THE QUEENS VIEW AFFAIR - Book II, Act VII, Scene I - Scene VII

[Book II, Act VII, Scene I. Irving Washington's House. HARVEY, JEROME, CLINT, MANFRED, CHASTITY, ALICE, IRVING and AUSTIN are here. ALICE is just finishing telling CLINT and HARVEY what happened after DARIUS left.]

Alice : And then, Manfred, Irving and Fr. Fonz came in, to see what was happenning. There was all kinds of panic in the palace, so it was easy enough to sneak out. When we got back here, we opened up the satchel that Darius had, found two orbs, the same as the one that Sven and Peter used to bring back Harvey from the soul sanctuary the first time.

Irving : [Proudly] We weren't sure what to do with them, but I soon discovered how they work, and voila, Harvey and Clint are back.

Harvey : [Stands up and bows] You have my absolute respect and gratitude, good professor and dearest Alice. [Shakes Irving by the hand and gives Alice a hug] I'm so sorry I could not protect you from that evil blackguard! Though it pains me to say it, I'm getting too old for all of adventure business!

Irving : Hm, yes, yes. So, it would appear that Adam was telling the truth after all - now, will they try and resurrect Iok? How will Dangsten fit in with this new arrangement?

Chastity : [Sitting up, grimacing] And if Darius is actually Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, why did he help us with the soul orbs. And what happened to those poor people locked in the cells? [To Irving] Please could you pass me one of your cheesy rollups, purely for pain killing medicinal purposes of course. Oh, and all in the excitement I've completely lost track of time, could anyone enlighten me please?

Irving : As far as I know, Fr. Fonz went back to set them free. [Hands over cheese roll to Chastity] Its about 9.30pm now, Sister. [Smiles to himself] Strange, how time runs away with you when you're in the cheese room.

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD believes that Darius and Death are one and the same. Both Adam and Dangsten addressed him as such. Dangsten also intimated some distress over the death of Pestilence, and, given that we witnessed him kill Iok, it is surely more likely that he will resurrect Pestilence. The question, of course, is where?

Harvey : I agree with the good doctor. I cannot see Dangsten resurrecting the father he stabbed in the back. Considering Dangtens energy came from Iok, surely resurrecting him would only weaken him?

Alice : Not to mention that Iok would be pretty miffed that his child had stabbed him - fathers get really narky about that.

Harvey : [Glances at Clint] Hmm, I daresay. [Scratches a sideburn] But as for where he will ressurrect Pestilence, the most likely place I can think of is Undercity, after all, he lived there. [To Irving] But what of the strange altar? What did Fr Fonze have to say about it?

Alice : We asked him about it when he came in, and he said - hang on [checks her notebook] he said it was strange.

Irving : He knew what it was though - it was to block the gate, but apparantly Dangsten had some kind of talisman that let him through to get Pestilence's soul.

Chastity : [Looks around for a match, but can't find one] Oh, to heck with convention! [Produces a small flame in her hand to light her smoke, lights it, extinguishes the flame and takes a deep cheesy puff] That's better. [Takes another draw, and in a squeaky voice] I wonder what happened to The Roving Band of Racial Stereotypes? [Coughs a bit, looks at the joint and in her normal voice] A bit too much Stilton essence in that one.

Alice : Maybe they saw that there was something major happenning, and kept away?

Irving : Quite possible, lass. The explosion was seen for miles around, why, it even disturbed the circus!

Harvey : Eh? What's this you say? A circus? By the saints, I love the circus, all those funny little men with big feet, hairy apes driving carts, popcorn and candy floss, men on stilts and women in micro sparkly costumes! What joy!

Austin : [Smiling to himself, even though he is clearly very uncomfortable] Ah, women in micro sparkly costumes on stilts! What joy!

Alice : So, what are we supposed to do now? It looks like the four Horsemen are going to be Dangsten, Pestilence, Contagion and Darius, but where will they go to resurrect Pestilence?

Harvey : [Shrugs] Perhaps we should go to Undercity and check Pestilences mansion, dear Alice? I remember years ago in 56, I think it was, there was a young recruit called Bo Bo, who had exceptionally large feet, huge red shoes, he had. Ha, used to travel around on a Shetland pony, attacking the enemy with buckets full of glitter. How we laughed. Until the curs cut his head off. Poor Bo Bo, I wonder how he is nowadays?

Alice : Exceptionally large feet, you say? Hm.

Jerome : There was another item in the satchel, Colonel. A ticket, to StarSearch(TM), it is for week's time.

Chastity : [Sits up suddenly] Ouch! [Lies back down again, takes another drag, sits up again more slowly, and with a squeaky voice] By Phili, do you think the resurrection of Pestilence is to happen there. If they trap the audience they'll have a large torture base to empower themselves, the evil fiends! We have to stop them. [Coughs and flops back down, exhausted]

Irving : Well, the first thing we'll have to do is move from the Cheese Room to another room [waves away some cheese fumes] its getting very cloudy in here.

Alice : [Also smoking some cheese] Its pretty cloudy in here too, Irving!

Clint : Actually here there aren't that many clouds. [Lights a cigar] Yet. [Streches his arms and legs] By the way Bimbo, I never thought it would be so nice to be inside you!

Harvey : Dearest sister, you may be onto something here! A ticket to StarSearch(TM) left behind by Darius. It must be a clue! Well, there's nothing for it, we'll have to check it out. When is it on, next week, you say?

Alice : [Shivers involuntarily] Thanks Clint, thanks a bunch. [Shivers again]

Irving : [Glances at the ticket] That's right - this day next week. Hm, front row seat and all - he may be Death from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but he's sure got good taste!

Harvey : Or stone deaf, what! [Laughs loudly]

Alice : [Sympathetically] No more cheese for you, Uncle!

[Everyone shuffles along into another room.]

Jerome : So, is it the case that we must return to Hallbridges? Remember, the evil Mr. Brown resides there - this may be our chance to exact revenge.

Clint : [Puffing away in his cigar] Ooooh yes, let's have a word with

him: all this talk and no action is really boring!

Harvey : Yes, good doctor, I think we must. I'm sure we'd all like a little quality time with Mr Brown, eh!

Chastity : [Still a bit unsteady, physically and mentally, due to injuries and cheese fumes] But George has passed on. Phili has taken him to his side.

Alice : How safe is it to travel, Irving? Things outside the towns were flaky enough - but now with Adam dead, surely without a strong leader the societal norms will no longer hold, and the surprisingly thin veneer of civilisation will wear away, revealing the barbarism and sadism that is sadly epedimic to our society. [As everyone stares at her] I mean, endemic.

Jerome : [Stunned at Alice's incisive remark] Well said, Alice!

Alice : [Bounces on her chair happily] Thanks! I actually read it from the editorial in the paper - look, just under the article about some farm animals stealing a carriage.

Jerome : News gets to the paper fast in this town, doesn't it?

Chastity : [Shakes her head to clear it. Picks up paper and looks at front cover] That's because its the Evening edition. Catchy tag line for it though - "Get caught up the the Daily Hysteria".

Alice : [Looking at the back of the paper] Wow! Nun Recommends Daily Hysteria!

Harvey : [Says nothing but looks proudly at Alice]

[ALICE smiles happily.]

Austin : I think, Alice, that you'll find it says "None recommend daily hysteria".

Alice : [Annoyed] But anyway, if it is going to be difficult to get there, how will we do it? We can hardly just head across there ourselves. Hm, if only we knew of someone who could travel easily, a group that could enter and leave towns at will. [Looks at the paper again] Hey! There's a two for one sale at Bundy's shoe shop! [Cross face] I just hope it won't be like the last two for one shoe sale I went to - 250GP for two left shoes just isn't worth it.

Jerome : [Taking the paper off Chastity, and, reading from the back page] Party wracked with indecision. Hm, Dr. Jerome K. Trindle BSc, PhD is impressed at the way this paper keeps up with current events. [Hands the paper to Alice]

[ALICE opens the inside back page, showing a headline to the others : "Dr. Jerome K. Trindle BSc, PhD Impressed!"]

Harvey : [Impressed] Goodness, modern technology eh, what ever will they think of next? [Thinks a moment] You know troop, I think what this platoon needs is some good old fashioned R n R. [To Irving] Are there any beaches near here to surf while listening to Flight Of The Valkryes?

Irving : [Looking over the paper that Alice is holding up as she checks out the centrefold] Not exactly, Colonel, I think the closest thing would be to listen to Manfred playing his bongos while sitting in the kitty litter box.

Alice : [Putting down the paper] Kitty litter box? I thought it was an extra double fudge chocolate fudge cake.

Irving : [Guiltily] Yes, I suppose it is about time I cleaned it out.

Harvey : Mmmm, extra double fudge chocolate fudge cake. [Drools] Washed down with a diet drink, so I don't put the pounds on! [Scatches a sideburn, before suddenly clapping his hands together] Let's go to the circus!

Clint : [Looking at the headlines] Look, it has changed again: party decide, under good advice from respectful fighter Clint Scar, to go to Hallbridges and watch the StarSearch(TM) show!

Alice : No it doesn't! It says Clint Scar declared stinkiest man in Hysteria.

Austin : My dear Alice, I put it to you that you are lying. Consider the facts; number one, Clint Scar is a relative unknown in this town, and, as such, it is highly unlikely any paper would run an article on him; number two, there is no scientific measurement for the pugnaciousness of a person, so it is unreasonable to expect that such a claim would ever be made; number three, as stinkiest is not actually a real word, I doubt that any paper would use it; and number four, and really, Alice, this is the clincher, those words are written on the paper in crayon, the which is the very same colour green that is all over your hands and face!

Alice : [Mashing the paper up into an untidy ball] That's not crayon!

Clint : Measurement for the what? [To Harvey] Well old boy, are we going to lead this bunch into fight?

Chastity : [Looks round at the battered, cut and bleeding group][To Clint] I think you are being a bit over anxious to re-enter the affray, Clint. I would have to agree with Harvey. We need to recover our strength and take stock of our situation before rushing off combat evil again. As Dangsten almost single handedly wiped out the group, I also think that some sort of plan is required, as the forth coming battle will probably be against greater odds. "Fools rush in where Phili tip-toes stealthily to maximise his tactical advantage", as my First Husband George would say. Such good advice. How many of these supposed wonder swords do we have now?

Clint : Believe me Sist, anything is better than siting here reading a badly scribbled newspaper - [to Alice] no offense, Bimbo. [back to Chastity] But you're right, before dying I was holding Beaucaphalus, are you were now, long thounge - I mean, wonder - sword? And Adam's one?

Alice : Oh, none taken, Stinky. [Thinks for a second] Hey!

Harvey : I admire your spirit, Scar m'lad, but the good sister is correct. We must be careful not to get into any trouble. Rest and recuperation are on the cards, why, if the old outfit back in Vietnumnum took a thrashing like we just did, I'd bring them down to BangingKok and let them loose on the funfair there. Ah, my lads used to love it there, as soon as I dropped them off, they'd all disappear, and I wouldn't see them again until it was time to collect them.

Alice : [Holds open the paper again, at the centrefold] Why don't we go and see the circus? They mi-

[Enter VASCO DE SAO NUNO GOMES, interrupting ALICE.]

Vasco : [Planting a flag in the middle of the room] I claim this illicit cheese den for the glory of Prince Manuel, Prince John and His Holiness the Pope. [Kneels in front of the flag and blesses himself.]

Chastity : [Scolding] Vasco De Sao Nuno Gomes! Where are your manners?, bursting in like that. Have you never heard of knocking?

Vasco : I am Vasco De Sao Nuno Gomes - I have heard of knocking. I have also heard of honour, and of betrayal. In the time I was with your party, I have experienced from you little of the former, and much of the latter.

Chastity : [Unraged, To Vasco] How dare you? I take it you are referring to the escape from the square. Which part of the phrase "lets split up" did you not understand? If anything, our abduction of the coach would have diverted attention from you, aiding your escape in the confusion. That's assuming you were quick witted enough to take advantage of the opportunity. And as for honour, my boy, maybe if you and your little band had actually bothered to turn up at Torque's Tower at the pre-arranged time, you would have witnessed the definition of honour from most of the personages assembled in this very room.

Vasco : Good sister, while it is not in my nature to argue with members of the religious, I must point out that if we had boarded the carriage with you, we would have had a far more likely chance of surviving. As it was, I escaped in spite of, rather than because of you. I did not reach Torque's Tower, because I was busy fighting for my life.

Alice : You know, sister, it was actually Darius that suggested we split up.

Chastity : [To Alice] A plan, I would hasten to point out, that was agreed upon at the time. Although now, knowing what we do about Darius, the validity of the plan does come into question. [To Vasco] Darius duped us all with his false pretence of camaraderie. He is actually the living embodiment of the fabled Apocalyptic Horseman, Death. Obviously he intended to weaken our group. And talking of which, where are the rest of the Roving Band?

Harvey : Indeed, that blackguard Darius! Had us all over a barrell with a big paddle, what! And Vasco, I apologise for leaving your group behind, but there were obviously crosswires in the communications! We all thought the large group was to disband, and reunite outside the tower. [Bows to Vasco] You have my apologies, sir!

Vasco : [Bowing deeply to Harvey] I thank you sir, it appears that you are a man of honour, after all, and do not choose to twist the truth to suit your own purposes. The rest of the Roving Band of Racial Stereotypes has been arrested, I came here either to exact revenge on you, or to get your help freeing them from jail.

Austin : [Sneering] I think it is a fitting end of Dicey, let him rot, I say.

Clint : [Still looking for Beaucaphalus and Temporidus] I couldn't agree more. However, considering that they did help us enter the city, we might as well give them a hand to escape. But not on our present physical condition. [Lifting a sofa cushion] Beau, are you there?

Beaucaphalus : [From a nearby table] I am here.

Alice : Dangsten took Temporidus with him - [snort of derision] honestly, Clint, were you paying any attention?

Harvey : [Rubbing his chin, one hand patting a pocket] What's this? [Takes out a honeyed locust, covered in pocket fluff] Ah, what luck, I'd forgotten all about you, you delicious treat! [Pops the locust in his mouth and crunches happily] Now, as for the rest of our band, we cannot leave our men behind enemy lines, trapped and rotting in a prison! We must ask the man in charge to release them as of the now! It is the least they can do in payment for us freeing their scaly townsfolk, what! [To Irving] Now that Torque is dead, who is in charge of the towns gaol?

Irving : It mightn't be as simple as that, Colonel. Torque was in the town in an unofficial capacity - smiting evil doers and the like. It is difficult to say who is in charge of the town - the coalition running Hysteria breaks down every two or three hours and there is a new election. People here spend most of their time either voting or trying to bring down the government. One of the few constants in the town is the warden of the jail, Gillton Menn. He's not exactly the kind of person that you can ask favours of.

Alice : We're not talking about sex here, right?

Jerome : [Wistfully] Unfortunately not.

Harvey : [To Vasco] Tell me, what were your fellow sterotypes arrested for? If they were arrested on Adams word, then surely they can now be released, considering we worked by Adams side trying to stop the evil in the town?

Austin : [As if doing the world a great favour, modestly] The people do still love Maria, and I can't say that I blame them. I expect she could hold the population together for a while at least, and she may have some influence concerning Gillton Menn. [Looks at Clint, speaks slowly] Maria could controll the townsfolk, and release the prisoners.

Vasco : In this cursed town, you can be arrested for anything. The rather ludicrous claim made was that they helped smuggle one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse into town. It is only as a result of my natural guile and cunning that I haven't also been arrested. The town is on high alert for me.

Alice : [Holding up the back page of the paper so the others can see a picture of Vasco on it, with "Wanted" written below the picture] Looks like he's truthin'.

Irving : [To Austin] Good idea, lad, but the word on the street is that Maria left town straight after the assassination attempt.

Harvey : Damn and blast it! [To Irving] Does that mean the constabulary are still looking for us?

Irving : I don't know.

Alice : Why would they be looking for us?

Harvey : Why dear Alice, for we also helped smuggle Darius into Hysteria, or at least, we were involved with the group who did! [To Irving] Good professor, you helped us break out of one prison, how possible is it to break the roving band out of Hysteria's? Now believe me, this is not the type of tom foolery I usually get up to, being town jailer back in Queens View, but if this Gilton Menn will not listen to reason, we must think of all the alternatives!

[ALICE says nothing, but looks puzzled.]

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD agrees. The previous behaviour of Dicey notwithstanding, we would be little better than Darius if we were to abandon them.

Vasco : [Bows deeply to Jerome and Harvey] Sirs, if your honour was ever in doubt, it most certainly is not now. I -

Alice : [Interrupting, pointing at Harvey] But how do they know that?

Harvey : Er, because we were there, dear niece!

[ALICE says nothing, but looks puzzled.]

Vasco : [Continuing] I would be most interested in hearing your plan to rescue them. I -

Alice : [Interrupting, pointing at Harvey] But how do they know we were there?

Chastity : [To Alice] Alice! Manners! I'm sure you've been brought up not to interrupt. [Points to Vasco] Let the poor man finish. [Looks up to the sky] Phili, what is society coming to.

Vasco : Thank you sister, it is -

Alice : [Interrupting, irritated] I was only asking a question!

Harvey : Now now, Alice, let the man speak, dear girl.

Alice : [Opening her hands in a gesture of frustration] I wasn't finished! [Sits and sulks, with her hand on her chin, lower lip jutting out and breathing heavily]

Vasco : As I was saying, I would be interested in hearing your plan to free them. The jail is a very secure place - very few people can get in there.

Harvey : On the contrary, my foreign friend, it's all too easy to get in there. It's the getting out part which may prove troublesome. Irving, do you know where we can find the blueprints of the jail?

Austin : [Walks into the center of the conversation] Hold on one moment please Irving, I do believe that the delectable Alice has something that she wishes to say. It sounded like and important piece of information. Alice?

Harvey : [Sits down] Come, come, dearest niece. [Excitedly] Is it the solution to our current problem?

Alice : I - er, [gets flustered] um [looks down and says quietly] I forgot what I was going to say. [Looks away, humiliated.]

Austin : [Calmly, winks at Alice] It was something about 'how did they know we where there'. [Inspects his highly polished finger nails]

Alice : How did they know we were there? [Tuts at Austin's foolishness] Well, I guess it was because they saw us, don't you think, Austin?

Austin : [To Alice] But, my sweet lady of destiny, they were not there to see us. [Gets out a magnifying glass and spys Alice through it Sheerluck Homley style]

Alice : Who? The cops that chased us?

Harvey : [Turns to Austin and gasps in shock] By the saints, what's happened to that mans eye? It's going to pop! [Shields his face with his hands]

Alice : That's not his eye, that's a zit.

Austin : [To Alice] No I was referring to the Racial Sterotypes. But that is of little consequence is there are far greater powers at work here, and our victory is inevitable. We are but puppets in a game of good guys versus bad guys. [Puts the magnifying glass away and retrieves a cheese doober from a silver case that was in his pocket, inserts it in a holder and lights up]

Alice : Hm, guess who's been smoking too many cheesy doobies. [Looks down at her shirt, which is covered in tiny little burns] Gah!

Irving : Er, Colonel. In relation to your question about the blueprints for the jail, the answer is yes, yes there is a comprehensive set of blueprints.

Clint : Puppets? So we are going to the circus after all? 'bout time we get movin'!

Alice : [Derisively to Clint] Circus? We're talking about a jail break here, Clint! You know, and I say this with a fair degree of certainty, the circus will have utterly, utterly, nothing to do with the jail break.

Harvey : [Glances at Chastity before suddenly clicking his fingers] The circus! You're quite right niece! We can hire the strong man and the bearded lady to aid us in the release of the roving band. The bearded lady to tempt the jailers, and the strongman to force apart the bars on the wall then their attention is diverted. Then they can make their escape!

Alice : [Exasperated] Tut! That's not what I said at all! That's ridiculous - I mean, there's just no way that a circus could help in a jail break.

Irving : By gum, lass! You've got it! No one would ever think of using a circus for a jail break! [Claps her on the back] Perfect! [Smiles at Harvey] You must be proud of her!

Alice : But - I - uh - [breaks off, lost for words.]

Chastity : [To Alice] Yes indeed, well done Alice. You've restored my faith in human nature, displaying such modesty. Giving us the factors of the plan whilst letting us think we've thought of it ourselves. [Wipes tear for her eye and looks to the sky again] Thank you for this faith restorer, O'Phili.

Harvey : [Beams with joy] Oh, good professor, you'll never know how deep my pride runs! The apple doesn't fall too far from the Short tree, let me tell you!

Alice : [Sighs, and rubs her eyes] Okay. So we're going to get the circus to break them out of jail?

Irving : Well, there is a special performance in the jail tomorrow night, apparantly the circus will perform there before leaving Hysteria for their next stopover.

Clint : Why? Were they arrested?

Chastity : [To Clint] I doubt it, but I must say that I have seen some criminal performances in the big top. I especially recall a circus my first husband, George and I took Joe, Harriet, Robert and Samson to see. The clowns were so poor that even the show Hyenas sobbed. And it took poor Harriet 4 months to get rid of the nightmares after the human cannonball act.

Alice : Well, they can be kind of scary, and sometimes even the clowns can be mean. I remember years ago, when my older sister went to a circus, one of the clowns started speaking to her. He asked her, "Madam, are you the front end of an ass?" Of course, she said no, but then he asked "Madam, are you the back end of an ass?" Again, she said no, but he carried on, saying "Then, madam, you are no end of an ass!" It was terrible, all the audience laughed and laughed at her. She was so upset, she told Uncle Harvey, knowing how quick witted he is, and how fast with a sharp answer he can be. They went back the next night, and the same thing happened. "Madam," he asked. "Are you the front end of an ass?" When she told him that she wasn't, he asked if she was the rear end. As with the previous night, she said no, and he then again "So, madam, you are no end of an ass!" and the crowd went wild with laughter. Then, however, Uncle Harvey, stepped up, and we all knew that something brilliant would follow, from the master of wit and repartee. He looked the clown in the eye, and shouted "Fuck off you red-nosed bastard!" [Beams proudly at Harvey]

Harvey : [Laughs loudly] And by the saints, the big shoe was certainly on the other foot then! Mind you, who would have guessed that those little dwarfs had such strong teeth!

Alice : [Laughs along with the memory] Yes, we were all delighted when we heard that you beat up those dwarves. [Smiles disappears] Of course, it wasn't all that funny when it turned out that they weren't dwarves at all, and were children. Hm, I suppose that lifetime ban on going to the circus will hardly apply here, will it Harvey?

Harvey : Good grief, I hadn't thought of that! But no, I shouldn't think so. I mean, what are the chances of that circus and this circus being the same one? [To Jerome] Doctor?

Jerome : Good Colonel, the lovely Alice has told me of your family's unfortunate relationship with circus folk. Now, while there are fourteen documented cases of various members of the Short family, for example, the Kingston-Shorts, the Bassett-Shorts, the Glossop-Shorts, the Wooster-Shorts and the Short-Shorts, being involved in incidents, resulting in an estimated eighty five life time barrings from various circuses -

Alice : Excuse me, Jerome, some of those were the same people, receiving multiple barrings from different circuses.

Jerome : But of course. However, getting back to my calculations, I suspect the probability of you being barred from this particular circus are about as remote as us spotting a three legged frog with a crutch.

[Enter KERMIT, the three legged frog, shuffling across the room.]

Kermit : [Glaring at the party] What the hell are you looking at?

Harvey : [Eyebrows raised, looks at Jerome] Gah!

Jerome : Gah, indeed. [Scribbles some calculations on the back of a napkin] Of course, the probability of both events happenning is even less likely. I think you can rest assured, Colonel.

Irving : So, what is the plan?

Harvey : Hmm, a good question, professor. Perhaps we can infiltrate the prison while the circus performs, rescue the roving bank and escape, all under the cover of a big top.

Irving : Perhaps you misunderstand, Colonel. The big top, while admittedly quite large, doesn't cover the entire prison. In fact, the big top will probably fit quite comfortably within the confines of the prison yard.

Austin : [Smirks] We are all going to end up joining the circus and sneaking in pretending we are part of the act. Are we not? As you know, I do not have any great love for farmyard animal outfits, and I do look rather good in a suit [Admires his reflection in the window briefly] I could be disguised as the 'Ring Master'[Smirks at his own private little joke]. Perhaps Alice could be an acrobat, and Clint a strongman act, Chastity a Clown and the Colonel could do the human cannon ball? How does that hang with everybody?

Alice : [Makes to comment on the ring master remark, but stops, and looks at Chastity, before applauding] Excellent! Excellent!

Harvey : Hmm, I'm not sure about this human cannonball business, private! I remember on the campaign of Louse, 59, one of our NCO's, Tommy Tubbard, managed to get himself stuck in a hollowed out tree stump, hunting for truffles, what! We huffed and we puffed, but there was no budging the rotund recruit! Eventually we carved hollows at the base of the stump, filled it with powder and lit the fuse! Well by the saints, Tommy flew out of the stump and flew fifty feet in the air, and with an Ooh and an Ahh from the assembled crowd, exploded in a ball of internal bits. Last time I ate tripe, let me tell you!

Clint : Of course Colonel, that's an amazing story, but I'm sure you can trust the doctors to come up with a fail-safe device. They can even give it a first try with a sand bag, what!

Harvey : [Laughs loudly] Ha, private Scar, what a rare wit you are! [Rubs his shaking stomach in mirth]

Harvey : And I can throw my voice! [Holds up his fist and turns it sideways towards the party, moving his thumb up and down] Gred end gutter! Gred end gutter! Ha! All these years and haven't lost the skill!

Clint : I can smoke a really long cigar. [Pulls out a metre-long cigar from his pocket, puts it on his mouth and tries to light it, but it crumbles into little pieces] Ah crap, my jeans were too tight!

Chastity : I can sing. The family unit would regularly gather round the piano for an evening sing-song. My Second Husband George was a very accomplished pianist, you know. Listen. [Steps back in an operatic one-hand-on-heart-one-hand-in-the-air pose and sings] For Phili, for Phili. He'll make Hell very chilly.

Clint : [Covering his ears and shouting to make himself heard] Ok!, maybe we should stick with the get-in-kill'em-all-get-out plan!

Austin : [Checks his nails for shine and polish] I'm pretty handy with a whip. Alice and Jerome could be magician and helper, and do a swords through the girl in the box trick [Raises his eyebrows at Alice] You would, naturally have to dress in the appropriate manner, aka a skimpy little sparkly number, just as the rest of us would do. Perhaps I could be a lion tamer, I could wear Bumchs leopard skin thong [Maplin produces this item from a pocket] This would greatly facilitate the conveyance of our weapons into the prison, in a apparently innocent manner.

Alice : [Staring incredulously at Clint] So it [emphasises] was a cigar in his pocket! [To Austin] That sounds good, Aussie - but wouldn't it be better if there was a single act that we could all be part of. The idea of having some kind of magic show is great - I'd be a brilliant assistant, look [takes out some clothes out of her bag, which are ludicrously small and totally inappropriate.] Aren't they just great? Better than that Debbie McGrin who hangs out with Daniel Pauls, any day!

Harvey : [Scratches his head] Hmm, I'm not sure that a thimble will be weapon enough to overpower the prison guards, Austin.

Alice : [Scratching her head] Hmm. Depends on whether or not it is full of Clint's sweat, I suppose.

Austin : [To Harvey] Thimble? [Looks around briefly] I was refering to the swords that we would, of course, say were for the box trick, but would, naturally, be our read swords and daggers. Anyway, I for one require rest and medical atention [Points at his stabbed shoulder]

Harvey : [Nods his head] Good thinking that man! [Looks down at himself and grimaces] And I for one require the services of a tailor. Look! [Displays a ruined cuff] Yet another shirt mutilated in this fight of good versus evil!

Chastity : This "lets pretend we're part of the circus" plan is all very well, but don't you think that the other members of the circus might notice?

Chastity : [Glances round room and out the window] Erm, which tiny clown car, dear?

Alice : Ah, you see Chastity, that's where you're wrong. We can dress up as clowns for our magic act, and, if anyone asks why they haven't seen us we can claim to have been in that tiny clown car, and just didn't get a chnace to get out. [Beams happily.]

Alice : You know, Chastity, for someone who claims to be an expert on circuses, you seem to know very little about them.

Harvey : I think we should check out this circus later, find out what kind of acts perform, and then decide which best suits our covert op. Then it's merely a matter of obtaining disguises, detain the real act, and infiltrate the prison.

Irving : The circus is playing in the town square tomorrow afternoon, and in the prison tomorrow night. It might, as young Austin suggested, be a good idea to get some rest, and maybe talk with Fr. Fonz about getting some healing for those wounds.

Harvey : Capital, dear professor! And of course, pay a visit to a good tailors.

Irving : [Taken aback] Me? uncomfortable?

Austin : [Thoughtfully] They have their pro and cons like any other material. The metallic trouser does withstand a good banging but also requires extra-odinary fitting accessories such as vaseliene, which can become over liquid in energetic situations. I prefer olive oil, it gives one a sense of security. [Blows some smoke rings]

Irving : But, my dear Colonel, that is one of the best things about them!

Alice : But anyway, are we going to sleep now? Is the plan to meet the Fonze tomorrow morning?

Alice : But anyway, are we going to sleep now? Is the plan to meet the Fonze tomorrow morning?

Harvey : It certainly is, dear niece! [Yawns massively] All that dying has worn me out! [To Irving] Where can we find lodgings for the evening, professor?

Irving : Given the nature of your injuries, and the high police presence outside, I think it would be best if you were to stay here this evening. There is plenty of space in the next room. [Clanks noisily over to a door, which he opens, to reveal a tiny closet] See?

Harvey : Now professor, I've been quartered in tiny barracks before, but this is an impossible arrangement, what! We can't all fit in there! [Walks to the cupboard] There's hardly room enough for me!

Irving : [Looks in] Yes, yes. I see what you mean. [Turns to Jerome] What do you think, lad? Could we do something about it?

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD believes that we could relocate some of the structural supports in the cupboard to another part of the house, thereby increasing the amount of walls that could be removed to increase the sleeping space. Jerome believes that with a team of eight men with loose underpants, the cupboard could be transformed in a matter of months.

Alice : [Looking through an open door, where there appears to be some kind of dormitory] Or, we could just sleep in here?

Irving : [After exchanging a startled look with Jerome, starts writing feverishly in his note book, after about ten minutes, he turns to Alice and says] Yes.

[Exit ALL, to bed.]

[Book II, Act VII, Scene II. The Dormitory. ALICE, JEROME, CLINT, CHASITY, HARVEY and AUSTIN are here, asleep. The Dormitory consists of twelve beds. Enter TIMMY TWOCOATS, GNARLBERT GNEINSTEIN and BATARD NON DROLE.]

Timmy : [Sliding into the room on his knees, holding up a huge cone and shouting at the top of his voice] Ta-ra-an-ta-ra! Its wake up time!

Gnarlbert : Hee huh! [Gives Harvey a big, wet kiss]

Batard : [Smoking a cigarette, standing at the doorway] Wake up, you Eenglish speeking peeg dogs. It is time for a penis.

Alice : [Rubbing sleep out of her eyes, trying to focus on Batard] For a penis?

Batard : [Flicking his cigarette onto the floor] Yes. A penis. There will be no more sadness, just a penis.

Alice : Oh, I see, [smiling self-consciouly] a penis is happinness?

Batard : [Rubbing his hands together] Excellent!

Austin : [Wakes up. Realises that he is still in Cointreau. Sigh!] Looks at Batard [Sigh!] What are you doing here? [Gets out his dagger, Shouts] Wake up troop, battle stations!

Alice : [Realises she is still in Hysteria] What the hell is going on here?

Batard : [Flatly] I am 'ere to cheer you up.

Gnarlbert : [Stepping away from Harvey, and walking towards Austin with his arms outstretched and smiling] Who needs a hug?

Harvey : [Wakes with a start] Eh, what, up and ready, sir! [Opens his eyes and sees Gnarlbert, inches away from him] By the saints! [Pushes Gnarlbert away in surprise]

Clint : [Waking up] Oh for fuck's sake, [emphasis] another hug session? Get away from me you ugly beast!

Austin : [Realises he's not in Cointreau, but is infact in Hysteria. To Gnarlbert] A step too close and you'll be hugging this dagger, and I can assure you the jury will never hear a word of it!

[Fortunately for GNARLBERT, HARVEY's reactions are too slow, and he is long gone before HARVEY even attempts to push him.]

Alice : [Sympathetically] Yeah, I'm like that before I have my morning espresso too. [Tries to put on her glasses, then realises she doesn't actually wear any] See?

Timmy : [Pointing his megaphone at Harvey] Its funtime!

Gnarlbert : [Stops, and gives Austin a reproachful look] Now, you know, I heard that there's a little boy here with a sore arm, I know he's you-hoo!

Alice : [Wiping her hair from her face] Funtime? [Looks at her watch] Ah, come on, its not even twenty five to funtime!

Harvey : [Sitting up in bed] What the blue blazes is going on here! Who are you lot! [GNARLBERT and TIMMY look at each for a second, before put their arms around each other and facing the party.] Gnarlbert and Timmy : [In perfect time] We're the guys, we're here to take sighs, to take them and make them laughs, and this we won't do by halves.

Batard : [Half heartedly joining in at the last second, and way off time] won't do by halves.

Austin : [Shouts] Irving! [To the Clowns] Why are you here? What sighs? Are you healers?

Timmy : [Lying across the bottom of Austin's bed] My wife asked me that question once, because she said she had a pain in the neck, so I said hell, I've had pain in the ass for the last twenty five years, and you don't see me complaining! Wagga wagga wagga!

[There is no response from IRVING. However, now, in the cold light of day, it is apparant that there are two entrances to this room. One that the party entered from, and another, at the far end of the room, away from the windows and the lights, making it difficult to see.]

Gnarlbert : Of course we are healers! We've got the best medicine of all!

Alice : [Eyes lighting up] Mesceyote?

Gnarlbert : [Producing a small horn from under his jacket and giving it a loud parp] No, silly! Laughter! [Parp!]

Harvey : [Rubbing sleep from his eyes] Oh, I say! Excuse me!

Timmy : [Still on Austin's bed] Oh-er! Said the Vicar to Lady!

Gnarlbert : Hee huh! [Parps the horn loudly at Harvey]

Harvey : [Laughs loudly] Oh, I do like clowns! Great morale boosters, don't you think, dear niece? [Looks around the room] I say, what do you three want?

Alice : [Selfconsciously pulling her dressing gown around her, as Batard continues to stare at her] Good question, Uncle Harvey.

Gnarlbert : [Holding the horn right up to Harvey's face, parping it loudly] Hee huh! We want to make you kids all better.

Batard : [Still staring at Alice] I 'ave come because I 'ave a penis.

Alice : That's what I was afraid of.

Harvey : [Laughs again, before noticing Alices discomfort, to Batard] By the saints, hey you, Bonzo, stop staring like that at my niece! It's just not funny!

Batard : [Taking out a menthol cigarette, and lighting it] But, of course. I am 'ere to entertain.

Timmy : [Laughing] So folks, you don't really look like sick children!

Jerome : What do you mean?

Timmy : Well, you're not children. And you're not sick.

Clint : [To Gnalbert] Hey, I can make funny noises as well! [Burps disgustingly loud] See?

Gnalbert : Hee huh! That's great! [Walks towards Clint, but slows down as he approaches, clearly getting somewhat queasy, and staggers back] Er, yes. Great.

Timmy : So, sick children? Boys with measles? A girl with a patch over her eye? A kid with an unfeasibly large bandage on her finger?

Harvey : No, there's no sick children here, my friend. I'm afraid you're mistaken!

Timmy : [Megaphone hanging by his side, clearly taken aback] No sick children? Then, then it was all a lie? So, there's no little Austin with a sore shoulder? And no young Alice with a sore throat? No scientist with a broken heart? [Sighs, and looks down, before glancing back up] And I suppose little Clint and Harvey aren't dead?

Gnarlbert : Just as well, because that would take a whole lot of cheering up to cure! [Parp.]

Batard : [Glaring at Gnarlbert] You make me sick. [Flicks his cigarette at him, bouncing it off his head]

Harvey : [Claps his hands, laughing loudly with joy] What an act! Absolutely wonderful! Dear niece, have you ever seen their like!

Alice : [Glaring at Batard, who's taking out another cigarette] All too often, I fear.

Harvey : [Looks at Batard] You know, I think he's my favourite one! You can tell how much joy he brings to childrens lives!

Batard : And not just children, I bring a penis to the ladies too.

Alice : [Sigh] He means happinness.

Batard : Mais oui, that too.

Harvey : In fact, I bet you not just anyone could do your job! Say for instance, I bet that even if I put on one of your suits, and painted my face to look exactly like you, I wouldn't be anywhere near as funny! Perhaps a few of our troop could dress up as you all and try it out? Later this evening, for instance?

Clint : Mais oui, I wouldn't mind doing that myself. I'm very good at bringing a penis to the ladies.

Harvey : [Stops laughing suddenly and turns to Batard] You see, he wasn't funny at all!

Austin : [Looks at Batard all stary eyed] Je suis petite Austin. J'ai un blessée épaule [Shows Batard his stabbed shoulder in a flirty manner]

[BATARD merely yawns at AUSTIN, before blowing several smoke rings at him.]

Gnarlbert : [Looking at Austin] Oh no! You poor lamb! If I whisper the magical incantation to you, it will make you better. [Leans over, waiting for Austin to lean in so he can whisper.]

Batard : [To Harvey] That is true, you and your feelthy English speaking peeg dogs are not funny, you do not 'ave the true soul of the clown. You and your bangars and mash, and your warm beer and [looks at Alice] slutty girls, you, hmm, maybe you aren't so bad after all.

Alice : [Beams proudly] Aw!

Timmy : [Sitting down at the end of Harvey's bed] That sounds a laugh, right enough, but only sick children are allowed partake in the show. Unfortunately there haven't been many around recently.

Chastity : For shame, Mister Clown. It is a terrible thing that you bemoan children not being sick.

Timmy : That's not it at all, its just that any child who is even remotely ill is immediately killed, so terrified are the people here that they will spread the bionic plague.

Jerome : But the bionic plague has been eradicated for centuries, since Dr. Austin Steve, BSc, MD discovered the cure!

Timmy : That's Hysteria for you - and its why we can't wait to leave.

Austin : [Leans away, to avoid squirty flower antics] I'm sure you incantation doesn't need to be whispered.

Gnarlbert : [Roars with laughter, before giving another parp] Hee huh! You're too quick for me! [Squirts some ointment out of his unfeasibly large flower onto Austin's shoulder] There y'go, young fella, that should help with that awful mark.

Harvey : [Confused, to Timmy] Bionic plague? Is that the disease that makes you move really, really slowly, yet somehow you still keep pace with any horse or cart? By the saints, a terrible affliction! One lad had it during the campaign of Campbodia, and everytime he lifted something, there was a strange dodododododododododo noise! Told everyone he had a magic eye! Didn't help him see that landmine though! [Shudders]

Timmy : [Confused, to Harvey] Well, they are the symptoms, but I think it was eradicated years ago. What was the guy's name again?

Jerome : Dr. Austin Steve, BSc, MD discovered the cure.

[The wound on AUSTIN's back seems to be improving.]

Alice : [Impressed, turns to Batard] Do you have a flower like that?

Batard : Mais oui. [Holds it up to her]

Alice : Excellent! [Leans over to smell it, but, to her obvious dismay, instead of a squirt of healing ointment, out comes a tiny boxing glove that punches her in the face] Ow! [Looks around, startled] Hey! [The has retracted at amazing speed] Ow, that ointment sure stings!

Harvey : [To Alice] That's to let you know it's working, dear niece!

Clint : [Getting out of bed, to Batard] Hey, can I play dead arm with you? It's a simple game, you punch me first, maybe with your flower glove, and then I punch you back. The first one that can't move his arm anymore looses the game!

Batard : [Sits beside Alice, smoking] No, I've seen enough limp wrists already today.

Gnarlbert : Any one else need some of my special [parp] ointment?

Harvey : [Looks at his numerous wounds] I could certainly do with some healing. Goodness, field doctors have certainly changed since my time in the battle fields!

Chastity : [To Gnarlbert] I would be most obliged if you could give me some of your healing ointment. As a member of the clergy, I hope that it would be OK for you to put some on my hand and I'll apply it modestly in private. I don't think it would be appropriate for me to disrobe and have you squirt your goo on my chest.

Alice : Why? Does it get stuck to the hairs there?

Clint : Ladies, can you keep your depilation troubles for yourselves? We're trying to get some healing here.

Chastity : [To Alice] No, dear, not like your legs. [To Clint] Maybe the clown has some in a scented flower for you? Just so that you can blend in, you understand. We don't want our cover blown by the animals gagging as you pass them by. [Forces a smile at Clint]

Austin : [To Alice] I am most proficient with a razorblade and could shave your slender young legs, to perfection, in no time at all. [Looks to Chastity] But unfotunately for you I don't have my heavy duty blade with me. [Looks back to Alice] Well?

Alice : Very well, thank you. And very smooth.

Chastity : [To Austin] My body belongs to Phili, so keep your blades away. [To Gnarlbert] Do you have any more ointment. I have several wounds that require attention, and would like see to them whilst making my morning ablutions. After all, cleanliness is next to Philiness.

Austin : [Peers over to see Alices smooth legs] Excellent, almost as smooth as mine. [Whips out a painfully sharp looking cutthroat razor, soap brush and some very, very expensive looking shaving soap] And how is your bikini line my sweet?

Alice : [Smiles at Austin] It'll take a better line than that to get to see it, Austin.

Gnarlbert : [To Chastity] Okeedokee, here you go! [Hands a small jar to Chastity] You might want to check that its okay, because there is something of an odour to it.

Alice : It might be worth giving some to Clint, so.

Chastity : [Opens lid and takes a sniff of the ointment. Coughing] By Phili, what's in this? I can't just quite place the smell combination. Its been a while since my second husband, George taught me the skill in our wine cellar. [As soon as CHASTITY opens the lid, a number of foam snakes shoot out, and bounce around the room, causing GNARLBERT and TIMMY to roar with laughter, followed shortly by a loud "parp" from GNARLBERT.]

Austin : [Watching Chastity] Quelle surprise! [Checks his shoulder to see if it has completely healed, quickly and dexterously raises a modesty curtain]

Chastity : [Realising that her reeling senses were really caused by a foam snake nearly going completely up her left nostil, pulls out the offending snake. Coughing and snorting] I ..[Cough] suppose [Snort] you think that was [Cough, snort] funny !! Now I remember why I never liked the clowns. [To Irving] Would you tell me where I can freshen up please.

[Time passes.]

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD believes that Chastity is somewhat disoriented from the shock of the snakes, and that her disorientation has lead her to address someone who is not present. Furthermore, Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD believes that it would save time if you were to just give us whatever healing cream you can spare, and to refrain from parping, shooting snakes or whatever passes for frivolity for you people.

Alice : [Still giggling at Chastity's misfortune] And what, Dr. Trindle, passes for humour in your circles?

Jerome : Oh, I don't know - pinning an amusing equation on someone's back, or maybe replacing a fellow scientist's contact lens cleaner with hydrochloric acid, or even, [smiles to himself] rearranging the atoms in a your supervisor's favourite chemical structure to spell out an amusing joke about him and Carie Murie. [Starts laughing hysterically, making all manner of bizarre snorting sounds, before eventually pausing to take some of his asthma inhaler.]

Timmy : [After Jerome has calmed down] Certainly, we have some ointments, but they were meant for a bunch of sick kids that we were told about.

Clint : [Stepping away from Jerome] [Kiddy voice] But I'm a poor sick child, my tummy hurts! [Farts] See? Please please help me!

Timmy : Hm, well, the fart does make you smell a bit like a kid, but I'm not so sure about the whiskey. What's your name? We were given a list of the sick children.

Chastity : [Looking a bit foolish, all events considered] I think you'll find him on your list as little Clint. And to ease your trivial little mind we are indeed all children. Of Phili.

Timmy : [Making a list, and checking it twice] Ah, so I see. [Looks up at Chastity] Now, given that you just tried to have a conversation with someone who isn't even in the room, that must make you Alice, right?

Chastity : [Glancing in Alices direction] Given the evidence I can see why you'd make that assumption, but I'm actually Chastity.

Timmy : [Glancing over at Alice, who's making noises by flicking the knuckle of her thumb against her front teeth] Ah, suddenly it all makes a bit more sense. [Back to Chastity] I have to say, you don't look like children.

Chastity : [ Bitterly to Timmy, still picking small bits of foam from her nostril ] Much in the same way that you, as a entertainer, are not entertaining. [Calming down slightly] But as I've said we are all children of Phili, maybe that's what your list means. Where did you get it from? Maybe then we can explain the terms it refers to?

Gnarlbet : [Opening his arms wide to Chastity] Someone needs a hu-hu-hu [pause] hug!

Clint : [Shaking his head] I can't take it much longer.

Gnarlbert : [Turning to Clint] Uh oh! Little Clinty is upset, don't worry, if you're a good boy, we'll let you join in with the act tonight. Here, let me dry your eyes. [Pulls out a hanky, which is, of course, tied to another one, and ends up pulling out about twenty of them]

Chastity : [Starting to get a frustrated] Will you stop this fooling around. I did not adopt a lifestyle of religious discipline to work in a atmosphere of such frivolity, by Phili. We are on a mission to defeat evil, and there is no need for the distraction of hilarity along the way. The world would be a better place if everyone got on about their business in an orderly, Phili fearing manner. Research done by the RMAF shows that 90 per cent of accidents happen during tomfoolery. That in itself should tell a story. [Goes back to sit on her bed in a self righteous huff]

Austin : [To Chastity] A little unforgiving, nay, lacking in charity today are we not. Just sit down and relax, every thing is taken care of, we even have a Batard if we need one [Nods towards Batard].

Batard : And I 'ave an irritating bunch of English speaking peeg dogs, but I do not need eet.

Timmy : [To Chastity] No need to get upset, little Chastity, we can't help acting the clown, after all, we're clowns! [Turns to Batard and pushes a custard pie in his face] Anyway, we're trying to help - normally in a hospital visit, we give some medicines to the sick kiddies, and then offer them a chance to be part of the circus.

Austin : [To Timmy] I am sure that we would all graciously accept your kindly offer to allow us to partake in you circus, [Waves a finger in the air] but first it is necessary to ascertain wether or not, as the case may, or may not be, your ability to cover any damages that may, or may not be, sustained by myself or any other member of our party, in the event that one or more of the party, the party being wholly described by those you see before you now, should choose to make a claim against you, the circus. If you, the circus, do have such insurance, in order to assure that we, the party, are fully covered across all eventualities, including embarrassment, drowning, electrocution, defamatory remarks or gesticulations, electrocution, trampling by elephants or any other creatures or objects, as the case may be, all that is required is that you sign these contracts confirming our employment terms and costumes and we are all done! [Flourishes a big sheet of papers at Timmy].

Timmy : [Takes the papers and starts reading] Hm. Yes. Yes. I like what you've done here. Hm. Elephant trampling, yes. This all looks in order. [Takes out a pen, but squirts some black ink all over Austin]

Alice : [Applauding happily] This is great!

Austin : [In a state of shock] My Wexter Dong suit! Aaagh [Looks pale, gets a fat pen like object and some strange looking material from his pocket and tries to remove the ink] This is going to cost you!

Timmy : Aw, come on! If you want to appear in our show, you have to get used doing wacky, zany stuff all the time!

Alice : [Excited] You mean like, flashing a passing carriage from the back of the school bus carriage? Timmy, Batard, Gnarlbert, Austin and Jerome : Yes!

Harvey : No!

Chastity : There'll be no flashing for you, young lady. Only Phili himself knows how many accidents have been caused by foolish young girls flashing out the back of carriages - blinding people with their torches, tut! Shame on you!

Austin : [Now wearing an all in one see thru-red plastic body suit (water tight). To Alice] Perhaps you could practice your flashing on these clowns.

Alice : [Covering her eyes] Eauh! Ugly naked old guy!

Austin : [Looking around for the naked old guy, then realises who Alice is looking at. To Alice] I am not naked, under this very expensive red 'Wet boy' suit I am sporting the very latest 'Tammy baumfinger' thong and crop top [Gives everyone a twirl] And I am not in the least bit old either. Chastity is old, [Gestures to Chastity, then turns to eye contact Alice] you and I are but in the prime of our youth, the peak of fitness, driven by mother natures passion for life [Inhales deply and turns away dramatically]

Alice : Eauh! Ugly naked old guy who thinks he's young!

[Enter IRVING, who does a double take when he sees AUSTIN.]

Irving : Ee, lad! I had hoped you'd all join in with the spirit of the clowns, but I had never hoped that one of you would put on such a ridiculous looking outfit, excellent!

Harvey : [Still laughing at the ink squirting pen joke] By the saints, these three are the funniest comedic entertainers I've spent time with in years! Such wit, such timing, O, how wonderful! But what's this you say about joining your act, lads? How that would fill my heart with joy! Eh!

Gnarlbert : [Hooting his horn] Well, as Doctors of Comedy, it is our duty to set the laughometer to maximum, to give humour transfusion, an injection of sunshine and to get on the merrymaking bus and set forth with great hilairty to rejoicing city.

Alice : What?

Batard : He said that because your father paid for it, we'll let you join for twenty four hours. We always need people for the elephants to wipe their feet on.

Harvey : [Claps his hands together] We'll do it! We'll lampoon like the best of them! And what with Austin bringing his own costume along, we'll even reduce on the expenses of hiring suits!

Austin : [Looking down his nose Irving, in a playful, but snooty way] From a man who is still wearing metallic trousers, I expect nothing less.

Irving : [To Austin] Why, thanks, lad. [Knocking on the front of his pants] But, these aren't metal, they're just a very fine pair of Chonis. Now, I suggest that you pay a quick visit to Fr. Fonze, and then meet up with the circus for the evening show.

Gnarlbert : [Pretends to bite his nails in mock horror] Tonight's show? But that's in [dramatic pause].

Alice : So, Clint, how come your pyjamas look just like your clothes?

Clint : Because these are my clothes, you fool!

Alice : Aw, Clint! I know you don't have much taste, but wearing pyjamas outside the bedroom just isn't right.

Clint : Would you prefer if I was naked?

Alice : [Mimicking] Would you prefer if I was naked?

Clint : Actually, yes!

Alice : [Confused] Gah! [Looks at Gnarlbert, before turning back to Clint] That's a pretty long pause, isn't it?

Timmy : He's trying to heighten the drama.

Gnarlbert : [Theatrically] The haunted house! [Annoyed face] Ack! I mean, the prison.

Clint : [To Gnalbert] The prison? Then I can't go naked, unless we're performing for the ladies. You know, to bring [annoying finger quotes] a penis to the ladies.

Alice : [Smiling at Clint] I'm sure there's some other part of your anatomy that will appeal to the gentlemen prisoners.

Batard : [Snottily to Clint] It is impossible for you to bring the ladies to the same level of passion and delight as I, with your coarse manners, filthy nails and oh so bad body odour.

Clint : [To Alice] And how do you know that? That's probably the part that pleases you as well.

Alice : Only because I suspect it to be marginally less displeasing than your face.

Clint : With that sense of humour, no wonder you weren't chosen for the clown part.

Alice : With that big red nose, I wonder why you weren't chosen for the clown part.

Clint : [To the clowns] Ok, so do we have to practise for the show?

Batard : Mais, oui! [Slaps a custard pie in Clint's face] Now, you ready.

Clint : You mother f... [Starts drawing his sword, but stops midway and puts it back] Mmm, actually it's quite good. It's like those apple and custard pies I used to rob from the bakers next door, when I was a kid.

Alice : [Picking a small yellow blob off Clint's face and tasting it] Hey! That's not custard! Eauh!

[Enter IRVING WASHINGTON, through the door that the party entered through the previous night.]

Irving : Ah, good morning lads!

Clint : [To Alice] That's because it's now mixed with zit-sauce. [Looking at Irving] Wow, how did you do that, coming in twice without leaving? I think you could do the magic act!

Irving : Ah well, a magician can't really give away his secrets now, can he?

[Enter IRVING WASHINGTON, who does a double take on the other two IRVINGs.]

Irving : What the?

Clint : [Smiles like a little child looking at the impossible three Irvings, while squeezing another zit]

Gnarlbert : [To Clint] If you don't mind. [Scoops some of Clint's pus into a bottle] A clown can never have enough custard. Irving* : What's going on here?

Clint : [To Irving*, pointing to Irving**] Why don't you ask yourself?

Austin : [To Irving*] We appear to have a problem of the doppleganger nature. My present hypothesis is that I suspect that two of you are aliens [Draws his dagger] Irving* : Surely the doppelgangers should be identical? Look at that one [points at Irving***] he's about twice the size of me!

[It is true, now that it is a bit brighter in here, the party can see that the other two IRVINGs aren't quite identical, either to each other or to IRVING.]

Austin : [To the smaller Irvings] After a recent review of my previously stated hypothesis [Slight smirk] A review that included a more indepth review of the evidence at hand, and the new evidence that has recently come to light, I now propose the hypothesis that two of these Irvings are infact, [Dramatic pause] Low quality comedy dopplegangers performing an amusing pre-circus warm up! [Chuckles to himself] Small Irving : Haw! I congratulate you sir. [Peels of his rubber mask in true "Mission Impossible" style] I am B.T. Parnum. Proprieter of B.T. Parnum's World of Wonders.

Harvey : [Thoroughly confused at the recent goings on] Eh? What do you sell?

Parnum : I sell [dramatic pause] the unknown! [Begins to move around the room] The mysterious, [blows into his hands, causing a puff of smoke to come out] the impossible [lifts his top hat to reveal a rabbit underneath that has the head of a donkey] the frivolous [nonchalantly picks a coin from behind Alice's ear] and even, the monstrous! [Catches Clint's head, and twists it to face Harvey, putting his own beside it, before stepping away quickly, and bowing to Harvey] You sir, I do not know. [Turns to Chastity and flips the coin to her] For the church poor box.

Alice : [Searches her pockets] Hey!

Chastity : [Smiles sweetly at Alice] It is for a good cause, young Alice.

Harvey : I am Harvey Kinston Short, ex-colonel of the Kings Reach fusilers, don't you know. Pleased to meet you, dear fellow! But do you know the others in my troop? And if so, how?

Austin : [Lights up a cigarette, blows two smoke rings, one inside the other] Yes, indeed, well said Harv. How does he know us [To Parnum] Come on then! Spill the beans. What does B.T. stand for then? Bad Toupe? Bad Tricks? Big Trout?

Harvey : [Turns to Alice and hands her another coin] There you go my dear, don't spend it all on sweeties, now!

Clint : British Telecom? [Looks around, sees no-one laughing] Ok, guess I won't be doing the clown trick after all.

Parnum : [Smiles humourlessly at Austin] Bitter Tongue, maybe? [Turns back to Harvey] They and some of my employees met at a bar, and [smiles] shall we say, introduced themselves.

Alice : [Looks at the 1 copper piece coin] Wow, I didn't think they made coins that were worth so little any more! I'll try not to blow it all on candy floss.

Austin : [To Parnum] You seem to be a little too dry for the presently accepted ambiance. This usually means that you are nervous, and therefore perhaps you are nervous because you are infact, the enemy, a spy, so cheer up or die. Which is it to be? [Winks at Parnum]

Parnum : [Ignores Austin and turns to Chastity] Hello there, it is great to see you again! Where's your partner in crime?

Chastity : [Indignantly] Partner in crime? I can assure you, Mr. Parnum, I have no partner, and have not participated in any crime!

Parnum : My dear lady, the display put on by your friend and your goodself was anything but a crime, and I apologise abjectly if I suggested otherwise. [Clicks his heels together and bows to her]

Harvey : I say, Parnum, but whatever do you mean? The good sister in some sort of display in a public house? Stuff and nonsense, old boy!

Parnum : [Addressing Harvey] Sir, being a man of your own generation, I too, would have cried nay at such a suggest, but B.T. Parnum's World of Wonders was present to see it. [Glances at Alice] And what about you? [Does some pretend boxing on her] Haw! A feisty young thing if ever I saw one!

[ALICE doesn't reply, but pales very slightly.]

Chastity : [To Alice] Ignore the man, young Alice. Obviously nothing more than some deviant who has confused you with some other blonde simpleton he's no doubt seen dancing naked in some seedy bar on the wrong side of the tracks! Possibly.

Alice : [Goes deathly pale] Dancing naked in a seedy bar on the wrong side of the tracks? Did we meet at Miguel's Genuine Portuguese Bar?

Parnum : [Laughing] No! [Smiles benignly before taking out a notepad] Can you give me the address of this bar?

Harvey : Correct sister, that indeed must be the case! Why, my dearest niece hasn't been in a fight since, well, [starts counting his fingers and gasps]...Undercity!

Parnum : There y'go! The good Colonel seems to have a better memory of your actions than you do! [Moves his hands across the air as though tracing out a banner] The man of a thousand memories!

[The other IRVING, who is quite a bit larger than the others, takes off his mask. He is BRICK.]

Brick : Uh. Hello. [Smiles a huge toothy grin at Alice] Remember me? The Strongest Man in The World? [Flexes a bicep at her]

Alice : [Head bowed, scratching her forehead] No.

Brick : [Pulling up his other sleeve, revealing a set of teethmarks] Well, you certainly made an impression on me!

Chastity : Curious, my first husband, George, used to talk about that place all of the time, when we first met. He said the bar was full of the most amazing food sellers. According to George, all the waitresses walked around freely displaying their mouthwatering mellons, perfect pears, beautiful baps and fowl breasts.

Austin : [To Parnum] Unfortunatley those were evil alien dopplegangers that you were watching, our alien alter-egos, made bye the enemy to kill us. You don't happen to have a recording of the show do you?

Jerome : Yes. Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc PhD is also familiar with that chain of establishments. He once visited the one in Queens View to conduct research into the increase in weight of women's garments after they have been introduced to various liquids. In fact, it was during one of those very investigations, which happened to coincide with the regional semi-finals of the Realms Wet T-Shirt competition that I first set eyes on the lovely Alice.

Alice : [Irritated] I told you, Jerome, it was raining outside, and I just came in for some shelter!

Parnum : Aliens? [Rubs his hands together] Excellent! Now, it wasn't so much a show, as a brawl. There was also a number of people taking their clothes off. [Smiles at the memory.]

Alice : [Putting her head in her hands] Oh, God!

Parnum : Not you, dear, you were busy trying to beat up [voice swells] The Strongest Man in The World!

Alice : [Relieved] Phew! Thank God I didn't do anything embarassing.

Harvey : Anyway and whatforth, what's your business here with my troop, dear Parnum?

Parnum : When I heard that there were sick children in the hospital, I had to come and visit - you know, just in case one of them had some kind grotesque growth on their forehead or something. Then, when I heard that it was Doctor Washington, a well known cheese seller and associate of the very party that stripped naked and tried to attack my circus in the Under City, that simply stripped me of any choice. I needed to see them in their sober state - I wanted to see the great escapologists, Chastity and Lenin, the naked lion tamer, Austin. Sir, I have made my living through performers for the last thirty years, and I simply had to meet them.

Harvey : [Rubs his mustache] Hmmm. Naked lion taming? Escapologists? Exhibitionism? Suddenly some of the blanks begin to be filled in! Gah! Well, now you've met them!

Chastity : Excuse me! I certainly never took my clothes off in front of a group of strangers! How dare your insinuate such a thing, Mr Parnum! Your mother should wash your mouth out with soap and a chimney brush! [PARNUM says nothing, but shows a picture to CHASTITY.]

Chastity : [Gasps in shock before trying to snatch it out of Parnums hand] That isn't me! It's my head, stuck onto some one elses body! Really!

Clint : Ah c'mon sist, it was great fun! Remember the handcuffs? [Laughs away]

Alice : [Face lights up] No way! [To Chastity] I told you there's nothing unnatural about it and [sees the picture, and her face falls] oh, that's what you meant. [Gets a bit flustered] So, er, this prison then?

Harvey : [To Parnum] Can't you see you've upset the dear sister. Most deliberately, I might add. Don't approve, old chap. Now, give the sister her photo, there's a good fellow! [Puts his hand on his sword] Now.

Parnum : [Gives Harvey a surprised look] Now now, Colonel, there is no need for that kind of behaviour!

[In the background BRICK cracks his knuckles]

Parnum : If she wants a copy of the picture, she'll be able to get one this evening from the souvenier stand. It's one of the most popular. [Turns the picture over, so the others can see that it's actually a postcard.]

Clint : [Bends over double from all the laughing]

Austin : [Peering at the postcard] Excellent, no we know what happened that night, when we acquired those tattoos and pendants etcetera. [To Parnum, hopefuly] You wouldn't happen to have a picture of my lion taming antics would you?

Parnum : Yes, but it would be illegal to bring it into a children's hospital.

Harvey : Is there nothing I can do to stop you from distributing these photographs? Look man, the other fellow in the picture is dead, how do you think his family would feel if they received such a card? What misery would could bring on them! And as for the good sister, what if someone sent her holy order in Queens View that very card, [glares at Austin for a moment] why, it would ruin her!

Parnum : [Considers for a moment] Yes. Yes, it would.

Alice : [Looking up from a postcard] What is the exact address of the convent again?

Parnum : Well, I suppose I could do a bulk deal on them for you, Colonel.

Chastity : [To Harvey] Why thank you, good Sir. [To Parnum] What you are doing is undermining the good work and integrity of the Church Of Phili, for a token monetary profit. It's a social and moral outrage. The very least you could do is change the picture and put someone else's head on the body. Someone who's good work and reputation would not be compromised [Looks at Austin]

Austin : [To Chastity] I do expect that you will be due some quite sizable royalties, from the profits reaped by Parnum and the likes. I could draw up a small royalites agreement if you like, for a small sum, naturally.

Chastity : [To Austin, sarcastically] Naturally.

Austin : [To Chastity] Very well, let them freely distribute the pictures of you, without any legal accountability.

Harvey : Now troop, don't let this man [indicates Parnum] drive a wedge between the cogs of our well oiled troop machine. [To Parnum] How much do you want for all the postcards, and the negatives?

Parnum : Let's just call it a round 500GP, that should cover my expenses.

Alice : Five hundred? Crikey, who'd have thought her reputation was worth that much?

Chastity : [To Parnum] How about we perform in your show tonight instead. You could bill it as a one-off spectacular, although I realise that the local crime rate may soar as members of the public vie to be part of the captive audience.

Austin : [To Chastity] The photos and negatives belong to you, Parnum should have gained copyright authority before ditributing any pictures of any of us. [Staring at Chastity] He owes us money for Phillis sake. He could be put in prison for this, as he has stolen from you and the rest of the party.

Harvey : [Still white with shock] Five hundred gold pieces! By the saints, I could buy an entire room full of silk shirts for half that amount, and still have enough left over to buy Ireland! [Sits down heavily]

Chastity : [To Austin] I will have to take your word what I'm legally owed. I only deal with the matters of the soul, and am too good natured to be trained in the ways of religious law. The church of Phili has a specialist section that deals with that. I remember a case of a group of 6 year old orphans who used to harvest grunberries from their poisonously spiked bushes for the church. They were found to have been eating some of the fruits. The Legal Fathers Of Phili only took 4 days in the cellars to get orphan's voluntary confessions. For servicing the needs of Evil the children were then nailed up outside the city walls, in Phili's mercy. The ground bodies were also profitably sold for pig meal afterwards and the nails and planks were reused to make beds for the homeless, so everyone was happy.

Parnum : [Pointing his cane at Austin] Incorrect, sir. The negatives and processed cards belong to me. The acts which were photographed took place during one of my shows - if anyone has a legal right to sue anyone, it is me. Herself and her sadly departed friend took off their clothes during a performance, on stage. She should consider herself lucky not to be sued by me. [To Chastity] We had already agreed that your party could be part of our show tonight, as a special favour to you. I would not pay anything for your group to be part of the show. I am about to take my leave of you. If you wish to take me up on my offer, you may present yourself at my office at 2pm. If you wish to purchase the postcards, you may bring the cash with you. [Looks back to Austin] If you wish to sue, then you may. But, and I say this with no small degree of certainty, I will sir, and I will break you.

Harvey : We'll see what we can do about the blood money, Parnum. Good day.

Parnum : [Smiles at Harvey and tips his hat to him] Remember, good Colonel, if you find my business approach too offensive, you need not bother coming. I am doing you a favour by letting you become part of the circus, and I do not care to do favours for those who are aggressive to me. If you find me, my methods or my two headed goat distasteful, I suggest you simply do not bother turning up.

Harvey : Whatever my peronsal feelings on the matter, good sir, I would never ruin the fun for some of my younger platoon members. [Stands and bows coldly to Parnum] That fact aside, I thank you for keeping your offer open. Now, if you'd excuse us, I must talk to my troop.

Parnum : I am sure sir, that with you around, any sense of fun is already ruined to a certain extent.

[Exit PARNUM.]

Gnarlbert : [Parp! Blares his horn at Harvey] Come on, chin up!

[Exit BRICK, BATARD and TIMMY.]

Austin : [To All] I would of course offer to pay, but unfortunately all of my money was confiscated when I was wrongly accused of robbery.

Clint : [Between his teeth] Wankers.

Alice : [To Austin] Oh no! Poor Austin - no wonder you tried to rob the church so!

Gnarlbert : That's all folks!

[Exit GNARLBERT.]

Harvey : [Looking after Parnum] Ha! That shows the measure of the man! Sending a broadside insult across the flanks while retreating for safe waters, thereby preventing a reply!

Alice : Yeah, pretty poor form, Stinky! [Sticks her tongue out at Clint]

Chastity : [To Alice] Alice, put that away! If Phili had intended for us to show our tongues to each other he'd have given us see-through faces.

Alice : [Sigh] Yes Chastity. [Puts it in her pocket] Ow. [Puts it back in her mouth]

Irving : Ee, lads, that didn't go too well, did it?

Harvey : Now, good doctor, is it possible for you to create some form of coin counterfeitting device, possibly using cheese and gold foil cheese wrappers. Five hundred counterfeit coins, to be exact? Now of course, normally I would never advocate such practices, but, well, it is in a good cause, what!

Irving : Why, good Colonel, I already have such a machine. [Holds out a bundle of gold coins] They are thin slices of cheddar in a gold foil wrapping.

Alice : [Takes one] Wow! Incredible, they are so lifelike.

Irving : Of course, only a child would be fooled.

Alice : Hey! [Looks closely at the coin, before biting it] Ow!

Irving : [Looks closely at the coins] Oops! They're real coins, sorry!

Harvey : Hmmm, well, other alternatives? Anybody? [To Irving] How much money do you have good professor?

Austin : [Examines the wrapping machine closely, pondering the quality of the forgeries] Perhaps we could use the machine to produce high quality copies of coins, with a few alterations [Looks at Jerome and Irving]

Clint : Isn't all this crap about spending 500GP buying the remaining postcards plus the negatives a huge waste of money? We're putting in risk our only way into the prison! Plus hundreds of those postcards have been sold, so everyone has seen them, in fact [pulls out one from his jacket inner pocket] I bought one in the town square this morning.

Chastity : [To Clint] Let me see that again [Attempts to grab postcard from Clints hand]

Harvey : [Looking at the picture] Actually private Scar, that would appear to be a picture of you tied to a bed, dressed in leather, with what looks like a turkey head in your lap.

Austin : [To Clint] Did you get one of me by any chance?

[CLINT easily dodges CHASTITY.]

Irving : Er, good Colonel, I do have some money, but I'm afraid I don't have that kind of spare cash lying around, and with all due respect to the good sister, young Clint here has a point. The damage has been done, and anyway, given that there is a group of doppelgangers that look exactly like you floating around, committing all kinds of atrocities and disgusting and unnatural acts, a postcard of Chastity in her frillies is hardly going to make your reputation any worse.

Austin : [To Irving] Good point, we can't even be sure if it was us in the show. So, Irving, do you think we could turn this machine into a high quality coin copy maker?

Harvey : Ha! How right you are, private Sleaze! How right you are! From what you tell me, sister, you remember nothing of the night,so presumably, it's quite possible that it is actually a picture of your doppleganger, and not of you in your, erm, [goes bright red and finishes quietly] under vestments. So let that cur keep his photographs, and you keep your dignity!

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD has an idea for making perfect copies. Unfortunately, it would require two gold pieces for each counterfeit one that we produce.

Clint : Oh, it was us alright, but... [draws a moustache on Chastity's postcard] Aha!, I knew there was something missing!

Alice : [Under her breath] It's a bit late for that!

Alice : [Looks at the postcard] Aw, Clint! You could at least draw it on her face!

Chastity : [To Irving] In some respects you are correct. Anyone that matters will automatically dismiss the picture as a cruel prank [Glares at Clint and Alice]. Any substantial money raised would be better used funding the relocation of orphans for grunberry picking. They're getting a bit low in numbers around local parishes, you know.

Irving : Er, yes, that's exactly what I was thinking too, sister. So, [claps his hands together] what next? A visit to Father Fonze?

Harvey : Yes, that sounds the perfect plan. I'm sure he'll be delighted to see us, having rescued the wonderful Maria, and all the towns people trapped by Torque.

Alice : Good point, Harvey! In fact, why aren't we being paraded around the town as heroes, lifted shoulder high by the townsfolk and proclaimed the saviours of Hysteria?

Irving : Er, I was going to talk to you about that. [Opens a shutter, so the party can see outside.]

[There is a ticker-tape parade going on, with hundreds of people in the street, cheering.]

Chastity : Do you think that Father Fonze will have forgiven us for shattering the beautiful serenity of his church and turning it into a cacophonous bloodbath, before dashing out without so much as a "Where's the mop, father". I hope this display outside will help persuade him to forgive our poor manners.

Alice : Yay! Good idea Sister, he'll surely forgive us when he finds out that we've arranged this parade for him.

Harvey : Well, there's only one way to find out, and that's to visit the dear fellow. Shall we go?

Jerome : Good idea, Colonel, but remember, we didn't arrange this parade. Did we?

Harvey : Eh? I meant we'll find out whether Father Fonze is angry with us for burning down his church. I don't know who arranged the parade, good doctor! Or even who it's for! [To Irving] Professor?

Irving : I believe it is for Colonel Joe Nunpar, and the Guardians of Uprightness.

Harvey : [Aghast] What? Why has the city given him a heroes welcome? The mans an absolute poltoon!

Irving : Er, [fidgeting] on account of him freeing all those people.

Harvey : What? What do you mean, freeing all those people? By the saints, the poltoon wasn't even there! Surely the people we freed know the truth?

Harvey : Whatever my peronsal feelings on the matter, good sir, I would never ruin the fun for some of my younger platoon members. [Stands and bows coldly to Parnum] That fact aside, I thank you for keeping your offer open. Now, if you'd excuse us, I must talk to my troop.

Parnum : I am sure sir, that with you around, any sense of fun is already ruined to a certain extent.

[Exit PARNUM.]

Gnarlbert : [Parp! Blares his horn at Harvey] Come on, chin up!

[Exit BRICK, BATARD and TIMMY.]

Austin : [To All] I would of course offer to pay, but unfortunately all of my money was confiscated when I was wrongly accused of robbery.

Clint : [Between his teeth] Wankers.

Alice : [To Austin] Oh no! Poor Austin - no wonder you tried to rob the church so!

Gnarlbert : That's all folks!

[Exit GNARLBERT.]

Harvey : [Looking after Parnum] Ha! That shows the measure of the man! Sending a broadside insult across the flanks while retreating for safe waters, thereby preventing a reply!

Alice : Yeah, pretty poor form, Stinky! [Sticks her tongue out at Clint]

Chastity : [To Alice] Alice, put that away! If Phili had intended for us to show our tongues to each other he'd have given us see-through faces.

Alice : [Sigh] Yes Chastity. [Puts it in her pocket] Ow. [Puts it back in her mouth]

Irving : Ee, lads, that didn't go too well, did it?

Harvey : Now, good doctor, is it possible for you to create some form of coin counterfeitting device, possibly using cheese and gold foil cheese wrappers. Five hundred counterfeit coins, to be exact? Now of course, normally I would never advocate such practices, but, well, it is in a good cause, what!

Irving : Why, good Colonel, I already have such a machine. [Holds out a bundle of gold coins] They are thin slices of cheddar in a gold foil wrapping.

Alice : [Takes one] Wow! Incredible, they are so lifelike.

Irving : Of course, only a child would be fooled.

Alice : Hey! [Looks closely at the coin, before biting it] Ow!

Irving : [Looks closely at the coins] Oops! They're real coins, sorry!

Harvey : Hmmm, well, other alternatives? Anybody? [To Irving] How much money do you have good professor?

Austin : [Examines the wrapping machine closely, pondering the quality of the forgeries] Perhaps we could use the machine to produce high quality copies of coins, with a few alterations [Looks at Jerome and Irving]

Clint : Isn't all this crap about spending 500GP buying the remaining postcards plus the negatives a huge waste of money? We're putting in risk our only way into the prison! Plus hundreds of those postcards have been sold, so everyone has seen them, in fact [pulls out one from his jacket inner pocket] I bought one in the town square this morning.

Chastity : [To Clint] Let me see that again [Attempts to grab postcard from Clints hand]

Harvey : [Looking at the picture] Actually private Scar, that would appear to be a picture of you tied to a bed, dressed in leather, with what looks like a turkey head in your lap.

Austin : [To Clint] Did you get one of me by any chance?

[CLINT easily dodges CHASTITY.]

Irving : Er, good Colonel, I do have some money, but I'm afraid I don't have that kind of spare cash lying around, and with all due respect to the good sister, young Clint here has a point. The damage has been done, and anyway, given that there is a group of doppelgangers that look exactly like you floating around, committing all kinds of atrocities and disgusting and unnatural acts, a postcard of Chastity in her frillies is hardly going to make your reputation any worse.

Austin : [To Irving] Good point, we can't even be sure if it was us in the show. So, Irving, do you think we could turn this machine into a high quality coin copy maker?

Harvey : Ha! How right you are, private Sleaze! How right you are! From what you tell me, sister, you remember nothing of the night,so presumably, it's quite possible that it is actually a picture of your doppleganger, and not of you in your, erm, [goes bright red and finishes quietly] under vestments. So let that cur keep his photographs, and you keep your dignity!

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD has an idea for making perfect copies. Unfortunately, it would require two gold pieces for each counterfeit one that we produce.

Clint : Oh, it was us alright, but... [draws a moustache on Chastity's postcard] Aha!, I knew there was something missing!

Alice : [Under her breath] It's a bit late for that!

Alice : [Looks at the postcard] Aw, Clint! You could at least draw it on her face!

Chastity : [To Irving] In some respects you are correct. Anyone that matters will automatically dismiss the picture as a cruel prank [Glares at Clint and Alice]. Any substantial money raised would be better used funding the relocation of orphans for grunberry picking. They're getting a bit low in numbers around local parishes, you know.

Irving : Er, yes, that's exactly what I was thinking too, sister. So, [claps his hands together] what next? A visit to Father Fonze?

Harvey : Yes, that sounds the perfect plan. I'm sure he'll be delighted to see us, having rescued the wonderful Maria, and all the towns people trapped by Torque.

Alice : Good point, Harvey! In fact, why aren't we being paraded around the town as heroes, lifted shoulder high by the townsfolk and proclaimed the saviours of Hysteria?

Irving : Er, I was going to talk to you about that. [Opens a shutter, so the party can see outside.]

[There is a ticker-tape parade going on, with hundreds of people in the street, cheering.]

Chastity : Do you think that Father Fonze will have forgiven us for shattering the beautiful serenity of his church and turning it into a cacophonous bloodbath, before dashing out without so much as a "Where's the mop, father". I hope this display outside will help persuade him to forgive our poor manners.

Alice : Yay! Good idea Sister, he'll surely forgive us when he finds out that we've arranged this parade for him.

Harvey : Well, there's only one way to find out, and that's to visit the dear fellow. Shall we go?

Jerome : Good idea, Colonel, but remember, we didn't arrange this parade. Did we?

Harvey : Eh? I meant we'll find out whether Father Fonze is angry with us for burning down his church. I don't know who arranged the parade, good doctor! Or even who it's for! [To Irving] Professor?

Irving : I believe it is for Colonel Joe Nunpar, and the Guardians of Uprightness.

Harvey : [Aghast] What? Why has the city given him a heroes welcome? The mans an absolute poltoon!

Irving : Er, [fidgeting] on account of him freeing all those people.

Harvey : What? What do you mean, freeing all those people? By the saints, the poltoon wasn't even there! Surely the people we freed know the truth?

Irving : Unfortunately most of them are in such a diseased state of mind from being so close to the mouth of hell, and from suffering so much that they were unable to tell what happened to them.

Austin : [To All] This is infact a good thing I believe. Firstly, the people will think that A, we are the group who were going to assasinate Eva, and B that we are the performers in the postcards. Therefore we can either use the parade as cover, or, foolishly attempt to claim that we were the heros. [Goes all serious, and swipes the air] I ask you now, if you were the people, who would you believe. [Then chuckles at his dramatic show]

Harvey : I don't believe it! That's the second time Nunpar has stolen our achievements! First in Queens View, and now, here!

Alice : [Watching Austin with a horrified look] Austin, with you telling it like that, I don't think I'd believe either story!

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD must agree with the Colonel. It is outrageous that Nunpar has once again stolen our thunder. Remember, he got into Queens View after we cleared the way.

Austin : [To Harvey] It is not such a bad thing, as I presume that the people will probably expect Nunpar to govern the city and state, and the people will respect him for such heroism, uniting the people, and doing a great deal of boring paper work, cutting through reams of the red tape of beauracracy and licking the [Pauses] derriers of administrators, other govenors and the like. Hardly a job for a battle hardened [Pauses] warrior, like yourself [Raises his eyebrows, and turns to the nearest mirror to admire himself].

Harvey : Good God man, I don't expect to be made supreme champion of the universe, but a thank you from the people wouldn't hurt once in a while, now, would it! And besides, judging from the mess Nunpar made of Queens View, these poor people here are in for a rather rum time!

Jerome : The Colonel is correct. The Queens View administration was characterised by bureaucracy and red tape - who could forget how difficult it was to meet Nunpar?

Alice : We met Nunpar?

Harvey : Yes indeed, dear niece, but it was such a torrid encounter that I'm not surprised that you've cast it from your mind! Gah! The sooner we rescue the others and depart for Hallbridges, the better!

Chastity : I don't think I've had the pleasure of meeting the man, but he sounds like the typical paper-pushing, self-promoting, opportunistic ingrate that is just borderline between enlightenment and damnation. Or am I doing him a misjustice?

Jerome : I think that Sister Chastity has had one too many cheese doobies. Sister, Nunpar was the man who introduced you to us. You went to him when you heard that Immaculata had died, under tragic, irreversible circumstances.

Harvey : And if anything, dear sister, your misjustice is against typical paper-pushing, self-promoting, opportunistic ingrates just borderlining between enlightenment and damnation, everywhere on this planet!

Irving : So, this means that you and Nunpar didn't part on good terms?

Harvey : Well, we parted on normal terms, but I'm afraid that unruly Darling person will most likely have sent an unfavourable report concerning the Hamstrain and our actions to Nunpar. Remember troop, Darling was not happy about being left behind while we went in search of the pyramid!

Austin : Perhaps Nunpar is in fact Parnum? A kind of Scarlet Gimpernel, but the opposite way around. Or perhaps that is us? WHo knows. The genuine loci of my current hypothesis is that all of this sitting around talking will get us no where. Let us go and see Father Fonze, he knows we did it, and can also heal us. Thelonger we dally, the longer the instruments of evil have to gather strenght, the more likely we are to fail on our mission from God. We must cast aside our personal needs for praise [Looks at the Colonel] and honour [Looks at Chastity] and continue on our mission.

Alice : [Surprised and impressed] Well said Austin, we must set aside personal needs like praise and honour, well said. [Out of the side of her mouth to Austin] Personal needs like bleach are still okay, right?

Jerome : Good Colonel, it could be worse than that. Remember, when we were put on trial for witchcraft, Captain Darling was one of those that testified against us! It appeared as though he was coerced into it, but nonetheless, the fact remains that he swore under oath that we cavorted naked in the moonlight with a horse. Or possibly he mistook one of the hairier party members for one. Whatever.

Harvey : By the saints, I'd forgotten that! The testimony, not the dancing with horses nonsense. We must keep a low profile indeed, troop! So, if some of us are finished preening themselves in front of mirrors, let's find father Fonze.

Alice : [Putting on some lip gloss in front of the mirror] Just a sec, Unc!

[Book II, Act VII, Scene III. Single Rock Church in Hysteria. ALICE, JEROME, CLINT, CHASITY, HARVEY and AUSTIN are here. There is some fire damage, and some pieces of ARGY on the walls, but the it is otherwise okay.]

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD, finds it peculiar that the church is now open, given its locked state yesterday.

Alice : [Looking at something on the floor] Hey! I wonder if this is off Argy. [Picks something small up and looks at it] Ee-yu! [Looks at Clint, shaking her head sadly, before throwing it away]

Harvey : I would hazard a guess, good doctor, that it was the Kennys who kept the church locked up tight, before, during and after Marias daily confessionals. Now that they're dead, and Maria gone, there's no reason to keep it locked. [Looks around] Could have been cleaned a little first though, eh!

Alice : [Surprised] Me?

Harvey : [Peeling something from his face] I'm sorry dear niece, what was that you said? I was distracted by this testicle stuck to my cheek! [Looks curiously at it a moment, before throwing it away]

[ALICE says nothing, but points at the testicle HARVEY has thrown on the ground, then at the one she threw on the ground, and finally at another one stuck to the ceiling, and makes a puzzled face.]

Harvey : [Gasps in shock] By the saints! He must have been the anti-Clint!

Jerome : Unlikely, Colonel. As you'll notice, there isn't a particularly nice smell in the church.

Chastity : Right enough, that'll be the real Clint. Unless Father Fonze has been buying his incense from GP-Stretcher.

Alice : So where is the Fonze?

Harvey : Perhaps he's in his vestry? [Cups his hands over his mouth and calls out loudly] Father Fonze! Are you here, old boy!

Chastity : Normally I would have guessed in the back vestry as well, but considering the state the church is still in, I fear that he may have come to harm. Maybe some caution would be well advised. I know we are in the house of Phili, but he can't always protect us. He has quite a lot of other things to do.

Alice : Aw, come on, Chastity. We're in a church, he's a priest. What could possibly happen? [Looks behind Chastity and lets out a blood curdling scream]

Harvey : By the...[Turns quickly to look in Chastitys direction]

[There is some blood pouring out from the confession box.]

Austin : [Walks over to the confession box whilst donninga pair of white kid skin gloves, and avoiding treading in the blood] Let us determine the source of the haemoglobin [Puts marigolds over the white gloves and tries to open the doors to the confession box]

Chastity : Careful now. There may well be an injured man of the cloth on the other side of that door. [Steps to the side of the confessional, so that any flood of blood from the door doesn't catch her]

[AUSTIN opens the door, to reveal FATHER FONZE, sitting in the confession box, with a severe stab wound to the neck. He immediately falls out and hits his head off the floor.]

Fonze : Ow!

Harvey : [Goes to the door of the church and looks out] I've a bad feeling that this is a set-up, lads! Keep your eyes peeled for Nunpar and his righteous cronies! [The street outside is fairly quiet, and the parade has since moved on.]

Austin : [To Chastity] Quick, do some healing magic on him! [Everyone rushes over, and stands around FONZE.]

Fonze : [Gasping for air] I fear it is too late, Austin, the Fonze is goin' to heaven.

Chastity : [Takes a pillow from the Confessional and puts Fonzes head on it] Who did this awful deed, Father?

Fonze : Vitun - Vitun Kusipaa!

Harvey : Who? Who is Vitun Kusipaa, fater? Tell us, and we'll bring him to justice!

Fonze : Vitun Kusipaa did this!

Alice : [Standing on tip toes to see the action] Oh no! He's going to die! Father Fonze! You know, it is traditional for a dying man to say where his fortune is buried, do you have such a fortune.

Fonze : Yes, yes I do.

Alice : Excellent! Will you tell us where it is?

Fonze : Yes, yes I will.

Alice : Where is it?

Fonze : Okay, you go up to the top of this street and turn left, then you go on for -

Alice : [Irritated] Tut! Hang on a second, let me just my notebook. [Searches through her bag for a good twenty minutes, before pulling out a small pair of wind up false teeth] Cool, I thought I'd lost these. [Another few minutes later, she finds the notebook] Okay, now, start again.

[FONZE is, of course, dead.]

Harvey : [Bends and closes Fonzes eyelids] What treachery is this, troop? Eh? What would this Kusipaa person murder a priest?

Clint : Shouldn't we check the kitchen to see if he's still around? [Pulls out his weapon]

Alice : [Snapping at Clint] Wouldn't it be better to check the rest of the church first? [Her stomach makes a grumbling sound, reminding everyone that they haven't eaten yet] Although, a lot of murderers do hide in kitchens.

Harvey : [Carefully checks for any bloodied footprints on the church floor, not created by one of the party] [There don't appear to be any footprints.]

Alice : [Checking out the altar] Chastity? Shouldn't there be golden chalices or something here? [Looks to Austin] Have you got anything to tell us?

Chastity : [To Alice] That is correct. It is a church directive that even the poorest parishes have expensive and elaborate decor to honour Phili with. In fact in most cases the chalises, plates and candlesticks are bought before there is even a church to put them in. Such are the mysterious ways of the Phili clergy. [Wags finger at Alice] I would like to point out that just because the residing Priest has gone to Phili's side the possessions of his church are not up for grabs. [To Austin] Has the late Father got any keys or other useful artifacts within his robes?

Jerome : In order to ensure that any keys or other useful artifacts present within the father's robes are actually surrendered to the party, Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD will check. [Does a quick check] No, he appears to have nothing, other than what appears to be a picture of Alice.

Alice : [Horrified] Give it to me!

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD was only joking.

Alice : [Annoyed] I knew that.

Chastity : Wait a minute, maybe, as another servant of Phili, I can still communicate with Father Fonze. [Goes over to the body, holds Fonze's head in her hands and dramatically Looks up to the Heavens (handily painted on the church ceiling)] O'Phili, grant me the power to communicate with your servant, Father Fonze. [Looks back to Fonze] Father, where is Vitun Kusipaa from ?

Fonze : [With a ghostly voice, that seems to come from all around the party] No one knows.

Alice : [Highly impressed] Wow! Excellent! Ask him if Pelvis Resley is there?

Chastity : [To Alice] Shoosh, girl, this won't last for long! [To Fonze] Who is Vitun Kusipaa? And what did he want from you?

Austin : [Searches around the rest of the church to see if there are any other valuables/clues or secret stuff] Perhaps there are some clues somewhere around.

Fonze : [With the same disembodied voice] He is the devil! The devil!

[AUSTIN's searching doesn't reveal anything of interest, but does indicate that there are no real valuables left.]

Clint : I think he's talking about you, Austin.

Austin : [To All] We had better get the hell out of here before we get blamed for this. [Heads for the tunnel from the box to the kitchen] Alice, are you comming for a bite to eat?

Alice : [Looking at the huge pool of blood] Er, not particularly, but it might be a good idea to head to the kitchen alright.

Chastity : [To Fonze] One last thing, Father, before I let you rest in peace. Do you have any divine healing aids within the church? [To the rest of the group] Hadn't someone better close the door?

[There is no more sound from FONZE.]

Harvey : Harrumph! Good idea, Chastity. It seems all your time spent in churches has paid off, what? [Pushes the door shut, but it crushes someone as he does so]

Man : Agh! Open the door!

Harvey : [Standing beside the door] Gah! What will I do, troop?

Chastity : [To Harvey] Wait a second. [Pulls down a couple curtain from the confessional and quickly puts them over the body of Fonze] [To Harvey] Release the man from the door. His screaming will attract too much attention.

Alice : Crikey, Chas! Look at all the blood on the floor - I bet there's no curtain in all of Hysteria that could cover that! If he lets him in, then he'll spot it for sure!

Austin : [Standing in the tunnel to the kitchen] Wedge the door with the pews!

Chastity : We can't leave that man screaming from the church doors though. Harvey let him in and someone strong, like Clint, grab him until he calms down. It would be so much easier if the towns folk weren't so prone to, erm well, hysteria! With our reputation we'll never be able to convince anyone that we didn't do this. [To Austin] No matter how well you can explain it.

Alice : You seem to be very good at escaping from trouble with that tunnel, Austin. Now, will there be enough pews? [Looks at Clint] Oh, definitely!

[JEROME shoves one over, and he and HARVEY jam the door.]

Man : Hey! Open up! What's going on in there?

Harvey : Sorry Sister, I have already acted on Private Sleaze's advice. You know, deferring to the one who has the most experience with doing dishonest things in a church.

Alice : I thought that would be a priest?

Chastity : [Calls through the door] Stop that shouting. This is a private memorial service. Please go to the Triple Rock Church for this afternoon. [Quietly to the group] Best make for the kitchen then. [Heads for the confessional tunnel]

Man : What? [Outraged] What the hell is going on in there? Let me in! [Starts banging on the door]

Alice : Yeah, Chas, let's get out of here. [Runs towards the confession box, but slips on some blood and goes flying, landing heavily on her backside] Ow! Please tell me that was a banana skin!

[HARVEY, CLINT and JEROME head towards the tunnel.]

Harvey : Come on, niece, this is no time to be sitting down!

Harvey : [Helps Alice up from the ground] Come come, dear Alice, we must flee this scene of carnage before the town guards smash through the defences!

Clint : What if they do? C'mon, I'm dying for a good fight! [Looks at the kitchen] Then again, a bit of cheese should cheer me up. [Keeps going up the tunnel] Last from Miguel #48

Chastity : [Disappearing up the secret passageway] Come along now. I'll need some help to search the kitchen for any healing aids.

Alice : [Being slid along the floor by Harvey, like someone surfing] Okay, Unc, let's get out of here.

[Everyone disappears through the confession box, slamming the secret door behind them. Enter MAN, into the church.]

Man : What the hell? They've killed Father Fonze!

[Meanwhile, the party appear in the kitchen.]

Alice : [Cleaning some of Fonze's blood off her, before trying to wash her bloodstained hands in the sink] Why are we running? Who would suspect us of killing someone?

Austin : [Already at the Kitchen end of the tunnel, waiting to lock the door] Hurry up for heavens sake, I would dread to think what a state you would all be in if you did not have me to aspire to.

Alice : [Turning from the sink] I dread to think what a state we'd be in if we did aspire to being like you!

Chastity : [To Alice] Unfortunately, my dear, everyone. The willingness of the townsfolk to believe that we were evil and also planning to kill Maria demonstrated this. [Shakes head sadly]

Alice : [Shocked] Everyone? Do you believe it, Chastity?

[The door to the kitchen bursts open, enter IRVING WASHINGTON.]

Irving : The cheese shop has been raided!

Chastity : [Pulls Irving in, glances outside and shuts the kitchen door] Calm down, Irving. You'll do yourself a mischief. I take it you are referring to your cheese den? Who has violated its contraband generating sanctity?

Irving : Alas, you are correct, lass. The cheese den was raided by the local cops - I tried to scare them off, but they overpowered me.

Alice : How did you try to scare them off?

Irving : By clapping my hands really loudly and shouting.

Alice : What kind of person would be scared by that?

[IRVING claps his hands and shouts.]

Alice : Yeargh! [Leaps behind Harvey]

Austin : [Smiling] I am so glad that I had the foresight not to offer any of you a low cost legal protection insurance policy.I would however, like to take this opportunity to relate to you, the party, so excellent and free advice. I do believe that it in the best interests of the afromentioned party, to conceal ourselves or leave the present vacinity, it being a murder scene, as soon as humanly possible. [To Irving, in a head-master tone] I hope you were not followed.

Irving : Ah, come on now, lad! I'm not that foolish, you know.

[Almost immediately, there is a loud banging on the kitchen door.]

Clint : [Holding Beaucauphalus steady in his hands] [Granny voice] Who is it?

Manfred : [From without] Hey man, its Manfred Mann, man!

Jerome : How can we be sure that it is indeed Manfred Mann, and not some cunning plan by the local police force.

Alice : Quite simple, Dr. Trindle. Being a police force, it is unlikely that they will have any plan, cunning or not. Secondly, we have yet to meet anyone else who can use the word man with such effect and thirdly, given the really strong smell of him, it can hardly be anyone else, can it? I mean, what with Clint being in here and all!

Austin : [Checks through the window to see if Manfred has company] How did you know we were here Manfred?

Manfred : [Bangs the door] For the love of Stilton! Open the door before the cops see me!

Austin : [Presuming there is no one with Manfred, opens the door nd lets him in] How did you know we were here? Did some one put up posters?

Manfred : [Coming in and shutting the door] No! [Pant] I followed Irving in.

Irving : Gah!

Austin : [Peeks thorough the curtains to see if anyone is following Manfred] Does anyon know the location of a secret underground escape route, possibly via the crypt or somthing as useful?

[There are a number of policemen outside the cheese den, but none are paying any attention to this house.]

Alice : I know of one - you just push one of the books on the shelf, and it swivels open to reveal a dark staircase going way down into [moves her fingers in a scary motion] a deep, spooky crypt, where there's loads of treasure and a dragon to slay.

Clint : [Mouth full] Alice, I though we were going to stay away from cheese this time! [Cleans his cheeks from all the cheese crumble]

Alice : Yeah? Well I thought we were all going to wash this month.

Clint : Wash what, Alice?

Alice : [Sigh] I'm just surprised the question wasn't "what's wash?"

Irving : [Looking out the window] My lovely cheese den, they're burning it! I've never seen police do that before!

Alice : What do they normally do with it? Confiscate it? Store it? Give it to needy children?

Irving : No, they just take it home and keep it for themselves. But this crowd, well, there's something different about them - they just wanted to destroy it.

Clint : That's strange indeed. Why would they do that? Could they be under some kind of spell from that wanker Nunpar, with his Guardians of Erectness?

Alice : Does everything that comes out of your mouth have to be as disgusting as your body odour, Clint?

Irving : Hardly, young Clint. Nunpar and the Guardians of Uprightness only arrived a short while ago. Maybe they were in the employ of a rival cheese company - I haven't heard anything from the Bertones for a while.

Jerome : [Steepling fingers and thinking out loud] One would wonder what specific kind of cheese one is speaking of. Is one speaking of cheese, the noun, a food consisting of the coagulated, compressed, and ripened curd of milk separated from the whey; the transitive verb, used in the imperative as a warning of danger, as the leader of a gang, the big cheese... or the abundance of the slightly off white matter in front of us all? And has it washed or not?

Alice : [Looking at Clint] Well, clearly, Jerome, it hasn't washed!

Irving : But, Jerome, the worst of is it is that they don't care! All cheese, in all its glorious forms, has been banned. Now, I can understand them confiscating it, but not simply wantonly destroying it. There must be more going on than meets the eye.

Austin : [Daintly nibbles a cracker with a slice of cheese, to Jerome] I believe this is Wensleydeal.

Alice : [Snapping at Austin] I don't care what day it is - this man has just had his cheese shop burned down, there's a bunch of cops on the street, someone in the church thinks we murdered a priest and [looks at her watch] oh my God! We're going to be late for the circus unless we get a move on!

Jerome: [Stopping his thinking out loud and turning to Alice] By then my Beauty! Dr Jerome Trindle if there be citizens of the law watching the fire then the party should depart by appropriate small exit and go to the circus. Dr Jerome Trindle will protect you against any performer: [aside to Alice] knowing your family's history with circus performers, Dr Trindle say "send in the clowns"! [turns to Austin] Sir! You appear to know your cheese!

Harvey : By the saints, there is indeed villiany afoot. But dear Alice is quite right, we must get to our meeting with Parnum. But how? How can we wander halfways across town when we are fugitives, hunted on all sides? Ideas, troop!

Alice : I have an idea.

Clint : So do I.

Alice : Mine's better.

Clint : I don't think so!

Harvey : Well that goes without saying, dear niece! Come then, what is it?

Alice : [Sticks her tongue out at Clint, before turning to Harvey] I think we should force Clint to wash, because if he didn't smell so bad, we'd all be able to concentrate on the task at hand instead of trying to think of ways of avoiding his stinky odour. [Smiles happily at her useful and thougthful contribution]

Austin : [Listening intently, absolutely no smirking at all. Lights a cigarette]

Harvey : Indeed, dear girl, a valid suggestion, and one which would bring much relief to this beleagured troop. But one also, sadly, which brings us no closer to our meeting with Barnum.

Alice : [Disappointed] Hm, okay. You know, of course, Uncle, that his name is Parnum?

Irving : Well, young Jerome had a valid observation in that most people on the streets are occupied, maybe it might be worth making a break for it?

Clint : [Looking around] So I suppose nobody wants to listen to my idea?

Alice : Does it involve a magic flying carpet?

Jerome: Dr Trindle thinks: May it also need a spork?

Alice : Well, seeing as its Clint's idea, it probably won't work anyway. Who else has an idea that's [gives an exasperated look at Harvey and makes quote signs with her fingers] relevant.

Clint : Ok I'll tell you what I think anyway. Why should we be risking our arses saving that bunch from prison? I'm fine right here, defending the cheese from another lunatic attack [cleans a crumble from his cheek]. I never liked 'ol farty coats and he never liked us, so why should we be saving him? Let him rot in jail!

Alice : [Passionately] But the circus! The circus, Clint! How can we pass up a chance of appearing in one? You know, its okay for you, with your grotesque features and stinky nature, you're bound to be picked up by some kind of freak show sooner or later, but for the rest of us, this could be our only chance!

Harvey : [Bristles with anger] Because, private, we never leave our men behind enemy lines! Sure, you may not like them, but they helped us into the city, and I think it's fair that we should help them out! What say you, sir! At this moment in time, we need all of the allies we can find, not cut ourselves off from people, pride, and our honour!

Alice : Er, and that too, of course.

Jerome: Rot? I say he'll only mature in that jail old chap, and he could be all the more dangerous to us when he comes out. Besides don't they say that that there's no use blubbering beyond combusted (and processed) whey?

Austin : [To All] Shall we proceed? We could use the monks robes as a disguise once more. Not terribly fetching I know, but I do not suppose many will care.

Clint : [Enraged, to Harvey] Wake up, old fool! If Dicey was helping us it's only because he was being payed for it! And do you really think Dicey will ever become our ally? I say let him rot!

Alice : Well said Jerome. [Quietly, to Jerome] You're agreeing with Harvey, right?

Harvey : I seem to be more awake than you, Scar! Good God man, we're supposed to be the good guys here! What about the other racial sterotypes? Should we leave them rot also? If you don't want to help, then fine! Sit here, stuffing your face until we come back.

Alice : He's right, Clint. The others weren't bad sorts, especially Vasco, and now, thinking of him in jail...

Irving : Ee, lass, Vasco isn't in jail!

Alice : [With a smile] Doesn't stop me thinking about it, though!

Chastity : [Gasps] You'll have plenty of time to think about jail, me girl, when you end up in the devils, which you surely will, with a dirty mind like that!

Alice : Will Vasco be there?

Harvey : [Looks around] Speaking of, where has Vasco gone?

Irving : He left my place last night - he said he'd call back today, but now there isn't anything to call back to.

Chastity : Ah, don't worry, professor. I'm sure Phili will smile on you for helping us, and your luck will increase tenfold. As for Vasco, he knows we're going to try and free the others, I'm sure he'll be able to find us.

Alice : So is it the situation that the only person who doesn't want to help these guys is Stinky here?

Clint : [To Harvey] Ah now, don't you think you'll have all the glory and fun in jail, fighting hysterical guards! Wanna go for the fight, ok then let's go, but don't sell me no stories about sympathy for that bastard farty coats!

Alice : Aw, Clint, you do care for Dicey after all. [Claps her hands together] Okay, are we heading off?

Harvey : Yes, dear niece, we should. So let's take advantage of the towns current state of turmoil to visit Parnum. [Looks out the window] And judging by the wind direction, the cheese smoke would appear to be blowing across town, which should make our job a little easier!

Alice : [Broad smile] Not to mention more pleasurable!

Irving : Okay lads, I'm going to have to leave you now - I'm not sure when I'll see you again, but best of luck. The circus is at the end of this street, about a mile down.

Austin : [To Alice] Do you not wish to check your face first, I do believe that the lip gloss is wearing a little thin. Not surprising really with the likes of Vasco around. [Peeks out of the window to see whats abound] A tasty morsel if ever there was one.

Alice : [Unimpressed, to Austin] Not as thin as my patience, Austin, nor your grasp on reality. Tut! [Sneaks a look when she thinks no one is looking]

Harvey : [Bows to Irving] Thank you once again, dear professor. Your aid has been invaluable. Come troop, we must be away!

[Book II, Act VII, Scene IV. Outside the Circus Head Quarters in Hysteria. ALICE, JEROME, CLINT, CHASITY, HARVEY and AUSTIN are here. The circus tent is down, but there are a number of caravans here, as well as numerous circus folk milling about.]

Alice : [Pointing at one caravan that has "Dog Faced Boy" written on the side of it] Hey! They've got a caravan for Clint already!

[Enter GNARLBERT, who smiles broadly when he sees the party.]

Gnarlbert : Hee huh! Slacking, huh? [Parps with his horn]

Harvey : [Laughs] Not at all, dear fellow. Infact, we're on our way to see your boss, Mr Parnum. Where can we find him?

Gnarlbert : I don't know - I guess he's in his caravan. [Points to a large caravan] How's the cycling going?

Harvey : Eh? What's all this about cycling? Whatever do you mean, dear fellow?

Gnarlbert : [Parps his horn at Harvey] Haw! As if you didn't know! You're going to form a cycling pyramid - The Amazing Queens View Cyclists, you'll be called. They're already making up the t-shirts.

Alice : A cycling pyramid?

Gnarlbert : Yes, some of you will be on top of each other.

Alice : [Exasperated] Oh, great, so I'm going to be called a bike again?

Chastity : My second husband, George, used to ride a bike. People in town used to talk about him riding that Penny Farthing all hours of the day. They treated it like some sort of scandal, going around gossiping behind my back about Penny this and Penny that.

Clint : I'm sure you're experienced. Also having people on top of you must sound familiar.

Alice : [Laughing] Maybe it was a girl, and they just called her a bike because everyone was [shocked look] Hey!

Jerome : Sweet Alice, is there something wrong?

Alice : [Puts on her angry face, lip jutting out and staring into the distance] So it appears that bike wasn't a term of endearment after all.

Alice : [Looks at Clint] I guess that's something we've got in common then, isn't it, Clint?

Austin : [Smirking, whistfully] At this rate I doubt if any of us will ever engage in such recreation again, such is the life of chosen. [Looks around for a postcard stand] But then again...

Alice : Well, I doubt that some of us ever engaged in such recreation ever. At least [smiles] with another person.

Harvey : [Still looking quite shocked] A human pyramid, on wheels? What maddness is this?

Austin : [Chuckles at Alice] Never mind Alice, your time will come. [To Harvey, seriously] It does sound as if some extensive, and rigorously tested safety equipment is in order. I must also check my personal insurance policies to ascertain my cover in such a situation. [Whips out a large wad of papers and starts reading unfeasibly small print]

Gnarlbert : [Roaring with laughter] Rigorously tested safety equipment? Yeah, we'll look after that.

[In the background a carriage from the roller-coaster flies off its tracks and explodes.]

Chastity : Goodness me, this sounds all too dangerous! And it must be sinful, I'll warrant. Riding around as a human pyramid is clearly against nature. And Phili!

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc PhD must disagree with you on this, Chastity. The pyramid is a naturally occuring shape, and thus, must be blessed by Phili. Furthermore, the pyramid appears in all manner of complex systems as their natural ordering, in everything from financial schemes to foil dupes out of their money, to the family trees of all those with the exception of people that insist on getting involved in pyramid selling schemes.

Harvey : Er, yes, very good, doctor. Indeed. [To Chastity] So you see, sister, it's perfectly safe! [To Gnarlbert] When are we supposed to perform this feat? Not to worry, we'll ask Parnum ourselves.

Gnarlbert : You - oh, okay.

Harvey : Now, which caravan did you say he was in, my good fellow? [Tries to spot the caravan]

Alice : [Rolls her eyes] Oh, come on, Uncle, you've hardly forgotton which caravan it was already, have you? [Steps up and throws the door of a caravan open.]

[Inside the caravan are a bunch of monkeys, dressed in suits and reading newspapers and books. There are also a bunch of men in nappies, running around the place screeching and eating bananas.]

Alice : Er, [shuts the door] amazing how all these caravans look alike. Which one is Parnum's again?

Gnarlbert : [Pointing to a caravan] That one, its the only blue caravan in the entire park.

Alice : What about that one? [Points at another]

Gnarlbert : That's red.

Harvey : [Smiles at Alice] But easily mistaken for blue, dear niece. Thank you indeed, Gnarlbert. [Wanders over to the red caravan and knocks on the door]

Parnum : [Gruffly, from within] What is it now?

Harvey : I believe you're in the wrong caravan.

Parnum : [Opening the door wearing a dressing gown] What the hell do you mean by that? [Behind him is a bearded lady in bed]

Jerome: [Looking around the circus suspiciously]Are you sure this is the renouned GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH(TM), the B.T. Parnum's Traveling World's Fair, Great Roman Hippodrome and Greatest Show On Earth? Could this be the shameless hucksterism, peerless spectacle that has captured the imaginations of generations of people? [Peers over Parnum's shoulder at the bearded lady] Bearded lady, jolly good! [To Parnum] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc PhD would know, where the fabled Fujee Mermaid is?

Clint : There's mermaids around? Ok, then I suppose this circus business isn't that bad after all! [Looks at the bearded lady] What the f...? Let's get out of here!

Alice : [Peering in also] Oh no! Another employment opportunity lost for Chastity!

Parnum : [Putting on his top hat, and coming out, still wearing his dressing gown] What the hell are you lot doing? [Pops a huge cigar in his mouth and lights it] Why aren't you cycling? [Turns to Jerome] I'm sorry, but the Mermaid exhibition is closed - there was something of an incident involving her and the Mysterious Human Cat.

Jerome: [Cocking an eyebrow] An incident eh? Well my good man, what about the veritable mountain of human flesh, Ms. Jane Campbell, or the Lucasie albino family? [Shakes his head] Ah no matter, Dr. Jerome Trindle concedes we have come here on business, and business we must do!

Harvey : We're here because you asked us to turn up at two. Now what's all this about a cycling human pyramid, eh?

Parnum : [Looks around at the party curiously] Hm, seems like you lot will more at home here than I thought. [Points at a small tent with his cigar] Batard is waiting over there to take you through the safety routines, and to give you some training - he's really pumped about working with you lot. The act will be to form a pyramid, with everyone piled atop a single bike.

Alice : [Horrified] What?

Chastity : [To Alice] Why, have you already been employed as her daughter? Never mind dear, I'm sure you can show me few tricks about riding under a big pile of men. [Flashes a sarcacstic smile at Alice and turns to Parnum] How can we be cycling? You haven't given us any circus cycles. [Under her breath] Impudent man!

Alice : [To Chastity] While I'm sure you can show me a few tricks about piling under a big men of ride. [Smiles self-satisfied, before realising that she's just made no sense] Gah!

Parnum : Impudent, eh? [Points he cigar angrily at Chastity, causing his dressing gown to flap about]

Alice : [Covering her eyes] Ah! Its just like looking at Chastity!

Parnum : The bikes are in there with Batard. Now, I suspected we got off on the wrong foot, but now I know I was given a false impression of how nice and accomodating you are. If you want to learn to use the bikes do, if not, just get the hell away from here. Now, if you'll excuse me, Hairy Mary is waiting for me.

Harvey : Very well, troop, let's get this lunacy over and done with. The sooner we complete it, the sooner we can leave for Hallbridges.

Chastity : As ever, Colonel, you have put the situation into perspective. Let's get this show on the road. [Heads for the small tent pointed out by Parnum]

Jerome: I concur. [Offers Alice his arm]

Alice : [Looks in surprise at Jerome] I can make my own way over, thank you very much.

[The party enter the tent. BATARD is sitting there with a scowl on his face.]

Batard : Oh, fantastique! The acrobats are here.

Harvey : [Claps his hands together] Right then, we're all here, ready and willing. When can we start our training, eh?

Batard : [Nods to a single bike] Okay, whoever is on the bottom get on the bike, then two on his shoulders, and three on theirs. It is really quite simple.

Alice : I'll do it! [Jumps on the bike, and promptly falls off] Ow! [Tries again, falls off again] What? There's something wrong with this bike. [Looks at the back of it] Aw, come on! There's only one wheel at the back!

Clint : That's because you're not used to riding, Alice, but rather being ridden.

Alice : Yeah? Oh so now there's something perverted about a girl having a saddle on her back, is there? Anyway, Clint, let you go on it, because I'm sure you're used to riding in inanimate objects.

Harvey : [To Batard] What trickery is this! It's a common fact that all bicycles have one large wheel, and two additional small wheels at the back! [Rubs one of his sideburns] Plus, it might be best for the strongest to ride the bicycle, so the full weight of the troop can be supported. [Turns to Jerome] Good doctor, do you think you can knock up a simple A frame device with harnesses, which we can connect to our belts and dangle from. Perhaps if the frame was made from clear perspex, it would appear to the whooping crowd of onlookers that we have formed the perfect pyramid! Shouldn't be too hard a task to a man of your incredible intellect, what?

Chastity : [To Batard] Thank you for explaining the formation of a pyramid, but do you have any tips on how we actually get everyone on top of each other in that acrobatic configuration without the breaking of limbs? Or without having our faces pushed into Clint's groin?

Jerome : Indeed, Colonel, it would pose little problem to one of my vast intellect. However, your strategy hinges on the availability of the aforementioned clear perspex, and, while this organization possesses all manner of wonders, from half-eaten mermaids to women that make even the most hirsute party member look clean shaven, I suspect they do not have any of this crucial piece of equipment.

Clint : [Looking around] Who is that hirsute fellow, I can't see anyone here with that name. Anyway, we can't use that bike, it'll break into pieces as soon as Chastity puts her bum on it [shivers with the thought].

Batard : With your thick 'ead, it will surely break before that. [To Chastity] You will notice that at the back wheel, there are two large bars sticking out, where people can stand until they are ready to climb up.

Alice : Large bars? [Looks at the bike] Oh, you mean where the small wheels are supposed to go.

Batard : Er, yes, but this is a stunt bicycle, so it doesn't have those. To help reduce the drag coefficient, you see.

Alice : [Nods in understanding] I see, well, you can't really have men in dresses on a pyramid, can you?

Clint : Two large bars sticking out you say? Good, that'll give us a place for both Alice and Chastity. Although the lawyer might get jealous.

Harvey : By the saints, these circus folk are definitely stranger than most. [To Batard] So if we're all on these two little poles, who cycles the bike until we're ready to climb up?

[BATARD says nothing, and just gives an unhelpful and dismissive shrug.]

Alice : I think you've got it wrong, Clint. One of us cycles, and the rest of us do the bar thing - and look there's even a bit of space on the rear mudguard, so, one cycling, two each on the bars and one on the back. Quite simple, save for the rather frightening prospect tht someone is going to have to be very close to Clint. Last from Conor #42

Chastity : I propose that Clint actually rides the bike. Not only is he most used to powering his own ride, but the whole thing will be stablised by his knuckles dragging on the ground.

Alice : Ah, but Chastity, you are forgetting about how physically unbalanced he is! Why, it is a shock that he doesn't fall over simply when he tries to walk. In fact, it is probably even more of a shock that he isn't pushed over when he tries to walk near someone.

Harvey : Well, dear Alice, I have no objection to that idea. [To Alice] Indeed, he's unbalanced in, erm, that region, but remember the knuckles will help counteract that fact. Then, perhaps I can stand on the left and Austin on the right. Then on our shoulders, we can have the good doctor, and sister Chastity. And on your shoulders, at the very top, the star of the show, will be you.

Chastity : [To Batard] Will that be OK, as the feat you described sounded like an inverted pyramid formation?

Alice : [Coming over all coy] The star of the show? Oh, Uncle, I don't know if I'd be able.

Batard : [Sighing exhaustedly, and looking at his nails] I do not care what you English speaking pig dogs do, you are nothing to me. But yes, that will also suffice, if you feel you are [sniggers, so he looks even more sneaky than usual] unable to do the inverted pyramid.

Harvey : [To the others] I say, he's not the funniest of clowns, is he! That other one, Gnarlbert was far better. Last from Colin - 07.04.048

Chastity : Perhaps he's suffering from Clownical depression?

Chastity : Or Jest had enough?

Harvey : Clown in the dumps?

Chastity : Or Jest had enough?

Alice : [Enjoying all this clever wordplay] Or is a red-nosed snotty Frenchman with a shit attitude and a huge chip on his shoulder. [Smiles at the others, before getting frustrated] Gah!

Batard : So, who is to do the cycling? I have some of B.T.'s special levitating powder here, and when I sprinkle some on you, it will make it easier to stay up.

Alice : Wow! How high could I get if you sprinkle some on me?

Batard : Not as high as if you snorted it.

[ALICE says nothing, but takes out a 100GP note and rolls it up.]

Harvey : Private Scar, do you have any objections to cycling the bicycle?

Alice : Hold on a second, Uncle! Maybe one of us might have a problem standing on top of Clint, with our unfeasibly sharp heels digging into him, our every move hurting him and - yeah, good idea, Harv, I like the way you're thinking.

Clint : No problem Harv, I'll do it. Plus Alice might even be useful being on top of me, I need someone to take care of my hair lice problem.

Alice : No problem, Clint, let me just get my hairbrush, although [pauses, and takes a look at Clint's head] yikes! Better get my sword out!

Harvey : Good man, good man. That's the spirit I like to see. [To Batard] Well, that's our cyclist taken care of. [Looks suddenly at the party] I say, are we going to be given costumes to wear tonight? We can't appear in the ring dressed as we are, we'll be spotted and arrested by the town guards in seconds!

Batard : [Suspiciously] Why?

Chastity : [Also takes a look at Clints head] Actually, maybe my mace would be more effective. It would also have more slap-stick value, to help us get in the circus mood.

Alice : I've a better idea, Chastity. How about this? [Picks up a log and lifts it, ready to slap Clint with it, but stops and turns to Chastity] You know, for slap stick?

Jerome : You know, of course, Alice, that as you are holding a log, and not a stick, your joke isn't quite as amusing.

Alice : I know, but this is much more fun.

Harvey : [To Batard] Why? Erm, for murdering this circus trick?

Clint : [To Alice] We can play "I slap, you slap" if you want, Alice. I used to be very good when I was young. [To Batard] They would arrest us, and you as well, because you shouldn't be using children on such a stunt act as this one [pointing at the bicycle].

Batard : [Leaning in close to Harvey] I do not like you, sir, not even one little bit, with your total absence of garlic smell, you make me want to puke.

Alice : [Still holding the log above her head] You know Clint, it doesn't surprise me that a lot of people wanted to slap you when you were young, nor that even more want to do it now that you're a crinkly.

Harvey : [Recoils in horror from Batard] Ye Gods, sir, it would appear you have consumed enough for both of us!

Batard : Flattery will get you nowhere!

Alice : Erk, this is getting heavy! [Drops the log behind her] Ow.

Harvey : [Steps away from Batard and stands next to Clint] Better the devil you know, eh, private Scar!

Alice : [Giving Harvey and Clint a baleful eye] I wouldn't be so sure about that, Uncle!

Batard : Enough of your nonsense - it is time for a practice. Are you ready?

Harvey : [Nods his head] Let us begin.

[CLINT gets onto the bike, followed quickly by HARVEY and AUSTIN, on either side. Incredibly, although shaking madly, the bike stays up, as CLINT cycles around, trying to keep balance.]

Alice : [Applauding] Excellent! Excellent! Wow, who would have thought that the whole pyramid thing would be so easy!

[CLINT swerves dangerously close to ALICE and CHASTITY as he tries to keep balance.]

Harvey : By the saints, steady there, private! Ready for the next two!

Clint : Yeeha!!!

[Two men carrying a pane of glass walk across the scene, and freeze when the bike heads towards them, miraculously swerving away at the last possible second.]

Man #1 : Phew! That was close! Man #2 : Yeah, it would be awful if we dropped it. [The glass slips out of his hands and smashes to pieces on the ground] Doh!

[As the bike flashes passed the party, CHASTITY and JEROME make a jump for it. Almost immediately, the bike falls over, sending everyone sprawling to the ground.]

Alice : [Laughing and applauding] Wow! This is fantastic! Look at the way they all fell down - its probably the first time that something bad has happened that hasn't involved me! [As she speaks, there is a sizable trickle of blood dripping down her forehead]

Harvey : [Picks himself up and dusts himself down] Gah! Yet another rip in my fine shirt! [Glances at Alice] Dear niece, you are injured! [Limps over to her and examines the wound]

Alice : [Puts her hand to her forehead] Ow! Tut! Flying glass! You know, I'm sick of this, nothing good ever happens to me, I'm always the one who gets hurt or caught or whatever. I never have any good luck! [Turns and storms away moodily]

[Seconds after ALICE turns away from HARVEY, a huge chandelier crashes into the ground, millimetres away from her, and exactly on the spot where she had just been standing.]

Harvey : [Just stands, staring at the chandelier and shaking his head slowly] I'm getting too old for this. [Looks up and shakes his fist] Bloody trapeze artists!

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD has a question. He feels that it is unlikely and unusual that a tent would have any kind of chandelier, let alone one with a rope that has recently been cut.

Batard : [Stares impassively at Jerome for a good twenty seconds] That's not a question, its a statement.

Jerome: And one that Dr. Jerome K Trindle has based on forethought and fact. What say you to that?

Batard : [Shrugs and mumbles] Idunno.

Jerome: [Smiles satisfied] One has heard that there has been studies into linking the great pyramids with the human form. There has been a Sacred Geometry academy which studied such primal systems which reveal the unity of the cosmos by representing the relationships between numbers geometrically. However we have a bicycle, so with those of us not riding it, but creating the pyramid. We must make the one riding the bicycle the centre of our universe, for that time we do not have our lower extremeties firmly balanced on terrestial matter. There for it is us, [begins counting those who are riding] and this [indicates the bicycle]

Alice : Clint is the centre of the universe? [Looks at Batard] What happened to the levitating powder? Surely if you gave us that it would everything a whole lot easier?

Batard : [Thinks about this for a second, before taking a drag from his cigarette and nodding] Yes, it probably would.

Harvey : Well, can we have some, eh?

Batard : [Makes a "what-ever" sigh] Yes, I suppose you can. [Holds out a bottle of powder]

Austin : [Addressing Batard] Sir, on behalf of the party, I would like to issue a formal complaint about your behaviour, lack of enthusiasm and general demeanour, and to demand forthwith that you co-operate with us in all manners related to, but not confined to, the riding of this stunt bicycle in matters of practice, recreation and performance.

Batard : [Exaggerated exasperation] Okay, okay. Everyone takes a tiny pinch of the powder, with those needing to be higher up taking a little more. There is enough here for four or five performances, so you can get in some practice, but we need it back after the show today.

Jerome: Is this said levitating powder hypo-allergenic?

Batard : [Still holding out the jar] No, but I am hyper allergic to you and your constant mindless prattle.

Harvey : And get it back you shall. So, Clint, Jerome and I shall take a little pinch [inhales as if taking snuff], sister Chastity and Austin take a little more, and dear Alice, a large dose. Correct? Jerome [Blustering] Heh. Heh. Dr Jerome Trindle Bsc PhD has absolutely nothing to say to that! Sniff and on the bike people! [Proffers his snuff box to Parnum]

Batard : [Rests the jar on Jerome's snuff box] You can 'ave it all.

Alice : [Looks around, puzzled before crying out in dismay] Hey! I was almost just hit by a chandelier! [Struggles to make coherent words] A - a little concern, please?

Jerome: [Immediately looking concerned] Dearest Alice! Poorest baby! Have a pinch of this in the probiscus, it will make you feel much better and alleviate your shakes!

Alice : What? How can you think of pinching my ass in a situation like this? There has just been a murder attempt! [Looks around at the others, before homing in on Clint] You! Clint! Kill someone!

Harvey : I'm sure it was an accident, dear niece. These little mishaps go hand in hand with the showbusiness lifestyle. But the doctor was quite correct earlier, what is a chandelier doing in a circus tent! Or perhaps it was the biggest woman in the worlds earing?

Alice : But its broken! Would it be broken if it was an accident?

Batard : What can I say? Barbarians and non-garlic eaters such as yourselves do not conduct your business with the same style I do. I like to surround myself with beautiful things when I work.

Harvey : [Looks confused] I hardly think a garlic aura is a thing of beauty.

Batard : That does not surprise me, Philistine!

Jerome: Dr. Trindle is the first to agree that garlic has the ability to not only ward off colds and flu, but the odd snotty nose. However, good sir, garlic capsules work quite as well, without the smell! Speaking of probiscus' who dares sniff first?

Batard : You do not sniff it, philistine! You sprinkle it upon yourself.

Austin : [Looking at the chandelier] Although it may surprise the rest of the party to hear it, it appears as though Alice is correct. There has been a murder attempt, because [dramatically] the rope suspending the chandelier has been cut!

[Everyone crowds around, to see that this is true.]

Harvey : Can we please get on with the training, troop. If you're not too traumatized, dearest Alice?

Alice : [Folding her arms] Well, Uncle, I think that we've got something a whole lot more important to do before we do any cycling, don't you?

Batard : Yes, she is correct. I have some Americans to insult, I will return presently.

[Exit BATARD. From without can be heard sounds of him shouting in French at some people who sound terrified.]

a

[HARVEY turns to see the flapping door of the tent that BATARD exited through. He is still outside shouting at the Americans.]

Austin : [Holding up an "Amazing Queens View Cyclists" t-shirt] I suspect it to be common knowledge, Colonel.

Harvey : Then perhaps the would be murderer is still in the tent! I saw no one leave!

Chastity : [Peers up to the tent roof] Is anyone up there? Maybe someone should use that special dust to get up to the roof a check it out .

[Enter BATARD.]

Batard : [Pausing at the door, looking back out] Yeah? Well vas te faire encule! [Closes the door and turns to the party] In the unlikely event of this being a deliberate act, the person could have got out through the top of the tent. There is a walkway on which the chandelier was fixed, which leads to a ladder out the top of the tent.

Harvey : Damn and blast it! Someone will have to go up there see if the assasin dropped a clue!

Batard : [Gestures to a nearby ladder] I don't see what all the fuss is, she's still alive, isn't she?

Chastity : I don't want to appear uncaring, but surely the fact that someone would like our speedy demise comes as little surprise. We have made one or two enemies during our adventures. It is probably easier to draw up a list of who doesn't want us dead. Check for clues by all means and keep a weary eye out, but we must concentrate on tonight. After all, the chandelier may have just been to divert us from our efforts for the show.

Austin : [Smiles] The show must go on!

Batard : It does not surprise me that a group like has such a list of enemies.

Clint : Alright, alright, I'll check it out. [Climbs up the ladder.]

Batard : [Gestures to a nearby ladder] I don't see what all the fuss is, she's still alive, isn't she?

Chastity : I don't want to appear uncaring, but surely the fact that someone would like our speedy demise comes as little surprise. We have made one or two enemies during our adventures. It is probably easier to draw up a list of who doesn't want us dead. Check for clues by all means and keep a weary eye out, but we must concentrate on tonight. After all, the chandelier may have just been to divert us from our efforts for the show.

Austin : [Smiles] The show must go on!

Batard : It does not surprise me that a group like has such a list of enemies.

Clint : Alright, alright, I'll check it out. [Climbs up the ladder.]

Chastity : Perhaps we'd better get a tarpaulin out, just in case the walkway is sabotaged, or Clint falls. Anyone like to help?

Harvey : Why dear sister, [pointing at the floor] I'm sure the sawdust will break his fall!

Jerome : But Colonel, there is no sawdust!

Alice : Here. [Cuts a few wood shavings off her log, and throws them on the ground]

Clint : [From the top] Hey, I wonder if I could hit one of you if I spat from here.

Chastity : [To Clint] I wonder how you'd get down without the ladder. [Scatters Alices wood shavings away] {To Alice I don't think we'll be needing these after all. I'm sure Phili wil see fit to save him if he falls !

Alice : You know, Chastity, I find it all to easy to believe that you'd show even less concern for Clint falling than you did for the chandelier coming down.

Clint : [Calling down from the gangway] Ladder? What do I need a ladder to get down when there's something nice and soft down below me, Chas? Anyway, there's nothing up here, so I'm coming down. [Starts climbing down]

Harvey : Blast it! He's made a clean get away! [Goes to the entrance and peeps out, looking out for any suspiciously normal people]

Alice : Clean get away? Clint? You must be joking! [Realisation dawns] Oh, I see what you mean.

[HARVEY pulls back the flap of the tent to reveal that there is nothing but freaks and deviants wandering around.]

Austin : [Peering out] Ah, reminds one of one's time in the Young Conservative Party.

Chastity : [To Alice] My dear, I do care. It's just that the falling chandelier came as a complete surprise, so I had no time to help you. You were unharmed by it, were you not, so there is no need to worry until next time. As the good book of Phili says "Do not look back on what may or may not have been, because there are plenty of gut-churning ways to die tomorrow."

Alice : [Theatrically] Maybe not on the outside, Chastity, but I hurt in here. [Left hand over heart] And the pain of knowing that my fellow party members were more interested in performing an inverted cycling pyramid than in my safety is far greater than any pain a falling chandelier could cause.

Clint : [Stepping off the ladder] Speaking of pain, Alice, could you stop speaking for a while? [Picks up the bike] Let's get this over with.

Batard : And what business is this? [Looks somewhat distracted as Clint goes flying past him on the bike.]

Batard : And what business is this? [Looks somewhat distracted as Clint goes flying past him on the bike.]

Harvey : [Tuts, and throws his eyes to heaven] Book a carriage to another town.

Chastity : Both tasks have their own dangers. [Dramatically] But the fight for Phili against Evil was never to run along a smooth path anyway. Onwards, onwards into the lions den. [Pauses] Oh, hold on. Thats another act. We're the cyclists, are we. [Sighs]

Clint : [Skidding to a halt, inches a way from Chastity] Come on, Chassers, you've been on my back since we left Queens View, so why stop now?

Alice : Yet another skid mark left by Clint, I see.

Clint : Glad to see you're making a habit of checking them out, Bimbo.

Alice : They, and your b.o. are among some of the early warning signs we all use for your presence.

Chastity : [School mistress style] OK, come along now everyone, lets get organised. Chop, chop ! [Turns and get on one of the bars on the bike] [To Clint] You will be careful now, won't you?

Clint : No! Okay, who's getting on with me? And who's got the powder?

Alice : Your anti-rash powder, is it?

Clint : Yes, I'll need it after being close to you.

Alice : Being stabbed by me hardly qualifies as being close.

Harvey : I believe the good doctor has the powder. [Gets on the other pole]

Clint : [Spatting on his hand, then using it to glue his hair backwards] Let's ride.

Chastity : This cycling reminds my of when My Third Husband, George would take me on his bike. He was inspired after reading the book "Camp Cassidy and the Raindance Kid". [Starts singing] Rain drops keep falling on my head. [Sees Clint slicking back his hair] Hey, mind where you're spitting!

Alice : The worst, of it, Chastity, is that this is probably the closest it has come to getting washed in months!

Jerome : [Sprinkles a tiny bit of dust on Harvey and Austin] Okay, off you go!

Austin : [Leaping very high into the air, and landing again on the bar at the back of the bike] Excellent! Even more grace than usual.

Harvey : [Nods] Just like a ballet dancer.

Austin : [Sneering at Harvey] Let's see you do it, old man.

Harvey : I didn't pack my tights. Perhaps you could lend me your tutu?

Austin : You still have it after you borrowed that last time.

Harvey : What? I thought you gave me a pink iced doughnut! Gah! No wonder it did not sit too well in this old soldiers stomach!

Austin : With a waist the size of yours, Harvey, I am neither surprised that you thought it was merely a doughnut, nor that you tried to eat it.

Harvey : The only waste larger in this party, sir, is you!

Austin : Oh, how true! How true that my talents, sparking personality and startling good looks are wasted on a bunch of barbarians like yourself!

Harvey : Well, private, I'm sure you'll find a bunch of barbarians more appreciative of your startling good looks in the prison later this evening!

Austin : And this, you know, of course, because of the amount of time you have spent amongst their number yourself.

Clint : Will the two of you shut it up? I'm trying to concentrate here. [Starts pedaling away again] Were we go!

Austin : We're still waiting for the good and graceless Colonel to get on the bike.

Harvey : I am on the bike, and have been for some considerable time, private.

Austin : I can see that you are on the bike. What I said is that we are waiting for you to [emphasises] get on [normal voice] the bike. We are waiting for you to show us how you intend to mount the bike during the performance. We are -

Alice : [Interrupting] Austin - just shut up. Let's just forget the argument and concentrate on the task in hand, okay?

Austin : Okay.

[CLINT starts the bike going, and they go around the others in a circle, a lot more steadier this time.]

Austin : [To Harvey] I do have a point though, I would like to see how you intend to get on the bike during the performance.

Harvey : Let's just work out how to get this damned pyramid built before doing anything else, shall we! No point learning to run before we can walk, what! [Wobbles a bit] Easy there, private Scar!

Batard : Okay, now, the geeky one and the 'airy one take some powder, and get on. We can let the bimbo hold the powder. She can then get up after the two of your are up.

Alice : What's he talking about?

Jerome : I have a better idea. Alice, you hold the powder, and Chastity and I will each get on and try and climb onto the backs of Harvey and Austin respectively.

[ALICE gives some powder to the two, and they leap on as CLINT passes by. They weigh surprising little, and easily clamber on top of the other two.]

Alice : [Impressed] Wahey! Excellent!

[The bike gives a slightly unsteady sway, but stays upright, as it continues its way around the tent.]

Harvey : Right, Alice my dear, take some powder and on our next pass, jump on board.

[As the bike shoots past ALICE, she leaps on, and starts climbing up. Scaling the pyramid with the grace of a mountain cat.]

Austin : Ow! You just kicked me in the face.

Alice : [Smiling] Oops.

[ALICE reaches the top, and still the bike stays moving.]

Batard : [Slow clap and deadpan voice] Wonderful.

Harvey : Horray troop! A wonderful team effort!

Clint : Okay, now let's give it some speed! [Starts pedaling faster]

[All those above CLINT level lean back with this extra acceleration, but manage to straighten up again.]

Alice : We're gonna be stars! We're gonna hit the big time! We're - hey, how long does that powder last for?

[Suddenly everyone returns to their full weight, and CLINT loses control of the bike, which careers out the flap of the tent.]

Batard : [Broad, genuine smile] I love my job.

[A few seconds later, it comes back in, with everyone tangled up in various items of clothing from someones washing line. Suddenly everyone just collapses in a heap.]

Alice : [Somehow at the bottom of the heap, with a huge underpants on her head] You see? This is precisely the kind of thing I was complaining about earlier!

Clint : [Ears covered with a huge bra] WHAT?

Austin : [Also holding a bra] She is complaining about a combination of your bad cycling and her bad luck.

Alice : [Angrily to Austin] Hey! Give me that back! [Snatches the bra off him.]

Clint : [Trying to get up, bra now covering his eyes] I can't see!

Jerome: [To Batard] Why is this place Booby Trapped?

Alice : [Smacks Jerome across the head with her bra] That's for yet another underwear related joke! [Sudden realisation, as she puts her hand to her side, but then her face relaxes and she lets out a relieved sigh]

Clint : [Wandering dangerously around the tent, eyes covered with a huge starts and stripes bra] Will someone turn on the lights?

Batard : [Taking out a lighter, and moving towards Clint's bra] No, I had better not, not before the performance. [Whips the bra off Clint]

Harvey : [Standing up, gingerly] Very well done again troop! Very impressive!

Jerome: [Looks at Alice with large, hurt, nerd eyes and says under his breath to himself] Once we were engaged, she stole my heart and left.

Clint : [Eyes now uncovered][To Batard] Ah, much better. Thanks, bastard.

Batard : [Curling his upper lip up in disgust] How curious it is that you look so much better with it on your head.

Alice : [Guiltily avoiding Jerome's puppy dog eyes] I'm sorry Jerome, I didn't mean for the clasp to hit you in the eye like that.

Jerome: [Blustering and embarrassed at his outburst] Right, well, Alice. It didn't hurt that much. [Rubs his now bloodshot eye]

Alice : [Looks closely at Jerome's now huge swelling] Oh, that's okay then. [Disappears behind some hay for a few seconds]

Batard : I believe that your training is finished, unless you wish to torture me further?

Harvey : A tempting offer, sir, but one we sadly must decline. What time must we return for tonights show?

Clint : Oh, how touching. [To himself] Yuck. last from conor #148

Austin : [Turns to face Batard quickly, and produces an odd looking small curvy piece of metal] Now that is the best proposal you have come up with all day.

Alice : [Returning] I'm sure being slapped in the face is considerably more tender than your last experience with a woman, Clint.

Batard : [To Harvey] It is actually an afternoon show. We will be leaving in about an hour, so you should stay here. There are some stale sandwiches and cold coffee on the table there if you wish to eat. [Looks snottily at Austin] What's that? A lifesize replica of your penis?

Alice : Yay! It'll be like being on a train!

Jerome: [Looking at the piece of torture equipment Austin has produced] Ahhh an icecream scoop [Dabs at his watering eye] I remember those days. Scoop him man! Scoop him!

Harvey : [Goes white] An hour, you say! By the saints, that doesn't give us much time to eat!

Alice : If you hurry Uncle, it should be okay. [Takes a bite of a sandwich] Mm! Dry lettuce and cardboard ham sandwiches! [Starts chewing.]

Batard : I am leaving now, I suggest you make any last minute adjustments to your plans for the show now.

[Exit BATARD.]

Clint : [Producing a small bottle of whiskey] I prefer my own refreshments. [Looks at Alice] I wouldn't eat those if I were you, what with people trying to kill us around here and all.

Harvey : Last minute adjustments, troop? Does anyone want to change anything? I'm completely happy with our performance training session! [Looks at the table] Mmm, beef leather sole sandwiches! [Tucks heartily into one]

Alice : [Still chewing her small bite, and clearly not getting anywhere with it] But surely these sandwiches were supplied by the circus, and not any would be murderers? And also, Clint, I'm not happy about you drinking before cycling with us as passengers - I know the stench of whiskey from your breath is better than the normal odour, but still.

Harvey : I agree with Alice, private Scar. No drinking while on driving duty! And as for these sandwiches, I can think of hundreds of quicker and less painful ways of killing someone.

Clint : Don't worry Bimbo, it'd take a lot more than just this bottle to affect my driving abilities. [Looks at the bottle] Absynth? Where the hell did I get this from? Yummy! [Downs half bottle]

Alice : [Still chewing the first bite] Do we need some kind of plan for when we get to the jail? I mean, what happens once we get in?

Harvey : Good point, my dear. Perhaps we could save some of Private Scars private liquor stash for the guards, get them drunk, steal the keys and release the roving band of racial sterotypes? Otherwise, I don't know. The guards will be distracted by the circus anyway, but our problem is getting the cell door open.

Jerome : [Now with a huge black eye] Of course, we won't know which cell they are in. However, it is likely that the circus will be performed for those remanded in the jail, in which event all the prisoners will be congregated to form an audience. Thus, the problem is not to open cell doors or to locate the prisoners, but to get contact them in the audience, and remove them from the premises.

Clint : [Slightly drunk] Well, we could ask for three volunteers from the crowd and try to perform a spiky piramid, which would be a piramid with three extra members, one for each side of the piramid. [Sidewalks a little] We would get them to jump on the bicycle and then ride out of the prison! [Smiles statisfied with himself, trying for 2 minutes to close the bottle on his hands] Damn lids, always the wrong size! [Trows the lid away, downs another dose]

Jerome : [Bonk. Gets hit in the other eye by the top] Mr. Scar! That idea is the most - the most - actually, now that Jerome considers it in a calm fashion, he must admit that it is quite a good plan, and that your superficial barbarity and recklessness with bottle tops belies an innate and cunning ability to form plans.

Harvey : Impressed Very good, private Scar. A good plan, but perhaps we need a more subtle approach for exiting the prison. One where we could all escape, but the guards would not be alerted for some considerable time afterwards!

Jerome : Er, perhaps Jerome's injury may have lead to some unclear thinking.

Alice : Why don't we [chew chew] make a break for it with them on the bike? Surely the guards would be so hysterical they wouldn't react?

Austin : We could get them involved in our act as suggested, and then use up all of the rest of the weightless ness powder to float away on some helium baloons, which we shall, of course, prepare before the show.

Alice : And where do you propose we get these balloons from, Austin? Do you think there's some kind of fairground around where we can just buy them?

Austin : [To Alice] Hmm, good point Alice. [Ponders, looking around. Then dramatically] Wait a minute! We are in a fairground, there must be some helium filled baloons around here somewhere, the advertising gurus would not omit the opportunity of such a facility [Looks out of the tent to see if he can spot any helium filled baloons]

[As soon as AUSTIN lifts tent flap, the party can see that GNARLBERT is standing just outside, selling helium filled balloons.]

Alice : I suppose we should have known that they were here. I mean, given the squeakiness of Austin's voice, and all.

Austin : [Buys some helium filled baloons with 'cheese' money and slight of hand. To GNARLBERT] My I purchase some of your finest helium filled baloons?

Gnarlbert : [Makes a shocked look at Austin] Buy some of my balloons? No way!

Austin : [To Gnarlbert] Well then, if you give me 10 gold pieces I will take the baloons from you for free!

Clint : [Struggling not to fall][To Gnalbert] Can we have them vor vree then? We're just a group ov poor children.

Gnarlbert : [Parping his horn at Austin] No! You can't do that, because balloons are free to circus employees!

Austin : [A little vexed. to Gnarlbert] Yippieee! May we have some baloons mister, please, we need them for our act, to make it look siller!

Clint : Oooooh, thatz great. [Grabs one of the balloons]

Gnarlbert : Make it look sillier? [Parp] Once you've got those costumes on, it'll take a whole lot more than ballons to make you look sillier. No worries though, I'll have my balloons at the jail, we're going to give one to each of the prisoners - that's two thousand balloons, you know.

Alice : How many prisoners are there?

Austin : [To Alice, one eye closed in concentration] In a prison that size,... I reckon about one thousand nine hundred and nintey nine. A rough estimate of course, corrected for multiple comparisons, escapees, newcommers and the unwelcome, sad but inevitable deaths.

Alice : Well, that's unusually sensitive of you Austin. [Quietly to the others so Gnarlbert can't hear] Okay, so if Gnarlbert is going to have -

Gnarlbert : I can hear you.

Alice : Oh, thanks. [A bit more quietly] If he's going to have that many at the jail, how about we just take them when we get there?

Clint : [Finger in the air] Debt sounds like a good idea.

Alice : [Slowly looks in the direction Clint appears to be pointing, before turning back to him] What?

Clint : [Pointing at the noisy Helium bottle which is being used to fill the balloons] Debt.

Alice : [Looks at the helium bottle, looks at Clint, back at the bottle once more and finally back to Clint, before looking to the others] Who's on for a sandwich? [Starts walking back to the tent]

Austin : [Produces a big cheese doober and lights up] At this point in the proceedings, in light of the illustrious Clints latest remarks, one would be forgiven for suspecting that he had gone completely mad. [Blows some speculative smoke rings] On the other hand, one may simply be mistakenly under the impression, that Clint is infact able to communicate in English, a fact that we have never reliably established.

Austin : [Disposes of the cheese and dries the water off his designer plastic suit. Looks at Alice. Lights a normal cigarette. To Gnarlbert] Are there chickens inside your baloons? I do like to be aware of all of the facts.

Gnarlbert : No, there's helium in these balloons. The Chickaloons come from that machine over there.

[GNARLBERT points at what appears to be a cannon coming out of a chicken coop. Two men are fitting a balloon over the outside end of the cannon. A few seconds later, there's a bang from inside the chicken coop, followed by squalk, and then the balloon is filled with a chicken. One of the men then ties a knot in the balloon.]

Alice : Wow! So that's how they're made! What's that machine called?

Gnarlbert : A chickaloon machine.

Alice : I see, named after the guy who invented it, huh? That Machine family must be worth a fortune, and good luck to them, I say, because they've made all kinds of amazing stuff.

[Enter B.T. PARNUM, still smoking a cigar, although now dressed.]

Parnum : All right folks! Are we ready? [Scratches his beard rash]

[Time passes.]

Parnum : Hell, that's not the kind of enthusiasm I'm looking for!

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Jerome: Good sir, please extinguish your cigar first! Get 250 color business cards for FREE!

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Parnum : [Taking his cigar from his mouth, and pointing it at Jerome, causing an incredible amount of smoke to pour out of it] What cigar?

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Jerome: [Pointing unequivocally at the cigar] Sir, unequivocally I mean that cigar! Get 250 color business cards for FREE!

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Parnum : [Gives Jerome a shocked look, before looking at his cigar, and back to Jerome again before bursting out laughing] Haw! Sir, I say sir, you are a joker! [Claps Jerome roughly on the shoulder] Well done. Now, we'll be leaving for the jail in a few minutes. [Points at a carriage with his cigar] Timmy will drive you, and I think Batard wants to travel with you lot too, you know, he's just mad about you. [Takes a drag of his cigar]

Clint : Alright, let's go! [Looks at the tiny carriage] Wow, what luxury, there's actually more than one seat, and no pedals! On Tue, 30 Oct 2001, Conor Ryan wrote: [Everyone heads over to the carriage. There are two seats on top, and four inside the carriage.]

Alice : Well, I'm not going to be caught like the last time. [Leaps into the carriage and takes one of the seats]

Harvey : [Taking a seat next to Alice] I must admit, dear niece, that my stomach is starting to do cartwheels with pre-show nerves. [Looks at his much chewed, though mostly complete sandwich] However, it could also be acute food poisoning.

Alice : [Taking her half chewed piece of sandwich out of her mouth and looking at it] Yeah, I know what you mean. I'm not entirely sure that this is even a real sandwich. [Nonchalantly throws it out the window]

Chastity : [From outside the carriage] Ow! Who threw that! Own up, which of you threw a rock at me! Oh, it's a sandwich.

[Enter BATARD and TIMMY.]

Timmy : Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Timmy! Hey folks, Batard has told me all about you! [Sits on the carriage.] Better get in guys, 'cause this carriage is about to leave.

Chastity : [Jumps in and sits opposite Alice] I must say, Colonel, I hope you keep your eyes out for us ladies. These prisons can be a very dangerous place, I hear.

Austin : [To Chastity, smiling] Hmmm, yes, very dangerous indeed, all of those sweaty, dirty insane psychopaths who have not seen a woman in years. [Raises his eyebrows] I do suspect, however, that most of them should not be there, and are political prisoners and such like, as we ourselves have been. Hysteria seems to be run by criminals, the good upstanding citizens, like yourself, being the ones in prison. [Looks casually out of the window] Shame really. Do you think they will like my suit?

Alice : If you mean like as in "Do you think they'll look upon me as being one of the Pillage Veople and rip it off me quicker than I can drop the soap?" I think the answer is surely yes. [Spells out "G A Y" with her arms, Village People style]

Jerome : [Stands at the doorway] Er, there appears to be no space for Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD. Perhaps I could sit on someone's lap for the journey?

Harvey : [Looks around] But of course doctor. I'm sure Private Sleaze would voice no objections. And what about Clint?

Alice : Why would Clint object to Jerome sitting on someone's lap?

Jerome : [Looks uncomfortably at Austin] That suit doesn't really do you any favours, you know? [Sits on Austin's lap]

Harvey : No, sweet Alice. I mean there is not enough room for private Scar in this carriage. Perhaps he can sit on one of the horses?

Austin : [To Jerome] I'm sure there is plenty of space on Clints lap. [Checks his perfect hair in a pocket mirror. To Alice] I suspect that no matter how I dress they will find me irresistable, just as everyone else does, it is only natural. In the interest of the mission I will change into something slightly less beautiful, I have a Kitts Kloths sky diving suit with me somewhere, although I will be hard pushed to find matching accessories for the show. [Starts changing clothes so quickly you would be forgiven for thinking he'd been practicing this very eventuality]

Jerome : [Still on Austin's lap, causing him a lot of difficulty to get his clothes off] If you had spent more time considering your surroundings than forcing us to listen to more of your nauseating arrogance, you would have noticed that not only is Clint not in the carriage, but that there is no space for him either.

Alice : [Watching Austin struggle to get his pants off sympathetically, before turning to Harvey] You know, its really hard to do that when there's a man on top of you.

Austin : [Shocked when Jerome sits on his lap, sticks a pin into Jeromes bum] What the hell do you think you are doing?

Chastity : [Carefully averts her eyes] Mr Sleaze, please desist from this nudity this instant. There are ladies present!

[JEROME leaps up and hits his head off the roof, before turning angrily to AUSTIN.]

Jerome : I should say, sir, that it should be entirely obvious, even to one as self obsessed as you! We have to share the space if we are to get to the prison, and, while I appreciate that sharing is not in your nature, I suggest you make an exception in this case.

Alice : [Smiles to herself] I always knew that Austin had a little prick!

Clint : [Looking at all the mess on the carriage from outside] Err, is there a place for me there?

Austin : [To Jerome] You could at least wait until I had finished changing, before jumping on me like that, and perhaps you could even ask first.

Alice : I think you'll have to sit on Jerome's lap on Austin's [pause and smile] lap.

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc. PhD announced his intention to place himself upon your lap, and this intention was condoned by the good Colonel. I took the silence from you to be agreement. Furthermore, I suggest that you only start to change either immediately after I sat down or just as I sat, for you were not changing when I came in. However, in the interests of us getting to the jail, I will ask you once again, may I sit down?

Austin : [Quickly finishes changing. To Jerome] Yes, just this once, but do not expect me to return the favor.

Jerome : [Sitting down] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD was under the impression that it was he that was doing the favour, not you. [Looks to Harvey] Colonel, will you do the necessary with Clint?

Alice : Tut! He's hardly going to have time to wash him, is he? Uncle, why not just let Clint sit on your lamp?

Harvey : Perhaps, dear Alice, if you sat on my lap, the good sister could move down a place and private Scar could climb aboard. Then we could be off to the show!

Alice : Okay. [Sits on Harvey's lamp] Ow! [Moves the lamp and sits on his lap] There, much better!

Austin : [Indignantly to Jerome] That is what I just said, you fool!

Harvey : [Puts his lamp back in his bag] No fighting in the ranks there, fellows! A happy troop is a successful troop, what! [Knocks on the roof] You can go as soon as Clint is aboard!

Jerome : Perhaps, Austin, that is what you meant to say. However, as is often the case when you speak, the meaning you intended to convey and the meaning you succeed in conveying bear little relation to each other. I should think that you would be less inclined to insult your fellow party members before entering this jail, especially given that you are the only member of the party that has recently almost been exposed to anal sex.

[ALICE makes to say something, but thinks better of it.]

Clint : [Climbing aboard, smiling at all the others, and taking the vacant seat] See how I managed to end up being the only guy with a seat to himself, Bimbo?

Alice : [Waving her hand in front of her face] See how his breath is even more Stinky when he's been drinking?

Clint : Okay, ready or not, here I come! [Pushes himself inside the carriage, struggling with everyone's legs and knees]

[The carriage sets off towards the jail.]

Alice : Clint, do you have to keep your legs spread apart like that?

[Book II, Act VII, Scene V. The Carriage. BATARD, TIMMY, HARVEY, JEROME, CLINT, MANFRED, CHASTITY, ALICE and AUSTIN The carriage soon pulls up at what has to be the town jail. There is a large wall around it, and a huge gate, guarded by three burly soldiers, TOM, DICK and HARRY.]

Tom : [Talking to Timmy] Who goes there? Do you have any suspicious parcels?

Timmy : We're from the circus, and no, we're pretty sure about everything we've got. Except for the six strangers in the carriage of course, we don't really know anything about them.

Tom : [Sticks his head through the open window] Who are you?

Alice : Agh! He just broke the window with his head!

Tom : No I didn't, it was open.

Clint : Don't worry, we're just your average Tom, Dick or Harry. Not harmful at all! We're here to perform with the circus. But we have no idea who that stranger driving the carriage is.

Harvey : [Tuts] The driver is Timmy. Don't listen to him up above, he's a clown and can't tell the truth when put on the spot, my good man. We are, as my companion has said, circus performers, come here today to amaze you all with our human pyramid formation.

Tom : Hm, I suppose. Don't I know you lot from somewhere?

Clint : You probably do, seing as our show is so famous. We even bring a bicycle and all! [Rings the bicycle bell and smiles]

Harvey : Unless you have witnessed our incredible act in a previous show, I would not think so. Perhaps you have seen our promotional posters and limited edition action figurines, widely available in all good shops?

[TOM says nothing, but covers his ears with his hands, and pulls his head out, screaming.]

Alice : Wow! [Rolls up the window]

[When CLINT stops ringing the bell, TOM sticks his head through the other window.]

Tom : Yes. I see. [Makes no move, but just stands there.]

Tom : No.

Chastity : My dear man, we are going to be late for the show. I cannot bear another minute in this foul smelling carriage! [Winds down the window and takes a deep breath of air]

Clint : Ok, so that's sorted, now if you don't mind we'll be on our way, the show must go on! [Rings the bell]

Alice : [Pointing at Clint, but covering so only Chastity can see] It'll take a lot more than that, Chastity!

[TOM again grabs his ears, and jumps back from the carriage. As he does, the carriage starts up, and goes through the gates. Once inside, the party are escorted to small room, where there is a box of sparkly costumes.]

Batard : Okay, your costumes are here - put them on quickly, you will be on in a few moments.

Harvey : [Holds up a sparkly costume] I say, surely there's some mistake! This is nothing more than a pair of underpants with sequins stiched on! Where's the rest?

Alice : Wow! [Grabs a particularly inappropriate outfit, and runs behind a screen to change. When she comes out, she is wearing a startlingly revealing two piece, and there can be little doubt about the fact that she is pregnant. She is beaming broadly] Look everyone! [Does a twirl] You know, you'd never know that I'm pregnant!

Harvey : By the saints, dear niece! That thing is hardly decent for a young girl to wear in a prison! Perhaps you could put your coat over it! [Steps behind the screen and reappears moments later, red of face and dressed in the sparkly underpants, with his own vest pulled down as far as it can go, covering his modesty] By Baldurs beard, troop, can things get any worse for us!

Batard : [To Harvey] Those are women's underpants you're wearing.

Harvey : [Squeakily] Gah! That certainly explains why I have far too much blood rushing to my head all of a sudden! [Grabs a mens pair and disappears behind the screen again]

Batard : [Starts throwing clothes around to the party members] Quick, get dressed, we don't have much time.

Chastity: [Takes her clothes behind another screen] Oh lord Phili, forgive me for wearing such sinful scanty garments! [Reappears, wearing them over her nuns habit]

Alice : Very nice, Chas, very nice.

[JEROME appears also, with a similar outfit to HARVEY.]

Batard : [To Austin and Clint] Quickly!

Harvey : [Looking down at his sparkly thong] You know, doctor, I feel this is an entirely inappropriate costume to be wearing in a prison! [Attempts to bend his knees and grimaces.] I'm just glad that I'm not the one riding the bicycle!

Alice : [Busy posing about the place] Come on Aussie, you too Stinky, lets go!

Austin : [Puts a silver thong on over his jump suit, smiling] Hmm... very Clarian Julie. Not bad, at all.

Alice : It is a bit Clarian Julie alright, Austin, you know, that's a good look for you, and good luck for the inmates!

[CLINT disappears behind the screen, grumbling]

Austin : [To Alice] Why good luck? is this a ladies prison?

Clint : [Reappearing, wearing incredibly tight shorts which display his sexual unbalance] How the fuck am I suppose to cycle wearing these?

Chastity : Now Mr Scar, there's no need for that type of language, is there! I'm sure you'll look perfectly...normal, sitting down on the bicycle. [To Batard] Put me down for one postcard of Clint, my good man.

Clint : [Ripping off the inside sewing of the shorts, such that they now look like a dangerously short mini-skirt] Ok, this should do it. Let the games begin!

Alice : [Covering her eyes so she can't see Clint, but opening her fingers so she actually can] Eauh!

[Enter GILLTON MENN, with a stern look on his face.]

Gillton : Hm. Yes. Yes. I see. I can't say I approve of the outfits, but I suppose it will entertain the prisoners.

Harvey : [Looking at Clints miniskirt] Hmm, let's hope private Scar does not crash the bicycle, otherwise the audience might get more of an eyeful than really necesary. [To Gillton] Good afternoon, dear sir, and let me say, it's a pleasure to be performing in your prison.

Gillton : I'm sure that any man your age who dresses like a whore would enjoy being in a prison. Let me just say I am against this whole idea, the first three rules of my jail are discipline, discipline and discipline.

Alice : [To the others] They all sound the same to me!

Gillton : [Snaps his head around to look at Alice with disapproval] I think this circus with its scantily dressed females and [looks at Chastity, and gets lost momentarily] and er, well, it is an unwelcome distraction. Know this, no one has ever escaped from my jail, and if any of you have even a remote idea about helping someone, you had better leave now.

Clint : Helping someone? I sure wouldn't be dressing like a hore if I wanted to help someone escape. [Looks momentarily at Harvey] Eh?

Gillton : See that you don't. [Turns to leave, but pauses when he sees Batard] Oh my God!

[Exit GILLTON.]

Harvey : [Bristling with anger] Scurrulous cur! If I could breathe I'd have given him a piece of my mind!

Batard : [Still smoking] Artistes like me often have to endure that kind of abuse. [Blows smoke into the room] Why you get it is anybody's guess. Well, [looks at Clint] are you ready?

Alice : [Takes out the powder from beneath her skimpy top] Let's do some entertaining!

Clint : [Looking down at his mini skirt] As ready as I'll ever be. [Jumps onto the bike] Anyone wants a ride from old Clint? [Smiles at his bad taste joke]

Harvey : [Looks at Batard and then quietly to the party] What's the plan, troop? When we get outside, inform the prison that we're about to attempt a trick never done before and ask for three more helpers from the crowd? We'll have to give them some of the powder also. And get our hands on those balloons!

Alice : [To CLint] I will. [Realisation dawns] Hey! I mean, no.

Jerome : Good idea, Harvey. [Points through a crack in another door leading out of the room] I saw Gnarlbert out there with the helium balloons, he's got quite a lot of them. We can tell him to blow up more while we're getting the volunteers.

[The party go out into the ring, with CLINT cycling, and everyone else walking. PARNUM is here, introducing them.]

Parnum : And I give you, the Amazing Queens View Cyclists, direct from a four year tour of Africa, Asia and the subcontinent. Let's hear it for them!

[There is about three hundred inmates here, and about four of them clap.]

Inmate #1 : What the hell is this?

[ALICE throws off her coat and does a pose, and the crowd break into thunderous applause.]

Clint : [Cycling close to Parnum, low voice] Hey boss, do you know when and how are the ballons going to be distributed to the prisioners? It'd be nice to have a lot of them for the bicycle act! [Tries to spot Dicey on the crowd]

Jerome: [Akwardly twiddling the fake moustache now affixed to his face, while hunching over slightly in an effort to protect his modesty] I say, Dr Jerome Trindle didn't quite expect the costumes to be this revealing. [Hunches over even more] And it is quite cold in here.

Parnum : Hm, the Amazing High-Pitched Voiced Queens View Cyclists, eh? I like it! [Points to Gnarlbert, who is surrounded by hundreds of balloons] We're not going to give them out until after the show, so take as many as you want, but make sure you get them back to us. These [waves to the crowd] murderers, rapists and savages can turn pretty ugly when they don't get their balloons.

Harvey : It was the same back in Vietnumnum, during the Tet festival. I've never seen so many battle hardened men reduced to tears when their balloons burst! [Quietly, to the others] Well, are we just going to leave all of our clothes and equipment here? We won't be able to come back to get them. [Jerome] [Also aside] We could put it in the amazing Dr Jerome's (TM) Patented hold all brief that become a storeage facility...

Harvey : Wonderful doctor! I would hate to have to walk to Hallbridges in these ridiculous underpants. clothes hold all brief that become a storeage facility...

Austin : [Obviously still wearing his jump suit underneath his silver g-string] Excellent Jerome, shall I help you get inside?

[Everyone throws their equipment into the holdall, which is now bulging.]

Alice : Where will we leave it?

[The crowd, not surprisingly, are getting a bit restless, and are a bit unhappy about the fact that the Amazing Queens View Cyclists, far from doing any amazing cycling, are just putting stuff in a bag.]

Parnum : [Bellowing] Come on! You've got a show to do! Get out there or get off!

[A number of bottles and rotten apples are thrown at the party.]

[The crowd start to turn ugly, and begin ripping up the seats. Enter GILLTON.]

Gillton : [Angrily to Parnum] What the hell is this?

Clint : [Cycles onto the middle of the arena] Hello beautiful crowd, please welcome the amazing Queens View Cyclists! [Makes a round of the arena, ringing the bicycle bell] [Some of the crowd settle down, but there is still some grumbling.]

Gillton : [Pointing an accusatory finger at the others in the party] This better be good.

Harvey : Greetings people, and aplogies for keeping to waiting! To make up for this, we are all going to do a very special trick, never before seen on the face of the planet! We are going to perform the ultimate human pyramid on wheels! But for this, we need three extra members to join the Queens View troupe! I need three volunteers!

[In the crowd, the unmistakable brogue of DICEY can be heard.]

Dicey : Sure'n begorrah, bejasus and bejabbers, between me forty coats and me fifty pockets I do declare in front of holy Mary and all the saints except saint George that if it isn't those bastards from Queens View.

[DICEY is sitting with DUNCAN and FENTON, but they don't put their hands up. TORCH, a digusting looking prisoner, on the other hand puts up his hand.]

Torch : Hey! If it involves fire, I'll do it.

Harvey : Er no, it doesn't involve any fire. I need three people now, eh! [Looks meaningfully at Dicey] Three people to be involved in the act!

Clint : [Still cycling around the arena] Preferably some small people. [Points at Dicey] Hey you! You look like a meaningless, I mean, lightweigth person come along! And bring your friends! [pointing at Duncan and Fenton]

[DUNCAN, FENTON and DICEY have a quick conference, before making their way down.]

Duncan : [Glaring at the party] Alright, Jimmy, this better be good.

Harvey : By the saints, it'll be good alright. Infact, I think you'll really enjoy it.

Austin : This is the greatest feat ever performed, so dangerous we will probably never be able to perform it again!

Gillton : Well hurry on and perform it then, and see that none of my prisoners get hurt in the act - we need them in perfect health for the clubbing.

Alice : Wow! They go dancing? [Does a little dance]

Gillton : No, we beat the shit out of them with clubs on a regular basis.

Harvey : Certainly. [Quietly to the others] Alright dear niece, let's all take some of that powder. You three also! Is the plan to perform the trick first, or just grab the balloons from Gnarlbert immediately?

Alice : [Staring into space for a few moments, before mumbling] Idunno.

Austin : [To Harvey] We should grab the baloons mid trick, so that it all looks like a crazy, wild build up to a fantastic stunt!

Harvey : Very well, sounds like a good idea. [To Alice] Be so good as to hand around the magic powder, dear niece.

Clint : [Still cycling around the arena] [Passing close to the others] Whatever you're doing, you'd better do it fast, I'm starting to get tired of cycling round and round with disguting faggots drooling when looking at my skirt! [Keeps cycling]

Chastity : Stop drooling this instant, Austin!

Alice : Okay, here goes. [Sprinkles a little on everyone]

Harvey : Alright troop. Same as before. [To Dicey] When we form our pyramid, I want the three of you to get on as best you can. Understood? Come private Sleaze! [Jumps onto one of the rear bars of the bicycle as Clint passes]

[CLINT does a lap around the ring with HARVEY, and heads back, heading towards AUSTIN.]

Alice : Okay, Austin, here's your chance to show these inmates what you can do!

Chastity : [Clapping along with the crowd] Go on Mr Sleaze! The crowd are hungry for you!

Austin : [Jumps onto the bicycle, and throws some cigarettes into the crowd] Oh, is it my turn already?

Torch : [Catching some cigarettes] Wow, not only is he beautiful, but he's also generous. [Looks around] Anyone got a match.

All : [Loudly] No! [Calmly] No.

[AUSTIN leaps upon the bike, and CLINT does another round. On the next pass, JEROME and CHASTITY get on, followed by ALICE, so now all six are on the bike. The inmates clap and throw beer bottles to demonstrate their approval.]

Alice : They love us! [Bonk. Gets hit on the head with a bottle] Ow! Its just like those nativity plays we used to put on at home for my parents!

Harvey : [To the racial stereotypes] Right lads, on the next pass you three get on. One on each side, and one on up the back! Private Scar, be sure and swing passed Gnarlbert as you go and try to grab the balloons!

Clint : [Cycles close to Gnalbert and tries to grab some ballons]

Austin : [Tries to grab some baloons too] Gnarlbert, give me lots of baloons now please!

Gnarlbert : Hee huh! I can't wait to see this act!

[The bike swerves dangerously close to GNARLBERT. AUSTIN, ALICE, JEROME and CHASTITY all successfully grab handfuls of balloons. CLINT also makes a grab, causing the bike to swerve dangerously, and the pyramid to sway in a frightening manner.]

Alice : Aiiee! We're all gonna die!

Crowd : Ooooh!

[CLINT grabs the handles again.]

Crowd : Aaaah!

[CLINT struggles with the bike and beats it into submission, going steady again, but finding it difficult to keep it on the ground.]

Crowd : Hurrah! [Round of applause]

Parnum : [Putting his cigar into his mouth with a smile and applauding himself] Man, that's showmanship for you!

Gillton : [Sour face and arms folded] Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Clint : Yeeeeeeeeeeeehaa! [Puts on a pair of goggles, WWI style, with combining ear-flaps hat, and makes another tour to come close to Fenton, Dicey and Duncan] [The bike makes a classic neeeeeeeeaaaarooiinnng sound as it zooms passed the three racial stereotypes, who all grab on as ALICE sprinkles the dust on practically everything.]

Dicey : Bejasus, we're flying!

[The bike starts to lift off.]

Austin : [To The Crowd] And now! The start of the grand Finale! [Rips off his silvery thong and throws it into the crowd, along with a box of matches (For the cigarettes)]

Harvey : [Delighted] Chocks away chaps, and tally ho! [Grabs some balloons if there are any close]

Gillton : [Sees the matches landing on Torch's lap] Noooo!

[The bike takes off, just as the circus orchestra bursts into the "Theme From E.T."]

Dicey : Sure'n begorrah, bejasus and bejabbers, between me forty coats and me fifty pockets I do declare in front of holy Mary and all the saints except saint George that this is the greatest plan I've seen since meself and Sean Ban Breathnach stole the sill from the Royal Magistrate!

[FENTON is hanging on to JEROME, while DICEY has one hand on each of FENTON and HARVEY and DUNCAN is hanging onto CHASTITY and AUSTIN.]

Chastity : [To Duncan] Ooh, do you mind not grabbing there quite so hard! home) Thank you, mystery player, who-ever you are!

Duncan : Aye lass, I'll mind meself, right enough, but there's plenty for a man to be grabbin' onto!

Alice : [As the bike keeps floating up] Hey, how do we steer this thing?

Clint : [To Jerome] Yo Jerry, try to let go some air from your balloon, that should give us a push. We'll steer by leaning to the left or to the right!

Jerome : Unusual clarity of thought from you, Mr. Scar, I shall do that. [Opens one of his balloons, causing it deflate.]

[This strategy doesn't seem to give them much work, but as everyone leans to the left to see, this does seem to steer the still ascending bike.]

Alice : [Smiles] Just like E.T.! [Reaches out with her finger to touch Jerome's, but doesn't realise he is facing away from her. When he turns around, her finger lodges up his nose] Eauh!

Jerome : [With Alice's finger up his nose] I should be disgusted, yet I am not.

[ALICE removes her finger, and keeps it outstretched, looking for somewhere to wipe it.]

Gillton : When - when will they stop rising?

Harvey : I'm sure that will happen as soon as the powder wears off. However, I also think we could start releasing balloons one by one, that should lower us gradually until we find a suitable landing spot!

Clint : Okay, but let's get through that hole in the tent first, if we want to let these out of here!

Harvey : Of course! Gah! The extreme altitude must be affecting my thinking! Once through the hole, we could head towards the cheese smoke, hoping it will obscure our descent!

Alice : [Still holding her finger away from her] I think, Uncle, that you've already been exposed to a little too much cheese smoke. Doesn't affect the short term memory my eye! [Rubs her hair back, and then looks at her hand in dismay] Oh no! I forgot about my finger!

[With a lot of leaning to and fro, the groups somehow squeeze out through the top.]

Fenton : Hey guys, what a brilliant plan! We're now home free! As free as the beautiful mountains of -

[Bang. One of the balloons bursts.]

Harvey : [Hearing the bang] Not yet, wait until we're well clear of the jail!

[There are several more bangs, and bits of burst balloon begin to fall onto the party.]

Alice : [Pointing at a watchtower] Look! They're shooting the balloons!

[The group drops slightly, but still looks like they'll make it over the wall, which is approaching.]

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle is curious as to how much levitating powder we have, as it was never properly established how long it lasts. Where is it, Alice?

Alice : [Nods to her top] In there, but I'm afraid to let go of the balloon and Chastity, in case I fall.

Dicey : I'll get it for you!

Alice : On second thoughts. [Takes out the bottle and, predictably, drops it. Incredibly, it just floats in front of her] Wow! Look at that!

Clint : Okay, just sprinkle the powder on all of us! I'm getting really tired of - wait a minute, why am I still cycling?

Alice : Why indeed, Clint? You are serving no purpose other than to perspire even more than usual. [Opens the bottle] Hm, there's only a small bit left. [Sprinkles some over the rest of the group.]

[Another few balloons are shot, and the bike drops down, but surges up again with the dust. It is now heading towards the wall, but any more loss of balloons could spell trouble.]

Chastity : [Mumbles incantation towards watchtower]

Harvey : Damn their hides! We'll have to jettison extra weight! Suggestions, people! Could we lose the bicycle, and hang onto each other? but any Jerome {Wishing he was wearing a strong man's leopard skin and beating at his moustache Dr J. Trindle Bsc PhD wishes it didn't tickle so much!

Alice : See, Jerome? I told you they itch! [A sudden fire erupts in the watchtower, but they get one more round of bolts off, taking out some more balloons. The bike drops, just as it heads towards the wall.]

Alice : [Taking a deep breath] We're going to make it!

[With a crunch, the bike gets caught on some barbed wire on top of the wall.]

Fenton : Hey guys, I think this would be a good time to lose some extra weight, eh?

Harvey : Very well done sister! Listen troop, the bike is trapped in the barbed wire, so we'll have to release it. Everybody hold on tightly to the person next to you. With the magic powder, there should be no real heavy weight. What do you think?

Alice : I think we don't really know anything about the powder, how much weight it can hold or how long it will last.

Clint : I think you don't know anything at all, Alice. I bet you all this extra weight is from some paperboard sandwiches that two members of the party [accusatory look] kept swallowing.

Harvey : Perhaps the extra weight is caused by your sweat saturated clothing, private Scar. I'm sure your shirt alone contains more salty liquid than the dead sea!

[The bike creaks back and forth on top of the wall.]

Dicey : Sure'n begorrah, bejasus and bejabbers, between me forty coats and me fifty pockets I do declare in front of holy Mary and all the saints except saint George that if ye don't quit yer mitherin' we're all going to die. Look, there are some soldiers out in the street!

Harvey : We've no option troop, but to ditch all of our equipment. I'm sure our armour alone weighs as much as we do! Good doctor, I'm afraid you'll have to empty the contents of your wonderful bag!

[The bike creaks back and forth on top of the wall.]

Alice : Come on, Jerry! Let's get dumping!



>Last from Colin- 07.05.091

>

>Harvey : We've no option troop, but to ditch all of our equipment. I'm

>sure our armour alone weighs as much as we do! Good doctor, I'm afraid
>you'll have to empty the contents of your wonderful bag!
 
Austin : It would probably be a good idea to ditch the bike too! No offense intended Alice.


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Alice : Hey! [Tries to wipe the snot from her finger onto Austin's hair] Ha! [Suddenly realises she's already after rubbing it onto her own] Gah!

Chastity : [To Alice] Dear child, please desist with such disgusting snotty practices. [Farts] Oops! More tea vicar?

Harvey : [Takes the bag from Jerome and empties the contents] Hopefully this will do it, troop!

Alice : [Waving her hand in front of her face] Yuck, Chastity! Hm, I guess it still smells better than Clint's normal body odour!

Clint : Thanks, Bimbo. How about this? [Strains and eventually makes a small, disgusting smelling, fart, before putting an innocent smile on his face] Oops! Tried a little to hard there!

Alice : The problem with you, Clint, is that you never try.

[As HARVEY dumps everyone's prized possessions onto the ground, the group lurch upwards again. They can see most of the town from here, and can see that it isn't a huge distance to get beyond the town walls.]

Clint : We gotta go faster! Come on sist, keep farting, that'll give us more speed and will get rid of the extra weight!

Alice : At least it won't smell as bad as your breath, Stinky! [Looks down] Hey look, those people are stealing our stuff! Hey! Help! Police!

Jerome : Alice, those are the police.

Fenton : Hey guy, what happens if they start shooting? They might hit some more balloons.

[They do start shooting, and do hit some balloons, but they also hit DUNCAN.]

Duncan : Och! Ye dirty Sassenachs!

Harvey : By the saints troop! We're sitting ducks up here! Our only chance of escape is to land within the cheese smoke and find somewhere to hide! Private Scar, tilt your front wheel to a right angle and start spinning it with your hand. It might create a little bit of propulsion! We may also be able to alter our course using the front wheel as a rudder. Soldier #1 : [Wearing Harvey's jacket] Haw! This is simple! [Fires another bolt, taking out another ballon, and causing the group to drop slightly.] Come on, let's finish them off. Soldier #2 : [Trying to fit into Alice's jacket, which is way too small for him] In a minute.

[The group drop quite a distance very suddenly. They are still floating, but only about twenty feet off the ground, and are dropping height quickly.]

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD believes that the levitating powder has run out.

Clint : Won't it be better and faster to spin the back wheel instead? [Starts pedaling again] [To Duncan] Hey can you please stop bleeding? I can't see where I'm heading! Conor Ryan wrote:

Harvey : We're going down! Aim for the soldiers, aim for the soldiers! We can take them out when we crashland!

Clint : Can't we just drop someone?

Dicey : Sure'n begorrah, bejasus and bejabbers, between me forty coats and me fifty pockets I do declare in front of holy Mary and all the saints except saint George that if it isn't the most stupid escape attempt I've heard in all me life! [Kicks Austin in the side] Get off, ye bastard!

Harvey : Would you two stop messing back there! We're nearly there, and I don't want another word out of either of you until we stop, do I make myself clear?

Dicey : [Kicking Austin again] Get off, ye big lug! Sure wasn't this the most stupid plan I've heard in all me life!

Chastity : Mr. O'Reilly, you really are an ungrateful so and so. At least you're out the jail. [To Clint] I'm starting to think you were correct about this whole caper, Clint.

Harvey : Oh do shut up, Fourtycoats! You're out of the prison, are you not? Troop, brace for impact! The emergency exits are all around us!

Dicey : [Shouting at Chastity and Harvey] And who the fuck got me in there in the first place? You know something, if we get out of this alive, I'm going to kill you!

[The party crash into a fruit stall with a bang, sending them sprawling to the ground, and all but ALICE getting covered in fruit.]

Alice : Hey! For once I didn't get - [thunk - gets smashed on the head by a particularly hard water melon]

Harvey : [Getting up] Gah! We were so close, so so close! Let's get out of here troop! [Throws a water melon at the guard wearing his jacket]

[The water melon smashes to pieces as soon as it hits the GUARD.]

Guard : Hey! My new jacket!

Alice : [Straightening her top] Where do we go? I know, let's try down this road. [Looks around the corner] Oh no! More guards - I think we're surrounded.

[That does appear to be the case.]

Harvey : We're not beaten yet! There's nine of us! Grab your weapons if you can people!

Chastity : [Picks up an armfull of apples to throw and, looks around to see where the possessions and guards are] O'Phili heal and protect us.

Alice : But they're miles away look! [Points to the end of the street where the stuff fell down]

Dicey : Nine? You mean, six! [Jumps at Harvey's leg, and pulls him to the ground] Come on, Racial Stereotypes! This is our chance to show the guards that we shouldn't be in jail.

Duncan : I like yer idea, Jimmy! [Grabs Jerome and headbutts him, sending him to the ground]

Fenton : Hey guy, this isn't cool, eh?

[There are now about ten soldiers, including a one stuffed into ALICE's multi-coloured leather jacket.]

Alice : [Covering her eyes] My beautiful jacket!

Harvey : [To Dicey] By the saints, you ungrateful swine! [Punches Dicey]

Clint : [To the guards, pointing at the racial stereotypes] Quickly, grab these bastards, they're trying to escape! [Throws a melon at Duncan]

Chastity : [Takes off her her spangly performance pants, puts an apple in them, to try and construct a sort of glittery cosh.] Colonel, are you OK? [Swings spangly-apple cosh at Dicey's head] [Loudly, so that the guards can hear] Take that for trying to take advantage of some innocent circus performers!

[CLINT, CHASTITY and HARVEY all lay into poor DICEY, who quickly lets go.]

Dicey : Ye dirty bunch of savages!

Fenton : [Punches Clint] Hey guy, you insult one Racial Stereotype, you insult them all, eh?

Duncan : [Headbutts Harvey from behind] That's for insulting ma proud French heritage!

[The guards totally surround the group, clearly not sure whether to attack or not.]

Chastity : [To Guards] For Phili's sake, help us apprehend these escaping convicts.

Guard : Everyone, put your hands up!

Alice : [To the others] Excellent, Clint's stink will knock them out.

Duncan : [Stepping away from Harvey with his hands up] No problem, officer.

Harvey : [Puts his hands up] Of course officer. That man was stealing my jacket!

Guard : [Wearing Harvey's jacket] The bastard! Point him out to me!

Clint : [To the guards] If you really insist. [Puts his hands up]

[All the GUARDS step back slightly.]

Guard : Woah! No need to put them up that high!

Chastity : [Gagging] What a whiff! [Turn's away from Clint, picks up two garlic cloves and put one slightly up each nostil] Phew, thats better. [Puts hands in air]

Harvey : Well, we certainly won't be performing that pyramid trick again! I can't believe our bicycle took off like that! [To Clint] I thought you'd tested the weights? [To the guard]

Harvey : Well, we certainly won't be performing that pyramid trick again! I can't believe our bicycle took off like that! [To Clint] I thought you'd tested the weights? [To the guard] See what happens when I have to work with amateurs!

Guard : I think we better bring you back to the warden, and let him sort this out.

Harvey : [Sighs] We're probably going to lose our jobs over this, you know. And let me tell you, there's nothing sadder than an out of work acrobat.

Guard : How about an overaged, overweight acrobat in a frighteningly revealing costume?

Harvey : May can I have my coat back so?

Clint : [Looking down at his ripped shorts] Yeah, I wouldn't mind getting my clothes back on me myself.

Guard : [Angrily] Its up to the warden who gets to put clothes back on them!

Alice : So did the warden say that guy [points to a naked man, who's sneaking past in the background] wasn't allowed wear clothes.

Guard : [Turns and looks, before sighing in exasperation] Ah, Dave!

[The party are escorted back to the jail, and made sit down in a cell. The Racial Stereotypes are seperated from the party, and they are left alone.]

Alice : [Peeking into the corner, before tutting] You know, there's always some blood in the corner in these places.

Jerome: [Suddenly looking excited] By gods, man! You are right! [Fumbles in his coat pocket and produces two small tins Passing one to Clint and the other to Chastity] Try these Decompressed Baked Beans TM. A lot of wind in a little packet!

Chastity : [Looking at the hard, uneven bench-cum-bed along one of the walls] At least these cells have the comfy range of Fidgetannorest's furniture range. Back in the convent we had their austere range fitted as standard. Some poor nuns would snap their spines in two in order to try and get comfortable in them. [Shakes her head] The shame of it, trying to get comfortable.

Clint : I think we've got a problem. I'm still wearing this stupid outfit, and we're on jail among hundreds of faggots and queers. Not to mention Austin on this very cell.

Alice : And the fact that we're confined in a small room with you, Clint! [Constantly twists and turns to get comfortable] So, what are we going to tell the warden? I hope he doesn't want to put us in jail, I simply can't have that happen. [Small voice] Again.

Harvey : You know, since we began this whole quest, I think we've been in more prisons than Alf Capone. As for what to tell the warden, I think we should tell him that the whole thing was an accident, that we never expected the bicycle to take off like that.

Austin : [To CLint] Clint, you have such an unplesant 'mystic aura' that I doubt that even Pestillence himself would want to have sexual relationships with you.

Chastity : I agree, good Colonel. I do wonder what sort of scurrilous allegations the Racial Stereotypes are laying at our door, though.

Austin : [Looks around to check that no others are watching (appart) from the party ] And checks the door of the cell to see if it is locked.

Alice : Oh, come on, Chastity. I'm sure they are being perfectly truthful about us.

[The door opens, almost hitting AUSTIN with it, and GILLTON MENN and three armed guards enter.]

Gillton : [Barely able to look at the party] You people make me sick!

Alice : [Looking one of the guards] Hey, how come you've got three arms?

Guard : I don't, there's just someone standing beside me.

Harvey : [To Gillton] Hmm, perhaps our act could have gone a little better, certainly I never expected the bicycle to take off like that. But surely it wasn't stomach churning, my good fellow, eh? It couldn't have been that bad?

Austin : [To All] It is hardly surprising that it did not go to plan. That foul little Irish man, the one they call Dicey, I thinl it is, was kicking me all the time and he threatened to kill me twice! [To Gillton] What kind of an audience is that!

Clint : Yeah, damn those Irish bastards! They kept on farting as well!

Chastity : [Looking shiftily at the floor] Erm, yes, those dreadful flatulent felons.

Austin : [To Gilton] And when will our possesions be returned? The prisoners treid to steal them, then when we dropped them to keep them away from those scoundrels, your guards pick our clothes up and put them on! Incredible, yet true! Never have I seen such behaviour!

Harvey : Indeed! And why have you locked us in this dreadful cell, what? We try to amuse your prisoners, and this is the thanks we get! Call me old fashioned, but I preferred champagne and caviar!

Austin : [Nodding in agreement] Yes, this is the last time we will be doing any voluntary work for the prison service! We come here, in our own time, put on a show for free, spend our own time and money on training and equipment and we get assaulted by insane Irish convicts, who gibber inanley about some heretical Gods or Godesses and thing. It was all very disturbing you know. [To Gilton] You must hate your job.

Clint : [Nodding in agreement] Yes, this is the last time we work for free! We come here, it's all for free, blah blah blah, and we get assaulted by the fecking Irish, who do something about Gods and stuff. It's all very disturbing you know. [To Gilton] You must really really hate your job. [Smiles at himself and his speech]

Gillton : [Who has been watching the latest exchange completely silently, with his arms folded] No. But I do hate you. [Calls to one of the guards] Mister Carver, did some of the guards take these people's clothing?

Carver : [Wearing Harvey's jacket] No sir.

Gillton : As for all this anti-Irish feeling, I think you should know that my wife is Irish.

Alice : [Covering her eyes with her hand] Er, I'm sure she must be a lovely woman.

Gillton : [Still totally impassive] Not at all, she's a mad fucking bitch, constantly drinking, farting and fighting, and washes so rarely that she makes your friend here [nods at Clint] smell like, well, your friend here[nods at Austin]. That caravan that I make her live in is a kip. However, despite us having the same feelings about those people, the fact remains that you are criminals. I do not believe your story about the bicycle taking off by accident for one second.

Austin : [To Gilton] You are telling me that you think that was planned? Why on earth would we plan that? I can assure you that did not happen in rehersals. And what law have we broken? How can we be criminals?

Harvey : And perhaps most importantly of all, why on earth would we help the likes of that horrible Irish person and his cronies, to escape?

Austin : [To Harvey] Escape? What the hell are you one about? [Pause] Oh dear! I see. Him, speaking as a lawyer I do believe that we may be in a small portion of a predicament. I am sure Gnarlbert and Batard will testify in court that our training sessions in no way involved leaving the ground, or even baloons. [To Gilton] So, sir, I do believe I would like to speak to my lawyer.

Gillton : [Arms still folded and face like thunder, shouting at Harvey] You sir, are a liar! Your circus cronies are already in custody, the circus equipment impounded and the animals set free, as God intended them to be.

[ALICE goes on tip toes to peek out the barred window, and sees a lion rampaging down the street, pausing occasionaly to maul a passerby.]

Gillton : [Turns to Austin] I do believe you will need a lawyer before this day is out. State his name, sir, and he will be brought here.

Austin : [To Gillton] Why sir, the one and only Spaniel Hatrick Leonard, famed for his sterling work in freeing the innocent OJ Stimpson. I sincerely doubt that he will have any trouble in convincing a jury of our innocents!

Austin : [To Gillton] In fact, sir, you might as well let us go on our way now, I for one am sure that you have much better things to do with your time than waste it in a court of law, with all of that tedious paper work, standing waiting around for a Judge to tell you what to do. If you lets us go now we can all get on with our lives, us with our mission from God, an you with whatever you care to do. Think of how it would look in the months of news papers, 'Gillton imprisons pregnant girl, her chaperone Nun, Colonel and uncle, Lawyer and friends [Nods towards Clint and Jerome] - whilst performing for free at a charity event for prisoners'.

Gillton : [Cocking his head to one side as he looks past Austin] I prefer to think of it more as "Hero Warden cracks down on pregnant whore, devil worshipping bearded lady, uncle and confused crossdresser, lawyer and clients whilst engaging in a jail break". I am not familiar with your lawyer, and suspect that he either does not live in Hysteria or has been made up. I will arrange for you to have legal support.

Alice : [Counting out on her fingers, before asking the others quietly] Which one was me?

Harvey : Very well. Do so then. And please get my jacket off of that thief! If you examine it, you shall find my initials embroidered in the collar.

Gillton : [Thundering] I will not tolerate disrespect in my jail! How dare you! How dare you, sir!

[One of the guards smacks HARVEY on the back of the legs with his club, knocking him to the ground.]

Alice : Harvey!

Gillton : Show me the initials.

[CARVER holds out the jacket for all to see, the initials HKS are there.]

Gillton : [To Harvey] What is your name, sir?

Harvey : My name is Harvey Kingston Short.

[All the guards laugh, but GILLTON keeps his sour look.]

Gillton : Of course it is, how very convenient. Mister Carver, can you explain why your jacket has those initials?

Carver : Why, yes sir. It is a special ceremonial jacket, often used in suicides, called a Hari Kari Special. Hence the initials, HKS.

Gillton : [With satisfaction] Now, I believe that is a far more reasonable explanation.

Harvey : There is a freshly pressed handkerchief in the inside left hand pocket. And in my watch pocket, you will find my silver watch. Ask your Mr Carver what number is scratched into the case of the watch. And also, why the watch is inscribed to me. You know Mr Gillton, that it was impossible for me to wear a watch during our act. How so now, is it in Mr Carvers pocket? In fact it is there because it is my pocket, of my coat!

[CARVER whispers something to GILLTON, who listens with the occasional nod.]

Gillton : Enough of your parlour tricks, we know how slippery you circus folk can be. Let us go.

[Exit GILLTON and the GUARDS, locking the door behind them.]

Austin : [To All] Can anybody here lip read? I wonder what that villanous Carver chap was saying to Gillton?

Harvey : [Thundering] He probably told him the truth! That he had stolen my jacket! That Gillton person is even more of a criminal than our audience was! You, Sleaze, you're a lawyer, what do you think our chances are? Carver

Austin : [Seeing no response to his last comment, suspecting that Gillton and and Carver are still listening] I bet your life that that Carver chap would stab Gillton in the back for a gold crown, do you not think he is the type? I would not trust him as far as Chastity can pass wind.

Alice : [Sniffs the air, and steps away from Chastity] Why? Is Carver a lawyer? Anyway, what about Uncle Harvey's question? Are we in trouble? I mean, as much trouble as a pregnant girl wearing a sparkly bikini in jail can be in! stab

Austin : [To Harvey] Colonel, I do not think we can possibly leave the prion by legitimate means. Gillton and Carver are obviously criminals of the worst kind, and they are in complete control of our situation. Even in the even that they do bring a lawyer to us there is no way of knowing wether or not that lawyer is under the control of Gillton, thing being as they are, we are, for want of a more suitable slice of terminology, 'F.U.C.K.E.D.' [Pauses, then strolls to the otherside of the cell] Our only hope of freedom is to use our cunning and guile once, more, as we have done so many times before. We are after all knights of God, and in his mission we cannot and will not fail!

Alice : [Depressed sigh] Fucked, eh? You know, I think I'm pretty tired of getting fucked.

[In the background JEROME makes a resigned sigh.]

Harvey : [Stroking his chin] Yes, Private. Loathe as I am to break out of jail, I fear we may have no choice.

Jerome: [To Austin] Dr. Jerome Trindle BSc, pHD has never exactly considered hiself a knight of god, or of any other religion, other than science and pure hard facts. [Shoots a worried look to Gilton & Carver] HOwever if you can prove to him in the next thirty seconds God does indeed exist, I will be more than happy to review my beliefs, become and knight and get the hell out of here! [Ahem]

Austin : [To Jerome] Excellent suggestion! Perhaps if God does exist there will be some loose bricks or motar in the walls of this cell. If there are we could know them out and escape. [Starts checking the walls for loose bricks and mortar] You know Jerome, religion is indeed a strange thing, only the other day I heard about a religion where they worshiped an unfortunate fellow who was nailed to a piece of wood. [Chuckles] Hardly a good role model! The humerous twist was [pause] they also believe that his mother is a virgin! How many times have I heard that one!

Jerome: [Glancing at Alice's pregnant tummy] Er... yes well, wasn't that same fellow supposedly saved by his father, God? All he had to do was die! This is nearly as bad. [Looks up expectantly]

Austin : [To Jerome, whilst still checking the walls (and door)] Hmmmm, yes, perhaps. It was difficult to make any sense of it, you know how these religions are. They have one God, but appear to pray to a ghost and a spirit too, but I am sure that the chap nailed to the piece of wood was a God too. Of course this leaves one with a contradiction of kinds, what manner of God lets himself get nailed to a piece of wood? [Searches and pokes a bit more] THe symbolism was quite interesting though, a sun, with a pyramid within, and over the pyramid and eye, almost touching the sides of the pyramid. Then the chap on the wood is stuck on top of the eye. The sun must have been twenty foot across, solid gold too, covered the entire celing of the church, quite impressive really.

Alice : Curious, how some people are undeservedly nailed to a cross, while others [glances at Austin] should be nailed to a cross, while others still are given a cross to bear! Look, before this lawyer comes in, how are we going to play this? Stick to the innocence story?

Alice : Good point, Harvey, Nunpar is a bit of a loose cannon. The last time we met, he wasn't very helpful, but didn't try and throw us in jail either.

[AUSTIN finds a loose brick, but it looks like it will take quite a bit of manipulation to get it out. Of course, it is on an inner wall.]

Harvey : It might be our best hope. I have the feeling that these wardens are more corrupt than most. Nunpar might be an officious prude, but I think he's as straight as an arrow. At least we would be given the chance of a fair hearing. We cannot afford to spend months locked up in a gaol. We must be in Hallbridges soon, to stop the evil. [The cell door is opened, and in steps JUSTIN CASE, who looks at the party nervously.]

Justin : Er, hello, I'm, um, [starts fidgeting with his briefcase] I'm here to represent you. Uh, [looks at Alice] hey, do I know you from somewhere?

Alice : Hm, [considers for a moment] I don't think so.

Austin : [To Justin] I take it that you have already been threatend or blackmailed into loosing the case for us?

Justin : [Holding his briefcase defensively to his chest] No! I, well, I suppose I'm just not all that confident that we're going to win this particular case.

Alice : The briefcase?

Justin : No, the criminal case.

Austin : [To Justin] And why exactly are you not at all confident that we are going to win this case?

Justin : [Selfconsciously picking at his briefcase] On account of the other cases.

Austin : [The dawning realisation on his face] You mean to say that you have never, ever won a case? [Pauses in horror] How many cases have you had?

Justin : [Not looking Austin in the eye] Six or seven.

Alice : See? He's just starting out.

Justin : Hu-hundred.

Alice : What? What the hell kind of lawyer are you? We'd be better with a trained chimp, or, or maybe even Clint!

[The block that AUSTIN was at is knocked out of the wall.]

Clint : Knock knock? Who's there?

Alice : Er, are you talking to me?

[The block falls onto the floor, and a heavily accented voice speaks, betraying a trace of oriental influence.]

Voice : I am Mei Lin, who has been wrongfully arrested for practising yoga in a public place. My fool of a lawyer has the wisdom the young dog who chases his own tail.

Alice : [To Justin] One of yours?

Justin : Er, I'm afraid so.

Clint : [To Justin] Why would you chase your own tail?

Justin : [Relaxing for once] Oh, I love these - um, [thinks for a moment] I don't know, why would you chase your own tail?

Clint : Oh my god, is he bad or what???

Austin : This is going to take alot of work. It may very well be quicker to tunnel ou of here.

Clint : It's rare, but you do have some good ideas from time to time. I wonder if we can pull out more of these bricks!

[A sudden shower of bricks falls into the room, and the party can see a there is a figure trying to get into the room.]

Austin : [Tries to knock out some more bricks to Mei Lin's cell] Okay, Mei Lin, let us enlarge your hole somewhat.

Justin : You know, I can't be a part of this kind of thing!

[The whole is soon large enough for him to step through. Enter MEI LIN.]

Mei : [Bowing deeply] I am Mei Lin Cheng. It has brought great shame to me that we must meet under these circumstances.

Justin : I think I better call the guards, in case I get accused of doing something illegal!

Harvey : You've done nothing illegal, lawyer boy. But if you call those guards, we'll all say it was you who pulled away the bricks. How would you like to have to defend your own case, Case?

Chastity : Goodness, Colonel. If he did that we might have to share this cell with him permanently! Or he might even be put into another cell, all on his own. Or with some big hairy men who'd love a bit of company. [To Mai] How do you do, Mai, I'm sister Chastity of Queens View.

[MEI says nothing and just looks impassively at CHASTITY.]

Justin : [To Harvey] Er, in that case, we'll just concentrate on this case.

Mei : [Turning to Chastity] Sorry, I didn't realise you were speaking to me. My name is pronounced "Mei", not "Mai".

Alice : Sounds the same to me.

Mei : Confusio say "If a rose was a rise, and a rise a rose, then would those who have risen rose?".

Austin : [To all] Austin say "We can use these bricks as weapons if the need arises." Austin also say "If the walls are this weak we should get out of here in no time at all", the final thing Austin say "no, if a rose was a rise, and a rise a rose, then those who have rose would have risen".

Mei : [Bows deeply to Austin] You are undoubtably full of wisdom sir.

Alice : [Muttering under her breath] Well, he's definitely full of something.

Mei : But only the truly wise know when to listen to the wisdom of others.

Clint : Who would have reason? You're making no sense again, Lawyer. [Starts tearing down the wall] Let's see what we can do with this wall.

Justin : No! Stop! Please!

[There is a tunnel on the other side of the wall, leading to another cell. The door of the party's cell opens, enter GILTON, CARVER and several other guards.]

Gilton : [Shouting at Clint] Stop this at once!

Harvey : Cease private. [To Gillton] Your prison wall would seem to need repairing, Mr Gillton.

Clint : Hey, piss off, I didn't do anything! I just leaned against the wall!

Austin : [To Gilton] Well? What do you want now? Don't tell me that you have come to your senses and decided to let us go.

Gillton : [Looks angrily at the wall, before turning calmly to Austin] No.

Austin : [To Gillton] You must be a wealthy man indeed to pass up the substantial reward for our rescue.

Gillton : You must be a gullible man indeed to think I'll fall for something like that.

[There is silence for a few seconds.]

Gillton : What reward?

Austin : [To Harvey] What is the name of that chap again? You know, the one who keeps claiming credit for our fine deeds, Numpty or somesuch.

Harvey : You mean Colonel Joe Nunpar, private Sleaze? I'm sure that Mr Gillton isn't high enough up in the grand scheme of things to even know who Colonel Joe Nunpar is. I'm sure you're wasting your breath on this subordinate.

Gillton : [Shifts uncomfortably] What is your association with Colonel Nunpar?

Harvey : [Shrugs] Ask him yourself, Gillton. You obviously don't believe anything I tell you, so you might as well get it straight from the horses mouth. But let me tell you this, that jacket of mine is going to come back to haunt you.

Austin : [To Gillton] It is a matter of not inconsiderable importance, and as such I should have to whisper it to you lest we jerpordise the good Colonels plans. [Whispers to Gillton] Nunpar is our front man, we are a team secretly working for him, as such I cannot divulge details, but if you contact him and say we are here and we have mission critical information the reward will be in your hands in no time at all.

Gillton : [With a face like thunder] Wait here. Nunpar is in this very building at the moment.

[Exit GILLTON and the guards.]

Alice : [Happily] Well done, Uncle! We'll soon be out of here!

Jerome : [To Mei] Why are you here?

Mei : I was trying to escape, after having been wrongfully arrested for practising yoga in a public place. I am surprised that the guards did not show more concern at my appearance in this cell.

Harvey : [To Alice] I wouldn't celebrate just yet, dear niece. I think it might be a case of out of the fire, into the frying pan.

Austin : [To Mei] This has afforded us a small amount of time. Where does the tunnel lead to? Can we escape right now?

Alice : Good thinking, Aus! [To Mei] Does it lead out of our cell?

Mei : Yes.

Alice : Wahey! We're saved! Where does it lead to?

Mei : My cell.

Chastity : Why Austin, the tunnel leads into Mei's cell, doesn't it?

Clint : [To Mei] Why would you build a tunnel from your cell onto our cell? Or is that still part of your chinese knowledge?

Mei : I was trying to escape - I was unaware that your cell was on the other side of the wall.

Alice : [With a snort of derision] Why didn't you just dig in the direction of the window? Any fool would know to do that, that's obviously the way out!

Mei : Actually, the window looks down into the courtyard.

Alice : [On tip toes looking out] Gah!

Harvey : I wonder what the canteen is like in this prison?

[The door opens again, and GILLTON, CARVER and the GUARDS come in, GILLTON is looking a bit nervous. They are followed in shortly after by JOE NUNPAR, who smiles when he sees the party.]

Gillton : So, er, Colonel Nunpar, these are the people who claim to work for you.

Nunpar : [Gives a good look at the group] Can't say that they look familiar.

Chastity : That's because we're in disguise, Colonel. [Whips off the spangly costume, so he is only wearing her nuns gown] What about now?

Alice : [Covering her eyes] Aaah! Naked nun!

Nunpar : [Puts on his glasses and squints] Nope, I've never seen any of them before.

Austin : [Whispering to Nunpar] Come now Colonel, agreed, it has been a long time, but how could you forget us. Where would you be today without us, and us likewise without you. Don't you remember your triumph in Queens view? And your recent victory here in Hysteria? Us going about our mission anonymously, whilst you ensure that all of the attention is on you, allowing us to continue with our misson uninterrupted by the public and the media.

Nunpar : [Jumps back from Austin] Help! Help!

[Two burly guards immediately beat AUSTIN to the floor with huge batons.]

Gillton : I don't think you realise the position that you are in. I suggest you conduct yourselves with a little more civility.

Justin : [Meekly] Er, I have an objection.

Gillton : [Turning and glaring at Justin] What?

Justin : Er, nothing.

Harvey : Good Colonel. Do you really not remember us? Eva introduced us to you in Queens View. We needed you to release a communist, Lenin Buckley from the gaol, and you signed his release. We left for Hallbridges on the Hamstrain.

Austin : [On the floor, in pain, to Nunpar] Come now Colonel, agreed, it has been a long time, but how could you forget us. Where would you be today without us, and us likewise without you. Don't you remember your triumph in Queens view? And your recent victory here in Hysteria? Us going about our mission anonymously, whilst you ensure that all of the attention is on you, allowing us to continue with our misson uninterrupted by the public and the media.

Nunpar : [To Gillton] They are obviously Southern spies, I suggest you give them the worst punishment you can think of. [Puts on his gloves and walks out.]

Gillton : [Smiles nastily at the party] Well well well, secret agents of Nunpar? You scum are going to suffer for that.

Harvey : Wait a minute! [Shouts after Nunpar] Where's Captain Darling? He's bound to remember us!

Alice : He's hardly going to help us, Uncle, he testified against us!*

Gillton : [Smiling at the party's distress, before turning to Carver] Take them to Potiphar.

[The party is set upon by a group of guards, who chain their hands.]

[Book II, Act VII, Scene VI. The Streets of Hysteria. HARVEY, JEROME, CLINT, ALICE, CHASTITY, AUSTIN and MEI are here. Everyone has shackles on their hands and feet, and are chained together at the neck. They are being pulled along two abreast, with CHASTITY and CLINT at the front, attached to AUSTIN and MEI respectively, who are in turn attached to ALICE and HARVEY, who are both attached to JEROME. Two GUARDS at the front hold the chains from CHASTITY and CLINT. There are six GUARDS in total, four at the front, and two at the back. The streets are packed with people, shouting and jeering at the party, who are being dragged out of the jail, still dressed in their circus outfits.]

Alice : You know, when I asked earlier why we weren't being paraded about the town, this wasn't quite what I had in mind!

[Some of the crowd throw some rotten fruit at the party, and one, particularly disgusting smelling apple hits CLINT.]

Alice : At least Clint smells better now!

Clint : Yuck!, that is disgust... hey, it's actually very tasty. Mom used to say "what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger". She said that until she died!

Miguel : [A passerby] You disgusting bastards! [Points at Clint] Vai se foder!

Alice : [Stumbling a little] The crowd seem a little hostile. [The crowd at the side swell forward, trying the hit the party with various pieces of wood and small animals, all screaming obsceneties at them about being Southern spies.]

Clint : What the heck?? [Shouts at the crowd] Booooooooooh!!! Get lost!

Harvey : This is ridiculous! [Shouts] We saved your sorry hides yesterday, and this is how you repay us? For shame, you mutinous rabble!

[The crowd continue to push and pull at the party, making it difficult to walk.]

Guard : [Pulling Chastity's chain] Come on, keep up! [His tug almost causes her to fall over, and AUSTIN, ALICE and JEROME all stumble as a result too.]

Alice : [Almost in tears] Ow! I thought our act was really good!

Colin : [Another bystander, throwing a rotten tomato that narrowly misses Harvey] You lying langar!

Chastity : [Tuts] The language some of these people have, disgraceful! Ow, stop pulling on the chains so hard, guard! I'm a nun, you know!

Guard : Why do you think I'm pulling so hard?

Alice : [Straining not to choke on the chain] Because you're a wanker? [He pulls the chain really hard, pulling CHASTITY to the ground, followed soon by everyone else. The crowd get very excited, and some even run up and land the odd kick on whatever backside is convenient. Some more guards come alongside to keep them back.]

Chastity : Ow, you evil brutes! Stop this at once! [Tries to rise]

[CHASTITY gets to her feet, followed slowly by the others. A short walk later, they come to a large building. The crowd have followed them here, and seem to be getting more and more excited at the prospect of the party going in.]

Alice : [Trying to point into the crowd] Look, its Dicey and some of the Roving Band of Racial Stereotypes - yay! They'll save us!

Clint : [Furious, to Alice] That's what you all get for trying to save those fuckers! If we ever get out of this mess, I assure you that I'll never accept your stupid decisions ever again! [To Harvey] Starting with you, old fool!

Alice : [Wiping her face] Hey! It was [emphasises] your idea to save them, Stinky! Uncle Harvey and I just wanted to go to Hallbridges!

Clint : [Incredulous] It was WHAT??!? You're lucky you're back there, or I'd teach you a lesson for lying in public!

Alice : Oh, I'm sure you could - seeing as you're such an expert at it and all!

Jerome: [To Clint] Since when have you been averse to a little communal fallacy, my good man?

Clint : Jerry, don't even try to make some compromise here. I know I'm right, and that's probably the first time in my life. I told you all not to go get those wankers from jail. No-one listened to me, and now look at where we end up - chained on the street, wearing sparkling faggot clothes and being trashed by a mad crowd.

Austin : [Tries to slip the shackles off his slender, but beautiful wrists and ankles. Shouts] Long Live Maria Eva Ibarguren Duarte!

Harvey : [Shouts to Dicey] You've made a very grave mistake, today, Fourtycoats! This will not be forgotten!

Chastity : [Sighing] This is so like the good book. The unjustly oppressed held in bondage whilst being persecuted by the unbelievers. Anyway, What is this building?[Looks around for clues to the buildings identity]

[The crowd murmur after AUSTIN's cry, but don't do anything.]

Guard : They are liars - they tried to kill her!

Alice : [Shivers involuntarily] Thanks Clint, thanks a bunch. [Shivers again]

[The crowd get worse, and start pushing and shoving.] [As limp as he makes his wrists, AUSTIN can't slip off. One of the guards drag the party towards a large door.]

Harvey : [To the crowd] We were here to help you! We're the people who saved Maria and joined with Adam Torque to defeat the evil! Someone find Maria and ask her the truth! Please! Someone find Maria! Only she knows the truth!

Austin : [Shouting tragically, the last words of a man sentenced to death!] Long Live Maria Eva Ibarguren Duarte!

Harvey : [Shouts to Dicey] You've made a very grave mistake, today, Fourtycoats! This will not be forgotten!

Alice : It didn't work the last time, Austin, so why do you think it will work this time?

Guard : See how they admit to being in cahoots with the evil Adam Torque! [Gives Harvey a kick up the backside.] [Eventually the party is dragged into the building. There is no clue what the building is, but it is near the harbour.]

Guard : [Getting excited] Just you wait! Just you wait until see what we've got lined up for you! Oh man, Potiphar is going to kick your asses.

Alice : [Sniggering to the others] Wait until he finds out we don't have any - [glances at Chastity] many donkeys.

Harvey : [To the guard] This treatment is outrageous! Outrageous I tell you! I'm an ex-colonel of His Majestys Fifth, Kings Reach fusiliers, and to think I put my hide on the line so many times for people like you, makes me ill! My friends died face down in the dirt of the battlefield, so you could enjoy liberty! Look what you've done with it! You make me sick!

Guard : Face down in the dirt? From being stabbed in the back by you, no doubt! [Enter POTIPHAR, a man in his sixties, dressed in very fine robes.]

Potiphar : [Genially] Ah, the new staff has arrived, I see.

Harvey : Eh, what's this? Are you a judge? We're innocent I tell you, we're not southern spies! I fought for the king and have the medals to prove it!

Potiphar : A judge? [Laughs] Hardly. I'm your new owner, and I have to decide what to do with you. Hm, nice outfits.

Alice : Yes, how dare you! We are all very skilled!

Austin : [To Potiphar] What do you mean, what to do with us! I am a fully trained and qualified lawyer, and a good one at that! Never lost a case, that I defended, bar one [looks at Chastity], but that was a linch mob, not a jury! [Nods to Jerome] He is a scientist of great renown in other lands from this, more patents than Sister Ebonezers hospital, if you'll will excuse the pun. All of us are highly skilled in our own way and have been stabbed in the back by Nunpar.

Potiphar : What do you do?

Alice : Er...

Potiphar : [To Austin] A lawyer, eh? I think [one of his aides whispers something to him] ah yes, it turns out I've just hired a lawyer, but I could always use one for [dramatic pause] the galley ship! [Looks at Jerome] What did you say you do?

Jerome : I am a scientist.

Potiphar : A scientist, eh? Well, I could always use a scientist for [dramatic pause] the galley ship!

Chastity : [To Clint] What a strange man. Do you think he keeps forgetting what kind of ship he has?

Harvey : What's all this about sir. What do you mean you own us? Own us? Slavery has been outlawed for the past two hundred years! Explain yourself, fellow!

Potiphar : [Standing up] It was outlawed sir, but no longer! [Starts walking up and down, pursued by a put-down looking girl scattering rose petals in front of him] Since those devil southerners won the war, things have changed - the only punishment for spies such as your selves is the short sharp shock of slavery.

Alice : Then we'll only be slaves for a short while?

Potiphar : Yes, but that's because most people die after a short time of being slaves on a [dramatic pause] galley ship!

Harvey : Where does your galley ship go to? Ahh, a nice cruise to Hallbridges would be just the thing! Cabaret, bingo, strange coloured drinks in oddly shaped glasses, a dip in the pool, followed by the mad Irish carousing in steerage.

Chastity : [to Harvey] I don't see the immediate importance of what the Irish do to their cattle !! Phili's laws forbid any sort of carousing with any sort of animal - and several sorts of humans too, come to think of it. I always suspected these people to be heathens.

Alice : With [emphasises] any sort of animal? Tut!

Potiphar : [To Harvey] Yes, that does sound quite good. Me, relaxing on deck, with no sound but the sea, the wind and your screaming down below as you get whipped for not rowing fast enough. Ah! [Clicks his fingers, and the girl scurries off, before coming back with an oddly shaped glass with a strangely coloured drink in it] So, how do you feel about doing some rowing?

Harvey : We're very skilled at bickering amongst ourselves, so no problem. Who so you want us to row with?

Potiphar : About thirty four other slaves. [To a guard] Take them to the ship. [Points at Alice] Except her. [The GUARD proceeds to cut her free.]

Alice : [Big wink and two thumbs up to the others] Guess I'll be going free and not seeing you ever again, then.

Chastity : [To Alice] Unfortunately, my dear, that's far from likely! [Glances at Potiphar] On both counts.

Clint : [to Potiphar] When we'll meet again, without these chains tying me up, you'll be sorry for this.

Potiphar : Oh, we'll being seeing a lot of each other, don't you worry. [POTIPHAR starts to leave with some GUARDS who drag ALICE along.]

Alice : Help! I can't do this! I'm allergic to rose petals!

Guard : [To the rest] Now, it is time for you to see your new home.

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD must protest is the strongest possible way. This is utterly unacceptable.

Mei : Well said, Jerome. Confusio say, he who takes another man as a slave, is himself a slave to the system.

Harvey : [To Potiphar] You can't do that to my niece, you fiend! She's with child, and must rest as much as she can! Take me instead!

Chastity : [To Mei] At least you'll be able to teach us stretching techniques to ease our tired muscles, should we ever get room to stretch. [Looks round at the rowing set up] I wonder why all the strong slaves are over on that side. Maybe this ship only does round trips.

Clint : [Mumbling] I will kill Harvey and the others. I will kill Harvey and the others.

Harvey : I heard the military whisper of a new class of ship while I was stationed at Ruby Harbour back in 68. They called it the Vortex class. The idea behind it was the ship spun around very quickly, creating a whirlpool, into which it plunged, transporting it safely through the planet to the other side of the world. Perhaps this is one.

Justin : [Claps his hands together to get people's attention] Am, hello? Okay, now, we've had a few problems with the ship pulling to the right, but with our new drumming system and management, I'm sure we'll get to the root of the problem soon enough. Now, who'd like to start a sing song? [Looks inquisitively at Clint, and smiles] Er, that sounded like a nice song?

Harvey : When do we start fighting? I thought we'd been brought here to row. Not row.

Justin : Er..

Brick : I'll field this question. If you row, and don't give me any hassle, there'll be no problem. If you row, or do anything to make the running of this ship anything other than smooth, I'll whip you. If you want to fight, I'll fight you, but I'll use the whip, and you'll be chained up.

Mei : That hardly sounds fair.

Brick : That's the system. Its not perfect, but we've all got to work within it.

Harvey : Do you know something, troop? I'm begining to think that we're cursed. [To Brick] What is our destination?

Clint : Oh, I'll row. But the row after this will be must worse. Want a song eh? Here's a song for you: [Starts singing, to the music of "Yellow Submarine"] We're all fooled by the fucking fartycoats, the fucking fartycoats, the fucking fartycoats.

BricK : [Lashes out at Clint with the whip] Less of the profanity, lad!

Justin : [Looking uneasily at the whip] Look, let's all take it easy. It is none of your business where we go, and I'll thank you not to ask, otherwise Brick here will have to use his whip again, and he doesn't like doing that. [BRICK smiles and does another drum roll.]

Brick : Okay everyone, let's row! [The others begin to row.]

Harvey : [Tugs on the oar] I'd forgotten how much I hate sea travel.

Clint : [Looks at Brick, and is about to say something, but instead starts rowing] [The rowing goes on for a few hours, and everyone is soon exhausted. BRICK and JUSTIN discuss the matter between them.]

Justin : I just don't understand it, we're still pulling to one side.

Brick : [Drumming a funky beat that no one is able to row in time to] It's a mystery alright. I wonder what can we do.

[Enter POTIPHAR and ALICE, the latter looking extremely bored and fed up. She is throwing rose petals on the ground ahead of him.]

Potiphar : No, no, no! You must scatter them, scatter!

Alice : [Mashing up a bunch of petals into a ball and throwing them on the ground] Yeah. Scatter them. [Looks at a piece of paper in her hand before saying in a bored voice to the room] Behold, the wonderous sight that is Potbelly.

Potiphar : I told you! The name is Potiphar!

Alice : I'm sorry, I couldn't read your writing.

Potiphar : [Exasperated] Its typed!

Harvey : [Sweating heavily] This style of rowing in completely inefficient! If you switched half the people on the right side to the left side, the ship would be far better balanced! Amateurs! Gah!

Potiphar : [Holds up a hand] What? Let me think. [Puts on his thinking face] That's an outrageous idea, possibly the most stupid thing I've ever heard! If we switched the half on the right side to the left, then it would be really unbalanced - look at them, they are all musclebound! That sir, is why you are just a slave. [To Alice] Girl! Peel me a grape.

[ALICE takes a squashed and fluffy grape out of her pocket and tries to peel it, but is left with just a pip and some squashed skin.]

Alice : [Smiling brightly] How's that?

Mei : Um, I really am beginning to think that I am not supposed to be here. [Muttering under breath, loud enough so that a few will hear] I'm cursed. What did I do to my family to deserve this? I have brought shame upon them without knowing it! I should learn wisdom from this, but what wisdom that might be escapes me. Confusio say, learning wisdom often leads to chasing tail. [Mei glances sideways at Justin]

Clint : [To Mei] Hey, who is that Confusio guy? He seems to say a lot of nonsense stuff. Why would you be chasing a tail, and whose tail would that be?

Jerome: [Bossily to Clint] You know, he used to own the restaurant down the road, and spent all his time stuffing notes in cookies.

Clint : [To Jerome] Well Jerry, you seem to know a lot of stuff yourself, and that didn't stop us from getting into this mess, did it? [To Harvey] You wanted a row? Well here's your row! yourself, and that didn't stop us from getting into this mess, did it? [To Harvey] You wanted a row? Well here's your row!

Jerome: [Splutters] I wasn't the one trying to ride a bike while clowning round with women's underwear on his head. [Looks sidelong at Clint and then takes a metaphorical step back] Now now, Dr Jerome S. Trindle BSC, PHD declares we shouldn't fight. [Considers offering his hand to shake to Clint and then puts it back down by his side.] [Turns to Mei] How would your Confusio get us out of this pickle, eh?

Clint : [To Jerome] It's hard to shake hands when they're chained up eh? Maybe Dr. Jerome BSD FMD should have devised one of his marvellous inventions to avoid us all getting into this mess! eh?

Jerome: [To Clint fussily] It's BSC PHD you half-witted apenoid! [Then muses to himself] Inventions eh? Now that gives me an idea! [Begins to mutter to himself]

Mei : [To both Clint and Jerome, both sagely and scoffing] Well, Confusio was a very wise man with very wise sayings. And if you don't understand the meaning of what Confusio say, then you still have a lot to learn about life. Confusio would not get us out of this pickle - he would probably say the truly wise man would let us get ourselves out to teach us his wisdom.

Jerome: [Looks at Mei in amazement] That's it! Pickles! If we only had some pickles, I might be able to come up with something!

Austin : [Looking at Maplin. In the manner of a Snakesperian actor] Oh sweet Maplin, in bondage once more, perhaps never to see the light of freedom again, so close but yet so far from one hearts desire. [Snaps out of it and tries to slip the shackles of his hands and feet, sulkily] These are going to ruin my jump suit.

Brick : Not as much as the whip marks! [Plays a little solo on his drum kit, with which all the rowers try to keep up with]

Potiphar : [To Justin] The new slaves seem to have a lot of energy, make sure that they use it for rowing and not rowing.

Justin : Er, don't you mean rowing and not rowing.

Potiphar : [Thinks for a second] Yes, that makes more sense. [Head snaps around to look at Alice who has surreptiously slipped a grape into her mouth, and is trying to look nonchalant, before asking angrily] Did you just steal a grape?

Alice : [Through a full mouth] No. [She is almost impossible to understand, and when she speaks the others can see that she has about fifteen grapes in her mouth]

Harvey : All this talk of pickles is making me hungry, troop! [To Potiphar] What time's lunch? We've been rowing for hours without a single, solitary snack!

Chastity : Or a chance to observe religious practices! It's very difficult praying and rowing at the same time you know. I'll be writing a very stern letter to the regional Bishop when I next get the chance!

Potiphar : [Turning from Alice] Religious services? Lunch? You are slaves! You pray when I say pray, you sleep when I say sleep, you eat when I say eat, and when I say shit -

[The entire deck is filled with the sound of massive bowel movements, and accompanying smell. JUSTIN staggers back a little, clearly overwhelmed by the stench.]

Potiphar : [Quietly, to Brick]I hate when that happens. [Turns back to Alice] Give me back my grapes. [Grabs her cheeks with his hand and tries to squeeze them out.]

Harvey : Takes your hands off my niece this instant! [Stuggles against the chains] Unchain me, scoundrel!

Potiphar : [Turning to Harvey, but still holding Alice's face] Or what? What are you going to do, Slave?

[He looks at HARVEY disdainfully, curling up his lip, and still holding ALICE, who has a not inconsiderable amount of grape juice pouring down her chin.]

Harvey : Oh, I know your game, scoundrel. You try to provoke me into a greater outburst, and punish me for it by hurting my niece.

Potiphar : [Noticing the grape juice on his hand, and pushing Alice away from him] Ah! Look at what you've done! [Turns to Harvey] Hurt your niece, eh? Good idea. [Turns to Justin] Take her around the back and whip her.

Alice : [Swallowing all the grapes down in one go] What?

Justin : [Nervously] Er, what?

Harvey : What? What type of man would gladly want to hurt a pregnant woman? Despicable!

Justin : [Showing Alice behind a large screen] Well, I'm - [stammering] I - I - I'm not glad about it, you know?

[POTIPHAR says nothing, and just sniggers at everyone's discomfort, and runs his fingers through his hair, before realising to his horror that his hand is covered in grape juice.]

Chastity : [To Justin] Mr. Case, I implore you by Phili, don't be hurt the girl. Don't be party to these animals ways, you're not bad like them. [Breathing heavily] I can sense the conflict within you.

[JUSTIN takes ALICE behind a large screen. Everyone else can see that shadows of ALICE being stretched up, and then JUSTIN whipping her.]

Justin : Take that! And that!

Alice : Ow! Help! That really hurts!

Mei : [Blocking his ears] The suffering of that girl will be nothing compared to the suffering of Potiphar once I am free.

Jerome : The suffering of Potiphar once you are free will be nothing compared to the suffering of Potiphar once I am free!

Clint : Hey! Knock that off! Leave the Bimbo alone!

Austin : [To Potiphar] Why don't you throw us to the sharks. It would be much less trouble. Further to this my analysis of our present disposition suggests that you could save considerable time and money by throwing us over the sides and keeping our shackles for some better slaves!

Chastity : [To Clint] Not that I want to nit-pick at a time like this, but I believe it is considered bad taste to shout "Knock that off" when someone is receiving a beating. Etiquette would extend to a whipping as well.

Harvey : Alice! By the saints, Potiphar, you are and your little whipping boy have gone too far! Release me and face me like a man!

Potiphar : [Roars laughing at the party's discomfort] Excellent! Excellent!

[The party can hear ALICE crying and wailing from behind the screen.]

Potiphar : [Applauding] I love this, let's all see it!

[He pulls back the screen to reveal that JUSTIN isn't whipping her at all, just using the shadows to pretend he is. ALICE is holding onto a beam on the roof, and JUSTIN is whipping the wall. He continues whipping two or three more times before he sees POTIPHAR.]

Alice : Ow! Oh, that hurts so much! Ow! [Opens her eyes when she realises he has stopped] You better carry on before Potbelly realises you've stopped. [Notices Justin cringing and turns back to see Potiphar and everyone else looking, before saying in a small voice] Oh.

Chastity : [Smiling broadly] I knew he wasn't really Potiphar's whipping boy.

Harvey : Oh thank goodness! [Glares at Potiphar] That's just downright low, Potiphar!

Potiphar : [Roaring at Justin] What the hell are you doing?

Justin : [Cowering in the corner] Er, I just couldn't do it.

Potiphar : [Pointing at Justin] I'll deal with you later. [Grabs Alice by the hand and heads upstairs.]

Brick : [To the slaves] Come on, slaves, row!

Chastity : OK. [To Austin] Austin, that really was a stupid idea, trying to get us eaten by sharks!

Austin : Phili give me patience! It is only a stupid idea because you lack the imagination to see the bigger picture. I was merely trying to get them to remove us from the chains so we could overwhelm them, free the lovely Alice, feed them to the sharks and get the other slaves to sail us to Hallbridges before setting them free.

Harvey : I'm weak with the hunger! When do we stop for lunch?

Brick : [Cracks the whip near Harvey, but not hitting him] Lunch is for free men! Slaves get fed in the morning and at night.

Justin : [Lowly, to the party] Don't get him angry, he gets very aggressive. [To Brick] Do you think Potiphar is going to be angry?

Brick : I think he's going to kill you. Unless you can sort out this steering problem, of course.

Jerome : I'm sure Dr. Jerome K. Trindle Bsc PhD could -

[Smack. JEROME gets a lash of the whip.]

Brick : Slaves don't have qualifications.

Jerome : Aha, Dr. Jerome K. Trindle Bsc PhD has now deduced that wrist action, say, x, plus the velocity, y, times the width of the leather, z, over a persons back, say, mine, equals tremendous pain. Furthermore, Dr. Jerome K. Trindle Bsc PhD has this to say on the matter. Ouch.

[Smack. JEROME gets another lash of the whip.]

Brick : Hey! No cleverness from slaves!

Mei : I think we should formulate a plan to get out of here, and fast. Confusio say, he who hesitates is -

Austin : [Quickly] Lost!

Harvey : I couldn't agree more with the man. We have to get off this slaver boat if we are to reach Hallbridges before all hell breaks loose. But how? [Quietly] Who has the keys for these chains?

Clint : [Quietly] Austin, instead of picking on the sist try to pick the locks instead!

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle Bsc PhD is frightened to provide any useful advise at this stage of the proceedings, as another whip lashing is sure to follow. [Quietly] Perhaps we can use Austins acidic wit to burn through our bonds?

Austin : [Sneering] Ah yes, as soon as I am needed, young Clint finds some civilisation. Well, sir, as much as I'd like to help, I cannot - for even one as skilled as I relies on tools.

[Enter POTIPHAR and ALICE. ALICE is carrying a huge plate of delicious looking sandwiches, and is sporting a huge black eye. She throws some petals on the ground.]

Alice : Potbelly. Here. Quiver in his wake. Whatever.

Potiphar : [To Brick] We're still pulling to one side, that has too stop!

Brick : Well, [juts his thumb at Justin] he's the one you hired to streamline the system. I say if he hasn't got it sorted in the next thirty minutes you make him one of the slaves - I'm enjoying my new job so much I think I just may kill one.

Chastity : [ Quietly, To Jerome] Well I think he's already planned to act like a lawyer and swim with the other sharks if thrown overboard! [ Surreptitiously examines chains, etc to see how they are attached to the boat and each slave]

Potiphar : Hah! I see they are settling in well.

Brick : [Taking some of the sandwiches] Yes, we're all going to be great friends before long.

Harvey : [To Potiphar] I'm curious, have you ever actually gone more than ten feet from the dock? [Sees Alices black eye and scowls darkly]

Brick : Hey! No curiosity from slaves! [Whips Harvey]

Potiphar : [Laughs loudly] Excellent! Why don't you kill that one, Brick? Unless Justin here sorts out our steering problem, we'll need somewhere for him. [To Alice] You stay here and hold the sandwiches.

[Exit POTIPHAR.]

Brick : [Enjoying Justin's discomfort] I guess you'd better come up with an idea pretty soon, lawyer. [Chortles] Maybe your slave friends can help?

Harvey : [Glares at Brick, before looking at Justin] Do you want some help with your steering problem?

Justin : Oh yes!

Brick : Slaves aren't allowed to help! [Readies his whip.]

[Before BRICK can speak, another ship suddenly crashes into the side of the boat, coming right into the area where the slaves are, amid much screaming and dead rowers.]

Brick : What the hell!

[A shower of water lands on his drum with a clatter, causing some of the more foolish slaves to paddle furiously.]

Harvey : By the saints, I'm rowing as fast as I can! [Turns and sees the boat] We've been breached! All hands on deck! [To Justin] Release us before we all die! [Starts shaking his chains]

Chastity : [To Jerome] Quick Jerome, stand up.[Tries to stand up as best she can and mutters incantation towards the wooden seat]

[The wood that CHASTITY and JEROME are chained to suddenly warps, freeing them.]

Justin : Oh no! [Grabs onto Brick] What are we going to do?

[ALICE smacks her tray off BRICK's head.]

Chastity : [Shaking chains free from the seat] By Phili, that worked well. [To Alice] Get the drummers keys, if he has any. [Turns to Austin and Harvey] Hold on Colonel. Watch out Lawyer. [Mutters incantation at their wooden bench]

Jerome : [Wide eyed] It would appear to Dr. Jerome K. Trindle Bsc PhD, that an incidence of divine intervention has just occured. [Looks at the wood] However, on closer inspection, he now believes that this can be attributed to high stress factors caused by our impact with the second vessel, combined with the voracious appetite of arboritus iactum, otherwise known as wood worm.

Chastity : [To Jerome] Phili work's in mysterious ways, my dear doctor. One day even you blasphemous scientists will see his light and realise you've just been fooling yourselves. In the meantime, lets help Alice. We'll need keys to free the others, and we are still coupled together.

Harvey : Good doctor, use the chain to beat that Case person senseless! He's bound to have the keys on him! [To Case] Unless of course, you'd prefer to release us while your head is still intact?

Clint : Quickly, someone try and find the keys!

Justin : I don't have them, I swear!

Brick : [Punching Alice in the stomach] Stupid bitch, don't you ever learn? I kicked your ass in the Under City, and I'll do it here too.

[ALICE doubles over, but thumps his hi-hat pedal, causing him to double over in agony.]

Alice : That'll teach you to drum with no pants on.

Jerome : Let us now see if Dr. Jerome K. Trindle Bsc PhD has calculated the formula correctly, taking into account the weight difference of metal to leather. [Swings the chain and attempts to smash Brick across the head with it]

Alice : [Looking up and beaming] Hey! I think I got hi-

[Swish! JEROME's chain almost decapitates her and BRICK.]

Alice : Hey!

Brick : Oh. God. [Starts crawling towards the stairs]

[Water is gushing into the boat, causing all the prisoners to scream in panic.]

Justin : [Pointing at Brick] Brick has the keys!

Jerome : [Looks apologetically at Alice, before turning to Brick] Hand over the keys!

Brick : [With the traditional high pitched voice] I don't have the keys!

[JUSTIN makes a break for it, and runs upstairs.]

Clint : [Tries to pull the chains as hard as possible, to see if the wood lets go]

Jerome : [Sighs] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle Bsc PhD cannot believe he has fallen for that trick. Again. Dear Alice, please search this crawling steroid! Come sister, we must apprehend that lying lawyer! That other lying lawyer! [Goes after Justin]

[No chance of CLINT getting free. The rest of the slaves continue screaming, as the water comes in to shin high. As JEROME makes to follow JUSTIN, he gets stuck with CHASTITY who is still chained to him, and both fall into the water.]

Mei : Check him, Alice, he must have the keys!

Alice : I've nothing to restrain him with.

Austin : Try strangling him with your skimpy top.

Alice : [Glares at Austin] I'm saving that for you.

Austin : Excellent!

Alice : Gah! [Angrily grabs an unfeasibly large bunch of keys from Brick's side, and throws them to Harvey]

Brick : Oh no! My keys to the photocopier room!

Harvey : [Grabs the keys and tries each one in the lock until he finds a match.]

[Incredibly, the first key HARVEY tries fits.]

Chastity : Quickly, Colonel, unlock me before that mad scientist drowns me.

Austin : Quickly, Colonel, unlock me so that I can drown that nun!

Harvey : Freedom! [Begins unlocking the others, starting with the party, before moving onto the other slaves] By the saints, we must flee this watery deathtrap!

Mei : [bowing to Harvey as he is freed from the chains] Thank you, honorable Harvey. I am much in debt to your actions. [Stands back and, from apparently nowhere, produces some incense which he begins burning immediately] Now, we should prepare ourselves for the dash for freedom. [Begins, of all things, meditating]

Clint : [Incredulous, to Mei] How can you light incense with water to your chin? [Picks up a piece of wood to use as a bat in case of a fight]

Mei : [curious expression on his face] Hm, interesting. [Looks at the burning incense] I don't know, Clint. Um. Mind over matter, perhaps? [Looks again at the burning incense, puzzled]

Clint : [Even more incredulous, to Mei] Have you ever heard the word urgency? We have to get out of this hole if we don't want to become fish in a bowl!

Brick : [Stands up, and draws his sword] Get back! Get back slaves or the sea will run red with your blood.

Mei : Confusio say, patience is a lesson learned slowly. [Fixes Clint with a stare] Confusio also say, smell of battle raises spirits high. Although I think he may have been wrong on that one.

Clint : [Starting to swim, to Harvey] Quick Harv, release all the strong bulls from the right side of the boat! Let them kick the shit out of that prick Brick! The one with the whip!

Harvey : By the saints, club him over the head with your chains, private! [Starts releasing the other slaves]

Clint : Hey, not all your ideas are that bad after all, Harv! [Follows Brick]

Jerome : [Watches Clint follow Brick] While Dr. Jerome K. Trindle Bsc PhD is considerably familiar with the feeling of self satisfaction, and the warm feeling it can generate, he now believes that Clint should concentrate more on action and less on his own back slappery.

Alice : As long as he doesn't start engage in ass slappery, Jerome, having spent so much time around all these half naked slaves. [Catches a glimpse of her own half nakedness in a convenient mirror] Gah!

[BRICK and CLINT clash, BRICK with a sword, and CLINT with a block of wood. CLINT's block smacks into BRICK, but he gashes CLINT's leg with his sword.]

Harvey : [Hands the keys to the slaves and turns to Brick] You, Brick! This battle is lost and your friends have fled! Cease your fighting, drop your sword and live, or attack and you will surely die! [Hefts his chains and begins swinging it slowly]

Chastity : [Hurriedly looking around the deck] Clint, as one of Phili's parables tells us: There's be time for fight and a time for flight. Nevermind the drummer, what's the best best escape route out of here? This water is getting too high for plank spanking!

Clint : [Backing off] Eek! Harv, what's the story with those slaves, not the sick and weak, but the strong and fit, who would like to kick the shit out of this dick head Brick? I'm really not fit to whip this priek's ass! Get away, you geek!

Alice : Maybe they're too sick of your rhyming to do anything?

Mei : [Helping the slaves free] Look, the hole isn't too bad, I bet we could fix it.

Brick : [Swiping his sword around, blocking the stairs] I'm the strongest man in the world! I can kill all of you! No one can defeat Brick! [Looks down and sees a jellyfish that has been washed in, and starts screaming like a girl] Aiieee! Jelly fish!

Harvey : And not just any old jelly fish, but a Portugese man of war and extremely poisonous! It's often confused with the Spanish man of war jellyfish, which really annoys it! I'd step away from it if I were you, Brick!

[BRICK swings his sword around wildly, screaming, and steps further back up the stairs, calling behind him.]

Brick : Potiphar! Help!

Austin : Quickly, disarm him! We must make contact with the crew of the other boat and enter into negotiations to transfer to their vessel in the event that ours cannot be saved.

Harvey : I'll do it. I know these navy men well, having spent much of my youth being transported by ship from one campaign to another. [Kicks the jellyfish up the stairs at Brick]

[HARVEY gives the jellyfish a hefty kick, but sends it flying to the ceiling where, incredibly, it grabs onto the beams and hangs there.]

Brick : [Looking up, terrified] Oh no!

Alice : Rush him!

Ivan : Vot?

Alice : I said "rush him".

Ivan : Svorry.

[Some of the slaves begin picking up pieces of wood to use as weapons.]

Clint : [Pulling an Octopus out of his boots] Get the bastard! [Throws the Octopus at Brick]

Harvey : [Swinging his chain, rushes towards Brick] Have at you, sir!

[The OCTOPUS strikes BRICK in the face, and wraps its tentacles around him in true "Alien" style, causing him to fall back and drop his sword. Meanwhile, HARVEY moves in and hits him with the chain, eliciting a muffled cry.]

Chastity : [Picks up one of Brick's cymbal stands and kicks over the rest of the drums] I've wanted to do that for ages, ever since seeing Meith Koon drumming for "The What". [Swings to hit Brick in the head with the side of the cymbals on the stand]

[The cymbal strikes BRICK with a resounding hiss, but, incredibly, he reaches up and catches CHASTITY by the throat, even though the octopus is still hanging onto him.]

Austin : [Grabbing onto his arm] This is one persistent strong man.

Harvey : [Darts up the stairs, and turns around to the others] I'll talk with the other captain, and with the grace of God, we'll escape this sinking ship! Won't be a minute, troop! [Goes out and closes the door behind him]

Clint : [Trying to hit Brick on the head with the chains] Another brilliant idea from Mr. Colonel. Leaving us here fighting this prick! He's beginning to act just like the Lawyer!

[HARVEY squeezes out past BRICK, and runs up the stairs, while the other slaves descend upon BRICK, who drops his sword in front of CLINT.]

Jerome : Quickly Clint, his sword is there for the taking!

Clint : I know that Jerry! [Picks up the sword and throws a blow at Brick] This is for all the whipping!

[BRICK's scream is barely audible over the kicking and gouging of the slaves.]

Alice : Hey Clint, what about me?

Austin : You want Clint to stab you?

Alice : No, I want him to stab you! Actually, what I meant was, let me take a stab at Brick.

Jerome : Perhaps, Alice, it might be beneficial for us all to check on the colonel. We do not know who...or what has crashed into this ship. It might even be Colonel Nunpar, here to pardon us all!

[BRICK's screams tail off as the SLAVES overcome him.]

Alice : Good idea, Chas, let's check it out.

[The party run upstairs, only to see the other boat, pulling away from theirs. It bears a pirate flag, and both HARVEY and POTIPHAR have been taken aboard, and have their hands tied behind their backs. There are several PIRATES on their own boat, laden down with items clearly taken from the party's one. One of the pirates, BEARD, is still onboard, and is about to swing back to his own boat.]

Beard : [Smiling at the party] Hey guys - I guess you're the galley slaves, well, know that Beard the Pirate has saved you, and imprisoned your owner and his gay lover. We'll take good care of them, don't you worry.

Potiphar : [Calling to the party] Help! Tell them who I am!

Harvey : Niece! Dear niece! Please tell them that I'm not associated with this odious slave trader! They think I'm his, his, special friend!

Potiphar : Oh, Harvey, don't say that, give me a kiss! [Leans forward and plants a good old wet one on Harvey]

Alice : No! Wait!

Beard : No need to thank me, little lady, you're safe now. [Swings back to the boat, and pinches Harvey's ass] You slut!

Harvey : Gah! [Glares at Potiphar] How dare you sir, how dare you! I'll bite your blasted lips off,you, you Stephen! Come here!

[The others can just about see POTIPHAR making a kissing motion at HARVEY, before the pirate ship disappears.]

Alice : [Standing at the edge of the boat] Wait! Come back! You don't understand, Harvey's the most homophobic of all of us! Austin, you tell him, he really hates you!

Austin : Yes. Well, much as it appeals to me to proclaim to a bunch of sailors that I am a homosexual, I fear it would do no good. They are out of earshot, and our boat is in no condition to follow.

[Book II, Act VII, Scene VII. JEROME, CLINT, ALICE, CHASTITY, AUSTIN and MEI are here, as well as several of the slaves. It is now three days later. They are talking to one of the newly released slaves, BULBOUS.]

Bulbous : We are now nearing Hallbridges. The plan is, once we land there, everyone will go their seperate ways.

Alice : Remind me why we didn't just turn back to Hysteria.

Bulbous : Because we'd all simply be arrested there, and you and your party would be imprisoned and held up to ridicule, used only for people's entertainment.

Alice : Okay, that's fair enough, I suppose.

Bulbous : Also, if we went back, you'd be able to change your clothes, and we all like watching the way your boobs bounce up and down in that sparkly outfit.

Alice : [Glares at Bulbous, before turning to the others] Hopefully once we get to Hallbridges, we can try and find out something about the pirate that captured Uncle Harvey.

Clint : [To Bulbous] Yeah, I really like the way that... [To Alice] I mean, yes, we have to find out something about that pirate.

Chastity : [To Alice] I can't believe you've been flaunting your female form in front of these drooling slaves, like that singer, Spritney Bears. Here cover yourself up with this. [Pulls on the corner of some sacking protruding from a nearby crate, only to find that it's handkerchief sized] Oh well, I suppose it's a start. [Hands the inadequate piece of cloth to Alice] keeping tabs for the moment.

Alice : Er, alright. [Places the piece of cloth on her head, before checking herself out in a convenient mirror] Oh-kay. Anyway, Hallbridges?

Jerome : We mayencounter some problems in Hallbridges. There is the matter of the murders, our imprisonment and torture by the crazed Mr. Brown and his staff, not to mention the preoccupation of practically the entire town with the StarSearch(TM) competition.

Alice : Ah, but Jerome, you are forgetting our secret web of contacts. Why, we could be inside the town and spread across six different safe houses before the Hun even suspect there is a boat appearing.

Jerome : I believe, Alice, that you are confusing our situation with that of "The Famous Hive Go Spying". Our secret web of contacts consists of just one, somewhat depressed, barman.

Clint : I think we better change our outfits before getting there, unless we want to drag even more attention to ourselves as we did last time. [Tries to find the Capitain's quarters door]

Alice : Yeah, like the captain has his own special room. [Thinks for a moment] Hey, that actually makes sense.

[CLINT tries a door that has, incredibly, remained shut since the uprising. It is locked.]

Chastity : As much as I don't agree with this, maybe Austin is best qualified to breaking into lacked rooms? He's certainly had previous practice. [ Throws an disapproving glare at Austin ] We are very under equipped for continuing on our mission for Phili, so I suppose it'll be OK this time. There should be some useful nick-nacks in the Captains quarters.

Clint : Well well, time for the old kick! [Tries to kick the door open] [Before AUSTIN has even a chance to boast about his prowess, CLINT kicks the door open, to reveal a room that is lavishly furnished, and has three large chests in there. There is a huge supply of food here too, all stacked up neatly on the shelf.]

Austin : [Peering into the room] It kind of makes one wonder why we've spent the last three days surviving on dry biscuits and dirty water, doesn't it?

[AUSTIN is almost knocked over by ALICE bursting into the room and siezing a huge turkey leg.]

Alice : Not bad, there's a strange skin on it though.

Austin : My dear Alice, if you look closely, you'll see that it is not skin, but a cellophane wrapping.

Alice : [Looks at the leg, before biting it again] Hm, I guess I could get used to it. Anyway, [smiles at the memory] its funny to see it on someone else's leg.

Clint : [Putting on the capitain's hat] Oh capitain, my capitain! Ok, has anybody seen the liquor cabinet? [Searches the room for it] I have a feeling that it'll be now that I get my Louis XIV.

Mei : [standing at the door, with a puzzled expression] Something's not right. Confusio say, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true. [In foreboding tones] I have a bad feeling about this...

Chastity : [To Mei] Mei, We have wanted and, be praised, Phili has provided. Time to see what he's actually provided. [Goes over to table and picks up a leg of ham and dips it in a pot of saffron and garlic dip] Hmmm, not enough saffron.

Alice : Yeah Mei, [puts a patch on over her eye] this is just a chance to redistribute his ill gotten gains to those that he has tried to enslave. You know, Clint, that Captain's hat just looks really out of place on you. [Checks herself out in a nearby mirror] Hey! This isn't a patch, its a skull and cross bones jockstrap! [Rips it off and throws it to the ground]

[CLINT opens one of the chests in his search for the bottle, and throws all manner of stolen items to the ground, before locating a fabled Louis XIV bottle.]

Chastity : [Picks up a strap on peg leg] Why would a Pirate Captain have one of these seat reservers? Sister Elastica-hymen had one of these. She would fasten it to her Convent stool so that no-one else would sit down on it. What she did with this item when she wanted to sit down I could never figure out. I don't know why she liked that stool anyway, she was always fidgeting around on it! Anyway, are there any weapons around? [Puts down peg leg and starts to search various chests and cupboards] [CHASTITY recklessly opens the second chest to reveal the party's equipment and clothing there.]

Alice : [Peering into the chest, where her stuff is on top] Well, my stuff isn't there, so I guess I'll just have to stick with my sparkly outfit.

Chastity : [Lifting out her Mace and other equipment] [To Alice] Thankfully for your modesty, my dear, your stuff is here. It's just under this jar with what appears to be a pickled onion in it. [Turns to Clint, holding up jar] Is this yours? Or someones picnic?

Austin : [Collects his gear and lights a cigarette. To Chastity] What modesty might that be?

Chastity : [To Austin] The modesty Phili gifts to ever girl on her birth. As a relative of Harvey, Alice must have a sense of modesty and decency [Glances at Alice in her outfit] er, somewhere.

Alice : [Putting on her clothes over the circus outfit] Of course, Austin, its easier for some to be modest than others. So, when we hit Hallbridges, what do we do? Seek out Brown? Tom Braider?

Austin : [To Alice, whilst getting changed into a crushed elvet suit] I was rather planning on ordering some new clothes, these battle worn togs are ageing fast [Examines his immaculate suit, that appears to be newer than new, straightens his cuffs to perfection, paying extra attention to Maplins cuff]

Clint : [Finally realizing that he just found a bottle of Louis XIV] Wahey! After years of searching, I finally get my deserved reward! [Opens the bottle, only to find it empty and completely drained] Ah no! This can't be! [Breaks the bottle and tries to lick the glass in the inside of it]

Alice : [Looks at Clint] Wow, I didn't realise Louis XIV was red.

Jerome : [Clipping his pocket protector back on] I believe we will be landing in Hallbridges soon. The show that Darius left the ticket for is on tomorrow evening - maybe our best choice of action would be to head for the Warm And Relaxing Tavern, where Claude can surely help us out with some accomodation.

Clint : [Looks at the now blood stained bottle interior] Hey, this is not Louis XIV, it's VIX Siuol! No wonder it hurts my tounge. [Throws the bottle away]

Alice : I always knew your tongue so sharp that you'd end up cutting yourself, Clint!

Mei : [Helping himself to some clothes] Honourable party. You have saved me and the other slaves from a terrible life, I wish to repay you by swearing a Holy and Sacred vow on the bones of my ancestors that I will aid you in the reunification of your party and that great man, Herbie.

Alice : [Irritated] His name is Harvey.

[MEI doesn't answer, but joins his hands and bows to ALICE.]

Clint : [Picking up Harvey's jacket from the chest] Well, since Herbie is not around, I guess he won't mind if I use, I mean, take care, of his jacket. [Puts the jacket on, hands in pockets] Hey!, there's some cash in here!

Alice : Hey! If anyone should take his stuff, its me! [Holds out her hand]

Mei : She is correct. It would be dishonourable for anyone else to take Herbie's equipment.

[Takes HARVEY's backpack and hands it to ALICE, who promptly drops it.]

Alice : What was he carrying in here? [Points at Clint] You can borrow his jacket, Stinky, on three conditions. One, I look after any of his personal items, including, but not limited to his money. Two, you give it back to him as soon as we find him again. Three, you wash it after wearing it, after all, we don't want Uncle Harvey smelling like you, do we?

[The boat is now in the harbour of Hallbridges.]

Clint : Hey!, calm down Bimbo, after all everybody seems to be allowed to wear it! Here, have the money [throws 2 GP towards Alice].

Alice : [One hand on her hip, the other pointing at Clint] Do you think I'm totally stupid? I know for a fact that there was .. er.. [face becomes wracked with concentration as she counts out something on her fingers] that there was more!

[A quick search through the rest of the chests reveals that BEAUCAPHALUS is not here.]

Jerome : Maybe Nunpar kept him?

Austin : Maybe the pirates took him?

Alice : Maybe Gilton took him?

Mei : Who's Beaucahalus?

[Outside there is the sound of someone trying to get on board, arguing with the slaves.]

Clint : Maybe you should all shut up? [Tries to look through the window to check on who is trying to board the ship]

[Everyone crams upto the window to see what's going on. It is TOM BRAIDER, with some guards.]

Tom : [With his coat pulled up around his head, dramatically] Avast, you salty and er, somewhat underdressed seadogs, I need to speak with the captain of this vessel immediately. Even though he won't want top make time for a landlubber like me, it [loud voice] must be done!

Clint : [Putting the captain hat on again, and wearing Harvey's jacket] [Goes out to meet Tom] Ahoi there sailor, what business brings you aboard this vessel?

Tom : [Surprised] Mr. Scar, I am surprised to see you! It gladdens my heart that your fearless bunch of adventurers have returned to our town once again to help in this dark and disturbing time. [Takes a swig from his hip flask, leaving a fine milky moustache.]

Jerome: [Crossing his arms, and pacing in the manner of an elderly tv detective] Could it be, Dr Jerome wonders, all a conspiracy to bring us back to this godforsaken place?

Clint : [Trying to copy Jerome's pose] Yes, could it be, Mr. Scar wonders?

Alice : Maybe it could, Clint. Maybe Jerry is onto something, as it was that horrible Mr. Brown from Hallbridges that sent us off to to Cointreau in the first place - and he did want Maria dead, so maybe he was involved with Adam? Of course, it was a pretty unlikely set of events that brought us here, wasn't it? If it is a conspiracy, it would have to be as good as those ones about Con F. Jennedy, Pelvis Resley or the fact that there are these tiny [waggles her fingers] little germs that can infect us. [Rubs her nose, and then licks her finger, before making a distasteful look.]

Jerome: [Looks strangely at Clint, and puffs out his chest, to see if Clint copies that aswell] Besides the fact that if one plots our passage by the north star and that funny bear shaped constellation next to it, we have not gone in a perfect circle. Answer that for Dr. Jerome, hmmm, Mr Braider

Clint : Speaking of that bastard Brown, have you seen him lately, Tom? I believe we have a bill to settle.

Tom : [To Jerome] Eh? Answer what? [Turns to Clint] Mr. Brown? An evil sounding criminal, no doubt, but I am not familiar with the name. However, there has been such strangeness here, it would make your hair curl.

Alice : Your hair isn't curly.

Tom : Some of it is.

[ALICE looks around her, confused.]

Chastity : [To Tom] What kind of strangeness has occuring here? Has it anything to do with the StarSearch(TM) competition. I wouldn't be suprised, the prospect of such frivolous enjoyment. Some good old fashioned Light Of Phili wouldn't go a miss. There's nothing like blindly worshipping a non-corpeal ubiquitous deity and praying for mysterious miracles to bring a community back to the real world.

Austin : [To Chastity] Ubiquitous? You mean Phili could be in my underwear [feigned astonishment] If the blind can still see Phili's light, that in itself is a veritable miracle [Checks his nails, smiling wryly]

Jerome: [to Tom] Dr Jerome meant, answer his implication, dolt! Could it or could it have not been a plot by this community to bring intrepid adventurers back to it's shores? [Aside to Chastity] I thought opium was the opiate of the people.

[TOM's face grows black at JEROME's words, and he grips the hilt of his sword, before relaxing it.]

Tom : Please be patient with me, Doctor. Unlike you, I am a man of action, of derring do, quick into battle, fast to kill and ask questions later, to main before contemplating the consequences, to wound before worrying. I think it is unlikely that this community would be capable of doing such a thing, at least, not since [dramatic pause] the incident. [Looks out a window wistfully, before making an "Oooooooow" lonely-dog like sound out the side of his mouth for effect. He then looks to Chastity] You are right Sister, StarSearch(TM) has been the only source of light in our town.

Alice : [Smiling at Tom's misunderstanding of Chastity] So StarSearch is still running? Excellent - we could do our circus act! [Pulls open her blouse to show her circus top to Tom] See?

Tom : [To the others] Er, does she think she has a top on under that blouse?

Alice : Gah! [Closes it again, before slapping Tom across the face] Pig!

Tom : [Looks down at the police badge in his left hand] Yes.

Jerome: [Making placating gestures, but in an intellectual snobbish way] 'Derring do' calm down man, and tell us of this incident. [Aside to Alice] Dr Jerome is sure he saw the light of Phili in your shirt. Dr Jerome thinks you must be blessed.

Tom : [Turning dramatically to face the window, like someone overacting in a fifties movie] Ah, the incident. [Pushes his face against his fist]

Alice : [Snapping at Jerome] Well, Dr. Trindle, you must be blessed if you got to see what's under there, such is likliehood of you ever seeing it again.

Tom : [Annoyed at being ignored] The incident?

Chastity : [To Tom, sighing] Yes, the incident? [Sarcastically] Will you tell us about it?

Alice : Yeah, Tom, why won't you tell us about it?

Austin : [Straight face with a miniscule hint of smirk] Oh yes, do tell us about the incident, where there any nice boys there? [Winks at Alice]

Jerome: [Looks at Alice like a hurt puppy for a second] Dr Jerome wouldn't presume! [To Tom] Tell us, good man, Dr Jerome is all hearing organs.

Tom : Well, actually there were some because - [realises what's going on] Look, the incident is not a joking matter. We're still not sure what happened, but we believe the down was attacked by those most evil of people, the Hierophantic Knights. [Spits]

Alice : [Stepping back, wiping her blouse] Hey!

Chastity : [Nervously glances round the group. To Tom] Em, the Hierophantic Knights? We've heard of them. Why would they be attacking the town?

Austin : [Incredulously] Evil Hierophantic Knights? Next you will be trying to convince us that Pestillence, Contagion, Dangsten and Iok are a really nice bunch of fellows who we really must have tea with sometime!

Tom : [Gives Austin a strange look] Well, hardly, given that Dangsten is their leader! They arrived two days ago, and headed straight for the church, and completely destroyed it, and every one in it.

Alice : I knew religion was dangerous.

Tom : They had people in the town for years though, that is who was carrying out the murders. They have since left the town, and we're not sure where they've headed, but we fear it may be to the headquarters of the Fundamentalist Knights, a top secret organisation.

Clint : Well, rumour is, [looks suspiciously to all sides, then in low voice to Tom] rumour is they might make an appearance in the StarSearchTM show anytime soon. [Looks at the other party members for approval]

Tom : [Aghast] What? The Hierophantic Knights are going to be on? Why, how dare they! They take something pure, and destroy it.

Alice : What was the act that one the last time?

Tom : Naked fat chicks juggling cats.

Alice : Ah! The classics never go out of style.

Austin : [To Tom] Who exactly told you that they, Dangsten and co, were Hierophantic Knights?

Chastity : [Aside to Austin] One of these days we'll work with someone steadfast and trustworthy. Oh, excuse me. [Aside To Jerome] One of these days we'll work with someone steadfast and trust worthy.

Tom : One of the Fundamentalist Knights came to town, to warn us that the church was going to be attacked by those heathens.

Austin : [Doing the Sheerluck Groans walk] Ahha! Therein lies a veritable nest of lies and deceit. You see, my good Tom, the Fundamentalist knights tried to blame us for their attempted assasination of Eva, who we saved. The Fundamentalist knights also managed to corrupt Adam Torque, who died fighting against Dangsten, believing that the Fundamentalist knights were goodly fellows, [Tilts his head in a moments thinking] or possibly fellowesses, which they may of course be. I suggest that the Fundamentalist knights are either evil, or hve been corrupted by some Demons, instruments of evil, if you will. That being said there is one other potential situation a.ka. the person who bequeathed the aforementioned information to you, was a fifty-one A. R. or perhaps simply misled themselves. [Raises his eyebrows in a 'don't you think so' manner with the smattering of self satisfaction of one who adores listening to his own voice]

Clint : Yeah.

Alice : [After counting out on her fingers, turns to Clint, beaming] Oh, Austin is so clever - fifty one, get it? The roman numerals are XX, so he means XXAR! [Stops smiling for a moment] Wait, that makes no sense. [Makes her cross face at Austin] Well, I guess he isn't so smart after all!

Tom : [Mopping his brow with a hanky] Er, I'm not sure what you mean, but the church was attacked by what can only be the most disgusting looking thing to ever walk the earth.

Alice : Ah, Clint! [Slaps him playfully on the shoulder] Attacking churches again?

Clint : I'm glad you recognize my reputation, Bimbo, but this time I didn't do it, I swear! [Turns to Tom] Did you see that disgusting looking thing? What did he, or it, look like?

Tom : He said his name was Dangsten Blackheart, and, well, strange as it may sound, he had a band.

Jerome : A band? What were they like?

Tom : They were only so-so, but I'm not really into all that heavy metal music.

Mei : Heavy metal music? [looks puzzled] How does that work? Doesn't everyone listen to Cheng-fung drum music or the Kzaioh strings? How uncivilized!

Clint : Scum-funk drum music? What kind of music is that? [Starts lighting a cigar]

Mei : [gives Clint a look] Confusio say, he who smokes, smells fishy. I see Confusio was not in the slightest wrong. I should have guessed you smoke.

Clint : [Raising his arm and smelling his armpit in a deep, disgusting way] Gee, thanks for the compliment! [Blows a big cloud of smoke towards Mei]

Mei : [Coughs and splutters] I would appreciate if you didn't do that, Clint. Not all of us smoke. [Splutters some more] Confusio would be highly insulted if he knew you dragged his wisdom through the mud in your misunderstanding. Obviously you have no idea what wisdom is. [Coughs]

[Everyone sways slightly as CLINT puts his arm back down.]

Tom : You speak as though you know this Dangsten, I can tell from sadness in your eyes that you've encountered him before.

Alice : That's the sadness at having to put up with him [juts her thumb at Clint.]

Mei : You are very wise, honourable Alice. Your clear-headed approach is excellent. Perhaps you ought to take up yoga or meditation.

Alice : [Smiles selfconsciously] Thanks, but I'm not a great fan of dairy products.

Tom : So, brave warriors, I presume you wish to go where ever the danger is worst, the light dimmest, the hope exhausted and the smell [looks at Clint] well, er, where things are bad.

Clint : [To Tom, bitting his cigar while speaking, A-Team style, fists clutched in hips] Not really, as far as I'm concerned I'm just looking for the bastard who killed me, to return him the favour

Alice : [Muttering under her breath] While the rest of us just want to thank the guy.

Tom : Who killed you eh? [Suddenly looks startled] Hm, and who is responsible for killing this fine, brave warrior? That terrible Dangsten, no doubt.

Clint : [To Tom, bitting his cigar while speaking, A-Team style, fists clutched in hips] Not really, as far as I'm concerned I'm just looking for the bastard who killed me, to return him the favour.

Alice : [Muttering under her breath] While the rest of us just want to thank the guy.

Tom : Who killed you eh? [Suddenly looks startled] Hm, and who is responsible for killing this fine, brave warrior? That terrible Dangsten, no doubt.

Jerome: [Empowered by Clint's speech] We are a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime we didn't commit. We promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Hallbridges underground. Today, still wanted by the government, we survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find us, maybe you can hire the A-Team.

Tom : Yes. Yes, I'm sure you are. I know the pain of being accused of a crime I didn't commit. [Face grows dark as he looks out the window, clearly pained at the memory] Oh, the last piece of cake was taken alright, but it wasn't me, I wasn't even in the country at the time, but do you think that would be enough for mother? Oh no. [Turns back to the others] Do you want to see the church? The stench is still there from the evil.

Alice : [Sniff sniff] Wow, I can smell it from here. [Smiles at Clint] Oops, my mistake!

Jerome: [To Tom] Dr. Jerome Trindle BSc PhD believes this is not the time to be discussing your beloved mother, nor her penchance for dressing you up in sailor's suits, but that we should be focussing on the matter at hand. [Looks to the others for general consensus] On to the church then?

Mei : [Nods slowly, radiating wisdom] On to the church would be the correct course. [Clears his throat] What are we going to the church for again?

Jerome: Dr Jerome believes it is to clear the den of stinking evil!

Mei : [Disapprovingly lowers his gaze at Jerome] I had gathered that. I meant more specifically, Dr. Jerome, B.Sc., Ph.D.. Where I come from, people don't speak of themselves in third person nor do they include abbreviations after their name. I'm curious, why do you?

Alice : [To Mei] I'm curious, why do you think you're coming with us? Since you've joined, you've done nothing but flash your boobs at the rest of us, make insulting comments about Clint's unfortunate bo problem, put Patch's jockstap on in the foolish belief that it was a patch, made sarcastic biting remarks to Jerome, put down Chastity's beliefs, and [stops, looking shocked] Hey! That was me! [Puts on her angry face, and stares into space, humiliated]

Tom : I see you have found yourselves a worthy new member, who enters into the fun bickering with the same spirit as the rest of you. [To Mei] Well, fellow, I don't really respect a race of people that fight without weapons, but I would be happy to escort you and the others to the church, its just next door to the dry cleaners, I need to pick up my sai- my suit there.

Jerome: [Placatingly. Goes to put an arm around Alice and stops] Anyone could have confused that confused little inititive of Conrodeo and you! [Looks down at her chest quickly and blushes] Well, not all of you! Dr Jerome [Pointedly to Mei] TRINDLE! [Pauses dramatically] Would say! Let us go on and collect your drycleaning Mr Braider!

Chastity : [To Jerome] Doctor, will you please leave that confused gilr alone. Let's go to the church. The thought of another house of Phili being taken over by evil is more than I can stand. We will be the shining becon that removes evil's stench, but I'll probably light some insence sticks just for good measure.

Jerome:[Suddenly incenced!] By Phili! That's just what we need [To Chastity,in a normal voice] Please will you light you incense awe walk in. [To Clint] Here comes the witchdoctor!

Austin : [Musing, admiring the shine on Maplins nails. Sarcasticly - ] Excellent, another church. [Looks to the heavens] Perhaps this one will have some object d'art that require the facilities of a skilled relocation expert. Like myself.

Chastity : [To Austin] Lawyer, the only things that you should be removing from the church should firstly be the any evil temporarily residing there, and eventually yourself. [To Tom] Would you care to lead the way, Chief Inspector?

Alice : [Taking comfort from Jerome] I'm sorry Jerome, its just he confused me with all this being nice and helping us and stuff, I'm just not used to it.

Mei : [Bowing in front of Alice] I apologise if I confused you. All I wish is to be allowed to help you in return for helping me. [Turns to the others] If it pleases you, it would please me to please you by coming to your aid.

[TOM waits, clearly waiting to see how this works out.]

Austin : [To Chastity] Only the temporary evil? I suppose I should not be surprised that you want me to leave the long term evil, you would not want to bit the hand that feeds, after all it has done for you, sister.

Chastity : [To Austin] All evil in that holy place is temporary as we are about expel it. Unfortunately, there is so much evil in the world that the work of myself and the other holy brothers and sisters of Phili may never end. We can only pray that this will not be the case. [To the whole group] Shall we get cracking? We've not too long before StarSearch(TM) will be on.

Austin : [To Chastity, in feinged amazement] I thought you said Phili was your God? Now you tell me that you are his sister. Heavens above, woman, next you will be calling him your father I shouldn't doubt, and that is illegal, even in Hallbridges.

Tom : Surprisingly, Austin, it is not.

Mei : [Straightening up] I shall take that as agreement to my participation in your quest, and your belief that I can somehow repay you for saving my life.

Alice : [Looking through a telescope at Tom] Wow, you've got a really hairy nose, Tom!

Tom : That's not my nose.

[There is the unmistakeable sound of a zip being pulled up somewhere in the room.]

Alice : Eauh! [Puts down the telescope to reveal that it was a joke telescope, with an inky ring at the end of it, that has now transferred to her eye. She glances at the mirror] Hey!

[Exit ALL.]

[Book II, Act VII, Scene VIII. The Church in Hallbridges. TOM, JEROME, CLINT, ALICE, CHASTITY, AUSTIN and MEI are here. The church has recently been burned badly, and is still smoking. Inside, there appears to be a lot of damage. There are several chalk marks of bodies on the floor.]

Jerome : What are these?

Tom : [With a grimace] Those devil Hierophantic Knights killed the priest and some people who were unfortunate enough to choose this moment to pray.

Alice : [Points at another chalk mark, in the outline of a small dog] What's that one?

Tom : That's the priest's dog.

Alice : [Points at another one, in the outline of a circle] What's that one?

Tom : That's where we found his head.

Alice : [Points at another one, in the outline of a hopskotch game] What's that one?

Tom : It's a hopskotch game. [Takes a copper piece out of his pocket it and throws it on number 10, before hopping to it, collecting it and hopping back.]

Chastity : [To Tom, upset and outraged] Chief Inspector!! Have some respect for Phili's sake. What an awful sight we have before us. Was there anything of note taken from the Church, apart from the lives of the worshipers and their Priest?

Austin : [To Tom] You mean that is not illegal to engage in that activity that would lead to one becoming ones sister father? Interesting. [Muses for a moment] I do so believe that the Hierophantic Knights you speak of were infact imposters, perhaps Dopplegangers, posing as Hierophantic Knights. [Has a search around for clues, and valuables]

Alice : With the kind of activities like that that you become involved in, Austin, I'm surprised you haven't ended up your own father.

Tom : You might notice that much of the church's treasures are actually still here. The chalice, for example, was not stolen. The mind boggles at what kind of person would burn the church and not take that. We're not sure what has been taken, because all the records have been destroyed.

[AUSTIN has happened upon quite a number of valuables, holy symbols, gold statues etc.]

Clint : [Puffing away on his cigar] Was there any specific place set on fire? [Examines the area around the altar, trying to push it, etc]

Austin : [Dons a pair of black leather gloves and begins assembling the valuables upon the altar. To Chastity] Sister, you and your holy cronies had better secret these valuables, I am sure you have many suitable orifices, lest they be relocated by some other, entrepreneur.

Chastity : [To Austin, a bit taken aback] Why thank Austin. Considering your attitudes both to expensive shiny objects and the clergy, I am most pleasantly surprised. [ Looks around for a bag or tapestry to wrap them in ] and a confessional box.

Alice : [Watching the incredibly gentle way Austin handles the items] I suspect it is your orifices that she should be concerned about.

Tom : We're not sure where the fire started, but, judging by fire damage it seems to have been in the basement.

Alice : Where's that?

Tom : Under the church.

Clint : Which church?

Tom : I'll have to check. [Walks over to some contables off to one side.]

Alice : So, what kind of people would do this? Burn the church, yet not steal stuff. Austin, do you have any insight into this?

Austin : [To Alice] What a very, very astute question, Alice. I would suggest that the perpitrators of the crime either did not understand the value of the items, perhaps they were aliens who use other thing for money, paper for example [Strides a bit] or perhaps they were only after particular objects, and left the other items to make it appear that it was not an act of theivery. [Strides a bit more] My last and ultimate hypothesis would be that the evildoers, the perpitrators of the crime at hand, were too evil to touch the holy items, lest they come to harm in doing so. [Chuckles] Of course, it may possibly have been an accident, a drunken monk engaging in shennanigans with a drunken nun, [inhales] or perhaps an alter boy, [moves to were this act might have taken place, and play acts the movements] accidentally knocks over a candle, setting fire to the tapestry, and before one has noticed, woosh! The church is alight.

Alice : [Runs over to the tapestry] For God's sake, Austin, put it out! [Looks around, noticing there's no fire] I mean, if - if the priest's name was Austin, that's what the altar boy would have said. [Pause] About the fire.

Jerome : [Pulling down the tapestry] Mr. Sleaze, while your enthusiasm for altar boy and priest relations is probably greater than for most, please contain yourself. Your debauched mind notwithstanding, your line of arguing is important. Was this simple hooliganism? Or was there thievery involved? If so, is it the case, as Austin suggested, that only one thing was taken. If so, what? If not, why?

Tom : [Returning from the contsables] This church.

Clint : Thanks for clearing that one out, Tom. That's probably the only thing that made sense for the last 5 minutes.

Alice : So where is this basement? I bet it is cunningly hidden beneath a tapestry - or a hidden secret passage that we have to move a book to operate, or behind one of those pictures where the eyes follow you when you move.

Mei : Or, it could be under that trap door you are standing on.

[It is true. ALICE is standing on a trap door.]

Mei : [To Alice] Truly, Alice, you are most suitable to become a master of the Fuishi Chong-Ho technique. Your subconscious mind manages to solve all these puzzles in no time flat. You ought to learn to listen to it. I can teach you a few positions, if you like. [Coughs] Erm, yoga positions, that is.

Clint : Wow, you do yoga [stresses] while having a bit of the old get it, get out?

Mei : I take my meditation most seriously. Confusio say, only the most serious of mind will see the wisdom in humour. But this isn't humour, this is insulting! I don't go an insult your beliefs and practices, do I? Well, except for the fact you obviously don't wash, of course...

Jerome: [Wishes he had specs that he could take off and clean authoritatively as he enters this philosophical discussion] Dr Jerome Trindle BSC PhD believes if the majority finds it funny, then indeed it is humour.

Clint : There! The good doctor does have a sense of humour after all!

Jerome : [To Clint] The good Doctor has always had one. It's just been more evolved that most peoples.

Alice : [Stepping off the trapdoor with a snort of derision] Oh, so just because you find jokes about monkeys funny, you're just [emphasises and waves her hands about] soooo much smarter than the rest of us! [To Mei, pressing the middle of her chest] Actually, I have a bit of indigestion, so I might take some of your yoga after all.

[The trapdoor isn't locked (unless from the inside) and looks like it can simply be lifted up.]

Jerome: [The good doctor would make a joke about yoga and thrush, but his humour is far too highbrow for that] Hmmmm [Considers the trapdoor] It looks suspiciously simple, therefore it might be trapped. Tom, be a good fellow and open it for us, will you?

Clint : Oh don't be so chicken Jerry! [Tries to pull the door open]

Jerome : [Watches Clint with amusement] Come on now, pull harder Clint. We all know of your apelike strength!

Mei : [Smiles at Clint] You have to learn how to focus, Clint. I would advise you to meditate upon this truth, but I'm afraid it might be over your head to do that. [To Alice] Yoga is not a dairy product. It is a way to focus one's mind and cleanse one's soul. Confusio said so, you know.

Jerome : [Idly] Sounds like Confusio was never once quiet.

Mei : [Also idly] Peace of the soul is more important than peace of the mouth.

Jerome : [Again wishing for specs he could take off and examine authoritively] But surely when one is quiet, one is more peaceful. And wouldn't Confusio lose his voice once in a while if he just went around spouting fortune cookie advice to everyone he met? Not to mention, he'd probably completely dominate a dinnertable conversation.

Mei : [Scoffing] And you, I gather, are one to correct wise Confusio?

Alice : [Raising her voice to be heard over Clint's grunting] Please! How about giving us a little peace of the mind? Instead of us just a piece of mind?

[CLINT succeeds in lifting the trapdoor, and swinging it open with a huge, deafening bang. Seconds later, TOM steps forward.]

Tom : Aye, it would please me to open the trapdoor, and protect such a brave party from the perils it contains. I - oh, it's already open. [Peers down] It's awfully dark there, and there are probably spiders. I had better stay on guard here to ensure none escape while you investigate. [Draws his sword, as his face takes on a faraway look] We don't want any more of those eight legged bastards around.

Clint : [Also drawing his sword] Yes Tom, that's really brave. Stay here, safe from danger. You're all the same - just like Harvey, leaving us to deal with the big Priek, while he sailed away with his lover. Not to mention the Lawyer, who stayed behind full of jealousy.

Alice : [Slapping Clint across the face] Shut the hell up! Don't you dare talk about Harvey like that - he was only up there because he was trying to catch Potiphar. Harvey's twice the man you'll ever be. [Stares at Clint for a few seconds, breathing heavily, before adding] And before you say anything, I mean he [emphasis] is, not has, not that there would be any doubt because - shut up, Clint! [Slaps him again]

Chastity : Quite right, Alice. How dare Clint make disparaging comments on your Uncle, the Colonel. He's not even here to defend himself. [Turning towards the trapdoor] Lets see what's down here then. [Holds out hand and mumbles a small incantation]

Alice : Well, I'm sure Clint is so brave, he'll go down first. [Mutters to Tom] You do have a padlock handy in case we need to lock that trapdoor, right?

Tom : [Holds up a huge padlock] Of course, those eight legged devils are cunning bastards. I'll make sure no damned spiders get out.

Alice : [Glaring at Clint] Yes. No spiders getting out. Indeed.

Clint : C'mon Bimbo, show some sense of humour, I was only joking. You know damn well that Harvey's the only member in this group that has the same bravery in battle as myself, and I admire him for that. I just couldn't resist a bit of the old famous Clint humour.

Alice : More like the famous Clint tumour.

[The space immediately inside the trapdoor lights up, revealing a staircase descending into darkenss. It clearly goes a long way down. There are no obvious pitfalls, but there is a suspiciously large amount of cobwebs.]

Alice : Well done, Chas - that light was your work, I presume?

Tom : [Nervously] What's the verdict?

Jerome : We're looking at an abnormally high spider co-efficient.

Tom : Gibber!

Chastity : [Examining cob webs and stairs without entering] If no-one has been down here, we may just be better to concentrate on our plan for StarSearch(TM) tonight. We don't really want to get too side-tracked. We always seem to get into more trouble when we do. As my First Husband, George would say "One thing at a time - a cluttered mind leads to a cluttered life".

Alice : [Indignantly] Well I don't have a cluttered mind, but I still have a cluttered life!

Austin : [Attempts to take the padlock off the gibbering Tom] Pull yourself together man! And you won't be needing this [The padlock]

Clint : Alice, you don't have a mind, period. Let's check the echo status. [Screams down the hole] ECHO!

Echo : Echo! Echo! Echo!

Austin : [Breaking the silence of 5 minutes of everyone listening for the echo] Well it is either a very, very big cavern down there or it's small and the spiders webs have dampened the sound. [Examines the spiders webs to see if they have been disturbed recenty, possibly by the intruders?]

[The webs have most definitely been distubed. At least one person has been down here, and burst through the cobwebs. Given how few are now across the stairs, it has happened in the last few hours.]

Clint : Ok, I really should have guessed no-one would venture before me. [Starts going down the stairs] Let's have a look, before going to the StarSearchTM show. [Screams down again] We're coming, Mr. Echo! echo they

Austin : [Checking through a large pad of paper with the title 'Life insureance policy section 4.5.10.2.142 - Arachnids and biotoxins'] Who is feeling brave?

Chastity : [To Austin] What, brave to put signature to one of your insurance documents?

Mei : I will join you in this brave deed.

[CLINT and MEI head down first.]

Alice : I think, Chastity, you'll find that the word is foolish.

[ALICE and JEROME head down next.]

Tom : [Looking around to see no one is watching, before whispering confidentially to Austin] I wouldn't mind taking a quick look at that.

Chastity : [To Tom and Austin] I'll leave you two boys to it then. [Heads down the trap down stairs after Alice and Jerome]

Austin : [To Tom] This policy is my policy, I have another here that you may sign [Produces another wad of papers and gives it to Tom] Sign at the X's, I shall collect it upon my return [Follows the others down into the basement]

[AUSTIN joins CHASTITY on the way down. Soon they all reach the bottom of the stairs, where ALICE now has a torch lighting. There is a huge pentagram made of tiles on the floor, which has been smashed through. Off to one side is a small tabernacle, i.e. small altar with a press on top of it, usually used for holding sacred items. This is shut.]

Jerome : It looks like something was hidden under the floor.

Alice : Or maybe somebody really heavy stood on it. [Turns back] Better watch your step, Chas!

Clint : [Pointing at the tabernacle] Wanna try your luck, Lawyer? [Examines the tiles for holes, blood, anything]

[The hole in the tile is about two feet in diameter, and, although the perimeter of the hole is very jagged, there is no blood. As CLINT gets closer, he can see that there is another floor, about a foot below the tiles.]

Jerome : Curious, it is as though someone smashed a hole through the tiled floor to get at something hidden beneath it.

Chastity : [To Alice] Thank you for your concern dear. Has anyone seen any of these Spiders yet? [Waves hand emanating light over the hole help illuminate it and the floor below]

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD believes that all this arachnid related hysteria is merely a function of the paranoia, arachnaphobia and oedipea suffered by Inspector Braider. Jerome furthermore believes that the large amount of cobwebs present in the basement is simply caused by the fact that it had not been disturbed for a number of years, and that there is no proof to suggest there is either a particularly large number of spiders or even a small number of particularly large ones.

Alice : [Nodding to a shadow of a huge spider like creature on the wall] Well, what do you call that, Jerome?

Jerome : The shadow cast by your hand from the torchlight?

Alice : [Putting down her shadow puppet] Gah!

[CHASTITY's light merely shows that there is another floor there, just below the tiled one. There doesn't seem to be anything there, though.]

Chastity : [To Jerome] Hmmm, let hope your are correct, Doctor. I suppose we had better focus on the tabernacle for clues. Although I must say that everyone seems very blasé about the pentagram on the floor. I thought this church had been tainted, but this is particularly alarming. This must have been here for some time! [Looks to the ceiling] All those poor worshippers, not knowing what was below their very feet.

Alice : What pentagram?

Mei : That large shape on the ground.

Alice : Oh! I mean, I knew that.

Mei : We should meditate upon what has occurred here. [Promptly takes out some incense and begins burning it, then sits down and starts meditating - although he's pointedly NOT in the pentagram when he does so] in

Clint : [To Mei] Hey chinese boy, I think the place has been burned enough as it is! [Goes to check the tabernacle] [MEI pays no attention, seemingly lost in meditation. However, if one listens carefully, MEI can be heard muttering.]

Mei : [Muttering under his breath] Confusio say, place what is burned needs not be fumigated.

Jerome :[Obviously trying hard to make understanding of what MEI is saying, but cannot, shrugs and follows Clint to the tabernacle] Is there anything that could lend suspicion to tracking down and apprehending the perpetrator or perpetrators, Clint? saying, perpetrator

Mei : [While meditating, MEI is muttering] I can see... I can see... the incense? ;-) [From his vantage, MEI can't see anything. There clearly isn't anything in the space beneath the broken floor, although there is plenty of room there to have stored something, and it doesn't contain the same quantity of spiders. Meanwhile, JEROME and CLINT step up to the tabernacle.]

Alice : [Screaming out hysterically at Jerome and Clint] No! Keep back from it!

Jerome : [A surprised expression passes over Jeromes face and he backs away from the tabernacle, and lurches towards Alice attempting to take her hand and hold it to his heart] Alice you do care for Dr Jerome. [His eyes fill with tears as he continues to talk gently stroking his hand] I guess deep down in my heart I knew you did love me, I was just scared.

Alice : [Hands over her eyes] Just keep back from it. [Holds up her hand] There's something really bad in there.

Jerome: [Turns from Alice and regards the tabernacle] Surely it can't be that bad. Approaches it cautiously. And how do you know Alice? [He puffs his chest out a bit and takes yet another step closer to the tabernacle] Should the good doctor touch it or not? [He reaches out his hand towards the thing.]

Austin : [Watching Jerome, hopefully. To Alice] Alice, what makes you think that there is something bad about the tabernacle? think that

Mei : [Continues his "seeing"] I see... I see... There is something bad about the tabernacle!

Alice : See? Even Mei feels it! I can't explain how I know - I just do. Don't touch the front of it - look at the back first.

[The tabernacle is quite close to the wall, but there is about an inch or two of space behind it.]

Austin : Perhaps I should take a closer look. [Dons a pair of puce 'marigolds' and gets a pair of tongs from his pocket] Perhaps it has been booby trapped. My insurance policy does not cover me for this, so I kindly ask you all not to witness the actions that I am about to take, lest you be summoned to court to testify against my version of the events, should things go wrong. [Austin gingerly clasps the book with the tongs at arms length, and attempts to turn the tabernacle over] the

Austin : [Realises that he is half asleep, stands bolt upright] Wow, I need to get more sleep! I never thought the day would come when I mistook a door for a book. [Carefully tries to open the door with the tongs, after checking fo booby traps]

Chastity : Oh, I do hate the threat of explosions in confined spaces. The blood from burst ear-drums is always a real bother to wash out of these Nun's habits. [Covers her ears with her hands]

[AUSTIN doesn't find any traps on the door, and slowly twists the handle of the door, which opens easily and swings out. For a few seconds, there is silence, followed by a huge explosion that engulfs AUSTIN and, to a lesser extent, JEROME. Everyone else is thrown to the ground.]

Austin : [Not moving. Rhetorically] I hope nobody saw that? [lies still]

Alice : [Looking over at Austin, who has his hands over his face] Oh no! Oh no! Are you okay? [Runs to Jerome]

Jerome : What happened?

Alice : Despite me warning him not to, Austin opened the tabernacle, and almost killed you.

Mei : [To Austin] I saw it. [Dusts off] My incense burned well today. I saw a lot.

Austin : [To Jerome] It was the best chance I have ever had, to kill you and make it look like an accident. [Fishes a mirror out of his pocket] I hate churches. I hate Phili.

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD believes you to be a fool, Sleaze. A fool who believes that he can cover his ineptitude with meaningless boasts. Believe me, Sleaze, if I thought for one second that you genuinely wished to kill me, you would be dead. That is not a threat, but a fact.

Alice : [On seeing Austin] Yikes!

[AUSTIN's face has lost some of its youthful glow, and quite a lot of skin. He is quite badly cut up.]

Austin : [To Jerome, extreemly sarcastic] Oh, how I do chortle. The words I spoke previously were a poor atempt at an, albeit sarcastic appology, and due to the misinterpretation I shall reconveen my intentions and deliver them once more in a more chomprehesible fashion. Doctor. [Sighs] I am sorry that I nearly blew your head off. I have been too long on the trail of evil and obviously require a rest. So keep your pants on, hot stuff.

Jerome : Incredible, Austin, how even you are being sincere you still manage to insult people. [Staggers to his feet] Perhaps someone would like to check out the remains of the tabernacle, now that the redoubtable counseller Sleaze has got it open.

Chastity : [To Austin] I'd have thought your insurance was nearing invalidation enough already without tempting acts of Phili. [Gets up and dusts herself off] And sarcasm or not, your choice of phrase is hardly likely to enamour yourself to this Nun, in a house of Phili. Especially whilst inside a pentagram. [Cautiously goes over to the tabernacle] I wonder if the explosion has reveiled anything other than Austin's lower epidermal layer?

[CHASTITY can see that the explosion came from the back of the tabernacle, and blew outwards. Anything combustible would have most likely been destroyed, and anything not would probably have been blown out into the room.]

Alice : [Sympathetically to Austin] Are you okay? Is there anything that I can do? [Mutters under her breath to herself] I guess its true, beauty is only skin deep!

Austin : [Still on the ground. To Jerome] It is a talent of mine, honed to a fine point over the years. [To Chastity] Why would I want to enamour myself to you? This is hardly a house of Phili, or do you think Phili worshiper put the pentagram and the exloding door here? [Takes an extreemly quick peek in the mirror] Uuurgh. [Passes out in shock]

Clint : [Hair turned white from explosion dust][To Austin] If anyone else would have done that I would consider them to be jerks, Laywer. But coming from you it just feels like normal behaviour. [Lights a cigar from a piece of burning wood from the explosion]

Alice : Chastity, you could be a little more sensitive, you know? He has just had a huge chunk of face burned off, at least Maplin is okay though. Now, what did he see that gave him such a shock? [Picks up the mirror and and looks in it] Hey!

Mei : I have found this - perhaps it came from the tabernacle? [Holds up a small metal stand, that looks as though it could hold a dagger about six to eight inches long.]

Mei : [To the others, holding up the stand] What do you think?

Clint : I think its a God damned miracle it didn't bury itself in the lawyer's head.

Chastity : [To Clint] I don't think smoking in an area filled with fine dust is really such a good idea. [To Alice] There is no excuse for voicing a hate of the eternal one inside his own house, even if it has been tainted with evil graffiti and one's face has been blown off. [Sighs] But I suppose as a merciful servant of Phili I'd better help his injuries. [Pulls out a small pouch of salt and rubs it into the unconscious lawyer's facial wounds] There, I'm sure that will help !

Alice : [Watching intently] Wow, what's that stuff? It looks just like salt.

Chastity : [To Alice] Yes, my dear. It'll help heal and disinfect his wounds. One [coughs] unfortunate affect is that it stings like blazes. But, hey, you can't have the smooth without the rough. [Rubs some more salt into a particularly sore looking area] Oh, well, I suppose another method may be required. He does look next to deaths door, and we'll need him later on no doubt. [Places her salt encrusted hands over Austins face] Heal this unworthy sinner, O' Merciful Phili.

[Some of the bleeding on AUSTIN's face begins to stop, and his face, although still badly marked, doesn't look as raw as it did.]

Clint : [Leaning in close, blowing cigar smoke all over the tender skin] So, what's the diagnosis, sis? Is it gonna do anything for his personality?

Chastity : [To Clint] I fear not. Phili may have granted me some wonderous powers, but healing flaws in personality was not one of them. Only upon Austins final judgement will he atone fully for those. [Hold hands up in the air] Thank You, O Phili, may this sinner learn from your mercy! [Standing back up] but I doubt it!

Clint : Right lawyer, stop faking now, you've managed to get a massage from the sister after all. And we need a volunteer to check if there's anything left in the tabernacle.

[ALICE shakes AUSTIN again, and he slowly regains consciousness. From above, the party hear TOM calling out.]

Tom : What happened? Was there a spider involved?

Clint : [Looking briefly at Austin, then shouting to Tom] I'm affraid so! To the others] Well he does look like a spider now.

Tom : I'll stay on guard in case any of them try to escape.

Clint : Not able to heal flaws in personalities? I guess we should have known that from yours. [Turns to Mei] What have you got there?

Mei : I am not sure. [Holds the stand out so that all can see it.]

Alice : [Looks from Austin to the stand, and back again] You know, he was almost killed. A little bit of sympathy wouldn't go astray. [Leans down near Austin] Are you okay? [Gently slaps his face] Eauh! Crispy!

Clint : [Looking briefly at Austin, then shouting to Tom] I'm affraid so! [To the others] Well he does look like a spider now.

Mei : Does anyone have any idea what this is? [Once again, holds up the stand so that everyone can see] It looks like it could hold something in here. [Points out the space for the dagger]

Alice : It looks like a stand that holds something.

Mei : Hah! And people say you are a bimbo! Noone else came up with that! Such a clear head, Alice, would be a perfect receptacle for the philosophies and practices of yoga and meditation. You really ought to take it up. [Absent-mindedly puts the stand down now that everyone's seen it]

Alice : Oh - okay. [[Picks up the stand, before realisation dawns] Hey! Who says that?

Austin : [Slowly gets up wearing a phantom of the opera style mask (Phili know where he got it from). To ALice] May I see the stand, sweet Alice.

Mei : [To Alice] I did. Just now. What a crystal-clear mind you do have!

Austin : [To Mei]] Quite transparent.

Alice : [Slowly looks from Mei to Austin, and back again] Before either of you think of insulting me again, might I just point out [points at Mei with the stand, emphasising each point with another thrust of the stand] unintelligible, fortune cookie quoting, incensing stinking, non-party member who couldn't even dig a tunnel in the right direction and [points at Austin] moronic, vain, too-stupid-and-arrogant-to-listen-to-Alice, crispy faced [with relish] lawyer! To think that I was the only one here that wanted to help you, and was one of only a few to vote against using you as a barbecue, well, you're on your own in future, lawyer boy.

Chastity : Oh dear, Austin. You do look quite foolish with that mask on. You need some fresh [waves away some of Clint's smoke] air to help it heal, and it isn't that bad, really. [Mutters to herself] With Phili's help I won't have nightmares about it tonight.

Clint : Aw come on Bimbo, you know thy're all crazy for you. So stop bitching and let's get on with our business, ok? [Grabs the dagger holder] I suggest we keep this with us, it looks important. I wonder if it is part of a ritual of some kind to be performed by our friends the heavy-metals?

Jerome : Or on our friends, the heavy metals? Notice that the stand was inside the tabernacle, usually the sign of good, light and all that kind of Phili-related thing. There is also, of course, the matter of the pentagram on the floor - what does that represent? Why is under a church? Was there something beneath it?

Alice : Maybe something broke up through it?

Jerome : Good suggestion, Alice, but unlikely, as all the broken pieces have gone into the hole.

Austin : [Pinches the dagger holder from Clint and examines it with and without an eye glass] Hmmm.

Jerome : Jerome believes it to be unlikely that any further clues will be discovered here, given the nature of the fire damage.

Austin : [Starts searching the room for the dagger] We should ascertain wether or not the dagger is still in the room. [Searches the rubble of the altar etc]

Chastity : [Whistles nonchalantly, looking away from the others, before turning back] Well, its nothing to do with me!

Mei : Maybe the wise Phili wished to prevent unauthorised access to the contents of the tabernacle? Confusio say, only the foolish man does not protect his valuables.

[Some searching through the rubble has not revealed any dagger.]

Clint : Well Jerome that's very well said, but seing as how the tabernacle exploded, it just doesn't sound like the work of Phili. Unless it had some way to guess that it was the lawyer who was messing with it.

Chastity : [Whistles nonchalantly, looking away from the others, before turning back] Well, its nothing to do with me!

Mei : Maybe the wise Phili wished to prevent unauthorised access to the contents of the tabernacle? Confusio say, only the foolish man does not protect his valuables.

[Some searching through the rubble has not revealed any dagger.]

Austin : [Takes off the mask and puts on some cream looking like stuff from a tube. To Chastity] At least I can take the mask off.

Chastity : You may be able to take the mask off your face, Austin, but not off your soul!

Austin : [Sighs. To Chastity] Once more I am misinterpreted. My point was that if I take the mask off I no longer look stupid, whereas, you have no mask to take off. Evil witch. [Brushes some salt from his stinging wounds]

Chastity : Now, now, Austin, there's no need to be like that. And if you believe you no longer look stupid without the mask, well, that's just great.

[There doesn't appear to be a dagger in the room, or, at least, if there is, it can't be found.]

Austin : [To Chastity, smiling] I f you had a gram of commliness, even in a box in your pocket I would be hurt by your words, but you don't. [Spins on his heel. To the others] Shall we leave this wretched place?

Chastity : Indeed, I believe we should, lest your mood get uglier than - well, lest your mood get uglier.

[Exit ALL, back up the stairs, where TOM is still waiting.]

Tom : [On seeing Austin] Shriek! Don't tell me that a spider did that!

Alice : Okay.

Clint : Right, where to now? I'm getting a bit tired of all this talk and no fun; shall we go to StarSearchTM, to see if the rock'n'rollers will be there?

Alice : Its probably a bit early for that Clint. Its only [checks her wrist, and then remembers that she doesn't have a watch] light now, and that won't be on until later. Why don't we get a drink at the Warm And Relaxing Tavern? Claude might be of some help to us.

Clint : Wow, that's a brilliant idea, a good glass of wine before going killing the devil! I wonder if that explosion affected your brain, Bimbo.

Alice : It must have, because instead of thinking that you're total scum, Clint, I know think that you're scum.

Clint : Compliments will get you nowhere Bimbo, you'll still have to buy your own drink.

Alice : Pity Harvey isn't here, he always used his cash to buy me stuff.

Tom : What happened down there? Tell me!

Clint : [With a clinking sound of coins from his pocket] I suppose you're old enough by now to take care of yourself. [Looks at Alice's tummy] Then again, maybe not.

Mei : Honourable Tom. [Bows to Tom] The party bravely ventured down into the bowels of the underworld, so to speak. They found a pentagram on the floor, signs of obvious demon-worship, and a tabernacle. Our honourable friend Austin tried to open the tabernacle, which set off an explosion. That, I believe, is about it. Fortunately, no spiders were hurt in the making of this scene.

Clint : What he means to say, Tom, is that all hell broke loose down there, the lawyer tried to open a tabernacle despite being told not to, and got his faced rubbed with salt by the sister as a punishment. Now, can we go for a glass of wine?

Tom : [To Mei] No spiders hurt? Curses! I respect your need for refreshments, for it is only the truly battled hardened warriors who stare death in the face, brush off injury and laugh in the face of spider infestations as their very lives hang in the balance before - [notices the party has left] hey, where did they go? Constable Jonstable : [Mumbling] Idunno.

[Enter ALL into the Warm And Relaxing Tavern. There are a few people sitting around at various tables, and CLAUDE DE MONTAGUE is behind the bar. He looks at the party with barely a flicker of recognition.]

Claude : [Depressed] I see you're not dead. Its only a matter of time.

Clint : Right, right. In the mean time, can you get me a glass of your finest wine. Nevermind about the price!

Claude : [Picking up a bottle and pouring out some murky, thick liquid into a filthy glass] Here. That's 150GP.

Alice : Eauh! What about your worst wine?

Claude : [Picking up the same bottle] Here. That's 10 silver pieces.

Jerome : [Fiddling in his pocket for change] And the good doctor would love a creme de menthe or a mint tulip! love

Mei : [Bows respectfully to the owner of the bar] A glass of water, please. Nothing quite refreshes the mind and calms the spirit like a crystal-clear glass of water.

Claude : The best I can offer you is this. [Slaps a squashed and hairy After Eight chocolate on the counter]

Claude : Sure. [Turns on a tap that splutters and coughs disgustingly, before some dark brown liquid drips into a glass] Enjoy. [Puts the glass on the counter, but fishes out some yellow floating thing before passing it over.]

Mei : [Bows respectfully to the owner of the bar] A glass of water, please. Nothing quite refreshes the mind and calms the spirit like a crystal-clear glass of water

Jerome : [Ignoring the After8 Mint] Well how about Sex on an Icelandic beach? Sex on an Icelandic beach.... Errr you just take a Splash of Cranberry vodka, Splash of Peach tree, Orange juice and Grenadine. Shake it vigorously wiht ice and serve in a tall glass with only one straw....mmmmmmm Last fcrom me and CHeridan #123

Alice : [Wide-eyed at Jerome] And maybe a cigarette to follow?

Claude : [Watching Jerome with a very serious expression] And when do I get the sex? I must admit, I'm not that keen on sex with men, but since you lot have been here, I've been getting even less sex than I was.

Alice : I was under the impression you couldn't find any one to find sex with then.

Claude : That's true.

Alice : [Looks at her glass and gives a shiver] You did wash your hands before picking this up, didn't you?

Claude : [Sigh] No need.

Jerome : [To Alice] Smoking stunts your growth. And besides, the good doctor had asthma as a child. [Looks to Claude and echoes Alice's shiver] Jerome was not propositioning you, you poor misguided man. [Sighs] Well it seems that I am not getting anything here... Mr Claude could Jerome please have an alcoholic beverage of some kind? His whistle needs wetting. doctor an

Mei : [To Claude] Sorry, I thought I asked for water, not excrement. Do you know where I can find some drinkable water that doesn't look like it's been tapped straight from the bathroom facility? [Pointedly arches an eyebrow and nods in the direction of the bathroom, from where a flushing sound can be heard]

Jerome : [Offers MEI the hairy After 8 mint]

Clint : Not even Harvey with his stomach of steel would be able to eat that thing. [Pulls a little bottle out of his pocket, and raises it] To you Harv, wherever you are, and whatever you're doing. [Shivers at the thought for a moment, before downing the bottle]

Claude : [Looks at Mei and thinks for a moment, before speaking slowly and deliberately] No.

[The sound of the flushing continues for a few seconds, before WILBUR SPLEEN staggers in, covered in blood and wearing an apron, and, either very short, or no pants. He doesn't appear to have a shirt on either. He stops in his tracks when he sees the party, and his upper lip curls into a disgusting sneer.]

Chastity : Mr. Spleen, I realise that any toilet experiences you have may be traumatic, what with your primarily meat diet, but please could you keep your facial grimaces to your cubicle. [WILBUR says nothing, but takes his seat at the other end of the bar, and sits, glaring at the party.]

Wilbur : Okay, sister. As long as you keep your facial grimaces to your cubicle.

Claude : [Turning back to the party] So what happened to you? I thought you were supposed to collect the Scalies cure off me?

Clint : [Gets up and goes to open the cubicle door, while speaking to Claude] We were, but got stuck along the way. Do you still have it?

[Even CLINT flinches from the stench of the cubicle, and everyone in the bar, except CLAUDE and WILBUR, winces.]

Claude : I do, but I'm not sure there's any point. [Leans in to the party, lowering his voice] Apparantly, the Fundamentalist Knights are back on the scene, and are out of control, and [looks to Alice, and leans in even further to her, as though whispering to her alone.]

Alice : [Leaning in] Wow, this must be very secret.

Claude : Not really, I just wanted to see your boobs.

[Slap.]

Claude : Its pain, but its a good kind of pain.

Chastity : [To Claude] Claude, as apothetic, unco-operative, sexually deviant bar personel go, you really are the King of your kind.

Claude : I see your membership of the Hierophantic Knights hasn't done much to improve your demeanour, facial hair or witless chattering.

Clint : [To Claude] I see your mood hasn't improved since our last visit. Tell us again about the cure for scallies. Do you really have it?

Claude : Why should it have improved? I'm still going to die in horrible pain, won't I? In fact, things have just got worse since you've been here. As for the cure, well, its a cure for Scalies. And yes, I do have it.

Clint : And can we have it?

Austin : [Examining his wounds in a hand held mirror] Does anyone have any healing potions?

Clint : Maybe the good sister has some salt left. [To Claude] Well? Can we have it?

Claude : Yes, you can. I have it in the back.

Alice : Hang on, you [emphasises] know we're Hierophantic Knights?

Claude : [Deadpan] Yes.

Clint : Then if you know, you can go and bring that cure to us so that we give it good use, can't you?

Austin : [To Clint] Salt is most third rate compared to a good magic healing potion [Sees Clint turning back to Claude] Does he have a healing potion? [Nods at Claude]

Claude : [To Clint] Yes, I can. Its just that I expected being Hierophantic Knights, you would have siezed this opportunity to speak to one sympathetic to your cause.

Alice : [To Austin] Why don't you ask him?

Austin : [Puting some ointment on his face] This supposed to be for friction burns, but it is the only ointment I have.

Alice : I guess it'll make it easier for you to get your head up your ass.

[CLAUDE says nothing, and just sighs deeply.]

Mei: This is pointless, he's probably not got the cure anyway. Confusio say, if you want the treasure, you have to hunt it down yourself. The exact meaning of those words is left to personal interpretation.

Austin : [To Alice] I could think of worse places to put my head. [Grimaces towards Clint.

Clint : Don't look at me that way, Laywer, and get those ideas off your head. [Pauses] And that cream too, makes you look even uglier if possible.

Claude : You're not even one of the group, you shouldn't even be here.

Alice : What about Wilbur? He's hardly an HK, is he?

Claude : No, but he buys a lot of beer.

Mei : This group of people saved me, and therefore it is my mission to protect them from scum like you. [Looks momentarily at the party] They definitely need my wisdom.

Clint : [Getting Claude's attention] Ahem. [Pause] The cure?

Austin : [To Claude] Do you have any healing potions?

Claude : [Shrugs] Suits me. Its just that I figure they need my wisdom more, seeing as how I'm the only sane person to have witnessed the events in Hallbridges over the last two weeks.

Alice : What about Wilbur?

Claude : Wilbur, please stand up and turn around for a second.

[WILBUR obliges, revealing that he's wearing nothing under the apron.]

Alice : I see.

Claude : [To Austin] Yes. [To Clint] Do you want it right away? Surely you want to go and try to kill Dangsten Blackheart first?

Austin : [To Claude] Err, no, I am already within an inch of death as it is. Without a healing potion it would be futile even thinking about killing Dangsten.

Chastity : [Aside to Austin] Without something to aid us in killing Dansten, it may be be futile even thinking about killing Dangsten. Also, looking at what has been served up to us already, I doubt if anything produced here would heal heal you face. It's not too late for some more salt. I'm sure I've some more here somewhere [Starts rummaging around in her habit]

Claude : I do have a healing potion, but I won't give it to you unless you at least try and stop what Dangsten wants to do. If you really are Hierophantic Knights, which I'm beginning to doubt, you'll put the safety of the realms before your own.

Alice : Wilbur? Would you mind turning back around?

Wilbur : [Still with his back to the party] Turn one way, turn the other, kill people, don't kill people, tut! [Turns around and sits down.]

Clint : Let's put it this way: how can we try to stop Dangsten with a party member who uses vaseline and salt to stick his face in one piece? Let us cure him first, and then we'll try to deal with Dangsten!

Chastity : [To Wilbur] Could you add "Wipe the seat after I get up" to that list as well please. [To Claude] I must agree with my astee...em, well, colleague anyway. In order for us to take on Dangsten, we'll all have to be fighting fit.

Austin : [Looking pretty pissed off] I hope Phili knows some good hiding places because when I catch that bastard I am giving him the kicking of his life. Dumping me in this stupid mission from 'God', with bunch if loonies who think style is something you can buy in a shop and put saving a bunch of ungrateful morons higher on their list of important things to do than staying alive. [To Claude] The last time I tried to kill Dangsten he stuck a sword through my shoulder and pinned me to a church altar. The irony all most killed me. Mission from god indeed. [Gets out his insurance policy and looks under medical cover]

Clint : Hey Laywer, I'm also not into this shit myself, ok? You were lucky with Dangsten, he only pinned you to the altar. He killed me and sent me there [points at Alice's tummy]. But how about getting some work done for a higher cause, rather than just admiring your salty lips on the mirror? That is, of course, if we get any help from this guy [points at Claude], which I'm starting to doubt.

Alice : [Helpfully to Austin] Don't forget, he also threatened to rape you, using the exact same words you did to him when we met him first. That must have been pretty humiliating, I bet you don't want to hear anyone talking about - oh!

Claude : [Style with no emotion] This isn't a negotiation. You are Hierophantic Knights, and you are supposed to kill Dangsten. I have a healing a single healing potion that I'll give you if you go, but if you don't, well, I can't force you to. I will give you the cure to Scalies though, but you know [pours himself out a glass of whiskey and skulls it] I doubt Sven would be too happy with you. If you lot want to bail, and just high tail it back to Queens View, then do so. I don't have the authority or interest to stop you.

Austin : [To Claude] I do not recall anyone talking about 'bailing'. We do like to winge alot though. I do not really expect you to understand the methods of such a highly trained team as ourselves, so I will assure you now that we are going to kill Dangsten. None of us have any intention of 'baling out', but we could do with a good slagging match before going into battle, is that not the case troops?

Clint : [Looking surprised at Austin, before turning to Claude] Yeah.

Alice : [Clearly taken aback at this, and thinking for a few moments before declaring] No!

Clint : [To Alice] No?

Alice : [Standing up, so her feet are on the bottom bar of her barstool, and leaning on the table] No!

Clint : No what? No we're not going to kill Dangsten, no none of us want to bail out but could do with a good slagging match, or no, let's just contradict the lawyer?

Alice : Oh, brilliant Clint. I was going to contradict Austin, thus generating a huge argument where there would be considerable banter, making a statement about the irony of my statements and actions, but no, Clint had to spoil it.

Claude : [To the others] Can you keep her under control?

Clint : I'm not sure. [To Alice] You okay Bimbo? You've been a bit weird ever since Austin's facial incident. [Pauses] Now that I think of it, how did you know that the tabernacle was dangerous?

[ALICE sits down, and gives a weary sigh. With perfect timing, CLAUDE slides a fresh glass of wine along the bar to her. She picks it up, looks at it, and wrinkles her nose up in disgust, before putting it back down.]

Alice : Well, Clint, you remember when we had our training with the Hierophantic Knights? Well, [leans in to the others, only to notice that Claude has leaned in far too closely] excuse me, I'm talking to the others.

Claude : Sigh.

Alice : Anyway, they said that some people are really good at emptying their minds, and I - hold on, what was I saying again? Oh yes, I'm really good at that. They said that, after some of the exercises they showed me, I might get the occasional glimpse of things to come. When I saw Austin and Jerome walking up towards the tabernacle, I got a huge flash of them being caught in an explosion, just for a second.

Mei : [Looks impressed] Alice! I had no idea you were a visionary! That, of course, explains it now. Your wisdom. Your clear-headedness. Your ability to forget what you were talking about as you are talking about it. [MEI has a sudden change of attitude, and stands up and bows deeply before the party]

Mei : Honourable party. I am grievously sorry for the insults and just plain nasty comments I have inflicted upon you since meeting you! I owe you all, um... [seems to think for a second, apparently doing some quick mental calculations] I owe you 73 sorrows! I vow not to rest until I have repayed them all. [MEI sits down, somewhat embarrassed]

[A few seconds pass, with everyone watching MEI.]

Claude : It may as well be 73 million sorrows, such is the probability we're all going to die tonight. Before, [deep sigh] before StarSearch(TM) even starts.

Jerome: [IN a forced attempt to sound cheerful] Oh come now you lot! Let's make our last moments at least enjoyable.

Chastity : [Puffing out her chest in a "holy than thou" preacher manner] Enjoyment is a devilish sin to distract us from our Holy Mission. Some of you claim not believe [Glancing at Austin and Clint] but Phili has blessed us with a holy mission. I will not lulled into sin when there is Phili's work to do. We should be concentrating on vanquishing the evil Dangsten for a start. [Turning to Clint] Clint, you are without that loud mouthed sword, are you not?

Austin : [To Chastity] Blessed? Blessed? Cursed is the word. Holy mission? Holy shit seems to be more appropriate [Finishes filling in some claim forms and puts them in an envelope. Looks at Clint. To Chastity] He doesn't need a loud mouthed sword, he has a vocally opulent nun instead. [Licks the envelope and seals it]

Chastity : [To Austin] Well with a blasphemous attitude like that it's hardly suprising you seem to be rushing to your demise faster than the rest of us. I shouldn't be so fussed about your legal contracts if I were you. You should me more concerned with your eternal contract with Phili. He gave you life. What he doth givest, he taketh away, em, when he feels like it. That little tabernacle explosion should considered a warning from him to you.

Austin : [To Chastity] Such utter tripe, the like of which I have never heard before. I ask you, where is the proof to consolidate your claims? You claim that Phili planted the bomb to warn me, I believe that he planted the bomb to kill me. Further to this I find it most contradictory that that which you claim to have given me life should have made me so much to his own disliking, leading only to the conclusion that Phili is a sadomasochist!

Clint : Will the two of you shut up? You're talking more rubbish than two scotish men langers on a late pub. [Pause] In answer to your question sist, no I don't have Beau, he probably got stolen before our stuff was put on the boat. [Picks up his own sword] I guess this one will have to do.

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle believes that it is highly unlikely that Phili would go to such lengths to kill a mortal when it would be quite simple for him to simply turn him into a worm and stamp on him, but Jerome further believes that is at least as unlikely that Phili would attempt to warn his favourite party by blowing one of them up. Of course, the notion that the one who considers himself the most beautiful of face has had it ripped off is the kind of old testament irony that befits an angry God. That said, Jerome is now concerned that he may lose his intelligence, that Clint lose his remaining testicle, Alice her beautiful looks and Chastity her, er, well, whatever it is she has.

Claude : So you're really going to go ahead with this? I suppose you might as well get killed this way as any other. [Takes out a small phial of green liquid.]

Austin : [To Jerome] You pre-suppose the existence of Phili without first examining the proof, or lack of proof in this case. That, good Doctor is not the finest in scientific methods, don't you agree. [Sees the small green phial] Excellent, give that to Chassers and we shall go forthwith and induce the timely demise of the foul mouthed Dangsten Blackheart.

Jerome : Even to one such as yourself, Austin, who clearly looks upon himself the closest thing to a God, it must be obvious that there is a higher power at work. We have all witnessed the appearance and disappearance of devils, we have seen and employed healing potions, and, at some stage in the last three months most of us have died at least once. Perhaps that may not be proof enough for you, Austin, and, considering you are part of his chosen party of six, well, on further reflection, maybe he did plant the bomb.

Alice : [Snorting with derision] Please! Come on, let's kill Dangsten! [Jumps off her stool and draws her sword, swiping it about] Let's get him for what he did back in Hysteria, for what he did in Queens View, for what - oh, where is he?

Clint : [Hitting his fist hard on the table] Now you're talking! Let's have some action! Last time I started to cut Dangsten into little pieces - I'll make sure I finish my job now! [Pulls out his sword, and looks from left to right] [Pause] Anyone know where that bastard is?

Chastity : [Takes the phial of green liquid from Claude] Thank you, Claude. Just so there is no confusion, is this a Scalies cure, or a healing potion? [Ducks to avoid Alices wild sword swipes] Dear, will you not swing that thing around in here, you'll have someones eye out. [Pauses, in thought] You know I overheard a bishop saying that once. He was in the room with an actress at the time, as I recall.

Alice : Are you sure it wasn't the actress that said it to the bishop? Oooh, er! [Puts her sword away.]

Claude : I have no idea where he is. Do you lot have any clue? When did you last meet him?

Clint : [To Claude] Actually, you still haven't told us how do you know we're HKs. And if that liquid is a healing potion or the cure for scallies. [Looks at the greenish colour of the liquid] Or water from your tap.

Chastity : [To Alice] No, it was definately the bishop who said that. I rushed into the room to help prevent any accident but too late, the bishop was bent over almost double, and the actress had fallen to her knees, wiping her tearful eye. Luckily her eye wasn't out. Everyone in the room, especially the bishop, felt relieved. Anyway, enough of this nostalgic prittle-prattle. Back to the green liquid mystery.

Claude : Its a healing potion, and you are going to need it.

Jerome : And how do you know that we are Hierophantic Knights?

Claude : Marasmus Bane was one, she told me the whole story of the Knights, and that you'd probably be recruited. A few days ago, one of the Knights turned up, looking for you - apparantly they're in quite a disarray at the moment.

Chastity : [To Claude] They're not the only ones. [Quickly] Oh...em, we've seen lots of disarrayed people recently.

Claude : And prepare to see many more. The end of the world won't be a pretty sight.

Clint : You're not always this pessimistic, right?

Claude : No, because one of the sanctuaries might appear in my bar. Of course, I've such shite luck, it'll probably appear in the Shiny Happy Bar across the street. I hate those people.

[Across the street the party can hear sounds of carousing and music, people singing and cheering, and dancing in the street outside a friendly and warm looking bar.]

Austin : [Looks across the street] My Claude, what a beautiful bar there is just across the street. Why is your establishment not that plesant? You know I expect that the Dangsten is very close since it was involved in the burning of the church. Probably.

Claude : That doesn't surprise me.

[Enter TOM BRAIDER, swinging the door open, and surveying the bar with a grim look.]

Tom : As the moths to a flame, are the adventurers driven to the demon drink. Don't worry friends, I have been known to seek solace in the arms of a liqour too. Barkeep! My usual.

Alice : Did he say licker?

[A shot glass full of milk slides down the bar, and TOM stops it with his finger, before shooting it back and wincing.]

Tom : [Slamming the glass down] Ahh!

Clint : I bet they even have proper drink in there. Maybe we should go and check? Or do you have anything here to warm us up before we meet the devil? [Tries to spot any proper bottles of drink behind the counter]

Tom : [Wiping his milky moustache away] Going to fight those Hierophantic Knights, eh? Aye, even the bravest man would need some extra courage for that.

Austin : [To Claude] See what we have to put up with! [Checks Maplins nails, which are glittering brightly in the dim light]

Claude : [Lowering his voice to the party] So anyway, if you go to the church, be careful opening the tabernacle. If you open it, well [looks Austin straight in the eye] it won't be a pretty sight.

Austin : [Still admiring Maplin, raises one eyebrow to Claude] You are so funny they should have you win StarSearch every day. [Pause] I think I shall go and burn my face again just for the delightful endophin rush that follows the incredible pain.

[CLAUDE says nothing, but makes a puzzled face.]

Alice : We opened the tabernacle.

Claude : [Nodding] I see. Well, you shouldn't have.

Alice : [Glances at Austin] Do you think?

Claude : Yes, because the dagger is gone. Of course, that's just another example of what a terrible world this is, that something like this happens for no reason.

Chastity : [To Claude] What can you tell us about the dagger? And why would there be a pentagram on the floor of the room it was kept in?

Clint : And what can we kill with it?

Austin : [To Claude] Please furnish us with the facts and hearsay surrounding this mysterious dagger.

Alice : [With a snort of derision, and rolling her eyes] Its a picture of a pentagram Clint, we can't kill anything with it.

Claude : I don't have much information on the dagger, save that I believe the Fundamentalist Knights have it, and that it was used for the murders that took place when you were last here.

Alice : So the Fundamentalist Knights did the murders?

Claude : That's not what I said.

Alice : So the Hierophantic Knights have it?

Claude : [Turns to the others] Does she listen to anything?

Chastity : [To Claude] Yes, but unfortunately she seems to like keeping her "Empty Mind" skill up to scratch.

Alice : Its better empty than full of your rantings, Chastity.

Chastity : [To Alice] I don't rant I educate, my dear. It's only appears to be a rant if you don't understand it.

Alice : Then I guess there's a lot of people not understanding a lot of what you rant - say.

Clint : Chill out Bimbo will ya? [To all] So, are we going to this show, or are we just going to stay here ranting?

Alice : [Ranting] I'm not ranting!

Jerome : How long before StarSearch starts, Inspector?

Tom : Oh, another few hours at least.

Clint : Oh great, I guess we'll just stay here ranting then.

Jerome : [To Claude] What purpose did the dagger have?

Claude : I am not sure, but reports suggest that it is similar to the Dagger of Soul Stealing that Dangsten killed Iok with. If this is so, Dangsten will probably try and get it to resurrect Pestilence with. And then we're all going to know what suffering really means.

Mei : If I've understood this right, then this Dangsten character is behind most of what the honourable party has suffered so far. I really think that our suffering when Dangsten resurrects Pestilence will be nothing compared to the suffering of Dangsten when I am dealing to him.

Clint : I am curious to what you'll do to him, since you've no weapon or anything. Are you going to put incense sticks up his nose? Or maybe another orifice?

Mei : [Scoffing Clint] Putting incense sticks up his nose would only do him a favour, though - he wouldn't be able to smell you any more. I have ways of beating a man that would leave even an individual as repugnant as yourself lost for insults, Clint.

Claude : [Pained sigh] Oh, Phili, why do you test me so by sending a party like this to save the world?

Jerome : [Clearly annoyed] Because beer-serving oafs like yourself fail to rise from their posteriors to help themselves. We have seen it the world over. We are a highly trained team of professionals, but still, no that's not good enough for you. You won't even serve us drinks properly, and charge a fortune for them, when it's your pickled hide we're saving along with everyone elses! [Stands] Dr Jerome Trindle BsC pHD, for one is not standing for this.

Claude : Really? [Makes a big production of yawning]

Tom : [Applauding] Well said sir, the fire of the adventurer burns brighly in your belly.

Alice : [Taken aback at Jerome's outburst] Actually, I think that might be indigestion.

Jerome : [Raises a glass to Tom in thanks. He doesn't know whose glass it is, it's certainly not his, he doesn't have one.]Thank you kind sir! [Looks at Alice, his eyes softening] Alice, thank you I am fine. The only indigestion I suffer is when Apathy, that stealthy bastard, sneaks in and envelopes all.

Clint : [Looking surprisingly at Jerome, then back to Claude] I think that water you served him was poisonous.

Jerome : [Spluttering] That was Mei who got the water you bloody idiot. I know we could pass for identical twins, but we're not! And that was sarcasm in case you didn't realise it. [Jerome's berserker attack ends he sits back down with his hands in his lap. In a small voice] Dr Jerome S Trindle, BSC, PhD is tired.

Alice : Apathy? Is he one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse?

Claude : No, he's one of the Four Pedestrians of Procrastination.

Alice : Aw no! When will we have to deal with them?

Claude : [Waves a hand dismissively] Ah, tomorrow will do.

Clint : [Waiting until Jerome finishes his speech, then gets up and starts applauding] Wahey! Jerry!, Jerry, Jerry!

Chastity : [Says nothing, just shakes her head at the raucous behaviour]

Alice : So what do we do now? Sit around arguing for a few hours? Wait for Dangsten to come back to the town to resurrect Pestilence?

Claude : For all the good that any one can do, you might as well just stay here and get drunk. [Looks at his cash register with a barely perceptable glint in his eye] Of course, you could also try and get to the Fundamentalist Knights before he does.

Chastity : [To Tom] As Chief Inspector, I'm sure you have an idea where we can find the Fundamentalist Knights. Can you tell us?

Tom : Ah, those brave heroes. You want to go and help them, no doubt. Unforunately, no one knows where they are - they come in, protect us from evil and wrong doers and -

Jerome : Isn't that your job?

Tom : Er, yes, well, they help us protect you from evil and wrong doers and then disappear into the night, and [does mysterious explosion gesture with his hands] poof!

Alice : They're gay?

Tom : [Getting increasingly frustrated] No! They are all rampant heterosexuals, who kill often, drink copious amounts of milk and eat a lot of meat. No one knows where their hideout is, though.

Chastity : [Sighing] I see we'll have to resort to the more traditional source of accurate and topical information, the barman. [To Claude] My good man, have you heard [Makes annoying quote finger signs] "on the street" where the Fundamentalist Knights hide-out is?

Clint : I wish Sven was here to solve all this mess, and to tell us who the bad guys are.

Claude : I doubt even Sven knows that.

Alice : I'll see what the word on the street is. [Opens the door, revealing that the word "STOP" is painted just outside.] Hm, what do you think that means?

Claude : [To Chastity] I'm afraid I don't know. However, when you last clashed with Dangsten, he may have given you a clue - he's so arrogant that it would appeal to him to tell you where he's going, just so you'll be there to witness his victory.

Clint : How am I supposed to remember anything? I was dead at the time.

Alice : Like that would make any difference.

Austin : I remember Dangsten sang a song as they left, I'm not sure but it was something along the lines of "Twenty two miles of hard road, thirty three years of tough luck, forty four skulls buried in the ground, crawling down through the muck."

[CLAUDE meantime is busying himself by pouring out another shot of extra warm milk for TOM.]

Clint : Lawyer, you sing terribly bad.

Austin : Oaf, you smell terribly bad.

Clint : [Looking around] Anyone here with that name? [Back to Austin] I don't think so! [Sticks his tounge out at Austin]

Alice : Eauh! Clint! Put that thing away, you'd never know where its been!

Chastity : And it confirms that despite his foul language he's never washed out his mouth!

Alice : To be honest, Sister, I didn't think his language was foul enough to make it that dirty looking!

Claude : [Coming back to the party's side of the bar] So, any clue where Dangsten might be headed?

Chastity : Well, having been reminded of the song he was singing when we last saw him, he could do worse than be in a church somewhere learning some better songs. Good rousing wholesome hymns like "Fear for your children, sinner" or "O Gracious Day, the non-believers are dead".

Mei : It seems to me that the party need you to give some more clues as to what the next line of action should be. Then we should all meditate upon the alternatives presented, and choose the one that our souls urge us to follow. [Bows is head in meditation]

Chastity : Any clues are pretty vague. I feel like I'm on that old show "123 with Busty Din and his dubously named friend Red Togers". To be fair, at the time we were concentrating on not being slaughtered too much to take in subtle clues from Dangsten towards his future where abouts.

Claude : Don't you think if I had some clues, I'd give them to you?

Austin : Do the words "Twenty two miles of hard road" mean anything to you?

Claude : No.

Tom : Hard road? That's what the workers called the new north road when they built it - it is made of a new type of material that's very, very, what's the word?

Alice : [Touching him on the shoulder] Hard?

Tom : [Smiles] Not yet.

Mei : Your mind is sharp as always, sweet Alice. There must surely be a link between the song and that new north road. I humbly suspect that it is a hard link.

Clint : [To Tom] And where does that road lead to?

Chastity : Dangsten's song mentioned 44 buried skulls, and when he first appeared he commented that he'd been torturing 44 souls in conjuction with his resurection box. Chief Inspector, is there a place along this road this could have happened? All these murders? Perhaps a building or site 33 years old, even.

Tom : Thirty three years old? You know, there is a house on that road, that's about twenty two miles out of town, and I would guess is thirty three years old.

Austin : [Delicately patting his face with a handkerchief] And who owns this house?

Tom : Mr. Brown.

[The entire pub is lit up by a timely flash of lightening.]

Chastity : [Looking out the door] I wish that busy happy bar accross the road wouldn't set off fireworks suddenly like that. They nearly gave me the shi...em...shivers. Yes, thats' right, shivers.

Alice : So Dangsten is going to Brown's house? Why would he -

[The room is lit up by an untimely flash of lightening.]

Tom : I'll sort this out. [Goes to the door and starts shouting] Hey, you! Stop enjoying yourselves!

Alice : Anyway, why would he be going there?

Jerome : Yes, good question Alice. Dr Jerome Trindle BsC PHD was going to ask that question himself. Why would he be going ther?

Mei : [Inclines his head sagely] That wisdom is probably only garnered by actually going there and finding out. Unless you people know something I don't?

Jerome : There's probably much we know that you don't. Or Confusio.

Mei : [Nods in agreement] Confusio say, wisdom begins in knowing that you know nothing. This explains why you know something, no? you

Claude : He'll probably go there to get the dagger off the Fundamentalist Knights. I suspect that they'll try and resurrect Pestilence tonight at the church, but they can only do it with that dagger.

Chastity : You mean Mr. Brown is a Fundamentalist knight?

Clint : That would explain why he's such a bastard. I believe it is time we go and pay a visit to our old friend.

Chastity : [To Clint] Which one? Dangsten or Brown? Not that both don't deserve that same fate. [To Austin] After our last encounter with Dangsten, you'd better get some armoured pants, just in case.

Austin : [Narrows his eyes at Chastity] I believe both will be there. Brown, who is holding the dagger, and Dangsten who wishes to take the dagger.

Alice : How long will it take us to get there? It is twenty two miles after all, and I'm not sure how far I can walk in these. [Points to a pair of unfeasibly high heels]

Claude : I can give you an orb of transportation, that will permit you to appear inside the house. That way, with the element of surprise, you should be able to overwhelm them. [Turns to Clint] I don't know this Brown person, all I know is that it is likely that the Fundamentalist Knights have made their headquarters twenty two miles from here. If he is one, he'll probably kill you. Then come back here and kill me. Then take all the bar takings.

Clint : [To Claude] Will ya chill out? Haven't you heard? The barman never gets killed! [CLAUDE breathes a sigh of relief.]

Alice : The barman? He gets it worst of all!

[CLAUDE says nothing, but puts an orb on the bar, glaring at ALICE.]

Clint : Is that the orb to put us back into that cursed house? I believe it's revenge time.

Alice : What? What did we ever to do him?

Austin : [Snatching the orb] It is time for us to get revenge on him for giving us those drugs, for torturing us, for sending us off with the mad Captain Patch, for trying to get us to kill the beautiful Eva and, worst of all, for setting the trap in the tabernacle. [To Claude] How does this work?

Claude : I've it set for the house. It should deposit you right in there. They never fail.

Austin : Let's go and kill that scum Brown.

[AUSTIN drops the orb on the ground, and it forms a shimmering pool in the same manner as the one that DARIUS had previously.]

Austin : [Drawing his sword] Me first. [Steps into it, and disappears]

Tom : [Standing up] What is this?

Chastity : [To Tom] It is time for us to stand up and be counted. [Holds up her mace] Onward, for Phili. [Steps into the shimmering pool] [Enter ALL, into the pool.]

Tom : [Holding up his glass of milk in salutation to the party] Their bravery brings a tear to my eye, and a sadness to my heart because the shimmering pool disappeared before I could get to it.

Claude : Its still there.

Tom : I said, it disappeared before I could get to it.

[Book II, Act VII, Scene IX. The countryside, near BROWN's house. JEROME, CLINT, ALICE, CHASTITY, AUSTIN and MEI are here, about a hundred yards from the walled and gated house. All the vegetation around is withered and dying, although there appears to be a small area of lush vegetation off to one side.]

Alice : Wow, those things are great, aren't they? What a piece of technology. [Looks down at herself] Hey! My shirt is on back to front, how did that happen? [Mutters to herself] Damned useless piece of technology, wouldn't trust it as far as I could throw it.

Jerome : [To the others] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD, believes it wise not to tell Alice that her shirt has been back to front since she put it on.

Chastity : [To Jerome] And of course you wouldn't mind that as her shirt is backless, so you could still see her small spangly circus entertainers top. [To Alice] My dear, you'd best sort your garments. We need to show a united front. [Looks around] Can someone tell me the suprise advantage of being one hundred yards outside the house?

Jerome : True, Sister, but remember, she removed the top earlier, so that might explain why no one said anything about it.

Austin : Maybe the advantage was not to be ours? Maybe that bastard Claude is in league with the Fundamentalist Knights - I shall add his name to those that I will kill for what happened to my beautiful face.

Alice : [Finally dressed properly] Well, Claude has never lied to us before, maybe he didn't know what would happen?

Clint : Well, he never knew much, did he? Let's explore the field soldiers - hey!, I'm starting to sound like Harvey! [Goes off to explore the vegetation on the side]

Chastity : [Follows Clint over to the fresh vegetation, hunched over to try and stay out of sight of the house] I wonder why these plants are healthy. [Quietly mumbles] Grant me the gift of understanding, O'Phili. [To plants] Why are you still healthy when all around are withering or dead?

Alice : So, a girl who forgets to put her shirt on the right way around is a crazy, but a mad old nun talking to trees is fine?

[Everyone walks towards the vegetation, and are now standing at the side. It is at least 30' square, and is relatively dense, so there could be someone hiding in it. There are normal looking bushes and trees here, as well as some grass. It isn't so dense that it isn't possible to walk through it to the other side, though.]

Jerome : [Tucking his trousers into his socks] Dr Jerome S Trindle, BSC PhD suggests we all tuck the bottom of our trousers into our socks so that we don't get bitten by snakes!

Alice : Excellent idea, Jerry. [Bends down to tuck in her trousers] Hey! I'm wearing a skirt!

Austin : [Sneering at Jerome, making his burnt face even more digusting looking than previously] If the snakes aren't capable of biting through your admittedly ridiculously and unfashionably thick corduroy, I suggest they will be of no threat.

[It is still dark here, especially where the party are standing at the edge of the clearing, but seems to be brighter just inside.]

Austin : [Sneering at Jerome, making his burnt face even more digusting looking than previously] If the snakes aren't capable of biting through your admittedly ridiculously and unfashionably thick corduroy, I suggest they will be of no threat.

[It is still dark here, especially where the party are standing at the edge of the clearing, but seems to be brighter just inside.]

Jerome : [Gallantly to ALICE] That's ok Alice, Dr Jerome S Trindle will carry you if you wish. [Disparagingly to Austin] Dr Jerome S Trindle dresses for both practicality and warmth, and besides corduroy, especially thick brown corduroy is touted to be this season's new black. And furthermore Dr Jerome S Trindle would far prefer to look neat and distiguish instead of touting himself all around town like some certain man-tarts that he could mention.

Chastity : [Briefly with a faraway look on her face] Hmmmmm, man-darin tarts.

Austin : [Wrinkling up his nose in disgust at Jerome] Neat and distinguished is merely another way of saying you hide your unusually displeasing features and manner behind a facade of pseudo-intellectualism, fraudulant absent-mindism and, sadly, genuine lack of taste. [Examines his perfectly clean nails]

Alice : Carry me? [Thinks for a moment] Well, if you really think there'll be snakes here. [Leaps far too quickly into Jerome's arms, catching him unawares]

[JEROME manages to stay upright and keep hold of ALICE. He is clearly struggling under his weight, as is betrayed by his occasional grunt and the copious amount of sweat streaming down his face.]

Clint : Ah, Jerry, a true ladies' gentleman. [Keeps examining the vegetation]

Chastity : [To Austin] Where as you just blatently hide behind a facade of pseudo-intellectualism, fraudulant legal jargonism and a genuine lack of taste. [Smiles] Oh, and a mask. [Turns to Jerome and Alice] Will you two stop your larking around. We are trying to sneek up on the enemy, and you're playing silly blighters. You're worse than my children, except maybe Jo. [To Clint] After all this capering , I doubt if anyone hostile is waiting for us. [Goes to the edge of the foliage, and gently parts some of it with her mace]

Austin : [Who, incidentally is not wearing the mask any longer] Better that than a hypocrite who pretends to shroud her bitchy comments in religious rhetoric and who is incapable of showing even the slightest shred of concern for her fellow party members.

Jerome : [Staggering back slightly, and panting] No.. problem.. sister.. I'm fine.

Alice : [Looking at Jerome's sweat covered face] Is it hot up here? Or is it just me?

Jerome : A bit of both, I believe.

[CHASTITY's poking and prodding reveals nothing unusual about the vegetation.]

Austin : [Who, incidentally is not wearing the mask any longer] Better that than a hypocrite who pretends to shroud her bitchy comments in religious rhetoric and who is incapable of showing even the slightest shred of concern for her fellow party members.

Jerome : [Staggering back slightly, and panting] No.. problem.. sister.. I'm fine.

Alice : [Looking at Jerome's sweat covered face] Is it hot up here? Or is it just me?

Jerome : A bit of both, I believe.

[CHASTITY's poking and prodding reveals nothing unusual about the vegetation.]

Chastity : [Briefly looking over her shoulder to Austin] Fine, next time you're at death's door I won't use Phili's powers to heal you up. I wouldn't want to disappoint you now, would I. [Turns back to the undergrowth, before taking a careful step into it] Anyone else coming?

Austin : [Sneering at Chastity] Spoken like a true nun. [Steps into the clearing]

Jerome : [Pant] We're coming.

[JEROME steps into the clearing, and promptly falls over on top of ALICE.]

Alice : Help! Help! There's a snake sticking into me!

Jerome : My apologies, dearest Alice. That isn't a snake, that's my, er, pen.

Alice : That's a strange place to keep a pen.

Clint : [Stepping in front on Chastity] No offense sist, but you're a bit too old for this. I am the fighter on this group, after all.

[Everyone is now in the clearing. It is quite bright in here, and nice and warm compared to the weather just feet away. Up ahead, the party can hear someone singing "Lazing on a sunny afternoon".]

Alice : Am I the only person who can hear someone singing a "Bat out of Hell"?

Jerome : [Getting off Alice, very slowly] Don't you mean "Lazing on a sunny afternoon?"

Alice : Hm, I guess I am, then.

Clint : Can you see who's the singer?

Austin : No, but judging from the sound, he's just up ahead, behind that tree. [Points at a large, bushy apple tree, which is filled with delicious looking apples]

Clint : What do you think?, should we go and ask him how to get inside the house to kill Mr. Brown?

Mei : Information seeking is the way to go next. Since you're known as criminals around here, I believe I can extract information from the anonymous singer. [Walks over to the singer]

[As MEI walks towards the bush, he suddenly grabs his head in pain, and drops to his knees, gasping.]

Alice : Mei! What's wrong?

Mei : My head... pain... please light some incense... must relax... What's happening to me?...

Clint : Yo china boy, are you ok?

Alice : [Searching through Mei's bag] I'll get some. [Pulls her hands out, locked together with a set of Chinese handcuffs] Hey!

[Enter DARIUS, stepping from behind the tree. He smiles broadly at the party.]

Darius : You know, I just knew you'd get here!

Chastity : [Readying her mace] You! Unholy Judith! I knew you'd turn up again. Who's side are you on this time? Or is your only concern yourself?

Darius : [Smiles genially at Chastity, with his hands up, as though at gun point] Chastity! You wound me with your harsh words, but even so, I had better warn you. We're in a Santuary. No one can raise a weapon against another here, nor for a short period of time after leaving here. [Looks past Chastity] Hey, Austin, you've got a little [touches his own cheek] burn mark on your face.

[AUSTIN says nothing, but takes out his dagger, and feels the tip of it.]

Darius : Or should that be, a little face on your burn mark?

Clint : You fucker! [Draws his sword and charges against Darius] Let's get him!

[DARIUS says nothing, but looks at CLINT with a completely neutral expression as he charges.]

Chastity : [Hurriedly To Clint] Clint stop! If this place is indeed a Sanctuary, the consequences to yourself could be dire.

Clint : [Stops very close to Darius, sword to his neck] You better give us an explanation, Mister.

Chastity : [To Jerome] Doctor, could you please test out this area by pinching Alice? [To Darius, in a scolding voice] I think you have some explaining to do, Mister.

Alice : Hey!

Jerome : Yes, Sister. You are thinking along true scientific lines. [Reaches over and pinches her on the ass]

Alice : Ow! [Slaps Jerome across the face.]

[Just as it looks like she has slapped him, ALICE suddenly recoils in shock and pain, with a large red mark on her face. She puts her hand to her face, and looks around at the others, shocked.]

Darius : [To Chastity] Explaining? About what? Saving your lives? Resurrecting him? [Points at Clint]

Darius : [Dead calm] This is a sanctuary, blessed by [joins his hands and bows his head] Phili himself. They popped up in the last few days, all around the realms - my guess is either the Hierophantic or the Fundamentalist Knights are responsible. They often appear close to a place where there is likely to be bloodshed.

Alice : Why is this one here?

Darius : Twenty two miles of hard road, thirty three years of tough luck, and forty four skulls, buried in the ground. [Juts his thumb back behind him, pointing at the house] Of course, there's also probably the fact that you lot want to torture poor old Mister Brown. [Reaches over and takes the handcuffs off Alice, before pointing at Mei with them] Where did you get this?

Clint : [Still holding his sword to Darius' neck] No, I was thinking more on the lines of why are you and Dangsten close friends. Or why you appeared with blood all over you on the church, before disappearing with Dangsten.

Darius : Well, I had blood all over me because I killed the Kennys. [Enthusiastically] They was annoying, weren't they?

Clint : [Guarding his sword] Yeah, they was annoying alright. But that still doesn't explain why you left with Dangsten. And with Pestilence's soul on the box. You're a liar, we trusted you and you betrayed us. Next time I see you outside a sanctuary, you're dead meat! On Tue, 27 Nov 2001, Miguel Nicolau wrote:

Darius : If that's the way you want it, Clint. [Walks through the party, heading towards the perimeter of the clearing, but stops and turns to them] You haven't a chance against Dangsten. He'll kill you all. Having [points at Mei] that with you instead of Harvey is only going to make it worse on yourselves.

Mei : I can see clearly now the headache is gone. [Points at Darius] You're a two faced evil. You're not to be trusted.

Darius : Two faced? Yes. Evil? Possibly. Not to be trusted? Wrong - you're the one who isn't to be trusted. [To the others] Once Dangsten can find a way into the house, he'll return to Hallbridges to finish off resurrecting Pestilence. He wants to do it in the church, because that's where the dagger was supposed to be hidden. He's a big fan of irony.

Alice : Wow, who'd have thought such an evil guy would be on for doing the household chores?

Chastity : [To Mei] Thank you for that insight, Mei. Most astute. [To Darius] No, wait. Why have you met us here. What is in all this for you?

Darius : [Smiles at Chastity] What can I say? I'm into self preservation, but I'm also one of the good guys, I don't want anything to happen to my favourite party. The only way Dangsten can be stopped is if the dagger is returned to the tabernacle. You may be familiar with it, Austin.

Austin : Fuck you, Darius.

Darius : [Laughs] It is only a matter of time before he figures out how to get into the house to get it. At the moment only those that have gone through the Fundamentalist Knight initiation can get in. Take my advice, get as far away from here as possible. [Takes out a green orb, identical to the one Claude had] There, that will get you back to Hallbridges. Take it, get the Scalies cure, and then get the hell out of there.

Chastity : [To Alice] He won't do that. That is skilled woman's work, child. In the Convent we had one sister that was so efficient that she pressed all the Convent's linen. She was renamed the Iron Maiden. She was excellent! [Makes strange guitar solo mime on her mace]

Jerome : [Considering] How many Kinks songs must one know to be initiated as a Fundamentalist Knight?

Darius : I hope you don't think I'm a Fundamentalist Knight. I don't think you need to know any songs - you just need a few kinks.

Darius : I hope you don't think I'm a Fundamentalist Knight. I don't think you need to know any songs - you just need a few kinks.

Jerome : [Defensively] I have kinks! On Wed, 28 Nov 2001, Conor Ryan wrote:

Darius : [To Alice] This true?

Alice : [Shrugging, and mumbling] Idunno.

Darius : [To Jerome] Then off you go. Only Fundamentalist Knights can get in, and then only on foot. That's why your orb wouldn't work - its impossible to get into the house by magical means

Darius : [To Alice] This true?

Alice : [Shrugging, and mumbling] Idunno.

Darius : [To Jerome] Then off you go. Only Fundamentalist Knights can get in, and then only on foot. That's why your orb wouldn't work - its impossible to get into the house by magical means

Chastity : [Takes the orb from Darius] Do you know if the barrier round the house works both ways, incoming and outgoing?

Chastity : [To Mei] What about you? If you're not a Fundamentalist Knight, you won't get into the house.

Mei : [To Chastity] Correct. Are you a one?

Chastity : [To Mei] No, I'm a Nun. [Shakes her head] But enough of this numerical banter. We obviously will have problems getting hold of the dagger, as long as it's in the house, [Turns to Dangsten] unless you have any handy "Fundamentalist Knight Initiation" packs with you? daze!!

Darius : No. As I said, there is no point in you even trying to get in. The only way a non-Knight can get in is if they are accompanied by four or more Knights. Anyway, its been great, but I have to go - people to enslave, innocents to kill, you know how it is, a Horseman of the Apocalypse's work is never done. [Walks out of the clearing.]

Alice : What do we do now? Try and bluff our way in?

Clint : Wait a minute, aren't we Knights anyway? What was all that initiation we had some time ago?

Jerome : That was for the Hierophantic Knights, Mister Scar. This makes Jerome grateful that we depend on your brawns, not brain.

Alice : [Looking around where Darius had been sitting] Hey look, he left a sword behind him!

Clint : Could it be? [Goes to pick up the sword]

Chastity : [To Clint] Is it your loud mouthed blunder sword? [The hilt of the sword is wrapped in bandages, making it difficult to identify. DARIUS has turned back, but stops just inside the sanctuary.]

Darius : [Gives a sheepish grin] Hm, I forgot something, but, well, finders keepers, I guess.

Clint : You're damn right! [Unwraps the hilt]

Darius : Oh well, that's the way with Sanctuaries, I guess. Sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse. [Turns and walks off.]

[CLINT unwraps the bandages, revealing none other than BEAUCAPHALUS.]

Alice : Beaucaphalus! It's so great to see you!

Beaucaphalus : Hey Bimbo. Hey Stinky, boy, its sure good to be back with you. Let's go kick some Fundamentalist ass.

Clint : Apparently it's a bit more complicated than that Beau. We need to find a way into the house first. Have you heard anything while Darius was carrying you that might help us?

Beaucaphalus : Nothing, I don't think. All I heard was him laughing at the Fundamentalist Knights because their initiation is so lame compared to the Hierophantic Knights. What does it matter? Let's just kick the door down and kill everyone.

Clint : That's all I wanted to hear! [Turns to the house] Anyone coming?

Chastity : [Looking at Clint and Beaucaphalus] You know it's so rare to find two souls so in tune with each other. If you ignore the fact the the sword likes to be clean every now and again, that is. [Holds her mace aloft] Ok, lets go. Phili, preserve us.

Mei : It seems illogical to get inside a house full of enemys without a plan. [To Clint] What is your plan?

Clint : Just like the sword said: kick the door down, and kill everyone inside. That sounds like a reasonable plan to me.

Alice : [Nodding slowly] I've got to hand it to you, Clint. It's a better and more complex plan than you've come up with before.

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle BSc, PhD urges caution in this matter. If the house is so well protected that even Dangsten can't get in, how likely are we to be able to accomplish this feat?

Austin : Beaucaphalus, you said that Darius looked down on the Fundamentalist Knights' initiation. Did he comment on what this consisted of?

Beaucaphalus : Just that they are given some highly addictive drug, and that they have to figure out that if they just go cold turkey on it, they can get off it.

Alice : Highly addictive drug, eh? Sounds kind of familiar.

Clint : Of course! Brown gave us that drug, but we stopped taking it, and now we're not addicted anymore, are we? So does that mean we're Fundamentalist Knights now?

Alice : Actually, Clint, I was thinking of this. [Looks around surreptiously before cupping her hands to her nose and give a big snort.]

[Everyone looks at her in astonishment.]

Alice : Alright, alright, I was only joking!

Jerome : It appears, Mr. Scar, that your plan may have been better than it originally appeared. It is quite possible that, unbeknownest to us, we have been Fundamentalist Knights, as well as Hierophantic Knights.

Alice : Fundaphantic Knights, or [thinks] Hieromentalist, [thinks again, really hard] homosexual knights. [Smiles happily, before realising what she's just said] Hey!

Austin : [With a scowl] Or Darius could be lying, in the hope that we rush the building and get killed.

Clint : Austin, Austin, always the pessimist; Darius didn't even know we would get Beaucaphalus back and that he'd tell us this! I say we kick the door open and get the dagger. As for you [points at Mei], since we're all supposed to be Fundaphantic Knights, you should be able to get in with us. Or has anyone a better plan?

Jerome : [Thinking hard] What about a cunning plan of stealth? We take that there dog excrement [Points] Put it in a paper bag, set it alight and pound on the door. When the Heiroglyphic or Fundamental Knights open it, they jump on the bag to put it out, we race past them. They'll be so busy trying to get the doo of their shoes they won't even notice us! that pound jump

Mei : Or, we could just ask them nicely to let us in.

Mei : Or, we could just ask them nicely to let us in.

Jerome : Or, we could follow Dr Jerome's plan.

Alice : [Picking something up off the ground and smelling it] You know, that doesn't smell like dog poo to me.

Austin : [With a snort of derision] That's because its a rock! [Looks at Jerome] That is a pathetic plan, not worthy of someone who claims to educated. If they know that Dangsten and co. are outside, they are hardly going to be concerned about a piece of burning excrement that hardly smells worse than Clint!

Mei : I know! We could put Clint in a paper bag and stick it on their doorstep!

Jerome : [Recedes into sulky silence]

Mei : [Smiles, almost triumphantly, and bows]

Clint : [To Mei] That's the most stupid plan I've ever heard, even worse than Jerry's one. I'll never fit into a paper bag! I don't even know what are you doing here with us. Give me one good reason why should we let you come with us.

Beaucaphalus : Well, how about the fact that Darius had a problem with him?

Jerome : [Is still quiet and blushing, but he is fumbling in his coat]

Chastity : [Slapping Jerome on the shoulder] Stop that filthy behaviour at once! You too, Mr. Scar, behave yourself. Mei is merely trying to help, and while his customs and manner may be strange and somewhat offensive to us, we must treat him with respect. Now, there'll be no more talk of putting dog doo into paper bags, let's have a proper plan.

[There is a sudden commotion from the house, and the front door swings open. BROWN practically falls out, as though breaking from someone's grip.]

Clint : Hey!, here's our chance to get in! What do you all think? [To Jerome] Yo Jerry brains, this is your call!

Jerome : Well, there is a considerable distance from here to the door, and it would be a trivial task to shut the door before we get there, and, given that we don't know who or what lies between us and the house, I am not sure.

[BROWN gets up and makes a run for it, but someone from within the house shoots him in the leg with a crossbow bolt, he falls and rolls onto the ground, and starts crawling away. He is now about twenty yards from the house. A hooded figure walks out of the house and stands over him.]

Alice : You know, given that Dangsten and his band are probably hanging around somewhere, that hooded figure seems pretty cavalier about standing out in the open, doesn't it?

Clint : Alright, let's just wait and see what will happen here. Can you figure out who the hooded figure is?

Chastity : Given that Mr. Brown seems to be coming to an untimely dimiss, and not by our hands, I'd guess that its that demon with no musical taste, Dangsten. Darius was probably just delaying and distracting us whilst Dangsten went for the dagger. I knew he could not be trusted. Oooh, it makes my blood boil.

[BROWN turns to face the hooded FIGURE, who produces a sword.]

Brown : [Screaming] No! Please!

[The FIGURE slices through BROWN's throat, causing blood to spurt out. It then bends down and rolls BROWN further away from the house. As he rolls, he seems to pass through an invisible wall with a shimmer.]

Alice : Cool! Its just like one of those force fields on Shoe Trek, you know, that show about the United Federation of Shoe Salesmen travelling through the universe searching for the fabled giant intelligent centipede race.

Brown : [Incredibly, not dead yet, spots the party, and starts crawling towards them] Help me, please!

Clint : Well well, Mr. Brown is in trouble... I think we should just let him rot there, what do you think? It's a nice show!

Mei : Although it would give me great pleasure to see an enemy of this party die, it seems to me that valuable information can be extracted from him [points at Mr. Brown]. Therefore it would be a much better plan to get Mr. Brown into the Sanctuary and listen to his final words; we'll be protected from that thing [points at the hooded figure] anyway.

Chastity : Well said, Mei. We are not savages. [Looks at Clint] Well, most of us aren't, anyway. Quick, you and Clint should run out of the safety of the sanctuary and save him.

[The FIGURE turns back towards the house and walks off. Meanwhile, BROWN keeps crawling towards the party.]

Brown : Please...

Clint : [Muttering under his breath] Damn that fat sister... [To Mei] Ok china boy, you asked for this anyway! [Goes to save Brown]

[MEI and CLINT run out of the safety of the sanctuary, grab BROWN and pull him back in.]

Alice : You know, I was full sure that Darius was going to shoot them.

Austin : Maybe he couldn't, if his claim about the sanctuary is true.

Brown : [Clearly near to death, spraying blood out of his throat all over Mei and Clint in a most disturbing fashion] It was - it was -

Alice : Hang on! Is this where he gives us a huge clue about solving a big mystery before he dies?

Jerome : I believe so.

Alice : Hang on a second, I don't want to miss this. [As Brown chokes some more, she turns to him testily] Just a second! [Rummages through her bag and takes out a notebook and crayon] Okay, off you go.

[BROWN is dead.]

Alice : Aw!

[BROWN shudders, apparantly not dead after all.]

Brown : [His face wracked with fear and pain] Vitun Kusipaa! Vitun Kusipaa!

Clint : Hey, isn't that the guy that Father Fonze say that killed him, just before he died? [Thinks about what he just said] Nah, that doesn't make sense, he wasn't dead when he said it.

Chastity : Actually, Mr. Scar, he was dead when he said it. [Turns to Brown] Did Vitun Kusipaa do this to you?

Brown : No! No! [Dies]

Jerome : [To Alice] Did you make some details in your notebook?

Alice : No, but I did draw a picture of a cat. [Shows the notebook to the others. The picture looks more like house.] Isn't it great? [Smiles hopefully at the others.]

Jerome : Hmmmm... Let's recap. Brown comes out mortally wounded, shouting this fellow's name Vitun Kusipaa. When Sr Chastity asks him if this Vitun Kusipaa is the one who wounded him, he denies it and dies. Hmmm... and meanwhile there's someone inside shooting him with a bloody great crossbow... We need to get inside, subdue the shooter and find out what's transpiring behind these walls... [Thinks further] Our assets: Clint's daring (bo), Chastity's mace, Mei's Confusio, my brains and Alices picture of a cat, up against unknown numbers inside firing crossbows? .... [Looks down at Brown's corpse] We do have a human shield....

Mei : Getting inside should only be a matter of applied wisdom. Let me meditate upon this. [Starts burning some incense, yet again, and makes slow, deliberate movements that seem like he is trying to dance but finding it impossible at such a slow pace]

Jerome : [Slaps his thigh!] That's it! Well done Mei! [Explains to others] Mei is going to do a dance to distract the knights while the rest of us sneak in. [Looks to Mei] Dr Jerome would suggest something a bit snappier for the distraction. Perhaps mincing up and down in a french maid's apparel. apparel.

Mei : [With eyes still closed in meditation] No, I am meditating. But at least this time you came up with something better than putting Clint in a paper bag and putting him on their doorstep. [Pulls a few impressive-looking stances, although whether they're supposed to be a tiger or a convulsing monkey noone is sure]

Clint : Oh, so I suppose you're all shit scared of getting inside the house? [To Mei] You, chinese boy, do you know any martian arts? Or arts from any other place, for all that matters.

Mei : [Breaks his meditation] Patience is easily mistaken for cowardice. To answer your second question, I thought the chances of anything coming from Mars were a million to one! I am, however, a competent student of the ways of Karate, Kung Fu, Ju Jitsu, Tai Chi, and Feng Shui. [Notes to himself] The door of that tower faces the wrong direction. Bad karma.

Clint : [Making an awfully bad Karate impression] Yaha! Great, another warrior in the party. I can't wait to see you in action. In the meantime, what are we going to do with this guy? [Points at Brown's body]

Mei : We should pay respect to his Chi and return his body to nature by ceremonial burning. [Makes to start the ceremony]

Clint : Oh great, me and my big mouth again. Ok, he was a bastard, but lets dig him a hole anyway... [looks at the party] ALL of us. [Starts digging]

Mei : That was burning, not burying. But, I guess desperate times call for desperate measures. [Stands a candle on the ground and lights it, sitting down in front of it, cross-legged]

Alice : Hold on a second here, let's not forget that Brown is the guy who tortured us, drugged us and was indirectly the cause of the deaths of Harvey, Lenin, Clint and Harvey a second time! Let's also not forget that we're here to get the dagger, and, most importantly of all, let us not forget that .. [thinks for a moment] uhm.

Chastity : [Finishing off the last rites on Brown, while giving a suspicious look to Mei] I have given him the last rites, that will be sufficient for now. It seems to me that we have to decide whether or not Darius was lying about the Fundamentalist Knights, if not, then we may simply be welcomed in. Perhaps that shield thing we saw Brown come through may have something to do with it?

Clint : [To Alice] I'm only burying him so that you don't start complaning about the smell and say that it comes from me. [To Chastity] Well someone should go and try to pass through the invisible wall then. [Pause] And don't look at me!, I've done enough for this group as it is!

Mei : Very well then. [Stands up and puts the candle out and away] I will prove my honourable intentions to the honourable party. [Heads off to the invisible wall]

Alice : If he did start decomposing he'd probably smell better than you, Clint!

[MEI walks across the space between the sanctuary and the shield, and, when he reaches the spot where BROWN came through the shield, he bounces off it with a shower of sparks, that send him to the ground.]

Clint : [To Mei] Mei you wanker, you're not supposed to have passed the Fundamentalist Knights' initiation! Only one of us who took the drug should be able to pass through the invisible wall!

Alice : Don't you think you could have told him that before he tried to go through!

[MEI is stirring, stunned, but not unconscious.]

Clint : Why didn't [stresses] you tell him?

[ALICE akes to speak to Clint, but her mouth just opens and closes a few times, as she is clearly unable to think of an answer.]

Alice : [After a few seconds, holding up the picture of the cat] You see, its not just of a cat, there's also a little cushion there, look.

Mei : [Mutters to himself some censored words] Confusio say, if you're a plumber, don't do a carpenter's job. I never fully understood what that meant until now. [Struggles to get back to the sanctuary]

Chastity : [Bends down and helps Mei in] Well, that establishes that there is some kind of shield. The question is, who here is expend- [breaks off] is brave enough to try now?

Alice : Will, Stinky? What's it to be? Are you going to check it out for us?

Jerome : It would appear, Mr. Scar, that we have no alternative but to venture into the house. You are the logical choice to test the shield theory. Actually, we do have an alternative, we could simply return to the Wart, and drink cheap wine until StarSearch starts.

Clint : Hey!, if Jerry says we should go back and drink wine instead, who am I to say no? [Pause] Why are you all looking at me like that?

Alice : We always look at you like that, just not to your face.

Jerome : That's not exactly what the good doctor meant.

Clint : Well that's what it sounded to me. And that was the best plan I've ever heard from you, Jerry.

Jerome: [Assumes a funny expression. Doesn't know whether to be angry or pleased] Ahem

Mei : [sagely] Confusio say, even a mule has only two parents.

Jerome : [Looks at Mei oddly, then turns back to the others] No, Clint, going back and drinking in cowardice is not for us, we need to enter the dreaded den of stinking evil.

Alice : [Exasperated sigh] Please! Look, Clint, are you going in or no?

Clint : Alright, alright! I'll test to see if we can go through the damned invisible wall! [Gets up and heads towards the place where Mei fell, then looks back] Unless someone wants to show that their bravery?

Chastity : [To Clint] No, no. On you go. It seems a same for you to have walked over there for nothing. Rest assure you have our hopes and prayers and we're right behind you, in the sanctuary of the Sanctuary.

Clint : I didn't think you would have the guts, Sister. [Jumps through the wall]

Austin : [To all] Thank fucking Phili for that, [looks at the others] see you loosers later [jumps through the wall dagger in hand]

Alice : Losers? He's the one that, despite my telling him not to, opened the tabernacle door and had half his face burned off, and he's calling us losers? Yeah, right. [Starts walking to the wall, but her cardigan gets stuck in the branch of a tree] Get off me! [Draws her sword and stabs the tree.] Er, anyway.

[Everyone, walks towards the wall, with JEROME entering first, followed by MEI. However, as soon as MEI touches the wall, he is thrown to the ground with another flash of sparks.]

Alice : Aw, come on!

Clint : For Phili, will you all ever learn? I was only checking if we can go through the wall - no need to check if Mei can come through, we already saw he can't! Now, Darius mentioned that only knights can go through the wall, all other people must be surrounded by four knights. [Makes an effort to count all the four members except Mei] 1... 2... er... [pointing at Alice] 3, if looks and no brain is enough to be a knight... 4. There, so go to the other side of the wall again, surround Mei, all of you, and bring him in!

Alice : [Outraged] What? Better than you, Stinky, with all brains and no looks! [Thinks for a second, before a puzzled look comes over her face] Hey!

Mei : [Now quite bruised] Are you sure that Darius was telling the truth? I don't think I could take another shock - unless you have some way of healing me?

Clint : Since he wasn't lying about the initiation process for fundamentalist knights, maybe we could assume he was telling the thruth about that as well. But just in the safe side - [To Chastity] Sist? Maybe you could heal Mei?

Alice : Let's do this back in the sanctuary. [Steps back into the sanctuary, followed quickly by Mei.]

Chastity : [Follows quickly follows Mei back to the Sacnctuary] I'll try to heal you, Mei, but my training is a bit limited, and today I've already healed one rash act [Glances at Austin], although sometimes I wonder why I bothered. Here goes. [Lays her hands on Mei's head] Hear our plea, O'Phili, and heal your child. [Some of MEI's now spiky hair begins to flatten, and he sighs in relief.]

Mei : [Standing up and bowing deeply to Chastity] Honourable sister, I am in your debt.

Alice : So, are we going to try this? We need two of you [indicates Jerome, Clint and Austin who are beyond the wall] to come back and walk through with us, if this four knight thing is to be believed.

Chastity : [Hurriedly] Yes come on, two volunteers please. We've probably lost enough suprise element as it is without further dilly-dallying.

Austin : [Steps back through the door, looks at the others ] In the soddemised name of Philli's scrotal sack, what are you lot waiting for? [Hands on hips, puss ozing from the burns on his enraged face]

Clint : Ok, take it easy, puss volcano! [Comes back through the wall to the sanctuary]

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD will supervise from here. I suggest that the four of you form a shield around Mei, and walk through the invisible shield thusly.

[AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY and ALICE form a circle around MEI, before walking towards the shield.]

Mei : I thank you, fellow party members, I will not forget thiaaaaah!

[Zap! MEI gets buzzed again, knocking the other four to the ground. MEI lies on his back, looking dazed.]

Mei : Lord Phili, whatever I have done to offend thee, it cannot deserve this.

Jerome : Hm. Yes. Yes. I see. Okay, what we need is some form of protection to encase Mei in - perhaps some large rubber sheath of some sort?

Alice : [Lying on her back] You know, I've just had an idea.

Clint : [Shaking his head] Oh Phili, here we go again.

Austin :[To Alice] Precious, sweet Alice, pray tell, what is your idea? [Looks forlornly into the sky]

Chastity : [Quickly checks the orb, and gets back to her feet] Thank Phili, It could have been a bit awkward if the orb had broken and we'd all ended up back in town. [To Alice] Yes, dear, tell us your plan. Although I'm surprised you'd be considering the issue protection whilst your lying on your back.

Austin : [Stands up. Looks at Alice] I am under the distinct impression that it is the the very position in which she should be considering protection. I for one wouldn't want to catch anything.

Alice : Actually, Chastity, I get most of my revelations when lying on my back. [Props herself up on one elbow] My idea was that maybe Darius was wrong about Mei, and that we should leave him here while we go into the house.

Austin : [To Alice] Excellent idea, let us proceed [Turns and goes through the shield]

Mei : [Bowing slightly to the others] I must agree with the wise Alice. I shall wait in the sanctuary.

[MEI walks to the santuary where he proceeds to lay out some incense sticks. Meanwhile the others step through the shield, and are now about thirty yards from the house.]

Alice : What now? Do we knock? Kick the door in?

Chastity : Lets do away with the usual discussion before Clint loses patience and kicks the door in anyway, and just go straight to the door kicking, shall we? Time waits for no man. Or woman. Or group of intrepid evil-vanquishing adventurers. [Turns to Clint] After you. [Holds her nose in anticipation of Clint waving one of his feet around to kick down the door. In a squeaky nasal voice] I'll stand over here out of the line of fire,...erm I mean to avoid any door splinters.

Clint : I love this part. [Kicks the door] Open Sesame! [The door swings open, revealing BRANDY, walking towards the door. Her face is black and blue, and her lip is bleeding. Around each of her wrists is a loop of rope, which were tied together, but are now separated. She looks at the party in shock.]

Brandy : What are you doing here? Where is the master?

Clint : Well well, if it isn't little Brandy. Your master is dead; I wish I could say I did it, but someone from inside the house did it. Now, [looks down at the rope in her hands] do you want to explain us what is going on in here? [Low voice, to Chastity] This might shock you, sister.

Jerome : What did they do to you? Torture? For information about Brown? What exactly did they want to know?

Brandy : [Ignores Clint and turns to Jerome, looking as though she is about to cry] I don't know what happened. Someone came in here and tied us up. He took the master to a different room, and we could hear some screaming. Then I heard the front door go, and managed to cut the ropes and come out here. [Puts her arms around Jerome] Oh, please say you'll help me, we'll be lost without the master!

Jerome : [Awkwardly patting Brandy on her shoulder] There there. There there. We'll help you. Tell Dr Jerome more about that person who tied you up. Was it a Knight? You need to tell us all that you can remember. [Pats her shoulder again] There, there.

Brandy : [Almost unintelligeble due to sobs] I [sob] didn't [sob] see [sob] his [sob] face! He just [sob] sneaked into [sob] the house!

Jerome : [Is a sucker for a crying woman] We will help you, Brandy, we will sort this out. [To the others] Isn't this right, guys? ...Guys?

[ALICE says nothing, but just looks at the two unimpressed, arms folded.]

Jerome : [Notices Alice's demeanor and gently untangles himself from Brandy, though continues to pat her on the shoulder every time she sobs again] Now, we must make a plan

Austin : [To Brandy] Who else is here [walks over to Brandy and offers her a swig from his hip flask]

Clint : Will you all stop? Can't you see this is the bitch that tortured us and laughed about it, and now is trying to seduce you all? Just forget about the bitch, and let's try to find the dag... I mean, what we came here for!

Austin : [Looks at Clint] Is it? Oh that Brandy, God what happened to her face? [Snatches back his flask] Okay Clint, lead the way.

Brandy : [As the flask is grabbed from her] What happened to your face, Austin? [To the others] Surely, of all people, you understand? I had no choice but to help the master - he would have with held the beer from me unless I co-operated.

Clint : Ah, Brandy Brandy, always the alcohol dependency, starting with your name. [To the others] Let's ignore her, and just move on.

Brandy : What about the others? They are all tied up in the basement, will someone help me release them?

Clint : Who are the others, and why should we release them?

Brandy : Yvette, Laramie and Orla, remember? From when you were here?

Chastity : [To everyone] What happened to the figure who killed Brown? He could still be around here somewhere, waiting to strike as the group stands around taking shots of brandy. [looks around nervously, holding her mace ready]

Brandy : I don't know, I think he must be gone. Oh, I hope so, he was a savage. [Glances at herself in the mirror] He nearly killed me, I was so frightened. [Points at a door under the stairs] He tied us all up down there, and then started demanding that the Master tell him where some dagger was. Eventually he agreed to do it, and the two left. As soon as they were out, I started to cut the ropes by rubbing them against a corner, and then I heard the front door go, and then the back.

Austin : [Slaps Brandy across the face] Tell us everthing you heard and saw or I'll torture you. [Slaps her again]

Brandy : [Recoiling in shock and pain] Ow! I just did - I don't know anything else, I swear!

Clint : Excellent, this is a new side to you, lawyer.

Alice : [Standing in front of Austin] Austin Sleaze! What the hell do you think you're doing?

Chastity : [To Austin] Austin Sleaze! Stop that this instant. When I said "taking shots of brandy" I was referring to your demon alcohol! I would advise you to put you efforts more into checking the back door, to see if there were any clues!

Brandy : Thank you, kind Sister. [Points to a large glass door off to one side, which is slightly ajar] That's the door he left through. But please, can you help set the others free?

Chastity : [To Brandy] All in good time, girl. First things first. [To Austin] Maybe your skills would be better suited to sculking around in the shadows of the basement. But do try not to scare the captive girls! [Goes over to the glass door, and takes a cautious look outside]

Clint : Hm, captive girls waiting for a beating... Sounds right up your alley, lawyer.

[Outside is a large garden, with a stone footpath leading down to a gate set into a large hedge. There is no sign of anyone.]

Alice : [Also looking out] He could be long gone by now, or maybe even hiding behind that hedge. Do you think he took the [lowers her voice] you know what?

Austin : [To Clint] Sounds like a trap to me, lure us into the basement to rescue the [In a mocking voice] poor innocent girls. [Angry voice] Why didn't she release them herself? I trust her about as far as I can kick her [Kicks Brandy on the bum, then storms over to the door to the cellar and shouts] Hello? Is there anyone there?

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD must insist you stop abusing this woman. It makes him very, very angry.

[ALICE glares at JEROME.]

Jerome : Well, pretty angry.

[There are a few cries from downstairs, of "help us" and the like.]

Brandy : Its not a trap, I swear. Look, I'll even go down with you, even go down first!

Clint : Ok, go down first. [Crosses his arms and waits]

Austin : [To Brandy, venomously] So why don't you go and release them yourself, bitch? [Snaps at Jerome] Piss off, or get with the program pocket protector boy. [To all] We don't have much time, Brandy can release her friends herself, we have to get Dangsten [goes to the door of the house and looks out.]

Brandy : Some of them are chained up, I need someone with a sword. Unless one of you wants to give me one?

Jerome : [To Austin] Mr. Sleaze, contain yourself. Getting aggressive with fellow party members will not serve to improve your situation.

Clint : [Laughing, to the others] Ah!, is she a bitch or what? Actually, maybe she's a shapechanger, disguised as a [looks her up and down] not-so-bad-looking young girl. I'm with the Lawyer, let's go for what we came here for. If we've got time, we'll unchain the others.

Brandy : Fine. [Folds her arms]

Alice : [Quietly to the others] This is a big house, how are we going to find it? Also, what is it?

Clint : [To Alice] I thought you didn't like the bitch, Bimbo.

Chastity : [To Brandy] Usually I would not ignore the pleas of the needy, but in these circumstances there is little choice, or time. [To Clint] Do you have to be so derogatory to the fairer sex. There is no need for such language. "Manners maketh the man" as my First Husband, George was keen on saying.

Austin : [To the others] I think my money is on the shape changers, we are a sorry species who deserves to die horribly. Lets go get the girls [Grabs Brandy. Goes down into the basement]

Alice : I don't like you either, Clint, but if someone start beating you up, I'd probably try and stop them. Anyway, that's hardly what our party is about, is it? I have no love for her after what she and Brown did to us, but maybe her story is true, maybe she was forced to do it.

Jerome : The veracity of the delightful Ms. Brandy's statement is not of paramount importance at the moment. We should be more concerned with discovering what this dagger - if indeed that is what we are searching for- looks like.

[BRANDY allows herself be dragged to the basement door.]

Brandy : There is no need to be so rough!

[AUSTIN opens the door, revealing a staircase descending deep into the darkness. The stairs is wide enough for two to go down at a time. Currently, AUSTIN and BRANDY are at the front, followed by CLINT and ALICE, and then JEROME and CHASTITY. ALICE draws her sword.]

Alice : Just in case.

Austin : [Gets his dagger out. To Alice] Good idea. [Descends into the darkness with Brandy]

Alice : Actually, I'll light a torch too. [Takes out a torch in her other hand, and a tinderbox in the other hand, and then realises she doesn't have three hands, so drops the sword, tinderbox and torch down the stairs.]

[Further down in the darkness, a menacing pair of eyes appear, glowing in the light.]

Clint : [To Alice] Just because I told you I have an extra finger, you don't have to try to show an extra hand which you don't have. [Looks down the stairs] Who's there? [Draws his sword, using one hand]

[A number of female voices cry out.]

Yvette : 'elp me, please! I am tied up, and 'elpless!

[ALICE takes out another torch.]

Alice : Yes, I suppose that, given its size, it is best described as another finger. [Lights the torch, revealing that Laramie, Yvette and Orla are at the bottom of the stairs, chained up.]

[There is a small landing here, about 20' square. At the end opposite the stairs is a huge metal door, with a bolt and padlock on it.]

Austin : Why should we help you? You tortured us. Anyway, this is probably a trap and you will nodoubt be tied up again in the near future. If I was the bad guy I would close the door to the basement and lock us in here to die. [Tries to free the girls using his cunning and guile]

[Everyone is now either down on the platform or on one of the bottom few steps. As AUSTIN examines the girls, he sees that they are not chained up, but tied up with rope.]

Laramie : Oh, please, just let us free!

Yvette : Mais oui, and tie that 'orrible bitch up.

Alice : Hey!

Yvette : No, the other 'orrible bitch.

Clint : That's how excited I get when I'm with you, Bimbo. [To Brandy, poiting at the door] What's in there?

Alice : I suppose its no surprise that you are more excited when you're on your own.

Brandy : I don't know.

Orla : [Badly scarred, clearly as a result of the tiger incident when the party were her previously, shakes her bonds in terror] Please! Keep her away from us!

Clint : [To the girls] You mean her? [Grabs Brandy by the arm, in an almost violent manner] What has she done to you?

[As CLINT makes a grab for BRANDY, she pulls out a tiny dagger, and plunges it into AUSTIN, who gasps with a sharp intake of breath, before she pulls him around, to shield herself from CLINT with him.]

Yvettte : [Screaming] No! No! She's going to kill you all!

Alice : [Picking up her sword] I doubt it.

[AUSTIN's knees buckle, and he looks as though he is getting woozy.]

Clint : Why, why nobody EVER does what I say? [Tries to go around Austin, through the right side, and throw a blow at Brandy]

[CLINT reaches around AUSTIN and swings his sword, making contact with BRANDY's side, who then gives a little cry of pain.]

Brandy : Bastard! [Catches Clint's sword arm with her left hand, before driving her dagger into his forearm.]

[CLINT's mouth shoots open in pain and shock, and his body contorts with pain. Meanwhile, AUSTIN starts slipping slowly to the floor.]

Clint : You... you... [thinks for a moment] bitch! [Aches from the pain] Be careful with that dagger, I think it's poisoned!

Alice : Okay, I'll keep well back from that dagger. [Swipes her sword about.]

[BRANDY stepped back from AUSTIN and CLINT, who were now slipping to the ground, and threw the dagger at ALICE, sticking it into her left shoulder.]

Alice : Ow! [Staggers back against the wall] Gah! [Drops her sword, and starts slipping down.]

Brandy : [Pulling out two more daggers from beneath her blouse, and turning to Jerome and Chastity, who are still on the stairs] Okay, I can either go past you, or I can go through you.

Clint : [Closes his eyes in both concentration and pain]

Brandy : Come on now, I don't have all day. [Nonchalantly kicks Austin in the face, eliciting a strong groan.]

Jerome : [Moving towards Alice] Noooooooooooooooo! [Looks up at Brandy] Damn you! Damn you to hell!

Brandy : [Smiles sweetly at Jerome] Oh, I'm sorry. [Throws one of her daggers at Jerome, striking him in the stomach.]

[JEROME gasps, and stops dead in his tracks.]

Jerome : [Gasps. His eyes go to the dagger, then to Brandy, then to Alice, then back to Brandy. With difficulty he begins walking toward Brandy] Vital .... signs .... fading ..... legs ..... stopped .... moving .... don't .... mourn .... me .... Alice .... go .... on .... with .... your .... life .....

Brandy : [To Chastity] You're taking up a lot of stair there, Chastity.

Chastity : [To Brandy] Not as much as you're taking up my patience, Brandy. If that's who you really are. [Readies her mace, trying to keep Brandy away from stabbing distance]

Brandy : [Stays back, but takes obvious and careful aim] You Chastity, it hurts me to have to do this to you, as you were one of the few who were nice to me.

Alice : Hey! I was nice to you too!

Brandy : Yes, but you're too stupid to know better. [Throws her dagger with deadly accuracy]

[The dagger strikes CHASTITY, causing her to grab her stomach in pain, before falling down the stairs. BRANDY walks over her, standing on CHASTITY's stomach as she does. At the top of the stairs, BRANDY takes out a small metal jar, slightly smaller than the daggers, and leaves it at the top.]

Brandy : This is the antidote to the poison, which, by the way, causes paralysis and nothing else. Of course, given that you can't get up here, I'm not entirely sure how you'll avoid starving to death, but no worries, I'll check on you in a week or so. [Leaves, shutting the door behind her]

Chastity : [To the girls] You weren't expecting any helpful visitors, were you? [Rolls her eyes towards the ceiling] O'Phili help us now [Starts to pray]

Austin : [Chuckles] A trap. Okay, does anyone here have the power to move objects using only the powers of the mind? [Pauses] If Mei could get in here he could give us the antidote. Can any of you ladies break free?

Alice : [Annoyed] How can Mei get in? He can't even get passed the shield! Although, I bet he's trying to figure out a way to save us right now! I bet he's pacing up and down, thinking as hard as hard can be.

[Cut to MEI, sitting in the sanctuary, smoking a cigarette, and talking on his mobile phone.]

Mei : Yeah, so anyway, they're all inside there for a while, which is great, 'cos it gives me a chance to have a bit of a rest.

[Cut to current scene.]

Laramie : [Tearfully] No! There's no one else around. She's going to let us starve to death, and then throw out bodies in there! [Points at the locked door]

Austin : [To Alice] I said IF Mei could get in, dumb ass. [To the girls] How did you get in here? I thought only knights could get in?

Alice : Don't get pissy with me, Austin! I was just showing what a waste of time it was thinking about something that's never going to happen.

Jerome : [Looks sadly at Alice] Sigh. I know what you mean.

Yvette : I don't know about only Knights being allowed in, but we 'ave been in the 'ouse for months. We work 'ere, remember?

Austin : [To Alice] Shut you puss Alice, for all you knew the girls may have been in and out of the house by some means we did not know of. And anyway, what the fuck do you know about thinking?

Alice : I know that for you to speak to me in that tone of voice you must be doing very little of it.

Chastity : Please! Stop this - fighting amongst ourselves isn't going to achieve anything.

Clint : So what is going to achieve something, sist? We're fucked, there's nothing more to say about it.

Alice : [Whining] But there must be some way of getting the antidote bottle down here!

Clint : Well, I'll have to say it again, if you had listened to me, we weren't in this mess again. I'm really getting sick of it, you know? So now I just feel like complaning, that's it!

Chastity : Well, that's very helpful, Clint. Thank you. [Time passes.]

Yvette : [Struggling uselessly against the ropes] We're all gonna die!

Clint : Ok ok. Just remember to listen to Clint Scar next time! [Closes his eyes in concentration]

[Agonisingly slowly, the metal jar on top of the stairs starts to move. It inches its way along the top step, before dropping over, but staying above the second. It continues the process, moving towards the end of the second step, and an incredibly slow rate.]

Alice : Oh my God, how long is this going to take? We'll have starved to death by the time it gets here!

[Clunk! The jar falls onto the step, and falls, hitting every step on the way down, as well as both CHASTITY's and JEROME's heads.]

Chastity : Ow!

Jerome : Ow!

[The jar lands on the floor, and starts rolling towards the far corner of the room. Incredibly, due to some tiny slope of the floor, it begins rolling back, and finishes touching CLINT's chin.]

Clint : [Irritated, to Alice] Bimbo, you couldn't help but ruin my concentration, could you? There's loads of good things you can do with your mouth, but speaking is not one of them. [Tries to drink a bit of the potion]

Alice : How was I to know it would be so easy to break your concentration?

[CLINT somehow manages to get the jar open, as soon as a drop of the liquid touches his lips, his body relaxes, free of the paralysis.]

Clint : You're doing it again. [Slowly gets up] Boy, I'm really going to have my revenge on that bitch. [To Alice] I meant Brandy. [Gives some liquid to Alice] There you go Bit.. Bimbo.

Alice : [Goes through a similar experience to Clint, and drags herself to a sitting position] I knew that Clint, because you know you really love me! [Smiles brightly at him]

Yvette : [Shaking her bonds] Mon dieu! We are saved, I am so grateful, I would do anything for whoever sets me free.

Clint : [To Alice] Don't exagerate, Bimbo, I only gave you the liquid first because I value friendship, and... [To Yvette, eyes wide open] Anything?!?

Yvette : [Jiggles up and down, then jiggles up and down in the ropes] Mais, oui, for my 'ero, anything!

Chastity : Mr. Scar, when you are quite finished ogling the maid, do you think you might administer the cure to the rest of us?

Clint : [Muttering under his breath] Damn witch, always complaining. [To Alice, handing the potion] Here, take care of the sister. [Starts going towards Yvette, rubbing his hands] Ok my sweet, don't fear, Clint Scar is here to save you!

Alice : Go get her, Casanova. [Frees the rest of the party.]

Yvette : Oh, Mr. Scar! I am so 'appy that it is you. [Patiently holds out her wrist for him to cut the rope]

Alice : [Finishing with Austin] Just as well I didn't think about accidently spilling this, isn't it, Austin?

Jerome : [Standing and feeling his legs and arms] Alice, darling, what Dr Jerome said before was in the heat of the moment, but I meant every word. [Looks somewhat enviously at Yvette then back to Alice for a sec]

Alice : You mean all those nice things you said to Yvette? Well, that's fine, none of my business, really. [Tries to sniff haughtily, but ends up bringing up a big glob of phlegm that she swallows noisily]

[CLINT frees the maids, and they all fuss about him.]

Yvette : My! What a man!

Orla : He's so gorgeous!

Laramie : What a wonderful manly odour he has!

Jerome : [To Alice] Dr Jerome K. Trindle BsC, PHD declares that Yvette's beauty pales into insignificance beside your own.

Alice : [Turns to Jerome with an angry look, but says nothing, just looks him up and down, twitching with anger, before breaking into a huge smile] Aw! Thanks, Jerry! Aw!Q

Jerome : [Uncomfortable} Why Alice! You're welcome! Very very fast, could be a mutter]and I think I love you [To the rest] Onto glory ... Dr Jerome K Trindle says. The first question being: who rolled the antidote down to uS?

Alice : [Looking up the stairs] Well, the door is shut. Maybe it rolled down by itself? [Excitedly] Maybe its a magic bottle? Maybe it follows us around in case we run into trouble? Maybe nothing bad will ever happen to us again on account of the magic bottle? All praise the magic bottle!

Jerome: Alice [taking a punt] dearest! Please point out the bottle you mean!

Alice : [Looks at the jar in her hand] Oh. I mean, all praise the magic jar!

Austin : [To Jerome] Clint moved the bottle using only the powers of his mind. Impressive. [Sincerely to Clint] Well done CLint. [To All] Let us not dally further, I have a Brandy to kill.

Alice : [Exasperated sigh] Its not a bottle, its a jar, Austin! [Shakes her head sadly]

Clint : [Looking up from the attention been given to him by Yvette and Orla] Thanks, lawyer, its a rare thing to hear praise from you.

Laramie : I know you wish to kill Brandy, and I say good luck to you, but do you think you could break this lock first? [Points to the door behind her] There are some prisoners kept in there.

Austin : Alice, do you have insights with respect to the potential dangers involed in the opening of this door?

Alice : No.

Clint : [Standing with a girl on each arm, doing his best to look like James Bond] Go on, Austin, kick it in.

Austin : Very well [Tries to pick the lock and open the door]

[LARAMIE almost stands on top of AUSTIN as he's trying to pick the lock, making it impossible for him to work.]

Laramie : Is it open? Is it open?

Austin : [Looking a bit tetchy. To Laramie] Get the fuck out of my way or I will kill you. [Points his dagger at her. Continues trying to pick the lock] [LARAMIE jumps back, hands up.]

Laramie : I'm sorry!

Alice : [Poking Austin in the back] Austin! Behave yourself!

Austin : [Pauses, turns to Alice, winks at her] Whatever you say, sugar buns. [Slowly turns back to the lock and continues trying to pick it]

Chastity : [Looking around, slightly alarmed] What's happening to this group, the increase in sexual innuendo and frivolity is most alarming! Phili, what a Carry On! [To Laramie] Just before the door is opened, who or what is actually imprisoned in there?

[AUSTIN picks the lock, and it opens with a click.]

Laramie : Open the door! Oh, please open the door!

Clint : [Having a cigar lit for him by Yvette] Come on, lawyer, this is your chance to shine. [To Yvette] Thanks, hun.

Alice : [Drawing her sword] Okay, Austin, off you go.

Laramie : There is a bunch of prisoners in there, my husband amongst them. I'm not sure how many, there were forty four, but some of them died. Sister, its all too horrible! Brown and Brandy kept them there, claiming that they had to, to protect something that Vitun Kusipaa gave them.

Austin : [Not opening the door, but temporarily wedging it shut with his sword. To Laramie] What is behind the door?

Chastity : By Phili, that dashed name again if you'll excuse my french. Who is this Vitun Kusipaa?

Austin : Oh? Opens the door carefully [Standing aside incase of a blast/trap]

Orla : None of us ever met him. All I know is that he was the Master's boss.

[AUSTIN slowly pushes the door open. As soon as he does, the party are overwhelmed by a stench that even disturbs CLINT.]

Alice : [Covering her mouth] What the hell is that?

Jerome : Unless Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc., PhD, is very much mistake, it is a mixture of stale faeces, urine and decaying flesh.

[The door is only open a few inches now, and all that the party can make out is that it is very dark in there.]

Laramie : [Staggering from the stench] Please! Please let me in!

Austin : [Pushes the door fully open]

[The door swings back, away from AUSTIN. As it does, the stink is simply incredible, bring tears to everyone's eyes.]

Laramie : Reginald! [Picks up Alice's torch and lights it, before running in.]

[As LARAMIE runs in, she illuminates the room, showing that it is full of bodies, in various states of decay. There are also a number of very unhealthy looking people here, huddled in a corner. In the middle of the room is a large metal box.]

Chastity : [Looking into the room] O the sadness and deprevation. It is my duty to help them. [Rushes into the room, but stops half way to the living people] Emm, do you have any diseases?

[LARAMIE runs up to one of the men, and embraces him. She helps him to his feet.]

Reginald : Sister, I am Reginald Channing-Gioberti-Cumson-Agretti III, I used to own this house. We have no disease, the smell is from lack of sanitation and from the bodies around here.

[There are about thirty or so people, staggering to their feet, and it looks like there are at least as many again, dead, in various states of decomposition.]

Alice : [Holding a hanky over her mouth] Man, this must be Clint's lucky day! First he scores with two women, and now we're suddenly in a situation where his b.o. is no longer an issue!

Clint : [To the girls] Excusez-moi ladies, dutie calls. [Hands cigar to Yvette] Please keep it alive. [Goes to check the box in the middle of the room]

Yvette : [Gasp] I've got his cigar!

Orla : Let me hold it!

Yvette : No, get off!

Orla : Give it to me!

[The two fall to the ground, in classic girls-fighting, hair-pulling stance. Meanwhile, CLINT goes up to the box. It is metal, with a sturdy, but not huge, padlock on it. Some of the prisoners start drifting out.]

Chastity : [To Alice, wincing as Clint walks by towards the box] Well, I wouldn't go as far to say it wasn't an issue. [Points towards the box] Any thoughts on the box, my dear?

Clint : [Brings the box out of the room] Phew, the stench is just unbelievable! [Looks at the prisioners] But understandable, of course.

[ALICE bends down and peers at the box for a good ten seconds, before turning back to CHASTITY.]

Alice : Er, its a box. And its locked. And its metal.

[Most of the prisoners are now out, picking their way carefully past the struggling ORLA and YVETTE. Some of the male prisoners pause to watch.]

[CLINT tries, but can't shift the box.]

Alice : How about somebody just break the lock? Or, if we only had someone who could pick it.

Clint : [Trying to lift the box] Wow, what do they keep on these things? Anyone wanna give me a hand, or are we going to examine it here in the public toilet?

Alice : You know, in some countries you could be arrested for saying something like that! Jerome will help, won't you Jerome.

Jerome : While Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD is not used to physical labour, he is in favour of any activity that involves removing us from this room.

[CLINT, ALICE, JEROME and REGINALD lift the box, with some difficulty, out into the hall. Everyone else is now out, and ALICE shuts the door, almost being knocked over by the sprawling ORLA and YVETTE.]

Chastity : [Goes over to the fighting ORLA and YVETTE] Girl, girls! Stop this display at once. There's not even anyone throwing money! You should both be ashamed of yourselves. Stop pulling each others hair. [Tries to grab the girls, one with each hand, by the hair to separate them] Stop this now!

Clint : [Throws 1 GP to the girls] Na, keep it up girls. You're so good! [Pause] Can I have my cigar back?

[The two stop, mid clench, clearly looking for the cigar.]

Orla : Look, its just beside you, Yvette.

Yvette : Oh, thanks. [Picks it up and hands it to Clint.]

[The two immediately resume their fighting, but the pause was enough to allow CHASTITY to grab hold of them. She pulls the two the apart.]

Orla : Ow!

Yvette : Hey! Mes beaux cheveux! Be careful!

Austin : [Starts picking the lock on the box] Alice, is there anything to be wary of on this box? Any dangers?

Chastity : [Curtly, to Orla and Yvette] Quiet, the both of you. Now make yourselves useful, and go and help these poor souls that have been trapped in this room. Look, some of them can hardly get up the stairs! And prepare some food. It's ages since we've eaten. Oh, and you may as well make some for the released folk as well. [Releases the two girls, pushing them in the direction of the stairs]

Alice : [With no small amount of admiration] Wow, Chastity! Just think, if we were all in a jail, they'd be your bitches!

[YVETTE and ORLA slope out of the room, clearly disappointed to be leaving CLINT. The door at the top of the stairs was open, and the people have wandered into the house.]

Alice : Austin, I honestly don't know anything about the box. This isn't something I can turn on and off, you know? The time with the tabernacle it just came as a huge, overpowering feeling, but just because it didn't this time doesn't necessarily mean the thing is safe.

[Click! AUSTIN opens the padlock.]

Austin : Whatever it is, it had to be surrounded by the dead, the dying and the living for it's protection. I could be the dagger. [Opens the lid carefully, from the hinge side of the box, just incase something comes out]

Jerome : If Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD remembers correctly, and he usually does, Adam used a similar scenario to protect the hell mouth in Hysteria.*

[AUSTIN slowly opens the lid, and as he does, a shining appears to come out of the box. When the lid is finally all the way open, the party can see that there is a beautiful, but strangely evil looking dagger in there, that has a glow all of its own. Instead of a single blade, however, it seperates into two small tips.]

Clint : Nice toy! Look, those two tips at the end of it, they look like the marks in people's necks when we were here last time, don't they? [To Alice] Can we pick it up?

Alice : Well, if you're referring to whatever filthy sexually transmitted disease Yvette has, I'm sure you can!

Jerome : [Also looking in] It appears to be simply placed in the box. There is nothing to stop one from picking it up.

[Time passes.]

Jerome : Well, I'm not going to do it!

Austin : [Dons pair of thick leather gloves. Then carefully pick the knife up. To the knife] Hello there, you delightfully dire dagger of doom. What might your name be?

[All the party are gathered around the box.]

Reginald : [Standing behind the party] The Dagger of Regeneration.

Alice : Wow! A ventriloquist dagger! That's a tough act for you to follow, Beaucaphalus!

Reginald : Don't worry, it's not dangerous. At least, not to whoever is holding it.

Austin : [Smiles] Good [To Reginald] How is it used then? I presume on charges it up with the blood of the living, but how can it be used to regenerate?

Clint : I suppose Brandy will be coming back for it soon. Bimbo, do we have any antidote left?

Alice : [To Clint, point a thumb at herself] After that display with Yvette and Orla, you're calling me a bimbo? [Looks at the jar] Looks like there's only enough for one or two more doses.

Reginald : It requires an artifact known as the Dispenser of Regeneration. I don't know what that looks like, but it is hidden safely, where no one will ever, ever find it.

Austin : [Fishes the daggers stand out of his pocket, the one from the tabernackle] You mean this?

Reginald : I don't know what that is.

Clint : Really? Where?

Reginald : I can't tell you that. Let's just say it is hidden where no one will find it.

All : It is hidden where no one will find it.

Reginald : Despite that, the Fundamentalist Knights felt it better to separate the dagger and the dispenser, just in case it ever fell into the wrong hands. They also set a booby trap, to give a nasty surprise to whoever tried to get it back.

Austin : [Places the dagger into the stand he is holding, checking to see which way it goes first!] I reckon this is the dispenser.

[The dagger fits on, showing to anyone of any kind of reasonable intelligence that they go together.]

Alice : Nope. I don't think they go together.

Reginald : I don't believe it is the dispenser. I haven't actually seen it, but I believe that it would take the form of a bowl. [Pauses for a moment, clearly feeling awkward] Excuse me for asking, seeing as how you saved my life and all, but who are you? What do you intend to do with the dagger? It is supposed to be used for regenerating a soul, but for that, you would need a resurrection receptacle.

Clint : [To Austin] Feeling lucky eh, Laywer? Better be more careful with these weird tools! [To Reginald] We are just a group of fighters [looks momentarily at Austin] and robbers, trying to save the world. I'm Clint Scar, how do you do?

Austin : [To Reginald] We are on a mission from God, involuntarily of course, with the exception of Chassers [Points at the nun] We are supposed to be the goodies and we are fighting evil. Everything else is purely speculation. [Wraps the knife and stand carefully in a leather bag and put it in his pocket] We had better move quickly, as the dagger is no longer protected by the pain of the dying.

Reginald : Hold on a second there, slick. Where are you taking it? That dagger has caused enough death and suffering as it is. Now, I'm pretty sure you are on the side of good, otherwise you wouldn't have set the others free, and, given that you got into the house in the first place, I'm guessing you're Fundamentalist Knights. Unfortunately, in my experience, sanity and Fundamentalist Knights often don't go hand in hand.

Alice : [Wrinkling up her nose] Eauh! You mean they don't wash?

Chastity : [To Alice, pointing to Clint] Hardly a fault we can only level at the enemy! I do hope Mei is OK. Do you think we should go and get him, or just go back to the town from here?

Alice : Aw, come on! We have to go and get him - we can't just leave the poor guy there!

Jerome : Furthermore, Sister. You might remember that our transportation device was unable to penetrate the shield when we travelled here. The same may be true for leaving the house.

Reginald : Will someone tell me what you are doing? I don't think you realise just how dangerous this dagger is, or what the Fundamentalist Knights have done to protect it.

Chastity : [To Alice] Of course we need to get Mei. It's so nice to have some-one as morally even-balanced and spiritual as myself in the group for once.[To Reginald] These are the same knights that a don't have a grip on sanity. Anyway, we are taking these items so that we can defeat the evil force that is Dangsten who is threatening the world.[To the others] Of course we need to get Mei. It's so nice to have some-one as morally even-balanced and spiritual as myself in the group.

Clint : No need to say it twice, sist. Now, we still need to find out who killed Brown, and also stop Brandy, before we go get Mei, no? [To Reginald] Is there any way to get someone inside the house that is not a Fundamentalist Knigth?

Reginald : If they put up a shield, then only Knights can come in. Although, I suspect the shield will only last another few minutes, seeing as how you freed us. I don't know what is wrong with the Knights, they've gone crazy, crazy I tell you! I'm just amazed that you were able to get down here.

Alice : Well, the evil Brandy, who took in some of the members of the party, assumed we were as good as dead.

Reginald : [Looks up the stairs] You know, given that the others will have made a lot of noise up there, I'd be surprised if she's even still around.

Jerome : [Shaking his head] The woman is abom...abom... awful, and dreadfully cunning. She played Dr Jerome like a fiddle, with her airs and her graces and her 'help me! help me!' She could be lurking around up there, some where. Watching, waiting....

Clint : Yes, she definitely played you as a puppet, didn't she Jerry? Just like the Bimbo does.

Jerome : [Puffing himself up] Dr Jerome K Trindle BsC, pHD is sensitive to the needs of the fairer sex, the uncertainties that plague them and their need to feel special and love. Dr Jerome could then be considered a doctor of love, unlike certain foul-smelling macho brutes with permanent dogends. If this makes Dr Jerome a puppet, then puppet he is!

Alice : Unlike you, Stinky, who plays with his own "puppet". Look, are we going to head back to the town? Or what? Clearly, the Fundamentalist Knights have gone crazy, first Adam, then Brown and maybe even Brandy. They can't be trusted with the dagger. Also, what about Mei? He must be out of his mind with worry by now!

[Cut to MEI, still sitting in the sanctuary, still smoking a cigarette, and still talking on his mobile phone.]

Mei : Nah, still no sign of them, God only knows what they're doing. Probably just standing around bitching at each other. Honestly, I've never seen such a bunch of losers, especially, man, what's her name again?

[Cut to current scene.]

Alice : Poor Mei. What must he be thinking?

Clint : And a single puppet, I might add.

Jerome : [Glowers momentarily at CLINT]

Alice : Honestly, Clint, one little catfight over you, and suddenly you think you're Corge Glooney! And also, might I just point out, the word single has a particular meaning for you, when it comes to relations with women. [Points at Clint's crotch]

Clint : And a single puppet, I might add.

Jerome : [Looks mildly interested] Alice, you have come to Dr Jerome K Trindle's defence! For that he thanks you a thousand times over.

Alice : [Sigh] That's okay, Jerry.

Chastity : Everyone of note has probably left the premises by now. Lets have a look around the house to see what we can find, get Mei and get back into town.

Austin : [To Chastity] Indeed [Holds his breath and opens the door to the cell and goes in to search the corpses and the rest of the cell]

Chastity : [Quietly To Clint] Now we'll see if the lawyer can resist robbing the dead.

Austin : [To Chastity] What use is money to a corpse? If there is anything that we can use here, to further our mission from God, then surely Philli intended me to find it and use it!

Alice : [Giving Clint her dirty look] There's worse things that people could do to them.

[Everyone turns away as the stench once again fills the room. A quick search of the room shows that it is simply a metal cell, 40' x 40'. It isn't clear what the corpses died, but none of them have anything of value or interest.]

Alice : [Tears in her eyes from the smell] Do you think we could close the door now?

[Enter RICHARD LOFT, from the house. He looks quite unhealthy and bedraggled.]

Richard : [Calling out to the party] Hey!

Clint : [Quietly to Chastity] I don't think he'll search for long, not with all the shit and piss around.

Alice : [Makes to say something to Clint, but stops] Naw, that would be going too far.

Richard : [Walking down the stairs] Is Clara with you?

Austin : [Exits the cell and closes the door. To Richard] Are you kidding? That dumb bitch fucked of ages ago. She was a real pain in the arse, tried to get us all killed.

Clint : [To Richard] What he means to say is, we haven't seen Clara for a long time. She was looking for you, where have you been? What is going on here? Can you give us any information? [Looks momentarily at Austin] He just used a shorter phrase.

Richard : [Sighs] Well, it doesn't surprise me to hear that she tried to get you all killed, but it would be dangerous to describe her as a dumb bitch. I came up here to investigate claims of shapeshifters, and that someone in the house was responsible for the murders. When I arrived, they brought me in and drugged me. When I awoke, I was in there. [Points at the smelly room] We've searched the house, there's no sign of Brandy.

Alice : Surely you could drink something else?

[A short time passes.]

Alice : [Gives a sudden jump] Sorry! I think I must have dropped off to sleep. What were we saying?

Jerome : I think we were about to leave, and head back to the town, although we still haven't established what it Austin intends to do with the dagger.

Austin : I intend to stop it being used by Dangsten. At the same time it may be the only thing that can kill him. The best thing to do would be to destroy it. We should go up to the sanctuary and get Mei. [Walks over to the door] Comming?

Clint : I think we should take it with us. It isn't safe here anymore. And the sooner we are out of this place, the better. [Heads towards the stairs]

Jerome : Excellent idea, Mr. Sleaze.

[Everyone walks into the main hall. There are several of the prisoners here, many eating, several smashing the place, and one having sex with YVETTE.]

Alice : [Pointing at Yvette, while looking at Clint] Now that, Stinky, is a bimbo.

Chastity : Yes, lets get going. We don't want to be wasting time standing around doing nothing, after all. There is evil to defeat. And poor Mei must be frantic by now!

[Cut to MEI, sitting in the sanctuary, asleep, cigarette on the ground, and phone on his shoulder.]

Voice on phone : Hello? Hello?

[Cut to current scene.]

Alice : Too right, Chastity. [Opens the front door] Are we right?

Clint : No Bimbo, that's a prostitute. [Waves at Yvette] Au revoir, pretty!

Yvette : [Eating an apple] Oh yes, baby. Do it to me. [Looks up at Clint] Oh, monsieur Scar! No! Do not leave me! For you, half price!

[Exit ALL.]

Yvette : [Turning back to her client] Oh. You're the best. The best baby. [A wistful look comes in her eye]

[Book II, Act VII, Scene X. Beyond the Shield. CHASTITY, CLINT, AUSTIN, ALICE and JEROME are here, walking towards the sanctuary. MEI is in the sanctuary, stretching.]

Alice : Oh look, poor Mei! He must have been out of his mind worrying about us!

[There is a sudden clap of thunder, followed by some lightening crashing onto the ground about fifteen feet away from the party. Out of the sparks, smoke and dust burst a number of men on horseback. There is DANGSTEN, ANIMAL, SLUG, STRAHD, MORTICE and DARIUS. STRAHD is holding a large bluish orb in his hand, while all the rest hold what appear to be small ropes.]

Dangsten : [Laughing with delight] Darius, you're a genius!

[The horses start running towards the party at an alarming rate. It is highly improbable that anyone can make it to the Sanctuary.]

Alice : Will we make it to the sanctuary?

Clint : [Low voice, to Austin] Quickly Laywer, run for the sanctuary with the dagger, we'll cover you! [To Dangsten] Well well, we meet again. I'll make sure I finish my job this time! [Readies Beaucaphalus]

Austin : [Runs towards the sanctuary, and gets ready to throw the wrapped up knife to Mei, if needs be] Mei, Mei! Come to the edge of the sanctuary, but stay inside!

Chastity : We'll never make it, head back through the shield.

Alice : [Draws her sword, grumbling to herself] Great, so when something bad happens to me, I get no warning?

[The horsemen run in amongst the party, who all dive for cover, while AUSTIN makes a break for the sanctuary.]

Mei : [Standing at the edge of the Sanctuary] Run, Austin, run!

Alice : [Crouching to avoid being struck by Strahd] He's going to make it! Alright!

[DANGSTEN throws a lasoo that catches AUSTIN around the throat. It pulls him off his feet, and he lands on the ground with a sickening thud. DANGSTEN slowly moves off, dragging AUSTIN as he does so.]

Austin : We could use our orb!

Jerome : [Scrambling around the ground to avoid swipes by Slug] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle is concerned! Very concerned! However, if we use the orb, they may just follow us.

[DANGSTEN dismounts, still holding the rope which is attached around the stunned (but conscious and mobile) AUSTIN.]

Dangsten : Got something for me, lover boy?

Mei : [Getting out of the Sanctuary] Dangsten! You'll have to deal with me first! [Makes a Kung-Fu act]

Chastity : [Readies her mace towards Strahd, looking for any opportunity to smash his orb. To Jerome] I think you're correct, we don't want them following us. [To Austin] Try and throw the dagger through the shield. They won't be able to penetrate it.

[DANGSTEN slips his hand inside AUSTIN's coat, and pulls out the dagger, still wrapped in a small leather bag.]

Dangsten : For me? Aw, you shouldn't have! [Gives Austin a big, sloppy kiss.]

Alice : [Ducking to avoid a swipe by Strahd] Eauh! There was definite tongue there!

[As STRAHD swings at ALICE, CHASTITY somehow knocks the orb out of his hand with her mace, and it falls onto the ground.]

Jerome : [If he is close enough, he'll try to pick it up, if he is not, he shouts] Get the orb!

[The orb has landed roughly in between CHASTITY, JEROME and ALICE.]

Alice : I'll get it! [Reaches out for the orb]

[As ALICE reaches out, STRAHD maneuvures his horse over, almost stamping on her as he does so.]

Dangsten : [Pulling back from Austin with an audible "pop".] That was so beautiful, Austin. Now, I'm in a rush, so we can't delay, but I'll give you a little something to remind you of me. [Turns Austin over, still holding him in his vice-like grip]

[Cut to inside the house.]

Yvette : [Standing up] Oh, if only my 'ero Clint wasn't with such a dynamic and fast moving group, he would probably still be outside now. As it is, I am sure he is long gone with his exciting party. [Looks to a nearby queue] Next!

[Cut back to outside.]

Austin : [To Dangsten] There are some 'old trail riders' in my left pocket, if you fancy a quickie. I used all my burn cream on my face so I hope you've got some.

Clint : [Tries to reach for the fallen orb]

Austin : [Tries to stab Dangsten with his dagger]

[As CLINT snatches the orb, AUSTIN slams his dagger into DANGSTEN, burying it up to the hilt.]

Dangsten : Its pain, but its a good kind of pain. [Pulls down Austin's trousers, and slaps him on the backside, causing Austin to yelp in pain.]

Darius : [Riding between Dangsten and the other band members] Come on, there's no time for that, we have to get back now!

Clint : [Muttering] I hate running away. [Runs towards the sanctuary with the orb]

Austin : [Gritting his teeth] It is pain, but a kinky kind of pain. [Twists his dagger around inside Dangsten]

Dangsten : [Ignoring Austin's twisting, and turning to Darius] Unlike you to spoil the fun, Darius. [Slaps Austin on the ass, causing him to grimace and wince in pain, and quickly gets up, onto his horse, before glancing quickly at Austin] I'll be back. [The other members of the band, race towards the area where they appeared, and each disappears as they reach it, leaving just DANGSTEN and DARIUS. ALICE and JEROME both start edging towards the sanctuary, which CLINT has now reached.]

Clint : [To Dangsten, holding the orb in his hand] Another time, Dangsten. We shall meet again.

Austin : [Tries once more to get the noose off his neck. To Dangsten] Philli's bride!

Dangsten : [Laughs at Clint before pointing at Austin as he slips the noose off his neck] Dangsten's bride! [Smiles broadly, and points at himself] Austin's pride! [Pulls the horse and rides towards Darius] Come on, Darius, we've got a devil to raise!

[The two of them disappear in the same way as the band.]

Clint : [Looking at the two disappearing with the dagger] Err, I think we fucked up.

Alice : At least we have the dagger.

Jerome : I'm afraid we don't, dearest Alice.

Alice : Well, at least we have the dispenser of Regeneration.

Jerome : [Shakes his head] No.

Alice : Hm.

Mei : Then it shall be our honourable duty to right the wrong we have let happen.

Alice : But, how? How are we going to get back to the town? It is twenty two miles away!

Clint : Alice, can you sense something bad from this orb? [Holds the orb on his hand, checking every detail of it]

Jerome : [Cautiously] Dr Jerome thinks we need to determine what this spherical piece of equipment is asap. Though Clint is probably right - those feckless cowards couldn't possible have anything that is pure and good. And Alice is also right, we need to get back to town. If only there was an automobile around to ste... ahem borrow.

Alice : Okay, Clint, I'll check it out, but, like I told you before, I don't have any control over this - just because I don't get a feeling from it doesn't mean that nothing bad will happen. [Leans in real close. Bonk.] Ow! [Leans back, rubbing her forehead, before giving Clint a stern look] Well, I can sense that it is really hard!

Jerome : Perhaps you could sense it from afar, dearest Alice, like you did the tabernacle?

Alice : Good idea Jerome. [Starts walking backwards] Nothing yet. [Keeps walking backwards] No, still nothing. [Walks backwards some more] Can't actually see the orb anymore. [Steps back and trips over a branch] Ow.

Jerome : [Sighs fondly] Nevermind, dearest Alice. [to the others] While Dr Trindle thinks it may be dangerous to keep the orb amongst us, he also believes that it would be far more dangerous in the possession of our enemies. Therefore he is suggesting that we keep the orb, but we conceal it, and head after our antagonists.

Alice : [Exasperated with Jerome] It's not my Aunt, it's my uncle who's missing. Harvey, remember? In the short term, maybe we should try and catch Dangsten, but how are we going to get back in time?

Jerome : [Retreats into hurt silence for a while]

Alice : [Not noticing Jerome] Of course, time travel isn't really necessary, we just need to get back to Hallbridges before they resurrect Pestilence. Anyone got any ideas? [Looks at Chastity] What about you, Chas? You've been really quiet recently.

Austin : [Austin, crawling on his side towards the party, looking near death] Why don't we use the orb?

Alice : [Still looking at Chastity] Good idea, Chastity, but we better check Austin first. [Turns and leans over Austin] Are you okay?

Clint : I was going to mention that mysel... [Notices Austin's crawl] You don't look so good these days, Laywer. I believe Dangsten is a pain in the ass for you.

Austin : [All muddy, burned and bleeding] No sweet Alice, I fear that this may be the last [Cough, splutter, gasp] last time I set eyes upon you sweet [Weakening] face. [Last gasp dramatic] help me Alice [Appears to pass into unconsiousness]

Clint : For Phili, you don't need to exagerate, Laywer! Put yourself together, man!

Alice : Don't be so callous, Clint! He could have been killed by Dangsten, and he's already feeling bad on account of the face thing, and now, what with the kiss and the pinch on the ass, you know, I think he needs a big hug. [Reaches out to Austin, but, as she gets near his face] Er, well, maybe a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder might do instead. [Shakes him]

Austin : [Drags himself slowly and dramatically, like the true hero that he is, to his feet, and starts hobbling towards the house. To Maplin] Steady there boy, we'll make it, we're not beaten yet. You are the single star shining brightly in the dark void that my life has become...Over Pestillence and Contagion we have triumphed, and see how even great explosions have left you unscarred...pardon? O h yes I'm sure she will...what? Why do you want one of those? [Still plodding towrds the house]

Clint : [Whispering to Alice] I think he's gone mad.

Alice : [Nodding in agreement] Yes. And - I think he's gone. [Points at Austin walking back to the house]

Chastity : [Producing the orb] Where is he going? You know the saying, "Phili helps those who help themselves?" Well, I'm not sure what is attitude is to those who are too mad to help themselves.

Austin : [Returns from the house using a crutch to aid his walking. Hobbles over to the rest of the party, bleeding from his face. Maplin appears to be wearing the heavy duty glove] What are we waiting for now? Chop chop Chassers.

Chastity : Okay. When Claude used his one, he just threw it on the ground, so here goes. [Throws the orb onto the ground, and a shimmering green surface appears]

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD would like to point out that we received this orb from Darius, who, so far, has demonstrated himself to be less than trustworthy. There is a very real chance that stepping into this will result in us appearing above an active volcano.

Austin : [Ironically, with a smirk] For fucksake Jerome you suuuuch a winnnnnger! [Nudges Jerome towards the shimmering green surface]

Jerome : [Elbows Austin back] Jerome is not a whinger, he is merely cautious. Only a fool would step into it without considering the - [calls out] Alice!

Alice : [Just about to step in] What? [Selfconsciously steps back] Er, yes.

Chastity : Do we really have any choice?

Clint : Aw come on guys, whatever happened to your sense of adventure? If they had the orb they probably wanted to use it anyway, so it's probably not harmful. So here goes: Yeehaa! [Jumps onto the green surface]

Jerome : Jerome feels that his point is proven.

[The shimmery surface is starting to get smaller.]

Alice : [Drawing her sword] Let's go! [Jumps in]

Austin : [To Chastity] That depends on your perspective [Looks at Jerome] I say they are, as we speak, ressurecting the anti-christ and we have no time, no choices and no chance, so we could go back to the pub if you like, or the one opposite that looked much better. [Pauses, looks Chastity in the eye and hobbles into the shimmery green thing]

Chastity : I think the crispy one is right. [Draws her mace and jumps high, grabbing her knees to her chest and going right into the surface crying] Merinigo!

Mei : This group is truly a group of honourable people. There is a Confusio saying for this situation; it is.. [thinks hard] ...I believe I can remember it... [looks at the shrinking green surface] Oh, never mind Confusio. [Jumps into the surface]

Jerome : [Muttering to himself] Jerome does not approve of this non-scientific methodology one bit, but, given how small the surface is, had better jump in.

[JEROME jumps in, just as the surface reduces to the size of a manhole. Unfortunately, it continues to shrink, just as he enters, and it closes around his waist, holding him there.]

Jerome : Oh no! Jerome is stuck! Oh, Phili, if you let Jerome out of this, he swears he will never give any thought to committing rash actions again!

[The party appear in mid air, about thirty feet above ground. Directly below them, on a stage, are DARIUS, DANGSTEN, ANIMAL, STRAHD, SLUG and MORTICE, gathered around a small table. On the table is a bowl, with a diameter of around six inches, and DANGSTEN is holding the dagger just over it. There is light pouring out of the dagger, and it seems to be accumulating in the bowl. The stage is contained in a huge auditorium, filled with a massive audience, all of whom are dead quiet. There are a number of banners around, all of which say "Welcome to StarSearch(TM)". All the party are here, except JEROME, of whom only his bottom half is present, and is kicking wildly, almost injuring several of the others. The party seem to be suspended in mid-air.]

Jerome: [Holding his breath, and trying to look below. Doesn't realise the others can hear him] This may be Dr Jerome K. Trindle's last! Oh Alice, Alice why did we never follow our hearts. The rest of my fearless party, we have accomplished so much together! But there's so many dreams left unfollowed, so many rainbows never glimpsed!

Alice : [Cringeing with embarassment] Er, maybe we're just hanging here because Jerome is stuck. Let's pull him through. [Reaches up and grabs hold of one of Jerome's shoes, which comes off in her hand, and smacks her in the forehead] Ow!

[The shoe bounces off her and flies down towards the group on the stage.]

Jerome : [Hearing Alice and turns red realising the group could hear all he had said] Yes, perhaps it is. Maybe if anyone has some lubricant, we can oil the part of the... the .. shield? that has captured the Dr's waist and can slip through!

Alice : Austin? Maybe you might be of some assistance here?

Dangsten : [To the audience] And now, cower as I show you the greatest spectacle ever witnessed. Slug, the swords!

[SLUG pulls out two short swords, and swipes them around, just as JEROME's shoe is about to hit him. He shreds the shoe into a thousand pieces, causing them to flutter all around.]

Dangsten : [Angrily to someone in the aisle] I told you, the confetti comes out after the resurrection, just before the Chickaloons!

Jerome : What's going on down there? Chickaloons? Confetti?

Alice : It looks like they are going to try and raise Pestilence, and it looks like they've managed to get something of an audience, too!

Chastity : [Looking down on the scene unfolding below] It's amazing what some people will call entertainment. [Squints down to read the large print schedule on the wall. A look of horror comes over her face] Blinded Date is on next. O'Phili protect me. [Mumbles a small prayer]

Austin : [Passes round small sachets of lubricant and puts some on Jeromes stuck bits] Slap on some of this and he will slip out of that hole as smoothly as a hamster from a ... a vacuum cleaner.

Alice : Thanks, Aus. Hey! This one is already opened! [The sachet pops out of her hand with an audible "slurp". She catches it again, but it keeps popping up.]

[JEROME is quickly lubed up, and slips out with an audible pop, causing him to give a huge sigh of relief.]

Jerome : Ah! Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD, believes that he would enjoy a cigarette right at this moment.

[Suddenly, everyone falls, and crash onto the table, much to the surprise of those on the stage, eliciting screams from the audience.]

Stage Manager : [Looking at his clipboard] What the hell? We haven't even got to the Chickaloons yet!

[AUSTIN lands face first in the bowl, and there is a burst of light, which simply passes through the party, but sends all the others on the stage to the floor.]

Clint : [Tries to use the element of surprise and throws a blow at Animal with Beaucaphalus]

Chastity : [To no-one in particular] The holy light of Phili smiteth the evil ones! [Picks herself up, brandishing her mace] I hope thats the only fall from grace we have here. [Quickly glances around for the dagger] Where's the dagger?

Austin : [Stands up, screaming in agony, hands on his face] Aaaaaarrrgh! [Stumbles around (he has dropped his crutch)] Get it off me! Aaaaargh! [More dramatic that John Hurt in Alien. Falls to his knees, Maplin on face, other arm outstretched for help] Help m ... aaargh! [CLINT swings and hits ANIMAL, cutting a deep gash in him.]

Dangsten : Get out of here! We're unprotected during the ceremony! [Throws an orb onto the ground, just in front of Mortice, who promptly jumps in]

Alice : [Pointing at the ground between Chastity and Strahd] Look! There's the dagger! [Grabs the two swords from the table and swings at Slug, hitting him twice.]

[SLUG screeches in agony, as shreds of skin are ripped off.]

Chastity : [Quickly jumps forward to try and pick up the dagger]

Austin : [Now his face is better than it ever was, a truly heavenly visage, the light is gone and he now stands with a ball of black flame in either hand] It's time to play with my balls! [Runs to Dangsten and smacks him in the face with a ball of black flame]

Mei : The time has come to show my respect and service for this party! [Picks up the bowl from the table and throws it at Strahd to protect Chastity]

Clint : [To Animal] Meet the magic blade! [Throws another blow at Animal] [As both CHASTITY and STRAHD go for the dagger, the bowl flies passed CHASTITY, missing her by millimetres, before slapping STRAHD hard in the face.]

Alice : Wahey! These are great! [Hits Slug another two times, eliciting an ear piercing screech from him]

Dangsten : [As Austin closes in] That time will come. [Steps back into the shimmering area, followed by Darius]

[AUSTIN closes in, just as DANGSTEN disappears, and seems to simply rebound off the shield. ANIMAL and STRAHD both make a dive for the area too, but not before CLINT strikes ANIMAL once again.]

Clint : Damn those wierd shields! [Turns to attack Slug]

[Both ALICE and CLINT hack at SLUG, and both hit him. He falls to his knees in front of them, screeching horribly. CLINT's blow takes his arm off, and when it falls to the ground the party see that there are thousands of tiny maggots in his shoulder, dropping to the ground.]

Austin : [Dramatically smacks Slug in the face with a ball of black flame. Speaking aloud to impress the audience] Now feel the power of Austin Sleaze, foul demon!

Chastity : [Picks up the dagger, looking around to make sure no-one is going to try and grab it] By Phili, finish the evil off! [Looks at the maggots] Oh, and lookout for hungry birds. [To Mei] Do you have a chinese gunpower bomb to throw down the portal?

[AUSTIN's ball engulfs SLUG's head, leading to more screeching. It seems to burn with a black flame.]

Alice : [To Clint] That noise is getting kind of annoying, isn't it?

[ALICE and CLINT attack again, and both hit. SLUG falls to the ground lifeless. As soon as he does, his body splits open, revealing tens of thousands of maggots, pouring onto the stage.]

Alice : Oh no! They're going to kill us all!

[Immediately, all the maggots burst into tiny pieces. Shortly after, AUSTIN's second ball disappears. There is now absolute silence in the auditorium.]

Chastity : [Turns to the Auditorium. In a loud voice] And thus the Power of Phili once again defeats the forces of evil. Here endeth the lesson.

Austin : [Grabs the ressurection bowl before it goes astray, walks smartly to the front of the stage and bows slightly] Did nobody like the show? [Starts clapping towards Chastity] Well done that lady, a splendid magic show.

[Somewhere out in the audience, someone begins clapping. Soon, other people join in, and, before long, the whole audience is on their feet, cheering, and throwing roses onto the stage.]

Alice : Thank you! Thank you! [Bends down to pick up a rose, but pair of underpants is thrown onto her head] Eauh! [Throws it on the ground] I think that was meant for you, Austin!

[The standing ovation continues.]

Clint : Allelujah!

Chastity : [Puts her arms in the air] All praise to Phili.[Brings her hands down to a prayer position, pauses reverently and then goes to check what else is left on the table]

Austin : [Holding the bowl, bows slightly to the audience, mouths 'thankyou', smiles. To Chastity] Did you get the resurection knife?

Chastity : [To Austin, struggling to be heard over the audience rapture] Yes, I did. Maybe we'd best at least keep them separate even just within the group for the moment. [Pauses to look at Austin's face] Hmmm, I see that salt eventually did the trick. [Continues looking around the table] [Still the audience continue cheering, and various banners are held up around the auditorium. Some young women hold a "We Love Austin" sign, while a bunch of female goths and moody looking young men in trench coats have a "Clint Kicks Ass" banner. There is a particularly loud group of nuns in the corners who are waving their "There's Nun Like Chastity" flag, and singing Chastity's name, while a group of geeky types in white coats and Star Trek shirts make up the www.jerome.com website. To one side is a motely crew of slutty looking teenage girls and construction workers who have an "Alice Rools" banner, while another group of fans is made up of a group of Oriental performance artists who are burning some incense. There is one final group of men holding a "We Love Austin More" sign, and relations between them and the other faction seem to wearing a little thin. Enter MATTY FEELER, the host of StarSearch, who tries to hush the audience, and slowly they calm down.]

Matty : [Standing in between Alice and Chastity, an arm around each, speaking slowly and loudly to be heard over the quietening audience] Well girls, you've just been part of one of the best acts StarSearch(TM) has ever seen, what are you thinking now?

Alice : I suppose I wondering what makes you think you'll get away with squeezing my left breast.

Matty : [Laughs mindlessly] That's just great. [Takes his arm off Alice]

Clint : And I'm wondering why isn't the nun complaining about her right breast.

Austin : [Goes to say hello to his fans, and snog the pretty ones] Time to parrrty!

Alice : Shut up, Stinky! There's nothing wrong with my right breast! Why should she complain about it?

Matty : [Another mindless laugh] Oh-kay! [Quietly to the party] Look guys, you gave an incredible performance, let's just keep it together for the voting, okay?

Chastity : [Waves to the group of nuns] Cooeeee, Sister Alphonso. [To Matty] I'm thinking why did you let those evil beasts on stage in the first place. [Shrugs Matty's arm off her shoulder]

Austin : [Snogs some more gorgeous girls (any that are up for it)] Okay ladies, I see you later [returns to the stage, give the crowd a wave]

Matty : [Laughs a little at Chastity, obviously nervous] Well, Sister, that's because they seemed to be devils, and killed anyone who tried to stop them. [Points at a bunch of dead stage hands, before turning to the crowd, and shouting loudly] Okay, everyone! Time to cast your votes, will it be for Maarten Job, and his incredible puppy juggling? [Maarten Job walks passed, waving a puppy at the crowd.] Or, will it be for Cheridan Pates, [Cheridan Pates jogs in with a really flat suitcase, and bows to the crowd] with her hilarious collection of flat cats? Maybe Miguel Ryan with that really big jar of old snot? [Applauds himself, as Miguel Ryan walks on stage with a green jar.]

Alice : [To the others] Wow, that's a really big jar!

Matty : Or, will it be the party from Queens View, with their incredible, devil-killing pyrotechnic show? [Huge applause etc. from the audience.]

Jerome : [Jerome's eyes light up when he sees his fans] Why there's Dr Jerome K Trindle's bsc phd old friends - Dr Eugene J Browning md(h) phd, and Dr William T Thomson b(eng) phd! [Does a real nerdy wave to them, then turns to Alice] Alice dearest, would you like to meet my friends?

Eugene : [Snickers geekily] Uh, is that Jerome's girlfriend?

William : [Does a Beavis and Butthead snigger] Huh-uh! She's got nice jugs.

Alice : Maybe later, Jerome.

Matty : And the votes are in, its [drum roll] yes, its [another drum roll] well, someone's going to be very happy [yet another drum roll] because the winner is none other than [cue drums] the one and only -

Alice : [Snatching the card off him] Give it to me! [Reads the card] 555 8866 2244. What?

Matty : [Smiles and gives her a wink] That's my mobile number.

Chastity : [To Matty] Mr. Feeler, I hope you are not using your show-biz profile to take advantage of impressionable young ladies!

Austin : [To Matty] Mr. Feeler, I hope you are not wasting your show-biz profile buy not copping off with every bit of stuff you can get your hands on! It is my duty to beautiful woman kind to exploit them in every way they want.

Matty : Er, of course not! [Stands to one side to block Chastity's view of the thirty pregnant girls waiting offstage] Anyway, the winner is [one final dramatic pause] Miguel Ryan!

[There is absolute silence, broken only by the sound of ALICE clapping quietly.]

Alice : [Whispering to Chastity] That was an awful lot of snot.

Matty : [Laughs and smiles self-ingratiatingly] I mean, it was, with a new record of 100% of the votes, the Queens View party!

[The crowd go wild again.]

Chastity : [To Matty] What do we win?

Austin : [To Chastity] You suddenly appear to be most interested in material gains, sister. Is it not enough that your 'Philli' has triumphed, even though we did all the hard work. [Ducks of the stage and snogs a few more babes, returning moments later, with a few less calling cards than before]

Matty : Chastity, you and your friends win this lovely fridge freezer!

[A curtain is pulled back to reveal a scantily clad girl showing off a large white box.]

Matty : And that's not all, each of you get one of these beautiful StarSearch commemerative t-shirts and plaques! [Smiles broadly at them, before muttering under his breath] Now get off the stage, I've got a girly waiting for me in my dressing room.

Chastity : [Picking up some calling cards. To Austin] You seem to have dropped some of your cards. [Hands them to Austin] Unfortunately we live in a material world. Anything that I win will obviously be donated to the church for good deeds. Like sending flowers poor and impoverished to make them feel better. Or sending senior priests out on expensive fact finding missions to search for the starving and needy.[Looks round at the Fridge freezer] It's not energy saving one - how wasteful!

Austin : [To Chastity, looking at the calling cards] These are not mine, mine look like this [Calls over a pretty young babe from the audience and shows Chastity a tattoed signature and phone number on the girls navel]

Girl : Or, like this one! [Calls over a pretty young boy from the audience, with a similar tattoed signature and phone number on his naval.]

[Enter TOM BRAIDER.]

Tom : Comrades! I am simply staggered at your bravery! Stunned at your genius, and, frankly, quite surprised at your capacity to entertain the masses. You have just scored the highest ever vote in StarSearch! Do you have any idea of the power this gives you over the town?

Chastity : [To Tom] Given the attention span of most people who watch these shows, probably none.

Tom : [In a scolding voice] Now sister, you know, I think you underestimate the attention span of - [looks at the crowd in consternation] Hey!

[Some of the male AUSTIN fans have started fighting some of the female AUSTIN fans, and much of the audience is gathered around them.]

Audience : Fight! Fight! Fight!

Chastity : [Looking at the fight] Disgraceful. I've not seen so much scratching and hair pulling since the Archbishop Golly Reid came to visit the convent.

Austin : [Concerned] I hope my little sweets don't damage eachother too much, I do so tire of doctors and nurses after a few hours. [Musing] We really ought to organise a party.

Tom : [Punching Austin in the arm] Excellent idea! That's exactly what I was thinking of! A political party - just think of the support you have now, you got an even higher score than the other party!*

Austin : [Grabs a mike] Ladies and Gentlemen, and my rowdy fan club are all invited to a celebratory party tonight at Tom Braiders house! [To Tom] Thanks Tom. [Starts clapping]

Clint : A party? Wahey! With drink, chickaloons and dirty women?

[TOM starts to protest, but is drowned out by the audience chanting and cheering, clapping along with AUSTIN. Eventually, the cheering dies down somewhat.]

Tom : That's not what I meant, you fool! Here's your chance to finally oust the other group - let's call an election!

Austin : [To Tom] Excellent idea! [Over the mike] And why not call an election while we're at it, so we can have a double party - celebration and election party, Thanks Tom, you're a great guy [Punches Tom in the arm in a chummy manner, turns to the crowd and does some more clapping]

Tom : [Muttering to himself] The things I do for this town.

Jerome : Jerome will speak on behalf of the party. Mike?

[MIKE steps away from AUSTIN, and gets down on his hands and knees so JEROME can stand on his back.]

Jerome : Friends, nerds [Jerome's group of fans get particularly boistrous] and countrymen, it is time for you to change your government! Vote us in as your new leaders, and you will finally be free of the other party! [To Matty] They can vote here, right?

Matty : [Sigh] Yes. [Loudly, with a huge smile to the audience] Cast your votes now!

Jerome : [Gestures hopefully to his friends to vote for them] Though Dr Jerome K Trindle is sure that there is more to being elected than this. Where are the drug scandles, the sex with prostitutes in sleazy hotels? The opening of food chains, the kissing of babies, the bribing and being bribed?

Mei : Confusio say, politics should be left to the people, and politicians should be people first. A wise man, Confusio was. What we need to do is be more personable before we can start being political. But something smells fishy about all this. [Wrinkles his nose]

Clint : [Lifting his armpit and taking a deep sniff] Must be this new thing called deodorant that I was told to try. It stinks, doesn't it? Phew!

Mei : [Gags and just about faints] For Phili's sake, put your arm down, Clint! I'm feeling nauseous! [Moves further away from him, towards the audience, making retching noises]

Alice : Clint! You're not supposed to eat it! You're supposed to rub it under your arm!

[MEI staggers away from the group, and throws up on a PROSTITUTE and her BABY, who are near the front of the crowd.]

Alice : [To Jerome] I guess that's as close to a scandal as we're going to get.

[MATTY is handed a card by a STAGE HAND.]

Matty : [To the party] You've done it, you've just been elected joint mayors of Hallbridges!

Alice : [Two thumbs up to the others] Alright! We're in charge of the drugs!

Mei : [To prostitute, while very pale in his face] I am so sorry, honourable audience member. Let me clean it up for you. [Immediately begins cleaning up in an embarrassed fashion, but gags a few more times]

Clint : Mayors? So do we get our on office, with a personal prosti... secretary? And a Bercedes Menz, with leather seats? Boy, I'm starting to like politics!

Tom : [Standing beside Clint] Absolutely, Mr. Scar. An office each, young interns with short skirt, [turns to Clint] some of whom are female [carries on] a huge salary, an army of servants to do your bidding, armed guards to help you in any way you see fit. Its gonna be great!

Mei : [Seems to be recovering] Um, sorry, but what were we supposed to be doing here and now? I forget...

Austin : [To Tom] Surely it must be time for chickaloons? And where in the name of Phili is my secretary?

Chastity : [Pointing into the crowd of Austin's "fan club"] Austin, that person just within ear-shot seems to be very keen. That man there, with the bushy moustache and the peaked leather cap.

Austin : [To Chastity] You mean the one holding the 'Playing with nuns is most dreadfully habit forming' banner? No I think I'll take you [Grabs a pretty girl] and you [Grabs a pretty boy (18 of course)]

Alice : What about those guys? [Points at some of Austin's fans] I think the construction worker, biker and the cop are really cool, but I'm not so sure about soldier and Indian.

[The GIRL and BOY leap onto the stage, thrilled to be chosen by AUSTIN, and delighted that, at that very moment, the chickaloons are released.]

Tom : [Shouting to be heard over all the noise] I'll just get your chests of gold.