Chapter 21:

How It All Began - Part 3

The Heroes' Story After Saving the World

Ah shit.

My body was hurting all over.

Guess it was just one of those days.

At least my awakening this time was much more pleasant.

I found myself on a bed in a dark room. My first thought was the cell of a dungeon, but for that it was much too comfortable.

Ahh, the luxury of a bed so comfortable you’d get back problems.

I lay there looking at the ceiling, either waiting for whatever would happen next, or thinking of what I could do next. A classic scene from many a show or video game played in my head, where the protagonist would wake up from their involuntary slumber and as if on cue (because it was) someone would walk in and say “Ah, you’re awake, I see”, or a variation thereof.

Over the next couple minutes (hours?) I proceeded to roll around the bed, nap some more, get up, do some stretches, discover a curtain that would only make way for the dark of the night until I finally broke and just opened the door to my room, which had a light shining through underneath.

It was a wooden door with a round metal knob, which thankfully didn’t give away my twisting it by making a sound. I was surprised at having to put some strength into pulling the door open.

My second guess regarding my whereabouts after the Dark Dungeon would have been the Tall Tower, usually reserved for the damsel in distress. The long corridor, to both sides of my door begged to disagree, however.

Despite the earlier attempt at murder, I was almost inclined to believe I was here as a guest.

The hallway was illuminated by candles placed on sockets in set intervals on the wall. The dim flickering light was almost hypnotic. I tried prying one of them from the walls to take with me but was unsuccessful.

“Ah, you’re awake, I see,” a female voice startled me while I was still gripping the candle socket with both hands.

I hastily let go of the metal, wiping my sweaty hands on my torn pants.

A familiar redhead ascended from the far right of the corridor and marched towards me. Behind her a big pointy hat peaked out a few centimeters above her head.

“Zenia,” I called out to her.

She wasn’t wearing the thick pelt over her shoulders anymore. Instead, she wore a dark brown blouse exposing most of her arms. Her hair was tied behind her back with a headband. It glistered in the flickering light.

The pointy hat behind her tilted to the side and revealed a woman a few years older than Zenia. Her brunette locks swayed to the side, and she pursed her lips as if to whistle.

“Hi there,” she said. “Err, sorry for startling you like that. I didn’t see you on that wall. Or intend to have you fall down from it.”

At first, I didn’t quite catch what she was saying. Then I remembered the view she offered me, and my gaze immediately shot downwards. My head went red in an instant and I was worried I’d faint, so I clumsily smacked my hand against the wall.

I swallowed, breathed in and out, and faced the two women again, who were now standing in front of me.

“You were flyiiiiiing!? On a BROOOOOOM!?”

I couldn’t contain it anymore and Zenia immediately shut me up by thrusting her hand into my face and pushing me back into the room, where I fell onto the wooden floor, flat on my ass.

I let out an embarrassing whimper and completed the fall onto my back.

“My poor butt ...”

That flying woman closed the door behind her and came into the room as well.

“Shut it,” Zenia threatened. “No-one except us knows we’re here and I’d like to keep it that way.”

Zenia squatted in front of me, while the other lady, who was much taller stood behind her, arms folded in front of her chest.

My mouth was gaping as I looked between the two.

The woman who almost killed me, and the woman who flew over me on a broom.

Now that I looked at her ... and the pointy hat ...

“Are you a witch?” I asked her, my voice cracking a bit.

“Oh, you can tell?” She asked me as if it wasn’t absolutely obvious.

Without giving me much time to formulate an answer, Zenia turned back to the witch and asked: “So, what do you say Jeanne?”

“Definitely human. Whatever your brother was blabbing about him being an incubus was utter ... you know what. Interestingly, I can’t seem to spot a single drop of magic in him. A pure-blooded human if I’ve ever seen one. Yet he could tell I was a witch as soon as he saw me.”

“Well, maybe it was because you flew above his head and startled him so much, that he fell off a wall,” Zenia said in a slightly reproachful manner.

“Oh right. That.”

“Still, a pure-blood? I couldn’t tell you where you could find those ...” Zenia muttered, as she scratched her chin, intently looking me in the eye. “Well, his hair certainly looks the part ...”

“I would appreciate you not talking over me, but instead to me, right? Now that we’ve established that I am not an... incubus? and we all speak the same language, I think that would be really cool.”

I finally found the courage to speak my mind. Zenia’s response however almost had me thinking she didn’t get a word at all.

“So, he’s not an incubus. In fact, he doesn’t possess any magic at all. Yet somehow, he managed to explode into the stable outside. Would you have an explanation for that, Jeanne?”

“Ouch, you could just ask me,” I objected.

“Yeah, maybe we should just ask him, because I’m stumped.”

For the two of them this must have seemed like some great mystery that needed to be solved, even though at this point the answer was plain obvious to me: I have been transported to another world. Would they believe me, however?

For now, I decided to tell them the facts as I knew them, while wrapping them in a package that would make the information easy to digest.

“So uhhh, I’m not from this world...”

Off to a great start, I know.

We just looked at each other and it was obvious that no-one knew what to say after that.

“Actually, never mind, just kidding...” I retracted my statement almost immediately.

“Actually, that might be the most plausible answer.” Jeanne nodded understandingly as she agreed with my outrageous statement.

I stared at her, eyes wide, and nodded along, hoping she’d elaborate.

Jeanne put her hands behind herself and paced across the room, looking through the window, momentarily standing behind me and bending over as if to inspect me more closely. Like an old man.

“You know your father every now and then asks me to pay a visit to the desert library, to pick up or deliver some documents for him?” Jeanne asked Zenia.

“Of course. Haven’t you brought me a souvenir or two from that place?”

“Right of course ...”

Though I couldn’t see Jeanne, as she was still standing behind me, the tone of her voice led me to assume she was lowering her head. She sounded nostalgic, or maybe simply deep in thought.

“In any case, I remember there being some books about something called the multiverse theory.”

I let out an unnatural sounding cough, as I resisted the urge to shout “objection!” I thought I was brought to a swords‘n‘magic fantasy world, and not having to deal with some whacky sci-fi concept. Though I suppose another world, another universe, possibly, would fall under the sci-fi umbrella. Still, I shut my mouth because more than anything I was interested in whatever explanation Jeanne had to offer, and possibly bounce off of that.

Dave Mania