Again, it's after the jump. I'm just doing this to avoid cluttering up the list of posts.
The princess led me to a small room. Inside was a stone tablet inscribed with a variety of symbols. She said "This was written in an ancient dialect. It says something like
'Outsider comes from the forest
Confused, knowing not of Renolia
Help him, our world depends on it
His magic will save us all'"
"It is the name of our land. Tell me, outsider, what magic do you know?"
"My name is Tim. As for magic... I don't know any. I didn't even believe in magic until that guard did that thing with the rope."
The princess looked upset. "I was afraid of that. I once journeyed to your world I was unable to use any of my magic there. Perhaps you have great potential that has gone unrealized since your world does not allow you to use it."
"I guess. I'm willing to try learning, I guess. How does it work, anyway? Do you just know how to use it or..."
The princess thought for a moment. "For elementary magic, we have short incantations in a special language you can say to achieve the desired effect. If you get into more complex magic, you can start mixing and matching words from different incantations. The most skilled wizards have managed to use a spell simply by saying what they want to happen in their native tongue."
"Speaking of native tongues, why do you guys speak English?"
"English? I don't recognize this word."
That confused me quite a bit at the time. I said "English. You know, the language we're speaking right now? I guess you guys could have a different word for it, but that still doesn't explain how two separate languages from two separate worlds evolved into the same one."
She laughed. "We are not speaking the same language. In fact, the guard who found you doesn't speak the same language as either of us. My father employs a powerful wizard whose only job is to continually cast a spell that removes language barriers. It works for all languages we've encountered with the sole exception of the one we use for magic."
"Oh. I guess that makes sense. Your father would be..."
"The king, yes."
I started smiling. "I shouldn't have any problem fulfilling the prophecy if I have the local royalty providing financial support." There was an awkward silence for several seconds. I said "Princess, is there something you haven't told me?"
"My father does not believe in the prophecy, nor does my mother. They are the ones who instituted the law that outsiders should be either deported or executed. It is best if they are not aware you exist. I may not have as much power as my parents, but I still have plenty of resources at my disposal. I can get a teacher for you to learn magic from, access to the royal archives if you are ever in need of information about this world, and some funds should you need to acquire something. You will try to fulfill the prophecy, won't you?"
I said "Of course. Assuming it's talking about me, that is. It's kind of vague. It doesn't describe the outsider at all, or say when it will all happen. How old did you say the prophecy was?"
"I didn't, but it is around one thousand years old."
"I'm not surprised no one believes in it."
The princess's eyes widened, and she stared at the wall as if she could see something there. "My father is coming this way, and there's only one path out. I'm going to teach you a spell that's been kept a secret by the royal family for generations. It teleports you to the Otherworldly Forest, but it can only be used once a day. Go back to your world, and come back tomorrow at the same time. I will meet you there so we can discuss what to do."
She started writing something down. I said "Before I go, what's your name? Should I just call you princess or Your Highness, or..."
"You may call me Catherine. Read this."
She handed me the piece of paper. I read off "Tepo otfo." Looking up from the paper, I found myself back where I first entered Renolia. I went into the forest and returned to Earth.