Author’s Note: I am so sorry this has taken forever to come out . . . Almost a month, right? That’s pathetic and it’s one of many reasons why I don’t like posting a fic before I finish it. I guess I’ll just have to learn from this . . .
But I will be honest with you–I’ve been distracted by the more accessible, jab-me-in-the-face inspiration for two Naruto fics, one Shaman King fic, one InuYasha fic, and one Final Fantasy X fic. Also, I’ve been shamelessly goggling Naruto fanart even though I can’t read a word of Japanese–it’s the picture that counts.
Darn Japanese and their artistic talents . . . I guess I’ll be a mediocre, 2D Egyptian-type artist for the rest of my miserable life.
But I have been working on my website and I’ve put up more of my Fellowship of the Ring fic (and Profile and Updates pages!) so please don’t kill me!!! >_< Because I will repent and finish Tale 15 and submit it very soon–sooner than normal!! Plus, now that the ball’s rolling again, it’ll be easier to get back on. Maybe if I go buy the extended edition of The Two Towers it’ll help . . .
. . . Wait . . . My big sister’s coming down from NYC for Thanksgiving . . . *shrugs* Well, anyway, I’ll see what I can do for you lovely darlings, `kay?
Recap of Tale 13 . . .
She nodded tearily. “I guess . . .” She sniffled quietly. “I think . . . I think I’ll visit them tomorrow to apologize to Nanashi for not seeing it.”
“If you wish,” he replied, drawing her against him. “But remember that you did what you could. Spike and Leo were comfortable thanks to you–it was an unfortunate accident that we missed Nanashi.”
She nodded again, slowly, still looking at the trees. “I know that. I just wish . . .”
He kissed her head. “You named him, love. So even though you knew nothing of his existence with your eyes or mind, you knew with your heart that he was there and that means . . . that he was never really alone at all, was he?”
“. . . No . . .” she answered in a whisper. “He wasn’t . . .”
Haldir observed closely as Krystine braided all of Elrohir’s hair together in preparation for their marathon visit to amusement parks along the east coast. She had already done the same to the other three younger Elves (Elladan still looked to be extremely disgruntled about it) and while she chattered happily about what they would be doing on this trip, he could just see the lingering shadow in her eyes from the deaths of the kittens.
It had been almost a full month, but Krystine had a large and sensitive heart that worked against her as much as with her. She continued to believe that there had to have been something she could have done . . .
Even though it was not possible.
Marie had planned the trip for later, but she and Haldir had decided that this might help lift the last dregs of her sorrow so she could remember the three kittens for their will to survive and not their loss.
“. . . Papa?”
He jolted in surprise at the proximity of her voice. How had he not sensed her approach? “Yes?”
“Turn around, Papa.”
He obediently put his back to her and let her braid his hair. He would not have allowed it normally, but he had suffered from the high-speed winds of those devil attractions in amusement parks before and was not particularly eager to repeat the incident.
[Believe me,] he informed the other Elves, [you will not regret this.]
As planned, they arrived at night in the trees around the park. Wraith walked a mile or two to avoid any detection, then settled down. Krystine and the Elves all disembarked and curled against the dragon’s side.
“Now remember, you guys will have to leave your weapons with Wraith.”
“Why?” Elladan challenged.
“Because it’s against the law,” Krystine answered. “And don’t bother trying to hide anything, because I’m going to frisk you myself tomorrow morning. I will not let you or that metal detector keep us from having fun!”
“What shall I put you on first . . .?” Krystine mused aloud as they wandered through the crowded park. “Ah! Nothing worse–I mean, better–than that! Follow me, guys!”
The four younger Elves looked worriedly at Haldir, who only smiled serenely and went after Krystine. He had been doing this to them for some time; not making much conversation and going along with everything Krystine suggested. It had yet to get them into trouble, but they did not wish to start now.
A few minutes later they found themselves walking past a beast of steel that was wound tightly within itself, giving off nearly the same noise as they heard from the `airplanes’ in the sky. A smaller beast ran along this large beast and on the odd occasion they could hear females screaming.
[What is that?!] Dirnees shrieked, ducking behind his brother.
[It is the Joker’s Jinx,] Haldir replied, as though it should be obvious.
[That is some jinx,] Elladan put in, impressed. [What sorcery was able to turn the joker into that?]
[Do not be a half-wit!] Legolas snapped, grabbing his brother’s arm and swinging the younger Elf toward the fence that enclosed the subject of discussion. [It is merely the name of the attraction!] He pointed at the fiberglass head of a very ugly clown. [The Joker is a character from a television show called Batman. They honored him by naming a ride after him.]
Haldir looked at him and then over at Krystine, whose wide brown eyes were sparkling eagerly as she gazed at the ride. “Legolas watches Batman?”
“Uh-huh. That old sixties version. He loves it, for whatever the reason.”
“Have you shown him any of the cartoons?”
She giggled. “No. I think they might scare him.”
Haldir snorted at the thought. [All right, all Elflings follow me!]
[We are not Elflings!] Dirnees protested.
Legolas could not help himself and barked out a laugh. [You are quite the hypocrite, He-Who-Hides-Behind-Others.]
[Silence, Legolas! You are supposed to be on my side!]
[Why should I be when it is so much more fun to be against you?]
“We’re here!” Krystine announced to them, throwing her arms into the air in a triumphant and all-encompassing gesture. “One of the best rides on the east coast: Batwing!”
The four younger Elves stared up at the steel beast that was not coiled even half as much as Joker’s Jinx. It was much easier to hear the women screaming here and Dirnees’ eyes went wide in terror.
[. . . Oh . . . my . . .]
“Let’s go!” Krystine cried, grabbing Haldir’s hand and pulling him toward the roller coaster’s line. It took time, but they reached the shelter and Krystine put the four other Elves in the line for the very first car. “You four stand in this line here! This’s going to be your baptism to roller coasters!”
[What is a `baptism’?] Elrohir asked.
Haldir, standing in line with Krystine for the second car, said blithely, [It is a term used at first in one of the mortals’ religions, to . . . induct them. It expanded to everyday use as a term for a `formal’ introduction to something.]
[Is that bad?]
[Well, as the everyday use of `baptism’ is generally saved for less-than-nice things I suppose that yes, it is.]
Haldir suddenly found himself under the focus of all four Elves.
[. . . Well,] Dirnees whimpered finally in an attempt to calm himself, [you did not die, right? It cannot be too bad . . . Right?]
Haldir smiled benevolently at them. [Child, by the time our train reaches the bottom of that hill over there you will wish you were dead.]
They paled in a perfect, synchronized manner.
Krystine noticed. “Are you trying to scare them?”
“Why would I do that?” Haldir asked, feigning shock.
The next train, in which all the cars faced backwards, came to a full stop in front of them. Krystine had to push them onto the car and buckle them in, warning them not to try to free themselves if they get scared. “Just hang on tight because it won’t be long and I want you all to keep your head as far back as you can when we go into the loop.”
“LOOP?!” Dirnees screeched. “You never said a thing about loops!”
“It’s not as bad as it sounds.”
“I WANT OFF!” Dirnees shouted at the top of his lungs. [I want OFF and I want it NOW!]
“Shut up!” Haldir called to him. “You panic too easily, boy!”
“Yes,” Legolas added. “If Elladan, Elrohir, and I must suffer, than so must you, dear brother.”
“Yes!” Elladan echoed. [Do not be such a sissy, Dirnees!]
[Bite your tongue!] Dirnees shot back. [You may be suicidal, but you can count me OUT!]
Elrohir simply sat with his head tilted back, pale and sweating slightly in his apprehension considering this new experience he was facing. [As long as I do not die . . . As long as I survive . . .]
Elladan gave the leather-encased pads covering his brother’s chest several thumps. “Do not give out on me, Elrohir!”
“Heh,” came the weak reply. “Easy for you to say. You are the adventurous one of us.”
To the attendants Krystine said, “Sorry. They aren’t from around here and it’s their first time.”
Ignoring the looks of utter disbelief that she would put `novice’ roller coaster riders in the very front, Krystine then returned to the second car and belted herself in beside Haldir, who felt her wrist. “I’m fine, Papa.”
“You have the pulse of a rabbit, child.”
“Really, Papa, I’m all right. You know how I am.”
He frowned. “One day you’re going to have a heart attack . . .”
“Then I’d die happy for certain,” she assured him, kissing her fingers and touching them to his cheek.
The obligatory warnings were spoken and the train moved out of the shelter, giving the riders a calming view of the clear blue sky. Krystine took several deep breaths, feeling the hydraulics in the car lower the seats from their upright positions, and closed her eyes.
“. . . Four . . . Five . . . Six . . .”
“What?” he asked innocently.
“Don’t count the lights! Please!”
“Oh, you be quiet! I should never have taught you to ride these things!”
“So it’s an adrenalin rush. At least in this Age you can have access to such a thrill without fighting in a battle.”
“Well you can get your little rush without counting the lights at all, so please refrain from doing it . . . Why are you smiling at me like that?”
His grin widened. “There are no more lights, which can only mean . . . Three . . . Two . . . One . . .”
He had timed it so perfectly that the train rolled leisurely over as he finished the final word. All the train’s passengers were now facing the earth with little more than a padded harness and a few lengths of unforgiving plastic and steel to keep them from falling to their deaths.
From the first car came a high-pitched scream, two yelps of surprise or panic or both, and one purely delighted whoop before the train rushed down that first hill. Krystine let out a shout of joy and let the air dry out her mouth and throat so that she had to rewet it in the same flop-tongued manner a dog sticking its head out the car window does.
Haldir made no noise at all, but that was his way. He looked back and forth from the direction the train was going to Krystine beside him who, despite her very abnormal pulse before in the line for the ride and while ascending the first hill, was clearly enjoying herself.
Also, sporadic shouts of, [Elbereth, save me!] from the first car were to his amusement as the ride progressed. It was especially easy to hear this oath said in the loop in the middle of the ride and when the train was not even ten feet from the earth at the ride’s end, both times of which were accompanied and offset by a howl of unadulterated glee.
The train eventually came back to the shelter and Krystine struggled to escape her harness, hooting and cheering like a thing possessed. She leapt onto the walk and looked at those in the first car.
“Now wasn’t that fun?!”
“YES!” Elladan answered instantly, so eager to go again that he was not even bothering to free himself.
Legolas was still wrestling with the harness. “I suppose I could get used to it after a while.”
Elrohir, ever observant, simply reversed what he had seen when Krystine had strapped him in and stood up. “It is . . . interesting,” he managed finally, unable to find the right words to describe the experience.
Dirnees sat in his seat, a trembling mass of terror-filled life, too stricken to look in any direction but straight ahead.
Haldir leaned over him, grinning a Cheshire Cat grin. “Didn’t wet yourself, did you, boy?”
“No!” was Dirnees’ indignant response. Awakened from his fright, he began to free himself with jerky, angry motions. “I am quite old enough to not be faced with that sort of embarrassment, thank you!”
Haldir barked a laugh and gave him a shove to move him along so the next people in line could have their turn at the ride. “Then prove you aren’t traumatized and get a move on, pantywaist!”
“So then . . . that’s three likes, two neutrals, and one chicken!” Krystine tallied. “Well, majority vote! Batwing is a ride to ride!”
“Are they all like that?” Elladan asked.
“Oh, most certainly not! Haldir?”
[There will always be an extensive variety of roller coaster styles in any one park,] Haldir lectured, [to keep the interest of the visitors. Styles like the suspended one like what we were just on, normal round rails like the Superman]–he pointed at the track they were passing under–[and those made of wood.]
Elladan’s eyes were big. “We will ride them all?” he inquired of Krystine.
Krystine was still very much on her adrenalin high and punched her fist into the air. “Of course! So it’s settled then! Another ride!”
Elladan supported this decision with a hearty cheer while Dirnees groaned.
Krystine ignored the youngest Elf. “On to Joker’s Jinx!”
I actually have a friend–a roller coaster junkie–who counts the lights on the first hill while standing in line, and then counts them again while going up the hill. I love roller coasters, but I hate that first hill and while standing in line for a ride my pulse goes through the roof. I hate those vertical drop rides, I love the Scrambler, and I aspire to ride the centipede-reminiscent `X’ that exists somewhere in the Midwest.
So far I have found Anaconda in Paramount’s King’s Dominion and Superman in Six Flags America to be the worst in terms of suspensefulness. Loch Ness Monster in Busch Gardens gets the award for the most deceiving false hill and for having cool intertwined loops. Kraken in Florida’s Sea World gets the award for the scariest feeling-like-you’re-falling-out-of-your-harness-when-you’re-in-the-front-seat. I’m serious; it’s one of those newfangled no-car, non-suspended, traditional round rail rides. My sister and I were riding it and coming out of that first loop I thought I was going to fall from the seat and die.
Anyway, now that I’m through gnawing your ear off, I want to say I AM SO UTTERLY AND PURELY SORRY FOR NOT POSTING SOONER–I FEEL LIKE A TOTAL DWEEB IF THAT WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER!!!
But at least I hadn’t left you with a cliffie, right?