My Best Friend is a Prince from Another World



Pt. I, Ch. 12: “Whatever she thought was waiting for her here, it was worse than dying to her.”


Saturday evening
« Light of the Future », Old Feldaren

We were in a restaurant’s private room that Matsumoto had reserved for us; it was a fusion place, Terran European - Japanese - Feldarenese, and whatever “Light of the Future” meant (also written in Japanese and the local Old Imperial characters), the name literally was printed in angled quotes. Dinner was over, and we were taking a break before dessert.

“So, what did you think of His Majesty?” asked Legatus Matsumoto.

“He seemed very informal for royalty,” said Joel. “At least he didn’t seem badly hurt. Have you met him before?”

“Not in person,” she replied. “I’ve spoken to him using the same mirror you have, and over a secure phone line. He wasn’t informal with me, of course, but he was still very open and plain-spoken. We don’t see that very often in my line of work.”

Joel’s father asked her a question, “Have you ever had to deal with something like this before?”

“Like this, in what way?”

“Any of it, really.”

“I’ve been the trade representative to the US, essentially Mr. Hull’s counterpart, for a few years,” she said. “I haven’t personally worked with any other worlds through the Gate, but there are a handful of others with anchors where we trade openly.” She stopped to think for a moment. “I’ve got two other colleagues that handle them, with more than one each. It was all routine, before the King asked us to inquire with the brotherhood. He wanted to know if there was any truth to the rumors that they’d helped Princess Christina go to … what turned out to be to your world.”

“What about something like the present situation in Obdrest?” asked Joel’s father.

“Not personally, no. The Alliance has been formally at peace since its founding. Toyeri - that’s the continent across the ocean to the East - has not had an easy time the past 50 years, and some of my older colleagues have dealt with similar things, but never in an ally as critical as Obdrest.”

“Why is Obdrest so important? From what Joel has said, it’s a small country, and an ocean away,” he asked.

“It’s a very strategic one,” said Matsumoto, and she was about to say more when Dormer interrupted.

“Maybe Joel can explain it. He should understand this from the exam if nothing else,” he said.

“Ummm…” said Joel. “A lot of trade? And right off the coast of Shirek? Or is it Zirek? The bad guys, from the Slave Wars.”

I cringed a little, and fortunately Dormer corrected him. “Those are the capitals; the countries are Zir and Shir, but that’s basically correct. Our navy, and naval bases in our country we let the Union use, are a big part of making sure they don’t trouble the world again. We’re also a big part of keeping the Human Sea navigable and free of pirates and sea monsters.”

My dad’s jaw just about dropped to the table. “Did you just say sea monsters?”

I remembered that I had really wanted to get back to the Natural Science Museum; or better yet, take my folks to a zoo before they went home tomorrow. Then again, maybe seeing live dragons -- well, the lesser drakes that had been bred from them -- at the zoo was a terrible idea.

“I did,” said Dormer. “I realize your world is different, but in ours, only these two continents belong to humans, and only the nearer half of Toyeri and the flat parts of the Etciv, really.”

“Fascinating,” said my father. “Some of what Oliver and I were talking about on the flight over makes more sense now.”

It seemed like the adults were going to be talking for a while. I really wanted to get a chance to talk to Joel, and make sure he was really on board with staying with what we’d seen today.

Getting up from my seat, I said to Joel, “I want to get some fresh air. You want to go for a walk?”

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. He cocked his head to Dormer, who nodded back. Morgan hadn’t joined us at dinner, and I suspected he’d end up following from a safe distance, but we didn’t spot him while leaving. Old Feldaren was a neighborhood just to the far side (relative to where we were staying) of the capitol district, which was where we’d seen a bunch of tourist spots on our prior trip. It was also just south of the big bridge across the Great Darien. It seemed safe and Matsumoto had said it was a somewhat fashionable area. The streets were narrow, and the main shopping area was closed to car traffic for the evening; this restaurant was in what appeared to have once been a small apartment building, split across several floors. It had been a short walk from the nearest subway station.

I figured we’d head for the main shopping street. Coming from New York, it felt safely anonymous to talk in a crowd, but Joel indicated we should walk away the opposite way, toward the river instead. “I want to see the bridge,” he said, “and it’s too busy over there.”

Compared to the main drag, the residential part was quiet; a few folks were around, mostly older ones on their stoops, although we passed one person closer to our age out walking a dog. The buildings were narrow, stone or brick, mostly three or four floors; I could tell if they were big townhouses or small apartments.

“Dormer and Morgan have been telling me about security,” he continued, “and I can’t be too cautious right now.”

“Got it,” I said. “That was what I was going to ask you about. Are you still OK staying here?”

“Shoot, man, I wish I knew,” he said, and he let out a long breath. “I don’t know if I have a choice, really.”

“How can you not have a choice?”

“If I head home, this basically all disappears. I’m safe, but I go back to just being some guy at school. I never get to find out what my mom’s life was like, or if my life could have been different.” He shook his head. “My dad told me not to worry about him, and that things are going well with his business, but it’s like… this could change our lives, you know?”

“That sounds like you’ve decided.”

“I wish. I mean, I had. You know how excited I was. That whole thing today made the danger a lot more real, and how weird this place is.” We walked for a bit before he went on; we were getting close to the river. “My great uncle was OK, but I don’t think in our world he would have been. You don’t burn that much hair off and look OK, even if that wasn’t like the war movie face blown off thing.”

“You think they healed him with magic?” I asked.

Joel nodded.

I had encountered the idea of magical healing in the history textbook - not that they explained much about magic, I guess assuming whatever part of it was general knowledge, was general knowledge - but it only registered now. “Oh, crud,” I said, - well, something saltier to that effect - “if Anne had been over here, she’d probably be OK.”

“You don’t know that, Mark. Maybe she would have, or maybe they’d have missed it, too.”

We walked a bit longer, reaching the river. There was a clear view up to the bridge. It looked impressive from the air, but it was crazy large from here. The river on this side was wide enough that the far side was faint glimmers, and the suspension bridge looked impossible - just a pair of huge silvery-metal arches over the river from each side that joined in the center, and the roadway crossing below it, whatever cables it had invisible in the darkness.

“I had the same thought about my mom,” said Joel, “a while back when I was talking to Dormer about magic here. I asked him about what they could have done for her here, and what he said made a lot of sense, but it still bugs me.”

He went on. “Magic can cure cancer here, at least the normal kinds… and just like at home, it sounds like breast cancer is a real common one. It wasn’t all that sudden for her or anything, and she knew what they could do here. So, whatever she thought was waiting for her here, it was worse than dying to her.”

“I’m sorry, Joel, that’s rough.”

“I guess that’s what I really mean by I don’t have a choice,” Joel said. “Somebody as good as killed her, right?” I’ve always known Joel to be an easy-going guy; he could be enthusiastic at times, sometimes about dumb stuff, but I don’t think I had ever seen the expression or tone of voice he had now… very serious, very resolved. “Dormer was telling me after we talked to my great-uncle about some of the things they knew. For my mother, it’s not much, but they think all the stuff going on - her being driven away, all the deaths in the family, even the bombing today - that it’s all part of the same thing.”

“I don’t know that I can do much,” he said, “but I owe it to her to try to do something.”

“So, you’re staying?”

“Yeah,” he said. “How about you?”

I nodded. “Well, for the year I signed up for. NY is home, and whether I’m here or there as you said, ‘I’m just some guy,’ or more like ‘just some weirdo.’”

“Well, I’m glad to have you here for the year, and don’t put yourself down. You’re annoyingly smart and if you ever apply yourself, you’re going to do a lot more with your life than I ever would have back at home.”

“Thanks. I don’t know about that,” I said. “We should get back before our folks start to worry.”

“We should,” he said, and he looked around to make sure no one was nearby. “Besides, over here you’re the best friend of a future King. If nothing else, mark my words - no pun intended - before the year is over, we’re both going to have girlfriends.”

“No pun intended, my ass. What are you going to do, knight me?”

He laughed, I laughed, and we headed back to the restaurant in better spirits than we’d left it.


About the author


  • California, USA

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

Log in to comment
Log In