Journey Through Wonder story

Chapter 38: Return

Falnii woke up the next day feeling much more refreshed. After taking Yulduk prisoner, she felt more at ease. She came down to breakfast and saw Hejema cooking. “Good morning!” she called.

“Good morning, Your Majesty,” replied Hejema. “You’re looking happy today.”

“I’m FEELING happy today!” Wilson then came into the room. “Good morning, Wilson!”

“Morning!” answered Wilson. “Feeling better?”

“Much!” Emma was the last to enter the room. “Good morning, Emma!”

“And good morning to you, Falnii!” said Emma. “Sleep well?”

“Slept like a log! I feel like I can take on the world!”

“Well, we’ve only got our jobs to take on today,” remarked Hejema as she served breakfast.

“A pity, but I’m sure we can do them easily!”

After breakfast, everyone arrived at the sheds. The Small Controller wasn’t there yet. “Where is he?” muttered Wilson.

“It’s not like him to be late,” replied Mike.

“No, it usually isn’t,” came the Small Controller’s voice. He was running to the sheds and carrying a newspaper. “I do apologize for my lateness, but after seeing the headline, I had to share it with everyone.” He opened up the newspaper and displayed the headline. It read “Arlesdale Railway Delivers Victory!” “The article,” continued the Small Controller, “talks about what happened yesterday and how we’re joining the efforts to end a conspiracy against this island! We’ve been called heroes! I’m proud of you all! Not only will this spark a tourist boom, but it also sparked a goods traffic boom! Everyone is learning how Really Useful we are! There will be plenty to do during the tourist season!”

“Great, maybe passenger trains might prove a challenge,” mused Mike.

“Oh, come on, Mike!” protested Wilson.

“Given the projected uptick in passengers, I’d say yes, Mike, it might prove to test your strength,” chuckled the Small Controller.

“YOU’RE STROKING HIS-! I give up!” grunted Wilson.

“Now, this DOES mean that our new staff members have proven themselves, so I am giving them the week off after that Yulduk business. Your regular crews will be in charge.”

“Very well, Sir,” replied Falnii. “To be frank, I’m eager to see how well Yulduk’s handling life inside a cell.”

“Before you go, would you mind picking up your paychecks?”

“Will do, Sir.”

After Falnii collected the paychecks, she teleported herself and her teammates to the ships. “So, how was life on the Arlesdale Railway?” asked Richard.

“Barring Yulduk’s shenanigans,” replied Hejema, “quite pleasant.”

“Speaking of which, he’s been trying to break out of the Glanthelantir’s brig.”

“I’ll chat with him,” said Falnii. “How about our two mystery Lords?”

“We have medical scans and determined what at least one of them was. The lady was an Elf, but there’s nothing in the medical database about her type of Elf. I’m thinking of speaking with them both after I talked to Boulton.”

Falnii made her way to Yulduk’s cell. Yulduk was throwing himself against the energy field locking him in. “How long has-?” she asked Glanthel.

“Since he was put in there, Your Majesty,” replied Glanthel. Falnii rolled her eyes before speaking to Yulduk.

“You know, they say the definition of insanity is repeating an action while hoping to get a different result.” Yulduk stopped to catch his breath.

“I’m undead!” he hissed. “This field will only be deadly to a living person!”

“It’s been modified for Revenants too, Yulduk. We had to make the modifications in case modern Revenants went as crazy and as criminal as you.”

“…How are there Revenants now? The spell can’t work without Oyed.”

“The Divine Mana that you guys drained spread throughout the Realms. The spell only needs to draw from that.”

“I see. I must admit, I thought you a shrinking violet during the Final War. When you killed me, then stared me down when you saw me again, you proved me wrong. Then your plan succeeded, and you became the first one to put me behind bars where others had failed. For that, you have my respect.”

“I’m flattered.”

“You should be. When one earns my respect, that means I don’t rest. I devote all my energy, everything I have…TO KILLING THEM!” Yulduk punched the wall for emphasis, then he sat down on the bunk. “I don’t care what your social status is, ‘Your Majesty’. You’re dying just the same.”

“We all have to die at some point, but my death is not today.” Falnii then left the brig.

Richard was in a different section of the brig, where Boulton and the two mystery Lords sat. Boulton was looking at the floor as he sat on his bunk. “How are you holding up?” Richard asked Boulton.

“I’ll live,” replied Boulton. “Funny, I always dreamed of seeing you and your family again. …Never thought it’d be like this.”

“Neither did I. It’s good to see you again, in any case. I’m glad you’re fighting for right again.”

“I thought I was when Khan said that you were dead. I was hoping to see a multiverse where you died after me. I guess you just moved to another universe so you’d be among fellow immortals.”

“There’s a place for you in Beyond City if you want to atone.”

“…I’ll leave that to the judges. I betrayed the USA and those close to me. Whatever happens, I deserve it.”

“You still have allies.”

“I’d be surprised if that were true.” Boulton sat back down and hung his head in shame. Richard sighed before turning to the next cell with the Elder Lord.

“Good morning,” he said. The Elder Lord looked at him curiously.

“What do you mean by it?” he asked. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

“…I swear I heard that before. In any case, it’s all of them at once. I’d offer you a pipe of tobacco, but I don’t smoke. At the moment, we have no hurry. …At least not until another disaster strikes this island.”

“Then you are in the middle of an adventure?”

“Yep. This is one fragment of a greater crisis. One that YOU guys and your boss started. Good morning.”

“What a lot of things you use ‘Good morning’ for!” chuckled the Lord. “Now you wish to no longer see me and that it won’t be good until I’m out of your sight! To think that I should be good-morninged by Michael Archer’s best friend and the inheritor of the Shift Keystone as if I were a common criminal!” Richard goggled at that statement. The Lords, to his knowledge, didn’t know either of those things.

“…I’m sorry, do I know you?” he asked.

“You know my name, though all this Lord garb has made you forget that I belong to it. I am Gandalf! And Gandalf means…me!”

“…Gandalf? …GANDALF?!” Richard turned to the brig guard, a female Orc.

“…Lie detectors are silent,” she replied. “He IS this…Gandalf person.”

“Then the Elf lady with you is-?!” Richard looked to the female Elf Lord. She smiled.

“I am,” she said in an ethereal voice.

“…Lady Galadriel,” whispered Richard as he knelt.

“Please, rise, hero of the multiverse,” said Galadriel. Richard rose, then his face became one of confusion.

“Wait, how did the Lords get to Aman in the first place?” he asked. “I mean, you two went to the Undying Lands with the remaining Ring-bearers and the rest of the Elves. Eru Ilúvatar should have stopped them from coming anywhere near Aman.”

“That is Khan’s doing,” replied Galadriel.

“He sought out the ones closest to the F.N.S and warped us into what you see now,” continued Gandalf. “Luckily, Batman helped us block out the rest of the Lord Collective.”

“Well, we better get all that stuff off of you two,” said Richard. “We can’t keep you wired in forever.”

“Sir, you’re gonna have trouble with that,” remarked the Orc guard. “I can’t lower the energy fields on just their cells, I have to open all of them in both this block and the other one. Yulduk’s still in the other one.”

“And I ain’t leaving this cell until this whole Sodor mess is over,” called Boulton after he overheard everything.

“…You’re sure?” asked Richard.

“Positive. I’m sorry, Richard.”

“It’s all right. I understand.” Richard then fastened a gauntlet onto his hand. It was a Keystone Gauntlet like Megumi’s, but the symbol was different. It was an upside-down triangle with a different colored circle on each vertex, cyan, yellow, and magenta, with arrows pointing to them, one going from cyan to yellow, the next going from yellow to magenta, and the last from magenta to cyan. “Let’s see if I remember how Batman used this thing. Shift Keystone, activate! Cyan, by the door leading out to the hallway! Yellow, by the guard’s console! Magenta, on the ceiling above the guard!” The guard then got away from her console as portals of the colors on the Keystone appeared where Richard wanted them. “Shift! Gandalf! Yellow! Shift! Galadriel! Magenta!” Copies of the yellow and magenta portals appeared beneath Gandalf and Galadriel and they were sucked into them. They then tumbled out of the ones Richard had already placed. Gandalf quickly caught Galadriel, then set her down. Richard chuckled. “Man, your shippers would have-!” The Elf woman and Wizard then loomed over Richard. “…Right, not funny,” he gulped. “Er, how about I show you to the med-bay so you can get all that stuff off?”

“That sounds splendid,” grunted Gandalf. Richard then led the two out of the brig. He then turned back to call to Boulton.

“When I get back, I’m filling you in on what happened to me,” he promised.

“I’ll be here,” replied Boulton. The brig block was then filled with only himself and the guard.

“…You know, you and I are a lot alike,” she said. “We both did what we thought was the right thing only for it to bite us in the rear.”

“…You were assimilated?” asked Boulton.

“No, but the enemy of the Realms lied to me and I betrayed those closest to me because of it.” Boulton gave a sad smile.

“Well, I’ll be. You know what’s going through my head.”

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