The Writers of the Universe 8. A Perfect Story

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The Writers of the Universe

Stew Stunes

8. A Perfect Story

“How do we get this bloody thing off,” Noal grumbled from beneath a thick forest canopy.

Tal-sen was already leagues ahead of Noal. Who had stabbed the bubble around his head with the sword he carried. The entire suit deflated off of him and sank to the ground, much in the same way as had Cis’s original suit.

“Shhh!” Saesha shushed, them ripping off her own black covering as they heard the approaching sound of horse hooves on gravel.

Through the veil of dark trees, they spied a traveling band of horses. They all wore chain mail adorned with flags of deep blue and standing out in stark contrast was a single crescent moon.

“Why can’t we ever catch a break,” Cis complained as it was obvious they had already been spotted.

“Come on, it’s no use running. They have archers,” Saesha called as she stepped out of the tree line and started walking towards the approaching horsemen.

Jeremy whispered to Noal, “I thought if we went to a fantasy land we would be safe. Doesn’t this already exist in some form or another? I know of hundreds of fantasy books written on earth. There’s no way I alone created this.”

“I quite agree. I know this place. We are on a planet called Aura. On Aura, there are many islands, each one containing specific ingredients for all the various fantasy stories out there. For instance, an island was needed for stories of vampires, another to deal with werewolves, and now a third for vampire werewolf crossovers.” Noal sighed with a heaviness for all the different places that had to be created.

“So which one have we landed on?” Cis asked before Jeremy could.

“I suspect we will find out soon,” Noal nodded as the lead horse rider pulled to a stop in front of them.

“Halt you creatures of the dark forest,” the man commanded after smoothly leaping off of his horse. Removing his helmet, he revealed golden hair that fell to his shoulder and bright blue eyes. The kind of blue that appeared innocent and trustful.

Jeremy stepped forward, silently accepting his role as team captain. “We are no dark creatures. We are just travelers from afar who seek assistance.”

“What is your name traveler?”

“I will impart that information, once I have yours,” Jeremy challenged with an authority that he was not sure he held.

“My name is Sir Richard Lionheart the second, son of Richard Lionheart, son of Steve “The intrepid” Heartlion. I ride for the great King Prikard the second.” The man bravely shook his impressive mane of hair.

“Say again,” Cis said with a straight face.

“I said!” the man shouted louder. “I AM SIR LIONHART, SON OF”

“A bitch,” Saesha surprisingly cut in. She folded her arms, less than impressed by the man’s show of majesty.

“What is happening?” Jeremy couldn’t help but break his serious expression. He turned away from the puzzled looks of the centurions. “We need their help. Aren’t we trying to gain support all around the universe in order to fight against the director?”

“Chill bro,” Cis smiled at him. “Just havin’ fun with the twit.”

Saesha shook her head. “You’re right Germy. But he’s just so…”

“Top over,” Tal-sen threw out into the conversation.

“Yes, that’s it. He’s too over the top. I can’t take him seriously,” Saesha agreed.

“Well keep it to yourselves for a bit. We may need the king’s support and if we don’t even make it that far, I’m going to be seriously pissed off at all of you.” Jeremy pointed his finger at each of them.

“Aye, captain,” Cis saluted him, showing him Jeremy’s words would be accepted but that he cared little for authority.

Jeremy turned back to the soldiers. “Would you be so kind to take us to your king?”

“I should think not,” all of the soldiers laughed at their leaders’ words.

“Everyone’s so full of freaking funnies today,” Jeremy stamped.

“When one encounters a group of dark creatures such as your lot stomping around the woods in the day time, one does not take them to their king for feasts and frolics. One cuts off their heads. I am Sir Lionheart, now hear me roar!” The man pulled out a great sword with the swiftness of a Savannah cat while, all in one move, taking a wide cutting swing at Jeremy.

It was Tal-sen’s quick reaction that saved Jeremy from being cut in two. Tal-sen’s sword parlayed Lionheart’s edge, giving the rest of the group enough time to prepare as swords were drawn all around them and the rest of the horsemen hopped off their steeds ready to join the fight.

Jeremy quickly scribbled the outline of a sword into the only this available, his skin. With a great clatter of steel on steel, a handful of swords conveniently fell into their tight circle. Each person picked one up, spinning around to face their attackers.

Cis was the first to engage as he crossed blades with a soldier of a lower center of gravity.

Tal-sen was still wrestling steel with Lionheart. Sparks flew as their weapons bounced off of each other. Quick to return to the attack, they danced in close proximity with death.

Saesha was holding two smaller swords and defending herself from three soldiers, as she took flight. Her unexpected wings scared the men around her, as she quickly cut through them with a swift dive.

Noal was fighting, but he was quickly losing ground. Jeremy ran towards him just in time as Noal tripped over his feet while backpedaling.

The sword felt strangely perfect in his hands. He had never held something so lethal and dangerous before. Sure, the quill might have endless possibilities, but there was something all powerful about holding a utensil that had no other purpose but to kill. He enjoyed the ripple of power in his limbs and muscles as his sword struck against his assailant’s.

Jeremy slid down to the hilt of his enemy’s sword. His adrenaline providing him a much-needed boost, as he was quickly outmatched by the skill of his opponent. They slashed at each other, both going for the kill. Shouts of emboldened bravado echoed out by each of the armored soldiers as they renewed their attack.

Saesha swooped into their fight, bringing her sword down through the skull of Jeremy’s adversary, at the same time Jeremy drove his sword into the man’s gut.

With a barbaric and wild war cry, Cis spun in a full circle, slicing the little man’s head clear off.

Lionheart noticed that he was now alone in his battle, and graciously laid his sword down. Tal-sen nearly took his ear off due to being unable to stop his forward momentum but missed by a slim margin.

“I see I have been defeated this day, by you and your dark friends. I will take you to the king if you do not kill me.” Lionheart bowed his head in reverent respect to Jeremy’s warriors.

“Remind me to never invade Earth, you lot are a savage bunch,” Noal carefully stepped around the battle, making sure to avoid any messy spills or dismembered parts.

Jeremy strolled toward Lionheart with his sword still held up ready for a fight. He laid the blade on Lionheart’s forehead, allowing the slime from his kill to leak over Lionheart’s face. “No more violence. We’ve come here to seek help.”

After a minute of intense intimidation by silently staring, Jeremy removed the sword and wiped it on the ground.

“Get up and lead us to your king,” Saesha commanded with a distinct lack of happiness. Jeremy wondered what she would do when faced with a king who would expect respect and loyalty from someone asking for his aide.

Richard stood up and with as much pride as he could muster. “Seeing as all my men have fallen. You may use their mounts. This will speed our haste to the good King Prikard.”

Without another word, the group took command of the spooked horses and followed Lionheart.  They galloped past fields of wheat, beady and full for the fall harvest, and lakes so expansive that one could not see the other side of the shore. Mountains in the distance cut into the sky with their razor peaks. From miles away they could see the gigantic castle-city as it was built up into the side of the tallest mountain. A royal flag of deep blue waved at the topmost tower, the crescent moon shining out declaring this kingdom as lords over all the land.

Even on horseback, it took them another day to cross a valley that separated them from the city’s front door.

As they approached the 20-foot gate, Lionheart dismounted and cupped his hands to shout at the top of the wall. “My name is Richard Lionheart the Second. I bring with me a group of travelers from a far away land who seek council with the king.”

“Hey, guys?” Cis rolled off his horse and hit the ground hard. When he did not move, Jeremy wondered if he had been hit by something. As Jeremy leaped to his friend’s assistance, the gates opened.

Jeremy pulled his friend over onto his back. A quick check told him that Cis was still breathing although he had taken on a distinct shade of green and broken out into a cold sweat.

“Will he be alright? What’s wrong?” Saesha asked running over to them.

“He’s got some nasty fever. He was fine this morning,” Jeremy explained while he tried to wake Cis.

“Looks like a dragon fever,” Lionheart interjected without concern. “I’ve seen it drop men twice his size in less than a week. The king expects you for dinner”

Lionheart tore off into the streets of the city. They watched as he cut his way up the first few sharp switchbacks.

“Do you think it’s true?” Jeremy asked with great concern for his friend.

Saesha shook her dark hair. “I healed his wounds, but the dragon’s cut could have gone beyond the skin.”

“We should be able to get him some help inside,” Noal suggested looking up at the steep rise of the cities levels.

Tal-sen and Jeremy picked Cis up from the ground and laid him atop one of the horses. They held him in careful balance, to prevent him from tumbling again. Tal-sen elected to follow alongside Cis to ensure that he stayed in place.

Together they made the long climb up the numerous switchbacks of city streets to the topmost level, where the king’s feast would be held.

Arriving just in time for trumpets to announce the hour of feasting, Jeremy’s group was frustrated and starving after the hard journey.

Jeremy rushed to check Cis before they entered. He found him in no better shape, still somewhere between blackout and full-on hallucination.

“We must ask if they will help him,” Jeremy conceded.

Noal strode forward and pounded thrice on the door. Metal clicked and pushed against wood as a lock was removed.

The door fell open and they were greeted by a great scurrying of nervous onlookers as the people all tried to get the best view of the newcomers. From within the tight-knit crowd, the king stepped forward. He wore a gilded crown of a strange blue metal. It was the same blue that covered much of their flag. It was awe inspiring to see a metal so dark, yet one that reflected more brilliantly than any polished gold. The man who wore the crown stood a solid six feet and had a face that looked much too old for his middle age stature. It was a face that wore the scars of too many battles and far too much bloodshed in its lifetime. Jeremy had no doubt the king would not hesitate to raise arms against him if he thought it necessary.

The king spoke first. “Get this man some medicine.”

A litter and a group of silky robed men and women jumped at the king’s command. They carefully took Cis off the horse, all the while giving Tal-sen a wide berth, and laid him on the stretcher. Jeremy could scarcely protest as he watched practiced hands lift his friend into the air and cart him off into the crowd.

“Good, now onto business. Why are you here? ” The king asked looking from one strange creature to the next. His powerful gaze never failed him and Jeremy wondered if he was ever surprised.

Jeremy stood tall, ready to answer the king’s question but was cut off by Saesha’s words. She spoke with no emotion as if rattling off a recited verse. “Dear King Prikard. I am Saesha, Princess of the Fifth world. This is Noal; our scribe. Tal-sen my loyal defender, and Jeremy our new hope. We are travelers from a land beyond trees and rocks. We are from a place beyond even the furthest star in your sky. We come on bent knees asking for an army to fight against an unseen enemy. An enemy that threatens us all”

The king listened respectfully to Saesha’s words before responding. “I know two things to be true this day. One be that seemingly dark creatures have came out of our most mystical forest and slayed half a unit of my best fighters. The other is that there will be a full moon tonight. Knowing these two facts, how do you come to my front door and expect my assistance?”

“We would not have taken arms against your men, had they not first attacked us,” Jeremy defended their actions.

“Is not the lady your command!” The king bellowed in a voice that made Jeremy flinch.

Saesha spoke, but not before Jeremy noticed a suppressed smile hanging on the side of her mouth. “We have no commanders. We simply have the same goals in mind and have joined forces to ensure that happens.”

“A leaderless army is quick to fall in the face of battle,” countered King Prikard.

Words failed Saesha’s usually quick tongue.

“How can we gain your trust?” Jeremy questioned with a short bow.

“Silence your tongue before the lady!” The king shouted belligerently again. “But I agree that you will have to gain my trust before I grant you a single one of my men. Give me till the morning to figure out what must be done. You are free to stay in our castle’s hospitality.” Without waiting for a reply, the king turned around and marched into the throng of people.

The feast ended up being a sour affair as everyone in attendance was on such high alert that they ate without tasting and with great haste. Not a single other person in the room dared to look away for fear that the small group of four might try to rise up and eat them as well.

A night that would be full of anticipation and sleep would be as brief as their meal.  For many hours Jeremy rolled on his straw mattress considering what the king might ask them to do. If he failed to complete the task, would he ever be able to gain support in order to fight the director? How close was the director to figuring out where they went and attacking him again?

Morning approached in a rather rudely sudden fashion. The rising sun came cold and gray offering no attempts to ease Jeremy’s worries. His crew stood in stony silence. He could tell by their strained looks that they all had had similar worries during the night.

One of the king’s soldiers came to their quarters and asked them to follow. The king would have his answer for them. The soldier led them through a labyrinth of halls and stairs, doorways and towers until at last, they entered the king’s throne room.

Jeremy felt very small as they walked the long distance to the king’s chair. Strips of red and gold outlined much of the deep blue room and its ornaments. Fifty soldiers on each side stood along the length of the room ready to protect the king at any cost. Instead of chain mail, they wore tight material of the same dark blue as the crown. Each one looked like a slice of the night had been personified and had stepped into the room. A large silver crescent moon was placed above the king’s head completing the scene with this nation’s fascination with the symbol above them.

King Prikard stood as they were brought in front of him. His expression made Jeremy sure that he had plans to slaughter them all here and now.

“Dear King,” Jeremy bowed low trying to gain back all the points he had lost the previous evening. “We have come to seek your aid. Will you help us.”

Before the king could say one way or another, Saesha cut in, “I should think that you would like to hear more of the threat that we fight against and why it is so important that we have as many fighting for us as possible.”

“Be you silent, before I cut your tongue woman. Have you people no manners before the king! Whoever speaks first is in charge and will be the only voice I speak to,” roared the king.

Jeremy watched as Saesha fought with every tendon and muscle in her face to not lash back at the king. She did not take kindly to the king’s strange rules.

“I agree with what my friend said. She meant no disrespect. We are not familiar with your customs. We ask that you are patient with us while we learn. Do you want to hear more on the terror that threatens more than just skin and bones? It will eventually rip the sky apart.”

Jeremy could tell his last statement had an effect on everyone in the room. If there was one thing they cared about it was the night sky.

“I will hear more after you have gained my trust,” the king answered with a wave gentle enough to silence all mouths in the room. “The night before there was a full moon. At its fullest and most beautiful, I saw a jewel fall from heaven high and land in the bog on the other side of this mountain. You will embark on a journey with Sir Lionheart to bring me back the moon jewel. Bring it back, with him still alive and in one piece and I will then listen to your stories of war from beyond the stars.”

Bowing to accept the king’s proposal, Jeremy turned back to his small group. “It’s the best chance we’ve got.”

“You should just color us some guns and we blow them apart and take their army willing or not,” Saesha growled, her wings fluttering with indignation.

Jeremy stared at her for a while trying to tell if she was serious about attacking all the king’s men. It took him a solid minute to understand that she was just spilling off some steam.

“Noal,” continued Jeremy, “I think you should stay behind and watch over Cis while he recovers.”

“Done sir,” Noal saluted. “As I’m sure you are aware I myself am not much an adventurer.”

“It’s fine,” Jeremy dismissed his low self-esteem. “Tal-sen, Saesha and I will go with little Richard and find this moon jewel.”

It was agreed upon as Lionheart strode up the long blue entrance wearing his chain mail armour. He sauntered with his great sword swaying behind him like a tail. It was at the point when he physically shook his hair to try and get it to catch the light better that even Jeremy failed to take him seriously. Lionheart looked a bit jaded when no one clapped or wolf-called during his elaborate entrance.

“Shake hands, for on this mission you are a team. Work together and you may survive,” the king decreed, before falling back onto his throne.

Each handshake was quick and offered without so much as a trace of friendship. To Jeremy, it felt like a business transaction at a very handsome ATM.

Once the procedures had taken place. Lionheart waved them to follow. “You must keep with me. We will be riding hard to a land that is not friendly to this kingdom. A land with magic and wizards. They allow us to live on this side of the mountain, but once on the other side, we will be without the king’s protection and subject to their rule of law. Which is nought.”

He turned without waiting for an answer and led them up a very slender spiral staircase. Arriving at the topmost tower, where a single flag flew over the great valley that stretched on into the horizon, wind cut at them so fiercely that Jeremy was sure it would pull them off the face of the mountain.

Walking half-bent over from the wind, they crossed the top of the tower and were soon walking on the jagged edge of the tall mountain. From all around, Jeremy could see what felt like the edge of the world. And just as the noon sun settled overhead and finally burned off the remaining fog, they crossed over the spine of the world and looked down the other side.

The whole side of the mountain was missing from what appeared to be the remnants of an explosion long ago.

“The wizards did this during the last war. There was a twin city like ours on this side of the mountain. It was obliterated with just the casting of one dark spell,” Lionheart spat out into the windy wasteland below them.

He led them along the narrow ridge of the mountain for miles and miles until there was a small path on which they could carefully traverse. Stepping an inch at a time for fear of falling to an early death made for frightfully slow travel. It took them the rest of the day to descend to a level where trees grew tall enough to provide cover for them.

While making camp, Sir Lionheart approached Jeremy finally breaking their unfriendly silence. “Is it true what they are saying about you? That though you look like a common man, you are from another world, beyond our stars.”

“What do you think I am?” Jeremy responded, unsure of how much information he should impart.

Lionheart looked him up and down, evaluating him on a purely physical level. “We have long watched the stars and never before has a person come from them. I do not believe such a thing to be possible.”

“You live in a world with magic and wizards, but I’m the impossible one?”

“Which is why I am determined to prove that you are no more than an uncouth liar. I do not agree with the king’s willingness to entertain your wild fantasies. It is so obviously a ruse to overthrow the kingdom that I cannot believe he has not already taken your heads off.”

Jeremy turned away from Lionheart even as he continued to deliver a masterful monologue on the evils of dark magic and made his way to Tal-sen and Saesha’s tight huddle. It was clear that he would be useless and possibly more of a danger on this journey.

Saesha gave Jeremy a questioning look before whispering in his ear. “You were wise to give little to the flashy man. He will only bring us trouble.”

“He doesn’t believe us,” Jeremy mentioned.

“Would you?” Saesha smiled grimly looking into his eyes. “Oh, don’t look so sad. I know we can defeat Radfewx and the rest of the writers.”

“This feels like a waste of time.”

Looking into her multicolored eyes, Jeremy quickly found himself captivated and lost in the passionate fire that burned within. “I’ve lived a million lifetimes longer than anyone on your planet and I have to say I would not trade the last few days for any others I have lived. For a long time, I lost touch with what it felt like to live. I simply existed, being paraded around as some sort of living fossil. And then one day I found my true purpose, to free my people from the hands of what you call fate. Then very quickly, I thought I would never live out those expectations when I was captured by the writers. I waited 10,000 years for a way to escape. I thought I just wasn’t strong enough or smart enough. But what it really came down to is that I was waiting. I had to learn patience, which is surprisingly difficult for a near-immortal being. So I waited, for what I didn’t know, but as soon as I saw your wild face enter my prison I knew you were what I had waited for. You had the look of exploration and adventure, but something more that intrigued me; pain and chaos ride on you harder than any other living creature in the universe. You never should have ended up in that prison and that meant all those years I spent waiting; not a single one of those were for a wasted purpose.”

“It’s easy to get lost in my own doubt. Thank you for your words, but there is still something I don’t understand. How are we going to free the multiverse with a few horses and guys like Lionheart. No offense but they’re just not going to bring down a billion-year-old empire.”

Beaming with intelligence Saesha responded, “I’ve been thinking about that a lot also. But I think there is a way to have them be very useful. What’s the biggest thing we are missing in order to defeat the directors?”

“I’m not sure. An army?”

“Think in less of a big picture way.”

As night settled in around their small campfire, Jeremy answered. “Perhaps people?”

Nodding her approval of the correct answer Saesha agreed, “Yes, we don’t have enough people. There’s only five of us and we are supposed to hop around the universe at random, gathering help all the while avoiding Radfewx’s influence. It would take us another million years. That would surely be wasted time. No, what we need these men to do is go out for us and spread our cause. We can send a group to every planet in each universe.  They can raise our army, while we look for a way to stop the writers from ever controlling anyone again.”

“That,” Jeremy couldn’t help as a big grin spread over his face. “…is a plan with a brain.”

“Jeremy, do you know why Tal-sen accepted you when you arrived on our planet, instead of ripping your flesh apart like he is want to do?” Saesha asked suddenly.

Jeremy could have sworn he saw Tal-sen lick his scarred lips as he listened to Saesha’s words. He quickly recovered and responded to her, trying his best to remember what all had happened. “I’m not sure. There were a lot of things going on and they all talked in…”

“Mishmash; as our bodies have been broken over the years so too has our language,” Saesha informed.

“Yeah, well there was something that they called me. But I didn’t really understand if it was just nonsense or not. They called me the Lorth of Chaos. Does that mean anything?”

Fire reflected off of Saesha’s blue and orange eyes, making them seem star-strewn and full of living fire. “Or better said as the Lord of Chaos. The one destined to free us from our infinitely long weekend. The one that will break history and restore nature to its true form. Wild and chaotic.”

Feeling a rush that Jeremy could not explain or hold back, his lips were suddenly on hers. Unbridled passion ran between them as he wrapped his hands around Saesha pulling her into him as she folded her wings around them. For a moment, the world could have burned and Jeremy would not have cared. Then, like shattering glass, the moment was over as Saesha’s warm flush turned to a look of pure panic. She turned away from him, now panic turning to embarrassment, and folded her wings around herself like a cocoon. Leaving him alone to ponder the complexities of the universe and females for the rest of the night.

Like a herd of buffalo charging up a steep hill, the sun broke over the new morning. The campfire was completely out and everyone was wearing anxious faces for the day ahead. No one spoke as they started on the journey into the bog. aS Tal-sen nearly tripped into ankle length water, Lionheart decided to open the conversation.

“We are entering the foggiest and most confusing bog in the land. Stay together and we may all get out alive. If we should be forced to separate, well good luck getting back cause I will not waste my time looking for you.”

“Thanks for the charming advice,” Jeremy mocked in a falsely enthusiastic voice. As a rolling cloud of gray swallowed them, Jeremy felt himself turning sarcastic. ”If you hadn’t told me about the fog I might not have noticed.”

“I only thought it wise to give you information that will ensure our success in this mission,” Lionheart responded proudly.

Trying to get some rise out of Saesha’s blank expression. Jeremy couldn’t help as his mouth started going out of control. “This mission means absolutely nothing to…to you. You’d be better served retrieving goats for the king.”

Eyes full of pure hatred Lionheart spat. “I am no goat herder. I will stay at our previous night’s campfire. The King will not grant you anything without both me and the jewel present. Good luck dying you dark fuck.”

Without another word, Lionheart turned and trotted back up the trail they had just come down. In his rude dust, he left behind a quickly thinning group consisting of Jeremy, Saesha, and Tal-sen.

“That was helpful,” Saesha grumbled before trying to peer into the shadowy bog and find a path through.

Having no words to say, except ones that would only further damage the situation, Jeremy held his tongue and pushed his way past Saesha, leading them blindly forward.

Grey wisps curled around their ankles as Jeremy led at a near-jogging pace. They splashed through shallow swamp getting more and more lost by the hour. Jeremy was near oblivious as he was too busy steaming to notice the signs that would indicate to a traveler that this place was not welcome to them.

It was only when a purple wrought-iron fence blocked their path did he have any thought that they had stumbled into the wrong neighborhood. The fog that so thoroughly covered the swamp appeared to be thickest within the fence. It was as if the fog was being created from within.

“Should we go in?” Jeremy asked without directing the question to anyone in particular.

“Not smart,” Tal-sen responded quietly.

“I just get this feeling that the jewel is in there.”

“Jeremy don’t,” Saesha began but didn’t appear to have the strength to argue and watched silently as he pulled himself over the fence.

“Are you guys coming or do I have to do this alone?” Jeremy called over the back of his shoulder. The fog had thickened to a frightening degree. So much so that he could only see a vague outline of the fence that he knew was only inches behind him.

“You don’t have to do anything alone. We’re all in this together,” Saesha answered from beyond a gray curtain.

“I’ve been alone since birth. There really isn’t much more to it. Eventually, ya realize this is the way things should be,” Jeremy yelled back as he took a step and now was completely separated from his companions.

“Stop being such a pout. There’s so much more at stake right now. We have responsibilities that cannot be abandoned in a hot moment.” Saesha yelled out with reason.

“Good to know I rank below washing dishes,” Jeremy called back with a distant echo. As he stepped further into the fog, the sensation of drowning kept creeping up into his fears. His arms prickled as it felt like the edge of fingers were reaching out and brushing along his skin. Already regretting his rash attitude he looked to go back and apologize but soon realized that the fog had long ago erased any sense of direction.

All at once the worst realization hit Jeremy. He was completely lost. Everything around him looked the exact shade of white and gray. Even the sun appeared to be shining from all directions, giving him no hope of finding a viable direction.

In his rush of spinning, Jeremy tripped, falling face first into the shallow muck. Spitting and wiping his face he looked up to meet a lime green leather boot. Following the leather boot upwards a rich purple robe adorned a fashionably jarring looking man.

The man adjusted spectacles that sat on the extreme tip of his long nose. “What might you be doing here, human?”

Standing up quickly and grabbing the hilt of his sword, Jeremy backed away from the strangely dressed man only to trip backward again. Sputtering and wheeling, Jeremy righted himself again.

“If you’re done licking dirt, could you answer my question as to why you have trespassed into my home and trampled all over my flowers.”

Jeremy looked down to see himself standing on a pad of the most colorful patch of roses. He tried to tip-toe out of them while muttering stunted apologies but seemed to be only making this worse as he trampled over more and more flowers.

“Stand over here. Quickly now, before you destroy all my petunias,” The hunched man ushered Jeremy onto a suddenly appearing clear spot. He stood catching his breath as the man flapped his baggy robes and cawed at some unseeable thing far off in the fog.

“Now answer my question human. What are you doing here?”

“I am…” Jeremy hesitated. He was not sure what information he should divulge to the strange man. “Sorry, but are you not a human?”

A mysteriously large grin spread over the bookish face. “Why do you ask? You can see that I have ten fingers and a head with basically the right amount of things, or do I not? Am I missing my nose?”

Jeremy was about to answer but was stopped short as the man searched all over his own face as if missing pocket change. With a loud popping noise, the man had removed his own nose and was now inspecting it like a new found treasure.

“Ahh, here it is and just as I remember,” he said while popping it back in place. “As you were saying.”

“oh…uh…I asked if you were not a human. I only ask this because you keep referring to me as one and, well, usually most people do not distinguish similar features and only name them in conversation when there’s a difference. You singled me out as human above all else, leading me to believe that despite your appearance you are not a human.”

“Well done. Yes. Most intuitive. But if you don’t mind I asked a question first and it is rather rude of you to trample in here unannounced and not answer my question accordingly.”

“What if we yell our answers at the same time,” Jeremy suggested half-seriously.

“That,” the purple dressed man pondered, “is easily the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard. But so be it. Let’s get this over with. On three you tell me what you’re doing here and I’ll say if I am a human or not.”

“You have to tell me what you are also.”

“Agreed. Now on three. One. Two. Three.”

“iIcomeAMlookingAforWIZARDtheFROMmoonAjewelPLACEthatBEYONDfellTIMElastANDnightSPACEsoSOMEiCALLcanMEconvinceLUCKYthe king on the other side of the mountain to help me wage a war against intergalactic writers.”

“Holy bejeebus boy that’s heavy stuff you just rained down here on my garden,” Lucky looked positively frazzled.

“Yeah, I don’t even understand what I’m doing at this point, just kind of letting the wind guide me,” Jeremy vented.

They each thought for a moment considering each other’s words. Jeremy was the first one to start again. “So…Lucky, if I heard that right, Can you help me do anything?”

“Technically, I’m supposed to blast every human that walks on this side of the mountain with my water lightning, but for some reason I like you. I can give you the jewel you seek, but it comes at a price.”

“Bloody hell, what do I have to do for you? Go bring back a lump of blue turds from the other side of the freaking mountain,” Jeremy raged suddenly red in the face.

“None of that. I’ve been watching the stars for some time now and reading the signs of our fortune. They tell me terrible change is on the way and that all this may be gone very very soon. All I request is that when you take this moon jewel back to the king, you also bring a message of peace. It is time humans and the magici had a reunion.”

“I saw the crater in the side of the mountain. There is no way a few words that I speak could possibly fix something that is so much bigger than me,” Jeremy complained.

“If you cannot fix the problems of this small world, how do you expect to unite many different worlds in order to aid your quest,” Lucky suggested. “Please try your best, our only chance of survival is with the reunification of the moon and the sun kingdoms.”

Unable to refuse and feeling immense pressure to complete all the missions, Jeremy accepted the terms. “It’s a deal, but I also need to find my friends in this fog. I am afraid that we all were separated by my mistakes.”

In the blink of an eye, the fog evaporated and Jeremy could easily see both Saesha and Tal-sen sitting along a neatly manicured fence row. They may have entered a bog, but from where Jeremy was standing it looked much closer to paradise. Sheathing his sword, Jeremy greeted his friends with warm hugs all around.

True to his word, Lucky flapped his arms and from under his purple sleeves, the moon jewel floated towards them. It shone as if a light source from within produced light that was so pure it felt solid. With great respect, Jeremy reached up and grabbed the floating orb of space rock and held it in his hands. Half-expecting the jewel to explode when touched, Jeremy was relieved when the jewel remained bright and real in his hands.

“Thank you, my friend. I will do my best to bring peace to the two kingdoms. I hope we meet again Lucky.”

“I have the strangest feeling this is not our last meeting,” Lucky smiled and disappeared by flapping his sleeves.

“What just happened?” Saesha asked still not believing all that she saw.

“Come on I’ll tell you on the way,” Jeremy answered as they left at the same breakneck pace they had arrived with. Except for this time they were all in a joyous mood which made the travel feel quick and fun. Even meeting back up with Lionheart, who looked positively disgusted that they had found the jewel, didn’t dampen their high spirits.

Jeremy had extra to feel happy about as they reached the summit of the mountain and stood to admire the open world all around them Saesha returned Jeremy’s kiss. It was much shorter than their first, but he couldn’t help but feel that it had meant so much more. A bond of trust had been established between them and to Jeremy, there was nothing more important.

With a great sigh of relief, they made the small leap from mountain to concrete and were once again on the topmost tower of the castle. A slash of steel alerted Jeremy that something was wrong but he was too slow on the uptake as something solid slammed into the back of his head.

Rolling on the ground, fighting shimmers of red and black spots in his vision, Jeremy found his feet to discover that he was in the middle of a standoff between Tal-sen and Lionheart who now held Saesha with his sword at her neck.

“Give me the jewel, dark one,” Lionheart shouted at both Jeremy and Tal-sen.

Tal-sen lunged forward but quickly stopped as Lionheart pulled back on his blade enough to start a trickle of blue blood down Saesha’s throat. Fear and hatred ran through Saesha’s eyes as she fought her body’s own reflex to fight and cough at the intruding blade.

“I will be the hero of this story. Not you. Now hand over the jewel and I will not slit this demon’s throat,” Lionheart bellowed across the windy tower.

Tal-sen turned to Jeremy. They both felt stuck and helpless being unable to fight their way out of this predicament. Feeling like he was picking a losing option, Jeremy handed the jewel over to Lionheart.

“Now release her. You have the jewel,” Jeremy negotiated.

“You’d kill me in a second. I will take her and the jewel to the king. I will tell them how you tried to murder me and that my only defense was taking this one hostage. They will mount a witch hunt and be sure to stamp out all of your dark companions.”

Tal-sen growled wordlessly as they watched Lionheart descend the spiral staircase into the castle.

“Screw waiting, we’re going in,” Jeremy shouted as they both ran down the stairs. Not being familiar with the castle and only being taken through it once made their journey much slower and more round about. Running past hallways and down towers, they smashed through the doors to the king’s throne room.

They both froze, confused by what they were seeing. Jeremy was first to ask the obvious, “Why does that lady have a machine gun?”

His question was not answered by a voice, but rather the explosion of gunfire as the woman’s gun blasted through the line of the king’s best fighters. None of the ninja-like soldiers could move fast enough as bullets ripped them to shreds. There was no fair fight, only a massacre.

Once the round of ammunition had been thoroughly spent in the flesh of all the king’s guards. The lady turned to Jeremy who now noticed Lionheart and Saesha looking just as surprised and confused as him. She smoothly whipped off her sunglasses to reveal the clear blue eyes of Mai. The magazine fell steaming off of the gun and was quickly replaced by another as she stepped towards Saesha.

“You’re not going to run away this time, Jeremy. I’m going to take what is most precious to you. You can come to me, I’m tired of directing this psychic around the universe and chasing you all over the place,” Director Radfewx spoke threw Mai’s body.

She held the gun up to Lionheart, who was now positively whimpering, and, without having to ask, he graciously handed Saesha over to Mai.

“You know where to find me,” a flash of white light erased Mai and Saesha from the royal chamber.

 


Next Chapter – The Writers of the Universe – 9. The Unluckiest Man

If you like this book and would like to support the author please consider purchasing a physical copy of the story you are reading, see more here

2014 © Stew Stunes

 

 

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