When the world came back to me, I was in a very different place. The floor was made of stone. The brick walls were lit by torches and decorated with medieval-style weapons and shields, with a pair of windows looking out at smoke clouds flickering red with the reflections of fires burning deep below.
I sat up just as the enormous wooden doors at the edge of the hall swung open. The man who entered wore a suit of armor, scuffed with dirt and blood from a recent battle. As soon as the door closed behind him, he removed his helmet.
“My lord!” he said, looking at me for some reason. He took a knee before continuing. “The undead army has reached the castle gates. Our warriors are preparing for their final stand. We await your command.”
I looked around the giant room, but we were the only two here.
“Why are you asking me? Oh shit, am I, like, king in this scenario? I mean, I guess that’s a step up, but did you say ‘undead army’?” At this point, I realized that I was also wearing a suit of armor. It fit miraculously well, like it had been tailor-made to my exact dimensions. Unlike Tobias’s silver, mine was shining gold. Interestingly, my bad foot had been replaced with a bejeweled peg-leg tipped with spikes. An interesting, if not totally impractical, battle aesthetic.
“My lord,” Tobias said with a tad more urgency. “Your tongue belies your majesty’s wisdom. What foul spirits have nested in your mind? What manner of dark enchantment has bewitched you?”
“I have no idea what you just said.”
Tobias stood and called into the air, “Great wizard! Show yourself! In this very hour your king requires aid!”
A purple burst of smoke took the form of an old man in a dark robe. His eyes were hidden beneath a black veil. He held a staff with etchings of snakes running up and down the hilt. And his face contained an all-too-familiar overgrown walrus moustache.
“Why have you summoned me away from the front line? The undead army has breached our castle walls!”
“Great wizard, his majesty speaks madness! The enemy must have enspelled his mind.”
Nathaniel-Wizard waved his wand, dimming the lights temporarily and conjuring a giant bird made of fire. It soared from his staff into the air, crashed against the ceiling, spilling a firefall to every wall before dissipating. With a solemn tone, he gave his answer. “A dour fate has befallen our precious king. The necromantic sorcerers have placed a curse upon his memories. He truly believes that he is not the true heir of our kingdom. Nay, that he isn’t even from our world.”
“Can this madness be undone?” Tobias asked.
“I fear it may be too late. But there is hope. A counter-spell is yet possible.”
At this moment, the doors swung open again. Jerry raced in, covered head-to-toe in mismatched armor.
“Holy fucking shit, you guys! The goblins are here and they are, like, angry as fuck! These fuckers have like, boomerangs made of human bones and shit. Have you seen this shit?! That shit is cray!” He saw me and gave a quick nod of recognition. “Yo, Jack. What’s up?”
Tobias let out an annoyed grunt.
Jerry shrugged and said. “Sorry, dude. I explicitly told you all before we started that I have no idea how to do the Dungeons and Dragons voice.”
Tobias lowered his head and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“Sooo...” I said. “Maybe you guys overshot with this one.”
The detective materialized out of the shadows. With a snap of his fingers, the others disappeared, leaving just the two of us. “You are an enigma, Jack. Maybe I’ve been going about this all wrong. You don’t seem particularly accepting of excitement. Perhaps a compromise can be made.”