Chapter 3

[Please start with Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 before reading this part of the story!]

I followed my two guides through the huge wooden doors and entered a circular room with a white marble floor. Right in front of me, there was a table with a large vase filled with two dozen red roses. Seraphina smiled at the roses for a brief moment before turning right and leading us through a wide corridor with countless doors on each side. Laurenar was now walking behind me to ensure I didn’t venture into rooms I had no business of seeing. We followed the corridor until we had reached the fourth door. I could see that we were about halfway between where we came from and where the corridor ended. We were standing by another elegant entrance guarded by a single soldier equipped with a lance. He saluted before Laurenar, who replied with a stern nod. Seraphina opened the door and the blonde knight gave me a friendly push. Clumsily, I entered the throne room.

The throne room was not empty as I had expected.  Dozens of people were celebrating what seemed to be the last hours of a great feast. There were two long tables set up to the sides to make room for a dancing floor in the middle. At the tables you could see knights in shining armor resting their heads on the tables after having too much too drink and politicians still squabbling over some trivial matter. The remnants of delicious meat platters and countless empty bottles of wine were scattered over the tables. However, the center of attention was the dancing floor, where a large group of twenty guests were dancing in carefully synchronized movements to the tune of the music. The music was provided by a man playing what looked like a medieval version of the piano and a woman playing the lute. It was just music with no singing accompanying the instruments. I tried to observe what Laurenar and Seraphina were thinking. The warrior was now standing to my right and looking directly at the queen, paying almost no attention to the ongoing feast. Seraphina looked at me for a moment and directed my attention to the back of the room.

There, the queen was sitting atop a golden throne and watching the dancing on the floor with a wry smile. Her long, straight blonde hair fell past her shoulders. She took a sip of wine out of the goblet and continued to watch the gracious movements of the dancers. Her smile never wavered. She finally took her gaze off the dance floor and noticed us. With a graceful wave, she motioned us to come closer. I could feel how I was getting more nervous. Of course, the queen had been part of the game, but she was more of a mystical feature and the Lion’s Den was closed off to players. It was only during the major holidays the game version of the queen made an appearance. Usually, she was at the center of a short event before retreating back to the safety of her palace. But again, I realized I wasn’t sitting in front of my computer screen anymore, but actually standing in her throne room.

As the three of us passed the dance floor to make our way to the queen, she stood. She was about a head shorter than me and slightly taller than Seraphina. Of course, I was dwarfed by the imposing figure of Laurenar, who must have been close to two meters tall. He and Seraphina bowed graciously before the queen. With another wave of her hand she motioned the remaining guests to leave the room. I had expected this to take a while, but it seemed the guests had just been waiting to be dismissed. Within two minutes, even the sleepiest knight had been woken up and had been ushered out without causing any trouble at all. Soon, only Laurenar, Seraphina, the queen and I were left in the room. For a second, I wondered why no guards were present. However, I dropped the thought quickly and took a closer look at the queen. She was much younger than I had expected and her features had not yet been hardened by the stress of ruling a country. The queen then looked directly at me and I found myself staring into sapphire-colored eyes full of curiosity and wonder.

“Welcome to my home.”

I bowed nervously and then looked towards Seraphina and Laurenar. They were focused on the queen.

“I’m glad that you have made it here. We have been awaiting your arrival.”

“You have?”

I was surprised and even more confused than before. The queen acknowledged my confusion by smiling and nodding.

“Have Seraphina and Laurenar told you about what awaits you?”

“No.” I had no idea where I was and what exactly had happened to me what seemed to be a lifetime ago.

“Excellent.” She paused while giving my two guides a look full of gratitude.  “I would like to introduce myself properly. I am Sophia, the first queen of Illusio. I rule over this humble continent.”

In the video game I knew almost by heart, the continent provided enough to explore for countless hours, but I had no idea how it’s size would translate to reality. The moon was now shining in through two oval windows at the back of her golden throne. The throne was the only overly extravagant piece of furniture in the room and it stood out accordingly. And because the room was not at all decadent, the queen was able to maintain her air of humility and grace. I glanced over to Laurenar, who was concentrating on the queen, but surveying the room every few seconds. Now I understood why no guards had been left in the room. Seraphina on the other hand seemed to be more focused on me than the queen. She followed the queen’s words, but tried to catch my eye to see if I was listening. Of course I was listening. I just wasn’t understanding much.

“I’d be honored to have you as my guest the next few days while you prepare for your adventure.”

“My adventure?”

The queen smiled once more and looked into Laurenar’s eyes. He then turned to me and gestured towards the exit with his arm. With an earnest voice he commanded:

“First, you’ll get a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow, we will answer your questions.”

Suddenly, I really hoped this wasn’t just a dream.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you very much for reading so far. If you’ve enjoyed it, please subscribe on the right hand side by clicking on “Follow” or follow me on Twitter for the newest updates! You can also get in touch by leaving a comment or writing me an e-mail. Any feedback is much appreciated!

After some great advice from @waithaka2010 I’m also looking for a good digital camera for beginners to start adding some pictures to the blog. So if you have any recommendations, please let me know. I’m back on Monday with another place in Switzerland I believe you should visit. Until then, enjoy your weekend!

Sincerely yours,

Albert

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