by herondale982
The Wardrobe
Episode One: The Wardrobe
It was had the end of a particularly bad day, that Emma discovered the magic of the wardrobe. The wardrobe, to be precise, was a massive dark-wooded piece of furniture tucked away in the corner of the attic in Emma’s house. It had to be at least fifty years old, and was big enough for Emma to fit inside- which is exactly what she did. When she was younger, Emma used to spend afternoons pretending it was a castle or a space ship, but now it was the perfect location for her pity parties. It was the one place no one would bother her.
With earbuds planted firmly in both ears, Emma began to let herself cry. Halfway through AWOLNATION’s Sail something heavy landed on Emma’s head with a thunk. Switching on the flashlight app on her phone, Emma realized it was a book on medieval times she’d picked up from the library. She’d hidden them in the wardrobe so her younger brothers couldn’t get into them. As she gazed down at the illustration of a castle the book at fallen open to, Emma wished for a moment that she could escape from this world, and go to that one.
That was when something strange began to happen. With the sound of Sail still blasting, the wardrobe began to twist and turn. Emma was thrown against one of the walls. Then, almost as quickly as it had come about, the movement stopped. The wardrobe was still. The music had stopped. The words “NO SERVICE” blinked catatonically across Emma’s phone screen.
Emma cautiously kicked open the wardrobe door. The familiar attic had disappeared. The wardrobe had landed on the edge of a cool, green forest, just a few feet away from a cobblestone wall. Emma took a tentative step outside.
She caught glimpse of a boy, around her age, pacing back and forth a couple meters from the wardrobe. He had shaggy brown hair and wore the strangest outfit- tights and a tunic.
“Hello?” Emma called.
The boy whipped around, his eyes frightened. He drew a sword from his belt at the sight of Emma.
“Who are you?” he demanded, with an unusual accent.
“My name is Emma,” she replied, backing away at the sight of the weapon.”I don’t mean any harm. Could you please tell me where I am? I’m sort of lost.”
“You’re just outside the kingdom of Lindor,” he nodded towards a gate in the cobblestone wall.
Emma peered through to see a network of cobblestone paved streets teaming with people dressed up like the boy. Thatched-roof houses competed for space. A shadow-y castle, eerily similar to the one from Emma’s book, loomed in the distance.
“Oh I see,” Emma said. “This is some kind of Renaissance Fair.” That still didn’t explain how Emma had gotten there, but at least it answered some of her questions.
“A what fair?” the boy asked. He’d gone back to nervously pacing, although he kept the sword unsheathed. “Why are you dressed like that?”
Emma shook her head. “Very convincing. What’s your name?”
“David,” the boy answered. “Prince David François Raphael of Lindor.” “Right,” Emma said, taking a seat at the foot of a tree. “And what are you doing out here, Prince David Fr-” Emma proceeded to painfully butcher the pronunciation of the prince’s full name.
“First, you aren’t pronouncing it right, but I’ll choose to ignore that if you’ll simply call me David,” he said primly. “Second, if you can’t already tell, Lindor isn’t the richest of kingdoms. My father made a deal with the king of the next kingdom over. If I kill the dragon that is terrorizing his kingdom, he’ll reward us greatly.”
“Cool,” Emma nodded approvingly.
David appeared unnerved by her terminology. “I’m Lindor’s last chance. My mother is dead and all of my brothers before me have failed.”
“Well, what are you waiting for?” Emma asked. “Go kill the freaking dragon!”
“Don’t you understand?” David exclaimed. “I’m not yet thirteen years old and I’m expected to slay a dragon that’s killed everyone who has tried! The fate of the entire kingdom is in my hands!” He slid down the tree and slumped to the ground like a ragdoll.
“I’ll help you,” Emma said.
“You will?” David asked, having lost all color in his voice.
“Sure,” Emma said, still believing she’d somehow teleported into a medieval times reenactment. “How hard can it be?”
“But…” David started. “You’re a girl.”
“Screw gender roles,” Emma shrugged and stood up.
“Pardon?” David asked, not understanding Emma’s newfangled slang.
“What does it matter if I’m a girl?” she clarified. “Why should that stop me from slaying a dragon?”
“I suppose you have a point. And it would seem I need all the help I can get.” David said, climbing to his feet. “Indeed, screw gender roles.”
“Here we are,” David said. He’d led Emma through a path in the forest to the mouth of a sandstone cave. As they grew closer and closer to the cave, the number of signs painted with “TURN BACK NOW!” warnings increased.
“This is the only other weapon I have,” David said, slipping a short dagger into Emma’s hand. She thanked him and David studied her for a moment. He was almost positive she would have given up by then. However, Emma seemed completely at peace with the idea that there was a fierce man-eating, fire-breathing dragon awaiting her inside the cave.
They started inside. It wasn’t long before the last glimmer of outside light disappeared. David and Emma found themselves stumbling through the slippery, rocky darkness. Emma yelped as she bumped her head. David clamped a hand over her mouth. She scowled. This guy was really taking his game of LARP too far, she thought. A distant growl rang through the cave.
David slipped his hand into hers and crept slowly further into the cave. It wasn’t much longer until they ran into something massive and…scaly. They looked up to see a pair of glowing green eyes that belonged to none other than the dragon herself. The dragon reared her head and spat a fountain of orange fire. That’s when Emma realized…
“That’s…that’s real!” She mumbled in stupor. David pulled her with him as he darted behind a boulder.
“Who dares to enter my cave?” the dragon’s voice boomed.
“I can’t do this,” David’s panicked whisper came. “Let’s just sneak back out. We’ll have to run off and live in the forest.”
“What about your kingdom?” Emma hissed. She flinched as the dragon gave out a roar.
“I can’t save them,” David whispered. In the quick flash of light, provided by the dragon’s next round of fire, Emma could see how afraid he looked.
She reached for his arm. “I’ll distract the dragon; you sneak up behind it and deliver the killing blow.”
“Are you certain this will work?” David asked fearfully.
“Who goes there?” The dragon demanded again.
Emma nodded unsurely. “Just go for it. You can do this, and don’t think otherwise.”
Thank you, Emma,” David whispered. He paused and listened for the dragon. “You had no reason to help me, and still you did. I must say, you’re one of the bravest maidens I’ve ever met.”
Emma smiled gratefully. “Let’s go.”
Together they crept out from behind the boulder, as the dragon let out a long ribbon of fire.
“Who goes there?” The dragon screeched impatiently. She had a gravelly but feminine voice. “There’s a child in here, maybe two. I can smell it. Who goes there?”
Emma gathered up all the courage she possessed. “It is I, Emma. Emma the…um, timelord.”
“Tell me, Emma the timelord,” she dragon crooned. “Why did you wake me from my slumber? Give me a reason not to eat you, and I’ll let you walk free.”
“I’m sorry for waking you,” Emma said to the dragon’s green eyes. Her knees began to shake. “It’s just you seemed so lonely out here. You see, I tell stories. Let me tell you one. If you don’t like it then you can eat me.”
“Sounds like a fair deal,” the dragon said. “Come closer, minstrel.” Emma took a few steps closer. She could feel the heat rising off the dragon’s skin. “Commence.”
“Once upon a time, there was a young girl,” Emma swallowed nervously. “Her parents gave her away when she was just a baby and she was taken in by a new family every few years. Everywhere she went, the girl never felt like she belonged. One day, she discovered a magical vessel that could take her to another world, another time. It could take her far, far away from all of the problems in her life.” Emma paused.
“What did she find?” the dragon asked.
“In the time she travelled to, she met a boy who had been born for the sole purpose of saving his kingdom,” she continued. “At twelve years old, he was sent off to fight a terrible monster. All of his brothers before him had failed and he was his kingdom’s last hope.”
“Tell me what happened next!” the dragon demanded. “Did they slay the monster?”
“They did.”
Just then the dragon let out a terrible scream and its glowing green eyes flickered, and then closed. Its head and neck hit the ground with earth-quaking force.
“Emma!” David’s voice came from the darkness.
Emma struggled to locate him over the sound of ringing in her ears. She felt David take her hand and pull her back towards the entrance of the cave.
“We did it!” Emma exclaimed breathlessly when they were back in the light of day.
“We did it!” David repeated. They stood in the mouth of the cave, still catching their breath, until they finally headed back to the village.
“The story you told the dragon,” David said after a beat. “That was your story, was it not?”
Emma nodded.
“Where did you come from exactly?” David asked.
“From a land you haven’t discovered yet,” Emma answered. “And from the year 2016.”
“Is that how people dress in the future?” he asked.
Emma nodded. David wrinkled his nose.
“And what did you say took you here?” he asked.
“It was a wardrobe,” she replied.
Emma shrugged, at a loss for words. “I don’t know how. All I know is I wished I could be here and it happened. I was here.”
“Although neither of us knows how this happened,” David said. “I’m glad you came. If it weren’t for you, Emma, I’d be dead and my kingdom, doomed. I thank you.”
Back in the village, David was celebrated. Emma mostly hid in the crowd. David had insisted she receive credit for helping him, but she refused. People here would be confused by her clothes and how she spoke. After a few hours of the celebration, Emma managed to find David in the crowd.
“I’m going home,” she told him. “Goodbye.” She reached up to give him a hug. He accepted.
“Wait for me,” he said in to her hair. They let go of each other.
“You’re coming with me?” Emma asked.
“If you’ll let me,” David said. “I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged here. But fighting that dragon back there with you, I’ve never felt like I’ve belonged somewhere more.”
“Meet me back at the edge of the woods,” Emma said. “Fifteen minutes.”
“Alright,” David nodded. “Fifteen minutes.” He took off back into the crowd.
David found his father, King Giles, and pulled him aside.
“I’m leaving,” he explained. “I didn’t defeat the dragon alone. I’m leaving with my friend. We’re going far, far away.”
“What?” the king choked. “You can’t leave! You’re the only son I have left. Who will inherit the throne when I am gone?”
“Both you and I know the only reason I was born was to slay the dragon and save the kingdom,” David said boldly. “Now my purpose is fulfilled. As for the throne, I’ve never been strong in leadership. Let one of my sisters inherit it.”
“A woman as the ruler of Lindor?” the king exclaimed. “Preposterous!”
David shrugged. “Screw gender roles. Goodbye, father.” He ran for the wardrobe.
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