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The Earl of Zerces: chapter 15

“A rescue mission,” Lang repeated, mulling over what that could entail. “Alright. It’s better than blowing up an entire planet.”

“Glad you approve!” the Earl slapped Lang on the back. Lang was getting tired of that. “So then, let’s go to the door for that world.”

“Fine,” Lang looked around at all the doors nearby. “Which one is it this time?”

“That one,” the Earl grinned as he pointed behind Lang. Lang turned around, and his jaw dropped.

A giant, rectangular slab of black rock floated a few feet above the ground. Lang tried to see the top of the rock, but he couldn’t. It just went up and up and up. The sides were equally hard to see, and Lang had to squint to finally examine how wide the “door” spread. Like the Martian door, this door had a single line running from top to bottom on its middle.

“Um,” Lang stared at the door for a while, still in shock. “That’s……rather large.”

“Large?” Is that all you can say?” the Earl was obviously enjoying himself. “Why not say gargantuan, or monolithic, or even voluminous? Large is just such a bland word, don’t you think?”

“It’s…” Lang still struggled to find a word. “…huge?”

“Mmm, better, better,” the Earl clasped his hands on the sides of his head. “But hold your head like this and go ‘Wahhh’!”

“What?” the vast size of the door left Lang’s mind for a moment as he stared blankly at the Earl.

“Never mind,” the Earl laughed.

Lang sighed. “Is everything with you going to be like this?”

“I should think so,” the Earl placed his finger on his chin coyly. “But come now Lang, there’s work to be done.”

The Earl paused for a moment, and his cheerful demeanor sobered slightly. “Actually, this world could be considered isolated. So far, I’ve been the only person who could enter this world. But recently…”

“The Count managed to get inside?” Lang guessed.

“Yes,” the Earl stopped smiling. “The Count got inside. Currently he’s waiting for me to do something so that he can make his move.”

“What kind of something would that be, and what sort of move is he planning to make?” Lang asked.

“The something you’ll see soon enough,” the Earl said. “But as for the Count’s move, he wants to absorb more of my power, but he can’t do that before I do my something.”

“Wait,” Lang shook his head. “I’m confused. The Count wants you to do something, and you’re going to do it? Won’t that make it harder for him to beat?”

“Yes,” the Earl smiled sadly, but then his face hardened with resolve. “But if I don’t do what he wants me to do, then he won’t walk right into my trap.”

“I’m still confused,” Lang sighed.

“It’s fine,” the Earl grinned. “This isn’t one of those stories where being confused makes things less interesting. At least I don’t think so.”

“Stories?” Lang furrowed his brow.

“Did I say stories?” the Earl asked. “Sorry, I just didn’t want to say things twice in the same sentence.”

“Right,” Lang said. It was strange. He remembered that the Earl had once called them all just characters. Then just now he had said stories. What did it mean? Was Lang just drawing conclusions from thin air, or was there some darker meaning to it all?

“Ready to go?” the Earl interrupted Lang’s thoughts.

“Yes,” Lang replied in the affirmative.

“Good,” the Earl stood firmly, with his hands in the air. “Then let’s be off.”

The Earl motioned with his hands, making a wider and wider space in between them appear, and as he did this, the door started to open. Yawning and creaking, the metallic monoliths opened wide, and a swirling vortex appeared; ready to take the pair to their next destination. Lang clasped his amulet tightly, determined. But suddenly, a thought appeared in his head.

If so far, only the Earl and the Count could enter, how could he, Lang, enter?

Lang prepared to ask the question, but before he could do so, the swirling vortex screamed and howled, and twisted Lang and the Earl as it sucked them into oblivion. Lang and the Earl were warped to their destination, and the metallic door shut tightly with a thud that resounded across the emptiness of Zerces.




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