There was trouble in Xanth. This was not at all odd, in fact it would be a strange day if there were nothing at all amiss in the land of Xanth. Magic made for a wonderful life, but it also made for signifigant complications. Lately, for instance, there was the matter of the storks. For years they had been getting increasingly sloppy in their work, the delivering of newborn babies to those who had ordered them, and now they had stopped altogether. Unless something were done about it, it looked as though most life in Xanth would go extinct, as it grew old and faded out without being renewed.
The King sent word of this to the Good Magician Humfrey, who knew everything, or seemed to. The Good magician already knew, of course, and supplied the Answer the kingdom needed. There was just one problem: No one understood it. There was no question that it was correct, the Good Magician's Answers always were, once fathomed.
To interpret the Answer, the King called a conference of his most able-bodied advisors, including most of the royal family, and the interpretations of the Good Magician's Answer only paused slightly when a strange young man materialized in the middle of the throne room with a dazed expression on his face.
The strange man (If, indeed, he truly was a man) seemed normal enough, except for his eyes, which were a few sizes larger than normal and crystal blue, his skin, which was a dull but lustrous gray, his hair, which was thick, short, black, and spiky, and stuck out all over like an ant-lion's mane, and the fact that he didn't seem to know who or what he was.
Princess Ida walked carefully over to him, the small moon that orbited her head swiveling around and hiding behind her honey-gold tresses. "I am Princess Ida of Castle Roogna. It is a Pleasure to meet you." She said, in the proper princessly fashion, though perhaps a bit more cautiously than was strictly proper.
"Castle Roogna?" The man asked. His voice was completely incongruous to his bizarre appearance, it was soft, smooth, and harmonious. "Castle Roogna. Built by Magician Roogna during the Fifth Wave of human migration, serves as the capital of human society on Mainland Xanth."
Princess Ida blinked. The man had recited this, his eyes staring strait ahead, as if he'd been reading from a tablet no one else could see.
"Xanth? Xanth. A peninsula remarkable in that it unlike any other possesses magic. Magic: The force emanating from the body of the Demon X(AN)th. Demon: One of the omnipotent beings that by their very presence enable the known universe to function."
This went on for quite some time, as the man went from one term to the next, seemingly teaching himself all there was to know about Xanth. Ida listened, astounded. This man was speaking truths even she didn't know! Finally, he stopped, having learned enough to get by for the time being.
"Please…excuse my rudeness." He said haltingly. "I have only recently learned about manners."
"That's all right," Ida said, still a bit stunned. "What's your name?"
"Name?" The man asked. "Name. The word by which someone or something is called in reference to that particular thing or person." He blinked. "I…do not know."
"You don't know your own name? But you know so much!"
He shook his head. "I know nothing. Or rather, until you introduced yourself, prompting me, I KNEW nothing. I merely seem to be able to access information on demand."
"Oh. That must be your talent."
"Talent? Talent. A special ability or aptitude. In this context, Magic talent, the specific application a person consciously or automatically gives to the ambient magic of Xanth. Yes. I suppose it must be."
"If you don't know who you are…do you know what you are? You don't look quite human."
Fortunately, Human was one of the words he'd already gotten to, so he didn't need to look it up again. "No. I do not know. But there must be some way to find out who and what I am."
Ida smiled. "Yes, I'm sure there is." She gave the man another quick once-over, and this time, something on his wrist caught her attention. It was a bracelet or a manacle, made of polished gray stone that almost perfectly matched his skin. No wonder she had missed it! Something seemed to be engraved on it.
She reached for his arm. "May I?"
He seemed puzzled, but did not object. On closer inspection, the letters carved into the bracelet spelled out a single word: LINKCE.
"Linkce," she said. "Could that be your name?"
"Linkce? Linkce." He looked confused. "I…" He shrugged, seemingly at a loss.
"Oh, I don't think a name would show up in any sort of directory, unless it was a famous one."
"Then it must be my name," Linkce said. "But that still leaves the question of what I am."
King Dor, who had been silent but observant throughout, finally spoke. "Perhaps this is the answer to the Answer."
"I'm sorry?" Linkce asked.
"Some time ago, we sent word to the Good Magician Humfrey, inquiring as to how we could solve a certain problem. His answer was, 'Find the missing links.' We have been trying to decipher it, for the Good Magican's answers always make sense once fathomed. It's possible he was referring to you, being that your name is Linkce, and that you are indeed, missing."
"Princess Electra, please show Linkce to the guest chambers while we confer."
A cute girl in blue jeans approached Linkce, who stood impassively.
"Follow me," she said, then set off down one of the passages that branched off of the room.