The Pagemasters Vol 1 Chapter 21

 


Author: Literataku


Chapter 21:
I’ll Make Them Disappear Before Your Eyes

 

 

The good news was that it wasn’t his cooking. In fact, he was actually half-decent at grilling meats and vegetables. There were a lot of charred bits but it was more edible than I would be able to make. And filling. The bad news was that the burning smell was a slightly more disturbing problem, one that I hadn’t thought of but at the same time, I probably should have known would happen.

We had pulled out one usable table and a pair of chairs to sit down for meals. I was trying to eat while not thinking about the mess Red had been forced to deal with. The man himself was trying to eat a little, but he definitely wasn’t in the mood for food or much of anything. Not that I can blame him.

The problem with fantasy worlds is that there are some things that one can overlook when there is no reason to suspect it when you don’t deal with such things in the real world. We don’t know all the rules yet, so there is no blame to be laid at anyone’s feet here. Who would even think about this if you didn’t already know in the first place?

Miasma. The demonic substance that gathers around places that have been despoiled or evils wrought upon people. The substance that had filled the graveyard overnight.

So close to the demon forest, maybe we should have picked up on a clue but we casually overlooked how wrongfully the villagers had been slaughtered. We didn’t think about how these people might have carried the grudge of their wrongful deaths to the grave, even when we had buried them. They hadn’t been given peace and so they rose from their graves as monsters while Master and I had gone off to deal with the story.

Red had dispatched them all efficiently. Setting fire to all the corpses as he dismembered and destroyed every zombie and wight that had risen out from the graves. Even Master kept silent after we had listened to his story. It felt like a waste now, all those hours burying these people.

If only we had known. And yet how were we supposed to know?

I sighed quietly, finished with my meal and laying back in the chair looking toward Master. He had been pacing back and forth on his perch while I had been eating. He was trying to decide if there was anything else to be done in this part of the world right now. He was much more sensitive to the Story Magic then we were, I was barely getting started and Red still needed to learn how to control his magic and mana.

I tapped my fingers lightly against the table before moving up to stroke the cover of the book again. Reassuring myself that we had one victory in our hands now, a step in the right direction. Even Red had smiled slightly in spite of things, though his mood quickly returned to feeling down.

Master flew off his perch and landed on Red’s shoulder. “There might be hints of things in the forest, but the pulse is too weak. It might be weeks or months and there are other stories we can handle during this time. Gather what food ye can. It’s time we shift across the world. |{Override}| |{Open Gate Elysium}|”

A gateway opened in the middle of the village, it was familiar enough for me. The gateway leading back to the space of white I had spent my first days as Pagemaster in training, I was hoping we wouldn’t be in there for long.

We gathered together what remained of the food that was ready to cook and prepare, leaving the surviving chickens and livestock to their fates as we opened the stocks and let them loose to survive on their own. Or most likely be devoured by the forest creatures and demons surrounding the village. I wasn’t about to take them along to clean up after them. We had no way to keep them fed in the white space anyways. Yeah. Nothing to do with being queasy about the idea of butchering them or anything.

It didn’t take too long for us to be ready. Not that I was eager to get back to the white space, my desire to leave these failures behind was just higher. Even if there was one victory, there were plenty of reminders that I would like to move on from.

Stepping through the portal I received a slight shock, the white space had changed somewhat from the blank canvas that I had spent who knows how long inside. There was actual furniture sitting in parts of the vast space. A chair and bookcase were to the left, at what I guess was a boundary, pieces of wall and floor seemed to bleed in from the whiteness to set a place for the furniture to actively sit on. A pair of beds lined over to the other side to the far right, also sitting in a bleed in of reality of walls and flooring.

I felt like I was sitting in the middle of someone’s half-finished drawing of living space. I almost half expected to see someone penciled in the kitchen and left it half drawn. Looking about I quickly managed to confirm that this was the extent of the changes so far. Much to my own disappointment.

Red looked about with an odd expression on his face. Glancing at the furniture before looking toward the chair and computer still hovering in the white space in the middle of the room. “What exactly is this place?”

“It’s the home base of the Pagemasters. A solid piece of reality within the realm of fiction. At least that is what it’s supposed to be. There must be others out there that we will need to find.”

So it’s like an RPG game where features only unlock as you gain crew. Who do I have to find to unlock the-

“So.. if you guys started here… where is the bathroom?” Red managed to interrupt my thoughts.

“There isn’t one, unfortunately,” I responded with a sigh, feeling a bit agitated as I recalled-

“Then how did-”

“I don’t want to talk about it.” And yes. I really don’t.

Red wisely decided not to press the issue and turned back toward Master who was sealing the gate shut and moving over to the computer. “We aren’t staying long are we, Clarion-sama?”

Master shook his head and started trying to tap away at the keyboard. A curious sight as he used a combination of his beak and claws to reach the keys. “We’ll be moving out soon, while the amenities are growing they are still lacking and it’s best not to stay in here for long unless ye can’t avoid it.”

I gave a quick glance at Master as he spoke, wondering what he considered too long. But he was focused on the screen in front of him. Tapping a few more keys on the keyboard he smiled and gave a slight laugh. From a glance, it appeared he was looking at some sort of map, though it seemed to have three other maps all drawn on top of it.

“Mmm there we go. I’ve got a good one to work with. And an inside path to one of our problems.”

Well, our current problem was three fairies, a green kid named Pan and a rogue hyper speeding gingerbread man if you didn’t count the world-ending crisis. There were a lot of options to come by, and no shortage of ones to find out.

“We’ll need to play the manipulators for this to work. But with good work, we can work on dealing with the fairies. And if the map isn’t glitching out we’ll find another Pagemaster to help.”

He looked to me with a slightly apologetic expression. “However, you are a known element to them in human form so…”

I sighed to myself, having a good idea where this was going. “So I’m going to be hiding off in cat form is it?”

“Aye. Red will be doing the human side of the leg work. I don’t think the fairies will be able to recognize ye so readily since ye don’t have the magic control Blue does.”

“And what exactly am I supposed to be doing for this mission, Clarion-sama?”

“To start things off. Just attending a child’s christening.”

I tried to hold back my laughter at Red’s expression. This was one time I was glad I had my cat form to do something else with. He gave me a slight glare, and I merely gave my best Japanese smile, trying hard not to crack up.

“Well, I guess it beats everything else I’ve been doing this week. Just be sure to get your rewrites properly alright?”

He looks at me and I nod in affirmation. A flash of thought coming into my head. Images of things I didn’t want to see… A red blade piercing into a king’s back… Spinning wheels thrown into flames and turning into demons that flood a village with screams as the fires spread and purges all life… A flash of purple light and a young woman’s face and her voice crying out in agony… Wicked laughter as I stumble and look across the decayed kingdom, my eyes blurred as I gaze outside and see a world that had suffered 100 years without a Pagemaster reality starting to collapse around us…

“Blue-san! Snap out of it!”

I jerked back into myself and looked at Red and Master staring at me with concern. I scratched my cheek and felt my cheeks getting red. “Sorry, Master, Red-san… I think I drifted off for a moment.”

Mater huffed at me and looked with slightly accusing eyes. “Drifted off? You were blank-faced and completely unresponsive. Just like this morning. Did something happen to you?”

I started to speak but something caught in my throat. I couldn’t utter a single word about this. I tried to start but my mouth was even refusing to move to form the words. I finally sighed and shook my head. “I think I just need a little bit of a rest before we do anything else…”

Master looked at me as if trying to gaze through me, but sighed and shook his head. He gestured toward the beds with his wing and then turned back to the computer screen. “Go ahead and get some sleep then. We can leave anytime since we will be there on time.”

I nodded and bowed to them both, excusing myself while Master started to explain more about this space and what it could do to Red. I laid down and closed my eyes, wondering what I was seeing with these flashes. Was it things that could go wrong, or had?

Again the feeling of them slipping away began to overtake my thoughts of trying to discern what those were. There was still one image that seemed to stay burned in my mind, however. The young woman’s face. I knew it somehow. I knew what she was, who she was. Pagemaster Violet… She was in trouble if my visions were to be believed. This wasn’t going to be an easy mission by any means… even if it was just supposed to be the setup for what was to come later. I could feel it.


 


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