Ch. 18 Walters’ Roommates
Cro hated himself for being off guard during his moment of usefulness. He hadn’t anticipated being attacked by a force other than Walter or Rye, and now it had happened. Just another lesson to learn by sad experience. Cro would’ve continued his self punishment had he and Princess Drey not found themselves in an odd looking room. The place was very cold for one thing, and littered with books, clothes, a large mirror, and a desk with a large volume in the middle opened to the most recent entry on the left, and a blank page on the right, which would obviously be filled in time. Cro sat himself down and began to analyze it, making sure to turn it back to the current page should the owner return at any minute. Drey eyed the mirror and was impressed how large and superior it was to the hand held one she used back at the castle. Cro had a hard time reading the entry, but that was mostly because the page was about it being hot outside, and something about deliveries and packages. Cro figured it was nothing more than a business archive until he saw the name on the front in gold letters. Walter Redd.
Two words that together made perfect coherent sense to Cro now. He could read Walters’ name because he had etched it into his mind the moment Walter said it to him back at the academy. He had tried to learn English with Walter, but could only learn so much because Walter didn’t have any books for Cro to read, just a few scribbles on paper and in the dirt and sand, which was scarce in the forest. Cro restored the book to its original state and began scanning the room. This must be Walters’ world, and this was where Walter had lived before coming to Ando. Cro had to keep himself calm because he had dreamed about visiting this place. Only he had hoped Walter would be there to guide him through it. Instead he was here with Drey and he knew that sooner or later they would have to leave because Walter was in trouble somewhere and was counting on Cro to some degree to help by either protecting Drey or following the duel he was supposed to call time on. Cro decided he would at least study the room, but nothing beyond that. The last thing he wanted was to cause trouble in some world unknown to him. Walter would lecture him, or worse, Cro would get into some trouble where his magic was useless and then Walter would have to be the one to save them if he ever got back here or came searching for them.
Drey had started already with the exploring of Walters’ room. She looked at the pictures on Walters’ walls and was amazed at the detail. She went up to the air conditioner and was puzzled as to how the wind was being made, and at such a cold temperature. Cro listened and realized that this entire room was booming with all sorts of magic. It was just magic Cro didn’t sense very much. The magic wind spell was the least of their problems. Cro pulled what appeared to be a door and found that it was in fact a door to a box full of cold air and what seemed to be ingredients and potions of some sort. Cro grabbed an odd transparent gourd that appeared to have a white liquid that looked very much like milk in it. It turned out to be precisely that. Cro was delighted, the beverages were cold, and rightly so in order that they would spoil slower. Cro knew that meat didn’t go bad as quickly in the winter, and found that in this door and the one next to it, winter was somehow being preserved so that it could keep the food from spoiling. The wizard who had done this must’ve been smarter than most. Cro got an even bigger shock when he entered another room and found that a metal lever produced a seemingly endless supply of water. Walter had his own private well, and a room where winter seemed to be at his disposal at anytime. Why on earth would Walter ever want to leave a place with so much magic? Just another long list of questions Cro would ask Walter if and when he got back. Drey was frightened when she pressed the odd white outgrowth on the wall, but found that moving it up and down made the ceiling go from having suns to having darkness. Cro was starting to get very mad at Walter. He had control over night and day in his room, and somehow he had convinced himself that he couldn’t do any of the things he wanted Cro and Rye to teach him.
Cro turned off the small suns, closed the winter room, and turned the artificial river off and prepared to leave. Walters’ abode had wowed Drey and Walter enough. If they went outside they’d have heart attacks, Cro was sure of it. Cro knew getting home would be pricey, but there was no way they could risk being here any longer. The dangers were unknown, and Cro vowed he’d only come back if Walter filled in the questions he asked. Cro was preparing to draw runes on the carpet, which was the entire floor instead of a small square mat when he heard a noise at the apartment door. Cro darted into the closet with Drey knowing he’d never finish the spell in time. Before the key turned to unlock the apartment, Cro instructed Drey to not make a noise no matter what. Both gotta shock when they saw Walter walk in. An older Walter, the one who had shown up at the castle with Rye nine days ago. Peering through the gaps in the closet, Cro and Drey watched as Walter made it daytime, removed his shoes, prepared a meal from the winter box. Used the river while using a brush on his teeth. That confused both Cro and Drey, and finally saw Walter sit at his desk just starting at the clock and writing an entry in the large tomb.
This Walter was strange, not just because he rubbed white foam on his teeth. But because he was melancholy in appearance and face. Cro had never seen Walter like this. It made Cro wonder if there were some kind of war or plague outside that was making Walter so miserable. Cro was eager to talk to Walter, as was Drey. But Cro knew that this Walter hadn’t met them yet, he’d neither recognize them or be able to speak Andoish with them. Their English might work, but their story would be difficult for him to believe, and even if it did excite him and he asked to come along. That was already going to happen. The worse thing Cro imagined was bringing this Walter home and then finding another Walter showing up in the same place. That would complicate things. So in spite of the temptation to ask Walter about his world, Cro stayed silent. Cros’ answers were all right in front of him, and yet if he tried to obtain them, he would ruin everything. He’d never meet Walter, at least not the Walter that would train him. Or worse, Rye would summon another Walter or some other thing to Ando. The possibilities were terrifying and tempting at the same time. Cro almost found himself trying to feed the Walter at his desk ideas, but stopped himself. Walter had promised answers, this at least was a little more than Cro had ever hoped to get.
What happened next had happened only minutes ago both to Walter and Rye and Cro and Drey. Walter had torn a page out of his book and then vanished. Drey ran out of the closet because she finally couldn’t resist not trying to tell Walter everything again. But she had been too late, and Cro eyed the torn sheet Walter had just written. He tried reading it out loud for Drey to try and understand. Cro was stunned, this entry was different than the boring ones. Walter was upset, sad, and it really did sound like he was invoking some spell for the very first time. One that had all his emotions in it. Emotions that were sad, dark, eager to find relief. But if so, why had they found Rye? Even stranger, the thing Walter wanted had been in his closet of all places at the moment he wanted it. And the spell had taken him away from the very thing he wanted. Cro knew this was some serious magic working several wills at once. But there was a plus to Cro and Dreys’ little adventure. Walter had vanished but not without leaving a trail. Cro knew Walters’ scent, even if it was a younger and yet older Walter. Cro could use it to get them home. But he’d be sure to make it the correct time so they would not appear in front of Rye like the Walter who had just begun his journey.
Cro was content. The first half of Walters’ life was no different from Cros’. He had wanted something more to happen, wanted a chance to be a part of something that he would never forget and never regret. Cro was mad at himself one last time for ever trying to judge Walter who had suffered just as much as him, only in some world where the magic didn’t appeal to him, and his true desire was just to be with someone who would explain it to him clearly. Cro felt spoiled. Walter had opted to stay with Cro when he asked. Now Walter was off battling Rye somewhere not because he didn’t care about Cro and Drey, but because he and the person who had just sent them to Walters’ world wanted them safe and alive for them to see one day. Cro vowed he’d save Walter to Drey. Drey nodded her faith in Cro. Cro brandished his wand, wrote the runes into the carpet, and they vanished the same as Walter. It turned out later that the rune circle in Walters’ apartment had been what had led the neighborhood into thinking that Walter had been studying the occult and suffered dearly for it. The police investigator photographed it, but didn’t think much of it. It took a few days but Walters’ landlord eventually did rent the apartment out again. This time it was some genuine believer in the occult who thought the apartment might be a hot spot for supernatural activity. He wasn’t disappointed when he had tried writing the rune circles that had shown up in the tabloids a while back. He had some of the runes backwards and perhaps that was why Walter ended up in his apartment, completely redecorated, and with some imo goth on the ground looking up at Walter in his green tunic and staff.