CHAPTER 10 - Tropes (5)
Alex stared at the object in front of him. It faintly resembled a standalone hand scanner, but with a clear crystal orb in place of the scanner, itself. Sculpted from a single piece of what appeared to be steel, it had a broad base and small curved neck holding a circular top just above waist height.
He looked at Celia with confusion, and she pointed at the orb.
“Just place your hands on that; the Scribe will do the rest. Do not worry. It will not bite.”
Alex shrugged inwardly as he approached the stand. He didn’t see any point in being worried anymore. Without hesitation, he set his rough hands on the orb as instructed, and a faint gray smoke began to swirl inside.
The royals and Treya watched with keen interest as the smoke coalesced within, solidifying as it exited the orb between his hands.
A silver object like the one he had seen Treya holding earlier emerged, then floated up into the air in front of his chest. It hovered there, spinning slowly, glinting in the light of the chandeliers.
“Take your Plate, Alexander Jaeger.”
He nodded, releasing the orb and grasping the plate. It felt cold in his hands, and there was a faint tingle, like a bit of static electricity hitting his fingers. He flipped it over, idly wondering if he would be able to bring a similar technology back home.
‘Probably not. I was never very good at figuring out how this stuff worked.’
He couldn’t read the etchings on the front of the plate, and the back was perfectly smooth. He frowned at the realization that, though he could understand the spoken language, the written was as foreign as anything else.
Celia held out her hand, and Alex passed over the plate. She didn’t take the time to look at it, instead climbing the steps as her father and sister moved forward from their respective positions. Celia stopped at the top of the dais and handed over the plate.
Alex was holding his breath. Now was the moment of truth. Was he going to be sucked into something big and bothersome? Or was he going to be sent on his merry way, deemed useless since he didn’t have some specific status?
‘Could always be neither, Fenrir. Rule #3.’ ALICE’s voice reached him, even at this distance.
He nodded before realizing the others in the room might wonder why he was doing so.
‘There are always possibilities you haven’t considered. Think again and consider them.’
He continued to hold his breath as he watched the two princesses and the king look over the plate. They were talking quietly amongst themselves, and occasionally one or all of them would glance his way.
Something tickled the back of the combat veteran’s mind. Call it the intuition of the battlefield or paranoia. Whatever it was, he had learned long ago to listen to this little voice that told him he was in trouble. He thought about ‘calling’ ALICE, fighting the urge with all his might. If he showed hostility here, things would NOT end well.
As he continued to wait silently, the expressions of the trio of royals shifted through several emotions while they spoke in their hushed tones. He wanted to interrupt so badly but felt that such etiquette probably wasn’t allowed.
Finally, Celia took the plate back and descended the stairs. The smile on her face calmed his mind in some ways and excited it in others.
The news was good for them, at least.
But was it for him?
She reached him and handed the plate over. He took it and looked at it once more as if he’d suddenly be able to read the words on it now.
Alex looked up at the deep voice and met the gaze of the smiling king. The man seemed less… regal?... than before.
“You are not the hero my eldest daughter summoned. I can tell you have worried over this, even in this short time.”
Alex breathed a sigh of relief, and the sensation he hadn’t realized was missing from his fingers and toes returned.
‘Oh, shit, indeed.’
ALICE and he shared the words in that split moment before the king continued to speak as he descended the stairs. At this point, Alex noticed the hilt of a sword beneath the magnificent cloak the man wore, and his body tensed in anticipation.
“How would you like a job?”