'A Twisted Tortallian Tale…'
Hey there! This is my latest project, a group story that me and about, um, 10 or 12 of my friends are writing. It should be pretty interesting, any ways. I, crosseyed butterfly, am the main author of this piece and will be putting all of its unusual elements together, hehehehe…I love this job.
All characters and the plots, other than the ones I create, belong the ingenious Tamora Pierce, consider this piece disclaimed and I will NOT post another, ok? I hate disclaimers.
Just for your information, *~~~@~~~*marks change of scene and [….] mean your inside someone's head, or you're reading their thoughts, so to speak.
This is about a cursed version of Squire and what happens when my friends and I get a hold of it…
Elizabeth looked around the dusty shop, sneezing from the dust that was everywhere. The shelves were stacked with old, second hand books, not her type of store, but it was her friend's birthday and she wanted to get her something she would enjoy.
She scanned the shelves, hoping to get out of that wretched place as soon as possible. A leather bound book caught her eye, its gilt edges gleaming in the light. "Ooh, pretty," whispered Elizabeth as she pulled it from its shelf. The cover was decorated with jewels, probably fake because if they were real it wouldn't be there. It had an outline in gold of a girl with some creature bird/cat on her shoulder and a sword and dagger at her side.
"Looks like something she'd like," murmured Elizabeth as she read the title, "Squire, by Tamora Pierce, I think she mentioned that name one time." She was about to open the cover when an old man came by, wheezing from the dust.
"Can I help you, young lady?" he rasped, not really being able to breath.
"Yeah, how much is this book?" asked Elizabeth, holding up the leather bound novel.
"That 'un? I'd give it for free if the boss would let me get away with it. But since I can't, you can have it for $.50," he coughed. "We'll just be glad to be rid of it."
"Why?" asked Elizabeth, slightly curious.
"Mysterious things have happened with that book," wheezed the man. "Believe it or not, the last manager was convinced it was cursed before he quit."
"Cursed? Right…here's the money, and I'll let you know if anything happens," said Elizabeth dryly. She put the book in her bag and headed out the door, wanting to be rid of the old man and his dusty shop.
She ran out the door and hopped in her mom's car. "Find what you were looking for?" asked her mom absently.
"Yeah," replied Elizabeth. "Hurry up so we can get to Sarah's house." They sped out of the parking lot down Providence Road, on the way to a night of full of sugar and girl talk.
"So you'll both walk to the school early and the other two will meet you there later on, right?" asked Elizabeth's mom. She was standing outside of Sarah's house, drilling the two teenage girls in front of her.
"Yes, Mrs. Davis," replied Amanda reassuringly. "I'll make sure we get there on time for the extra practice."
"And then you'll drive her home from practice in your mom's car and drop her off at home, correct?"
"Yes, Mrs. Davis." Amanda was getting slightly annoyed with this lady's continual questioning.
"Then I'll see you tomorrow. Bye, Elizabeth, have fun!" She got back in her car and sped off before her daughter could answer.
"Bye mom," muttered Elizabeth sarcastically. "My mom drives me insane, sometimes!"
"Yep," agreed Amanda. "But then again, if she were nicer, I'd be out of a job, so…"
"Are you guys going to stand out there all day?" asked Sarah from the side door. "My mom's making icing and she said we could lick the bowl."
Amanda and Elizabeth glanced at each other, grinning insanely. "SUGAR!!!" they yelled in unison, running for the door.
Sarah, Elizabeth, and Amanda were sprawled around Sarah's room, eating chips and sharing a 2-liter of Cherry Sprite while talking as they usually did. The subjects ranged from the perfect date to what they'd do if they ran away to guys in general.
"So, what do you guys want to do?" asked Elizabeth about 3:30 am.
"How about sleep?" suggested Amanda, "We have to leave in seven hours, and I don't know about you but I don't do so well on less than six hours of sleep when it comes to band. You know, something that you actually have to concentrate on."
"Payne will throw a fit if we're walking zombies," added Elizabeth sleepily.
"She's right," sighed Sarah, "We'll go sleep in my brother's room."
"Ok," said Amanda, "I get the mattress on the floor."
"Fine, I want the bed," said Elizabeth as she got up and walked out the door.
"You're the smallest person here," objected Amanda, "Shouldn't you be on the floor?"
"No, she's fine," put in Sarah, "I don't mind sleeping on the floor." Amanda shrugged and followed them out the door half asleep. 10 minutes later they were all out and wouldn't wake for another six hours when Sarah's mom would come up stairs and wake them up.
"Girls! You have to leave in 45 min!"
Amanda sat straight up in bed, grabbing her glasses as she did. "C'mon, you two lazy persons," she called to the other two sleeping figures. "We gotta go!"
"Y'all have to go, I can sleep for awhile longer," protested Sarah as she rolled over.
"You're being a real nice hostess," teased Amanda as she rummaged through her bag. "Do want first shower, Liz, or do I get it?"
"What was that?" asked Amanda. "I couldn't understand you through that pillow over your head."
"I said what ever you want," yawned Elizabeth as she finally got up out of the bed. "If it means I can sleep more, you can have the first one."
"Fine, but be ready to go when I get out," sighed Amanda as she ran into the bathroom, hurrying through her shower.
Elizabeth was waiting outside the door when Amanda came out, almost asleep on the floor. "Sarah's downstairs and breakfast is on the table," mumbled Elizabeth as she walked in and shut the door, leaving Amanda out in the hall by herself.
She ran down the stairs and walked through the living room to the kitchen, smelling the bacon, eggs, and toasted bagels before she reached it. "Mm, smells good Mrs. Miller," said Amanda as she sat at the table next to Sarah, who was still in her pjs.
"Thank you, Amanda," replied Mrs. Miller as she set a plate before her. "Now it eat it before it gets cold."
"Yes, ma'am." She set in with a will and soon Elizabeth had joined them, actually eating for once because they made her.
"Oh, I almost forgot," said Elizabeth when they had finished. She pulled out the book she had bought the day before and handed it to Amanda. "Happy birthday, Amanda."
"That is the coolest copy of 'Squire' I've ever seen," said Amanda in disbelief, "Where did you find it, Liz?"
"At that old book store at the Arboretum, next to the coffee shop," replied Liz.
"This is probably the best present I've gotten other than a night with two of my best friends," said Amanda as she opened it, looking in bewilderment over the gilt-edged pages and the calligraphic writing that covered the parchment like paper.
"Glad you like it," replied Elizabeth, smiling.
"I'm gonna go upstairs and shower, you guys," said Sarah as she finished her food. "You'll probably leave before I'm done so I'll see you at the school, ok?"
"See ya, Sarah," replied Elizabeth, giving her a hug.
"Yeah, thanks for having us over," added Amanda as she gave her a one-armed hug, making sure the book stayed open.
"Bye." She went up stairs, sighing as she did. Six hours of sleep was definitely not a good idea.
Amanda sat at the table, still looking through the book, while Elizabeth gathered up her stuff. Hers was on her back, all stuffed into her not-so-reliable book bag.
"C'mon, Amanda," teased Elizabeth, "Put down that book or we'll be late." She punched Amanda's arm gently, or at least what would be considered gently for her, causing the book to shut quickly.
As it did, the book began to glow brightly. "What the-" was all Elizabeth had time to say before the light flashed once real bright and disappeared, taking the two girls and their bags with them, but leaving the book sitting on the table as if it had just been forgotten…
Amanda stared at her new surroundings in awe, wondering if this was a dream. However, dreams don't usually include one of your best friends with you, and Amanda could tell that it was the real Elizabeth next to her as she listened to the younger girl curse out her fear and anger.
"Elizabeth, why are you wearing a dress?" asked Amanda when she swung around to look at her.
"Why are you wearing boots and a sword?" She looked down to confirm what Elizabeth had said, her jeans and band shirt having turned into a ladies sword shirt, breeches, a short cape, boots and with a leather belt a rapier-like sword and dagger at her side.
Elizabeth's clothes had changed to a long, red satin dress that shimmered slightly when she moved. The sleeves where long and pointy and the skirt full as a rich young ladies would. On one arm there was a leather gauntlet under her sleeve, and to her leather belt was attached a miniature cross bow and a pouch of darts.
"What in heavens name-" a snort sounded behind her and a large head butted Amanda's shoulder playfully. She looked to see that she held the reins to two horses standing next to them in her hand.
Elizabeth walked over, her satin skirts swishing gently. "Oh, how pretty," she murmured as she stroked the nose of the smaller horse, a black fine-boned mare with white stockings on her front legs, the white ending in what looked like flames.
The taller one, a medium sized mare with a light chestnut coat, and a darker chestnut mane and tail. Her two front legs also had stockings, and when Amanda lifted up a lock of hair that covered her forehead, she noticed a small white marking shaped like a crescent moon.
"Well, Miss, it looks like your name is already decided," murmured Amanda she let the lock of hair fall back over it, hiding it from view. "I'll call you Moonshadow."
She looked over at Elizabeth, who'd been having a similar conversation with her new friend. "I think your name will be Black Mystic," she said decidedly.
"Um, Liz? Do you know how to ride?" asked Amanda as she looked at the saddles and tack that was placed on the horses.
"Not yet," replied Elizabeth as she walked around to the side of her horse. She studied the saddle for a minute before saying, "I think there's something wrong with this saddle, Amanda."
"No, Liz," replied Amanda patiently. "It's called a ladies saddle, so you don't have to ride like a boy and ruin your dress…"
"Oh, ok." She struggled boost herself into the saddle, failing miserably as Amanda tried to stop the laughter that threatened to burst out. "Shut up and help me get up on this thing!" demanded Elizabeth as Amanda came around the other side, about to fall over from laughing so hard.
"Stand to the side with your back to the saddle…now put your arms up so I can hold onto your waist…1-2-3 Jump!" Amanda lifted the smaller girl into saddle with ease that surprised them both.
"Since when have you been able to easily lift me into the air?" asked Elizabeth as Amanda handed her the reigns, trying to control her horse.
"Since we arrived here, I guess. You didn't get any lighter, so I must somehow be stronger, but how I haven't the slightest idea," replied Amanda as she watched Elizabeth sway unsteadily on her mount. "Here, I'll lead your horse so you can get used to the feel of it, ok?"
"And we won't go any faster than a walk?" asked Elizabeth as she handed the reigns to her friend.
"How can we when I'll be walking too?" Amanda started to walk down the road off to their right, not being really sure which direction to go.
"What do you think is in these bag-thingies?" asked Elizabeth after they'd been walking for a while.
"They're called saddle bags, Liz. And since I have no idea what's in them why don't you look?"
Elizabeth smiled and began to rummage through the one beside her, being very fond of going through bags she hadn't looked through before. The one on her horse held clothes that would fit her, all nice dresses and a pair of breeches and a shirt at the bottom of the one. The other one the on opposite side had boxes of jewelry and personal supplies, etc. that a young lady might need and a canteen full of water hung beside it. All of her tack was dark leather that accented her mare's coat nicely, something only the rich would normally be able to afford.
"What do you think are in the bags on your horse?" asked Elizabeth when she had related the contents to her friend.
"I don't know," replied Amanda. "But if you need to walk for a minute, we can stop and look."
"That might be a good idea, I'm getting a little sore," replied Elizabeth as Amanda stopped the horses, securing them to a tree before helping Elizabeth get down. They then went through the contents of her bags, finding more clothes similar to those she already wore and personal supplies and in the other food that was ready to eat for riding on the road.
There was a third bag, smaller than the rest and hidden from view under the saddle. Amanda opened it and found a fortune in gold nobles and jewels, not being sure she could believe her eyes when she saw it. "We are definitely not going to go hungry while we're here," murmured Amanda as Elizabeth looked over her shoulder.
"Holy cow, we're rich…" whispered Elizabeth as Amanda shut the strap and secured the bag back under the saddle.
"Gold and jewels will do us little good if we can't spend them," she said, cutting Elizabeth short before she could protest, "Let's go find a town or something, where we can stay for the night. It's still early, so we should be able to get pretty far before it starts to get dark."
"What if we don't find a town?" asked Elizabeth.
"Then we sleep under the stars, but I think we will." they continued down the road, stopping only one other time for a short snack as they went down the road. They were chatting lightly when they rounded a bend in the road and came upon a group of men standing in the middle of the road, looking as if they'd been waiting for someone.
"Hello, good fellows," called out Amanda when they spotted the pair, not liking the way they looked at them.
"Good morn', missy," called one of the men, obviously their leader. They were dressed as commoners, but just the way they eyed Elizabeth and the horses sent shivers up her spine.
"Would you gentlemen mind moving so me and my friend might pass?" asked Amanda, keeping her face straight.
"As a matter of fact, we would," said the leader, grinning so they could see his missing teeth.
"Why would that be, good sir?" asked Amanda, motioning for Elizabeth to remain silent.
"There's a bit of a toll on this road and I'm afraid we're the collectors," said the man as he walked forward, drawing his dagger slowly.
"Yes. 2 gold nobles for every person and 5 for every horse," replied the man, coming even closer. "And those who can't pay, can't pass."
"Me and my friend will pass," growled Amanda, "You'll have to do without your toll." She shoved past the man, taking the horses with her. Some how, she knew that the man was swinging the dagger at her head and ducked, grabbing his hand as it came over her head, flipping him on his back in the end.
The rest ran at her, three or four dog piling Amanda onto the road, the rest going after Elizabeth. She quickly grabbed the cross bow, loading it and shooting without realizing what she was doing, all of her movements completely automatic.
Those who weren't trying to wrestle Amanda to the ground were quickly dispatched by Elizabeth's arrows, either wounded to the point of death or were hurt enough that they weren't coming back for more. She watched as her friend tried to beat the men off her and grab her dagger, helpless because she could get off this damn horse by herself!
[I wish I could get a clear shot…] thought Elizabeth as she tried to aim around the mass of wriggling bodies, but there was just too much of a chance she'd hit her friend. Getting fed up, she raised a hand as if raising one of them out of the mob, and much to her surprise, one did!
The man kicked and screamed in mid-air as Elizabeth swung her crossbow up, taking aim quickly. "Die, scum," she muttered under her breath, shooting him in the chest. Later she would wonder how she had done that, but right now she was just concerned with saving her friend.
Three riders came galloping around the curve, stopping quickly when they saw the brawl on the road and Elizabeth hanging onto her now rearing horse. One of the riders grabbed the reigns of Elizabeth and Amanda's horses while the other two jumped into the fight, pounding the few bandits that were left back and leaving Amanda gasping on the ground for breath.
"Here, drink this," said the lady, a purple-eyed red head, as she helped Amanda sit up. She gratefully accepted the drink and downed most of it in one gulp. Other than being winded, a split lip and a black eye, she was fine and was soon ready to get up and stand on her own.
"Let me see those," said the red head, touching her face gently with concern. Amanda felt her lip heal up and her black eye reduce down enough that she could see through that eye once more.
"Thank you, very much," she replied in amazement.
"Who are you two and why are you traveling alone?" asked one of the men, looking fairly concerned. "Ladies shouldn't be out traveling by themselves, you know."
"This ones no lady look at the lumps she left on some of those thugs," commented the woman she helped Amanda to her horse, pointing to those lying in the road.
"Back to my question…"
"We don't know how we got out here," admitted Amanda, starting to form an idea of where they could be. "One minute I was holding a book in my friend's house with her beside me and the next…"
"That book! The man said it was cursed when I bought it, but of course I didn't believe him because nothing like that actually happens on our world," interrupted Elizabeth, slapping herself on the forehead.
"Then that means…" Amanda turned white, looking the woman in the eye. "Are we in Tortall?" she asked, voice shaking slightly.
"Yes, just a few minutes ride from Corus," replied one of the men.
"Oh, my gosh," whispered Amanda, looking like she had seen a ghost. "This isn't possible, that was just a story."
"Mind explaining what you're babbling about?" asked the red head, getting irritated.
"Where we come from, this place only exists in a book," explained Amanda, trying to make them understand. "In our world this place in not real, yet I'm here and it certainly feels real…"
"A book?? Another world??" asked one of the men, shaking his head. "My lady, I think you've had a touch of the sun, lets get you to the palace and see if we can straighten this out. Mind telling us what your name is?"
Elizabeth, who had been silently watching her friend, replied for them. "I am called Elizabeth and she is Amanda," she replied.
"I am George Cooper, Baron of Pirates Swoop, this is Lady Alanna, and that fellow is Gerald, one of the workers at Pirates Swoop who is accompanying us on our trip," said the man who had addressed them earlier.
"The Lady Alanna, who is the King's Champion?" croaked Amanda, eyes opened wide. "Lord, I swear I'll never o.d. on sugar again."
"C'mon," said the Baron, trying not to laugh as Amanda clambered onto her horse. "Let's find you girls some place to stay and decide what's to be done with you."
"Do you know how to ride?" Alanna asked Elizabeth as she watched the slight girl try to control her horse.
"I've never even been on one before," replied Elizabeth.
"Can you ride?" she asked Amanda.
"Yeah, those extra lessons this summer with Alyse sure helped," replied Amanda, guiding her horse to the back of the group.
"Would you mind letting your friend ride with you?" asked George.
"Not at all." Amanda dismounted and helped Elizabeth on to the back of her mare before remounting herself. Elizabeth clung tightly onto Amanda, and soon they were galloping down the road towards the palace, where Amanda and Elizabeth really hoped to find some answers.
That's the end of part one! Next one will be longer, I promise, and it'll include what happens to the two girls when they arrive, please be kind and review. More reviews mean it comes up faster!