Saturday, January 2, 2016


The authors would like to thank the following individuals/entities for the completion of this (epic) novel:

  • the vast amount of movies G! watched and stole from for plot points and (lame, but occasionally funny) pop culture references
  • the friends who we totally copied part of their personalities for to create different characters (both with and without their knowledge)
  • events in the authors lives which have influenced the directions this story took
  • the many friends and beta readers who we sent the novel to, bugging them for feedback
  • almighty and spontaneous inspiration
  • the series of events that brought us together as co-authors, and lead us to discuss the very first premise of this novel one spring afternoon while walking home from school
  • and finally, all of the readers of this blog that have followed us for part or all of our 4 year journey through writing this (epic) novel

K here, sitting in the library finishing up this one last post with G.
It's been an eventful few years, and wow did this story spin out of control. Going from a single idea to a 91(?!) chapter novel was definitely not in the plan, nor did we ever imagine this would be the direction this novel took. The characters we created developed and grew as the years went on, probably somewhat reflective of us growing up as people and developing as writers. I think eventually, we should go back and try to smooth out some writing points and quirks (thanks grade 9 me for being a weird writer), but I think this is a good time for us to finish North by North for the time being.
So what happens now?
Well, G and I had discussed the possibility of starting something new together, though that's still sort of up in the air. Besides, I think we're going to need a little break before we start any new epics. Because trust us, when the two of us put our creative heads together, nothing short of total epicness can result from our collective effort. So it won't be the last you hear from us, but it might be for a little while.
Thank you again so much for being with us and for taking the time to read. 
Until the next epic adventure,
K and G

? - Epilogue

The most memorable part of Graham's funeral was a eulogy delivered by John. Standing before an audience that included all the main characters of this story on the protagonists' side, John began with the following: "I guess we're all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, of such capability for kindness, of such unusual intelligence...yes, intelligence, should now so suddenly be spirited away. Well, I feel that I should say, 'Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard, all he ever did for this team was spill coffee on the prototype drawings! I hope he fries!' And the reason I feel I should say this is he would never forgive me if I didn't, if I threw away this glorious opportunity to make fun of him on his behalf. Anything for him, but mindless good taste."
At the end of the service, John announced that they will be taking Graham's urn (containing his cremated ashes) on a city-wide pub crawl that evening to honor the legacy of their deceased colleague.
Afterwards, most of the crowd filed back into the black cars and left the cemetery. Theo, Dennis, Heathcliff, Wolfgang and Charlie lingered behind. It was a pleasant, sunny afternoon, a good time for a walk.
The cemetery was almost deserted of people. Everything was still except for the low hum of distant traffic. The group wandered among the tombstones, the silence between them only punctuated by small remarks. It felt like there wasn't much to say or do other than to just finally have a moment of quiet to themselves.
Suddenly, Charlie stopped in his tracks, looking like he was deep in thought. The rest of the group already several meters ahead of them, Theo stopped and walked back to Charlie's side.
'What are you thinking about?' Theo asked him.
'Well,' Charlie said, while looking at some tombstones, 'the first time we met, Heathcliff totaled my car. Now I don't have a car.'
Theo looked at Charlie without speaking, like she always did when she didn't know where he was taking the conversation. Charlie continued.
'My folks lent me that car after my sister crashed it into a lamp post. The front fenders got dented and had to be replaced. We could only find fenders that weren't the same color as the original, and because of that, my sister didn't want the car anymore so it got passed down to me. I rather liked the car, because the only thing wrong with it was that it made farting sounds when I drove it. Unfortunately, when Heathcliff crashed my car into the warehouse where Wolfgang was trying to propose to you, it was completely destroyed. Now my car is gone, and when I go home I will have an extremely long story to tell to my folks about why that is. After the events in the past few days I'm a little tired, I think for once I don't enjoy long stories anymore.'
'So you're planning to go home soon?' asked Theo.
'My folks aren't expecting me home. In fact, I recall them saying I should be gone as long as my sister's money lasted. You see, they have been running what they called a private liquor business back home, and the word has gotten out to the law. For some reason the law doesn't like private liquor businesses, so my folks are actually taking some time off from their home life to travel around the world, just so they don't have to deal with the law. That's also why they couldn't have been happier when my sister won a lot of money from a lottery ticket and left home to go 'live her life', according to her. She gave me some of that money stored away in a bank account, and since I haven't been spending any of that money ever since I got involved in this adventure, I still have more money than I know what to do with.'
Theo brushed her hand against one the graves, wondering if she should even ask questions. But she decided that after everything that happened, families doing questionably illegal things shouldn't surprise her at all. 'Isn't your girlfriend back at home, waiting for you?'
'The law is very nosy back home. My sweetheart telephoned me before I left saying they're putting her family under surveillance until they find my folks. She said our relationship will have to go on the long-distance, low-maintenance mode. She's not expecting me back home any time soon either.'
'Then why are you worried about having to go home and explain to your family that your car is gone, when right now they're...abroad?' Theo asked.
'Well, I don't know what else I can do, now that both our character arcs are finished.'
Theo looked at him, unsure of what to say next. 'What do you mean, by character arcs?'
'When I woke up in the infirmary on Mr. Dragon's island, my author visited me and told me that my character arc in our story is finished because I've made new friends, and yours would be finished when you successfully defeated Mr. Dragon.'
'Are you sure that wasn't just the morphine?'
'I'm pretty sure it happened, he even told me about events happening in the story which I wasn't present to witness, like how one of Mr. Dragon's colleagues got shot to death by Mr. North in a very similar way to how Al Pacino's character got killed in Scarface.'
Theo still looked skeptical. 'And have you seen since?'
Charlie thought about it, tapping absentmindedly. 'I think there was someone at the service that looked like him, but he was with someone I hadn't seen before.'
'What did the other person look like?'
'She had black hair and wore glasses, and she was writing in a notebook. Occasionally she looked up from her writing to observe you. When they left at the end of the service, she left this note where she sat and made sure I saw her leave it there.' Charlie took the note out of his pocket and gave it to Theo.
Shooting a glance towards him, asking silently why he hadn't brought it up earlier, she quickly unfolded the note and smoothed out the creases. Scanning over the messy cursive, she started reading out loud.
'Although we may not be there to write it, this is only the beginning of your adventures. Best of luck, signed, K.'
'Does this mean we have new character arcs now?' Charlie asked. His eyes brightened.
'Everyone needs to keep growing as people. So I guess the answer would be yes.' Theo looked at Charlie and smiled, 'How about you stay with us for a while. I'm sure Dennis won't want you to leave so soon.' She looked over and saw the other three walking back towards them, probably finally realizing that they had been left behind.
'That's a great idea,' Charlie exclaimed, 'why didn't I realize it sooner?'
Theo shrugged. 'If you're right about the author thing, then it was just written that way.' She linked her arm with Charlie's and looked up at him, grinning. 'Let's not keep our next adventure waiting.'

Thursday, December 31, 2015

T.N - Chapter 91

The stairs stretched on for what felt like forever. The metal steps resonated under our feet, sending jolts up my feet. I hadnt realized that my knees were weak until one particular shake threatened to make my knees buckle under me. I grabbed the handrail, feeling the ache in my fingers and wrist. I swore I could feel the indentations of the gun imprinted on my hand, an invisible reminder of what I did.
It was out of necessity, I knew that. Everything leading up to this moment was out of necessity. Although I had hoped that Grandfather would show up miraculously and deliver his vengeance, I had a nagging sensation that it was up to me to take him down. I looked over at Dennis, Heathcliff, and Wolfgang, all steadily climbing up just a few steps ahead of me. I corrected myself: it was up to us to take him down.
The Dragon had entangled all of our lives into a convoluted mess, leading us on this whirlwind chase, hurting the people dear to us without worry or care. Charlie popped up into my mind, and knowing Terry and Terrys medical expertise, I knew I was going to see his face again after all this. Hell want to know what happened in the end, and I felt like it was only fitting to have a good ending.
Were here, Dennis interrupted my thought, coming to a halt. In front of us was a bolt covered door, made of the same black metal as the interior of the submarine. There was no plaque denoting this room as the Dragons den, but the door felt foreboding, an unspoken warning written on it.
Wolfgang took a deep breath. Well, are we ready?
The others collectively took a step towards the door.
Wait, I blurted out, and they whirled around to face me, concern mapped out on their faces. I clenched my fist, trying to erase the ghosting feeling of the gun on my palm. Try to not kill him. It isnt necessary.
There was a collective little sigh of relief.
Well, we left our weapons downstairs, pointed out Heathcliff.
And hes still kind of my dad, said Wolfgang.
Besides, we can still kick ass just fine like this, Dennis said, hugging me to his side. I know youve got our backs.
And you all have mine, I added.
Dennis ruffled my hair and let me go. Stepping back, he did a little bow, his hand extending out in a flamboyant gesture. Will you do the honour?
I smiled at him. I wouldnt dream of anything else. Reaching out, I grabbed the latch, and pushed the door open.
It was heavier than I had originally thought, creaking open with a laboured groan that reverberated down the staircase. It mustve been built out of several layers of metal, intending to be bullet and sound-proof. Once it had opened just wide enough for us to slip through, we burst through into the den.
It was a large room, wood floors and delicate wallpaper covering the concrete. The lighting was soft, most of it coming from the lamps placed strategically around the room beside armchairs. Bookshelves and filing cabinets lined the majority of the walls, some of the bookshelves nearly reaching the ceiling. The one bare wall was the farthest from the door, marked only by a single desk and chair.
It all felt disjoint from the rest of building, as if someone was trying to replicate the feeling of coziness and comfort. Wolfgangs eyes were wide as he took in the sight of the room, and he mouthed to himself something that looked like, Its the same as his study back home.
Our observations were disturbed by the sound of quiet skidding. My eyes were drawn to the back of the room, where the Dragon sat, spinning his knife lazily on the wooden surface of his desk.
There was silence, only punctuated by the sound of the knife scraping and the Dragons fingers gently tapping the end of the knife each time it completed a turn.
After what seemed like an achingly long time, he finally looked up.
Well, I shouldve expected it wouldve been you, he said, not missing a beat with his knife.
Who were you expecting instead? I asked.
The Dragon sighed and stood up, walking to the front of his desk. After all these years, I would think Damian would have the dignity to show up to the final showdown.
I shook my head. Its not just about you and Grandfather any more.
Clearly, mused the Dragon. He picked up the knife and started slowly pacing towards us. Although his eyes were downcast, I could still feel the concentrated, predatory aura oozing off of him. You know, if you werent a North, I wouldve offered you a job with the League of Shadows here.
Well, thank goodness I am one, I said, saved you some time and disappointment.
The Dragon didnt reply, just barked out a sharp laugh. He stopped, only a few paces away.
Despite every urge to shrink defensively, I straightened up. What are you waiting for?
He looked up.
He dashed forward, quickly closing the distance between us. The blade was tucked on the inside of his wrist as he slashed in a sweeping arc towards us.
Ducking quickly, I heard the soft whistle of the knife cutting the air where my head used to be. The weapon needed to go, and quickly.
Before the Dragon recovered from his swing, I lunged towards him, grabbing his wrist and trying to jam it back. Heathcliff slipped behind him and swiftly hooked his arm around the Dragons neck as the other two tried to ram at him.
The Dragons leg kicked out and sent Dennis flying backwards. He landed with a slam against a bookshelf, which groaned in response and started tipping, spilling books with little thuds. Wolfgang sprinted over and braced himself against the bookshelf, straining against it as Dennis caught his breath.
Taking advantage of the distraction, the Dragon snapped his head backwards, meeting Heathcliffs with a resounding crack. Heathcliffs arm slipped from his neck as he fell, dazed.
I lost my grasp on the Dragons wrist as he twisted it, slipping out and immediately back on the offensive. The silver of the knife glinted softly in the lamp light as it glanced before my face. We encircled each other, alternating between quick paces and slow, meticulous steps. Each jab and slash a little closer than the last, we danced around the room.
Suddenly, he was pushing forward to corner me, and I felt the wood of the desk and chair behind my back. Grabbing the chair, I swung out at him, and was met by the jarring sensation of being stopped mid-swing. He wrenched the chair out of my hand and threw it to the side as I hopped over the desk, hearing the cracking of the chair breaking.
Scrambling backwards to regain my space, I felt my foot catch on something and I was falling backwards, straight onto Heathcliff.
I rolled to catch my fall, and saw the Dragon quickly advancing behind me. Lashing out, I felt my legs hook onto his, and I pulled hard. There was a grunt as he hit the floor, and as soon as I felt his weight shift off of my legs, I turned and lunged forwards, trying to pin down his wrist.
He jerked forward and knocked his shoulder into me, sending us rolling. I tried shifting our uneven momentum so that I would land on top, but he was grabbing and pulling and pushing me down. I blindly retaliated, trying to find the weak spots as the world spun around us.
Pain crawled up my scalp as he grabbed hold of my hair and yanked hard. In the one breath it took for me to yelp in surprise, I was pinned to the ground, and the same glint in the Dragons eye was matched by the knife being raised up, aimed at my chest.
I raised my arm up in defense when the weight of the Dragon was lifted. Looking up, I saw Dennis and Wolfgang grappling with him, trying to restrain his movement while staying away from the blade.
I scrambled up and grabbed the Dragons wrist, sharply bending it backwards, and the knife fell with a clatter as the Dragon howled in pain.
I didnt have time to think about kicking away the knife before my breath was knocked out of my lungs as the Dragon drove his knee upwards into my chest. My vision faded black for a moment, and in the next, something connected to the side of my face.
From impact, it felt like thunder had struck my upper jaw. The sting blossomed from there, ringing in my ears and sending me backwards. I hadnt even felt myself land on the floor, only realizing it when I shook my vision clear and saw the ceiling.
Are you ok? someone asked, and I turned my head to see Heathcliff.
Justgive me a moment, I managed to breathe out.
Your lip is bleeding!
Carefully tracing my finger along my lower lip, I felt warm liquid, and pulled back to see the unmistakable red of blood.
Better my lips than anything else, I muttered. I looked back over at Heathcliff. How are you?
Im- he started, but we were interrupted by a loud slam. I sat up slowly and saw the Dragons back as he leaned over the desk, accompanied by the flailing legs of Dennis and Wolfgang.
The rush of adrenaline replaced the buzz of pain as I quickly stood up.
Sprinting forward, I jumped and grabbed the Dragon into a choking headlock. He let go of Denniss and Wolfgangs neck, and they rolled off the desk, gasping for breath.
Hands were immediately on me, trying to latch onto something that could pull me off. Instead, I dug my knees deeper into the Dragons side, tightening my grip around his neck.
Spinning around like a tiger chasing its tail, he quickly backed up, and I felt the metal handle of a filing cabinet slam into my hip.
I quickly let go, and the Dragon spun around, wildly looking around the room as paper rained down around us. Straightening back up, I met his fevered glance, and rolled my shoulders back in defiance.
His fist reached out again, but this time, I caught it.
Sidestepping out of the way, my forearm nudged his punch sideways into a large circle. My hand followed, twisting around so we ended up with the back of our wrists together and mirrored stances.
The Dragon wasted no time in advancing. His free hand was swinging at me, and he let the momentum carry towards me. Meeting his punch with my other hand, I let him push forward, steering us into the middle of the room.
Carefully trying to keep us in the open, I was caught off guard as he kicked out, clipping the side of my thigh as I dodged to the side. He let out a small snarl, staring at me with narrowed eyes and gritted teeth.
I closed my eyes.
Flow with it, I heard Grandfathers voice echo in my mind, and I was back to the studio all those years ago, training.
There was a shift in weight as the Dragon attempted to jab towards my neck, and I took the momentum to move it a little to the side, feeling the movement breeze by.
React quickly.
There was a jerk as he leaned back and kicked out. Meeting his leg, I coaxed my knee under his and pushed forward. As he stumbled with the sudden weight shift backwards, I took the few steps forward to maintain the same distance between us as before.
There is as much power in defense as there is in offense.
Breathing out slowly, I opened my eyes.
Punch after punch, I guided them out of the way gently and back into a neutral position. Although the Dragon was more massive than I was, the shifts in momentum threw him off, sending him stumbling around.
Remaining silent, the only sounds that echoed around the room was his frustrated grunts, escalating into bellows of rage, like a bull never being able to catch the red cloth.
I glanced over at the other guys, who were slowly encircling us, preparing to tackle. Dennis mouthed a silent countdown.
3, 2, 1-
 My hands were suddenly touching only air as the Dragon pulled an elaborate stunt, pulling and rolling away. I ran towards him, only to be greeted with the sight of the blade back in his hands, sweeping towards me.
I heard the air being cut. I felt a slight tug on a strand of hair, and watched as the tip floated to the ground, cut ever so cleanly.
Scrabbling backwards, I joined the others, carefully circling around the Dragon.
After standing up, the Dragons gaze was more focused, and his breathing more controlled. Silence reigned the room as he spun the knife in his hand, taking us in and making precise calculations.
Heathcliff and Dennis shifted in unease as Wolfgang clenched his fist. The Dragon controlled the room now, and we were waiting for the next move.
The door slammed open. The tension broke as the focus shifted towards the new person standing there.
He was a slightly rotund man, his face borderline jovial, if it wasnt for the shade of raging red that coloured it. What little hair he had was frazzled, and singed by what looked like close gunfire. His dress clothes were askew, off-set by his somehow perfectly neat tie. A fanatical gleam was in his eyes as he focused his attention on the Dragon.
You! he shouted, waving around an accusatory finger.
The Dragons eyebrow quirked up. Can this not wait a little longer? he asked, gesturing towards us. Im a little busy.
No, this cant wait! the man exclaimed. Ive had enough of waiting! Ive had enough of ridicule!
Now, now, said the Dragon, youre as much a part of us as the rest of the League, why would we ridicule you-
And Ive had enough of you! finished the man. Youyoure an incompetent leader! A heretic! A man of falsity and trickery and-
The Dragon groaned. First Mr. Wolf, and now you?
The man straightened up, adjusting the collar of his shirt. Mr. Wolf? Oh, no, Mr. Wolf would not be a good replacement at all, he muttered, shaking his head slowly. No, this group needs a new, refreshing take! He puffed himself up.
Pausing, he glanced over at our group, as if preparing to make a largely important announcement.
I, the Hippopotamus, will take charge of this group!
There was silence, and then laughter. The Dragon was doubled over, wheezing.
The man, or rather, the Hippopotamus, looked indignant.
Oh, youve really outdone yourself, the Dragon said in between laughs. I guess reptiles werent enough for you.
Heathcliff looked over at me. Is he a terrorist? he asked quietly, and I nodded back in reply.
This is the ridicule I was speaking about! yelled the Hippopotamus, back to jabbing his finger at the Dragon. This is the first thing that Im going to change about this group, no one will be allowed to make fun of my names!
He stood tall, filled with grandeurs of triumph, just as Heathcliff tackled him to the ground.
There were sounds of undignified grunts as Heathcliff struggled to pin down the flailing Hippopotamus. After a few moments, Heathcliff had sat down on top of him, putting his weight fully onto the Hippopotamuss back and wrists.
The Dragon stood there and laughed, wiping away tears. Oh yes, youre clearly the best candidate as a leader, Mr. Hippopotamus, yes indeed, he managed to choke out.
Dennis glanced down at the Dragon, then at me, and then back to him, silently asking whether to try attacking him.
I nodded, and slowly kneeled down to pick up the remains of the chair lying at my feet.
Wolfgang and Dennis charged at the Dragon, who immediately reared up and blocked them, his hands around their wrists.
You really think you can take advantage of me? asked the Dragon, sounding maniacally amused. You really think you can take me down?
I swung the chair down, and felt the resounding, jarring crack as it met the Dragons head.
He crumpled down to the ground, the knife clattering out of his grasp.
Well, that was easier than I thought, grinned Dennis.
I wiggled my fingers, feeling the adrenaline rush recede, slowly being replaced with relief. Feeling the ache in my shoulders, I slowly relaxed them, and brought my hand up to my already bruising face.
 Dont be quite at ease yet, said a familiar voice, and I looked up to the door. There, bloody and bruised but smiling, stood Grandfather.
Fighting every urge to drop everything and hug him, I smirked. Let me guess, you want me to tie him up? I asked, nudging at the Dragon with my foot, who stirred a little.
Grandfather tilted his head. Now, do you really have to ask me?
Dennis fished something out of his pocket. Ive got some of this left over, he said tossing the bundle towards me. It was the cord that Laura had given us before, and I knelt down, winding it around his wrist and securing it with several knots.
When I finished, I tossed the rest of the cord over to Heathcliff, who quickly restrained the still struggling Hippopotamus. I immediately walked over to Grandfather, alongside Dennis, and he grabbed the two of us, holding us tightly in his arms.
It had been so long since I felt this safe, this relaxed. Everything was falling back into place, a little roughly maybe, but it was happening.
Im glad youre safe, I said into Grandfathers chest, and he eased out of the hug.
Im very proud of the both of you, he rumbled, and looked over at Heathcliff and Wolfgang. Im proud of all of you.
Thanks, Mr. North! replied Heathcliff. It was quite the dastardly fight.
Grandfather smiled. I can tell, you all did well. He looked over at Wolfgang. Its good to see you Wolfgang, its been many years.
Wolfgang stiffened a little, awkwardly waving. Its good to see you too.
So, uh, Mr. North, Heathcliff asked, what do we do with these guys?
Suddenly remembering, I pull back from Grandfather and Dennis. I look over at the prone figure of the Dragon and the still squirming Hippopotamus.
Dont worry about them, Grandfather said, well get someone to pick them up soon. He shrugged. Besides, I think someones waiting for you outside.
The guys faces all lit up.
Thanks, Grandfather! I exclaimed, pulling him in for another quick hug. Dont go anywhere soon without me, ok? I muttered.
Alright, he whispered back.
Pulling at my hands, I was dragged out of the room and down the hallways by the guys, and I couldnt even feel the exhaustion in my legs or lungs anymore.
We exited the building to the sound of rejoicing, with Lauras men running and jumping around, on a high from the victory. The sun now lay low on the horizon, casting warm light and long shadows.
A familiar figure stood on the beach, looking out onto the ocean. He looked a little paler than usual, and his shoulder and chest were bandaged up, but he otherwise looked almost the same as the first time I met him.
I started running.
Charlie! I yelled, and he turned just as I barrelled into him with a hug. He froze up a little bit, then hugged me back with one arm.
Realizing why he hadnt used his other arm, I pulled back hurriedly. Sorry, did I knock into your shoulder? I asked, gently patting his bandages.
He shook his head. Im all good.
We were suddenly squished back together as the other three reached us, babbling and surrounding us in a large group hug. I couldnt keep track of whose arms were whose, or who was talking to who.
Its so good to see you-
How are you-
What happened to you-
Doesnt hurt too much-
Man, so many things happened-
You missed a lot-
I have so much to tell you-
Suddenly, the group started to kilter, leaning dangerously over to the side. Someones foot slipped, and everyone was dragged down into a giant tangle of limbs and surprised yelps.
Lying in the sand, I felt laughter bubble up, the first time in what might have been days. We devolved into giggles as the feelings of relief and victory washed over us, as warm as the sun shining down on us.
So? Charlie asked as the laughter started to quiet down. What happened?
I sat up and looked over at the other three, and they smiled.

Well, I started, its a bit of a long story.