Jack, Thorgil and Pega sat in an open field. They had found it earlier in the day, and when Jack decided it would be a good place to stop and practice some spells, the three ended up staying there until it was almost too dark to see.
"This is the worst idea you've ever had, thrall," Thorgil spat. "I don't have time to sit around listening to your spells." She crossed her arms and sneered at Jack.
"Come on. It's not that bad," Jack replied. Pega nodded.
"It really isn't. These spells could be useful."
Pega decided to speak. "He's right. What if we got in trouble?"
"If you get into trouble, you fight. You don't sit there like an idiot singing." Thorgil complained.
"But sometimes-" Pega started.
"Oh, shut up." Thorgil moaned and tipped over onto her back, her long blonde hair flowing and gently resting on the ground as she went.
"But a song can protect you."
"Yeah. And it can also make people's hair fall out."
Jack shuddered at the memory. "I didn't mean for that to happen, you know. And you don't know if that could help us."
She blinked. "That has to be the dumbest thing you've said tonight."
"And that's saying something," Pega giggled.
Thorgil glared at Pega. "Hey. I get to insult Jack. Nobody else."
"Now, Thorgil-" Jack began.
"Nobody. Else." Thorgil repeated, aiming her famous glare at Jack instead.
Jack was almost mesmerized by her eyes, but quickly snapped back to the argument. "Come on. One more spell."
Thorgil huffed. "Fine. But then you have to shut up. No talking and no singing for the rest of the night." Pega clapped quickly, causing her to roll her eyes.
Jack closed his eyes and slowly, the familiar words began to roll off of his tongue. He had tried this spell so many times, and never had enough focus to successfully complete it. In all honesty he wasn't entirely sure what it did. He'd translated it and gone over it at least a hundred times, and he couldn't quite grasp the concept. But he was still determined to master it.
Thorgil seemed desperate to fall asleep, but kept her eyes open to watch him. Meanwhile, Pega seemed distracted by a little firefly. Jack shut his eyes continued to recite the spell, focusing on harnessing its power - whatever power it was. The words seemed to drag him someplace: a place that was far different from home. But when he opened his eyes, Jack noticed that nothing had changed. He sighed.
Thorgil's whining voice snapped him out of the trance he seemed to be in.
"Can we go to sleep now?"
"Yeah, I guess."
"I'm cold," said Pega.
"Get over it," Thorgil snapped.
She looked over at Jack. "Well, are you done?"
He was not quite able to muster a response - especially after he'd noticed that Pega's "firefly" was growing larger. "Um...guys..."
"What is it now, thrall?"
"I think something's happening..."
The light grew bigger. Out of habit, Thorgil pulled out the small knife she always kept by her side.
"Oh, and what do you plan to do with that? " Pega's questioning voice began to raise as she gestured towards Thorgil's knife.
Jack tried to pull the berserker away, only for her to turn towards him menacingly. "Hands off, thrall." She then charged towards the light.
"That's not a good idea," he began, but it was no use. The light had somehow pulled her in - and she didn't come out.
Jack almost immediately tried to follow her, but Pega pulled him back.
"Are you crazy? Who knows where that leads to!"
"What are we going to do? Leave Thorgil to die?"
"Let's be honest, Thorgil can take very good care of herself."
"She can fight for herself, but I'm not going to leave her alone."
"Oh, please. Thorgil's never been that important to you, and she doesn't care about you either. You're constantly complaining about each other."
"Just because we argue doesn't mean we don't care about each other."
Pega's eyes widened. "That doesn't even make sense!"
"Well, we can't keep arguing. We need to help her." The light had stopped growing, but it was still quite menacing. Jack leapt into the mysterious portal, with Pega dragging her feet behind him.
When Jack woke up, he couldn't figure out how long he'd been asleep. Pega was lying next to him, her eyes closed and her breath steady. Jack blinked a few times. He sat up and looked around. He was in another field, but it most definitely wasn't the same field. And then he suddenly realized that Thorgil was nowhere to be found.
He lightly poked at the girl. "Pega. Pega, wake up."
She blinked slightly before awakening. "What? Go back to-" Her eyes glanced across the field - and, soon enough, they grew wide. She shrieked. "Where are we?!"
"That's what I'm trying to figure out."
This was your bright idea, idiot!" Pega screamed. She quickly stood up and began pacing in circles.
"Will you shut up? I'm trying to think!" Jack said.
"Excuse me for realizing how bad this situation is," Pega replied. "We're stuck in the middle of who knows where."
"Oh, who cares about her?"
"I do. And I know some part of you cares, too. She's our friend."
"No she's not. She's always rude to us."
He sighed. "I know she can be mean, but she also cares a lot. Besides, she's the one that's kept us alive most of the time."
"Yeah, but she might kill you once we find her," she huffed.
"No, she won't. But she might kill you." Jack smiled at Pega.
"Why does she hate me?"
"She's just jealous."
"Why'd she be jealous of me? She's got everything I don't. She's tough, smart, and once you get past her awful personality...really pretty."
He blushed. He had to admit that Thorgil was quite beautiful, while Pega was a bit homely. "We do talk a lot, though. And I think Thorgil wishes she was nicer."
She paused. "I guess you're right. But she still hates me."
"We'll think about that later," he stated. "For now, we need to look for Thorgil."
"All right?" Jack asked.
"Yeah, fine," Pega said again, kicking the ground as she turned and started walking. Jack followed in the same direction.
After walking for a bit in silence, they came to a forested area. Pega peered in.
"I don't think we should go in there." Jack said.
"Why not?" asked Pega.
"We could be lost in there for hours. And for all we know-" Jack was cut off by Thorgil attacking them from behind.
"Jack!" Thorgil gasped for breath as she threw her arms around Jack. "I've been looking for you everywhere! Where are we? What happened? It was your stupid spell, wasn't it! I knew it! I told you so!"
"Jack!" Thorgil gasped for breath as she threw her arms around Jack.
"I-I-I-" He was overwhelmed by her questions.
"Come on, thrall! You're the genius spellcaster, right?"
"Thorgil, stop acting like this!" Pega shouted. "None of us know where we are."
"We wouldn't be where we are if he didn't cast that spell! And don't tell me what to do."
Thorgil looked up at Jack and let her hands fall down, which had still be loosely grasping Jack's arms.
"Why couldn't you have just left her back home? We'd have had more fun without her." she complained.
"Jack said you're just jealous of me." Pega shot back, smiling.
Thorgil glared up at Jack.
"I only said that to make her feel better," he said. "She thought you were going to kill her." Pega's smug grin transformed into a pitiful frown.
"I don't want to kill you. I just hate you both to death," Thorgil growled.
"See, Jack? Do you-" Pega began.
"And it's really a shame too," Thorgil continued. "Because you were almost on my good list for a while there, Jack."
A grin passed Thorgil's face. She adored teasing people, especially when it came to her liking them. She'd never admit she actually cared for a person, but she sure came close at times.
He sighed. Now he had turned both of his friends away from him. How in the world would he - or they - figure out where they were if they didn't work together. "We still need to-"
"Know where we are?" Thorgil interrupted. "You and Pega can figure that out on your own."
Pega frowned at the thought of working with him.
"Come on, Thorgil. We-" Jack paused. He was well aware that he was about to say what Thorgil wanted him to say the most. He could either hold on to his pride and lose Thorgil, or hold on to Thorgil but lose his pride.
"Yes?" Thorgil interrupted his thoughts.
Jack sighed. "We need you."
"Well...okay." Thorgil smiled.
"You're a pain, you know that?" Jack said to Thorgil.
"Not as much as you are, thrall."
"Will you stop calling him that?" said Pega.
10:01 AM Thorgil turned to her, grinning cruelly. "You really want to tell me what to do?"
Pega returned the smile. "I think so."
"Stop arguing," Jack began. "We need to keep going."
They both huffed. "Fine," Thorgil spat.
"Oh, but Jack can tell you what to do and you'll listen?" Pega complained.
"Yes. I listen to people I RESPECT. You just-" Thorgil paused. "I mean, not that I respect Jack or anything."
"You're unbelievable." Jack said.
Thorgil continued, ignoring him. "I just mean, Pega, that you certainly haven't earned any respect from me." Pega sniffled. "And you won't earn any if you sit around crying like a big baby."
"Aw, Thorgil, you've gotta be nicer." Jack said.
Pega's lower lip began to tremble.
"Oh please. What are you, three years old? You're not a baby. Suck it up and deal with it." Thorgil said to Pega.
"Pega's been through a lot, Thorgil. She's sensitive." Jack said.
"I can guarantee you I've been through more, and worse. But do I cry about it?" Thorgil asked.
"No, you just turned bitter." Jack said.
Her eyes widened. "I turned bitter?!"
"What, you don't see it? You never admit that you like anyone - and you sure don't try to make others like you."
"Well, that's because-"
"It must be because SOMEONE'S been mean to you," Pega spat. "Or maybe no one taught you to be nice. I don't know."
Thorgil's face seemed to fall. "Someone's been mean to me? Oh no. EVERYONE'S been mean to me. Nobody's wanted me my whole life. How do you think that makes me feel?"
"I don't need to figure out how that makes you feel. I can see it just fine in your personality." Pega shot back.
"Shut up. Shut up!"
"Guys, I think we should keep going. We need to figure out where we are," Jack said. He must have repeated this about five times.
"We aren't going anywhere until you get rid of Thorgil," Pega huffed.
The other girl rolled her eyes. "And I'm not going anywhere until Pega shuts up and goes away."
"You two are being ridiculous. Do you really think-" Jack was cut off by Thorgil.
"I'm dead serious, Jack. I'm not putting up with her anymore. Who means more to you? Pick."
"I can't take sides on this," Jack said. "I care about both of you."
"Well, you must have a favorite," Pega laughed. "Pick."
"I'm stronger," Thorgil said.
"I'm more trustworthy."
"I'm pretti-" Thorgil interrupted herself. "-I mean, pretty good at staying alive."
10:33 AM "Thorgil, don't do this." Jack said.
"I'm not doing anything. I'm sick of her. I don't need to put up with any of this." Thorgil crossed her arms and looked at Jack.
"Did you see the way she treated me? It's so unfair." Pega said.
"She insulted me. Nobody insults me and gets away with it. Jack, pick!" Thorgil commanded.
He paused before coming up with the perfect answer "If we're going to act like this, then I've made my decision," Jack declared.
"Me?" the girls both asked.
"Why don't we all go on our own? That way nobody gets mad at anyone."
"But what if something happens to me?" Pega cried. "No one would help me then!"
"Exactly what you deserve," Thorgil smiled. "I like this idea."
Jack sighed. "Thorgil, that wasn't the point. You really weren't supposed to like the idea."
"Whatever. Jack, just come with me. She's a baby. Let's go." Thorgil grabbed Jack's arm and walked off, roughly dragging Jack behind her.
"W-what?! Wait for me!" Pega shouted before running after them.
"I won't wait for her," Thorgil spat. Jack remained silent, fearing that any word could end up getting him killed.
Pega tripped "Waiiiiiit!"
Jack slowed his pace, but wouldn't stop. "You know, Thorgil. You need to work on not making people terrified of you."
"Why?" Thorgil complained.
"Because people will like you more."
"I'm not looking for people to like me. I'm looking for-"
"I know that you want people to like you. You just won't admit it," Jack interrupted.
Pega grew closer to the two before shouting. "Look! A sign!"
"Oh, shut your mouth. Nobody-" Thorgil stopped in her tracks and pulled out her knife.
"Relax, Thorgil, it's not alive," Jack said. "It says S-T-O-P. Stop?"
In one smooth move, Thorgil ripped her knife through the sign.
"Thorgil!" Jack scolded.
"What? You should be thanking me. I probably just saved your life.
"You don't know what that sign meant!"
"But I knew it was dangerous," she growled. A light soon began to approach them, but they hadn't noticed.
"How could it hurt me?" he continued. "It wasn't doing anything."
"What if it did, though?"
Pega's voice interrupted their argument. "Guys, move away!" She jumped out of the way, leaving Thorgil and Jack in the way of the car. He grabbed Thorgil's hand and pulled her down with him - noting that they had been seconds away from a certain doom.
"Are you nuts?" Thorgil complained. "Look. I have a scratch on my leg-"
"No, you're nuts. I just saved your life. Quit whining."
"Not whining!" Thorgil shook her hand out of Jack's."Definitely whining," he said.
She rolled her eyes. "What do you even think that was?"
"Probably a stop-monster, just like you thought."
She punched him lightly. "Shut up! I'm serious."
"It didn't seem too magical...but it wasn't human, either," he said.
"Maybe it's a monster we've never seen before."
"Please. I've seen every monster you can think of."
"You know what Thorgil? Did you ever think maybe you're not as great as you believe you are?"
"Of course I am."
"That's your problem. Your attitude."
"Well, Jack, did you ever think maybe you're a bratty thrall?"
"Maybe you could stop calling me 'thrall.'"
"And maybe-" Another light flashed by. "-maybe you're right. But only sometimes."
"A lot of the time."
"Only once in a while."
Another voice - Pega's - cut into their banter. "You guys, we should probably stay away from the lights."
"Nobody cares about your opinion. Go away." Thorgil said simply.
"Maybe I will!" Pega snapped.
"Good-bye." Thorgil replied, smiling.
Pega stormed off back into the forest.
"Thorgil!" Jack said.
"Relax. She'll be back within the half hour whining about something. Let's just get some sleep for now."
"We don't know what's out there."
"You're right. Maybe a stopmonster will get her!" She seemed to cackle at the thought.
"Or maybe something worse will happen. And it could happen to us, too."
"That's an order, thrall." She had willfully forgotten that he didn't like the name. "Now let's go to sleep. We'll find her whining someplace in the morning."
They found a clearing and lay down. "If Pega were here, she'd be whining about the ground being too hard," Thorgil noted.
Jack hesitated. "I guess."
"Isn't it nice? The peace and quiet? I feel like ever since she joined us I've never had any space in my head," Thorgil complained.
"I never thought you'd like peace and quiet."
"Once you've been around Pega, it sounds like the best thing in the world," she laughed.
He chuckled too, albeit awkwardly. As much as he liked Pega, she had a tendency to be...annoying. "Yeah."
There was a long pause.
"Do you really hate her?" Jack asked quietly.
"Pega. Do you hate her?"
Thorgil seemed to be thinking about it.
"Nah. I mean, not really. I guess what you said before was...accurate..."
"What did I say before?"
"That I was jealous."
"What? No, Thorgil, I didn't mean that. I just felt bad for Pega. Why?"
"I don't know. You two just get along really well. But I, well..." She trailed off. "I can never get along with anyone." He couldn't deny that she could be a bit argumentative, but he couldn't make her feel any worse about herself.
"You know, you're not that bad. A lot better than you used to be, actually."
"Yeah. And, to be honest, I kind of like you a little more than I like her."
"So I guess I shouldn't be jealous."
"No, you shouldn't."
Thorgil sighed. She flipped over onto her back. She stayed like that for a bit, and then turned back onto her side so she was facing Jack, who now had his eyes closed.
He opened his eyes slowly. "What?"
"Just thank you."
"You're welcome." And strangely enough, Jack understood exactly what she meant.
While drifting off to sleep, Jack reminded himself about Pega: where she could be, and what could happen to her. Still, his conversation with Thorgil bounced around his head. "I'll think about it in the morning," he thought, and allowed the sound of crickets to lull him away from reality.