He reached around where he stood and felt enclosed by a wall. At first he thought it to be metallic. As he ran his hand along the inside of the “box” he was in, he noticed the texture was more like glass. He had an odd thought about all those mimes he saw, acting like they were trapped in an invisible box. He now understood how they felt.
As he became more oriented, he noticed that he wasn’t wearing any clothes. He really didn’t know how to deal with that, but at least he was in a dark box. He felt his head, and the helmet was still on.
The coldness emanated from a slight draft. It seemed to be coming from directly in front of him. He took a small step and reached out. There did appear to be a small gap in the box. Enough to fit through, he surmised.
He decided to take one step forward, putting him just outside of the enclosure.
Blinding light assailed him. He held his arms over his face. It took several minutes for his eyes to adjust. As the shock subsided, he looked around the very large room.
It appeared to be some sort of laboratory. The room, circular in design, had numerous monitoring devices along the walls. There were large units that flashed odd symbols. Symbols he recognized from those in the crown.
The room was mostly white in color. This helped, he believed, to make the blast of white light all the more effective for distracting or subduing any unsuspecting victim.
Am I a victim? He wondered.
He noticed that as he turned counter-clockwise. Soon, he faced the square space that he found himself originally. It was, as he suspected, transparent glass.
The room overwhelmed him. His turning was slowed by his need to observe each new device that the room held. It was mesmerizing.
As he faced front again, he was attracted to a red object he missed previously. How could a miss a red object in all this white?
The red object twisted around and stared at him. He instinctively covered himself. It was a woman. The red object was not a woman, but the woman was dressed in a long lab-like jacket. It was her hair that was glaringly red. Her glaringly red hair hung all the way down to her thigh.
“Wilkommen!” the woman said. “Ich bin Vrennj. Wie geht es dir?”
Knowles recognized the language as German. It seemed odd. The woman didn’t really appear to be German, and he was pretty sure he wasn’t in Germany. He had been there in the war, and this was most certainly not Germany.
“Do you speak English?” he asked.
“Englisch?” she asked back.
“Yes, English. Do you speak that?”
She held up a finger, the international – or was it universal – symbol for “just a minute.”
Knowles watched the young woman (he assumed) open her left palm parallel to the floor. Above her palm an image floated.
“What in God’s name is that?”
The woman glared at him and said “Eine minute, bitte.”
Knowles kept silent as he watched her touch the image with her right index finger. The image shifted and turned various colors and shapes as she did so. She smiled and touched one floating symbol. She turned to him and said “Eine minute, bitte,” in a somewhat softer voice.
He watched as her eyes closed. She stood in a kind of a stasis for several minutes. He didn’t move for fear of interrupting her.
The glowing images above her palm faded. She opened her eyes and looked at him.
“Can you understand me now?” she asked.
She smiled and the whole room seemed to reflect her mood.
“Well then,” she started. “Welcome! My name is Vrennj. How are you?”
Knowles realized that the woman must have been given a two minute course in a quick start English course. He sighed not expecting much information. Surely someone here must speak it more fluently, if she was just taught a few words, he thought.
“I am fine, thank you for asking. Although, I am a little concerned that my attire did not seem to follow me wherever I am.”
“Oh,” Vrennj looked slightly confused. “Were you not offered the special suit that went with the crown?”
“Yes, yes I was. It was not explained that it was required that I purchase such a suit.”
“Purchasing the suit certainly is not required. Did your salesman not say that you would be more comfortable in obtaining the suit?”
Knowles felt a slight pang knowing that Samir used those exact words. “I think he used those exact words.”
“Would you have been more comfortable with the suit?”
“Yes, yes I would be more comfortable. Is there any way I can purchase one now?”
Vrennj gave Knowles the once over, showing not a sign of any type of embarrassment.
“It doesn’t seem to me that you are carrying any type of currency,” Vrennj said.
“I’m sure my wallet is with all my other accessories. Why were you speaking to me in German at first?”
“The helmet informed us you were from Earth. The last person from Earth was sure the Germans would take over the whole Earth. Apparently, we were miss-informed.”
“No, the whole world stopped Hitler. Things seem to be settling down.”
“Hilter, Adolf Hitler. The leader of the Germans.”
“What happened to Wilhelm?”
“Wilhelm? Kaiser Wilhelm was defeated in World War One. It has been a while since someone from Earth has been here, obviously.”
“Well, unlike you,” Vrennj explained, “not everyone volunteers to fight a dragon.”
“Excuse me. How exactly did I volunteer to fight a dragon?”
“Did you not agree to the ‘Terms of Service’ before trying on the helmet?”
“Hmm. Wait a moment.” Vrennj held out her left palm again. An image floated above it. With a motion of her right the image transferred to a larger viewing screen so Knowles could see.
“Right here,” Vrennj paused the image. “You can see your thumb swiping across and then the conditions appear. You then swiped it again, agreeing to them. It’s all very clear.”
“Conditions? I couldn’t make out what those symbols said. I just tried to make them clearer.”
“Do you often agree to things you don’t understand?” Vrennj asked.
Knowles gulped, knowing he was going to have to fight a dragon whether he wanted to or not.