To me, maybe a few minutes passed before Nenvari to did some magic awesomeness. His voice blared out to the whole country explaining that they had captured the Seirei Vohinthaslan’s Heir, Princess Yoishay and that he would negotiate her return in exchange for an immediate cease-fire and 100 years of peace.
From the hole Nenvari had made, we saw lines of light streak into the air and disappear.
“That’s it,” he said. They’re gone. “I suppose their princess is indeed beloved.”
Nenvari, Matt, Orin and myself walked through halls scorched from fighting to a throne room. Rubble from the ceiling and walls littered the floor. Blood bathed sections where there had been visible fighting but horrifyingly, no bodies lined the chamber to account for that much lifeblood.
Off to one side was the giant orange ball I had taken from a jadinfray cave.
“Hey, that was mine.”
“What?” Matt said. “That’s the thing we need to use to get back home. You had it, and you let it go?”
“I didn’t know what it was.” Now that I thought about it, Engra had been right. I really should have spent more time studying the objects I gave to Korren before handing them over.
After his speech and after he brought us all to this room, Nenvari stared at the elegant gold throne. He dusted the seat off as if he were just going along with what he needed to do.
I bit my lip. He was my enemy but he never really was. I walked over to him, leaving Orin and Matt bickering about something.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
He sucked in a deep breath and let it out.
“My father had been alive for thousands of years. You cannot comprehend living for that amount of time.”
I swallowed. “No, I can’t. Not really, but when I was in the mines, I died several times in a dark trap. It made me experience lifetimes of agony in moments.” I sucked in a breath. “I also died by mushroom traps. You have no idea how many times I’ve seen horrors, family members showing up, getting killed, killing me. Betraying me.” I choked up. My eyes started to water. “Everything I experienced in the mines was awful, but it’s nothing to actually losing a family member in such a horrible way. So, I am so very very sorry for your loss.”
He looked back at me, eyes wider than usual.
I wrapped my arms around him and gave him the squeeziest hug I could give. “It’s okay to cry when you’re ready,” I whispered.
He didn’t hug me back, so I released him.
He eyed me sideways, and a smirk appeared on his lips. I knew he was putting up a front, but whatever helped him deal with his father’s death, was alright by me.
“Oh, the straightforward Kelly Knight,” he began, his voice deep and full of meaning. “You are by far too bright.” He leaned towards me and whispered conspiratorially, “I’d love to steal away your light. And make a place for you in my kingdom this—“
“Prince Nenvari!” a shocked voice said from the left.
I jumped back by a foot at least.
A near monster appeared, dressed in red velvet with gold trimming and two messed up legs.
“What, Virtanen? Good help is hard to find, and I’m trying to appeal to Miss Knight to stay and...”
I shook my head, though my cheeks were burning for some reason. “I need to go home, Prince Nenvari. All of us need to.”
He sighed, “Then please, let me erase each of your memories.”
He sighed and took a moment to respond. “It will be difficult for you if you remember.”
“They’re my memories. If I lose them, it will be like losing the friends all over again. Besides, I’m also taking my inventory with me.”
“You can’t do that,” Virtanen said, and stepped toward me.
Nenvari held up a staying hand. “Because you saved me and protected my kingdom I will grant all three of you this request. Though it comes with steep consequences.”
“What do I need to pay?” I asked.
He shook his head. “The consequences are that you’ll live in a magicless world, and be unable to explain what you saw and experienced to anyone but each other.”
“You mean they won’t be able to hear my explanations?”
“No. They’ll hear them and think you’re all insane.”
I looked at Matt who gazed at me with wide eyes. “What do you say? I’m going to keep my memories, but you might be happier not remembering.” My eyes darted to Orin. “Or you.”
“It’s hard,” Matt said. “But I don’t want to forget, even if I can’t talk about it. And if I forget, who will you talk to?”
I bit my lip and hugged him.
“As if I’d let you take away my memories,” Orin said. “I like doing magic.”
“About that,” Nenvari said. “The realm you come from is near magicless. How this will affect each of you will be different.”
“Like me?” I asked. “Because my body is now a spurious one?”
Nenvari looked at his hands. “Because of the thrall that woman put me in, I don’t remember what I did to you. I apologize, but I won’t be able to turn you back.”
“I understand. I knew this would be the case a while ago, and I don’t hate you for it.”
“I do have one question,” Orin said.
Nenvari raised a brow.
“What are the white screens?”
He ran a finger down his cheek. “Hmmm. It’s something people see after they’ve been in the realm for a while. It happens in the larger and less controlled countries like mine. After a month, of being here and after the first time, you kill something while in Extreme Danger they can appear. Since you aren’t staying, don’t worry about them. They’ll go away as soon as you return home.”
The way he said, “Extreme Danger” sounded like he’d capitalized the first letters. I didn’t think much of it, and honestly, I just wanted to go home and see my mom and dad.
I awkwardly bowed to Nenvari and walked over to the orange ball. The others followed after me.
“Miss Knight,” he said.
I turned to him, and he tossed something at me. I caught it with Telekinesis and brought it towards me. It looked like a simple gold compact.
“Huh? What’s this?”
“If you ever change your mind about returning, or if you ever need some advice, use that to contact me.”
My face grew warm. I knew I should reject it. I would never come back here. But I put in my inventory and bowed to him deeply as my etiquette book said I should.
I turned back to the colossal orb. “So, how does this thing work?”
“Let me do it!” Matt said. He ran up to it, pressed his hands against the orb and concentrated so hard that he stuck his tongue out of the corner of his mouth. The image of just outside our home appeared. It looked so much smaller than I remembered and like a tornado had thrown debris all over it.
“Alright, now what?”
Orin took out a pouch and poured the contents all over the ball. A vortex appeared, and Matt jumped right in.
“Wait!” I called, but it was too late.
Orin jumped in after.
I took one last look at the long, sad figure sitting on his father’s throne before jumping in myself.