- This is the first rough draft written in about two – three hours.
- The title is work in progress and taken from dialogue in the story, for now.
- It was discovery written (no planning, just write) however I’ve started compiling some more info on certain things relating to the agency, the guild, and the universal laws of the world they live in in conjunction to the fairytales.
- Chapter Four added
- Chapter Five added, plus re copy paste done with fixes
A Knights Killing
Neither heaven nor earth could stop the fury of the Fairytale killer as he ran through the storms of Hevermean toward the kingdom of Mur. He’s face was ashen with dirt and water that froze on the tips of his beard and eyebrows, making him look like an ice sculpture as he grunted through the howling winds. His hand tightly gripped his broad sword and his coat bellowed outward like a majestic wing.
The storm that enveloped him was ferocious, unwavering, and blistered down parades of punches. But with every strike the killer would plant his feet and drop his head, wrap his arms around his body, and become a stone against the gale. Then as the winds pulled back to ready themselves for another wave he’d jump forward and bolt with the speed of a cheetah, making ground before being struck down again.
Soon, a symphony of hail belted upon him. The storm was coming to it’s final fleeting fight and our killer of lore could now faintly make out the shadows and outlines of the city ahead. He grit his teeth and with all his might ran through the piercing ice and wind. Waving his hands before him, he took the hail he could, and would worry later about the ones that made their way through, striking him all over his body and face.
When things looked their bleakest, the storm, like a wall, abruptly ended. And he found himself standing in a sunny meadow of green and blankets of flowers, looking toward the mighty kingdom of Mur.
Butterflies and birds sang around him, inspecting the new arrival in fluttering curiosity. The murderer of morals turned around. The storm raged behind a dark grey barrier of clouds and wind reaching to the heavens above.
“Magic!” he spat to the earth.
Then his sights went back to the kingdom. There, he would find the king, the queen, and the prince. And there he would lay them down to die. They were the final battle. Behind him was a trail of death. Dragons, fairies, trolls, witches and warlocks all lay rotting in the earth. With them another page in the book ripped out. Another chapter burnt. Another moral, mutilated. There was one more chapter left now. One last page to deal with before the Fairytale could be no more.
The knight grimaced toward the kingdom, then began down the meadow toward the path leading into the great city.
He did not admire the scenery, the river in the distance, the wild flowers that grew on the hills, the sun that shone like a beacon of gold above the mountains, the cities citadels and spandrils that shot up into the clouds like watchful towers. The scent of honey did not phase him, nor did the hunger that made its way to his belly from days of fighting. He would eat when his mission was complete, when the final character in this crucible of folktales lay rotting on the floor.
As he made his way down the dirt road folks would pass him. Some on horseback, others on foot. Some were farmers walking beside cattle bought or sold at the markets. They would nod, or give a greeting. But the knight ignored them all. They were two dimensional creatures to him. Nothing but words typed on a page long ago. Words he despised. The knight was unyielding in his task. They would not slow him, nor waver him from his path. He shall have the kings head before the day was up.
When he got to the main gates, two guards stopped him.
“Who goes there? What business do you have in the Kingdom of Mur?” they asked.
The movements were quick. The first went down instantly as his head rolled onto the floor. The second had just enough time to grab the hilt of his sword before being run through. His eyes opened wide as they looked up at the knight. The knight looked into them, following them down to the ground as they glazed over, as he watched the little life they had evaporate away, like a sheet pulled from a bed.
By the afternoon the knight was at the doors to the palace of the king. Many had tried to stop him on his way. The king had heard of the mad man who had killed his men in cold blood, and had quickly dispersed his riders to handle him. But each fell to their deaths. The city becoming a tomb.
The palace was surrounded by guards. But fairytale guards and riders were easily eradicated. They were merely pests to the knight.
Perhaps to another they would be cause for second thought, but to the killer of legend, they were words to be erased with a flick of the wrist.
Each fell with fear on their faces as the knight dulled his blade on their bones, cutting across necks, and slicing into chests. There was no elegant sword play or duals, just murder, relentless and unadulterated. The knight had a job to do. Trained for one thing and one thing only, the complete destruction of fairytales. And there was only one way to do it; killing each character within its pages.
When the final body fell, the doors to the palace swung open. The knight, stood underneath the arches, his sword coated in red at his side crying blood into a puddle on the marble floor. His eyes narrowed as they made out the shadowy figures from beyond the doorway, all standing at the ready. For a moment, for a brief second, it looked like a smile crept onto the knights face. A glimmer of self satisfaction for what was to come. The final battle was upon him.
He took a step into the darkness of the great hall, leaving the golden rays of sun behind. The walls were lined with murals of kings come and gone. At the far end, the king sat in his throne. By his side his queen, and by hers, the prince. They looked on as the kings guards stood between them and the certainty of the knights mission.
“Who dares take the life of a loyal servant of Mur?” the head of the guard stepped forward. The knights attention went down to his sword, where he began adjusting the grip for what was to come.
“I demand an answer!” the guard yelled, echoing his frustration through the great hall. But the knight having adjusted his grip merely walked toward them. The guards paused and the head guard looked on in astonishment at the mans sure insanity.
“Then you shall die here, before the King, at the mercy of my blade” he said, “front row, attack!”
The first wave came. Three burly men using brute force and mallets. The knight waited patiently until they were feet away then with a swift movement left them each kneeling and holding their guts and throats as he stood on the other side, looking forward, barely out of breath.
When he heard the clanging of their steel hit the marble floor, and the thud of their bodies following, another subtle smile crept onto his face, hidden beneath his thick black beard.
“Kill him!” the King announced from his throne. All of a sudden all the guards ran forward. War cries bounced off every wall, and the great hall for the next few moments was filled with battle. The knight, through it all was miraculous. If not for his unyielding murderous streak he would have seemed a god like warrior.
The guards fell. Some in silent disbelief at their short lives, others in slow agonizing screams. But they all fell, nonetheless. And when he was done, the King, his Queen and the Prince stood before him.
“You will not win this battle!” the Prince cried out as he ran toward the knight with his mighty sword. But the knight was too quick even for him. And soon, King and Queen were left alone in the palace that in one day became a tomb.
“May I ask one request?” the King said nobly, “tell me why?”
The knight came toward the alters. He walked up the steps and with one movement his sword had plunged into the queens heart as she grasped her kings hand. Her eyes weld up with tears as she coughed her final breaths and whispered inaudible words into the air.
“Please…” the King dropped to his knees before the knight, “I must know!”
The knight looked down at the old king. His white beard and kind eyes echoed the remnants of the story of the book. About a king who would charge the prince with a great adventure to save the kingdom and slay the dragon and rescue his princess. It was a tale of hope, of heroes and love. A tale told to children who would grow to understand the beauty of the world. But they would never hear this tale. The lore of this legend would go unread. The book unopened, as the knight thrust his sword into the king, the final page was ripped away and the world around him fell like a curtain to reveal the world of the true living.
The knight found himself in the Guild Quarters, surrounded by men and women in white coats typing into computers and writing down numbers and diagrams.
On a table before him, the fairytale book lay closed. It’s once crisp covers looked worn and dry, and the pages seemed thinner than before. Its color turned grey and the leather that bound it withered like old autumn leaves. One of the men in the white coats picked the book up using thick gloves, and took it to a small metal kiln. The knight watched as they opened up the kiln and placed the book on a metal grated plate inside. Then the man closed the small hatch and pressed a few buttons. Inside, a fiery blaze erupted in red, gold and blue.
“Fairytale #11103 has now been destroyed. All characters successfully eradicated,” the man in the coat said as his assistant wrote it down on his pad.
The knight of the guild was briefed by a woman in black, then given a certificate of gratitude and a small golden pin which he took with a gracious nod before being dismissed. A job well done. A fairytale destroyed. Mission, completed.
Accountant In Arms
“This is unfortunate for the Agency. We just got word that another Fairytale was destroyed by the Guild. That’s four in the last six months. By this rate we won’t have a fairytale division by the end of the year” Sandra said as she made her way down a stale white corridor in the Agency hq. Her heels clicked on the marble as her assistant ran beside her carrying a lump of papers and pads,
“Maybe we can implement another state law?”
“Maria if I wanted your opinion I would ask for it”
“Yes Miss Stant” Maria said.
“Besides, the law has nothing to do with it. Fairytales are above the law, and so rogue corporations like the Guild take it upon themselves to be above it too. They view fairytales as viruses that seep into our culture and harass and mutilate the very existence of humanity” she said with distain as she took an abrupt right turn that left her assistant stumbling behind her.
“But surely they know how important they are for children. We can’t teach them values or morality without fairytales. The very existence of them proves their worth in society and in cultural evolution….”
“I don’t think the children are in their plans, Maria. The Guild only cares about the Guild, and their pseudo political gains. They won’t rest until all fairytales are destroyed. One page at a fucking time.”
The two women walked down yet another stale white corridor. Each void of anyone but them. The Agency was stark compared to what it used to be. With such few fairytales left, the government didn’t see the Agency as anything but a cash drainage on the system. Even politicians began vetoing financial advancements towards departments like the FairyTale Agency. The FA had been stripped to their bare bones in the last few years. Something that Sandra Stant had seen first hand as it’s accountant in arms.
The two finally got to a door on the side with the number thirteen on it. Down the hall each door, white just like the rest, was numbered. Sandra stood in front of it and paused, taking a deep breath, then buzzed the little black button.
“Come in” a telecom voice came as an electric charge vibrated the locks open.
The two women entered a waiting area with a harsh looking old receptionist behind a white desk that had zero personal affects. Just a computer, keyboard, and a writing pad and phone.
“Mr Grey is expecting me” Sandra said,
“Please take a seat Miss Stant, Mr Grey is finishing a meeting.”
Sandra and Maria sat down, Maria huddled over her bundle of papers as Sandra sat straight with her legs crossed in her black pencil skirt and her jacket to match. Her hair was up as it always was, in a bun pulled back to stretch her eyebrows into arches that added to her already hardened exterior. Her face was reminiscent of a squirrel, with hard edges and lips that always looked anxious. But she had been so used to number crunching and the troubles of the agency perhaps she had forgotten how to look at herself as a woman, not just an accountant.
After ten minutes, each of which Sandra sat silently and infuriatingly looking at the door, it finally opened to reveal two young men being walked out by Mr Grey. One of them smiled at her, taking her back a bit as he continued talking to Mr Grey, who had his hand on the mans back in an affectionate pat,
“Will, you and Jack wait out here for a minute” Mr Grey said as the two went over to the couch,
“Miss Stant, come in”
Sandra stood up, nodding to Maria to stay put as she followed Mr Grey through. She brushed past Will, who nodded with another grin, as she walked past him unhinged by his gesture. She closed the door behind her, eyeing him as he sat down and playfully nudged his comrade.
The office was larger than it looked from the outside, and had windows all down one side, overlooking the agencies courtyard. Behind the large mahogany desk was another wall full of books. Each looked old and worn with cracked leather spines and crumbled away titles etched in gold. Mr Grey motioned as both sat down.
“So, Miss Stant, seeing as the FA has recently undergone an internal restructure it would seem that you are the person on everyone’s lips” he said, clasping his hands on the desk. He had a kind smiling face, framed by a trimmed white beard and bushy eyebrows that raised up in the air.
“Mr Grey?” Sandra asked.
“Well you’re the accountant, and I’ve been told before I blow my nose I’ll have to ask permission from you” he laughed, “just in case we can’t afford the tissue paper” he said.
“I understand if you disapprove Mr Grey but I assure you it is for the best of – “
“I know what it’s for Miss Stant, I’m still the vice chair of the FA book maintenance you know”
“Yes, sir” Sandra replied, keeping her hands folded neatly on her lap and her back as straight as it was all throughout her academic youth.
“So, as per Mr Flecs’ instructions, I called you here to inform you that I will be sending two Wing Clippers in for fairy maintenance” Mr Grey said. He leant back on his chair, pulling a file from his desk draw and running through the paper work before handing it over to Miss Stant. Sandra took the folder and skimmed the first page, noticing Grey put a pen down in front of her nonchalantly,
“Mr Grey” she said looking up from the paper “as you know the FA has been, for the last six months, restructuring not just its finances but also the FT Quests. Fairy clipping has been adjusted to a minor rating. A fact all directors were made aware of when my department sent the updated reports at the beginning of the quarter. But I understand directors such as yourself are quite busy, in which case I will remind you that some quests – such as fairy maintenance – are not seen as a financially viable application of the Agencies resources”
Mr Grey paused for a moment. Was he taken back, Sandra thought. He had to be. Mr Flecs, the head of the entire agency was ready to fire her when she gave him the same speech when he asked for a budget increase. Sandra kept her cool then, and she was more than capable of keeping it now. She gently placed the papers on the desk,
“I’m sorry Mr Grey. That means no” she said.
“Have you ever seen an unclipped fairy Miss Stant?” Mr Grey asked leaning back with his hands on his stomach,
“No I didn’t think so” he stroked his beard as his eyes became a little more distant than before, “let’s get one thing straight Miss Stant. I don’t like having to ask for permission to send two of my men into a book for a mission that will not only save lives but ensure our children’s futures. But alas the powers that be, be them stupid and ignorant as they are, have taken it upon themselves to direct this agency and how it functions, by giving an accountant operative power. So seeing how you have never been in a book, or know exactly what these missions pertain to in the larger sphere of this world you’re so comfortably living in, I would rather our little meetings from now on be efficient speedy. As in, you say ‘yes sir’ and put your signature on that form so that my men can do what they are trained to do. Do we understand each other?”
The room suddenly felt much heavier and colder than it did a minute ago. Grey leant forward with that last sentence and now the stature of the man seemed apparent as he loomed over the table at her. His once kind face was now drenched in half shadows that made it grim.
But Sandra got up this morning with a determination in mind. Keep to the task. Stay focused and don’t let directors bully you into anything. She had that same thought repeating in her mind now, as she took the pen from the desk and signed the document, pushing it toward Mr Grey,
“Yes, sir” she said, her face unmoving as she looked at him.
“Good” Mr Grey said, picking up the piece of paper and pausing, “uh, it seems you only signed the completion Miss Stant, I need the release order signed too”
“Sure, as long as it has my name next to theirs” she said.
Mr Grey looked at her for a second in confusion, then laughed,
“You want to go into a book Miss Stant? Now what would that prove?”
“Nothing to me, sir. But since you and the rest of the directors think a person cannot judge an FA Quest if they themselves have never entered a book, then it would seem logical for me to do so. To put your minds at ease, that is”
“I see…” Mr Grey said, leaning back onto his chair. He swayed back and forth, contemplating her proposal with a judge look on his face. She knew he was sizing her up. Looking at her and judging whether or not she’d be up for it. Or whether she’d just crack under the pressure. Or perhaps whether she’d even make it back. But she grew tired of that same excuse overtime she faced one of them. ‘You’ve never been inside,’ they’d say, and pass her the pen. Until now she was strong enough to withstand their arguments and shove that pen right back. The governmental backing of her department gave her more than enough confidence. Even when it came to work place relationships she didn’t care they hated her. It was her career, her choices, her moves. They had nothing to do with who she was. But this wasn’t job related. It became personal for her. Who the fuck were they to talk about books. To talk about the importance of Fairytales, just because they’d been in one? She grew up with them. Was attached to them in a way no-one could ever imagine. No, she was doing this for her, and fuck whatever they thought.
After a few unnerving moments Mr Grey leant over and pressed the telecom,
“send in Will, Miss Granger.”
A moment later the tall man she’d brushed up against stepped through the door and came over to the table, standing by the empty chair beside her,
“Sir?” he said with his hands behind his back and at the ready,
“I want you to meet Miss Stant. This is Wing Clipper Lieutenant Will James”
“Pleased to meet you Miss Stant” Will said putting out a hand. Sandra stood up and shook it, surprising the man with her grip.
“Miss Stant will be joining you on the mission Will”
“Uh, excuse me, sir, I don’t -“
“New regulations. Brief her on everything. Miss Stant, I’ll be sure to send the new orders over to your office for review and your signature. You leave in the morning. Dismissed.”
Will nodded and left and Sandra looked over at Mr Grey. “Both of you, Miss Stant” he nodded as he turned to his computer screen.
She nodded, ‘thank you, sir” and left.
Outside, Maria quickly came to Sandra’s aid as the younger man went over to Will. They exchanged some pleasantries that resulted in Jack laughing out loud as he looked at Sandra standing there in her business outfit. A stark contrast to the two clippers in their light grey uniforms with the FA insignia on their breast.
“So, Miss Stant is it?” Will came over, “have you had any training, or is this your first in book experience?”
“I’ll be prepared I assure you Lieutenant James. Now if you’ll excuse me. I’ll meet you in briefing room A in the morning” she said, brushing past him again as she walked out, Maria in toe and quite confused.
“Wait, you’re going in? Miss Stant are you sure that’s a good idea, you don’t know the first th-“
“Did I call for your opinion Maria?”
“No, of course not”
“Good. I don’t want to say that again”
“Yes Miss Stant. You have a two o’clock with the finance department”
“I want you to reschedule the meeting till after I get back” Sandra said unbuttoning her blouse as she skidded through the corridors, “call Rogers too and tell him I’ll be late tonight” she continued, unbuttoning her cufflinks, “and get me an appointment with FA medical. They’ll need to pass me before I can go, and bring a change of clothes to the office, you’ll find it in my car, the keys are on my desk”
“Yes Miss Stant. If I may, where are you going to be?” Maria asked. Sandra stopped, taking off her blouse entirely and giving it to her assistant,
“I’ll be in the training facility. Now go and meet me back at my office at end of day”
“Yes Miss Stant”
And like that, Sandra was off. She took a side door down a few flights of stairs, warming up her legs as she focused in on her breathing. She rolled up her sleeves and opened up the emergency door to the courtyard. It was a brisk day. Not chilly but not warm either. The courtyard had fountains strewn about and was end to end quite large. Large enough for a long afternoon stroll. The training facility was on the other end. Sandra stopped and looked at the path she’d take. Then she put her hands on her side and stretched out her back, bending forward all the way until her head touched her knees and her hands dropped to her heels. She breathed in and out a few times then crouched down and took off her heels, letting her toes softly touch the gravely path. She moved side to side getting her feet used to the rough terrain, and grabbed a heel in each hand, then started jogging. It would take her at least fifteen minutes to run all the way to the other side.
Pensive are the mighty
Sandra, Will and Jack stood in a dark room, in front of a table, with a book on top of it.
There was a light shining down upon the old book showing how torn it was on the edges, and frail down the middle. It was open to Chapter Thirteen.
The three onlookers were all dressed in garments of the period of the book. Will and Jack dressed as travelers, in dark brown attire with cloaks to match. Sandra was wearing grey pants, black boots, white shirt with a grey vest and a heavy dark cloak and cowl. They had swords on their sides, and Jack and Will each had what looked like tiny harps hanging off their belts.
Outside of the room vibrations and mumbles echoed what was a busy laboratory warehouse with dozens of technicians and agency officials.
Jack breathed in and looked up,
“Why are there so many people out there?”
“Well since we have Miss Stant joining us, Jack, I’m sure the agency wants to make sure it all goes well” Will said with a smile. But Sandra didn’t respond. She was immersed in something else, the thought that in a few minutes she would be transported into a fairytale for the first time in her entire life. That she would be walking around in a world of magic. With knights, princes, fairies, dragons and kings. A world of fancy and fantasy. It was enough to keep her up all night, even when she got home late after the afternoon of hard training, she still sat up reading the quest reports. Going over every detail. Reading between every line.
Amidst her thoughts, she snapped to when a voice came from the com system,
“Lt. James have you completed preliminary checklist?”
“Yes sir, preliminary checklist complete. Asset script, clipping sheers and harps present. All team members arrived and approved. Second Lt Mercer?”
“Check” Jack said,
“Check” Sandra said.
The com voice came again in a different tone,
“Miss Stant how are you feeling?” it was Mr Grey. Probably came to see her chicken out.
“Medically approved, Mr Grey” she replied. Will held in a laugh.
“Then I’ll wish you good luck, Miss Stant. Lt. James, be sure to bring back our accountant”
The light in the room turned dark red as com voice came on again,
“Initializing in-book r.e. Countdown in ten…nine….eight…”
Sandra breathed in. She looked down, focusing in on the pages of the book. She read the words that started Chapter Thirteen, ‘it had been a thousand days and nights before the Kings of all the lands called forth their mightiest knights for the great hunt.’
Then, everything went black, and a feeling of a tidal wave came over Sandra which shook her to her core. She passed out.
“Miss Stant, Miss Stant can you hear me?”
“That never get’s fucking old”
“You worry about the perimeter, Jack”
“Miss Stant, relax don’t move so quickly. You’ll be lightheaded for a few minutes. Come, sit up slowly and have some of this” Will held out a brown leather pouch the size of his palm.
“W-what is it?” Sandra asked pushing herself up and resting back onto her hand as she grabbed it.
“It’s a stabilizer. It’ll help get your brain back in working order. You shouldn’t have read the words”
“The words, in the book. I saw you mouthing them right before we r.e’d” Will answered, standing up and looking around, “we probably should have told you, but it’s a little initiation trick. You get it..”
“No” Sandra said standing up and holding herself tight as she brushed the dirt off her pants and shoulders, “I don’t ‘get it’ Lt James. I read each report pertaining to this quest, and the training and m.o.p for r.e’s. There was never any mention of nausea coming from reading the words,” she finished, looking straight at Will who was a little taken back by the attack. He stepped forward, coming in close. Sandra breathed in.
“Tell me, Miss Stant. Have you ever been inside a book before?”
“No I have not.”
“Well” he said, moving out of her way, “you are now…”
Sandra looked to her surroundings for the first time. They were in a small patch of opening in some woods, but there was light shining through the trees in front of her. There was a clearing. She began toward it, turning past the trees as she brushed her hand over the bark.
The light grew brighter, and soon the thick of the woods melted into a beautiful meadow with rolling hills and mountains. It was the clearest of days. She’d never seen a sky so clear and blue. The breeze was soft, and the sun warm. Flowers of yellow and purple and red blanketed the hills and as she followed their waves Sandra saw in the distance, surrounded by a thick forrest; the most amazing castle she could ever have imagined. It’s spandrils spun like serpents tails toward the skies as birds flew around it. It’s curved spike tops jutted out and reflected the brightness of the light. Greenery grew along it’s walls, and even from the distance, she could make out movement within it’s stoney exterior.
There were people there. Real people, walking, talking, working. There was a King, and a Prince. A fierce Queen, or maybe an evil one. There was a story. For the first time in a long time, Sandra was speechless. And among the golden hued meadow, as the winds gently kissed her cheeks, she looked breathlessly beautiful. Her hair for the first time in years was dancing free instead of imprisoned in her accountant’s attire. She felt in that moment, freedom, unlike ever before. She transported herself back to her youth. To when she would read for hours and hours, drenched in a fairytale full of adventure. But somewhere along the way the smiles faded. And now, after a long time, she felt it come back, even if for a brief moment. She was there. And standing right beside her among the beauty of the meadow was her younger self, just as pretty and just as speechless; looking out toward the kingdom of her fantasies. Looking for her own adventure, to begin.
Woes are for Widows, Crumbs are for Killers
Two men, one large and foreboding, the other is a hunched and eager oriental man, walk side by side in a different type of corridor. This is a dark catacomb of claustrophobic hallways broken by metal doors and men in security uniforms with guns by their sides. This is the Guild. The larger man is Frederik Marpan. He sets the pace and takes his time as the other waits patiently for his turn to be asked a question.
“Are you sure this will work Dr Rukoo? It would mean a great deal to a lot of people out there”
“Yes, sir, Mr Marpan. We know they are in-book right now. If we r.e into another copy of that same book then we will be in the same story-line as the agency” the doctor said. He was droopy in the face, with a slanted disposition.
Mr Marpan smiled. It was the first sign of satisfaction the Doctor had seen the entire time he worked for the Guild.
“May I tell you a story, Doctor?” Marpan said. He had an amazing way of talking. He was British, and had the habit of raising his tone any time he addressed anyone, especially when it ended in a question. So, ‘Doctor’ became a loud D that looked like it shook Marpan’s cheeks, echoed by the rest and ended with a rolling rrrr.
“Why of course Mr Marpan, sir” the Doctor replied respectfully.
“When I was a young man, I had a recurring dream. One in which I rode upon a shining black steed” he said like an old historian reciting an epic poem, hitching his voice up in animation on every other word, “before me – there was day. And at my rear came night. I rode toward the day. I whipped at my steed, and kicked at his side, driving my heel into his canon chest. He cried out ferociously as he belted toward the day but as I turned, the night, it still came. Reaching out to me with it’s shadowy claws.” The two were now in a long and wide corridor, with dark grey walls and no doors, save for the one at the end that had B.A.L in red lights above it. Marpan continued to tell his story as he stepped ahead slowly.
“Try as I might, no matter how hard I rode my steed, I could not outrun the night. I could not reach the day, and then, I awoke.” he finished,
“What do you suppose it means?” the Doctor asked,
“For many years I thought it meant that the night would always be chasing me. That I would always need to fight harder than the rest, against the evils of the world”
“It makes sense. You established the Guild for just that reason”
“Yes. And it has flourished into the haven it is today, because of my drive and passion for my convictions, Doctor. But recently I have started having the same dreams again, and perhaps in my maturity I have come to the true conclusion of the dream” he said as they stopped in front of the door. Marpan raised his hand in ready to push but turned to the Doctor,
“Would you like to know what it means?”
The Doctor nodded as Marpan pushed open the door and the two walked out onto a ledge, overlooking a vast warehouse with no end in sight, full of hanging lights and housing underneath its high ceilings, millions of books on shelves. Marpan looked out over his empire, stretching his hands out as if to take a breath of fresh air, to bask in his glory.
“It means I am the night, Doctor, and it is me that drags the shadows across the day. It is I who will snuff out the light.”
The two strolled through the shelves all lined up full of old tales, lore and legend. Marpan walked with hands behind his back, overlooking each and every table, chair, and screw with meticulous pride. His chin was up and his eyes blanketed his surroundings, always looking. The Doctor beside him hunched over some paper work, oblivious to the thousands of binded leathers that stretched out all around them. They made their way down the wide center of the warehouse. It comprised of the same section type layout duplicated again and again and numbered by a black sign hanging down with white lettering. They would first reach the control area, where tables in square formations with computers on them were filled with men in lab coats. Then they would get to the prep area, where soldiers underwent physicals and preparations. The soldiers would then be walked past the main control, another set of computers on usually a single large table. This time there were additional screens, keyboards of various colors and sizes, and thick electrical wires running down and through to the final area, the r.e. It was usually a room, four walls and a door and a ceiling. It had to be made of wood, old oak from the German forests. The soldier, or soldiers would be taken inside, where on a table lay a book. By the time the soldiers came back out, at least a single chapter had to be destroyed. It would take days, sometimes weeks, depending on the chapter. An entire book could take months to destroy with a hand full of soldiers. There was quicker ways, of course. When soldiers couldn’t do the job, they’d send in a Killer of Fairytales. It was never as simple as killing characters for killers though. No, there was only one true way of killing a fairytale in their minds, and that was destroyed the very essence of the story. Bit by bit. Kill the spirit of the tale and the book is useless. They were sleazy, wretched and manipulating monsters; killers of lore. And one such monster was waiting in the aisles under Section 13 as Marpan and the Doctor made their way over and Marpan smiled with an approving nod as he saw him preparing,
“My finest killer, Doctor” Marpan said, pulling the doctors eyes away from his documents and branding them on the skinny dark haired thirty something year old that stood dressed in black and dark green attire fit for a fairytale. When he smiled, his eyes would narrow to the point of becoming two thin lines underneath his arched eyebrows. It was seedy to say the least, as he greeted both doctor and Marpan.
“Sir, I’m honored that you would come down here” he said smoothly.
“Of course you’re honored, but do not mistake your role in this. You are here for one reason, and I am here to ensure that this mission is a success. Do you understand?”
The killer straightened his back,
“Yes, sir. The mission will be a success, I guarantee it”
“Good” Marpan said with a shallow grin, “now get ready”
The killer of lore went over to the small wooden room that was free standing in the middle lane of the warehouse. He went inside and closed the door.
“I’ve waited far too long for this day” Marpan said eyeing the small wooden room, “is everything ready, Doctor?”
The doctor was busily typing in formulas and commanding lesser coats to make sure wires were fastened and monitors were sufficiently working.
“Yes sir, almost there. We have initiated r.e sequencing. In-book will commence in five minutes….” he went on down his checklist, pointing and shuffling about and around everyone’s work station as the others mumbled and huddled around monitors and pads. Marpan stood behind them all, his domineering form tossing a shadow onto the tables and computers. He held his hands behind his back, rubbing his fingers together. Few could tell his anticipation for the moment to come. Few new his passions when it came to the future of the world, and himself in it. Few realized just how insanely motivated he was. How easily he hid his insanity beneath those dark intruding eyes. He was a giant among leaches. Leaches he would soon burn.
“Ready in 5…4…3” the voice over the com systems began as the red light above the wooden room turned on. With the final moments a flash of light lined the edges of the door. The killer had entered the book. His mission had begun. Marpan smiled.
“Jack, you alright? Take it easy, don’t get up too quick”
“Will, oh – wh – what happened? I feel like I just got hit by a truck”
“The fairy got us with some dust just before we could clip her wings. Must have gotten loose from the holds or something..”
“Ah shit. The Agency’s gonna be pissed, it’ll take us days to track her down again..”
“Listen Jack, there’s something else”
“What is it, is it the accountant? Did she get sprayed too? She’s probably shitting herself”
“Yeah she did, she’s still unconscious but that’s not the problem”
“So what is it Will, don’t keep me in suspense”
“She took our hearts”
“What?! That fucking bitch!” Jack sprang up, patting himself down and checking his chest for any markings. He unbuttoned his shirt and saw faint symbols that looked like words coming through where his heart once was, “shit, Will I’m turning. How long do we have?”
“By my count, three days” Will said, making his way over to Stant who was laying on a patch of grass in the small clearing. He leant down and looked at her for a bit. She was beautiful, he thought. Her skin had a translucent look to it. Pale yet pristine. Her hair was flowing down onto the ground like a curtain onto a bed. She looked peaceful and serene. Will sighed, reluctant to wake her after what just happened, but he had no choice. Time was now not on their side. He nudged her slowly on her shoulders and whispered her name until she rolled her head gently side to side and struggled to open her eyes.
“W-what happened?” she asked, pushing herself up to sit.
“What do you remember?” Will asked,
“I remember standing by that tree over there while you and Lt Mercer waited for the fairy to come. Then you trapped her with the harps. I remember there was a lot of light emanating from her. She was screaming, it was so loud. I remember blocking my ears then there was this cloud of smoke and I woke up here. What happened, did she get away?”
Will put out his hand and helped Stant up. She dusted herself off and straightened her cloak.
“There’s a problem Miss Stant. You see that dark cloud you saw, that was fairy dust”
“Fairy dust? Yes I’ve read about it, it renders whoever it touches unconscious”
“Yes, but I’m afraid there’s more. You see fairies that go unclipped can be very dangerous-“
“Yes I’m quiet familiar with the dangers Lt, now can you please tell me what is going on and why Lt Mercer looks like he’s about to punch out a tree over there” Sandra interrupted, clearly growing impatient with Will’s attempts at stepping around the issue.
“Fair enough. Miss Stant the fairy did get away, but before she did, she stole all three of our hearts. We have at least three days to find them before each of us slowly turn into a fairytale and end up trapped in this book forever.”
The news hit her face first. Overcome by the fact that after waiting her entire life for a chance like this, to be in a fairytale, to be among characters she loved throughout her childhood, she was now faced with being stuck there forever. With no heart. Written among the pages. She knew what that meant. When someone was written into a book they no longer existed outside it. They were just words on paper then. She backed up, and turned, pacing forward and holding her hand out to a nearby tree. More to feel something, rather than to hold herself up, but she didn’t mind the support either. Her mind was going a mile a second and she started feeling pins and needles seeping through her entire body. As though the world was getting pulled out from underneath her, her knees buckled and she fell into the arms of Will who was at the ready.
“Come on, come sit down for a bit” he said, placing her down.
“Will, we don’t have time for this” Jack said, coming up from behind. Will shot him a quick glance and he nodded obediently as he turned away. Will looked back to Sandra,
“I know this isn’t what you expected Miss Stant” he said, “but we’re trained for these situations. We spend a lot of time in-book.”
Sandra looked up at him,
“Not enough to be able to stop one fairy from stealing three hearts, I would say” she said disdainfully. Will nodded, unable to do much else. Sandra continued, “I’m sorry Lt, I’m just – I’m just a little taken back by all this. I wasn’t expecting a life and death experience on my first r.e. So, what’s going to happen to us?” she asked him,
“We’ll track the fairy down and-“
“No, I mean what’s going to happen to us? I’ve read about cases where individuals have remained in-book permanently but the specifics are classified”
“I don’t think we should think about-“
“You’ll leave it to me what I will think about Lt. Now tell me what happens, specifically”
Will paused, then unbuttoned his shirt, showing Sandra his chest, cloaked with a light fuzz of hair and solid with muscle,
“You can just make out some words?” he asked. She nodded, “well those words will start spreading across your entire body. In three days they will overcome you and you’ll turn into a character in the story. You’ll forget the world outside, and you won’t be able to get back ever again. When the book isn’t used, you’ll cease to exist.”
“Alright. So what’s the plan?” she stood up, shaking off the dirt from her cloak again and looking up at Will, “where do we start, Lt?”
“We start where we left off. If her scent is still present, we can follow it. Otherwise we head to the nearest river, fairies need water after spraying”
“Right, let’s go then, no use sitting around here all day. Lead the way Lt.” Sandra said swallowing deeply as she straightened her back and aimed her eyes forward. She held her disposition firm, her edges always sharpened and ready. Years of being an agency accountant in charge of all the no’s and having to face all the disgruntled directors did that to her. Other peoples feelings toward her were not important. The task was, and right now there was a new task. Will smiled at her, then called to Jack to prepare for the hunt. After a few moments Jack came over to the two packed with two bags and ready to go. He was holding one of the small harps in his hand,
“Shall I?” he asked, Will nodded. Jack put the bags down, then looked over to where most of the clearing was. He held the tiny harp up and hit a sequence of notes consecutively to form a string of music. The wood went silent for a moment, even the breeze suddenly stopped, dropping the leaves it carried down to the ground. Then as if from thin air, a cloud of dark purple dust began to appear in front of them.
“What is that?” Sandra asked,
“It’s the Fairies foot print, if you will. It responds to a certain tune from the harp. It’s usually invisible to the naked eye but this one is thick. It must mean that she’s near by after all. See how it slowly seeps through the woods over there. She headed that way. Jack, pick up the stuff, let’s get a move on.” Will finished.
With a quick rustle around, they were off. Jack led and Will took the rear while Sandra kept the middle.