Theo Chaves sat in the library, reading. He had access to a large number of books for the first time in his life, so he was taking every opportunity he could. It was hard to find exactly what he wanted, but nothing kept him from going to the shelf and pulling out another book.
As he was about to get up for another book, he noticed a man sitting at the table across from him. “Theo Chaves, right?”
“Y-yeah.” Theo hadn’t talked to almost anyone since he had come to the academy. Almost everyone was much older than him and didn’t have time to talk to a little kid. Not that they’d have much to say to each other anyway. “Are you… a student here?”
“I used to be.” The man extended his hand, leaning forward. “I’m Josef.”
Theo shook the hand offered to him. “I’m Theo. But I guess you already knew that?”
“That’s right. I’m friends with the headmistress, and there aren’t so many people coming through here that I don’t hear about new recruits.”
“Oh.” The man was a bit intimidating with his size, but his handshake had been gentle and he radiated friendliness. Theo wasn’t sure what else to say, “Did you… need me for something?”
“I just wanted to talk. I heard we might have some common interests. Tell me, do you know about the Eternal King?”
“Of course. He just had a big wedding. There was a war that ended just before I was born but I don’t know that much about it.” Theo thought it was kind of weird to have an Eternal King be new- but people just liked to name things.
Josef waved his hand, “Not that one, the one before him.”
“Umm… yeah. I didn’t hear… great things though.”
“Relax, he’s quite dead now. Even if he wasn’t, nobody would go after a little kid- they’d take issue with the new Eternal King.”
“I heard… they did. That was why the war happened.”
Josef shrugged, “It was more complicated than that. Anyway, about the other one- sometimes called the Demon King.”
“What about him? Besides hearing unpleasant things… His last incarnation was a long time ago. More than a… a gross of years. Almost two, now.”
“Yeah, that. Do you think reincarnation like that is actually possible?”
“Of course.” Theo paused, “I mean, he remembered people every time… right? The lords remained loyal between incarnations because he would return.”
“And that meant that he could always kill them if they didn’t.” Josef chuckled, then paused, “Well, I thought it was kinda funny. The headmistress said you were pretty quick with your arithmetic, but had some slow points.”
Theo nodded. “I don’t have that much practice yet.”
“Yeah, you’re telling me. It’s a real pain to switch from base 10 to base 12 isn’t it?”
“Yeah. It keeps throwing me off.”
“Can’t even count your fingers. Gotta use knuckles and stuff. It’s pretty hard to change old habits.”
“Plus, writing with quill pens is a real pain. One mistake and you have ink splattered everywhere, and that’s not exactly cheap. Plus you have to start over.”
Theo nodded, “Yeah.” It was nice to meet someone who had all the same sort of frustrations as him.
“So, where did you reincarnate from?”
Theo’s eyes widened, “W-what do you mean?”
“I thought the question was pretty straightforward.” Josef rubbed his chin, “What world did you come from? I know it uses base ten and has advanced technical knowledge.”
“Advanced technical knowledge?” Theo shook his head, “I-I don’t know what you mean. I only know the kinds of things everyone knows.”
“See, that’s your problem. You came from somewhere that you felt like everyone should know about plant growth and volcanoes and steam engines.”
“U-um.” Theo was trying to back up, but his chair seemed to be stuck.
“For reference, I came from somewhere like this.” Josef slid over a piece of paper- a map.
Theo couldn’t help but be curious and look at it. It wasn’t exactly precise, but the shapes of the continents were close enough for him to get the gist of it. “You’re from Earth?” Theo’s jaw dropped. “I… I’ve never been to Earth. What’s it like?” He couldn’t stop himself from asking, and now it was a bit hard to deny he was reincarnated.
“It was alright. For reference, that was in the early 2000’s. A.D. or C.E. or… do you still use the same numbering scheme?”
“I think so… I was from the 2500’s though…”
Josef nodded, “That sounds about right. I bet technology advanced a lot… while here we’ve done pretty much nothing.”
“Oh.” Theo concentrated on remembering, “If I recall correctly, you would have been… the early part of the space age. Had you settled any other planets?”
“Not yet. There weren’t even any strong projects for that, either. Just vague plans as there had been for 50 years.”
“Oh.” There was silence for a few moments, “Um, do people really not know that stuff?” Josef shook his head. “Hmm. I guess I wasn’t that great at hiding.”
“While we’re working hard on improving education standards, not a lot of kids can write- especially not eloquently. Still, it was mostly a coincidence we figured you out.”
“Oh, well… I’m kind of glad you did. Nobody would take a kid like me seriously.”
“Eh, you’d just have to wait a couple dozen years. Headmistress Lorenz will take you seriously though. You don’t need to worry about hiding stuff from her.” Josef looked toward the door of the library, “Look, I’d love to stay and talk, but I have to go. Lots of business to deal with. If it’s an emergency you can talk to the headmistress and get in contact with me. Good luck, Theo.”
“Umm… thank you, Josef.”
Theo sighed. His cover had been thinner than he thought. People really didn’t know the basics of the world? Well, obviously some of them did. Still, the expected possibility of being executed for heresy or being dissected for study didn’t happen. He wouldn’t necessarily expect that from someone from Earth… but he wouldn’t completely rule it out either.
Josef seemed very straightforward, but he had come and gone like the wind. Theo wondered what he was up to. He went to the window, only to see Josef riding away surrounded by soldiers. Their insignias seemed familiar. Wait, was Josef being taken away by the royal guard?
Theo shook his head. Of course he was. After all, the new Eternal King was Josef Rutten. Theo wasn’t exactly sure if meeting the king and knowing a secret about him was a good thing… but it was a little bit late now. At least he wasn’t completely alone in his experiences, even if he doubted he had much more than a similar place of birth to the king. He supposed technically their second birthplaces had been much closer, but it didn’t feel the same.