The Pagemasters Vol 1 Chapter 19

 


Author: Literataku


Chapter 19:
Come To Life, And Rewrite!

 

 

I gripped the earth with my claws, my body shaking as my chest heaved and ached. I fought back the urge to vomit, clawing into the earth and trying to come back to my senses. What the hell was that?

I could feel something strange about this. Those things hadn’t happened, right? Or were they going to happen? Was that all one vision or disjointedly similar moments? My head was starting to hurt, I laid down and put my paws on my head trying to massage the pain away.

There was too much missing to have any clear picture of what was going on. It felt important but at the same time, it felt like that was far off into the future, if it was even real. Or if it was going to happen at all.

I could feel something as my mind started to settle down, the thoughts and visions were blurring and shifting as if they were being overwritten by something else. As if whatever that was isn’t going to happen at all, or not in the way I had seen.

It was soothing and terrifying to me, but other things were needing to be done. I looked down the path and saw a small figure slowly making its way down the path. Checking the shadow clock we had been using to determine the paths it looked like it’d been a good while since I had drifted off into… whatever the hell that was.

I looked toward the hare’s sleeping spot and saw him still there sleeping away. Good, that was one last thing I needed to worry about, aside from keeping him out of it for a good while longer. All I needed now was a good excuse to have when he woke up later.

A few moments later the tortoise approached the checkpoint proper and watched as I marked his arrival. From my own estimates, I guess the tortoise had been about twenty minutes behind the hare. I nodded to him as he passed on by, watching him continue his pace down the road, keeping an eye on the hare to wake up while the tortoise passed by.

Hare started stirring, making me jump and reflexively toss an air-powered pebble against the side of his head. Oops… His eyes were spinning when I approached him, at least he was still alive. I nudged him slightly… Okay, he seemed to have fainted. Yay, I didn’t accidentally kill him!

Well, at least I didn’t have to worry about him for a little while longer then. I heard the sounds of Master’s wings coming toward us, looking up hoping there wasn’t anyone else with him, or I would most likely end up as someone’s lunch. He landed and looked to see the markers before addressing me.

“Good job, Boy. How long has Tortoise been gone?” I looked down the path to see if he had finally vanished from view.

“He just now left my sight while I was making sure this guy was alright.”

Master nodded and walked over to double-check the shadows on the ground. Using a claw from his feet he scratched out a small line just a little ways away from the tortoise’s marker.

“Wake him up when it gets to here or at least stall him for that long. That should make the race close enough for all conditions. And then we will have a story for ye to properly seal away.”

“Yes, Master.”

“Once ye wake him up and see him off, get back to the clearing. Just in case we need a little extra insurance.”

He took off before I could reply affirmative, I suppose he couldn’t stay for too much longer just in case someone else came along and saw us guilty as sin. There wasn’t much else I could do for now aside from waiting once more. Though there was now something I wanted to experiment with.

Even though it was fading fast from my mind, there was something new I wanted to experiment with. Using my powers more remotely, I wasn’t actively touching the areas I was using my powers in that memory. It was a logical next step, aside from increasing the power of my manipulations quickly.

I closed my eyes and started trying to work out how to do such a thing, extending my senses out beyond myself, using my tail as a focus and trying to replicate the soft swirling wind I had made earlier. Only trying to start it about a meter away from my physical body.

I had managed something similar with the water but I was still physically touching the element even as I channeled my manipulations. But that memory, I was doing without needing to even create a connection between it and my body.

I could feel some stirring around me, it was weak but I could feel the air moving around me, opening my eyes and looking at the soft swirling moving in a lazy circle in front of my face. It wasn’t as far as I wanted but it was in the right direction.

I closed my eyes and continued to work out what I was doing again. Trying to push the wind further away from me, giving it a little more strength so I could tell the difference. Opening my eyes a small dust devil was swirling around at my feet, kicking up the dust gently before dissipating. I smiled to myself, it was progress and possibly faster then I would have if I hadn’t seen those things.

I glanced over to Master’s mark and panicked. I had erased most of the mark with my wind play. Crap crap crap! I tried to measure out from memory where he had drawn his small line in the dirt. In one way the evidence destruction was a good thing, I guess, but not before I needed to use it!

Looking at the dirt and what I could recall, t was about time to awaken the Hare. If it was too late or early I was screwed, so I just have to hope I have it right. Take the risk. I moved over and began lightly batting him with my paw. Trying to gently wake him while thinking of a good lie to tell him.

“Hey! Hey! You need to get up before you lose!”

The hare stirred looking a bit lost as he startled and looked at me. Bouncing away and staring at me with fright while his brained still worked on kicking into gear.

“Ow.. my head… What happened? Where am I?”

“You were out so hard I couldn’t wake you. You wanted to sleep a little longer after Tortoise got here cause you knew you’d beat him anyways. But you need to go now if you are gonna win.”

“The race! I told you to wake me when tortoise got here!”

“I tried, and you told me to buzz off.”

The rabbit seemed to buy my excuse, probably from panic as he realized he would only make things worse if he stayed to argue with me. He bolted off down the path toward the final checkpoint, looking like a cartoon character while kicking up dust high into the air as he sped down the way.

Welp, the mission almost accomplished. Turning toward what I hoped was the clearing. Using the wind to help increase my speed since I needed to be there to make sure things went the right way. I could hear the animals starting to chatter away as I drew in closer to the field with the other animals gathered by what I suppose was the finish line.

“Took your time getting back here, cat. Too many shiny things to handle?”

I ignored the wolf’s attempt at provocation. I wasn’t’ interested in dealing with him, and even now I could deal with him if I had time to charge up a compression blast.

“Had to make sure all racers passed the checkpoint, right?”

Wolf laughed and shook his head. “Oh, so the tortoise is falling that far behind now? Why did we even call this race? Though Hare should have been here long before now, shouldn’t he?”

Everyone looked to the south, where the racers should be arriving, my eyes barely catching the movement of something coming up the way. I kept quiet and let someone else catch sight of them first. Master managed to speak up first.

“Something is coming… It looks like the Tortoise? Not moving up that quickly.”

That managed to catch quite a stir as everyone else strained forward keeping the way open but still crowding around with surprise on their faces and in their voices. As Tortoise moved further into the clearing everyone started looking amongst themselves with question marks. I was working hard to keep a passive cat expression on my face, if I tried to play surprise I’d likely get caught if Hare started blaming me for things.

“Where is the hare?” Cougar started looking around for someone to accuse of cheating and devour. Lady, if you re that hungry why didn’t you eat before you came to this?

I caught sight of a cloud of dust rushing up fast from behind the Tortoise. He was closing in surprisingly quickly. I think he was making a record for even hares and rabbits as far as speed goes. I started to prepare to send a whirlwind to trip him up if I needed to, prowling closer while keeping behind the rest of the animals. But Master stopped me and shook his head.

What! After all this work he was going to let it play out on its own? What the hell? I looked at him tilting my head in confusion as he turned back to the race and watched. “Take this moment to feel it. The Story Magic is gathering, feel it build so you know what we are looking for.”

A teaching moment… Master was going to toss everything away for a teaching moment. There were probably more tortoises and hares, we could have the race all over the world, but I didn’t want another loss attached to my dismal performance already.

Still, I needed to trust his judgment. I closed my eyes and tried to feel out, seeking the mana that controlled this strange even. I felt Master’s wing hit the back of my head lightly whispering into my ear. “Not that way. This magic uses no mana. Think about how you use Rewrite.”

I paused for a moment, I could hear the animals getting closer, things were getting to the climax of this tale. Animals cheering in excitement as the race turned out to be closer than anyone thought possible. Reaching out and feeling the threads of reality, or I suppose fictionality. There was something I hadn’t noticed before. Threads twisting and moving I could feel something happening, the threads pulling together and making… a story? The threads weren’t reals strings but words, words that bound a story together and they were working and pulling together, attaching between the Hare and the Tortoise.

I opened my eyes watching, trying to see if I could notice them as the Tortoise began his final steps to the finish line, the Rabbit almost on his heels but seeming to slow down, as if reality was warping around him, binding him into his role. It was like watching slow-motion versus a normal moving animal. The tortoise placed his foot firmly over the line just before the Hare could even touch it. Master raised his wings into the sky with his declaration.

“Winner is Tortoise, by a Hare.”

I’m going to hurt Master for that pun.


 


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