Chapter 5: Jabbering Long
Fiera stood with her arms crossed as I walked back up onto the stage, right foot tapping impatiently. “You took your time getting back here.” she snapped agitatedly.
“I’m sorry, I was busy.” I replied defensively, walking over to get the control remote.
“Yeah, well, no, you’re not. I can sense it.” she said accusingly. “You were off in your ‘Other World’, trying to finish it out.”
“Yes, Fiera.” I said tiredly. “I was. I’m also trying to do you a favor by finishing out the story.”
“No, all you want to do is go play in the human realm.” She turned her back to me. “The moment that story’s finished, you’re going to jump head over heels into Earth, playing around with your fancy cars and superbikes.”
“Well, I can’t help what the other Moderators choose.” I said, aiming the remote at the giant sheet. “But can we please finish? What happened to you being so eager to see what happened to Nick?”
“You broke off in the middle of the episode, and now you can’t even keep your eyes open.” Fiera said. “You expect me to be enthusiastic about the quality level when you’re just churning out words ‘out of a sense of duty’?”
“All right, I’ll try to wake up enough to do a good job.” I said, rubbing my eyes.
“Thank you.” Fiera stated, then looked up at the screen. “Are you going to start already?
“Yes, Fiera.” I replied, too tired to argue. The images shimmered, then the story began again.
At the shout, Nick and the Marquis spurred their horses towards one another, foam swords raised in the air as they shouted war cries at each other.
“For mine kingdom!” the Monseigneur de Marquis cried arrogantly.
“French toast!” Nick shouted enthusiastically. The dwarf glanced up from his scroll, startled, and shook his head.
“Teens these days.” he muttered under his breath and returned his attention to his reading material.
The Marquis and Nick collided, bashing their swords against each other’s shields as they passed. They twirled their horses to face one another, and the Marquis sneered at Nick.
“Thou fool, today shall thine head be placed upon a platter for thy crimes.” he said.
“Yeah, yeah, and a microwaved marshmallow can explode.” Nick said, and the horses charged at each other again. Nick slammed his sword against the Marquis’ shield, but the blow did little to dismount the horseman. [“What does that have to do with the joust?” Fiera asked Nick. He shrugged as he twirled his horse back towards the Marquis. “Dunno. Doesn’t really have to make sense; I just felt like saying it.” he said, and returned his attention to the Marquis.]
“Well this is going nowhere fast.” Nick commented as they charged again. This time he slammed his shield into the Marquis, knocking him over the back of his saddle. The Marquis fell heavily to the ground, and his rider-less horse trotted back towards him.
“Oh no you don’t!” Nick shouted, jumping off and slapping the flat of his sword across the horse’s snout. The horse snorted once in disgust, and trotted off towards the playground.
“The horse of the Monseigneur de Marquis has been tapped out.” the dwarf announced without looking up. “The Marquis is now unable to remount.”
At this the Marquis looked greatly displeased, but then he had little time for displeasure with Nick charging at him, Nerf sword held at the ready. They crashed together, and Nick nearly knocked the thinner, lighter man off his feet with his momentum. The Marquis recovered, however, and began to dance and prance about as if they were fencing instead of swordfighting, trying to wield his broadsword like a rapier. After having a good laugh at his opponent’s pathetic attempt at elegance, Nick jabbed towards the broadsword’s hilt, and his foam blade slid down the broadsword until their crosshairs clashed (or rather dully thumped) together.
“Victory shalt be mine, craven!” Monseigneur de Marquis cried, trying to wrench his sword away. Nick smiled and said, “It’s been fun, but I think it’s time to be done.” And with that he pulled the locked swords towards him, sliding his foot rapidly underneath the Marquis’. Monseigneur de Marquis, supposing himself to be an excellent swordsman, attempted to jump over the maneuver, but Nick brought his knee up and tripped the man, who flailed his arms (conveniently releasing his broadsword) as he fell. Nick pulled the swords apart and quickly thumped the Marquis on the head with his long sword, and the dwarf grunted once.
“Monseigneur de Marquis has been tapped out. Victory to the challenger.” the dwarf said, folding his arms approvingly across his chest. The Marquis stood up, spluttering angrily, and glared at the dwarf.
“Little help thou wert, Dward.” Monseigneur the Marquis snapped contemptuously, then whistled for his horse. After remounting, he glared down at Nick and said, “Thou hast not seen thy final vision of mine noble grace. Perchance thou wert aided by the Fey Spirits, but I shall set their efforts at naught. Dward! Gather thyself a steed, and let us be off.”
“Whatever you say, your defeatedness.” the dwarf said, frowning at the Marquis. He pulled a rather plump pony out from behind a nearby tree (and how long it had been there, or from where it had come, none could gather), mounted, and began bouncing up and down as the pony clopped away. Before the pair had gone too far the dwarf tossed back two objects- one was a scroll, and the other a small piece of metal which quickly sank into the ground.
“There’s the deed to the park!” the dwarf called over his shoulder as he rode several yards behind Monseigneur de Marquis.
The Marquis spun angrily in his saddle and shouted, “Dward! Onward and so forth, and let thine personage be pressed with haste!”
“Can we please go back to Modern English?” the dwarf asked the open air.
From the spot on the ground where the chunk of metal had fallen sprang up a metal post, growing upwards like a bean sprout, with two small leaves of metal on the topmost portion of the rod. These flared outward, unfurling into a whitened metal placard above the gray metal pole, which simply said, ‘Derf Marker’. Nick looked at it confusedly, and the dwarf twisted in his saddle until he rode his mount backwards.
“Each time you complete another portion of your quest, one of those will spring up (whether or not I’m there to plant them)!” Dward shouted. Nick shrugged in response and headed over to pick up the deed, which he stuffed inside his tunic.
As he walked back to the playground, the brown horse which he’d won came over and softly nuzzled his shoulder. He tossed the Nerf sword to the boy who’d followed him over to the battle, and said, “Here, you can play with this one.”
“Cool!” the boy shouted, picking up his prize and running over to the playground to display his trophy to his playmates. Nick walked into the playground, and a tall woman with long, wavy golden hair came over and silently appraised Nick with her steel blue eyes.
“You did well for a rookie.” she commented, her long tan dress flowing around her legs.
“Um, thanks, I guess.” Nick replied.
“So you won the park for the children.” she commented, and Nick smiled.
“More or less.” he said, pulling the scroll out. “So what exactly do I do with it?”
She smiled and took the scroll from him, walking over to a small patch of mulch near the swings. Nick followed her over, and when he stood beside her she said, “Take this and shove it under the mulch, and say, ‘I give this park to the children.’”
“I give this park to the children.” he repeated, thrusting it under the soil. He stepped back and said, “Now what?”
“Watch.” the woman said, and shortly thereafter a giant white sign erupted from under the soil, scattering mulch flakes off its top as it rumbled upward. When it had finished, bright red letters appeared, declaring ‘This park is established for the enjoyment and well-being of the children, and the parents thereof. By order of Sir Nick, Knight of the Playground.’
“I’m not a knight.” Nick said after reading the sign.
The lady smiled and said, “You are now. By your deeds you have earned the title.”
“Great.” Nick said, grinning. “So, who are you exactly? You never told me.”
The woman turned and walked back towards the bench she’d been sitting on earlier. “I am the Guardian of this playground.” she said after sitting down. “I am one of the Day Fairies, but right now my wings are healing, which is why you can’t see them right now.”
“Healing?” Nick asked, and the lady’s face clouded as if he’d asked a very personal question. “Never mind.”
She smiled and said, “Go on, Sir Nick. There are other adventures waiting for you.” Nick grinned and climbed into the horse’s saddle, then waved in goodbye as he rode away from the playground, taking the same trail the Marquis and Dward had ridden.
“Well that was very interesting.” Fiera commented when the sheet flickered back to white and the lights came back on. “How come Nick was the only one who could hear us?”
“Oh, the other two could, if I ever chose to let them.” I replied, grinning.
She glared at me and said, “Okay, what are you hiding?”
“Nothing, actually. But it’d be a very bad idea for us to interact with them right now.” I stated. “They wouldn’t understand the concept of Second Worlders yet.”
“But what’s happened to Nick?” Fiera asked, and I looked at her in confusion. She clarified, “Why does he still have his Second World abilities if he’s in a Third World?”
“Once a Second Worlder, always a Second Worlder.” I explained. “It’d be no different for you if you went in there. However, you’re more of a Second World kind of girl, so anything you did would be outside interference.”
“You mean I can mess with that Third World’s inner workings?” Fiera asked, her eyes lighting up energetically and reminding me of a hungry predator. “How? Show me.” she demanded.
“Well, it’s at the edges, and in the stitching, of the sheet.” I told her as we walked up to the giant white cloth. “Example: this mountain scene.” I snapped my fingers, and we had an aerial view of a giant, snow-capped mountains, whose sides were stony and bare of trees. “Reach in and change it.” I told her. She dove in eagerly, plunging her hands up to her elbows into the picture.
“Cool.” she said, eyes wide in excitement. Her hands waded through the screen as if it were colored water, and she reached down and broke off the mountain’s tip, then smashed a giant crater straight through the rock until it turned into a volcano. “So I can do stuff like this anywhere in Nick’s Third World?”
“Yes, so long as I permit it.” I told her. She pulled her hands up and went to flick them dry, then realized they’d never gotten wet.
“What do you mean, if you allow it?” she challenged, glaring at me stubbornly. “You mean what you’ll agree to?”
“No, Fiera. What I allow.” I said firmly. “Let me explain something. You saw what you just did?” The volcano on the sheet erupted viciously, spewing ash filled fog and lava down the mountainsides. Fiera glanced over it approvingly and smiled broadly, beaming up at me.
“Yes, I can see what I did. Pyrotechnics is a wonderful thing.” she said enthusiastically.
“I knew you had some pyro in you.” I commented, then ducked away from her swat. “Anyway, you are basically…”
“Basically?” she asked, folding her arms.
“Okay, in reality you are a Moderator.” I said, then slightly frowned. “Now having said that, all the ‘Others’, as you like to call them, will want to come for a visit.”
“Great! Are there any other Moderators in this world?” Fiera asked.
“Yes, there are, and the great thing is there is one for each type of Moderator.” I said, and Fiera rolled her eyes at me.
“Explain, since I know you’re dying to.”
“I’m not really dying.” I told her. “Although I’d love to, since you asked.”
“No, you’d like to.” she argued. “However, if you don’t shut up and get on with it, I’m going to show you how much you’d love to not get me angry. Do gouged eyeballs sound pleasant right now?”
“First of all, no, I don’t think they ever would, and second, how can I explain if I can’t speak?” I asked. She shrieked [“I do NOT shriek.” Fiera said, and I amended] cried out in frustration, and shook her fist at me.
“I am warning you, you’d better begin NOW, or you’re not going to like it.”
“Okay, fine.” I held up my hands defensively. “There are two types of Mods- the Involved, and the Interferers, to alliterate. To better state it, there are those that like to live in Third Worlds, and those that like to remain in the Second World and ‘meddle’ whenever they see fit.”
“Oh, so I’m a meddler and an interfering no good Moderator?” Fiera said accusingly.
“That is not what I said, nor what I was saying.” I said. “I simply meant that you are the kind of Moderator that likes to stay out of the storyworld, the Third World, watch everything from an omniscient perspective, and mess with the story whenever you see fit to accomplish your agenda.”
“I do not have an agenda,” Fiera stated, then grinned slyly and added, “Yet.”
“Yeah, and now you’re going to go get one.” I accused. She smiled and bowed. “Anyway, the other kind of Mod is the one that likes to actually live in the Third World, the ones that get more heavily tied to that world. Take Cadence, as a more established example. He is a very ‘hands on’ kind of Moderator. In that sense, so is Nick. He can’t survive strictly in the Second World; he needs to go into the Third World and actually do something. You saw how he acted when he’d done everything he could think of to do with Kob.”
“Yeah, not good.” Fiera agreed, then looked at me quizzically. “And your hair is wet.”
“Yes, I just finished taking my dog for a walk; it was sprinkling outside.” I said
Fiera shook her head and rubbed her eyes. “You never finished explaining why you are in charge.”
“Oh, that’s simple: I’m the Narrator.” I said. She drew her hands down her face and frowned at me.
“That does not tell me why you have to be in charge, especially since I have enough influence to make you miserable all the way in First World.”
“Because I have the abilities of a Sage, roughly speaking.” I said, and Fiera laughed once, a sharp, biting laugh.
“Oh, so you’re the long lost Sage. ‘Hello, I am the great and mighty Narrator. Allow me to tell your story.’” she said in a deep, mocking voice, then laughed again. “That makes perfect sense.”
“I would appreciate it if you took things more seriously, since Sages can…eliminate any and every character, including Moderators. We’re actually one of the few things that can truly kill Moderators.”
“Yeah, and it goes against your code of conduct to kill unless in self-defense or for crimes deserving capitol punishment.” Fiera said, smiling angelically at my frustrated scowl. “And since I’m a Mod, anything I ‘destroy’ in the story world I can undo. So you’re not getting rid of me anytime soon. And don’t even think about pulling in one of the other Sages.” she snapped when she saw the wheels turning inside my head. “You bring them in, you’ll let the ‘Others’ in, and then there will be far too many voices for you to silence. I’m sure I could find an ally in Eclipse.” She grinned mischievously, and I groaned.
“I am not putting you two in the same room.” I moaned, and Fiera laughed.
“Yeah, you’d never get to sleep.” she commented, then glanced down at my computer monitor’s clock. “You should probably fix that sentence in your other writing and get to bed.”
I looked up at her, shocked. “That’s the first time I’ve heard you encourage me to work on my other writings.”
She shrugged. “If you don’t fix that one little detail, you’ll be so preoccupied you won’t spend any time on my story.”
“Oh, so that’s your motivation.” I said accusingly.
She smiled and said, “Yes. Now git!” and slammed the save button down and kicked me off.