This is goodbye to The Always Quest, the story that was never to be. It is unchanged with very little editing, but please enjoy!
Chapter 4: An Umbrella for a Rainy Day
The girl took a deep breath. All for giggles, of course, as she wasn’t required to breathe. She brushed off her red, pink laced dress and stood inside the snug tent. Her iron legs were shaky, but she seemed to be recovering from… whatever she was to recover from. She tapped her metal head and frowned.
“Oh, deary me,” she said. “What on earth am I doing here?” She twirled around in her red dress and ran her fingers through her honey-gold, metallic hair. “I do not recall of where I came from, or for what purpose I am to hold, but it is important. Isn’t it?”
She twirled around again, and then a second time. Upon standing forward the second time, there was a helmeted face looking in through the tent door. The girl screamed, and immediately began searching the tent for… something important. She couldn’t remember what it was, however.
“Are you looking for this?” the man said. He held out a small red umbrella through the tent opening. The man took up the entire opening with only his head and arm, so he didn’t come any farther in.
“Oh!” she said. “I do believe it is!” She accepted the shiny umbrella and examined it closely. It felt right and familiar in her hands. “Oh, it’s so pretty!” She looked back up, and the man was leaving the entrance. “Waaaaaaaaaaait!” she called.
She ran out of the tent, but crashed into someone else. She wasn’t as tall as the man, so the girl’s weak, metal body plowed her over. The girl shook her head, and realized that she heard laughing. She looked up to see a second man.
“She got you good, Avery!” he said.
“What?” Avery said. “Oh, hi.”
The girl’s cheeks turned as pink as her eyes glowed, and stood as fast as she could. “I am so sorry, ma’am! I’m not usually this clumsy… I think.”
Avery put a hand to her head, but smiled. “That’s alright. I guess your feeling better, though.”
“What’s your name?” the man who laughed said.
“Frella, sir,” she answered. “Frella Cerella, at your service. At least, I would be, if that wasn’t all that I could remember.”
“I am Guy,” he said. “That’s Grimber. You’ve already met Avery, I think.” Avery waved, still holding her head.
“I found that umbrella next to you,” Grimber said. “You were passed out next to a bunch of rocks.”
“Oh my,” Frella said. “How embarrassing.”
A black cat came over to her and rubbed itself on her legs. Frella did not lean over to pet it.
“W-where are we, exactly?” she asked.
“Pretty deep into the west,” Avery said. “Many are here on a quest for the king. Is that what you were doing?”
“A quest?” Frella mused. “Yes, a quest, I think. But not for the king. No, not for him.”
“Not the king’s quest?” Avery said. “But why not? Who wouldn’t want to be on his quest?”
“Avery, I think-” Guy started, but was interrupted.
Frella’s eyes softened towards Avery. “Avery, are you on the King’s quest?”
Guy took a step closer and frowned. “Frella, I-“
“Wait, what’s going on here?” Avery asked. Avery turned on Guy with a harsh stare. “Why shouldn’t I be on the King’s quest?”
Grimber stood quietly.
“Guy, were you not going to tell them?” Frella said.
“I thought you couldn’t remember much,” Guy snapped.
“I wouldn’t forget that!” Frella said. “Guy, are they working for the shadow?”
“Shadow?” Avery said.
Guy looked around, as if defeated. He gave a sigh and put his gloved hands into his jacket pockets. “Avery… I’m so sorry.”
“Grimber, do you know what they’re talking about?”
Grimber shrugged. “Honestly, no clue.”
“The King gave his word that he would grant anyone their greatest wish they were to find the ancient magic in the west!” Avery said. “That’s why you’re here, Guy. Isn’t it?”
Guy looked to Grimber, who was unreadable as always. He looked to Frella, who’s bright, pink eyes looked just as sad as they were confused. He looked at Avery, who had stood and began to point her finger aggressively towards him, still talking. The cat jumped up onto his shoulder and hissed.
“You made a promise, human,” it whispered. “You may not share his secrets. You are apart of his family, after all.”
“I’m done with your deals and whispers, cat,” Guy said. He pushed the cat off of his shoulder and walked towards Avery. “I broke away from that family long ago, and pretending that it never happened is no longer worth it.”
Avery continued her accusations and hurt pleas for answers, but Guy approached her and hugged her. Avery immediately stopped speaking, and simply stared off in surprise.
“Avery, I’m sorry, but it’s a lie,” Guy said, holding her tightly. “You cannot get your brother back, nor your honor like this. The King lied to you, and I chose to not save you from those lies.”
Avery swallowed slowly, and felt tears well up in her eyes. “You’re lying,” she said. But her voice was weak, and completely unconvinced of what she was saying.
Frella came over, dropped her umbrella, and hugged her as well. “Avery, I do not know you, but people are hurt by this quest every single time. That’s why it has to be stopped.”
Avery moved her arm out of the embrace to wipe away tears. “Every single time?”
“It goes deeper than just a lie, Avery. The King is using you for horrific means,” Guy said. “His magic is powerful, indeed. But he can only grant his own twisted wishes.”
“He is mad for the power of the west,” Frella said. “Every time someone grants him the magic, he keeps it for himself and resets the quest entirely.”
“That’s not possible…” Avery said.
“Everything is reset, Avery,” Guy said. “You’ve been living your life over and over again in a loop, watching your brother die over and over again. The King has been getting more powerful each time, for his power does not reset like most of everything else.”
“So why are you here?” Avery asked. “Why are you both in the west?”
“The first one who gets to the power of the west goes straight to the King,” Guy said. “He cannot go retrieve it himself, nor his servants, but as soon as you retrieve it his servants warp you back to his castle to deliver it to him.”
“It would take you straight to him,” Avery said. “You’re trying to kill him?”
“It’s the only way to stop the loop, Avery,” Frella said. “It’s the only way to stop his rising power.”
Avery took a deep breath. “It’s a lot to swallow, guys.”
“I know, and I’m sorry,” Guy said.
“I’m sorry to,” Frella said. “Even though I’ve only been awake for… a few minutes, I guess.”
“Okay guys,” Avery said. “I’m choosing to trust you, okay?”
“Thank you, Avery,” Guy said.
“Hooray!” Frella said. She jumped up and down as she clung to Avery.
“So… um,” Avery said. “Could you stop hugging me now?”
Frella and Guy both let go and awkwardly took a step back. “Yeah, that was a little long,” Guy said. “Sorry about that as well,” Frella said.
Guy turned to Grimber. “How about it, big guy? You need a hug?”
“No,” Grimber said, but then gave a laugh. “Avery had already talked me out of my wish, so I wasn’t going to keep going anyway.”
“Grimber…”Avery said. “Are you sure?”
“Entirely,” Grimber said. “But now it seems that I’ve got a new wish. I don’t know you Frella, nor you, Guy. However, it seems like there is a greater fight here. I lost my family, and I will miss them dearly, but this is an even greater injustice against all those who live in this fair land.”
Avery felt a chill run up her spine, and an unanswered question dug at the back of her mind. “Guy, what is the shadow, and how does this all play out for it to reset?”
Guy frowned. “The shadow are the King’s servants. They are the only ones that will kill you for good. Even if time is looped, you won’t. Some sort of deep magic that cuts straight through other magic.”
“T-they’re pretty scary,” Frella said. “Their form is far from human, and they lurk in the darkness. They only kill specific targets.”
“Okay,” Avery said. She was trying to understand what they were about to go up against. “How many are there?”
“Not sure,” Guy said.
“Have you never fought them?” Avery asked.
“I’ve fought them every single time, Avery,” Guy said. His response made the others quiet. “I still don’t know much about them.”
“How many different times have… you know what, never mind,” Avery said.
“Frella and I can remember because of our connection to the magical order,” Guy said. He answered Avery’s next question before she could speak up again. “Frella and I have… connections to the King.”
“Really?” Frella said.
“But as you can see, our memories don’t always come with us,” Guy said. “Only those with… special qualifications can remember the reset.”