THE QUEENS VIEW AFFAIR

[Book III, Act IX, Scene I. The Palace in Euphoria. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY and HARVEY are here, having just appeared on the floor in front of SIEGFRIED and OLIVE.]

Siegfried : Well, what have you to say for yourselves?

Harvey : Gah! Give us a moment sir, we are in quite a disarray.

Siegfried : Is that because you are too intoxicated to think properly?

Chastity : [Does a bit of dry wretch] Eurgh. Don't you dare bring up intoxicating drinks. [Shudders. To Olive] Have you been waiting for us here all this time?

Austin : [To Chastity] It is clear by the way they are dressed that they have been here for several thouusand years [Smirks].

Harvey : [Attempting to get up, to Siegfried] Sir, we are as happy to be back here, as you are in seeing us back here, what! Damned odd business, damned odd!

Siegfried : [Glances at Olive for a second, before turning back to Harvey] I doubt that.

Austin : [Sighs for effect. To Siegfried] I expect you do. Well, now, you are quite aware of our circumstances and, indeed, our intentions, vis a vis the wand. The situation is simple, we want it, you have it, so I am sure we can come to some sort of an arrangement. [Austin paces a little] You don't seem to be doing much with it, if fact you're just using it for personal amusement, playing with the poor humans trapped behind the shield, like some kind of sick and depraved experiment, or reality show. Something I find most distasteful. I had thought more of you, but now I now why you hate humankind so much, [waves hands in explanitory way] it is because humankind reminds you of all of your flaws, and you can't stand to see the reality, the elves and humans are very alike. So, it occurs to me that we would be doing you a favor by taking the wand away from you, thereby removing the cause of you obssesive, sad lives and allowing you to move on, expand your horizons, and get a life, become what you pretend to be, what you desire to be. And [Pauses for effect] In this action of giving the wand to us, you will be helping us in our fight against the shapeshifters, who are most probably Pestillences hench persons, and help us save the human race, your first line of defence against the outside world. [Smiles happily to Seigfried] There now, simple as that. Do you understand?

Olive : That depends on what you mean by waiting. If you mean, standing here by the shield in anticipation of your arrival, then no.

Alice : [Staggering as she stands up] What if by waiting we mean lying around on a couch drinking brandy and eating snakes feet, not really caring whether we live or die?

Olive : Then I would probably say yes.

Siegfried : No. I do not understand how it is that you insult the very one who tried to help you.

Chastity : [Turns to Seigfried as if to say something, but stops herself. To Alice] If only it were that simple.

Alice : If what were that simple?

Austin : [To Alice] Life. [To Seigfried] Hmmm, I suppose that was a little abrupt, please excuse me, but you know how aggressive us humans are, although as you will e aware I prefer to engage in aggressive negotiation, rather than direct physical fighting. [Thinks] Well, in the first instance at any rate, but of course I would defend myself if I had to.

Chastity : [Smiling] Well you are a lawyer after all.

Siegfried : [To Austin] You look at me while you speak, but nothing of what you say appears to be of any interest.

Olive : [Holds up a hand] Perhaps we should all be calm. I know you are all probably somewhat confused after what happened in Mermantort, but I can assure you, things seemed much worse than they really are.

Austin : [To Seigfried] Likewise. Can we have the wand please? Or is that of no interest to you either.

Chastity : [To Olive] Is that because all the problems in Mermantort are trapped behind that shield?

Siegfried : Not all the problems in Mermantort are behind the shield. [Turns to Austin] It is not up to me whether or not you can have the wand, but I can assure you, once the rest of the Euphoric Elves find out what it is being used for, you will have to make a very strong case to get it off us.

Alice : [Looking confused] Didn't one of you say that Elves never lie to each other? Something about being not keeping secrets from one another?

Siegfried : Yes. Yes we did.

Chastity : [Sighs] Oh great. [To Seigfried] Does that make you a Shapeshifter then.

Siegfried : [Leaning in close to Chastity, and raising his voice angrily] Certainly not! [Almost as quickly, moves back to where he was, with his normal calm demeanour]

Chastity : [Holding up her bag in front of her] Ooooooooh. Touched a nerve there I think.

Austin : [Moves behind Chastity] I don't think that's Seigfried, losing his temper like that, for all we know that could be Pestillence ...

Olive : Our people had a long and painful struggle with Shapeshifters in the past. Unlike you humans, a perfect complexion is common amongst Euphoric Elves, and our number was easily infiltrated by them, causing an era of unpredented mistrust. Fortunately, those days are now long gone, and we have returned to complete trust and honesty with each other, but many of us can remember the darkness.

Harvey : Hmm, my dear, and did you banish them to Mermantort, for let me tell you, that city is crawling with shapeshifters!

Siegfried : [To Austin] I apologise for my outburst. It is simply that many of us hold Shapeshifters in even less esteem than we do humans.

Olive : [To Harvey] Did we banish them to Mermantort? Yes, I suppose, in a manner of speaking, we did.

Alice : [Breaking the awkward silence that has descended for the last few minutes] Do you mean you banished the shapeshifters? Or the humans?

Olive : [Smiles warmly at Alice] You all must be very tired, let us take you somewhere to rest, where you can sample some brandy.

Alice : Aw, thanks. You know, I am pretty tir - hey!

Austin : [Looks alarmed] It ails me that we spent much of our past keeping an eye out for the elusive Louis XIV or XV, rarely finding any, an most often not being offered any when we did find it, then we come here and everyone wants us to drink it, and then they tell us that it is elf urine. It is true?

Olive : It is both true and untrue. You need to be able to take an holistic view of things to be able to truly appreciate what it is we are trying to do.

Chastity : [With a smug look] I always said it was urine! Admittedly for the latter drink I just got the source wrong.

Harvey : Well said, Sister! And what kind of twisted perverted would want to drink urine?

Alice : [Loudly and quickly] I don't know! [Calms] I mean, Idunno. [To Olive] What do you mean it's true and untrue?

Olive : There are two different types of Louis XV. The one served in Mermantort may contain trace elements of Elven waste, but the one served in Euphoria most certainly does not.

Austin : [To Olive] And what is it that you are trying to do?

Olive : [Spreads her arms wide, palms turned up] Trying to coexist peacefully with all others.

Siegfried : [With a hint of a sneer to Olive] They may be human, but they're not stupid. [Notices that Alice has got one of her bracelets got in her earring] Well, most of them aren't.

Harvey : By God you're right, we're not stupid sir! Why are the humans in Mermantort being given this vile drink, and why do you let the shapeshifters run amok there? Surely it's only a matter of time before they get up here! And then you'll be attacked from within just as you're being attacked from without! What's the news on the siege?

Chastity: [Nods her head, pondering for a moment] Yes indeed, Colonel. All good questions. [To Seigfried] And are you part of some special organisation. You've already intimated that the general populous of Euphoria does not know of your scheming and actions?

Siegfried : I do not know what scheming you speak of. I am one of the elders of Euphoria, but everyone is aware of my actions.

Chastity : [Sarcastically] Oh, I'm sorry I didn't realise. So everyone is aware of your actions, apart from the use of the wand which, and I [annoying quote signs] quote "once the rest of the Euphoric Elves find out what it is being used for you will have to make a very strong case to get it off us." I believe you meant everyone is aware of your actions as long as you make them aware. You are a politician after all.

Austin : [Nodding to Chastity] Quite correct sister, though crude and tactless, you were transparent and to the point. [Turns to Seigfried to hear his reply to Chastity]

Siegfried : [With a little smile] That is correct, Chastity. However, I am not responsible for the human plight in Mermantort - it was in place before I became an Elder.

Alice : But what does all this mean for Louis XV? I mean, look at poor Stinky, he's struck dumb, well, dumber, through shock!

Harvey : By God you're right, we're not stupid sir! Why are the humans in Mermantort being given this vile drink, and why do you let the shapeshifters run amok there? Surely it's only a matter of time before they get up here! And then you'll be attacked from within just as you're being attacked from without! What's the news on the siege?

Chastity: [Nods her head, pondering for a moment] Yes indeed, Colonel. All good questions. [To Seigfried] And are you part of some special organisation. You've already intimated that the general populous of Euphoria does not know of your scheming and actions?

Siegfried : I do not know what scheming you speak of. I am one of the elders of Euphoria, but everyone is aware of my actions.

Chastity : [Sarcastically] Oh, I'm sorry I didn't realise. So everyone is aware of your actions, apart from the use of the wand which, and I [annoying quote signs] quote "once the rest of the Euphoric Elves find out what it is being used for you will have to make a very strong case to get it off us." I believe you meant everyone is aware of your actions as long as you make them aware. You are a politician after all.

Austin : [Nodding to Chastity] Quite correct sister, though crude and tactless, you were transparent and to the point. [Turns to Seigfried to hear his reply to Chastity]

Siegfried : [With a little smile] That is correct, Chastity. However, I am not responsible for the human plight in Mermantort - it was in place before I became an Elder.

Alice : But what does all this mean for Louis XV? I mean, look at poor Stinky, he's struck dumb, well, dumber, through shock!

Harvey : By God you're right, we're not stupid sir! Why are the humans in Mermantort being given this vile drink, and why do you let the shapeshifters run amok there? Surely it's only a matter of time before they get up here! And then you'll be attacked from within just as you're being attacked from without! What's the news on the siege?

Chastity: [Nods her head, pondering for a moment] Yes indeed, Colonel. All good questions. [To Seigfried] And are you part of some special organisation. You've already intimated that the general populous of Euphoria does not know of your scheming and actions?

Siegfried : I do not know what scheming you speak of. I am one of the elders of Euphoria, but everyone is aware of my actions.

Chastity : [Sarcastically] Oh, I'm sorry I didn't realise. So everyone is aware of your actions, apart from the use of the wand which, and I [annoying quote signs] quote "once the rest of the Euphoric Elves find out what it is being used for you will have to make a very strong case to get it off us." I believe you meant everyone is aware of your actions as long as you make them aware. You are a politician after all.

Austin : [Nodding to Chastity] Quite correct sister, though crude and tactless, you were transparent and to the point. [Turns to Seigfried to hear his reply to Chastity]

Siegfried : [With a little smile] That is correct, Chastity. However, I am not responsible for the human plight in Mermantort - it was in place before I became an Elder.

Alice : But what does all this mean for Louis XV? I mean, look at poor Stinky, he's struck dumb, well, dumber, through shock!

Austin : [To Siegfried] So what do you know of Pestillence and his cronies?

Clint : [To Alice] I am simply trying not to think about the fact that I've been drinking Elven piss for the last few days. [To Siegfried] Yes, surely a sick idea such as serving piss in crystal glasses must come from that sick bastard.

Chastity : [To Clint] But is the one who had a repeat glass sicker?

Clint : [To Chastity] Anyone could have been fooled by the distinct different colour and taste. [Pauses] Eh?

Chastity : Obviously the product placement research had been done most efficiently. [Pauses and shakes her head] What am I saying, this deception can never compare to the perversity of Pestilence. [To Seigfried] I hope for your sake that this has nothing to do with that monster.

Siegfried : I hope for your sake that you are not threatening me. This has nothing to do with Pestilence.

Alice : [To Clint] Hey! Are you sure we actually did drink the Elven, well, you know! The stuff we saw down below definitely looked different to what we were given here - [to Olive] Tell me the drink you gave us wasn't Elven urine.

Olive : [Deadpan] The drink we gave you wasn't Elven urine.

Harvey : By God you're right, we're not stupid sir! Why are the humans in Mermantort being given this vile drink, and why do you let the shapeshifters run amok there? Surely it's only a matter of time before they get up here! And then you'll be attacked from within just as you're being attacked from without! What's the news on the siege?

Chastity: [Nods her head, pondering for a moment] Yes indeed, Colonel. All good questions. [To Seigfried] And are you part of some special organisation. You've already intimated that the general populous of Euphoria does not know of your scheming and actions?

Siegfried : I do not know what scheming you speak of. I am one of the elders of Euphoria, but everyone is aware of my actions.

Chastity : [Sarcastically] Oh, I'm sorry I didn't realise. So everyone is aware of your actions, apart from the use of the wand which, and I [annoying quote signs] quote "once the rest of the Euphoric Elves find out what it is being used for you will have to make a very strong case to get it off us." I believe you meant everyone is aware of your actions as long as you make them aware. You are a politician after all.

Austin : [Nodding to Chastity] Quite correct sister, though crude and tactless, you were transparent and to the point. [Turns to Seigfried to hear his reply to Chastity]

Siegfried : [With a little smile] That is correct, Chastity. However, I am not responsible for the human plight in Mermantort - it was in place before I became an Elder.

Alice : But what does all this mean for Louis XV? I mean, look at poor Stinky, he's struck dumb, well, dumber, through shock!

Austin : [To Siegfried] So what do you know of Pestillence and his cronies?

Clint : [To Alice] I am simply trying not to think about the fact that I've been drinking Elven piss for the last few days. [To Siegfried] Yes, surely a sick idea such as serving piss in crystal glasses must come from that sick bastard.

Chastity : [To Clint] But is the one who had a repeat glass sicker?

Clint : [To Chastity] Anyone could have been fooled by the distinct different colour and taste. [Pauses] Eh?

Chastity : Obviously the product placement research had been done most efficiently. [Pauses and shakes her head] What am I saying, this deception can never compare to the perversity of Pestilence. [To Seigfried] I hope for your sake that this has nothing to do with that monster.

Siegfried : I hope for your sake that you are not threatening me. This has nothing to do with Pestilence.

Alice : [To Clint] Hey! Are you sure we actually did drink the Elven, well, you know! The stuff we saw down below definitely looked different to what we were given here - [to Olive] Tell me the drink you gave us wasn't Elven urine.

Olive : [Deadpan] The drink we gave you wasn't Elven urine.

Chastity : [To Alice] Apart from being immersed in an entire vat of the, erm, brandy. We nearly drowned in there, after all.

Austin : [To Chastity] The vat we swam in was genuine LouisXV, not the tainted stuff, that was in the other room. [To Seigfried] Making people drink elf urine is just the kind of thing that Pestillence would do. Further to this I would like to take this opportunity to point out the fact that, the aforementioned shapeshifters, are infact, in league with Pestillence, and do his bidding, and his bidding only. [Austin grimaces at his brandy soaked clothes] ;;;the vat we swam in was good brandy, the yellow stuff was in the other vat?

Siegfried : You do smell like you have been swimming in the real Louis XV. [Turns to Clint] Except you, perhaps.

Harvey : [Claps Chastity on the back] I say, Sister! Looks like we saved the troop from a terrible fate with that bottle breaking, eh? God only knows what they would have turned into otherwise.

[HARVEY is momentarily distracted by the sight of ALICE wringing her sleeve to extract some brandy.]

Olive : I am pleased that you are all alive, but I'm sure you understand why we can never give you the wand. Goodbye. [Looks away from the party, clearly expecting them to leave.]

Chastity : [To Olive] Hold on there. What do you mean by that comment. [Gestures round the group] Do we look like the sort of people who can just be palmed off with a casual wave?

Olive : [Smiles] You misunderstand me, Chastity. I am not insulting you, but praising the intelligence of you and your friends. Surely, now that you have seen why we need the wand, you would not think of asking for it? Last from Conor #46

Austin : [To Olive, dramatically] Don't you see the flaw in your methods? You use the wand as an ad hoc fix to your problem, not as a cure, and it is then plain to see that such measures can only be temporary. Eventually, the problem you are ignoring will not go away, but build up, [swipes the air, intensity in his voice] ever more increasing pressure, until finally the barrier, so to speak, will give way and it will be [spoken sadly] too late [pause for effect] to take any action as you are quickly overwhelmed by an innundation of Pertillences' henchmen and slaves. [Smiles chirply] We on the other hand, [gestures to the others] offer a solution to you problem, if we can have the wand we can destroy the problem at it's source, once and for all, forevermore, ensuring your safety. And of course we will bring the wand back as soon as we have finished with it.

Olive : [Coldly] I do not believe you. Humans are liars and not to be trusted. If we lose the wand, we lose control of the Shapeshifters and in turn - well, we lose something far more valuable than the likes of you can ever understand.

Alice : [Whispering to Chastity] Hey! Didn't she lie to us about Mermantort?

Olive : [Gives Alice a quick glare before turning back to Austin] There is no question about it. We will defeat the Morcs.

[Enter TRISTRAM, with an arrow in his hat. He looks quite excited, at least for a Euphoric Elf.]

Tristram : Olive, Tristram! I think we're going to be defeated by the Morcs!

Clint : [To Olive] You were saying? Maybe you need a hand from the likes of us?

Olive : I cannot imagine a situation where we would ever need to stoop to such desperation. You cannot ever expect to appreciate what we would have to give up to do that.

Alice : Yeah? Well, we're a pretty smart bunch, you'd be surprised at what we could imagine. Tell her, Jerome.

[Time passes.]

Alice : Jerome? Jerome? Hey! Where is he?

Harvey : [Goes over and gives Alice a hug] Oh my dear niece, I'm afraid our esteemed doctor never made it through! Yet again, this old soldier must grieve for the loss of a comrade! [Turns to Olive] Excuse me, but that situation might just be the here and now! You're defences are failing and soon, the Morcs will rampage through this very town, burning and pillaging and rap...more burning! What damage there will be when the Morcs get hold of the wand!

Siegfried : Well, Olive? You are the leader of the elders, what do you say?

Olive : I say you must be insaner than a virgin human to even suggest we give up Louis XV in exchange for the possibility that a bunch of savages might join our side. My God, just look at them!

Chastity : Despite your lies and betrayal, you will have to trust us. We can help you maintain your future way of life. As the Colonel said, the last thing you want is a horde of Morcs inside the city rapping! [Shudders] Oh, imagine all the strained rhyming and [does a rapper crossed over arms thing, leaning slightly to the side.] Yohs.

[A short, embarassed silence follows.]

Olive : No, the last thing I want is the likes of you taking control of the wand. You claim that you can maintain our life? That is a lie. We need the brandy. Are you prepared to return the wand so that we can maintain Mermantort?

Chastity : [Straightening up] If needs must.

Austin : [To Olive] Why do you [emphasis] need the brandy? It makes you sound like a bunch of drug addicts.

Harvey : [To Chastity] I say, Sister Chastity! You don't bally well suggest that we let these Elves enslave humans by just giving them back the wand, do you?

Siegfried : He has a point. Once the wand is gone from Euphoria, both humans and Shapeshifters will attempt to escape.

Olive : [Turns a chilling gaze on Austin] We need the brandy because without it we would begin to return to the primal state we were in before we first sampled it, and, while that state is miles ahead of you on the evolutionary scale, it is still abhorrent to any right thinking Elf.

Clint : So the lawyer is right, you really are a bunch of drug addicts.

Olive : We are not drug addicts. We merely use a chemical substance to increase our mental capacity and broaden our minds.

Alice : [Rubbing her nose, and half drowning out what she mutters to Clint] Sure sounds like a bunch of cheese eaters to me.

[Slowly some Elves start drifting into the room, all with looks of grave concern.]

Chastity : [Aside to Harvey, out of pointy elven ear-shot] Certainly not Colonel. I said if needs must. If we decided that our needs, saving the world, were greater than theirs, imprisoning humans for booze, then surely we'd be justified in keeping the wand. [Gives Harvey a smile and taps her nose]

[The shield crackles, and JEROME is thrown out of it, landing on the floor beside the party. He quickly jumps to the his feet, looking alert.]

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, finds it most worrisome to have journied through an energy field of such a perplexing resonance. [Looks around] Ah a collection of the indigenous population. [Holds hand out to be shaken] Jerome feels mild satisfaction at making your acquantance.

Harvey : [Furrows his brow for a second, before giving a loud laugh] Hah! Excellent Sister, excellent. I mean [lowers his voice] excellent. [Turns to Jerome] Dr. Trindle, you made it after all! [Shakes Jerome's hand so vigorously that his entire body shakes]

Alice : Jerome! I knew you'd be okay.

Siegfried : [Unperturbed at all this emotionalism] I feel little, if any, at making yours.

Chastity : [Grabbing Jeromes hand to shake] Come now, Doctor. We may have been here a while, but we're far from indigenous.

[The Elves that have come in are clearly unhappy.]

Tristram : Olive? Is this true? Are the humans really enslaved to bring us inner peace?

Olive : Yes. But, they're savages? They are little more than animals, what does it matter? My God, [points at Clint] this one has been submerged in Louis XV brandy and still reeks of body odour! Do you really want to sacrifice all we have for them?

Clint : [Lifting his armpit and smelling it deeply] Really? Ah, thanks for the compliment! [With a hint of sarcasm] These Elves aren't so bad after all!

Chastity : [Innocently] Oh, how did they find out. [Snaps her fingers] Oh, dash, I forgot about the telepathic powers. [Smiles] for the all!

Jerome : [Givng a forced smile] Jerome is quite perplexed as to the nature of the salutations given to him. [Scratches his chin] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, asserts that although you do seem familiar, and act as such as well, Jerome cannot quite put a name to the proud visage that you wear sir. [Bows] Enchanted my dear lady, maybe in your haste you have confused me with another gentleman.

Harvey : Eh? What on earth are you talking about, Doctor?

Olive : [Gestures to the party] See? Look how they constantly bicker between each other? See how they cannot even recognise each other. Are we prepared to sacrifice eternal serenity for that?

Clint : [To Jerome] Come on Jerry!, it's me, good old Clint! [Gives Jerome a friendly punch on the shoulder]

Chastity : [To Harvey] Obviously the good doctor has had some sort amnesia or rebirth since his death and re-emergence fro the shield

Austin : [Squeaks and ducks from Olives icy glare, to a safe spot behind Alice. To Tristram] Are you all sure that you are not addicted to Louis XV, I have had some and it is very, very nice, but [timmidly] have you ever tried going without it for a week or two?

Tristram : We are not sure at all. And now we are even less sure that we want to be, given that we have just found out how it is made.

Alice : [Looks confused for a second] Hm. [Turns to Austin] Are you hiding behind me? Or rubbing up against me?

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, finds it most pleasurable to be recognised by his public. [Rubbing his shoulder in discomfort, He looks at Harvey] However Jerome would reply to your statement by indicating that the good doctor is greeting the individual, now known to be Harvey, whom he has no recollection of meeting. [To Olive] Jerome cannot recognise this gentleman, fair elf, for he has simply not met him before. [Whispers] Although the paunch is exceedingly familiar...

Austin : [To Alice] A bit of both really, they are not totally independant pasttimes. [Looks ar Jerome] Don't you remember anything? [Smiles] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD? [Stays very, very close to Alice, keeping a sharp eye on Olive]

Alice : Oh, that's okay so.

[There is clearly a huge tension between the elves in the room. Eventually, OLIVE turns and starts walking out.]

Olive : [Stopping in her tracks, and turning back to face the room] Is this really what you want? To give up our way of life for [waves dismissively at the party] this?

Siegfried : I believe the answer is yes.

Alice : [Turning angrily to Austin] Hey!

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, feels as though dark forces are converging upon his position. [Stares at Austin] Jerome is high unnerved, annoyed and repulsed by a certain individual and does not know why. Most perplexing.

Chastity : [To Austin] Mr. Sleaze, will you please stop rubbing against that poor girl, you're starting to make her hair stand up. And I pray that her hair is the only thing that is succumbing to that effect.

Clint : Great! Now that everything is sorted, let's teach those Morcs a lesson! Last from Miguel #74

Austin : [To Chastity] Your prayers are enough to stop anything standing on end, Chassers. [To Olive, tentatively] Don't you want to evolve without the use of Louis XV? Surely you want to be able to say that what you have achieved has been through your own hard work, prowess and dilligence, and not the product of some narcotic induced state, all be it one as tasty as Louis XV?

Chastity : [Gestures towards Clint, nodding her head] Look at where human evolution has got to with the aid of alcohol. Carry on down the path of Louis XV and this is your future.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, will be forthright in saying that he ratifies the comments made by the greasy looking individual hiding behind that delightful young debutant. [Whispering to Austin's forearm] Maplin whatever are you doing in this conclave of the unlikely, especially attached to him!

Alice : [Gives Jerome an incredulous look] What? You remember Maplin, but you don't remember me?

[The elves murmer amongst themselves at CHASTITY's words.]

Olive : So be it. But let me say this. These humans are even lower and more disgusting than the others it has been my misfortune to meet. They will bring nothing but death, destruction and depravity to our world. I pray that they die before their unholy mission is carried out.

[Exit OLIVE, just as BODDY and ALTHO enter.]

Boddy : [Looking out after Altho] Ha! I told you that they'd be here! [Turns and sees the party for the first time] Ah, spreading joy again, I see.

Austin : [To Jerome, sneering] It's not grease, it's Louis XV. [Turns to Boddy] Hey there Mr. Boddy, [motions to the party] Just helping these elves with their evolution. [Come out from behind Alice and straightens his jacket, wiping off Louis XV here and there]

Jerome: [Looks wistfully at Alice] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, admits that the presence of one whose boundless beauty fills his humble heart with joy. Whose smiles sets my sole alight with the fire of unending passion. A paragon of such relentless perfection that Jerome cannot, neigh, will not stifle those emotions under a thin veneer of civility. For that lady rules Jerome's very soul. [Pause] Unfortunately Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, is agast that this essence of desire has been snatched from his mind. His memory has been erroded such that effacious working is no longer possible. Jerome wishes that the fog that lays heavily over his unrequited love is cast aside revealing herself to him. A joyous day that would be and the very angels themselves would sing hosannas in recognition at the completion of such a wonderful destiny. [Jerome sighs and then looks down his nose at Austin] Actually it appears to Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, that it is a narcotic enriched alcohol solution laced with what appears to be [Jerome sniffs the air around Austin] extract of boiled cabbage, rather than a member of nobility. [Turns to Chastity] You must be a lady of science with such a grasp of evolutionary trends, such as those found in the paper 'Evolutionary backsliding applied to sapient life-form under the influence of excessive narcotic or alocohol intake', published in the Journal of Evolutionary Science 124(2) pp1012-1047, author Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD.

Chastity : [To Jerome, gesturing towards herself] I am quite obviously a lady of the cloth, and as such have most certainly not read any of your papers. But now is not the time for a debate on the theory of evolution, not with a savage horde at the gates baying for the blood of any living thing.

Alice : [Listening to Jerome intently] Sorry, Jerome, but, what did you say after "admits"?

Boddy : [To Austin] And there was I thinking that we had all the fun escaping from Balkline.

Altho : [To the party in general] What did you do to Olive? Speak quickly, and speak truly.

Clint : What do you mean? She just stormed off, no reason whatsoever. Apart from my BO and Austin's rambling, that is.

Jerome: [To Alice] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, shall summarise in the ancient Washimi dialect of the lower Lowestoft. [Speaking in a high pitched nasal voice] N'Chuck Trangao Guzulli-pico [Coughs and speaks normally again] this can be approximately translated into, O dawn radiance, swift my passion for you, past love lost in memory calls me. Direct translation is considerably cruder. [Blushes and adjusts his tie, Looks to Altho] Olive did indeed leave, she indicated that the beneficial growth of your society was bound upon the consumption of narcotics. Chastity and Austin [Gestures to them] informed her of the futility of this pattern. Then this, er, gentleman stated that violence should be performed unto the intruders in order to deter them from possessing, and possibly destroying, the city.

Chastity : [To Altho] Or to put it another way. The Elders were in league with some shapeshifters to keep humans imprisoned with a combination of the wand and elven urine to produce Louis XV brandy. This knowledge is now out in the general public, and Olive has gone off in a huff because we may get our hands on the wand to help defeat the Morcs at the gate. [Pauses] Hey. Thats a point. How did you get past the Morcs into the city?

Austin : [To Altho and Boddy] We, it's good to see that you are alive, well for the time being, anyway. [To Altho] Olive was upset because we found out that the elves have become addicted to Louis XV, and she informed us that it enlightened and strengthed them, so I informed her that she was deluded if she believes that drug addiction was progressive, just to help you understand.

Altho : [Turns away from Austin and looks at Siegfried for a moment, before turning back to Austin] I'm sure you were very diplomatic as you did so.

Boddy : [Looks around him, as though checking no one is listening in, before leaning forwards to Chastity, and speaking quietly] Can you keep a secret?

Chastity : [To Boddy] Of course.

Boddy : [Stepping back] So can I.

Austin : [Sniggers gleefully at Boddy. Sighs. To Altho] I was as diplomatic and polite as one can be when faced with the downright denial of an addict. [Paces a few steps] Politeness will save neither humans nor elves, [Checks his hair swiftly in his pocket mirror, and puts a tiny curl on his forehead in his brandy laquered hair] I was just diplomatic enough, not too obvious, but obvious enough to be uncannily clear and to the point, which has been proven just and appropriate so far, and I expect it will endure for some time to come.

Jerome: [With a serious demeanour] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, enquires why are you now present in this locale, vis-à-vis the impending attack of the brutish intruders and potential sacking of the city?

Harvey : Indeed so, good doctor, well said that man. [To Boddy] Well, how did you get in this place, vizzyviz, this room, what? What news of the horde?

Alice : [To Jerome] To get this, of course! [Holds up her hand, but there's nothing in it] Oh, that's right. We still don't have the wand!

Boddy : [To Harvey] The whore at the gate is looking even more menacing than when you entered.

Jerome: [To Alice] Jerome requests which wand are you endevoring to acquire. [To Boddy]Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, wishes to make the following postulate; Are these Morc's ladies of negotiable affection, and indeed dubious moral virtue or a bloodthirst band of savages?

Alice : The wand to detect the Shapeshifters, of course! It turns out that the Elves were using it to keep the Shapeys under control, who were using Elven waste to keep the humans under control, who are being used to produce Louis XV which keeps the Elves wanting to keep the Shapeys under control. [To Siegfried] That's about it, isn't it?

Siegfried : That's a surprisingly accurate account of what is going on.

Alice : Kind of makes one wonder why the Shapeys never thought of poisoning the brandy, doesn't it?

Siegfried : No.

Boddy : [To Jerome, while lighting up a huge cigar] A bit of both. [Thinks for a moment] Although, you really shouldn't knock the idea of a bloodthirsty savage of negotiable affection with dubious morals.

Jerome: [To Alice] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, is extraordinarily impressed at your erudite and succinct summarisation of your current findings. Not only is your beauty beyond compare, Jerome is stunned by your faculties for intellectual discourse. If it were not for his own lost love, darn Jerome's obfuscated memory, Jerome would court you at once!

Chastity : [Friendlily clapping Clint on the shoulder, to Boddy] Especially as he's been with the party for so long.

Boddy : [Pointing his cigar at Clint] Click-click!

[ALICE looks at JEROME for a few moments, clearly puzzled, before giving the classic dumb blonde giggle.]

Alice : Isn't he great? [Quietly to Harvey] What did he say?

Harvey : Harrumph! He said it's time we discussed what happens next.

Alice : [To Jerome] To get this, of course! [Holds up her hand, but there's nothing in it] Oh, that's right. We still don't have the wand!

Boddy : [To Harvey] The whore at the gate is looking even more menacing than when you entered.

Jerome: [To Alice] Jerome requests which wand are you endevoring to acquire. [To Boddy]Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, wishes to make the following postulate; Are these Morc's ladies of negotiable affection, and indeed dubious moral virtue or a bloodthirst band of savages?

Alice : The wand to detect the Shapeshifters, of course! It turns out that the Elves were using it to keep the Shapeys under control, who were using Elven waste to keep the humans under control, who are being used to produce Louis XV which keeps the Elves wanting to keep the Shapeys under control. [To Siegfried] That's about it, isn't it?

Siegfried : That's a surprisingly accurate account of what is going on.

Alice : Kind of makes one wonder why the Shapeys never thought of poisoning the brandy, doesn't it?

Siegfried : No.

Boddy : [To Jerome, while lighting up a huge cigar] A bit of both. [Thinks for a moment] Although, you really shouldn't knock the idea of a bloodthirsty savage of negotiable affection with dubious morals.

Jerome: [To Alice] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, is extraordinarily impressed at your erudite and succinct summarisation of your current findings. Not only is your beauty beyond compare, Jerome is stunned by your faculties for intellectual discourse. If it were not for his own lost love, darn Jerome's obfuscated memory, Jerome would court you at once!

Chastity : [Friendlily clapping Clint on the shoulder, to Boddy] Especially as he's been with the party for so long.

Boddy : [Pointing his cigar at Clint] Click-click!

[ALICE looks at JEROME for a few moments, clearly puzzled, before giving the classic dumb blonde giggle.]

Alice : Isn't he great? [Quietly to Harvey] What did he say?

Harvey : Harrumph! He said it's time we discussed what happens next.

Austin : [To Harvey] Next we [emphasis] borrow the wand. [Smiles in the self content manner of someone on familiar territory, without rival]

Chastity : [Turns and waits for Seigfried to deflate Austin's balloon]

Siegfried : And how will your borrowing the wand prove useful to us in defeating the Morcs? Will it serve any purpose other than to increase your already unbearable level of self-satisfaction?

Alice : [Pouring through one of her notebooks] Well, I'm sure everyone else remembers why we were looking for it, but give me a second to read this.

[Half an hour passes.]

Alice : Right! What I've got written down here is that we were to get it for the [lowers her voice] mmmble mmble. There's also something here about Faetan being really annoying.

[ALICE turns her notebook to the rest, who can see that it looks like it was written by a child. There are several lines describing how annoying Faetan was, and then some mentioning that CUBE had told the party that the Hierophantic Knights wanted them to find the wand.]

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would like to state that it is entirely possible that the impending fracas was induced by these beings of optional shape. Ergo it is with some trepidation that Jerome says that utilising the device would benefit all concerned.

Chastity : [Nodding] Cube said that the shapeshifters had infiltrated everywhere. The wand will help eradicate them for the land.

Austin : [To Seigfried] Whilst I cannot condone your inabbility to appreciate my own personal level of happiness, I insist on pointing out firsty, that the morcs would be much easier to defeat if the shapeshifters are out of the way. Secondly, I would like to inform you that whilst the shapeshifters are unidentifiable, you can trust no one, you could playing host to many shapeshifting moles as we speak, they could be plotting your down fall at this very moment! [Paces a little. Emphasis] Thirdy, if the shapeshifters defeat us humans, you elves are going to have, in the proleteriate nomenclature [does finger quotes] 'nae mates', and you will be fighting your enemies on four fronts.

Siegfried : It is unlikely that the Shapeshifters have taken the form of Morcs - for they are far too ugly.

Tristram : [To Boddy] We don't like people spilling cigar ash in here.

Boddy : I don't care.

Siegfried : Firstly, how are the Shapeshifters related to the Morcs? Surely by releasing them from their current bondage we might serve only to increase the Morcish threat? Secondly, the shapeshifters are identifiable, at least to us at the moment. Our relinquishing of the wand will change that, however. Thirdly, I do not believe we Elves have any [with obvious distate] mates at the moment.

Boddy : I think, Austin, that in his own peculiar way, Siegfried is trying to broker a deal. [Chews on his cigar, to Tristram's obvious chagrin]

Clint : Rather than being used just for keeping them forcing humans onto slavery work brewing whiskey. Not that there's anything wrong with brewing whiskey, of course!

Siegfried : You are quite wrong. We do not permit the Shapeshifters to force humans into slavery to brew whiskey. [Pause] It is brandy that they brew. I'm sure you'll agree, that is quite different.

Alice : [To Jerome] To get this, of course! [Holds up her hand, but there's nothing in it] Oh, that's right. We still don't have the wand!

Boddy : [To Harvey] The whore at the gate is looking even more menacing than when you entered.

Jerome: [To Alice] Jerome requests which wand are you endevoring to acquire. [To Boddy]Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, wishes to make the following postulate; Are these Morc's ladies of negotiable affection, and indeed dubious moral virtue or a bloodthirst band of savages?

Alice : The wand to detect the Shapeshifters, of course! It turns out that the Elves were using it to keep the Shapeys under control, who were using Elven waste to keep the humans under control, who are being used to produce Louis XV which keeps the Elves wanting to keep the Shapeys under control. [To Siegfried] That's about it, isn't it?

Siegfried : That's a surprisingly accurate account of what is going on.

Alice : Kind of makes one wonder why the Shapeys never thought of poisoning the brandy, doesn't it?

Siegfried : No.

Boddy : [To Jerome, while lighting up a huge cigar] A bit of both. [Thinks for a moment] Although, you really shouldn't knock the idea of a bloodthirsty savage of negotiable affection with dubious morals.

Jerome: [To Alice] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, is extraordinarily impressed at your erudite and succinct summarisation of your current findings. Not only is your beauty beyond compare, Jerome is stunned by your faculties for intellectual discourse. If it were not for his own lost love, darn Jerome's obfuscated memory, Jerome would court you at once!

Chastity : [Friendlily clapping Clint on the shoulder, to Boddy] Especially as he's been with the party for so long.

Boddy : [Pointing his cigar at Clint] Click-click!

[ALICE looks at JEROME for a few moments, clearly puzzled, before giving the classic dumb blonde giggle.]

Alice : Isn't he great? [Quietly to Harvey] What did he say?

Harvey : Harrumph! He said it's time we discussed what happens next.

Austin : [To Harvey] Next we [emphasis] borrow the wand. [Smiles in the self content manner of someone on familiar territory, without rival]

Chastity : [Turns and waits for Seigfried to deflate Austin's balloon]

Siegfried : And how will your borrowing the wand prove useful to us in defeating the Morcs? Will it serve any purpose other than to increase your already unbearable level of self-satisfaction?

Alice : [Pouring through one of her notebooks] Well, I'm sure everyone else remembers why we were looking for it, but give me a second to read this.

[Half an hour passes.]

Alice : Right! What I've got written down here is that we were to get it for the [lowers her voice] mmmble mmble. There's also something here about Faetan being really annoying.

[ALICE turns her notebook to the rest, who can see that it looks like it was written by a child. There are several lines describing how annoying Faetan was, and then some mentioning that CUBE had told the party that the Hierophantic Knights wanted them to find the wand.]

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would like to state that it is entirely possible that the impending fracas was induced by these beings of optional shape. Ergo it is with some trepidation that Jerome says that utilising the device would benefit all concerned.

Chastity : [Nodding] Cube said that the shapeshifters had infiltrated everywhere. The wand will help eradicate them for the land.

Austin : [To Seigfried] Whilst I cannot condone your inabbility to appreciate my own personal level of happiness, I insist on pointing out firsty, that the morcs would be much easier to defeat if the shapeshifters are out of the way. Secondly, I would like to inform you that whilst the shapeshifters are unidentifiable, you can trust no one, you could playing host to many shapeshifting moles as we speak, they could be plotting your down fall at this very moment! [Paces a little. Emphasis] Thirdy, if the shapeshifters defeat us humans, you elves are going to have, in the proleteriate nomenclature [does finger quotes] 'nae mates', and you will be fighting your enemies on four fronts.

Siegfried : It is unlikely that the Shapeshifters have taken the form of Morcs - for they are far too ugly.

Tristram : [To Boddy] We don't like people spilling cigar ash in here.

Boddy : I don't care.

Siegfried : Firstly, how are the Shapeshifters related to the Morcs? Surely by releasing them from their current bondage we might serve only to increase the Morcish threat? Secondly, the shapeshifters are identifiable, at least to us at the moment. Our relinquishing of the wand will change that, however. Thirdly, I do not believe we Elves have any [with obvious distate] mates at the moment.

Boddy : I think, Austin, that in his own peculiar way, Siegfried is trying to broker a deal. [Chews on his cigar, to Tristram's obvious chagrin]

Clint : Rather than being used just for keeping them forcing humans onto slavery work brewing whiskey. Not that there's anything wrong with brewing whiskey, of course!

Siegfried : You are quite wrong. We do not permit the Shapeshifters to force humans into slavery to brew whiskey. [Pause] It is brandy that they brew. I'm sure you'll agree, that is quite different.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, welcomes this opportunity of pricking the bloated bladder of lies with the poinard of truth. For never before has Jerome seen that these cultured elves are merely the glittering scum which floats upon the deep river of slave labour. Is it not true that this pungent brew ensnares the soul of any a right thinking man and turns him from a productive member of society into a mindless zombie questing for nought else but another dose of the fluid. What good sir is the difference between you personally performing such a reprehensible act and having another do so. [Getting visably more angry] History consists for the greater part, of the miseries brought upon the world by pride, ambition, avarice, revenge, lust, sedition, hypocrisy, ungoverned zeal and all the train of disorderly appetites. You sir are the most base creature it has ever been Dr. Jerome K Trindle's, BSc, PhD, misfortune to meet. Can you not see what these actions have brought you and your kind!

Siegfried : [Unperturbed at Jerome's outburst] You confuse the consumption of Louis XV with that of other substances, like those which many humans relentlessly pursue. All of your assertions are false. It is not pungent, it does not turn one into a mindless zombie and those of us fortunate enough to have sampled the drink do not spend our time searching for more. Three of your colleagues have consumed the elixir in question, and they are not scum, are they? [Turns and gestures to Clint] Well. [Gestures to Austin] Hm. [Looks at Alice briefly, before turning to Jerome] The point is, that by human standards, they are not scum. The pride, avarice and other vices that you speak of are not present in our society, rather they are common place only amongst humans. [Pause] I am not insulted by your remarks, in the same way I am not insulted when a wasp buzzes me during a summer lunch.

Jerome: [Clenches his fists and calms himself] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would assert in the strongest terms that just because a seemly enlightened individual cannot perceive chains does not mean that such ferrous bindings do not exist. Creating a culture where the choice not to partake has been removed has not allowed humanity here to evolve a better side. Do you know the long term influence of such a potent substance? Are all narcotics addictive on the first few samples? Does it have a differing effect of the various metabolisms of the assorted species? Where are your facts! [Pause] Jerome finds it most confusing that one purporting to be superior takes great pain to tell Jerome he is not offended. Pride. [Pause] If you do not require this elixir then why are you so hesitant to live without it by letting the humans free? Avarice. You are just as corrupt as the human culture you create. Vanity.

Siegfried : You confuse pragmatism with pride, and me with someone who cares to stand here and be insulted by the very people seeking a favour from me.

Clint : Hm, I remember something about us helping you get rid of the Orcs. That sounds like a favour *you* are seeking from us. Hiya, Well two days down... How do you think I'm doing? I hope I wasn't too preachy in the last two posts. I may be only able to do a few posts (3-4) tomorrow as sponsors are visiting around 3ish, until the close of play. Ciao Marc

Jerome: [Turns and faces Harvey and Chastity] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, finds it impossible to obtain intellectual common ground with this gentleman at this time. [His shoulders hunch, to Alice] Pragmatism; matter-of-fact treatment of things.

Siegfried : That is correct. However, I have heard nothing of what you intend to do other than take our wand. How do you intend to help us?

Harvey : Why sir, as to that, I need more information on how the battle is going! Where are the Morcs placed? What are our defences? What stops these prostitutes guarding your gates from leaving the Morcs gain entry, for the price of a new pair of red shoes? Eh? Eh? [Pauses for a moment, before leaning in towards Siegfried] Eh?

Siegfried : [Leaning back, wrinkling his face in horror] Please sir, respect my personal space.

Boddy : [Putting his arm on Harvey's shoulder] Bad news, Harv. Those hookers aren't on our side - they're with the Morcs.

Siegfried : [Gives an annoyed look at Boddy] There are no prostitutes. However, there are several thousand of them, gathered at the southern and eastern gates. They are trying to fashion crude catapults, but fortunately their level of stupidity and in-fighting in such that few have been finished. Our walls are holding strong, but may not do so forever.

Austin : [To Seigfried, pondering] So what is it that the morcs want from your people? Is it something to do with this nascency fluid?

Chastity : Well take us to the wand, so we may best se how to harness its power. Despite how you feel, you are in luck. [Gestures towards Harvey] We have here one of the mot astute tactical minds, honed with countless military encounters [turns and gestures to Jerome] and one of the greatest innovative inventors of our time. Who can forget the genius of the Wall scaler used to scale the walls of Adam Torques tower. [To Jerome] Apart from you, obviously, Doctor.

Siegfried : [To Austin] Yes, they want our Nascency Fluid. It is the source of all life in the Interior. [With disdain] With the exception of humans of course. [To Chastity] No. Tell us your plan, and then we will take you.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, finds in highly unlikely that a savage culture such as the Morcs could organise such a raid without external influences, notably the Shapechangers. Priority should be given to detecting and neutralising such a threat.

Austin : [To Seigfried] Well, firstly we should get changed into something more suitable [Pauses] Although I do quite [wriggles in his suit for a moment] like the sensation of my Louis XV soaked velvet Smelvine Jyne sports underwear, with tiger stripes. [Sigh] But I don't suppose there are any designer outlets around here. [In hales deeply] So, ... lets use review the facts. The wand makes the shield, which protects the elves. The wand can aid in the identification of shape shifters. The [does finger quotes] 'Shapies' [Winks at Alice], as named by Alice, are running amok on the surface killing humans in their thousands. The Morcs are trying to get through the city walls into this elven territory to steal the nascency fluid, an action which, should it come to pass, would leave the elves unable to ressurect themselves, leaving them practically mortal. The Shapeys and humans are kept out by the shield, which is powered by the wand. Soooo, we require and alternative to the shield, and a method of stopping or deflecting the Morcs, perhaps a cunning bluff or distraction. It seems we have two problems, and I believe that this may be to our addvantage, as we maybe able to kill two birds with one stone. [Paces a little] What we could do is find some way of getting the Morcs to attack the shapeys, thereby removing the threat from the elves, releasing the humans from the Shapeys' bondage [Pauses dreamily]. Then when the Morcs and Shapeys have practically destroied each other, the uhmans and elves together can move in a finish them off. After that, a quick visit to Gorgious Hormonies latest designer wear out let and then on to the surface, witht he wand, to defeat the surface Shapeys. [Casually inspects hi nails] Anyway, it's just an idea.

Siegfried : [As Alice smiles happily and gives AUSTIN two thumbs up] The shield will maintain it's power for twenty four hours without the wand. It is unlikely that we could get the Morcs to attack the Shapeshifters as they are all in Mermantort.

Clint : [Leaning his head to one side and snoring, before pretending to wake up with a jolt] Are you finished yet, lawyer? How about we take the wand back to the Hierophantic Knights, and get them to help us? Surely they'd be so grateful they'd lend a hand to Siegi and company?

Boddy : [Taking a long drag of his cigar] Yeah, that's what you'd think, isn't it?

Jerome : [Glares at AUSTIN] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would like to put to the esteemed gentleman whether he has a timescale to which Jerome and his companions can operate with the shield in place. Jerome would like to know if he has time to construct a counter battery? [To Siegfried] And also would request the information on why you are certain that there are [emphasis] NO Shapies [sighes] outside this fortification.

Austin : [To Clint, stroppily] Oh yes, good idea Mr. Scar. You seem to have forgotten that WE, were the original Hierophantic knights, Mr. Scar, do we really want to give the wand to our followers? I don't think so. We hardly know them. Anyhow, it's us [Points at himself] that does all the dirty work, saving all the people, then idiots like Colonel Nunpar come along and take credit for our work! [Looks indignantly at Clint] Well, not this time.

Boddy : [To Austin] Your followers? Just because you were there when the Knights were set up doesn't mean you own them - where have you been for the last two thousand years? With an ego like that, I'm surprised you're not related to the Elves.

Siegfried : I am not sure. I don't care. As I said, we have twenty four hours from the time the wand is removed from the shield. It is quite simple, if you guarantee to return with aid, we will give you the wand. 3ast From Conor #119

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, forsees that excessive vainity on the part of some [Gestures at Austin] may cause more potential, and hopefully unintentional, harm than good. Foresight must be used to bring benefit to all. Jerome would aid you, and recommends that his companions do so as well. But first we [indicates the party] should find out what we want from such an association.

Alice : Er, the wand?

Clint : Yeah!, that's a great idea bimbo!

Alice : You know, Stinky, I sometimes wonder what on earth the rest of them would do without me!

Chastity : Yes, what a trial that would be. [To Siegfried] Do you have any objection if we discuss your proposal in private?

Siegfried : No.

[None of the Elves make a move.]

Austin : [To Jerome] Look here, professor, if you weren't so vain, egotistical and self rightous you wouldn't be trying to take me down a peg, and you would be much more interested in solving this situation. So how's about less of the one-upmanship and a bit more of the constructive planning, or I shall not let you see Maplin or Serendipity ever again! [To Seigfried, disturbingly calmly] If you give us the wand we will take it to the surface and allow other elite and highly trained members the Hierophantic knights to use it, and hopefully they, the aforementioned knights and us, will then return, within twenty-four hours, to aid you in the defence of your territory and peoples, death notwithstanding, acts of god, etc.

Jerome: [Completely ignoring Austin] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, has a number of essential questions regarding the Morc war machines and the Morcs themselves; notably the disposition and the construction thereof. [Pulls out a notepad and pencil] Jerome requires the amount of any readily accessable mechanically strong or elastic materials. [Jerome scratchs his chin] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would enquired as to the prescence of any industrial bellows? an invention awaits! [Whispered to Austin] Jerome realises that you may be in ignorance of certain facts that would enlighten you to his curent confusion. Remember Jerome can think, listen and talk simultaneously. Jerome may not remember nor like you but you do have a point. Some situations are more important.

Siegfried : Agreed. However, to make sure that you return. [Almost imperciptably nods at some of the elves that came in.]

[Suddenly each party member is grabbed by an elf, who goes for their left foot. Almost instantly, all the elves stand up again, each holding a shoe from their respective party member.]

Siegfried : [Menacingly] Just to ensure that you do return. You get your shoes back when we get the help.

Siegfried : [Dismissively to Jerome] You may obtain detailed notes on the equipment levels of both the Morcs and ourselves before you leave.

Alice : Hey, what happens if we take longer than twenty four hours? We don't even know where we're supposed to bring the wand!

Siegfried : Do not concern yourself. Time on the surface passes more quickly than here.

Clint : And when do we get our boots back? How can I fight the Morcs without a left shoe?

Siegfried : [Like the other Elves, wrinkling his nose up at the overwhelming stench from Clint's foot] Perhaps you should keep yours.

[The Elf concerned hands CLINT his shoe back.]

Harvey : [Looking at his big toe poking from his sock] I say, damned dastardly of you boys, taking a mans shoe! By the saints, a mans shoe is his castle, I'll have you know! [Scratches at a sideburn] By what do you mean when you say that time on the surface passes faster than here? How much faster? How long have we been away from our own land?

Boddy : For every hour you spend here, a month passes on the surface. [Gives a coy smile at the party] Come on, folks, you don't seriously think I managed to keep this youthful complexion after two thousand years without some kind of help, do you?

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, expresses great interest in the underlying principles in such a temporal dislocation. [To Boddy] Jerome would like to enquire as to the exact amount of time that has accumulated since we ventured forth?

Boddy : [Shrugs] Not sure. But it's been about twenty hours since I met up with you.

Austin : [Looks at his bare foot. To the elf that to his shoe] It may be that you enjoy being alive, but rest assured, if you don't keep my shoe on a throne, tended by fan bearers and energetic, but careful, polishing boys you shall wish you had never been born. Do you understand? new shoes.

Chastity : There is of course still the small matter of getting past the Morcs to get back to the exterior.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, believes we should operate on the principle of thirds. [Pulls out a pocket watch] The time required to reach the surface from the city is one third, assume that the return takes the second third, and leave a safety margin of yet another. Therefore any time left unaccounted for, when multiplied by the temporal distortion factor, is that which we have to perform any heroic endeavours.

Clint : [Clearly puzzled] Euh... right. Whatever you say, Doc.

Jerome: [Sighs] If we have 24 'Elven' hours and it takes us one to reach the surface, we should anticipate it taking another hour to return, thus by the rule of thirds we should allow for another 'elven' hour for any unexpected encounters and tribulations. Thus, in this example, we would have 21 'elven' hours or utilising the temporal conversion factor 1 year 9 months.

Austin : [Sighs] What he is trying to say is that, given the fact that one hour in the interior equates to approximately one month on the surface, and that it will take approximatley one hour of travelling in the interior to get out of the interior, Morcs and other complications notwithstanding, and that furthermore, on our expected, but not assured nor guaranteed, return from the surface, it will take approximatley one hour of travelling in the interior to return to this location, Morcs and other complications notwithstanding, then we infact, litterally have approximatley twenty-two hours of interior time to save the human race, which [Gasps for breath] equates, approximatley, to twenty-two months on the surface, which, if all goes to plan, which we can neither expect nor guarrantee, is where we should be. [Looks at Clint] Got that?

Clint : [Couting his fingers, completely confused] Roughly.

Harvey : I see, I see, so time is very much on our side, back on the surface, eh! Capital, just capital stuff! Well, I give you my word now, that barring a major calamity, we will return with time to spare.

Elf : [The one holding Austin's shoe] I understand that I wish you had never been born.

Alice : [Also trying to count Clint's fingers] Hey! How come you've got twelve fingers?

Siegfried : I suspect further delay will serve only to provide more opportunity for the trade of insults. While I am neither wounded nor surprised at the ferocity of your tirade against us, we are under some pressure for time, so I suggest we prepare for the departure.

[Exit SIEGFRIED.]

[Book III, Act IX, Scene II. The Drawing Room. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME, BODDY and ALTHO are here, with the party now changed into their regular clothes. Enter SIEGFRIED and TRISTAM, the latter carrying small wooden chest on a velvet cushion. As they enter a terrific fanfare of trumpets starts up.]

Alice : [To the party] I wonder where the wand is. [Time passes.]

Alice : [A bit louder] I said, I wonder where the wand is!

Clint : [Blocking his ears with his fingers] I hate trumpets.

Alice : [Roaring at Clint] I said "I wonder where the wand is"! [Turns petulantly to Jerome] How can he expect to hear me with those things in his ears?

Clint : [To Siegfried] What's in the box?

Harvey : Well dear niece, lets just be sure we're in front of private Scar if we happen upon a finger buffet, eh! [Stomach rumbles massively] By the saints, it feels like I've not eaten in about two years!

Siegfried : [Pained inner sigh] The wand. [To the party in general] I am curious as to how you intend to return to the surface.

Harvey : Perhaps you know of an exit? Or can we use the wand to return to the surface?

Siegfried : The last remaining exit was sealed after Altho returned. Now the only way out is through the front gate. [Slight pause] The wand is of no use against the Morcs.

Alice : Maybe we could organise a prisoner swap? You know, they give us some Morcs as prisoners, and we go to them as prisoners, only to escape using some fiendishly clever plan once on the other side.

Austin : [Preening himself, now dressed in his own clothes] I'm not sure that I could abide another [Does finger quotes] 'undr cover' mission, those hippy clothes were quite horrific [Checks his hair in a pocket mirror] even when we were surrounded by elves. I doubt that dressing up as Morcs would be any better. [Ponders] I could simple show them Maplin and possibly even Serendipity too, then we could just walk pass them as the gape in awe.

Alice : Dress up as Morcs? Hm, I suppose that could work too.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, previously enquired as to the disposition and nature of the armaments of the Morcs. Could you now disseminate those facts with all due speed.

Siegfried : Euphoria is built into a mountainside, so the size of the wall is relatively small. The Morcs are trapped in a valley when they attack, and we are slaughtering them in their thouands. Unfortunately, their Nascency fluid is such they are being reborn immediately. They have begun to bombard the walls with explosives. We have held out so far, but the walls are weakening.

Jerome: It is Jerome's opinion that it would be significantly faster to egress via altitude. Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would like to present his most recent, and innovative design. [Jerome unrolls a large collection of blueprints] Jerome believes with some initial impetus, rapid aerial transportation is possible. Jerome is proud to reveal 'The Glidatron'. [Smiles smugly] As an aside [To Harvey] it would seem that immobilisation would be preferable to death, do you have any tactics that would grant this?

Harvey : By the saints, Doctor! That looks like a fine invention. This old soldier doesn't know much about technology, but perhaps a payload of high explosives? Some form of jet propulsion would also be useful and oh! Oh! If the machine could hover in mid-air and yes! Yes! If it could go back in time then we'd be absolutely sorted.

Austin : [Looks at the dubious designs. To Seigfried] So if we destroy the Morcs nascency fluid, then you could defeat them? Do you know where they keep their nascency fluid, and how to destroy it?

Siegfried : Yes, we could easily defeat them if their fluid was destroyed or [permits himself a small smile] we obtained it. I have no idea where they keep it, but it must be quite close.

Chastity : Would we be able to use their fluid?

Boddy : [Enjoying Siegfried's discomfort] Yes. But to use it properly, you'd have to live in the Interior for ever.

Clint : I guess that rules out your plan, Chassers. Any more bright ideas?

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, ponders the efficiency of the fluid whilst outside the interior. Jerome would also like to enquire as to the specifics of the effects produced by the useage of the liquid.

Boddy : [To Clint] Not necessarily - if you've got some and you die in the Interior, you are okay. If not, you're not.

Siegfried : [Looking coldly at Boddy] We do not encourage non-Elves to use Nascency Fluid.

Alice : By non-elves you mean?

Siegfried : Humans.

Alice : By humans you mean?

Siegfried : Your group.

Clint : But you want us to help you anyway?

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] I say Siegfried, if only elves can use this fluid, does that mean that the Morcs were once elves?

Siegfried : [To Clint] Yes. However, we have already discussed this, and you have agreed to do so. [To Harvey, with a pained sigh] I did not say only Elves can use the fluid, rather that I would prefer if only Elves could.

Alice : So, Siegfried, am I right in thinking that the only way out of the city is through the front gate?

Siegfried : Surprisingly, yes.

Harvey : Well, I think my dear niece hit on something earlier! Perhaps we should disguise ourselves as Morcs, slip passed the prostitutes and then sneak through their rank ranks, back the way we came!

Chastity : Good idea, Colonel. [Gives Clint a baleful look] As long as we can all slip passed without spending too much time with the prostitutes.

Clint : [Rubbing his hands] Prostitutes? Excellent...

Chastity : Actually, it was Alice I was concerned about, for fear she might get some ideas.

Alice : Hey!

Chastity : [Innocently] My dear, I was simply referring to the clothing they wear. Did you think I meant something else?

Alice : [Sulkily] No.

Harvey : Alay your fears, dear sister! Alice would never stoop to wear fishnet stockings, small tight black leather skirt, leopard print micro top and more lipstick than a Vietnumnum ladyboy!

Chastity : [Doubtfully] Ye-es.

Alice : Hey! It's not leopardskin, it's jaguar, okay?

Clint : Not to mention incredibly tall stilletos [quick glance at Alice's feet].

Alice : [Looks coldly at Clint] You know, they can be used as weapons, too.

Clint : [Farting] I've got a few weapons of mass destruction myself, don't worry.

Alice : [Wrinkling up her nose in disgust] It smells like you've just lost one.

Siegfried : While I suspect that this exchange of abuse is probably a prelude to sex, I would like to remind you that the clock is ticking.

[Everyone's attention is drawn to a large clock off to one side. It is absoluitely silent.]

Siegfried : Damned clock. [Gives it a thump, and it starts ticking]

[Everyone watches the clock tick by for a while.]

Siegfried : That's ten minutes wasted already.

Clint : Anyway, back to the prostitutes. I think Chassers had a great idea, let her and Alice disguise themselves as prostitutes, that way they can infiltrate the Morcs ranks without being noticed! [Quick look at Alice] That'll do fine, actually.

Alice : [Smiles sweetly at Clint] Oh look, we've even got someone who's dressed as a pimp!

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would raise the question as to the visual definition between various Morcs and the populace at general. [Looks at Clint and Alice] Let us deport ourselves with some dignity [rolls his eyes] or at least with reduced venom.

Chastity : Well said, Dr. Trindle. As ever, you are a rock of good sense. The Morcs are extremely ugly creatures, who couldn't possibly be mistaken for a human.

Alice : [Mutters under her breath] Then I guess we can pretend that Clint is one.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, is proposing utilising the Glidatron akin to a kite, thus allowing a aerial view of the battlefield to be obtained. Thus we should, via a modicum of deductive reasoning, be able to ascertain the local of the Morcish stores of Nascency Fluid. [Whispering to Alice] Jerome is also unsure as to the ancestry of Mr Scar.

Alice : [Outraged] What? How dare you? [Calms down] Oh, sorry. I thought you said you weren't sure of the descendants of Clint!

Siegfried : Hm. Yes. The Glidatron. If you insist on travelling in such a manner, then you may utilise the incredible artisans of Euphoria.

Alice : Incredible artisans of Euphoria? Sounds like a bunch of drug dealers to me! [Serious face] Of course, it's a pity that the pinnacle of their success is the cuckoo clock.

[BODDY's cuckoo watch pops out at that very moment.]

Cuckoo : Cuckoo! Cuckoo!

Boddy : [Smiling more inanely than a QVC salesman] It's informative *and* it's fun!

Chastity : [Looking at Boddy's inane grin, shivering. Aside to Harvey] It's true what they say about the staring into the grinning face of Death! [To Alice] Another flying machine, then. I hope we won't have to dress up in a silly manner like the bicycle escape!

Austin : Then perhaps you should get changed, old woman! [Marvels at the perfection that is Maplin, sighing to himself occasionaly]

[TRISTRAM takes the plans from JEROME, and disappears. Moments later, sounds of hammering, sawing and somebody saying "Eep eep" in a really annoying, high pitched voice.]

Harvey : Gah! Alice, please stop that!

Alice : Sorry, Uncle Harvey.

Chastity : [Nodding her head. To Alice] Yes, these workmen need to concentrate on their work, not being distracted by the sounds of you squealing away as the workmen screw and bang away. [Looks around the city skyline] Is there a suitable launch place?

Jerome: Jerome finds the enthusiasm with which the elves pursue to construction of the Gildatron most pleasing. Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, hopes that they remember to counter sink the screws on the leading edge of the primary wing. [To Chastity] As long as you render motionless anything that has the potential obscure your vision there is no need to get specially dressed. For the sake of modesty Jerome does not recommend that your apparel include skirts. Launching can be performed using a modified ballista to provide the initial impetus. We shall be akin to paper aeroplanes and the siege weapon the throwing arm.

Alice : Like this? [Picks up a paper mock up of the plane that the Elves have produced, and throws it] Excellent!

[The plane flies through the air for ten feet, before falling to the ground, where it immediately catches fire.]

Siegfried : We do not have anything that can be used to fire the object. However, with enough Elf power, it can be launched simply by throwing it. I trust this is satisfactory?

Harvey : Hmm, I do see a few problems with this plan, I'm sorry to say, good doctor! [Points at the little fire] Firstly, your glidatron was barely six inches long, and secondly, I'm afraid that it has crashed and burned on its maiden flight. Back to the drawing board, I'm afraid! [Whispers loudly to Jerome] Word to the wise though, design it a little bigger this time, eh!

Clint : [Looking at Harvey, then at the crashed paper plane, then back to Harvey] Euh, I think that's not the final design, just a model that the Bimbo managed to destroy. [Points in the direction of all the banging] That's where the real plane is being built!

[Everyone looks out over the balcony in the direction that CLINT has pointed, only to see fifty or so elves working on a giant cuckoo clock.]

Alice : Hey! What happened to the Glidawrong?

Siegfried : Such was the child-like simplicity of the design, they are already finished.

[This is true. A fine example of the glidatron stands beside the elves.]

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, finds great satisfaction in the completion of Jerome's device. Jerome would advise Alice that the aforementioned invention is titled [does the finger speech marks] The Glidatron. [Facing Harvey and Chastity] Jerome would like to enquire once leaving this locale and the inner world where the party intend to resituate themselves.

Chastity : [Looking at the smouldering ashes of the model] Let's concentrate on one thing at a time, shall we?

Alice : [Now behind Jerome, turns to Clint and Austin, doing the finger quotes and mouths to them] The Asshole.

Havey : Why, Dr. Trindle, I'm not sure. We need to give the wand to the Hierophantic Knights. Do you know how to contact them, Mr. Boddy?

Boddy : Yes.

Boddy : [Bending over to light his cigar off the burning model] Sounds like good advice, Chastity. Are we ready to go?

Chastity : [Looks round the group] Not quite. [To Siegfried] We'll be needing the wand first.

Siegfried : But of course. [Opens up the small chest] Here you are.

[Inside the chest is the wand that the party found before.]

Harvey : Hah! I knew Kelly wouldn't let us down.

Jerome: [Turns to Alice] Jerome has two statements to make. Primarily when being offensive behind someone's back do not face a mirror. Secondarily Jerome is mortified at causing any ill will in such an ebullient woman as yourself. [Brushes his clothing with his hand] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, is ready to depart. Jerome belives Chastity wuld be the best bearer for the wand at the present time. [Takes the wand and hands it towards Chastity]

Austin : [Looks at Harvey] Right. Good old Kelly. [Rolls his eyes]

Clint : Let's get out of here then. I'm tired of these Elves, they don't know how to have fun. [Points at the glidathron] Who's going to drive this thing?

Alice : [Petulantly to Jerome] I wanted you to see it.

Harvey : I presume you, Doctor Trindle, will drive this contraption.

Jerome: Indubitably.

Chastity : [Taking the wand from Jerome] Thank you, doctor, but I think it is only fitting that the bearing of the wand continues along the same family lineage. [turns to Alice, pauses, and turns and offers the Harvey the wand] Colonel, if you would like to do the honours.

Harvey : [Not noticing Alice reach out for the wand, only to be disappointed as he takes it] Why, thank you, good Sister. I'm sure my ancestors would be pleased to see it come back to the family for safe keeping.

[Everyone goes down to the Glidatron, which has space for eight people, in four rows of two seats.]

Alice : I'll navigate. [Folds out her map] Well, it looks more like a map of the Antarctic.

Siegfried : That's not a map, it's a tablecloth.

Chastity : [Takes a seat in the second row, left side] Ah good, a window seat. [Settles down] Do we get a safety demonstration?

Clint : [Sitting in the front] I'll seat right beside the doctor. Let's get this thing flying, Jerry! [Pats Jerome on the back]

Siegfried : We will see you in twenty four hours.

[Everyone piles in, with BODDY and ALTHO taking the back, then CHASTITY and HARVEY, then ALICE and AUSTIN, and finally CLINT and JEROME in the front.]

Alice : [Putting on her flight attendant cap and extra perky smile, as she stands up] Welcome aboard Queens View Air Flight 666 to Freedom. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised. Unlike what you might expect, there no exits here [does the flight attendant swimming thing] here or here, just one at the front. [Takes out a small rubber mask] In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favourite.

Austin : [Flicking through a note pad] I don't suppose this airline complies with the civil aviation authorities laws and regulations? Only I don't think any of us are coverd for this. [To JErome] Has this vehicle been tested? Are there parachutes? What security precautions have you taken incase we are hijacked by Morcs?

Chastity : [Does up her seat belt. To Harvey, gesturing towards Austin] The drinks trolley hasn't even been pushed out yet and already there is trouble. [To Austin] Mr. Sleaze, I'm sure the good doctor has been careful to design in as many safety features as is possible under the circumstances. Now will you please sit back and try to enjoy the flight.

Harvey : [Weighed down with all kinds of duty free and other tourist tat] Well said, Sister. I'm quite sure Dr. Trindle has it all in hand. [With a hint of panic] Don't you?

Alice : Right, let's all sit down, and I'll put on the movie to help us all relax.

[The film starts, with the title "Fifty Gruesome Plane Crashes".]

Chastity : [To Harvey] Phew. For a worrying moment I though it was a Mrs Been episode.

Harvey : [Gripping his seat tightly, and sweating profusely] Oh no, Sister. They were all banned after that Christmas special was shown for the twentieth time. [Pause] Have we taken off yet?

Clint : I don't know. [To Jerome] Have we?

Jerome: [To Elves] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, requires immediate clearance for rapid ascention into the sky. [Fiddles with controls] Avanti! [Points his finger forwards and pulls up on the controls]

Alice : No.

Altho : [To Boddy] Are they typical of the level of intelligence I can expect from humans on the surface.

Boddy : [Neutral tone] No.

Chastity : [To Altho] But if you hurry up and launch us we will be typical of the level of intelligence you can expect from humans off the surface. [Braces herself]

Altho : That's what I'm afraid of.

Siegfried : Good luck.

[A bunch of Elves catch the plane and run with it, until it eventually takes off, and just makes it over the wall, knocking off a few Morcs who had managed to climb up to the top.]

Alice : Yay! We've made it!

[The Morcs down below start to fire their arrows, swords and catapults up at the Glidatron, with the result that many of them are killed by falling weapons.]

Jerome: [Adjusts flying goggles he found in his pocket] Jerome would politely ask the navigator to direct him to the nearest exit. [Pulls a leaver the Glidatron bucks wildly for a number of seconds and then steadies] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, finds it most annoying the automatic expresso vendor failed to operate as planned.

Austin : [Reclined in his seat, wearing his complementary sleep eye mask thingies, and propped up by more cusions and flight blankets than anyone else] Are we there yet?

Clint : We should be around here... [Looks up from Alice's table cloth] What? No expresso? Next you'll tell me there's no duty free because this is an internal flight!

Alice : Don't be so silly - there's no duty free because Uncle Harvey got it all! Now let's see [leans over Clint, almost poking him in the eye with one of the pointy corners of her hat] I think we're here, near the coffee stain, and we're on the way to this - hey! What are all those black finger marks doing on the map?

[The Glidatron is rocked from being hit by a Morc catapult, setting one of the wings on fire.]

Harvey : [Opens one eye briefly] I hope that wing is supposed to be on fire.

[The Glidatron swerves wildly, as JEROME struggles to control it. The party are out of the city, and directly above the main Morc camp.]

Clint : [Looking at the wing] Cool, afterburner! [Swerves to avoid a flying dodo]

Chastity : [To Harvey] Colonel, you wouldn't happen to have some soda to go woth all the duty free, do you?

Harvey : [As the plane does a loop the loop, sending stuff flying all over the plane] I fear not, Sister!

Alice : [Surprisingly calm] You will notice that under each seat is a parachute. Simply remove yours, place it around your shoulders, and wait until you are a safe distance from the Fliedwrong before deploying it. [Reaches under her seat] Hey! That's not a parachute, it's a life jacket - oh no! We're all gonna die!

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, believes now is the time for a dive in which the increased airspeed will extinguish the flames. However if the Glidatron has insufficient altitude to regain some lost altitude or to land, this may cause a severe inertial problem. Jerome would advise grabbing hold of the provided handrails and pray to your deity of choice and get ready for an expedient exit. [Jerome pushes the Glidatron into a steep dive] Tally-Ho!

Harvey : Well, Doctor, the good news is that the fire appears to be out. The bad news -

[HARVEY pauses as ALICE flies down the plane and slams face first into the windscreen, which, miraculously, doesn't break.]

Harvey : The bad news is that we're just about thirty feet off the ground!

Clint : [To Alice] Next time buckle up! [Braces for impact]

Austin : [Slips off his sleep mask. Indignantly] What the hell is all of this noise about? I'm trying to get some slee [Sees the repidly approaching ground, and screams like a girl] iiiiieeeee!

Jerome: This is your Captain speaking, we are now cruising at an altitude of 30ft. If you look out of the left hand side you will see one of our wings is about to detach itself from the fuselage. Out of the right hand window you can see a horde of bloodthirsty Morcs. You will notice under your seats a pair of peddles. Your captain advises pulling the out into the locked and upright position and peddling as if your life depended on them, because they do! [Jerome slides back a hatch and exposes the airscrew]

[Despite JEROME trying to pull up in time, the glidatron crashes, ploughing into the earth just yards from where the Morcs are, and creating a large crater as it does so. After going down about twenty feet, it stops. Miraculously, no one is hurt.]

Alice : Hey, it looks like I didn't need to wear a safety belt after all. [Screams in terror] Oh no! My hat!

Harvey : By the saints, this certainly is a no frills airline, what! Remind me not to fly TrindleAir again, troop! [Starts peddling, immediately going red and gasping for breath]

Chastity : [Taps Harvey on the shoulder] I think its a bit late for that, Colonel, we're down. [Unbuckles herself and makes for the hole in the windscreen]

Harvey : Stellar landing, Doctor, stellar! Morcs, but the not sure how much

Austin : [To Jerome, shocked] You idiot! You almost got us killed! [Checks himself for dammage (There is none of course)] This is a brand new Wexter Mong suit man, do you have any idea how close you came to ruining it? [Checks his hair in a pocket mirror] You'll pay for this Trindle. [Note some things in a pad of paper] Post traumatic stress syndrome, shock, life threatening dangerous piloting without a license!

Jerome : [To Austin] Jerome perceives that you are not ignorant like so many other people - you are ignorant in a completely different and far worse way. [Looks to the rest of the party] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, recommends a rapid exit via hastened leg motion whilst using salvageable wreckage of the glidatron as a ramp or ladder. It may be necessary to call upon the talents of a sterling orator to bluff the Morcs and keep them away from the crater via some pseudo-mystical mumbo-jumbo until we have effected our escape.

Austin : [To Jerome, indignantly] Only a complete buffon like you Dr. Trindle, could possibly be so blind as to think that I was ignorant. [Looks all superior] It was not I that nearly killed us and landed us in the midst of a thousand blood thirsty Morcs, you fool!

Austin : [To Jerome] Your pedantry knows no bounds, what difference is there in being beside a horde of Morcs to being in the middle of a horde of Morcs, when one is stuck in a thirty foot deep hole! If you are such a clever clogs, hows about saving us pronto. [Folds his arms waiting for Jeromes great rescu plan]

Chastity : [Looking at the wing debris. To Austin, impatiently] Austin, your whining and nit-picking will be the death of all one day. The doctor's idea looks like being the only one we've got, so suit up Maplin and lets get to work, for Phili's sake.

Alice : [Who's been digging with a small piece of wing section for the last few minutes] Hey! Am I the only one digging here?

Altho : [To Boddy] How typical of humans to choose such a dangerous time to argue. [Produces a rope ladder] My magical Elven rope ladder will save us. [Throws it up in the air, so the top of it reaches the top of the hole, while the bottom is on the ground. The ladder appears to be standing of its own accord] I shall go first. When you are finished arguing, you may follow at your convenience. according to slashdot removed the original currently the network is

Harvey : Wonderful, an even more amazing thing then your fabulous cuckoo clock! Private Scar, you go first to ensure the way is safe for the ladies, then dear niece, you follow, and then the good sister! [Turns to Jerome] Good doctor, although your machine did not go the intended distance, it did get us out of the city, and for that, I thank you! [Bows to Jerome]

Altho : [Gives Clint a superior look] And precisely how will the women be safer if he is not here? [Holds an apologetic hand] Forgive me - for a moment I forgot what company we're in. [Jumps onto the rope, and climbs with startling speed]

Boddy : [Lighting his cigar] I'll go ahead of you, Stinky, as I guess you've got less Nascency fluid than I do.

Jerome : [To Harvey] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, thanks the good colonel for his kind words. Jerome shall be the final individual to ascend the ladder. [Gestures for the others to hurry]

Chastity : [Gathers her possessions and makes to the bottom of ladder] Maybe one of these days we'll take a trip in a flying machine that doesn't end in a nearly disastrous crash. [To Boddy] Well lets not dilly-dally.

Clint : By all means. I've had enough of looking at the Bimbo's behind for a while. [To Chastity] After you, Chassers!

Alice : [Narrows her eyes at Clint] Or maybe we should dilly-dally, so that there'll be more Morcs there when we get up, so Stinky will be more likely to be killed! [Starts climbing up, but pauses] Hm, the rope ladder is no friend of the girl in a short skirt. [Eventually ALICE gets to the top, and turns back to look down at the others, who are standing there in silence, watching.]

ALice : Okay, show's over! You can come up now!

Chastity : That's assuming we can find the ladder. I fear that some of us may have gone blind. [Starts to climb]

Alice : Of course, those that haven't, surely will now!

Clint : [Covering his eyes] Is she up yet?

Alice : [Quite clearly lying] Er, yes. Yes she is.

[CHASTITY is almost, but not quite, at the top.]

Chastity : [Calling down] Hold on. I appreciate your gaze averting. Surprisingly gallant of you.

Clint : [Looking up] Euh! That's it, I'm scarred for life! [Starts climbing the rope]

Chastity : No, you're Scar for life. Clint Scar. By Phili, some peoples' grammar is just hopeless. [Looks up to look for the Morcs]

Austin : [Removes his sleep mask once Chastity has got past the top, and starts climbing after Clint has got up. Dabs his brow with a handkerchief] The rope ladder and the girl in the short skirt are most certainly the friend of the youthfull batchelor [Checks his nails and then frowns at the rough looking rope ladder].

Alice : [Smirks at Austin] Well, the youthful batchelor and the rope are, um, [blushes, before whining] Shut up!

[Eventually, everyone is at the top.]

Harvey : Well, that went better than I expected, what?

[There are about two hundred Morcs charging at the party. Fortunately, there are a few carriages off to the opposite side.]

Chastity : Quick! To the carriages. [Starts to run for the carriages]

[Everyone joins CHASTITY in the race for the carriages.]

Alice : [Incredibly, out in front] Me first! I'm definitely driving this time!

Clint : [Running as fast as he can] I don't want to look at Chastity's behind again! [Tries to take a seat in the front carriage]

Chastity : Make way, Nun on the run. [Even more incredibly passes Alice to reach the first carriage. Collapsing into one of the rear seats, puffing and panting. To Clint.] Ditto.

Alice : [As Clint takes one of the front seats] Yay! I'm going to get the driver's seat!

Harvey : [Directly behind Alice] Well done, Niece, run as fast as you can.

Alice : Hey! Someone's tugging my shirt!

[This distraction permits ALTHO to take a back seat, and BODDY the driving seat.]

Harvey : Ooops, my mistake!

Alice : [Watching as Chastity sails passed her] Hey! [Grumpily settles into the seat beside Altho]

[HARVEY also leaps in, with just AUSTIN and JEROME lagging behind now.]

Lasst from Conor #109

Jerome : [Panting throws himself straight into the front of the second carriage] Jerome advises an extremely expeditious retreat. [Pulls a Morc arrow from the carriage]

Chastity : [Ducking down as an arrow flies past] Oh well. It's not all bad news then.

Boddy : Let's go!

[BODDY revs up the horses as HARVEY and AUSTIN get into the last remaining front and back seat respectively. The Morcs immediately start to get into the other carriages and to pursue the now fleeing party.]

Alice : Hey, if we had taken a carriage each, they wouldn't have been able to follow us! [Face darkens] Plus, I'd be able to drive.

Austin : [To Chastity] No, rather good news actually, Maplin and Serendidpity were unharmed by the rough rope climb, although they are a little tired now [Austin checks to see that the Morcs are not too close and then shows Chastity a very sleepy looking Maplin] See?

[The carriage roars off, hotly pursued by a number of other carriages, two of which are quite close. The Morcs in those carriages begin to take out missile weapons.]

Boddy : [Trying to roll up a joint while driving] If anyone's got some kind of missile weapon, now would be a good time to use it. [The carriage swerves and skids a little as he continues to roll]

Harvey : Would you mind concentrating more on the driving, and less on the cheese rolling, eh! This wand is going to do us no good if we all end up at the bottom of a ravine!

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, will use his patented kinetic carbosilicate propulsion device Mk4 [Pulls out what appears to be an old Y-shaped catapult with a minature tensioning ratchet from a crossbow, Jerome starts to wind the catapult, To Boddy] Jerome will be with you in a minimal amount of time to provide ranged assistance. [Starts to sweat as the device begins to groan with the strain]

Alice : [Waving her hand in front of her face] Ee-ew! What are you going to do? Stink us ahead of them? [Looks to Clint] Looks like he's trying to muscle in on your territory, Stinky! [Takes out her bow

ALTHO fires two arrows at the nearest carriage, and hits the driver, sending the carriage into a roll.]

Boddy : [Putting the final touches to his cheeseratte with a ludicrous slurping sound] You're obviously not familiar with the roads in the Interior, Harvey, cheese intoxication is usually one of the more reliable ways to negotiate your way through.

Chastity : [To Boddy] Well if your driving is anything to go by I would have thought that some sort of intoxication was more required by the passangers to get through the journey wth their nerves intact! [turns round at mutters an incantation]

Boddy : I would have thought they were intoxicated enough with your beauty and charm already, Sister.

[One of the wheels of the nearest carriage begins to buckle, and soon smashes to pieces. However, the other carriages are clearly faster, and are getting closer.]

Alice : I know what we need - some good old chase music. [Pushes a cassette into the carriage stereo.]

[Some hillbilly banjo music starts booming out, and the party's carriage starts to pull away.]

Alice : Yeeha! [Fires her guns in the air.]

Austin : [Readys his sling shot and shoots at the nearest Morc driver. To Alice] You would be far more helpful if you shot at the Morcs Alice!

Jerome : [Humming to himself, pulls out and connects what appears to be a shoulder stock and a telescopic sight to the catapult] Jerome once again agrees with Austin. [Out of another pocket two long rods are pulled out and slotted into the top of the catapult] Endeavour to injure the drivers or negatively affect the running of the carriage. [Attaches a second shoulder brace and cranks the wire to the top of the now extended catapult]. OJ...

Clint : [To Jerome] By the time you're finished, Jerry, either we or them are all dead! [Looks for something to throw at the chasing carriages, and finds a bottle with a brown liquid inside] Nah, can't waste this! [Opens the bottle, drinks the liquid, and then throws the bottle at the nearest carriage]

Alice : [To Austin] These are just my hollerin' weapons. They don't actually harm any one. [Takes out her bow and fires at the nearest carriage]

Boddy : Even with the hillbilly music and the general level of intoxication of the driver, I don't think we're going to be able to escape.

Altho : [Despatching two more Morcs] Head down into those caves over there, I'm sure we can lose them in there.

[BODDY swerves the carriage into a tiny cave, barely wide enough to fit the carriage through, and plunging the party into darkness, with the only light being his cheeseratte.]

Jerome: [Sawing and rachetting noises] Jerome has almost completed his endeavours. [There is a click and an ominous hum comes from Jerome's position] If Jerome could be enlightened to his current location and where this cave system leads to he would be grateful. [A pencil thin beam of red light shines from one point on Jerome's catapult illuminating the back of Clint's head]

Alice : Fire! Fire!

Austin : [Sneers] Trust Dr. Trindle to bring a red light with him, to make himself feel more at home, no doubt.

Alice : No! I mean look - the carriage is on fire!

[Incredible as it may sound, this is true. The entire floor of the carriage is on fire.]

Harvey : [Angrily to Boddy] Mr. Boddy! What did I tell you about smoking cheeserattes while driving?

Boddy : [Shrugs] Idunno. My short term memory's shot to hell with all this cheese smoking.

Austin : [Sees the fire panicking] Not good! Not good! [To Boddy] Do something. [To Jerome] Where is your fire extinguishing device? Hurry up man!

Boddy : I'm a bit busy with these horses - they seem a little unsettled.

[BODDY leans back to let the rest of the party see that the two horses have turned into huge serpents.]

Alice : Never mind that - look at all those people up ahead!

[Standing in the middle of the passageway are about fifty people, dressed in rags.]

Chastity : Oh Phili, not again. [Peers into the crowd] One of these had better not be a big white rabbit!

[BODDY jams on the brakes, and skids to a halt inches from the group. As if on cue, ANGRY RABBIT pops up.]

Rabbit : [Pointing at Chastity] Click-click!

[Book III, Act IX, Scene III. The Very Dark Cave. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME, BODDY and ALTHO are here, along with a large group of people and a burning carriage. The party recognise most of the crowd; included are ANGRY RABBIT and REGINALD TROUT, most of the twenty three hour party people from Mermantort, the PEARCES, CORWYN and HIMO, the girl guides from Mermantort and SARASATE, who folds his arms with a satisfied look.]

Macey : [The meanest looking of the girl guides] You lot have had this coming for a long time - we're going to kick your asses.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, does not believe he has had the pleasure of your company, and cannot perceive any greviences with the rest of us. The noted exception in this is, of course, Mr Sleaze.

Macey : We tried to take on some of you in a fair fight, but you ran away.

Boddy : [Turns around to Jerome] Sounds like your party, alright!

Alice : Hey! The carriage is still on fire! Should we really just be sitting here?

Austin : [To Jerome, sharply] Shut up you idiot! You get me killed, and that make you accessory to murder! [Austin moves behind Chastity, nonchalantly]

Clint : [To Boddy] Is this another one of your tricks?

Alice : Oh, great! Now my arm's on fire! [Holds up her arm to show that this is indeed the case.]

[In the front seat are HARVEY, CLINT, ALICE, BODDY (driving seat), while in the back are ALTHO, CHASTITY, AUSTIN and JEROME.]

Jerome: [Jerome leans forward and wraps Alice's burning arm in his tweed waistcoat to smother the flames] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, asserts in the strongest possible tone that evacuation of the transport should be done with all immanence! [He throws a gp behind the carriage to make sure there's a floor present]

Alice : Thanks, Jerome! [Hears the gold piece clink on the ground] Well, I guess that's one way to get Austin to leap out!

Boddy : You wound me, Clint. I don't recognise any of these people.

[Enter DANIELLE DANIEL, a dark haired woman dressed all in black.]

Danielle : Don't you recognise me?

Boddy : [Pauses for a few seconds, before taking a long drag on his cheeseratte, and turning to Clint] Is this another one of your tricks?

Clint : You wound me, Boddy. If I knew her, I would make sure YOU didn't. [To Danielle] How you doin'? I'd love to chat, but we're in a pretty hot situation right now [points at the fire on the carriage] Can you help us?

Danielle : [Gives Clint an impossibly sexy pout] I don't think I can, at least [pouts even more and shakes her head sadly] I don't think that's what Boddy and I do for each other.

Boddy : [Sigh] You do one thing wrong, and two thousand years later they're still bitching about it. [To the party, doing a good job to disguise how rattled he is, but rattled he is nonetheless] There's something seriously strange going on here. Altho? Do you recognise any of them?

Altho : [Puts out the fire by smothering it with his cloak] I know many of them.

Harvey : What the blue blazes is going on here, troop? Who would have thought that girl guides could hold such a grudge for not buying their cookies! Damn it to hell, those women libbers have a lot to answer for!

Altho : At least half of those that I recognise should be dead. [To Party] What about you?

Alice : I don't think we're supposed to be dead.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would like to make clear that, although he is in favour of emancipation, now is not the time to pursue that particular cause.

Chastity : And there is nothing wrong with women making up their words as they go along! [Looks around the characters in the crowd] We seem to be in some sort or area where our persons from our past are meant to intimidate us. I'm sure its all another halucination. On Fri, 22 Aug 2003 Pates@mri.sari.ac.uk wrote:

Alice : [Haughtily to Jerome] Oh sure, you'd really like to see all us women er, emancipied, wouldn't you?

[More people start to join the group, including PESTILENCE, DANGSTEN, CONTAGION and IOK SOTOT, ROURKE and TOM SELLSICK and SCARY MARY and SCARIER MARY.]

Pestilence : [Taking out a massive, black sword] Man, what a time to be caught in the Interior without any Nascency fluid!

Harvey : If it's an hallucination, who or what is causing it, eh?

Chastity : I'm not sure, but I still worry about the effect of being immersed in that vat of brandy. This couldn't all be one long dream, could it?

Alice : You mean since I woke up beside that tramp in Waterdeep after that night out on Bell Rull? [Thinks hard] You know, I've often wondered that myself.

Austin : [Looks very worried whilst hiding behind Chastity] Some of them could be shapeshifters, but I have a nasty suspicion that Mr. Pestillence, is indeed bonafide, authentic, Mr. Pestillence. [To Altho] Can you use the wand to protect us? Please?

Harvey : That's a surprisingly good idea, Private Sleaze. [Takes out the wand* and waves it around] Be gone you evil fiends!

[Nothing happens.]

Harvey : Gah! [Bangs the wand off the side of the carriage several times] Is this thing on? What is it supposed to do?

Altho : [Giving an almost imperceptible flinch each time Harvey bangs it] Whatever the wand does, it is doing it now. It is safe to say that these people aren't shapeshifters.

Alice : That these people aren't shapeshifters. [Immediately falls onto the floor of the carriage] Ow! [Turns angrily to Altho] Hey!

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, postulates whether this is some form of chronological resonance which occurs as we pass through a large temporal gradient from the interior to the exterior. Two postulates propose themselves; If this is an echo from another point in time then Jerome and his companions are perfectly safe. If, however, the events are an intersection then these images can interact physically with us. [Tugs his bow tie and pulls out another gp] Jerome would like a dozen of your finest chocolate chip cookies [gently throws the coin at Macey] not

Austin : [Sounding very very worried] I think it might be a good time to run away. They look very very real to me, and they look like they have met before too.

Macey : [Catching Jerome's GP] Ow! Hey - that really hurt! [Fires it back at Jerome, narrowly missing him, but causing the GP to ricochet all around the carriage. Miraculously, no one gets hit.]

Pestilence : Let's get them, once and for all.

[The waiting crowd begin to surge forward, with all of them drawing weapons.]

Harvey : Run away, eh, Sleaze? At least we know that you're not a shapeshifter. [Looks behind] Gah! The cave behind us is closing in!

Clint : [Looks behind him] Ah well, you know what they say: [puts on a klingon accent] today is a good day to die! [Draws his weapon]

Chastity : [Looking suprised at Clint] Oh no, Clint has turned Welsh! This just must be a test of faith. [Looks forward at the surging crowd] A supreme test of faith. [Readies her mace, and starts to sing] For Phili, for Phili, the evil are all silly, for Phili for Phili, their hearts are cold and chilly.

Alice : [Blocking her ears] Aiee! It is a test of our faith!

Altho : This must stop. [Fires three arrows, two of which pass straight through Pestilence, and one through Daddy Pearce] Oh.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, is most perplexed at the seeming randomness of this situation. Unless of course either mild feelings of generosity inflicts pain or gold is anethma to them. [To Macey] Do not worry child Jerome forgives your petulant actions. [Picks gp up off the floor]

Chastity : [Stopping singing for a moment. To Jerome] You obviously are not quite yourself doctor. Otherwise you'd realise the frequency that we find ourselves in situations that appear seemingly random.

Macey : [Calling out to Jerome] Yeah? Well fuck you, geek boy!

Harvey : Gah! Not only can we not hurt them - even the girl guides are using profanity almost as bad as Mr. Scar!

[From the back of the group come what appear to be ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, HARVEY, JEROME, ALTHO and BODDY, dressed the same as the party are, and using the same weapons. They immediately attack the mob, and start killing those nearest them.]

Alice : Hey - maybe we can hurt them!

Chastity : Well, lets see. [Starts to the edge of the carriage. pauses] I hope there isn't some sort of world ending event when Austin meets himself, though! [Makes to attack one of the crowd, though away from Pestilence]

Clint : [To Chastity] Thanks for letting him for me, Chassers. [Charges against Pestilence, singing with a Klingon/Welsh accent] Kwaznlyndrly!

Austin : [Creeping out from behind Chastity, agast, looking at his other self. Eventually speaks] Dam, I look good in that suit [Pause] This suit. See how the cut of the fine silk follows the line of the arm ... [Almost in tears of delight] just perfectly, see how gracefully I glide into battle in my Gosslino hand stiched panda skin evening shoes. [Gasps] Awesome. [Stares Transfixed at his own reflection in his own shoes for a moment] A work of art. [Snaps out of his fixation, briefly and nonchalanty checks his nails. To Jerome] So is this one of your [finger quotes] temporal anomalies, Dr. Trindle, is this a view of a future event?

Alice : [As the new Austin slashes through four bad guys in one stroke] Well, that guy is clearly a fake!

[As the new party get closer, everyone can see that CHASTITY isn't killing anyone, just holding her hand up to them, after which they immediately drop to their knees and pray, while CLINT is actually dressed in a tuxedo, and pauses every so often from killing to kiss a beautiful girl.]

Clint : [Watching the other Clint] I think we've seen this crowd before, haven't we?* Last from Conor #31

Austin : [To Alice] Hey, there is nothing fake about that Austin, or this one, missy! Look at how valiantly I fight, slaying the enemy [Makes a general kind of prodding motion with his sword]

Chastity : [Looking over at the increasing amount of devotees] I must say I admire the good work I'm doing over there. [Looks around at the crowd] But now to demonstrate a slightly less subtle method of conversion.

Jerome : [To Austin] Jerome believes these individuals indeed could represent temporal anomalies, although incursions from a parallel reality is also a possibility due to their general competence and effectiveness. Then we shall them in their endevours?

Alice : [As the new Austin slashes through four bad guys in one stroke] Well, that guy is clearly a fake!

[As the new party get closer, everyone can see that CHASTITY isn't killing anyone, just holding her hand up to them, after which they immediately drop to their knees and pray, while CLINT is actually dressed in a tuxedo, and pauses every so often from killing to kiss a beautiful girl.]

Clint : [Watching the other Clint] I think we've seen this crowd before, haven't we?* Last from Conor #31

Austin : [To Alice] Hey, there is nothing fake about that Austin, or this one, missy! Look at how valiantly I fight, slaying the enemy [Makes a general kind of prodding motion with his sword]

Chastity : [Looking over at the increasing amount of devotees] I must say I admire the good work I'm doing over there. [Looks around at the crowd] But now to demonstrate a slightly less subtle method of conversion.

Jerome : [To Austin] Jerome believes these individuals indeed could represent temporal anomalies, although incursions from a parallel reality is also a possibility due to their general competence and effectiveness. Then we shall them in their endevours?

Austin : [To Jerome] Errm. Well said Dr. Trindle [Whispers to Chastity] I think he's lost it! [To Jerome] We should help them in the battle. [Austin readys his sling shot and shoots at a Pearce, or the next target, if the Pearces are dead]

[AUSTIN fires two stones at DADDY PEARCE, and hits him once, only to see the new HARVEY slice DADDY's head off. The new HARVEY looks in startlingly good physical condition, and has an enormous number of medals on his chest. Meanwhile, the new JEROME tears open his (own!) shirt to reveal rippling muscles, before punching CONTAGION square on the nose, and knocking him to the ground.]

Alice : Hey! This lot are great! Once the new Alice is finished reading her book on metaphysics, I'm sure she'll join in too!

Jerome : Dr Jerome K. Trindle BSc, PhD, feels that although the alternate Jerome is both a: proficient at the arts combatitive and b: has the body of a modern day Hercules. Wonders as to the presence of Jerome's refined intellect. [Fires his catapult into the enemy] New Jerome : Prof. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD, DSc has determined that the quickest way to end this conflict is by the simple tossing of a pebble at the weakest point on that [points at a wall] supporting wall. Altho, perhaps you would be kind enough to oblige? New Altho : [Busily killing baddies by the dozen] Of course. [Tosses a small pebble without even looking, which hits the wall, causing a massive cave in which covers most of those trying to attack the party, with the exception of Pestilence and company]

Harvey : By the saints, troop, what a troop! Quickly now, through the cave! It looks as if we can nothing here and now, so lets carry on getting back to the surface!

Alice : But Uncle Harvey, we have to get through them to get there!

Clint : I would gladly join in and help them, but I think they're playing on a league of their own. Let them finish off quite a few of them, and then we can drive through! [Looks back at the carriage fire] By the way, shouldn't we do something about that?

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, concurs with Clint. Although questioning these exemplars of ourselves may have positive benefits.

Chastity : [To Clint] We'll only be driving through if Mr. Boddy can control the serpents at the front, anyway.

Boddy : [Distracted as he watches his own double and waves a hand dismissively at Chastity] Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's all under control.

[The new BODDY is cutting his way towards DANIELLE, although he doesn't seem to be doing so with quite the same effectiveness as the party members. He soon gets to her, and the two embrace.]

Altho : [Bored sigh] The fire is already out.

Chastity : [To Boddy, pointing at the romantic clinch] There must be a story there. That you seems a lot happier to see that woman than you did.

Alice : [Helpfully] And she seems a lot happier to see him.

Boddy : [Gives Alice a cold glare before taking out a cigar, lighting it and taking a long drag and turning to Chastity] You know, Sister, you're right. There is a story there.

[All the figures, including both party members and all potential enemies start to shimmer and fade, even as they continue to fight.]

Clint : Hm, I wonder if this was one of those group illusions like they have on those sects. [To Chastity] I saw that on the Jerry Stinger show.

Chastity : [To Clint] Tut! Trust you be be thinking of sects at a time like this!

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, believes now is the time for a most prompt and expeditious retreat.

Harvey : Just a moment, Doctor. Those Morcs are right behind us. Either waiting for us to come out, or encountering hallucinations of their own.

[All the figures are now completely gone. The area they were in is a much larger cave than the corridor where the party currently are, but it isn't possible to see if there is a way through it.]

Austin : [Looks at where the other party was] Well, that was odd. [To the others, casually] Shall we go now, or do you want to stand around a bit longer to see if the Morcs are hallucinating too?

Chastity : Yes, I wonder what caused that. [Wafts away the final lingering trails of fumes from Boddy's cheeseratte.]

Alice : [Leaning back to try and inhale some of the wafted away fumes] Maybe the Morcs were hallucinations too?

Boddy : [Calming the horses, which are now completely back to normal] What's it to be? Back to the Morcs for certain death? Or plod on here towards uncertain death? [Turns to the party] It makes no difference to me, but I suspect it makes a big difference to you.

Altho : [Standing up] My elven eyes tell me that the best option is to go forward.

Austin : [Curtly] My commonsense tells me that the best option is to go forward. SO lets go.Austin moves forward a little and waits for the others.

Chastity : [Nervously glancing back] Forward is the best option, although I must point out that my death is far from uncertain. After my demise I shall be taken up to stand at the right hand of Phili, I all his glory for all eternity.

Boddy : [Starts the carriage going, but very slowly] Any theories on what that was all about?

Clint : Hey, you're the hotshot demon, you tell us! [Checks to see if there is anything left at all from the vision, like weapons, etc]

Jerome : Jerome would speculate that this event has some import, since mere hallucinations or delusions would show few signs of the mutal coherency which we observed.

Austin : [To Jerome, quite sharply] How about fewer speculative comments and more helpful facts, Dr. Trindle.

Jerome : [To Austin, slightly more sharply] Facts a: Tempory physical manefestation; b: adverserial individuals know to you all; c: helpful alternates of ourselves. From this Jerome could produce a number of theories i: Forces opposed to our leaving intervened and an alternate force acted contrary to that event, postulate : do you know any individuals capable of this? ii: Temporal distortion, fact : known area of temporal instablility. Conclusion: without sufficient data all we have are speculations. [To the rest of the party] Let us go forth and leave the inner world. We can practise varied divinations at a later time.

Boddy : [To Clint] Hotshot demon? I guess you're thinking of someone else.

[Enter BALKLINE GROOT, off to one side of the cavern, with a large growl.]

Balkline : Maybe he was talking about me!

Austin : [To Jerome] Thank you Dr. Trindle, that was much better, keep up the good work. [Turns to Balkline] I doubt it. Clint rarely remmebers anything for more than ten seconds, alchol and women aside, possibly.

Jerome : [Whispers to Chastity] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, wonders as to the church's current views on demons and banishment thereof.

Chastity : [To Jerome] The church of Phili is obviously set to battle and destroy evil in all its hideous guises. [Gestures towards Balkine] This form has tried appeal to our fickle wants and ideals to help him. We are not so easily swayed. I just wonder which weak willed soul relented to their greeds to aid it. If it is indeed real?

Balkline : I am no demon - I am a magician, imprisoned here by a demon! Please, I am trapped in this mountain - but if you let me free then all that you saw can become true, you can become those people, you can have the power and the glory.

Clint : Are you for real? Or just another illusion? That Louis XV was really strong!

Harvey : [Tuts loudly] So, you're up to your old tricks again, eh? It didn't work the last time, and let me tell you, it won't work this time either! Power and glory! Ha, know your audience, blackguard! [Turns to Alice and Chastity] Now, if he offered an unending banquet of honey golden locusts, snakes feet, curried brussel sprouts, bees knees, thrushes ankles, popadoms and golden ambrosia, why then we'd be talking! [Stomach rumbles massively] Gah, I'm famished!

Balkline : I'm very real, as is the pain that I feel.

[The audience at the end of the cavern all give an audible "awww".]

Balkline : The audience isn't, though.

Balkline : If I was free, you would have all this and more.

Harvey : [Considers for a moment] But where'd be the fun in that, eh? Half the enjoyment of the feast is in looking forward to it. The expectation of it! The dreaming of it! [Begins to drool freely] An unending banquet is a nice idea, but is just not practical. Besides, imagine the washing up afterwards!

Clint : [Cleaning some of Harvey's drool and spit from his shirt] Why would we need a favour from him, anyway?

Balkline : [Some of who's flames sizzle from Harvey's drool] Fools! Do you not understand what I can offer you? Do you? [Dramatic pause, and then even louder] Do you?

[Silence falls for a few moments.]

Alice : [Tentatively putting up her hand] Er, no?

Jerome: [Whispering to Chastity] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, enquires whether you have in your possession any holy water.

Austin : [Faces Balkline] What is it that you want from my people and I, magician, demon, whatever you are? [Pauses nochalantly] Tell us what you want, or leave us please, and desist from insulting us with your petty, paltry bribes.

Chastity : [To Jerome] I'm afraid not. It rarely has any effect in these situations, but I must remember to stock up just in case. [To Balkline] Which Demon do you claim imprisoned you within these caverns? And why?

Balkline : [Loudly to Austin] I want to be freed! [Points to a large collar on his neck] Once this is opened, I am free - and these are no paltry bribes, I can give you anything you ever wanted. [Looks to Chastity] I was imprisoned here by the evil Demon Random.

Chastity : [Nodding her head] I have read of this Demon. You never know where it's going to appear, and it does so at its own convenience without explanation.

Austin : [To Balkline] So, how can one be sure that you are actually a magician, and not a demon, as you appear to be? [Paces a little] Furthermore, why is it that you cannot remove the collar, but you expect one to be able to? [Muses theatrically] Additionaly, I put it to you, that if you were trully a nice chap, and not a demon, but someone of worth and trustworthyness, that you would not try to bribe one, or appeal to ones greeds and lusts, but would instead attempt to appeal to ones better natures for help?

Alice : [To Chastity] And what kind of things does it do?

Chastity : [To Alice] Various things, sometimes seemingly without plan. That is where we derive the word Random from. Much like panic from the imp Pan.

Balkline : I have been handicapped with this appearance by the collar, that's part of the curse. I have spent hundreds of years appealing to people, all of whom choose to believe I was a demon based on my appearance. Another part of the curse is that anyone except me can simply open the collar and release me. I have recently turned to bribery to try and release me, because simply appealing to people did not help.

Alice : [To the party] Hey! Didn't we meet someone called Random before?

Harvey : [Darkly] Ah yes, that evil genius Peter Deadpan. [Shudders]

Chastity : [Give Harvey a friendly nudge, smiling] Very funny, Colonel, Peter, evil. [Looks into the distant for a moment, laughing] What a guy!

Balkline : [With a cry of frustration] Come on! Surely your puny minds can understand what it is I am promising you?

Austin : [To Altho, and Boddy] Mr. Altho and Mr. Boddy, do you see any harm is releasing this creature?

Altho : His story may be true.

Boddy : [Looks at Altho, before turning to Austin] Well, other than the facts that he tried to kill all of us and succeeded in killing Cocan, he seems like a real square guy. Let's see if we can shoot him, because, to be honest, it's getting a little warm in here with all his flames.

Alice : [Annoyed at being ignored] But [whiney emphasis] didn't we meet someone called Random?

Jerome: [To Balkline] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would question the veracity of your statements by asking how you would prove your sincerity without us releasing you from a potentially well deserved punishment. [Whispering in Harvey's ear] Jerome requests information on how you defeated such a puissant creature before?

Harvey : [Whispers back] With a long time honoured military strategy, Doctor. [Proudly] We ran away!

Balkline : Surely by showing you my powers even in bondage, you can see that I will be able to grant you everything once released?

Alice : [Sits down, arms folded] If I had a wish that could come true, I'd wish for someone to finally listen to me about Random!

Chastity : [sighing, Alice] Yes, we did meet a Random Tschantz, who was under the guise of the man of the cloth. As charismatic and resourceful he was, I doubt if he was a demon.

Clint : [Looks at Alice, then at Random, and finally at Chastity] Hey!, that worked! He made the Bimbo's wish come true!

Alice : [Laughs at Balkline] Sucker!

Boddy : Random Tschantz? [To Balkline] Is that who did this to you?

Balkline : Yes.

Boddy : [To the party] Let's just leave him here. Last from Migzy #85

Austin : [Sharply] Mr. Scar, you will speak only when spoken to! Is that understood? [Turns to Balkline] So, as Mr. Boddy correctly pointed out, you killed Cocan the lastime we encountered you, so you'll have to come up with a pretty good excuse and an appology before one will even consider releasing you. [Theatrical ponder] No, on second thoughts, lets just get the hell out of here. [To Harvey] Colonel, please lead the way.

Clint : [To Austin] What the fuck is wrong with you, Lawyer? [To Alice] I think he's assuli - no - alluni - no - allucinating!

Harvey : [Raises an eyebrow at Austin] Certainly, Private Sleaze.

Altho : [Stepping forward] I'll do it. I'll free you.

Boddy : What the hell? [Draws his sword]

[ALTHO walks up to BALKLINE, so he is now about halfway between him and the party.]

Altho : [Dramatically] Give us this day all that you showed me, The power and the glory, till my kingdom comes. Give us this day all that you showed me - The faith and the glory, till my kingdom comes.

Alice : Oh no! You mean he mistakenly thinks he's from the East End of London?

Harvey : [Calling out to Altho] I say, you there chappie! Stand down!

Clint : [Trying to get himself between Altho and Balkline] What are you trying to do, Elfie?

Altho : [Punches Clint] Merely ensuring that I fulfill my destiny. [Moves closer to Balkline]

Alice : [Leaps off the carriage] Let's get him!

[BODDY pulls out his bow, and aims, although it's not clear if he is aiming at ALTHO or BALKLINE.]

Chastity : [Urgently] Shoot him!

Austin : [Sighs] You just can't get the staff these days! [Readies his sling shot] Mr. Boddy, do you know of the destiny that Mr. Altho speaks of? [Looks at Boddy]

Boddy : My pleasure, Chastity.

[BODDY fires two arrows, both of which hit ALTHO in the back, knocking him to his knees.]

Boddy : [To Austin] No, but I suspect it is related to the hallucinations we saw. Before he killed Cocan, we saw a bunch of others, and, let me tell you, there's little more unpleasant than the desires of an ambitious elf.

[ALTHO pulls himself back up, and is now almost with BALKLINE.]

Austin : [Moves a bit to get a clear shot at Altho, and shoots] This is what you get for mutiny, scum!

[AUSTIN fires two stones, one of which hits ALTHO, while the other misses.]

Altho : [Catching hold of Balkline's collar] For destiny! [Opens the collar]

Balkline : [Gives a huge, deafening roar] I am free!

Alice : [Stops dead in her tracks, and looks as though she might faint] Woah! You'd want to do something about that breath, Balkie, even Clint would find it offensive!

Clint : Yeah, I better not fart now, or the whole cavern will be on fire!

Chastity : Now we see if Balkline is evil or just mis-understood.

Altho : Now, Balkline, I command you to give me the power and the glory! Make these pathetic wretches cower in front of me!

Balkline : [Roars laughing at Altho] Away from me, little man! [Punches Altho hard, and knocks him across the floor so he collides with Alice, knocking her down too.]

Alice : Ow!

Boddy : What a suprise. The big scary monster didn't keep his word.

Clint : Yeah, right, well, we were on our way, [emphasizes] weren't we Harvey?

Harvey : Of course we were, of course!

Balkline : First, of course, I will have to kill you all. [Produces a flaming spear from nowhere and throws it at the carriage.]

[Everyone leaps off the carriage in time, but it explodes as the spear hits it.]

Altho : [Grabs Alice, pleading] Please! You have to understand! I wasn't going to hurt you!

Alice : Well, Mister, I understand three things. One, you were about to abandon your comrades for some scary monster because he promised you power, two, all that criticism we've been hearing about humans suddenly sounds even more empty, and three [slaps his hand] this cardigan is mohair, when it gets stretched [shakes her head to emphasise] it doesn't stretch back!

Altho : [To Clint] You, you understand, don't you?

Clint : [Kicking Altho in the stomach] I understand that you just got us into a hell of a mess! [Tries to get some distance between him and Balkline]

Altho : No! [Gasps in pain as Clint's kick winds him]

[CLINT makes it almost to the other side of the cave, followed by ALICE.]

Harvey : [Pursuing the other two, but stops and turns to the rest of the group] Come on!

Austin : [Runs after Clint] If you had all done what you were told we wouldn't be in this mess, we should have left ages ago, when I instructed, fools!

Harvey : Gah! Stop your complaining, Private, and get under cover!

[The remaining three also start to run, to the obvious delight of BALKLINE, who throws another spear that lands closest to BODDY, sending him flying into a wall, and both CHASTITY and JEROME to the ground.]

Boddy : Okay, now I'm really pissed.

[BALKLINE roars with laughter at this.]

Jerome : [Takes cover behind Carriage] We must fight this monstrosity least he be released upon the world. [Pulls out the MK4 repeating sling and fires it at Balkline]

Balkline : Fight Balkline Groot! Die, stupid human!

[BALKLINE fires another spear at JEROME, that pierces his stomach, and pins him to the wagon, either dead or unconscious.]

Boddy : [Staggers to his feet] Nice going, Altho. [Runs to the others, clearly in pain.]

[Every one is now at the other side, except for ALTHO and JEROME.]

Chastity : [Getting back up, wincing and running for after the rest] I guess this all answers my little question!

Jerome : Vexin..nnnggg [Exhales]

[JEROME dies.]

Clint : [To Alice] Quickly Bimbo, do your thing with your tummy and get Jerome out of this mess!

Alice : [Wailing] I don't know what to do! Normally it just happens!

[Everyone but ALTHO is over at the opposite side of the cave now.]

Altho : Please! Don't leave me here!

Austin : [Shouting at Harvey] Don't you dare address me in that tone Colonel Short, one has the measure of your ilk and I shall see that you get your just comeuppance should you speak out of line again! [Sees Jerome die] That useless fool! What service will he be of to me now that he is dead? [JEROME's eyes flicker and his hands grasp the spear embedded into his chest. With a grinding noise he slowly pulls the spear out of his body, the spear clatters to the ground]

Jerome : [To Boddy] Jerome does not believe that direct confrontation is the optimal solution, is retreating a better option?

Clint : Jerry! You're alive!

Austin : [Sharply to Clint] Leave him Mr. Scar! He is of no use to me now, and will only impeed ones progress. [Turns to the rest of the party] Come! We have lost enough time as it is, I have a world to save! [To Harvey] Colonel, please lead the way. [Checks his nails briefly. Calmly] Glory is, and forever shall be, mine. [Nods to himself]

Chastity : [To Alice] That sounds like Austin's pompous vanity has gone so far that he has started to worship his self. [To Austin] If the good Doctor is alive, we will save our comrade, and not leave him to be ravaged by the evil.

Harvey : [Looks gobsmacked from Austin to Jerome, and then back again] By Phili, Sleaze, if this were any other time and place, I'd - I'd punch you in the nose! [Calls to Jerome] Doctor! Can you walk?

[BALKLINE suddenly turns to ALTHO.]

Balkline : What the hell is this? You had better not be trying to betray me!

Austin : [To Chastity] Sister Chastity, if you can save Dr. Trindle then please and by all means do so. I hate to see one of my people fall in battle, but one has no want to risk further loss of life in a vain and probably futile rescue attempt. Every moment we dally could cost more lives. [Looks Chastity in the eye] Can you save him?

Harvey : [Eyes almost popping in anger as he bellows] Your people? Good God almighty, Sleaze, this is one vain attempt that could well risk your life!

Alice : Come on, Jerome!

Jerome : [Sprints towards Alice] Sweet Alice, Jerome could not leave such beauty. [To the rest of the party] Apart from fleeing, do we have any method of stopping this beast?

Austin : [To Jerome] Well Dr. Trindle, we could all fling ourselves at him and be struck down by his wrath, thereby clogging up all of his escape routes, but I fear that there are not enough of us. [Indignantly] Shall we go now? [Heads off into the tunnel. Turns to the others] Come now, and bring the injured man too, we must make haste.

Alice : Jerome - how? [Pulls up his shirt where the spear went through, revealing that there isn't a mark on him] What happened? [Clearly lost for words] I'm so confused I - I murmble!

Altho : Help me! Please, help me!

Clint : No time for murbling Bimbo! Much as I hate to admit, now is a good time to get the hell out of here!

Jerome: [Incredulously to Austin] You would have us run away from an unfettered demon. Listen you cretinous mass I shall put it into small words so a being of your obviously limited intellect can understand. Big Bad demon there, we in long narrow passage, demon powerful can also run quickly, pick us off one by one, no one warn world, we make stand, allow sweet Alice or sage Chastity to warn surface. [Gestures to Boddy] Is that not a correct summation? [Takes Alice's hand] Run far and fast my love for the world must be alerted.

Austin : [Shouting to Altho] It looks like you may have to use your nascency fluid, traitor! [To Harvey] Colonel, do you see any advantage in saving that elf, or are the risks to high? After all, he is a traitor.

Alice : Well said, Jerome! [Looks from side to side and then leans in to whisper to Jerome] Of course, I can't run away when you're holding onto my hand.

Harvey : He is a traitor, but we cannot leave him there, for maybe the demon will merely keep him alive to torture him, and not kill him.

Balkline : [Still eyeing up the party suspiciously, and keeping a safe distance from them] Hey, that's a good idea!

Harvey : Gah!

Harvey : [Thinks for a moment] You know, it strikes me that the monster has suddenly become more passive, while that scoundrel private Sleaze has become even more obnoxious, which for him, takes something special! Is it possible that the creature has somehow taken the private over? [To Boddy] Will the wand help, perhaps private Sleaze is a shapeshifter?

Austin : [To Harvey] Colonel, this is no time for your foolish jokes! [Looks at Altho] I suppose that even the greatest hero who ever lived must hold out his hand to a fallen elf, even though he is a traitor. [Triumphantly to Harvey] I fear nothing, and no demon will impeed me in my quest, watch and you may learn from my greatness! [Runs over to get Altho back to the rest of the party]

Chastity : Is it just me, or did the wrong Austin vanish earlier on?

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD states that this Austin is most definitely odd. Hmmmm, Balkline is a master of illusion is he not???

Balkline : [Lets out a huge roar at Austin, and throws a fireball at him, which strikes him square in the stomach] Stay back!

[AUSTIN is slammed back against the wall, and the cavern fills with the pungent odour of burnt flesh and sizzling Smelvin Jyne suit.]

Altho : [Plaintively to the party] Kill me, please! Don't leave me here. Boddy! You of all people can't leave me here - remember Danielle!

[BODDY takes out his bow and fires three arrows, each of which strikes ALTHO in the left leg, so there is no way he can even walk.]

Boddy : [To the party] Let's get the lawyer and get out of here.

Austin : [Gets back to the party as quickly as possible] That demon, is too powerful, even for one such as me. [Gasps] I'll have to get Smelvin to start a new line in fire proof designer wear.

Chastity : [Rushes over to AUstin to help him up and out] Perhaps that will teach you a certain degree of humility

[With CHASTITY's help, AUSTIN joins the rest of the party.]

Alice : [Nods towards Altho] Are we really going to just leave him here?

Boddy : [Putting the final touches to a cheeseratte] If you want to take on Balkline, good luck to you. In the meantime, let's get out of his line of sight down this corridor and see if we can regroup and figure out what's going on.

[Exit ALL, down the corridor.]

[Book III, Act IX, Scene IV. The Really, Really Dark Cave. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME and BODDY are here, about thirty feet down the corridor. This cave is about twenty foot in diameter, with another tunnel leading out of it. AUSTIN is clearly very weak, while JEROME looks in perfect physical health (or at least as perfect as a geekboy like him can look!).]

Alice : [Trying to light a torch off Boddy's cheeseratte] You know, it might be easier if you just gave me the cheeseratte.

Boddy : Sure, knock yourself out.

Alice : [Sniggers with glee as she takes the cheeseratte and takes a huge drag] Ah! That's good cheddar. [To Jerome] So anyway, Mister Invincible, what just happened there?

Austin : [Weakly] Well, clearly, in a momentary lapse in my concentration, I asked the colonel for advice. Please remind me, next time, not to listen to the advise the colonel gives, for he is either an idiot, or he was trying to get me killed. I suspect the latter. He has been acting up a bit latley, I suspect it is his age. [Looks at his bag. To Alice] Please hand me my Wexter Mong evening attire, Alice.

Harvey : [Furious] Private Scar, how dare you! I did not give you any advice, but I will now, and, if you wish to live, you should heed it. Never, [points menacingly at Austin] never speak like that about me again. You took it upon yourself to venture into the room, and, quite frankly I find it hard to believe that you are the real Austin Sleaze.* Mr. Boddy, can you test if he is a shapeshifter.

Boddy : [Takes out the wand and points it at Austin] Yep. If he is, he will start glowing.

[Nothing happens.]

Alice : I think he's glowing. [Looks more closely] Oh, my mistake, that's just part of his suit still on fire.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD would like to mention that does not rule out mind control or physical disguise. [To Alice] Jerome cannot remember what happened during Jerome's death, but I remember you light of Jerome's life [Kissing Alice's hand]

Austin : [Sighs. and changes his suit to his Wexter Mong evening attire. To Harvey] Next time we leave any wounded traitors to their fate. I suspected his mind may have been controlled by the demon, but I cannot be certain. [To Chastity] Sister, please heal me in someway, it will speed our progress, and time is ever flowing. [Winces in pain. To Boddy] Mr. Boddy, do you know if we are in Surface time yet?

Boddy : No - we haven't even reached Paranoia yet.

Alice : Aw, thanks Jerry! [Peers closely at Austin] Well, there's no way that it's a disguise, but who could have taken him over? And when? And why? And how? [Thinks a moment] Hey, does this mean that Jerome can't be killed now? [Big smile] That's fantastic! [Takes out her sword] Let me stab you, Jerry! Come on, it'll be great! Just the kind of tension relief we all need.

Jerome : [To Alice] No. Jerome does not believe that to be a wise course of action, my dearest muse.

Alice : [Lower lip jutting out in a sulky fashion] Fine.

Boddy : So what happened to you lot in Mermantort? Last time I checked, Jerome stayed dead when he was killed. [Suddenly punches Jerome hard in the face, and knocks him to the ground]

[JEROME falls to the ground, with a huge split in his upper lip, and with blood pouring out of it.]

Jerome: [Jerome mops the blood off his undamaged lip, to Boddy] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would like to protest at your actions. That punch inflicted significant pain upon Jerome. [Steps well away from Boddy]

Boddy : I was just testing something - look, your lip has healed already. [Shakes his own hand loosely, as though he hurt it off Jerome, and smiles] And that was a good punch, Jerome.

Alice : [Sulking even more] Oh, so it's alright for Mister Boddy to punch Jerome, but not for me to stab him? Fine.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would like to know your hypothesis.

Boddy : The null hypothesis was that your lip wouldn't heal. The experiment would appear to have disproven that. [Thinks for a moment] Of course, it was a small sample group, so maybe we should run some more tests?

Austin : [Gets to his feet slowly] I don't think so Mr. Boddy. Much as I appreciate your research activities I believe that beating up Dr. Trindle will prove little more than you have already done so. We should proceed with ones mission, [To all] Please do not delay us further, [Indignantly, with a helping of arrogance] May, I remind you that I have a world to save.

Jerome: [To Boddy] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would like to put to the esteemed gentleman that Austin should be the first indivdual to add to the sample group. [Cracks his knuckles]

Alice : [Still sulking, to Austin] Fine, off you go. Don't let us delay you.

Boddy : Tempting as though it may be, Jerome, given the scorch coefficient of his skin and suit, I suspect that Austin hasn't been blessed by whatever you have.

Clint : Are you sure? [Sticks a finger in one of Austin's open wounds] Does that hurt?

Austin : [To All] If you have finished your prattling and petty posturing [Looks at Jerome] Then we should proceed with our quest, if everyone is able to comprehend the importance of ones mission? [Austin checks Maplin and Serendipity adoringly] If you all start to behave a little better I may even allow you to see the most beautiful forearms in the world. [Austin takes a few steps further down the tunnel and turns to wait for the others] Come on, hurry up! [Then angrily at the lack of movement] Were you all born bone idle?

Alice : [Makes to say something to Austin, but thinks better of it and turns to Clint] You'd want to be careful there, Stinky, you never know what you might catch off Austin.

Clint : [Holding his forearm, Maplin style] Ahhhh!! It's alive and pedantic! Get it off me!! [To Austin] Sucker.

Boddy : I have to admit, I haven't really noticed any difference in him. Anyway, we'd better keep going. If the good Sister has any healing spells, it might be a good time to break them out now.

Harvey : If you would be so kind, dearest sister, heal private Sleaze, for I would hate to have to beat the living hell out of an already wounded man! [Turns to Austin] Don't push us, private Sleaze! I have no idea what fantasy you are currently playing out in your own befuddled little mind, but do not think sir, that we'll stand for anymore of your idiotic arrogance!

Chastity : [Goes over to Austin] Hold still there. Just note I'm doing this in the nature of group cohesion. Something you are showing very little of. If you were one of my children, My third husband, George, would have sent you to your bed with no supper by now, and quite possibly canceled your special trip to the Zoo into the bargain. [Places her hands on Austin's shoulder, closes her eyes, and starts to pray] Oh, great Phili, once again this most unworthy one is in need of your mercy to heal his damaged vessel. [Some of AUSTIN's crispier bits begin to glow slightly, before starting to heal.]

Alice : So, Mr. B., who's Danielle?

Boddy : That's none of your business.

[Some noise can be heard from up ahead.]

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, believes we should enter a state of rarefied silence as we approach the auditory disturbance ahead and determine its nature before we give away ours.

Austin : Thank you Sister Chastity. [Looks over the party. Sigh!] What am I to do with you lot, the constant bickering and slander. If I wasn't on such an important [With Flare] Opus magnum, [normal again] I would teach you all a lesson or two. [Turns towards the noise] Mr. Scar, would you be so kind as to make yourself useful and lead the way. We shall investigate this disturbance ahead.

Alice : Look Austin, I don't care what kind of ice cream you think you are, but -

[ALICE is interrupted by the sight of eight Morcs coming around the corner, lead by COARSE and GALL, still wearing the clothes they stole off AUSTIN and ALICE respectively.]

Alice : [Concerned] Oh no! There are Morcs here! [More concerned] There are loads of them! [Panicky] That skirt looks better on him than me!

Jerome: Standfast gentlemen, we can take them!

Chastity : [Readies her mace. To Jerome] You wouldn't have inherited any super fighting powers with your new healing factor would you, Doctor?

Austin : [Moves to the back of the party and readies his sling to fire when the Morcs are in range. To the party] Steady at the front, wait for my go.

Chastity : [Aside to Harvey] You know, if it wasn't for the fact that Austin's battle position, I'd still be worried about an impostor!

Harvey : Well Sister, a coward who still manages to be arrogant, that has got to be Austin Sleaze.

[More Morcs are coming into view, there are now at least twenty of them.]

Boddy : [Bow out and arrow ready] This is a fight we can't win.

Clint : [Drawing his sword] So why are you pulling your bow out?

Boddy : Habit. I, and possibly Jerome, can fight this scum to the death and survive, but the rest of you can't.

Coarse : [Sniffs the air] Smells like humans! Surrender, or we'll kill you.

Chastity : [To Boddy] Well if ever I heard an invitation to stage a rear guard action that was it. Thank You. [Looks back from whence they came] Hmmmm, I wonder if Balkline has calmed down yet?

Boddy : I don't care either way, Chastity. If I die it means I won't be dragged off by these Morcs to be tortured, but it means that you'll all be less likely to escape then.

[Yet more Morcs come from behind the party, from the cave where BALKLINE was.]

Morc : Surrender, or diet.

Harvey : [Death cry] Noooooooo!

Austin : [Shouting at the Morcs, arrogantly] Surrender? Do you know who I am? You Morcs don't stand a chance against the likes of me, you might as well just kill yourselves now and save me the time, then I may even consider returning your nascency fluid, that I stole earlier!

Clint : [To Alice] Do you think that if we give them the Lawyer, they'll let us go? It's a win-win situation!

Chastity : [To Clint] Well, it would be just deserves for the vain, thieving vagabond, but we must stick together in this time of pearl.

Alice : [To Clint and Chastity] Maybe we should surrender if they [emphasises] do take him!

Coarse : [To Austin] I know who you are. Everyone in the Interior does. That's why we're prepared to take you prisoner, and haven't already killed you.

Austin : [To Coarse, with overwhelming calmness and confidence] You might as well lets us go on our way, you know that you have no chance against me. I am the greatest hero that ever lived. Whereas you are nothing, little more than the dirt under my shoes. [Ponders] You would be much better saving your nascency fluid from the elves, who will be plundering it now that both you and I are here. [Chuckles ironically]

Coarse : Well, you may be able to take me, but we've got forty Morcs here. We're going to bring you back, dead or alive, you choose.

Alice : [To the others] If it's our choice, let's choose to have them dead when they try to bring us back. It'll be really easy to escape then.

Harvey : Run for your lives, Morcs, for the demon Balkline is loose and has sworn death to all! What use is taking us prisoner when you'll be digesting in his stomach! [Dreamy look] Mmmm, digesting.

Austin : [Looks at Harvey] Foood! Is that all you can think about, fat boy! How about giving this morc a good thrashing, for daring to consider that he and his stunted cronies could possibly better me. [Frowns. Snaps] Alice, Clint, what are you standing there gaping like idiots for? Kill this morc now, he has insulted me. [Waggles a finger towards Coarse]

Jerome: If Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, has a choice between surrender or diet, [Pauses] very well we accept your surrender. Jerome would enquire back where?

Chastity : [To Jerome] Oh come on, Doctor. You've stooped to the non-sensical wordplay that is, quite frankly, just time wasting. It is clear from the context the animal wasn't referring to itself. [To Harvey] It looks like we have no option but to surrender, as we are clearly outnumbered. If nothing else, incarsiration may halt the lawyers superiority complex ranting. [Glanes at AUstin] Briefly. Last from Marc #38

Austin : [To Chastity] 'The lawyer'? Is that that proper way to refer to ones idol? If I were not such a generous and galant hero, I shuld have you clapped in irons and doing fourty years hard labour, for such cheek. [Looks back to the morcs. To chastity] Now sister, could you pull yourself together, move your excessively robust derrier and show these morcs the meaning of respect. [Pauses] Use the wand and that Phili chap you are always talking to, or something. [To Coarse, nodding to Chastity] Balmy as a nun that one. [Chuckles at his own joke]

Alice : [Reeling from Austin's anti-Harvey remarks] Idol? Of course lawyer isn't the correct way to refer to one's idol, lawyer.

Coarse : Okay, humans, put your weapons down, and your hands up.

Harvey : [To Coarse] Oh do shut up! [Turns around to Austin] Who the blazes are you calling fat boy, soft lad? Explain yourself this instant, or by thunder, you'll feel the crack of my knuckles on your thick head!

[The Morcs all cock their swords noisily, while ALICE's sword falls on the ground, hitting her on the head as, for some reason, she is bent over forwards touching the ground.]

Coarse : I said [emphasis] hands up, and weapons down.

Alice : Oh. [Straightens up again.]

Boddy : [Tossing his sword on the ground] Let's wait until we get to the sanctuary of a Morcish torture dungeon before having this argument.

Harvey : By the saints, out of the fire and into the frying pan! [Goes all dreamy, throws down his sword and raises his arms] By the way, I would hold it kind in you Morcs if you'd be happy with private Scar just throwing down his weapon, and not raising his arms!

Jerome: [Drops the spear he is carrying, To Harvey] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, advises restraint at this second, but offers his aid should you desire to inveigle any explanation from him at a time more suitable. [Raises his hands]

Chastity : [To Harvey] Now, now Colonel. If you haven't anything nice to say, say nothing at all. It's not his fault he has an odour problem, but we wouldn't want him killed because of...[Staggers as a a current of air caused by all the arm raising passes by Clint] Phili have mercy! [To Clint] Don't you know clenliness is next to Philiness.

Austin : [To the party] You gutless fools! Kill them [Points lividly at the Morcs] What the hell was I thinking of, coming on a mission with such a bunch of no good loosers! [To Harvey] Call yourself a military man? Surrendering like this? [To Jerome] Where is the big brain now? Why not think of some [Sarcastically] Fabulous contraption to get us out of here? [Tuts] I would have been better off hiring a bunch of girl guides.

Jerome: [Standing directly behind Clint, grasps his throat and makes gagging noises]

Clint : [Breathes in his armpit stench deeply] Oh yeah! [Turns to Chastity] I'm sure Phili wouldn't even notice.

Alice : [To Austin] I'm sure you'd be more comfortable wearing one of those girl guide uniforms, anyway! And another thing -

[ALICE is interrupted by the Morcs closing in on the party, and dragging them off.]

[Book III, Act IX, Scene V. The Jail in Paranoia. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME and BODDY are here, having been thrown into a large cell, after having been carried along in a large wooden container. The cell is about twenty feet by ten feet, while the rest of the jail contains desks, chairs and filing cabinets. COARSE enters the jail, and stands looking into the cell.]

Coarse : Welcome to Paranoia. The latest city to fall to the mighty Morc army.

Harvey : [Holds onto a bar] What's your armies goal?

Coarse : Oh, the usual thing. Rape, kill, pillage, that sort of thing. Mainly we want to take over Euphoria - they've got really good brandy there, you know. Quoting Colin Dinan :

Austin : [Sarcastically] Once again our greatest military mind slithers into action! [Rolls his eyes. To Harvey] They quite obviously want to take over the interior and get all the nascency fluid, and generally have a great time. [Sighs]

Coarse : [Smiles coyly] Oh yeah, that too. And with the wand we found when we searched you, I think we've got quite a good chance of it too. We were going to kil you, but I thought it would be much more amusing to keep you here for a while.

Harvey : Amusing! And do what, exactly? Look, let the ladies go, they have nothing to do with this.

Coarse : [Gives a filthy smile] Not a chance. We've all heard about human women, so we're all looking forward to seeing a little show later on.

[There is a knock on the outside door, and GALL enters.]

Coarse : [Turns to him] What is it?

Gall : Er, an angry mob, to see the prisoners.

Austin : [Smirking] Fabulous, fabulous, let the ladies go, to fend for themselves in a land being pillaged by armies of sex crazed Morcs. [To Harvey] Colonel, your brain slithers faster than even the fastest slug today. [Sigh]

Harvey : [Turns to Austin] What have you been up to, private Sleaze?

Chastity : [To Harvey] I think you'll find that, as usual, the answer is nothing, unless you count useless snide comments. In his own overblown psyche he's dizzy from watching his world revolve around him. I don't think I've seen the sin of pride racked up so high.

Harvey : [To Chastity] I damned well rack him up high if he so much as passes one more snide comment today! I'm sure my brain will slither enough to co-ordinate my fist towards his poncy face!

Alice : I think you're right, Chas. I mean, he was obnoxious before, but now he's totally unbearable!

[COARSE steps back from the door, to reveal that there genuinely is a mob outside there. It is made up of a mix of elves and humans. First in the queue are KARES and OHMLOSS, and they are followed in by about ten elves and humans, all of whom are carrying rotten fruit.]

Ohmloss : Typical. I should have known it was you who brought down Euphoria. We just came in to thank you for letting our town get over run. [Throws a filthy rotten tomato at Austin which splatters all over him, before pointing at Boddy] And you, you filthy brigand! I should have known you would bring death and destruction. Frodo was right about you. [Takes out another rotten tomato, clearly about to fire it at Boddy]

Austin : [Sighs, checks his nails. To the party] You really have lost all sense of reality have you not. It is so sad to see that you have forgotten your place in life. Look where you have gotten me now. To serve me is an honour and you should never forget that. I put up with a great deal from you rabble, and all I get back is rudness and cheek, I don't know why I bother. [Sighs] I shouldhave let Dicey and his indians eat you all. [Ponders] But no, you see, I am too noble to stoop to your level, and I saved you all anyway. [Sigh]

Harvey : [Laughs loudly] Nice shot, sir!

Jerome: [To Austin] Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, belives everyone has saved the party at some point, therefore your ego is troublesome, quell it. [Stand in front of Boddy to block the tomato] Do not worry, this jacket is wipe clean.

[JEROME steps in front of the tomato, just in time, and it splatters across his back.]

Boddy : [Bows slightly] I thank you for taking a tomato for me, Doctor, but given the hysteria of the mob, I suspect we're going to be covered in more rotten fruit than -

[Smack, BODDY takes a cabbage in the face, thrown by RAGGEDY MANDY.]

Mandy : Oh! The children! Won't someone please think of the children!

Harvey : I say, now that's just going too far! [Clicks his fingers] I say, I wonder if anyone has brought curried brussel sprouts?

[The people continue to pour into the jail, and pass out through a door in the other wall. Everyone fires some item of fruit at the party, generally with cries of "Well done" and "Thanks for nothing". Soon everyone in the party is covered in a filthy mess.]

Clint : [Admiring himself] Hey! This is a good look for me!

Chastity : [To Clint] Well at least you only smell of rotting cabbage now. And at least it shut the lawyer up for a while. [Looks round at Austin, stifling a smirk] My, what a mess.

Austin : [Wiping bits of rotten fruit from himself. With an air of calm dignity: TO Chastity] Sister, you seem to have forgotten the face that we are imprisoned by the very Morcs who have threatend the [does giner quotes] 'human female' with special treatment. Laugh away, for soon I fear, you shall meet your doom.

[The procession of elves and humans continues, along with the throwing of fruit and veg, until PEG arrives at the cell.]

Peg : Is this how you pay me back for bringing you to Paranoia?

Harvey : But madam, what have we done to command such ire against us?

Peg : [Calmly] You stole the wand from Euphoria. That has weakend the elves there. That, in turn, freed up Morc soldiers, who overran Paranoia easily.

Chastity : [Angrily] Steal? Steal? What sort of people do you think we are to break that most noble commandment. [Glances round the group, stopping at Austin] Ah! Yet again the lawyer compromises the groups moral argument. [to Peg] We did not steal the wand. It was gifted to us on a loan basis, to carry on a holy mission.

Harvey : [Puffs up, wiping banana from his epaulette] I say madam, we most certainly did not steal the wand. It was put in our care for twenty four hours, time which is being wasted away while we're incarcerated in this room!

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, may be no tactical expert, but surely the Morc's would push more troops into Euphoria to overwhelm the weakened defences. That is unless they wished simply to maintain the siege. Why were your defences so easily overrun.

Peg : [Barely audible, and not clear who in the party she's speaking to] I believe you. I further believe that Paranoia was almost certainly over run before the wand was in your possession.

Harvey : Eh? What's that? Speak up madam! [Turns to Alice] What did she say?

Alice : [Pulling a green bean out of each ear with an audible pop] I don't know, I didn't hear anything.

Peg : [Gravely] Just do what Philipe asks you.

Harvey : [Eyes the green beens enviously before turning back to Peg] I'm sure we will, but madam, there's not much we can do while locked in here.

Peg : That remains to be seen.

[PEG turns and walks out.]

Alice : [Wiping some of mush off her face] Well, at least it looks like the worst of the mob is gone now.

[Enter FAETAN JARL, looking a little older than the last time the party saw her, and with her hair cut a bit shorter. She has black leather armour on, and a number of weapons.]

Faetan : Hullo.

Alice : No, I think you'll find it's the cream on my - huh! [Looks at Faetan] What are you doing here?

Faetan : I see you still haven't changed, Alice. Still a messy eater. [Frowns at the party as she runs her eye over them] I must say I'm not surprised to see you in a condition like this. [Catches sight of Austin and smiles] Hi Austin.

Harvey : [Quietly] Oh dear God, someone please tell me that this is a bad dream! Or perhaps we're still floundering in that vat of brandy!

Chastity : I hate to sound like an idiot but [pauses] What are you doing here?

Alice : [To Harvey] If only!

Harvey : The sister is quite correct, what are you doing here in the interior?

Faetan : [Coldly to Alice] I see that even being thrown in jail and covered in food and all sorts of disgusting stains hasn't changed you. [Shrugs] Then again, you probably do this every week. [To Chastity] As if you didn't know, I'm looking for Da. there's now an extra 'i' on it, so don't use the old one.

Alice : [Looks down at her filthy clothes] And the funny thing, Faetan, is that I still look better than you!

Harvey : Well that certainly is true, dearest niece! If you were both heavenly bodies, you would be a shining star, to her black hole.

Faetan : I don't know what your problem is Harvey, but if you don't want my help, you can rot in here all you want. Everyone here thinks its your fault that Paranoia fell to the Morcs.

Clint : And why is that?

Faetan : Because I told them so! [Roars with laughter, but calms down after a few seconds] I don't know where they heard that, but the fact is, you're all going to rot in jail, unless someone helps you out. [Narrows her eyes coldly at Harvey] And that's where you'll stay if you disrespect me, Colonel.

Alice : Look, it's bad enough that we're in jail, but do we really have to put up with her? [Calls to Coarse] I say! Guard! She's annoying us, take her away!

[COARSE hits ALICE in the face with a particularly squishy rotten tomato.]

Coarse : Good.

Harvey : Why on earth, or the interior, would you want to help us get out of prison?

Chastity : If we do rot behind these, you'll never know where we saw your father. Just the other day, in fact. [Points a finger at Faetan] So you'd better calm you spiteful little ways.

Faetan : [To Chastity] My spiteful ways? [Rolls her eyes] Alice started it! And then Harvey joined in - I was just standing up for myself. But that's typical of you, Chastity, you always took her side against me. [Looks at Harvey] I took an oath, remember, to protect your party. I don't go back on my word. What's all this hostility about? We parted on good terms, didn't we?

Alice : [Removing the latest tomato from her face] Tip top.

Harvey : Hmmm, be that as it may, how can you get us out of prison? Surely the Morcs aren't going to just leave us out on your sayso, will they?

Faetan : I'll think of something. It may only have been a short time for you, but it's been over two years for me since we met. [Grins ferally] I've learned some new tricks since then. [Lifts her jacket to show that she has the wand stuffed down the front of her trousers]

Alice : Is that a wand in your pants or are you just pleased to see us?

Faetan : I'm certainly not pleased to see [emphasis] you. [Mutters under her breath] Idiot.

Harvey : By the saints, what have you been up to? How did you get [lowers his voice to a lesser roar] that!

Alice : [Mutters under her breath] Lesbian.

[The door swings open. Enter PHILIPE FILLOPE, BUD and JEFFERSON enter, with PHILIPPE holding a pair of flip flops with particularly thick soles.]

Philipe : [Still wearing his garland] Have one of them stand near the bars that I may strike them on the face with my extra hard flip flops.

Austin : [Looking at his stained suit] Another suit ruined. [To Faetan, casually] Hey girl, nice leather. [Nods towards the party] I'm afraid my people here [Gestures at the party] have been unusually rowdy recently, nothing but slanderous remarks and general rudness from all of them [Chuckles] And just look at the mess they got us into! [Pauses] So, what's the plan [Looks Faetan over lasciviously]

Clint : [Muttering to Alice] Remember, Peg told us to do everything Phillipe says. [To Phillipe] The Bimbo here volunteers to try out your flip flops!

Philip : [Impatiently] I said, have them stand near the bars!

Bud : Don't you know who this is? You must obey him! [Panicky, to Coarse] They must obey him. Tell them!

Coarse : [Uninterested] You must obey him.

Alice : [Uncertain] Well, okay, Stinky, if you think it'll be okay. [Steps up to the bars.]

[PHILIPE reaches in and slaps her hard across the face with the flip flops, almost knocking her over, and dropping the flip flops on the floor in the middle of the party.]

Philipe : My flip flops! [Holds his hand up to the others outside the cell] Leave them be. I do not want them now that they have been tainted by her. [To the party in general] I would advise you to look closely at those flip flops, that you may understand true beauty.

Faetan : Hey! That was out of order! [Stifling a smile] Are you okay, Alice? [Turns to Austin without waiting to hear if she is or not] Oh, this old thing? Well, thanks. [Stands very close to the bars near Austin] I think you'll like my plan. A lot.

Austin : [Sighs] I find it hard to believe that I risked my life to save the likes of him. [Nods towards Philipe] How noble a creature I am to risk my life such endeavours. [To Faetan] We met your father, recently, in Mermantort.

Harvey : [Outraged] How dare you, sir? How dare you strike my niece! Open this door immediately so I can meet you, man to man! [Assumes the boxer pose]

Faetan : How was he? Was he okay? Is he eating properly? [Composes herself] I know he's there. I've got a plan to get in. And I want you lot to help me.

Philipe : Do not threaten me. You would be better occupied observing the beauty of the flip flop.

[Exit PHILIPE, BUD and JEFFERSON.]

Alice : Hey! I thought he was going to help us.

Harvey : Oh dear, dear niece, I think I might have upset him by challenging him for your honour! Confound it, the yellow cur! [Looks at Faetan] You want us to help you? In return for our freedom and the wand?

Alice : [Rubs her face, which has got so red that the others can see the different shade between it and the squashed tomato on it] That really, really hurt. [Picks up the flip flops, before turning to the party] Hey! These are really hot!

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, will enact your suggestion. [Examines the dropped flip flops]

Alice : See? They are really hot.

[ALICE hands JEROME the flip flops, which are starting to glow and throb in his hand.]

Faetan : Hey, red suits you. It matches your bloodshot eyes!

Alice : Thanks Fae. Black suits you. It really sets off all that grey that's started to appear in your hair.

Faetan : [Growls] Well I don't waste my valuable time sitting in boutiques reading magazines and gossipping, while someone uses three or four bottles of peroxide to hide mine!

Austin : I hate to bust up the party, but those flip-flops looks as if they might explode soon. I suggest we put them next to the door lock. [Austin grabs the flip-flops and jams them into the door lock/ door frame near the lock]

Alice : I'm sure that would be time better spent than all the time you seem spend being angry.

Alice : Are you sure?

[The flip flops are now giving off a dull throbbing noise.]

Boddy : Get down!

[Bang. The flip flops explode, swinging the door open. COARSE leaps to his feet.]

Coarse : What the hell? [To Faetan] Get out!

Harvey : Quickly troop, move away from the door! You too Faetan! Back, everyone!

Boddy : We've got to move quick! [Jumps to his feet, and uses the bent frames of Austin, Clint and finally Alice as step stones to get out even faster, and jumps onto Coarse, giving him a savage headbutt as he does, sending them both slithering across the floor] Ah, that'll do!

Harvey : [Clearing away the smoke] Quickly troop, this is our chance! Let's get out of here!

Faetan : [Turns on Coarse] Don't tell me what to do, mister! [To the party] Come on guys, follow me! [Moves towards the door]

Boddy : [Still on the ground, catches Faetan's ankle to stop her in her tracks] Woah there, tiger! Let's all just calm down a minute.

Jerome: Dr. Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, agrees heartily with Boddy. Jerome would enquire as to status of the current situation. [Helps Alice to her feet]

Faetan : [Tries to kick of Boddy's hand] Get your hand off me, Death!

Clint : Hey! HEY! Let's all calm down! [Looks at the now destroyed rotten cabbage which he wore previously] Damn, I did look nice on that.

Alice : You smelled nice too, Stinky. Well, nicer.

Boddy : [Pulls Faetan to the floor] You must have me mistaken with someone else, Sweetie. [Sits on the sprawling Faetan and turns to the party] Look, whatever is going on here, it probably isn't safe to just step out. We're going to have to come up with something a bit clever and subtle here.

Harvey : Oh dear! Hmmm. Let's check these desks, who knows, they may contain some form of disguise! [Begins checking desks]

Clint : I'll do the lawyer's job and check the unconscious guy's pockets. [Checks Coarse's pockets for keys, etc]

Alice : [Watching Harvey] Is there anything at all there other than rotten fruit and that hosepipe of tomato sauce?

[ALICE is correct. All the drawers are filled with little more than rotten fruit, except two, one of which is filled with shoes, and the other with clothes.]

Faetan : [Struggling to get out from under Boddy] Let me go!

Boddy : Okay, rotten fruit, clothes, and what have you got, Clint?

[CLINT has searched COARSE, and found keys, some gold pieces and a pair of ladies underwear.]

Alice : Hey! They're mine!

Austin : [To Alice] Yes, well, if they spent more time worn and less time on the floor you wouldn't loose them.

Chastity : [Starts to look through the drawer] Well, maybe there are enough disguises here?

Alice : [To Austin] More time spent worn? [Wrinkles her nose up in disgust] You mean you've already worn them?

[There are a number of outfits in the drawers. One is a red Santa Claus outfit, while the others are the traditional green elven types.]

Boddy : [To Austin] And do you really believe that not sitting on her will improve it? [Gets up]

Faetan : [Jumps up and dusts herself down] Do that again, Darius, and I'll kill you.

Boddy : You're wrong on two accounts. I am not Darius, and you won't kill me. Last from Conor #68

Austin : [Looks at Jerome, tuts. To Jerome] You even fail at such a simple task as escorting Mr. Scar to the corner of the room. [To Boddy] Mr. Boddy, perhaps if you enlightened Ms. Jarl and I as to you relationship to Darius and Death, then things might move along a bit more smoothly. [Austin dresses up as a rather dashing elf]

Boddy : [Also slipping on an elf outfit] I'm sure it would.

Faetan : I know what the relationship is. And I know what they are. One is a lying, murdering piece of scum, and the other is Darius.

Chastity : [To Alice] More time spent worn? [Wrinkles her nose, gasps and steps back in disgust] You mean they've to be worn more after he's spent in them? Filthy, disgusting child! You'll be the shame of your family with thoughts like that. [Looks at the outfits] I suppose Clint could dress up as a Morc. [looks down at Coarses prone figure in Austin's clothes. To Clint] You'll have to were the lawyers foppish rags though.

Harvey : [Looks at the tiny elf outfits, before picking up the Santa suit] Looks the ideal fit, troop! [Puts it on and roots in his pocket, finding a lump of coal. To Austin] Ah, yours I believe!

Clint : [Drops his pants in front of the party] The best thing about wearing green [strips down to his filthy underpants] is the ease with which you can [puts on the top] clean your nose [wipes his nose noisily with his sleeve] without attracting any attention. [Holds his sleeve out to Alice] What do you think?

Alice : I think you should put pants on.

Chastity : [Obviously disappointed that she didn't get the Santa outfit] I'd assumed I'd have had that disguise, being the only one here worthy enough to imitate a Saint. [Squeezes into one of the elf costumes. To Austin] Why in those tights you look like Peter. A definite improvement.

Austin : [To Harvey] Yes, your snide remarks would have more effect if you were wearing your pants, and trousers would probably be even better.

Harvey : [Aghast] Good grief, private Scar! Clothe yourself man and hide your shame! Honestly man, haven't we witnessed enough horrors on our travels!

Faetan : Hey! [Holding her nose] I thought you lot had to have turned bad to hang around with Darius, but man, that's eviiiil!

Alice : We hung around with you, and that didn't necessarily make us evil.

[There is a knock on the door of the jail, the one that people entered through.]

Harvey : Shhh, troop!

Faetan : Hang on, the people know me here so I'll answer the door. The rest of you should get out of sight!

Alice : And what are you going to say to them when they want to see seven rotten fruit covered prisoners?

Austin : [To Alice] Tell them they have the wrong room.

Chastity : Nevermind the fact that the prisoners have disappeared and the jailhouse is filled with Santa and his elven helpers!

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] My dear niece has a point there!

Faetan : [To Harvey] I'll tell them to come back later! Me and Coarse are too busy getting information out of you, or something.

[There is another knock, and a voice calls out.]

Voice : Where are the prisoners? I've got me four tons of old beans and a high pressure hose. [Pause] I've also got some stuff to throw at the prisoners.

Clint : Ah, old beans. Nothing makes you fart like old beans. Although I can't see what use someone would give to a high pressure hose.

Alice : Of course you can't see it, it would be behi - [stops mid-word] I better get dressed. [Goes into the cell and closes the door, but opens it a crack] Just to make sure no one peeks! [Shuts it again, and starts to get undressed, blissfully unaware that entire cell is made of bars.]

Chastity : Given the chance I'm sure some mucky-minded little individuals could. [Glances at Alice, muttering] Spent pants indeed.

Harvey : [Averts his eyes] Now quiet troop, otherwise we'll be overheard and the game will be up! mid-word I >better get dressed. [Goes into the cell and closes the door, but opens it to

Faetan : Moves quickly to the door and opens it an inch, peering out] Yah? Four tons? Four tons? Dammit, I told you to bring ten tons of those beens! Come back when you got em! Damn useless [slams the door]

Voice : Er, sorry!

[Rather surprisingly, there are no more knocks on the door.]

Alice : [Comes out of the cell] Ta-da! [Looks to the rest of the party] Did they really just take that?

Chastity : Well, for the moment. There must be some very gullible inhabitants in this town. I must alert the church. [To Faetan] Can you see if there are any more people outside?

Austin : [To Chastity] Now is hardly the time to start recuiting gullible idiots into your insane religeous sect, woman, especially since you currently look like a collection of overstuffed sacks of sprouts. [Tuts. Turns Boddy] So, Mr. Boddy, what is this outstanding plan you speak of. It had better be good. [Folds his arms an waits expectantly, tapping his foot] Come on man, spit it out, we don't have all day you know, much less in fact.

Boddy : [Makes a disgusting snorting sound as he generates some phlegm, which he spits onto Austin's shoe] I didn't say I had a plan. [Points at Faetan] She did.

Austin : [Grimaces and smarts at Boddys phlegm, and wipes his shoe on Clint. To Boddy] I had almost fogotten just how base you were. [To Faetan] So Ms. Jarl, Mr. Boddy has no idea whatsoever, so what, pray tell, is your plan?

Faetan : That's right I do. Everyone put on your disguises, grab some rotten fruit and I'll lead you out of the town. The villagers here trust me, and we'll have no problem getting out, as long as you all keep quiet!

Alice : What on earth do we want the rotten fruit for?

Faetan : Well, for the others, so everyone will think that we're waiting to pelt the prisoners when they're put in stocks! [Holds up an apple] For you, to put in your mouth so you'll stop asking stupid questions! Now come on!

Austin : [Holds his forehead. To Alice, clearly and very condescendingly] Why do you think thicko? [Oh, of course you can't think. Slowly] So that they think we are here to throw rotten food at us, just like everyone else! [Sighs and struts over to the door. To the party] Look lively you lot, we have no time to loose, and remember what Ms. Jarl said, NO talking!

Alice : [To Harvey] It might almost be better to just stay here!

Boddy : Right, let's go out this door. [Points at the one that everyone else left through] Let's try not to attract any attention. [Opens the door so everyone can see.]

[Everyone is now wearing an elf outfit, with the exception of HARVEY who is dressed as SANTA, while FAETAN is in her ordinary clothes. The door is only open a small bit, and the people outside can't see the party.]

Harvey : I say, there's no need for that abuse, missy! [Puts on his false beard and grabs a handful of mouldy sprouts]

Alice : [Turns and glares at Austin, adjusting her elven hat as she does so] Ms. Jarl? You know, just when we all thought you couldn't get more obnoxious, Austin, you somehow manage it.

[The party slip out and walk along nonchalantly. A few humans see them and laugh, with a couple giving applause. However, OHMLOSS, the elven police officer sees them, and stops dead in his tracks.]

Ohmloss : What the hell is this?

Faetan : [Turns to Austin and gives his shoulder a quick squeeze] Thanks for you help back there, big guy, I always knew you were one of the good ones. [Swings around to Ohmloss] Hey, you. We're heading to the stocks to get good places. Get out of our way and leave us alone. [Winks at Austin]

Ohmloss : [Taken aback] Oh - okay.

[A lot of other elves have gathered around to look, and are clearly unhappy, a few even throw the odd cabbage that was clearly intended to be used in the jail.]

Elf : How dare you dress as Santa in this town? Typical humans, celebrating the slavery of Elves!

[There are now a lot of elves, who are very angry, and some Morcs are being attracted by the commotion.]

Harvey : [Quietly to the others] Troop, this looks like it's turning nasty! I'll do what I can! [Laughs loudly] By the saints, you're all wrong! I'm here for entertainment, so all you elves can practise your throwing! At the stocks later, I'll caper and dance, cartwheel and prank, all while you throw your rotten produce at me, the nasty Santa, slaver of the Elves! Then, when the prisoners are brought out, you'll all be prefect markselves! Ho Ho Ho!

Elf : Let's get them!

Alice : Great plan, Faetan.

[The mob starts to charge.]

Boddy : Follow me, I know somewhere safe. [Starts to run down a nearby alleyway.]

Austin : [To Alice] Like you had a better plan, Ms. Short. [Legs it after Boddy]

Alice : [Running after Austin] Better to have no plan than a stupid plan. plan.

Faetan : [Looks once at the crowd, then after the running party and follows] Oh yeah, we'd have gotten away with it too if you'd managed to put your tights on your legs, and not over your head!

Boddy : [Leading the party through a warren of alleyways, hotly pursued by the mob] Nearly there! [Kicks open a door and runs inside] Quickly! Gah! My last post should have been 098, not 097. Sorry!

Harvey : [To the crowd] No no, you must wait until I'm ready! [Capers after the others, puffing and panting loudly]

Chastity : How convenient, as nearby safety house. [To Clint] And he didn't even have to announce to the world that he planned to kick the door open! [Dashes in after Boddy]

Faetan : [To Boddy] This had better not be a trick, Darius, or you'll pay for it!

Boddy : Yeah, I'm very frightened.

[As the party load in, they can see that MILICENT FLUFF is in the house, wearing her nicest dress. As the last party member, HARVEY, comes in with a face even redder than his outfit, she waves her wand. Seconds later, the mob runs passed the door, oblivious to the party.]

Boddy : Nice one, Milicent.

Milicent : Dressing up as Santa? Big mistake!

Harvey : [Puffing and using the beard to mop his brow] Gah! How on earth was I to know that good old Santa is nothing but a dark figure in this damned land! [Thinks for a moment] Who do children wait for here, at Phillimas? [Turns and bows to both Boddy and Milicent] This old soldier thanks you for your help back there!

Faetan : [On her guard] Hey, everything was in hand until she [glares at Alice] messed up my plan! The only one with any sense here is Austin!

Austin : [Sarcastically] You mean, 'A big fat mistake, dressing up as Santa.' [To Boddy] Thak you for your timely rescue plan Mr. Boddy. It seem that you are of some use afterall. [Checks his nails. Looks at Millicent in her dress and frowns, insincerely] You're looking lovely today dearie. [To Boddy] So, do you have any ideas for getting from here to the surface? One is greatly behind schedule, what with these [gestures and seers at the party] blithering idiots fouling things up all the time.

Alice : How did I mess up your plan? [Theatrically] By following it, I suppose!

Boddy : [To Austin] I guess I am of some use, which is considerably more than you appear to be. [Ignores Austin, and turns to the others] Milicent can get you out of here easily, I suggest you talk to her.

Austin : [To Millicent] Good, you always seem to be one step ahead of the rest. Do you know how one might proceed to the surface, without waisting too much of my precious time? It will need to be simple and fool proof, as I have to take this lot of incompetents with me [Gestures frivilously at the party, and shakes his head at the party]. I don't know why I bother sometimes. [Ponders] Well, quite alot really.

Harvey : [Turns to Milicent] You can? You know of a way back to the surface?

Faetan : [Annoyed, to Alice] Look, why don't you do something useful for a change? Shut up and fix us all some sandwiches. With the crusts cut off. And some garnish. With some chips on the side.

Chastity : [Dismissively, to Austin] Pardon? Did you say something? [Turns away from Austin. To Faetan] Oh Phili, now you've done it. Mentioning food infront of the Colonel! [Grabs hold of a nearby table for support and looks at Harvey's Belly in anticpation of a rumble]

Milicent : Of course I do. I can get you back in about five minutes. [Waves her wand at Austin in a scolding manner] But not if you are naughty!

Alice : Why don't I do something useful? How about because there is nothing in the house to make them with?

Austin : [To Millicent] It is barely worth the effort of giveing them orders, they are all useless, and barely capable of the simplest of tasks. [Looking doubtfully at Alice] I doubut if she could even manage to spread butter on a slice of bread. [Looks at Chastity] And she is so deaf, senile and unsteady on her feet she is a complete liability. I shall have to find a geriatrics home for her when we return to the surface, but it may be less cruel just to put her out of her misery.

Harvey : [Growling massively from his stomach] Gah! Looks like those sprouts didn't fill that gap! [Looks at Alices apple] Are you going to eat that, dearest niece?

Faetan : [Growling massively] Listen, enough of this! You can't go to the surface yet! There's something I really need you to do. There is a wizard called Frodo Azziw, and you must help me find him! You have to help me find him!

Chastity : [Scathingly, To Austin] You could put alot of people out of their misey if you just used that door and left. Don't put down Alice so quickly. It is quite often the simple that have the hidden talents. [Pats Alice supportively on the shoulder]

Alice : Thanks Chastity. [Thinks for a moment] Hey! [Turns to Faetan with an angry look] You know, there's only one thing I have to do. [Punches Austin in the jaw, catching him unawares, and knocking him back against the wall] Shut up! I'm sick of you - we all are!

Boddy : [Doing some shadow boxing] Sure 'n begorrah, 'tis like being back in the ould country! Stabbin's, shootin's, women slappin' men, ah, it brings a tear to the eye.

Austin : [Sighs and winces in pain] Great, we are surrounded by enemies, and this moron thinks it's a good idea to attack the one who is her only chance of survival. [To Alice] You had better watch your step from now on, you shokd consider what happend to the last traitor on my team. [To Fatean] What information do you have on Frodo, and why do you need to find him? [Pauses] And please hurry before Ms. Short kills us all. Talking of the old country, I saw Angelina's ashes at the weekend. I bet the limerick tourist board were less than impressed with the image of Limerick it portayed!

Faetan : [To Alice] Get off him! You know something, Alice, I think you should shut up and stand in the corner. It's about time you stopped bothering the grown ups. [To Austin] Frodo is a wizard. He lives somewhere here in the Interior - he has very powerful magic, and I want to ask him to help me get my Da back from Mermantort.

Austin : [To Faetan] Your concise and appropriate answer is most refreshing, Ms. Jarl, at last we are making some kind of progress. [Ponders] We would undoubtly make faster progress without this scum [Gestures towards the party and smirks] But I belive some cannon fodder may come in useful. One thing that concerns me is that Mr. Jarl may not be in Mermantort any longer, the place was overrun by shapeshifters when we were there and many of the humans were already enslaved.

Harvey : You know something private Sleaze, the good sister was quite right, as usual! Feel free to walk out that door any time you like, for you can be assured, no one here will raise the slightest objection! So be my guest, and don't get your swollen head jammed in the door frame on your way out!

[ALICE turns to FAETAN, about to retort, but clearly thinks better of it, and walks to a nearby corner, where she stands.]

Austin : [Nods approvingly as Alice walks into the corner. To Faetan] Well Ms. Jarl, you seem to be making progress with her [Nods towards Alice] at last. Maybe there is some hope for them yet. [To Faetan, whilst looking at Harvey, ponderingly] I'll have to do a bit more work with this one though.

Clint : [Making a bit scene of waking up] Are we done yet? Can we go now? Was it just a bad dream?

Austin : [To Faetan, looking at Clint] I hate to imagine what that one dreams about. [Grimaces at the thought] Anyway [To Faetan] We do our best with the tools we are given.

Chastity : [To Harvey, nodding towards Austin] And, by Phili, have we a right tool here! And to think of the healing love of Phili, that he was crying for just a short time ago. [Shakes her head] What a waste of merciful love. [To Austin, pointing in an evangelistic manner] Repentance shall have to be shown to progress to the higher realm.

Harvey : Yes, Sister. And I can think of another tool to apply to that one! [Calls to Alice] Niece! Come back!

Faetan : Getting to Frodo isn't easy. I want you to help me. [Smiles at Austin] What do you say, big guy? Will your party help me?

Chastity : [To Faetan] Why don't you ask us, you ill mannered child. [To Harvey] I blame the parents, you know. A good spiritual upbringing would have done wonders for her manners.

Clint : Why should we even bother in helping you? Oh and becoming big friends with the lawyer is only gonna make things worse - you should know that!

Chastity : Also we have very little time to use the wand whilst we remain in the interior. We have several months to play with on the outside, but whilst we remain here precious hours are wasting away. We have a higher priority mission to press on with.

Faetan : Higher priority? Well, isn't that just typical of you Chastity? Pretending to be sanctimonious, all the while you're just looking for ways to get digs in at my family. [Whirls on Clint] Why should you bother helping me? How about because I saved your worthless hides from hell? Because I put up with your constant prattling for Phili only knows how long? You know something, I think the two of you owe me a big apology, both for the manner in which you treated me while in the party, and for those awful things you said about Himo. Apologise. [Narrows her eyes] Now.

Chastity : [Taken aback. With a genuinely concerned expression] I'm so sorry my dear. We've been through so much recently that I briefly lost sight of life's priorities. Of course family must come first. We must look to bring your father out and reunited the two of you. [To the group] The poor child needs us to support her in these times. [Approaches Faetan and supportively puts her arm round her shoulders] To be her surrogate family until we have brought together her real kin. [Smiles to Faetan]

Faetan : [Smiles warmly at Chastity] Thanks, Sister. See? That wasn't all that hard, was it? All it takes is a little effort to think of someone else other than yourself for a little bit. [To Austin] They're not that bad, once you know how to talk to them. [Looks at Clint] I'm still waiting for that apology, Mister.

Clint : Yeah, I'm sorry Faetan. We didn't mean anything by it - if you want our help, you've got it.

Jerome : [Clears his throat] No offence intended, but Jerome believes that we need a critical evaluation of this situation. The individual bearing the flip-flops provided the means of escape, where is he by the way? [Walks over to Alice] Jerome suggests we reach a consensus [the next word said with emphasis] and promise to work together before leaving this room. We must operate with smooth efficiency.

Harvey : [Raising an eyebrow at the behaviour of the others] Quite right, Doctor. [Turns to Jerome, while still glancing towards Alice occasionaly] I doubt we'll see Philipe again - it is up to us to get out, but I believe Ms. Fluff can help us with that.

Faetan : Sure, Jerry. I think we we've already reached a consensus - all we need is the Cakeboy here to send us to Frodo, and we're sorted.

Austin : [Nodding at the Partys sudden improvement. To Faetan] Your softly softly approach seems to be working miracles. One and ones people will be only to happy to help you rescue your father. [Casually] We will have plenty of time on the surface, to save the world, once we get there, and anyway, who do the elves think they are, telling me, Austin Sleaze, when to return. [Chuckles and shakes his head in disbelieve] Cheeky scoundrels.

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD, would enquire as to your method in receiving the aforementioned wizards aid. Simply transporting there and hoping for the best is not a valid methodology for achieving the objective. Jerome ponders as to what else you know about the manipulator of arcane forces. Let us have a plan before storming into a potentially dangerous situation.

Faetan : Bah! Plans are for the weak! We can take my carraige to get there, it's pretty close by, and is only day's ride. I've heard that Frodo has a test for people, so we'll have our weapons at the ready. He will ask for something in return for his aid. [Smiles] And I've got the perfect thing.

Clint : Well Faetan, as long as this helps you get reunited with your Da, and there's a potential fight in there for me, that makes me a happy man. Lead the way!

Jerome : Jerome would enquire as to what it is? Austin we are not your people, we do not like you, you just have a distressing habit of turning up wherever we are. Now in the spirit of cooperation [points his finger at Austin and Faetan] you should appologise for your dreadful behaviour to Alice, and Jerome should make mild appolagetic noises to Austin which should be reciprocated [murmers appolagetic noises half heartedly].

Faetan : It's none of Jerome's business. And not only should Jerome not point that thing at me, he should get down on his hands and knees and bark like a dog!

Jerome : You want us to visit Frodo to save your father, laudable, but you say you know how to obtain his aid, but you refuse to tell us and then go on to insult Jerome. You are indeed a most conceted woman. Jerome requires more knowledge of your offer, at least with regards to whether it includes further distraction from our quest.

Austin : [To Faetan] Well said. [Ponders, looks at Jerome] We could get that one a collar and muzzel.

Harvey : Gah! Wells said, Doctor! [Points at Austin] I think that one needs a muzzle! Boddy, do you know what's going on here?

Boddy : I've got a fair idea.

Faetan : [Angrily] I said, on the ground, now! [Points to the ground] Sit!

Harvey : Well, do something!

Boddy : Milicent, I think it's time for your special brand of magic.

[MILICENT reaches out and bonks FAETAN hard on the head with her wand]

Faetan : Ow! Get off me, cakeboy, I command you!

Boddy : [Leaps onto Faetan] Quick, everyone! Get her! [Puts his hand over her mouth]

Harvey : Well sir, it usually isn't in my nature to jump on a woman, but, in this case, I'm willing to make an exception! [Joins in]

Alice : [Turning from the wall] Yeeeha! [Dives from her corner onto the pile]

Faetan : Mmmph! [Tries to struggle free]

Chastity : [Adds her considerable (moral) weight into the struggle. To Faetan, as she is pinned down] Right! That's quite enough! Your behaviour is a disgrace! Despite you behaviour we've gone more than half way to meet you and your needs and all that you do a abuse the effort. You whine and moan to us about being a party member, I do believe that you previously chose to leave the group to follow your own agenda. You behave like a bit-part interloper, you shall be treated as such. We owe you no moral debt, I lost count of the number of times we saved your impertinent hide from various foes as you dashed off into trouble on your own. But as we tried to include you in the party, no tally of debt was kept. If you do insist on keeping up this rude display, we will all bid you good-day and leave you to your own devices. [Pauses] Although you can keep the lawyer.

Clint : Exactly! [Notices the pile up] Hey!, like the old Steelalica concerts! [Jumps on top of the pile]

Alice : Hey, is it getting dark in here? [Looks up from her position in the pile, and sees Clint homing in on her] Nooooooooo!

Austin : [Bends down near the pile, and takes a ring from Faetan's hand] Ah, wonderful! [Pops the ring on his own hand] Suddenly, Maplin is even more gorgeous!

[CLINT lands on ALICE with an enormous thump.]

Alice : [After a few seconds, and deadpan] Ow.

Chastity : Austin Sleaze! Can you not even help yurself! One minute you're buddying up to Faetan, the next you're taking advantage of her situation to whip the belongings from her very hands. Do you have no shame?

Austin : [Smirks] No. [Looks carefully at the pile of party in front of him] And I suggest that no one tries to do anything foolish.

Clint : [Sitting on top of the pile, with a smile on his face] Too late!

Alice : Aw no! Someone's sprayed tear gas on us - this is just likethe old Steelalica concerts!

Austin : [To Faetan]Ms. Jarl, if you can hear me, [Smirks] It looks like your softly softy approach has backfired somewhat. I suspected as much, I must say, you can't give them an inch, as they will take a mile. [Condescendingly] But you always did like to [Smuttily] learn lessons the hard way.

Faetan : Yes, I can hear you, Austin. Can you get these morons off me?

Jerome : [To Austin] Well then Mr. Sleaze, Jerome would like to know of your information regarding Faetan's business here?

Faetan : Hey! Get off me, you losers!

Clint : I don't know who you're talking to, but it's certainly not me! In fact, for me to let you go, I believe we all deserve an apology. With sugar on top.

Alice : And then you're going to have to stand in the corner for a while!

Harvey : [From under the pile] By the saints, dear niece, not only will she stand in the corner, but I'll have that cadet doing a hundred in the parade ground, a fifteen mile forced march, a total clean out of the toilets using her tooth brush and, and a full apology to the troop!

Faetan : Apologise to you lot? You must be joking! Come on, Austin, get them off me!

Clint : Well I guess you're gonna be down there for a while so!

Harvey : [To Austin] What is that ring, Private?

Chastity : [To Harvey] That'll just be the rush of blood to your head effecting your ears, Colonel, what with all these people piling on top of you. If your eyes are watering that's probably Clint's fault, though.

Clint : I think Harv was talking about the ring that Austin stole from Faetan, Chassers!

Chastity : [In a tone of realisation] Oh. But why ask the thieving magpie what the glittery thing is? Ask the one he stole it off. [To Faetan] What is that ring?

Clint : [To Castity] That'll just be the rush of blood to your head effecting your ears, Chassers.

Alice : Actually, Clint, I think she's talking about Faetan's ring that Austin just put his finger through and got so much pleasure from.

Faetan : I'm saying nothing!

Austin : Everyone, get off Faetan.

Clint : Sure big guy, no problem! [Jumps off the top of the pile]

Alice : [Lets out an enormous gasp of air] Phew! [Climbs off too]

Faetan : [Winks at Austin from beneath the pile] I knew I could rely on you, Austin! Last from Conor #160

Austin : [Puts on a pair of the finest albino-dodo skin gloves that have ever been seen (Covering up the ring)] It was no trouble at all, Ms. Jarl. [Paces a little away from the party, looking them over with a generally dissaproving expression] Everyone line up and smarten up, please.

Alice : [Standing between Harvey and Clint, dusting herself down] Look, Austin, there's clearly something very wrong here. You're not acting yourself. [Thinks] Well, you are acting yourself, just a bit too much.

Faetan : [Also joining the line, trying to control her hair] Well done, Austin. With you and your natural leadership, and me and my ring, we'll soon get this mob sorted out.

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would like it made clear that neither you nor Austin have any power over this party. Unless we have more information from you two reprobates, our desire to perform any task with you is severely curtailed.

Austin : [To Alice] No Alice, it was wrong before, now things are starting to improve [Point to a spec of dust that Alice missed in her dust down. To Faetan] Indeed we shall sort this mob out Ms. Jarl. Now, you can start by telling me what is was that you were going to do for Frodo, in exchange for his help?

Faetan : [Blushes] Please, Austin, not in front of [wrinkles up her nose in disgust, and whispers] them! [Pause] Okay. I was going to give him the ring. [Another pause, before adding quickly] But when I saw that you had got the wand, I was going to give him that, and, because then I could keep the ring and have the party with me all the time. I was going to make Clint finally clean himself up, and make him celibate, because he broke my heart when he went off with that tart Kelly*1. I was going to make Alice my personal maid, and have her so that she would only speak when spoken to, because I really hate her. Harvey was going to be my butler because, although he wasn't as nasty as the rest of you, he always took Alice's side against me. I was going to make Chastity my housekeeper, but I'd make her even quieter than Alice, because she always spent her time lecturing me, and never really cared about me at all. She just wanted to criticise me all the time. I didn't realise Jerome was back, but I would probably get him to work for me, designing a weapon to kill Jaxon*2. [Pause with a deep breath] I was going to get you to be my husband, because we both know there's an attraction there. [Looks down] I was just going to make you a little less Austin, and make sure that Pestilence's curse never effected you.*3 [Slaps her hand against her forehead] Doh! Did I really say all that out loud?

Jerome : Jerome believes Mr. Sleaze should relinquish the ring. Jerome requests that Austin remove it from his finger. [To Boddy] Do you not agree sir?

Boddy : I think Austin holding that ring would be about as safe as Alice being allowed light a cigarette in a firework factory.

[ALICE makes a puzzled face.]

Boddy : [Sigh] Yes, I agree very strongly.

Chastity : [Adjusts her the rope belt round her habit so that it hangs better, nodding] Uhuh.

Jerome : [Picks up a frying pan] Look Austin [Points out of a window] a random carriage accident that was obviously the fault of the driver of the carriage and the padestrian looks dazed. [Jerome swings the pan to hit the Back of Austins head] [Jerome swiftly removes the ring] [To Boddy] If you would be so kind in aiding Jerome in obtaining the ring

Jerome : [Picks up a frying pan] Look Austin [Points out of a window] a random carriage accident that was obviously the fault of the driver of the carriage and the padestrian looks dazed.

[AUSTIN doesn't fail for such an obvious trick, but JEROME swings a frying pan at him and hits him on the side of the head with it, causing him to stagger back against the wall.]

Jerome : [To Boddy] If you would be so kind in aiding Jerome in obtaining the ring?

Boddy : Not a problem. [Headbutts Austin, causing him to fall to the ground, before turning back to the others, wiping his forehead] The ring, of course, didn't work on me. I was just kind of curious as to how far he'd go.

[AUSTIN is dazed, but not unconscious. The ring, however, is there for the taking.]

Jerome : [Picks up the ring and slips it on] Now Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, can ask a few questions.

Chastity : Bravo, Doctor. Not that I can condone violence against a group member, but Bravo all the same. [aside to Alice] You could be in even more trouble here!

Jerome : [Pacing back and forth, To Austin] Why are you being even more obnoxious than your usual daily quota? [To Faetan] Where and how did you obtain the ring? [To Alice] Do you have any feelings of love for Jerome? [Jerome obviously takes off the ring and puts it on his pocket watch chain] Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, shall have no more manipulating of party members now, this ring is for emergencies only.

Chastity : Very noble of you, Doctor. [To Alice] Be gentle with him, dear.

Austin : [To Jerome, about to say something, then sees that Jerome has taken the ring off and steals it from him, with the watch too. To Jerome] So, another traitor. You could have killed me, you mongrel! [Gets his dagger out. Venomously] Try that again and it will be the last thing you do!

Jerome : Listen to Jerome you pea-brained savage, the demon did not kill jerome with a firey spear, the ring has no effect on Jerome. What do you think you can do with a dagger? [Jerome impales himself on the dagger effectively trapping it and pulls the ring/watch from Austin] Shall we try that again? [Slips ring back onto his finger, To Austin] Now!

Chastity : [With a worried look, to Harvey] Oh, I hope Jerome's healing powers still work now we're in Paranoia!

Clint : [To Chastity] Wait, don't do anything yet, this is fun! [To Alice] 2gp on Jerry.

Alice : [Dizzy from all ring stealing in front of her] Well, Jerome, of course I do! I - [sees him impaling himself on the ring] No!

[The dagger sticks into JEROME, and he staggers from obvious pain, as blood spurts out.]

Harvey : Gah! I hope you're right, Sister!

Austin : [Suprised by Jerome impailing himself, removes his dagger from Jeromes chest] Quite why the party thinks that that suicidal mongrel [Points at Jerome] is better holding that ring, than I Austin Sleaze, amazes me. I am the only one here who has worn that ring and not abused it's powers. Unless you call getting you lot to smarten your selves up, an abuse of power? [Tuts and shakes his head dissmissively, goes over to Faetan and gives her a great big passionate kiss]

Faetan : Me and Aramis got the ring. Down south.

Alice : No way am I taking that bet, Stinky, he's definitely going to win.

[JEROME drops to his knees.]

Alice : [Getting pale and worried] Er, isn't he?

[JEROME pulls the knife out triumphantly, and shows that he has healed.]

Harvey : [Thunderously clapping Jerome on the back, almost knocking him over] Well done, Doctor!

Alice : Well, I'm confused. What happens now?

Faetan : Oh, Austin! I just knew it! [Returns the kiss even more passionately]

Clint : [Looking with amazement] The bastard! I wish I could do that!

Chastity : Trust Austin to be coveting another ring from [quotes] Down south [end quotes]

Alice : [Takes out her dagger] Here, Stinky. Try it out on this. [Momentarily gets distracted by Austin and Faetan] Or maybe we should try it out on them? What do we do now?

Faetan : [Leaning back from Austin] I should think it's obvious, although probably not to you. [Holds her hand out to Jerome] My ring, please. I'll just take it to Frodo myself, [glances at Austin] or maybe with a friend.

Austin : [Passionatley finishes the kiss, winks at Faetan] Well, it seems athough Dr. Trindle is our new secret weapon, quite amazing, ha it completely [Walks over to Jerome and tries to examine where the stab wound was] Astonishing, even I, Austin Sleaze cannot regenerate in such a way. It's almost as if Dr. Trindle was half shapeshifter.

Jerome : Jerome does not recommend that any person, with the possible exception of Mr. Sleaze, try impaling themselves on a dagger. [To Faetan] Excuse me dear lady, does the wearer of this artefact come beholden to a curse, and you are possibly the [looks at Clint and Austin] third least likely person I would give the ring to. [To Austin] Jerome requires an answer to the previous question.

Faetan : You know something Jerome, you always were an idiot. For a long time I thought you were too good for that [points angrily at Alice] tart, but now I realise that you picked such a brainless bimbo because next to her you appear to be a genius! Of course the ring doesn't have a curse!

Alice : Oh, shut up, Faetan. Jerome's right, except that the curse is [emphasises] you and not the ring! [Watches Austin examine Jerome's now healed wound] What's wrong, Austin? Looking to stick your finger in the wound?

Harvey : [Musing] Hm. That Faetan girl mentioned Pestilence's curse. Could that be what has made Private Sleaze so - I mean, more annoying than usual?

Austin : [To Jerome] Which question? If you mean the curse, I doubt it. I am clearly a far superior being to you and the others. [Looks at the healed wound] And it occurs to me that if we could all heal like you can, we, my people and I [Gestures to the party] would be unstoppable.

Chastity : Unless we passed a full-length mirror.

Jerome : What we need to do is formulate a course of action. We need to promptly return the wand to the surface, any objections or proposals to ammend the plan? [To Faetan] What are the properties of this ring and how would Jerome proceed to destroy it?

Austin : [Nods to Chastity] Indeed, the party has a long way to go before they can walk past a mirror safely in the knowledge that they look smart and presentable. [Looks at Clint] A very long way indeed.

Boddy : [Still with blood on his forehead from headbutting Austin] The question is, what are you going to with him? [Points at Austin] I was also cursed by Pestilence, and I can tell you that this is only the beginning. He's going to get a lot worse - so bad that either he's going to get you killed or one of you will kill him.

Faetan : What are the properties? [Rolls her eyes] Surely even Alice knows what they are by now! Whoever is wearing it can instruct someone do something, and that person must carry it out, no matter what. As for destroying it, I doubt it can be. Anyway, Frodo is even more of a goody-goody than you bunch of loosers pretends to be, so I'm sure it won't fall into the wrong hands when he gets it. Now [firmly] speaking of it being in the wrong hands, give it back to me.

Chastity : I find it hard to believe that the levels of sin in him can get worse.

Alice : How about giving it to me, Jerome? Then I can tell her to stop being such a bitch. [Thinks for a moment] Although, surely there's no magic on earth that powerful.

Milicent : I've heard of Frodo. If he had the ring, it would be safe.

Boddy : [Click-click!] You better believe it, Chastity. But you'd also do well to remember that you were cursed too.

Chastity : [To Faetan] If you think you are getting the ring, young lady, you are sadly mistaken. We'll hold it for now.

Jerome : Well let us initially take this ring to Frodo and then depart with all haste to the surface. [To Austin and Faetan] Jerome requires that you deport yourselves like polite and civilised individuals. Lead us to the Frodo Faetan, that is unless someone with a valid reason strenuously objects.

Chastity : Well obviously the divine power of Phili was shielded my from the evil vileness belched at the demons final breathes. Especially if it would manifest itself in public show of debauchery as seen before us [gestures towards Faetan and Austin] Disgusting.

Faetan : [Shakes her head and smiles grimly] You always were a hypocrite, you old bitch. At least most of the others are too dumb to know any better, but you are one evil piece of scum. That ring is mine, and I risked my life to get it. Okay, I had a bit of fun with you, now just give it back to me and I'll be on my way.

Alice : [Holds up her hand] I object! [Puffs her self up proudly] On the grounds that Faetan is an old meanie who shouldn't even be with us in the first place.

Faetan : Shut it, Blondie. I don't want to be with this bunch of losers any more than you want me here. This is the last time I'm going to ask nice. Just give me my ring and I'll be on my way. [Takes out her sword] You may be able to heal yourself Jerome, but I'm sure I can stun you long enough to get my ring back. After all, it is mine.

Jerome : [With the ring on his finger, to Faetan] Drop the sword and stand in the corner until Alice tells you otherwise.

Faetan : Razzumfraggin' [throws her sword on the ground, and stands in the corner]

Alice : My hero! Maybe you should tell her to be quiet too, Jerry? That grinding noise her teeth are making, while only marginally less displeasing than her normal speaking voice, is starting to grate.

Harvey : Anyway! What are we going to do with the ring? We are wasting valuable time here.

Chastity : [To Boddy] Do you know why you aren't effected by the ring? It just that if the Morcs are effected we could use it to good effect down here. [Eyes light up] In fact, the battle for good against evil would swing very much towards the greater good. O merciful Phili, what a happy thought.

Jerome : [To Boddy] If the party and Jerome were to ascend to the surface with the wand, could Jerome trust you to bear the ring and escort Faetan to Frodo. We could then rendevous later.

Jerome : [Gently to Chastity] If you forced everyone to think good thoughts, would you still be good. Virtue comes from within not from without. The good intention behind saving the elves could lead us into evil, if we thought that one more change would be alright and that one person does not matter for the greater good.

Boddy : [Rolling up a cheeseratte as he speaks to Chastity] I do know, and I'm pretty sure that the Morcs wouldn't be effected. [Turns to Jerome, and bows slightly] Dr. Trindle, you honour me with your trust. I am sure that Milicent could send us directly to Frodo but, [lights the cheeseratte and takes a long drag] it seems to me that Frodo would be prepared to offer a wish in exchange for that ring. Surely there's something else that this party would wish for rather than having [points at Faetan with the cheeseratte] Miss Congeniality here reunited with her doting and sensitive father? re.

Faetan : [Glances around] You're dreaming if you think I'm going anyway where with that piece of scum!

Alice : But if we did have a wish, what would we wish for? How about that the four horsemen were dead?

Boddy : Nice thought, but Frodo isn't that powerful. It would have to be something requiring a bit less power.

Alice : Like wishing for a really, really nice mohair cardigan?

Boddy : Something like that.

Austin : [To Jerome] Look at you, you useless twat. You have all the power of command, regeneration, and we have the wand, and you are still standing around here bickering. Give me the ring and we can get on with our misson. Or do you just want to make people stand in the corner for the rest of the day, whilst you abuse the power you don't deserve?

Jerome : Could we have him remove the nascency fluid from the Morcs and thus the elves could defeat the dark creatures and we would have as much time as required with the wand? [To Austin] If we run around without any preparation Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, knows the bickering would take place there, if we resolve what we want to do know, at least there won't be any indecision when we get there. Now Austin please contemplate the lotus until you have something constructive to say.

Austin : [Contemplates for a moment. To Jerome] I quite like the Elise, in that nice golden red metalic with a pearl finish and leather seats. Now, how about you stop giving people silly orders, do your [Does finger quotes] 'preparation' and get a move on before we all die of old age. Or give the ring to me and I'll save the world.

Boddy : It could work - but taking Nascency fluid is a serious business, I'm not sure how much you could get. What do you reckon, Milicent?

Milicent : You'd probably have to talk to Frodo about that.

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD wishes it to be know that Faetan shut keep quiet until Alice tells her she can speak again.* It appears to Jerome that we can either use the ring to try and wish for something that may benefit all of mankind, or we could use it to get Frodo to remove the curse that Austin is clearly suffering from.

Alice : Or we could just give it back to Faetan, and trust her not to do something evil to us with it.

[Everyone, including ALICE, but not AUSTIN and FAETAN, burst into laughter at this.]

Austin : [To Faetan] They really are a sad pack of moronic mongrels. [Looks at Faetan] Nod for yes I guess, Ms. Jarl. [Austin wipes off the blood from where Boddy head butted him. Then strips off and gets changed into: a leopard skin thong, a hugio choss silk shirt, in 'midnight blue' - the open collar design, a Chummy Hillfingerer dancing suit in black sapphire, a pair of blue perigrine falcon skin tango shoes, and some golden retriever puppy skin gloves, in matching blue. Get out his infamous pocket mirror and checks his hair, put the mirror away. Looks at Jerome, with fake innocent happines] So, how is this plan comming along Dr. Trundel?

Jerome : While more churlish individual than Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD would be tempted to use the power of the ring to get Austin to dress up in some of Clint's less clean clothes, Jerome is too concerned about party unity do such a thing. Jerome already put the current choice to the party. Do we ask Frodo to help mankind in general or just Austin Sleaze?

Alice : You know, there was all that stuff before about how the six of us are somehow linked through time and all that kind of thing, maybe it might be a good idea to get Austin fixed. After all, if he leaves, or more likely, one of us kills him, then perhaps all of mankind might be doomed!

Chastity : Alice, is correct. The balance of the group requires the curse to be not only lifted from Austin, but from the group as a whole. By Phili, we don't want this evil hanging over us all. [To Austin] But don't get it into your sinful vanity filled head that the future of mankind depends on your prolonged survival.

Austin : [Chuckles to Chastity] But, Sister Chastity, the future of mankind does depend on my survival, reincarnations and ressurections taken into consideration of course. [To Jerome] How about we go an quickly see Frodo, resuce Mr. Jarl, and then return to the surface. If we see the Morcs nascency fluid along the way, perhaps Mr. Boddy would be so kind as to suggest to us present here, presently, how one may go about destroying the afrementioned fluid, or rendering it useless to the Morcs, whichever being most convenient and or appropriate?

Alice : Rescue Mr. Jarl? We're working to a deadline here, Austin, a deadline!

Harvey : [Whispering, in typical Harvey fashion, to Alice] Maybe he'll be more reasonable when he's been de-Austinified.

Boddy : It can't be destroyed, but it can be adopted. Basically, if you get someone else's, you can use it yourself. However, converting it isn't a trivial task. If you get your hands on some, place it in a sealed container. That way the Morcs can't use it.

Clint : Well I definitely wouldn't mind using the power of Frodo to do something else other than lifting the curses. After all, my curse [briefly glances at Alice and Harvey] is bereable. How about we dump the lawyer and the bitch, and use the ring to save the world? [Pause, guilty look at Chastity] Ah well, I had to try, didn't I?

Alice : [To Clint] Stinky! Whatever about ditching Austin, we can't really ditch Chastity, can we? And don't say it in front of her, she might hear! [Smiles warmly at Chastity and waves] Hi Chastity! [Normal demeanour] Anyway, neither Harvey nor I were even cursed*, and Jerome wasn't there, so that only leaves Chastity.

Milicent : [Bops Clint on the head with her wand] Shame on you! You already know that the six of you are linked together - I know Marasmus told you this**. If you split up, each of you will almost certainly die as the world comes to an end.

Alice : [Brightly] And if we stick together?

Boddy : Then you'll almost certainly die as you fail to prevent the world coming to an end.

Alice : [Dismayed] Hey!

Austin : [Ponders Milicents comments. To Milicent] Well, we have died many times before, and we came back, so we have nothing to loose, since the world will end if we die, or we will die if we do not try to save the world. [Pauses] So, my people here are probably as ready as they will ever be, sadly, so would you be so kind as to teleport my people and I to Frodo, Mr. Boddy too, if he so wishes, and of course, you are welcome to come along on my quest, at least in part, without infringing your statutory rights or commiting yourself to aiding us any further, but not excluding that possiblity, should you so wish to continue, if you should have the inclination?

[Times passes as Milicent ponders Austin's proposal]

Chastity : [To Milicent] He means will you send us to Frodo please. [To Alice] I always wondered who wrote the disclaimer notice on the back of crisp packets. I think we may now know.

Alice : [Smiles and nods] I think so!

Milicent : I will transport you, but I won't join you. However, [to the party general] I advise you to keep his [waves her wand at Austin] naughtiness in check - he who believes that death can't be permanent is in for a nasty surprise.

[A faint and low grumbling can be heard from FAETAN.]

Harvey : Eh? Thunder? [Looks at Faetan] Gah! I had forgotten all about her! What will we do with her?

Alice : [Quietly to Chastity] Who wrote it?

Austin : [To Chastity] The crips contract was meerly a paltry undertaking to ease one financial situation through university. [Checks his nails. To Millicent] By naughtyness, do you mean 'naughty but nice' or are you reffering, albeit indirectly, to actions of mine taken in the recent past, i.e. the past few days?

Milicent : I don't know how you've conducted yourself in the last few days, but if the way you've been behaving in the last few minutes is anything to go by, you are anything but nice.

Austin : [To Milicent, astonished] What? It wasn't me that attacked another member of the party with a frying pan, or head butted someone, or jumped on anyone! I have given these scunnered proles [Gestures at the party] a thousand opportunities to better them selves, but all they ever do is bicker and reply with snide, or rude comments, and then attack me. What have I done?

Jerome : Well said good lady! Jerome believes that now it is time for us all [he gestures to the party, this includes Faetan] to depart for the vaunted magi Frodo.

Milicent : True Austin, but you caused it. Now, how many for transportation? Mister Boddy, are you going?

Boddy : I sure am, I have to see how this whole thing works out. I'm willing to lay three to one that Faetan will throw another tantrum within minutes of being freed.

Alice : [Watching Jerome] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, how dare you suggest such a thing! We're not bringing [points at Faetan] her with us! Why on earth should we?

Jerome : Dr Jerome K. trindle will state to the light of his life [Looks at Alice] that it would be unfair to deny her the right to see this quest to its completion. For it was her that obtain the ring originally, although she was an unworthy bearer. Besides my dear, who else but Jerome's beloved could make sure she correctly deports herself. [Jerome picks up Faetan's sword from the floor and hands it to Alice]

Chastity : [To Jerome] Alice is correct. As we plan to use the ring and this Frodo's wish to aid our most holy quest, it would probably be hazardous to bring Faetan with us. She is disagreeable and uncooperative at the moment. This, I fear, could break the fine shackles of self control she possesses.

Alice : [Looks at the sword, and then glances at Chastity, and then back at Jerome] Okay, I didn't understand any of that. But if it means anything other than leaving her here, I don't want to. [Turns to Chastity] You tell, Chastity. Tell him what an old meanie she was when he wasn't here, about all those awful things she said about people's hair colour and shoes! And, like Chastity said, how do you think she'll react when we use her ring for our own selfish reasons? I say we kill her now, and leave her body on the road so the buzzards'll pick it clean before dawn.

Harvey : [Shocked] Alice!

Alice : Okay, well, maybe not. [Defiantly] But we shouldn't keep her with us!

Austin : [To Alice, Jerome and Chastity] Alas, if you had an attention span any longer than a goldfish, you may have remembered that all six of us have to stick together or we are doomed to failure and death. Why else do you think I have put up with such a bunch of incompetents for so long?

Jerome : Dr Jerome K. Trindle Bsc, PhD, will not stand in the way of party unity. Seeing the danger highlighted by both chastity and Alice, so enlightened Jerome and his companions shall sally forth without the disagreeable Faetan.

Alice : Look, Austin, when I said "her", I was talking about Featan, not you, although I can understand your confusion. We're already resigned to the fact that we have to keep you around.

Clint : [Lighting a cigar off Jerome's cheeseratte] Much as it pains me to say it, I think we should leave her too. I'm not sure what's happened to you, Faetan, but you've gone from frisky to dangerous since we last saw you, and I'm afraid they're right.

Austin : [Sighs, Gives Faetan a big passionate kiss. Then, to Faetan] You should come along too, to watch my back when I have to turn it on these plague ridden scum [Gestures to the party]. We shall rescue your father, if my staff don't bungle it [Gives Jerome a severe look]

[FAETAN returns the kiss, but remains quiet.]

Alice : Yeah, we'll rescue him straight after. I certainly feel in debt to him after he tried to drug us in Mermantort, and then called the cops when we didn't take it.

Clint : Right. Unless there's anything else, let's get out of here.

Milicent : [To Alice] Aren't you forgetting something?

Alice : I don't think so.

[MILICENT bonks ALICE on the head with her wand.]

Alice : Ow! Hey! [Makes a sulky face] Okay. Faetan, you can come out of the corner, and you can talk again, as soon as Milicent sends us away, because, quite frankly, we've got enough negative energy already.

Milicent : Very gracious, Alice. [Waves her wand and the party and Boddy disappear.]

Faetan : [Angrily to Milicent] Send me after them! Now!

Milicent : No.

Faetan : [Picks up her sword and holds her arms up over her head] Fear me! [Points the sword at Milicent] Send me after them, Cakeboy, or I'll cut you in two.

Milicent : Okay. [Waves her wand]

[There is a puff of smoke, and FAETAN is replaced by an angry looking toad.]

Milicent : [Picking up Faetan and pointing her towards the door] Off you go. [Gives her a nudge with her shoe]

Faetan : [Angrily] Ribbit! [Hops out the door.]

[Book III, Act IX, Scene VI. A Grassy Clearing. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME and BODDY are here, having just appeared. The party appears to be in a large forest, and it isn't obvious where FRODO might be.]

Alice : You know, I think I might be missing Faetan a bit. [Rubs the middle of her chest] No, it's okay - it's just indigestion.

[Time passes, and the only sound that can be heard is that of ALICE's stomach grumbling.]

Clint : So, lawyer, you haven't been obnoxious for almost two minutes. Are you dead?

Chastity : [Looks round at Austin with a hopefully] Somehow I doubt it. We'll still have to use the wish to fix him.

Austin : [Ignoring the back chat, takes a peek around to see if there is any danger or any sign of Frodo. To Chastity, whispering ] Shut up you demented old hag, you have no idea where we are or what dangers may be lurking in the forest, you'll get us all killed!

Harvey : I say! I can smell something cooking - [points] over there!

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, believes we should investigate the odour which the perceptive colonel has detected. [Starts to walk in the direction Harvey points in] The Wish should be used to alleviate the curse from all those currently afflicted.

Austin : [To the party] Staff, stay here until I give the all clear.[Stealthly slithers over towards the smell to see where it is comming from.]

Alice : [Following Jerome] Staff? Are you talking to the wand again, Austin?

[Just outside the clearing, the party can see JIMMY OLIVER. He has a mobile kitchen set up, and is busily cooking away. He has his back to the party showing that, although he is wearing an apron, he has nothing else on. He appears to be talking to someone out of view.]

Jimmy : Alright, that's proper pukka that is! We just throw in some of this thyme and lovely jubbly!

Austin : [To Alice] No, Ms. Short, the term 'Staff' is used to refer to one's servants, only the word servant is now, unfortunatley, politically incorrect. [Looks at Jimmy. What an odd looking chap]

Alice : And you still believe that we are your servants? What do you base that on?

[JIMMY hears the party, and turns around. He is wearing an amusing apron with a design that makes it look like he has a tuxedo on.]

Jimmy : [Waving at the party] Wotcha people, it is a pleasure to clock ya. Me name is Jimmy Oliver and I'm the bloody bare butt naked chef. Would ya like to toothpaste sum of me delicious in the nude?

Chastity : By Phili, this man is obviously cracked under the heat of his wok. I don't know which is more appalling, his state of dress or his grasp of language.

Jimmy : Well, you're a funny lydy, and ya 'ave the chuffin' measure of me, eh? Eh? I'm 'ere to clock frodo. Wot about you mob?

Harvey : What? Eh? What in blazes is that man babbling about? [Eyes the food] I say fellow, are you having a barbeque?

Clint : [Looks around] Barbeque? Where's the cooler full of beer? All this travelling is making me thirsty!

Jimmy : I certainly am, mate. 'ere, some lovely jubly sausages, and 'a abaht sum Mickey Rourke chops? I know you'll loike burgers and I've even got sum smoked 'oneyed golden locusts. [To Clint] The bloody Britney Spears is over there - it's me special Pope in Rome brew kit, made wif me Jack Jones recipe.

Clint : [Races to the cooler, opens it and takes out a bottle, drinking deeply] Ah, that's a lot better! [Belches mightily and grabs another] Better get here quick, bimbo, before it's all gone! [Grabs two more and pops them into his bag]

Harvey : [Quietly to Chastity] Good sister, do you think he's possessed? Speaking in tongues, perhaps? [To Jimmy] I say, may we have some of your food?

Jimmy : Of course, me China Plate. Take whatever ya like. [To Chastity] And you, good blister, you butchers like a lady what likes 'er in the nude. 'elp yourself. [Points his Spatula at Austin] Wot abaht you, mate? You've a lean and 'ungry look abaht you.

Harvey : [Confused] Well, I'll take that as a yes, my good man! You have my thanks for allowing us to partake of this sumptuous outdoor feast! [Rushes over and grabs a sausage, biting into it in happiness]

Austin : [To Jimmy] I shall partake in some of your smoked locusts [Nibbles at a smoked honeyeyed locust. To Jimmy] Pray tell, strange fellow, have you 'clocked' Frodo yet? [Austin looks around for Frodo. Casually to Alice] You are obviously all my staff, as you are obviously my lessers. [To Jimmy] I don't suppose you require conformity to the food and hygene bill in this place?

Alice : [To the party] Maybe he's Frodo?

Jimmy : Nah Cuddle and Kiss, I ain't him. [Thinks for a moment] But if there's a chance of a blow Corn on the bloody Cob in it, I'll be anyone ya want me to be. Know wot I mean?

Alice : No.

Jimmy : [Laughs] Daan't worry, darlin' only jokin'! 'ave a suck on me big banger instead. [Puts up his hands] alwigh', alwigh', ya 'ave to excuse me, 'cause I'm Mum and Dad, I am. I've got a porsche 911 wif a volkswagon camper van engine, I do, 'cause it's just the bleedin' kind of zany fin' I do.

Clint : [Spitting out all the beer] What the hell? That's the worst thing I've ever tasted!

Alice : We're your servants? In that case, show me the contract that we signed.

Jimmy : Nah mate, I ain't clocked 'im yet. I know where 'e is though. Unfortunately, it looks like there're some puzzles and traps to get through, so I was 'opin' to meet up wif some ovver people ter get in. I don't know abaht now In The Nude 'ygiene Jack and Jill, but all me tucker is pure pukka!

Harvey : [Munches a moment on the sausage, before his eyes go wide and he begins gagging] By the saints! [Spits the sausage out of his mouth and tries wiping his tongue with his handkerchief. He turns to Jimmy] Mmm, very nice. All full now, thank you ever so much, sir! [Quietly to the others] That's worse than that Liche persons cooking!

Alice : [Opens one of Jimmy's fridges, and almost faints at the stench of rotten food] What's going on here? This stuff stinks even more than Austin's attitude!

Jimmy : Sorry doll, but that's me ingredients. That always 'appens, [sadly] I don't fin' I'm ever gonna become a real celebrity chef unless I can get it sorted. But 'ey, that's wot Frodo's for, alright? There's ain't no point in bein' sad, 'cos that's just Mum and Dad, eh? [breaks into song] chim chimenee, chim chimenee, chim chim, cheroo!

Boddy : [Lighting a cigar from the barbecue] I think we should kill him now.

Austin : [Spits out the nibble he took of the locust. Disgusted] That is disgusting, they taste better raw! [To Alice] You didn't sign a contract [Spits a bit more], you are all still on probation, and will not be allowed to sign any contract with me until I decide it is the correct and appropriate time to do so. [Gets out some mouth wash and removes the last of the taste of the locust. To Jimmy] And where did you find this series of puzzels, barring your progression toward Frodo? of

Jimmy : Just passed the blooin' bush there, me old china plate. They are proper fiendish, like. I can show you how far I got if you like.

Chastity : It wouldn't happen to be where your standing now, would it? [Picks up pork chop between finger and thumb, examines it, grimaces and gingerly puts it back down, wiping her hand on a nearby napkin. Points to the food] I think that fresh ingredients is the key, by the way.

Harvey : [Quietly to Chastity] Well, good sister, that and perhaps a tad of talent! However, it does cheer me up, somewhat, for if Frodo has to power to grant a miracle turning him into a good chef, then surely he'll be able to turn Austin back into his normal dispicable old self, eh! [To Jimmy] Please sir, show us these wicked traps!

Jimmy : Blindin', Sister, blindin'! You're pure pukka, ya 're. Nah, I got further, but this was a beautiful Randolph Scott for a barbecue, I 'ad to come back. Me ingrediants were fresh, but everytime I try to babblin' brook summit, that 'appens. And, although I'm 'andsome and zany, and got an butt wot 'as no pimples [turns around and shows his recently shaven and (apparantly) baby smooth behind, before turning back to her] apparantly I 'ave ter be able to babblin' brook too if I wanna be a celebrity chef. That's why I'm visiting Frodo, because once I 'ave that, it's 'appy days mate, 'appy days.

Jimmy : [To Harvey] Alwigh', Boutrous, you're proper keen, and I like that. This way. [Picks up a small rucksack, and walks to the other side of the clearing, followed by the party] folla me, me china plates, just over this bridge.

[There is a rope bridge here, about thirty feet long, and about ten feet above a fast moving river. JIMMY steps onto it, and, although it sways a little, it is clearly quite strong.]

Alice : Go on, Austin, you'd probably be the most comfortable being that close to a man's naked bum.

Austin : [To Alice] With a tart like you around, I doubt that sincerely. [Gestures for Alice to go first] Tarts first, [Pauses] Anyway, it might be dangerous, and at least you are expendable.

Harvey : [With a gasp of surprise] By the saints, Sleaze, you go too far! If you ever say that about my niece again, I'll throttle you, you craven cur!

Jerome : Jerome is most perplexed as to the nature of the verbal communication issued by Jimmy. I am presuming that one has comprehended the nature of his speech.

Alice : [Folding her arms] You know, although you were pretty objectionable before this curse affected you, Austin, at least your insults were clever. Now, not only are you unbearable, but you're also unimaginative.

Jimmy : [To Jerome] Alwigh' China Plate, there ain't no need for to be perplexed. i'm just speakin' the bloody queen's language, know wot I mean?

Alice : [Also to Jerome] And that, Jerome, is why Austin finds him so easy to understand!

Jerome : [To Jimmy] Errr Jerome still finds the obfuscation of the intent behind (and by) your words unfathomable. [Sighs] This is for your good Austin, you should be less craven and more valiant and since you appear to be able to understand Jimmy, lead the way. [Motions with his hand]

Chastity : [Aside to Harvey] I'm not sure that is the general hand gesture for lead th way. Is it?

Harvey : Very astute of you, dear sister! In this case, however, I do believe it's permissable, and actually, though I may say so myself, quite apt! Lead on, private Sleaze! [Copies Jeromes hand motion]

Austin : [Looks disapprovingly at the party] I must say, I expected a little more from you, than petty jokes [Looks at Harvey] You may address me as 'Sir'. [Turns his back on Harvey. To Alice] Whilst I am able to conjour great and witty comment, I fear that such comic genius would be lost on an elite siège arrière explorateur, such as yourself.

Clint : What a pack of wankers this party is turning into. I'll go, or we'll never get to see Frodo. [Follows Jimmy, but pauses and turns back] But I'm warning you, I'm going to use the wish to get this taste out of my mouth!

Alice : [Smiles sweetly at Austin] Well, given that, during your moments of comic genius, your head is normally shoved up your ass, I suspect it is you, Austin who is the more interested in that type of exploration. The only wonder is that you take the time to look at someone else's, rather than your own. [Walks onto the bridge after Clint]

Harvey : Well said, dear niece! [Follows Alice] Come along troop!

[AUSTIN, JEROME and CHASTITY also follow, but, just before JIMMY reaches the end, a cannon hidden somewhere in the undergrowth, sprays the party with some incredibly digusting and running cowdung, almost knocking them off the bridge in the process. After a few seconds, it stops, leaving everyone hanging onto the bridge, and their clothes and hair covered in it.]

Alice : [Spitting out a large mouthful of the runny dung] Pthow! What was that?

Jimmy : [Also filthy] Pretty gnarly, eh? I definitely got a big shock when it hit me the Damien Hirst nickle and dime I tried to cross 'ere.

Harvey : [Wipes dung from his eyes] Gah! Why didn't you tell us this before we crossed? [Picks dung from his teeth] Well, I suppose it has dispelled the taste of that sausage!

Jerome : [Wipes some of the muck from his face] Jerome would like to know the number and nature of any further unpleasant suprises that may arise in the near future, such that we may consider ways to avoid them.

Jimmy : [Laughing at the party] Oh, china plates! ya should clock your Airs and Graces! they're a picture! I was rather surprised too when it 'appened to me, but luckily, I 'ave a number of amusin' aprons in me dirty slag. [To Jerome] This is as far as I got, China Plate, so I don't know what's up ahead, although a China Plate of mine gave me some 'ints. [Laughs at the party again] You lot sure do Pen and Ink! [To Clint] Wanna borrow this apron? [holds out a "hail to the chef" apron, before turning to Alice] No Fred McMurrays, Turtle Dove, I've got one for you too to wear instead of your clothes.

Alice : Hey! This apron only covers from the waist down!

Jimmy : [Points at Alice] Click-click!

Austin : [Using his pocket drycleaning kit furiously. To Alice] Siège arrière refers to the 'back seat' of a car, not ones derrier, which is ones bottom. I should have guessed that an ignorant slut like you would get it all wrong, and asssume it had something to do with the anus [Grimaces and flicks some dung off his shoulder, almost crying].

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle, BSc, PhD, would like someone to translate the last statement from Jimmy. Remember we must ignore Austin for he is suffering from the effects of the curse, any deleterious statements made now are merely the amplification of any current sentiment he feels and his basic personality. However none of this changes the fact that he is, without a doubt, a complete arse.

Alice : [Flicks some of her dung at Austin] I knew that, I was merely referring to what I would expect you to do back there. [Turns to Jerome] I know you're right, Jerry, but it'd be okay to get Clint to give him just one punch, wouldn't it? I think Jimmy here is saying that Monsieur Latrec and his family often visit the beach, or something like that, I was never any good at - I mean, I was never really interested in learning French.

Harvey : [To Jimmy] If I understand your patois correctly, sir, you say that you have been given some clues to what lies ahead? What are they?

Clint : I'll give the lawyer a smack, if you wear the apron! Come on bimbo, off with your clothes!

Chastity : [TO Jerome] Doctor, I'll thank you to watch your language in future, there are ladys present. [To Alice] It's an unintelligaible, filthy, pretenious language anyway. Which is probably why Austin uses it so often. Anyway lets press on, in the name of Phili. With all this manure we can't help but come out smelling of roses! [Glances at Clint] In most cases.

Alice : That seems fair enough. [Starts to take off her cardigan, before stopping, dismayed] Hey!

Jimmy : There ain't much, just that we 'ave to be well careful. The next step is over by that large oak tree - it 'as an openin' that we can squeeze into. [Nudges clint] squeeze into, eh? eh? I 'ope someone is writin' all these daahhhn!

Clint : Touch me again and I'll rip your arms from their sockets, cookboy!

Harvey : Squeeze into? By the saints, I hope it's wide enough to accomodate some of the more portly members of the troop! [Moves towards the tree]

Jimmy : [Taken aback] I say, chappie! Calm down, would you? One was just having a jape with you, old bean. [Shakes himself] I mean, alright mate, leave it out! I was just 'avin' a rum and coke with you, wasn't I?

Austin : [To Jimmy, still preening himself] You appear to be pretending to be a coarse and gutteral prole, from a lower class background, whilst you are clearly not what you pretend to be. Why on earth do you want others to think that you are scum? Even lower than this mangey lot [Points at the party]

Jerome : [To Chastity] Jerome apologises for his inexcusable rudeness, but when Sleaze defames my dear Alice, Jerome is incensed. [To the entire party] Jerome would also like to ask what Jerome could expect from each of you if your curse takes hold. [To Jimmy] Jerome must also enquire as to the difference in slang and accent between the two statements you have pronounced.

Harvey : [Indicates Austin] Perhaps we should just gag that reprobate, taking the temptation to give him a good trashing away.

Clint : [Scoops dung from his shoulder and nonchalantly flicks it at Austin] Oops!

Jimmy : [Offended] I'm Bobby I don't know wot you're talkin' abaht. Perhaps durin' me surprise and fear from this [indicates Clint] geeza 'ere, I was so frightened I somehow used a different accent in the - the [lamely] 'ope that 'e might fin' I was someone else.

Harvey : [Looks at Jimmy] A rather unconvincing story, sir, I must tell you! However, it is not really our business who, or what you are, unless you intend to do this troop an ill turn. Time is getting short, shall we press on? [Examines the gap in the tree]

Jerome : Indupitbly Colonel [Stands beside Harvey] So does it look safe to enter?

Alice : [On her tiptoes trying to see over the other two] If only we had someone in the party who's used to squeezing himself into small holes.

[The hole looks as though HARVEY will just about squeeze through, and it definitely descends deep into the ground. Suddenly, a huge bird's nest falls from the tree, covering the party in broken eggs and bird shit. Everyone turns to see JIMMY holding a large stick, which he clearly used to poke the nest down with, although he is now using it to hold himself up as he has almost collapsed from laughter.]

Alice : [Wiping some egg out of her hair] Oh that's just great. You know, I don't see how this day could possibly get any worse.

[A huge bird swoops down, lands on ALICE's head and starts viciously pecking her forehead.]

Harvey : By the saints, dear niece! [Attempts to shoo the bird away] Away, you vile feathered brute!

Clint : What the hell did you do that for, you asshole! [Attempts to kick the stick from under Jimmy]

Jimmy : [Stepping away just in time] Sorry, I'm sorry! No 'arm done, is there, mate? I just couldn't resist. I'm sorry. I'll be-ave myself from now on.

Alice : [Ducking down as Harvey chases the bird away] Sigh. Who's going to lead the way?

Jerome : Jerome shall take point, as Jerome believes it is said in military parlance. [Steps into the gap]

Harvey : [Claps Jerome on the back] Well said, sir! Well said! [Squeezes in after Jerome]

Clint : [Stands behind Jimmy] I'll follow funny boy, here, to make sure he doesn't try anything like that again!

Alice : Good idea, Stinky.

[ALICE steps in, followed by AUSTIN and CHASTITY, then JIMMY and CLINT. The party slowly descend a spiral staircase and, despite ALICE's torch, it is quite dark in here.]

Alice : Can anybody see anything?

Jimmy : Bobby, love. I can clock this switch. I wonder what it does. [Presses a switch unseen by the others]

[The stairs turn into a slide, sending everyone sliding down into darkness at a terrifying speed.]

Austin : [To Jimmy, dripping with sarcasm] Well that was clever. You seem to be almost as intelligent as the dung we were covered in a momnet ago. [To the party] You lot at the front had better catch me!

[The ride ends with a bump, and party in an untidy pile, with ALICE and AUSTIN on the bottom, then HARVEY and CHASTITY, then AUSTIN and JEROME, and finally, sitting rather satisfied on top, is JIMMY.]

Jimmy : Strike a light, mate! Let's do that again!

[The party appear to be in a small room with no visible exits.]

Clint : Get your bare arse off me, cookboy!

Harvey : Gah! That prankster is definitely getting my blood to boil!

Chastity : Will you please get off! This postion is [emphasises] most unbecoming. Also there are drips of raw sewage trickling down through this heap. I can only hope that it's left over from outside and not freshly generated mid slide!

Jimmy : 'ey! Where's your Eigh'een Pence of 'umour? come on, this is great fun! Let's do a singsong, everyone loves them. And, I 'eard the bloomin' wizard loves singin' - [breaks into awful, deafening song] Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner!

Clint : [Attempts to heave Jimmy off the pile]

Harvey : Stop that damned deafening din this instant and get off the troop!

Jerome : [Helps Clint heave, To Jimmy] Jerome wishes an immediate cessation in your raucous caterwauling.

Jimmy : [Still singing] Maybe it's because I'm a -

[JIMMY falls to the ground.]

Alice : [Blinking her eyes several times] That really, really hurt me.

Jimmy : Ow! Look here, sir! I'll thank you not to treat me that way, old bean. Look, you could have stained my favourite apron, you oafish boor!

Clint : Yup, that's me. Clint Scar. Oafish boor.

Harvey : [Attempts to extracate himself from the pile] Now see here, sir! What's the meaning of all these ridiculous pranks, eh! We're here on serious business and don't need this nonsense!

Jerome : [Stands up and walks over to the wall and runs his hand along the circumference of the room] Jerome wishes that you arrest the duality in your speech and communicate with us in a manner which we all can comprehend.

Jimmy : Strike a light, guv'nor! I don't know what you mean!

[As JEROME tests the walls, one of them on the opposite walls slides open, and a figure enters. It is a kindly looking old man, who then speaks.]

Frodo : [Smiling at the party] Ah! So you made it!

[Book III, Act IX, Scene VII. The Underground Room. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME, BODDY, JIMMY and FRODO are here.]

Jimmy : [To Frodo] I say, old chap, you certainly took your time getting here, what?

Frodo : [Holds a hand up to Jimmy] Hush. [To the party] Has he been very annoying?

Alice : He has. He's been downright horrid. We have all come close to killing him several times. Oh, and Jimmy was annoying too.

Harvey : [To Frodo] I say, sir, has this all been some sort of joke, at our expense? Does this jocular miscreant work for you?

Austin : [Drags himself of the floor, gasping for breath. To Frodo] PLease excuse my staff, they are brainless morons [Waves the party back. Straightens his suit. To Frodo] Allow me to introduce myself, I, am Austin Sleaze, the greates hero who ever walke the surface, and the interior too [Chuckles at his own joke] and these, unfortunately, are ones staff [guestures at the party]

Jerome : Jerome begs Frodo's indulgence, Mr Sleaze and some other members of the party are under the effects of a curse. Sleaze is becoming Sleaze cubed, a most disasterous occurrence. Jerome is however pleased to present himself and his companions Alice, Harvey, Chastity, Clint, and Boddy to Frodo.

Harvey : Ignore this poltoon, sir! He is currently under a curse which compels him to fabricate self agrandising nonsense. The only truth he spoke was his name.

Austin : [To Frodo] You see what I mean, their insubordination knows no bounds. This one [Points to Harvey] is quite funny sometimes though. [Seriously] As you can see, it is not I that is cursed, but them. They have all lost their minds and have forgotten their place in life. This one even attacks people at random [Points at Jerome, then folds his arms. To Frodo] Watch out for him, if he makes any funny moves zap him with a lightning bolt or suchlike.

Chastity : [To Frodo, gesturing towards Austin] I think you can now see why we are here. Members of this group were cursed by a demon and we were told that you had the powers to lift this curse, and let us back on our holy quest. In the merciful name of Phili, can you aid us?

Harvey : [Nods solemnly] She speaks the truth, good sir!

Frodo : [Standing back, leaning against a wall, humming to himself as the party argue amongst themselves] I see, I see. A curse eh? It seems like a particularly vicious one too. First of all, I had better explain Jimmy. Please follow me.

[FRODO walks down the corridor that he came through, chatting as he does.]

Frodo : If you came here looking for me, then it is likely that you heard I have the power to grant wishes. [Stops and turns around with a mischevious smile] Of course, you'll also have heard that I don't do it for free! [Serious face] But now, now I need you to do something for me.

Chastity : What?

Frodo : [Smiling] I need you to choose lemon or milk for your tea.

[Steps into a lavishly furnished sitting room which was at the end of the hall, where a tray is laid out with cups and saucers, and some impossibly delicate pieces of cake.]

Frodo : I also need you to forgive me, for I have been very, very naughty.

Harvey : [Eyes the cake greedily] Milk for me, dear sister! [Turns to Frodo] Have you old boy? In what way?

Chastity : [Visibly wobbles at the knees.] Oh, by Phili, you are forgiven. [walks as briskly as polite etiquette allows indoors, lays a couple of un-sewage-soaked tea towels down and settles down in a high backed chair. To Frodo] This is the best thing that has happened for ages. [Picks a cup of tea from the tray, takes a sip, and with a sigh and a tear in her eye] What was it you wanted for making this wish come true?

Austin : [To Frodo] May I use your bathroom, to clean up. [Austin will go and clean up even more than he already has done, if allowed]

Frodo : Better than that, my slightly soiled friend.

[Waves his hands and mutters and incantation. In seconds, everyone in the party is perfectly clean.]

Frodo : [To Harvey] I do believe that it was rather naughty to force you to endure Jimmy. I apologise to you all. [Bows, but looks up at Chastity smiling from his bow] The price for a wish is twofold. A suitable magic item, and the right of this man to beg an indulgence of you.

Clint : [Clears his throat loudly, sniffing at himself] Would you mind turning me back to the way I was? I do have a reputation to uphold!

Harvey : Well, sir, as for inflicting Jimmy, indeed he was an annoyance. But except for my poor nieces pecked head, no one suffered injury, so consider it forgotten! As for a magic item, yes, we can supply one. But what indulgence to you require of us?

Frodo : Why, I do believe I would like a little song. I get to see so few people, you see, and get so little entertainment.

Jimmy : So, guv'nor, can I be off now? As a genuine cockney babblin' brook?

Frodo : Indeed, and enjoy it. Just remember that no one like a celebrity who's overexposed.

Jimmy : Nonsense! If they like me doin' a five minute appearance on the Trisha show, imagine 'a much they'll Turtle Dove 'avin' all Jimmy, all the nickle and dime! It's goodbye Kames Arthur Montgommery Oliver IV, and wotcha Jimmy Oliver, the chuffin' butt naked chef. Pukka! [Steps towards a mirror and disappears]

Frodo : [Sigh] Let that be a lesson to you. Be careful what you wish for! [Smiles warmly] Now, what have you got for me?

Austin : [To Frodo] We have a ring of command, but first, would you be so kind as to inform us as to what Jimmy wished for? [Austin looks a little nervous] I feel that it would be wise to enscribe a complete, detailed and comprehensive acount of what we want to wish for. [Gets out his pen and paper]

Harvey : [Looks sadly after Jimmy and shakes his head] We have a magical ring, with which one can control the actions of another.

Frodo : Isn't it obvious? Jimmy was the son of a rich merchant, educated in the best schools and promised in marriage the daughter of a wealthy farmer. For reasons known only to himself, he wished to be a [glances at sheet of paper] Cheeky cockney celebrity cook. I gave him what he wished for.

Harvey : I see. And what of this song you mentioned?

Frodo : I'd like you to put into song what the problem is. How does that sound?

Harvey : [Thinks a moment] So, you want us to tell you our problem, but we must sing it? [Looks at the others and shrugs] Very well. But what happens if you don't like our song?

Austin : [Cringes at the thought of singing 'problems' as a song]

Alice : [Beaming in delight] What a great idea, singing problems as a song!

Frodo : Something country and western I think. Come on, I'll start you off on the pedal steel. [Sits behind a pedal steel guitar]

Boddy : I'm a surprisingly good ukele player. [Picks one up and gets ready to play, but notices everyone looking at him] I do have a life outside of the Hierophantic Knights, you know!

[The party form themselves in the order ALICE, JEROME, CLINT, CHASTITY and HARVEY, while AUSTIN looks on with barely concealed contempt, and picks up a nearby violin. FRODO starts playing, soon joined by BODDY and then AUSTIN.]

Alice : I had a friend named Austin Sleaze He used to lie and cheat with ease

Jerome : He thought he was the smartest guy around. But we found out this morning -

Clint : He got a curse without warning, It was done by Pestilence way back when.

All : He's with Pestilence now, He's with Pestilence now.

Chastity : Well, I said it was a sin To pride himself with that Maplin

All : He's with Pestilence now.

Harvey : Yodelee-hee! [Carries on yodelling]

Alice : Aus liked to wear nice clothes And perfume to please his nose

Jerome : But telling lies was his favourite game. We liked him all the same -

Clint : Because we knowthat he's not to blame The curse has made him think that he has fame

All : He's with Pestilence now, He's with Pestilence now.

Chastity : I told him once or twice Start being good and talkin' nice

All : He's with Pestilence now.

Harvey : Yodelee-hee!

[Slowly the music and yodelling stops.]

Frodo : [Giving a clap] Bravo! Bravo!

Chastity : Thank you. [To Boddy] And thank you for your accompaniement. Npt quite as stirring as a good hymn, but quite enjoyable in its own way.

Boddy : [Bows deeply to Chastity] And your voice, Sister, is that of an angel.

Frodo : [Slowing down his clap] Excellent, excellent. Now, may I see the magic item? [Sits forward slightly in his seat in anticipation]

Austin : [Fighting to maintain his cringe, frowns. To the party] It seems that you have missed your vocation in life. That was actually not dreadful, but almost okay. [Checks his nails] There may be hope for you all yet, possibly, but I doubt it. [Frowns] I think you need to work on those lyric though, I would have to sue, were we back in Queensview. An extensive libel and slander case, infringement of personal information distrubution and public performance rights. [Ponders] Worth quite a bit.

Alice : Actually not dreadful? [Big smile, as she hugs Austin] Oh Austin, that's the nicest thing I've heard you say in ages! You really are still in there! [Holds him tight, wiping a mix of egg, feathers and cowshit against his suit]

Harvey : [To Jerome] Well, Doctor? The ring?

Jerome : [Takes off the ring on his finger, and holds it out to Frodo] Dr Jerome K Trindle Bsc, PhD, has the artefact.

Frodo : [Inhales deeply and closes his eyes] Very nice. [Snatches the ring from Jerome, and smiles deeply] Very, very nice. [Looks around the party] Now, you wish me to remove the curse from him? [Gestures to Austin who still has Alice wrapped around him]

Chastity : [Looks between the spotless Alice, and the mess she's made of Austin's clothes] Hmmmm. An interesting trick, my dear.

Jerome : [Going purple with Jealousy] Jerome requests that Pestilence’s curses on the others of the party be removed in addition to Mr Sleaze. If it is possible only to remove one curse it must be Sleaze.

Alice : [As she steps back] Gah! [Turns to Chastity] I must have stood too close to Clint - see? He's already filthy again.

[This is true, CLINT has reverted to his normal state, and points at ALICE giving her a "click-click".]

Frodo : Hm, I'm afraid that won't be possible. I can only do one of you, and even that will take me a while to recover from. Pestilence lays on some pretty strong curses. [Sings softly to himself] He's with Pestilence now. [Closes his eyes, and holds his hands up above Austin, mumbling some kind of incantation, but stops, and points to the tea tray] Could someone please pass me a cup of tea with some lemon?

Chastity : I'll play mother, along obviously I'm a sister [Briefly laughs at her own small joke, whilst pouring a cup of tea with lemon in a well practiced fluid motion. Hands it to Frodo] There you are. I hope the lemon is enough for you.

Frodo : [Deep sigh] Thanks. [Takes the cup and sits down, drinking his tea] It's okay, I suppose.

Austin : [To Chastity] May I have a cup of tea, please Sister. [Sits down and gets out his pocket drycleaning kit and removes the dirt that Alice managed to transfer from Clint to him. To Alice] Do you always have to be such a [with a bit of sleaze] dirty girl? [Checks his hair in a pocket mirror. To Frodo] Well, thank you Mr Frodo, for removing that rather unplesant curse. [Chuckles, looks vaguely at the others. To Frodo] They're an odd bunch aren't they? Not all bad though.

Alice : [Steps back and blinks a few times at Austin, before turning to the others] Is he cured? Because I can't tell the difference.

Frodo : I suppose.

Austin : [To Alice] Of course I am cured. [Helps himself to tea, tutting] Did you honestly expect me to be any less briliant than I was before, sugar plum? [Winks at Alice and rolls a cheesarette] I believe a quick celebratory celebration is in order, just a quickie. [Sips his tea, lights up and takes a big draw, passes it to Alice] There you go honey bee, a menthol cigarrette to clear your lungs, [does a very noticable wink to Alice] just like old times. [Shakes his head] What a horrible curse that was.

Chastity : [To Alice] Well that was a second nearly compliment from Austin. SOmething that we haven't heard from him for a while. [Briefly peers t Austin] I'd assume that he's back to his old arrogant, vanity ridden, thieving self.

Alice : Menthol cigarette? I don't want a - oh. [Gives a big wink back to Austin] A [emphasis] menthol cigarette. Excellent. [Takes a huge drag] Yep, Chas, I think he's cured. I guess we can either wait around here for him to thank us, or we can start moving.

Frodo : [Looking quite tired and haggard] Are you still here?

Jerome : If Jerome could ask you for the quickest directions to exit to the surface.

Clint : Shame on your gluttony, Sister. [Grabs a handful of the delicate finger cakes and shoves about twenty of them into his mouth] Mey're mreally mnice!

Frodo : The surface? Why in earth do you want to go there?

Chastity : [Quickly glaring at Clint and closing her bag. To Frodo] We are on a holy mission. We have to return to the surface to help rid it of the evil scourge of the shapeshifters that threatens to engulf the world.

Frodo : Then you'd better hurry up then, hadn't you? [Takes a deep breath] Okay, I suppose you want me to transport you to the surface? [Time passes.]

Frodo :[Irritably] Well, do you?

Austin : [To Frodo] That would be most kind of you, if it is within your powers, as I suspect it probably is, we would be most grateful to you if we could appear on the surface as close to, or in Queensview as possible. [Stands ready to be transported.]

Frodo : [Sigh] I'll transport you outside the nearest exit to the Surface. Probably the one you came in through.

Alice : Excellent! We can pop in home for some refreshments before finding the Hierophantic Knights and giving them the wand.

Boddy : Yeah, good luck with that.

Austin : [To Boddy and Frodo] Do you have any news of the situation on the surface?

Jerome : Indeed. Jerome is most intrested in the information Boddy has regarding the Knights?

Frodo : Things on the surface are very bleak. You're better off staying here.

Boddy : Not a whole lot, but I'm sure you'll be able to track them down. What with being a fantastic party and all.

Austin : [To Frodo] You offer is most generous [Looks around the room. To Frodo] You have a nice place here, but are you sure there is room for all of us?

Harvey : [Bows to Frodo] You have my thanks sir, for the tea, the cakes and the removal of the curse. But we must leave immediately for the surface. [To Boddy] I take it that you do not mean to return with us?

Frodo : [Pales at Austin's words and shouts] No! [Calms down] I mean, no, there probably isn't enough space. I will return you all to the gate you came in through.

Boddy : Correct, Colonel. I'm returning to Paranoia. [Pause] Unless Frodo would prefer me to stay here, of course.

Frodo : [Pales at Boddy's words and shouts] No! [Calms down] I mean, no, there probably isn't enough space. I will return you to the gate outside Paranoia.

Jerome : Jerome might not be the most erudite of individuals but have you two met before? [Gestures at Boddy and Frodo]

Boddy : Not at all, Doc. What makes you think that?

Jerome : Jerome notes a major psycological shock on the part of Frodo when confronted with the possability of a potential extention of your presence in this very locale. At the very least we can infer that he knows something of your reputation, which Jerome would be most intrigued to hear.

Chastity : Oh, hush, Doctor! His major psychological shock was no worse than that when Austin suggested that we stay here.

Frodo : I just want to be alone, it has nothing to do with his reputation.

Harvey : Quite so, good doctor, let's leave the man alone so he can rest and recuperate! [Turns to Frodo] If you would be so kind?

Frodo : But of course.

Alice : [To Boddy] We're going to see you again, right?

Boddy : Yep.

Alice : In the straw place?*

Boddy : Possibly.

[FRODO starts to chant some spell, and everyone in the party begins to feel dizzy.]

Boddy : Don't forget - loose lips sink ships, and not everyone should have all the information all the time.

[The party disappear.]

Frodo : Want a game of twister?

Boddy : Sure, as long as you can conjure up some naked babes. Forgot the footnote: * This is the manner in which Alice has made her previous predictions, all of which have come true. On Tue, 16 Sep 2003 conor@waldo.csis.ul.ie wrote: [Book III, Act IX, Scene VIII. The Surface. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, CHASTITY, HARVEY and JEROME are here. Although it is clearly daytime, the sky is almost black, and it is very cold and windy. The party recognise themselves as being just outside where they entered, which is about half a mile from ALICE's house. All the trees and vegetation around are either dead or dying.]

Alice : Hey! What happened here?

Chastity : [Looking around with a look of concern. To Harvey] I hope nothing has happened to that gardener of yours. He was looking pretty old last we saw saw him.

Austin : [Flicks through his bag, muttering] It looks like gothic may be back in vogue. [Looks around at the general blackness and decay. Sighs] It'll be all straight, black, trimmed goaties, cheap lager and Feng-shui. [Sigh] Oh well, maybe the phoneix of haut coiture genius shall arise from the ashes to create something wonderful for me to wear. Aaaah! [Finds something in his bag. Puts on an ox-blood red Scorchi suit and slips into a brand new pair of black gecko skin boots] That's better. [Checks Maplin, smiles, then checks Serendipity for a moment. Turns to the party] So who has the wand?

Alice : Oh no! I left it on a shelf in Frodo's place! [To the others] I'm sorry, it's with all the singing and dancing, I thought it best to put it somewhere safe. You know, in case something happened to it, because it really wouldn't do at all to come back here on the surface without it.

Jerome : [Jerome's shoulders drop] Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, sincerely hopes that this is an elobrate jape Alice..

Chastity : [To Jerome] Come now doctor, it's our very own Alice. The jape is hardly going to be elaborate. [To Alice] All the same, you'd better be joking my girl! This had better be one of your ill thought out plans to lighten the atmosphere.

Alice : Um. [Nervously plays with her cardigan]

Harvey : No need to worry, troop! I have it here.

Alice : Hey! You had it all the time!

Harvey : That's right, Niece. [Turns to Jerome and Chastity] Experience has taught this old soldier to check any room about to be vacated by Alice for forgotten items. Why, I've found everything from wands to passports to unde - well, I've found a lot of things.

[The party walk towards the house, led by ALICE. As soon as it comes into view, however, the party can see that it is now little more than a ruin, having suffered a severe fire.]

Alice : [With her thining face on] You know, something just doesn't look quite right.

Austin : [Looks at Alice] You mean other than the fact that it is a burnt out ruin?

Jerome : Jerome would definitely have words with the cleaner.

Clint : Don't tell me someone lit up the Louis XIV again! What a waste!

Austin : [To Clint] What a helpful and constructive comment that was, Mr. Scar. [To the party] Why don't we all take a look around and see if we can find out anything useful?

Chastity : [Scolding to Jerome] Please, Doctor. This is no time for you attempts at humour. [Makes for the ruins]

Alice : The whole place has been burned out! There's nothing left, nothing! [Thinks hard] Unless...

[ALICE shifts some debris, and opens up a small trapdoor, from which she takes a metal box.]

Alice : Hah! I knew it. My "My Little Pony" collection is saved! [Opens the box and tries to lift one out, only to see that they have all melted together in a disgusting mix plastic and hair] Hey!

[Most of the house has suffered fire damage, and it isn't obvious where it started from. Somewhere in the distance, the party can hear what appears to be singing.]

Austin : [Stops poking around because he hasn't found anything. Looks up. Sarcastically] Hark! I hear jovial song yonder [Points in the direction of the singing and sneaks over to see what is singing]

Clint : No! We're not going to sing a song again, are we? I thought the curse was gone!

Alice : Well, you're still here, aren't you?

[The singing is coming from all around, as though there are very many people approaching, all of whom are singing. In the distance, the party can just about make out some people in white robes.]

Forgot to give a link to the song. And no, the party won't have to sing!

http://shine.csis.ul.ie/qv/Songs/alicehouse.mp3

Chastity : [Peering at the figures] Well, its about time we came across some civilised religious organisation for once. praise be to Phili.

Austin : [To the party] This looks like a job for Chassers, fight religon with religion I reckon.

Clint : [Covering his ears] Please! Please make them stop!

[As the figures approach, the party can see that there are literally hundreds of them, walking through the house apparantly not even noticing the state it is in. ALICE tries to speak to one of them.]

Alice : Excuse me, hello?

[ALICE is ignored, and the figure continues. The party can see that all of the figures appear to be human, and all have very serene looks on their faces.]

Chastity : They remind me of the splinter church that call themselves the "Post Apocalyptic Church of Phili". A most sombre organisation who set up at disaster sites, in the belief that the areas are blessed as Phili has reached down and rid the ground of sin. Religious Crackpots. [Pauses for thought] Nice clean habits though.

Austin : [Looking very suprised at Chastity] Whilst in the event of you claiming part of or all, of the statement I am about to make, notwithstanding consignation or the fact that the legal system as we know it may, or may not, any longer exist, as the case may be, and further to this should any change have occured to these aformentiond laws or clauses, if they do indeed exist, I shall not be held liable in part or whole, even when the complete statement has been exercised, interruptions not rescinding, or an other shortfalls occuring, or not as the case maybe, that I, Austin Sleaze, excepting and provision exigible notwithstanding the exercise, does believe that that was the most sane thing you have said in years, approximations being taken to be reasonable, not litteral.

Alice : Wow, Austin! As a compliment, that was actually not dreadful. Chastity? You're the expert on religious fanatics - how should we find out where they're going?

Chastity : Why thank you, Austin.[pauses] I think. [Looking afetr the figures] Lets follow them.

Alice : Follow them, eh? [Shakes her head in bemusement] I guess that's why you're the religious fanatic and we're just the cycnical ass cracking bystanders. [Breaks her gaze from one of the figures who's wearing a very short gown] I mean, wise cracking bystanders.

[The party follow the figures, which are heading towards the river. They are all queuing up for another figure, presumably a priest, in white who is standing waist deep in the water. About twenty or thirty other figures are floating away from him, and the river is running a deep red.]

Alice : What do you reckon, Chas? Some kind of baptism?

Chastity : Hmmmm, an unholy one maybe. [Looks up the river to see if its red all the way along its length, turns and notices the colour of Austin's suit, and quickly looks back at the river colour] Most Worryingly. We'll have to get closer to hear the baptist figure. I wonder if I've any white habits left in my bag. [starts to quickly rummage]

Clint : [Pulling out a filthy white handkerchief from his pocket] I've got a white cloth, if you need it.

Chastity : [Briefly looks at the handkerchief and grimaces] I doubt very much if that, er..item qualifies as either white or cloth. [continues to rummage]

Alice : Of course it's cloth - look, it's some sort of green wool! [Squeezes it, but immediately takes on a dismayed look] Hey! That's not wool at all!

[Miraculously, CHASTITY takes out a bunch of white robes, the same ones that were used in Hysteria back in Book II.]

Harvey : Ah, well done, Sister. Waste not, want not.

Chastity : [To Harvey] Well, the devil does want to waste. [Hands out the robes, and puts one on herself. Looks round the group] I wish we could get a picture of this.

Harvey : [Donning his robe] Indeed, Sister. It would be wonderful to capture the troop in a moment of purity and - Alice! What are you doing?

Alice : [Squatting down, taking off her skirt] Er, putting on the robe?

Harvey : Gah! Just put it over your clothes, over them!

Harvey : [Puts on his own robe] Now we'll blend in with the others and find out what's going on, eh! [Looks up at the sky] How long have we been away?

Jerome : Remember, good colonel, the time dilation effect. Jerome suggests it may have even stretched to a number of years. Jerome would put a minimum of 2 months, but Jerome's timepiece appears to have been aversely affected by Jerome's journeying. timetabling meeting at 3

Alice : Didn't Siegfried say that it was more like two years? Anyway, let's seamlessly blend in with the others. [Starts walking along, singing tunelessly]

Austin : [Looking reluctant, slips a white robe over his suit] Why don't these weird cults ever have good taste in clothes? [Mutters] Must be part of their insanity.

Jerome : [Dons a white robe] Jerome thinks that with minor modifications this apparel would make a suitable laboratory coat. [Begins to hum a counter point to Alice's drone]

[The party follow the crowd towards the river. There is one main figure that people are queuing up to. As each steps up to him, they lie back in the water against them, and he pushes something up against their chest, causing red liquid to flow away. He then pushes them gently into the water, and they float off.]

Alice : Hey, I wonder what that red stuff is.

Chastity : [Looking worried] Most worrying.

Alice : I'll say it is - it looks like he's stabbing them!

Austin : [To Alice] The red stuff appears to be blood, and the man in the river appears to be killing them. [Looks quite worried]

Alice : Oh, okay. [Carries on a few feet, but then stops] Hey! Why are we lining up here again?

Austin : [Stops] I have no idea, it seems to be a stupid idea to me, I must say. [Reddies his sling discreetly in his robes sleeves]

Alice : Well, it does seem like a bit of a waste to just let ourselves get killed, doesn't it?

[One of the figures beside the main one (the one doing the killing) steps forward and addresses the crowd. As he does, he lowers his hood, revealing himself to be CAIPHAS.]

Caiphas : Humble and reverent flock, Brother Torque requires his rest.

Chastity : By Phili, does he mean Adam Torque? I wasn't wrong with "Religious Crackpots" then. I say we discretely shuffle to the back of the crowd

Alice : But what's he doing here? Isn't he dead? We all saw Dangsten kill him.

Austin : [To Alice] Well, a few people have seen us die too, but we're still here. Maybe Marasmus or such like ressurected him, or perhaps he worked out how to use the sundials to travel in time, just as we did. Or it could possibly be a different Adam.

Alice : A different Adam sounds most likely. [Takes out her notebook and flicks through some pages] After all, any time we've been resurrected it's been through either the Orb or Marasmus, but when she did it, it happened immediately. Add that to the fact that she's now dead, I don't think it was her. Also, there was no orb nearby when Adam bought it, so that also seems unlikely. The only other time we cheated death was when Uncle Harvey came down to hell after us, and even that was only possible because of that whole [waves her hands around vaguely] six souls connected through time thing. [Smiles] I bet you're all glad now that I write everything down in my notebook - we'd be lost without it.

Harvey : Alice, are you sure that you want your notebook dipping into the water?

Alice : [Pulling it out of the water] Gah!

Clint : Shouldn't we back up then? Unless you want to rush and kill the guy. Hey, that sounds like a good idea!

Harvey : Perhaps it's a different Torque, a bit like the whole Boddy - Death thing? Anyway, let's discreetly slip away and watch these two priests from a distance. [Looks with distaste at the river] Murderous wretches!

[ADAM and some others start to walk to the riverside. There are eight people with him, CAIPHAS and seven others. Two of them drop their hoods too, revealing them to be CLINT and AUSTIN. Meanwhile, the party slip off to one side.]

Alice : Hey look! [Turns to Austin] Clint and Austin are with them!

Chastity : In the name of Phili, shapeshifters be damned. Could they all be shapeshifters? The evil irony of a shapeshifter impersonating Torque. [To Harvey] Best have that wand ready, Colonel.

Harvey : Consider the wand armed and ready to do some doppleganger smiting, dear sister! [Looks at the other group] By the saints, what is going on here? [Scratches at a sideburn] What has happened on the surface in the last two months? Perhaps we should make enquiries, try to find our family. Their house is burned, but please Phili, let them be alive, eh!

Alice : It's been two years, Harvey! And you're right, I hope everyone's okay. Without the house, they are virtually destitute, except for the beach house. And the ski lodge. The vineyard, the ranch and the other houses that Daddy never told us about but we all know about. You know, we had better be careful about using it here out in the open - if these people in the queue are humans they might react badly if we injure their priest. [Dramatically] Who knows how religious fanatics react?

[Time passes.]

Alice : [In a calm voice] No, really, who knows how religious fanatics react? Chastity?

Jerome : Jerome requsts of Harvey what deployment pattern he requires us to take? [Wrings his hands nervously] You may have to take into account that Jerome's regenerative powers operated in the sole presence of the innerworld. [Pauses] Let us removes the foul stench of evil, no offence Clint, so that we can interrogate the poor duped innocences , no offence Alice, who have clung to a blatantly incorrect belief system, no offence Chastity.

Austin : [After more time passing. To Alice] We'll our own personal religious fanatic appears to be passive and mute, in reaction to your suggestion. Perhaps it is shock?

Alice : What is? The fact that you're making even less sense than usual? [Nods to Jerome] Yes, we do need a plan. Something other than sacrificing some of the geekier members of the party to test if they are still invulnerable, which they had better be if they persist in this most annoying fashion. No offence, Jerome.

Harvey : Er, yes. Well, Adam and his cronies seem to be heading towards the tent over there. [Points at a large tent to which they are walking] If we wish to confront them, it might be best to do it there.

Jerome : Tell me if Jerome is correct in his assumption; we stealthly make our way to the rear of the tent and gain entry through a rapid slice through the tent material and detaine the ne'er-do-wells. [Ponders for a second] Or are we wandering through the congregation pretending to be happy clappers with inane grins?

Alice : [Wearing her normal inane grin] The first one.

Chastity : [Looking around at the sombre congregation surrounding them. Sarcastically to Jerome] Oh yes. That'll stop us from standing out!

Austin : [To Harvey] I suggest that we keep the wand hidden from view, incase they try to steal it from us. Obviously it's power is such that it does not need to be seen to be effective. [Checks his nails casually]

Harvey : That is probably correct, Private. However, I shall keep it at the ready, just in case.

[The party creep up to the back of the tent.]

Alice : What happens if they're not all shapeys?

Jerome : It may be in our best interest to detaine all the individuals, and then determine whether they are willingly collaborating with the shapechangers, or were mislead into following such inappropriate orders.

Austin : [To Jerome] And just how do you intend to detain them? Club them unconsious with your big head? They out number us considerably.

Alice : [Drawing her sword] Okay, but what if there are hundreds of them in there? After all, it is a pretty big tent.

Chastity : You forget the devotion that these [gestures towards the crowd] Religious Numpties show there leader. They would have been out of the tent when he was. I wouldn't imagine they'll be any more than who we saw inside the tent. [Readies her mace]

Jerome : Jerome enquires as to the state of combat readiness, if that prooves positive then in common parlance [Draws and readies his rapier] Let's rock!

Alice : Well, I suppose you know more about religious Nunties than we do, Chas. I just hope none stayed behind.

Chastity : [To Alice] Well the church must not only fight the good fight against pure evil, but also against those misguided enough to bear false religions before them. [Grinds her teeth Faetan style] such as the Church of the Latter Day Phili.[ Back to normal demeanour. To Jerome] If you could carefully make an incision, doctor, and then perhaps [turns do Clint] you could do your thing and kick Torque's flaps in!

Jerome : Indubitably good sister! [Jerome positions himself in the traditional En Garde stance, then with a lightning flash from his rapier Jerome swiftly cuts the tent's fabric] Hmmm half a centimetre out Jerome must be slipping.

[Through the hole in the tent the party can see about twenty people. Those with their hoods down are ADAM, CAIPHAS, CLINT, AUSTIN, ALICE, CHASTITY, HARVEY, JEROME and several other people the party haven't seen before. About ten still have their hoods up. Everyone is fairly relaxed, and all the unhooded ones are sitting on large cushions.]

Alice : Hey! They must be the doppelgangers Irving told us about!*

Chastity : [Looking at the large cushion lounging going on] And they seem to have adopted the hippie lifestyle from Mermantort!

Austin : [To Chastity, whilst checking his hair in his pocker mirror] Well at least they aren't trying to convert us. [Appears to be preoccupied by a small curl in his fringe] Just tell me when we are all ready to go in. Today sometime I hope. [Fiddles with his curl]

Chastity : [Stares at CLint for a few seconds, waitong for him to do something,but loses patience. To Harvey] Well, with the reluctance of Clint to take up his usual role, perhaps you should do the honours, Colonel, as you have [pauses and points to his jacket] the you-know-what.

Harvey : Eh? This is hardly the place for that, Sister!

Alice : I think she means the map, Harvey.

Harvey : You mean the wand.

Alice : That's what I said.

Harvey : Right. Well, perhaps everyone should take a quick peek to see where they will go in case not all of those hoodies are shapeshifters.

Clint : Since the wand only reveals the shapeshifters, but doesn't harm them, I suggest we get ready to fight ourselves. I mean, I the other ourselves. The ourselves that are not ourselves. [Pause] You know what I mean.

Alice : It didn't harm them, but it pushed them away - remember when Random used it?

Austin : [To Alice] Well they might not be shapeshifters, they could be us, after travelling in time or something, so lets not kill anyone until we know.

Alice : Maybe you're a shapeshifter!

Austin : [To Alice] No shapeshifter could possibly mimic one as beautiful as I, and regarless, I am also standing only a few feet from the wand.

Alice : [Looks blankly at Austin for a few seconds, and blinks several times] Er, I meant the other Austin, in there.

Austin : [To Alice] Did you indeed. Your oratory prowess knows not the bounds of inference and self expression of intention. [Checks his nails]

Alice : Maybe, but my auditory prowess is such that expression of self interest and importance often bores me.

Chastity : [Looks at Austin with raised eyebrows for a moment, then looks back into the tent.] Hmmmm. It would be good if we could block that exit. Did anyone see if there were sentries outside it?

Harvey : I think there were two, Sister, but I suspect if we tried to block the front we could attract more attention.

Chastity : I believe you are correct, Colonel. Ever the astute tactician. Well then, we'll have to rely on their surprise and curiosity then.

Harvey : [Bows towards Chastity] My thanks, good sister! Now troop, I have just thought of an idea. If we can somehow remove our ill intentioned dopplegangers, don their clothing and stout footwear, then we could quite easily infiltrate this religous group and find out what the bally hell is really going on! Now, can anyone think of a way of attracting them away from the tent? Into perhaps a secluded clearing, where we can give them what-for, without anyone else overhearing?

Alice : Mumble, mumble, mumble.

Harvey : Eh?

Alice : Sorry, I thought no one was supposed to overhear.

Chastity : [Looks round the devastated landscape with its scorched and dieing vegetation, and then at the party, all dressed in similar white robes to those inside tent.] Hmmm, I'm not so sure about some of the fine details of that plan, Colonel. Separating some of the numbers is good though. Perhaps we could raise a false alarm and some of them will leave the tent? [Looks back towards the crowd] I think the tent is probably sufficiently distant from the crowd of followers not to hear any hubbub.

Alice : [Gives Clint a baleful look] Well?

Clint : What?

Alice : Isn't it about time for you to say something like "I'm sick of all this talk, let's go in and kick some ass."

Clint : [Turns from Alice to the others] I'm sick of all this talk, let's go in and kick some - [turns to Alice]

Alice : [Whispering] Ass.

Clint : Ass!

Chastity : [To Clint] Language! [Readies her mace]

Clint : [Looking from Chastity to Alice] But... but... Butt!

Alice : No! [Stands between Clint and Chastity] Look, Chastity, I know he stinks, and I know he's obnoxious, and I know he can be a bit moronic, but save it for them! [Juts her thumb back at the tent] Anyway, it's not like he said something really bad, like fuck, or "Gee, you've got a really big moustache, Chastity," or even "That whole devoting your life to an invisible man, that's a crazy thing to do, isn't it. [Smiles warmly] See what I mean?

Chastity : [To Alice] Funny you should bring up moronic. This [holds up her mace and emphasises] IS for them [nods to the tent. To Clint] Language! Again! Now get flap kicking.

Harvey : Let's go. [Leaps through the flap] Everybody be cool, this is a robbery!

Alice : [Also leaping through, now holding the wand] Any of you fucking pricks [emphasises] moves and I'll execute every one of you motherfuckers! Got that?

[Everyone else follows through, and the other party are clearly affected by the wand, as is ADAM. They all start to push back, while the others in the tent all draw weapons.]

Austin : [Notices the huge effect of the wand and moves behind Harvey. To Alice] Let's stand over here.

Jerome : [Pulls out a music box which begins to play Miserlou, Then draws his rapier and advances towards the hooded individuals] Jerome believes that you heard the lady! Place those military implements on the ground!

[All the shapeshifters start to make for the door, but all collapse before they get to it. The hoodies, however, move in for an attack, with everyone but AUSTIN attracting an attack.]

Hoodie1 : I have damaged the infidel!

Hoodie2 : Die, in the name of Adam Torque! [Hits Chastity, and knocks her unconscious.]

Hoodie3 : [Knocking out Alice] I have slain the one who claims to be Lice!

Hoodie4 : Die! Die in the name of all things pure! [Slashes Jerome across the chest, knocking him to the ground]

Hoodie5 : I have taken the old one! [Inflicts a savagely deep cut on Harvey]

[HARVEY falls to the ground and drops the wand near AUSTIN. The other party don't seem to be effected by this, but all the other hoodies in the room are starting to make their way over to him.]

Austin : [Grabs the wand and tries to run out of cut in the tent we made earlier. And will try to go round to the main door and in, to impersonate his other self] Help the wounded! [Points to the impostor party]

Clint : [To Hoodie1] You can beat us, we were chosen by Phili! [Notices the unconscious Alice and Chastity, and the deeply hurt Harvey] What? [Swings at Hoodie1]

Hoodie1 : [As Clint hits him] Ow!

[CLINT is quickly surrounded by HOODIES.]

Hoodie2 : Drop your weapon, unclean one.

[AUSTIN appears at the front door, just as the shapeshifter party is starting to recover. They all immediately fall to the ground again, but there are several Hoodies nearby.]

Hoodie6 : [Uninvolved up to now] Drop your weapons, you scum. Drop them or we'll kill you. [Pulls back her hood, to reveal that she is Celia Betzler] Do what I say, whoever you are. [Looks directly at Clint]

[There is a brief standoff for a few moments.]

Celia : Drop them, or you will be killed.

[CLINT and AUSTIN put their hands up, and AUSTIN is motioned to join the others. CELIA picks up the wand, and steps over to the top left corner of the room.]

Celia : Pass the weapons over here, and wake them up. {Some of the hoodies throw some water over the rest of the party, waking them up, and push the weapons over to CELIA. Meanwhile, the doppelganger party are still having trouble with the wand.

Celia : [After a few minutes pass] Are they awake?

Hoodie3 : I thought they were. [Throws some more icy cold over the party]

Austin : [To Celia] Hey, don't you recognise us? [Points at the shapeshifters, whilst still keeping his hands up] Look they are the impostor shapeshifters!

Celia : Of course I recognise you, [as some of the hoodies turn to look at her, her voice raises] I recognise infidels from the stench of their evil. [Dead calm] Surrender. You have no hope of winning this battle.

Chastity : [Waking up with a jolt with the second lot of water.] No, not the candles again! [Wakes up a bit more and composes herself. Wringing out a sleeve] Thank goodness we're wearing something under these white robes, otherwise we'd look like we'd been in a competition that you'd find in the sorts of bars Clint would frequent. [Looks around at the situation] Oh!

[Some of the hoodies leave, helping the DOPPELGANGERS out, so there are now five hoodies, including CELIA in the room. The party are sheparded into the corner where their weapons were, and these are placed behind CELIA.]

Hoodie1 : Let's kill them!

Alice : [To the party] This isn't working out quite as well as we had hoped, is it? Look, she's even got the wand.

Austin : [To The others] Well, why did you attack them? [To Celia] Why are you calling us infidels? It was the shapshiters that destroyed the place, was it not? We came here to rescue human kind, using the wand, that allows us to see shapeshifters for what they really are. What are you doing helping them?

Jerome : Jerome would also add emphasis by asking why you are supporting the proactive secessation of sentient life? [Jerome looks at his wound and experimentally prods it] Aaagh!

Hoodie1 : [To Celia] Hey! What's going on here? Do you know these people?

Celia : Actually, I do. I was hoping that they would have realised that I was working undercover, and so wouldn't push it, which means we could take you by surprise which, given that there are only a handful of you would be easy.

Hoodie1 : Oh, fair enough. [Thinks for a moment] Hey!

[CELIA attacks HOODIE3, taking him by surprise.]

Austin : [Looks terrified] Oh, my god! [tries to grab his dagger and stab a hoodie]

Jerome : [Pull out his omniversal boy-scout pocket knife] Once more we venture into battle dear friends and Mr Sleaze. [Stands ready to attack anyone who approaches the wounded party members]

Celia : Let's go! [Swings at HOODIE3]

[As CELIA hits HOODIE3, HARVEY throws a punch at HOODIE4, who AUSTIN tries to stab.]

Hoodie4 : Traitor!

[ALICE, CHASTITY and CLINT make a run through the gap in the middle towards the weapons, while a very unhealthy looking JEROME tries to hold off HOODIE1 and HOODIE2, who clearly aren't sure whether to attack him or CELIA.]

Jerome : [Wincing in pain] Anytime my stalwart companions deem it erudite to intervene in the present fracas, Jerome would find it most pleasant to be equipped with his faithful ferric poniard. [Brandishes his knife timidly]

Chastity : [Picks up her mace and weapon for Jerome and goes round to help him] Hold out there, Doctor. Phili is on our side!

Harvey : [To Austin] I say, Private Sleaze, we'll soon have this blackguard overwhelmed. Sleaze?

[HARVEY glances down to see that AUSTIN has collapsed on the ground.]

Harvey : Hah! [Punches Hoodie4 just as he catches him with his sword, but knocks him straight out]

Celia : [Swings and kills Hoodie3] Got him!

[ALICE and CLINT get their weapons, and can attack next round, while CHASTITY is on her way back to JEROME, and will also be able to attack next time around.]

Hoodie1 : Adam! Quickly! They've turned on us!

Clint : [Swinging at hoodie4] Die!

[CLINT's sword connects with HOODIE4 and kills him.]

Harvey : [Picking up Austin's dagger] Gah! What are you doing, Private Scar? Help her! [Points at Celia, and notices that Hoodie 3 is already dead] Er, help him! [Points at Jerome]

[ALICE joins with CELIA and attacks HOODIE2.]

Alice : [Knocking Hoodie2 unconscious] Got him!

Hoodie1 : [Dropping his sword] I surrender!

[The other hoodies peer in through the door, with the doppelgangers barely visible in the background. Meanwhile, CHASTITY is up beside JEROME, near HOODIE1.]

Chastity : [Attacks Hoodie1] Die, bedfollow of evil!

Jerome : [Blocking Chastity's mace] Chastity calm thyself! By Philli where is your Mercy?

Jerome : [Shocked] By Philli Sister he is surrendering!

Austin : [Wheezes, splutters, tries to get up but fails] uurgh!

Jerome : [Blocking Chastity's mace] Chastity calm thyself! By Philli where is your Mercy?

Harvey : Well said, good doctor! It's bad enough that Mr. Scar attacked an unconscious man.

Celia : [Points the wand towards the door, and seems to freeze the doppelgangers and assorted hoodies there] You lot just wait a moment. [Turns to Clint coldly] I see you haven't changed much.

Clint : [To Celia] The same can be said about you - last time I saw you you were dead! [Tries to grab her and kiss her]

Celia : [Punches Clint hard in the eye] That's strange, because last time I saw you I wanted you dead.* [Whirls angrily to the door, where some of the (presumeably non-doppelganger) hoodies are apeparing and snarls] Back off! Back off, or I'll charge you down with the wand.

Hoodie5 : [Glancing behind him at something out of sight of the party] Please! You've got to let us in! That madman has returned!

Harvey : Eh? [To Celia] Do you know what madman they're talking about? [To Hoodie5] You sir, what protection do you think a canvas sheet is going to afford you? [Tuts] More than one madman around, if you ask me!

Hoodie5 : [Defiantly] A canvas sheet provides a lot of coverage when the [as though expecting gasps of awe] top assassination squad of the South is here.

[Time passes.]

Alice : And who's that, then?

Hoddie5 : You! [Looks confused] Well actually, them! [Points to the paralysed doppelganger party]

Celia : [To Harvey] There's a lot of madness around, but if we've got a little bit of good fortune, it'll be Last Tschantz.

ALice : And if we're unfortunate?

Celia : Then it's not him, and anyone mad enough to attack the Southern Specialists will almost certainly kill us too. Last from Conor #110

Austin : [Gets up, looking shaken. To Celia] Last Tschantz, is he any relation to Random Tschantz?

Jerome : [Begins to tie up the alternate party] Jerome would enquire as to whether it would be possible to reason with this gentleman. [Pats down the alternate Jerome's pockets] Jerome is additionally curious about the faithfulness of the replication, normally Jerome would not be seen leaving his abode without a full set of clockwork repair implements.

Austin : [Looks at Jerome] Does he have a full set of clockwork repair implements? Do you? [Austin cringes at the geekiness]

[As JEROME approaches the doppelgangers, he sees LAST TSCHANTZ, hacking away at them. Already the fake HARVEY and CLINT have been killed, while the others are screaming for mercy.]

Celia : This is Last, and he can be reasoned with, although you may want to wait until he's finished hacking up the Doppelgangers. [To Austin] Not related, but a soulmate.

Alice : [Watching the crazed look on Last's face as he chops his way towards the tent] He's kind of dreamy, isn't he? In a crazed psycopath kind of way, of course.

Austin : [To Alice] You could be in with a chance there Alice [Snickers at his own joke briefly] Looks like a nice chap. I a crazed psycopath way, of course. Just your type [Glances at Jerome. To Alice] The kind of *real* man you have been looking for?

Alice : Well [raises her voice to be heard over the screaming as fake Chastity gets killed] I certainly wouldn't find him in you. [Thinks for a moment] Or would I?

Harvey : Here, troop! I know these are our enemies, but do we really want to let this chap slaughter them all? We need to find out what they are up to.

Austin : [To Harvey] It looks like Last knows what they are up to, I mean he looks focused, a man with a mission, a man with alot more reasons than he needs to hack the head off a shapey. Besides, we have been tring to kill them for ages. I'm sure there will be plenty more. [Austin gets his weapon back] Good riddance I reckon. [Looks at Alice] Or would you what?

Alice : What?

Clint : [Managing to finally react after Celia's punch] [To Celia] What?

Jerome : [To Alice in shock and Surprise] What! [Pauses]

Jerome : [Shakes his head and pulls out a small wooden box] Indeed Mr. Sleaze I have a complete set here, Jerome would not consider himself dressed if he did not have functional capability in the rectification of malfunctioning gearage. [To Chastity, whispering] What was the curse placed upon you by Pestilence? For you seem somewhat psychotic yourself earlier.

Celia : [Vehemently] The only thing I hate more than you is time travel!

[LAST is finished, and all the Shapeshifters are dead, slowly returning to the normal amorphous state. He steps into the tent, covered in blood and with a maniacal look on his face.]

Last : [Gruffly] You got the wand, then?

Celia : [Unperturbed by Last's bedraggled and aggressive appearance, and speaking calmly] Yes. This the real party.

Last : [Gives the party a baleful look, checking out each of them] The ones that left Random on his own in Insomnia while they escaped back to their own time?

Austin : [To Last, pacing about a little] Random bravely volunteered to stay behind, and we did leave the wand with him too, something that we have risked our lives, many times, to bring here [Austin points to the wand]. Random was quite happy with this plan, as we had little choice at the time. But there is another issue here [To Celia] The last time we met you, you and Mr. Scar were, shall we say, on good terms, so I believe that you must have, in the past, met our future selves, and therefore, being angry with this Mr. Scar, for a crime he has not yet commited, seems absurd.

Last : [To Austin, with a crooked grin] Well, there's something I know he'd want me to do. [Steps forward menacingly, before giving Austin a huge hug] Thanks! [Lets go of Austin, showing that much of the blood and shapeshifter bits on him have now stuck to Austin] He really liked you guys. [Turns and grabs Clint, giving him a hug too]

Celia : [To Austin] If you knew what crime he committed, you wouldn't think it so absurd.

Clint : [Pushing Last away] Gah!, next he's gonna start crying! [Looks at the mess of blood stains on his jacket] Thanks for the look, though! [To Celia] He [points at Last] doesn't seem to think I'm a criminal. What did I do so wrong that you won't even kiss me?

Chastity : [To Jerome] After the twisting of the holy faith we witnessed at the river, those that support and promote this evil idiology do not deserve to tread on Phili's sacred land.

Celia : I can't tell you, Clint, it would corrupt the time line.

Alice : But haven't you already corrupted it by telling him he's going to do something awful.

Celia : [Dismissively] Yes. All the more reason not to corrupt it further.

Alice : But -

[ALICE is cut off by LAST grabbing her and hugging her, and holding her tight for a noticeably longer time than he held either AUSTIN or CLINT, before letting her go.]

Alice : Hey! How come you didn't grab Austin or Stinky by the ass?

Last : [Click click!] I may be a psycho, but I'm not mad!

Austin : [To Last] Thank goodness. [Austin takes off his blood and mud stained not so white robes and checks his hari in his mirror. To Celia] I am quite sure that the time lines are so messed up that telling us some juicy goss will not do any further dammage, if indeed damages was done in the first place.

Chastity : [Looks from Clint to Alice to Harvey. To Austin] I think we can safely say there's already been damage done!

Jerome : [Opens the small box, his eyes glaze over] Ahhhhh Jerome's 1/16" angled neck chromium steel posidrive, perfect for the alignment corrections in the Thorinburg reverse single cantilever action pocket watch, please note the fine hatching on the stained oak handle for maximum grip. [Looks up] Sorry! Jerome must disagree with that implication, Harvey is a fine officer and a stalwart of responsibility and Alice is a vision of perfection in female form. Therefore some chronological interference may indeed be positive.

Celia : [To Austin] That's exactly the point. The damage has already been done as far as I'm concerned, but for you, it hasn't happened yet. Furthermore, the timelines are not messed up, despite the best efforts of the Four Horsemen.

Harvey : [Being caught off guard by Last hugging him] Er, that's right Sister.

Celia : [Throwing the wand to Last] You'd better look after this. [To the others] I suppose you want to know what your next mission is.

Chastity : Well I for one would like to know what, in the name of Phili, was going on at the river?

Last : [Grabbing hold of Jerome and squeezing him hard, with the result that the others notice Jerome's wounds are now healing] In the name of Phili? [Lets go of Jerome] Not in the name of Phili, in the name of [spits] religion!

Celia : Things have changed in the last two years. The church became an ultra powerful tool against all things liberal.

Alice : [Mutters to Clint] No change there, then.

Celia : It has been taken over by Caiphas and your doppelgangers, amongst others. They have persuaded people that the only way to appease Phili is through ritual and voluntary suicide.

Chastity : [Outraged] Despicable! Outrageous! Taking ones own life has always been a mortal sin. These poor souls are sending themselves to hell, under the misapprehension that they have Phili's blessing of eternal life. [To Celia] I hope any mission we have is to destroy this movement. What name are they going under?

Celia : The Church of Phili.

Chastity : [Pales. Speaking slowly and emotionally] Well, if we must destroy the church of Phili to save it, then so be it. [Deliberately avoids looking towards Austin. To Last] Oh by the way, we promised to return the wand to Elves in a year or so. Just so you know. [Starts to hum a hymn, slightly wide eyed]

Last : [Giving Chastity a huge bear hug] Of course! [Steps back] We actually have something else for you to do.

Alice : We? Who's we? Are you a psychiatrist?

Last : No. I meant we as in the Hierophantic Knights.

Alice : Phew!

Chastity : [To Last, somewhat confused] What else can there be to do? We must forge the war to resurrect the true good name of Phi...[looks down at the puddle of phlegm from Last spit] of the one true good religion!

Celia : The war has long since been lost. The only thing that has stopped our lands from having been enslaved by the Southerners is that everyone, including them, has essentially been enslaved by the Four Horsemen. They are out of control, and hundreds of thousands have died. We need you to kill the most evil one amongst them.

Clint : Which one would that be?

Last : [Feeling the top of his dagger] Darius.

Celia : Darius is human, he's just clever enough to surround himself with those who can protect him. It doesn't even take magical weapons to harm him. The problem is getting close enough to him to kill him.

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, would then enquire as to his present physical locality and social environs? [Jerome adjusts his clothing so his healing wounds can no longer be seen]

Austin : [To Celia] It seems painfully obvious to me, that the best way to kill Darius is from as far away as possible. A cannon perhaps.

Last : [Leaning in close to Austin with a scarily psychopathic look] The only way to do it is up close, so you can see the whites of his eyes as you slide your dagger across his adam's apple.

Celia : The Four Horsemen have all sorts of magical shields and such, and it is a safe bet that Darius has the best of them. The best thing is to get close to him, preferably when he is asleep.

Chastity : We could have just the person for the job. [Claps ALice on the shoulder]

Alice : [Beams happily] Thanks Chas! I've got just the thing for the job. My [finger quotes] special shoes - they are guaranteed to work. [Reaches into her bag as Harvey blanches, but pulls out a pair of fluffy slippers in the shape of rabbits] He'll never hear me creep up with these on!

Austin : [To Last] The other thing is that, of course, Darius has saved our lives on several occasions and has recently been very helpful, so just exactly why should we kill him, rather than, say for example, Pestillence?

Last : It's not a case of either or, it's both. In fact, all four of the must die in the most painful way possible.

Celia : It's true that Pestilence is particularly sick and evil, but Darius is smart. Millions of people have died in the last two years, many either by forces directly lead by Darius or by plots of his in which innocent dupes were used to kill. Darius may have saved your lives before, but only because he had something to gain.

Austin : [To Last and Celia] Good, that's settled then. [Pauses] Why do they have to die painfuly? Surley delaying their deaths can only give them more time to escape?

Alice : [With a snort of derision] Give me patience! If we kill them quickly instead of putting them in some fiendishly complex killing machine, how on earth are they going to escape at the last moment to wreak further havoc on the realms? Haven't you ever seen a James Pond film?

Austin : [Looks at Alice, superiorily] You mean James Pond, cod detective, the cartoon? A fishy secret agent in an underwater world of crime? Yes I have encountered the [Does finger quotes] 'film', and it is just exactly why we shouldn't let them escape. We should do the job properly, go home, and have a very very big party.

Alice : [Hands on hips] Hey! Just because he's animated doesn't mean he's any less of a star than the rest of them. He's just as famous as Kicole Nidman or John Smith!

Celia : Smith?

Alice : Yep, you know, the actor?

Celia : Now that's a very strange name.

Austin : [Looks at Celia in disbelief] It is not like you to be so sarcastic, if indeed, you are being sarcastitc. [Ponders] However, I believe that you are not being sarcastic, and due to you being of sound mind and astute observational temprement, I believe that something out of the ordinary may be afoot. To us [Gestures to the party] the name Smith, is one of thee most common names in the world. Perhaps time travel has reared it's ugly heads once more, or perhaps something more sinister, a plot by our enemies? [Ponders a bit. To Celia and Last] What do yu say to that?

Last : I say that Darius is almost certainly behind it, and we should kill him as soon as possible.

Celia : I wasn't being sarcastic. I've heard of the name Smith, but only from the stories of it being an old name. Apparantly there was a disease about a thousand years ago that wiped out the entire family. Every one with the Smith gene died.

Clint : [Pointing at Last] I like this guy!

Austin : [To Clint] Me too Mr. Scar. [Goes to pat Clint on the back, then realises what he is about to do and pulls back, grimacing. To Clint] I am sooo glad the Louix XV has worn off. [To Celia] Do you know what disease they died of?

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, would like to second that point and illuminate you to the facts that there a temporal anomaly has been enacted since we clearly remember people called Smith.

Celia : It was a terrible disease - they went insanely violent from it. [Glances at Last, who's doing some practice sword moves before turning back to the party] Records are obviously sketchy, but I believe many of them had to be killed by the authorities, while others apparantly died in prison.

Alice : [Looks at Jerome, confused for a moment] Hey! Jerome's right - how can I remember John Smith if there are no Smiths? And why is it just us?

Austin : [To Alice] One can only presume that our enemies are trying to rid the future, and indeed the past, as is the case, or as the case may be, or have been, of their enemies, possibly before the conception of those enemies, or even possibly, or probably, as the case may be, the ancestors of those persons who may pose a threat to them and their plans, thereby avoiding the possibility of those persons ever existing. [Ponders, looking at Alices confusion] Some of those persons being us.

Clint : [Looking as though he didn't understand a word] Exactly!

Alice : [Looking as though she didn't understand a word] Exactly!

[ALICE turns to CLINT and gives him two thumbs up.]

Alice : [Whispering] I think we pulled it off!

Harvey : Hm. When did this disease start?

Celia : I'm not sure - in fact, you lot are more likely to know!

Jerome : [To Austin] Therefore you are proposing that this situation is a result of a modification of the grandfather paradox, which can be seen by the fact that Alice was influenced, abet in a minor way, by an individual call Smith. However since he never existed such a thing could never of occurred and thus Alice should not have been influenced, but she was. This leads us to the question of ourselves; we, seemingly disconnected from the variations in time, are immune to paradoxes that occur, whereas our companions here [points to Celia and Last] are not. This leads Jerome to pose the quandry does Phili, or whoever has given us this temporal immunity, have a role for us in correcting the timeline? or are we here to simply affect the situation presently at hand. [To Celia] Why should Jerome and his companions know?

Harvey : Yes indeed, well said doctor! Well said indeed! It certainly has given me plenty to think about, I can tell you! [Scratches a sideburn] Indeed so. A paradox. Tell me, are these beasts agressive? It is very gratifying though, to find out we're immune to them. I certainly won't worry if we ever run into a paradox, or even a herd of paradoxen!

Alice : [Looking as though she didn't understand a word] Exactly!

[ALICE turns to CLINT and gives him two thumbs up.]

Alice : [Whispering] I think we pulled it off!

Harvey : Hm. When did this disease start?

Celia : I'm not sure - in fact, you lot are more likely to know!

Jerome : [To Austin] Therefore you are proposing that this situation is a result of a modification of the grandfather paradox, which can be seen by the fact that Alice was influenced, abet in a minor way, by an individual call Smith. However since he never existed such a thing could never of occurred and thus Alice should not have been influenced, but she was. This leads us to the question of ourselves; we, seemingly disconnected from the variations in time, are immune to paradoxes that occur, whereas our companions here [points to Celia and Last] are not. This leads Jerome to pose the quandry does Phili, or whoever has given us this temporal immunity, have a role for us in correcting the timeline? or are we here to simply affect the situation presently at hand. [To Celia] Why should Jerome and his companions know?

Harvey : Yes indeed, well said doctor! Well said indeed! It certainly has given me plenty to think about, I can tell you! [Scratches a sideburn] Indeed so. A paradox. Tell me, are these beasts agressive? It is very gratifying though, to find out we're immune to them. I certainly won't worry if we ever run into a paradox, or even a herd of paradoxen!

Alice : Oh no, Uncle Harvey, they're not at all aggressive. In fact, all the Smiths I met were really nice - [puts on her cross face] not like those Ryans.

Celia : [Gives Jerome a perplexed look] Well, I'm no techie, but I think it is impossible for you to be immune to the time effects unless you were somewhere outside of our time when, assuming that these Smiths you speak of should be alive, whoever killed them went back in time.

Austin : [Looks at Harvey as if he is about to burst out in a fit of laughing. Smiling alot but keeping it under control, To Celia] That is a possibility, although I cannot confirm or deny such a potential, should it exist. [Checks his nails]

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, will readily admit the lack of tangible evidence to support his views and concedes that what you have said may indeed be correct in that postulate. The main area of concern is the correction of the temporal anomaly or even chronological sabotage and thus returning the world to its previous incarnation. If what Celia said is the basis for the effects of pro-active revisionist history, then by Phili, we have a task to perform! [To Celia] Is Jerome correct in assuming Darius is an individual with power enough to alter the course of history?

Celia : Not on his own. Remember, he is a human like us. However, as you probably already know, he is a master of delegation - he has hundreds or even thousands of otherwise intelligent people across the realms working for him, often without even knowing it. There have been a number of assassination attempts already, all of which have failed, and all of which ended in the death of those sent to do it.

Alice : [Stepping into the middle of the floor holding her sword aloft] And we're next! [Beams brightly.]

[A short silence falls over the room.]

Alice : [Putting down her sword with a disappointed look, and speaking in a small voice] I mean, we're the next ones to go in, and - and we won't fail, because we're a really cool party, and we've got the magical Jerome on our side.

[Both LAST and CELIA make a sharp intake of breath at this.]

Austin : [To Last and Celia, light heartedly] Until the good Dr. Trindle is burned at the stake for witch craft. [Muses. To Jerome] Can it be some part of Pestillence's curse upon you?

Jerome : Dr Jerome K Trindle BSc, PhD, is not cognisent of being the recipent of such a curse. [To Last and Celia] Jerome is currently in the possesion of some regenative capabilities.

Celia : You'd better be careful with that - all kinds of magic and witchcraft are now illegal, and those who practice it can be put to death.

Chastity : Oh, that's terrible!

Celia : Indeed Sister. [Looks wistful] And it all seemed like such a good idea when they torched Daniel Pauls....

Austin : [To Celia] Well at least it wasn't all bad then. [Sighs with relief]

Celia : Yes, and when they refused to let Blavid Daine out of that box, we all thought that it was simply a community service, but now, even the simplest of parlour tricks can only be done in secret.

Last : Some of us perserve, in the name of freedom. Watch. [Turns to Alice] Now, let's see what's behind your ear! [Fumbles in his pocket] Hm. [Turns to Celia] Have you got a GP?

[ALICE looks at CELIA.]

Celia : Not on me, no, but I've got my cheque book.

[ALICE looks at LAST.]

Last : Can I have one?

[ALICE looks at CELIA.]

Celia : Sure. [Writes out a cheque to cash for one GP, and gives it to Last]

[ALICE looks at LAST.]

Last : There. [Hands Alice the cheque]

Alice : [Impressed] Wow! Do it again! Do it again!

Austin : [Looking at Alice, stunned by her impressed look] Amazing. [To Last] I can see why they didn't try to burn you for witchcraft.

Last : [Feels the hilt of his sword] Sure you do.

Celia : Er, now that things are nice and tense, maybe it's time for you to undertake the sui - the mission?

Austin : [Laughs nervously. To Last] Ha, you remind me of Random so much! A sterling fellow if ever there was one. Just blink and you missed any trick he cared to perform. [To Celia] So, can you transport us, the newest suiscide squad, to Boddy please?

Celia : Yes. I have a very powerful transportation device that will transport you to their castle, within twenty feet of Darius. [Takes out a small orb]

Alice : Hey! If you have the orb, how come you didn't go there yourself?

Celia : [Smiles] Yes, that's a good question. [Smashes the orb on the ground in front of them, covering the party in smoke]

Last : So, do you reckon they have any chance?

Celia : Nah, they'll probably dead within seconds of arrival.

Alice : Cough! Hey! We're still here, you know!

Celia : Oops.

[The party vanish.]

Celia : What now?

Last : Let's go scare some religious fanatics.