Recap of Tale 14 . . .
[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!”
Dirnees squeaked as the train abruptly accelerated out of the shelter into a dark tunnel. Several women on board screamed. “I thought they needed to have a hill to get started!”
Krystine patted his back. “Of course not! Nowadays, roller coasters can be started from a standstill by magnets or air pressure or whatever! It’s great!”
“I can’t believe the line for the front was so short!” she continued. “Usually it’s the longest of the whole train!”
Haldir put a quelling hand on her shoulder. “Not so excited, love. You might hurt yourself.”
“I’ll be fine, Papa.” The next train came into the shelter and the people inside departed. “You know,” Krystine mused as she pulled the lap bar down and buckled the back-up strap, “they should have done like they did with Flight of Fear in down in King’s Dominion.”
“You mean making the people get off the train in another room so it always seemed as though they’d disappeared?”
“Yeah. That’s a brilliant idea. Whoever came up with it was a genius.”
“Hey,” Dirnees called shakily from the left front seat of the second car, “is there no need for a harness on this ride?”
“Nope,” Krystine replied, looking between the very high backs of her and Haldir’s seats as well as those of Elladan and Legolas directly behind them. “The ride goes upside down and corkscrews a lot, but the motions are so tight and the G-forces so great that harnesses aren’t necessary.”
“Every time you feel like your stomach is in your feet, that’s called G-force. There are different levels, of course, but I don’t think there are any roller coaster rides that go beyond–or even hit–four Gs.”
Dirnees did not look reassured.
“Listen, just hold on to the lap bar with one arm and the bar in front of you with the other and push back in the chair until the ride stops. You’ll be fine, okay? I promise. I mean hey, if you’re going to die, everybody else on this train is going to die too, all right?”
“Oh man . . .”
“Let’s go!” Elladan prompted the ride operator.
Krystine faced forward just in time to press her head into the chair before the train zipped into the tunnel. ” Whee!”
When the ride had concluded and the train was back in the shelter, Dirnees struggled so wildly in his seat to get free that Elrohir had to climb out on the wrong side to escape being struck.
“You’re such a baby, Dirnees!” Krystine chided, reaching down to unbuckle the strap. “Stop thrashing!” She freed him and grabbed him by the back of his tunic collar, hauling him out of the seat so easily that she almost threw him to the floor of the shelter when she released him. “Now, we’re going to Two-Face: The Flip Side next and you will ride it, Dirnees!”
“What sort of ride is this?” Elladan asked while they stood in line.
Krystine pointed at the rail over the cars of the train. “This is a suspended coaster like Batwing, only in this ride you’re sitting upright.”
“Why are the seats facing opposite directions?”
“Because this ride is just named after the character Two-Face. Something happened to him and half of his face was mutated. From that day forward he was a villain, dressed in two halves of two different suits put together to represent each side of his face, and he always has two opinions on everything, so he carried a coin to flip so he could choose how to accomplish something.”
“So the seats are not all facing one direction because he had two faces?”
“Exactly.” She pointed out of the shelter. “See up there? How the rails are angled? Now watch this train and see what happens.”
They observed the train being taken out of the shelter up the nearer rail tower and then released so that it gained its speed on the way down and raced through the shelter. The train went through the twist and loop, then got caught at the other rail tower, was pulled to the top, and released to return the way it had come.
“It’s called Two-Face: The Flip Side because no matter whether you choose to face to the front or the back first, at some point you will be going backward and at the other you will be going forward.”
The gates opened and let them on the train. Krystine looked at her guardians. “This may be a dumb question, but none of you all are wearing sandals, right? You have your boots on instead?”
“Yes,” came a five-voice chorus.
“Why?” Elladan queried as he slid into the deep seat beside her (Haldir had decided he was going to ride with Dirnees to knock some sense into him when he started to panic).
“Because this ride goes so fast that sandals will catch the air and get ripped off one’s feet. Plus, people aren’t allowed to recover lost articles, so you’d be out of a sandal if you lost one. Or both.”
“Elladan,” Haldir called over his shoulder from where he sat directly behind Krystine and was facing Elrohir, “check her pulse.”
“Papa!” Krystine scolded even as Elladan obeyed. ” I’m fine!”
“She is all right,” Elladan reported, removing his fingers from her neck.
Legolas laughed; he was starting to enjoy these `roller coasters’. “Dirnees! There is no need to pray for your life!”
“Do I need to smack you, boy?” Haldir prompted.
“You might!” Dirnees shot back.
The train was pulled back out of the shelter and without a car below her, all Krystine could see was the earth getting farther away from her. “Oooooh, not fun. Hey, Elladan, want me to teach you a riding secret?”
“Okay . . . Well wait, you won’t be able to do that on this ride.”
The dark-haired Elf was extremely disappointed. “Why not?”
“There’s nothing under our feet to brace on. We’ll get on a wooden coaster next and I’ll teach you on that one.”
A clank sounded far behind them.
“What does that mean?” Elladan queried.
“The safety latch is loose. When they cut the magnet off, we’ll fall.”
The train then began to drop. Elladan cheered and Krystine yelped. Behind Elladan, Dirnees shrieked. They zoomed through the shelter, up into the twist, then through the loop. The magnet and latch caught them smoothly at the other side and pulled them forward.
“Now we will go backwards?” Elladan asked excitedly.
“Yep. Remember to keep your head back. It’ll be a little harder because you won’t be going forward.”
“Why must I do that?”
“To prevent whiplash. Especially in the loops.”
“Ever been on a horse and had it jump forward all the sudden?” A serious nod. “Know how your head snaps back and your neck aches for upwards of a day when that happens?” Another nod. “That’s whiplash.”
“I see. So pressing my head into the seat . . .”
“Acts as a brace for your head. But going backwards, you have to work a little harder to keep your head all the way back because of the force throwing your body forward into your harness.”
The latch released and the magnet cut off right after. Krystine let out a tiny squeak, but Elladan was quiet. A glance at him proved he was absorbing whatever information he was receiving from the new experience. It was only when the ride had stopped in the shelter and the harnesses had been released that he gave any sort of reaction.
Hopping from the seat, he turned to Krystine, face split in a grin, and cried in glee, “Wow! I had no idea that not being able to see where one is going would be such an exhilarating ride!”
Krystine laughed and hooked her arm around his ribs. “You know, Elladan, for not liking me, we sure have a lot in common!”
The Elf was unsure how to reply. “Well . . . I suppose I have come to see my abrupt judgements as rather rash. Though you appear to be the Evil outwardly, in your looks and dress, you always prefer life over death.” He put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a small shake. “So I have finally come to the conclusion that you are not so bad . . . for a mortal.”
She laughed again. “I’m glad to hear it!” She twisted around. “How’re you doing back there, Dirnees? Still alive?”
“Barely,” Haldir answered dryly. “I think the boy’s about to faint.”
“Will not!” Dirnees shot back, though his paleness said otherwise.
“I think that he grows more frightened with every ride!” Legolas guessed, pinching his little brother’s cheek and pulling hard.
At Elladan’s insistence, they then went next to one of the parks two wooden coasters, the one with faded and peeling white paint. “What is the name of this one, Krystine?”
“. . . Um, I didn’t look. Oh well.”
Elladan turned and grinned maliciously. “There is little to fear from this ride, Dirnees. It does not invert.”
Krystine dragged a willing Elladan all the way to the front of the train. “It’ll work best if we’re here.” Their turn came and they hopped in, pulling the lap bar down. The train set out and started up the hill. “Okay, now, to add a bit of a thrill to the ride, you take your hands off the lap bar and lift them in the air like so. This technique works best on wooden coasters, but it can be used on round-rails like the Superman too.” She peered up at the hill before them. “Almost done. Okay . . . You ready?”
The train began to arch over the top of the hill—
—and drop toward the earth.
Krystine smiled as Elladan excitedly continued to expound on the `irrational’ concept of taking one’s hands off the safety bar just for the fun of it to Elrohir and Legolas, who was watching over a pale and unconscious Dirnees.
The youngest Elf had survived the wooden coaster, but it had been Krystine’s idea to ride the Cyclone (known as the Scrambler elsewhere) before leaving as a final hurrah. As it was three to a car, Krystine rode with Haldir and Elladan while Elrohir and Legolas sandwiched Dirnees between them.
“Now whoever’s on the outside is going to get squished a little.”
“Not that you would know,” Haldir replied.
Krystine shrugged. “For some reason, I never feel squashed. But everybody else seems to, so I thought I’d mention it.”
The ride had only been a minute or two, but apparently, the constant in-out motion took its toll on Dirnees.
“I admit now that it was not even as bad as those roller coasters!” Legolas cried in disbelief as he hefted the younger Elf over his shoulder. “I have a coward for a brother!”
Dirnees was in for a great deal of teasing when he awakened.
Facing forward from her place just in front of Wraith’s wings, Krystine was abruptly swamped by a strong wave of a familiar power. She sat stiffly, concerned at first, but it was not malevolent or threatening; more like warm and welcoming–a greeting of some kind.
“. . . Jonathan . . .”
He must be nearby. The east was his `territory’ and he would certainly know if she had invaded it.
She closed her eyes and sent her own burst of power, making it weaker so as to assure him she was not being confrontational. I’m just here to have some fun. We can fight later, she concluded.
She turned. “Yes, Papa?”
“Are you all right?”
“Of course! Why?”
He frowned. “I thought I felt . . . Never mind.”
She grinned. “Don’t worry, Papa. I’ll protect you.”
“That’s not what I meant. Besides, I’m supposed to be protecting you.”
Her grin softened to a smile as she faced forward, then disappeared altogether as she stared at the clouds ahead of Wraith. “That’s just it, Papa,” she murmured to herself. “Your strength, even combined with the others, no longer matches even a quarter of the power of the one who is dangerous to me.”
I say this to geek_chick in particular, since she brought it up this time–sorry about not having Jonathan in here! I was all set to bring him back and then the Tale was done! But he is in the next Tale, which will be prepped and ready for submitting whenever this Tale gets out!!!
Mini-teaser for Tale 16: You finally find out why this fic is titled the way it is.