What, you guys thought I’d forgotten about this story? No way! I’ve just been busy is all… Really, you should know me better than that. 😦 lol.
Anyway, in the last chapter, we had Phillip meet his three companions for his journey. Here, we learn more about them, and actually start hunting the Executioner down. Also, we get some more weird storytelling stuff. This time we go three stories deep. Trust me, even though all this sounds random and weird, there is actually a system behind it all. Stick with me, I’ve got a great ending planned. ;D
Inside the house, June recovered rapidly. After a few sips of water, and a dabbing of her forehead with that same cool liquid, she felt well enough to sit up, and after a few more minutes, found herself strong enough to give a weak smile.
At this point Serena spoke up. “What were you thinking June? You knew that you were weak after our last encounter. How could you endanger yourself like that?”
June shifted uncomfortably under the stormy eyes of the leader in their group. “It happened accidentally,” she murmured. “What is of real importance are the thoughts I read.”
“And what might those be?” Serena asked antagonistically.
“He does not think normally. There is a certain way he analyzes the situation and acts that is different from an ordinary human. Almost as if he’s the director in a play.”
“Are you sure about this?” Serena asked.
“Here’s the thing,” the tall blonde said, pacing the room. “After we came in, I found that I had duplicate memories of the same event. When we were coming in, what do you two remember happening?”
“Well,” Victoria said. “We opened the door, Phillip stopped and stared at thin air for a moment, then when I spoke to him, he snapped out of it.”
“Exactly. This is what I’m talking about. I have that memory too, however, I also remember that at that same time, there was an old man sitting at the table, and upon our entrance, he stood up and said, ‘I had already left.’ Then he disappeared. It was him that Phillip was staring at.”
The three stood silently. They all knew what this meant.
“And you are absolutely certain of this?” June asked Serena.
The girl addressed nodded.
“Well,” Victoria said, looking at their captain. “There’s only one thing for us to do.”
Phillip looked up as Serena and Victoria exited the room. Quickly he got to his feet. Something had changed about the two girls, and worrying for their companion, he put forth a question as to her health. They shook their heads indicating the negative. His brow furrowed as he eyed them. They seemed– knowing. What had they found out? In a flurry of urgency he reviewed all his memories to see if there had been some flaw in his storytelling; there was nothing. Why, then, did he have the sinking sensation that they knew?
Victoria fidgeted while Serena stepped forward to face their host.
“What do you know of storytelling?”
To his credit, Phillip didn’t so much as twitch, but Victoria could sense his shocked emotions; her senses never lied. She pressed forward.
“You are a storyteller aren’t you?”
Something was very wrong here. Phillip felt panic building inside him. The power that these three now wielded over him because they knew he was a storyteller was too much for him to think about. He tried concentrating, grasping at the strands of thought that waved frustratingly out of his reach. The room began spinning around him in a blur of faces and furniture. He sank to his knees, still fighting the feeling of hopelessness and helplessness that accompanied this revelation, then he passed out.
I open my eyes a slit, still pretending to have fainted. Hardly the manliest thing to do, I know, but given the circumstances, I don’t think I have any other option. It would seem that this group has some powers that I did not know of. Now that I am like this though, there is no way the two can exercise their abilities on me. I’m not really sure why, but they can’t, and I’m glad. It gives me some space to think.
I hear one of them walk by my head. Another crouches down beside me. Serena asks Victoria urgently if she knows anything. I only avoid smiling with great difficulty as the auburn-haired girl replies in the negative. My humor leaves quickly. What do I do now that they know? They obviously had some prior information as to the existence of my kind. What could the trio want with me? Were they going to try and blackmail me? Possible, though doubtful, I mean, they are all rich. Unless– unless they want to take advantage of my powers. Well, now I have the power.
Opening my eyes fully, I sit up.
“Oh, you’re awake,” Victoria says. I maintain a façade of weakness as the two help me into a seat. My plan will take wit and guile.
I put a hand to my forehead. “Wh– what happened?”
“We were talking, and then you fainted,” Serena informs me.
Speech halts as I process this information. In reality, I am observing the duo to see their reactions to my apparent loss of memory.
“What were we talking about?”
A voice comes from behind me. “He’s faking.”
I turn around in time to catch a pained expression on June’s face, then it disappears. “He’s faking,” she repeats, stepping forward, a mite unsteadily. This is bad. I had forgotten about her. What could her power be that she can tell I am lying?
“Right now he’s storytelling.”
No! That’s impossible! She just gave it all away. How could she know? It’s simply not viable. Serena eyes me for a moment.
“Phillip,” she begins. “We’re not here to harm you. We need your assistance.”
I breathe deeply to calm my racing heart. As I look at the expectant faces staring at me, I realize that they are not deceiving me. So the three aren’t here to take me to Rarrakogn. Then–
“What do you want?”
Serena smiles relievedly. “In the North, we are besieged by a creature known as the Executioner. It has been ravaging the land, ruining everything in its path. Even with our abilities, we cannot stop it, and we have been searching for months to find a storyteller.”
“I have heard of this executioner. He escaped from Rarrakogn years ago. I was actually prepared to go hunt him down. Do you know where he is right now?”
June lays a map on the table. I watch as Serena indicates a shire in the Northern part of the land.
“That is where we last heard of him. It will take us several days to get there, even by horseback, and you don’t have a horse.”
I lean back, smile, and close my eyes. As the threads of this story fade away, I speak, “Several days? Hardly.”
The four of us approach the smoking ruins of the village stealthily. We have been traveling for five days, but it was all done in an instant. Time-warping was a technique I had practiced with a few years back; very handy.
Serena turns to me in bewilderment. “How did we get here so quickly?”
“It took us five days Serena,” I answer, peering through the leafy screen before us.
“But I have duplicate memories again.”
“It’s a time-warp. Don’t think about it. Time is a dangerous topic.”
I can see that she is not satisfied, but that is the best explanation I can give her. On second thought, maybe not, I might be able to come up with something more plausible. Yet, before I do, something she said is nagging me.
“You have duplicate memories?” I ask.
“It’s nothing,” she says, standing up and leading our group into the middle of the charred village. A dry wind picks up, scattering ashes across the road. I feel a coldness overcome me, a darkness, an evil, grasping at my heart. It makes me shiver, and I look around uneasily. There is nothing.
Serena sighs. “I’m a rememberer. I remember everything that has happened. Not only that, I can touch an inanimate object and relive its memories.”
This is food for thought. I consider it as I duck under a collapsed doorway into a small hut.
“What about people?”
“Can you remember a person’s memories?” I ask.
“No,” she says shortly.
I know that she’s lying, but decide not to push the matter. It’s already enough that she’s told me about the fact that she has abilities too, though that was obvious enough in the beginning. Now, for that explanation as to how exactly a time warp works… It will also help fix some history. As a storyteller, the less in the past left untold, the better. I take a seat on the doorstep, glance around at the ruins, then close my eyes.
We hurry along the dusty road to the small cottage that I know lies hidden in the copse of trees ahead. As we speed along, June comes up alongside me and asks about my plan.
“There is more than one way to travel,” I tell her breathlessly. “I know another storyteller who might help me perfect my time-warping skills.”
She raises an eyebrow. “Time-warping?”
“It’s complicated. I used it two years ago to escape from a pack of wolves. Basically, it involves compressing a certain amount of time into an instant. The problem with this is that a lot of things can go wrong. When I used it to escape from the wolves, I ended up with my shirt ripped to shreds and all my money gone. I need to figure out how to work out the details with his other storyteller, and, if I’m not mistaken, he now resides in the house we are heading towards.”
Conversation ceases as we round a corner and find the abode in question standing before us. The storyteller residing within steps out from the doorway.
“Phillip,” he says, then notices my companions. “I see you have brought guests.”
“Yes,” I tell him calmly. “We are going to hunt down the Executioner and stop him, but before we can do that, I need to inquire about a topic known as ‘time-warping’.”
“Time-warping eh? Come on in then Phillip, I believe I have the knowledge you’re looking for.”
Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s confusing. I’m sorry.