The Pagemasters Vol 1 Chapter 18

 


Author: LIterataku


Chapter 18:
I’ll Be Unforgettable

 

 

I’ve never really seen the appeal of races, at least the spectating part of things. Why go and sit down in an arena that you only see a few seconds of the actual race or marathon? Though I suppose that I’m not really one to judge since any time I watched such things, it was on television in the comfort of home. I could see it all, and from views you never get in person.

The waiting is the biggest problem. After Master had left to deal with the other checkpoints I was now left to my own devices and thoughts. Before I could let boredom sink in I needed to have a good way to handle the Hare. If I couldn’t use my human form I needed to find a method I could in this one.

I hadn’t ever tried doing anything with magic or any of my other powers in this form before. Guess I might as well figure out now. I had a sneaking suspicion that was exactly what Master was intending putting this far out on the race course. A chance to practice because this spot was, aside from the need of the racers to come past here, the most useless checkpoint.

Just past the halfway mark and almost at the home stretch no one would think about stopping by aside from a quick glance at the foregone conclusion of the winner if they had to stay that involved. That man has wisdom I’ve not even begun to receive. He really is a Master to learn from.

My tail twitching, I looked around trying to find a good place to work with things. Ears turning with almost radar-like precision scouting the surrounding area. It was fairly quiet, a few crickets chirping off in the thickets to the south of me but that was no problem.

There wasn’t any water nearby, and spell casting would be more difficult without a wand. I guess the wind was my best bet for this. I closed my eyes a moment and opened the gates to seek out the mana in the wind.

It was different, being smaller also meant less area to open to using my power. To my surprise, my tail seemed to be a better focus than my paws. Lazily twisting the mana around I managed to get a small breeze circling around me. It was quite pleasant having the circulation in the summer mid-morning approaching noon. But that wasn’t the full point of the exercise.

Focusing I started batting objects with my paw, sending my mana forcefully through them, getting rocks and pebbles to scatter with the wind that I could summon from them. It’s was a good breeze but hardly anything useful to knock out the Hare with if I needed to.

I needed more range. Air was an odd element to use, it was simultaneously harder and yet vastly easier to manipulate compared to water. Even if the mana was more spread out in the atmosphere it didn’t take near as much effort to start moving it since there was no mass moving along with the mana. I wonder…

Focusing with my paw, I start gathering and compressing the air around it swirling it into a tight miniature whirlwind cramming as much as I could feel like I could hold. This will probably need the usual fear for my life to get it faster.

I smack my paw down and release the power pushing it downward.

“Mrryaaa!”

I shouted in surprise as my body was sent flying in the air. The blast of compressed air enough to launch me a few meters away from the impact point. Twisting my body just on instinct I landed on my paws and looked back to where I had been standing a moment ago.

The dust was kicked up and floating around in the air. And a smallish crater was approximately where my paw had hit the ground. Ok, that is NG. That was way too strong and probably kill the hare if I tried to launch anything with that much strength.

At least I had plenty of time to work this out. I hoped. I spent the next few minutes continuing to find a good balance point, this time using my paw to bat things and launch them with the power of my compression blasts. It was too easy to gather the air once I had mana under control it was starting to become a pain trying to make sure I didn’t get too much. I’m not going to talk about how I launched myself ten more times. Which I didn’t do anyway so no point in talking about it, right?

I think I had managed to get a good grasp on my power when my ears twitched hearing something approaching. Looking up I could see a small cloud of dust as the first racer appeared. What a surprise, it was the Hare. I could see his whole body straining to keep moving as he approached me and the penultimate checkpoint. He started slowing down as I gave a wave of my tail and picked up a stick to mark his arrival.

“Ph-phew… This is race is a l-little longer t-than I thought it w-was going to be…” He managed to pant out as I nodded my head. So even for his speed, he didn’t have the endurance to run the full lap, so that was why Master made the race like so. Looking out behind him to see if the tortoise as anywhere nearby. Not even a sign or smell of him at all.

“Well you are so far ahead of that guy maybe you should take a quick break to recover? No point if you win and then collapse. Someone might try to eat you before you wake up.”

The hare’s ears shot up straight. Looking at me with an expression of distrust. “And what is to stop you from eating me here if I rest now?”

“The fact that cougar would probably call me a cheater and eat me for eating you. Besides, I don’t really like the taste of rabbit and I already ate this morning.”

That was half a lie. I like rabbit, occasionally. But not particularly when it can talk to me, and I prefer it already butchered and cooked thank you very much. I’m not an animal. Though he was smelling a bit tasty to me I could curb that desire for now.

His ears flattened in annoyance. “I’m a Hare, not a rabbit.”

“Apologies. I didn’t mean to offend.”

“Apology accepted. I forget that your a town animal and don’t-t,” He suddenly yawned, “d-don’t recognize the difference. Maybe a quick nap is in order. Just be sure to wake me as soon as Tortoise is close by.”

Well, that was easier than I thought. Hare hopped over into the meadow and snacked on a couple of flowers before curling up and falling asleep pretty quickly. Now I just had to make sure he didn’t wake up until it was time.

And so now I was back to waiting on things to happen, I couldn’t exactly experiment as I had been. I might wake the hare up on accident. I sighed and looked down the road, my mind drifting toward the strange… what should I call them? Memories? Visions?

I focused on looking forward again, trying to see if I could pull something more from what I was seeing. My head started to hurt and my body lurched as if I was being pulled by something unseen, my vision blurring.


I was standing in the entryway of a vast castle hallway, my breathing hard as I stared across to see the shadow of someone standing in front of me. My heart aching as I looked out, summoning my staff and preparing myself.

“The walls are crumbling, Pagemaster.” A hoarse voice spat out at me. A voice I half recalled as the darkness solidified around the figure and covered them completely. Silence. “Reality and Fiction will soon be inseparable and it was all thanks to you that I will rend this universe into nothing.”

It as right, I could see the wall behind him, the barrier that was the only true separation between this chaos I had created and the true world. The barrier to Heaven, and the full power of the sanctuary of the Word.

I reached out, using my fully developed powers and brought forth several ice pillars, each one springing up in a semicircle behind me. Each one then cracked into a thousand shards of ice, floating and aiming themselves at the figure.

I charged, attacking with all my might, ice shards flying in all directions, making it impossible to dodge, the shadow moved summoning its own powers, shadows and rocks flying up to block my attacks. A scythe coming out to swing at my head, I could feel the blade cutting into my neck…


I ducked down below, dodging the blade and twisting out of the way. Using the moment to counterattack with forming a spike straight up from the floor into the shadow’s chest, piercing into its heart, the sound of breaking bones and blood spattering hitting my ears…


It dodged at the last second, the tip grazing the armored chest and leaving a mark from the near miss. I gritted my teeth as reality twisted around us stopping our killing blows. Combining the wind and ice, I started a swirling tornado, trapping both of us inside. Rushing forward, recklessly, I called my sword in one hand and swung for its neck. Pain and a sound of bone and fleash being rended beneath me.

“Guh!” I looked down and found a smooth piece of rock impaling my stomach, the pain telling me it had reached through my back leaving me skewered…


I stopped just before the spike shot forth. Dodging to the side and rethinking my method of attack. Calling more spikes to try and continue to make it impossible for it to use those powers again. To find a way to force it into a fatal move.

I had one last chance, bringing out a forbidden exorcist spell and slashing with my staff, trying to cleave the shadows in two with a mighty swing. At first, it looked like it would work as parts of the shadow began to fade away, but then it simply strengthened itself and in a flash moved away from me. Failure. Again.

It laughed at me, summoning the darkness around itself and creating a barrier. “You intend to kill me now? She’ll die first.” The Silence spoke with mocking tones, but I knew it was speaking the truth.

I hesitated for some reason. I was still missing something and I knew it. Something that would change this fight, a fight I couldn’t afford to lose, and yet, I didn’t want to win either, not this way. No… I need more time…

My chest was hurting with pain unbearable as if my soul was breaking apart at the seams, but I needed to press on, find the missing piece. Just one more time, one more to get it right… I told myself… I dropped my staff and gripped into reality, there was only one way to get a chance to stop this. To make this right…

“|{***}|”


 


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