Listening to A Loved One Talk About Something That Excites Them Is a Particular Type of Fun
“And then I did this super cool flip,” Jacob said, standing up to do a backflip to demonstrate. “Right onto this cultist’s face, and I used it to kick off and jump onto another cultist, and I made him fall into another cultist, and they all fell down and I was, of course, fine.”
Isaac smiled. He’d had no doubt that Jacob would have come out of it fine. He’d taken a portal up north to a city called Narwhal Junction, where his brothers and sister had been fighting an apocalypse. He’d assured Isaac it hadn’t been a serious apocalypse, though, so Isaac was trying not to be too worried. “How many cultists were there?”
“Um, like fifty?” Jacob asked. “I’m not sure, it was hard to get an accurate count since they were all dressed identically and everything was on fire. One of them was the governor of Narwhal Junction, though, which sucks for them. Oh, and some of them had magic, which is…”
“Cheating,” Isaac finished. “I know.”
“Good, you cheater. Nate mostly handled those since Ignatius had stayed behind in the tower to break the world-destroying spell, which I think he kind of did with his bare hands, so make sure to ask him about that when you see him, because it was probably really cool and it’s only fair that he gets to tell you about it. After that Pax came back to the boat and then it was all kind of over, though I did get arrested briefly on suspicion of having been involved with the cult, which of course I wasn’t, because I don’t look very good in blue.”
“You look good in every colour,” Peter told him, before Isaac could. “Did you hurt anyone when you broke out?”
“No, and also we were all eventually exonerated, which was a first, and now I think an Imperial prince owes Pax a favour, so that’s cool.” Jacob let out a breath. “Did I forget anything? Oh, right. The world didn’t end. You’re welcome.”
“Thanks,” said Isaac, getting up to give Jacob a kiss. He didn’t seem hurt, though he did have a small tear in his sleeve. “I appreciate that.”
“I thought you might. The whole time I was saving the world I was thinking, ‘I bet Isaac and Peter would really appreciate it if the world didn’t end.’ I know you guys pretty well, I guess.”
Isaac laughed, taking Jacob’s hand. “Yeah, I guess you do. Thank you. How can we ever repay you?”
“I’m sure you’ll think of something,” Jacob said, squeezing Isaac’s hand a little. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you the full details before I left. There wasn’t a lot of time.”
“That’s okay. I’m not the boss of you,” Isaac told him. “And we’re just glad you were safe.”
“I’m always safe. My family collectively is immune to danger.” He appeared to think for a second, sticking his tongue out. “We weren’t all there, so our collective immunity might have been a bit weaker. So we’d better find Callie and Dee before the next apocalypse happens, though it might have to be postponed until Cal gets back.”
“Where’d he go?” Isaac asked, frowning.
“Uh. Unknown?” Jacob asked, looking nervous. “He fought Kozna, the cult’s evil torture god. And then he and his whole team got kidnapped by a mysterious time clock.”
Oh. Isaac looked at Peter, who shrugged, then back at Jacob, who didn’t seem that worried. “Is someone getting them back?”
“Not at present, because we don’t know how, but possibly in the future or past, because time travel. But rest assured all possible research into the subject is being conducted, just in case he’s not returned in good time.” Jacob smiled. “I only left that out of the story because I didn’t want to worry you over something we can’t do anything about. And also it wasn’t about me.”
“That’s okay,” Isaac said, sighing. It was worrying, but Jacob wasn’t wrong that there was nothing to do about it. Which was the worst kind of worrying, but whatever. Hopefully Cal and them were all okay. “Aren’t all clocks time clocks?”
“The Involuted Clock is a little different.”
Isaac looked over, saw Seth standing near the door. “Hey, you. Where have you been?”
“Narwhal Junction,” Seth said, hands in his pocket. He looked a little sheepish. “Which I guess I don’t need to explain thanks to Jacob.”
“Oh, I’m sorry,” said Jacob. “We could have co-told the story if you wanted, but I didn’t realize…”
“No, it’s okay. I was just watching. You guys did a really good job out there.”
“Thank you,” said Jacob. “That’s the first time this year I’ve received validation from a ghost, and I appreciate it. If you could do me the favour of communicating to other ghosts that I’m tired of them ignoring my accomplishments, I would appreciate that as well.”
“I’ll see what I can do.” Seth sighed an unnecessary sigh, sitting next to Peter. “There are a few minutes that I can’t see. This happens every time the Involuted Clock appears, it messes everything up and makes it impossible to see history. I tried to find Cal but I couldn’t.”
“What do you mean every time it appears?” Peter asked. “What is this clock?”
Isaac had only ever seen one clock and it was the one in the archmage’s office, which was hung on the wall even though it looked too heavy to be hung on the wall. He was pretty sure it wasn’t magical, though.
“I don’t really know. It’s a weird artefact that travels through time,” Seth said. “Sometimes it takes people with it. I don’t know where it came from or anything, but the people it transports have always come back in the end, so I wouldn’t worry about it.”
Isaac would definitely worry about it. He may not know Cal that well, but he didn’t want him stranded in the past or something. “Okay,” he said. Wizards were supposed to be able to travel in time. Maybe Ignatius could figure something out.
“It’s really okay,” Jacob promised, leaning on Isaac. “He’ll be okay. Apocalypses that my family averts are always okay in the end. One other thing, which is unrelated.”
Jacob reached into his shirt and pulled out a letter, which he gave to Isaac. “I didn’t have time to give this to you before I left, but I have all these invitations to the royal wedding that’s happening soon and I know you don’t like parties, but I thought you might like to come, and also it would mean a lot to Prince Franz since you saved his dog’s children. I’ll be working, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event and I think it would be fun if we all went.”
Isaac looked down at the invitation, deciding that he didn’t have the heart to tell Jacob that he was already invited to the royal wedding. “Thank you,” he said, putting it on his bedside table. “I’ll come.”
“Thank you,” said Jacob, beaming. “Okay, we can resume discussing the apocalypse now. Seth, did you see the part where I disarmed that one cultist and then made him kick himself in the balls?”
“Uh…yeah, I think so?”
“You think so? Are you sure you were there? I’ll show you what it looked like!” Jacob hopped into the middle of the room again, getting a knife out.
Isaac sat back and watched him, a little worried about almost everything he’d said, but mostly just glad he’d had a good time. It was hard to be too worried when Jacob had so clearly had fun averting the apocalypse.
Maybe that was the strategy Isaac should take into the next one he was involved in.