Stratagem ~ Chapter 1

Stratagem ~ Chapter 1

A Chapter by Gummy
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Our hero wakes up in one of the gardens in a castle, where he's greeted by a young lady in a fancy dress. The young lady, who introduces herself as Daphne, takes our hero to the king.

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I didn’t remember.

How I got there, what I was doing under this tree… I’d completely forgotten, and the myriad of questions that were popping up in my head felt like a barrage of arrows piercing my brain. In search of anything that might jog my memory, I looked in either direction.

I was in a garden. A big one, at that. The grass was cleanly cut, and each blade was sprinkled with tiny droplets of dew. Flowers of every shape and size were planted all over the place, and the faint trickle of running water entertained my ears. “This place looks pretty cozy,” I told myself. “No wonder I fell asleep here.”

I tried to pick myself up, but halfway through, a splitting pain ravaged my lower back, forcing me to lie back down against the tree trunk. “I suppose that wasn’t the best sleeping position, wasn’t it?” I groaned. After giving the pain a moment or two to die down, I gave it another shot and managed to stand up. It’s only then that I noticed my shirt is dirty all over. I brushed off as much dirt as I can while taking a look around to see if anyone’s around to watch.

It was then that my attention turned to a pair of fancy-looking double doors in the distance. Coincidentally, just as I was looking in that direction, the doors began to open with a rather loud creak. Coming through them was a young lady, and she seemed pretty excited to see me. Of course, I was judging by the fact that she had a huge smile on her face and she was picking up her blue, jewel-encrusted dress as she dashed towards me. In spite of her efforts, though, she tripped on something when she was right in front of me and I had to catch her.

Looking at her up close, I noticed she looked to be about my age, maybe a year or two older, but her face was adorned with so much makeup, it was a bit hard to tell. “It really is you…” she gasped. “You’re really here!” She wrapped her gloved hands around my waist and proceeded to squeeze the life out of me, completely ignoring my wheezing. “I can’t believe it! You actually showed up!” she squealed.

“I don’t know how, miss, but it appears I did show up…” I choked. I waited until the young lady released me from her vice-like grip to continue speaking. “I showed up, but I have no idea where I am… Who even are you?” I asked her.

Her smile mellowed down a bit into a feminine grin. “I’m sure you have many questions to ask me, but I can assure you everything will be perfectly clear in just a moment. For now, all you need to know is that my name is Daphne, and you’re in my home: Castle Blackthorn!” she swung her hands above her head in a grandiose gesture as she explained that last part.

It was a little hard to take this all in, but knowing that this girl of apparent noble birth was going to answer all my questions was a huge relief. I had a lot of blanks that needed filling in, after all. Hopefully,I thought, I’ll come to terms with the situation pretty soon.

“Come on, friend! Father will definitely be ecstatic when he sees you finally showed up!” exclaimed Daphne. Okay, can we stop saying I ‘showed up’ under this tree here? In no way does this explain how I arrived here.

Daphne offered me her outstretched arm, expecting me to lock onto it like some sort of gentleman. Regardless of whether I had any prior experience in treating a noble lady like Daphne appropriately, I could tell at the very least that I should lock my arm around hers. I didn’t remember if I had any type of social standing before I lost my memory, but I thought Daphne was very cute, so I wasn’t complaining.

The two of us paraded down the middle of the castle halls, arm in arm, attracting the attention of every knight that we came across. “Hey Daphne, am I doing something wrong?” I asked her. “All these knights are looking at me funny.”

Daphne giggled cutely in response. “They’ve never seen me walk so close to a boy my age before,” she whispered. “Since most of them have been around since before I was born, it’s kind of a big deal.”

I blushed a bright red. This is embarrassing.

Daphne led me up a staircase wide enough to easily fit a dozen people side by side and stopped me shortly after. A pair of intimidatingly large and heavily armored knights were standing guard in front of an enormous pair of double doors. Daphne took a few steps forward and made a curtsy gesture to the knights, prompting them to step aside. She then motioned for me to follow. “Hurry up! Father is waiting just beyond this door!”

I recoiled, stunned. “What do you mean, ‘he’s waiting just beyond this door’!?” I exclaimed. “What kind of man even is your father…!?”

Daphne placed a finger to her chin. “Oh year, I forgot to tell you. I am the Crown Princess of the kingdom of Blackthorn. My father, whom you’re about to meet, is the king! Wouldn’t it make sense to see a king in a throne room?”

She said that like it was some sort of fun fact. I never expected to meet a king that day, much less wearing those dirty clothes. Would I lose my head for showing up with these rags?

Daphne walked through the two guards and swung open the double doors. I hastily tried to follow behind her, but instead I was greeted with a pair of silver spearheads pointed inches away from my neck. “No unauthorized entry!” They yelled at me.

“No, no, wait! He’s with me!” Daphne cried out, calling back the guards. The two flustered sentries huffed and removed their weapons from my arteries.

I can breathe again… Thanks, Daphne. I really needed that.

With a huge smile on her face, Daphne locked her arm around mine again and the two of us started walking towards the imposing black-clad figure at the end of the room.

“Daughter.” The large older man in an extremely ornate suit of heavy jet-black armor turned his head to face Daphne. “Who is this dirty beggar you’ve dragged into my throne room?” What a total grouch. I bet he didn’t even grin when Daphne was born.

Daphne chuckled nervously. “This is no dirty beggar, Father. This is the Hero of the Prophecy! You know… the one I was supposed to summon. Pardon? I didn’t receive the memo.

Suddenly, the king grew very angry. I could have sworn I felt the room shake at this point. “Do you take me for a fool, Daphne!?” he roared. “I have squires with less muscle than this sorry excuse for a summon!”

This hurt Daphne quite a bit. The king just low-key called his own daughter a shoddy summoner. That must explain why I’ve forgotten everything from my childhood. I’m not from this world!

“Go back to his quarters, Daphne. You are to perform another summoning ritual under my supervision once I’m done with this failed byproduct,” the king barked. “GUARDS!” Jeez, you didn’t have to yell like that, Your Majesty.

“Failed byproduct!? Father, you can’t do this!” Daphne cried out. “I might have failed in summoning him, but he’s just as human as you and me, with a working heart and soul! You’re going to execute him because I failed to summon him correctly!? At least let me send him back to the world where he came from…” Yes, please. I’d appreciate that, and make sure to bring back my memories while you’re at it.

“If you failed to bring an appropriate warrior back from another world, what makes you think it would be any easier to teleport him back to wherever he came from? I just hope you don’t attach yourself as much to whomever you end up summoning next time.”

“I’m sorry, boy!” Daphne wailed. I have no way to repay the life I’ve ripped away from you!”

“What are you waiting for, you two nincompoops!?” The king roared at his two guards. “Drive a spear through his skull!” In response, the obedient guards picked up their lances and started charging towards me.

In response, I thrust out my bare palms towards my two opponents and yelled out in apprehension. “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Hold it, you two!” My intentions were to reduce the use of violence during the encounter…

...But by thrusting my palms towards the two guards like that, I managed to repel their charge with a powerful shockwave of energy--a superhuman maneuver that I obviously had no idea I could perform beforehand. Both of the men who were after my life were rocketed halfway across the throne room and rolled for a moment or two before skidding against the carpeted floor, much to the shock of everyone in the vicinity, myself included. I looked back at the king and smiled sheepishly. “I’m terribly sorry, Your Majesty! I can explain!”

Like hell I can!

The king glared at me with a look of sheer enmity before turning to the two guards, who were quickly getting back up with a cacophony of slices of steel suits of armor and awkwardly picking their spears back up, ready to charge at me once more.

They gave an apprehensive glance at their sovereign ruler, as if asking him, “Do you really want us to go at it again?”

The king motioned towards them by tilting the right side of his head upwards a bit. “Go on,” his body language implied.

The two knights looked at each other in a display of disbelief. One of them, the shorter of the two, shrugged comically, while his taller companion nodded in agreement to whatever proposition he was just offered. The two assumed another fighting pose, an action that prompted me to raise my voice once again.

“Hey, hey! Time out! Don’t I get a say in this!?” I turned to the king. “Didn’t I just prove my strength to you by knocking out those guys once already!?”

The two knights took the opportunity to charge in my direction while I wasn't looking, and before I knew it, both Dumb and Dumber were too close for comfort. I gasped for air, clearly unable to activate my reflexes in time to understand that I have to dodge this attack or else I was going to get skewered--

Oh, wait, I dodged it anyway. Another buff from being summoned, I guess? At least my body recognized I’m not supposed to be pulling these sorts of tricks.

Following the guards’ defeat, I stood in silence, taking heaving breaths. I looked to either side and noticed that neither of the two knights that I had just knocked out were still speechless. “What… what have I done?” I muttered as the wave of realization finally hit me. I know I lost my entire memories up to about an hour ago, but my muscle memory makes it clear as crystal that I’m not supposed to be able to perform what I just performed.

A slow clap rang throughout the room. I turned back and realized that a macabre smile had just snuck his way into the heart of the king. “I… I don’t get it.” I mumbled. “Weren’t you gritting your teeth at me just a moment ago?”

“Daphne,” he turned to his astonished daughter. “I apologize for underestimating your abilities. You have done a fine job in summoning this talented young man.”

“You were testing me, weren’t you?” I barked at the king. “You knew far too well that she’d summoned the right guy.”

“I have no intention of revealing my intentions to anyone, much less an uncouth, rebellious stain on society such as yourself.” the king snarled. Quit making me mad. I don’t want to add regicide to my criminal record. “Let us make a deal, buy,” he announces. “I will pardon all of the crimes you have committed and provide you with a noble title if you can prove your loyalty to me.”

Humor me, Your Majesty. “I’m interested,” I lied. I could hear Daphne’s breath grow dryer and faster.

“Your task is simple,” the king began. “If you wish to prove my loyalty to you, you will pick one of the two knights you have just defeated… and slice off his head.”

Gasp, shriek. I’ve gotten used to these plot twists already… unlike a certain young lady who’s been doing nothing but gasping and shrieking this whole time.

“Father! Are you really ordering this boy to strike down a member of your royal guard while in a defenseless state!?”

Yeah, that’s exactly what he just said. The king handed me a silver sword. “Whenever you’re ready, child.” The king released his grip from the sword, and a cool idea sparked inside my damaged brain. I swung the sword up and down, side to side. I was testing its weight and durability. After making sure I could hold this thing up without much of an issue, I turned to the king, who was squinting at me. I wonder if he’s suspicious…

Once I’d gotten comfortable enough with that blade…

...I stole it!

I bolted my way out of the throne room before the king could stop me. I mean, his guards were knocked out, after all. “Thanks for the sword, bub!”

The king yelled out something so loudly, I couldn’t even make out if he said anything understandable in the first place. The words “Seize the boy!” could be heard echoing through the entire castle shortly afterwards, but by then I had already made it to the castle gates. I mean, I knew I had been granted superhuman speed, so I figured it should have come packaged with superhuman strength...



© 2019 Gummy


Author's Note

Gummy
The first draft of this chapter was in the present tense, so be extra careful for any verbs that I missed during the translation to past tense. With that said, all type of criticism and review is gladly accepted!

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Added on February 8, 2019
Last Updated on February 8, 2019
Tags: stratagem, teen, fantasy, adventure, gummy1295, gummy, novel, chapter 1


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Gummy
Gummy

San Juan, Puerto Rico



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Stratagem Stratagem

A Book by Gummy