After traveling for a time we head down to a basement area, and end up in front of large wooden double doors. The word “workshop” is on a placard to the side of the doors. Yet, it’s written in some scrawl I’ve never seen in my entire life. I know it says “workshop” somehow. The meaning of the characters fills my head by merely looking at them. Just like being able to understand and speak the language of the knights earlier, it seems that I can also read whatever language this is. I can only assume that this is a direct result of the spell cast upon me last night because the language the woman spoke then sounded the same as the language that I’m able to speak now. The talkative one speaks up while I’m mulling about the placard.
>This is where Master is working! We’ve got other things to work on. Don’t forget to be polite!
The dozens of knights begin to wander off waving goodbye with their giant gauntlets. I wave goodbye as well, then turn to the door. The only thing I can do is gather more information, so I open the door and walk inside. Tools and machinery riddle the floor and walls of the room. Definitely a workshop. Heading further in, I hear a familiar metal tinkering noise and am overcome with the nostalgia of my first car project. At the far wall, the knights’ master is standing over a workbench, doing this and that to what looks like a metal tube on a stand. I didn’t make an effort to hide my entry, so I’m not surprised when a calm and cool sounding voice speaks to me.
>You’re finally awake, wonderful.
I hear the sound of the wrench being placed on the table as she turns to face me. She looks the part of a real mechanic, currently donning overalls, boots and a toolbelt. Her face and hands are covered in oil and grime. Is this the same person as last night? She begins speaking again.
>So, what do you remember? You’ve been incapacitated for several days, and I’m sure you have questions. I have some for you as well; we can trade.
>Uh sure. Days, huh? So from what I’ve gathered we’re either in another dimension, or I’ve been placed inside an elaborate simulation, and you’re all not real. Are you real?
She shrugs before replying.
>Magic to move oneself through dimensional boundaries is currently in the realm of fiction, or perhaps the gods, modern magic can only pull minor entities from the other planes, but not travel to them directly. Well, at least until I pulled you out of the spiritual plane. You’re not what I usually retrieve from there. And as for us being whatever a “simulation” is I can assure you we are very real. If you’re talking about illusion magic, there isn’t a Yusur alive that can accurately fake reality for as long as you’ve been walking around this morning. How did you get stuck in the spiritual plane in the first place?
>In my world, the idea of magic and spirits is fictional itself. I’ve consumed plenty of said fiction involving the supernatural, but I’m still having trouble coming to terms with what’s happened so far. I was chasing after a thief near my house when a light blinded me, and I ended up naked floating in a white void. I was starting to get hungry when you “pulled me out” of there. From what the creatures following me explained, you typically only summon copies of them, and they’ve never seen a “Yusur” being summoned before. What is that? A “Yusur”? And why can I suddenly understand you, unlike last night?
She opens her eyes wide during my explanation and adjusts her glasses before continuing.
>Another world where magic doesn’t exist… Intriguing, but it also sounds dull. “Yusur” as defined in the holy scriptures is “Any life blessed by the loving embrace of the Four Great Channels of existence.” The church’s full explanation is long-winded, but it’s essentially anyone that can think or reason, and isn’t a spirit or summon. You are technically summoned, but based on how your “colleagues” out there were obsessing over you, you seem to have all the traits of a true Yusur. You can understand me precisely because you are a summon. When I bind a creature to this plane of existence, I confer upon it all of my language comprehension so that it can adequately understand and carry out orders. The spell I cast on you bound you to my will, and also gave you the ability to speak and understand every tongue I know.
The Four Great Channels…? Are those this culture’s deities? It’s useful that I can speak the language now, but if “bound to her will” is anything like fiction…
>So what does being bound to your will mean? If what you’ve said is correct, I’m no longer on Earth, and the only way for me to return home is to use magic that doesn’t exist or beg your gods for a trip back. I’ve got stuff that I need to do. I don’t mean to reject your hospitality, or to sound rude, but am I essentially your slave?
>No offense taken. If I found myself in a similar predicament torn from my work, concerned is the least I’d be. I too, have plenty I need to accomplish. If situations identical to this one are so very prevalent in your works of fiction that would explain how well you’re acknowledging what’s happening to you. As far as your will being bound… an experiment. Submit: Shake my hand.
Before I know it I’ve already walked up to, and am eagerly shaking her hand. I’m conscious during the process, but I feel like my mind went blank during it. Unpleasant. She releases my hand and begins to speak.
>So either you played along skillfully, or you’re subject to the same commands as my other summons. Sorry about the grease.
She hands me a towel, which I wipe my hand with.
>Well my body moved on its own, and it felt like I was watching myself from the third person. So I’m guessing it’s the latter. I don’t suppose I could ask you to not do that?
>I will refrain from doing so. I’d instead we have an amicable relationship, and the very act of giving bound summons commands consumes power I need to conserve for more important applications. So, we know you’re quite far from home and desire to return. Unfortunately, I do not know a spell capable of dimensional travel, nor do I know of anyone who might know. I live a relatively secluded life here with my minions and do not know much of Yusur society. I’d send you off to simply go investigate a means of return, but several things make me hesitant to do so immediately. For one, you stated your home has no form of magic, correct? How do you defend from enemies?
>That’s right, no magic. Normal life where I live is pretty peaceful, and there aren’t really enemies to defend from in the first place. I was trying to chase a thief before I ended up here, and was carrying a shotgun. I’m not sure you know what that is.
>A gun? Yes, we have those too. They’re not very effective, however. It sounds like they’re prevalent in your world, is that correct?
A gun, ineffective? Even if they were just shitty muskets or flintlocks, guns are anything but ineffective. This place must have some strange gimmick that I don’t get.
>Yeah, when we fight, guns or explosives are what we use to kill each other. We don’t really fight anyone but ourselves. I’m guessing since you have magic, you also have monsters or something? We don’t have monsters, just animals.
>The people themselves, killing each other? Perish the thought. Your home sounds anything but peaceful to me. Correct, we have “monsters.” Which leads to my next point. I can’t really allow you to leave here if you do not know how to fight. I also believe we can come to a mutually beneficial agreement. Binding you drained an unusually large portion of my power, and I’d like to recover it. I have the means to do just that if you’re willing to cooperate, and as a result, I will be able to assist you in your endeavors to return home.
She points upward in a matter-of-fact way. There’s plenty I don’t know, and I’m not sure what this person is hiding from me. She doesn’t seem to want to force me to do anything, so it looks like my best bet is to ingratiate myself with my only contact so far. I have no other options right now.
>Well, you haven’t tried killing me, and I appreciate the help not being stuck in a void forever. I don’t really have any leads on getting home, so I’ll gladly help.
She extends her hand once again, and I exchange another handshake not minding the grease. Maybe she just forgot already?
>Wonderful, I’m glad to be working with you. My minions don’t really offer much constructive criticism on my experiments, so I’ll be pleased for your help. My name is Janice Torgrimm. You may call me Jani. What is your name?
>Good to be working with you. My name is… huh?
I stop talking suddenly, and a sudden despair creeps up from within. The piece that was lost to me that night makes itself known. I do not remember my name.