The Pagemasters Vol 1 Chapter 20

 


Author: Literataku


Chapter 20:
All My Bad Ideas

 

 

Hare was completely pissed off by the results. Seriously hopping mad- Oh great now I’m doing it. He glared at me as he bounded up to Master, yelling at the top of his tiny lungs while panting furiously.

“F-Foul! I cry Foul! That cat made me come up late!”

Don’t look guilty, don’t look guilty, don’t look guilty. Oh, who am I kidding! Most cats look like they are guilty and are smug little assholes about it too. I tried my best to look somewhat offended by the accusation, curling my tail around my paws as I sat straight in perfect cat form. Ready to start blasting creatures with magic and compressed air, now that the story was finished and just waiting to be captured I didn’t have to deal with the aftermath like this… Right, Master?

“And what are ye accusing the cat did to make ye fall behind?”

Hare paused a moment, his ears drooping to the sides as he realized what it would sound like, but he was a good sport to continue even though he knew the others would recognize the sinking ship he had put himself in. “I… I took a nap and he was supposed to wake me up before Tortoise got ahead of me.”

“Ye took a nap in the middle of a race and expected a judge to help you with winning. Now I’m not going to call it cheating, but it is yer own fault for deciding to sleep in the middle of a race. Does anyone here say my judgment is in the wrong?”

Master, maybe I’ll forgive the pun just now, you are brilliant. The rest of the animals remained silent. Hare had dug a good hole being disrespectful to a lot of animals in the forest, and sleeping in a race environment seems to just be a good-sized stick to break the camel’s back. Hare swallowed and looked quite humbled now that the others looked at him reproachfully, his hubris would be kept in check after this. Well, it would be what would happen if he and most of the forest creatures here weren’t going to be turned into a storybook very shortly.

Master nodded and then gave a shake of his wings. “Then the matter is settled and there were no signs of cheating, nor foul play. The tortoise wins and the matter is settled for everyone here. Everyone can go celebrate or go about yer normal lives now.”

Most of the animals quickly dispersed back into the forest proper, the cougar among the last to go after sizing up me, Master and the two racers. I guess she decided I was too rich for her diet and it would be in bad sportsmanship to eat the racers so soon.

Hare sat down on his hind legs and looked a bit pouty staring at me and Master. Tortoise moving over next to him with a quiet smile. “Well, once again we’ve had our fun again, Old friend. How many centuries has it been?”

I tilted my head in confusion and looked at Master.

“I told ye, stories know who we are. At least they do when the Story Magic grabs a firm hold on them.”

The Hare nodded and placed his paw on the Tortoise’s back giving his shell a friendly rub and polish. “Aye, I realized it as soon as I started to complain… T’was a mean trick to play on me with that rock but I understand. And it feels good to be put back on a shelf. Better than worrying over what the others will do to me if we stay like this.”

I canceled my cat form and reached out to summon my staff. Gripping it tightly as I felt the rush of energy starting to course through my veins. It was finally happening. My first book to be sealed away.

Gathering the power of The Word into me I looked at them and began to recite.

“By the power of The Word and the authority of the Books. I command you |{Tortoise and Hare}| to restore that from whence you came! |{Return}| to the |{Pages!}|”

A shining light began to appear in front of them, swinging my staff down onto the spot I felt something hold my staff in place, my hands now glued to the staff making me immovable, light extending out from that glowing spot like ribbons, moving toward the pair and circling around them before extending out into the forest, reaching for every creature connected to them and their story. The spot of light growing in size, opening up like a book and spreading forth with pages of light.

The ribbons surrounding and growing faster as the tortoise and hare began to disappear inside. Their bodies forming words scattering and following the ribbons into the pages of light, settling into place and forming their story. I stood still watching with fascination, unable to do anything else until the light began to fade away. Leaving us in an abandoned clearing with a book floating in front of me, waiting patiently as I let go of my staff and grasped it.

I had finally got one! It was right there in my hands, I could feel how real it was. My hands running across the cover, feeling the silver imprinted letters that gilded the front cover. I got one!

One out of who knows how many thousands or more, but it was still one that I was successful in getting my hands on. Don’t cry! You’re a man, Shikiro! I wiped away some manly sweat-drops that had appeared in the corner of my eyes and sighed in relief.

Master smiled and flew up to land on my shoulder. Giving me a pat on the head with his wing as he looked around for a moment. “Ye did good, Boy. It’s a start to get things going.”

I continued to look at the book in my hands, puzzling out something. “Master, if the Gingerbread Man was supposed to have an unlock for speed. Does this story have anything similar?”

Master looked a little awkward as he clicked his beak together trying to find a good answer. “The ability from stories are often connected with a theme or moral to each tale that they are created with. This particular story’s moral is that it is better to be careful and respectful to what ye are doing, rushing, being disrespectful and being reckless can lead to failure more often than a careful mind will. Like the original tale, the hare believed he could win no matter what so he decided to nap since he was so far ahead and could easily outpace the tortoise.”

“So what we did didn’t change the tale? Even though I Interfered with things?”

“Aye. The tale will right itself when it is sealed. Though it sounds counter to things the Story Magic is only concerned with the main events, not particularly the characters and their motives behind them. Many tales have changed the actions and motivations of their characters over the years, but in the end, the result is still the same.”

It was something to chew on. I nodded then realized something.

“So what is the power?”

Master looked at me again and clicked his beak. “Consider it a boost to yer patience and ability to reflect before acting.”

“Oh.”

Well, it wasn’t completely useless. But it wasn’t an ability that I really needed right now. Taking another moment to look around I turned and starting walking back toward the east, eager to get back to the village and get ready to leave this place for now.

“Where are ye going?”

I stopped and glanced to Master. “The Village, Master.”

“Then ye might want to go the other way.”

Whoops. I turned around and began making my way back to the village, enjoying the stroll on two legs again. The cat form was interesting but I really preferred being human. It was so much easier to handle things like this. Oh, and speaking of…

I bent down low and started to run, gathering my mana and beginning to work on creating rapid discharges of air at my feet. Leaping into the air as Master panicked and beat my head with a wing trying to take off from my shoulder as I started flying through the-

“Oof!”

I found myself suddenly wrapped around a tree branch with a groan, Master landing beside me as I held on trying to breathe after having the wind knocked out from me. He sounded half-amused as he leaned over and looked me in the eye.

“Ahh, so ye learned how to make compression blasts. Well, good job. But perhaps you should work on your spacial awareness before you try doing something stupid like this again. It’s a good idea though, and quite impressive ye’ve mastered this much control so quickly.”

“Y-yes, Master.” I managed to squeak out while I started slipping and fell to the ground. Groaning while scrambling back up on my feet and resume our travels back to the village. I felt a little unsteady but I should be recovered enough by the time we got to the village. Pagemasters seemed to have a bit of self-healing as a hidden ability.

“We’ll get Red and then start searching for the next location, Boy. But don’t think ye’ve got an escape from practice after lunchtime.”

I nodded trying to get my breathing back under control as we walked back through the forest. It was starting to get pretty late in the morning, by the time we get back hopefully Red will have lunch prepared for us…

Wait! Do I smell burning? Oh please tell me that smell isn’t his cooking!


 


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