Previously: The Legend of Leonard Letterman, Pt 28
Leonard gaped at Osric, his mouth hanging out, heading shaking at the impossibility. Leonard couldn’t understand why Osric would say it if it wasn’t true, but it just wasn’t possible. He searched for Wilhelmina’s face in scope of his blurry vision, finding a paler version than usual, her mouth also agape. She too was shaking her head at the impossibility.
“I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but that’s what we need to find out,” Osric said, turning to Wilhelmina, imploring her with his eyes. “We have a lot of talking to do,” he added with a hard look and disquieting undertone.
When she’d finally unfrozen, Wilhelmina put a hand to her brow and began shaking her head emphatically. Leonard thought he heard her muttering the word “no” but he couldn’t be sure. He felt all the more lost and confused, like the floor had complete disappeared from under him, leaving him scrabbling in free fall hoping for anything to cling to on the way down.
Leonard jumped when the weight of a hand rested on his shoulder. He almost knocked into Wilhelmina, the owner of the hand, with his jarring movement, but steadied after recognizing her touch. Though she looked like she’d aged, Leonard still saw the fierce strength in her gaze, which soothed his anxious thoughts.
He took a slow, deep breath, eyes still locked on Wilhelmina, who nodded at him as he exhaled. The feeling started coming back to his legs, and though his arms still pricked and tingled, they didn’t feel quite so heavy anymore.
“What did he say?” Leonard heard himself ask a little hoarsely, his throat dry. He cleared his throat and swallowed a few times before trying again, sounding much more like his usual self, if a little shaky, “What did my father say to you the last time you saw him?”
Leonard shifted his body and attention to Osric, searching his face for any and every answer that may make itself known. Osric stood in the far corner, where his pacing had taken him, with his hands clasped behind his back.
“He didn’t speak much. That’s part of the strangeness. He hasn’t been fulfilling his duties in the usual fashion for some time now, but Etta’s been explaining it away with one thing and another. Though at this point, I don’t know how much to believe…” Osric’s voice tapered off and his eyes went out of focus. Leonard was sure he was recalling and reexamining everything his older sister may have said to him for a long time.
“When is the last time you saw Gerard in Palloria?” Osric asked Wilhelmina with a shake of his mane, his eyes coming back into focus.
“The last time Gerard was in Palloria, to my knowledge, was the last time Etta was in Palloria, again to my knowledge. And that, was around ten years ago Palloria time. I was still recovering from being sick…or poisoned, as the case stands,” Wilhelmina said, finishing with an indignant huff as she crossed her arms.
Osric’s eyes widened before his furrowed brow overtook them. He slowly shook his head, much in the same way Leonard had moments previously, though Leonard couldn’t imagine what would shock anyone as much as the possibility of their dead father being alive.
“How can that be?” Osric asked the room so softly that Leonard almost missed it.
“How many years has it been, Krosis time, since you came to Palloria with medicine for me?” Wilhelmina inquired, cutting into whatever swarm of thoughts Osric was losing himself in. The shrewd countenance had returned to her features; it was comforting to Leonard to see.
“Nearly five,” Osric replied darkly. The siblings exchanged a meaningful look that was lost on Leonard. He looked between the two of them, hoping one of them would explain the increased anxiety written on their faces.
Leonard tried to remember how to breathe, to send the proper signals from his brain to his heart and lungs to keep him pulling oxygen into his body, and expelling carbon dioxide. At every turn, there was another endless series of questions in need of answering before they could move forward. Each moment held within it the capacity to shatter previous notions of truth and understanding; Leonard wasn’t sure he wanted to be on an adventure anymore.
Pushing aside thoughts of his familiar mail route worlds away, Leonard managed to ask, “What fresh hell does that mean for us?”
Wilhelmina and Osric held each other’s gaze for an infinite moment. Leonard’s heart kept the seconds between his question and their reply. Finally, Osric looked at him.
“It means, there’s a very good chance that someone is tampering with the power of the portal, or the shards…we need more information, more certainty and facts, but…if the differences in time between our worlds has been intentional, we could be in even more dire circumstances than originally thought…” Osric searched Leonard’s face as his voice died away.
Within the space of his next heartbeat, Leonard felt his legs give way beneath him. The stone floor rose absurdly fast to meet him.
Click here for Part 30!