“Earlier this year, I received a message from Verden,” Eric said. “Turns out the rebels have spent the last three decades running the country into the ground, to the point that their government is on the brink of collapse. So the loyalists have decided it’s time to restore the monarchy, with me as head of state.”
“They want you to be king?” Angela said.
“I’m the last of my line,” Eric said. “Nobody else has a stronger claim on the throne. Nobody else can keep the kingdom from falling apart.”
“So you’re going to do it?” Angela asked.
“They’re not giving me a choice,” Eric replied. “They let me have a few months to get my affairs in order, and after that, they’re coming for me. I’ve been trying to find some kind of magic spell or legal loophole that might get me out of this, but I’ve come up empty. And I’m almost out of time.”
“Can’t you just run away?” Angela asked. “Take Amir and go someplace they can’t find you?”
Eric shook his head. He popped the top two buttons of his shirt and he pulled the fabric back from his collar bone. There on his chest, engraved in his skin, was a small rune, like the symbols in the book in the desk.
“The enchanter placed this mark on me before he sent me here,” Eric said. “With this, he’ll always be able track me down. I’ve tried skin grafts, I’ve tried lasers, nothing works. It always grows right back.”
“Well, that certainly complicates things,” Angela said.
“Yeah, tell me about it,” Eric replied. “I have one last hope. After weeks of searching, I managed to track down someone from my world living here, in Victory City. I’m going to see her tonight. If she can’t help me, nobody can.”
“Who is this person?” Angela asked.
“A witch,” Eric replied. “She and my father have… history. It’s complicated.”
“Okay,” Angela said. “When do we leave?”
“Whoa, wait a minute,” Eric said, standing. “You’re not coming. This isn’t a social call. It’ll probably be dangerous.”