Jason ran a hand along the shelf, touching each book binding fondly. He liked this world, this... Del Terra. And though Lord Ivan and Lady Larissa were not especially welcoming, Isha had shown him the beauty of her world, the one which to him literally been one page-turn away.
But now it was time to go home. Jason had seen to the end of Isha's story, or at least her family's story. The kingdom out of harm's way, the elves pacified, the insurrectionists imprisoned, and the villagers working together the best they could to mend their broken and tattered city.
"I thought you'd be here."
Jason turned, unsurprised to see Isha in the doorway. For a moment he thought she looked sick, but then realized she did not give off the golden hue he'd become so accustomed to. Isha, gentle, glittering Isha, could bend light to her will and quite unconsciously her body was usually surrounded by a halo that glowed against her cocoa-colored skin.
She swayed in, seeming to float across the floor. "Are you leaving?" she whispered.
"Back to your world?"
"I'm not allowed to stay. It could disrupt the... continuum," he offered, though that last part didn't sound right. He really couldn't stay in this world, not even to continue the story. Jason sighed. His hand itched to grasp hers, but at the last moment drew it up to his chest, as if wanting to rip the words from his chest and lay them bare before her. "If I don't go back," he said, "I'll never be able to know what's supposed to happen. I can't come back until I know that, or just my presence could alter everything."
"Will you return?" Isha asked suddenly. "After you... oh, how did you say it? When you know what happens? Will you come back then?"
Before he could stop himself, he said, "I can try."
Isha's lips spread into a breathtaking smile. She looked like she wanted to embrace him, but such were not the customs in Del Terra. To Jason this world was medieval in many forms, with bits of Greek mythology thrown in to keep it interesting. Whoever had written it into existence obviously had a thing for griffins, dragons, that three-headed dog that guarded the Underworld, and really... big... castles.
"I hope you can find me in the next..." Isha hesitated.
"Story," Jason finished for her. For someone living in a medieval world with its medieval thought-process, she took the news of being a fictional character surprisingly well.
"Well then... how do you go back?"
"Somewhere in this room is a door for me. Your book, er, uh, this place's book, it should be open on the other side. That's how I get out. The book will literally open a door for me, and I'll just... disappear."
The voice came from everywhere, like wisps of smoke billowing from the shelves.
"It's time," he said aloud. He took a step but Isha grabbed his arm. He tried to smile, to reassure her if he could. "Don't worry. I'll be back soon. I promise." Quickly he swooped in and kissed her forehead, then turned to where a doorless entryway had materialized upon the stone walls. Jason followed it's path, somehow lit although he wondered if Isha had anything to do with that.
His hands grazed either wall and he marveled at the texture. They were rough this time, unsanded like the materials that made up the castle. Much like when he'd first arrived, this tunnel changed with every new book. He'd walked through doors of wood and steel and water and dust, but this one... this stone... yes, he was sure he would return to this hall again.
The end of the tunnel appeared just as if it had been there the whole time. He could see the room on the other side. His grandparent's library, where all his books had eventually lead him again.
But then something happened. The doorway began to melt away, becoming smaller, though it wasn't warped like with wax. It was severe, like a burnt page. And then he smelled it. Something was burning. Jason hurried toward the other room, and then he saw it. The book, the one he was in, just outside the doorway. It was on fire. And as the pages were burning away, so was the doorway. So was the story.
The story was being destroyed.
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