My Best Friend is a Prince from Another World



Pt. I, Ch. 5B: “A friend of Joel’s who could remind him of home”


Queen Sara Memorial Academy, Feldaren, Union of the Etciv
Main Administration building

The Foreign Service officer, Hull, decided to strike up a conversation with me. “That book you were reading on the bus — did I see right that it was a biography of their first emperor?”

“Yeah,” I said.

When I didn’t say anything more, he asked, “What do you think of it?”

“It’s pretty good. I’m not very far along, but it’s an easy read. If you mean the subject, it’s really hard to wrap my head around the way they’re describing him.”

“How so?”

“Nothing about his story makes sense. If he’d lived longer ago, it would be pretty easy to write him off as a legendary figure like King Arthur, but he didn’t really live that long ago. Especially around here. From what I can see, they recorded history better than we did.” I pointed out what appeared to be a photo in the book. “They had magic that worked basically like a camera in his lifetime, so it’s not even like we just have a painting of the guy like we would someone who lived the same time back on Earth.”

“I’ve read his entry in the encyclopedia they provided,” said Hull, “and I’ve read some of my predecessors’ notes about Joel’s mother and this place. I’m still not sure he’s any harder to believe in than anything else we’ve learned about this world. Does the author there take a side on one of the theories about where he came from?”

“Yes,” I said, “the author thinks he must have come from a more technologically advanced world, one of those occasional arrivals that the Legatus was telling us about. It makes sense.”

“Why do you think that it makes sense?”

“If he’d just invented gunpowder it would be one thing, but he jumped over a lot of steps, and it’s not like that was his only invention. It’s straight out of Connecticut Yankee.

Hull laughed. “That’s an interesting way of putting it.”

“Well, it’s the original. I read a lot of science fiction, and there are more books on that theme — modern guy goes back to the past. Usually becomes crazy powerful. I liked Lest Darkness Fall better than most because the main character in that one doesn’t succeed at everything he tries.”

“It sounds like their first emperor pretty much succeeded at everything,” said Hull.

“Yeah, pretty much,” I said, “or at least until he tried to fight one dragon too many. At almost 120 years old, if the stories are true.” I shook my head. “That would not be believable if someone put it in a novel.”

“And yet it’s accepted as history here. It’s an interesting place; I’m looking forward to my posting.”

“Your colleague, Agent Delgado, said your goal was to set up more trade with the US?”

“If I can, yes,” said Hull. “Getting some American students over here to study and share our culture and values would be a good start.”

“Some students?” I asked. “It’s just going to be Joel, right?”

“That’s the plan for now,” he said. “It would be good to have more. Like a friend of Joel’s who could remind him of home, given that he’s got a career path that leads him away. It’s something you could consider.”

I shook my head. “This place has been interesting to visit, but my moving here sounds like a bad idea.”

Hull shrugged. “I don’t know for certain that we could make the arrangements, but it would be a good thing for our long-term presence here, and I think it would be good for Joel.” He stopped for a moment, took out a business card, and gave it to me. “Just think about it. It would probably look good on college applications for you, too.”

Joel and his parents were in the office for a few more minutes. They didn’t look unhappy when they came out, but I’ve never been good at reading people. The group — Legatus Matsumoto and Count Dormer especially — said their goodbyes to the Dean and Head of School, and we headed out.

We took the bus a few minutes away to a large parking lot, where the flying carriage — or perhaps another one like it — awaited us. Matsumoto let us know that this was the last stop, and that she’d be staying here, as would Hull. Morgan would accompany us, and then double back once we were through the gate.

The flight back was not so novel as the one out, and there was less to see from this end of the suburbs out to the Gate complex. It was still mid-afternoon, and two weeks ago the Legatus had said we might be returning after dinner time. I asked Brother Oliver about that, and he told me, “The gate’s schedule is variable, but we can predict it in advance within an hour or two of accuracy. Today, things aligned to both open and close earlier in the day than usual.”

“What things aligned?” I asked.

“Some of the magical forces involved. It’s not my area of specialty so my trying to explain it wouldn’t do justice to the topic, even if you had the background to understand it. A big part of it, though, is literally gravitation and celestial bodies.

“Every habitable alternate world we’ve found, including yours and this one, has the same solar year. Most, but not all of them, are in sync with our seasons. The moon, or moons, vary a lot more, as does the rest of the solar system. Your world, and the one the main gate event came from, has only one moon, and a relatively large one. Our world has two. The larger is not so different from yours, but it’s got a smaller companion, farther out.

“We’re not clear on why it matters, but the alignment of the two lunar schedules correlates pretty closely with the limits of how long we easily can keep the Gate open, and how often it will reopen.”

“Interesting,” I said. “So, if Joel comes to school here, he’d only be able to come home if he had a two-week vacation that aligned with the openings?”

Brother Oliver nodded. “Mostly, yes. There are a few alignments every year where it will naturally open more frequently, and if there is an anchor, like with your world, we can open it out of schedule if we’re willing to spend enough magic on it. There’s been discussion of that as a contingency plan, if Joel comes here and ends up in danger.”

“Thanks. Is this something I could learn more about?”

“Unless you move here and then join the Brotherhood, probably not much more. Having people from another world here has always been a one-way trip in the past, or vice versa in very few cases like Joel’s mother’s. We’ve opened up more about the general workings of the Gate than we have in the past, just to allow the possibility of formalizing relations with your world.

“We’ve kept most of the details about the Gate secret for as long as it’s existed, and I don’t see us changing that any more than we have to.”

“Ah, bummer,” I said, and figured it was time to read some more of my book.

June 1st
Queen Sara Memorial Academy
Classroom 1-D, before school

Jack Allard and Kai Matsumoto were nearly inseparable friends since elementary school, and as usual before class they were discussing Jack’s favorite subject — girls. “I hope there are some cute first years in the fall,” said Jack.

“You do realize your sister is going to be a first-year next fall,” said Kai.

“Maybe she’ll have some cute friends she can introduce me to!”

“Maybe she’ll tell her friends to watch out for her older brother,” said Kai.

Jack rolled his eyes. “That would be just like Tika, but a guy can dream, can’t he?”

“You’re taking Mia not coming back pretty well.” Jack was on the soccer team, and Mia was their year and had been manager for the soccer team… still would be for the next month, although the season was over now, and they’d all be busy with exams soon.

Jack had an on-and-off crush on her since middle school, but never acted on it; Kai had wondered if it was mutual, and if so, if Jack had been the reason she had volunteered as the manager this year. Her family was from Obdrest, and they were moving back there over the summer.

“I never had a chance with her,” said Jack, letting his breath out.

“Not too late to ask her out,” said Kai.

“A whirlwind summer romance, before she leaves?” Jack laughed. “More like ‘shot down’, and too busy with exams and moving even if she wanted to.”

Kai shrugged.

Jack went on. “Hey, why don’t you ask Amy out over the summer.”

“I do NOT like Amy like that,” said Kai.


About the author


  • California, USA

Bio: Amateur SF/fantasy writer. Professional computer geek. Something of a grouchy old man, but mostly harmless.

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