A Bout Of Plague
The Many Woes of an Online Author
QuartzQuill groaned, her face planted onto her keyboard in a motion of utter distress. She couldn't decide whether to finish her oneshot and publish it or leave it to rot in the dank depths of her word processor. It was all the damn commotion the last week that was at fault! The pestilence that had crept into the fortress of Fictionpress was spreading at a horrifying rate, and the fact that most of her favorite authors were, in a nutshell, packing up and moving, didn't truly help the situation.
Inside the twisted labyrinth that QuartzQuill called a mind was a Great Hall that had been created in the Chamber of Imagination. It only came into being during emotional emergencies; the Great Hall was a place where all the components of that strange thing named imagination (bad and good alike) could sit down and, very frankly, just talk things over, if they managed to do so without murdering each other within the first two minutes. During these types of meetings, QuartzQuill usually zoned out, leaving a slightly concerned family behind in reality whilst she watched the semi-debate raging in the Great Hall.
The room was lonely until the doors at the west side of the room burst open, heralding the entrance of Drama, a domineering part of QuartzQuill that was prone to too much exaggeration and convoluted thought. She was a tall woman that carried a sort of heavy aura around her, only emphasized more by her gaudy headresses (she had a collection of them in her quarters; today it was a yellow plume and canary-hued crown studded with rubies that flashed painfully in one's eyes whenever she turned) and her flowing dresses. Her bright eyes gleamed dramatically as she dramatically flung up her hand in a completely dramatic show of her worry.
"I came as soon as I heard! Oh, what a tragedy! What is this horrid darkness that has befallen us?"
"God, shut yer trap before I sew it shut," growled Anger from a different part of the room, sweeping swiftly with her scarlet cloak following closely after. Her hair was a cascade of deep crimson, her eyes two blazing pits of cochineal fire, complimenting her red-glazed armor. "What's all this plagiarism business?"
"Let's not get too hasty, girls," proclaimed Reason as she stepped quickly into the room, gathering her chestnut hair into a ponytail and primly avoiding Drama's crystalline tears and attempts to hug her, eying the aforementioned person's ministrations with a thoughtful caramel gaze. "There must be an explanation."
"Of course there is! There's a logical explanation for everything," Logic declared, shutting the Western Door behind her and the accompanying Peace with finality and surveying the room with her bottle-green eyes.
"Plagiarists don't follow logic! They're just—" And from then on, Anger burst into a tirade of explosive expletives which caused Peace's cornflower blue eyes to grow wide and fill with tears.
"Please don't use such foul language. It's derogatory," Peace commented in her soft voice and sniffed, dabbing delicately at her eyes with a silken handkerchief and placing another slender hand over her heart as a sign that she had been deeply offended. Anger scoffed in reply, shifting her weight from one boot-clad foot to the other.
"Derogatory comments can go to hell, for all I care, if they take the plagiarists with 'em."
Aren't you the one who just made the insults...? thought QuartzQuill, quite logically (she had been sitting forlornly in a large chair at the head of the table in the Great Hall, ignored, but watched the show anyway), and later shrugged it off as one of Anger's many misgivings. She had never had a good temper, anyway.
"Heeeey," drawled a voice from behind the West Door. "Lemme in..."
Logic promptly cracked the door open, revealing a very sleepy Sloth clad in a blue tunic being half-carried, half-dragged by a tired looking Simplicity. The latter blew the golden hair out of her eyes and made a face.
"Care to lend a hand?" she said in a strained voice, barely keeping Sloth (who was rapidly falling asleep) aloft. Logic and Reason immediately came to the rescue, hauling Sloth off of Simplicity and positioning her next to QuartzQuill in a chair. Sloth simply slumped forward and snored long and loud, getting more comfortable so she could continue her slumber on the table.
Anger banged a armored fist down onto the table, startling Sloth slightly out of her stupor.
"OY! Listen up! This is serious stuff, and there's no time to be lazy!"
"'M not being...lazy..." Sloth mumbled, but all recognizable words disintegrated into a slur as she fell in and out of sleep.
"Och, it's no use."
"Anyway," Logic said loudly, drawing attention to herself, "don't you think we should all have a seat? You know, look over the circumstances and come to a decision about it."
"Sounds like a good idea to me," Reason agreed, rolling her shoulders elegantly.
"Oh, let's!" Peace exclaimed, happiness lighting her porcelain face. "Maybe we can come to a compromise."
"To compromise with plagiarists is folly!" Anger snarled, her feline features sharpening. "It's either step on them and completely obliterate them, or leave them to their own devices—which is not an option!"
"...So that leaves us with?" Simplicity asked innocently, her face drawn into a frown of extreme concentration.
"Step on them MERCILESSLY and completely obliterate them!"
There was another sniff and rustle of silk. "Violence is uncalled for, Lady Anger."
"Feh. What do you know of war and strife, softie?"
"LADIES!" Logic yelled over the surprisingly noisy clamor that had gripped the room. All fell silent at her voice, rarely raised. "That's better. Now, let's just all sit down like a bunch of civilized people and come to a conclusion. Surely it wouldn't be that hard, would it?"
"It'd be easier to make aphids sign a treaty about pesticides," Peace muttered under her breath, generally unheard.
"At least aphids don't demand a compromise from the ladybugs," Anger retorted smugly.
"If I didn't have standards..."
"Ye'd what? Attack me? Ooh, I'm so scared of big, bad, scary Peace."
"Let's not get off track, here!" Reason reminded everyone, her shout cutting through the sounds of Anger's armor clanking and Sloth's horrendous snoring. "We have to keep it together."
"I den't see the reason for all of this," Anger said, scowling. "Ye know that we don't get along. Why have these meetings if nothing comes from them, eh?"
A giggle emanated from the left of the room. All turned their gaze to the forgotten Drama, who continued waving her blindingly sulphuric yellow fan in front of her face, laughing like a lady of the theater should laugh. Her eyes were dancing. "Oh, do go on. It's such a lovely performance."
"Why, I oughta—"
"Anger! Restrain yourself!" snapped a new, clipped voice, swiftly following the slam of the Western Door. In had stepped Order, looking like she had just come out of a package—or, more correctly, an ironing press. Her gray dress was completely symmetrical and plain, scraping along the floor in a painfully even tail and making her stormy eyes jump out of her face from behind her half-moon spectacles. Her bitterly dark hair was flowing around her shoulders freely, haloing her face. Each strand was of the same length. The lady was a walking image of stern beauty despite the fact she looked like a sorceress.
QuartzQuill felt like throwing herself to her knees and kissing the ground for the arrival of Order. She had started to lose her sanity somewhere around the part where Simplicity had entered the room; Order was one of the parts she was more proud of, even though the solemn lady did not make herself present often.
Everyone started talking at once, but simultaneously seemed to lose their voice when Order's expression became more tight-lipped and restrained. She adjusted her spectacles, making them catch the light.
"One at a time."
They explained to her slowly, clearly and (astonishingly) without any fights breaking out. When the explanation was finished, Order walked across the room, sat herself down in a chair next to QuartzQuill and opposite of Sloth, eyed the latter distastefully, and then acquired an appearance of deep thought. Everyone held their breath.
"There is no way to battle this." All deflated. "Except, maybe, to keep a strict watch on them. Create a site of some sort. Do something. Keep an eye on them."
"What do you suggest?" QuartzQuill spoke for the first time, startling most in the room.
"Google search. The most effective thing, right now..."
"But how would you find something through Google search?" This was Simplicity's contribution.
"That's for people who know how to handle a computer, Simple," Reason said reasonably, convincing Simplicity with her small answer.
"And what if this...Google search...it den't work?" Anger spoke less forcefully than before, but her manner was still a bit cautious.
"It's a risk you'll have to take," Order said seriously, ignoring Anger blatantly and turning to look at QuartzQuill. "You want people to read your stories and have a chance of plagiarism, or do you want to keep your writing to yourself?"
"Before you answer," Peace interjected neatly, "could you please take care not to speak too loudly? I would prefer it—I think we all would—if we didn't wake Attention."
Everyone nodded in agreement. Attention was, as her name suggested, the 'I'll-die-without-people-to-evaluate-me' side of QuartzQuill that usually never saw the light of day. The only time she had the chance to poke her multicolored head into the Great Hall was when a meeting was taking place. She was...difficult to talk to. Taking the facts into consideration, QuartzQuill spoke, picking her words.
"I want people to read my stories. I really don't like the idea of plagiarism...but if it happens to me, I guess I'll take precautions."
Order nodded approvingly. "A well rounded answer, with a vague semblance of a plan to back it up in case something goes awry. I accept. Has this meeting come to an end?"
"I should like to think so," Logic murmured, scanning the room with a leafy-green pair of eyes. "It's only logical that Order would have to straighten it out for us."
"It's my duty," was all that Order said.
"Yes," Reason agreed. "And if we fail at our attempts to get QuartzQuill's stories published, we can always reason and weigh the odds against each other—"
"—find a logical explanation—"
"—crush people into the dust if need be—"
A blue gaze darted sideways, annoyed. "—make compromises—"
"—put on a show!—" With a whoosh, the fan hit QuartzQuill in the face, giving her a mouthful of yellow feathers.
"—sort things tactfully and categorize our worries; if that doesn't clear things up, we—"
"—have questions to ask," Simplicity finished. She turned her oblivious gaze to Reason and Logic, who were beaming, much like rest in the room. "Aren't reason and logic the same thing?"
Sloth snorted and turned on her other side, only tinily disturbed.
QuartzQuill, most amazingly, regained her inspiration after that enlightening meeting, and quickly sat down at her keyboard with ideas teeming in her brain like a cage full of anxious birds...or perhaps gleaming like a chestful of precious gems. She quite liked the second simile better. Though she knew she probably wouldn't make much sense (when did she, truly?), she wrote down whatever came anyway.
QuartzQuill paused for a moment before making a last minute change to her document.
"And," she added snarkily in her Author's Notes, "if someone plagiarizes this, that would be really sad."
A/n: And if someone plagiarizes this, that would be really sad. ;)