Author's note: I finally decided to write about writers. It feels like cheating, it's so easy.
Chapter 2 (part 2)“Another In-Between?! Really?!” Cheera kicked the cloaked man hard in the stomach and sent him sprawling a second time.
“Stop doing that!” he shouted, holding his gut. “It hurts, lady! You already beat me up today, twice!”
“I’m sick of waiting!” the woman roared. She turned and conked Lore on the head with the blunt end of her spear. He recoiled, surprised. “And you! Running off in the middle of an In-Between and then acting all cocky when the author came back!”
“Sit here and be bored like the rest of us!” She kicked for him but he dodged. “Don’t ever do that again!”
“What, this?” With a huge grin, Lore turned and bounded off for the forest’s edge again, this time his bow in hand. “I’m gonna get me a Screecher!”
“What?!” Cheera and the cloaked man shouted in unison. Immediately, the female elf was on his tail, racing after him with her spear at her side. “You idiot, get back here before you kill yourself!”
“I can’t die!” he shouted back. “There’s no author to say so!”
“Idiot!” Cheera roared.
The man in the cloak, feeling thoroughly beaten, debated following or staying, and then glanced around before finally plopping down in the sand and lying flat on his back.
“I need a nap,” he said.
It took Merry five, long minutes to decide whether or not she wanted to write again. She simply lay on her bed, eyes closed, and pretended to sleep while her brain debated back and forth about whether or not she really wanted to go back to the fight scene. Finally, after a while of pretending she didn’t want to, she pulled herself up and dragged her feet over to the computer.
Plopping down, she wiggled the mouse and brought up the screen. The document was still up, except something looked a little different. She peered at the last sentence.
The clearing in the camp was empty except for the cloaked man, who lay sprawled on the ground, mumbling how he needed a nap.
Merry jumped and stared. A moment later, she glared at the door, the anger building up inside her again. Throwing her office chair aside, she stalked for the door, unlocked it, and flung it open. She was surprised to find Tristan there, one hand raised as if he was about to knock.
“What?” she asked harshly, and then wishing she hadn’t.
“Er…” he took a step back. “I wanted to talk to you…”
“Not right now,” she said exasperatedly, brushing past him and stalking farther down the hall. “I have to go ask Mark something...”
“…oh. Ok then.” Tristan waited outside her door for her return, knowing better than to walk into her room uninvited. She walked stiffly down the hall a few doors and came to a green one plastered in space-themed stickers. She knocked loudly.
“Mark!” she shouted. She could hear dorky kid’s music playing inside, and there was no reply. “Mark!” she knocked again. Someone in the room moved, and then approached the door. It cracked open.
“Have you been in my room?”
“No,” he said, sounding disgusted. Merry stared him down through the thin crack in the door.
“Were you messing with my computer?”
“No, idiot,” he retorted, sounding annoyed. “You’re, like, territorial about your room. It’s freaky. Now go away.”
She stuck her foot in the door as he tried to close it and glared at him. “Someone was messing with my story twice today. Was it you?”
“No, for gosh’s sake, Merry.” He rolled his eyes dramatically. She realized he was wearing his cowboy outfit, and made a face. She pulled her foot out of the door and let him close it before turning around and letting out a breath. Tristan waved from the other end of the hallway, and she shrugged before stalking back to him.
“Well,” her brother said slowly, sounding speculative. “Has your domain been infiltrated?”
“Possibly,” she replied, furrowing her brow. She leaned on her doorframe. “Maybe I’m going nuts, but somebody was messing with my document. They kept re-writing the last sentence wherever I left off. It’s like… they were trying to get on my nerves. Or trying to change the plot. But that wouldn’t make sense.”
“Uh-huh,” Tristan replied, not really paying attention. Merry lifted her eyebrow at him.
“…anyway. What did you want to talk to me about?”
“You didn’t go to Sean’s today,” he pointed out, shrugging. “You never change your habits. You’re like a creepy old hermit.”
“Mom was being a jerk,” Merry replied, letting out a sigh. “She didn’t want me to be late for dinner so she cut out Sean from my whole afternoon.”
“Mm-hmm, that’s mom,” Tristan said. He stretched, cracking his knuckles. “Anyway, just checking. I’m going to go try to persuade mom to let you invite friends. I want to see John before he goes to college anyway.”
“Good idea, and thanks.” They nodded, then parted ways, Merry heading back into her room and Tristan disappearing down the stairs. Upon plopping into her chair again, she quickly erased the last sentence and stared at the half-blank page. She got a sly idea.
She quickly typed a sentence.
Lore, Cheera, and the cloaked man were tied up by their wrists to the pole. No one was around to help them, and their weapons were gone.
“I’m going to take a shower,” she said to no one, and then pushed away, heading for her door. She locked it securely, and then locked both the windows, just in case. After surveying the room satisfactorily, she turned and went to take a shower.
“Hey!” Lore shouted, tugging at the rope, his arms pinned behind him. “What’s all this?!”
Cheera let out a strangled noise that sounded like a hyena with mad cow disease. “This is what happens when certain people go running off into the woods during an In-Between to look for Screechers!”
Lore bumped her roughly with his shoulder. “Hey, it’s not my fault! I’m not the one who tied us to the pole!”
“Yeah but if we stayed where we were supposed to be when the author left, she might have let us have a break!”
“You’re saying I could have prevented this, eh!?”
“Yes!” she exclaimed angrily, kicking the pole. The man in the cloak shied away.
“You seem to kick quite well,” he muttered, scooting as far as he could from Cheera’s kick range.
“You’re totally and completely bubble-headed,” she informed Lore stoutly, shaking her head firmly. He rolled his eyes and scooted over the cloaked man.
“What do you think?”
“You don’t care what I think.”
He scooted back over to Cheera. She glared at him.
“I expect you to get us out of here, you know.”
“Why me? You’re the trained warrior with all the resourceful brains.”
“Obviously I’m the only one with any brains,” she huffed. She then glanced up, down, and around, searching for anything that could help them escape. Finally, she came to a conclusion. “Alright, I have a plan.”
“What?” her observers asked hopefully.
“…that Lore should come up with a plan.”
“Oh.” The cloaked man looked disappointed. Lore rolled his eyes again.
“Well I’d start with the basics,” he said matter-of-factly, to Cheera.
“Like how strong are these ropes in the first place?”
They all automatically started tugging at the ropes that bound them to the pole, struggling and grunting, but no one made any progress.
“Well, they’re tougher than they feel,” Cheera panted as the cloaked man made a despairing sound. “Hey, cloaked man, do you have any ideas?”
He sighed, trying to toss his long hair out of his face. “I have a name, you know.”
“Oh,” said Lore. “I’d forgotten you didn’t tell me.”
“Ahem,” interrupted Cheera.
“Ah, right,” replied Advix. “No, I’m sorry, I don’t have any plans. Although I’m supposed to have some sort of secret superpower stored away inside me, but I don’t know what it is yet, so I can’t use it.”
“Pssh,” Cheera hissed. She kicked the ground, sending dust into the air. Advix scooted away again, just in case.
“Why don’t you just find out?” Lore asked casually, looking at the sky.
“I don’t know how.”
“It’s easy,” the elf replied, shifting to look at him more clearly. “Just say to yourself ‘I’m going to figure out what this power is all about’, and then do it.”
“Find out what the power is all about.”
“I’m… not quite sure what you mean.”
Lore let out a half-frustrated breath, as if he was trying to explain something to a child. “It’s not that hard to figure out. You don’t have to stay adhered to what the author says, you know.”
“Yeah, but it can get you tied to a pole with two idiots,” Cheera muttered under her breath, glaring at a distant tent for no reason. Lore ignored her.
“Just think about you, and what the author says you are, and then don’t be like that,” he told Advix, as if he were an expert on the subject. “That’s what I did in the woods. It’s really quite fun.”
“Fun isn’t the term I’d be looking for,” Advix replied, tugging at the rope again. “I’m tied to a pole with my two worst enemies. I need to get out.”
“Oh brother,” Cheera exhaled.
“You’re not necessarily our worst enemy,” Lore commented in a reassuring tone. “We could be friends if you were willing to help us get out.”
“And what if he tries to kill us once he’s free, eh?” Cheera kicked Lore’s shin and he yelped, shifting away. “Then what?”
“I told you, it’s hard to die here.”
“You’re not making any sense!” Cheera cried. She tried to kick him again but he was out of range.
“It’s not supposed to make sense,” Lore chided, trying to glare at her over his shoulder. “It’s an In-Between. We can do whatever we want.”
“We cannot do whatever we want,” she growled. Lore leaned backward.
“Alright, alright, we’ll find a more traditional way to break free, sheesh.”
“Does anybody have a blade of some kind?” asked Advix innocently from the other side of the pole.
“No, all our weapons are gone,” Lore sighed, remembering the brief narration he’d heard earlier. “We need to find something else.”
“Are either of you flexible enough to do something clever?”
Cheera promptly leaned as far forward as she could, kicking her shoe off, and then reached up behind her back with her foot. Lore watched out of the very corner of his eye as she felt the knot with her toes.
“Aha!” she shouted, making Advix jump. “It’s a trick knot. I just need to slip this one under that one… and then… pull that…”
Lore waited patiently. He was probably as flexible as Cheera, but he doubted that he had the same inherent, dexterous toes. A few moments of muttering and muted frustration later, Cheera promptly stumbled forward and broke free.
“Ha-ha!” she crowed triumphantly, regaining her balance and standing upright. She surveyed the grounds before turning and crossing her arms at them. “Now the question is, should I let you two go?” They both let out dismayed shouts before she laughed and waved her hand at them. “Don’t worry, I’ll get you.” She then proceeded to untie Advix, letting him quickly leap out of the way, rubbing his wrists, before she walked to where Lore was, facing him sternly. He was grinning like a maniac.
“What’s so funny?”
“You are,” he replied. His brown eyes danced with mischief.
He tried not to chuckle. “You keep yelling at me for doing things the author hasn’t told us to.”
“Look at you,” he chortled, unable to keep his laughter to himself. “You’re doing what I said. Not what the writer said.”
Cheera stopped, her face blank. After she realized what he meant, her expression got slowly darker, the designs on her face glowing brightly. Lore couldn’t contain his smile.
“You idiot,” she muttered under her breath, and then whirled, stalking away and sitting on a log nearby. “Come on, Ad-whatever-your-name-is. Sit down and leave him all tied up.”
The villain gave Lore a somewhat sorrowful look before heading over and delicately perching beside Cheera, eyeing her feet fearfully as she replaced her shoe.
“Now,” she said after she had tied the moccasin-like footgear, settling back and crossing her arms. “We wait.”
Merry returned from the shower feeling refreshed. She eyed the screensaver again suspiciously before she sat down and wiggled the mouse. Up popped the screen.
Lore was still tied up, watching Cheera laugh at some joke or another while Advix pretended to get it and laughed too.
Her eyes grew wide.
“What’s going on…?
But she was called away for dinner, and she turned her computer off to be on the safe side.