Author's note: I finally decided to write about writers. It feels like cheating, it's so easy.
Chapter 1 (part 2)When the bus arrived they mounted the stairs and while Tristan dumped himself on the foremost seat beside Alice – a girl he liked – Merry tromped to the very rear of the vehicle and plopped down beside a skinny boy about her age but much taller, his nose buried in a book.
“Hi Sean,” she said as the bus rumbled into motion again.
“Hi,” he said, lost in another world. Merry smiled to herself and waited, tapping her fingers and humming happily. After a minute or two, Sean looked
“Oh,” he said, looking up. “Hi Merry. Where’d you come from?” He had a notable Irish accent, and he wore reading glasses, although he usually took them off for non-book-related activities. His face was smattered in freckles and his hair was a slightly lighter shade of black than Tristan’s, while his eyes were a light, soft green.
“I’ve been here,” she replied, giving him a false accusing look, her arms crossed. “You didn’t even notice when the bus picked me up.”
“Eh, I was reading Poe,” he explained, waving the book in her face. “I don’t notice much of anything when I’m reading Poe.”
“So I figured.” Merry giggled. “Remember what today is?”
Sean pretended to think for a moment as the bus pulled to a slow stop in front of another house. He rubbed his chin, then snapped his fingers and pointed at her. “It’s Five Months to NaNoWriMo day!” he exclaimed. “June first.” Merry rolled her eyes dramatically.
“No, idiot,” she said, smacking him over the head. He chuckled.
“I know, I know,” he replied, laughing to himself. He glanced at his book, but then decided to go for a green notebook instead, which was resting by his backpack. “Happy birthday. But that aside, have you been thinking about your next Camp ‘WriMo challenge?”
“Doofus, of course I have,” she replied, delving into her backpack and pulling out her own notebook. They both flipped their notepads open at the same time and came to their planning pages. Merry’s was crowned with a curving title in spiraling letters. Several of them, to be correct, since she hadn’t decided on the official title yet, but each one was satisfactorily fitting. She pointed at one she had circled in blue. “What do you think of this one?”
Sean slipped his reading glasses on and peered at the notebook. He gave her a raised eyebrow look.
“ ‘Rainbow Legend’?” he asked, sounding dubious. Merry slanted her mouth at him.
“Come on, the crystal is rainbow-colored. I wanted the title to have something to do with the book.” She glanced at his notebook and raised her eyebrow at his title too. “Unlike ‘Complete Reaction’. That just sounds like a science project’s concluding paragraph.” Sean rolled his eyes and pulled a pen out of his back pocket, clicking it open.
“It does have something to do with the story,” he reminded her, scribbling a side note in the margins. “Remember, Doctor Yasha is a scientist.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Merry sighed and scribbled in her margins as well. “But how can you stand writing real-world fiction? Fantasy is so much more… free.”
“Freer,” Sean corrected, continuing to scribble. “Oh, what was the name of your protagonist, again? It was something cliché, that’s all I remember.” Merry punched him in the arm.
“Eclipse,” she reminded him as he rubbed his shoulder. “She’s a swordswoman, and not really a protagonist.”
“Is she one of those not-so-good good guys?”
“No, not particularly,” Merry said thoughtfully, pursing her lips and tapping them with her pen. “She’s just… not a “hero” type. She’s more like the type that doesn’t do stuff for other people. She’s a carefree character. Doesn’t really do anything except commissions…. Or… something. She’s kind of new.”
“She’s not like… that other guy, then? The one elf guy…?”
“Lore.” Merry smiled to herself, and shrugged, letting out a happy sigh. “Lore will do anything for attention, it seems. He got captured by the enemy last night and Cheera just saved him.” She wondered how Lore, as new a character as he was, managed to capture her attention as well as he had. “And she’s only known him for, like, a chapter and a half.”
“You’ll have to let me read it.”
“Sometime,” she said, turning back to her notebook. “For now… I have to plan. I want to characterize Eclipse. She seems really interesting.”
“And I need to figure out who’s going to fund Doctor Yasha this time.”
Merry laughed. Sean was so easy to talk to. Everything they said to one another was understandable to her. Nobody else in the school was a writer except them, and the dorky journalism club, but they didn’t count. To Merry and Sean, writing was special, but everyone else just thought they were weirdoes. But she was ok with that.
Somehow, her thoughts drifted back to Lore. Almost absentmindedly, she wondered if he would get out of the camp without further injury. The man in the cloak was of course the main villain, and Lore had probably caught onto that, but what confused her was how Cheera hadn’t. She was usually so keen about everything and everyone.
“Hmm…” Merry muttered to herself. Sean looked up from his incessant scrawling curiously.
The school bus jolted to a stop as they pulled up in front of the school, and Merry picked up her backpack.
“I’ll tell you later. Come on, we have to get to class.”
“Bummer.” Sean slipped his glasses away as Merry bounced forward to walk with Tristan to the high school. The long day had begun.
Lore angrily sat down on a nearby rock, chin on his hands, looking pouty.
“Right when we were getting to the good part,” he mumbled. Cheera leaned on the pole and made a bored face, glancing up at the clouds and letting a long, loud sigh. She flicked her golden braids over her shoulder and made a nasty face.
“Why do we have to wait, again?” she asked loudly. The man in the cloak sat down beside Lore casually, but nobody answered. Cheera threw her arms up into the air and let out an exasperated noise. “Because our writer is a little girl still being weaned on an education!” She pushed off the pole and stormed around in a frustrated circle. Her spear and shield were thrown on the ground nearby, next to Lore’s bow and arrows, and the villain’s electrified sword.
“I will admit,” the cloaked man said, not sounding in the least bit old. “This is rather boring.”
“Boring?! Boring?!” Cheera kicked her spear and it went flying, sticking neatly into the ground by a tent and vibrating. “This is going to melt my brain! I’m sick of being stuck in these scenes and waiting for someone to turn the laptop on again!”
“I take it as an opportunity for a nap,” the cloaked man said with a happy sigh, putting his hands behind his head and leaning on the tent behind him. Lore glanced over and caught sight of his profile. He jumped up, pointing.
“You’re the man from the castle!” he shouted, startling the cloaked figure. He paused, thinking. “Hey, doesn’t that mean you’re the one who killed Cheera’s cousin?” Cheera whirled around.
The cloaked man shrugged. “Yeah, so what? He was a preening, conniving idiot of a prince. He deserved to be kille- OW!” Cheera sent him sprawling as she kicked him violently in the ear.
“He was still related to me, moron!” she yelled. She paused. “Although, that means I can kill you quickly and get out of that oath I took to avenge him.”
“The author’s going to get a kick out of this,” Lore pointed out cheerfully as he tried to scale a tent pole. The female elf shrugged, rattling the numerous beads and wooden carvings hanging from her necklaces and bracelets.
“The oath was mandatory, really. He was related. And royalty. Everybody sort of expected his trained-warrior cousin to go after his killer.” She sat down in the cloaked man’s spot as he got to his feet, rubbing the side of his head indignantly.
“You have an interesting attack method,” he pointed out, almost sadly. She nodded absentmindedly.
Lore, by this time, was on top of the tent and crawling along the main beam happily, much like a lemur. He reached the other side and peered down, then followed an imaginary line as it darted away to the edge of the camp, and then to the forest beyond. He tilted his head and pursed his lips. On the other side of the tent, he could hear Cheera and the villainous killer chatting it out casually, but their conversation was no longer interesting.
“Merry’s going to be disappointed,” he mused, feeling semi-guilty at discovering her plot twist before the story was ready. He would have to pretend to be as shocked as he would have, if the story were convincing enough. Just like he did every time.
He suddenly felt very oppressed for some reason, and let out a long sigh. His light brown eyes wandered toward the forest’s edge. His mind drifted. “…I wonder what’s over there…” he whispered to no one. He lowered himself down and sat on top of the tent, still acting like a lemur for no discernible reason.
The wind picked up a little and blew his fine, black hair around. A hair brushed his ear and he flicked it offhandedly, wondering where Merry had gone, and when she would be back, and why she always had to leave in the first place. He didn’t know how he knew her name was Merry – it came to him one night in a dream, one that Merry hadn’t written, in an In-Between session. He shrugged.
The forest seemed so close.
He glanced over his shoulder to make sure Cheera and the nameless villain were still chatting, and then grinned. Slowly, silently, he eased himself over the edge of the tent and landed on both feet with a thump, his boots soft from being nearly worn out. He cackled silently to himself and then stole off toward the forest’s edge, wondering what lay beyond.
It only took a few minutes to reach the wooded edge, where the terrain abruptly switched from dry, salt grass to bright green bushes with waxy leaves. The way the wind rushed between the leaves and rustled them seemed to beckon him, and he took a step forward. This was technically something he wasn’t supposed to be doing, but he’d never tried it before. He was supposed to be the mellow one.
“This is brilliant!” Lore suddenly exclaimed as he shouldered his way through some thick underbrush, his steps quickening. “Why did I never think of this before?” His smile grew as he stepped out into a lush, dark green clearing, sunlight pouring down through the leaves and dappling the ground. Something about being this free from Merry, and from the others, seemed relieving, almost. It made him feel like his own person.
Casually, he made his way deeper into the forest, all the while eyeing the trees and shrubs surrounding him. This certainly was different, eyeing everything from a different viewpoint. There was no narration constantly hanging over his head, telling him what to do. He was available to do anything he wanted. Anything at all.
Curious as to what that entailed, he glanced around and spotted a large tree. He eyed it, grinned at it, and then darted for it before scaling the first few branches quite easily. Once he was high enough, he straddled a large branch and looked down. It seemed quite far –but with no writer to detail the injuries…
“Can I even get hurt?” he asked aloud, and a small chickadee flew off a branch slightly above him, startled. Shrugging, he simply tilted sideways and let himself slide off, tumbling down the tree. He bounced off a few branches with a good-sized ‘oof!’ before falling on his face in the soft, left-over leaves. He lay there for a few moments. After a minute, he raised his head and dazedly blinked
“…oh,” he said slowly. He pulled himself stiffly into a sitting position and looked around him, nursing a throbbing arm and a cut on his face. “Well… I’m still free, aren’t I?” he looked up at the sky and wondered if he could will himself to fly. Sadly, after he tried, he wondered what about being free was different from being tied to a writer.
“I need to find out.”
He go to his feet and stood, surveying the woods and wondering if there were any dangerous animals about for him to slay bravely, while being heroic and dashing at the same time. That was something Merry would never let him do, since the situation had already been avoided twice in the woods when he and Cheera had been tracking the cloaked man.
She seemed to be partial to Cheera, he realized, as he began making his way through the woods again. Maybe it was because they were both women, or girls, at least. He stuck out this lower lip but didn’t really take it that badly. Instead he peered around the trunk of a large tree, where he immediately spotted a large paw print sitting starkly in the middle of an otherwise smooth patch of mud.
“Oooooh,” he said, interested immediately. He sneaked toward it after sliding lithely around the tree, tiptoeing like his master had taught him – whoever that was… Merry hadn’t written anything about him yet – and crouched beside it, tracing the shape of it with his fingers. “Screecher.”
Almost instantly a loud, haunting, spine-tingling, strangled scream sounded from deeper in the forest, making Lore jump, lose his footing, and fall onto his back. A haunting breeze carrying the scent of flowers filled the silence as e stared with wide eyes into the darkness behind the farthest trees and gulped. A moment later, he smiled.
“Well,” he commented softly, his voice barely resonating through the air. He got to his feet silently and began stalking toward the sound. “I wonder what Cheera will think when she hears about this…”
Meanwhile, Cheera was still talking to the cloaked man.
“…and then, you know… I was twelve, he was eleven. And I’ve always been better trained then him, you know?”
The man in the cloak was half-sliding off his seat beside her with his legs draped out over the sandy grass, wondering of this torment would ever end.
“…so I just sort of… hit him in the nose,” the elfin woman continued, mimicking the motion with a sly smile. She pulled back with a happy sigh and leaned against the tent. The man in the cloak slid off the seat entirely and lay on his back in the sunlight, letting out a little musical sigh. Cheera glanced at him.
“Well,” the man moaned, his voice droning. “That was an interesting story. Want to hear about the time I-?”
“Oh!” Cheera exclaimed, sitting upright and spreading her hands. “There was this hilarious time when Lore and I were going through the ravine… this was a few days ago, mind you… wasn’t it? Hey! Lore! Weren’t we in the ravine just a few days ago? The one in the…?” She trailed off, glancing around. “Lore…?” She looked at the pole, then an abandoned fire pit, then the tent behind her. She slowly realized what he’d done, and balled her fists, her cheeks tinting red.“ Lore!” she hollered, leaping to her feet and scooping up her spear. “Where’d you go?!”
“He left,” the cloaked man sighed, motioning tiredly over the other side of the tent, still on his back in the sand. Cheera sent a kick in his direction, missed, but walked off swiftly anyway.
“Stay here until I get back, scum,” she ordered, stalking off around the tent, muttering. Lore was in huge trouble now.