Welcome to the next installment of my serial story, Beyond the Parchment
So far we learned that a dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually begins to work, bringing characters to our world. And herself into their world.
Anyway, you can read the first parts of the story here. You could just read the short blurbs about them, of course, but you’ll probably miss some important details. The blurbs are there for those of you who have read the story and are trying to keep track of all the names, more than anything else. You’re welcome. *bows*
Part 1: It Just had to be Lord Jerinthreo Kraven Balstin the Second: in which a writer, May Ann, wakes up to find a portal she’d designed in her book has become operational and two brothers, Jerinthreo and Daraton have come through and engaged in a bitter fight.
Part 2: All brothers fight sometimes, right?: May Ann tries to keep the brothers from killing each other. Grabs Jerin and pulls him into a secret passage, only to discover she has Daraton instead (they are identical twins). Break out of the passage into May Ann’s kitchen only to discover Varizan, a villain May Ann created, waiting for them.
Part 3: My kitchen will never be the same: Another fight between Daraton and Varizan breaks out in May Ann’s kitchen and May Ann saves Daraton’s life by shoving them both through the portal (which so happens to be the fridge).
Part 4: I am never doing that again: May Ann and Daraton arrive in Braceaon, Daraton is wounded and Varizan’s soldiers have taken over Daraton’s former home. May Ann helps Daraton away and they find Ethred, a lady both Jerin and Daraton seem to respect, and her daughter, Adella, who happens to be Lord Daraton’s wife.
Part 5: Well, that complicates things:: May Ann confers with Ethred and Adella and discovers they are both wordsmiths, chosen from their generations to record what happens in other realms (with some creative license). With Daraton resting, May Ann finally tries to get some sleep. But her eyes have barely closed when she finds herself wide awake. And captive in her own world.
Part 6: Why can’t this just be a dream: May Ann is a Varizan’s prisoner in this world. She (and he) realize that she is now in both worlds, though only awake in one. Varizan cryptically questions her, wanting to use her power as a wordsmith, then knocks her out.
Part 7: Not my prefered mode of travel: May Ann meets Thrayton, Varizan’s second-in-command and discovers that, to get a cure for Daraton, she must fall asleep and confront Varizan. But when she wakes up in our world, she discovers Jerin has escaped.
Part 8: Terrors of the Modern Word: Varizan sends May Ann after Jerin, promising a cure for Daraton if she’ll bring him back. She tracks him to a local Dollar General, confronts him as he examines a batman hoodie, then her brother appears, wondering what is going on. Except she fall asleep before she can explain the situation…
Part 9: Truth and War: Jerin confronts May Ann’s brother, Leinad, and discovers he actually specializes in portals and is in the area due to the one Jerin and the others passed through. Bringing May Ann with them, they start back for the house. Meanwhile, May Ann has woken up in a war zone and goes back to sleep to get the cure from Varizan.
Why Do We Have To Go Back?
I wake up falling. Something slams against my middle and a rug-like carpet not worthy of the name rubs against my cheek. I grunt, half rolling, and stare upward. I’m wedged between… something. There is a curved ceiling, not far away. Strange windows. A rumble and exclamation. I’m in a car. Leinad’s car. Or rather on the floor of his car.
“…and relax!” Leinad’s voice bounces between my ears. “I’ve driven for years.”
“And that is supposed to make me trust you?” Jerin’s voice is an octave higher than I’m used to hearing. “Even a dragon is better than this.”
“Dragons, always dragons,” Leinad grumbles. “We’re as far as we’re going, in any case.”
“Good.” I muffle a groan and shove myself upright. “And where is that?”
Two pairs of eyes peer back at me. Jerin raises his eyebrows. “You’re awake again.”
“Obviously.” I scowl. “It’s not going too well back in— What in all the realms are you wearing?”
Leinad’s lip twitches and he faces around quickly. “Everyone out, since you’re awake.” He shoves open his door as Jerin glances down at his hoodie. I drag my hand over my face, blinking against dawn’s first rays of golden light, then accept Leinad’s hand as he opens my door and stumbles out. Of all the disguises for Jerin to pick… The Batman design wouldn’t even look half bad if it weren’t for the other items. Like the sword belt and empty scabbard he is buckling around his waist.
I lean back against the car. “I take it Jerin explained things?”
“So?” I raise my eyebrows. “Where are we?”
“About a five-minute walk from home.”
Of course. At least I’m awake now. That was the most useless twenty-minute nap ever. And if Jerin is willing to return… We do need that cure, whatever happens. Prisoners can be rescued, but the dead cannot be returned, whatever the power of Wordsmiths. Isn’t there a manual for this sort of thing, to detail out the restrictions, rules, and list of rules to be safely broken? Maybe that could be my next project. How not to die when your villains try to kidnap you.
I blink. Both men are staring at me. “Sorry. I didn’t hear you.”
Jerin’s brow furrows, but Leinad rolls his eyes. “We’re going in, and since you’re the one who’s supposed to deliver Jerin here, would you like to join?”
“A pity I don’t actual have a choice,” I mutter. But my lip curls upward. “Do you think Varizan will even recognize him in— never mind. Are you armed?”
“Of course.” Leinad pulled back his coat to reveal a handgun.
Jerin tilts his head. “And that is?”
Leinad drops his coat. “Something more deadly than any of your daggers.”
“It won’t be if we don’t know what it does,” Jerin grumbles.
Leinad ignores him. “Come along, then.”
I spring after him as he turns away. “You aren’t going!”
He pulls away. “Of course I’m going.”
“And be captured as well?”
I clench my fingers against my skirt. “We can’t kill them or drive them out. Varizan knows the cure for Daraton and we need it.”
Apparently, Jerin has already told Leinad about his twin because my brother doesn’t even blink. “And what about the portal? How do you intend on getting them all back?”
Jerin shrugs. “I’ll deal with Varizan, you figure out the portal, and May Ann can write about it.”
I open my mouth, then frown and cross my arms as I eye Leinad. “The portal?”
He glances away. “I… know of them. In theory, anyway.”
“And you never told me!”
He raises his eyebrows. “We’re going to do this now?”
I bite my lip and eyed a dewdrop, trembling at the end of a leaf. Sunlight flashes through familiar woods. “Fine.” Of course Leinad knows about portals. Why else would he be back? “Varizan is hardly a man I’d trust on his word, but he needs me for some reason. I’m fairly confident he’ll give us the cure.” And then… who knows. At least he’s not fallen into the trap of villain monologues, but it would be nice to have an inkling of what he actually does want.
Leinad scowls and slings a bag over his shoulder. “I’ll work on the portal only because it’s the only way to get him out of here for good. And if you let anything happen to her…” He spins on Jerin, his gaze hard.
Jerin doesn’t flinch. “It won’t.”
I suppress a faint smile. Like either of them will be able to help when surrounded by half a score of soldiers and poisoned daggers. “Well, come on!”
Varizan is waiting for us, leaning against the front door as I stride across the yard, Jerin two steps behind me. He straightens. “It’s about time. What have you done to Jerinthreo?”
My brow furrows, then I glance over my shoulder as Jerin pushes back his hood. Right. His disguise. I suppress a smirk. “I brought him back, what else? Though, in all honestly, he brought himself back.”
Varizan inclines his head. “I’m glad to see I didn’t manage to shatter all filial bonds between you and Daraton.”
Jerin’s breath hisses through his teeth. “You lying, treasonous—” He springs at Varizan, but two soldiers leap from the shadows and yank him back.
Varizan crosses his arms. “Some things still haven’t changed, I see.”
“Varizan!” I step between the two, my lips pressed tight. “You promised me the cure, remember?”
The man blinks. “Right. The roots of the dreamflower and powder of moonstone. Don’t look at me like that. Thrayton will know what I’m talking about, or any of the others there. Our problem is getting back now, isn’t it?” He steps forward, pushing me to the side as he studies Jerin. “Can you open that portal, do you think?”
Jerin scowls. “And why would I?”
Varizan sighs and shakes his head like a weary father. “Besides the fact that you are here and can’t get back without opening it?”
I glance between the two, then my brow furrows. “Wait? You just want to leave? Why did you even come here to start with?”
Varizan glances at me. “What makes you think we are leaving alone? You’re coming with us, of course.”
Jerin’s gaze hardens and he jerks against his captors. “If you think for one minute that I’m going to allow another Wordsmith in—”
A loud crash cuts him off, followed by a shout. And the shot of a gun echoes from my kitchen.