Chapter 2: An Unwanted Ally

"You're alive..." The feminine voice drifted down to Julian's ears, dreamlike, accompanied by a sigh of relief. He opened his eyes and saw Madeline's face. "I told you you'd need my help." She said smugly, her tone somewhere in between worried and angry.

He sat up with some effort; his body was still numb. "I told you not to follow me" he said.

"Psht! You'd be dead if I hadn't!" She replied. "Th' poison almost killed you, you know." She added, pointing to the vial of antidote she held in her hand, which Julian assumed the brothers had dropped.

Julian glared at her, but knew she had a point. How had he let himself fall for such a stupid trap?

The words of her story echoed somewhere inside her mind, without her making any real effort to remember them.

To say say she was unconscious would be a lie, but so would saying she was fully conscious. Really, Jessi was somewhere in between those, in a state of mind where she was somewhat aware that she should be awake, and just wasn't.

Rather than struggle against the strange feeling and try to focus, she let her mind wander, as it often did, to her story.

The story revolved along the adventures of the main character, Julian Verstof. Due in part to his extraordinary skills and the correct circumstances, he had become a knight of the Soabah kingdom early on, and as such had participated in the First Border war, and later defended the kingdom from other threats, such as crazed magic users and dangerous outlaws.

However, due to the king's sudden assassination and the dispute over which of the two princes would inherit the throne, everything changed. Julian was accused of being a traitor, and his past 'came to light',

It was at this point that Madeline showed up. Jessi was very fond of Julian as a character; of Madeline, well, it was a different story.

She was a magic adept who had never learned to use her magic. As a result, her magic leaked out around her wherever she went, uncontrolled, causing trouble to follow everywhere she went. Her magic wasn't the main problem, though. What made it so much fun to write Madeline was her unpredictable, selfish personality.

That, and the fact she had a crush on Julian.

Had Jessi been able to form a coherent thought, she would have been very worried about having to meet that girl. Well, maybe not. If she were able to make coherent thoughts, probably the only one that would lodge itself into her mind would be of the logical impossibility that was being inside her own story.

As her thoughts became clearer little by little, accompanied by a throbbing pain somewhere in her shoulder, she began to think about neither of those, but rather about the fact that she felt pain.

She had to be alive. You couldn't feel pain if you were dead, the nerves wouldn't respond. Somehow, she had to be alive. She was the main character right now! So, in some strange way, she had to be safe. If the main character died, what would happen to the story? Since she was he, than her death would mean his. Or something like that. It was all very confusing.

"You're alive." The words didn't so much drift as clash against Jessi's ears, making her heart skip a beat. She opened her eyes (which was harder than it sounded, seeing as the lids had found a way to stick together and she couldn't quite figure out which muscles would open open them), and saw Madeline.

She noticed, as her eyes focused, Madeline's striking features, such as her impossibly blue eyes, her milky white, perfect not-a-hair-out-of-place hair, and her gorgeous face.

"I told you you'd need my help" She said, staring directly into her eyes, which made Jessi feel uncomfortable.

The words managed to bring the rest of Jessi's mind into focus. Now able to think clearly and coherently, her mind sped.

She was still in her story. Still Julian.

No one can be in a story.

But she's there. Madeline.

Madeline!

Her mind suddenly went blank, and she froze. That's my Madeline... She thought, and panicked a little. What was Julian supposed to say now?

"... I told you not to come." She said, a bit uncertain. She still wasn't sure what was going on, but a part of her felt that if she really was in her own fictional universe, then the only advantage she had was as the author, and that advantage lasted only as long as everything followed the way she had written it.

Besides, she had made Madeline, and knew just what she was capable of. If something changed for her role, Jessi, as Julian, would be in trouble.

"Psht! You'd be dead if I hadn't followed you!" Madeline said, and lifted a small glass vile in her hand. "Not only were you shot, but you were also poisoned. You would be deader than the king if I hadn't found the antidote." She motioned the vile again, and shook it. A bit of clear liquid swiveled.

Found it? The Satini brothers were supposed to have dropped it as they made their escape, defeated. Why would they have left the antidote behind if they were not just victorious, but unharmed?

More importantly, Madeline's words seemed somewhat different. Should she worry? Julian would have been angry to hear the off-hand comment about the king's death, but they weren't supposed to fight.

She looked around, trying to buy time. She was close to the place where she had been attacked; she could see the second warning arrow buried in the floor where it had landed, a few meters away. She was sitting with a tree supporting her back, in a forest. She knew which forest it was. Her map of Julian's travel had been very detailed, though all she could remember about this particular forest was that its name started with a 'T'.

"You should at least thank me!" Madeline said loudly, cutting into her thoughts. Jessi realized she had been looking in any direction other than Madeline's face, so she forced herself to focus back on her. She felt very awkward. It was as if she wasn't in a novel so much as a movie, and a perfect, flawless actress was playing the part for Madeline. I did describe her as good looking, but this is too much.

"Er, thanks" She said mildly, trying unsuccessfully to sound like Julian. Madeline threw her a suspicious glance, because of which Jessi involuntarily flinched.

"What's wrong with you?" She asked, her tone a lot more offensive than worried.

You really scare me? Jessi thought, but said quickly, "The poison's making me feel strange."

"Hm... I guess the antidote can't cure all right away, huh?" She said calmly and shrugged, as if it no longer mattered. Jessi suppressed a sigh of relief. "It's gonna rain soon." She said, and pointed towards the darkening sky, on which several dark clouds were looming. "We should find shelter for that wounded body of yours, mr knight."

"Where do you suggest?" 'mr. knight' was a nickname that Madeline had decided to use for Julian, for the specific purpose of annoying him. Jessi was a bit surprised at the fact that she really was annoyed at the taunt.

Madeline looked back down from the sky, her eyes reflecting the light of the setting sun in a frightening way. Her hand moved, and she pointed past the forest, in what could barely be made out as a cave in the distance.

Jessi felt her stomach flip at the sight.

She remembered what lay inside.


(The next chapter is up! yey. A lot quicker than the last one, too. Well, thanks for the reviews, again! And if you read it, please review, it makes me happy.)