The Bug Pamphlet – Short Story

(Note: A sort of backstory for Meeo and Ranalie’s first meeting. Expect bad jokes, cool spells, and a really, really weird beetle. Genre is Fantasy / Humor. Please enjoy~)

 

The Bug Pamphlet

Kell Inkston

 

Lord Knight Captain Order sets off from her home in Frau to the local space gate with a duteous trot. There was a time when she never thought the day would come, but she’s finally seen as a character of merit within the knights. As she plods armor-clad through the green, it occurs to her just how hard it was being the first female of the knights— all the missed promotions that could have been, all the estranged friendships, and those completely tasteful pranks. That was thousands of years ago, and now she’s greeted by and looked up to by most everyone she meets. It’s always shocked her how long it would take a nation to recognize her for her efforts, but she’s made it through the thick and thin. She’s content with her station in life. Her work has paid off. Things are good, life is g-

“H-heeeeeelp!”

Order raises her visor to get a better look at the source of the call. A young, heavy-laden, narrator-interrupting lady is rushing down the road, her sizable pack jumbling as if there were some wild animal inside— that, and there is a muffled, frenzied grumbling sound coming from within. Order hesitates, taking in the situation and noting the strangeness of the moment before approaching her.

“Good day to you,” Order says, keeping a close eye on the girl’s rumbling pack which would typically be used for carrying large books.

“Oh uh, good morning! H-how are you this lovely day?!” the fidgeting, pacing girl greets, leaning forward to keep her neck from the lid of the pack.

“Mmm, I’m alright,” Order murmurs, eyeing the girl with a bit of concern, “but you seem rather… less so,” Order says.

The girl grins sheepishly, continuing to shift the bulky pack apprehensively between her two shoulders as she struggles to continue the conversation politely, “Mmm, indeed! Heh, i-it seems I may have made a tiny error… uh, you see I was practicing summoning and I… messed up.” She gives a nervous and somewhat apologetic giggle.

Order raises a slim white brow as she eyes over the girl’s pack, pulsing at random angles as if something where galloping about inside. “Ahh, and you mean to say it’s in your-”

“In my pack, yes!” she exclaims quickly, “and it’s really spooky, b-but it’s super cute too so please don’t kill it!”

Order gives an exasperated sigh and places her hand on her rapier, her secondary weapon geared for faster opponents. “Well that depends on what it i-”

She stops short as the pack bursts open. “BLARRRRAGAAAGARRR!”screeches the flailing, head-sized beetle, throwing book pages about as if they were confetti with its tiny brown appendages.

“. . . a library beetle.” Order notes bluntly, taking her hand off her hilt.

“YES!” the girl exclaims, with the remnants of tears in her eyes. “So please take him out of the pack, ple-EEEEEE-EASE!” the young lady shrieks, volume increasing as she feels the oversized beetle stroke the back of her neck with its hooked appendages.

Order laxly goes behind the young girl and lifts the beetle from the pack, its mouth filled with a chapter on earth magic as it flails like an infant. “There,” she says calmly over the beetle’s cries, “it’s out.”

“He’s out,” the lady corrects, relaxing at last as she wriggles her pack to reacquaint herself with the feeling of it not having a giant bug inside. She sighs. “Thank you!”

Order smiles back and looks to the beetle as she tugs the shredded pages disdainfully from its clutches. “Sorry… ‘he’,” she says. “I think we should return this guy to his natural habitat. There should be a wood not far from here. These things do love trees and I think-”

The lady draws back in a massive realization. “Because paper’s made of trees!” she exclaims, covering her mouth as if she has just discovered the answer to the universe’s most ancient mystery.

“Uh, yeah,” Order acknowledges with a pained glance, “Good job- now let’s get this thing b

“KETNA-HALLPHANDA-RETNARAH!” The beetle proclaims, screeching in some horrific arcane tongue.

A quick flash of light bursts from the beetle, stunning the two humans just long enough for the beetle to give a decisive shake to free itself from Order’s armored hands.

“Wh-what the hell?!” Order rubs her face a moment in shock before glancing angrily around for the creature; it’s headed clear for her mansion.

“HASTO FASTO!” the beetle casts again, finishing a speed-incantation with arch-mage levels of quickness. Its pathetic trot turns into an insectoid sprint, moving as swiftly as a human as it clears straight for the manor.

“O-oh dear…. Uh, um. I’m so sorry. I… may have made another slightly poor decision that I forgot to mention….” The lady looks to the side in embarrassment.

“It can talk… How exactly can it talk, and how can it cast spells?!” Order tears her helmet off and points her gaze at the girl.

“I… may have altered its magic-genetic-pathways a tiddly bit,” the young lady says, referring to the very makeup of magical creatures. Even touching the stuff is considered grandmaster level magic.

Order jolts back in surprise. “You what?… I mean, where would you even learn something like that?”

The lady smiles slightly with a small air of admitted pride, “I taught myself!”

Order turns to look back in wonder at the beetle, mad-dashing for her house. “Huh… so just how old are you, and just who are you?” she asks, glancing back at the girl before her with intrigue.

“My name’s Meeo Letlind, ma’am! I’m only eighteen years old!” she responds promptly with a curtsy.

Order is nodding with an impressed look about her, when something important crosses her mind. “Wait, so this thing eats books.”

“Well duh.”

“And i-uh he, learns the spells written on what he eats?”

“Uhuh!” Meeo says, putting her hands on her hips in some sort of delight, as if given the only A+ in her class’ show and tell.

Order sighs and nods her head. “My house is full of ancient tomes— one of a kind magic documents, actually.”

“Oh, cool…” Meeo’s sentence trails off as her expression sours awkwardly.

The two stare at each-other in a short alarmed pause and then both tear desperately after the beetle. Using haste spells of their own, the two ladies rush into the house just after the insect escapee. As they turn about the open doorway however, they find the foyer empty.

“Where did it go?” Order asks, gaze frantically scanning over anything slightly brown in her white-themed abode.

“Maybe he’s invisible,” Meeo cheerfully offers- as if this were all a complex game of hide and seek.

“Meeo that’s rediculou-…” Order inhales sharply, “Did you have an invisibility spell in your-”

Meeo coughs and nods.

“Damn… Okay, hold up, let me just cast a life-detection spell, that’ll fix th-”

Meeo coughs again, fidgeting nervously.

“… You also had a presence-concealing spell in your pack,” Order states matter-of-factly, looking down to the pages she took from the beetle’s mouth still firm in her hand. She recognizes a few phrases from one of her own dissertations.

Meeo nods.

“Awesome.” Order takes several calm paces forward, as if she is taking the news perfectly well before whipping around and tossing the remaining pages in her hand down in exasperation. “Why would you even have all that magic in your backpack? You’re a runaway student, aren’t you?!” She over-enunciates her hand gestures, making it painfully clear to Meeo that she probably should not have practiced summoning random creatures into her backpack.

Meeo grins sheepishly. “Oh, actually I wanted to join the Royal Knights of Reinen! I heard one of their top folks lived in this very town, so I packed up my books and headed over here! I just thought that if…. Well you’re a wise wizard, right? Would you know where-”

“Nevermind it. Books first, talking later,” Order cuts in, dismissing it now that she’s scanned over the entire room. The two rush up a spiraling staircase to Order’s library. The books, cozy self-lighting fireplace, and reading chair all remain undisturbed.

“Something’s off,” Order says, scanning her gaze over the thousands of volumes and scroll containers.

“Yeah, Boogle would naturally go for the books, ri-”

“Boogle?”

Meeo looks to the side. “Uh, I named him.”

Order looks at Meeo like she does at her dog Parvo right after he’s made an accident on her guestroom floor. “So did he eat anything else?”

“Uh, a book on martial arts, alchemy, advanced magical kinetics, gardening, evil overlord ettiqu-”

Order smacks her own face in disbelief. “No,” she says.

“No what?” Meeo leans her head down a bit.

“You’re lying.”

“I am not!

“Let me guess, ‘How to Ruin Your Enemies and Hear the Lamentations of the Women’ by Overlord Torment?’”

Meeo snaps her fingers. “Oh! That’s exactly the one!”

“Rayda forgive me. The last thing we need is an evil genius archmage bee-”

“GWAROOOOO!” bays a canine voice downstairs.

Order turns from the books and bolts down towards the source, “Parvo!”

“Parvo?” Meeo questions, hanging tightly behind Order.

“My dog!”

“Heh, you name animals too, see!”

The two burst into Order’s bedroom to see a small, angry Parvo barking at an invisible creature- they’re fighting over a novel, the first of the Oscar La’coss series of books.

“There!” Meeo shouts. Order slams the door shut to keep it from escaping and dashes to apprehend the story-eater. With a flawlessly quick movement the beetle dodges right under her heel, tripping her and sending her face first into the bedpost. Meeo blocks the door the best she can, leaning her frame against the knob.

“Now, Boogly, don’t do anything brash, just come back to momm-”

“STUPID-ASS BEETLE, THINK YOU’RE SO SMART!?” a bloody-faced Order turns and leaps across the carpet, taking guesses at where the invisible beetle might be. It takes her a few slides across the room to realize what the beetle wants, and she looks over to Parvo— he’s fighting something for the book again, engaged in a tug of war. She gets up and begins creeping in front of Parvo, and as such gaining up directly behind the beetle. Just as she crouches for the spring, Meeo clears her throat.

“Um, just so you know, bugs can see behind them, too,” Meeo says with a helpful tone.

Order is tripped again, her face kissing the wall in a very unpleasant manner.

The two small animals fight over the book a moment more until the beetle decides that it’s been playing at this game for long enough. It lets go of the novel abruptly, staggering Parvo, and then leaps at the unfortunate pup with an end-game attack. Meeo stares in awe as the beetle delivers a flawless 37-hit beetle-loop punish combo complete with speed-canceling, directly onto poor Parvo. The dog gives one last holler of defeat before it slow-motions into Order, who was just regaining herself. The two are again sent into the wall of shame with a tumble.

Meeo’s hands shoot up to her cheeks. “Boogle is so perfect!

Boogle hops onto the book, its cloaking spell running out. “KAWA KRISHNAWA!” it cries, forcing magic power into the book and causing it to begin gaining altitude and rotating menacingly.

Meeo tightens her weight against the door. “I can’t let you past, Booglieboo. You need to calm down.” She raises her fists as if to propose a challenge.

Boogle the Book-Slayer smashes out from the bedside window and hovers off to another part of the house’s exterior- he ain’t got time for no games.

Order gets up, pushing an unconscious Parvo off her back. “It busted out the window?”

“Yeah.…” Meeo grimaces, opens the door, and gestures for Order to go in first.

“Let’s go.”

The two dash back to the study, find it undisturbed, and then fan out into the house’s other rooms. Meeo checks the upstairs guest restroom for Boogle, but gets distracted by the magic soap dispenser—it’s super cool. Order trots from room after room downstairs, looking primarily for torn shreddings of books, until a sound comes from the kitchen. The two rush down and find Boogle channeling a dark-magic spell inside of a complex, quite-evil-looking pentagram.

“GRAGLAPHRAGRA-”

“Hell no, no evil summoning in this house!” Order shouts over the wild chanting of Boogle as she takes up a broom.

“Wait! Please don’t, wizard-lady! He’s young and innocent—d-doesn’t even kno-”

“Hal’met, open, raw,” Order says, reaching her hand out to the beetle. The beetle does not suddenly rise to be altered like any usual magical creature— it’s beyond controlling. “It can’t be helped, Meeo,” Order says sternly, shrugging off Meeo’s grasp, “by this point letting it live will only cause trouble.” Order charges her muscles with arcane power, ascending her physical strength to draconic echelons. “Be judged, roach!” Just as she sees her broom pass right through Boogle, she also feels something shoot into the back of her neck— a dart. She realizes only now that while she had no purpose to cast the presence-detection spell initially, she might have utilized one later to detect a typical bait and switch ambush like this one.

Order falls over as the muscle relaxant courses through her, the real Boogle dismissing his illusionary copy as he hops out from his cover that was located behind the cookie jar.

“D-did you do that, Boogy?” Meeo asks, peeking through the door frame.

“WAHWAH!”

She hops back cautiously, “Come on, Booeywoo. You don’t need to be evil! You can be a good evil bug! You were made for a greater, evil-but-still-good purpose!”

“HOGAWAHHH! WEEWAHWEEHA!”

“No!”

“GAGAWA!”

“Please, don’t do that! You could never turn back!”

“GEESQUEEDEEEEEEE!”

“You could never have a wife evil-but-good bug, and no evil-but-good bug children!”

“Meeo,” Order calls in a miffed tone, lying on the ground and helpless.

“Yes?”

“Stop talking to the bug and kill it.”

“But it might have the antidote!” the young girl insists.

“WEEHAHAWEEHA!” Boogle explains.

“Oh, you know how to make it with that?” Meeo places her hands on her hips, impressed with her ever-so clever bug.

“YAGYAGWOTAGMAG.”

“Meeo, please, just kill the stupid bug!”

“AGWEEHAYAYA!”

“No, wait, Boogs,— please, don’t!”

“HAHAHAHA!” At that decisive chattering, Boogle hops back onto his portable book and floats out the window, this time right for the tower.

“Oh… phphooey! Now it’s off for the books.” Meeo starts looking around dejectedly as if to find some magic solution to the problem.

“Relax, we have this. Very few of the books are rare, so we have some time for him to chew through ‘em. You need to go to the dimensional cabinet and get the vial marked number sixty-six.”

Meeo snaps her fingers. “Great idea! That’s an antidote, right?”

“Yes, now go. It’s the door to the left.”

The young Meeo nods and goes to the door on the right.

“No! My left!”

Meeo snaps her fingers again. “Oh, Okay!” she exclaims, rushing off into the dimensional cabinet. It’s an enormous storehouse of vials, stretching on for at least a half kilometer.

“Wow,” Meeo whispers in awe.

“Go; come on!” Order yells from outside the door.

Meeo rushes about the rows to the left to get all the way to aisle number 1, and returns a minute later.

“Uh…”

Order groans. “What is it?”

“The eh, vial where number sixty-six was supposed to be was replaced with one that says,” she looks down to read, “WEEGWAYHAWAHA”.

“Ugh…” Order inhales sharply, struggling to take a deep calming breath. “Okay. Go and kill it in the library. Use ice magic, please! Not fire, nothing that combusts, just something sharp.

Meeo hesitates, then promptly salutes and dashes upstairs. “I’ll… I’ll do what has to be done,” she says as she rounds the corner. She opens the door to see shredded books everywhere, and Boogle in the center, making a generally-huge ruckus.

“Hey, Boogybu! Enough of this ruckus!” Meeo says, ridging her slightly pudgy body for agility.

Boogle clears his throat with a refined, educated tone. “There is no purpose to stopping me now, Meeo Letlind. My victory is all but assured,” he calmly informs her as he stuffs the last few pages of a book on advanced linguistics into his jaws.

“Come on, Boogle. Books can teach you a lot, but real life is much richer. Don’t go through with your plan.” She takes a step closer.

“I have made up my mind. I will offer up the rarest manuscript here to him and become his pupil. His knowledge far outweighs that of other mortals. Overlord Torment has attested to that. Though he has only hatred to speak of him, I know this is only because Overlord Torment is a weakling himself.”

Meeo leans in, “I won’t let you. I’ll lock you up until you change your mind.”

“Are you so presumptuous to think I could be defeated by the likes of you?”

Meeo smiles and pulls her hands from her cloak as she begins casting an ice spell. In twice the speed and intensity, her pet beetle begins casting a much higher-rank spell of the same element. She stops, and so does he. Meeo clears her throat. “No…” she contemplates; “but I bet I could if I found a spell that could beat you in here before you got it!”

Boogle cackles. “You may be an apt speed-reader, but my speed is a thousand times that of your own! I’ve already memorized all of your books, most of which you’ve only skimmed the surface of!”

Meeo spots the most ornate scroll case, seated in the middle of the room. “Ahh, but you haven’t read the only book that matters!”

“What is this book?”

Meeo takes out her small dagger and scratches something into the nearest bookcase. “I just transcribed it all here.”

Boogle leaps for the case and sinks his jaws into it, doing his absolute best to chew through the metal book case.

“WHAT SORCERY IS THIS? IT IS NOT A BOOK!”

“That’s right!” Meeo says, now at the display case and extracting the scroll, “And you can’t read the normal way, so you need to ask me what it says, I guess,” she says with a casual tone. Her eyes start scanning across the scroll- it is incredibly old, undated and written by a wizard named Rondi.

“WHAT DOES IT SAY? I MUST KNOW! MY THIRST FOR KNOWLEDGE IS ENDLESS!”

“Sorry, but I can’t tell you, agree to chill out,” Meeo says, eyes squinting in suspicion as to the scroll’s very peculiar, almost scribble-like script. Meeo looks up to the beetle, and hums.

“I BEG OF YOU, NAY, I DEMAND YOU TELL ME WHAT YOU’VE WRITTEN ON THIS BOOKCASE!”

“The letter A,” she says with a crass smile.

“YOU’VE RUSED ME!” He says, hopping off the bookshelf and dashing for her.

“But now I have something far more interesting for you,” she says in an almost serious tone.

“WHY WOULD I TRUST YOU?”

“Look over here,” Meeo holds up the scroll to Boogle.

He stops his approach in awe. “WAIT… Wait, but I can read this. It doesn’t make sense.”

She flinches. “How can you?” Meeo asks, flipping the scroll back to herself to look it over. “You can’t even read common languages, how could you possibly read this?” Meeo focuses on the intricate scroll. She’s studied countless ancient magic languages, and this is unlike anything that she’s seen.

Boogle, his rage subsiding, hums. “I know not, unless this language is magic in itself. Library beetles cannot read, as our sight is poor and we must use knowledgelocation to detect books… Yet this knowledge is flowing freely from its parchment, as if it’s infesting my mind.”

Meeo prods the beetle with her foot, “Well, Boogey, don’t just stand there, what does it say?”

He scoffs and looks over the scroll before reciting its contents aloud: “I have created a language that can only be read by those who cannot read- because if you have not read, you have not learned- this is how I will keep it secret for eons to come. The spell upon this scroll has never been cast, as I do not know how. I too am learned, and as such I am doomed against this way. Magic is an art of the mind and the soul, it reflects both of these, and should one remain unsteeled, the magician will in most cases be subject to criticism by his peers. What these critics miss, however, is that when one asset of the duality of casting remains untrained, it may indeed close off the well-trodden path of traditional magic— but it will also open something I’ve never seen. This is a sort of magic that does not have incantations and mana-costings— it is pure, unadulterated everything. It is the art of pulling the world’s strings to serve the user, to do what cannot be done through wordless sorcery. It has long frustrated me, so I leave the spell here for future record. Note that it is not a text, but a picture. Stare at it, and understand what usurping insanity means- for one must become insane to use it, I fear.” The beetle finishes reading out the contents and stands still a moment, before turning away from it in disgusted disappointment. “Well, sounds like hogwash to me,” Boogle finishes, running off to the other books.

As the beetle leaps up to eat from the wealth of elemental and alteration magics stored in Order’s library, Meeo just looks at the scroll’s illustration. It’s a deep, confused mess of lines and colors, but there is a sort of déjà vu to it— the familiarity of a loved forest from one’s childhood. She stares into it, and feels a latent something, the feeling of magic. She sits down, completely too preoccupied with the symbol to be aware of her surroundings

Boogle finishes devouring some of the most valuable manuscripts, and then casts a spell to levitate the majority of the library’s books to follow him. With a masterfully-enunciated incantation, he creates a great magic circle and piles the books on top of it. He begins channeling huge amounts of mana into the circle, causing it to glow.

“My lord!” Boogle greets, resting on the highest tower of books.

A voice begins to resonate out from the circle: smoky, powerful, impossible to resist. “. . . How interesting, and who might you be?” the deep, polite-sounding voice enquires.

“I am Boogle. I desire to become your pupil and learn the ways of magic!”

“Ahh, a desiring minion. Tell me, what do you have to give me in exchange for your learnings?”

Boogle laughs. “The Masteress’ entire magical library, and the woman herself!”

There comes a deep hum from the circle as the owner of the great voice contemplates. “A most considerable offer, were it true. What proof do you have?”

“Come to her home and behold her mansion,” Boogle offers eagerly. “Its protective magics have been lowered, and its windows broken. You can simply walk into her kitchen and find her awaiting her doom. But you must act quickly, the poison I used only lasts half an hour at most, and it could be cured easily with something as miniscule as a glass of water. No one can help her, as I am keeping watch. So come forward, and let us meet as you dance on her soon-to-be corpse!”

The voice at the other end of the magic circle is pensive, and then speaks. “Very well,” it booms pleasantly as it begins to retreat, “I will be there momentarily.”

With that, the circle stops glowing, and Boogle stands proudly on his stack of books, ready to greet his new master. He speaks down to Meeo, not even looking her way. “Yes, now see how I have surpassed even you, my creator! Soon he will be here and I will receive all the glory for an act he has but dreamed of completing himself. I will rise above him, for no creature is as great at magic as the noble library beetle; we lacked only in our knowledge of how to learn from the books we devour. How does it feel, Meeo Letlind, having made the new, true overlord of the realm? Eh?” Boogle looks behind himself to see Meeo gone, and the library’s back window open. “I-IMPOSSIBLE!” Boogle lets out an infuriated screech as he levitates one of the spare books for an immediate decent downstairs.

Already at the kitchen is Meeo, climbing in through the nearby window.

“Meeo? Where’s the beetle? Is it dead?” Order unleashes a sudden flurry of questions, watching the girl scramble through cabinets. She picks up a bowl and goes to the magic tap. “He’s dead, thank you-” Meeo raises her voice calmly over the faucet, “and no.”

Order gives another agonized sigh. “So what are you waiting for? He’ll eat the whole library! And what are you doing, filling that with water? Did he ask for a drink? Get back up there and kill h-”

“Drink this,” Meeo instructs, leaning Order up and pressing the rim of the bowl against her lips without a hint of ceremony.

Order mutters something into the water for a moment, sounding like something not worth repeating, and then, suddenly, the bowl splits in Meeo’s hands, the water spilling into the floor as the two even halves fall to the ground.

“Well, that will not do at all,” emanates a shaking, immaculate voice from behind Meeo and Order. Order is silent, eyes widening in disbelief, and Meeo slowly turns her head, a sharp chill creeping up her spine. Overlord Chaos, the most-wanted being in all the Omniverse, towers over them with a wide, encompassing grin.

“Y-you’re-”

“I certainly am, young lady. Now step aside, I have business with your friend here.” Chaos imposes himself over the two as Meeo leaps suddenly to her feet and releases a deep, fanatic “Squee!”.

“You’re Overlord Chaos!” Meeo continues, hopping between legs and engaging in a sort of euphoric skipping. Order groans, certain her death would’ve been far more dramatic than this.

Chaos’s grin widens, and he straightens his posture. “Ahh, well yes, that is indeed who I a-”

“STOP RIGHT THERE!” Boogle interrupts with a scream as he flies into the room through the window and is promptly smacked to the side by Chaos. Boogle is sent flying into the wall, bruised and unconscious.

“The insects here are just enormous. I cannot for the life of me understand why you chose to live in such a horrible place,” Chaos says with a slight frown, his attention diverted to Boogle’s twitching appendages for a moment before Meeo begins raving again.

“Wow! I’ve- I’ve heard so much about you! To think you’re the one Boogle was talking to all this time is— w-wait. . . .” Meeo looks down at Order, and only now notices her paper white, tapered-up hair.

“OHHHHHHHH!” Meeo ejects. “OHHHHHHHH NO! NO WAY.”

“What now?” Order asks exhaustedly.

“YOU’RE ORDER?!” Meeo shrieks.

For lack of anyone better to interact with, Order looks over to Chaos with a direct, tortured gaze- he finds it hilarious. “Yes,” she sighs, “I’m Order.”

Meeo inhales as much air as she can, and releases a sharply-pitched: “NO WAYYYYYYYYYYY-”

“Meeo! Shut up and let me die with dignit-”

“I can’t believe it, it’s you! I-I read all the books! I watched the plays! I wrote so much fanfi- I mean I’m your biggest fan!”

Another groan from Order, “Great, so how was it not obvious who I was?”

“I-I don’t know! I was just so spooked about Boogle getting away and eating your library. I thought you were just some… I dunno, Order look-alike or something!”

Order sighs. “That’s ridiculous, but please, step aside. Something a little more important happening right now.”

“Hmm, no, I think not,” Chaos cuts in, “please go on. This is quite entertaining,” he says, his legendary sword, Kingdom Slayer, poised at the ground laxly like a cane as he leans in.

“See, he understands!” Meeo says, gesturing to the Overlord, the very same that has single-handedly razed nations.

Order sighs— Chaos, legendary for both his deadliness and his forgetfulness, is having another one of his mental episodes it seems. “Okay so, can you just, like, leave, Chaos?” Order says, eying Meeo to play along.

“Uh, why would he want to do that? He’s super cool!” Meeo says. Order rolls her eyes and Chaos squints.

“I suppose ‘cool’ is supposed to mean ‘ignorant’?” he says as he raises his blade, “Did you truly think I would be so easily tricked by your new-foundlandish langu-”

“N-no, Mr. Chaos, it means ‘Really good’,” Meeo says, holding her hands up.

His disposition instantly lightens as he turns his head a bit to the side. His sharp, black antennae perk up as if charmed. “Oh? Very well then. Perhaps I really am ‘cool’ like you say,” he says, looking off to the side. “Hmm,” he looks around.

Now why was it I came here again?” Chaos taps his razor-sharp, light-absorbing foot in thought. Order’s eyes spark at the opportunity.

“Oh, you know. You were just here to borrow a cu-.”

“Omniverse-kidding! I can’t believe I’m standing in between the two of you. So, Mr. Chaos, you’re here to-”

“Meeo-” Order interjects through her clenched teeth as she stares directly at the young mage.

“Finally be away with Masteress Ord-”

“Meeo-” she says again more firmly; Meeo’s speaking too loud to hear over herself.

“-er, the ‘Chaos Bane’ as they call her? This is so cool; the guys at the academy will never believe it!”

Chaos’ gaze sharpens as Order groans with abysmal disappointment. “Ahh,” he says, “That’s right.”

“Whose side are you on?!” Order spits, her paralyzed body trembling in fury.

Meeo tilts her head in an endearing, friendly confusion, and suddenly her features turn to surprise.

“… Ooooh. Eh, Mr. Chaos, I don’t think now would be a good day to kill Order,” she says. Order sighs and Chaos, poising his blade over Order, looks to the girl.

“Oh? And why’s that?”

Order speaks up, “Because your entire tower is rigged with magic explosi-”

“Be-…because it’s Killlessday!” Meeo blurts. Order is on the brink of tears as Chaos gives a chuckle.

“Hmm, Killlessday, you say?”

“Yes! Uh, where it’s wrong to uh, kill people?”

“… You say that as if it were a question,” Chaos says, looming over Meeo. She can feel his cold breath from where she stands- an icy, piercing breeze.

“I uh, no, it’s a fact.”

Chaos squints at Meeo, his grin increasing in wideness. Order’s left hand begins twitching, regaining movement.

“No, it is a lie,” Chaos says, his razor-sharp grin large enough to accommodate a human torso, only inches from her face.

“Oh! Well… You still shouldn’t kill her!” Meeo stays straightly.

“And why wouldn’t I do that?”

“Because you… need her.”

“Do I? I find her quite the pest.”

“No, you just act that way. You’re both obviously madly in love!”

Order and Chaos share another glance, and the two join in an awkward laugh.

Meeo shuffles about, twiddling her fingers between each other. “Uh…well… Right now I’m a greater threat!”

Chaos grins as Order pushes her muscles to their limits to slightly shake her head.

“Oh my, and what have you against me?” The Overlord asks.

“Uh, imagination magic!

Order sighs.

“Ahh, and just what is that?” Chaos draws back in feigned interest.

“The- the most powerful kind! I learned it in Order’s study. I stole the most valuable scroll from her library and I’ve mastered it!” Meeo says, shoving the scroll into Chaos’ hands.

Chaos opens the scroll and searches it for a few seconds.

“This is gibberish, my lady. There is no language that consists of lines so disorderly.”

Meeo huffs.

“Well that’s because you can’t read it you N-… Nerd!” Meeo says with a direct, suicidal gaze.

Order muffles a gasp as Chaos’ grin reaches maximum length- the typical size before he kills someone.

“Well, are you not the bravest little human. I suppose you mean to use this magic against me?” he notes, politely handing the scroll over to her.

“Yeah, so back off!… Uh, but not off enough for me to not get your autograph,” Meeo says, gaining another tormented sigh from poor, poor Order.

“This isn’t real,” Order says to herself with a long frown and closed eyes.

Chaos’s cruel grin gains just a drop of sympathy, and he gestures her hand forward. A chilled, thrilled Meeo presents her left hand, and he reaches into his mouth and pulls out a pen. He writes his name, and then puts the pen back into his jaws. “There you are. I am afraid you may be the very first corpse I have made bearing my signature,” Chaos thrusts his blade into the tile, standing it straight, and then draws back his arm, making a fist. “Order,” he says.

“Yes?” she responds, the feeling returning to her body quickly.

“How much would you bet that I could kill this female meat-bag by simply punching next to her, I would imagine the force of the displaced air would break her neck,” he remarks, staring down a terrified-but-mostly-just-impressed Meeo, frozen in place.

“Don’t you dare, Chaos. She didn’t mean it! She’s just a kid!”

“And you will be next, old friend of mine,” Chaos says, “So, young lady. Any last words?”

Meeo opens the scroll and stares at the symbol. “…No,” Meeo says, her hands trembling as she concentrates on the infantile drawing- just what does it mean?

Chaos laughs, his deep maniacal tone shaking Meeo’s petite frame. “It would have been more fun to prolong your death and you a proper lesson, but I have to kill the only person that stands between me and my rightful throne as Lord of the Dimension!” Chaos flexes his elegant, horrifying black frame just before he throws his fist forward. Too late does Order regain the ability to make magic sigil-signs with her hand, required to cast the lengthy spell to forcefully teleport Chaos to some other place- anywhere but here.

At the last moment before Chaos’ mach-speed fist destroys her, Meeo thinks not of an incantation for a spell, but an idea- perhaps the world is not made of the things it is, but simple representations. A cup is simply a shape, but humans prescribe everything to ideas. When people think of cups they think not of clay shapes, but of what they are meant for-holding liquids, objects, anything a cup can hold. But what if… Just what if people created ideas with things? Once she looked at the symbol like an idea, rather than a symbol, she could see it differently. She thinks she understands a bit of the symbol, enough to think of an impossible thought, and do an impossible thing, like reach up to the fourth dimension, and cause a break in causality— skip the moment where she gets killed by Chaos, and just jump past it.

Chaos throws his punch at M…

 

…he remains in his stance a moment more, and notices a dazed, exhausted Meeo, standing behind him and completely unharmed.

“How… fascinating,” he speaks out over the shocked gasp of Order, “I’ve seen this before. You broke reality,” Chaos reaches forward and snaps the scroll from Meeo’s hand at the same moment he delegates his leg into hers, shattering the shin bone instantly and sending her to the ground.

Meeo cries as she rolls with the fall, but remains calm enough to respond. “C-consider it my gift for the autograph, Mr. Chaos,” she says, holding down her obvious break.

The Overlord squints at the scroll once more, and sighs. “Good enough, I suppose. For giving me this scroll I will spare you, but I cannot do the same for-”

“Attenai,” Order recites, finishing the last line of her spell.

From a void behind Chaos a thousand arms of pure mana reach forth and take hold of him. Chaos scoffs as he is dragged in slowly, the arms having to compete with his impressive physical weight.

“Truly laughable, dear Order. Do you forget that I know the dismissal counter-spell to this? Completely the play of a child. Now let us see…” Chaos hums as the ethereal arms pull him closer to the portal. “Did it start with a Q? Or was it a T?… Oh, cabbages. It appears I have forgotten… again. Well, mark my words, Order and young lady, I will be back, and you will rue the day you cut the thread of time for your own selfish bidding!” Chaos’s voice echoes out as he is consumed into the portal, and the gateway closes behind him. Who knows where he is now.

Order slowly, waveringly gets to her feet. She’s quiet a moment and then leans down to heal Meeo. The spell is short and easy for someone of Order’s skill, and before Meeo realizes, the break is gone, and so is the pain.

“Nice job,” Order says, with a warm, though confused smile, as if humbled by the experience.

Meeo takes Order’s hand, and nods. “Thank you! If it wasn’t for you, I’d be-”

Order slaps Meeo across the face, her gauntleted hand producing a cherry-red mark. “You idiot! Thanks to your bug you almost got me killed! I hate to brag but what he said was right. I’m the only person standing between him and King Rayda. No one else can wield Monument, so if I were to die… It’d be over.”

“Ahh…” Meeo whimpers, “I’m sorry!… So I guess I don’t get to be in the knights, then?”

Order gives a goofy, belittling smile, “Get to be in the knights?! Yeah! Yeah sure! I mean, why not! You only j—” Order’s voice catches as she looks over Meeo’s honest, wide-eyed features, and she lets out a quiet sigh. “You did fix the problem, I suppose. I could never read that scroll. I was studying it for months. I’ve been starting to think it was all a prank. But you really did just cheat reality, didn’t you?”

Meeo nods, looking away to the side now as she tries to stop her eyes from watering.

“Meeo,” Order says, now smiling.

She looks up.

“You have a place with the knights. Doing magic like that is unheard of, and that’s something we could use.”

Meeo’s eyes widen like a child in a candystore and she brightens up instantly, “Th-thank you- Thank you! I’ll do you so proud… Really, I promise!” She hesitates a moment, fidgeting nervously. “. . . so. . . c-can I maybe have your autogra-”

“HAHA!” Boogle cries, up and ready for another round of magic battle, “LITTLE DID YOU KNOW THAT CHAOS DID NOT EVEN KNOCK ME UNCONSCIOUS. I WAS ACTUALLY CASTING A SPELL POWERFUL ENOUGH TO DESTROY THE ENTIRE PLANET-”

“Hal’met, open, raw,” Order says over the beetle. Suddenly Boogle, the real Boogle this time, is suspended into the air and his body projects his magical-genetic pathways.

“HOW DARE YOU ALTER THE PROPERTIES OF I, THE INVINCIBLE—” but he’s justly interrupted again. With a few simple flicks of the finger, Order rearranges Boogle’s pathways into that of a common library beetle. There is a strong flash of light, and from the remnants is a healthy, happy, much-less-evil-and-smart Boogle.

“Oh, that’s… wow. Took you seconds to do what took me hours,” Meeo says in a mix of fascination and total psychotic disgust.

Order smirks. “Yeah well it’s all in a bit of practice, I guess. I’ll tell you what, if you really want to join the knights, I could tutor you. Would you like that?”

Meeo’s eyes widen and Order spots foam producing in her mouth. “NO! NO WAY! NOOOO-”

“Oh, you don’t want me to tuto-”

“No! No as in yes! The no was just like, a ‘no’ of disbleif!”

“Oh, good, but only if you won’t be weird about it,” Order swiftly adds in, handing a struggling Boogle to Meeo.

“WH-WHATEVER COULD YOU MEAN?”

Order shakes her head, “Never mind. You wanted an autograph, right?”

“YES! YES! A MILLION TIMES YES! COULD YOU ALSO AUTOGRAPH BOOG-”

“No, I hate bugs. You need better pets.”

Meeo smiles with sickening amounts of positivity. “Well, actually I’ve been thinking I’d like to a lot of pets. I’d like to raise a dragon-kin one of these da-”

“Oh, yeah no. Just stick with the bug; nevermind,” Order cuts in with a wince.

 

-To be continued in Woodcastle

 

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