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The Earl of Zerces: chapter 2
Lang and the Earl walked down the hall for a while. They did not speak; they merely strolled through the grand castle.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” the Earl whispered. He seemed truly in awe of the castle’s architecture. Lang found himself for the very first time looking closely at the spires and tapestries that adorned the castle.
“Yes, it is,” Lang had to admit.
“It’s too bad I can’t see any of it,” the Earl bowed his head and started to walk with more purpose in his step.
“What?’ Lang didn’t understand. “Why can’t you see any of it?”
“Because I haven’t described it thoroughly in my mind,” the Earl made his way to a broom cupboard and glanced around himself to see if anyone else was nearby. “I only see a vague outline.”
“What?” Lang was now even more confused.
“It’ll make sense soon enough,” the Earl grinned devilishly. “Now, into the broom cupboard, if y’would.”
“Excuse me?” Lang was starting to lose his temper. “Would you please tell me what’s going on?”
“Broom cupboard. Now. If you please,” the Earl motioned for Lang to follow his orders. “After that, I promise to give you the answers you’re looking for.”
Lang gave the Earl a look, and the Earl pouted his lip. Finally, Lang sighed in exasperation and went into the broom cupboard.
“Fine, but you’d better-“
Lang suddenly felt like every inch of his body was being twisted, turned, twirled, and tangled into a jumbled mass and then molded back to normal. Lang vomited onto the ground.
“What the hell was that?!?” Lang turned back at the Earl, who had now also passed through the broom cupboard’s door, although he looked perfectly fine. The Earl merely smiled and motioned for Lang to look behind himself. Lang chanced a glance, and then his jaw dropped.
“Welcome to Zerces,” the Earl of Zerces patted Lang on the shoulder. “Otherwise known as the Void, otherwise known as God’s addled subconscious, otherwise known as that wispy grey stuff that occupies the space between worlds.”
Lang looked around. There indeed was wispy grey stuff all around him. Lang looked at his feet, and realized he wasn’t actually standing on any ground. Lang only saw more grey wisps. Lang looked up and around, and saw that there were about three doors, along with the door to the broom cupboard that they had just come through. Lang was at a loss for words.
“Nice, isn’t it,” the Earl grinned. “Now then, for your answers. This is, as I have said before, Zerces, and I am its ruler. This makes me something of a god, because since I rule Zerces, I control everything in all the other worlds.”
“O-other worlds?” Lang was barely listening. This was all just too much to take in all at once.
“Yes,” the Earl said. “Your world is one of many. Only a select few know about the existence of the other worlds, and even fewer can actually travel between them. If I were to warrant a guess, you can see only three doors aside from the door to your world, can’t you?”
“Yes,” Lang nodded, still mostly oblivious to the Earl’s words. “You’re saying they lead to other worlds?”
“Exactly,” the Earl smiled. “You can see the door to Earth-1, because that’s where everyone goes when they die, and you can see the door to Earth-2, because that’s where everyone goes when they dream.”
“What about the third door?” Lang asked.
“That is irrelevant for the moment,” the Earl waved his hand to motion that the subject was changing. “Now you see Lang, even though I am ruler of Zerces, and thus ruler of all the worlds, I need help with something. That’s where you come in.” the Earl put his hand on Lang’s shoulder.
“Me?” Lang asked. “What do you need me for?”
“That would be telling,” the Earl grinned, and made some sort of motion behind Lang’s back with his free hand. “But now, if you would take this, please.” The Earl gave Lang an amulet.
“What do you mean, that would be telling?” Lang was starting to lose his temper again. “You promised me answers!”
“I know, Lang, and I still promise you those answers, but right now, I need to test you,” the Earl gave Lang an understanding look. “I need to see if you’re up to the task I have in store for you.”
“Okay,” Lang said slowly. “What do you need me to do?”
“I can’t believe you didn’t notice,” the Earl sighed. “Although, you can’t see it, so I shouldn’t be too surprised.”
“See what? What are you talking about?” Lang had a growing feeling of apprehension.
“There is a door right behind you,” the Earl smiled slyly. “And I just opened it.” Then, before Lang could react, the Earl had shoved Lang backwards. Lang felt himself falling, falling, falling, and the last thing he saw before he fell into oblivion was the Earl’s smug smile.
“Ta,” the Earl waved goodbye.