herbert and beatrix were dressed in fanciful athletic gear. thats what kids wear when theyre about to embark on a journey to compete in some irrational magic . herbert had tucked under his arm a big stitched up leather ball with golden springs poking out of it for no good god damn reason. it was called a skubbump. beatrix had propped on her shoulder this funnel thing to be worn as a glove called a gimmidge horn, a crucial appendage for any drudsel scooper worth her salt. theyd been selected probably for some valorous deeds they did to represent fort crowsnest in this highly whimsical event. russet was there too, but he didnt get chosen to play in the due to some poorly explained stuff that no reasonable person could possibly care about even if offered loads of cash. he was mainly jacked into the scene to wave goodbye and wish them luck which he begrudgingly did.
he also put in some time dodging questions and averting eye contact from his friends. he was being a champion at that.
"russet! answer me!" beatrix demanded. "why the heck didnt you tell us? or tell grant for that matter?"
herbert wasnt paying much attention. so russet was moody and cryptic and didnt tell people some stuff. what a bombshell. he worried at one of the springs poking out of his ridonkulous ball. it made a sproinging sound like a mouth harp and broke off. he wondered if the springs served any actual purpose. the springs did not serve any actual purpose.
"how could you keep something like that from everyone? that you knew all along?"
"i just wanted what was best for grant" he finally said.
she had tons of questions but couldnt settle on the next one to ask. she wasnt about to let good body language go to waste so she did kinda what mimes do when they dont like something you said. how long did he know grant was from this dogshit wizardfic? howd he escape in the first place? was it really his spell that sealed them here? how long had he been planning this? she guessed that would explain why he had an absurdly obvious pseudonym. grant anonama? yeah like THATS a real name. great job bro, or should she say SLINUS. she wondered if his bogus name wasnt an anagram for something. like a clue dangled under their noses. magic bad guys do love their anagrams. they are just so damn clever and when you finally figure them out its like whoa INSTANT MINDFUCK.
"hes quite a troubled person you know bea."
herbert looked up from his skubbump. "well if RUSSET thinks so, then..."
she gave up on the interrogation. when youre dealt a shit sandwich why go to war over who baked the bread. russet could stuff his dumb secrets in a sack for all she cared. what did she ever see in this moping tool? she never thought she would long for those times before they met. the old questing days before all this started. she was never exactly psyched to watch herbert assault a crazy old wizard with a pistol but now... ok she wasnt saying she wanted to see any more wizards get shot. she just meant she would trade all the badges in the world to go back to when things were simpler.
it was time to go. the narratives invisible conductor let them know with the arrival of a carriage. it was drawn by two floating, perfectly immobile wooden horses. herbert read this thing a hundred times but still couldnt understand the authors fascination with flying rigid wooden horses.
herbert held open the door with a bow and gestured her in with ironic chivalry. the text didnt let it go unsaid that was meant as a big fuck you to russet thus keeping their rivalry brewing, but in truth neither dude was feeling it this time. beatrix got in and they were off. rigid horses, carriage and all into the sky. they turned around in their seats and waved to russet below, because a poorly written sentence said they were supposed to.
beatrix smacked her forehead.
"'not an anagram'" she quoted from her brain.
"what?" he asked.