The Quest of Dreams

Written in response to: Write a story about someone who feels increasingly irrelevant.... view prompt

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Fantasy Funny Drama

The flames licked the bottom of his worn leather boots, sword raised towards the bandits. The bandits that had taken the life of the father he knew so briefly. That untamed wizard who hid the royal scar, the scar that matched his own. The bandit king laughed, blood spilling from his throat with delight. He wanted to die, die with honor, something only the Lost Prince was more than willing to provide. Anger in his heart, he cried out.

“For the kingdom, you stole from me!” His sword thrashing down, the bandit king giving one last sneer. Despite the kill only needing one swing, he relished in the satisfaction each one brought. He had done it, all those tears, all those nights on a quest for revenge. And it was all over. The Princess of the North had claimed her rightful spot as queen, and all of the armed forces kneeled towards the new king.

Everything was at peace, he breathed, a breath he had been holding for so long.

“It’s done, we are victorious!” he announced, his plucky crew all dancing with joy. At least that is what he thought. For an arrow was being drawn from a longbow that was unseen, stretched back with an archer waiting to claim his-

“Wait, what?” The computer typed on its own. “you’re gonna kill me?” The author looked confused, wondering if this was some practical joke or virus. Now growing increasingly concerned that it was now narrating her caffeinated thoughts.

“Well, yes.” She typed as a response, once again hoping this was sleep paralysis at its finest.

“No.” he spoke firmly, gripping the hilt of his sword. “you gave me a happy ending, now leave it at that.” She turned to look behind her shoulders, could this be happening? “Yes this is happening, you are not killing me, from an arrow no less. That’s just embarrassing.” Convinced she had gone mad, she decided to pretend this was a real conversation.

“What is wrong with an arrow? And, how are you even doing this?” She waited for a response.

“That isn’t something you should concern yourself with, also, I went against an entire fleet of arrows in the second chapter. ‘It blotted out the sky’ is how you put it if I remember correctly. You have some nerve you know that.” In all honesty, she had forgotten about that, but she did not want to admit it.

She now learned she cannot backspace the narration of her actions. Though she kept trying, even looking up ‘how to tell if your computer is hacked’, which only proved in vain as her internet moved at the pace of frozen snails.

“I mean, this does feel like my problem…are you a ghost?” She typed knowing that this may be a stupid question.

“No, and for a matter of fact, I rather stay alive for that matter.”

“But, you aren’t even real. Your just some text on a screen. Not even edited I may add.”

“Your lack of grammar and punctuation skills is not my fault.” This hurt her more than she would like to admit. She was getting better, she liked to think at least.

“Well, what makes you think I was going to kill you.” She typed rather aggressively, lips pinched together and twisting on themselves. That weird vein (she should probably get checked out) sprawled across her forehead. Trying to outsmart the narration, she quickly covered it.

“Oh, don’t act so innocent. You don’t think I know your whole deal, I’ve seen your Wattpad fanfiction.” That account had been lost to time, mostly because of a forgotten password. “You have an M.O. and I am not falling for this.”

“I don’t have an M.O., if anything this is a completely new genre for me.”

“Oh, congratulations, was it hard writing a fantasy story after years of writing urban fantasy?” In her mind it was. For instance, urban fantasy was a subgenre of fantasy. So, that’s something. And sure, her stories tended to be on the darker side, but she never thought much of it. It adds stakes and creates interest for the reader. “You try living in it.” He replied, his sword now pointed towards the sky.

“Are you reading my narration?” The answer was clearly yes, come on Jessica keep up. “And where is this coming from all of the sudden, I killed your dad…both of them. You didn’t speak up then.”

“Well for starters, you killed my first dad threw a monologue. An overwritten one at that. And that wizard, he was a creep. And if I had to hear that mountain speech one more time, I was gonna kill him myself.”

“I found that speech moving.”

“As you said, I am unedited.” Rather quippy of a response, he was her character after all.

Sitting on her bed, hunched over her laptop, it was clear that the cursive no longer needed her fingers for guidance. She waited for more passive aggression from a fictional character. A character, she wished she had made less stubborn. You simply cannot reason with fiction, especially when it takes up a mind of its own.

“I mean, I hardly kill off my protagonists. Most of them are still alive.” It was true, it was rare for a grave to be marked by her penmanship.

“Please, you giving your characters a fate worse than death is nothing to be proud of. Let’s see: Theresa is trapped in that maze, you shoved what’s-his-face in purgatory, and I am not even going to mention what you did to that poor house.” Some of those stories lived in her journal, unpublished, the references destined to go over the heads of readers not part of her inner circle.

The only coherent thought she was able to manage, was wondering if all of the characters she had ever written somehow were able to communicate with one another. If that was the case, she regretted making that fanfiction account in middle school…no one deserved that, puberty was rough. Forcing herself to snap out of it she considered who exactly she was talking to. He was, after all, her character.

“So, Lost Prince, because you hate being one of my characters so much maybe you should be benched for a bit. How about you in the back?” The entirety of the plucky crew went from amping up their friend, to have the soft complexion of a ghost, the Bard was near fainting.

“No…we’re good.” They all muttered at varying levels, they could not see the omnipotent eyes of their author. This made averting eye contact a challenge, a crumbling castle in the background was the most dynamic of them all.   

“Oh, please I insist, spin-offs are always a blast.”

“I find them tacky.” Stammered the Cleric, hoping the wind would cover up their attempt at bravery.

“What was that?” She could read their dialogue, but the message was all the same.

“Nothing.” Despite dedicating himself to the heavenly bodies, the ground was the most interesting thing for miles. Even some of the henchmen tried to fake their death by staying still. The Lost Prince did not flinch though, his blade waving at the heavens fighting the closest thing they had to a god.

“Now you listen here, I did not suffer threw all of this just for a recast.”

“That’s your issue with it?” The Rogue chimed in, “glad to know we have such a bond.”

“Well, you aren’t exactly hero material.” He gestured at himself, his chiseled form and sharpened cheekbones glistened. “I am but a simple farm hand who underwent the hero’s journey, to find and obtain his destiny as a savior of the people.” 

“I would just like to bring up that I did not write the word ‘glistened’, that was all him.” The author said, actively trying to not relive those fanfic days.

“Stay out of this!” Shouted the Rogue, “I’ll deal with you later.” Taking her hands off the keyboard, she too wondered what trouble these two would cause. Originally, there was supposed to be a love triangle between them and the princess. Neither of them had much chemistry with the other, always felt like mashing two action figures together—so, the concept was scrapped. “I put up with too much of your bullshit, the only reason I stayed was that I was hoping she’d make me betray you. As you said, she has an M.O. ever wonder what trend her male characters have?” She had a point. Most of them lived in a continuous state of righteous delusion. He was no different. “See, even the narration agrees.”  

“Look, I don’t wanna fight. It’s pointless-”

“Because you know I’m right.” The Rogue said with acid at the end.

“…sure. But, you have to remember what this job entails. You lose so much, you are only given a break to make the next hit that much more devastating. It’s not like I like this life.”

“Like you didn’t enjoy killing that guy.” She pointed towards the now disfigured corpse of their former foe. “As the narration said, it only needed one swing.”

“She made me do that.”

“Did she make you like it so much?” The author could not help but step in once more.

“Technically yes.” The Rogue did not have to say a word for her hands to retrieve from her laptop once more. Somehow without knowing where those framed green eyes were, the Rogue still managed to give them an icy stare.

“My point being, you are what she made you. But, you are still you.” A scowl clawed to their point.

“I don’t think you understand, she was going to kill me. Is it so bad to ask for more?” An ooze slithered up the author’s spine, causing her to curl over in a cold shiver. She did not recognize this sinking feeling…did she feel bad for one of her characters? Given how she still doubted that this was all happening, the feeling would soon pass.

For a moment no one dared move the curser, on either side of the screen.

“I just don’t wanna become irrelevant. Once I die, no one will…” he trailed off, I think everyone felt the same. At least, that is what the author gathered, since she now had more control over the keys. The wind howled in joined despair. “I just want my happy ending.”

“But it would just be your happy ending.” The Rogue put her arm on his shoulder, his sword now making small circles in the dirt. “You get to be king, you get to run off with the princess, you save today. But what about those other days.”

I felt like I should say something, make a promise I was not sure I could keep.

“Maybe if I just didn’t finish? Keep this a working progress and let you all live your lives on these pages.”

“No, no that wouldn’t work. If you did that then we’d be in even more trouble.”

“Let me guess, that’s also none of my business.”

“You’d be correct.” All of them stood there, some knowing more than others. And one of them trying to learn to be fine with it.

 What was the point in interrupting her if there was nothing to do to help? She was given no choice,  and had to do the unthinkable. This was her version of mercy.

“Wait” The Lost Prince spoke out, once more interrupting her writing. “I know what you are thinking, and it is a bad idea.” Unfortunately, it was her only idea. The only way to undo the amount of pain and trauma, while still giving them the ending that would prevent any more weight on their shoulders.

It had to be done. 

“You think it would work?” The Bard was now at their feet, feeling it was safe to speak out.

“It could also make it so much worse.” The Cleric no longer being bound by a bitten tongue.

“Of course it will work…I promise” She hoped, she prayed, would be a better way to put it.

“Don’t do that?” The Rogue spoke softly, as if whispering in her ear.

“Do what?”

“Make a promise we all know you cannot keep.” All of the castles, dragons, and gold that this world held were resting in the author’s hands. But, no one cared about that now. All the author cared about were these words on a screen. She was going to keep this promise.

“I trust her.” The Lost Prince interjected, “I mean, I can’t live in a righteous delusion forever. Right?” The last line snagged on the corner of his lips, causing a melancholic smile. Now was her chance.

It is a cliché to end all clichés, the go-to for any elementary school short story exercise. It would erase everything, but, keep them going…to an extent.  They all looked up, the Lost Prince slumped down, the Rogue joining him their eyes caught the others. A soft smile was shared between them and the only one they ever had—and the last they ever will.

It is for the better, she wish she could tell them. Though the author know they would never really believe me. It was time to end this all.

“Ready?”

“Ready.”

For an arrow was being drawn from a longbow that was unseen, stretched back with an archer waiting to claim his life. Patiently lurking in the shadows for the moment the Lost Prince would foolishly face him. He wanted him to see his assailant, to watch his fate slip through his fingertips.

The arrow shot, slicing the air and causing a light breeze to follow it, the sound of a passing bee was its only comparison.

With the venom waiting at the end of the point, a paralysis soon to overtakes his bolstering heart. The prince, now sitting alongside his trusty Rogue finally looked content. How could he not? He was about to get everything he so desired.

He did not even look that shocked when the arrow hit, almost like he was expecting it. The only expression that was seen by the fleets, who would remember his name, was that he looked relieved. The Rogue, Cleric, and Bard all had a similar face. They all knew their journey was done. They too would live in infamy with their found family that they only had for a second. That was all they needed. In his last moment of life, he saw the world fade, dragons and destiny all swirling together. An iridescent symphony playing before him, that farm felt so far away, but he could still smell the fresh grass. Then, like the smothered flame which was his life, he drifted into the darkness. They all did.

For a moment unbound by time or space, they were all floating, not together, miles apart. It was tranquility embodied, their tired bodies released from their burdens. Then like a match striking their eyes snapped open.

Their alarm clock greeted them with an irritating screech. The sound of breakfast cooking just below them, a slight drizzle veiling the windows. A breath of relief slipped out of their chapped lips while they shook out the crust in the corner of their eyes. Each one of them knew, though no longer together, it was going to be okay now. That land now seemed like a muddled mess of screwed logic, and a voice they could not place. It no longer warranted concern, and why should it?

It was all a dream.   

July 16, 2022 02:36

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