Cyrus Darkmore came to London to find her, and this small man keeps telling him something about a stupid number.
“Sir, if you want to contact her, I need a number,” he explains, holding a newspaper dated from yesterday, May 1st, 2000.
“How dare you speak of her like she’s just a number? She has a name, Sierra.” Anger shows in his tone, but he pronounces “Sierra” as if the name reminds him of both sorrow and love. The man behind the counter looks startled.
“I’m sorry, sir, but I need more than a name. And I meant her telephone number.”
“I don’t have… that!” Cyrus responds as if the poor man in front of him had asked him for something that does not exist. “And it’s Your Majesty actually,” he adds seriously, looking him up and down. Cyrus Darkmore is, after all, the King of Elpida.
“But… Your Majesty? I… can’t contact someone if the only thing you have is a name!” Incredulous, he takes a few steps backwards until he turns and storms towards a door, muttering a “sorry, need to…, goodbye.”
“But you did not help me, you stupid, strange man living in a big rectangular house full of toys!” His breath is short at the end of the sentence. He leaves the building and wonders how a grown man can give his house a name such as Smyths Toys Superstores.
He walks straight out until he is almost run over by some kind of red carriage, apparently pulled by nothing. “Hey, careful with your carriage,” he shouts at it.
Where he’s from, people’s carriages are pulled by horses. Cyrus knew London was different from Elpida, but he never expected… that. There are rumours about great castles and bridges, but, up to now, he finds there are only strange and certainly not elegant palaces. He took the portal in his palace this morning, thinking about her, Sierra. It should have brought him straight to her. Instead, he found himself in a strange cold basement. He took an iron box with doors to come back to the surface of the Earth. He was then asked what he was doing in… what did she call it again? Right the Hospital. Surely, this smelly gray palace with an ugly name is not Sierra’s type of home. Elpida’s island blossoms with nature and magic; it is far more beautiful and marvellous than Great Britain. Had he known five years ago, he would not have sent her here.
The more he thinks about it, the more he is convinced the portal must have been right. He walks back toward the Hospital, concerned that Sierra might not be the same. Altering memories can have strong repercussions on someone’s mind…
He glares at the palace as if it were conspiring against him and walks through the doors that opened independently. He does not remember seeing any magic in this city. His palms are sweaty, and he puts his hands in the pockets of his long elegant black coat, trying to hide his trembling fingers. Somehow, he can feel that she is nearby. He hasn’t seen her in five years, and she won’t even remember him. Despite that, he needs to check on her, make sure she is still safe.
He reaches the woman at the counter and says, “I need to speak with Sierra.” The woman sighs with annoyance, but her lips curve into a smile when she glances at him. Cyrus can see how her eyes examine his handsome features, short pale brown hair, and blue irises as dark as the bottom of the ocean. He would be flattered in other circumstances. However, Sierra is his priority. “Can you tell me where she is, miss?” he asks, urgency pointing in his voice.
“Oh, she’s working, probably on the second floor,” she answers, blinking her eyelashes.
“Thank you, miss.” He leans over the counter, takes her hand, and kisses it lightly. He turns after seeing her surprised expression, and he wonders if men around here have any manners at all with women.
He enters the iron box for the second time today with an elderly woman. He already forgot how it works, so he does the only thing he can think of. He shouts, “second floor.”
The elderly woman jumps and grumbles, “And everyone tells me that I’m bad with technology.” Cyrus almost feels embarrassed as she presses two buttons.
When he finally arrives on the second floor, he bids farewell to the woman, “Thank you, madam, for your help in the iron box; I wish you a delightful visit in the Hospital.” He slightly bows before her and turns, eager to find Sierra. He hears laughter echoing behind him as the doors of the iron box close.
As he rushes around the corridors, no one really pays him any attention, so many servants in white running around. He thinks about the choice he made five years ago. He chose to send her away; he erased her memories of magic, Elpida, and, of course, of him. He did it to protect her. She never would have been safe in Elpida with him. Deeply, he knows she wouldn’t have wanted this; she would have fought him. This might be the only selfless choice he has ever made. Had she stayed with him, his enemies would have used her to get him to surrender the throne. A few people know that he is not the true heir to the throne, but they don’t have any proof. However, he still wonders whether he should have left Elpida with her.
Lost in the past, he turns a corner and bumps into a servant in a white coat. She stumbles into his arms and, instantly, he recognizes her. She let her golden hair grow longer in the past years, and she still radiates love and compassion. When she glances up, he freezes, resisting the urge to kiss her forehead. Her eyes recall a violet night sky brightened by a million stars.
She staggers backward, her cheeks slightly pink, and apologizes, “I am so sorry, I wasn’t looking where I was going.” Her voice sounds like the sweetest music he has ever heard. And then, it strikes him.
“But… you’re a servant?” he says, startled. “You deserve way better!”
Sierra starts laughing, a beautiful, joyful sound. “I can’t decide whether you’re serious or joking. I’m a doctor, see?” She points to the stethoscope around her neck.
“Of course, you are… dedicated to helping others.” Part of him wonders if she is aware of her healing talents. He also realizes the white coats are not servants.
When he does not add anything else, she asks, “Can I help you?”
“I would be delighted if you would do me the honours of grabbing a coffee with me.” He blurts out the words before he can change his mind. And he heard people around here loved to grab coffees.
She smiles at his offer and responds, “You are incredibly strange but also charming. I would be enchanted to go out with you.”
He lets out a relieved sigh, unaware he was holding his breath. After saying their goodbyes and setting a place and time, he kisses her hand and leaves.
Cyrus steps out of the portal, back into the basement of his palace. His adviser, Allan Emerson, waits for him with a cup of tea. “How was your visit to Great Britain, Your Majesty?”
“Horrible! These people have no manners at all, except for Sierra, of course. And let’s not mention their ugly palaces. What kind of man calls his palace Smyths Toys Superstores?” Cyrus lets out a sigh before adding, “I must say, Sierra is still as beautiful as ever. I will revisit her tomorrow.”
“Perhaps you haven’t seen the right corner of London. I heard rumours about a certain Windsor Castle,” Allan admits.
“I certainly did not see any castle. I will look into it soon with Sierra. Surely, she must know about it.” He takes a pause and turns toward Allan. “I will grab a coffee with Sierra tomorrow, and I desperately need your help. What is coffee?”
“I am sorry, Your Majesty, I have never heard of it. It must be something new, invented in the last century maybe. Your father never visited the lands beyond Elpida, neither did your grandfather. I will look into it.”
“Thank you, Allan, and look into carriages pulled by nothing. I wish to understand how they can travel without any horses or magic.” Cyrus sighs and mutters something about London being a mysterious and strange place.
Inspired from the prompt “Write about a character arriving in a place unlike anywhere they’ve ever been.” from https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/.