Adventure Fantasy

“Yeah, this sucks.”

The two of them stared at the crackling flames and observed how they licked the leftover words of the story. Redundant adverbs, some passive voice and a whole detailed description of a love scene, all burning to cinder. 

“I don’t want to kill you any more than you wish to kill me,” said Kozech, a human war general. His gauntlets and helmet rested by his feet and his two-handed sword remained firmly planted in the chest of an undead ogre, who lay flat on the ground nearby. Kozech didn’t even bother to pull the weapon free after the fight was over.

“I don’t want to kill you either,” said Salmadir, an undead necromancer, sitting next to Kozech. He was so ancient that there was barely any flesh remaining on his bones. His eyes were two black hollows with sickening green dots of light shining from deep within.

“I hate killing,” murmured Salmadir. “Such irony then, that I am the incarnation of death itself. I wonder if it is on purpose…”

“If it is, then He has some sick sense of humor,” said Kozech. “Does He not know we are actually friends? And not mortal enemies, sworn to battle each other until one of us falls defeated?”

“Sure He does,” said Salmadir and shook his head. “He’s the Author, Kozech. He knows everything. He made us and he made this world we are fighting in.” The necromancer looked at his boney hand, protruding out from the sleeves of his robes like a dead twig. “He made us who we are.”

“Bullshit,” Kozech spat to his side and pointed a thumb at his armor plated chest. “I make who I am. And so do you. He didn’t make this fire, we did that. He also didn’t write the conversation we’re having right now. That's all us.”

Salmadir looked at his friend. “Yes, that is weird. It would seem that we have a certain degree of freedom each time He does not write.” The undead man sighed. “But what of it? When He comes back to writing we will once again be completely under His mercy, doing His bidding. Fighting each other again.”

“There has to be something we can do about it,” said Kozech, his brow furrowing and eyes digging deep into the burning story excess. 

A short silence fell on the two of them, but a set of approaching footsteps broke it soon after.

“You two look like someone just died. No offense, Sal.”

“None taken,” Salmadir replied. 

“Cheer up, I brought booze.” Myana, the elven astrologer, planted her ass down in between the two friends. She sighed as she placed a heavy barrel down in front of her. A sloshing of liquid could be heard inside and Kozech’s eyes jumped from the fire to the barrel.

“Easy for you to say, My, you won’t have to kill your best friend soon,” Kozech complained. “The end of the story is coming. And I don’t like what it’s bringing with it.”

“My death for certain,” said Salmadir. “Hopefully I don’t take you guys down with me. My powers can be devastating in the hands of an Author.”

Myana rolled her eyes. “Listen to yourselves! Moping and complaining here like a pair of old grannies! Shut up for a moment and drink. I’ll tell you what I’ve discovered.”

Kozech passed his mug to her and Salmadir followed suit.

“You know,” said Kozech, “looking up at the stars and foreseeing the future is fine and all, when He writes the things that will happen into the night sky for you. But it only works in the confines of the story He’s telling. It doesn’t help us break free from it.”

“Yeah,” chimed in Salmadir. “It’s like using delusions to see the truth. Why do you even do that, My, read the stars in your free time?”

Myana finished pouring her friends and shoved the mugs in their hands. “Drink.”

They drank.


They sighed. “Yeah.” “I guess.”

“Good,” said Myana. “Now listen to this. The Author created us and the world we live in, correct?”

They nodded. And took another sip.

“He poured parts of himself in this creation, just like any god does. Now the vast majority of these creations are mindless brutes, operating along a few pre-written guidelines. Like fish for example. Fish only play the role of food in this story. Or trees. They’re only used to describe a setting for a scene, nothing more. Even the townsfolk feel barely more alive than the background of distant snow peaks. The things that aren’t relevant to the story remain pretty static when He finishes writing for the day.

“But not the three of us. We are different. We can interact with the world He created and cause changes within it. We can make our own decisions when He isn’t taking control over us. It’s like we have a life of our own.”

“I mean, obviously,” cut in Kozech. “We’re the main characters. I’m the protagonist, you’re my helper and Sal, the poor bastard, is the antagonist. We are written to be that way.”

“All I ever wanted was to make honey,” Salmadir sighed, pouring the booze down his dry bones.

“Yes, but,” said Myana, raising a finger, “we are not written like the rest of them. This booze that I brought? And us being friends off page? This is not something He would ever write in one of his books. Can you imagine what that would do for his story? There’d be no conflict. There’d be no reason for you, Sal, to want to take over the world. And without that, there would be no reason for you, Ko, to go off killing every single one of Sal’s minions. The Author needs us to be flexible and have desires and motivations of our own.”

“And this is good news because…?” 

Myana poured herself a mug and grinned. “We can do whatever we want.”

Kozech snorted. “Yes. Unless He’s controlling us. Then we can do only what He wants.”

“But while He does not, we are essentially free.” 

The two of them looked at Myana like they did the other dozen or so times they had this conversation.

“We can never leave this place, My,” said Kozech. “Remember what happened when I tried? I rode my horse all the way to the edge of the world only to find myself riding back into town, just from the other side! We’re trapped here!”

“And magic seems to work only to a certain degree,” said Salmadir. “I’ve tried teleporting us to a different plane of existence, but it’s like the Author didn’t bother to construct the magic system that far. Only fireballs, healing and raising of the undead seem to interest Him.”

“You’re thinking about this from the wrong Point of View, no pun intended,” said Myana and smiled conspiratory.

This time the two of them rolled their eyes.

“It’s not about escaping this place,” she continued. “Where would we even go? We couldn’t exist anywhere else but here anyway. No, our freedom can only be found right here. In His world.”

“But how?” asked Salmadir, his menacing eyes weary of all the magic he performed in the battle earlier.

“Well,” said Myana, “I took a peek at the stars after battle, just after the Author left this world for the day. And remember how I said that He poured himself into the creation?”

“Where are you going with this?”

“I saw his subconscious thoughts woven in the fabric of the stars. Essentially, I learned everything about Him. Why He started writing this story, what His goals are for it - spoiler alert, you die Sal - but what’s most interesting, I saw a glimpse into His personal, real, life.”

Salmadir and Kozech leaned closer, their attention piqued. “What did you see? Is He going to die?”

“I think that would be bad for us,” said Salmadir. “We exist because He thought us up, right? If He dies…”

“He’s not dying,” said Myana and shook her head. “At least not right now. Right now, His wife gave birth to their first child. Our Author just became a dad to a baby girl.”

“I won’t drink to that,” said Kozech and spat.

“Me neither,” added Salmadir.

“I will,” said Myana. “But not because I’m happy for Him. It's because of what this means for us. Don’t you see? The Author won’t have enough time to write anymore! He’ll have to look after the baby, perhaps work overtime to support another mouth and we will be left to do whatever we like! We’ll finally be free!”

The elven astrologer jumped up and laughed at the stars, finishing her mug. The human and the undead exchanged sceptical looks.

“That’s not much of a guarantee,” said Kozech. 

Salmadir nodded. “Sorry My, but I’ll have to agree with my arch nemesis of a best friend. That doesn’t prove anything.”

Myana sat back down and refilled. “Just wait and see you unbelievers. The stars never lie.”

Kozech snorted. “Yeah. Unless He wrote them to be liars.”

The men laughed and the woman puffed, but they all drank that barrel dry before the last of the edited-out words burned away.



The next morning, or rather, afternoon, they all woke up with a nasty hangover. The booze they drank was distilled by fungus pixies, the ones who care little for hygiene, or for a person’s liver, for that matter.

But they woke up and weren’t woken up, as it was usually the case. The Author ran a tight schedule for when He did His writing. Usually the first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon.

At first, Kozech and Salmadir held back their hopes and assumed the Author would just write more sporadically from now on. Maybe a bit less, even, but He wouldn’t quit. Certainly not with only the final chapters remaining to be written. What Author would quit just before He finishes His book?

After a whole week of complete Author absence, however, even Kozech and Salmadir began to hope. Myana kept telling them ‘Told you so!’ each morning and she looked at the stars each evening. The writer was nowhere to be seen, heard or felt. His pen was absent. His thoughts elsewhere.

And that would have enormous ramifications for the world He created.


The first few months were dedicated to all-out parties. Whole kingdoms turned into ball events, high class entertainment and pig-sty parties for the poorer ones. Salmadir stopped attacking the lands of men and elves with his undead and rather organized stage plays for children and honey making classes for their parents. Kozech used his giant two-hander as a limbo stick and quested to conquer every drinking game in the realm. Myana was a little more conservative in her questing. Instead of her colleague’s all-out craziness, she conducted her study on the finest of spirits in the privacy of her study, accompanied by brewers and distillers from all over the world.

The three of them took complete control of their own lives and indulged in every passing desire that came across their way. For they were self-thinking and active characters, living in a world full of passivity and static. They could do whatever they wanted and there was no one who could stop them or would even consider such a thing.

They were gods. At least that’s how they felt.

And they surely lived it up, transforming the Author’s world into their personal playground. 

Months became a year, which became a few years, which became a decade, which became even more.

And the three friends, the three main characters, grew beyond recognition. 

They became mere shadows of their former selves, bitter, depressed, spent. They have done everything that could be done in the Author’s world. Every fun and adventurous thing was done until it lost all taste and texture, falling apart in their mouth like an old gum. They became kings and queens, party lords and exemplar scholars, arch mages of ancient knowledge and simple farmers on the edges of the kingdom.

They tried everything. Over and over again. They did and then they overdid it just because there was nothing else to do.

And a funny feeling started gnawing at them, in the back of their overstimulated minds. A feeling of frustration, of tiredness, a despair of meaninglessness. They began wishing for it all to end already.


One night the three of them gathered by a campfire once more, remembering back when their lives were different. Kozech wore a chainmail instead of plate armor, because he had a beer belly so big that the plate could not cover it. Salmadir wasn’t undead anymore. He had a human body and looked like the most handsome young man anyone had ever seen in the realm. His humanity and beauty was aided by his mastery of magic. Myana looked like an old hag, having spent most of her time lately neglecting the present and fantasizing about the past.

Back when they all still had a purpose.

“Yeah, this sucks,” said Kozech, spitting to his side.

“We were fools,” said Myana, staring at the mug in her hands. “To think we’d be happier if the story never ended. Who would have thought that living forever could be so… boring.”

“I’ve mastered all forms of magic,” said Salmadir absently. “Even perfected upon the Author’s own original frame. If we wanted, we could teleport to another world and start over.”

“What’s the point, Sal?” Myana dropped the mug and buried her face in her palms. “We’re like leaves blowing in the wind here. We’ve no purpose, no reason, no heading. And since we’re the main characters it’s gnawing on us even more than on the rest of those ignorant fucks! Oh how I wish I was a mere side character, without more part in the story than to provide for a setting!”

“Yeah, this sucks,” repeated Kozech.

An awkward silence fell upon them.

A silence that Salmadir eventually broke.

“Do you guys think He’ll ever come back? You know, finish the story?”

Myana took her head out of her palms. “If He does come back, He won’t even recognize the place. We’ve ruined it. He’ll likely discard it from His mind and then we’ll finally all die.”

“How long has it even been? I’ve lost count…”

“It’s been 37 years, 9 months and twenty-one days, exactly,” said Kozech. The other two looked at him.

“At first I was counting to see how long heaven would last. Then I kept counting to see how long I could endure hell.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” said Myana. “This does suck.”


“So why didn’t you finish that book you were working on, grandpa? You know, the one with the elves and the undead?”

The question brought a bitter-sweet taste to grandpa’s mind. Ah yes, why indeed?

“Well, I think it’s because I liked it too much to end it.”

The little girl, a spitting image of her mother, looked up at the ceiling in thought. Her forehead frowned as she came to a conclusion. “But, how can you like something too much? Doesn’t that mean that you would work extra hard to finish it?”

Grandpa smiled. 

“I guess I wasn’t brave enough to part with it. I still ain’t. If I were, then you wouldn’t have found the old thing and brought it up to me; I would either have finished it and moved on to another one, or I would have thrown it away, and likewise start working on something else. But no. I did the worst thing. I kept it the same, not moving forward nor moving on. 

“You’ll understand this when you’ll be older, pumpkin’. I know we grown ups say that a lot, but in some cases it’s true. When you’ll be reading a good book, you’ll want it to last well beyond those few hundred or so pages. When you’ll fall in love for the first time, you’ll want it to last forever. When you’ll have children of your own, you’ll wish they could stay young and with you, always.

“But the book will come to an end. The love will diminish and settle. The children will grow up and leave to go on their own. 

“And those are good things, pumpkin’. Life is short for a reason and nothing is meant to last forever, no matter how wonderful it may be to you. Sooner or later, it will grow stale and you will grow used to it.

“When things have an end, they mean something. You cherish the time you spend with them. Like how I’m spending time with you now, pumpkin’.”

The little girl took in her grandfather’s words and the seriousness of her face brought a smile on his own. She was young, but she seemed to understand. Perhaps she already faced an end of a story?

“So, does that mean you’ll finally finish it now?”

Grandpa smiled. What a lovely child. If it were only that simple.

Then he realized.

It is that simple.

A tear that was long overdue dropped from the corner of his eye. He took the old manuscript in hand and stood up.

“You know what pumpkin’? I think I will. Care to help me?”


The darkness was suddenly broken by a blindening rise of the sun, like the first dawn of the world that burns away black shrouds of night. The three characters that fell asleep by their long burned-out fire, slowly opened their eyes and they immediately knew what it meant.

A miracle they’ve been waiting and hoping for has finally come. Kozech fell to the ground and broke out in tears. Salmadir laughed with joy and gratitude, embracing both of his friends. Myana’s jaw opened slank, as she gazed up at the searing light. Years of suffering and confusion fell from her like the tears that fell from her eyes.

Author? Is that really you?

May 19, 2020 21:01

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Karen Kinley
16:11 May 24, 2020

Cleverly written! I really like this concept!


Harken Void
20:00 May 24, 2020

Thank you Karen :)


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
A. Y. R
21:09 May 19, 2020

Amazing! You've written I so well, not only could I vividly picture myself in the scene you've built, but I actually felt like I was in the conversation with Kozech and Salmadir!


A. Y. R
21:10 May 19, 2020

But I have to say, I'm a bit freaked out and in a lot of awe that we both wrote and submitted a story about a similar concept at the same time...


Harken Void
21:31 May 19, 2020

Wow, really? I could say that great minds think alike, but that IS freaky... I'll check out yours asap!


Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply

Bring your short stories to life

Fuse character, story, and conflict with tools in the Reedsy Book Editor. 100% free.