Author's note: I finally decided to write about writers. It feels like cheating, it's so easy.
Chapter 3 (part 1)It was night, and the door swung open and then shut with a soft click. The light turned on and Merry, wearing the soft pink dress she had been instructed to wear, dragged herself over to her bed, and lay on it quietly, appearing tired.
“That,” she told the goldfish, “was the worst birthday party I have ever had.” She frowned deeply and lay on her side. “I’ve never been humiliated on my own birthday…” she tried to brush at the large stain on her skirt again, but it wouldn’t
She let out a long breath and took off her dress, changing into her pajamas slowly. Afterward she tossed the dress onto the floor and flung herself onto the bed.
Tomorrow was just another day, and it would no doubt be as dull, tedious, and long as today. It took her a moment to remember why her day had been so extraordinarily long, and she realized she hadn’t been to Sean’s house that day. She mumbled meaningless, disheartened words under her breath before rolling onto her side and eyeing the light switch.
What a disgrace it was to make mother angry during the party. Her mother rarely lost her temper in front of company, but this time it seemed it had been building up for a while. She had taken Merry aside and told her to look more cheerful when she walked in with a sour face, and later she fairly exploded when Merry spilled the wine on her dress. It hadn’t even been Merry’s fault. It was somebody else’s wine she accidentally tipped.
Then her father had reprimanded her as well, in front of all the adults. Everyone sang the birthday song half-heartedly, and even the cake was disappointing – it looked impressive, but tasted fake.
The only good thing about the evening had been Tristan’s present. It was a magnificent, ring-bound sketchbook and a pack of excellent quality drawing pencils. She realized she had forgotten it downstairs and punched her pillow, more out of melancholy than frustration.
“I hate today,” she muttered. With that, she reached to the second light switch and flicked it off. The room plunged into darkness, save the dull light of the moon outside. Feeling alone, she rolled over and tried to sleep.
“I wish you guys were real,” she whispered sadly to her laptop, its outline barely visible on the desk. She closed her eyes and imagined them in great detail, to try and calm herself. Especially Lore.
His soft, black hair, and intense eyes. The way he carried himself when he walked – shoulders straight, with his bow slung between them on the quiver full of arrows. His profile, his smile. Everything.
Lore was trying to sleep, too. Cheera and Advix had gone to sleep without him, and he eventually took a chance on his toes. Luckily, he managed to untie himself before rubbing his wrists and slowly walking toward where the other two had settled down. He lay down a few feet away from Cheera, on his back, and stared up through the pitch blackness at the wide streak of stars that peppered the sky.
There were so many stars. But he was too upset to care.
“Why do I feel so… sad?” he thought, his eyes flicking from constellation to constellation. He tried to pick out his favorites – the goddess queen Alias and the warrior-hunter Javan – but they served no comfort to him. He rolled over. Then rolled over again. Then again. Finally, he sat up.
“Something feels wrong,” he whispered to himself. Frowning, he looked back up at the sky, but still he found no solace there. “What is it?”
He sat there for a long time trying to figure it out. It wasn’t a feeling he necessarily felt himself. It was almost as if he was picking it up from someone. But he didn’t have the ability to do that, and if he did, he didn’t know where he got it from. He finally reached over and poked Cheera.
“Mm?” she moaned, stirring.
“Cheera,” he whispered.
“Mmm… what?” she murmured back, turning her head at him, blinking blearily.
“Are you feeling alright?”
“I’m feeling fine… why do you ask?”
“Just… thought you might be feeling sad, you know…”
She let out a strange, tired, groaning noise. “I’m fine. You’re being silly. Go back to sleep.” She rolled over and was promptly out like a candle flame. Lore slanted his mouth and thought. He scooted around Cheera and over to Advix. The villain was curled up under his cloak, his armor piled nearby. Lore poked him.
“Gak!” the man cried, jolting upright and startling Lore. “What?! Where?!” The elf shuffled away quickly, out of range of Adix’s swinging arms. “Who is that?!”
“It’s me, idiot,” Lore hissed angrily. “Stop trying to kill me. I want to ask you a question.”
The swinging stopped and Advix paused, realizing he was alright.
“Oh… what did you want to ask me? And why now?”
Lore shrugged. “Just wanted to know if you’re feeling sad.”
The villain seemed to think about it for a moment, debating, and then finally let out a huff. “No. I am not sad. I am tired, cold, stiff, hungry, and annoyed. The last thing I am is sad. Now if you would please do the me the honor of letting me sleep again…?”
“Fine.” Lore rolled his eyes and scooted away. He stared back at the sky as Advix settled down again and wondered why he felt so frustrated, so humiliated… but only as if they were echoes of someone else’s emotion. It was confusing, and it hurt to some degree, although he was also curious and determined to get rid of the feeling.
It took another five minutes for him to get a new idea. No one else was around, and the two he was with were not sad in the least, and there was only one other person who he could think of that might be in pain.
“Merry…?” he asked, looking up at the sky. There was a long moment of silence as the stars winked and blinked at him cheerily from the sky. “Hmm…”
He closed his eyes and focused. She was nearby. It felt so strange, as if he was being called. In fact, as the feeling got stronger, he was sure he was being called. She was thinking about him, wanting him there.
Lore opened his eyes, realizing he was sitting on something soft. He paused. It was some sort of chair with wheels. He rolled it forward a bit, then back a bit, and then stopped, trying to figure out where he was. He knew he was somewhere near Merry. He could feel her shame over there, by the bed.
“This is weird,” he said softly to himself, looking around the small room curiously. His night vision quickly adjusted to his surroundings and he surveyed first the desk, then the chair, then the bed. He could see Merry’s form under the blankets, and wondered how he knew it was her.
But that didn’t matter. He stood up and carefully tiptoed around the bed to the door. He tried the knob but it was locked and, unknowing as how to open it, he tiptoed back to the chair. The windows looked promising, but he didn’t know where he would go.
He eyed Merry again. Her breathing was slow and steady, meaning she was asleep.
“Maybe I should wake her up…” he thought. He was still confused. Maybe his writer had the answer. Making up his mind, he stole his way over to the bed and, crouching by it, slowly reached out and touched her shoulder.
“Merry,” he whispered. “Wake up.”
“Mmph,” she said grumpily, and he leaned backward. Then he poked her.
“Get out of my room, you moron,” she mumbled sleepily. “You’re sleepwalking again.”
“Erm…” Lore shook his head. “No, wake up, it’s me.”
“I know, Tristan, go away.” She rolled over so her back was to him. Lore stared for a moment, and then poked her again.
“It’s me, Lore.”
Merry waved her hand at him and grumbled.
“Tristan, stop. You don’t even know who Lore is. Go back to your room… how did you even open the door…?”
“You called me here.” The voice didn’t sound quite like her brother, she suddenly realized. She paused.
“You called me here, I think,” the voice replied. It was deeper than Tristan’s, but not as deep as her father’s. And he was acting very strange. Her eyes snapped open and she rolled over, coming suddenly face-to-face with someone unfamiliar. There was a moment of silence.
Merry screamed, jerking away and fumbling blindly for the light switch. Her scream startled Lore and he jumped away, still on all fours, scooting toward the chair again almost fearfully. Outside, a door opened, just as Merry managed to flick on the light. Lore blinked rapidly and shaded his eyes as Merry, terrified, clutched her blankets and whirled to face him.
“Who are-?!” she stopped herself short, catching sight of his pointed ears. She gasped loudly and Lore, now frightened, backed up until he came into contact with the chair, rolling it backward. The doorknob suddenly rattled and someone pounded on the door.
“Merry! Are you alright?” her father boomed, and Lore nearly jumped out of his skin. He tried to back up under the desk, confused and intimidated. Merry stammered.
“Unlock the door! Let me in!” More pounding.
“N-no dad, it’s ok!” she shouted suddenly, her voice wavering. “The… um… um… I had a bad dream, that’s all!” She was unable to tear her eyes away from Lore as he cowered away, watching the door.
“Are you sure?”
She paused. Lore flicked his eyes to her. At least she thought it was Lore. Almost.
“Yeah. I’m fine… go on, let me sleep.”
“Hmm…. Alright.” She heard him murmuring to her mother and then they both moved away, turning off the hall light as they went. She hadn’t even noticed it turn on.
Then there was a long moment of silence as she and the elf stared each other in the eye. Both of them looked scared.
“Um…” Merry slowly shifted under her blankets, and then slipped out of bed, pulling the blanket with her. She stepped down on the opposite side of the bed and stared, wrapping the quilt around her shoulders. “You… you have… your ears…”
Lore inadvertently touched his ears, but he stayed where he was by the chair, not knowing what to do. He flicked his eyes to the door.
“Is there anybody out there?" he asked in a hushed voice. Merry couldn't tear her eyes away from his ears, or his clothes, or the way he was cowering beneath her desk as if something was going to kill him. She realized her own heart was pounding, and tried to calm herself. As soon as she did, Lore seemed to relax a little.
“I... no...” she replied, tightening the blanket. “That was my dad... he's gone now...” she trailed off as their eyes met again. His eyes were so familiar, so calming, so beautiful. At first, she didn't know what else to say, but then Lore took over.
“Um...” he glanced around the room. “So this is your world? Where you tell us what to do?”
Merry stammered, her mouth opening and closing. “I... yeah, I guess so... but how are you here? You can't get here. There's no possible way...”
“Well, apparently there is,” the elf contradicted, pulling himself up and standing, one hand on the desk. “I mean, I'm here, aren't I?”
“I guess so...” Merry brushed her hair back, staring at him from the bottom of his soft boots to the top of his black, messy hair. The light was soft, and he almost seemed to glow. Merry wondered if she was having a dream.
“So,” Lore said suddenly, putting his hands in his pockets and relaxing. “Your hideaway… it’s not bad.” He took a step toward the nearest wall and touched a poster of a wizard casting a spell over a cliff toward a large city.
“It’s just my room,” Merry replied, watching him. She pulled her feet up and crawled onto the bed again, sitting cross-legged and wondering why she wasn’t having a mental breakdown. She watched Lore pick up a pencil sharpener, handle it curiously, and then peer in it closely. She giggled.
“I just had a thought,” she said as he put the pencil sharpener aside and turned before stopping abruptly, stopped by the floor lamp.
“What thought?” as he spun the lampshade.
“You’ve never been here before,” she said simply. She still wasn’t sure whether or not she was dreaming, but thought she would just go with the flow until she figured it out. “Everything here must be new to you.”