Chapter 2 : Contract
LIEUTENANT Joshua Campbell let out a very tiring and heavy sigh as he slumped down on his chair after a hard day at work. Rubbing his throbbing forehead, he closed his eyes and rest his head against the comfortable header of the chair.
“Damn. That guy is the worse,” Josh muttered under his breath. “No passport or identification card, yet he knew this country’s history like the back of his hands! Just who the hell is he anyway?”
“Having a hard day, Lieutenant?”
A Sergeant-rank officer with black Ivy League haircut came in with two mugs of freshly brewed roasted black coffee. He had a deep cut scar on his left eyebrow, making him looked very intimidating and fearful.
Deep ocean blue eyes stared at the man behind his desk as he handed one of the two mugs to his partner before making a short trip to his own and sat down.
“Thanks. Really needed this,” Josh inhaled the freshly brewed coffee and satisfyingly sighed. Sipping the excellent coffee halfway, Josh stopped when he felt eyes were on him.
Turned to his partner, who looked at him as if he had just won a lottery with an amused grin and his own mug remained untouched on the desk.
“What?” Joshua lifted an eyebrow.
“Soo, who was that girl this morning, huh? You know... The one who made you illegally turned the car around at the freakin’ traffic light? Girlfriend? She’s cute.”
Josh choked instantly and spilt some of the coffee on his uniform. He gave a long threatening glare, before whipping the coffee’s stained off his shirt.
“She’s my late brother’s kid, you arse!”
“What! But you’re like, twenty-seven! And she’s like sixteen!”
“Twenty-three. We’re related, just not by blood. My parents and Anya’s father, Adam Romans were childhood friends. When I was twelve and years before the twins were born, my parents died in a car accident. Adam and his wife, Rosy, took me in and raised me. Technically, I would have been the ‘oldest brother’, but since Adam and Rosy have allowed me to keep my family’s name, I am known as ‘Uncle Josh’ to the children.”
The Sergeant whistled. “Wow. I never knew. How come you never told me any of this stuff?”
“You never asked,” Josh shrugged, silently finishing his coffee.
Silence fill in their shared office except the constant ringing of the telephones outside.
At the mischievous tone of his partner, Josh immediately cringed. Here we go. “What? You got a problem with what I’ve just told you, Sergeant?”
“Oh, no. Absolutely not! Just a sense of... Enviousness is all.”
“I see,” Josh put away the mug to the side while he retrieved a stack of reports he needed to fill in.
“So, you’re never like... You know...”
“Know...What?” Josh began to feel annoyed and irritated by his partner’s choice of words.
“Well, what I meant to say was, you being the younger uncle and she being young... Lady. You never feel like doing...Something? Anything? To your cute so-called ‘niece’? Cause technically, it’s not illegal if you want to marry her or even want to,” The sergeant made an obscene gesture with his fingers, which earned him a sharp glare from the Lieutenant.
“You are a disgusting pig,” Josh’s voice filled with malice but his posture remained calm. He pointed at the stack of reports on his partner’s table. “I want those on my desk in an hour.”
“Aww, you’re no fun!”
“Speaking of fun,” Josh muttered under his breath and sighed. He looked at his wristwatch. “It’s already past two O’clock. Where the hell is she?”
Taking out his smartphone, Josh dialled a number and waited. After what it seemed to be a minute, the call went straight to the voice-mail.
“That’s odd. Anya always answers the phone after class.”
“Maybe she’s on a date with her boyfriend and doesn’t want to be disturbed.”
“She doesn’t have one,” Josh sighed and redialled the number.
“Oh, and I suppose you would know what colour of the bra she’s wearing today?”
"Dude! I should put you behind bars, man!”
Ignored his partner’s dirty jokes, Josh groaned loudly before putting down his smartphone.
“Something not right here. I have a bad feeling about this.”
“Dude, chill. She doesn’t pick up her phone. Big deal. What makes you so sure something bad is happening to her just because she doesn’t pick up?”
Josh glared at his partner sharply but remained in silence.
While his partner had a long smirk planted across his face, all the sudden, there was a loud commercial as the thick-glassed front doors of the Police Headquarters suddenly burst opened.
Everyone stopped at what they were doing and instantly on high alert when something rolled over at the front door and exploded in a searing white flash.
The smoke hadn’t cleared yet even after a couple of minutes have passed. Sounds of emergency drills, people shouting to take cover, wheezing and coughing echoed chaotically in the Police Headquarters.
“What the damn hell!” Josh coughed and wheezed loudly, he furiously flapped his hands while quickly reached out to open the nearby windows in his office and cleared as much smoke as he possibly could.
Josh grabbed his gun on the desk all the while his eyes searched for his partner who had laid on the ground, taking cover and wheezing badly.
“Gall! You alright?”
“Yeah, just peachy,” Gall coughed and stood up cautiously. “What the hell just happened?”
“We’re about to find out. Ready?” Josh tilted his head at the door.
WHILE chaos still ongoing in the Police Headquarters, a tall male silhouette stood calmly on a rooftop few blocks away. Amber eyes keenly observed the situation. The smoking bombs had served its purpose very well. With the whole department busily resolve the situation, Aidan made his moves.
It had been somewhat rather difficult to get into the Human World without the usage of the portal, even for the Gran Mago such as himself. Right after Aidan had informed His Majesty about what happened to the Prince, he suffered the King’s wrath by enduring long lectures from the usually wise and warm-hearted King.
Adjusting the collar of his butler suit, Aidan made his way cautiously toward the Police Headquarters.
Meanwhile, trapped behind bars in the underground jails of the Police Headquarters, Prince Duke of Excalibell sat stiffly on an empty cold bench, while his neighbour cell, a muscular man with half of his face tattooed was giving him a dirty stare. The only thing that separated them was a thick glass.
Duke lowered his gaze and avoided eyes contact with any of the inmates. When he was brought in this morning, some of the inmates made obscene noises and catcalling him due to the ‘funny’ attires he wore, had made the Prince cringed and even shivered. He never retaliated back their words and remained quiet as a mouse.
Just when Duke thought his life in the Other World could not get any worse than this, he heard light footsteps approaching his cell.
“My, my. Look what you’ve gotten yourself into this time, Your Highness.”
Instantly, Duke’s face lightened up with pure relief when he looked up and saw a very familiar face looking back at him with a smile.
“At your services as always, my Prince,” Aidan lowered his head and gave a slight bow.
“I am so thankful and grateful you are here, Aidan. How did you know I am being kept imprisoned here?”
“Oh. You know I always have my ways to get what I want. Could you kindly step back for a moment, Your Highness?”
Duke silently nodded and took a few steps back. He watched as Aidan took a small bottle of Elixir out of his sleeves, before pouring a couple of drops on the iron bars and it dissolved immediately.
Once it dissolved, Aidan kicked the bars to make room for the Prince to come out.
“Shall we get going, Sir?”
“Yes,” Duke nodded desperately. I’ve had enough of being here, thank you very much.”
“Hey, pretty boy!” The tattoed face inmate snarled at them, stomping his fists loudly against the bars. “I saw what you did back there. Get me out of here now unless you want to get caught again!”
“Please allow me to take care of him, Your Highness,” Aidan moved steadily toward the inmate’s cell. The inmate grinned widely when Aidan took out a bottle of Elixir then without hesitating, smashed it hard on the ground.
Thick purple-pinkish smoke surrounded the whole of the underground jail. By the time the smoke fades, the inmates were left stunned when either the Prince nor his butler were nowhere to be found.
“THANKFULLY, you kept those Elixir potions at all time, Aidan,” Duke sighed in relief.
They had successfully escaped from the Police Headquarters and walking toward the opposite sides, blending amongst the crowd like nobody’s business.
“Indeed. A butler must always be prepared for the worse case scenarios. Moreover, I have endless supplies of those Elixir potions,” Aidan replied cheerily.
“You didn’t overdo it with magic, did you?” Duke raised an eyebrow at his butler. Though he knew very well it was Aidan’s duty to as his butler to keep him safe from any harms using any necessary means, he couldn’t help but be worried if the latter had gone too far.
Aidan was, after all, the most magnificent and powerful Magician in all of Excalibell. At the age of thirteen, he was the youngest Magician to be given the title ‘Gran Mago’ — the highest rank in the Magician Guild.
Upon becoming the Gran Mago, Aidan was hand-picked personally by the King to be the Duke’s Magic Instructor. As their relationship grown closer over the years, the King had promoted Aidan as the Butler-in-training for the Prince.
Five years prior completing his intensive training, Aidan later then served as a full-fled butler.
While contemplating what happened up until now, Duke slowed down when he suddenly remembered something important.
“You never told me how exactly did you manage to track me down in this Other World, Aidan. As for myself, I remembered losing connection with you and Lexus while I was in the portal. No matter how many times I’d called out or pressed the emergency device, there was no response. The next thing I knew, I landed in a young maiden’s private chamber’s wardrobe and had been accused as a pervert!” Duke cried out desperately, still unable to believe that anyone would accuse him to do horrid things to a young maiden.
Aidan nodded understandably. “I’ve seen and heard bits and there about your misfortune accident, Sir. You have my sympathies. As for your questions; I have managed to get myself into this world by using one of Lexus’ new invention,” He took out a small and broken oval-shaped device out of his pocket.
“This device enabled for me to teleport with the combination of technology and magic. Lexus had warned me beforehand this device has not yet being tested. He has proven his point. This device is now useless. As for knowing your whereabouts, well, let’s just say I’ve made a contact while I was looking for you.”
“A contact?” Duke raised his eyebrow suspiciously. His butler was never a friendly person, to begin with. Polite, yes. But Aidan was never a friendly person who could easily strike a conversation with a random person.
“Let me guess, you’d used ‘Qiche’ to enter someone’s mind and stole their memories without permission again, didn’t you?” Duke glared disapprovingly at his butler.
“I had to, Sir. Your safety is my top priority. If my only option is to use Qiche in order for me to find you, then so be it.”
Duke sighed quietly. In a way, he couldn’t complain about Aidan’s loyalty and dedication to him.
“So, this contact of yours, do I get to meet him? That is if you have not wiped his memories yet.”
“Actually, it’s a she,” Aidan stopped to an abandoned run-down warehouse, away from the town they were in.
Duke gasped instantly at the sight of the warehouse. His eyes grew widened as he turned to the butler.
“Certainly,” Aidan cleared his voice. “I made some investigation while searching for your whereabouts and learned few significant things about the situation we’re currently in. First and foremost, we are nowhere close to Lady Marian’s territorial.”
Aidan nodded and continued. “This town is known as HillView. If I have to estimate the distance between here and Lady Marian’s, it would be like the distance between Excalibell and our closest neighbour country, Mayland.”
“That’s... That’s quite a distance. It’ll take a day for us to reach Mayland, at the very least!” Duke cried out aloud.
“Indeed. That’s not all. Soon after you’d entered the portal, something else had followed you. According to Lexus, it was some kind of a virus. He is currently working hard on furtherly investigating the matter.”
Duke slowly nodded. “That being said, why are we here, Aidan?”
“To top of all that, I believe now is the best time to say that we are officially stranded in the Other World without any communication from Excalibell whatsoever,” Aidan delivered the news, ever so calmly.
“Hold on. Stranded?”
“All communications that allow us to connect Excalibell, have failed. Believe me, I’ve tried everything.”
“Father is going to kill me!” Duke cried out in panic.
“Oh, he will. Should I remind you how greatly upset he was when I told him you had gone missing? On top of that, you were supposed to dine together and discuss significantly important affairs with him,” Aidan replied deftly, with a delighted smile.
It was a payback after having to clean up his mess and dealing with the King’s wrath for hours, by poking the Prince harder on the situation they currently in.
Aidan cleared his throat. “In any case, we just have to wait for them to come and fetch us. In the meantime, we’ll have to do whatever it takes to survive in this foreign place. Rest assured, Your Highness. I’ve already prepared for the worst-case scenario.”
The Butler stepped forward and unbind the protection spell he had cast on the warehouse before stepping inside.
The warehouse was dark, dusty and practically empty. Aidan had summoned a small beam of light for them to lead the way.
“Is the contact that you mentioned of lives here by any chance?” Duke asked, frowning. He had lots of question he would like to ask his butler and couldn’t possibly understand the logic of someone living in this terrible place.
“Well, that certainly explains her barbaric attitudes,” Aidan muttered under his breath. “We’re nearly there, Your Highness. I would very much like if you were to stay close behind me as I do not wish for your ears to suffer internal bleeding.”
Duke looked at his butler with a strange expression. Did he just say suffer from internal bleeding? Surely the person they were going to meet couldn’t be that bad, right?
Soon a vision of small cage appeared and the two came to a halt.
DRIP. DRIP. DRIP.
Anya Romans counted every last drop of the water leaking from an unknown source somewhere above her head. She had regained from consciousness for some time after being suddenly knocked out for few hours.
As the water continued to drip, something finally clicked in her mind.
Abel Fox, who claimed to be her new Literate Studies Lecturer, had kidnapped her for whatever reasons and then locked her up in a cage God knows where...
Anya’s heartbeat drummed loudly against her chest. Now that realisation finally hit her, she felt cold and chilling goosebumps running down her spine of her current situation.
Okay... Take a deep breath, girl. Clear your mind and above all, do not freak out!
Telling herself several times not to feel scared and panic over being caged in an unknown place with only a dim light above her head, Anya inhaled deeply and tried her very best to control her nerves.
“Hey! I know you can hear me,” her voice’s cracked as she burst out desperately. Her plan to stay calmly crumbled to pieces as panic overwhelmed her like tidal waves.
“Whoever you are, know that there WILL be a bloodbath consequence if you as much dare to touch a single stray on my hair. I will fight back and when I escape from here, I will report you and make sure you will be locked in jail for life!”
“My, my. What such colourful words came from the mouth of a young maiden.”
Anya’s head hit against the bars with a loud thunk at the sudden voice. When she looked up, she saw with a familiar face.
“You,” Anya growled lowly who had kidnapped her. Her eyes moved to the slightly younger man standing behind him. Her temper flared.
“You’re the damn pervert in my wardrobe! I should have known you two were related! Wait until I get my hands on you sons of-” her words were being cut by a thick tape magically appeared on her mouth.
Anya curled her fingers around the bars and clenched it tightly. She glared with so much hatred at the Gran Mago, who pitifully shook his head.
Meanwhile, Duke who had been watching Anya’s outburst felt sorry for her. Taking a step away from Aidan, he approached the cage cautiously, despite his butler’s warning.
“Nice to meet you again, Milady,” Duke greeted softly. “I apologise for what had happened earlier this morning. I swear on my beloved mother’s grave, I had no intentions whatsoever to break into your private chamber and to do horrid things to you. I swear.”
Anya made muffled noises.
“I believe she’s saying ‘what makes you think I would believe everything that you have just said?’,” Aidan explained calmly.
“Very well. Release her and let her talk, Aidan.”
Aidan frowned deeply at the order. Hesitatingly, he snapped his fingers and the tape on her mouth and the cage disappeared.
Smiling thankfully at his butler, Duke turned his head back to face with the young woman who was now in a sitting position and still glared dangerously at Aidan.
Duke wondered why. He was just about to ask her what’s wrong when he saw the trails of heavy chains that were wrapped around her ankles and her wrists.
“Aidan!” Duke shouted, angrily.
“My apologies, Your Highness. I could not allow the risks of letting this violent and unpredictable young woman to come anywhere near you especially while we are at our disadvantages.”
Brown eyes looked at the Anya deeply in the eyes. “What’s your name, fair maiden?”
“Miss Anya. If you promise to hear us out till the end without any interruptions, I will ask him to release you from these chains. Do you promise?”
Anya narrowed her eyes and glared at Duke, then Aidan. Reluctantly, she nodded.
True to his words, Duke had his butler, to his dismay, to unchain her. Soon after she was released from the chains, Anya rubs her aching joints on her wrists and ankles.
Finally, after a minute of profound silence between them, Duke decided to introduce himself.
“My name is Duke Excalibell and this is my butler, Aidan Timbell. We halt from another world, a faraway land called the Kingdom of Excalibell. I know this is very hard to stomach, but the reason why we came here is that I wished to meet with my beloved, Marian, who lives in this world,” Duke paused, waiting for any sort of reactions from the young woman. When there was none, he proceeded.
“We have a portal that enables me to come to this world. Usually, once I went through the portal, I would end up in Marian’s mansion. However,” Duke sighed. “Due to an incident, I’d ended up in your wardrobe,” And had been poorly mistaken as a pervert, Duke wished to add but decided to bite his tongue instead.
“Just a while ago, Aidan mentioned this place is nowhere near to Marian’s home nor is it anywhere in her town. Moreover, we’ve lost all communications to my Kingdom and it seems that we’ll be stuck here for the time being. The two of us would love nothing more if you could help us get back to our own world. To do so, we must go to Marian’s place because it’s the only place that is directly connected to my Kingdom.”
Anya who had been listening to the story silently without any interruptions suddenly started to laugh like a maniac. Maybe she finally loses her sanity, because Anya could not stop laughing while tears dripping on her cheeks by these lunatics who might kill her.
Duke who remained calm up until now, started to panic when he saw tears rolling down the young maiden’s cheeks.
“Lady Anya? Please! We’re not here to hurt you,” Duke cooed. “We just need your assistance to help us get to Marian’s mansion, that’s all! Isn’t that right, Aidan?”
A heavy sigh from his butler told him that he just had enough patients with this situation.
“Your Highness, do you think it’s wise for us to seek help from this woman?”
His voice was thickened and icy cold. “We do not have time to waste. I could use Quiche to extract more information from her and then end her life right here and now.”
“You shall not lay your hands on her, Aidan. I forbid it!” Duke raised his voice, which surprised Anya.
“This innocent young lady has been through a lot because of the mess that I have created for myself. Hence, I will take full responsibilities for what happens to her and us. I will get us to Marian’s mansion, by all means, Aidan. But killing innocent lives is not one of them as well as stealing information without permission. Understood?”
“As you wish, Your Highness. My deepest apologies for overstepping my boundaries,” Aidan lowered his head and bowed. His cold glare on the nuisance young woman never fade.
“If,” Anya who stopped crying while the two men were arguing, suddenly speak out softly. “If I help you to get to wherever that you need to be, we’ll never have to meet again, right?”
“Precisely,” Duke firmly nodded.
With a heavy sigh, Anya gave a short nod. “Fine. I’ll help you get to this Marian’s mansion.”
As soon as those words came out of her mouth, Anya was stunned when she was being pulled by a pair of arms into a tight hug.
“Oh thank you! Thank you so much Miss Anya!”
In a flesh, the Prince of Excallibell groaned painfully as he found himself pinned on the ground with his left arm on his back.
“Kindly release His Highness, Miss Romans,” Aidan’s cold voice broke the rapid heartbeat sound that was loudly drumming in her ears as instincts took over her. The butler has a hand blade aim at the back of her neck.
“I-It’s alright, Aidan. It’s my fault. I shouldn’t have done that to startled her. M-Miss Anya, if you would be so kind to release my arm, please? I-I promise not to touch you. Please?” Duke begged.
Anya shakingly released his arms at the same time Aidan pulled away. “My apologies, Miss Anya. I got carried away. That will not happen again, I assure you,” Duke smiled sheepishly while dusting himself as he got up to his feet.
“Now then, if you don’t mind Miss Anya, we would like to seal the agreement we have made.”
“An agreement? What sort of an agreement?” Anya asked suspiciously, lifted an eyebrow.
Without answering her question, Aidan stepped forward and took one of her hands. Before Anya could react, he turned and kissed the back of her hand.
“To ensure that everything works out well in the end for both of us. Most importantly, to ensure that you won’t run or break from the deal.”
Anya gasped when there were marks on her palm where he had just kissed — a Crescent moon and fourteen pointed stars glowed on her skin before they disappeared.
“Those marks are a contract. As long as you have those marks, I shall be monitoring your every move. It takes a special spell to cast it and another to undo it. So do not ever think you could get away from us so easily, Miss Romans,” Aidan released her hand and stepped away.
This has ought to be a dream. A nightmare! She must have fallen asleep in the class. Why hasn’t Emma or Steve wake her up yet? Or even Mr Hayes and his famous bullseye chalk-on-the-forehead technique? Anything to wake her up from this nightmare!
Anya shook her head, still in denial of what exactly just happened.
“If you’re done with debating whether this is just a nightmare or not, we should get going. The night’s fastly approaching.”
IT was around seven o’clock when Anya finally reached her home after a long exhausting and confused day. The trio had parted ways at some point and Anya was told by the butler whatever happened today had forgotten by everyone except for them and herself.
Meaning to say, there was no perverted burglar was found in her wardrobe, nor was there Mr Abel Fox who kidnapped her. Everything had been erased done by Aidan as part of his plans protecting the Excalibell Prince while they were stranded in a foreign land.
Anya entered and immediately noticed Rosy’s shoes neatly arranged on the shoes rack beside the exit. Happy that her mother closed the shop earlier than usual, Anya locked the door properly. She was in the middle of putting her shoes on the rack when she was greeted by a voice that was unlike her mother at all.
“Welcome home, Miss Romans,” A soothing male voice caused her to nearly tripped on her foot at the entrance.
Turning her head slowly, Anya’s mouth dropped instantly at the figure who was standing in the living room, greeting her with amber eyes, butler suit and his ever so politely smile.
Anya never screamed as loudly in her whole life.
“Honey?” Rosy came out from the kitchen in rush to her daughter’s side, who looked like she had just seen the Devil himself. “Anya honey, are you okay? Are you all right? What happened?”
One trembled finger pointed at the man who pretended to be in shock as well.
“What is he doing here?”
Rosy looked at her daughter strangely. “Oh Anya dear, don’t tell me you’ve forgotten about this? I’ve told you last night and you said you won’t mind having them over.”
“What?!” Anya shrieked.
“Oh, you silly child! Aunt Penny’s children? Jelly Bean’s Fun Park? Remember? You always played with them at the park when you were little! Anyway, Aunt Penny sent them over to live with us while she and Uncle Henry went on to their retired world tour vacations. While they’re staying with us, I asked them to help me out at Home’s.”
“But,” Mocha eyes met with Aidan’s threatened sharp and cold gaze, telling her not to say a word about them otherwise suffer from deadly consequences.
“Um. I... I must have zoned out when you’d told me that. Sorry about that. Excuse me,” Anya moved away from Rosy, feeling bewildered by all the event that happened the whole day.
As she was walking toward her room, all the sudden, someone came out from Dean’s room.
“Welcome back, Miss Anya. I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your dear brother’s garments,” Duke said, spotting a white t-shirt and medium-short pants with a towel wrapped around his neck.
For the second time of that day, Anya felt her world blacked out.