Matticus tried to scream, but he had no mouth, and there was no air to carry the sound waves anyway. Next to him, he saw that Revis had turned into a whale, and for some reason he thought that was weirder than his own predicament: he had turned into a potted plant. He tried to laugh, but when nothing happened he remembered he had no mouth.
He did, however, notice that they were falling at a great rate of speed, and the world they were approaching was getting larger and larger. As he began to feel the air rushing through his leaves he realized he could scream if he had a mouth, and was actually thankful he was a plant so he couldn’t hear the terror in his voice. The whale thrashing around next time was making plenty of noice for both of them as it was.
As the air grew thicker he could feel the heat of the friction starting to singe his leaves, the pain started to border on intense. And then, at a probability factor of 1 to 1.25 million to the twelfth degree, Matticus and Revis were returned to their bodies and safely transported back to the kingdom. As the world around them righted itself, they thought they heard a monotone voice talking about an infinite improability drive going offline, but since they had no idea what that meant they assumed they’d misheard.
The prison cell looked exactly as it had when they left, except there was no sign of Jaded. Matticus pulled on the door, but it was locked. His Knight still had the key, so getting out was not a problem. They made their way out, getting only slightly lost now that Jaded wasn’t here to lead them around the castle.
While they were searching the castle, they noticed something strange. A fine layer of dust had settled over everything. Nobody had been here in some time. “How long were we bouncing around in between universes,” Matticus wondered aloud.
Revis ignored him, looking out for any traps that Jaded may have left for them on her way out. They made it to the hole that Grayson had made without incident. Judging from the position of the sun, it was around noon. The two men spent the rest of the day revisiting all of the other locations they had been to on the island. All of them were deserted as well.
“I hate to say it,” Revis began.
“Then don’t,” Matticus pleaded. “Please, don’t say it.”
With a shake of his head, the Knight finished his thought anyways. “We’ve got to go back to Bruges.”
“I told you not to say it!”
“You better be… Do you still have the map?”
Revis unslung his pack and dug through it until, with a triumphant grunt, he pulled out the map that Ruta had given them back in Tuscon. Unfurling it, carefully so its worn edges and fraying sections would remain intact, the two men studied it and discussed possibly routes until they had settled on the fastest of the paths least likely to result in their deaths.
As Revis placed the map back in his pack, Matticus mused, “Though, couldn’t you just use your whistle to ask if Rara or Grayson could transport us there?”
Revis thought about it and then shook his head, “No, I don’t want to call upon them unless we absolutely have to.”
Matticus frowned, and dug his toe into the dusty trail. “I think it might be wise to talk to someone we can trust before we head into Bruges again.”
Looking up and around at the scenery, he continued, “It’s obvious some time has passed since we imprisoned Jaded here, we have no idea what we will find in the city. We have no idea what this world is like anymore.”
“That’s a disturbing thought,” Revis quipped. “The problem with finding someone we trust to talk to first is that we’ll have to pass Bruges up to do that. Bruges is directly across the sea from us. We may not have time to go someplace new and then head back to Bruges. We should probably just go into the city and find out for ourselves. Either way, we’ll have to find a boat before we can go anywhere.”
They looked around the dock, but there were no boats in sight. Revis and Matticus walked further up the beach, looking for anything they could use to sail back to Bruges. An hour into their trek, they found a small cove containing a two man vessel.
There were two people on board, a man and a woman. The man, who was a sparkly vampire, had the woman tied up. Revis was about to signal to Matticus what they should do when the woman spoke. “This is what I get for picking a man without a beard,” she muttered.
“Shut up,” the vampire commanded.
“Do vampires have movements? Are your movements smooth? Do you have to push them out?”
As the captive continued to goad the vampire, Matticus and Revis crept down to the small dock the vessel was moored to. With a silent prayer that it would work, Revis activated his ring, and both he and Matticus were relieved when he successfully disappeared from view. As the knight did his best to stealthily board the small craft, Matticus went into action to distract the sparkly vampire.
“Hey, excuse me,” Matticus started, interrupting the heated exchange between the vampire and the woman. Trying to play dumb, something that didn’t come naturally to the Jester, he continued, “Would you be able to help me? I’m lost and trying to find my way to Bruges.”
“Get out of here,” the vampire growled menacingly, only throwing a minor glance in the direction of the Jester before turning his full attention back to the lady.
“So, you can’t help me then?” Matticus queried innocently.
The vampire, in a rage, whipped around and prepared to lunge at the Jester. The speed of the attack caught Matticus off guard and he stumbled backwards, tripping over his own feet, and fell to the ground. He fumbled for his sword, but he was too slow, the vampire would be on him before he could properly defend himself.
Luckily, Revis had made it into position, and two daggers suddenly sprouted from the vampires chest, then disappeared as the beast grunted in pain and surprise. A moment later its head splashed into the water next to the boat, and its body crumbled to the deck.
Matticus untied the woman. “Are you ok,” he asked.
“What about your movements,” Revis asked. “Are they regular?”
The woman answered excitedly. Matticus stared at the pair in confusion as they talked about their bowel movements for many minutes. “Uhh,” the Jester interrupted, “we’ve got things to do, Revis.”
“Wait a minute,” she shouted. “You’re Revis? And you’re Matticus!”
“Uhh….yeah. Who are you?”
“I’m Miss Four Eyes, but that’s not important. They told everyone that you were dead.”
“Who told everyone that?”
“Jaded and her mysterious sorcerer. They told the Kingdom that you two were dead when they took it over two months ago.”
“We’ve been gone for two months,” Revis muttered, shaking his head.
“I don’t care how long we’ve been gone,” Matticus yelled, grabbing Miss Four Eyes’ arm. “What happened to my family?”