Chapter 27:

How It All Began - Part 9

The Heroes' Story After Saving the World

The king rose from his throne.

“Dear friends, dear family, dear guests. I am happy to welcome you to our yearly winter ball. A tradition that has been upheld for generations, that shall not be disrupted, despite our current situation. And even in the face of a tragedy. As you will all know, this will be the first ball with me as king, and without my dearly departed wife at my side. But with one life ended, another shall begin. And the death of our queen reminded me once more of my own mortality. And thus, it is once more upon me to announce, that my dear son and daughter are of child-bearing age. And since the death of my wife has left me a widower, it is the privilege of my daughter to have the first dance.”

The room was momentarily filled with applause.

“That was not what I intended, but it might work in our favor,” Zenia commented in my mind with a pinch of salt.

“I’d rate his speech a 6/10,” I thought, which elicited a small chuckle from both of them.

As the clapping subsided, the king took over the attention of the crowd once more.

In the mean time masked servants had appeared between the throne and the seats, carrying champagne flutes on silver trays. As he grabbed one of them the king rose from his seat.

“And with the first dance this ball shall be declared open.”

More applause filled the room with some of the guests raising their glasses at the king.

The light was dimmed save for a spot in the middle of the ballroom, which was illuminated by a cone of light. The guests promptly moved out of the way to make place for the opening dance.

“Come now,” Zenia called out to me as she stood up from her seat. I quickly stepped around the chair, and we hooked our arms, after which she led me to the dance floor.

We put ourselves in position. She subtly led my hands to wherever they would be needed.

“I think it’s time I point out I don’t really know how to dance,” I admitted.

“Don’t worry, just follow my lead,” she told me.

“Well, that’s what I did the entire evening, no?”

“See? You’ll be fine then.”

The strings picked up again, and I was swept away by her immediately. Though I have felt her force when she threw me into that shed a couple hours prior, now she actually dragged me around using her bare arms. To be fair I was rather lanky, but still, it’s not something you’d expect to happen.

I unsuccessfully tried not to trip over my own feet, but after a short while I managed to get used to the rhythm, and it was as if I automatically knew when to take short or long steps. I was pretty sure my feet never stepped on the spots they were supposed to be in at the right time, but something told me the onlookers were either preoccupied with each other, or not looking at our feet anyway. At least I was sure I couldn’t tell if someone else mis stepped. Just like I couldn’t tell if one person in an orchestra played a false note.

I wondered if Zenia and Jeanne could hear my thoughts at that moment.

I didn’t get an immediate response, so I just assumed, that no, that wasn’t the case.

As we danced, my eyes were fixed on her face. That much I knew about dancing, that you should look at your partner, not at your feet. The fact that we both wore masks made it much easier to not break my stare.

“So, should we do some magic?”

I couldn’t tell how long we danced for when Zenia asked this.

“Who am I to object?”

“You heard us Jeanne. Time to get this party started.”

Just as I thought things were about to get crazy however the music stopped. Zenia had tossed me away from her, still holding onto my hand. Her free arm was stretched away from her in a triumphant pose, and I quickly did the same. Applause followed and we both walked back onto the stage, leaving me a tad confused.

Before Zenia even had the chance to sit down the music picked up again. The room was fully illuminated again, and the music took on a lighter, more casual note, accompanying the chatter that was about to pick up again.

As I was about to position myself behind Zenia once more, my gaze wandered over to Jeanne who leaned over to whisper something in Sirius ear. As she leaned forward her luscious curls receded, leaving her with short dark hair. Her dress transformed into a suit and her face ... turned into mine.

“Would like some more to drink?” she asked. Her voice didn’t actually reach my ears. Instead, the question was transmitted telepathically into my mind.

Sirius jolted towards the side, his arm almost slipping of the armrest. He looked at Jeanne, the spitting image of me, then looked back at me.

“What’s that ruckus?” his father questioned him.

The voice got stuck in Sirius’ throat, as he looked at his father and then into the ballroom, wide-eyed. His gaze darted towards me, already positioned behind Zenia. Our eyes met for a brief second, before I looked away and into the room, where dozens of people with my masked face were dancing along to the music unbothered.

I looked him in the eyes again, slowly taking off my mask.

“Do you understand now?”

He gasped and uttered: “No, it can’t be ...”

“Sirius, get a grip,” the king scolded his son, but turned to look at me as well.

“Hrm?” He raised a questioning eyebrow at seeing myself unmasked.

“Father, I believe there is someone I need to introduce to you,” Zenia announced.

I walked in front of the throne to kneel in front of and properly greet the king. I tried to mimic the way Sirius greeted his father earlier.

“Your majesty.” I wasn’t sure if that was the proper way to address the king in this world, but I had to wing it and hoped to impress with unwavering confidence. Though in truth I was shaking internally, my limbs getting cold and ... the whole package.

“My name is Jordan, and I was summoned from another world.”

Dave Mania