Status: In Progress

The Majesty of Choice


“Are we there yet?” Patrick asks, for the fifth time in the last ten minutes.

“We’re literally ten feet away from where we were last time you asked.”

“How about now, are we there yet?” Patrick asks.

“I’m starting to regret wanting to come with you guys,” Pete says.

“It’s not too late to go back,” Gerard says hopefully.

“Not that much,” Pete says. Pete evaluates Gerard as he walks along beside him, Patrick a couple feet back because he’s miraculously shorter than Pete and thus has shorter legs.

“What?” Gerard asks, not liking the feeling of having someone’s eyes on him.

“I know we just met but I feel like something’s up with you,” Pete says.

“Yeah, a lot of things. I’m the furthest I’ve ever been from home and I’m terrified about what I’m going to find when I get to where I’m going.”

“It makes no sense, this quest of yours. Why is it that you cannot tell the purpose of it?”

“I literally can’t,” Gerard says. “I’m trying to find a fairy, because he… we had a run in a long long time ago and I need his help.”

“His help specifically?” Pete asks, “is there no other fairy who can assist you?”

“No, it has to be him,” Gerard says.

“So it’s something that this fairy in particular is responsible for,” Pete concludes. Gerard doesn’t give him a response, just continues walking and looks back at Patrick, who, Gerard’s not sure he’s seeing things right, looks jealous. Gerard can’t think of a good reason for why Patrick might be jealous of him right now.

“So Pete,” Patrick says, catching up and creating enough space for him to stand between Gerard and Pete, like he’s trying to get Gerard further away from Pete.


“What do you hope to find in Giantville that you can’t find at home?” Patrick asks.

“Nothing really, as I’ve said. It’s more about wanting to get away from it all. I would just like to have an adventure once in my life.”

“What do you wish to do after?”

“Well, I wish more than anything to be reunited with my family of course. And to be free. That’s all anybody really wants, isn’t it? Freedom.”

“Freedom is the only thing people hope for at night when they think someone might be listening,” Gerard says. “If only it was something that was within reason to achieve.”

“You sound as though you’ve experienced the heavy hand of subjugation yourself?” Pete asks, wondering what it is that Gerard is hiding, because he’s sure there is something. There’s probably many somethings.

“I’m the unwanted leftovers of selfish people,” Gerard says. “My father cares very little for me, and my stepmother sees me as a servant and nothing else. To my ungrateful step sisters, I’m a rag, and these labels are ones I cannot escape. Among others.”

“Maybe running away is the only solution,” Pete offers.

“You can’t run away from troubles that will follow you across the globe,” Gerard sighs. He wishes he could say what his real handicap is. He wishes he could tell Patrick, and maybe even Pete, all about his curse. He wishes for so many things. He wishes his brother weren’t trapped inside a book, wishes his mother wasn’t dead, wishes not to be attracted to Frank or at least wishes Frank weren’t the product of a man as vile as Edgar. He wishes to be free, to make his own choices. Sometimes the chokehold this curse has on him feels tighter than usual, and it’s been getting tighter recently. As he ages, it becomes more and more unfortunate. One of these days it’s going to strangle him completely.

“If you do find what you’re looking for, what do you hope to get out of it?” Pete asks Gerard, and he’s not entirely sure. He hasn’t thought much about what it must be like without this curse. It’s not something that he thinks about too often because he knows if he does, he’ll get his hopes up. He supposes that he’ll have free reign of his own life for the first time. He can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, and not worry about other people telling him not to. He won’t have to worry about people telling him to do this, or to do that. It’s almost too good to be real. All that freedom, he feels like he could drown in it, and yet it’s all he wants. He wants the anxiety of not knowing what his future has in store for him. He wants the pressure. Because at least, whatever mistakes he makes, whatever roads he travels, they’ll be his decisions.

“Someone ask me what I want out of life,” Patrick says, and Gerard’s brain receives it as an order so he asks Patrick exactly that. “I don’t really know, I just wanted to be included.”

“I don’t really have plans for my future either,” Pete says, “it’s hard to make plans when you know that whatever you wish for isn’t possible.”

“I feel like there’s got to be-” Patrick starts but Pete stops him before he can say more.

“What’s wrong Pete?” Gerard asks.

“Be quiet for a fucking minute,” Pete hisses at him. Gerard’s mouth feels like it glues shut at the order, and his anger with Pete starts to grow a little bit.

Pete looks into the woods in front of them, looking terrified of something that neither Patrick or Gerard are aware of. As an elf, Pete’s ears are slightly more sensitive, and he’s sure he just heard the snapping of a twig not too far away. There’s someone else here.

“What are we-” Patrick starts and Pete steps on his foot. “Ow!”

Pete looks at Patrick with absolute terror in his eyes, and Gerard rolls his eyes, because he knows that he’s paranoid, everyone is, but Pete’s taking it to a new level. It’s a forest, there are other things here. Deer, squirrels, chipmunks, birds, bunnies, and other animals are all sharing the space with them.

Or at least Gerard thinks that it’s simply a chipmunk, at worst, a man eating chipmunk, until a very large figure steps out from a tree in front of them, and Gerard’s heart stops completely for all of several seconds, as his eyes widen and almost bulge out of his head.

Before him stands a creature Gerard has never seen with his own two eyes, but he’s no fool, because the second he lays his eyes on the figure casting the shadow twelve times the size of Gerard’s, he knows exactly what it is.

They have come face to face with an ogre.

“Fuck,” Gerard says, feeling his voice come back to him, only now it sounds empty and meager. He’s pretty much about to faint, but he’s trying to resist the urge because he’ll only die faster that way.

The ogre is humanoid given its two arms and two legs, but aside from that, similarities stop there. It’s a bulky creature, made of only fat and sinew, with deep blue skin like a splotch of black ink on parchment. His head is large, as is his stature, and everything about him screams terror. Gerard’s not sure if his mass can be credited more to his muscles or his fat, but to be honest, when you eat entire humans, deer, and cattle, it probably accumulates quite easily.

This is why Gerard had put off doing something like this for all his life. All this time, he never even ventured too far into the woods because of the rampant legends of ogres in these parts.

Gerard practically grew up on urban legends about how a mean old ogre ate some little old ladies kid. Stories like that, they spread through the youth of every town in the entire kingdom, so there’s no shortness in prejudice towards ogre’s, but there’s never been laws forbidding them from entering human colonized towns before Edgar. There’s never been any restriction of ogre’s rights compared with humans before Edgar at all.

There are stories of ogre’s killing humans from before Edgar’s reign, there always have been, but no more so then there are stories of men killing other men. Ogre’s have until recently been peaceful creatures, and yet here Gerard stands cowering in fear at the sight of one.

Sure, Gerard will tell you that he’s not really afraid of ogre’s, that he stands for their rights so he must not be afraid of them, he’ll never stop saying it, but that doesn’t make it true. Because, Gerard does believe that there is good in them, he honestly does believe that they have the same amount of humanity in them as any human, elf, or giant, but that doesn’t mean he’s not afraid. The adversity that ogre’s have seen, especially as of late, has seen the rise in violence among the ogre’s and honestly, Gerard can’t say that he blames them. He would hate man too if they’d pushed him out of his home, and criminalized them, but empathizing with that doesn’t mean that they’re not going to try to kill him. Gerard is after all, a human. He is the species that has made their lives difficult in the first place.

“Three little humans,” the Ogre says slowly, in a deep, booming sort of voice that would strike fear in the most courageous of hearts. Patrick, who is easily the most fearful of the three, is practically shitting himself in fear.

Gerard’s got a million things running through his mind, most of them along the lines of the fact that he is a murderer. If Pete and Patrick die here, he is the one who killed them. It will be his fault. Their deaths will be on him, and even if he’s dead, he will never be at peace with that fact. It will be his fault and his memory wouldn’t be able to take it. If Gerard kills either of these two men by association, he would have his entire existence wiped from history, because he doesn’t want anyone to remember his name, doesn’t want anyone to remember he ever lived if he causes any harm to two people who don’t deserve it.

“Are you lost?” The Ogre asks, “you are trespassing on my forest.”

Gerard wants to sound strong and grounded when he speaks, but it comes out as a whimper, and he can’t stop his own stutter, “w-we’re ever so sorry. We’ll be g-going then.”

“So soon?” the Ogre says, “why don’t you stay for a while?’

“We should really be going,” Patrick says in a voice so high, Gerard barely recognizes it.

“Not often do I find humans wondering through my forest,” the Ogre says, and Gerard does not like his tone, because these words could really be harmless, but when he says them like that, well Gerard expects that he’s going to ask to have them for dinner soon. For dinner.

“We didn’t mean to bother you,” Gerard says hurriedly, “r-really, we should get out of your way.”

The ogre sneers, evilly, and Gerard notices his pointed teeth. He’d hate to find out why his teeth are so pointed.

“We don’t mean you any harm!” Gerard says, “I-I, personally, s-stand up for ogre rights, I don’t think poorly of you. I j-just want to pass through, that’s all. We don’t want to inconvenience you, or… or anything.”

“Inconvenience?” the Ogre says, “I don’t find it an inconvenience at all. I like it when my dinner is so eager to please.”

Patrick makes a weak squeaking sound and grabs Pete’s hand, starts to cower, almost as if he’s trying to hide behind him. Gerard doesn’t blame him in any way, because a minute ago this guy might have just had a deceptively malicious tone, but now he’s eyeing them as dinner, which is probably the most terrifying thing anyone can tell you aside from the blatant confession that they are about to kill you.

“Is that entirely necessary?” Gerard says, “I mean we never meant you any harm, and we still don’t.”

“Humans always lie,” the Ogre says, which is not an entirely inaccurate statement.

“Okay, sure, by all means, you can kill me, that’s fine, I mean it’s not ideal, but I’ll accept it. But really, you don’t need to hurt them,” Gerard says gesturing to Patrick and Pete, “they are completely innocent, and in fact, wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me, this is all my fault, you should take it out on me, not them.”

Pete starts nodding, because he doesn’t want to die, and he’s not ashamed to admit it. He’ll let Gerard sacrifice himself for his life, because Pete has known him for about a day, and so far he’s been rude, dishonest, and tried to run away from him. Pete’s not entirely okay with it, because despite all of that he likes Gerard, but he doesn’t value Gerard more than his own life.

“I don’t think you’re in the place to be bartering with me,” the Ogre says, and he makes a hand gesture that Gerard doesn’t understand, but then again, Gerard doesn’t speak ogre, or know anything about their culture.

He considers running away, but he doesn’t think that would be a good idea, given that he’s not very fast, he doesn’t know this land at all so would therefore have no idea where he’s running, and Ogre’s tend to travel in packs.

Nevertheless, Gerard’s instinct is to back up, not necessarily in an attempt to run, but because he doesn’t want to be so near the Ogre who is going to kill him. That’s when Gerard bumps into something behind him, but it’s warmth and squishiness alert him a second too late that the something is actually a someone.

Gerard screams, a very feminine and very cowardly scream that disrupts the perch of birds in the trees above them. He can’t help it. He’s about to die. His blood is curdling and his heart is made of chalk. He can’t describe the unimaginable, unfathomable, profound fear that he’s about to die.

The Ogre laughs at that, and Gerard’s fear levels go up exponentially when one of the Ogre’s who just appeared out of nowhere grabs ahold of him, and when he looks to the side he sees another has grabbed both Pete and Patrick.

“Please,” Gerard says with so much desperation he practically cries, “we never intended to in anyway bother you. We just wanted to get to Giantville, we don’t mean any harm.”

“Stop talking,” the original ogre says, and Gerard’s mouth is completely devoid of words at the order. He opens his mouth, and he articulates the words, he does everything he needs to in order to talk, but the words don’t come out. His voice is just gone.

Great, so Gerard is about to die, he’s being incapacitated by a creature that’s at least seven feet tall, and he cannot speak a single word.

The whole not dying thing here is going to be extremely difficult.
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