Chapter 23
by grlnxtr

*About five minutes later.*

QL: (checking her watch) Where is he? How on Earth am I going to find Erronius by myself?

She stood, unable to sit still any longer. Pacing quickly, she checked the path from town every few minutes, then stopped, gazing down Mirage Lane.

QL: He wouldn't...Crap.

She turned, certain that Warteen was lying in the bottom of the Mirage Canyon. Whipping around to start on the path, she crashed into a figure, falling backwards.

A hand reached out, grasping hers and hauling her up.

QL: Thank you, I - Oh. Hello.
BtN: Your Majesty.
QL: You know I'm not really a queen, right?
BtN: (shrugging) Doesn't really matter.
QL: (nodding) That's right. It doesn't! Wait, I thought you and Chad were waiting until we returned.
BtN: Yeah, your sister lured him into a clearing and I got tired of waiting.
QL: My - Oh, dear. Wait, how did you know it wasn't me?
BtN: Please. You two look nothing alike.

She laughed, shaking her head.

QL: She won't hurt him. At least not in a way that he'd mind. I think she kind of digs him, actually.
BtN: Yeah, looked that way from my uncomfortable perspective.
QL: (sighing) We're going to have to watch him from now on, though. From what I hear, she's rather...convincing.
BtN: Uh huh. Hey, where's Erronius?
QL: He wandered off, that's why we split up.
BtN: Erronius is gone? How could you?
QL: (taken aback) He does that all the time. He'll show up. Besides, we have to go find Warteen before he ends up getting himself killed. I think he went right up here.
BtN: Oh. Well that's unfortunate. Let's go look for Erronius.
QL: Erronius will be fine!
BtN: At least Warteen can see.
QL: There's no need to get sarcastic, Bob. Fine, go look for him if you must. I'm going right.

QL and BtN parted ways at the fork, as Bob was convinced that Erronius would make his way to the village.

QL started down Mirage Lane, carefully feeling in front of her with every step.

QL: (singing softly) "All my life is on me now, hail the pages turning...And the futureís on the bound, hell donít know my fury..."

She stopped, listening. The birds had stopped singing. After feeling the ground in front of her, she sat cross-legged, palms open on her knees. Staring into the distance in front of her, she willed the mirage to dissolve. Catching only frustrating glimpses of the distance at first, she finally saw through it long enough to gauge the distance to the canyon - only a few hundred yards left. And no Warteen.

QL: Maybe he didn't go this way...

She stood up, feeling foolish for her concern and began to make her way back to the fork in the road.

Turning, she ran head first into yet another person, landing on the ground in an un-dignified heap. Again.

QL: Ow.
Q. Raine: Ever the klutz, aren't you Lainey?

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