A Hero's Journey

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Chapter 9

“I am happy to continue with my journey through time.” Mary, Crown Prince of Denmark

Stumbling around from the impact of the drop, the group takes some time to regain their balance and inspect their new surroundings. This time they have landed in a big forest with blooming flowers, growing fruits and enormous trees everywhere. The sky has a clear blue colour and the weather is a lot better than in 3528. Throwing their cloaks behind a few boulders they make their way towards what seems to be the exit of the forest. And after a few steps outside the forest their suspicions prove to be true, they have indeed landed in another time. However, it was not the era they were aiming for.
“Where are we?” Jude asks when they exit the forest.
“My timers indicate that we have landed in The Middle Ages.” Teddie responds as he scans the landscape, creating a land map in the progress. The map shows how the land almost looks divided in two. A northern and southern part only held together by a large bridge. On both parts are several villages, a large castle, a church and a few mountains and forests.

“What a beautiful place, look at all the flowers.” Relm exclaims.
“I think we should head for the nearest village and see what we can find. Teddie, lead the way.” Aiden says.
“All right, then let us continue to…” Teddie begins his sentence but is quickly interrupted when someone behind him unknowingly steps on a trap.
“Blake, look out!” Jude shouts while he jumps towards him, resulting in both of them landing on the ground with the set of arrows missing their heads by a few inches.
“Are you okay?” Jude asks the blind Shifter, helping him stand up.
“I…” Blake tries to answer before being interrupted by a worried Nia.
“Blake! What happened? Are you hurt? I don’t see any wounds. But are you really okay?”
“Yes! Nia, calm down, I’m okay. Jude helped me just in time.”
“It was nothing,” Jude comments with a wide grin.
“I am sorry. I did not pay attention to my surroundings and activated a trap, resulting in a dangerous situation for everyone. It will not happen again. Let us continue.” He calmly replies while he continues to follow Teddie towards the nearest village.
But as they are nearing it, another set of arrows is shot at their heads. Barely avoiding the set, they all turn around to look at Blake. However, after seeing the blind Shifter is just as confused as they are, they realise it couldn’t have been him again. Teddie, brushing the unusual events aside, tries to walk further which results in yet another problem.

Jumping from behind the trees and bushes, they are suddenly surrounded by a large group of knights. Clad in their grey armour, which is covered with typical details of The Middle Ages, they are pointing their weapons at them from every direction.
“Who wishes to enter the kingdom?” One of them, presumably the leader, asks.
“We, uh…” Teddie starts to answer but the moment he hesitates, the knight interrupts him.
“Thou shall speak up or our blades will be the last things you see before…” He threatens, raising his blade. Luckily, before he can continue, Jude interrupts the knight.
“W-We would like to tell you who we are and where we come from but I don’t think you’ll believe us,” he quickly steps in.
“And why would that be?”
“Well, it’s a really long story, sir.”
“Then thou shall tell us all about it during our trip to the castle.”
“Castle? Listen, we’ve got no time for this. So if you’ll just excuse us and…” Aiden says, getting annoyed by the knights’ behaviour.
“Thou dares talking to me with that tone of voice?” The knight asks, getting off his horse. After he takes his helmet off and places his shield on his horse’s back the, now even angrier, man begins walking straight towards Aiden. Since he had taken his helm off, Jude could now see what he really looked like. The knight has chin-length blond hair with some bangs above his bright blue eyes. He, surprisingly, seems to be around the same age as Aiden and Jude can hear Nia and Relm whisper to each other how they think he’s rather handsome.
“Yes. Yes, I do.” Aiden replies, now stepping forward as well. As the two men are standing face to face with each other, Jude notices how the knight seems to be only an inch taller than Blake but a good three inches shorter than Aiden.
“All right, let’s not get ourselves into trouble here, Aiden.” Relm suggests, sliding in between the two stubborn men. “I’m sure that we can tell you all about ourselves during that walk to the castle. That is, if you would please lower your weapons.”
“As you wish. But thou should watch thy mouth, Aiden.” The knight gives the stubborn Shifter a last glare before walking back to his horse.

Passing through the village they notice how the village square is a lot more crowded than the other parts. There seems to be some kind of festival going on and one of the big events is about to begin. Noticing how eager Relm is to catch a glimpse of it all, Jude decides to slow the knights down by asking a few questions about the festival.
“So, sir…”
“Glenn.” The knight finally reveals his name.
“Yes. Sir Glenn, what exactly is going on here today?”
“This festival is a tradition of our kingdom, the Millennial Fair. It lasts several days and is the perfect time to celebrate the existence of these lands by playing games, feasting and much more.” He explains while they stop to take a look at everything, just as Jude had planned.
“It sounds like a lot of fun.” Blake comments.

Looking around Jude manages to spot a few of the games. He sees a few men standing around a game that tests their strength, all trying to hit the striker with a hammer as hard as they can. A little further away he can spot a group of entertainers dancing in a rather unusual manner, most likely trying to represent cavemen. And, lastly, there’s a race that’s taking place right in front of them.
“I think one of the big events is about to start!” Relm cheers, jumping around with excitement.
“Ah, yes. If I am not mistaken, those two are the town’s genius and his daughter. They are getting ready to demonstrate one of their new creations. With the recent war going on, I must admit that they have helped us numerous times with their inventions.” Glenn explains.

Focusing on the direction Relm is pointing in, Jude eventually spots the purple haired girl and her father running around, making preparations for the demonstration. Strangely there is also a third person present. A red haired boy who’s, presumably, the same age as the girl. Standing next to the machine, he calmly listens to the girl giving him instructions from time to time.

“All right, that’s enough for now. Let’s continue towards the castle.” Glenn announces, starting to walk further. Though it was only in a split second, Jude did manage to catch the knight smiling. His smile however looked broken, as if he does not allow himself to feel happiness. This man must have been through a lot.

Continuing their little hike to the castle, they first pass through another forest before finally arriving at their destination. Towering above everything else, it stands on a hill in the middle of the forest. The castle appears to have around six floors, has dark red roofs and looks just as majestic as any other castle of The Middle Ages would. Entering through the enormous gates, they soon find themselves in a big hall with two thrones right in front of them.
“The king and queen will now hear the story of our visitors.” One of the servants calls out.
“Greetings strange travellers. As the current ruler of this kingdom I need to ask you. Who are you, what are your intentions here and how did you get here?” The king asks after he and the queen take place on the two thrones.
“Sir, my name is Jude and these people are my friends. Our ways of ending up in your kingdom are a little difficult to explain but we mean absolutely no harm.” Jude explains.
“And how do I know you are not lying to me?”
“We… We could help with some tasks. Just to help the kingdom.”
“I accept this offer. Still, I have but one question left.” The king replies.
“Sure, that’s no problem.”
“Who or what is standing next to you?”
Looking over his left shoulder Jude can make out the trembling shape of Teddie. He hadn’t thought about it but the bear-shaped android does stand out in this time period. Then again, don’t they all look rather odd to these people?
“That’s our friend Teddie.”
“Your friend has a rather strange way of dressing.”
“Yes, well he… he likes costumes.”
“I guess he can be our new mascot at the fair.” The king laughs.
“Sir, if I may, what would be the task you require of us?” Blake interrupts the conversation.
“Ah, yes the task… You seem equipped for battle, are you not?”
“I guess we are.” Jude remarks.
“Our kingdom is in the middle of a heavy war. It is us, the Kingdom of Zeal, against the Gestahlian Empire. Those barbarians have taken over the south and the large bridge connecting these lands. Our forces are almost outnumbered and we’ve suffered numerous of losses. Recently the Empire seems to have been able to get the help of some strange creatures. They are horrifying and devour everything in their way.”
“Devour everything in their way?” Jude asks: “Could these creatures be shadows?” He then whispers to Blake, who’s standing next to him.
“The description sounds familiar but we’ll have to see them to be sure.” He whispers back.
“Well, travellers? Will you help us in our war?”
“Yes, sir. We would be honoured.” Jude eventually answers.
“Splendid! Show our new visitors their rooms please.” The king orders, as he and the queen start to rise from their thrones.
“Oh, and feel free to explore the castle or the rest of the kingdom.” The queen reminds them.
Watching the king and queen leave with a whole squad of knights behind them, they quickly turn to each other for a small synopsis of the situation.
“So we’re actually in the Middle Ages?” Relm asks, amazed by the giant halls of the castle.
“Yes, and thanks to spiky over here, we are now helping out in a war.” Aiden adds.
“Well what was I supposed to say? Besides, they clearly need our help. They don’t even know what the shadows are or where they come from.” Jude clarifies his actions.
“Jude is right, he handled the situation the best he could. Plus, I don’t really mind staying here. The Middle Ages have always intrigued me. I mean we’re even staying in a castle.” Nia says.
“Exactly! I would like to go back to that fair we just passed through.” Relm responds.
“Do I really look strange?” Teddie suddenly interrupt the conversations with a sad look in his eyes.
“Of course you don’t Teddie, you just-
“I think thy costume looks great,” an unfamiliar voice comments.
Turning around, they see a friendly looking woman standing in front of them. She seems to be only two or three years older than Nia and Blake, around two inches shorter than Nia and she wears her long brown hair in a bun with a few pearls as accessories. The woman is dressed in long purple and white robes and wears a pair of dark brown boots. She has a very welcoming smile, but in her eyes hides a certain kind of sadness.
“You do?” Teddie hopefully asks with a smile, even though the woman is completely unfamiliar to him.
“Of course!” She replies with a soft smile while turning to the others: “Hello everyone, my name is Luna. As a maiden of this castle, I have been asked to escort you to your rooms.”
“Thank you but we wouldn’t want to-
“Oh, it is no burden. Come, follow me.” She says, already starting to walk away.

Making their way towards their rooms, they happen to pass by the kitchen where they can see the chef running around, complaining about the busy schedule and lousy servants. They also walk passed the dungeons, hearing the screams of the convicted and later pass a large, slightly ajar, door where a heated trial seems to be taking place. Taking a peek inside it Jude manages to spot a man with black spiky hair, wearing blue formal clothing. Standing next to him is a girl around his own age with really long straight black hair. She’s dressed in purple and white robes with a pink waistband and, after having spot the group, offers a friendly smile.

After finally reaching their rooms on the third floor of the castle, it appears that they’ve been divided into groups of two. In front of the three rooms there is a larger space that looks like a lobby. It has a fireplace, a chess set, a bookcase and a few sofas.
“Thank you for showing us our rooms, Miss Luna.” Jude thanks the maiden.
“You are welcome, and you can all just call me Luna.” Luna replies.
“So, how long have you been working for the king and queen?” Aiden asks, sitting down.
“Just recently, actually.”
“It really is a nice place.” Nia comments after the rest of the group also sits down in the lobby.
“Yes, it is. Now you should all rest. Helping our kingdom out in the middle of a war is not going to be very easy, I believe.” She jokes before she wishes them a good day and leaves.

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