THE QUEENS VIEW AFFAIR - 4.7

[Book IV, Act VII, Scene I. Dr. Gonzo's Bar. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, STEPHEN, MONTY, GENEVA and TAMSIN are here, as are AZRAEL, GONZO, FITZ, COOP and LOUIS. It is about half an hour since the end of the last scene, and everyone is celebrating. The party haven't had a chance to discuss the last scene yet, and JANEY told them that she had information about the Heart, and that LOUIS would give it to them when they were ready to leave the town. The party are sitting at a table together, and can talk without fear of being overheard.]

Alice : [Drinking a beer] So, that was very strange. What do we think is going on?

Tamsin: [A little dazed and angry] Some damn test to do with the Path?

Alice : If it is, it's a little vicious, isn't it? What happened if we didn't figure it out?

Austin : It seems highly unlikely that Sven would have done something like this.

Chastity : The whole Path is a test, I doubt if we can distinguish what is or isn't directly connected. [Looks back down at the table where there are about half a dozen tea cups, all full of flat beer. Shakes her head] All I want is a cup of tea!

Azrael : [Walking over to the party, with yet another tea cup] I've got something for you, Sister! [Puts down a cup of steaming hot tea, as she looks at Tamsin] What's wrong? This is a party!

Tamsin: [Shrugs] This whole thing just isn't adding up if you ask me. I just don't buy that Sven had anything to do with it. But, hey, party on! [takes a big swig of beer and gives Azrael a somewhat forced smile]

Chastity : [To Tamsin] I fear we may have reached the part of the party where someone tries to start a serious conversion. [Takes a tentative slip of the newly arrived brew] We can't really believe Sven would do something like the curse.

Azrael : Oh! I've got something for you. I know you all love Tamsin's poems, so [a little nervously, but more excited] here's a copy of The Complete Works of Alan Smithee! When do you have to leave?

Tamsin: [Beams and says to the party] You people love my poems?! [Does a doubletake when she sees the book and says] What the hell? This is the same book I gave Grace!

Azrael : I know, I'm starting to remember some of what happened. Well, it was all a bit crazy, but, for what it's worth, she really did like all of you. [Glances over her shoulder] I think Louis wants to talk to you, something about a heart?

Tamsin: [Looks around for Louis] Is he around?

Stephen : [Sniffs] Perhaps he's shaving off his beard. [To the others] Well what if Sven is responsible for all of this? I presume it was a test, and no doubt he would have stepped in at some stage had everything gone wrong.

Azrael : I don't know anything about your friend Sven, but if he put me through six months of hell as some kind of test for you, well, I don't think I like the sound of him.

Tamsin: [To Azrael] Well, I don't really know him all that well myself, but it didn't seem like he had a mean-streak. Sure as hell isn't twisted enough to screw with your life like that, I don't think. [Pauses and asks sympathetically] What's it like, now that it's coming back to you? Can you figure out what's what, or is it just a jumble?

Alice : I can't believe it was Sven! What would make him do something like that?

Azrael : Pretty much all of it has come back now. It's nice, but, well, Grace was a little bit of a prig, wasn't she? [Waves to Louis, who approaches.]

Louis : [Still looking pretty expressionless, and holding a glass of beer with all sorts of fruit and little umbrellas sticking out of it] What can I do for you folks?

Tamsin: [Tries to keep a straight face at the sight of Louis' drink] Er, heard you could tell us something about the Heart? Whaddya got?

Alice : [Before Louis can speak] Hey! Where'd you get that drink? It looks great? [To the others] Now that's a classy drink!

Louis : First of all, it's called The Heart, not The Heart of the Beast. Janey thinks that it lies in Hypoxia, a territory south east of here. Unfortunately, it is very dangerous, and is occupied by anarchists.

Alice : [Nods her head thoughtfully] And these anarchists, are they well organised?

Louis : No. [Drinks some of his beer through a crazy straw making a ridiculous slurping sound, still looking completely expressionless]

Tamsin: [To Louis, still struggling to keep a straight face] And what exactly IS the Heart, then? Just so we'll know it when we see it.

Alice : It's really not Sven's style at all. [Earnestly] He must have had a really good reason.

Azrael : That makes me feel a whole lot better.

Louis : [To Tamsin] I don't know. I'm not even sure it's a thing.

Geneva: You're right, Alice - he had a peculiar sense of humour, but I don't think there's anything malicious to him

Louis : There's also the matter of The Bringer. He is currently in Hypoxia, so finding anything there will be difficult.

Geneva: Can you offer any clues?

Louis : [To Geneva] The best clue I can give is to avoid him. He is a demon with a direct connection to a hell dimension, a source of enormous evil power, who thrives on the torture and murder of innocents. [Takes out a party favour and blows it] Paaaarp! [Puts it away again, never changing his expression, as he takes another noisy slurp of his drink]

Alice : [Looks around the others] Everyone else just saw that, right?

Geneva: Ah-ha! [To Alice.] I did! It's a hell of way to take away the sinisterness of a situtation.

Chastity : Maybe we should all get one to help diffuse any meetings with the Bringer. [Thinks for a moment] Didn't Sven say that we wouldn't like what we found here, just before he left?

Louis : [To Geneva] Correct. I felt we could do with some light hearted comic relief, as things were so tense. It's not quite time for party hats and streamers, but it may come.

Alice : Did he, Chas? I thought he just warned us about staying together if possible.

Geneva: We seem to find things we don't like almost everywhere we go! I wish he had been a little more specific. [To Louis] Do you have any more specifics that will help us in Hypoxia?

Chastity : Perhaps the general store has a map, so at least we can have a lie of the land before we go. [Looks at Austin] That if we get served of course!

Geneva: [Taps her dagger.] I've never stabbed a puppet before

Louis : I'd like to accompany you, if that's acceptable. Janey can provide any reasonable equipment you need. [To Geneva, quite seriously] The puppet, while hiliarious, can be time consuming and, quite frankly, is so lecherous to women and young girls that it is offensive. It has been wounded on several occasions.

Austin : [To Chastity] Of course we will be serverd, the last time we were in there it was a dream. [To Azrael] Sven may well have cursed you if it was the lesser of two evils, in your best interests so to speak. [Sips his flat beer and frowns, putting the cup back on the table] The other options were probably far worse.

Azrael : [Wide eyed in surprise] Such as?

Alice : It was not a dream! It was only half an hour ago, just before we found Louis and Janey! Remember? You got really snotty for no reason?

Geneva: [Grumbling.] We can only wish it were a dream. Come on then, should we off to the puppet shop?

Azrael : [Spots Sarah coming into the bar] Oh! Excuse me, but I have someone I need to talk to someone. [Gets up and approaches Sarah, who looks quite nervous]

Louis : There's no need to talk to the puppet. We can leave as soon as you want to.

Tamsin: [Watching Azrael reunite with Sarah. To the party] How quickly do you want to leave?

Geneva: [To Tamsin also watching Azrael approach Sarah.] The beginning of a beautiful friendship? [To all.] I think the sooner the better!

Austin : [To Alice] Who cares if it was a dream or not, the puppet was really rude. How does he expect people to give him money for his wares if he can't even say please and thank you?

Chastity : [To Austin] I can't believe someone said that to you. Did you drop their case?

Alice : [Stifles a laugh] It was only a matter of time before that Muppet seriously annoyed someone, Sister. [To Tamsin] We might as well go as soon as possible, right?

Austin : [Smirks at Chastity] What on earth are you babbling on about now old girl? What case are you talking about, you're not making any sense. [Shrugs]

Chastity : [Quietly smiling to herself, taking a sip of her tea] Oh nothing, Austin. [Picks up a spare party favour and offers it to Austin] Here, lighten our atmosphere. [Takes another favour and puts it in her bag]

Austin : [To Chastity] You really ought to get professional help sometime Sister, before you go completely mad, laughing at your own nonsense jokes all the time. [Takes the tooter from Chastity] Err, thanks. Maybe you're too late and beyond help already.

Tamsin: [To Alice with a shrug, still watching Azrael and Sarah] Guess so. [Drains her beer and ponders getting another]

Chastity : Just because you didn't understand it doesn't make it nonesense, Mr. Sleaze.

Alice : In fact, Austin, if you did understand, it probably was nonsense.

Louis : [Stands up] Right, let's go. [AZRAEL and SARAH come over, both a little tearful, but holding hands and obviously getting on.]

Azrael : How can I thank you folks? You really are good people. [Looks at Tamsin] I remember how you behaved to Cici in the dream, [big smile] it's just a pity there's not more like you around.

Chastity : No need for one of my future shelters down here, then. [Gets up] Time to go. Evil waits for no-one, and we've a peg-legged dwarf to try and catch up!

Tamsin: [Smiles at Azrael a little sadly] No problem. What'll you do now, Az?

Austin : [To Azrael] Farewell and good luck. I'm glad we were of some help, and thanks for helping us out too. [Ponders. To Chastity] If you're so clever then why not explain your joke to us all.

Azrael : Actually, I'm thinking of getting a new hair cut and clothes make over, Sarah's going to give me a Grace Kiely look. [Gives Alice a big smile] We'll be just like sisters!

Alice : [With a forced smile] Super! [Looks away, muttering] All sounds a little single white female to me.

Louis : Perhaps you should all hug and say goodbye. [Still dead calm] Speaking personally, I have found this whole experience to be emotionally draining.

Chastity : [To Louis] I think we all have. [A few friendly hugs are exchanged, with AZRAEL giving TAMSIN a particularly strong goodbye.]

Tamsin : What about your Dad, Az? Surely he's still sick? Where's the money going to come for his medicine?

Azrael : I'm not sure, Tam, but I do know my [queezes Sarah's hand] best friend is going to help me out. I'll worry about that later, because now is the time to start making up for lost time with my best friend. Everything's sorted out now, and that's the way it'll stay.

Sarah : Absolutely! We're never going to fight again. Nothing can ever come between us.

Alice : Cool, so I guess you came up with a solution to who Richard should stay with? Man, that's a pretty crazy situation, isn't it? I just can't imagine how you managed to resolve that, but well done. [Gives each of them a reassuring squeeze of the hand]

[ALICE smiles happily as she walks off, with the two slowly turning to each other.]

Azrael and Sarah : [As realisation slowly dawns] Hey!

Austin : [To Louis] Thanks for helping us out. Before we leave, can you tell us the meaning of 'from within it consumes'. We've heard and seen it in many places, and know it must have something to do with the Heart etcetera.

Tamsin: [Nods emphatically] It'll be a nice change of pace if nothing much happens for a little while. I don't even know what day it is anymore!

[Book IV, Act VII, Scene II. The Road To Hypoxia. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, GENEVA, MONTY, STEPHEN, TAMSIN and LOUIS are here in a carriage, with LOUIS driving. It is four hours after the end of the last scene, and the party have stocked up on provisions from JANEY, and have been travelling for about three hours. LOUIS suddenly jams on the brakes, having spotted a hooded figure in the middle of the road. The carriage skids to a halt, millimetres from the figure, who pulls down his hood to reveal that it is DR. JEROME K. TRINDLE, BSC, PHD.]

Jerome : [With a big smile] Hi there!

Stephen : That depends on who you think it is!

Alice : [Watching Austin for a reaction] That's him. Keep your sword away, Tam, the last time we met him, he couldn't be hurt.

Tamsin: [Moves her hand to her sword immediately and asks the party] This who I think it is?!

Austin : [Launches himself at Jerome and tries to stab him lethally in the eye] Traitor!

[AUSTIN uses several of the party members as stepping stones, and flies through the air towards JEROME, who reaches out to push him away. The knife catches JEROME in the shoulder, drawing blood, but he stays standing, while AUSTIN falls to the ground.]

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD urges you to control yourself. [Draws out his sword, Beaucaphalus] Unless you wish to die.

Beaucaphalus : Let's kill him, Jerry!

Alice : Stop!

Austin : [Gets up, ready with his dagger, sizing up Trindle] Why shouldn't I kill you scum! [Pauses until Trindle is about to speak and tries to stab him again]

Tamsin: [Draws sword and prepares to join Austin, asking the rest of the party] What the hell do we do now?!

Jerome : This is -

[JEROME is interrupted by AUSTIN charging him again, but he slashes him with BEAUCAPHALUS, knocking him to the ground.]

Jerome : [Holds a hand up to Austin] Stay!

[AUSTIN shudders a moment, and then goes still.]

Alice : Jerome! Stop that!

Jerome : [Turns to Alice, and gives an approving nod] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD approves of your new look, Alice. Mm-mm. Very much so. [Loosens his bow tie]

Alice : [Rolls her eyes] Sigh. [To Tamsin] He's invulnerable, I'm not sure there's anything we can do.

Tamsin: [Attempts to step between Austin and Jerome. To Jerome] So, Jerry. What's up?

Jerome : [Makes no effort to get past Tamsin] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD must confess that he is not familiar with you. [Looks at the carriage] Nor with several members of the party. [Notices Chastity, and gives her a nod] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD would like to unreservedly apologise for shooting you in the head, Sister.

Chastity : [Wags a scolding finger at him] What mischief are you up to know, Jerome?

Jerome : Sister, you are more than entitled to be annoyed, and I shall respect that. [Looks at Tamsin, with a sincere smile] Are you a friend of Alice's?

Tamsin: [To Jerome] Look, I might be new to this outfit, but I know all about what you did, asshole, so don't waste your time trying to buddy up with me. What the hell are you doing here? What do you want?

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD wants the old gang back together. And to get some snaps of Alice's stylish new look.

Alice : [Rolls her eyes, giving a big sigh and muttering] Why did I let you lot talk me into this new look?

Jerome : [To all] Look, I know I was acting kind of strange the last time we met, but that was because of The Path. After conducting a rigorous and scientific investigation, Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD, can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Queens View party needs to - [takes a look at Louis] Who's this? [To Alice] Is he your boyfriend?

Alice : [Wearily] No.

Louis : [With his usual expressionless look, to Alice] Who's that? Your boyfriend?

Alice : No!

Stephen : [To Jerome] What on earth makes you think that the remaining members of the Queens View party would have anything more to do with you, you crazy psycho?

Jerome : [A little smugly] The Path.

Stephen : Well, I think I speak for everyone here when I say we're all a little Pathed out! This bloody Path can go suck my arse! [Wiggles his derrier for effect] You're a murderer, Trindle, and Alice, Chastity and especially Austin would never want anything to do with you again!

Jerome : Not even if I helped them get Clint and Harvey back?

[ALICE reacts, but keeps silent.]

Jerome : [Still addressing the party] You're further along The Path than you think. [Big smile] Nice work on the boybands, by the way!

Stephen : [Checks to see if Austin is alright] Get them back? That's some carrot you're dangling in front of them, it's a pity the carrot is as improbable and distasteful as your fashion sense.

[AUSTIN is paralysed, although his eyes can move.]

Jerome : [Laughs] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD would be insulted if you were a real party member, rather than some pathetic hanger on. Furthermore, I have proof that the real party have not only discussed this matter, but wish to reform, with all the original personnel.

Tamsin: [Snorts] Sure, you go ahead and talk it out with the old gang. In the meantime, us hangers-on will occupy ourselves by NOT betraying the rest of the party and NOT killing any of their loved ones. Let me know what you guys work out!

Jerome : [Laughs at Tamsin] Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD meant no harm. He has already apologised to Chastity, and would like to tell Mr. Sleaze that he is sorry for the obvious hurt he caused him, but [smiles] he isn't sorry. [To Chastity and Alice] The Path, you guys! It's just the greatest thing I've ever -

Chastity : Dr. Trindle, I fear you are unhinged. Proof? There is no such proof.

Alice : [Squeezes Tamsin's shoulder reassuringly] And the hangers-on can stay here! [Gives Tamsin a thumbs up]

Stephen : [Smiles at Tamsin before turning to Alice] Would you team up with psycho again for the chance of getting Stinky and your uncle back?

Tamsin: Well, what are you waiting for, freakshow? Lay it on us! [crosses her arms and waits with a skeptical look on her face]

Alice : [Rubs her eyes with her hands] I'd like to hear what Austin has to say.

Jerome : Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD is not a psycho, merely a traveller on the Path. You, Stephen, are simply too unenlightened to understand. The others, however, have already decided. [Pats his pocket] Jerome has the proof.

Jerome : Jerome likes her. She's like Faetan, except fat. [Takes out a small tape recorder] This recording will prove that Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD is telling the truth. [Presses play]

[After a few moments, JEROME's voice can be heard, clearly trying to sound like LAVID DETTERMAN, the most popular talk show host in the realms.]

Lavid : So, Dr. Trindle, you're the leader of the most successful and influential party in the realms, to what do you owe your success?

Jerome : [On the tape] Well, Lavid, it's all about sharing. During that unfortunate time when I was separated from the party, I did a lot of exploration of The Path, and discovered how crucial it was that we stay together.

Lavid : Outstanding, Jerome, outstanding. Now, here's a word from our sponsors, Crazy Charlie's Chocolate Chalk Shop, because no one's crazier about chocolate chalk than crazy Charlie! It you want to talk chalk then chalk down a visit to Crazy Charlie's, the -

[JEROME clicks off the tape, and there is an embarassed and slightly confused silence for a few moments.]

Jerome : Hey, I was pretending to be interviewed, everyone does it. [Composes himself] The point is, The Path is more important than anything that's gone on in the past. We will all benefit if we reunite. As a sign of good faith, Jerome will show you how to get the Colonel and Mister Scar back. After that, we will meet again.

Tamsin: [Sarcastically] That was some rock-solid evidence, there, Jerry Tremble, A-S-S, H-O-L- [pauses and looks dismayed, adding quickly and more quietly] E. Anyway, the point is, why would we ever trust you after what you did to Austin?!

Geneva: [Smirking at Tamsin's comment.] [Emphasis] Yeah! Besides Austin's one of us.. he's a good guy!

Jerome : Is he? Does Sister Chastity agree with that, I wonder? Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD is not asking you to trust him right now, not until [emphasis] after Clint and Harvey have been brought back to life.

Jerome : Ah! A clear mind, at last. Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD has, in his possession, has six dimension jump orbs, that will send you to the dimension where they are.

Alice : To the dimension where the orbs are?

Jerome : Ah, seet Alice, Jerome did miss you. However, no, to the dimension where the Colonel and Mr. Scar are.

Jerome : Ah! A clear mind, at last. Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD has,

Geneva: And we should trust you because of one badly recorded conversation with yourself? If you weren't invulnerable, I'd stick me dagger through your belly.

Jerome : [Looks over at Geneva for a moment, before turning back to Monty] Who's that guy? Here is my proposal. Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD, and soon to be party unifier, will leave the orbs with you, to test as you see fit. When the party are reunited, Jerome will once again make his presence known.

Geneva: [Sputters!] I am a [emphasis]girl! Thank you very much! I don't know you very well and I trust you even less, so I must leave this decision to my party members. [To the others.] Just who are Clint.. and what was that other fellows name, anyway?

Chastity : Doctor, it takes more than a just collection of people to have a united party. The malevolent deception and lack of remorse for your actions I would think means that the party you refer to will never be re-united. [Goes to look at Austin's wound] Mr. Sleaze, despite his faults is still one of the party and in this context, in our fight against evil he is a good guy.

Geneva: [Looks at monty in surprise.] We do? Yes we do! And how do we know you're not here to stop us from getting there?

Jerome : You know what, I've got a feeling that the next time we meet, you'll know what The Path is. Then you'll see that everyone's goals coincide. [To Geneva] Get the orbs checked out, then you'll see that they've nothing to do with me. [AUSTIN, staring venomously, tries to make JEROME choke to death using all his willpower]

Geneva: [Quietly to austin] Austin, you're very red, are you ok? [To the party.] I think we should get the orbs checked. I know you know the guy, Alice, but you knew Ivan too and he murdered the icecream man!

Alice : [Nods at Geneva, holding a hand of acknowledgement up] What will the test show us?

Louis : [Who's been watching the whole exchange with his usually completely expressionless look, but has somehow slipped on a colourful pointy party hat with streamers on it without anyone noticing] It will show if someone is present in the dimension the orbs lead to, but needs a lock of hair from the person.

Jerome : [Smiles at Austin] How're you doing, big guy? [To the party] He can talk if he wants to. And no, Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD will not release him now, for fear of further bodily harm being occasioned. [Shows his now healed wound] Even though I am invulnerable, it still hurts. A little.

Chastity : [Looking round the group] Does anyone have a lock of hair from Clint or the Colonel?

Austin : [Calms down a great deal. Calmly to Trindle] I'm just fine thanks Trindle. How are you doing?

Jerome : Just peachy, Sleaze. Just peachy. You're gonna love The Path.

Alice : [Shrugs] Nope.

Geneva: Does it have to be a lock of hair. Could it be something else? A gift they might have given someone? Or something else unique from that person?

Jerome : [Big smile at Monty] Jerome likes this guy! [Makes the Geek Power Salute] Alice and Harvey are related, so why not use a lock of her hair?

Alice : But that means if any relations of mine of in there, it'll be positive.

Jerome : True, but Dr. Jerome K. Trindle, BSc, PhD would wonder how many of your relations have been sucked into a diffrent dimension.

Geneva: We can only try. C'mon Alice! We won't chop off much!

Jerome : Make sure you don't. We can't have anyone messing up that sexy new look, [sexy growl at Alice] Growl!

Alice : [Shuts her eyes and gives a big sigh] No problem, Gen, but let's do it in private. When Jerome is gone?

Jerome : Ah, sweet Alice, how Jerome has missed you and your ways. [Takes out a bag which he hands to Monty] The orbs. [Fishes something out of it, and throws it to Alice] That's to make up for Sleaze's wife. It's a magical balm that will cure even the most horrific skin disease. [Turns to go] Oh, just one last thing. [Takes a few photos of Alice] I really, really like that new look. [Exit JEROME on horseback, taking a horse that was just out of sight. Meanwhile, AUSTIN starts to move slowly and stiffly.]

Austin : [Struggles to get up] Mutinous murderer! [Looks disgusted] Murders my girlfriend and tries to make up for it with a tube of skin ointment. [Fumes] I was just going to kill him, but now I'm going to torture him for as long as I can keep him alive. [Licks some of Trindle's blood off his dagger, carefully, to taste it. Cleans the rest of the blood from the dagger and then goes and gets changed into some fresh clothes, still really pissed off]

Alice : [Wrinkling up her nose in disgust at Austin's licking of the blood] I hope Jerome hasn't picked up any filthy diseases in the last few months. [Looks down at herself] Why did I ever let you lot talk me into this new image. [Ruffles up her hair so it more closely resembles her previous look, and goes behind the carriage to change]

Tamsin: [Watches Austin sympathetically and asks the party] So, what are we going to do now? [gestures to the orbs]

Austin : [Returns from the back of the carriage wearing a cobra skin suit, black silk shirt, aligator skin shoes, panda skin gloves and a gold thread tie, all by Eve Stirwin] Trindle is about as likely to pick up a weird skin disease as a nun in a river of magma. [Checks his nails]

Alice : [Also(!) returning from behind the carriage, now back in her normal clothes] I don't think it's a skin disease that you need to worry about, Aus. [Looks in the bag] Well, there are six orbs here. Louis? Can you check them out?

Louis : Yes. Yes, I can.

Tamsin: [Pondering the situation] Anybody object to giving the ointment to Az, for her old man?

Austin : [To Tamsin] Does Azrael's father have a nasty skin disease?

Alice : [Opening up a small jewelry box, that plays a little tune, and looks into it sadly, before glancing up] Yes, Aus, remember how flaky he looked? [Takes a lock of her hair out of the box and hands it to Louis]

Louis : [Takes the hair and rubs it against his cheek] Silky.

Tamsin: [Looks at Louis, amused and repulsed] Uh, where was I? Oh, so, no objections from the group, then?

Alice : Sounds good to me.

Stephen : Me too.

Louis : I'll check it for you, to make sure it's what he says it is. [Holds out his hand to Tamsin] Can I have a lock of your hair?

Tamsin: [Looks at Louis and laughs] No, but I'm happy to deck you, if you want.

Louis : [Doesn't betray any emotion] No. That's okay, but I will take the balm.

[LOUIS disappears back into the carriage.]

Alice : [Looks around the others] Well? What do we think? [Directed at those who don't know] Jerry was once the party leader, then he turned into a homicidal lunatic and killed Lucy. Quite frankly, he still doesn't seem quite right. I mean, that didn't sound anything like Phegis Rilbin.

Stephen : It was supposed to sound like Lavid Detterman.

Alice : Oh. [Thinks for a moment] Oh. Well, actually, he was really rather good, so, wasn't he?

Chastity : We don't have access to any shows from the convent, so I wouldn't know.

Stephen : Does that mean you've never seen any of mine?

Chastity : Thankfully, no.

Stephen : [A bit upset] What do you mean, [with mocking imitation] "Thankfully, no". How can say that without having seen any?

Chastity : Call it women's intuition! [Calls to Louis] Would some of my hair do, Louis?

Stephen : Just remember it's to be from the [emphasis] back of your head! [Walks away ignoring Chastity's glare.]

Alice : Actually, Chas, I don't think Lavid Detterman broadcasts from the convent.

Chastity : Neither do I, but that's not what I meant. [Go into her bag and produces a small pair of sewing scissors and snips off a short length of hair and goes to the carriage offing the lock] Is this hairy length up to the job?

Louis : [Looks up from where he's working] Yes, Sister. Thank you very much.

Alice : Well, what do we think of Crazy Jerome now?

Tamsin: [To Alice] Gotta say, not a big fan. But I didn't know him before, so I'm not an expert. How about the rest of you?

Alice : [Shrugs] I don't think there can be any doubt but that he's crazy, but if we can get Clint and Harvey back, well, unless there's a really good reason why we shouldn't, we should.

Tamsin: [Nods and says with a sigh] All right, then. Look, I couldn't help but notice there's only six orbs there. Somebody's got to stay behind on this one, and it oughta be one of us hangers-on. So, I volunteer.

Chastity : I agree. My only fear is that they are twisted like Dr. Trindle. We may tricked into going to an alternative dimension where there is a different version of our fallen comrades exist.

Austin : [To Alice] Well, one good reason is that Trindle want's us to get them back, and since Trindle is a mutinous backstabbing murderer, it's probably a trick of some kind.

Austin : [To Louis] So one orb will take us all there and one orb will bring us all back? [Frowns] What does the balm do?

Louis : No. You need one orb each to get there, but the one I'm about to give you will bring several people back.

Alice : How come we only need one of yours, but six of Jerome's?

Louis : They're different orbs. The balm is actually a type of healing salve. It's ointment nature means that it can only be taken externally.

Tamsin: [To Austin] And we agreed to give it to Az for her old man, remember? I figure she deserves a break, especially if what she went through had anything to do with us.

Stephen : So, the question is, [sounds a little unsure] are we going to enter this other dimension to look for Clint and the Colonel? But another question is why Jerome would do this for us?

Tamsin: Maybe you're doing it for him? How'd he get along with Clint and the Colonel? Maybe he's got some evil scheme to ice 'em or something, but he's just too lazy to go looking for them himself?

Alice : It could be, Monty. After all, we've been warned to stay together, but there's no way back for him now. [To Tamsin] He actually got on really well with Harvey and Stinky, [thoughtfully] even after losing one of Clint's testicles.

Geneva : [Confused] What was Jerome doing with one of Clint's testicles?

Alice : [Dismissive wave of her hand] Oh I don't know, some sciencey thing, I think.

Chastity : The good Colonel did risk everything and descend into hell to rescue us once. I believe we should take the opportunity to return the favour. And get Mr. Scar as well, for despite his crude, unwashed, foul mouthed, permissive ways he was always keen to fight the good fight. [Looks round the group] And it might stop any more comments about the lack of men in the party. It wouldn't be the first time we've put ourselves in the hands of a dubious source, after all. Some more than others. [Deliberately stops short of looking a Tamsin, only to find her gaze halting at Alice] Gah! [Looks away altogether]

Alice : Wow, Chas, that's just about the most beautiful thing I've ever heard, I think I'm going to cry. [To Louis] Who else is going to stay?

Louis : That would be me. [Fishes out a red orb, about the size of billiard ball] I suggest the most cautious of careful of you take charge of this. It can be used to get you back here.

Tamsin: [Perks up at the conversation about testicles and digs out some paper to jot down a limerick idea. To Chastity] Yeah, we can't all be respectable, upstanding old biddies like you , Churchy.

Austin : [To Tamsin, snootily] I was enquiring as to the effects of the balm for the simple reason that there would be no point in giving it to Azrael's father if it was a tube of suntan lotion, for example. Quite why you had a problem with that I don't know. [To Louis] I'll take the orb then, unless Chassers would rather take it?

Alice : I could take it! [Everyone except LOUIS laughs at her.]

Alice : Tut!

Tamsin: [To Austin, laughing] Riiight. Can't say that I'm gonna miss you, Austin, though it's a real shame we never got to do a little "knife-throwing" together, just for the hell of if [winks at Austin].

Chastity : I think that description was most definately Mr. Giles. [To Monty] If you would be so bold?

Austin : [To Tamsin, chuckling] And just why would I want to keep the balm? It's no good to anyone if we never have a use for it, so we might as well give it to Azrael's father. [Smirks] Before I leave perhaps you should know that I meant real knife throwing, but you don't seem to believe anything I say for some reason, which must be horrible for you, never trusting anyone ever. [Shrugs]

Alice : I bet you trust me, Tam. Look after yourself, and we'll be back here to pick you up as soon as possible.

Tamsin: [To Austin] Yeah, that must be it, nothing to do with the fact that you're a slimy scum-sucking lawyer! [To Alice with a smile] Sure, kiddo. I trust you. Don't let the squares get you down [gives Alice a hug].

Geneva : You be careful, Stretch. I couldn't bear to be stuck with this lot forever without you.

Stephen : [Waving a hand in front of his face to stop the tears] Oh, I hate this part! [Gives her a huge hug]

Louis : [As calm as ever] I would just like to say that it has been an honour working with you. I feel a surprisingly strong emotional attachment to you, and hope that we will all meet again in the near future. The orb I gave you can be used by having everyone touch it, and calling out "return" at the same time.

Tamsin: [After bidding Geneva and Stephen warm goodbyes, turns to Chastity] Take care, Churchy. Thanks for being my muse [hands Chastity several nun-themed lyrics with a mischievous grin]. Later, Monty [offers Monty her hand and then steps away from the assembled party to join Louis].

Louis : To use the orbs he gave you, each of you hold one, and then press them together. That will transport you. [Pauses, still expressionless] Excuse me, I am becoming quite emotional. We had better leave. [Exit LOUIS and TAMSIN.]

Alice : Right, are we ready for this?

Austin : [To Alice] Yes, why? Do you think we should prepare more for travelling randomly into an unknown dimension? [Shrugs] Lets go.

Alice : I was just wondering if it was possible for you to be even more unpleasant. [Shrugs] I guess not. [MONTY passes an orb out to each party member.]

Austin : [To Alice] That wasn't sarcasm, that was light humor. I sneer when I'm being sarcastic. That's why I wasn't sneering when I said it you see, I was smirking, which is for light humor at the irony the way the events of our general adventuring occur, never planned etcetra. [Sighs] For example, it's odd when someone hates you i.e. Tamsin, because you are a Lawyer, even though I haven't been a Lawyer for several year because we have been busy saving the world. [Shrugs and holds out his orb ready for orbing]

Geneva: [To Austin, moving her hand toward her dagger pointedly] No bad-mouthing Stretch when she's not here to defend herself! [takes her orb and examines it curiously] [Book IV, Act VII, Scene III. The Desert. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, MONTY, GENEVA and STEPHEN are here, having just appeared, all quite disoriented, and on their hands and knees in the sand. This appears to be a massive desert, in every direction.]

Stephen : Nothing! There's nothing here!

Alice : [Looking around] Well, there's her.

[ALICE points at a beautiful woman in a wedding dress. This is FAITH.]

Faith : [With a warm smile] Welcome.

Alice : Yes. Very light. You know, Austin, it's often difficult to tell the difference between one of your smirks and your sneers.

[Everyone gathers around, and press their orbs together.]

Alice : Swords out, everyone! Who knows what kind of awful, terrible dimension we're about to appear in!

Austin : [To Faith] Hi there, please excuse me a moment [To Geneva, frowning] Just exactly what part of what I just said was Bad mouthing Stretch? [Sighs] Or do you hate me too?

Geneva: [Defensively] You said she was--well, at least you implied that she--um, it wasn't so much WHAT you said-- [Flustered, quickly changes the subject. To the party in a low voice, gesturing to Faith] Argh, she doesn't look like a Colonel or a Clint to me!

Austin : [To Faith] Sorry about that. [Smiling. To Faith] Allow me to introduce myself and my companions. I am Austin, and this is Alice, Chastity, Monty, Geneva and Stephen. Could you tell us where we are please, we're a little uncertain, [Pauses] We're looking for two friends of ours, Colonel Harvey and a rather odourous, but very likable fellow called Clint. Geneva [Wrinkling her nose] "Odorous"?!

Alice : Aw, that's not fair Austin! [To Geneva] He's just a bit - [thinks for a moment] well he's - hm. Yeah, actually, he's pretty stinky.

Faith : [Looks slightly disappointed for a second, but smiles] Oh, so you're not here for me? Well that's okay, because I know my time will come, but Clint? Harvey? I don't know them. You're in Easpach. Where did you come from? [Turns and looks at each of the women in the party for a moment, before giving a little laugh] Oh! I'm sorry! I see what's going on here! Three couples. Aw! [So touched that she tears up a little] Marriage must be so wonderful. Oh! Oh! Let me guess! Let's see, [points at Monty] you and [Alice] you. [Points out Stephen and Chastity] You and you have got to be together! [Big smile at Geneva and Monty] So that leaves you two. You're just so cute! [Pauses for breath, as each of the "couples" slowly turn and size each other up.]

Faith : Oh! Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go on so long, it's just that we don't see many strangers about. Wow! It must be great to be married! Do you swap around much?

Alice : Aw, that's not fair Austin! [To Geneva] He's just a bit - [thinks for a moment] well he's - hm. Yeah, actually, he's pretty stinky.

Faith : [Looks slightly disappointed for a second, but smiles] Oh, so you're not here for me? Well that's okay, because I know my time will come, but Clint? Harvey? I don't know them. You're in Easpach. Where did you come from? [Turns and looks at each of the women in the party for a moment, before giving a little laugh] Oh! I'm sorry! I see what's going on here! Three couples. Aw! [So touched that she tears up a little] Marriage must be so wonderful. Oh! Oh! Let me guess! Let's see, [points at Monty] you and [Alice] you. [Points out Stephen and Chastity] You and you have got to be together! [Big smile at Geneva and Austin] So that leaves you two. You're just so cute!

[Pauses for breath, as each of the "couples" slowly turn and size each other up.]

Faith : Oh! Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to go on so long, it's just that we don't see many strangers about. Wow! It must be great to be married! Do you swap around much?

Chastity : [Looking at Stephen] Given any future opportunity perhap not so much swap, more permanent exchange.

Faith : [A little puzzled] Oh, well, I'm sure it must be wonderful, just wonderful. Is it wonderful? Because I think it must be.

Chastity : [Recomposing herself] I'm afraid we are not couples, just concerned friends. However I must say that marriage is indeed a wonderful institute, focusing and nurturing love and blissful happiness. [Looks around] Where are the people, buildings, or settlements around here?

Austin : [To Chastity, with a nod] Ahh, the wisdom of experience! I forget, have you been married four or five times? [To Faith] We'll perhaps you would like to come with us for now, and maybe you'd even like to come with us when we leave? [Muses, considerately] But for now, perhaps you'd be so kind as to show us around a little?

Faith : Oh, I couldn't leave, I couldn't possibly leave, but how kind of you to offer. There really isn't much to see here, just the desert, and our home, which is behind that dune over there. [Points at a relatively low sand dune] We've never had visitors before, so I'm not really sure what to do. Where do you want directions to? Home? You see, I don't know where that is.

Alice : [Reeling a bit from Faith's nonstop talking, and turning to the others] Their home must be pretty small.

Chastity : [To Faith] You said "our home", my dear. Who do you live with?

Faith : [To Chastity] With my sisters. [Nods at Monty's words] Okay, I'm sure you'll find them, just be careful of the children.

Austin : We should just walk over to Faith's house to get our bearings, as there's no point at all in just wandering randomly into the desert. [To Faith] Do you have a map of the local area, please?

Faith : A map? [Looks puzzled] No, but, there's really nothing here.

Chastity : [To Faith] Could see your house? I'm sure its delightful.

Faith : Oh, thank you, Chastity. We like to think of it as the nicest house in all of Easpach! [Titters to herself] Sorry, just a little bit of Easpach humour there. Please, follow me. [Leads the party towards the dune she pointed at earlier] So, you never said where you're from, [stops and turns to the party] not that you have to, or anything, because I'm sure you're really good people.

Austin : [To Faith] We are from a place called Queens View, it's quite a long way from here, and we're on a mission from God, to save the world [Shrugs nonchalantly. To Faith, sincerely] I must say, I do really like your dress, I hope we're not interrupting the ceremony?

Faith : [Excitedly] God? Did she say anything about me?

Austin : [To Faith] Well, [pauses] she says stuff like 'Without Faith I am nothing', quite alot, and things to that effect. Was there anything specific you were refering to? We only met God for a very brief moment, and I get the impression that you might be talking about a different God, or perhaps God is different here because we a re so far away from home [Smiling] Who knows!

Faith : [Taken aback] What do mean, a different God?

Austin : [To Faith] Well, the last time we saw God he was a he, but he does talk about you alot.

Chastity : [To Faith] Please excuse my colleague [gestures to Austin] for his confusing you, he is far from qualified for religious conjecture. The is only one true God, Phili, who may take on many guises as is seen fit. Now, who are your sisters? I'm interested in hearing all about your family and friends and what they do here.

Faith : [Unhappy with Austin, but taking heed of Chastity] I see, but I have to tell you, I don't like blasphemy [leans in to Austin and speaks loudly] not at all! [A voice can be heard from the other side of the dune, of someone approaching the party, this is INES, another bride, who comes into sight.]

Ines : Faith? Who are you talking - oh! [Sees the party, and gives a big smile] Hello!

Chastity : [To Ines} Hello there. Why another exquisite dress, I must say. To Faith] Is this one of your sisters?

Faith : Yes, this is Ines. [Introduces each party member] Chastity, Monty, Stephen, Geneva, Alice and Austin. He's a blasphemer.

Ines : [Gives Faith a reproachful look] Now, I'm sure that's not true. He just may have different views to us, we must respect that. Hello everyone.

Chastity : [Looking between Faith and Ines] As lovely as your dresses are, are they not a bit impractical for life in the desert?

Geneva: [Shakes her head at Chastity's question] But, Sister! Shouldn't we stay focused on the smelly man and the colonel?! [To Ines] Have you smelled anyone unusual lately?

Ines : Not really, except some of the children, but that's their choice, and I respect it.

Faith : [Comes over all bashful] Why, thank you Chastity! They are a little impractical, but we have to be ready, just in case!

Austin : [To Faith] You misunderstand me, [Sincerely] To me blasphemy would be to say that the gods and idols of the heathen were real, where as I was merely treading carefully so as not to offend, [Pauses] I wasn't sure if you we of the true faith or not and didn't want to cause anger. After all, we are both strangers and guests in you land and to assume that the word of God had reached this fine place would be most presumptious. [Profoundly, with a noticably honest straight face] To me there is only one church with any value.

Faith : [Not entirely buying the story] What's a heathen?

Austin : [To Faith] A heathen is a person who has not yet found the word of God, or worse, has chosen to disregard it, and may therefore worship false idols etcetra [Adds] We have come across many heathens in our travels.

Faith : Ah, like the children?

Geneva: No, children can't be heathens! Right, Sister?

Chastity : Usually not. They are merely misinformed or ignorant. Anyway, shall we to your house?

Alice : But doesn't that make them heathens, Sister? Just because they weren't told about God is hardly an excuse for not believing in [checks herself] her, is it?

Ines : [Takes each of Alice and Chastity by the arm] Debate? Wonderful! Wonderful! [Just over the other side of the dune is what looks like a stone bunker, sunk deep into the sand, so only about a foot or so sticks up. It is about 30' x 30' in area.]

Faith : Here we are, home sweet home!

Chastity : Hmmmm. I'm sure you've done wonders with it inside, though.

Faith : Not really, it's pretty much as it was when we moved in. [The trapdoor opens, and WILLFUL, another bride, appears.]

Willful : Oh! There you are! The others said to wait, but I had to see if you were okay. [Spots the party] Oh! Visitors! [Calls back down] They've brought visitors!

Geneva: [Wide-eyed at the sight of yet another bride, says to Faith] How many sisters do you have? Uh, are all of you getting married today?

Faith : There are eleven of us [smiles] and no, we're not all getting married today, but someday!

Willful : And it had better be soon!

Geneva: Why are you in such a hurry to get married?

Austin : [To Geneva] Well there's no time like the present. You wouldn't want to waste your whole life single, just ask Chassers.

Willful : Because I've been waiting long enough. [FAITH and INES climb down the trapdoor, followed by the party. There are eight other brides here, PATIENCE, HONOUR, GRACE, EARNESTINE, CHARITY, MERCY, ELAN and DARA, who all make excited noises upon seeing the party, and chatter to themselves.]

Ines : Let me introduce my sisters. [Points to each in turn, each of whom gives a smile and a nod to the party] Patience, Honour, Grace, Earnestine, Charity, Mercy, Elan and Dara. Sisters, this is Chastity, Geneva, Stephen, Alice, Monty and Austin.

Faith : We thought Austin might be a blashphemer.

Ines : But we realised he was merely expressing an opinion, [a little curtly] didn't we?

Alice : [Slowly turns to the party] Is this creeping out anyone else?

Austin : [Just about managing not to go Evangelical in happyness. Frowns momentarily at Alice's comment. Composes himself, adjusting his cuffs briefly. To Faith] My, you're all very beautiful, it's hard to imagine that you are all waiting for your grooms, or husbands to be, if I may be so bold. [Austin casts a glance around the room, particularily to see if there might be a hidden trap door or secret room where a succubi, for example might imprison her victims (Clint and Harvey). Smiles with a very modest blush as he meets the gazes of Elan and Patience]

Elan : [Gives Austin a big smile] Hi Austin! Don't worry about Faith, she thinks everyone's a blasphemer. [PATIENCE smiles shyly, but doesn't say anything. The room is roughly 40' square, and has just bear walls, with a seat for each of the brides. There is a large opening on the wall behind the stairs that the party came down, but it is blocked with some kind of shimmering shield.]

Charity : Strangers? Oh, how wonderful! Have you travelled far? [Stands up] Please, one of you, take my seat.

Geneva: [Looks around the room and sighs wistfully] Ah, this is just like being back on my old ship! [Catches sight of the shield and asks Charity] What's that?!

Charity : That's the gateway.

Faith : From where our husbands will come.

Earnestine : If we wait long enough.

Stephen : [Looks at the gateway] And, er, how long have you all been waiting for husbands?

Willful : About a thousand years.

Patience : It hasn't been that long, really.

Earnestine : We're sure they'll come.

Stephen : [Gasps] A thou...a thousand years? Oh my goodness, that certainly is commitment! Tell me this, what makes you so sure that a bunch of eligible bachelors are going to come waltzing through that gateway, engagement ring in pocket and wedding suit in a carry bag?

Faith : We've always known that Stephen. Why else would we be here?

Stephen : Well, I might hazard a guess and say, on the run from the boys in white who carry huge butterfly nets?

Geneva: [Stifling a snort at Stephen's comment] Uh, so what about these children you mentioned before? Where are they?

Austin : [Looks around casually for any signs of children. To Elan, smiling plesantly] So, what do you ladies do for entertainment in these parts? [Catches Elan's eye but tries not to look too much like a rabid wolf. Checks his nails very briefly] Great for sunbathing I guess, do you have a pool?

Honour : [To Stephen] No, there are no butterflies here.

Dara : [Sadly] Oh, the children. The poor children. They live in a valley about ten minutes walk [points] that way.

Alice : [Looking around at the absolute bare walls] Do you have any more rooms?

Honour : No, just the one.

Alice : [Squeezing her legs together slightly] Not even one, really small one?

Elan : Oh, we walk, and we talk. [Slight pause] That's really about it, actually. No, we've no pool.

Alice : [Gives a little groan] Can we please not talk about water?

Faith : We're not sure where they come from, they just seem to appear. Sometimes they escape into the desert, or try to come here, but never succeed.

Charity : We've tried to help them, but have never succeeded.

Dara : They seem to be in terrible pain. [Looks downcast] Poor souls.

Faith : When we're married, things will change though, and this desert will be gone. Last Neutronium Dragon [qv] 07.03.060

Austin : [Mimicking Monty in fun] Ahem. I do believe that it would be their 'third' childhood, to be precise.

Alice : Whereas some of us are still in our first. Of course, Clint was a child when he died, but Harvey wasn't. [To the Brides] How old are the children?

Patience : That's not a word we're familiar with.

Alice : [Exasperated] Children? You just said it a minute ago!

Chastity : I believe aging is not an issue here, Alice. [To Patience] Did you have a life before coming here? How did you get here a thousand years ago?

Earnestine : No, we've always been here. That claim of a thousand years is just the usual over reaction from Willful.

Mercy : Now, Earnestine, you know it is her way.

Alice : So how long have you been here?

Honour : We don't know, but for as long as The Heart, if that gives you any indication. [The BRIDES all seem a little nervous at MONTY's interest in the Heart.]

Honour : Sure. It's just under Earnestine's chair. [Everyone turns to look, and there is indeed a a metal box there. However, it is considerably smaller than the cauldron that the party saw with BJORSETH and APHI.]

Willful : [As nervous as the rest, but doing a better job at hiding it] What's your interest in the Heart?

Austin : [To Willful] That's a very good question, and we're not sure really, it has quite simply been the most curious and mysterious, and yet undeniably intrinsic part of our live to date, so we have been searching for it to find out more about it. [Looks at the box curiously] We found it once before, but it was much larger than that [Nods towards the box. Pauses] We also would like to know the meaning behind the phrase 'from within it consumes'.

Elan : From within what consumes?

Stephen : What does the Heart do?

Honour : Whatever it does, it's doing it right now.

Faith : We're sure than when our husbands come, we'll figure it out together.

Geneva: What do you think is going to happen when your husbands finally arrive? Uh, who told you to wait for them?

Austin : [To the brides] Could have a look at the Heart please?

Faith : [To Geneva] No one did. We just know that they'll come.

Honour : [To Austin] Sure. [Picks up the box and opens it, turning it towards the party] [Everyone leans in to look, not paying any attention to WILLFUL slapping her forehead in frustration. This time the heart is white with a black edge, and seems to be emanating grey waves, which disappear as the drift away from the heart. It is clear that there is considerably less activity from this than in the one the party saw previously.]

Willful : [Testily to Honour] Do you always have to just blurt out everything?

Honour : Yes.

Geneva: [Looking at Austin, impressed] That was EASY! I thought we'd have to work up to that, maybe make a few threats, you know the usu--uh, where did you ladies get the Heart?

Austin : [Moving back from the Heart. To the Brides] It looks just like it did before, but much smaller paler and much less energetic. [Pauses] As for 'from within it consumes', we don't know what the 'it' is, but as far as I can make out it's some form of abominable, clawed, blood thirsty beast. [Looks over to the Portal] Do you know where the portal goes to?

Elan : What's more important is where it comes from!

Alice : [To Austin] Isn't that just what you asked?

Faith : That is where our husbands will come from.

Charity : Geneva, why would you need to threaten us? What's ours is yours.

Honour : The Heart has always been here. We sit with it and wait for our husbands. It has always looked like that.

Geneva: [To Charity, eagerly] Really? Can we have the Heart?!

Geneva: [Muttering] What's ours is yours--yeah, right! [Brightens and asks Charity] Can we go through the portal?!

Willful : [Glares at Geneva] No!

Charity : It's not ours to give.

Patience : [Genuinely, to Monty] Where should we keep it?

Austin : [Trying to take the pace out of the conversation a little] Why don't we go and meet the children, and perhaps take a look around the area, even if it is just desert. [Moves over towards the stairs. To Patience] Could you show us to the children, if it's not too inconvenient?

Patience : Of course.

Willful : I'll show them.

Elan : Me too! This'll be exciting!

Alice : Austin, do you want to, you know, try touching the Heart?

Honour : But Geneva, it really isn't ours.

Charity : You could try, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Faith : Willful tries to get through every so often, but always fails. The rest of us know that we have to wait. Except Elan, she tends to urge Willful on.

Austin : [To Patience and Elan] Thank you. [To Alice] Well, I guess [Removes his glove and inspects his pinky] putting the bony bit in won't hurt.

Alice : [Panicky] You're going to put in a finger, though, right? [The BRIDES are all taken aback at AUSTIN's finger, especially DARA.]

Dara : Oh, Austin! What happened to you? To your lovely arm? [AUSTIN sticks it in and touches the heart without any apparant side effects.]

Geneva: [After watching Austin touch the Heart, asks Willful] What's happened when you tried to go through the portal?!

Willful : We just bounce off it. Last from Conor #83

Austin : [To the Brides] The last time we saw the Heart I attempted to put my hand into it, to try to save the life of a friend. [Looks at his boney pinky and then puts his glove back on] Unfortunatley it burned the skin from my finget and our friend died. [To Dara] I do have another beautiful arm [Carefully shows Maplin to Dara. Extreemely modestly, to Dara] Well moisturised, yes?

Geneva: [Impatiently] Let's go get a look at the children, like you said before, Austin. Unless you think all that sand will be bad for Maplin!

Dara : [Uncomfortably] Ye-es.

Elan : [Strokes the other arm] Mm! Smooth!

Alice : [Rolls her eyes] Yeah, smooth. What did it feel like, Aus?

Austin : [Allowing Elan to stoke as much as she wants. To Alice] It was very very cold. [Turns back to Elan, in an upbeat sort of manner] Why don't we go and meet the children. [Offers his arm in escort to Elan]

Geneva: [To Elan, puzzled] What do you mean?

Elan : Excellent idea, this will be a great adventure. Of course, you do know that we probably won't be able to get into them?

Dara : Those poor, poor children are trapped in a prison. It appeared a long time ago, but long after we did.

Chastity : Imprisoned children? The poor dears! [Looks to Alice and Austin] Having recently been in the same situation we must see what we can do.

Dara : Oh! Have you just escaped too? But not from the prison here, right?

Austin : [To Dara] During part of our childhood some of us we child slaves in a Placebium mine.

Chastity : No, not a prison here. It was a few months ago, when we were children. [Pauses] Well a thousand years ago, technically, but we'll skip that. Anyway, the nub of the matter is that we were incarcerated and that we can empathise with their predicament.

Dara : How awful. What's a Placebium mine?

Willful : So are you children now? [Everyone, including most of the BRIDES, look surprised at this.]

Willful : [To the Brides] Oh, come on! It's what you're all thinking!

Chastity : [Somewhat uncertainly] Em, no. At least not in this context. [Points to the hatchway] Shall we go and see their position?

Austin : [Escorting Elan to the base of the stairway leading outside. To the Brides] AThe Placebium mine was a mine where Placebium ore was mined. The ore was so toxic that it would kill an adult almost instantly, which is why they used children to mine it, they lived longer. [To Elan] Why will it be difficult to reach the children? Is there some kind of barrier in our way?

Elan : You'll see, but I bet it will be an adventure trying to get passed it. [Hardly able to contain herself] Oh! I just can't wait!

[Exit the PARTY and ELAN and WILLFUL up the stairs, while the rest of the BRIDES sit in silence for a moment.]

Faith : Let's play I-spy!

Honour : No offence, Faith, but unless the object you're looking at isn't Bride, Gateway, Chair, Box or Dress, I think I can safely say we've all had quite enough of that game. [Book IV, Act VII, Scene IV. The Desert. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, MONTY, GENEVA, STEPHEN, ELAN and WILLFUL are here, having just emerged from the bunker.]

Elan : [Pointing into the distance] That's where they're kept, come on every one! [Starts leading the way]

Alice : [Quietly to the party so Willful, who's following Elan, can't hear] Okay. Does anyone have a clue what the hell is going on?

Geneva: [Whispering] No, but I'm ready for anything! [pats her dagger confidently]

Austin : [To Alice, quietly] We're trying to find the Colonel and Clint, aren't we?

Alice : [Rolls her eyes at Austin] You don't find it strange that there are a bunch of brides living out in the middle of the desert with no supplies other than a chair each?

Stephen : Poor Alice, it must seem live [huge emphasis] everyone else is a bride!

Alice : I'm just surprised that you're not wearing one, Stephen.

Stephen : Miaow! Must be that biological clock, Alice.

Austin : [To Alice] Well, of course it's odd, but I don't have high expectations of normality when using orbs. Based on previous evidence, anything could happen, and probably will. [Shrugs] Remember the Placebium mine when we were children, now that was weird. [Reminices] Or the time we had Revs in the interior. That was weirder than this. So what if they never age or need food, it probably just how this place is. [Smirks] At least none of them are obsesed with ... self gratification whilst thinking of you, like Bjorseth was.

Geneva: [Shuddering] Thanks for reminding us, Austin! [attempts to swat Austin on the back of the head] [GENEVA cuffs AUSTIN on the back of the head, not causing any damage, but ruffling his hair.]

Alice : [Makes to say something, but stops] Wow! You just took the words right out of my mouth, Gen!

Stephen : I wonder if they have anything to do with the Bringer? He seemed fairly intent on setting up some sort of hareem with the local women didn't he?

Alice : [With a tut of annoyance] Geneva, slap him. [To Stephen] That wasn't even the real Bringer, that was that guy Rick Moronis, pretending to be a Bringer.

Austin : [Turns to Geneva] How dare you assault me? Try that again and you will find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Stephen : [To Elan] You said that the children are in some sort of prison. Who runs it?

Geneva: [To Austin] Ha! Try THAT and you'll find yourself on the pointy end of my blade!

Elan : Runs it? Well, nobody.

Austin : [Sneers at Geneva] Unlikely, for that would require that you be able to tell one end from the other.

Stephen : Hmmm. So what keeps all the children from escaping?

Geneva: [Pulls out a dagger and shows it to Austin. Sputtering] See the end stained with the blood of curs?! That's the end I'll use!

Austin : [Laughs at Geneva] Oh dear. It's just as well you never showed that to Grace, she would have been most disappointed.

Elan : The big shield around the prison. [Looks at Austin and Geneva] Are they going to be okay?

Willful : I think he should punch her.

Stephen : [Looks at Austin and Geneva] Not too sure, really. Geneva is a bit of an unknown quantity when it comes to an interparty fight. But she certainly looks fast enough to catch Austin if it does come to blows.

Geneva: [Crankily stuffs the dagger back in her boot and glares at Austin. To Willful, moodily] This isn't any of your business!

Willful : Then maybe you shouldn't be waving daggers around in front of me.

Elan : Gosh! Isn't this exciting?

Elan : I'm not sure we were anywhere, but yes, if we were, we don't remember.

Austin : [To Monty, deadpan] Why don't you check the visitors book? [Checks his hair in his pocket mirror]

Alice : Good idea Austin! [To Willful] Do you have a visitors' book?

Willful : No. You're the first visitors we've ever had. [The party are approaching a structure with a spherical roof, that is about twenty feet high, and at least three hundred feet wide.]

Elan : [Disappointed] I'm afraid this is as far as we can go, [excited again] but I bet you'll have a great time there!

Austin : [To Elan] Why is it that you can go no further? [Looks around]

Elan : There's some kind of invisible energy barrier. [Gestures with her finger] About there. If we try to go through we get a shock. [Chuckles] You wouldn't believe how many times Willful's had spiky hair.

Willful : At least I've got some kind of curiosity about it!

Geneva: [Still a little cranky] Well, let's get on with it!

Chastity : Yes, I agree. [To Elan and Willful] Thank you for showing us the way here. You have been very helpful.

Alice : Of course, but let's just wait and see if we can figure out what we're walking into, first.

[Just to be clear, the barrier is still quite a bit back, but ELAN claimed that she couldn't pass this point in the sand, so let's assume that's where AUSTIN threw the sand, which easily passes the point.]

Willful : Yes, it looks the same all the way down.

Elan : [Excitedly] Look! One of the children. [Enter ACK, a ferocious looking fully grown man with neanderthal like qualities. The party haven't seen anything like this, but he is clearly quite primitive.]

Ack : [Spotting the party, and running towards them, shouting angrily] Ack! Ack!

Geneva: [Watches the sand blow like so much dust in the wind. To Austin] We're not even at the barrier yet, genius! [blushes bright red and looks around to see if anyone noticed she was always watching quite intently]

Chastity : [Peering at Ack] By Phili. Could that be Clint?

Stephen : [To Elan] That's a child? [ACK stops in his tracks, and roars and screams at the party, before charging towards them. He is unarmed, but is approaching quickly and aggressively.

Alice : To Chastity] Oh God! I hope not! Hey, he's coming kind of fast, isn't he?

Elan : They're always like that, pretending they're trying to hurt us, that kind of thing.

Geneva: [Pulls out a dagger and says to Elan] He'd better not lay a finger on me if he knows what's good for him!

Elan : [Laughs] Why? He's just trying to have fun!

Alice : So he can't hurt us?

Elan : No, not at all.

Alice : Cool! [Looks at Ack] Bring it on! [ACK jumps on ALICE, punching her hard in the face.]

Alice : Ow!

Elan : [Looking as shocked as Willful] Oh, maybe he can't hurt [emphasis] us.

Geneva: [Rushes to Alice's aid, shoving Ack away] Get away unless you want a dagger through yer belly! [ACK roars something unintelligible, and swings wildly at GENEVA, hitting her, but not knocking her down, meanwhile, ELAN and WILLFUL give each other a shocked look.]

Alice : Bastard! [Draws her sword]

Geneva: [Stabs at Ack with her dagger] What the hell is this thing?!

Austin : [Quickly draws his dagger and attacks Ack, alongside Geneva] I think 'heathen' probably describes it quite well!

Chastity : [To Elan and Willful] If these people can't hurt you, do you think you could help us then? [Goes to help pull off Ack]

Willful : You bet! [Throws a bad aimed punc at Ack, hitting him on the ear] [Each of GENEVA and AUSTIN stab ACK with their daggers, while ALICE gets him in the stomach with her sword.]

Ack : [In pain] Ack! [Dies]

Willful : Did I do that? [Mouth hangs open] Did I just do that?

Elan : [Breathless with excitement, chest heaving] Do it again! Do it again!

Geneva: [To the brides] How many more of these guys are around?! [jabs at Ack's lifeless body with her bloody dagger]

Austin : [To the Brides] And are they all as aggressive as that one? [Wipes his dagger clean with a tissue and puts the tissue beside the body and offers Geneva a handy wipe to clean her dagger with]

Alice : [Putting her sword away] Thanks Aus, and you Gen, nice work. [Takes a look at Ack]

Willful : [Really excited, talking to Elan] Did you see that? [Throws a pretend punch in the air] Bam!

Elan : Best punch ever! [High fives Willful, before turning to Geneva, beaming with excitement] There seems to be an endless supply, but we only see them every so often. Come on! Make him get up! I want a go this time!

Willful : Aggressive? He wasn't aggressive! He was just - [notices that each of Alice and Geneva were injured, and her face drops] Hey! Wait a minute! What's going on here? [In disbelief] Are you hurt? [Reaches over and touches Geneva's lip where Ack punched her, and looks at her fingers which now have blood on them] What is this?

Geneva: [Pushes Willful's hand away, annoyed] What do you mean, what is it?! Haven't you seen blood before?

Austin : [To GEneva] Evidently not [Offers Geneva another Handy wipe] Do you want to wipe then blood off your lips. [To Willful] We call it blood, and if we loose to much of it we will die just like Ack has done [Motions towards Ack] We are not immortal and immune to injury, as you all appear to be. [Ponders the Brides reactions] Ack won't ever get up, unless someone else holds him up, he's dead. [Shrugs]

Geneva: [Accepts the handiwipe from Austin with a nod of thanks. To Willful, eagerly] Want to see if you can bleed?! [dangles a dagger with a big smile]

Stephen : Hey, how come this creature was able to attack us? Perhaps the forcefield is down?

Willful : [Unimpressed, to Geneva] Want to see if you can make me?

Elan : But we thought only children have blood, so, [struggles with something in her head] so you must be children, because, you just killed him, right?

Geneva: [Startled by Willful's invitation] Really?! [Quickly recovers an air of bravado] I mean, ARRGH! Where do you want it? [strides over to Willful brandishing her dagger impressively]

Willful : [Stands with her hands on her hips, tossing her hair back] Anywhere you want, bitch.

Alice : [Stepping close to, but not in between the two, holding her hands up] Woah, woah, woah! Let's all calm down a minute!

Geneva: [Quickly readjusts so that Alice is blocking her path to prevent her from slicing Willful] I am calm! She asked for it! [waves dagger impressively but makes no effort to cut Willful or get beyond Alice]

Willful : [Also not moving, but jutting out her chin and pointing to it] Come on, right here.

Alice : Elan! Don't you have any control over her?

Elan : [Laughs] Yeah, right.

Alice : [Rolls her eyes] This is just like cousin Sarah's wedding all over again. Geneva and Willful : [At the same time] She started it!

Elan : Not exactly the same, but they all look kind of like him. Sometimes we see more than one at a time, and always thought they were just pretending to hurt us. They normally just disappear after a while though, heading off into the desert.

Chastity : [Peering at the building] I think we may as well start by looking at this enclosure here, Mr. Giles.

Elan : In all different directions. We don't think that they're going to a particular place as, well, you've seen theyh don't seem to be the smartest. [The party are just outside the area that ELAN and WILLFUL claimed they couldn't get passed.]

Alice : Do we think that we'll be effected by whatever stops them from getting through?

Chastity : Be careful Mr. Giles. [Makes sure she's not standing too close to Monty, in case he gets frazzled or thrown back from the shield]

Austin : [To Monty] That's more like it, more action, fewer words. You'll be I knight before long. [Stands beside Elan, gives her a quick smile, then watches Monty test for the shield] [Everybody watches in silence as MONTY stretches his hand out and slowly approaches the area that the BRIDES couldn't pass. He edges forward, bit by bit, until he's certainly passed the area, and is now just about fifty feet from the structure.]

Alice : Yay! He got through! [To Elan] He did get through, right?

Elan : He sure did! Now, when the children appear, they always look like they've come out of that structure, but not through a door, they seem to be able to pass through any part of it.

Geneva : [Grumbling to herself] A [emphasis] lot fewer words.

Elan : [To Austin] You're going to have such an exciting time when you get to the structure, I bet it's going to be just great!

Austin : [To Elan and Willful, with a smile] Well, thank you for your help ladies. I hope we shall meet again sometime. [To the rest of the party] Let's go [To monty] Lead the way. [Walks over to Monty]

Elan : [Waving] Have a great time! [As the party approach the structure, it is clear that there are hundreds, if not thousands of people inside. It appears to be made of some sort of semi-opaque glass, so it is difficult to see inside. However, it does seem as though these are normal people, quite unlike ACK.]

Stephen : Well, this is obviously the prison. [Part of the structure gives a crackle, and someone bursts from it, although, once they are through, it returns to it's normal state. It is a woman, FEM, who looks more like ACK than those still inside. She looks up at the party and growls.]

Alice : God! She's a bit like you, Gen!

Geneva: [To Alice, outraged] She is NOT! [quickly pulls dagger out in case Fem attacks] [FEM stands up, and snarls something incomprehensible at the party.]

Alice : [Drawing her sword] Who can speak Gibberish? Monty?

Austin : [Readies his sling shot and moves behind Geneva. To Geneva, chuckling and keeping a careful eye on Fem] No need to get riled, you look nothing like her, thankfully.

Geneva: [To Austin] I KNOW! I already said that! [Looks at Fem and tries speaking gibberish at her, dagger at the ready] Ihay! Emay Enevagay!

Alice : [To Stephen] Wow! Geneva's gay? [FEM leaps at GENEVA, snarling, but is easily pushed away by her.]

Monty : [Drawing his sword] Ahem. I fear any attempt to converse with the creature will be fruitless.

Chastity : [Looking from Geneva back to Monty] Yes, when she's wound up she'll listen to no-one. Such a head-strong lass.[Pulls out her mace and goes to help Geneva]

Alice : Indeed, Chas, quite the little psycho. [FEM leaps angrily at GENEVA again, only to be easily beaten off by the others, who don't try to hurt her too much and knocked to the ground.]

Austin : [Puts his slingshot away] If you could just grab her and hold her down I'll tie her up.

Geneva: [To Alice] Stop whining and make yourself useful! [stabs at Fem with her dagger] [FEM takes another swipe at GENEVA, but gets stabbed in the belly for her trouble, and sinks to her knees, before falling flat on her face.]

Alice : Good idea Aus, but she's still got that dagger of hers!

Geneva: [Red-faced and flustered] Well, how was I supposed to know we weren't fighting to the death?!

Chastity : Maybe if you made fighting the the death the exception instead of the default, that would be a start. This poor creature was probably just confused and scared. [Looks at the fem] Maybe at least we have a disguise, I suppose.

Alice : Wow! She was in disguise? [Tries to peel off Fem's rubberm mask] Hey! That's not a disguise at all!

Stephen : [Points at the structure] Look! They can see us! [This seems to be true, as all the people in there are waving and trying to get the attention of the party. One of them has squeezed his way to the front, but he doesn't touch the barrier. This is MEVE STARCHANT.]

Meve : Help! Help us! You've got to get us out of here!

Austin : [Looking at Fem's corpse] I expect she attacked us because be killed her partner [Gesture at Ack. Shrugs] What's done is done. [Turns and walks down to the barrier but is careful not to go too close. To Meve] And how do we get you out?

Chastity : [Watching the last few grains trickle down.] Hmmmm. [To Meve] How did the other two get out? What's so special about them?

Austin : [To Meve] For a guy looking for a big favour you are suprisingly rude. Do you know how those two managed to escape? [Gestures to Fem and Ack]

Meve : Nothing, they just were idiots.

Chastity : But smart enough to get out of the shield though, eh?

Meve : [To Chastity] Are you dumb? I just said - [notices Austin's words] I mean, yeah, it sure did look like they did, Miss, and yes, [to Austin] Sir, you are right, please excuse me. [Enter JIMMY SULLIVAN, appearing beside MEVE.]

Jimmy : [To the party] Here's how they escaped. [Pushes Meve hard against the shield.] [MEVE hits the shield with a crackle, causing everyone to cover their eyes, but the party don't appear to suffer any harm. Meanwhile MEVE screams in pain, as he slowly falls through the shield.]

Alice : [Still shielding her eyes] You pushed them through?

Austin : [Stands back, waiting to see if there's anything left of Meve to help] Arrgh! Do do that!

Geneva: [To Jimmy] Why did you push them through? Why CAN you push them through?

Jimmy : To show you lot what happens. [As the sparks die away, the party can see that MEVE has transformed into another of the creatures, MUH. MUH leaps to his feet and roars angrily at the party.]

Alice : [Waving her hand in front of her face] Phew! That's a pretty rank breath!

Geneva: [Whips out a dagger and snaps] What now? Are we fighting this one or what?!

Alice : [Looking at the snarling Muh] I don't think we've got any choice.

Stephen : Why don't we try to push him back through the barrier, maybe he'll revert back! [Attempts to push Muh] [STEPHEN catches MUH unawares, and shoves him back against the shield. It has no effect other than to enrage MUH, who roars in anger and swings at STEPHEN, hitting him but not doing any damage.]

Alice : [Wearily] Come on, Red, there's a belly that needs a dagger sticking through it.

Stephen : [To Muh] Ow! Mind my face, my beautiful face! [Attacks Muh] [STEPHEN stabs MUH, who, showing more intelligence than the others, makes a break for it, bursting out between MONTY and CHASTITY and running off into the desert.]

Alice : Oh no! Stephen! Look what he's done to your face!

Stephen : [Feels his face in alarm before glaring at Alice] Oh ha ha! [To Jimmy] How long have you all been trapped here?

Jimmy : Two thousand years! [The crowd start jostling, with people calling out all different times, most of which are more than a thousand years, but some of which are only a few days. There's suddenly a lot of pushing at the back, and a VOICE calls out, much louder than the others, and strangely familiar.

Voice : Eight hundred and ninety nine years. The owner of the voice fights his way to the front. Enter CLINT SCAR.]

Chastity : [peering through the shield] Clint? Is that [emphasis] really you this time?

Clint : [Pushing someone out of the way, almost causing them to hit the shield] It sure is me, Sist! [Gives a big grin] Hey Bimbo, Lawyer, I knew you'd come for me. [Surprised] Hitchberk?

Alice : [Face a mix of delight and disbelief] Stinky! What are you doing here?

Clint : Mostly just standing around waiting for you lot to break me out.

Chastity : Is the Colonel with you?

Clint : The Colonel? Don't tell me he's been killed too! No, Sister, he's not here. If Barthelomew, or [distastefully does finger quotes] The Bringer killed him, he'd be here. [Looks at Alice] Hey, what's going on with your hair?

Alice : [Grumpily] The others talked me into cutting it.

Austin : [To Clint] Any idea how we could get you out of there or interrupt the shield barrier thing?

Clint : Yes, there's some kind of gate just over there. [Points a short distance to the party's right] [Everyone approaches the gate, and there is a good deal of pushing and shoving, with CLINT almost ending up in the wall. He turns and punches the man nearest him.]

Clint : Back off! If something happens to me, this lot will leave you here forever, so calm down. [The others give him space, and the party can see that there is a small hole, about two inches in diameter, four feet off the ground.]

Clint : That's the keyhole, but I'm not sure you can touch it without being hurt, even with tools.

Austin : [To Clint] So you can't put your finger through the open space of the key hole without being hurt? [Pauses] For example, to touch an orb.

Clint : [Eyes those around him suspiciously] Possibly, but I'd have to be perfectly still.

Alice : [To the party] I've a question. If we use the orb to jump back to our own dimension, what would happen to Clint? After all, he doesn't have a body there any more, does he?

Monty : I fear his spirit could be lost in the ether. Extracting him from this prison is merely the first step. Our next problem will be to figure out how to get his body back. [Nods politely at Clint] Montgomery Giles.

Clint : No, I'm Clint Scar. [Sees Geneva, and puts on a cheesy smile] How're you doin'?

Geneva : Arr! Not great.

Austin : [Examines the keyhole carefully, without touching it] So what kind of key would fit a lock like this I wonder? [To Clint] Do you know who was first to be imprisoned here, and if they are still here?

Geneva: [To Alice, grumpily] So we found the smelly guy and not the Colonel?! [crosses her arms and grunts in annoyance]

Alice : Wow. You're just a bundle of joy, aren't you, Gen?

Clint : [Shrugs] Nah, the first is probably long dead. Barthelomew's been around a long time. I dunno. I don't suppose you've got a magical lock pick, do you, Lawyer? What about you, Hitchberk? Got anything short and narrow that could fit into the hole? [A drum roll starts in the distance, as everyone waits for CHASTITY to make a smutty remark.]

Austin : [To CLint] Short and narrow? [Laughs] I sincerely doubt that Hitchberk's personality could open a lock of any kind, let alone this one.

Geneva: [To Austin] How about the bony end of your finger?!

Austin : [To Geneva] Why should that work? [Looks back at the shield] In the past shields like this have always been powered by something, and if you stop the source of the power, the barrier dissapears.

Geneva: [Snaps at Austin] If you're such a genius, find the source. I'll smash it for you! [assumes impressive boxing stance for emphasis]

Stephen : We could try Austin's head, as it is nice and pointy. [Looks Austin over] Of course, it is huge.

Alice : [To Austin] Gen's got a point, Aus. You were able to touch the Heart back in Bridal Bunker, so maybe it is immune to being hurt because of er, well, [does a bit of handwaving] you know, magic and stuff.

Geveva: [Beams at Alice] Thanks, Alice! [Looks at Austin with a smirk] C'mon! Poke it in there!

Monty : [A little uncomfortable with all the uncouth talk] Er, yes. Perhaps it might be a good idea, Mr. Sleaze.

Chastity : [Nodding, to Austin] For once I think you should poke you bony appendage in the tight hole in order to give Clint some relief.

Geneva: [Snorts then suddenly says to Stephen] Wait, is the smelly guy, uh, one of your kinda people?

Stephen : If you mean is he happy, spontaneous, bright, and if he walks with a spring in his step and a song in his heart, then no, certainly not.

Alice : I think, Stephen, she meant is he an idiot?

Chastity : Oh, I thought she meant he was unable to become a member of the church.

Geneva: [Looks at the party incredulously] No! I meant, did the smelly guy and Austin ever, you know--date?!

Chastity : [Trying not to smirk] What, you already think Austin is one of Stephen's type? [Looks at Austin, shrugs] Fair enough.

Geneva: [Stunned] You mean he ISN'T?! [looks dubiously at Austin]

Chastity : Well [pauses to look at Austin] That's thing about private lives, they're private, so who knows.

Clint : [Indignantly] Hey! Let me out of here! What the hell is wrong with her?

Alice : [Sniggers] If they did, Gen, they never told us about it.

Austin : [Coldly and disturbingly calmly to Geneva] I am not homosexual. My Fiance was murdered fairly recently, and if it hadn't been for that I'd be a very happily , married man, with a very beautiful wife. [Sighs,considers the key hole, then removes his glove and examines his boney pinky. Sighs. To Clint] I hope you appreciate the danger I am putting myself in to release you Mr Scar. [Pokes his boney pinky into the keyhole carefully]

Clint : [Looking at Austin's finger] I hope you realise how close to throwing up I am, Lawyer!

[AUSTIN's finger slips in, and he moves it around some, before there is a distinct clicking sound, followed by the entire shield disappearing. The crowd give a cheer.]

Austin : Once again, Maplin is instrumental in the saving of many lives.

Chastity : [Happily] It just goes to show that Phili does indeed move in mysterious ways. [To Clint] Glad you back with us, Mr. Scar. [Looks at all the cheering crowd] I take it all these people have died back in our normal dimension.

Clint : Spot on, Sist. They were all killed by that bastard Barthelomew, although recently he's been calling himself - [CLINT is cut off by ALICE giving him a huge hug, squeezing the life out of him.]

Clint : Easy Bimbo! [Gasp] Can't ... breathe..

Clint : [Gasping for breath] Uh, [calmly, and without any difficulty] Was that once for yes and twice for no?

Stephen : Yes.

Clint : Thanks Hickberk. [Gives one wheeze]

Austin : [To Monty] I doubt it. The colonel was not killed by Bartholemew, remember? [Scoldingly] For a watcher you are not very observant. [Tuts and looks back at the people. To Clint] Well there's only one portal out of here that we know of. I wonder if this lot want to leave this place?

Clint : [Finally escaping from Alice with a gasp, and turning to Monty] Who's this? What happened to the Colonel?

Austin : [To Clint] This is Monty, he's a watcher who wants to see some of the action, so he joined us, [turns to look at Monty] so that, one day, he may become a knight. [Turns back to Clint, grimacing in a fun way] He's tea-total too.

Clint : I see you had no problems replacing me. [To Monty] Nope, we never saw anyone other than those idiot brides. What happened to the Colonel?

Alice : Dangsten killed him.

Clint : I need some cheese, some brandy and a cigar, stat!

Chastity : He has other virtues as well. [Gives Monty and encouraging smile. To Clint] The Colonel was killed as we gave battle to Dangsten and his awful band.

Chastity : Especially as the Colonels soul was dragged down by the dying Dangsten. And that doesn't even let the situation with the evil Dr. Trindle enter into the fore.

Alice : Here you go, Stinky, I kept a cigar for you.

[Hands over a battered cigar.]

Clint : [Takes the sorry looking excuse for a cigar and somehow manages to get it lit] There's no way the Colonel's here, Barthelomew has found some way of connecting himself to this dimension, so that he can keep sucking power from his victims.

Alice : [Horrified] Did he suck you too?

Clint : [Pauses for a moment, looking at his bent cigar] Er, anyway. The evil Dr. Trindle? What did he do? Sell out too Softymic?

Chastity : Apart from turning evil and invulnerable, killing me by shooting me in the head, killing Austin's new bride, giving us the means to get here and find you, and generally being an nasty piece of work, not much. He seem to believe that all the original party, or at least the second version of the party must be reunited.

Clint : From within what consumes what?

Clint : [Shocked] What? The lawyer got married? [Shakes his head] Sorry to hear about that, Sleaze. What happened to him? Something must have got to him.

Geneva: [Exasperated] We don't know!

Clint : [Still smoking his crooked cigar, producing a surprising amount of smoke as he does so, before putting on his cheesiest smile] How're you doin'? I'm Clint.

Geneva: [Gritting her teeth] Not.Interested.

Clint : [Unphased, turns to the others] How do we get out of here? [The others from the prison are heading off in all directions, including some towards the bridal bunker.]

Chastity : We have an orb that can take us out of this dimension, but we don't know if you can use this as you were already here. [Points up to the bridal bunker] Maybe we should investigate the portal in the bunker further? [Looks round at the prison area] Is there anything of note here, before we go?

Austin : [To Clint, handing him a freshly made cheesearette and a small silver hipflask] First of all, Mr. Scar, it's good to have you back. We didn't manage to replace either you or the colonel, you are both, without doubt, irreplaceable. [Straightens his cuff and puts his glove back onto Maplin's hand, very carefully] As for getting out of here, we have an orb that'll take us back. Hopefully. [Turns to Geneva] And this is Geneva, pretty handy with a knife, and pretty too, as you have already noticed. [Takes a photo out from his pocket and shows it to Clint] This was the girl I that I was going to marry, Trindle murdered her the night before the wedding [Sighs] Probably because he thought she'd split the party up if I married her. Quite why murder was the only solution he could come up with, who knows.

Clint : [Looks at Alice and Chastity to verify that Austin isn't lying] Sorry to hear that [struggles a bit] Austin. [Takes the cheeseratte] I doubt I can use your orb, Sis, but let's check the [unsure] bridal bunker?

Alice : Come on, Stinky, I'll tell you all that's been going on since you died. [Thinks for a moment] Well, almost all, [to the others] he doesn't really need to know about Stump, does he? [CLINT lights up the cheeseratte, takes a drag and lets out the loudest, most pleased sigh anyone has ever heard. Exit ALL.] [Book IV, Act VII, Scene IV. Outside The Bridal Bunker. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, GENEVA, MONTY and STEPHEN are here, as are about two hundred others, gathered around it. Amongst them is JIMMY SULLIVAN, the man who pushed MEVE against the shield. He is remonstrating with CHARITY, HONOUR and PATIENCE.]

Charity : [Under pressure] Please! You have to believe us, if we had anything, we would share it with you.

Jimmy : Liar! Where there are that many wedding gowns, there has to be food! [The crowd all loudly agree with this logic.]

Chastity : [Calling loudly and matter of factly] And also men getting punched in the face. A scene that a few of my colleague would no doubt show you, with the aid of you face. [Gives Jimmy a noted look.] We have been in here, and there is most definitely no food to be had.

Jimmy : Yeah? Who the hell are you? Give me one reason, just one good reason, just one, one [holds his finger] one good reason why we should pay any attention to you.

Chastity : Because if it weren't for this group you would still be stuck in that prison! [Pushes his hand to the side] And don't point, it's ill manners.

Jimmy : [Aggressively] Oh yeah? [Thinks for a moment] Oh. Actually, that is a good reason. [Calms down] Fair enough.

Charity : [To the party] You have to help us, what can we do for these people?

Austin : [To Charity] Well, it's probably time to find out what's on the other side of the portal. [Looks around] Other than that all you can do is allow them to shelter in your house. It's either go exploring time or jump through the portal. You all seem to be immortal here, and have no need of food or drink. Is that so?

Charity : Of course, but, well, how will they all fit?

Stephen : Build an extension or something? Where were you all going to live when you got married?

Chastity : [to Charity] You've all been waiting for a thousand years for husbands, [gestures to some of the released] and now you suddenly have a choice. This should been one of your happiest days. As a member of the cloth I could even do the ceremony.

Austin : [Helpfully to Charity] And I am qualified registrar, although strictly speaking, not for this district, but that is no concern here as I am probably the only qualified person here. [looks out into the destert] Have any of you ever explored the desert to see if there is anything else out there?

Honour : They're not our husbands, our husbands will come through the gate down below.

Patience : [To Austin] No, no one's explored the desert too much, except for Willful and Elan, but they never strayed for more than a day or so.

Austin : [To Charity and Elan (if she is there)] I take it that they did not find anything at all?

Patience : [To Monty] It all sounds very nice, but what would our real husbands think?

Charity : That's correct, they found absolutely nothing.

Patience : We're sure that things will be different once our husbands come.

Austin : [To the brides] Please excuse my inquisitivness, but what are your respective husbands to be called?

Honour : We don't know.

Patience : But we don't really need to know until they come. [Everyone is startled by STEPHEN being overcome by a fit of giggles.]

Alice : Until they come here, right?

Patience : [Momentarily confused] Er, yes.

Geneva: Oh do shut up Steven! [To the girls] Why did Wilful and Elan only stray the day?

Patience : Because what would have happened if our husbands arrived and they weren't here? It would be awful! Last from Conor #17

Geneva: [Echoing] Yes simply awful! Who are your husbands and why are you scared of them?

Honour : [Laughs at Geneva] We're not afraid of them, we just want to be with them!

Patience : [To Monty] Oh, I'm afraid you misunderstand. It's not that they won't be patient - we're sure that they will be wonderful, it's just that, well, after having waited so long, I think even we'll be a little impatient! [Laughs]

Austin : [Nodding to Patience] How will you know who your husbands are, and who's husbands are whos? Is there some kind of prearrangement?

Honour : Who's are who's? I'm not sure what you mean.

Clint : [Still smoking his stubby cigar] I think I'm starting to like this place!

Alice : [Realisation slowly dawning] How many, husbands, will be coming?

Patience : I'm sure there'll be enough.

Honour : [Excited and enthusiastic] Yes! Yes it will!

Austin : [To Clint, smiling] These lovely brides have been waiting over a thousand years for their grooms to arrive. Heaven for some, Hell to others, but I'm sure we could resolve the situation. Apparently the grooms are going to arrive through the portal in the house.

Clint : A thousand years? [Gives Honour a wink and cheesy grin] How're you doin'?

Jimmy : [Shouting at Austin] What? Are you suggesting that we just wait? Is that your idea? [Thundering] Is that your idea? That we all just stand around and wait? [Leans in close to Austin and shouts] Is it?

Austin : [To Jimmy, forcefully] No, don't be so stupid. What would standing around waiting achieve. Nothing. You should probably all go through the portal, unless you want to explore the desert, which might contain nothing at all, barring a few highly aggressive neaderthals.

Jimmy : [Furious] Then what the - oh, that makes more sense.

Chastity : and maybe you could inform any grooms waiting on the other side of the brides waiting for them. [To the party] I think we should go in, before all this dry sand makes ALice's hair all frizzy. [Glances at Alice] Oh well, we should go in anyway.

Austin : [To Chastity] An excelent idea, old girl. We should say our goodbye and then go and find the Colonel a s a p. [Goes over to Paitence] Thank you very much for your help, you have been most kind [Gives her a kiss] And I hope your groom arrives soon.

Alice : [Claps her hands on top of her head in dismay] Hey!

Patience : [To Austin] I'm sure he will.

Jimmy : [Shouts] And what about us? What about us? [Emotionally] Did [choke] anyone think of us?

Austin : [To Jimmy and the crowd] Yes, why don't you all come with us when we go through the portal.

Jimmy : No, I've a better idea. Why don't [emphasis] you come with [emphasis] us when we go through? [Steps through the party, and starts going down the steps into the bunker, before looking back up] Unless you're all too chicken? Is that it? [Shouts] Are you afraid?

Clint : Someone give me a sword so I can kill this guy.

Austin : [To Clint] I think there might be a queue for that, probably even tickets. [Hands Clint his sword (presuming we kept his less smelly stuff?)]

Clint : Thanks, Lawyer. [Takes his equipment] Hey, did someone wash this stuff? [Looks around] Where's Beau?

Jimmy : Jimmy The Hero shall advance on the portal. [Disappears into the bunker]

Austin : [To Clint] Unfortunately Alice left him stuck in the ceiling in a hotel, and now Trindle has him. [Shrugs, looking innocent] I suppose someone must have had your clothes drycleaned. [Checks his nails, then spies a drycleaning tag and quickly takes it off, scrunching it up] Don't want any nasty lables stuck to you.

Clint : [To Alice] What?

Alice : I did not! That's a total lie! Jerome took him! In fact - [ALICE is interrupted by a commotion from downstairs.]

Stephen : [Turns towards the commotion] God, what has that awful Jimmy person done now? [The party rush down into the bunker to find that there is no sign of JIMMY, but that all the brides are gathered around the doorway]

Elan : Wow! This is so exciting! He went through the gateway!

Stephen : [Laughs] Right now he's probably explaining to hundreds of husbands to be what exactly he was up to with all their future wives!

Faith : I'm sure he'll be fine. What could possibly happen to him? [JIMMY is thrown back through the gateway, looking as though he's been beaten up.]

Charity : Oh no! [Goes to his aid]

Alice : I guess they're the jealous types.

Stephen : Well, I guess it also proves that your husbands are waiting for you through the portal! [Looks at Jimmy] What's on the other side of the portal?

Austin : [To Stephen] Probably someone who doesn't have a sword, by the looks of things.

Alice : [Looks closely at the badly beaten Jimmy, before turning back to Austin] Either that or they're the most patient and tolerant people ever!

Chastity : Well he was only through there for a matter of seconds, so they probably gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Jimmy : [Bewildered at the lack of sympathy] Hey! What the hell is wrong with you people? I could have been killed there!

Dara : [Quickly steps up to Jimmy] Oh, you poor, poor man! Are you okay?

Geneva: [To Dara] You could always borrow a knife. [Taps her dagger.]

Dara : [Angrily] This man is in pain! What the hell is wrong with you?

Jimmy : [About to get up, but notices what's going on, and theatrically moans] Oh, my head! The pain!

Geneva: [Nodding wisely] Too much rum will do that to you!

Chastity : [To Dara] Ironically, it's because he's [emphasis] been such a pain that we are not panicking like you. But alright, [sighs almost reluctantly] as I'm a compassionate church member trained in healing, lets have a look. [Has a look at Jimmy to check his injuries]

Alice : [In a scolding tone] And no kicking him while he's down, Chastity. [JIMMY will live. He's badly bruised, but nothing too serious.]

Jimmy : There was a monster in there, who claimed he was waiting for his wife. Last from Conor #50

Geneva: Did he perchance mention her name?

Chastity : A [emphasis] real monster, or a man you are describing as one? And why did he assault you? I hope you were courteous to him when you went through the portal. After all you were invading his space.

Clint: [Nodding at Chastity's words] Yeah, I've found etiquette's real effect in keeping you from getting your ass kicked.

Chastity : [To Clint] Oh come on, Mr. Scar. You wouldn't know etiquette if it did kick you in your, erm, derriere. [Stands up fro Jimmy] Anyway, there's nothing wrong with this man apart from a few bruises and a poor attitude.

Jimmy : He attacked me the moment I appeared. I told him that I was a friend of the brides, but he said that only brides were allowed come through.

Alice : [To Willful] And you did try going through?

Willful : Yes, about a hundred times.

Austin : Hm, so it appears as though the very grooms that these lovely brides are waiting for are themselves waiting. Very curious.

Chastity : Unless we're in some sort of purgatory, which is possible.

Alice : I don't know Monty, maybe there's some way for them to recognise their brides? After all, no one here wants to marry you! [Notices Clint] Hang on Clint!

[Too late, CLINT disappears through the portal.]

Alice : Well now, that was stupid. Should we follow him?

Chastity : [Looking at the portal after Clint] Well, we could wait a moment to see if he pops back through here like this one here [gestures to Jimmy] but a suppose we really should go after him. That's why we're here. [Looks at the portal] Assuming he can exist on the other side, that is.

Clint: I'll handle this [attempts to enter the portal].

Jimmy : And why the hell didn't anyone come in after me? Why? Was I just to be left to my death?

Chastity : You came back through before we had time to follow. Also your ill manners made us hesitate. That's the price of rudeness.

Jimmy : Death? Death is the price of rudeness?

Dara : [Brushing his forehead] There, there. Take it easy.

Jimmy : I hardly even had a chance to speak.

Alice : [To Chastity] Then that probably explains why he made it back alive.

Austin : [To Jimmy] Why didn't you wait for us instead of rushing in there alone. [Checks his nails, then offers Jimmy a cigarette]

Jimmy : Because of all the cheering by the brides. [Points at Willful and Elan] Especially them!

Alice : [Jumps back from Clint] What happened? What's in there?

Clint: This big, green freak. He just seemed set on getting me outta there, not really like he wanted to pick a fight [takes a swig from his recently acquired flask, courtesy of Austin]. [Enter CLINT, bursting back through the portal, with a slightly bruised face]

Clint: [Nods at Jimmy] His story checks out.

Dara : Big green freak? You know, I'm sure he's a person just like you.

Mercy : That's right, maybe he was just surprised? Maybe he really was expecting a bride?

Willful : I know! I bet the portal is open, and we can just go through! [Runs to the portal, only to bounce off with a crackle of electricity which throws her to the floor] Ow. Last from Conor #66

Clint: [To Willful] You that eager to be the bride of a big, green freak?! [Brightens and wiggles his eyebrows suggestively] Hey, wanna join me for a drink? [offers Willful his flask with a big cheesy grin]

Willful : [Glares at Clint] I don't drink.

Alice : Come on, Stinky! If she didn't go for one freaky monster, what makes you think she'll go for another?

Clint: [To Stephen] I would've thought you of all people would appreciate the smell of a real man!

Alice : [In shock] Clint! What did that awful portal do to you?

Austin : [Writes 'Youre brides are through here, but they can't get through the portal from this side, please come through so that we may proceed with the wedding(s)', on a piece of paper in his note book, makes it into a paper aeroplane and throws it carefully through the portal] I hope can read.

Alice : So, you'll be not very hetero at all then?

Austin : [Picks us the piece of paper and carefully burns it. To Alice] No. Just trying to be helpful. [To the brides] Have all of you tried going through the portal, or just some of you, perhaps you have to go through in a particular order? [Ponders the portal] Most curious.

Clint: [To Stephen] Maybe we could escort these lovely ladies through? [Looks at Willful] How about it, toots? [offers her his arm]

Stephen : [Clicks his fingers] Wait a second! If every man going through the portal just ends up getting beaten up and shoved back through, how about this? We all dress as beautiful blushing brides, fool greenie into not beating us up, then escape!

Willful : I game for it! Maybe two us could squeeze through?

Faith : [To Austin] Yes, we've all tried at some stage. This is the first time we've ever seen anyone either go in or come back through.

Alice : Not unless it's your funeral, Stephen.

[CLINT and WILLFUL push into the portal, with the result that both of them are thrown back and onto the ground.]

Austin : [Peering at the two] And that, I believe, is what is known as conductivity.

Alice : [Rolls her eyes at Stephen] Any excuse, eh, Stephen?

Stephen : So, looks like it's only us who can go through. Hands up who's on the for dress idea? [Holds his hand high above his head]

Alice : Who goes first? Only one of us can fit through at a time.

Alice : Here's an even better idea, Stinky. You put on one of the dresses, and then I'll take my piping through.

Stephen : Too true! And surely even the smell of the green freak through the portal would be an improvement! [Wrinkles his nostrils in distaste]

Stephen : [Titters] My dear sir, if the smell of a real man is the smell of socks and underwear left unchanged for a thousand years, then perhaps from here on I'll be as hetero as Sleaze.

Clint: [Eyeing Alice's outfit] You gonna lend me something? [coyly raises his arms as if to stretch, allowing the once-trapped stench to spring forth unabated]

Alice : [Blanches slightly] Oh God. Hopefully that Green Freak will force me to marry him and stay there. [Leaps through the portal]

Willful : No. [Takes another run at the portal, only to suffer the same fate]

Patience : Sometimes she can keep that up for hours.

Alice : [Slowly puts her hand up] I guess I am, I mean, any idea that involves Clint wearing a dress can't be all bad, can it?

Stephen : [Watches the paper] Hmm, looks like even a big green freak knows never to accept a piece of unsolicited mail from a lawyer! So what do we do? Go through?

Clint: [Shrugs at Willful's reaction to his very generous offer. To Alice] Here's a better idea, Bimbo. You've already got all the right plumbing. Why don't YOU go through and try to talk to the green freak?!

Stephen : Well you certainly won't be wearing white, Alice!

Clint: [To Willful with a smile] Hey, looks like fate, baby. Sure you don't want to take me up on that drink?! [slips his flask out and waves it invitingly] [As if on cue, ALICE is thrown back through the portal.]

Alice : Ow! That really hurt! [Rubs her eye] There were two of them there, this time.

Geneva: Both there to be married, I presume?

Alice : I think so - one was the big green scary guy the others saw, and he did most of the talking and punching, while the other, well, he didn't say much but, well, he was a little bit like Austin, actually.

Austin : [Interested] What you mean a bit like a soul mate of mine? Or just very very handsome, well dressed, graceful, dashing, intelligent, knowlegeable, witty, [Checks his hair in his pocket mirror] and just really perfect? [Smiles in a selfsatisfied manner into his pocker mirror]

Geneva: [Looks at Austin for a moment and then replies to Alice] So what did he have to say?

Chastity : [To Austin] That would be the one that Alice assumed was the [emphasis] bride.

Alice : Actually, he just said something about how he was very very handsome, well dressed, graceful, dashing, intelligent, knowlegeable, witty, and just really perfect. Oh, and he checked his hair in his pocket mirror.

Alice : [Nods] Yeah, he was pretty unbearable.

Austin : [Chuckles at Alice's and Geneva's comments.] Well, there's only one way to find out [Steps through the portal ready to dive back if needed]

Geneva: I wonder what will happen when Austin is confronted by their own imperfections?

Chastity : [Looking round the others that have gone through the portal] Probably bruise like everyone else.

Alice : [Folds her arms, watching the portal] Now, wasnt't that a very stupid thing to do? [AUSTIN flies back into the room, bleeding from the nose.]

Stephen : [Peers at him] Well? Was meeting yourself a pleasurable experience?

Austin : [Wipes his nose. To Stephen] Well it was alot more fun than being within fifty yards of you. [Gets through a few handy wipes cleaning up the blood]

Austin : [To Monty] Unfortunatley it still reamins the case that only one person may pass through the portal at one time, hence the first person through will probably be thrown back blocking the second person attempting to pass the the portal. He's also getting very angry and the next person might be grievously harmed.

Stephen : [Arms folded and tapping his foot impatiently] I do believe that [points at himself] someone had a great idea about disguising ourselves before going through.

Clint: [Shrugs] Borrow a dress and hop on through, Hatchback! [Looks at Willful and smiles wolfishly] Lend your dress for a good cause?

Austin : [To Stephen] He's not blind. He'll probably kill you if you try.

Willful : Sure. [Points at him mock angrily] But don't you dare look better in it than I do!

Alice : [To Faith] What do you say, Faith? Wanna swap?

Faith : Of course. I just know that this is going to work.

Austin : [To Chastity] If you really think that the freak is going to mistake a short fat ugly homosexual transvestite with the grace of a hippo, for his long awaited bride then go ahead.

Chastity : [To Austin] With the veil down and his gait, it should at least be enough in distract him long enough for us to quickly follow through.

Alice : [In the middle of taking off her cardigan, turns and looks at Austin, shocked, as though she's about to burst into tears] I thought we were all going to do it.

Stephen : [To Austin] Then it's probably just as well you're not going in first, isn't it? Mrs. Sleaze?

Clint: [To Alice] No sense in all of us doing it at once! We gotta see if it works first, don't we? [gives Alice an arm-punch of encouragement]

Alice : [Gives Clint her dirtiest look] Yeah. Whatever. It's not like I wanted to wear the stupid thing anyway. [Folds her arms, sulking]

Geneva : Let me get this straight. Clint is going to wear a wedding dress before stepping through the portal?

Clint: [To Geneva] No, the pretty, pretty princess is going first [jabs a finger toward Stephen]. Right? [Looks at the others, trying to keep the look of panic out of his eyes] [ALICE's face lights up on hearing the "pretty princess" remark, but she is soon deflated again.]

Stephen : Are you sure, Stinky? I thought it was you. Of course, if you're afraid of being tempted into the lifestyle, then sure, I'll go.

Clint: [Roaring] Someone give me a damn dress!

Alice : [Reaches into her backback and takes out the tiny sparkly circus outfit she had from the pyramid cycling act, which barely fit her, and has no chance of getting anywhere near Clint] Here.

Austin : [To Alice] That's no wedding dress. At least nothing like anyone I know has worn to a wedding. [Grimaces at the dress]

Chastity : [Looking from the skimpy sequined gusset of the outfit to Clint] Although it would probably make the monster hesitate enough to get us all through, should Clint wear it. [Hesitantly] Although I'm not sure we would be following quite so closely as we could, but I know I'd definitely want to be behind him.

Alice : [Stuffing it back in] Fine. But let me just get this straight, we;re basically going to get the least feminine member of the party to pretend to be a bride? We might as well get Chastity to go in! [WILLFUL slips out of her dress with surprising speed, and hands it over to CLINT.]

Clint : [Starts taking off his own clothes] Cheer up, Alice, white's not really your colour anyway.

Alice : [Looks at Clint's filthy clothes] And it is yours, I suppose? [To the others] So what happens now? We follow the bride down the aisle?

Clint: [Takes the outfit from Alice and holds it up to Willful from a safe distance] Hey, this'd be a good look for you, baby!

Chastity : Well at least rush through the portal looking like a desperate bridal party. [Glancing at Clint before turning away in a grimace] And there can't be any more a desperate bride.

Alice : I'll go in second. To see the monster punching the bride if nothing else.

Clint: [Looking dubiously at the ill-fitting dress] Anybody got a veil? The heavier, the better.

Alice : [As a number of veils are handed out to the now dress wearing Clint] It's pretty much the same as here, Monty. The area in front of the portal is quite tight, but if Clint manages to distract the monster with his girlish charms, I'm sure I'll be able to slip passed. The best bet for the rest of you is to either go to the left or the right, as the monster is standing right in front.

Clint: [To Alice] Hell, I've been watching you long enough to know all the sluttiest moves, Bimbo! He won't be able to resist me! [lifts his skirt daintily and extends a hairy leg out in a fetching manner]

Chastity : [Recoiling and covering her eyes] That had better be your leg you're displaying. Come on, lets go. The sooner this ugly scene is over the better, It is not doing the image of the sanctity of marriage any favours.

Clint: [To Chastity, sympathetically] Been that long for you, has it Sist? [once fully veiled and dressed in wedding attire, attempts to enter the portal yet again]

Chastity : [About to say something but Clint disappears too quickly] Pah, he know better than that. [Looks to the others] Best follow in. We don't want him to get punched in the face [emphasis] too many times! [Follows Clint through, braking right once through]

Alice : [Picks up the train and following Clint through] Right, everyone stay behind me. [CLINT disappears through the portal followed immediately by ALICE, then MONTY, who reappears almost instantly, clearly being pushed back in by ALICE, who has been unceremoniously thrown back in.]

Alice : What? What kind of [huge emphasis] would prefer Clint in a dress to me?

Stephen : What happened?

Alice : He seemed kind of taken with Stinky, and, well, less so with me.

Geneva: [Disturbed] HOW taken?! I mean, is Clint the green freak's new boyfriend??

Alice : [Dismissively] Don't be ridiculous, Gen. [Dead serious] Clint's his new girlfriend.

Stephen : Ahem. You know, Monty, I would have thought that even you would have seen the pattern by now. No dress, big green man go punchy. Dress, big green man go all happy. Now, why don't we all go?

Geneva: [Shudders at the idea of the unholy union of Clint and Mean Green] All right, someone lend me a dress, too! Something swashbuckley, please!

Alice : Let's wear some dresses!

[In a few quick movements, the party (including AUSTIN and MONTY) are changed and wearing gowns, with varying degrees of success and discomfort.]

Alice : [To the general crowd] How do we look?

Jimmy : [Angrily] Hey! Where's my dress?

Stephen : Hmm. Looks like Stinky has found true love at last! [Wipes a tear from his eye] I'm not crying, it's just that Clint smells so acrid my eyes are watering! [Does a jig] Well, shall us brides to be take a walk down the aisle?

Dan : [Points angrily at Stephen] That's because you're a girl, and girls don't know shit.

Stephen : [Waves at Dan] Er, here we are, but I thought it was us girls who wear the veils?

[Book IV, Act VII, Scene VI. Beyond the portal. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, MONTY, GENEVA and STEPHEN are here, having just stepped through the portal. Also here are CLINT, still in his wedding dress, and BIG DAN, a peculiar looking monster type wearing a KKK type hood. BIG DAN is holding onto CLINT, who, despite looking quite uncomfortable is still smoking a cigar. This is another bunker, which is virtually identical to that of the Brides.]

Dan : Brides! More brides! [Lets go of Clint, and turns behind him] Brides!

Jimmy : What? [Even more loudly] Why can't I come?

Alice : Because you're an idiot, and if the monster doesn't kill you, we probably will.

[Exit the party through the portal.]

Stephen : [To Jimmy, putting down his veil] Improvise!

Stephen : [Waves at Dan] Er, here we are, but I thought it was us girls who wear the veils?

Geneva: [Fidgeting uncomfortably and searching her dress for places to tuck daggers] Let's get moving! I'm already sick of wearing this thing.

Clint: [Quickly moves away from Big Dan. To the party] About damn time!

Stephen : [Fans his face with his veil] My, how forceful! [Quietly] I wonder why he needed a catalog bride! [Has a quick glance around for exits]

Alice : [To Clint] Did you miss us?

[Enter LUCAN GECKO, a stylishly dressed rakish fellow, in through the only exit. He is smoking a cigarette on with a long holder, and stops on the stairs, smelling the flower in his buttonhole.]

Lucan : Ah, our lovely brides. I hope Big Dan hasn't been too oafish

Clint: [Throws his arm around Geneva to give her a too-tight, smelly hug] Thanks! [To Lucan] Sooo, just you two, eh? Nobody else around?

Lucan : How many lovely ladies have we got? [Gets a bit closer, and does a double take on Clint] Oh. [Looks around at Austin, Monty and Stephen, before giving a little laugh] I'm sure your fathers are rich. [Gives a wink towards Alice and Geneva] Well, hello.

Lucan : [Points at Big Dan with his cigarette] There's one, oafish though he is. [Gestures to himself] Here's another. Ready to please all the lovely ladies.

Clint: [To Lucan] So, where are the grooms?

Stephen : Well, erm, perhaps a little gruff, but I put that down to first date nerves!

Geneva: [Controlling her urge to make a gagging noise.] Yes, well. [Points at Clint.] Please [emphasis] her first.

Geneva: [Does make the gagging noise this time as she wrests herself away from Cliff.] Arrrgh. You're lucky I don't have my dagger in this dress.

Lucan : [Gives a smarmy and slightly sinister smile] Oh yes, dear ladies. My other brothers are outside, they are simply dying to meet you all. You know, we have been waiting a long time for you.

Dan : [Points angrily at Clint and Geneva] Hey! Lesbians!

Lucan : [With an even more smarmy smile as he takes a drag of his cigarette] Excellent!

Geneva: [Smiling, with clenched teeth] Where's. My. Dagger?

Lucan : Big Dan, please, you are scaring our brides. [Gets a little closer] Although, I must say, I'm a little scared myself. [BIG DAN does back off a little.] Big Dan : There sure are a lot of fat brides.

Clint : [Slaps Big Dan across the face, still chewing on his cigar] You sexist pig! Last from Conor #14

Geneva: [To Clint, conversational, interested.] What's your weapon of choice other than bad odoursl? [To Dan] Who are you calling fat? And besides, do you have to get married? [To Alice] Is it written in the stars?

Austin : [To Geneva] Well he's had ten thousand years to arrange the stars however he likes, so it probably is ...

Geneva: Well, I spent most of my life navigating by stars, and I can tell you: he couldn't arrange a pissup in a brewery! [Considers] Unless there were a lot of other lawyers involved!

Austin : [Look at Geneva] Do you know this guy? [Frowns] And why would you need a Lawyer to help organise a pissup in a brewery? [Chuckles] You do seem to have lead a rather complicate life. When ever I had a pissup, all we needed was thirty cases of bubbly.

Geneva: Yes! That's precisely because you should be wearing [Indicates the gown with an air of distaste] this!

Alice : [Bewildered at Geneva] Er, is what written in the stars?

Dan : [Points at Clint] Her. [At Chastity ] And her. [To Geneva] You talk funny. I like you.

Lucan : My my, this is all very exciting. [Bows] Please, lovely ladies, accept my apologies for your welcome, Perhaps you would like to go into the garden and meet the others?

Chastity : [To Dan] I'll have you know I'm not fat, I'm in the prime of my life.

Austin : [Not even trying for be feminine. To Lucan] Sure. [Casually] Why don't you shave off that terrible moustache? It makes you look like a gay biker. It very last decade. [Checks his nails briefly, then looks back for an answer]

Lucan : [Approaching the party] Please, please, ladies, you must excuse Big Dan. We had a number of incursions through the portal this morning, and he got very excited. He's also quite stupid, aren't you, Dan? [Looks over the group, clearly checking out any jewelry that they have] Very nice. that's what it is,

Chastity : [Slightly uneasily] Lets get outside.

Clint: [Nods] I'm with you, Sister. [Keeps a close eye on Big Dan]

Chastity : [To Monty] I wonder if we'll find the Colonel on this side of the portal. ALthough there is still the conection with Dangsten at his demise.

Alice : You know, Chas, I'm starting to wonder that myself. After all, I can understand why we could find Stinky in the other place, but how likely is it that Barthelomew's dimension has a link with Dangsten's?

[The party move towards the stairs.]

Lucan : [Sleazily] The others will be very [pause] excited to see you.

Clint: [To Lucan] Yeah, it should be a lot of fun for all of us!

Lucan : Indeed.

[The party follow LUCAN up the stairs and are soon out in the open air. This place is the opposite of where the brides were, and is absolutely beautiful, with lush vegetation and scenic views. There is another man here, dressed in a nice suit. This is EMILE WILKINS III, and he appears to be holding a skull.]

Emile : [With a hugely friendly manner] How're ya doin'? Isn't this just the best? A beautiful day in a beautiful garden with beautiful brides! I'm Emile Wilkins III, I hope my colleagues have been treating you well.

Clint: [Awkwardly] Hiya, Emile. I'm uh, Clintessa. [Starts to offer a hairy hand but opts for an unsteady curtsy instead] Hi folks, Stripper, the game logger, is currently out of operation. This was caused by network problems at UL, which have brought it down because my mail comes in on one machine, and all the website stuff and Stripper itself all reside on another one. Although the problems have been going on since yesterday afternoon GMT, Stripper doesn't seem to have been affected until an hour or so ago. As you can see from the quoted text below, our technicians are on the case and are enthusiastically trying to solve it, and sent out the following mail approximately 18 hours after the majority of the university network went down: Quoting Conor Ryan : D

Emile : Good! Good! [Shakes Clint's hand] It sure is a pleasure to meet you, Clintessa. My, but that's a firm handshake you've got! [Smiles at Monty] Ah, the blushing bride! We sure have been waiting a long time for you girls.

Alice : [To Chastity, obviously intended to be a whisper, but, sadly, far too loudly] I can't believe they don't realise that there are men here, just wearing the dresses.

Lucan : [Smiles to Alice] It's okay, honey, we don't care if you're a man or not.

Alice : Oh, thanks. [Dismayed] Hey!

Austin : [Sighs] Oh great, they don't even care. [To Lucan] COuld you show us where the powder room is please.

Clint: [Nods at Alice] You do have a little hair starting to sprout [gestures to Alice's upper lip]. Happens sometimes, when broads get older.

Lucan : Ah! A little [holds one nostril closed and gives a sniff] eh? Excellent! The powder room is just over there. [Points at a huge and beautiful mansion which is just a hundred feet away, with a beautiful garden leading up to it]

Emile : It's a terribly dangerous path, though, so perhaps we should escort you, and keep you safe. We wouldn't want anything happening to our brides on the day they arrived now, would we?

Austin : [To Emile] Okay, lets go [To the others] Anyone else need to visit the powder room?

Alice : [Horrified] What? [Covers her mouth with her hand for a moment, before taking it down, and, then, trying waaay too hard to sound nonchalant] I mean, whatever are you talking about, Clint.

Emile : Well -

Alice : [Quickly interrupting] Essa!

Emile : [Unphased by the interruption] Well, I like it! [Gives Alice a big hug]

Alice : [Looking at the others over Emile's shoulder, not sure if she's been insulted or not] What do - [a really puzzled look comes over her before she addresses Emile] what are you doing?

Clint: [Quickly tries get between Alice and Emile, attempting to pry him off of her] Hey, save it for the honeymoon, Emile!

Alice : [Quickly and loudly] Yes! [Calms herself] I mean, sure, why not?

Emile : [Pulls back from Alice and gives her a smile] Just trying to make you feel better. [Glances at Alice's necklace, which he now has in his hand, and slips it into his pocket] Let's go. [Takes Alice by the arm and leads the party towards the house]

Dan : I want a woman.

Emile : [Deftly takes Clint's arm, and gently swings him around so he is on one arm, and Alice on the other] That's okay, Clintessa, there's plenty of Emile for all of you. [Big smile] Isn't this just dandy?

Chastity : [Gesturing towards Stephen, To Dan] Well she will need escourting. [Follows Emile and Alice] I say! We saw what happened to Alice's necklace, by the way.

Dan : [Sounding a bit like Animal from the Muppets] Woman! [Grabs Stephen]

Stephen : [Screaming more girlishly than any woman] Ow! [Settles down] My, that's a tight fitting scary white hood you're wearing.

Alice : [Gives Chastity a puzzled look, before feeling her neck] Hey!

Emile : [With a wink and a smile] Just going to get it cleaned for you.

Chastity : [Slightly uneasily] Lets get outside.

Clint: [Nods] I'm with you, Sister. [Keeps a close eye on Big Dan]

Chastity : [To Monty] I wonder if we'll find the Colonel on this side of the portal. ALthough there is still the conection with Dangsten at his demise.

Alice : You know, Chas, I'm starting to wonder that myself. After all, I can understand why we could find Stinky in the other place, but how likely is it that Barthelomew's dimension has a link with Dangsten's?

[The party move towards the stairs.]

Lucan : [Sleazily] The others will be very [pause] excited to see you.

Clint: [To Lucan] Yeah, it should be a lot of fun for all of us!

Lucan : Indeed.

[The party follow LUCAN up the stairs and are soon out in the open air. This place is the opposite of where the brides were, and is absolutely beautiful, with lush vegetation and scenic views. There is another man here, dressed in a nice suit. This is EMILE WILKINS III, and he appears to be holding a skull.]

Emile : [With a hugely friendly manner] How're ya doin'? Isn't this just the best? A beautiful day in a beautiful garden with beautiful brides! I'm Emile Wilkins III, I hope my colleagues have been treating you well.

Clint: [Awkwardly] Hiya, Emile. I'm uh, Clintessa. [Starts to offer a hairy hand but opts for an unsteady curtsy instead] Hi folks, Stripper, the game logger, is currently out of operation. This was caused by network problems at UL, which have brought it down because my mail comes in on one machine, and all the website stuff and Stripper itself all reside on another one. Although the problems have been going on since yesterday afternoon GMT, Stripper doesn't seem to have been affected until an hour or so ago. As you can see from the quoted text below, our technicians are on the case and are enthusiastically trying to solve it, and sent out the following mail approximately 18 hours after the majority of the university network went down: Quoting Conor Ryan : D

Emile : Good! Good! [Shakes Clint's hand] It sure is a pleasure to meet you, Clintessa. My, but that's a firm handshake you've got! [Smiles at Monty] Ah, the blushing bride! We sure have been waiting a long time for you girls.

Alice : [To Chastity, obviously intended to be a whisper, but, sadly, far too loudly] I can't believe they don't realise that there are men here, just wearing the dresses.

Lucan : [Smiles to Alice] It's okay, honey, we don't care if you're a man or not.

Alice : Oh, thanks. [Dismayed] Hey!

Austin : [Sighs] Oh great, they don't even care. [To Lucan] COuld you show us where the powder room is please.

Clint: [Nods at Alice] You do have a little hair starting to sprout [gestures to Alice's upper lip]. Happens sometimes, when broads get older.

Lucan : Ah! A little [holds one nostril closed and gives a sniff] eh? Excellent! The powder room is just over there. [Points at a huge and beautiful mansion which is just a hundred feet away, with a beautiful garden leading up to it]

Emile : It's a terribly dangerous path, though, so perhaps we should escort you, and keep you safe. We wouldn't want anything happening to our brides on the day they arrived now, would we?

Austin : [To Emile] Okay, lets go [To the others] Anyone else need to visit the powder room?

Alice : [Horrified] What? [Covers her mouth with her hand for a moment, before taking it down, and, then, trying waaay too hard to sound nonchalant] I mean, whatever are you talking about, Clint.

Emile : Well -

Alice : [Quickly interrupting] Essa!

Emile : [Unphased by the interruption] Well, I like it! [Gives Alice a big hug]

Alice : [Looking at the others over Emile's shoulder, not sure if she's been insulted or not] What do - [a really puzzled look comes over her before she addresses Emile] what are you doing?

Clint: [Quickly tries get between Alice and Emile, attempting to pry him off of her] Hey, save it for the honeymoon, Emile!

Alice : [Quickly and loudly] Yes! [Calms herself] I mean, sure, why not?

Emile : [Pulls back from Alice and gives her a smile] Just trying to make you feel better. [Glances at Alice's necklace, which he now has in his hand, and slips it into his pocket] Let's go. [Takes Alice by the arm and leads the party towards the house]

Dan : I want a woman.

Emile : [Deftly takes Clint's arm, and gently swings him around so he is on one arm, and Alice on the other] That's okay, Clintessa, there's plenty of Emile for all of you. [Big smile] Isn't this just dandy?

Chastity : [Gesturing towards Stephen, To Dan] Well she will need escourting. [Follows Emile and Alice] I say! We saw what happened to Alice's necklace, by the way.

Dan : [Sounding a bit like Animal from the Muppets] Woman! [Grabs Stephen]

Stephen : [Screaming more girlishly than any woman] Ow! [Settles down] My, that's a tight fitting scary white hood you're wearing.

Alice : [Gives Chastity a puzzled look, before feeling her neck] Hey!

Emile : [With a wink and a smile] Just going to get it cleaned for you.

Lucan : [Takes Geneva by the arm and smiles sleazily at Austin] And soon, we all will be.

[The group walk to the mansion, which looks fantastic. The door is opened by ALEC SMART, a handsome looking young man dressed is a suit that would make AUSTIN jealous. He has clearly spent a lot of time on his hair.]

Alec : [Checks himself out in a tiny pocket mirror, before smiling at the party] Ah! The brides really are here. Who will be the lucky one tonight?

Chastity : [Looking at Emile's antics. To Clint] Not for long, dear. [To Emile] Will you stop that! A bride cannot be involved in any [pauses] unpleasantness until after the ceremony. That's just the way things are!

Clint: [Tries to slip out of Emile's loving embrace] Let me go! I'm an innocent virgin! [swats girlishly at Emile while puffing furiously on his cigar]

Emile : [Playfully] Oh! Not for long, Lover!

Alec : [Starts coming down the steps at the front of the house] Well now. My name's Alec and I - [catches a glimpse of his reflection in one of the windows and pauses, giving it an approving look] Oh yeah! [Looks at the party] Who's the loveliest lady here?

Alice : [Mutters to herself] That would be you.

Dan : [Angrily to Chastity] Shut up, bitch! We're going to tell you how things are, and if you don't like it, I'm gonna mess you up.

Emile : [Good naturedly] Dan, Dan, Dan! Please! Let's not threaten these lovely ladies. [Bows slightly to Chastity] My good lady, I wouldn't dream of doing anything against your wishes. Ceremony?

Alec : [Feeling flexing biceps on one arm and feeling them with his other hand] For the lovely ladies being taken by the Smartinator will be a religious, and no doubt ceremonial occasion.

Austin : [Following Emile, Alice and Clintessa] Well it couldn't get much dirtier. [Sees Stephen with Dan] At least someone is enjoying themselves.

Austin : [Watching Alec] My god, how incredibly vain! [To Lucan] So this powder room, is it near?

Lucan : [As the group head in through the door] Just in here, my sweet.

[The hallway is magnificent, with a huge staircase leading up, and several doors leading off, including one that LUCAN gestures to.]

Alec : Making yourselves beautiful for a shot of vitamin A, no doubt! Oh yeah! [Does a few pelvic thrusts]

Alice : [Looks at him distastefully] Actually, I'm going in to throw up.

Alec : Good call, baby, no one likes a fat girl! [Does another thrust] Hoooo-yah!

Chastity : [To Alice] do you think there is something about this place that breeds odious characters?

Clint: [Watching Alec with disgust. To Austin] OUR soul-mates?! What makes you think that?

Austin : [To Chastity] I have a disturbing feeling that this lot maybe some form of soul mates. The kind you don't like.

Austin : [To Clint] No, definitely not our soul mates, at least I hope not, they don't look nearly similar enough to us, but they do seem to be [Ponders] a party.

Alice : [To Clint, nodding first in the direction of Alec and then Austin] Come on, Clint! What makes you think that they're not!

Clint: [Considers Alec and Austin for a moment. To Alice] Yeah, now that you mention it, they do both turn my stomach in exactly the same way.

Geneva: Awww Aussies not so bad - he said he likes daggers!

Austin : [Loudly enough for the men to hear] He? Who's he?

[LUCAN opens one of the doors, and there is a large bathroom beyond.]

Lucan : Here we go, lovely ladies. I will make sure that Neville isn't manning the peep hole.

Geneva: [Mumbles quietly] A dagger in the eye is a sure cure for that!

Alice : [As the door closes behind the party, leaving them alone] Come on, Gen, no one's going to believe you're a woman if you keep talking like that!

Geneva: [Ignoring Aice and pulling at her dress.] I hate this thing! At least I've still got me spare daggers kind of handy in my boot. [Looks around the room to see if she can see any means of people spying on them.] [The bathroom is quite large, and has a number of basins and mirrors, as well as a few stalls. A quick search reveals that there are no obvious spyholes.]

Clint : [Stepping into one of the stalls, lifting up the hem of his dress to go to the toilet, but leaving the door open so he can talk to the others] Hey, this is great, I always wondered what girls get upto when they go into the bathroom together.

Alice : Oh, for God's sake, Clint. It's [speaks up to be heard over the incredibly loud noise being made by Clint] It's just perfectly innocent. [Pulls a hip flask out of her stocking and puts it up on one of the sinks] I don't know why people think otherwise. [Slips a silver cigarette case out of the other, and takes a cheeseratte out] Now, [pops the cheeseratte in her mouth as she slips her parmesan stash from inside her bra] which of those toilet lids looks the cleanest?

Clint: [From his stall] Hey, lawyer! Once your done powdering your nose, why don't you see if you can find a way outta this joint?!

Chastity : [Looks puzzled at Alice for a moment, before saying somewhat hopefully] You're going to clean the toilet?

Alice : Nah, no need. They're porcelain, so a quick wipe will do.

Austin : Find a way out? [Points at the door] There it is. Perhaps we should endeavour to figure out what is actually going on here, first.

Clint: [Still in his stall] All right. What do we got? Bunch a brides. Bunch a grooms, none too choosy. What's all this got to do with Bartholemew? How about you, egghead? Any ideas? [points at Monty fruitlessly, considering no one is likely anywhere near the stall door or looking in if they can help it]

Alice : [Catching something out of the corner of her eye] Ew! What did he just point?

Monty : Ahem. It seems clear that the barren place we have just come from is that way for some reason related to the unrequited brides. We need to establish where we are now, and why it appears so lush. [Thoughtfully] And why the grooms are waiting for the brides.

Clint: [Exits his stall, looking disturbingly pleased with himself] Clogged it! [strolls over to the sink and considers whether or not his hands are dirty enough to warrant washing]

Alice : [Distastefully to Clint] You must be very proud.

Chastity : If these are the grooms that Patience and the others are waiting for, I'm afraid they're in for a nasty surprise.

Austin : [To Chastity] I'm not so sure they really cared. After ten thousand years of waiting for a groom you'd probably just be please with anything you got that vaguely resembled a groom. [Ponders] What occurs to me is that these grooms probably have the 'Heart' for this world, and it's probably big and active. Perhaps if we bring the heart from the brides world then unite the two, the brides will be able to pass through the portal. [Shrugs as he adjusts his strap to a slightly more comfortable position]

Stephen : So what are we going to say to these guys? They think we're the brides.

Alice : And, you're er, concerned about this? Happy?

Clint: [Snorts] 'bout time someone made an honest woman of you, Hinchberk!

Stephen : And what kind of woman are you, Clint?

Clint: [To Stephen] Ha! Just watch what happens if one of those grooms tries to find out! [demonstrates classic knee-to-the-groin maneuver on a phantom groom with violent glee]

Alice : Clearly a move that's been applied to you on a number of occasions, Stinky!

Chastity : Oh, do be quiet, all of you. We have more important thing to discuss than the preservation of Mr. Scar's [pause] innocence. What, if anything, are we going to say to these people?

Austin : [To Chastity] Well, you could tell them the truth, but they probably respond to the truth overly well, and you probably won't be able to tell them the truth anyway. [Rolls his eyes at the predicament] We could change back to our normal clothes.

Chastity : Won't be able to tell them the truth? What nonsense you spout, Mr. Sleaze.

Alice : Why don't we see if we can get a look at their heart?

Austin : [To Alice] Well I suggested that already but no one seemed to be very interested. [Sighs. To Alice] Let's go see if we can get a peek then. [Goes over to the door and waits for the others]

Clint: [Joins Austin by the door to wait for the rest of the party] Aw, get your feelings hurt, did ya?! Maybe it's about time someone made an honest woman of you, too, lawyer!

Alice : [Playfully slaps Clint on the arm] Leave Austina alone! Tut! On her special day and all!

Stephen : Well I for one think it's a bad idea to change back into our ordinary clothes! Those grooms would rip us apart for fooling with their affections so! [Sighs] Well, we certainly can't get married today, as it's very bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding, so we'll have to wait until tomorrow, giving us the whole night to scope the place out!

Alice : [Nods] I know, Stevie. Imagine their surprise when they find out you're not a real man. I mean, woman.

Stephen : [Adjusts his bosom] Well at least I don't whistle when I walk!

Alice : Stephen, nobody whistles when you walk.

Stephen : [Wipes a sudden tear] I know, no matter how many building sites I stroll past, or how many times I stroll past them! So, what are we going to do?

Clint: Hmm. Get you some sluttier clothes, I guess!

Stephen : You know Stinky, now you're really starting to scare me!

Clint: [With mock outrage] What! I can't be supportive?! [Stifles a snort and gets back to business with a sigh] Alright. I say we stay in disguise for now and start looking for the Heart. [Adds hopefully] Anyone else got a better idea?

Clint: [To Alice] Well?!

[ALICE holds her hand up.]

Alice : [Puts her hand down, shaking her head] No. I don't have a better idea.

Stephen : Well then, where should we start looking?

Stephen : It could be anywhere! Or anything! I suppose the head is as good a place to start.

Clint: Reckon it might be in that skull Emile carries around?

Alice : So, why don't we get Emile's favourite bride to cosy up a little and get a look? [Gives Clint a wink] I seem to remember he had a soft spot for you.

Clint: Yeah, but I seem to remember he had a significantly less than [huge emphasis with a leer thrown in for good measure] soft spot for you, if you know what I mean. I do believe this is the kind of work you were built for, Bimbo, so why don't we let you "handle" him? [crosses arms smugly and smirks at Alice]

Geneva: Ok, settle down. Alice, do you think you can keep him entertained while we look for the skull? I can give you one of my daggers if it would make you feel safer!

Alice : [Reeling from Clint's horrific suggestion] I'd feel a lot safer, Gen, if you'd stick one of your daggers in [points at Clint] his belly!

Clint: [Paternalistically] Now, you know Uncle Clint's just funning with you, girl. [Re-adjusts his ill-fitting dress and says to the party, with grim determination] Let's go find Emile.

Alice : [Looks Monty up and down] Yes, I suppose being able to wear the dress does make up for having to put up with us.

[Exit ALL.]

[Book IV, Act VII, Scene VII. The Hallway. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, GENEVA, MONTY and STEPHEN are here, having just exited the powder room. Waiting outside are the three that the party met previously, EMILE, BIG DAN and ALEC, as well as four more. They are FURIOUS ADAM, a huge man almost seven foot tall, GHUFRAN, who looks rather like a demon, NEVILLE, a nervous looking officious sort, who hardly even looks at the party, and DEAD FRED, a well built and healthy looking man with a particularly large tie.]

Emile : [Genially] Ah, here they are, our lovely brides.

Ghufran : [Menacingly] Was it really necessary to keep us waiting for this long? Bitches.

Adam : [Very, very calmly] Welcome. You should know, however, that we are quite angry.

Fred : [Big smile and a wave] Hi there! Fred's the name, Dead Fred. Fred by name and Dead by nature! [Roars laughing]

Alice : Er, nice tie, Dead Fred.

Geneva: [Trying to muster up a bright smile] Why the impatience? What's a few minutes more?

Ghufran : Why the delay? [Menacingly] Why are you trying to piss us off? Maybe we should torture our [distastefully] wives before the wedding?

Clint : [To the party] Unlike the usual system where the torture is done by the wives after the the wedding.

[Cue a drum roll and applause from the audience.]

Alice : [Slaps Clint across the face] You're a big, Clint. Last from Conor #3

Geneva: [To Ghufran] You wouldn't happen to like knife fighting would you? [Very very quietly to the party.] Do you think if I detain the angry boy, you could get the.. err... item you were looking for?

Adam : [Steps up in front of Geneva, towering over her, but still very calm] I am the most violent one here. I will fight you.

Alice : That depends. If by "detain" you mean get killed by, then no.

Geneva: [Looking up at Adam, drawing her veil coquettishly over her face.] Oh! no that's not what I meant at all! What I meant was .. is why is it so important that we marry you now? I mean.. there's no hurry. Perhaps we could grab a drink, talk a while beforehand. [Clutches her waist where her dagger lies, out of reach under the white gown.]

Adam : [Still unnervingly calm] What do we need to talk about? We have worlds to fertilise.

Alice : [Horrified] We're not going to be shovelling stuff, are we?

Alec : [Does a pelvic thrust] Oh baby! If it's a euphemism for doin' the deed of love, then we certainly are.

Emile : [Claps his hands together] Let's all go to the orgy room.

Clint: [To Austin, in a low voice] I would never have thought those words could fill me with dread. Curse this place!

Austin : Indeed, Mr. Scar. However, given how much smoother my skin is than [looks around the other party members] well, all of yours, I suspect I will no doubt be deemed the most attractive.

Fred : [Approaching the party with a friendly smile] Hey there! Ever done it with a dead guy?

Stephen : Now just hold on a second! We can't marry you today, it's bad luck to see the bride on the day of the wedding, so no, no way about it, the marriage will have to wait until tomorrow!

Alec : [To Stephen] That's okay, baby, I don't want to marry you, I just want to screw your brains out. [Does a pelvic thrust] Hooooo-ya!

Stephen : [Blush can be seen even through the veil] Oh you beastly man! There'll be none of that hanky panky until we're married!

Chastity : [Raises her eyebrows at Monty] Purity? [Looks around at each of the party] Ye-es. Good point, Montoinette.

Dan : [Grabs Stephen by the arm and pulls him close] We can do the ceremony later. [Gives a big smile, causing Monty to wilt a little]

Clint: [Sidles up to Emile and suggestively strokes his skull] Hey, Big Daddy, whatcha got here?

Stephen : [Tries to pull away] My dear sir, what kind of a lady do you take me for? First the wedding, then the afters! We've all waited this long, we can wait one more day, can't we? It would mean so much to us all, wouldn't it girls!

Alice : [Taking a loooong time to answer] Er, yes. Yes it would.

Adam : [Steps up close to Stephen, still very calm] I am very, very angry. I am starting to believe that you are not brides at all.

Emile : [Chuckles at Clint] You don't have to call me Big Daddy, just Daddy will do, sweetie. [Lifts up the skull] This old thing? It belongs to a fake bride, boy, was she surprised when we cut her head off. You should have seen the expression on her face. [Holds the skull up beside his own face, and laughs.] [If the heart really is in the skull, it must be wedged in there, because EMILE doesn't appear to be holding anything in it.]

Stephen : [Very nervously] Well of course we're not brides...yet! That's the whole problem, isn't it! At the moment we're just a gang of spinsters, awaiting to be made brides!

Chastity : [To Emile] My goodness! I suppose that certainly is one way to get a little head! On Tue, 1 Feb 2005, Colin Dinan wrote:

Dan : [Throwing Stephn over his shoulder] Not for much longer.

Emile : [Laughs good naturedly at Chastity] Excellent! Very good! Now, you know, I think it's time we go to the orgy room. [Big smile] We're going to have a tip top time, and then our awful worlds will be fertile. What a time we're going to have. We might even play a game of miniature golf afterwards.

Ghufran : Misdirected? She was a lying bitch who had to be killed. She tried to fool us.

Neville : It was a all very scary.

Ghufran : [Rolls his eyes] He's lying, like he always does. [Grabs Clint by the arm] Now come on.

Adam : [Swiftly picks up Alice, who gives a startled scream as her dress falls over her head] Emile's a liar. It is much better to simply threaten your enemies with violence.

Emile : Oh, you guys! [Sheepishly to the party] But it was fun lie!

Stephen : [Struggling and thumping Dan on the back] Let me go, you brute! Crikey, this reminds me of my wild young days in Studio 45!

Chastity :

Clint: [To Ghufran] How'd you find the lying bitch out?

Emile : [Smiles paternally] You girls and your ceremonies! Come on, we're going to have a great time.

[The GROOMS move quickly, and soon each party member has been picked up, all with surprising ease. DAN has STEPHEN, GHUFRAN has CLINT, DEAD FRED has MONTY, FURIOUS ADAM has ALICE, LUCAN has CHASTITY, EMILE has GENEVA, and ALEC has AUSTIN, and the entire group start heading towards a large double doors. NEVILLE is the only groom without a bride.]

Alec : [To Austin] Careful, babe, you don't wanna mess up my hair.

Chastity : [To Lucan] This seeding of worlds thing, I don't suppose you expect us to be expert gardeners or suchlike?

Stephen : Wait! Shouldn't we all get to know each other a bit better first? A candlelight dinner? A midnight stroll along the river? A picnic in the countryside?

Emile : Sure, sure! Whatever. [Opens the double doors, to reveal a large room with a small platform in the middle, about three feet high. On top is a box indentical to the one the brides had]

[All the grooms deposit the brides down, reasonably gently, and stand back by the door.]

Lucan : Okay, lovely ladies. [Gives a little wave at the box] Off you go.

Clint: [To Ghufran, starting to get nervous] So, what are you into, uh, ya big hunk?

Stephen : Er...okay. [Fixes his dress and turns to the others] Lets do some world seeding, ladies! [Walks towards the box]

Chastity : [A little disappointed] Can we have a little privacy, please?

Ghufran : [To Clint] Revenge. Extracting horrific revenge on anyone who has committed any offence against me, real or imagined.

Emile : [To Chastity] Privacy? [Laughs out loud] Isn't she just the greatest?

[The party are all gathered around the box, with the grooms watching from the other end of the room.]

Alice : Right then. Off you go, Stephanie.

Stephen : [Aghast] What? Me? Well, perhaps one of the other [stresses] ladies should try it first, incase [lowers his voice] only a woman can open it!

Geneva : Arr! I'll do it.

Alice : Actually, Geneva, don't you mean "I'll be doing it landlubber"?

Geneva : [Opening the box] Yes. Alice. That's what I meant.

[The box contains an identical heart to the one the brides had.]

Stephen : Good idea there, Monty old boy! Well Austin, if you'd like to do the honours?

Alice : Right. [Looks at the others] You lot better do whatever it is you brides do to the heart. I'll keep an eye out on the others.

Austin : [Peers in] Hm. Yes, as the only brave one here, I shall do so. [Slips his long satin glove off and obliges] Exactly the same as the last one.

Clint: [Looks at the heart and shrugs] Hell, I don't know what we're supposed to do. This isn't like any orgy I've ever been to, I can damn sure tell you that much!

Stephen : [Nods his head] I suppose the fact that there's other people in the room with you would be different alright.

Alice : You mean other than you?

Stephen : It is a shame, missy, that you veil does not double as a gag! [To Monty] So, how do we bring them both together? And if we do, do the two hearts joining together seed these worlds the lads were talking about?

Stephen : [Indicates Alice] It's that little wasp over there!

Chastity : Oh, we're just trying to decide who gets the honour to, you know, do it.

Alice : True Stephen, then we could use it to shut you up.

[ALEC approaches, pausing for a moment to rub his across his chest.]

Alec : Oh yeah! Hey babes, what's the buzz?

Alice : [Points at Monty] Click-click! I think you're the one who has to look out, you little vixen.

Austin : [Nods at Monty's words] Indeed. Perhaps this is all related to the idea of balance that we have heard before.

Alec : Okay, my hair gel's starting to dry out. I'm going to get real pissed off real soon. Who gets to do it? You all get to do it!

Clint: [To the party, in a low voice] Great! What now?!

Stephen : Okay. Give us a moment to compose ourselves! Oh, and by the way, word to the wise, hair gel is so passe, wax or cream is far better for your folicals, as it doesn't harden or cause split ends.

[Most of the other grooms, except FURIOUS ADAM and GHUFRANburst out laughing at this.]

Ghufran : You shouldn't let that go, Alec.

Adam : Let her know how offended you are.

Alec : [To Stephen] You're a lying bitch. [Punches Stephen hard, and sends him flying across the room]

Stephen : Ow! I was only trying to help!

Chastity : Oh for pitys sake, could everyone just calm down for a moment! I'm sure Stephanie there meant no harm by her comment. She was a hairdresser, you see!

Clint: [Immediately attempts to punch Alec] Finally! A plan I get behind!

[CLINT's punch connects right on ALEC's chin, but, although it clearly hurts CLINT, ALEC is hardly bothered by it.]

Ghufran : Let's get them!

Alice : [Grabs the heart and holds it between her finger and thumb] Ah ah! Let's all just calm down a moment. We don't want anyone dropping the heart now, do we?

Emile : [Genially] Gentlemen, gentlemen, let's listen to what the lady has to say!

Chastity : Women with your heart in our hands! Back off, all of you!

Stephen : [Picks himself up off the ground]

Adam : [Steps up in front of Geneva, towering over her, but still very calm] I am the most violent one here. I will fight you.

Alice : That depends. If by "detain" you mean get killed by, then no.

Geneva: [Looking up at Adam, drawing her veil coquettishly over her face.] Oh! no that's not what I meant at all! What I meant was .. is why is it so important that we marry you now? I mean.. there's no hurry. Perhaps we could grab a drink, talk a while beforehand. [Clutches her waist where her dagger lies, out of reach under the white gown.]

Adam : [Still unnervingly calm] What do we need to talk about? We have worlds to fertilise.

Alice : [Horrified] We're not going to be shovelling stuff, are we?

Alec : [Does a pelvic thrust] Oh baby! If it's a euphemism for doin' the deed of love, then we certainly are.

Emile : [Claps his hands together] Let's all go to the orgy room.

Clint: [To Austin, in a low voice] I would never have thought those words could fill me with dread. Curse this place!

Austin : Indeed, Mr. Scar. However, given how much smoother my skin is than [looks around the other party members] well, all of yours, I suspect I will no doubt be deemed the most attractive.

Fred : [Approaching the party with a friendly smile] Hey there! Ever done it with a dead guy?

Stephen : Now just hold on a second! We can't marry you today, it's bad luck to see the bride on the day of the wedding, so no, no way about it, the marriage will have to wait until tomorrow!

Alec : [To Stephen] That's okay, baby, I don't want to marry you, I just want to screw your brains out. [Does a pelvic thrust] Hooooo-ya!

Stephen : [Blush can be seen even through the veil] Oh you beastly man! There'll be none of that hanky panky until we're married!

Chastity : [Raises her eyebrows at Monty] Purity? [Looks around at each of the party] Ye-es. Good point, Montoinette.

Dan : [Grabs Stephen by the arm and pulls him close] We can do the ceremony later. [Gives a big smile, causing Monty to wilt a little]

Clint: [Sidles up to Emile and suggestively strokes his skull] Hey, Big Daddy, whatcha got here?

Stephen : [Tries to pull away] My dear sir, what kind of a lady do you take me for? First the wedding, then the afters! We've all waited this long, we can wait one more day, can't we? It would mean so much to us all, wouldn't it girls!

Alice : [Taking a loooong time to answer] Er, yes. Yes it would.

Adam : [Steps up close to Stephen, still very calm] I am very, very angry. I am starting to believe that you are not brides at all.

Emile : [Chuckles at Clint] You don't have to call me Big Daddy, just Daddy will do, sweetie. [Lifts up the skull] This old thing? It belongs to a fake bride, boy, was she surprised when we cut her head off. You should have seen the expression on her face. [Holds the skull up beside his own face, and laughs.] [If the heart really is in the skull, it must be wedged in there, because EMILE doesn't appear to be holding anything in it.]

Stephen : [Very nervously] Well of course we're not brides...yet! That's the whole problem, isn't it! At the moment we're just a gang of spinsters, awaiting to be made brides!

Chastity : [To Emile] My goodness! I suppose that certainly is one way to get a little head! On Tue, 1 Feb 2005, Colin Dinan wrote:

Dan : [Throwing Stephn over his shoulder] Not for much longer.

Emile : [Laughs good naturedly at Chastity] Excellent! Very good! Now, you know, I think it's time we go to the orgy room. [Big smile] We're going to have a tip top time, and then our awful worlds will be fertile. What a time we're going to have. We might even play a game of miniature golf afterwards.

Ghufran : Misdirected? She was a lying bitch who had to be killed. She tried to fool us.

Neville : It was a all very scary.

Ghufran : [Rolls his eyes] He's lying, like he always does. [Grabs Clint by the arm] Now come on.

Adam : [Swiftly picks up Alice, who gives a startled scream as her dress falls over her head] Emile's a liar. It is much better to simply threaten your enemies with violence.

Emile : Oh, you guys! [Sheepishly to the party] But it was fun lie!

Stephen : [Struggling and thumping Dan on the back] Let me go, you brute! Crikey, this reminds me of my wild young days in Studio 45!

Chastity :

Clint: [To Ghufran] How'd you find the lying bitch out?

Emile : [Smiles paternally] You girls and your ceremonies! Come on, we're going to have a great time.

[The GROOMS move quickly, and soon each party member has been picked up, all with surprising ease. DAN has STEPHEN, GHUFRAN has CLINT, DEAD FRED has MONTY, FURIOUS ADAM has ALICE, LUCAN has CHASTITY, EMILE has GENEVA, and ALEC has AUSTIN, and the entire group start heading towards a large double doors. NEVILLE is the only groom without a bride.]

Alec : [To Austin] Careful, babe, you don't wanna mess up my hair.

Chastity : [To Lucan] This seeding of worlds thing, I don't suppose you expect us to be expert gardeners or suchlike?

Stephen : Wait! Shouldn't we all get to know each other a bit better first? A candlelight dinner? A midnight stroll along the river? A picnic in the countryside?

Emile : Sure, sure! Whatever. [Opens the double doors, to reveal a large room with a small platform in the middle, about three feet high. On top is a box indentical to the one the brides had]

[All the grooms deposit the brides down, reasonably gently, and stand back by the door.]

Lucan : Okay, lovely ladies. [Gives a little wave at the box] Off you go.

Clint: [To Ghufran, starting to get nervous] So, what are you into, uh, ya big hunk?

Stephen : Er...okay. [Fixes his dress and turns to the others] Lets do some world seeding, ladies! [Walks towards the box]

Chastity : [A little disappointed] Can we have a little privacy, please?

Ghufran : [To Clint] Revenge. Extracting horrific revenge on anyone who has committed any offence against me, real or imagined.

Emile : [To Chastity] Privacy? [Laughs out loud] Isn't she just the greatest?

[The party are all gathered around the box, with the grooms watching from the other end of the room.]

Alice : Right then. Off you go, Stephanie.

Stephen : [Aghast] What? Me? Well, perhaps one of the other [stresses] ladies should try it first, incase [lowers his voice] only a woman can open it!

Geneva : Arr! I'll do it.

Alice : Actually, Geneva, don't you mean "I'll be doing it landlubber"?

Geneva : [Opening the box] Yes. Alice. That's what I meant.

[The box contains an identical heart to the one the brides had.]

Stephen : Good idea there, Monty old boy! Well Austin, if you'd like to do the honours?

Alice : Right. [Looks at the others] You lot better do whatever it is you brides do to the heart. I'll keep an eye out on the others.

Austin : [Peers in] Hm. Yes, as the only brave one here, I shall do so. [Slips his long satin glove off and obliges] Exactly the same as the last one.

Clint: [Looks at the heart and shrugs] Hell, I don't know what we're supposed to do. This isn't like any orgy I've ever been to, I can damn sure tell you that much!

Stephen : [Nods his head] I suppose the fact that there's other people in the room with you would be different alright.

Alice : You mean other than you?

Stephen : It is a shame, missy, that you veil does not double as a gag! [To Monty] So, how do we bring them both together? And if we do, do the two hearts joining together seed these worlds the lads were talking about?

Stephen : [Indicates Alice] It's that little wasp over there!

Chastity : Oh, we're just trying to decide who gets the honour to, you know, do it.

Alice : True Stephen, then we could use it to shut you up.

[ALEC approaches, pausing for a moment to rub his across his chest.]

Alec : Oh yeah! Hey babes, what's the buzz?

Alice : [Points at Monty] Click-click! I think you're the one who has to look out, you little vixen.

Austin : [Nods at Monty's words] Indeed. Perhaps this is all related to the idea of balance that we have heard before.

Alec : Okay, my hair gel's starting to dry out. I'm going to get real pissed off real soon. Who gets to do it? You all get to do it!

Clint: [To the party, in a low voice] Great! What now?!

Stephen : Okay. Give us a moment to compose ourselves! Oh, and by the way, word to the wise, hair gel is so passe, wax or cream is far better for your folicals, as it doesn't harden or cause split ends.

[Most of the other grooms, except FURIOUS ADAM and GHUFRANburst out laughing at this.]

Ghufran : You shouldn't let that go, Alec.

Adam : Let her know how offended you are.

Alec : [To Stephen] You're a lying bitch. [Punches Stephen hard, and sends him flying across the room]

Stephen : Ow! I was only trying to help!

Chastity : Oh for pitys sake, could everyone just calm down for a moment! I'm sure Stephanie there meant no harm by her comment. She was a hairdresser, you see!

Clint: [Immediately attempts to punch Alec] Finally! A plan I get behind!

[CLINT's punch connects right on ALEC's chin, but, although it clearly hurts CLINT, ALEC is hardly bothered by it.]

Ghufran : Let's get them!

Alice : [Grabs the heart and holds it between her finger and thumb] Ah ah! Let's all just calm down a moment. We don't want anyone dropping the heart now, do we?

Emile : [Genially] Gentlemen, gentlemen, let's listen to what the lady has to say!

Chastity : Women with your heart in our hands! Back off, all of you!

Stephen : [Picks himself up off the ground]

Alice : [Smugly] Amongst other things. Furious Adam : Let's kill her.

Emile : Now now, Adam. Let's hear what they have to say. I'm sure we could all do with a great laugh!

Alice : Not a very good one, but a hairdresser nonetheless.

Dan : They're just women. Let's not listen.

Stephen : [Quietly to the others] What are we going to do? Take the heart and scarper? Or bluff our way back to the brides?

Austin : [Frowning] I think that our grooms deserve a better explanation than that don't you? They have been waiting for ages, not that it was our fault, but an explanation is due none the less. [To Alec] It's a little bit embarrasing, but we left our half of the heart at our place, and until they are put together, well [Shrugs. Emphasis] then we can get passionate, and [Pauses momentarily to size up the grooms] I thought I might invite some of our girlfriends to come back with us, as you gentlemen look like you have quite an appetite. So it will only take a moment, then [Winks at Alec and heads for the exit]

Clint: [To Emile] Here's the deal. We have to do our thing elsewhere. The thing we're doing to the heart. Sorry, those are the rules. So, if you'll excuse us, we'll be about our business [nods to the rest of the party to start heading for the exit].

Emile : [Laughs at Clint] I like her!

[FURIOUS ADAM throws ALICE at CLINT, knocking him to the ground and sending the heart crashing to the floor and sliding over to one side.]

Emile : [Holding up the skull] Looks like we've got some friends for you, little guy!

Alice : [Annoyed, to Monty] Hey! No one ever proved that was me!

Adam : I'm bored now. [Picks up Alice, and holds her high above his head, and turns to the party, clearly meaning to throw her at them]

Austin : [Panicky] I think we need some help. [To Monty] You, surely you have some contacts in other dimensions?

Alice : [Nods] Yeah, I kn- I mean, [nonchalantly] oh?

Austin : It's quite clear that something or someone has stopped the brides and grooms from getting together. [Brings his fingers together, clasped to his lips] It is quite obvious that the Bringer is somehow involved, but who else? I think we need an expert on dimensions. [Suppressing a snigger] Monty?

Alec : Oh yeah! [Does a pelvic thrust] More ladies for Alec.

Adam : [Reaches over and grabs Austin by the shoulder] You're a liar.

Emile : And while normally we like that kind of thing, this is really rather important to us, so I'm afraid we're going to have to massacre you. [To the grooms] Boys? I think it's time for a killing spree.

[The Grooms move in menacingly.]

Emile : Oh, and boys? Let's mind the language, please. There's no excuse for potty mouths.

Clint: [Pulls out his sword and charges Emile. To Alice] Take the heart and get the [special emphasis for Emile] fuck out of here!

Stephen : For once, I agree with old Stinky! Run! [Raises his dress a little and makes a dash for it]

Alec : Hang on baby! [Catches Stephen, and throws him at Alice, who's just scrambling to her feet to get to the heart]

[The whole group is now thrown together, with the majority of the grooms between them and the door, and with the heart just out of reach.]

Emile : [Stands over the heart] Now. What I want to know is how slowly we can kill these interlopers. I mean, I know we're all [for Clint's benefit] goshdarned annoyed, but let's not kill them in a hurry, let's cause some pain. Adam?

Alice : [As Furious Adam approaches] Anyone got any bright ideas?

Stephen : Remember you mentioned something to me before about a guy from a different dimension who promised to help you out, some guy who wanted to take over the world with robots? Well, now seems like a fairly good time!

Alice : What? What guy? What on earth are you talking about?

Chastity : Good thinking, Stephen! Now, what was his name? Lodorion?

Austin : [To Chastity] I think it was Lothorien? [To Alec] You're a bunch of idiots, [Fixes Alec with a steely stare] and you'll never ever see your brides if you kill us. I'm not even sure why we are trying to help you nincompoops, but I suppose we're really just trying to help the brides. They can't get through the portal because they need this heart to do so [Points at the heart. Readies his dagger] Mind you, it would probably be better for the brides if they never see you, they'd be waisted on scum like you!

Alec : You're going to be the first to die. [Quickly grabs Austin by the throat and squeezes]

Alice : [Quickly and loudly] Dolorion!

[There's a huge flash of lightning, and, in a burst of smoke DOLORION appears.]

Dolorion : Who dares invoke the name of Dolorion? What miniscule speck invites death by - [notices the party] oh, hi! How are you?

[ALEC lets go of AUSTIN in shock.]

Stephen : [To Dolorion] Er, you don't know me, but I'm now a member of the party and we could really use your help! These people are going to kill us!

Dolorion : [Looking at the grooms for a moment] What do you want me to do about it? Help hold you down?

Adam : [Steps forward] This is not your concern. [Punches Dolorion, but hardly shakes him]

Chastity : [To Dolorion] They are trying to kill us and seed other worlds with their offspring! We need your help in defeating them!

Stephen : As you can see, there's no reasoning with them!

Emile : [To Dolorion] Hi, it sure is peachy to see you, but we're about to massacre these folks, so we'd be obliged if -

Dolorion : [Holds a hand up in the direction of the grooms] Silence.

[All the grooms are frozen in position.]

Dolorion : [To Chastity] Why do you want my help? They're only doing what comes naturally to them. [Looks over the party] Where's my buddy Stump? characters in 4.1, let's travelled to Dolorions it would be offering to take Stump's made her fall

Austin : [To Chastity] I think it was Lothorien? [To Alec] You're a bunch of idiots, [Fixes Alec with a steely stare] and you'll never ever see your brides if you kill us. I'm not even sure why we are trying to help you nincompoops, but I suppose we're really just trying to help the brides. They can't get through the portal because they need this heart to do so [Points at the heart. Readies his dagger] Mind you, it would probably be better for the brides if they never see you, they'd be waisted on scum like you!

Alec : You're going to be the first to die. [Quickly grabs Austin by the throat and squeezes]

Alice : [Quickly and loudly] Dolorion!

[There's a huge flash of lightning, and, in a burst of smoke DOLORION appears.]

Dolorion : Who dares invoke the name of Dolorion? What miniscule speck invites death by - [notices the party] oh, hi! How are you?

[ALEC lets go of AUSTIN in shock.]

Stephen : [To Dolorion] Er, you don't know me, but I'm now a member of the party and we could really use your help! These people are going to kill us!

Dolorion : [Looking at the grooms for a moment] What do you want me to do about it? Help hold you down?

Adam : [Steps forward] This is not your concern. [Punches Dolorion, but hardly shakes him]

Chastity : [To Dolorion] They are trying to kill us and seed other worlds with their offspring! We need your help in defeating them!

Stephen : As you can see, there's no reasoning with them!

Emile : [To Dolorion] Hi, it sure is peachy to see you, but we're about to massacre these folks, so we'd be obliged if -

Dolorion : [Holds a hand up in the direction of the grooms] Silence.

[All the grooms are frozen in position.]

Dolorion : [To Chastity] Why do you want my help? They're only doing what comes naturally to them. [Looks over the party] Where's my buddy Stump? characters in 4.1, let's travelled to Dolorions it would be offering to take Stump's made her fall

Dolorion : Indeed? Not really surprising, though. [To Alice] You must have been very upset.

Alice : Upset isn't the word for it.

Dolorion : So, what can I do for you folks?

Dolorion : Ah yes, they're seeders. A pretty unpleasant bunch, eh? Where are the brides? They're usually much nicer.

Alice : But, you can help us find Harvey, right?

Dolorion : Unlikely, I'm afraid. What dimension is he in? [The blank looks of the party are answer enough.]

Dolorion : Highly unlikely.

Stephen : The brides were certainly pleasant enough, and we found them through a portal in the other room. The second half of the heart is still with them.

Clint: [Listening to Monty, both impressed and irritated] Yeah, what he said. [To Dolorion] So, can you give us a hand getting the hell out of here?

Dolorion : Sh, sh. Hm, you certainly are an interesting bunch. However, you aren't completely correct about everything. [Points at the heart] That's not half of a heart, it's an entire heart. It sounds as though where you come from has another heart, which is really no great surprise. Now, I can get you out of here, but are you sure you don't want to help these lovely people?

Alice : [Points at the group] You mean that collection of freaks and losers?

Dolorion : That's actually a mirror. [Points at the grooms] I mean them.

Chastity : [Glances at the mirror and sucks in her stomach] I'm positively sure that we don't wish to help these people out in their seeding scheme.

Stephen : Can you keep them frozen indefinitely? [Walks towards Dan cautiously]

Clint: [Shrugs] Well, the brides have been waiting around for these jokers, right? What'll they do if they never come? Maybe it's better just to give 'em all what they think they want.

Dolorion : [Chuckles at Chastity] Ah, you're so naive, my friend. Every world needs a Heart, but a Heart is nothing without being seeded. [Nods slightly to Clint] If they never come, then neither this world or theirs will ever be fruitful.

Stephen : [Turns to Dan and quickly kicks him between the legs] Pig!

Chastity : Well, perhaps it would be better for all if their worlds weren't seeded, I mean, could you imagine the evil their offspring would create?

Austin : [To Dolorion] So how does the Heart get seeded? [Looks at the frozen party] And how long are they frozen for?

Dolorion : [Smirks at Chastity] Indeed, how terrible that would be. But imagine how good the offspring of the brides would be. [To Monty] Their worlds being fruitful [stresses] shouldn't endanger any other world, but sometimes evil beasties from one dimension try to attack another.

Alice : You mean like you did to us?

Dolorion : [Ruffles her hair playfully] Exactly! [Looks at Stephen] For about another five seconds.

Stephen : [Races back to the party and assumes an innocent air, looking at anything but Dan]

Clint: [To Dolorion] Know how we can get the brides over here, by any chance?

Dolorion : [Laughs at Stephen] Just joking, my friend. [To Clint] Hm. The portal is blocked then? I'm afraid I can't get them over. You need someone to unblock the portal, but it will be a dangerous mission, and only the crazy and foolhardy may apply. You need someone who's prepared to risk life, limb and sanity.

Chastity : Hold on just a moment, are we so sure we want to do this? It would not be chance bringing these two groups together, but us! We would be totally responsible for unleashing a possible epidemic of evil on many, many worlds. I'm not sure the Colonel would want us to do that, even if it would save him!

Clint: So, what do I do?

Dolorion : You open the portal by travelling to the dimension of whoever has blocked it.

Geneva : Chastity's got a point. How do we know opening it would cause disaster?

Dolorion : [Shrugs] It probably will. That's what almost always happens, [with a playful wag of the finger at the party] except on your world, of course. [To Chastity] Chance already has brought these groups together, all you would be doing is making sure it actually happens.

Chastity : It seems to me, Mr Dolorion, that chance has kept these two groups apart. Hence the blocked portal. And how could we have those poor women subjected to these creatures violence and disdain?

Stephen : [Shrugs] And how do we get home after bringing them together?

Dolorion : [To Chastity] Does it? Does it really? And how did you arrive at that conclusion? [To Stephen] I'll send you home.

Chastity : Well, chance has kept them on different worlds or dimensions for thousands of years, with no natural way of joining each other through the blocked portal.

Chastity : [Confused] Well if that's not the case, why haven't they gotten together previously? Surely if they were able to, if chance had dealt them a way of [shudders] seeding, they would have taken the opportunity?

Dolorion : Because someone blocked it. Someone who's using the their world's to increase their own power - possibly even sending the souls of people they kill to one of the worlds. Someone [huge emphasis] really evil!

Clint: [Impatiently] You gonna tell us who?

Dolorion : Really? How do you know?

Dolorion : Barthelomew is one of his servants. The one responsible is Athlacca.

Alice : Hey! Didn't you used to work for him?

Dolorion : Yes. I used to.

Stephen : You used to work for him? What happened between the two of you?

Dolorion : We had a disagreement. He wanted to invade a ripe and juicy world in your dimension, and I was to lead the invasion force. However, when I discovered just how ripe and juicy the world was, I thought it better that he not, for if he was successful, he would be so powerful that nothing could ever stop him.

Alice : Why would you want to stop him if you were working for him?

Dolorion : I'm a demon. I'm evil. [Shrugs] It's etiquette, really.

Stephen : So, by opening the portal between the brides and that lot, you weaken him even further. Hmmm, I see. What would happen if he's left drawing power from these two worlds?

Dolorion : It wouldn't weaken him that much, the main thing to worry about is that Barthelomew would continue to wreak havoc on your world. Once the Heart is seeded, he loses his link to the souls that he stored there, and he will be vulnerable.

Clint: Well, I'm sold. How the hell do I open the portal?

Dolorion : Because someone blocked it. Someone who's using the their world's to increase their own power - possibly even sending the souls of people they kill to one of the worlds. Someone [huge emphasis] really evil!

Clint: [Impatiently] You gonna tell us who?

Dolorion : Really? How do you know?

Dolorion : Barthelomew is one of his servants. The one responsible is Athlacca.

Alice : Hey! Didn't you used to work for him?

Dolorion : Yes. I used to.

Stephen : You used to work for him? What happened between the two of you?

Dolorion : We had a disagreement. He wanted to invade a ripe and juicy world in your dimension, and I was to lead the invasion force. However, when I discovered just how ripe and juicy the world was, I thought it better that he not, for if he was successful, he would be so powerful that nothing could ever stop him.

Alice : Why would you want to stop him if you were working for him?

Dolorion : I'm a demon. I'm evil. [Shrugs] It's etiquette, really.

Stephen : So, by opening the portal between the brides and that lot, you weaken him even further. Hmmm, I see. What would happen if he's left drawing power from these two worlds?

Dolorion : It wouldn't weaken him that much, the main thing to worry about is that Barthelomew would continue to wreak havoc on your world. Once the Heart is seeded, he loses his link to the souls that he stored there, and he will be vulnerable.

Clint: Well, I'm sold. How the hell do I open the portal?

Dolorion : I like you. You're keen. All you need to do is travel to the heart of Athlacca's castle and destroy his control centre. It's pretty basic stuff, smashing, bashing, a little bit of burning. Possibly some urination if you want to add some style.

Austin : [Moving towards the exit] We should get moving before the unfreeze! [To Clint] Well if we have to go to Althacca's dimension, I think that's probably Hell? [Looks towards Dolorion as he moves towards the exit]

Stephen : Nice. Can you bring us to his castle? And if you do, can we expect to be bludgeoned to death by these robots of yours?

Clint: [Eyes light up at Dolorion's description of the mission] Oh, you'd better believe there'll be urination [takes a hearty swig from his flask]. Good questions, Hinchberk! [To Dolorion] Well, can you get us there? Without robot interference?

Dolorion : Of course, of course. There's really no point in letting the Units attack you until after, is there?

Austin : [To Dolorion] Most astute, we will no doubt be greatly weakend by the initial assault and the further fighting necessary to destroy the control center. If you attacked us after that we'd be most vunerable indeed.

Dolorion : [Nods] Yes, I see what you mean. That could take some of the fun out of it, but I might have the whole false hope thing on my side, you know, dashing your expectations at the last minute type thing?

Chastity : Well considering how well we fared last the we came across these constructs I wouldn't expect too much.

Stephen : [To Dolorion] Perhaps you know of a weakness incase we bump into some of them? A weak spot maybe, or a way of shutting them down?

Dolorion : [Thoughtfully] They normally stop fighting when their opponents are dead.

Alice : Why on earth are we going in? What chance have we got?

Dolorion : They won't be able to see you, so you should be okay. [Sniffs the air and gives Clint a curious look]

Stephen : Well, that's cheery! They'll stop when we're dead. Hang on, what do you mean they won't be able to see us?

Dolorion : By their very nature they can only see higher beings, so you lot will be able to slip by unnoticed.

Alice : Why? Because we're not tall enough.

Dolorion : [Gives her a big smile] Sure!

Stephen : How do we get back here when the control room has been destroyed? Are you coming with us?

Dolorion : [Laughs] Of course not! They would spot me a mile off. Once the control room is destroyed, I will transport you all back to your own world, and we will never see each other again. [Adds thoughtfully] Unless I change my mind and attempt to invade your world, thus becoming the very thing that I am trying to stop.

Geneva : Our world? Is that the ripe and juicy world you were talking about earlier?

Dolorion : The very same. [Enthusiastically] You come from a very special place.

Dolorion : No need, they'll know soon enough. Now, remember, none of the units will see you, unless someone specifically tells them to, so [wags a finger] no interfering with the units.

Stephen : Believe me, from what I've heard about them, the last thing in the world we'd want to do is attract their attention! [Looks around at the others] Are we ready to go?

Dolorion : [To Monty] Of course not. I doubt there will be anyone present who would inform them. [Shrugs] Possibly another human, but that's unlikely. [Glances at the grooms] Don't you want to say goodbye first?

Stephen : Good riddance to bad rubbish is what I say! I want no further dealings with those ruffians!

Dolorion : Ah, the course of true love never runs smooth. Now, I will transport you as close to the control room as I can. It will be obvious where it is, and all you need to do is trash it. I'm sure you've got plenty of experience with that. Everyone ready? [Everyone makes assenting noises.]

Dolorion : [Holds up his hand, but stops] And remember, [gravely] From Within It Consumes. [Dramatically waves his hand, causing a fearsome clap of thunder and burst of smoke, causing the party to disappear] Hm. I wonder why they left those dresses on. [Book IV, Act VII, Scene VIII. Athlacca's Lair. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, MONTY, GENEVA and STEPHEN are here, having just appeared, and still wearing the dresses. They are in an enormous hallway, several times larger than a football pitch, all made of marble. In the middle is a large domed room, about 60' in diameter. There are hundreds of UNITs here, all walking about, none of whom seemed in the slight bit bothered by the party's presence.]

Alice : [Looks over the men in the party] Getting kind of attached to those frocks, are we?

Clint: [Shrugs and promptly starts taking his dress off] If you wanted a peak under my dress, you coulda found more subtle ways to ask, Bimbo.

Stephen : [Nods at Monty] Well, if you say so, perhaps I'd better leave mine on a little longer then. I don't want to leave any evidence lying around to fall into wrong hands.

Alice : [Nods] I know, imagine what kind of awful evil he'd get up to if he had a wedding dress.

Austin : [Expertly swiftly changes back into some of his own clothes. Austin is now wearing an Ely Greenitch tango suit, matching dodo skin dancing shoes, white silk gloves, a red silk shirt by Georgious Harmony, and a pair of chrome Blokley Shades. He leaves the wedding dress on the floor] From within it consumes. [Sighs] I'm beginning to think that it's trying to work out the meaning of that phrase itself that is it's own meaning. [Straightens his cuff and checks his hair, and smiles at himself in his pocket mirror before putting it away]

Clint: [Checks out Austin's outfit and shakes his head incredulously] Lawyer, where the hell do you keep all that crap?! [Wads up the wedding dress and hands it to Monty] Didn't you say you wanted to hang onto these? Thanks!

Austin : [To Clint, matter of factly] If you had ever washed and carefully folded your clothes, you would know how little space they take up in one's luggage. [Checks his nails smugly] What's the point in being a knight if you look like a widowed welsh sheep farmer, fallen on hard times?

Alice : [Indignantly] I'll take it! [Calms down] I mean, [nonchalantly] I'll look after that for you, Stinky. [Takes off her own dress, pulling it up over her head] Isn't strange that even Dolorion knows the phrase? It must be about something that is common to his world too. Hey! I'm stuck! [Pulls the dress back down] Can someone get the zip?

Alice : When did you ever have Clint's clothes in your luggage, Aus?

Alice : [Takes the dress with a smile] Thanks Monty! [Wrinkles up her nose as she looks at it] Ew! Maybe you should look after this one?

Clint: [Bellowing] Are we just gonna stand around here all day, or are we going to get to the smashing?! [Fidgets uncomfortably] Some of us have [huge emphasis] really gotta take a leak, you know!

Alice : [Also shouting] Keep your voice down! [Juts her thumb at the back] I do believe that tradition dictates opening zips before [distastefully] taking a leak, doesn't it? Now, I know yours are usually wide open, but how about a bit of help here?

Austin : [With his sling shot ready] Let's go then [Starts to walk towards the dome] I'd rather get the decommisioning done before Mr Scar feels the need to urinate. I'm sure that the smell of rank urine being heated and boiled by hot smashed and burning electrical equipment will not be plesant.

Chastity : [Undoes Alice's zip] Best not let him do it, dear, Phili only knows what might happen. [Everyone is now changed, and head towards the dome, which has a large arch leading into it, with two UNITs standing at either side.]

Geneva : [Drawing her daggers] Dolorion had better not let us down, or I'll stab him in the belly!

Chastity : [Nervously looking at the two Units] It's just as well he's a demon as he'll be able to visit us as we'll be deceased if he was lying!

Alice : Let's just do our nonchalant walks. [The party all stroll through using completely over the nonchalant moves, e.g. whistling, walking really slowly, stopping to light the odd cigarette by striking a match of a UNIT, etc. Inside here is another dome, which is just about 20' x 20'. Enter ATHLACKEY, a disgusting looking creature, emerging from the small dome. He looks through the party and back again quickly, but his gaze passes over them.]

Alice : I think we'd better up the nonchalance factor a bit!

Chastity : [To Monty] What? He can excessively preen [emphasis] more? [glances at Austin] well I suppose you've been watching him.

Austin : Just because none of you care that you look like a bunch of proletariat vagabonds doen't mean that I over do my personal hygene. [Checks his nails casually and starts rolling a cheeserette]

Clint: [Picking up the pace] C'mon, let's keep moving, ladies! Last fro mDom #19

Alice : [To Austin, nodding at Clint's words] Yes, ladies, come on! [Two more creatures, who both look like ATHLACKEY emerge from the dome.]

Geneva : Looks like that's where all the action is. Let's get in there and stab the room in the belly!

Alice : Right. Stay calm until we go crazy. Got it. [The party approach the doorway, and can see that there are four more of the creatures in there, as well as another figure, who is hunched over a desk. The room is filled with all sorts of magical paraphenalia, such as cauldrons, test tubes, books etc. As they approach, the figure turns and looks. It is STUMP.]

Stump : Hey! What the hell are they doing here? [Points at the party] [All the creatures turn in the direction of the party, and suddenly see them for the first time.]

Stump : You fools! You're all going to die, die! [Shouting] Do you hear me? Die! [Calmly] Except you, Chastity, you'll be kept alive as my sex slave.

Austin : [Suprised to Monty] You do menacing? [Looks back at the demons casually. Finished rollin ghte cheesearette and lights it up, blowing a few smoke rings]

Chastity : [To Stump] Curse you, Mr. Stump, I'd rather die. By foul means it seems is the only way you can fulfil your sordid fantasies.

Austin : [To Chastity] OPh don't get him started. I wish you wouldn't encourage him. [Blows some smoke rings. Casually to Stump] And just how do you plan on killing us?

Chastity : [To Monty] How about all those killer robots wandering about? He's most aware of the difficulty we had battling them, as he was with us at the time. Hi Conor This is really gross, but I've been in an accident, (out of hospital now, thank god) but i've had like 84 stitches.. I expect them to come oiut on monday... what this means, is that because it's basically in my knees and legs, sitting at the computer desk is really uncomfortable. I understand if you need to leave Gen behind, and I can't be comfortable knowing that you're waiting for Gen to talk. So with regret, I think, what is best for the party is to leave Gen behind, because I simply can't keep up for the next week. All the best. C

Austin : [Nodding in aggreement with Chastity and Monty] And being an evil sidekick, he'll probably want to explain the details of how he is goping to kill us, in detail, before he does so.

Clint: [Nodding vigorously at Austin's prediction] Right! And the plan's bound to be laughably complicated and involve one of those little birdy things that keeps pecking away. You know? [enthusiastically demonstrates perpetual motion bird action with his hand]

Austin : [To Stump] Well then, fat boy, spill the beans. [Flicks some ash towards Stump] I hope you're not planning to drug Chastity again. Most ungentlemanly.

Austin : [To Stump] Well then, fat boy, spill the beans. [Flicks some ash towards Stump] I hope you're not planning to drug Chastity again. Most ungentlemanly.

Stump : [Smiles smugly at Chastity] Doesn't bother me if they are foul means. Actually, I'm awfully glad you asked me about my plan, it's all about strategically placed candles, ropes and pirhana fish. [Stops himself] Actually, I've a better idea, I'll just get the Athlackies to kill you. [Points at the party] Kill!

[Nothing happens for a moment.]

Alice : [To the party] Er, is he talking to us or them?

Chastity : Quickly! Into the control room a start smashing or [glances at Clint] whatever. [Tries to rush into the control room as the Athlackies hesitate]

[CHASTITY, quickly followed by CLINT, bursts through the opening with surprising speed, but they are met by the four ATHLACKIES within, who block them, while the other two block the doorway, to which the others advance.]

Stump : Last chance. Chastity, if you stay here with me, I'll let the others go.

Chastity : [Looks around and sighs. To Stump] How do I know you'll keep your word?

Austin : [fireing a shot at the nearest Athlackie. TO Chastity, deadpan] Because he's a backstabbing evil drug rapist?

Stump : [Smiles smugly at Chastity] Doesn't bother me if they are foul means. Actually, I'm awfully glad you asked me about my plan, it's all about strategically placed candles, ropes and pirhana fish. [Stops himself] Actually, I've a better idea, I'll just get the Athlackies to kill you. [Points at the party] Kill!

[Nothing happens for a moment.]

Alice : [To the party] Er, is he talking to us or them?

Chastity : Quickly! Into the control room a start smashing or [glances at Clint] whatever. [Tries to rush into the control room as the Athlackies hesitate]

[CHASTITY, quickly followed by CLINT, bursts through the opening with surprising speed, but they are met by the four ATHLACKIES within, who block them, while the other two block the doorway, to which the others advance.]

Stump : Last chance. Chastity, if you stay here with me, I'll let the others go.

Chastity : [Looks around and sighs. To Stump] How do I know you'll keep your word?

Austin : [fireing a shot at the nearest Athlackie. TO Chastity, deadpan] Because he's a backstabbing evil drug rapist?

Stump : [Very angrily] I'm not a rapist! [A bit calmer] I've even got a girlfriend now, her name is Azrael!

[AUSTIN fires two stones that whistle past MONTY's ear and strike YELLOW ATHLACKEY.]

Austin : [Shooting the next nearest Athlackey. TO Stump, sarcastically] So what do you call drugging a woman and then having sex with her, if you don't call it rape?

Clint: [Hacking away at the nearest Athlackey. To Austin] Probably "Saturday night!"

Stephen : Obviously Clint, you spend your weekends in quite a different way to the rest of us!

Stump : You're all wrong. [Triumphantly] It's foreplay!

[AUSTIN repositions himself to fire at PINK.]

Geneva : [To Pink] I'm gonna stab you in the belly!

[GENEVA stabs PINK in the belly, but he and ALICE miss each other, meantime, MONTY rushes to CHASTITY's aid.]

Monty : I'll help you Sister!

[MONTY swings and drops his sword, while each of CHASTITY and BLACK hit each other.]

Stephen : Eenie, meenie, minie mo! [Points at Pink and attacks with his knife]

[MONTY grabs his sword as BLACK deals CHASTITY a severe blow, knocking her conconscious.]

Stump : [Busily working on some potions] Chastity! No! I'm gonna - [breaks off and turns back to his work, turning down the flame on bunsen burner, before turning back] kill you, you bastards! You're the ones who wouldn't let her sacrifice herself.

[ALICE and GENEVA clash with PINK, but no damage is caused on either side, while STEPHEN and AUSTIN fire at him, AUSTIN's shot catching him on the side of the head and sending him to the ground.]

Alice : Wow! Nice shooting, Aus! [GREEN and RED both hit CLINT, sending him to the floor in a heap.]

Stephen : Now that we've managed to sink the pink, time to mellow the yellow. [Quickly to Austin] Do you think you can hit that hobbling dwarf fom there, Austin? [Turns and attacks Yellow]

[MONTY grabs his sword as BLACK deals CHASTITY a severe blow, knocking her conconscious.]

Stump : [Busily working on some potions] Chastity! No! I'm gonna - [breaks off and turns back to his work, turning down the flame on bunsen burner, before turning back] kill you, you bastards! You're the ones who wouldn't let her sacrifice herself.

[ALICE and GENEVA clash with PINK, but no damage is caused on either side, while STEPHEN and AUSTIN fire at him, AUSTIN's shot catching him on the side of the head and sending him to the ground.]

Alice : Wow! Nice shooting, Aus! [GREEN and RED both hit CLINT, sending him to the floor in a heap.]

Stephen : Now that we've managed to sink the pink, time to mellow the yellow. [Quickly to Austin] Do you think you can hit that hobbling dwarf fom there, Austin? [Turns and attacks Yellow]

[As each of BLUE, BLACK and MONTY manage to miss each other, RED and GREEN hack CLINT into tiny pieces.]

Stump : [Angrily] No, you fools! Get the ones at the door!

Geneva : Quick Alice! Let's get them!

[ALICE and GENEVA charge in, with GENEVA taking RED and ALICE taking GREEN, with both hitting, and ALICE knocking GREEN out.]

Alice : [Enraged at the bloody mess that is Clint] You bastards!

[Both AUSTIN and STEPHEN shoot at BLUE, with AUSTIN striking him once.]

Stump : Come on! Come on! Just hold them off another few minutes.

Stephen : We may be running out of time, here. I doubt if Stump is perfecting his latest lubrication jelly over there![Takes a shot at Stump, hoping to hit him or some of the potion bottles about him]

Austin : Excellent strategy, Stephen.

[Both AUSTIN and STEPHEN fire at STUMP, who has his back to the party. Both hit him, but AUSTIN strikes him in the back of the head, causing him to collapse unconscious onto the desk, smashing whatever he was mixing together.]

Austin : I say, I am even more formidable today than usual.

[MONTY clashes with BLACK and BLUE, and receives a blow from BLUE, while GENEVA and RED also clash, with neither of them being struck.]

Alice : [Absolutely out of control] Bastards! [Starts turning over cauldrons and generally smashing the place up]

Stephen : We are! What about Stump! [To Austin] I say, he's not very observant for a watcher, is he. [Takes a shot at Black]

Geneva: [Panicky and annoyed] Stop arguing! We've got people dropping like flies here--you want to be next?! [stabs furiously at Red]

Austin : [Shooting the nearest Athlackey stylishly whiping his slingshot back for the next shot] Let's finish off these rather rumbustious creatures, then help Clint, and then we can correct Monty. [BLACK and BLUE attack MONTY, with BLACK knocking him to the ground. Meanwhile, STPEHEN and AUSTIN open fire on BLACK, with STEPHEN striking him square in the face, knocking him to the ground unconscious.]

Alice : [With about half the cauldrons overturned] I'm sick of this! [RED and GENEVA engage again, but neither gets hurt.]

Geneva: [To Austin and Stephen] Keep an eye on Monty! [continues jabbing away at Red]

Austin : [To Stephen] Hmm, good shot, even if did lack flair. [Snottily to Monty] Advance? The knights don't get paid anything, let alone getting an advance! [Shoots the Athlackey nearest Monty]

[BLACK runs towards ALICE, sword drawn, and, although she is distracted from the cauldrons, he but doesn't get a chance to attack.]

Alice : [To the others] I think you'd better take a look at these Cauldrons. [Swings at hits Black]

[RED strikes GENEVA, who fails to hit her back. Meanwhile, each of STEPHEN and AUSTIN hit BLACK from behind.]

Geneva: [Upon hearing Alice's suggestion, tries to make a break for the cauldrons to investigate]

[GENEVA tries to get passed RED, but they trade blows.]

Alice : [Ducking to avoid Black's sword, which has slipped from his hand and nearly hits her] Hey! Be careful! That could have hurt!

Black : [Indignantly] I'm sorry, alright? It's like I threw it deliberately!

[AUSTIN and STEPHEN fire at the unfortunate BLACK, with STEPHEN hitting him twice, knocking him to the ground.]

Stephen : [Seeing Black go to ground] Lacks flair, huh? Just get the job done, mister. [Fires at Red]

Geneva: [Attacks Red again. To Alice, frustrated] I give up. What's in the cauldrons???

[GREEN comes back, and attacks GENEVA, who gets hit by RED.]

Alice : They're full of images of all sorts of places, I think I even saw Harvey! [Goes to the other table and smashes everything up there, taking care to step on Stump as she does so.]

[As MONTY bandages up CHASTITY, STEPHEN and AUSTIN fire at RED.]

[AUSTIN hits RED twice, knocking him to the ground.]

Austin : [To Stephen] Indeed Mr. Hitchberg, you method is crude but effective [Does an outlandishly swashbuckling retrieve and reload of his sling] [GREEN makes a break for it, under a hail of attacks.]

Geneva : Arr! Gotcha, you scurvy dog! [GENEVA deals GREEN a savage blow, and he takes one more hit from each of STEPHEN and AUSTIN as he falls to the ground. All the opponents are now incapacitated.]

Alice : [With just a few cauldrons left] Is that it? [Runs to Clint] I don't believe it! I don't fucking believe it! He's dead! [Glances back at Stump for a moment, before turning to Geneva, hand outstretched] I think I'll be needing your best belly stabbing through dagger, please.

Geneva: [Hands Alice a particularly sharp and deadly dagger] All yours! [pulls out another dagger and glares at Stump, ready to pounce]

Austin : [Goes over to check Clint, checking for a pulse] You have a nasty habit of relinquishing the mortal coil, Mr. Scar.

Stephen : [Looking down at Austin and the pile of bloody pieces that was Clint, and gently kicking a smelly foot towards Austin] I think you're being a bit optimistic, Austin.

Geneva: [Still glaring angrily at Stump] A dagger in the belly just might be too good for you!

Austin : [Standing up and frowning at the foot. To Geneva] You could at least make a start by cutting his throat or something. [Shrugs. Goes over and looks into the cauldrons and has a search around breaking/ sabotaging any controls as he goes]

Alice : [Stalks over to Stump, and wakes him up, slapping him roughly across the face] I'm gonna stab you in the belly! [AUSTIN delicately smashes the place up, but slowly enough to show everyone that ALICE was correct, the surface of each contains images from somewhere else, which are constantly changing.]

Stump : Killing me won't save you. The Units will be on there way since you started to damage the control room.

Stephen : [To Stump] Well little man, you'd better tell us how to turn them off, or the first thing we throw at them is your kidneys, followed by your liver, then your, well, stump!

Stump : Even if I knew I wouldn't tell you.

Alice : [Threateningly] Tell him or I'll stab you in the belly!

Stump : No you won't, because [tauntingly] you're just too nice. [ALICE raises the dagger high, but slowly brings it down again.]

Alice : You're a pig, Stump. [AUSTIN is almost finished trashing the room.]

Stump : [Watching Austin with some alarm] They're the worlds that Athlacca has links to. He's going to be pretty pissed when he finds you've destroyed the links.

[AUSTIN is almost finished.]

Stephen : [Looks down at his ruined dress] Well, she mightn't, but I'm certainly in a fairly evil dwarf stabbing mood! [Points to the cauldrons] What are all these cauldrons about? What are those images in them?

Geneva: [Joins Austin] Stephen's right! Let's take a closer look at one of these things before we trash them all [peers into a cauldron].

Stephen : [To Austin] It might be an idea to leave the cauldron where we saw Harveys image alone! [To Stump] What do you mean, links? Can he travel to these worlds using the cauldrons?

Stump : [Snorts in derision at Stephen's question] Of course not, idiot. That's how he takes power from other dimensions.

[There are just two cauldrons left, and each has an image on the surface, both of which change after a few seconds. Enter four UNIT 314s.]

Unit 314 : Search. Kill. Destroy.

Geneva: [Attacks Red again. To Alice, frustrated] I give up. What's in the cauldrons???

[GREEN comes back, and attacks GENEVA, who gets hit by RED.]

Alice : They're full of images of all sorts of places, I think I even saw Harvey! [Goes to the other table and smashes everything up there, taking care to step on Stump as she does so.]

[As MONTY bandages up CHASTITY, STEPHEN and AUSTIN fire at RED.]

[AUSTIN hits RED twice, knocking him to the ground.]

Austin : [To Stephen] Indeed Mr. Hitchberg, you method is crude but effective [Does an outlandishly swashbuckling retrieve and reload of his sling] [GREEN makes a break for it, under a hail of attacks.]

Geneva : Arr! Gotcha, you scurvy dog! [GENEVA deals GREEN a savage blow, and he takes one more hit from each of STEPHEN and AUSTIN as he falls to the ground. All the opponents are now incapacitated.]

Alice : [With just a few cauldrons left] Is that it? [Runs to Clint] I don't believe it! I don't fucking believe it! He's dead! [Glances back at Stump for a moment, before turning to Geneva, hand outstretched] I think I'll be needing your best belly stabbing through dagger, please.

Geneva: [Hands Alice a particularly sharp and deadly dagger] All yours! [pulls out another dagger and glares at Stump, ready to pounce]

Austin : [Goes over to check Clint, checking for a pulse] You have a nasty habit of relinquishing the mortal coil, Mr. Scar.

Stephen : [Looking down at Austin and the pile of bloody pieces that was Clint, and gently kicking a smelly foot towards Austin] I think you're being a bit optimistic, Austin.

Geneva: [Still glaring angrily at Stump] A dagger in the belly just might be too good for you!

Austin : [Standing up and frowning at the foot. To Geneva] You could at least make a start by cutting his throat or something. [Shrugs. Goes over and looks into the cauldrons and has a search around breaking/ sabotaging any controls as he goes]

Alice : [Stalks over to Stump, and wakes him up, slapping him roughly across the face] I'm gonna stab you in the belly! [AUSTIN delicately smashes the place up, but slowly enough to show everyone that ALICE was correct, the surface of each contains images from somewhere else, which are constantly changing.]

Stump : Killing me won't save you. The Units will be on there way since you started to damage the control room.

Stephen : [To Stump] Well little man, you'd better tell us how to turn them off, or the first thing we throw at them is your kidneys, followed by your liver, then your, well, stump!

Stump : Even if I knew I wouldn't tell you.

Alice : [Threateningly] Tell him or I'll stab you in the belly!

Stump : No you won't, because [tauntingly] you're just too nice. [ALICE raises the dagger high, but slowly brings it down again.]

Alice : You're a pig, Stump. [AUSTIN is almost finished trashing the room.]

Stump : [Watching Austin with some alarm] They're the worlds that Athlacca has links to. He's going to be pretty pissed when he finds you've destroyed the links.

[AUSTIN is almost finished.]

Stephen : [Looks down at his ruined dress] Well, she mightn't, but I'm certainly in a fairly evil dwarf stabbing mood! [Points to the cauldrons] What are all these cauldrons about? What are those images in them?

Geneva: [Joins Austin] Stephen's right! Let's take a closer look at one of these things before we trash them all [peers into a cauldron].

Stephen : [To Austin] It might be an idea to leave the cauldron where we saw Harveys image alone! [To Stump] What do you mean, links? Can he travel to these worlds using the cauldrons?

Stump : [Snorts in derision at Stephen's question] Of course not, idiot. That's how he takes power from other dimensions.

[There are just two cauldrons left, and each has an image on the surface, both of which change after a few seconds. Enter four UNIT 314s.]

Unit 314 : Search. Kill. Destroy.

Stephen : Oh dear. [Attempts to gag Stump] Maybe they won't notice us if we stand very still!

[STEPHEN quickly gags STUMP with a rather sinister looking ball gag. However, the UNITs are definitely advancing.]

Alice : I think we could be in trouble here!

Austin : [Quickly destroying the last cauldrons] If Althacca get's his power from these I doubt if they are any use to us [Urgently to Chastity] Get ready with that orb!

Geneva: [Watching the killbots with her dagger at the ready] Can someone--er, gather up the pieces of Clint?

Alice : [Glares at Monty] What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Alice : What? You're too busy searching unconscious women to help?

[The UNITS make a charge, but the party vanish before they get to them.]

Unit 314 : What the hell happened there?

[All the UNITS turn and look at STUMP.]

Stump : [After a short pause] I did it with two of them. [Pause] The really beautiful one and bimbo.

[Book IV, Act VII, Scene IX. Easpach (The Brides' World). ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, GENEVA, MONTY and STEPHEN are here, having appeared just outside the Bridal Bunker. There is no sign of the BRIDES, but there is a figure approaching from the distance, from the direction of the prison.]

Alice : [Looking around] I thought Dolorion said he'd send us back to our own dimension?

[As the figure gets closer, it is apparant that it is CLINT, looking perfectly healthy, but pretty annoyed. Meanwhile, CHASTITY starts to wake up.]

Alice : [Blinking as she looks at Clint] Stinky? Is that really you?

Clint : I hope you killed those bastards.

Alice : Stinky! [Turns to Monty] You mean, if we killed him now he'd reappear at the prison? Cool! Let's have a go!

Clint: [Looking quite disappointed] So, I missed--everything. The killing. The smashing. The-- [pauses and looks down at the front of his pants, which are noticeably damp, and then grins] well, not everything!

Alice : [Glares at Monty] I didn't see you do anything about Stump, Monty. [Looks at Clint] Don't.

Clint: [Chuckles at Alice's discomfort] So, our work here is done I guess? How do we get outta this hole?!

Alice : [Holding her hand up to her eyes, looking away from Clint's damp regions] We could check out the bunker, the brides must be in there.

Austin : [Nods] With any luck they will have found their grooms. I expect Willful tested the portal every ten minutes or so. [Looks over Clint] So you're alive again! I hope you stay that way for a little longer this time [Offers Clint his silver hipflask]

Alice : [Nods at Austin's words] He's right, Clint. If you could concentrate on not being killed for five minutes, we might be able to get out of here.

[The party get to the top of the bunker and ALICE opens the door and looks in.]

Alice : Hello? Hello? Is there any - oh! [Quickly steps back from the door, letting it slam shut, looking rather pale and a bit ill] Oh. Well, I think we can say that the grooms found the brides.

Clint: [Accepts the flask and takes a swig] Yeah, I'm starting to wonder how many more lives I got in me. [Shrugs and gives Austin a friendly arm-punch of thanks. To Monty] So, how many kills did ya get, egghead?

Clint: [Alarmed] What happened?! [makes his way to the door]

Alice : They're doing what I guess comes naturally to them, Stinky. [Sees him go for the door] No! It's disgusting, it'll make you - [pause] you know what, you knock yourself out, Clint. [Steps aside]

Chastity : [A little hopefully] that must have been a quick ceremony.

[CLINT opens the door only to be startled by DOLORION coming out.]

Dolorion : Ah ah! I think they would appreciate some privacy. There are some things children like you shouldn't see.

Geneva : Arr! We're grown ups! What can they possibly be doing that requires privacy?

Dolorion : The Grooms are just laying their eggs.

Clint: Disgusting?! I'm there! [eagerly opens the door and checks out the show]

Austin : What's so bad that you find disgusting? I thought you'd seen it all [Has a look in to the bunker to see what the problem is]

Dolorion : First the second, and then the first. [Nods] Yes, I'm sure it was, we were all keen to see what would happen.

Clint: [To Dolorion, looking around uneasily] Who's "we"?!

Dolorion : [Laughs at Clint's unease] Just some of the guys back in my own dimension. [Rather happy with himself] I won six Rolos from my poker group on you lot. [Big smile]

Alice : [Shocked] So when we were fighting for our lives, and losing them in some cases, you were just sitting back eating sweets? With your friends? [Incredulously] At a poker game?

Dolorion : [Dismissive wave of his hand] Hey, demon, remember? I'm evil?

Clint: [Annoyed] Good someone was able to cash in on my horrific demise. What's next on the agenda, bub?

Dolorion : First you thank me for bringing your friends back here to collect you, and then I send you back to your own world.

Dolorion : Harvey? Yes. I remember that one. He seemed less well inclined towards the small ugly fat one than the rest of you. [Shrugs] What can I say? I don't know anything about him. Where's he supposed to be?

Clint: Not sure myself. Here? [looks at the rest of the party quizzically]

Alice : Well, that's what Jerome said...

Dolorion : Was he killed by Barthelomew? If not, there's no reason why he should be here.

Clint: [To Alice] Doesn't sound like Jerry's too trustworthy these days, though. What exactly was supposed to happen after you gathered up me and the Colonel?

Chastity : I fear, as usual, the whole thing was quite vague. I have [searches her robes, before turning a glare on Austin and emphasises the next word] had an orb that would bring us back.

Dolorion : May I see it?

Clint: [Gives Dolorion a friendly arm-punch] How about you, buddy?

Dolorion : Got any rolos?

Clint: [Digs through pockets and comes up with a small, hard, dark object, sort of roundish. To Dolorion, hopefully] Uh, here ya go. One rolo. Yep. [hands the object to Dolorion]

Dolorion : [Looks distastefully at the object] That is not a rolo.

Alice : Didn't you promise to send us back to our own world if we smashed up the control room?

Dolorion : Yes.

Alice : Well?

Dolorion : [With a tired sigh, as he gestures to himself] Evil demon, remember?

Stephen : [Stamps in foot in annoyance] Oh for Philis sake, can't anyone keep their word in this awful place? Why won't you send us back? We did as you asked, and did it well!

Dolorion : Oh, stop being such a drama queen! Don't you people have any sense of humour?

Stephen : You know, I think I might have misplaced it when I had my jaw nearly broken by one of those groom ruffians! [Thinks a moment] Are you going to send us back home?

Dolorion : Of course I am! Now, before I do, I want you to remember that, although Athlacca will have been set back by what we did, he will return, and he will try to take your world.

Clint: Great. Any advice for keeping him at bay?

Stephen : Do you know of any particular sympathetic hot spots in our world which we should pay particular attention to?

Stephen : What, again? I thought you'd persuaded him that it wasn't worth trying to take over our world?

Dolorion : No.

Stephen : And I suppose you wouldn't even if you did know, you being an evil demon and everything! [Looks towards the door] So, I suppose these worlds are being seeded now, are they?

Dolorion : Yes.

Alice : So the brides and grooms seed the world using the heart?

Dolorion : Yes.

Alice : How come the grooms were so, well, awful? The brides seemed really nice.

Dolorion : That's what the heart represents. [Holds up one hand] The good. [Holds up the other] And the bad.

Austin : So it's about balance, is it?

Dolorion : It's always about balance.

Alice : That's right, Chastity, he was too busy complaining about me not murdering Stump to search any more.

Chastity : That's quite okay, Mister Giles. I know that you wouldn't have searched me unless it was strictly necessary.

Dolorion : [Takes the orb and looks at it] Yes, a nice toy. [Points at Clint] It won't work for you, though. Do you know any demons who might be prepared to send you back?

Stephen : You mean, the grooms were so awful, and the brides were so nice, that in coming together, they somehow cancel out each others extreme qualities? Their offspring would be half and half?

Dolorion : [Waves one of his hands] Well, that's how it starts out, anyway.

Dolorion : Not really, just to stamp out any signs of his sympathisers. [To Stephen] No, I just made it difficult for him. He is unlikely to be dissuaded. Remember, from within it consumes.

Dolorion : [Gives a smile] Ah. You're all on the Path, yes? Well, [a bit self satisfied] that should tell you.

Alice : [Impatiently] Oh for God's sake! At least tell us [huge emphasis] what consumes?

Dolorion : The Heart.

Clint: Hey, what'd you mean by "from within it consumes"?

Clint: [To Alice] Not much liking that answer. How 'bout you?

Alice : Not much understanding that answer!

Alice : [Tartly] Maybe you might explain it, Monty? [To Clint, by way of explanation] Monty's ever so clever. He can speak five languages. Unfortunately, he's a patronising git in all of them.

Alice : You mean, you haven't a clue?

Alice : [Folds her arms and nods at the others, satisfied] Hasn't a clue.

Dolorion : [Politely looks at his watch] Perhaps you might like to leave soon?

Chastity : That would be nice. [To Clint] It's a shame you can't come with us. We'll have to leave you with some obnoxious men and a lot of bridal wear in need of a good clean.

Dolorion : [Laughs at Chastity] I like you! [Waves his hand]

[In a puff of smoke, the party disappear, leaving DOLORION by himself.]

Dolorion : [Takes out a rolo, and somehow snorts it up his nose] Oh yeah!