Chapter 1

“I think that if you just attach those two big ones that have the largest amount of light coming out of them, they will heal.” Haal suggested. Sorrel’s carefully re-attached the biggest threads. Immediately, some of the Creature’s color faded, its health majorly improved. Sorrel looked at Haal curiously. Daven however, was regarding their new ally with new suspicion.

“How do you know so much about Creature threads?” Daven asked menacingly

“I just do, I don’t know how; I haven’t even ever seen threads. I spent my entire life trapped inside a wall where no one ever got hurt” he whimpered.

“I think that you are working for Lord Darrel! You want to stop us from healing it so they can capture us.” Daven loomed larger with every accusation. Haal suddenly stopped quivering. His face changed, he no longer looked scared. In fact, his entire being was completely different. He seemed to swell, his flesh stretching tight, like he was about to blow apart. Suddenly, it was like Haal had.

With a small pop, just loud enough to startle Darrel and Sorrel, and a flash of light, a new form appeared in his place, slowly gaining definite shape as Daven’s vision cleared of the multicolored splotches the light placed there. Still relatively blind from the light, Daven couldn’t see any but the most obvious features on the figure.

“I demand that you cease the needless interrogation of my avatar” The form said. Its voice didn’t come from the just the figure. Daven could hear Haal’s voice, but it was overlaid with a deeper, richer, more velvet-like voice. This second voice seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at the same time, overlaying Haal’s squeaking, piercing, shrill tones, creating a strange double timbre to everything said, emphasizing the importance of the words.

“Your companion, Haal, is a physical representation of me, the Author of this story.” The Author was angry, or so the harsh edge to its voice made it sound. A voice so beautiful could never pull off the harsh edge that sounds required to be ‘angry.’ Daven knew that it was because of his insults to its avatar. Daven’s sight had returned to normal, more or less, so he was able to see some of the Author.

In its hands were a golden pen and silver parchment notebook. The Author’s figure suggested that it might be male; the idea was reinforced when Daven remembered Haal’s gender. He was tall, taller than Lord Darrel, and wider about the shoulders that even the strongest man from Daven’s home vein. Daven could see from Sorrel’s expression that she found the Author extremely attractive.

He studied what he could see of its face. It was quite appealing, but he couldn’t see much, most of it was hidden in a glorious fog that had come out of nowhere. This feat was quite impossible; the stone that Vand was built from absorbed much, almost all, of the moisture from the air. It also was resistant to the air temperature and pressure changes that caused fog.

The Author looked a lot like Haal. No, Haal looked like the Author. Anything that looked similar to that was bound to be attractive. No wonder Sorrel was quick to let Haal help them.

“Now where is Daven’s Characterization?” The Author mused. He leisurely turned the pages of his book. Finding what he wanted, the Author said, “Ah, here it is. I need only put a line through this part of the book and you will be gone, or altered beyond recognition. I could remove the part about you being human, and then only a collection of thoughts and emotions will be left.”

Quickly, the scene had reversed. Now the figure that was Haal was in charge, and Daven was the one pleading. The Author’s Pen and Notebook had control over everything that happened in the Story. If one accidental drop of Ink landed on Daven’s Characterization, he could be permanently altered. “No sir! Do not Erase me, or Strike Out my Characterization! Your Characters were made only to do your will, to follow the Plot. Let the Story be Told!”

“Please, we do not have the time for this. The Creature’s health is rapidly deteriorating. Or do you want to allow it to die, and lose the information it has, and then loose your war with Sarphon?” Sorrel spoke. She seemed unfazed by the appearance of the Author and his sudden mood swings. If Daven were not terrified for his life, he would be so completely transfixed by the Authors presence, that speech would have been impossible. Then again, the Characters from Parr were strange. What wasn’t worth one sixth-rube to a Vandainan may be priceless to Parrlander.

“Very well, I shall assist you.” The Author was very specific about which of their small party he would help. “Tell me, what do you think I could do best to help you?”

“I would like to be able to heal all of your Creations.”

“Interesting. Your Characterization does suggest that you would request something of that sort” The Author flipped the pages of his Notebook. He swiftly scribbled something on one of his pages. “There. You now have the knowledge and equipment to heal any Character. All you have to do is open the doctor’s bag and every thing you need shall be in there.

“I have decided that I will help you two twice more, but that also means that your Antagonists will also get three Revisions. They just need to find a way to request one.” The Author smiled, already forgetting its recent bout of rage towards Daven. “It seems that I have tarried here too long. The Plot needs progressing. I bid you good Story.” With that, the Author vanished, only for Haal to return in his place. The avatar blinked slowly, “Well that was interesting.”

Chapter 2

“Lord Darrel’s men shall be here soon, I believe that we should find a safe place where we can rest.” Daven and Sorrel looked at him again. “Avatar” he said simply.

Sure enough, minutes after they found a safe cave with a back way out, the sound of marching boots could be heard in the distance. Sounds echoed loudly in Vand. After all, the entire country was contained below ground. The low stone walls created strange warps in sound. Many times, things were closer or farther away than a human ear said they should be. So, Daven, Sorrel and Haal were not surprised when soldiers didn’t appear even after the sound of boots on stone said that they had been passing for several minutes.

“I have done all I can for the Creature” Sorrel said quietly. She had been working on healing it while they were hiding. Though she whispered the words, they came across louder than the sound of many boots on stone. The Creature was still unconscious, but its general shape was clearer than before. Creatures became shadows when they passed into the void, their defining colors running together to form a gray splotch. The healthiest Creatures were a dark black, deeper even than the darkest shadows in the deepest, unlit veins of Vand. This was one of the reasons that Characters were so afraid of them. This darkness made them completely silent, very agile, and, what seemed to Characters their most interesting trait, they all shared thoughts. One Creature could look through the eyes of another.

“That’s a humanoid Creature! It may have even been a human Character once.” Characters could fade into Creatures if any of their blood mingled with the liquid shadow that flowed through the threads of Creatures. Any Characters that the Author no longer found useful to any Story became Creatures. Many of Daven’s former friends fell to this particular fate. Why, he could remember what happened to one of his best friends from the Brain Storm. Poor Alex, he had a really good story too, full of strange words, books, and missing fathers. If only he had—Daven’s musing was cut short when Haal whispered to him.

“I think that the soldiers have passed us. I haven’t seen any cross in front of this cave lately. They may have gone to search deeper levels.” The country of Vand was built on many levels; the lowest were where only the most poor stayed for long. All Vandainans knew: the lower go, the lower you go. Daven was confused by this repetition when he was younger, until an uncle of his explained it. The first part referred to the levels of Vand, and the second was about your social status. The nobles of Vand lived in the uppermost level. All Vandainans craved the light of the sun, the closer you were to it, the more power you had in Vandainian society.
Daven heaved a sigh of relief, and rose from the uncomfortable position he had held since they sought shelter in the cave. He was crouched behind a huge rock that sheltered him from the searching eyes of the passing soldiers. However, he couldn’t see out of the cave either.

Suddenly, Daven heard a series of muffled thumps. Looking around, he saw Sorrel, gagged, with her hand and feet bound, and two of Lord Darrel’s foot soldiers holding her in a standing position. She was unconscious, the instruments of this assault lying near her feet, the cause of the thumps.

Before he could run to her aid, somebody behind him spoke. “Please don’t enact whatever you plan on doing, you have six WoMLD’s pointed at various systems that are required for your body to function anywhere near that of a crippled individual near death. As much as I would like to have my men shoot you with those Weapons of Minor Localized Destruction, my superiors, namely Lord Darrel and General Sak Har a’ Dinjo, would like to ask you a few questions. So, would you drop your weapon, and kindly allow one of my men to secure you in the same fashion as your companion?” Daven let go of his Agerian Sword. It clattered to the stone floor near his feet.

As he was bound hand and foot, Daven caught glimpses of things happening around the cave. Two men were carrying the Creature out of the cave on a stretcher. Sorrel was allowed some of her dignity; they let her walk out of the cave, still bound. A new recruit gingerly picked up her black bag, not sure what it would do to him. And, in the middle of it all, there stood a tall woman. She was twirling in place, keeping track of everything as it happened, shouting orders. Hers was the voice who spoke to him in such a strangely polite voice.

She was wearing the same uniform as the commanding officers of The Army for the Protection of Vand and its Possessions. Its green color complimented her medium length blond hair and watery grey-blue eyes. Many Vandainans had eyes of that color, but hers were very different from the average. They were cold.

The soldiers were finally done binding him. Daven slowly responded when they tugged on the ropes. He was still transfixed by how chilling the woman was. And then he was off, to the upper levels of Nath, to what ever punishment Lord Darrel or General Sak Har had in mind for him.