms was on top of him with a blade.  Disregarding the earlier order to capture and not kill the trolls, he ran the wretched little thing through.  As black blood once again flowed, I recognized the face of our mayor.  I had not known the man through anything but television ads, but it was surely him.

“Man at Arms,” I said wearily, “thank you for your quick reaction.  But, please, in the future, remember the princess’s edict to capture and not kill the trolls.  There may still be a way to save them.”

“But, sire,” he replied, “the doctor told the princess she was mistaken if she thought she could save any of them.”

“If all we have is the doctor’s word,” I said, “then I’ll wait until we have proof before I believe him.  Did your men bring any gunny sacks with them?”

“Yes, sire,” he said, and immediately gave the order to capture trolls if possible.

“Are you insane?” Amanda shouted up at me.  “You’re taking humans as prisoners and ordering your men NOT to kill those things?  What kind of leader are you?”

I turned and looked her in the eye.  “I am the leader you made me,” I responded.  Her look of confusion prompted me to continue.  “Somehow, Amanda, you will remember all this.  But, for now, please trust me.  I know you don’t think you have any reason to, but please try.”

She said nothing, and I turned to face forward again.  I heard her start to cry behind me, and I had to will myself not to turn around again.  There was much work to be done here, and I had no idea at all where to start.  But I knew if I turned and looked into her crying eyes, all I would want to do would be to help her.

I continued leading the troops forward through the city streets, hoping something would alert me to where we were most needed, or where we could find some answers.  My heart sank further with every step we took.  Trolls giggled and gibbered in the shadows of doorways, but no one else attacked us.  Before long, I heard Bibble-kins speaking to me over his shoulder.  “Prince Morty,” he said, “where did you live in this place?”

Of course.  Not knowing where to start, why not return home?  I realized I had not even wondered after my own parents safety until now.  I was so wrapped up in saving a kingdom, I had forgotten my own family!  “I’ll show you,” I said, leaning forward and rubbing him behind the ears.  Sitting up straight and looking behind me, I nodded to the king and he returned it.  “Follow me, people of Gold Legend!” I shouted and motioned everyone forward.

Bibble-kins raced through the streets at a gallop, led by my hands in his fur.  It worked as well as a bit in any horse’s mouth, and we arrived on my street in no time.  As we turned onto the street, I saw that there were no trolls to be found here.  My heart leaped until I looked behind us.  There, following the army of Gold Legend, was the doctor’s army of trolls.  I’d led them straight to my own street.

“Let us hurry!” Bibble-kins cried, and we bolted down the road.  It was early afternoon, so my father would not be home from work yet, but my mother would surely be there.  I could save her at least, and then we could figure out what to do.  As we raced down the street, those who were home stepped from their houses to marvel at the giant cat and the colorfully clad army.

“Go inside!” I shouted to them.  “Lock your doors, everyone, and don’t let anyone or anything in!  You have nothing to fear from us, but there are trolls coming!”

Some people, hearing the urgency in my voice, actually did what I said, which frankly surprised me.  Others stepped further out of their houses in confusion.  With single-minded purpose, I kept Bibble-kins headed towards my own house.  Was it selfish of me?  I suppose it was, but I was still trying to figure out the whole “leader” thing and my priority at that moment was my own mother.

Arriving at my house, we bounded across the lawn and I jumped down from Bibble-kins back.  I ran to the front door and flung it open.  The house looked normal.  The house looked fine.  I thought I had nothing to fear here.

My mother appeared at the end of the hallway and called, “who’s there?”  She stepped closer and saw that it was me even though I realized I must have been hard to recognize with my large, colorful armor on.  “Morty?” she said.  “What are you wearing?”

“It’s armor, Mom,” I said.  “Now, I know it’s hard to understand, but you’ve got to come with me.  And we have to hurry.  You’re in danger.  Everyone’s in danger.”

“Armor?” She said, and she reached out to touch it.  Then, with great sadness in her voice, she said, “of course it is.  It’s prince’s armor.  So, the time has come.”

TO BE CONTINUED

Hm.  I hope you’re not all disappointed at the brevity of this week’s installment, but if I am listening to the story correctly that is where this chapter ends.  If you want a little glimpse into the process I will tell you this: I tried writing beyond this point just because I thought the installment was too short and it just wasn’t working.  The music (“soundtrack”) seemed to be mocking my attempts to continue the story “on my own,” and nothing I was writing felt right.  So I gotta listen to the story and it says it’s over for this installment. It really is all going somewhere great there.  I keep getting glimpses of where we’re going and I’m very excited about it.  I guess I have to wait until next week to see how it unfolds, though!

See you in seven,

the SotWC

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

 

Kingdom Found part 6 (story #49)

Well, this doggone “Soundtrack” experiment keeps throwing me for a loop.  Last week, I really thought I knew where things were going, but twice in the story, the music told me something totally different from what I had expected was happening!  It should all add up to make this week’s installment (I have no delusions of this story wanting to end today) pretty interesting.  So here we GOOOOOOooooooooo!

KINGDOM FOUND part 6

“Amanda!” I cried, and urged Bibble-kins forward.  At first his shock was so great that he didn’t move at all but, as the king’s army and kingdom-full of people piled through the breach behind us, the great cat heard them and found his feet.  “Amanda!” I shouted again as we started forward, but she was already at the other end of the hall and heading out the front doors of the school.  The bright light of day coming into the unlit hallway made it hard to see too much out the doors, but I thought I saw Dr. Desnipes’s army of trolls moving away from the school.

Bibble-kins moved quickly from a hesitant trot to a full-out gallop and, just as I was about to shout again, he called her for me.  “My princess!” he cried as we closed on the front doors, “do not go out there!  Beware the trolls!  Beware the doctor!”

I looked back over my shoulder and saw Mountainlost and his people running bravely down the hall.  “What has happened?” he shouted to me, and I realized that they had not seen Amanda or her reaction to us.

Just before reaching the doors, Bibble-kins halted, realizing that while the double doors may have been wide enough to allow him through, they certainly were not tall enough to allow me to ride through on his back.  I leaped off of him and ran headlong out the doors.  “Amanda!” I cried one more time.

As she turned hesitantly to face me, I took in the sight of what was happening behind her.  Desnipes’s army was stretched out as far as the eye could see and running in all directions.  He was at the far end of the school parking lot waving them on and laughing maniacally.  Even as I watched, I saw a police car pull up onto the grounds.  The car stopped and two officers got out, clearly terrified.  Trying to ignore the trolls, both officers pulled their guns and aimed them at Desnipes.  My heart leaped for joy as they cautiously approached him.  Could his end be coming this quickly?  Could it be this easy?

Pretty naive of me, really.

The Doctor turned to them, never losing his smile.  I heard one of the cops shout something – I think it was “hold it, buddy!  Don’t move!” – and then it was over in a flash.  Two dozen trolls at least turned and were on the cops in the blink of an eye.  I screamed a warning far too late, and the officers hit the ground.  I drew my sword and was about to rush to their aid when I saw them rising from the ground.  Not standing up of their own accord, but literally rising from the ground.  The trolls weren’t killing them, they were holding them aloft.  Holding them up to the doctor.

I looked at Amanda, standing at the bottom of the small rise of steps I was on.  She was looking at me curiously, and I thought that perhaps there was some recognition in her eyes.  Then she turned and looked out at the doctor and the officers, ignoring me completely.

I followed her gaze and almost dropped my sword.  The doctor had taken a drink of some liquid from a flask and was in the process of spitting it on the police officers.  They screamed for a moment and all of the trolls began to cheer.  The sound chilled me to my bones.

The police officers writhed in the arms of the trolls for a moment and then began to shrink and shrivel.  Their clothes dropped off of them like rags and, within mere moments, they were part of the doctor’s army.

“So, that’s how he does it,” a voice said from behind me.  I turned and saw that Bibble-kins had come out the double doors and seen the same thing I had.  The king and the others were filing out now as well.  “I’d never seen it done before,” Bibble-kins continued, “the troll-making.  I’d always though it would take longer or be more involved.  At least be more magical.”

The king put his hand on Bibble-kins’ neck.  “But everyone in the princess’s school was turned so quickly this morning,” he said, “we knew he must have found a way to speed up the process.  And it appears you are right, Prince Morty.  He does use a potion of some sort.  The potion must create fealty at the same time it alters the body.  I think ten years ago, the process must have taken longer, which is why Mildred showed such devotion to him as she left us…”

His words trailed off as he finally saw Amanda standing at the base of the stairs.  She was still looking out at the doctor and his new trolls.  “Daughter!” the king cried, and bounded down the steps towards her.

“No, my king!” I yelled and was, once again, too late.  He spun her around and looked into her eyes.  They were wide with fear and she screamed right in his face.

“Who are you?” she said again.  “Leave me alone!  What do you want from me?”

“But, daughter,” Mountainlost said, practically choking on his words, “how can you not know me?  Just this day you have led my army in battle!  Do you not recognize your cat?  Your mate?  And your sworn enemy?  Does he mean nothing to you?”

“Sworn enemy?  I don’t even know what’s going on!  What are all these things?  My mate?  My cat?  You’re crazy!  I never led an army; I don’t even know what I’m doing here!”

She shook loose of his grasp and turned away, and there he was: The doctor.  He had closed the distance from the far end of the parking lot while we were watching the exchange between the king and Amanda.  At his feet, the two new little cop-trolls grinned up at us, shaking their shrivelled little fists.

"Is this man bothering you, my dear?" Art by Libby Barringer

“Is this man bothering you, my dear?” Desnipes asked in a smooth tone.

“No,” Amanda said, “I mean, yes, but…  I don’t know what’s going on.  Will somebody please tell me what’s going on?”

Desnipes put his arm around her shoulder and cooed.  “Oh, don’t you worry, my dear.  Everything is going to be all right.  You don’t need to worry about my little children, or about these strangely dressed people.  You don’t need to worry about anything.”

I could stand no more.  Leaping down the steps I cried, “take your hands off of her!”  He backed off a little, surprised at my assertiveness.  Amanda looked surprised as well, but she did not back away.  “Listen, you monster,” I said, “she may not remember me, and she may not remember her father or her people, but she’s still a princess.  She’s still our princess.  And you’d better stay away from her, or I’ll kill you twice.”

Regaining his composure, the doctor laced his fingers together underneath his chin and said, “that would be a neat trick.”  With that he turned and started back across the parking lot, followed by his newest trolls as the others fanned out in all directions.

Amanda just stared at me.  The recognition I thought I had seen in her eyes before was nowhere to be seen and any part of her that had been impressed with my sudden defensiveness for her was still overshadowed by her confusion.  I shook my head and tried to think of what to say to her, but Mountainlost spoke up before I could say anything.

“He’s enchanted her, hasn’t he, Prince Morty?” he asked.

“Queen Nestra?” I said, and she stepped forward.  “Can you sense any enchantment about her?  Can you break it if there is one?”

Nestra looked at Amanda and then closed her eyes.  Raising her arms, she felt the air all around Amanda’s head and shoulders.  She whispered things to herself and I could feel an almost electric energy all around us.  After a few moments, Nestra dropped her arms.  Her head sagged.  And then she began to cry.

“There is no enchantment here,” she said.

I looked at Amanda, who was more confused than ever.  I looked at Mountainlost and read a defeat in his eyes greater than what I had seen after her disappearance in the council chamber.  I looked at Bibble-kins, who didn’t seem to really understand what was happening.

“Princess,” he said with a tentative smile, “don’t you even remember me?”

“A talking cat?” she said with a nervous laugh.  “No, I think I would remember knowing a talking cat.”

I leaned on my sword and looked all around me and suddenly realized it was up to me to make a decision, here.  The king had said he would follow where I led, and that his people would follow as well.  And the fact was that, whatever had happened to Amanda, my entire world was in danger right now.  Doctor Desnipes had wanted to take over the world of Gold Legend for years, and somehow had found a “key” into our world this morning.  Now taking over our world was his goal and, for all I knew, it was the final step to taking over Gold Legend.  There was a link between our worlds that I didn’t understand.  But I realized I didn’t need to understand everything.  And neither did Amanda.  But both of us needed to move, whether she knew why or not.

Turning to the Man at Arms, I shouted, “take the princess into custody!  We need to move, and we dare not lose contact with her.”  The Man at Arms looked at the king, and the king looked at me.

“Are you mad?” he asked.  “Take the princess prisoner?”

“Not as a prisoner,” I explained, “but as a treasure of the kingdom.  We will figure out how to get her memory back later.  For now, we have a war to fight, my king.  We’ve seen our enemy walk away from us twice today.  I am not prepared to stand by while he runs riot over my home world.”  Turning again to the Man at Arms, I simply finished with, “do it.”

He stepped forward and grabbed Amanda by the arms.  “What are you doing?” she shouted, “you’re serious?  You’re going to take me prisoner?  I haven’t done anything!  I don’t know what’s happening!”

I looked into her vacant, scared eyes that had never before known a talking cat or a fairy king’s castle and said, “it’s for your own good.”  Reaching up and grabbing ahold of Bibble-kins’ fur, I pulled myself onto his back.  Looking back at the army behind me, I cried, “we march!  We must find the doctor!”

And we marched.  To where I did not know.  The doctor was already gone from view.  Man, he could move fast.  I chalked it up as one of many things that didn’t make sense.  The trolls were gone in all directions.  The doctor had disappeared.  But we marched.

With no sure destination, a scared boy in the lead, and our own princess as  prisoner of war, we marched.

TO BE CONTINUED

Well, no major twists this week, except Morty taking Amanda as a prisoner of war.  As I’ve grown so fond of saying in the past few weeks, I didn’t see that one coming.  I hope we’re starting to barrel towards a climactic battle or something here.  Maybe at some point soon we’ll actually get caught up to where the story began.  Anyway, I hope I did okay this week, what with STILL being sick and all.  Now I wanna go to bed.  See you next week.

See you in seven,

The SotWC

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 9, 2010 in Fantasy, Kingdom Found