The Hero's Apprentice

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Ch. 14 The Heads Up

When Walter awoke, Drey was not beside him. In the stead he found he was in his own room. Home? No! He pleaded. It wasn’t a dream. Walter would’ve given his life to know that it had all been real. What had happened? Walter called out for Drey, and an old familiar voice told him Drey was safe. Walter was shocked to see himself, clad in his running outfit, drinking large gulps from a water bottle.

“Where’s Drey?”

“He tried to kill her so I relocated the both of you. It drained most of my power, so I’ll be stuck here for some time. You on the other hand have to go back.”

Walter was angry at this other him, and more importantly wanted to know if he had touched Drey.

“What’s going on?”

“Oh good, I was waiting for you to say that.”

Walter finally understood, this was some sort of trick that Rye was performing. Cro had said Rye might try to send him back or worse erase his memories. But that would be very difficult, and temporary amnesia was more likely. Walter rose off the bed and prepared to attack this illusion or trick of Ryes’ but this Walter somehow knew the exact spell he had in mind and dodged it and bound Walters’ whole body.

“That’s how I reacted when I was in your place in this situation. I’m not Rye, but I assure you he has caused a lot of problems since the wedding night and he is still a threat now.”

Walter knew that this guy if he was Rye or a minion could’ve finished him off already if he wanted. So Walter surrendered.

“You really shouldn’t attack unless you challenge a wizard first. Offense is more predictable than defense anyway. But you’ll learn all of this when you duel Rye.”

“Duel Rye?”

“I’m gonna send you back to the inn in a few minutes. I brought you here so you could pick up a few things you’ll need. But first you already know where the first thing is.”

Walter was freed from the binding and got up and eyed his other self as he went to the drawer and took his class ring out of its hiding place in the corner of a drawer, cleverly hidden in a folded bandana.

“Come over here so I can explain the situation.”

Walter saw that the other Walter was seated on the ground and was setting up a chess board. This bothered Walter, but he seated himself where the black pieces were. It made sense since white always goes first, and this Walter had obviously lived all of Walters’ history up to now and then some.

“You know how a chess match works, and that as the pieces are eliminated, soon only the king remains.”

“Yes!”

“When I send you back, Rye will challenge you to a duel. You cannot refuse and as a result both of you will be on this board so to speak. Rye wont be able to kill you, but he will try and take your pieces and make them his own. Not your standardized chess match, but that will be his strategy. I have my own strategy and so far it is working but it’s very tricky.”

“How?”

“Imagine I am the whites and you are the blacks. I’m the white king and the Drey I protect is the white queen. You are the black king and your Drey back at the inn is the black queen. Cro is our respected rooks and so on and so forth. If we attack each other, we’ll end up with fewer pieces, but supposed he never attack each other, never take pieces.”

“Then the chess match will never end.”

“Precisely, but what say we get Rye to attack himself, in the past, in the future, and even in the present?”

“Then he’ll loose pieces and get weaker.”

“Yes, so basically this was my move taking you here and moving Drey. Well that’s two moves but you get the picture. Now that I’ve moved you, I’m gonna move you both once more and then it’ll be Ryes’ turn, and I will have to wait a few turns to help you again. I’ll be stuck here until I can regenerate my magic. I knew it was risky, but I had no choice if I was going to beat Rye and the nasty spell he has cooked up for you when you get back.”

“What kind of spell?”

“A binding like the one I just did but very tricky, and a very long time getting yourself untangled out of. I wish I could just beat him now, but if we undo our old moves, then it’ll never end. The trick is to move forward whichever way that ends up being.”

“Will I go to the past?”

“You already know the answer is yes, but I can’t tell you anymore. I was fortunate enough to be schooled the way you are right now. But everything else has been a surprise. Besides, it’s no fun playing a game where you know everything that is gonna happen.”

“This is a game?”

“For Rye it is. He wont rest until he gets rid of you and me. You’ll see pretty soon. For now I’ve given you as much help as I can. I would’ve preferred waking up with Drey beside me but then this happened. I’ll send you back with the remainder of my power. But then I’ll be stranded here and I wont be able to do anything that amazing for a few days. I’m counting on you cause you are still at full strength.”

“Did Rye send me back here several times?”

“No more questions. Duel Rye, don’t undo anything you’ve already done, that’s all you need to deal a heavy blow, or even the deciding blow of this nasty business Rye is behind.”

“So I’ll bump into a younger Cro and younger Drey, and that has to happen at all costs?”

“Stay in the present as long as you can is the bottom line. And you know what the present is right?”

“Anything that hasn’t happened to me from my perspective.”

“Bingo.”

“What about now? Do I have to come back here and kidnap the younger me?”

“Have you gone back yet?”

“No!”

“Then just live until then.”

“Anything else besides the ring?”

“Tell them you’re going to a comic book convention.”

“Who?”

“You’ll find out in a bit.”

Walter was about to ask where Walters’ staff and tunic were but the other Walter raised his arms, closed his eyes tightly and spoke a mix of English and Andoish. In an instant Walter was back in the bed at the inn and Drey was there. I thought Walter had moved Drey? Live in the moment the other Walter had said. Seemed like a good idea considering the time on Walters’ watch. It was Friday 10:30pm in Ando. But wait! His watch was nine days off because of the travel back to the castle. So even if it was wrong it should say Sunday. And shouldn’t it be morning already in Ando? Walter then realized the other Walter must’ve reset the watch and put Walter back a few hours early. So it was ten thirty at night and he had been taken back to his wedding night. How many hours had he been back home? How many hours had he slept and in which place? And when was the exact time Walter had been taken by Walter? Drey stirred and asked if Walter couldn’t sleep. More like Walter didn’t need to sleep. Wherever and whenever he had been, Walter had got a good nights sleep and right before something even better. Now he had two choices. Get an extra nights sleep the same night, or get an extra night with Drey the same night. It wasn’t a difficult choice. And Drey never forgot that night, as did Walter.

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