CULTURE SHOCK – OF FANTASY CHARACTERS, MEDIEVAL PALADINS, AND OLD TV WESTERNS

CULTURE SHOCK – OF FANTASY CHARACTERS, MEDIEVAL PALADINS, AND OLD TV WESTERNS

I was hard at work on my next blog post when the crack of gunfire shattered my concentration. I jumped up, knocking my chair over, then frowned at my own irrational reaction. No one’s shooting, I scolded myself. Miles probably forgot to turn off the television before he left the house this morning.Television set

I walked up the stairs to the living room. Sure enough, the TV was on, tuned to one of the stations that aired vintage shows. An old Western from more than a half century ago was blaring. As I started walking toward the television to turn it off, I was tackled by my Old Dwarf. “Git down, lassie! Ye be right in the line o fire!”

I pushed my Old Dwarf away and sat up. “What in the name of Fantasy Literature do you think you’re doing?” I screeched. (At least 50% of my communication with my characters, especially with my Old Dwarf, involves me screeching. Before I met them, I rarely raised my voice at anyone. Really.)

“I be savin yer life, thet’s what I be doin’!” he avowed, his jaw jutting out and his eyes flashing.

“What?” (Another screech.)

“Did ye not see em? He be pointin’ thet weapon right at ye!” My Old Dwarf indicated the gunfighter on the television show.

Paladin's gun

I stood up and brushed myself off, then fixed my Old Dwarf with a flinty glare. “How many times do I have to explain to you knuckleheads that people on the television can not interact with the real world?” (Pretty soon, I won’t know how to converse, save by screeching.)

My Old Dwarf winced and hung his head. He shuffled his feet and rubbed the back of his neck, trying to formulate an answer. Before he could reply, however, the newest character to fall out of my manuscript into the real world, my Bounty Hunter, emerged from behind the sofa. He grabbed onto the arm of the couch and tried to steady his rubbery legs.

“Mistress Writer, are you saying that what we see in that magic box is not real?” he asked, his eyes wide, his voice quavering.

“No more real than you,” I started to reply, but thought better of that contention. I quickly cast about and finally settled on, “It is real, but not in the way it may seem.” That felt like a much safer answer.

“What do you mean?” My Bounty Hunter and my Old Dwarf were wearing matching frowns, and both had cocked their heads at that statement.

I pointed to a painting on the wall, a portrait of a knight and his lady. “This painting is real. The scene the artist painted is a representation of a real place and real people. But, at the same time, it is not real. We can not simply walk into the painting, nor can anyone walk out of the painting into the real world.”

Picture with people for blog

“Be ye real sure aboot thet?” My Old Dwarf snickered.

I shot him a dirty look, and ignored the question.

“The television, what you called the magic box, is just like the painting. It is real. But the things you see in it are merely depictions. No one you see in a show on the television can interact with anyone here in the real world. That man’s weapon can’t harm anyone here in this room.”

My Old Dwarf smirked and shook his head, but my Bounty Hunter stroked his chin thoughtfully and nodded, taking some time to digest that information.

“I see.”

“Good. What about you?” I rounded on my Old Dwarf. “Have you got it through your thick skull yet? Or are you planning on tackling me again?”Dwarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Old Dwarf’s cheeks burned brightly under his grizzled beard. Before he could reply, my Bounty Hunter addressed me again.

“Mistress Writer? Could you explain something else?”

“I’ll try.”

“This dark-clad man with the strange iron weapon calls himself a Paladin. Yet, he does not follow the code of a true Paladin. Why is this?”

“Well, first of all, he does not call himself a Paladin. Paladin is his name, like mine is Marge and yours is…”

My Bounty Hunter cut me off. “Please, Mistress Writer, do not reveal my name!” He raised a finger to his lips and looked about anxiously. He noticed my Old Dwarf scowling at him. “No offense to you, Dwarf. I was merely thinking there may be others in earshot. I do not wish…a certain person…to know too much about me.”Bounty Hunter

My Old Dwarf guffawed, but his retort died on his lips as I glared at him again.

“Of course,” I replied, stepping between the two and trying to get them back on track. “As I was saying, Paladin is his name, not his rank or class or calling.”

“But if that is his name, that must be what he is,” my Bounty Hunter objected. “Just as someone who calls himself Miller mills grain, a man called Wainwright builds wagons, and someone known as Cooper makes casks and barrels.”

“Perhaps in your world, but not in the real world, at least not in this day and age,” I explained. “That is how some surnames originated, but in this world one’s name is no longer an indication of one’s profession.” I paused, considering a further explanation. “I do believe, however, the choice of the name Paladin for the character in that television show was intentional. It was, perhaps, a nodding reference to what you know in your medieval fantasy world, as a Paladin, a hero of sorts.”

“Mistress Writer, a Paladin is much more than a hero of sorts!” my Bounty Hunter blustered, his eyes wide and his cheeks red. “A Paladin is a True Hero, a Holy Knight who lives his life by a strict moral code, a Champion who crusades for good and order…”0fc93b24fe9d1a07d812cfd6d09af8cf(1)

“Yes, yes,” I interrupted him. “I am familiar with the rules by which a Paladin in your world must abide.”

“Well, this…Paladin,” my Bounty Hunter spat the word like poison from his mouth, as he pointed to the television. “He follows no rules! He is an unscrupulous person who often employs chicanery to win his fights!”

“Aye,” my Old Dwarf said, admiringly. “He be doin what needs ta be done.”

“But that’s not right,” my Bounty Hunter objected. “He needs to fight by the rules! He can not employ untruths or stealth or subterfuge. He needs to face his opponent square on, and take no unfair advantage while vanquishing his enemy.”

“Ye’d rather he be lettin’ the outlaws win?” my Old Dwarf challenged, his chin jutting out defiantly, his green eyes flashing.

“If he can not win without violating the Paladin’s code, then he does not deserve to win…or to call himself a Paladin,” my Bounty Hunter insisted, his jaw tightening.

“Ye be a right bloomin’ dolt!” my Old Dwarf retorted, sneering. “The ends always just-o-fy the means! Do na be telling me ye do na use subterfuge, disguises, bribes, or any means necessary ta track and capture yer quarry.” He snorted dismissively.

“Of course I employ those means,” my Bounty Hunter countered. “But I do not try to pass myself off as a Paladin!”

I intervened. “As interesting and enlightening as this conversation is, I need to get back to my writing; that is, if you ever want to find your quarry,” I addressed my Bounty Hunter. “Perhaps we can discuss this more later. For now, do you think you two could just go back to watching the television?” I asked them both. “Without any further ruckus?” I glared pointedly at my Old Dwarf.

“I suppose we can,” my Bounty Hunter replied meekly, and my Old Dwarf nodded in agreement.

As I walked back downstairs to my office, I heard the next show start on the television – Wanted, Dead or Alive. Maybe some of you would like to explain that show to my Bounty Hunter. I’ll bet anything he’ll have a few interesting observations about the way Josh Randall does his job!

I’ll leave the porch light on for you.

Fixtures Light Elegant Lighting Fixture And Supply Company Intended For Front Porch Light Fixtures Front Porch Light Fixtures

Advertisements

A Surprisingly Pleasant Outing

A Surprisingly Pleasant Outing

“Mistress?”

I looked up from packing my camera equipment to see my Gypsy standing at the door of my office.Gypsy

 

 

“What’s up?” I asked, reaching for my extra battery pack.

“I understand you’re going on one of your bird watching and nature photography hikes today.”

“Yup. And I’m running late.” I checked to see that I had packed all the necessities, then headed for the garage.

“Mistress? I was just wondering…”

I stopped dead in my tracks. For some reason, those words on the lips of one of my characters always filled me with dread.

What were you wondering?” I asked. My voice sounded a bit sharper than I had intended.

“Well, you know of my great interest in birds…” he paused and licked his lips nervously.

“Yes?” I prompted him to continue.

“Well…err…I thought…that is…” he stood there, shuffling his feet and looking at the floor.

“What is it?” My voice was strained.

“May I accompany you?” His eyes shone with eagerness and excitement.

I raised one eyebrow skeptically. “Do you really think that is wise? Do you think you can behave appropriately in the real world?”

“Oh, I won’t be any trouble, Mistress,” he avowed fervently. “And I already have clothing appropriate to your world. We all do.”

“You all do?” There was that feeling of dread again. “Everyone? Even Dragon?”

“Well, not all of us,” he assured me. “Just four of us. And not Dragon.”

Of course, I thought. My Gypsy never goes anywhere without his best friend, my Young Hero. My Cleric has been my Young Hero’s protector since his birth, so she would need to accompany us. And, for reasons known only to himself and me, my Bounty Hunter would never leave my Cleric out of his sight.

I swallowed hard, as a hundred ways this outing could go terribly wrong marched through my head. But in the face of my Gypsy’s enthusiasm, my shoulders slumped in defeat. “Okay,” I said with a deep sigh. “I should probably have my head examined, but I guess you can come. The first time any of you cause any problems, though, you will all be written out of the books!” That threat was the best weapon in my arsenal. It usually produced the desired results and kept them in line, at least for a reasonable period of time.

A half-hour later, after I had confiscated all their weapons, and given them a brief but uncompromising lecture on proper behavior, I helped my four characters take their seats in the car.

18247124998_0e88297ac6_z       swords  silver dagger

Once everyone had mastered the intricacies of the seat belt and we were on our way. Ten minutes after that, I was the only one in the car watching the traffic and the passing scenery. Real world, 21st century vehicles go considerably faster than medieval fantasy world forms of transport. My characters were all white as sheets, with nary an open eye among them.

“Mistress Writer?” Forty minutes into the trip, my Bounty Hunter finally broke the silence.

“Yes?”

“Where are we going?”

“To a regional park. I was talking to some birding friends, and some early migrating warblers have been reported there, along with some other birds I am interested in photographing. I called the park office and confirmed the reports, so we should have a good day.”

He considered this. “You employ many of the same tactics I do,” he mused.

“How’s that?” I asked.

“You make inquiries to locate your quarry. You confirm reports, rather than accept them at face value. Then you equip yourself for the task and go afield to stalk your prey,” my Bounty Hunter explained sagaciously.

I wrinkled my brow as I considered that. “I suppose you’re right. I suppose that’s how I knew how you would conduct yourself in the book.”

My Bounty Hunter nodded, and would have continued the conversation, but I interrupted. “Here we are!”

My four characters breathed a collective sigh of relief, and almost fell out of the car the moment I had it parked. Their rubbery legs hardly supported them, so I took my time getting my equipment from the trunk. When we were all fit and ready, we headed off down the trail.

From the first moment, my Gypsy took over, identifying many of the birds we saw and heard. “Listen! Do you hear that trill? That is a Yellow-rumped Warbler!”

“That’s one I want to photograph!” I informed him. “Do you see it?”

It took a few moments, but my sharp-eyed Bounty Hunter soon spotted a number of them flitting around the trees. They were constantly in motion, and all I was able to get were a few blurry images.

Then my Young Hero addressed my Cleric. “You have a special affinity with birds, Milady. Can you coax one of these warblers closer and have it sit still long enough for our Mistress to take a picture?”

“I will try,” she agreed, although she seemed doubtful. She walked over to the tree and seemed to be in conversation with the birds. One flew to a nearby branch and posed nicely, as I focused my camera. Once I finished, it flew back to the flock and continued flitting about.

“Thanks! That’s great!” I smiled broadly as I showed my characters the photos. “I never could have gotten them without your help!” They all grinned broadly, happy to have helped.

“I think I hear a Ruby-crowned Kinglet,” my Gypsy called to us. That was the second bird on my wish list. We all tried to follow the sound to its source, but the bird remained hidden in the tree. Finally, my Cleric spotted it and convinced it to pose for a single photo.

Clifton E. French Regional Park 156

As we approached a marshy area, the sound of Red-winged Blackbirds filled the air. My Cleric had no trouble convincing them to show off their territorial display for the camera.

Near the lake, a flock of boisterous Tree Swallows swooped through the air, passing within inches of us. We all laughed with delight at their aerial acrobatics. My Cleric enticed several of them to land briefly for photos.

As I focused the camera, I heard my Gypsy gasp, “Mistress, look!” A pair of Tree Swallows had landed on my Cleric’s outstretched hand. I swung the camera around, but was too slow to capture that image.

My Young Hero spotted a pair of Wood Ducks on a nest box in the lake. They spotted us, and were about to take off in a panic. My Cleric immediately walked over to the edge of the water and calmed the ducks so I could get a photo of the pair.

Clifton E. French Regional Park 060

“Look, Mistress Writer!” My Bounty Hunter pointed at something in the water. “What is that?”

“It looks like a muskrat,” I replied, quickly snapping a photo before it swam into the reeds and disappeared.

Clifton E. French Regional Park 144

“And there are some turtles!” my Young Hero exclaimed.

“We should see a lot of them today, with the warmer temperatures,” I replied, snapping a few photos.

“And there’s a snake!” My Gypsy grinned as my Cleric jumped and squealed.

“Relax, it’s a harmless Garter Snake,” I informed her.

“I would just as soon it be harmless somewhere else, Mistress,” my Cleric stated with a shudder. “Preferably, somewhere far away!” We all shared a laugh at that.

The day continued, and I got a lot of great photos with the help of my characters. Then, around mid-afternoon, the wind picked up and we decided to head for home.

As we were walking back down the path by the marsh, my Gypsy stopped and called to us. “Look here! Black-capped Chickadees are taking the fuzz off the cattails to use in their nests.”

“I wish I could get a good shot of that,” I said, “but I’d only get a blur. The cattails are swaying pretty violently in this wind. It’s a wonder those little birds can even hold on!”

“Well, I can’t stop the wind, but I can keep a few of the cattails still.” My Gypsy fell into his magic, murmuring the words to a spell. Then my Cleric coaxed a few of the chickadees to pose on the now-stationary cattails. I quickly snapped a few images before my Gypsy lost the spell.

“This worked out much better than I imagined it would,” I praised my characters at the end of our hike. “I think I got some really great photos, thanks to all of you!”

“I can’t wait to get home this evening and view them all on that magic box of yours,” my Bounty Hunter replied, referring to my computer. His enthusiasm took me by surprise. Does he have a softer, gentler side I need to explore in my book? I wondered.

“I look forward to seeing them, too,” my Gypsy agreed, and the other two nodded.

“Well, when we get home, we can all see them. Let’s just remember to leave the porch light on for any of our readers who might want to join us.

Fixtures Light Elegant Lighting Fixture And Supply Company Intended For Front Porch Light Fixtures Front Porch Light Fixtures

 

Reality of My Imagination…or My Imagining of Reality

Reality of My Imagination…or My Imagining of Reality

I was lost in thought, typing a reply to someone’s Facebook post. “Weeds are just flowers who didn’t hire the right public relations firm.” I chuckled at my own wit.

Birch Island and Spring Peeper Meadow 074

“Mistress?”

I jumped and looked up from my computer screen. My Cleric stood at the head of a group of my characters, at the door to my office.

Elf facing right

“May we come in, Mistress?” my Cleric asked ever so sweetly.

My jaw almost hit the floor. Usually, my characters just popped up, unannounced and unexpected. They invaded the privacy of my office – and most other areas of my house – at will. My Gypsy had even, on numerous occasions, picked the lock to the office door to gain entrance. I was constantly reminding my characters, usually at the top of my voice, to stay out of my office unless I invited them in. To finally have them actually ask permission was gratifying. I wondered what they were up to.

I gestured to the group to enter, but it was soon obvious that the small office could not hold the entire group, even after my Dragon shrank to the size of a mouse. “Why don’t we try the conference room?” I suggested.

A few minutes later, we were all seated around the conference room table. I felt somewhat akin to King Arthur, looking at his knights gathered around the famed Round Table. Only, in my case, there were no knights, only a seemingly rag-tag band of characters. My Cleric sat to my right. My Foreman sat next to her, with my Young Hero and my Gypsy taking chairs directly behind her, the three forming a protective half-circle around the nervous Cleric.

My Old Dwarf sat to my left, with my Sorceress, my Dragon (now the size of a large Alsatian), and my Arrogant One occupying the adjacent seats. The newcomer, my Bounty Hunter, sat opposite me.

“Well, I suppose you are all wondering why I called this meeting.” I chuckled.

Nine characters sat there with blank looks on their faces.

“Mistress? I do not believe you called this meeting,” my Cleric advised me, leaning close and keeping her voice at a discreet whisper. She wrinkled her brow, and concern for me clouded her normally bright blue eyes.

“I know that. I was attempting some humor,” I replied flatly.

“Oh.” My Cleric’s confusion was mirrored in the faces of the others. Would these medieval characters never grasp modern humor?

“Right,” I said, sighing deeply. “So, would someone tell me why we are here?”

“It’s that man!” my Arrogant One informed me without preamble.

“What man?”

“Your man, Mistress,” my Cleric answered timidly. She blushed deeply and quickly glanced away, unable to look me in the eye.

“My husband?”

12-28-13 - MN Arboretum 080

All nine characters nodded in unison.

“What has Miles done…or should I ask what you have done to Miles?” My eyes widened as possible scenarios flashed through my mind. Has he been skewered by one of my Bounty Hunter’s arrows, cleaved in half by my Old Dwarf’s axe, or perhaps roasted to a crisp by my Dragon? I started to sweat.

“Talk!” I commanded, my voice cracking with panic.

All nine characters tried to speak at once.

“One at a time!” I yelled, trying to be heard over the uproar.

I turned to my Cleric. “You seem to be the spokesperson for the group. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?” I invited.Elf

“Well, Mistress…” She hesitated and looked around the room for support. All the others were suddenly finding their fingernails, the bookshelf, or the ceiling tiles, to be of great interest. My Cleric sighed, and tried again.

“I am certain your husband is a very wonderful person…” Again she paused, looking for support.

“Yes, he is,” I agreed in an even voice. “So?” I asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“So he is always in the way!” blurted my Gypsy.

Gypsy

“Excuse me?” I sat up and fixed him with a warning look. “He is in the way? He belongs here!”

“And we do not?” My Bounty Hunter jumped from his seat.

“Well, actually, no. Most writers do not have their homes overrun by their characters,” I informed him, my voice starting to gain in volume.

“I assure you, Madam, we would all return to our own world in an instant, if we knew how,” my Arrogant One assured me with a sneer.

“That do na be the point!” my Old Dwarf shouted. “We be here, whether or no we be welcome. But we do na be needin ta trip o’er yer husband every time we be turnin’ aboot.”

Dwarf

“Indeed,” my Gypsy chimed in. “The three of us were just in the kitchen, getting a teensy little snack. He came in with a dustpan and broom. He very rudely chased us out, saying we were making a royal mess!” He turned to my Foreman and my Young Hero, who nodded in agreement.

“And he chased the Dwarf and me out of the living room, saying it was not an archery range!” my Bounty Hunter stated resentfully.

18247124998_0e88297ac6_z

“We dina be harmin’ none o yer gewgaws,” my Dwarf added, sulkily.

“He was quite rude to me, when he informed me the sparks from my glamours and enchantments could scorch the floor or the draperies in the dining area,” my Sorceress complained.

My Dragon growled and smoke curled from her nostrils, as she recounted the indignities she had suffered when Miles had chased her from her favorite easy chair in the den.

Dragon

Each character had something to add, some complaint to register. Finally, I had heard more than enough.

“Get this straight, all of you,” I screeched. “Miles lives here. He is my husband. He is real, the same as me, and he belongs here in the real world. You are a bunch of characters that fell out of my manuscripts. If anything, Miles and I do not need to trip over you every time we turn around!”

My characters looked stunned. My Cleric appeared on the verge of tears. I felt like a heel.

“Look,” I said, softening my voice, and changing my tack. “Miles is really your best friend.”

My Old Dwarf snorted, and the rest looked skeptical.

“It’s true. He does more than his share, taking care of the house while I deal with your stories. He doesn’t mean to be rude or nasty about it, but he works hard helping me keep this place presentable. He gets annoyed when you mess it up as quickly as he straightens it. He does this work so I have the time I need to chronicle your stories. If I had to deal with the upkeep of the house all by myself, you would all be languishing in my manuscripts. I would have no time to work with you.”

“Well, I suppose we should thank him for that,” my Cleric acknowledged, though a frown still lingered on her face.

Elf facing right

“Just stop raiding the refrigerator every hour on the hour,” I told them sternly, “and clean the kitchen after your little feasts. Stop the indoor weapons practice, stop the magic tricks, stop interrupting our sleep every night with your staff meetings and various crises, and,” I concluded, giving my Dragon a sharp look, “stay off the furniture.”

To a character, they all hung their heads, their cheeks burning brightly.

“We will, Mistress,” my Cleric promised fervently, but I noticed a lot of grumbling among the others.

As I was returning to my office, Miles came down the stairs. He was holding a pair of his shoes, charred almost beyond recognition.

Fierce Dragon

“Dragon?” I asked.

 

Miles frowned and nodded. “Third pair this week. I don’t think your Dragon likes me.”

“I’ll talk to the little beastie,” I promised.

Miles looked at the group filing sheepishly out of the conference room, and asked suspiciously, “What are they up to now?”

“The usual,” I replied.

Miles sighed deeply. “I’ll keep an eye on them and try to keep them out of trouble for you. You just keep writing.”

I smiled broadly and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before returning to my office. As he walked back up the stairs, I called after him, “Honey, would you please…?

Fixtures Light Elegant Lighting Fixture And Supply Company Intended For Front Porch Light Fixtures Front Porch Light Fixtures

But he was already ahead of me. “I know, I know. I’ll leave the porch light on, in case any of your readers want to stop by and see what happens next.”

I smiled again. I’m so lucky to have a husband who understands my writing process.

Another Sleepless Night

Another Sleepless Night

I had been tossing and turning for hours. Finally, sleep, illusive sleep, seemed about to overtake me. But something began to tug me back from the very threshold of dreamland.

Insomnia

“Mistress? Mistress, please wake up!” It was my Cleric, tugging on the sleeve of my nightgown, and whispering urgently in my ear.

“Wha? Wassamatter?” I forced one eye open and tried to focus.

“Please, Mistress, I must speak with you!”

“Now?” I demanded, trying to ignore the panic in my Cleric’s voice. I checked the clock on my nightstand. “It’s two in the morning!” I grumbled, getting ready to roll over and court sleep again.

Elf facing right

“Please, Mistress?” Her quiet voice was raw with emotion, and she rocked back and forth on her feet.

“Oh, very well, then. Talk!” Sleep is so overrated!

My Cleric glanced over at my husband, who was starting to stir on the other side of the bed. “Maybe we should adjourn to the conference room…or at the very least, step out into the hallway?” she suggested.

I gave my Cleric a dirty look, but allowed her to pull me out of my nice, warm, cozy bed. She handed me my robe, and after three attempts, I managed to pull it on. As she led me out of the room, I tripped over my own feet and crashed into the door.

“Oh, Mistress, do be more quiet,” my Cleric begged. Her wide eyes darted up and down the hall, as if she was expecting the hounds of hell to pop out of the bathroom.

“Okay, we’re in the hallway. So what is of such earthshaking importance that it requires a 2 a.m. confab?” I could feel the vein in my right temple throbbing, and I could barely speak through my clenched teeth.

“Mistress, I believe there is an Assassin here to kill me.”

“Wha?” I wasn’t sure my fatigue-fogged brain could handle this, but the look of abject fear in the normally twinkling eyes of my Cleric was enough to bring me to full attention. “What makes you think that?”

“Well, the lads and the Foreman were in your office this afternoon, and…”Gypsy

 

silver dagger“What?” I screeched, interrupting her mid-sentence. “How many times have I told them to stay out of my office? I even had the Sorceress put an enchantment on the lock to keep them from getting in!”

“I know, but, please, Mistress, hear me out. There was someone else in your office…”

I interrupted her with another screech. “Does no one in this house have any respect for my privacy? My office is off limits!” I could feel my face turning beet red, and had I looked in a mirror, I would not have been surprised if I had seen steam coming out of my ears.

“Mistress,” my Cleric whispered, her eyes wide and her chin quivering, “the person in your office was not of this household.”

That brought me up short. “What do you mean?”

“The person they found in your office was a stranger. When our friends confronted him, he identified himself as an Assassin.” My Cleric swallowed hard. “Mistress, I fear he is here to kill me.”

“Why would he want to kill you?” I scoffed.

“Is there not an assassin pursuing me in the book you are writing?”

“There are a number of people tracking you. One or more may want to kill you, but I doubt they would identify themselves as assassins.” I frowned. “Still, I suppose I should check my office and see if this assassin is still there.”

“Oh, Mistress, please be careful! The Foreman said this man carries a crossbow and a dagger.”18247124998_0e88297ac6_z

 

 

 

“Well, if he comes from your world, he will not harm me.” I sighed, and started walking down the hall. My Cleric hesitated a moment before following me.

“Oh, no,” I cautioned her. “You had better stay here until I find out what’s going on. Better still, why don’t you go stay with the Foreman and the lads? I’m sure they will allow no harm to befall you.”

CHOC CAKEMy Cleric gave me a grateful nod, then scurried off toward the kitchen. Of course, at two in the morning, where else would she find those three characters? I shook my head, then proceeded toward my office.

 
I opened the door to my office as quietly as possible. I turned on the light and looked around. I frowned as my eyes fell on a familiar figure. A pint-sized man of indeterminate age, leathery-skinned and bald as a billiard ball, dozed in my chair by the computer. Even deep in sleep, he firmly grasped a dagger in one hand and a small cross-bow in the other.

I cleared my throat, and instantly the intruder was awake and on his feet. He had his crossbow aimed at me, and his dagger ready to throw, should he miss with the crossbow. I just stood there, waiting silently, my lips pursed, my nose wrinkled slightly. After a few moments, it became apparent to the intruder that I was not impressed. He lowered his crossbow, but kept his dagger ready.

“You must be the sorceress they call The Writer.”

“No sorceress, but, yes, I am a writer,” I responded, keeping my voice neutral.

“I am…”

“I know who you are,” I interrupted, again keeping my voice at a conversational tone. “You are not an assassin, although you claimed to be.”

“How do you know?”

“I’m The Writer,” I responded, as if that would explain everything. The blank look on the intruder’s face told me it explained nothing. I tried again. “Like a Scribe. I chronicle the exploits of my characters.”

“Like those three I met earlier today?”

“Like them. Like many others. Like you.”

He frowned, and rubbed his jaw with his dagger hand. “So, they were truthful. I…how did they put it? I fell out of the pages of a manuscript?”Book manuscript

 

 

“That’s essentially correct,” I agreed.

“But how? Why?”

“I haven’t figured that out yet,” I admitted. “It just seems to happen, so I just accept it.”

He gave me a sharp look. “I was in the middle of a mission when I found myself in this place. I need to get back to…to my world?” He looked at me for confirmation. I nodded. “I was searching for someone.”

“I know,” I replied. “You are a Bounty Hunter.”

“His eyes widened. “You really do know!”

I nodded.

“So, you understand I must return to my world, to my mission.”

I nodded again. “Don’t worry; you’re still there, still looking for her.”

“That’s what the three I met earlier told me. I didn’t understand. I still don’t.”

“As long as I continue writing the story, you are there,” I assured him.

He looked dubious, but nodded. “But I am also here,” he stated.

“Yes, you are. Many of my characters are.”

“The one I search for?” he asked, a sly look in his eyes.

“Yes, my Cleric is here as well,” I confirmed his suspicion. “But here, in the real world, you are not to harm her.”

“I have no wish to harm her,” he avowed.

“Nor are you to attempt to capture her in this world,” I warned him.

“I am a Bounty Hunter. It is my mission,” he protested.

“Not here,” I insisted. “Here, if you attempt to capture or harm my Cleric, my other characters will deal with you. The three you met are most fond of my Cleric, as is my Sorceress and my Dragon.” I narrowed my eyes.

“They can not watch her every minute,” the Bounty Hunter stated, nonchalantly twirling his dagger.

I allowed a slow grin to spread across my face. “But I can. If you attempt to capture my Cleric, I will deal with you myself.”

The Bounty Hunter looked at me scornfully. He could see I was unarmed, and obviously no threat to him. I chuckled.

“If you attempt any action against my Cleric,” I informed him, “I will delete you from the manuscript. You will no longer exist in your world or in the real world.”

He stared at me, small beads of sweat forming on his brow. “You can do this?”

“I can,” I assured him. “I am The Writer.”

I turned and left him standing in the middle of the room, alone, to think it over. I returned to my nice, warm, cozy bed to see if I could manage a few minutes sleep before the dawn of a new day.

Before my head hit the pillow, my Cleric was there, tugging on my sleeve. “Mistress?”

“Don’t worry about a thing. He’s not an assassin. He’s a Bounty Hunter. And he has been warned what will happen if he threatens anyone’s safety in this world.”

My Cleric smiled with relief. “Thank you, Mistress! Good night!”

“Good night! Oh, on your way out, would you make sure the porch light is on? I promised our readers we would keep it on for them. We wouldn’t want any of them to trip in the dark.”