Status: This is an ongoing story! I will be posting chapters as I finish them. I hope you like the story and have as much fun reading it as I did/do writing it.

Once Upon a Time

Chapter Three

When she was a child she was given a gift by her dear grandmother. Wrapped in a simple brown paper, she opened it to find nestled in the wrappings a cloak the color of blood. Drawn to the color, she immediately tried to put it on. She was disappointed to find that the cloak was too big for her small frame, and was just about to tell her so when it shrunk right before her very eyes! She looked in astonishment to her grandmother, who simply said, “It’s no ordinary garment, my dear.”
The little girl rolled her eyes at her grandmother and said in reply, “Well obviously, Grannie. You didn’t need to tell me that.” The grandmother simply laughed, motioning her grandchild over to her lap. Nestled in the folds of her grandmother’s quilt was an old book as thick as an old tree stump. “This is a log book of all the stories held in our Library.” The girl flipped through, seeing that each page held the contents of one story. The grandmother held one of the pages to the light of the fire. “See how they have a little shine to them? That’s because this book was created by the Bookworm. He keeps everyone’s stories in order and keeps us safe.”
As her grandmother spoke, the child flipped to the end of the book, in which there were several pages that were black as night. Nothing lay on the pages save for a symbol that she couldn’t quite make out. She tried to take a closer look, but her grandmother snatched her hand away before she could move. “Stay away from those pages, darling.”
“But, Grannie, why-”
“It’s best you never find out.” Her blue eyes flashed with warning, worry lining her aged skin. The girl, still confused, decided to ask just one question.
“Why are those pages in the book, Grandmother?”
After what seemed like days, the woman spoke. Voice low, as if she were afraid to be found out, she told the little girl a story.
“Long ago, our stories had been written for the gods enjoyment. We each went about our days as our stories were read. It was a quiet and peaceful life. We all got along, made friends amongst the stories, and things were wonderful.
Then one day, these strange men wearing black and concealing their faces showed up at our Library, demanding to speak to the Bookworm. He appeared and asked them what it was they wanted. Their leader, a tall and battle-torn man, said they wanted all the characters from our Library, no matter the story, to join them in their own tale. They promised a better life than our own monotonous lives, where we could choose the path we take. There was no script, no overbearing narrative. The Bookworm being a creature of order and rules told them that none of us would be joining them.
Their leader appeared respectful, backing away from the Bookworm and therefore the conversation. They left to some far corner of the Library and were never seen from for a long time. Many years had passed with no incident, until the seed of doubt the mysterious man had planted in us grew in some enough to cause action. Gradually, people joined the man in hopes of a new story. No one knows what happened to them, if they’re alive or not.
The Bookworm, upon seeing the chaos the man brought, banished the man and his people to a place between the pen and the page; someplace where creativity stopped and therefore so did they.
As he and his people were being cast out, the man had one last thing to say to us all before being banished. With a thundering roar louder than the greatest storm, he said this: ‘The pen is mightier than the sword. Fear my pen.’”

When the story came to an end, the little girl looked up at her grandmother. “What did he mean by that, Grannie? A sword can do far more damage than a simple pen!” The old woman considered this, her gaze pointed towards the gently burning fire and yet reaching beyond it. “Aye, one would think so. I’m afraid I don’t know what he meant, my dear. Hopefully you’ll never have to find out.”
The pair had almost fallen asleep by the light of the fire when a booming knock sounded at the door. Jolted awake, the girl looked at her grandmother. The woman got up, hastily picking up the book and a small knife. Shoving the items into the child’s hands, she knelt down in front of her.
“Grannie, what’s going on?”
“It appears my time is up, darling. You need to get out of here, or they’ll take you too.”
The knocking grew louder, shaking the door on its hinges. The grandmother opened the back door, beckoning her grandchild towards it. Pulse racing, the girl turned to her grandmother.
“I’m scared, Grannie.”
The woman smiled, and hugged her in a tight embrace. “Remember what I told you. Someday they will be back, and with far worse intentions.”
The moment they parted the embrace, men came spilling into their little cottage. The girl’s heart leapt into her mouth at the sight of them. They wore pitch black clothing, and their faces were obscured. They brandished unfamiliar weapons, and spoke in distorted tones. The leader of the troupe snapped his gaze to where they crouched. “That’s her. Get her and move out.”
“No! Grandma!” She fell back as they snatched her grandmother up, grabbing her by the arms and yanking her back. She stood frozen in fear and could only watch as they hauled her only family away. As they shoved her into the back of a dark van, one of them turned to her with a weapon raised. She then did the only thing she remembered how to do. She ran.
She ran into the woods so far she began to lose her way. As she ran she looked back to look at the soldier’s uniforms. A strange yet familiar symbol was etched over the heart. Just before she got a decent look, she tripped. The last thing she remembered were the words her grandmother said the strange man in the story shouted as he left.
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”

Then everything went dark.
Red woke with a start, sitting bolt upright in bed. Hair clinging to her sweaty face, she untangled herself from the web of sheets she found herself trapped within. What just happened? She wondered, pacing about restlessly.
She hadn’t had that dream since she was very little, and she had forgotten all about it. Why did it come to her all of a sudden? And why now? Surely it was just her mind messing with her, collapsing a little under the pressure of recent events. Right?
Beginning to feel like the four walls of her modest cabin were closing in on her, she crept out into the night and started walking. She didn’t have a destination in mind, her thoughts too far jumbled to care.
She didn’t know how much time had passed until she crested the top of a rather large hill. Red paused, taking in the beauty of the lake that glittered up at her in the moon’s pale light. It was then that her legs shook enough for her to lose her footing, and she collapsed on the dew soaked grass beneath her.
A large lake, glistening in the night like a thousand jewels, sprawled in front of her. Behind her the forest whispered its many secrets, the wood of the older trees creaking and complaining from the many years in its rings. Red ambled her way down to the lake’s edge, finding rocks scattered about. She spent the next-however long-in quiet agony, flinging pebbles and stones across the water’s surface.
After what seemed like ages (but was probably only minutes), she finally let out a cry of frustration, her outburst echoing through her surroundings. “What am I to do?” She muttered, heart heavy. Her eyes began to sting, and she did something she hadn’t let herself do in quite some time. She wept.
It was some time before she realized that her answers would not come from the gentle lapping of the lake at her feet, and so she began her trek back home. After a moment or two of walking, she found herself quite lost. Slightly panicked, she decided the best course of action would be to continue in a straight line. Hopefully the forest would end and she may meet the familiar cobble stones of her cottage soon enough.
After a while, she came across a small grove. Red began to breathe a sigh of relief, when she noticed that this was no more familiar than the last twelve trees she had come across. Frustrated, she punched a tree. She knelt on the forest floor and cradled her presently injured hand. It would appear that trees are much more resilient than they would have you believe. She wanted to cry out, either in pain or annoyance at her stupidity, when a figure moved in the distance.
Red paused, breathing much more shallow. She was unfamiliar with this section of her story, but even she knew that there was a limited cast. The only one that should have been around these parts was her.
Senses on high alert, she stepped as lightly as she could towards the figure. She stayed low to the forest floor so as not to be spotted, avoiding every branch and fallen twig she could.
As she got closer, she saw that the figure was facing mostly away from her, and was talking to someone. She crouched in the brambles, watching the figure. He was tall, and while she couldn’t hear his voice, she could discern from his stance that he was in fact male. She craned her neck as far as she dared, but could not see the second figure. The man nodded stiffly. He was handed something, a small, black device and an accompanying large box. Red took a step closer, trying to at least see what the device was, when her foot slipped, disturbing some dead leaves. The man flicked his head towards the noise, towards her, and her heart sprang into her throat. She stayed as silent as she could, sure her thundering heart would give away her position.
Looking down, she cursed silently. She had failed to grab her cloak on her way out earlier, and found herself looking at the quite pale fabric of her nightgown. The man began to creep through the brush towards her, and she cursed herself again. She couldn’t stay hidden without her hood.
Red paused, deliberating for a second before deciding to make a run for it. She slunk through bushes, snuck around massive tree trunks, and when she thought she had put enough distance between her and her pursuant, she paused. Leaning against a nearby tree, she attempted to peer around the corner.
She barely got a moment’s glance behind her when a pitch black, oily arrow hit the space that her cheek had been just a heartbeat before. She crouched there momentarily, in shock. It wasn’t from the arrow, though. No, it was rather from what the arrow was doing. Right before her eyes, she saw that the bark of the tree the arrow was imbedded in was melting. No, that wasn’t right. Looking closer, she realized that the words that had been created to pop the tree into existence were being erased. From the point of impact, the very tree was being erased from the forest. From her story. Her blood froze. A second arrow hit a tree across from her. Once she realized that thundering footsteps accompanied this second shot, she was shaken from her stupor. She started running, dodging left and right as more arrows came flying past her.
She figured she may have an advantage over the man from a higher altitude, so she began to climb. She had scarcely reached the second level of branches when her attacker rushed around the corner. He slowed, beginning to stalk through the forest with the practiced ease of a hunter. He scanned his surroundings, nocking another poison arrow as he went.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are.” the man said in a singsong tone, his voice low and menacing. Red’s heart shook with every syllable, her breath barely managing to squeeze past her lips. She crept out to the edge of the branch, jumping to the branch of the next tree.
The man continued, apparently enjoying this. “I won’t hurt you, girlie. Just want to talk is all..” Red’s mind raced as she looked at her surroundings. She willed herself to breathe, and as she did so she discovered that not too far away was her wolf’s den. If she got to it before the man, she could explain the situation to the wolf and, heaven’s willing, put and end to her pursuer.
As this plan was forming in her mind, she wove her way through the trees towards her destination. All the while, the (rather cocky, now) man continued goading her. Red would later choose the following statements as her favorites.
“You’re a fool, Harry Potter, and you will lose everything.”
“If only there was someone who loved you.”
“I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!”
She didn’t know who this man thought she was-or why he thought she had an animal companion despite clearly only seeing her- but she figured from his random, seemingly unrelated statements that he didn’t have a clue what was happening.
At last, she had reached the wolf’s cave. The outside looked foreboding, especially at night. What you wouldn’t know if you never went in was that the wolf certainly had an eye for interior design, and had quite a lovely home because of it. Looking behind her, Red calculated she had about a minute and a half before the hunter would catch up. She jumped down to the forest floor and knocked urgently on the stone wall. “Wolf, I need your help.”
A pair of yellow glowing eyes suddenly peered back at her. She quickly rushed through the recent events, and once she finished the wolf appeared to be just as upset as her. “I’ll take care of him. Run home, Red.” She and the wolf shared a nod before she turned and ran off.
Once the hunter had reached the cave, he stopped in his tracks. Red hung back a short distance away, worried for her dear wolf. The man, who had held his crossbow at the ready this whole time, now slackened his grip as he looked up at the towering mass of (as far as he knew) rabid wolf that glared down at him. Red was fairly certain that at this point his trousers were a few shades darker.
The man shot at the creature and missed quite terribly. Red couldn’t help but let out a snort of brief laughter, but otherwise kept quiet. As the fight began and it looked as if the man might not win as easily as he’d hoped, she turned.
As she left the man shouted something in her general direction that would haunt her forever.
“The pen is mightier than the sword!” he bellowed, his dying breath echoing through the forest. When the last syllable reached her ear, Red’s heart began to sink. “It wasn’t just a nightmare after all,” she thought, “It was real.”