This is my NaNoWriMo 2016 project, to be published as a book when it’s all done. Thanks for reading!
Jeff the Turtle watched as the closet burned down to a pile of ash. Sad. He always liked that closet. Whenever he was on the left side of his transparent cube, he would look at that closet and imagine what might be inside it. Then he’d walk over and sit on the fake rock on the right side of his small transparent cube, and think for a spell.
He was not always such a docile turtle. Jeff was born the son of two of the most famous turtle adventurers in all of the turtle kingdom. His original birth name was Ragnar. One day, his land was invaded by evil turtle collectors, and he and his parents were kidnapped. He swore revenge on the evil turtle collectors, and vowed to one day find his parents again.
Eventually, he was purchased in a pet store by the King and named Jeff, after his new benefactor. He thought the name suited him quite well, and he was pleased by it. He enjoyed his new life immensely. He had a transparent cube to walk around in, all the food he could eat, and all the time in the world to look at the closet and ponder its contents. He forgot all about the life he knew before. Ragnar faded away and only Jeff remained.
But now, the strange lady had taken away his favorite piece of scenery. Jeff was upset. He felt the blood of Ragnar boiling in himself once again, and —
“Haha, okay mom, I get it, that was a funny joke.”
What’s that dear? Which part?
“Are you really going to do an entire bit about Jeff? The turtle? I mean, it was funny in the last part, and it was funny for a little bit here, but I really want to know what happens next in the story.”
This is what happens next in the story. Jeff is mad about the closet, and he swears a new blood oath to seek revenge once more. Then he gets a tiny sword and a hat and —
“Haha no, I can’t take it mom, that’s too silly! I’m gonna go and text Megan or something.”
I got a call from her mom today. You were right, she’s mad about the level of violence that was in my story.
“Don’t feel too bad. Megan’s mom worries about everything. One time I saw her make Megan stop eating an apple because she was worried some gluten had gotten in it from the air.”
Hah. Wait, can that happen?
“No, mom, it can’t. At least, I don’t think it can?”
Well, the next time you see Megan, you can tell her that the story is now about a turtle in a tiny hat with a sword.
“Okay fine, but can I please hear the real story now?”
Oh I guess. But it won’t be as fun as what I could do with a tiny turtle adventure.
Osiris and The Wizard reached the small village of Hillsvale in short order. The Wizard was panting.
“My goodness,” he said, “I haven’t run like that since I was but a small boy. I hope never to do that again!”
Osiris rolled her eyes under her mask.
“Aha! So it is a mask!”
I like how you asked me to tell you the real story, and then interrupted me just as I barely got started.
“Sorry, I was excited! I was thinking she was some kind of weird creature thing, so it’s cool to hear that she’s just a lady in a mask.”
Who is to say what she looks like under the mask? I haven’t told you yet.
The town’s lone guard was asleep at his post, which was less of a post and more of an old wooden chair at the entrance to the town. The King didn’t really care about guarding the village, as his capital city was his prized possession. In fact, the guard here had been assigned by King Jeff’s father, and as such was quite old.
“Aha!” said the Wizard, “a mighty guard! I shall yell at him to gather his attention, and then I will cast a powerful spell so that we can get past him unharmed.”
“You can’t be serious,” said Osiris quietly. “He’s a single old sleeping man, and he hasn’t even noticed us in spite of your loud babbling. You don’t need to cast a spell on him. We can just walk right in.”
“No, I must do this to prove my usefulness on this quest!” The Wizard pulled out his stubby wand stick thing and waved it around in the air, muttering some words under his breath.
A potato appeared on the ground in front of the guard.
“Oh good,” said Osiris. “Now if he wakes up he’ll at least have something to eat, if he’s hungry. Come on, let’s find a place to spend the night.” She grabbed the Wizard’s hand and walked quickly into the town, past the sleeping guard.
“How are we going to pay for an inn?,” asked the Wizard. “I’m a bit short on coin, you see, and in my experience most innkeepers aren’t fond of that sort of thing.”
“Money won’t be a problem,” said Osiris. “The trick is finding the right place. We need somewhere that will harbor us without immediately telling the King’s guards. I imagine they’ll be in the town looking for us before dawn.”
“How are we supposed to tell which inn isn’t friendly to the King?,” asked the Wizard.
“I have my ways,” said Osiris.
They crossed through the muddy, ragged streets of Hillsvale. They passed a couple of inns, but their windows were darkened. “Never stay in a place with a dark entrance,” said Osiris. “If they don’t care enough to keep their counter manned, they don’t actually want your business.”
The two travelers passed the Rusted Axe, and Osiris suddenly paused, causing the Wizard to bump straight into her back. She was much more solid than he was expecting, and he bounced off her like a feather. “Ow,” said the Wizard.
“We need to go inside this place.”
The Wizard looked up at the pub’s sign. “The…Rusted Axe? My lady, I do believe this is a pub, and although I have enjoyed the inside of a pub a time or two in the past, I do not believe that they will let us sleep here — “
“There’s someone inside we need to meet,” said Osiris. “Let’s go.”
“Really? I don’t remember knowing anyone inside this pub. I don’t think I’ve even seen it. Before I was taken aboard that pirate ship, I had never really been outside of Whimseria,” said the Wizard.
“I am not at all surprised,” said Osiris. “Fear not Wizard, the world wasn’t missing much without you in it.” She went quickly through the door of the Rusted Axe, and the Wizard followed reluctantly.
The Rusted Axe was filled with patrons. Most of them were sitting, talking, and drinking. At the far corner of the room, Brutus sat at a table by himself, and Barry was next to him eating out of a small bucket on the floor.
“That man in the corner is quite frightening! I should not ever like to meet with him,” said The Wizard.
“How did you even survive this long?,” asked Osiris.
“What do you mean, my lady?”
Elena saw the newcomers and waved them over to the bar. Willow came over and whispered in her ear. “Miss, that lady what just came in ‘as no face, it would seem.”
“I noticed,” said Elena. “I’ve been in this business too long to be scared of someone in a strange mask.”
“Somthin’ bout her I don’t like,” said Willow. “I’m gunna keep an eye on ‘er.” Willow’s mind wandered to the sword hidden away in the back of the building that Elena gave her that morning. She snapped back into the present moment, and went about her duties.
Osiris and The Wizard walked up to the bar. The Wizard plopped himself down on a stool, like a little kid. He had a big smile on his face. “Hello! One ale, if you please, miss! My faceless compatriot here will take care of the coin.”
Elena looked to Osiris. She shrugged, and tossed a coin on the bar. Elena poured the Wizard an ale. He drank the whole thing down in one gulp.
“My goodness, a fine ale indeed!,” said the Wizard. “Now, if you please, may I kindly ask — “
“You sure talk a lot,” said Elena, interrupting him. “You must be a Wizard. And not a very good one, at that.”
Osiris let out a laugh. “Hah, bet you see a lot of folks like him in here.”
Elena nodded. “More than I’d ever care to. Name’s Elena.”
Osiris nodded. “My name is O…Esther. Nice to meet you. You have a nice place, here. This is my traveling companion and servant.”
“Aha!,” said the Wizard. “So you agree to be our new lady then! Excellent, we Wizards of Our Lady — “
“We are seeking a place to stay for the night,” said Osiris. “A place that is not…sympathetic to the King’s interests.”
Elena snorted. “You’ll find no sympathy for the king here, traveller, but we aren’t an inn, I’m afraid.” She gestured towards the back of the room. “The only place I could offer you is an old pile of straw out back.
“That sounds horrible!,” shouted the Wizard. “Come on, let’s go to — “
“We’ll take it,” said Osiris.
Elena raised her eyebrows. “You must be desperate then.”
Osiris leaned in close. “Yes. I burned down the King’s armoire.”
Elena smiled. “You sound like the sort of person I would like.” Suddenly, Elena heard a voice in her head. It yelled out as if it was directly in the middle of her mind.
It was the voice of Osiris.
“I know who you really are,” she said inside Elena’s mind. “And I know about the elf girl who have here. You both have more power than you realize. I’m the one your father told you about, the one from the Isle of Heroes.”
Elena’s pupils went wide and her stomach started to churn. A bead of sweat rolled down the side of her face. She took a deep breath and gave Osiris a little nod. Osiris nodded back.
“I feel like I’ve missed something here,” said The Wizard.
“More Ale?,” asked Elena.
“This one’s on the house,” said Elena. Willow came over to the bar with fire in her eyes.
“My name’s Willow, and you’d better not mess wit — “
“Willow,” interrupted Elena. “These two are going to be our honored guests for the night. We…we’ve been waiting for them. Please, make some room for them in the storeroom will you? We can’t have them sleeping outside.”
Willow’s eyes widened with understanding. “Right away miss,” she said with a little bow, before scampering off.
“Has anyone noticed her true potential yet?” asked Osiris.
“This ale is quite excellent!,” yelled the Wizard to no one in particular.
Elena shook her head. “No, in fact, most people on this island hate elves. The ones that still live here are shunned by all levels of society.”
“Did you know that this land is an island? I heard that recently!,” shouted the Wizard. “Quite amazing!”
Elena blinked. “I just said that. Right now. A moment ago.” She frowned. “What’s wrong with you?”
“He’s a Wizard without a wand,” said Osiris. “Hope to get that fixed soon.”
“Excuse me!,” said the Wizard, “but I have got a wand!”
Osiris patted him on the shoulder. “Just keep telling yourself that.”
Brutus fed Barry a carrot in the corner and he chomped on it with a loud crunch.
“Say,” said Elena, “before the two of you go to sleep, you might want to talk to that big lug over there. See what you make of him. He’s a puzzle I’ve never been able to figure out. He’s the captain of the King’s guard and — “
The Wizard dropped his mug and it clattered to the floor. The whole room went silent for a moment before picking up their conversations again. “Blimey!,” shouted the Wizard. “You’ve got a guard here?”
Elena narrowed her eyes. “How did you even manage to live this long? If you’d listen for two seconds, I’d tell you the rest. He’s the guard captain, but… he’s famous for helping the downtrodden and wandering off with furry animals, like that goat he’s got with him. Always comes in here, and always leaves a tip. Only one that does that.”
Osiris scratched the chin of her mask. “Interesting,” she said. “Sounds like a man who might be useful. She got up and walked promptly over to Brutus’s table and sat down.
“Oi!,” said Brutus. “You’ve got a fine bit of bravery ‘aven’t you? Sittin’ right down with me? I like that!”
Osiris stretched out her hand. “Cute goat,” she said.
Brutus smiled and shook her hand. “Thank you miss, he’s Barry and ‘oim Brutus. Pleasure to meet you. Fancy cloak you’ve got there.”
“Hello Brutus. I can’t help but notice you’re wearing an old key around your neck…”