An Afternoon in Lovali

Just another random little story co-authored with AI Dungeon. I set it up with the first paragraph there, and then continued along in Story mode, so it’s not clear below who wrote which words after that, but that’s okay. The whole “time traveler meets his younger self” thing was the AI’s invention, not mine.

You’re sitting at a sidewalk cafe in the old part of the city of Lovali, an ancient port by the sea. The coffee is strong and good, and the people passing by are as varied as the weather. It’s a sunny afternoon on a good spring day. Life is good.

And then the assassin walks by.

He’s about six years old, and his clothes are ragged and worn. You catch his eye and smile in recognition.

Yeah, you recognize him. It’s you.

You wave him over and he slides into the chair across from you.

“Can I buy you a mango juice?” you ask, digging into your pocket for some change.

“Sure,” he says.

You motion to the waiter and he comes over.

“A mango juice for my friend here,” you say.

“Coming right up, sir,” the waiter replies, then trots off.



“I never thought I’d ever have the chance to meet myself.”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s pretty weird.”

You both sit there, staring at each other.

“I remember this day,” you say, “and what you’re on the way to do.”

“Yeah, I know what you did,” you say.

“Do you blame me?”


“Really? You don’t think I’m some sort of monster?”

“Hey, remember, I know exactly why you were going to do it, and how few choices you have right now.” You sip your coffee and look out over the harbor. “Besides, when I was your age I did some pretty bad things, too.”


You nod.

“Would it change your life if, I don’t know, I gave you a hundred florins right now?”

“Yeah, it would.”

You look at him, considering. He is you, after all.

“I’ll give you 300 florins if you go back to being a boy in grade school,” you say jokingly.

He smiles. “Too bad the universe doesn’t work that way. I’d be rich,” he says.

“Tell me about it.”

“But here,” you say, remembering that this is exactly how it went, “here’s fifty florins. Take and and do whatever you like.” And you hand him exactly that much.

“Thanks, Dad.” You have to smile at that.

A cart rumbles noisily by, full of melons and sticks.

“Look out!” you yell, but your younger self doesn’t hear you. He ducks just as a stick would have hit him in the head if he hadn’t moved. He looks over at you. You smile at him, and he nods and walks off into the crowds.

You watch him go. Maybe you learned a lesson from this experience after all.

A woman in a brightly-colored dress comes out of the cafe and sits at your table. “Buy me a coffee,” she says.

You grin. You’ve always liked strong, sassy women. You buy her a coffee.

“Lovely day,” you say, with just the right hint of irony.

“I was watching you,” she says.

“That obvious?”

“I saw you talk to that little boy, and it was clear from your faces that you were related.”

You smile. “Yeah, that’s true in a way.”

“Are you from here?”

You might as well give her the truth. “I’m from the future.”

She laughs. “Of course you are.”

You smile. “I know, it’s unusual, even in this city.”

“Why are you here?”

“I’m glad you asked,” you say as the waiter comes with her coffee. After he leaves, you explain it all to her, from beginning to end.

“That’s why I’m here. I gave him fifty florins so he could pursue his dreams rather than do something stupid.”

“What are you going to do now?”

“For once in my life,” you say, “I don’t know. What’s your name?”


You like that name. You watch the crowds of people go by, sensing an ending, but not knowing what that ending is.

“And what is your goal in life, Frieda?” you ask her softly.

“I don’t know,” she says. “Someday I’d like to have a house and garden of my own.”

“That’s all?” you ask, only slightly sarcastically.

“For now, that’s enough.”

“Walk with me?” you say, extending your hand.

“Okay,” she says, taking it. You walk along together.

“Where are we going?” she asks.

“Nowhere in particular.”

“That’s okay,” she says, “it’s not like I have anything better to do.”

“Neither do I.”

You spend the day wandering around the city, now perfectly content to do nothing in particular. She tells you about herself, about her father who died in the war and her mother who passed away from the plague, about how she wants to go to the New World…

“The New World will become a truly fantastical place,” you say.

“More fantastical than this?” she asks.

“If you can believe that men can fly to the moon, then the New World will seem even more fantastic.”

You spend hours together, then days, then weeks…

“So are you going to marry me?” you ask.

“That’s sort of sudden,” she says. You’re lying on a grassy bank together, beside the river that flows into the harbor. She is wearing a white dress, a garland of flowers in her hair.

“I’ve known you for months now,” you say. “Months in this time.”

She looks at the river, then at the trees. “I never thought I’d live in a place this beautiful.”

“So you’ll marry me?”

She kisses you on the cheek. “Yes. Yes, I will.”

The ceremony is simple and short, but you couldn’t care less. You kiss your bride, and then you both turn to look at the river and the trees.

“This is our home,” she says. You smile and nod.

A week later, everything is the same, and everything is different. You and Frieda are sitting in the same cafe, drinking strong coffee and watching the crowds together.

“So what do you want to do with the rest of our lives?” you ask.

“What else is there?” she says. “Just us, and this city, and this time.”

You smile. “What more could one ask for, eh?”

You’ll never know how it happened, but when you died, you were smiling.



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