A Moment Between Worlds
By Violet Day
Date: January 19, 2018
Ch. 88

The peasant took one of the gold pieces out of a pocket and handed it to her. “That’ll get you lodging and a meal for the night. Still a profit for me. Good luck to you both.” He got back in his cart and joined the other carts and pedestrians milling through the wide street.
Tessa slipped the coin into her pocket and turned to the building they had stopped in front of. A painted sign swinging on a metal pole above the door said “Capitol Inn.” Tessa blinked. That was creative, as it was an inn… in the capitol.
“Should we stay here tonight?” Tessa asked Amien. He just stared at the sign, not answering. “Well, I’m assuming we can’t go stay in the castle,” Tessa said.
“No,” Amien said finally. “Not the castle…”
“Alright then,” Tessa said. “We’re staying here.”
She led Amien into the Capitol Inn.
Noise, light, and pungent smells filled the large single room of the lower floor. Lanterns burned from the rafters and low wooden tables were surrounded by laughing, raucous men and a few women. Most women Tessa could see were carrying mugs of beer or a dark liquid that smelled like coffee, or plates of what looked like fried potatoes and meat.
She tried to make sense of the busy room. Eventually her eyes landed on something of a counter with a large woman behind it who was talking to a few men. The men handed her money and she called to a skinny girl to get room five ready for them.
“Let’s go talk to her,” Tessa said to Amien, though she wasn’t quite sure how much he understood of what she said. Even so, he followed her to the counter. “Excuse me,” Tessa said loudly, trying to make herself heard over the din.
“Yes, dear?” the woman asked. “What do you need?”
“A room and a meal,” Tessa said. “For two.”
“That’ll be one gold piece, my dear.” She looked at Tessa with some suspicion. “Do you carry our currency?”
“Yes,” Tessa said, taking the gold coin from her pocket and giving it to the woman.
The woman pocketed it. “Shyla! Prepare a room for these two!” The woman leaned in closer to them. “Is everything alright?” she asked in a low voice.
“What?” Tessa said, surprised.
“That one,” the woman said, nodding towards Amien, who was standing very still behind Tessa. “He looks a little… off.”
Great. Never would she have expected Amien would be the one making her seem suspect in his own world. “He’s sick,” Tessa said. “He just needs food and rest.”
“Well,” the woman said, straightening and speaking in her originally loud voice. “He’ll get that here for sure. Sit down anywhere and we’ll have two bowls of stew and beer for you in a moment.”
“Thanks,” Tessa said, and she went to sit down at the only table she could see that wasn’t surrounded by rowdy peasant-type people. The tiny wooden slab sturdily attached to thick wooden legs flanked by two tiny stools was just barely big enough for Amien and her.
When Amien sat down, he let his head rest on his folded arms on the table and shut his eyes. Seemed like he wouldn’t be much conversation.
She had so much to ask him. Should they even be staying at this inn? Shouldn’t they be finding the evil sorcerer and vanquishing him?
A lady brought them their food and Tessa forgot all her worries for a good long moment. The food was delicious: salty, flavorful, rich. Maybe it was just because she hadn’t eaten all day, but it was some of the best food she had ever tasted.
She had to elbow Amien in order to get him to eat. He lifted his head and looked at the meal in front of him. “Eat, Amien.”
He took a bite.
“Are you okay?”
He looked up at her, chewing. He swallowed. “I’m better,” he said weakly. “Are we in Capitol Inn?”
“Yeah,” she said. “You know it?”
“It’s one of the most successful in the capitol.” He took another bite of food, color returning to his cheeks. “I almost died,” he said, way too casually in Tessa’s opinion.
“You shouldn’t have saved me,” she said.
“I couldn’t very well have done anything different. I’d do it again in a moment.”
Tessa blushed. She wondered if he knew how romantic that sounded. “Thank you. Um, will you be alright?”
He sighed. “I need to rest. I will be functional in the morning, but I cannot use my magic.”
“But uh,” Tessa leaned in towards him. “Don’t we need to defeat that evil sorcerer guy? Cyran?”
“It must be done,” Amien said. “And soon. If I cannot use my magic, we will find another way.”
“I was wondering… What kind of bad things had this guy actually done?”
“He siphons power from the citizens of the capitol so that large acts of magic do not harm his body, for one. That is why he has ‘convinced’ good King Mathus to promote tourism to the city. He convinces our king to promote policies that oppress and take advantage of the people. He sends his dark creatures and followers to harass and even murder those who do not comply with what he wishes. He is kind to no one and only thinks of himself, which is why he has become head court sorcerer. He understands power, but nothing else.” Amien ended his mini speech with a tone of conviction that carried over to Tessa.
This was her chance to do something good for the people of this world.
“How are we going to overthrow him?”
Amien looked uncomfortable.
“I… Clearly, sending him to another world will not be sufficient. I was able to return simply at the cost of my health. If we are to remove him from power, there is no other choice but a more permanent solution.” Amien swallowed and looked down into his food.
“Overthrowing a murderer with murder? That’s not… I don’t know if I’m…” Tessa trailed off.
Amien still didn’t look up. “If you will not help, I will go forward with my plans alone.”
“No,” Tessa said. “I’ll do it. I’ll stay with you. I just… Wow. I never thought I’d be a part of something like this.”
“I did not either,” he said a little darkly.
Tessa wondered if there was something else behind this. She was pretty sure that what Amien was saying was true; but she was also pretty sure that there was more he wasn’t telling her.
She scraped the last bite from her plate. “I’m going to bed, are you coming?”
He nodded.
“Don’t let me sleep for too long,” he said as they went up the wooden staircase to the upper floors. “I would like to make for the castle as soon as possible.”
“Okay,” Tessa said, but she decided to let him sleep as long as he naturally needed to. Going to confront an evil sorcerer when you’re exhausted and stripped of your power just didn’t seem like a good idea to her.
The room had one bed, but Tessa could have predicted that.
“Turn around,” she said, and took her pajamas out of her backpack. She slipped them on while Amien looked at the wall. “Okay,” she said.

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