THE QUEENS VIEW AFFAIR

[Book V, Act X, Scene I. The Duck Ranch. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT and SMOCK have just appeared here, in the bar. Sitting at a table are CHASTITY and FLEA BAG, drinking tea from a dainty tea set. The four who have just appeared are now fully equipped. The two look up and don't seem even remotely surprised to see the party appear. FLEABAG has SMOCK's "Book of Heroes" open on the table.]

Fleabag : [Reading from a book] Let's see what this lovely little book has to say about how heroes behave when they so rudely appear in someone's house.

Chastity : Ah! There you are! [Checks her watch] Not too much gallivanting in Euphoria, I hope. [Walks over to Smock] I hope they didn't drink any of that awful [whispers] brandy [normal voice] again, did they?

Alice : [Looks in horror at Clint and Austin] Oh no! I can't believe we didn't get any Louis XV! Austin got a drink of that

Smock: [To Fleabag, snatching her book off the table] Oy! Who said you could read that? It's only for heroes! [To Chastity] Nope, no brandy, but there were lots of zombies and morcs and burning and some normal elves that said they'd be in our army! But first they have to have a civil war or something and free all the thousands of humans they have trapped down there and fight their way through all the morcs... So we're gonna have to stall for a while. [Woefully] But Sebastian got killed by the uglies.

Clint: Also, Olive's toast, so Harv should be fine. And [resignedly] we didn't get any Louis XV!

Fleabag : My, my, Short Round, such atrocious manners, such terrible, terrible treatment of the one who saved your pretty little book.

Chastity : [To Clint] Good! [To Smock] I am pleased that the elves will be joining our fight for good, but [sighs sadly] I fear that the Colonel is not fine, not by a long way.

Clint: You still mad about his choice of fiance, Chas? Or is it something else?

Smock: [Grudgingly to Fleabag] Thanks... [Pokes her tongue at him. To Chastity, concerned] What happened?

Austin : [Glances around] Where is the colonel?

Chastity : He left, with that tart.

[Everyone turns and looks at ALICE.]

Chastity : I mean with Jasmine.

Smock: Oh no! We have to save him! Where did they go?

Clint: We're gonna need Harv for this. So we better go and get him. But I don't know about "saving" him, kid; as long as she can cook and clean, looks good but doesn't talk too much, and is disease-free, who the hell cares what she does for a living? [To Fleabag] She can cook and clean and doesn't have any diseases, right?

Austin : [To Clint, staring in disgust at Clint's filthy clothes] Indeed, there's barely room for one filthy, diseased chatterbox in this party.

Teabag : Well, two out of three, anyway.

Chastity: [Disapprovingly] Lamentably, Mr. Scar is correct. Well, not about that harlot being disease-free, no doubt. Rather, that our poor addled Colonel would disagree that he needs to be saved.

Smock: [To Chastity] So how come you're hanging out with him? [Points at Fleabag]

Fleabag : My my, such a spirited young thing, Smock.

Chastity: [To Smock] Waiting for all of you, of course. [Catches sight of Smock's hands and attempts to grab and inspect them] And did you wash your hands even ONCE since we parted?!

Alice : Not once!

Chastity: [To Alice] And why didn't you see to it that she did?

Clint: We were busy running from morcs at the time, Chas. Give us a break! Besides, we only let her smoke once...

Alice : [Nods in agreement with Clint] And she hardly had any brandy!

Smock: We were trying to save the world! I didn't have time to wash my hands. [Inspects her hands] They're not even that dirty!

Alice : [Looks at the hands] Why don't you take off those black gloves, Smock? [Looks a little more closely] Ah!

Chastity: [Enraged] Smoking, drinking, and poor hygiene?! You should all be ashamed of yourselves! [To Smock] Thank Phili you are back in my care once more. [Warningly, with a glare at Alice and Clint] Things are going to be VERY different now.

Smock: [Despairs] Oh no. [Whines] I don't want to do soap and reading and stuff.

Austin : [To Chastity, smiling] But we did bump into Peter.

Chastity: [Beams] Peter? And how he is? Did he ask about me?

Austin : [To Chastity] Yes, he asked about you and the Colonel, of course. [Checks his nails and rolls his eyes a little. To Fleabag and Smock] It occured to me that you had met Ms Smock before you met her with us, is that the case?

Fleabag : Not exactly. I know of her only by reputation.

Austin : Reputation! [Looks at Smock with suprise. To Smock, indignantly] You never said you were famous! [To Fleabag] So tell us all you know about our newest hero! And I want to hear all the grewsome parts too, please. [Takes a seat]

Fleabag : I'm afraid not, Simple. [Gives Austin a smile and wink] Compromising the timeline and all that, you know.

Clint: Can you tell us where Harv is, though? Or would we be wasting our time trying to get his help?

Fleabag : The man is in love, I'm afraid. Quite preoccupied. You may want to get him something to [chooses his words carefully] take his mind off it.

Austin : [Looks curiously at Smock for a moment, then to Fleabag] A substantial feast should do the trick, one waft of the roast boar and pickled newts toes and the colonel will forget ... [trails off. To Smock] Timeline? Are you the great great grand parent of one or more of the party members, or [look curiously] perhaps a child of one of ours that we have yet to have in our time line? [Thinks, looks a little pale] You're not the daughter of Free and Helen by any chance?

Smock: Ew! Don't be gross, Austin. Besides, I never travelled through time. [To Fleabag] Can I come with you one time? Boddy says that I wrestled a crocodile with him once! Do you come before or after Teabag?

Austin : [To Smock] Well, you sort of have traveled in time in a way, since we have just been in the interior.

Fleabag : That's true, Simple, but not the same thing. [To Smock] Teabag always comes after me, to clean up the mess I make.

Austin : [Winces at Fleabag calling him 'Simple'] Must you continually cajole me? Is that something you want from me, if so, please just ask.

Fleabag : No, it's not something I must do. [Smiles] I just enjoy it so.

Smock: [To Fleabag] Do you really have fleas?

Clint: [Scratches himself.] And what would be wrong with that?

Fleabag : What indeed, my pungent friend! [Smiles at Smock] Not since you arrived, Short Round.

Smock: Nothing's wrong with fleas! Fleas are part of nature too. I was just wondering. [To Fleabag] So how come you've got no shirt on? And how come you live here? And how come you're helping us? Are you and Teabag twins with Boddy and Darius?

Fleabag : I'm hot. I work here. I'm that kinda guy. No.

Smock: What kinda guy? How come you're the only boy working here? Are you in the brandy too? How does time travel work? Why is the sky blue?

Clint: Kid, remember Leslie? I don't think Fleabag's the only guy who works here...

Fleabag : [Wags a scolding finger at Clint] Naughty, naughty. I bet Leslie wouldn't like to hear that! [Turns to Smock] A nice guy. Luck. No. [Shrugs] Idunno. Because molecules in the air scatter blue light from the sun more than they scatter red light and when we look towards the sun at sunset, we see red and orange colours because the blue light has been scattered out and away from the line of sight. [Daintily sips some tea]

Smock: Wow... [Suddenly endeared to Fleabag, takes a seat and shuffles her chair right up next to him] Are you gonna join our army?

Fleabag : Oh, Lordy no.

Austin : [To Fleabag] Why not? Are you too sacred?

Fleabag : Ab-so-lutely.

Smock: [Gives a Fleabag a look of disappointment] Ugh. [Gets of her chair and moves away] Well, good thing we're leaving you behind then. [To the party] Come on guys. Let's go save Harvey and leave the cowards to their tea.

Fleabag : Save him from love? My my, you do have a lot to learn.

Clint: I dunno about that... Harv really shouldn't be settling down right now!

Fleabag : Oh, pish, posh, Stinky. Once he's married and reality kicks in, he'll be quick to ask to get back in. Now Jerome, on the other hand? [Gives a whistle] My, my. He sure is going to be a lot of trouble.

Austin : Trindle may try to murder Jasmine, just as he murdered Lucy. A tricky situation, since Trindle is also trying to kill us. [Shrugs] Perhaps Fleabag is right, that once Harvey is married he'll be desperate to get back to the front line.

Alice : Seigfried said something about the key to Jerome's power is that he's on the Path.

Teabag : Ah! From Within It Consumes?

Alice : Yes!

Teabag : He was, in his typical elfin way, trying to tell you how to stop Jerome.

Austin : [To Teabag] So what he meant was that if Trindle remains isolated from the party or the horsemen, then the nasty 'from within it consumes' thingy will kill him. Whereas if he joins up with us, or the horsemen, then he'll be in a party and will not be 'consumed from within'?

Fleabag : Not quite. The nasty will consume him from within, that is almost certainly true, but it could take time, time in which he will lay waste to the world. What Seigfried was referring to is almost certainly the good within Jerome. Find something he loves, something pure, something good, and use it against him. [To Austin] Chocolate finger? in shock from having

Clint: Thanks for the advice, but how can we use chocolate fingers against Jerry? And why do they count as pure and good, anyway?

Fleabag : You misunderstand. I was merely offering him one. Chocolate fingers are so, so not pure and good.

Austin : [To Fleabag's choccy finge, suprised] Oh, no thanks. [To the Party] I think what Fleabag is refering to is, in fact, Alice. Trindle has always loved Alice to the exclusion of all others, and Alice is very, very, pure and good, [Glances at Alice] I hope. [quickly] And I'm not asking for evidence. [To Chastity] and it's not an invite to a 'good and pure' competition either.

Alice : He totally does not love me, Aus! He tried to kill me earlier today!

Smock: But I reckon he does love himself, especially since he talks about 'Jerome' all the time. And all this path stuff is going to kill him...

Clint: Yeah, Jerry loves himself for sure, but no way in hell does he count as pure and good!

Alice : Too right! Anyway, he always called himself Jerome, even before he got weird. Well, weirder.

Clint: So what else does he love? Himself, math... I'm not seeing a lot of "pure and good" there. But there's gotta be something!

Alice : Hey! Math is pure and good!

[Everyone turns and gives ALICE a dirty look.]

Alice : Well, there's also Azrael. ### Azrael first appeared in 4.6 when the party, not including Smock and Clint ### discovered that Cocan had cast a spell on her to make her as unpleasant ### as possible. The party discharged it, but never found out why this happened. ### Azrael and Alice became good friends, even cutting their hair to look alike. ### When the party next heard of her, in 5.1, she was pregnant, having been ### raped by Jerome, who insisted on calling her Azrael all the way through it. ### Two versions of Azrael appeared, a "good" version, which is how she ### would like to be :

Grace Marlow (Azrael) ### And the normal version :

Azrael Spica

Austin : [To Alice] Hmm, well I just thought that was Trindle transfering his deep seated love for you to someone who looked very like you. [Shrugs, cajoleingly to Alice] I think, deep down inside, Trindle still has a crush on you.

Alice : [Nods in agreement] True, I am very, very lovable.

Smock: Is that why you're called the Link or whatever?

Alice : [Shrugs] I don't know.

Fleabag : Oh no, Short Round, that's something very different. Now, this Azrael, could Jerome have loved her?

Smock: [To the party] Who was she? Was she on our team?

Austin : [In disbelief] No way, he raped her! That's hardly an act of love.

Alice : Not exactly, but we did help her. She, uh, had a bit of a fixation on me, and cut her hair the same as me, and shortly after Jerome saw her, he raped her, and she's now pregnant with his child. Azrael, and she who

Chastity: [To Alice, sweetly] My, what an imaginative re-telling of events, dear.

Alice : Oh, it's get better, Chas. [To Smock] And when we met Grace, who's the person that Azrael wished she could be, Chastity didn't behave in an embarrassing way at all!

Chastity: [Offended] I don't like your tone, young lady! I merely baked our hosts some delicious treats, as a thank you for their hospitality.

Alice : Mm-hm! [Takes one of the tiny tea cups and delicately sips from it, with her little finger sticking out, and making a huge slurping sound as she does]

Chastity: [Horrified] I never did any such thing! A lady never [disgusted finger quotes] slurps!

Fleabag : [Taking a drink from his own cup, not making a sound] How true, Sister. How true.

Clint: Who cares whether a lady slurps or not? What matters is whether Jerry loved Grace! [Pauses] And there's nothing wrong with slurping, dammit!

Alice : Well said, Stinky! [Looks around the others] Could he? Could Jerome, in his sick and twisted way think he loved her?

Austin : [To Alice] Sick and twistedly, yes. He is a murdering psychopath after all.

Clint: Great! So we just have to figure out how to use that against him.

Alice : Hm. So what does this mean?

Fleabag : [Helping himself to another few chocolate fingers] Find what he loves and use it against. [Makes the quotes sign with the fingers]

Chastity: [Fretting] The poor girl has enough trouble as it is! She shouldn't be in anyway involved in any of this, for her own safety and the safety of her baby. [Snaps her fingers] Wait It's the baby! The baby is what he loves, not Azrael!

Fleabag : My, my, this does appear to be all very melodramatic.

Clint: All I know's that we're sure as hell not going to destroy Grace just to get to Jerry! That would make us just as bad as he is!

Fleabag : Maybe you could talk to the girl, tell her to crush his little heart with cruel words. [Glances at Alice]

Alice : What?

Fleabag : [Smirks to himself] Nothing.

Austin : Well, we certainly can't kill the child. Perhaps we could trick Trindle into believing that it is not his child?

Alice : Good idea, Aus! What about it? She was a hooker, after all!

Fleabag : Unlikely. Jerome will know.

Austin : [To Fleabag] Well, just what exactly do you suggest?

Fleabag : [Says nothing but does a throat cutting gesture]

Chastity: [Shocked] We could never kill an innocent girl!

Clint: The lawyer's idea isn't too bad, though. Maybe we could trick him into thinking that she was dead?

Fleabag : The first thing, my pretties, is to find her.

Austin : Surely you mean killing the baby? [Looks disgusted] There is no way I am killing a baby. No. Absolutley not. And I'm not going to kill Azrael either.

Fleabag : Well then, I guess the world is doomed, and all on account of your delicate sensibilities.

Alice : Why can't it be you? I mean, no offence, but you look more the baby killing type.

Fleabag : I would love to oblige, honey, but it has to be one of you. One of the five of you.

Smock: What if it's a really fat, ugly, mean baby. Then can we kill it?

Chastity: [To Smock, scolding] Fat, ugly, mean babies need the most love of all!

Alice : [Squeezes Clint's arm reassuringly] There there!

Austin : [Giggles at Alice's joke] Well, if we, the champions of good, have to start killing innocent babies to save the world then perhaps the world isn't worth saving. [Shrugs] There has to be another way.

Chastity: [Nods at Austin] Quite right, Mr. Sleaze. We are not about to stoop to those depths. [To Fleabag] You have excellent tea, Mr. Bag, but I think your advice leaves much to be desired!

Austin : Well, yes, but technically I suppose, if we got the permission of the child's legal guardian, to allow us to request that the child's legal guardian terminate the life of the child in question in order to save the lives of millions, then perhaps all we would need is proof that the child was consenting, albeit through the auspices of it's legal guardian, to self sacrifice for the greater good. [Ponders] Although I guess that is still technically suicide, which is illegal. Hmm, we would probably have to proove that the marteydom did save the world. [Ponders] No, I don't think that would be possible. And I still don't want to be involved anyway, it's terribly nasty.

Clint: [Frustrated] Okay, but what's wrong with my idea? Can't we just go find a dead baby somewhere and try to convince Jerry it's his?

Chastity: [Snaps at Clint irritably] Where on earth would we find a dead baby?!

Clint: [Defensively] I've done my part for the plan. Someone else can find the dead baby. Try a graveyard? Maternity Hospital? Grocery store?

Austin : Perhaps we could guilt trip him into being a better father? The whole dead baby thing is really not me. [Checks his nails, with a somber expression]

Chastity: [Looks at Clint, disgusted] Really, Mr. Scar! How can you even think of such dreadful things? Grave-digging?!

Fleabag : [Helpfully] You could always try killing a baby. Look, Pretties, don't go shootin' the messenger. If you can find a different way, then [punctuates each word with a jab of a chocolate finger] off you go.

Austin : [To Fleabag] Your help is appreciated Mr Fleabag, but we obviously have to seek alternate means to achieve our goal. [Checks his nails distantly]

Fleabag : [Lets out a whistle] Hoooboy! You guys are just like Sven, all conscience.

Austin : [To Fleabag] Well, not wishing to commit infanticide is fairly basic in terms of conscience. Anyway, [flattens his already perfect suit pockets] what are we going to do now? [Ponders] Perhaps if we just took the baby away and the child somewhere. [waves his hand quickly before anyone can respond] with someone who could look after it of course.

Clint: How 'bout Harv and Jasmine?

Austin : [To Clint] I think Trindle might try that first, as he knows that Harvey was not with us the last time he encountered us [Matter of factly] And besides, where ever it is, it has to be top secret, and nothing stays secret for very long in a brothel.

Alice : Does he even know about Harvey? I'm not so sure Jerome would have easy access to the inner workings of a brothel. After all, he's a geek, and everyone knows geeks don't have sex.

Chastity: [Grudgingly] Suprisingly good idea, Mr. Scar. I should think a brothel would be the very last place anyone would think to look for the Colonel, and even then, no one would dream he would be spending time with THAT simple-minded tart.

Austin : [Smirking] Except the Colonel, that is! [Frowns] And perhaps a few hundred others.

Clint: Yeah, but I bet Jerry would be scared of a place like this. Like Alice said, he's a geek!

Fleabag : Ah, the curse of the geeks. They dream all their lives of this moment, and as soon as they spot a pair of bouncing boobies it's all giggling Smeavis and Smutthead style. [Tuts loudly]

Chastity: [Primly] I don't like that language, Mr. Bag. [To Austin] What would we do once we brought Azrael to the Colonel and his tart? I don't see how that threatens Dr. Trindle.

Fleabag : [Quickly turns to Austin, as though watching a tennis match] Good return by the nun with the [looks directly at Chastity's chest, licking his lips] cup of tea.

Austin : [To Chastity] Azrael? You haven't been listening at all have you Chassers old girl, off on one of your daydreams again! [tuts. Loudly and slowly for Chastities benefit] We take the baby not Azrael. We hide the baby somewhere safe with someone who can look after it, but we don't tell Trindle, instead we trick Trindle into believeing that we have killed the baby. Then, Trindle becomes wracked with grief and unable to concentrate on his path.

Fleabag : My my, the lawyer aggressively attacks with only [waves his hand] a modicum of hand waving.

Austin : [Anoyed to Fleabag] Are you related to Avid Dattenborough?

Clint: See? We trick Jerry, just like I said! Except I'm not sure we should try to convince him that we killed the baby. Might just piss him off!

Fleabag : Oh no, Simple, but the man is a client of mine. Quite a decent tipper but mercy! The man never stopped.

Alice : [Nods at Clint's words] Right. Uh, first we need to get the baby, right? Or Az, if it's still in her.

Austin : Hmm, yes, that reminds me [To the Party] How much time has part on the surface since we went into the interior?

Alice : Good question, Aus! [To Fleabag] What date is it on the surface?

Fleabag : I do believe it's the middle of November.

Alice : [To the party] She was pregnant back in August, but Harvey said that she was developing unnaturally fast, so who knows if she had the baby already?

Fleabag : She does.

Chastity: [Grimly] Well, then, I suppose we had better find her immediately and put this dreadful plan in motion.

Austin : [To Chastity] Better kidnapping than murder. [Looks concerned] Anyway, it might not be a baby any more, if the pregnancy came to term unusually quickly, perhaps the baby has grown unnaturally quickly, and is now an adult! [Looks smug]

Alice : So it's okay to kill an innocent adult, but not an innocent baby?

Austin : [To Alice] Why is that? [Looks at Alice quisically] No, no, who said anything about killing Trindle's offspring? I thought we were going to kidnap the offspring?

Alice : [Mystified] Oh-kay. So, what does it matter that the offspring could be fully grown now?

Smock: [Exasperated] Who cares!? You're doing that think where you talk too much again!

Alice : And you're doing that thing where you talk!

Clint: [Impatiently] Look, Bimbo's right. It doesn't make a damn bit of difference if the kid's all grown up now. And the kid's right, too - we're talking about this instead of doing something about it! So let's get a move on already!

Smock: [Enthusiastically] Yeah! And we gotta make sure there's time to get you all into hero shape before the final confrontation. So where does this Azreal live?

Alice : She used to live in Euneirophrenia, but the last we heard she was on the run, trying to get away from Jerome.

Fleabag : I believe that I know where the young lady may be.

Smock: [Pauses, waiting for Fleabag to elaborate.] ... Where?

Clint: Yeah, where? And why didn't you say so earlier?

Fleabag : Why, because I was having such a delight watching you all debate the issue. I believe she is at Castle Woebegone, at the top of Mount Hopeless, where the River of Despair rises.

Alice : Sounds like a nice place!

Smock: Cool! A castle. Sounds like somewhere you'd live, Chastity. Let's go! [Heads for the door, but soon turns back. To Fleabag] Which way is that?

Fleabag : [Tosses a book on the table] Here, this will show you.

[The book is "An illustrated guide to scary places in the Realms".]

Austin : [Defiantley] It is important to account for the fact that the baby might not be a baby, but an adult, because babies don't have swords or cast fireballs. [Picks up the book and has a flick through it to the relevant page]

Chastity: [Peering at the book] What does it say about our charming destination?

Austin : [To CHastity] We'll, let's just say that they don't have hot springs and forest walks.

All : They don't have hot springs and forest walks.

[Exit ALL.]

[Book V, Act X, Scene II. The Top of Mount Hopeless. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT and SMOCK are here. It is now a week later, and the party have used FLEABAG's guide to find their way here. They can see the castle in the distance, and, as they approach it, can hear the sound of fighting from just around the corner.]

Alice : [Reading from the guide] It doesn't say anything about this here.

Chastity : About the fighting?

Alice : No, the castle.

Chastity : [Opens the correct page] There.

Alice : Oh!

Clint: So what does it say, Bimbo? Anything about the fighting?

Alice : [Disappointed] Nothing! What kind of guide book is this!

Clint: [Irked] The old, out of date, useless piece of junk kind! [Nods in the general direction of the fighting sounds.] Anyway, someone started the party without us. Let's go crash it!

Alice : I know! Look! [Turns the relevant page to Clint] It doesn't even mention that we're here!

[Everyone draws their swords and advances slowly. Once they turn a corner, they see the unmistakable figure of SVEN, surrounded by a bunch of what appear to be surprisingly geeky looking zombies. SVEN is clearly having the better of the fight, and each time he hits one, it disappears.]

Sven : [Catching sight of the party out of the corner of his eye] Haw! [Kills a zombie] You're in real trouble now that the losers from Queens View are here!

Sven Goring

The Zombies ### Sven is an old friend of the party, and always got on extremely well ### with everyone, particularly Clint. Sven died back in Book III, but ### became some sort of angel in Book IV. The party haven't had any ### opportunity to talk to him about this, nor the fact that it was he ### who cast a spell on Azrael to make her an outcast.

Clint: [Goes to help Sven.] Want a hand? [Conversationally, whilst in the midst of battle with the zombies] How're things? Being an angel agrees with you?

Sven : [Slicing off a zombie's head] Nah, I cashed in my wings for another shot at mortality. That whole balance thing is a bit of a pain.

[ALICE and CLINT join in, and soon the zombies are finished off.]

Alice : Huh! That was easy!

Chastity: [To Sven, looking for wounds] You aren't injured, are you?

Smock: [Pouts at all the bodies and complains to Clint and Alice] I wanted to kill one! Even if they were already dead.

Sven : Not a scratch, Sister! [Looks at Smock and gives her a big smile] Haw! Vicious little brute, aren't you?

Clint: [Proudly] We taught her well!

Sven : [Punches Clint hard on the shoulder] Haw! Well done, Clint! What are you bunch of reprobates doing here?

Clint: [Returns the shoulder punch] We're looking for something that Jerry loves so we can heroically use it against him. You know, "from within it consumes," and all that crap.

Smock: Oy! [Brushes off Sven germs] Who are you meant to be?

Sven : [Laughs at Smock] Haw! What a personality! [Nods at Clint's words] Good idea, Stinky.

Smock: [To Sven with a scowl] Hey! I asked you a question!

Chastity: [Horrified, to Smock] Mind your manners, child! [To Sven] You must forgive her rudeness. It does appear she was raised by wolves.

Smock: [Turns her frown on Chastity] At least the wolves didn't bottle up their feelings and get all snooty at each other.

Chastity: [Sweetly] I expect not. Animals lack the sophistication and self-control one expects in a young lady. [Valiantly] Don't worry, child. I will civilize you, if I must struggle to do so unto my dying breath!

Sven : Haw! She's great! [Grabs Smock in a headlock and ruffles her hair playfully, before letting her go] I'm Sven Goring, Goring by name, Goring by nature. What did you do to deserve being stuck with this lot?

Austin : [Smiling] She begged us to take her with us. [Smirks] She has so much to learn.

Smock: [Pushes away from Sven's headlock. Proudly] I wanted to become a hero like them, so now I am! [Confidentially] Except I have to do a lot of work to make them proper heroes.

Sven : Haw! I'll say! Just as well they've got you to knock 'em into shape, eh?

Clint: Don't encourage her, Sven! She wants us to start dressing like the lawyer!

Sven : [Tosses a bottle of brandy to Clint] Some hope!

Alice : So, what are you doing here, Sven?

Sven : Lookin' for Azrael, as it happens.

Smock: Us too! Maybe we can look together! Are you a hero, mister Sven? Last Ellen #26

Sven : Nah, I'm too busy saving the world, protecting the innocent and dealing with side kicks for any of that kind of thing.

Alice : [Points at Smock's hero book] Hey! Isn't that Sven's picture on the front?

Sven : [Glances at it] Ugly looking brute, isn't he?

Smock: [Looks at her book] Oh wow... [Gazes at Sven starry-eyed] You're a really, real hero! Can I be just like you?

Clint: No offense, kid, but you're kinda small for that. But go for it anyway. Hell, Chas would love it!

Chastity : [Does a sharp intake of breath at Clint's offensive language] Tut!

Sven : [To Smock] Haw! Sure you can, kid, if you hate evil and bad guys, and love good, nature and Du Soku. [Takes out a fiendish 25 x 25 puzzle] Keeps the mind sharp in the face of all that alcohol and violence I partake in!

Smock: [Angrily at Clint] I am not too small!

Sven : [Does a few pretend punches on Clint] You tell him, Smock!

Smock: [Smiles at Sven] Yeah! [Punches Clint] I am not too small! [To Sven] I hate bad guys heaps and I love nature and I want to do violence too! But I've never seen one of those before [points at the Du Soku]

Sven : Shooter'll tell you how it works. [Hands the puzzle to Alice]

Alice : [To Smock] It's all about math - it's ever so exciting!

Smock: [Looks at Alice and the puzzle] Ew. [To Sven, excited again] Will you help us find Azrael? We have to see if she had her baby yet so we can use it against the evil Jerome and save the world from all the baddies!

Clint: [Amused] Kid, a real hero is telling you it's good for you. You can't just go turning your nose up at it! [Aside, to Sven] You don't really do those things, do you?!

Chastity: [To Clint] How on earth can that possibly matter with the grave situation we're facing? [To Sven] Why are you looking for poor Azrael? We [hesitates and looks at the rest of the party] had connected you with her in the past, though not in a very nice way, I must say.

Sven : Haw! I've always had an eye for figures, Clint, eh? Eh? [To Chastity, seriously] I know, Sister, but I was just trying to protect her.

Alice : By turning her into a bitch?

Sven : Partly - if she never met Jerome, she would never have ended up in this kind of trouble.

Austin : I think you might be surprised at how many men are attracted to the bitchy type.

Smock: Is that why Chastity had so many husbands?

Chastity: [Glowers at Smock] No, dear. Men do not make wives of women like that. They merely play with them, and then they choose a life-partner of substance.

Smock: Does that mean you didn't have any substance because you didn't have partners for life?

Chastity: [Offended] I was married to all of them for life! I have been thrice widowed, child, and you are a cruel brat to bring up such painful memories for me! [takes out a lace hanky and dabs her eyes furiously]

Smock: [Taken aback] Oh... [Fidgets a little] How was I supposed to know that?

Clint: [Surprisingly gently] You weren't, kid. But maybe try to be juuuust a little nicer to Chas. She means well, you know, even if she does make you wash behind your ears and crap like that.

Chastity: [Looks at Clint, stunned] Er, thank you, Mr. Scar! [Gives Smock a chilly look and then turns to Sven, all business] So, you were responsible for Azrael's behavior? Why was it so important she meet Dr. Trindle?

Smock: [Shrinks away from Chastity and goes to huddle close to Clint. To Sven] How come you need to find her now? Do you need her baby too?

Sven : Ah, you misunderstand me, Sister - I was trying to prevent her from meeting Jerome. It had been foretold that she would bear him a child. [Downcast] I failed. That's why I cashed in my wings. I wanted to return to try and prevent Jerome from getting access to her child.

Chastity: Oh! I just assumed you meant that her more unpleasant self would naturally attract Dr. Trindle [not-so-subtle look at Alice]. I knew there was a noble reason behind that dreadful trick! And why are you seeking her now? To protect her?

Sven : [Looks at Alice] Yeah, lots of guys like the uh, feisty type.

Alice : Hey!

Sven : Haw! [Grabs Alice in a headlock an holds her there] Not you, Shooter! [To Chastity] It might be too late, Sister. I fear that the evil Doc Jerome has already got hold of her.

Clint: Well, we've got to do something! Maybe we could swipe her from him?

Sven : Good idea, Clint. That's what I'm here for, too!

Alice : Uh, shouldn't we really spend a lot of time in pointless debate? Arguing around in circles? With no actual satisfactory conclusion?

Sven : Nah, Shooter, let's just charge headlong into battle!

Clint: I'm with Sven! The time for pointless debate is over!

Sven : [Draws his sword] Right! Keep an eye out for the Jeromites, though. They're not difficult to beat, but they make a lot of noise and could hold us up.

Smock: [Sighs dreamily and follows after Sven, starstruck] [The party follow the path around, and come to a flat and bare mountain top.]

Sven : Here we are. Castle Woebegone. [Points at the bare mountain]

Clint: Where the women are strong, the men are good looking, all the children are above average, and the castle is invisible.

Sven : Or underground! [Points to a cave] That's the way in - weapons drawn, everyone. Let's kick some geek ass.

Austin : [Musing] Personally I would have gone for making the children invisible, the castle strong, the women good looking and the men above average, [shrugs] No accounting for taste!

Clint: [Whips out his sword.] Now you're talkin'! Charge!

[SVEN and CLINT, followed closely by ALICE, race down to the cave, followed more slowly by SMOCK, CHASTITY and AUSTIN. There they find ten JEROMITES, who slowly begin to attack. The JEROMITES are clearly not the brightest or best, and are easily being despatched by the others.]

Alice : Hey! This is great fun! These guys are way easier to kill than the Morcs!

Smock: [Bustles into the front line, dagger drawn] Let me get one!

[SMOCK easily avoids a swing from one of the JEROMITES and stabs him in the belly, causing him to disappear. Before long, all the JEROMITES are dead.]

Alice : Well, that was easy!

Sven : [Standing at the end of the cave] It's not those ones that I'm worried about, rather the ten thousand down here.

Smock: Ten thousand!? Let me see! [Runs over to Sven] I reckon they'd be easy peasy for a hero like you!

Austin : It seems rather unlike Trindle to have such poor lackeys. One would have thought that a good strong door may better stop invaders than ten thousand very weak zombies. [Smirks] He probably just wanted the company and the power trip of commanding ten thousand lackies.

Clint: Wouldn't graduate students have been cheaper and more subservient?

Sven : [Ruffles Smock's hair playfully] Of course they would - if they all queued up for me! [To the party] Don't underestimate Jerome - these aren't just zombies, they are zombies with Nascency Fluid, on the surface. They can't be stopped. If he figures out how to make them any better, we could be in big trouble.

Sven : Sure, but they have less capacity to think than these mindless zombies do.

Smock: So have these guys got that weird tained fluid? Or are they normally like this?

Sven : Never saw them before, Smock. My guess is that Jerome has somehow mixed the fluid from the Morcs with his own, er, fluids, and produced the unholy Tar Strek fans that we see before us.

Clint: So if we can't beat 'em, join 'em! Get some geeky clothes... they'll never think it's us!

Alice : [Looks at Austin] Perfect, Aus!

Austin : [Looks at his own perfect designer clothing, then at Alice's tarty slutty clothes. To Alice, smugly] Well at least you are good at mathematics.

Alice : [Beams happily] Aw, thank you! And at least you're - [looks Austin up and down] hm.

Austin : [Does the 'as if' look at Alice's failed attempt to put his perfect dress sense down. Smugly] Speechless? [chuckles as he rolls up his sleeve and applies some 'Halo Bera' forearm lotion, by Oolay, to Maplin]

Alice : If only!

Clint: I dunno, Bimbo, do you think a bunch of mindless zombie geeks would be caught dead wearing that stuff? We need braces, bow-ties, pocket protectors, that kind of thing. [Ponders this for a minute.] This damn well better be worth it!

Alice : [Betraying a hint of hysteria] Pocket protectors??

[The sound of drumming comes from further inside the cave.]

Sven : Oh no! I think we might be too late!

Smock: But we don't have that stuff. I know! We just have to act like them. Take look at the way they move. Very limp. Almost like sleepwalking. Look at the face, it's vacant with a hint of sadness. OK, let's try, shall we?

Clint: Worth a try, kid. Let's go before we run out of time! [Follows Smock's advice and tries to "sleepwalk" rapidly towards the drumming.]

Smock: Excellent! [Turns to the rest of the party] Come on people. It's mournful, sorrowful, you're dead and you hate it. Go!

Alice : We need to put on glasses, everyone knows that rule geeks wear glasses. Clint, surely you have some that you've taken from people you've beaten up?

Clint: I used to, but I lost my collection when the damn morcs grabbed us the other day. But there should be some from the zombies we just killed, right?

Chastity: [Frets] Oh, dear! If only our Mr. Giles hadn't gone bad! He'd be ever so good at this. [mimics the walk of the dead]

Sven : [From further up the passage] I think it's too late, guys. Look!

Alice : [Stepping forwards] Oh oh! That can't be good!

Smock: Let me see! [Runs over to Sven]

Chastity: [Briskly dead-walks over to see] Oh, dear! What now?!

[The party can see that there is a huge cavern here, with thousands of JEROMITES in there. In the middle is a raised section, with a marble table on it. Tied naked to the table is AZRAEL. She is no longer pregnant, and is still alive.]

Alice : What do we do now?

Chastity: [Horrified, shielding Smock's eyes] We must save her, of course! Perhaps we could create a distraction?

[Enter JEROME, wearing the same helmet he did while killing LUCY. He is also dressed in long black robes, and easily steps through the crowd, heading towards AZRAEL.]

Alice : [Nods at Chastity's words] Good idea, Sis! Now, what could distract a group of geeks?

Chastity: [To Alice, frantically] Why don't you get his attention while we try to save Azrael? You're the love of his life. Reminisce about all of the special times you shared and so forth!

Sven : [Turns to Alice and does the international sign of the flash] Come on, Shooter, they're geeks - it could blind them!

[ALICE whistles loudly, and lifts her shirt as the zombies turn to look.]

Jerome : [Stepping up to Azrael, giving a smile in the direction of the party] Too late!

Clint: Oh yeah?

Smock: Stop right there, mister evil bad guy! [Attempts to wade through the masses of zombies staring at Alice's chest.] [Too late! JEROME plunges a dagger deep into AZRAEL's chest, causing her to cry out in pain, and then go limp.]

Sven : [Grabs Smock] Hold on there, Smock, we're not going to be able to get him when there are so many zombies, despite how well formed Alice's chest is.

Chastity: [Fighting tears] That animal! We must stop him. [In a horrified whisper] What do you think he's done to the baby?!

Smock: Of course we have to stop him! But how are we going to get there with all these things in the way? [Frowns at the zombies] And I think she's already dead... [To Chastity] Why don't you call down Phili or something. Surely this is the sort of thing he hates. I mean, if he exists and all.

Austin : [Fires a few shots off at Jerome. To the Party] Kill him or something!

Clint: [Glances at his sword] How?! I'd love to, but there's the horde in the way!

[Alas, JEROME is too far away to be hurt by AUSTIN's shots, although a JEROMITES are rather unhappy.]

Alice : And it's a big horde! I think we should get the hell out of here!

Sven : [Making no secret of the fact that he's checking out Alice's chest] Agreed, he may gain more power from the sacrifice so.. we.. [trails off, distracted]

Chastity: [Swats Sven with a rolled-up tea towel] Mr. Goring! [To the rest of the party] We must find that infant! Phili only knows what will happen to it if we do not intervene.

Alice : Hah! The girls have never let me down yet!

Sven : [Shakes himself back to reality] Agreed, Sister, but we need to get away and regroup.

Smock: ['Hmmphs' at Chastity, obviously irritated at being ignored.] All right team! Time to regroup! [Leads the way back out of the cave.] Mister Sven. Do you know if Azreal did any time travelling?

Sven : Pretty sure she didn't do any, Smock. Oh, and my father's name was Mr. Sven.

Alice : Uh, how come your name isn't Sven Sven?

Sven : I'm a traditionalist, I changed my name when I got married. [Looks up] Sounds like there are more Jeromites on the way.

Chastity: [Sighs heavily] Well, then, we'd better leave the way we came, no? [starts scurrying toward the entrance, grabbing Smock by the arm as she goes]

Clint: Yeah, I guess so. But we'll be back, dammit!

Alice : Come on! Let's kick a few Jeromite asses.

[The approaching figures round the corner. These are JEROMITE 2.0 ZOMBIES. They are moving a lot more naturally than the others, and are screaming manically.]

Alice : Uh, maybe we should get out of here after all!

Jeromite 2.0

Austin : [Fearfull] Good idea, let's run!

[ALICE and AUSTIN leap onto the carriage, on which SVEN and SMOCK are already on. SVEN slams the horses into reverse.]

Sven : Sorry, Chas, Clint, we gotta go!

Chastity: [Miffed, panting, and out of breath] You just try giving birth twelve times, and we'll see how fast you can run!

Austin : [To Sven, shocked] Wait for Clint and Chassers!

[The carriage screeches to a halt, lettig CLINT and CHASTITY climb aboard.]

Sven : Bam! Just kidding! [Roars off through the Jeromites and doesn't stop until well clear of the castle]

Austin : [Catches his breath. To Sven] Don't do that! [Austin has a look at his Aspect. To Sven] Do you have an Aspect?

Chastity: [To Austin] Is now really the time to play doctor?!

Austin : [Looks at Chastity curiously] No, Chastity, probably not. [Turns to Sven and whispers] She looses it now and again, old age you know!

Smock: [Staring at Chastity, gobsmacked] Twelve times!?

Austin : [To Smock] You've got good old George, George, George, George and George to thank for that! All though not all at the same time I believe. [Smirks, smugly]

Sven : [To Alice] Haw! Looks like you nee to teach them about math, Shooter!

Chastity : [Coldly] And about manners.

Austin : [Chuckles light heartedly at Svens's comments, and then does the 'oooh'-fingers thing to Chastity] OOoooooh.

Alice : So, I think we need to talk about what just happened.

Chastity : Fine. [Folds her arms] I mentioned that I'm not as spry as I was due to childbirth, and then they made some smutty and hurtful remarks.

Clint: She just loved her husbands, Sleaze. Course, I love my cigar but I take it out of my mouth once in a while...

Chastity : [Gives Clint a disgusted look] Mr. Scar, if I didn't think you were trying to defend me, I would probably be offended.

Clint: [Waves a cigar airly in Chastity's general direction.] No problem, Chas. Anyway, Bimbo's right. We've gotta talk about what just happened, and what we're gonna do about the new, improved Jeromites.

Alice : Not to mention Jerome! I think we've sorted out that argument about whether or not he cared for Azrael, though.

Sven : Maybe not quite like you think, Shooter. My betting is that he did like her, which is why the sacrifice worked so well. No pain, no gain, as anyone with an Aspect of the Path will tell you. watching the other

Clint: That's just freaking great! So if he doesn't like you, he'll kill you because he's an evil bastard and that's what evil bastards do to people they don't like. And if he does like you, he'll kill you anyway, because it makes him stronger?

Sven : Yes, but he'll take longer doing it.

Alice : What happens if he doesn't have any strong feelings about you?

Sven : He'll kill you.

Chastity: [Mournfully] He used to be such a nice man!

Sven : [Sadly] That's the Path for you. From Within It Consumes.

Chastity: How can we stop a man who will stoop to those levels? He seems to have no conscience at all. And what about that poor infant?!

Sven : We need to separate Jerome from the infant.

Chastity: Yes, but how?! Another [finger quotes with a disapproving glare at Alice] diversion?!

Austin : [To Sven] Trindle may try to kill the infant before we can even find it. [Looks a little sleepy] So how do we stop some one who kills his friends and his enemies?[To Sven ] How do we kill Trindle?

Sven : [Flatly] I don't know. [Shrugs at Chastity] It might give us all a lift. [To Austin] Jerome definitely won't kill the child, rather he'll use it to increase his own power.

Austin : [To Sven] And how will he get more power from the child?

Sven : It's all about the balance, my well dressed friend. Jerome has finally pushed all the good out of himself and it is manifested in this child. That lets him get ever more evil without disturbing the balance.

Austin : [To Sven, musing] So is the child as powerful as Trindle?

Sven : Unfortunately not - although the child is as innocent as Jerome is evil.

Alice : So if we just wait for the kid to become [glances at Smock] a bratty teenager, Jerome will be less powerful?

Sven : Sure. Of course, the world will probably have ended by then.

Clint: So all we have to do is make the child really evil really fast? Hell, kids are concentrated evil already! This one just doesn't know it yet!

Austin : [Looking happier] Hmm, corruption. That sounds like a good plan, for once, Mr Scar.

Alice : [Rubs her hands together] Alright! You want someone corrupted? Look no further!

Sven : Haw! I bet - not sure that it'll work, though, but I'll tell you one thing, it's a hell of a lot better than chopping the poor kid in half with a very sharp axe.

Chastity: [Primly] What a dreadful plan! We are just going to have to find another way. Every child deserves to retain its innocence for as long as possible. Not to mention that innocence gives us the opportunity to mold them into obedient, well-groomed citizens!

Alice : Why don't we just kill the kid? That way it'll never lose its innocence!

Smock: Can we reverse the funnel and put the good back into Jerome?

Alice : Uh, precisely where do you propose to insert the, uh, funnel?

Smock: Wherever the evil comes out! [To Sven] How old is the kid now?

Chastity: [To Smock] How disgusting!

Alice : [To Chastity] Oh please! You religious types just never stop complaining about anal sex, do you?

Sven : [Checks his watch] I'm guessing a few days old.

Austin : [To Alice, sighing] Yes those religious types are really quite a drag, you'd have thought they'd never heard of KY!

Chastity: [To Alice, appalled] What?! You should be ashamed of yourself, speaking of such things. I just wish the Colonel was here to keep you under control! Think of the example you're setting for young Smock!

Alice : [Does a finger gun at Smock] We're way too late to be of any sort of example to her, Chas. [To Austin] Except those [emphasis] in drag, Aus!

Smock: [To Alice] That's not true. Chastity's an example of how I don't want to be when I'm older. Clint's an example of what can happen if you drink and smoke too much. Austin's an example of high style and the latest fashion. And you're an example of where you can get with just a good body.

Austin : [To Alice] Why would someone in drag be an example to Smock? [Does a 'what a stupid thing to say face' at Alice] Ridiculous!

Austin : [Pauses from applying skin cream to Maplin for a moment. To Smock] My how remarkably astute, for one so young. [Rolls Maplin's sleve back down and puts his skin cream away]

Chastity: [To Smock, sweetly] I never realized all you wanted in life was to be an effeminate thief!

Smock: Nuh uh! I want to be a hero! [Beams at Sven. Back to Chastity] And one day to make you into proper heroes too! Out of everyone, you're the furthest behind. It's gonna take a lot of work to get you up to scratch.

Alice : [Rolls her eyes at Austin] Oh, calm down. I just meant that maybe those in drag might know about KY. [Puts on the same "ridiculous" face as Austin for a moment, before turning to Smock, gesturing to herself] This isn't a good body, it's a great one!

Austin : [To Smock, smirking] And it has a full service history, quite a few of them infact!

Alice : Unlike Austin's, which is all self service!

Clint: As fun as all this is, we're getting a bit far from the point! What are we gonna do about the baby?

Sven : I think it's time you lot went back to school!

Chastity: [Baffled] For Phili's sake, Mr. Goring! You're not making any sense!

Austin : [To Alice] Better that than 'public service'. [Blows a little raspberry at Alice]

Smock: [To Sven, brightly] But I never been to school, so I can't go back.

Clint: Just to make sure I'm getting you... You want us to corrupt the kid at school? Isn't that a sure thing anyway?

Alice : [Quickly] I'll say!

Sven : [Ruffles Smock's hair playfully] Haw! You'll love it Smock! [To Clint] Nope, the kid is just a baby, you need to figure out how to separate Jerome from the kid.

Alice : And they teach that? Wow! I always thought universities just taught you how to drink and puke.

Clint: Yeah. What does us going to school have to do with anything?

Austin : [To Clint] If you had attended you might have found out. [Checks his nails] So, where is Trindle keeping the infant? Any ideas? [Looks around the party and then to Sven]

[As one, everyone shrugs, making an "Idunno" sound.]

Sven : I have a few leads. [Holds up some dog leads] I'm going to trade these with someone I know for information. I was hoping you lot would go and do the school thing to find out more about separating them.

Smock: [Bravely volunteers] I'll go! It's what a hero would do! [Beams at Sven before looking pointedly at the rest of the party.] Investigating is part of beating the bad guy.

Alice : Yeesh! Why don't you get some glasses and a pocket protector too, Smock?

Austin : [To Sven, incredulously] Are you implying that someone has set up a school to teach people how to separate Trindle from his child?

Chastity: [Nods at Austin] I never heard of anything so ridiculous! Schools are for learning facts and figures and being molded into an ideal citizen.

Smock: [Folds her arms and turns her nose up a little] Because I'm not the geeky nerd. I can't help it if [emphasis] some people don't want to put in the effort to stop Jerome.

Alice : [Nods] That's right, Smock, we need to be careful of them.

Sven : Haw! You have the way of it, Sister! The people you need to talk to are archaeologists, they know about a time in the past when something similar like this had to be done.

Austin : [To Sven] Good. Archaeologists. So where abouts do they reside then?

Chastity: [Skeptically] What do archaeologists know about people? I thought they only cared about digging up old bones and such?

Sven : [Looking ever so slightly less than enthusiastic] We-ell... this kind of happened before. I think we need to look for history rather than sociology to tell us how to stop it.

Clint: Then what are we waiting for? Let's go find a bunch of those tweedy freaks and get some answers out of 'em!

Austin : [To Sven, curiously] So, an evil guy had an innocent and good son which allowed him to become even more evil and someone separated them and thus defeated the bad guy? [Pauses] And the Archaeologists dug up the remains? Or a book about the separation?

Austin : [Muses] A child protection order and adoption or guardian certificates and legislature will be required [Starts writing some details down on his note pad. Without lookingup from his note pad] So where are these Archaeologists then? We need to speak to them asap. And we should contact the local CPA too, also we could get a Psychiatrist to confirm Trindles psychopathy, which will greatly facilitate the adoption and guardian process.

Alice : [Dismayed at Austin's words] Books? I didn't know that we'd have to do reading if we went to school

Sven : [Does a "kind of" gesture with his hand to Austin] Not exactly. Someone who was innocent and good had an evil son which allowed him to become even more good.

Clint: You don't really think that Jerry'll listen to a court order to hand the kid over, do you?

Chastity: [To Clint] He most assuredly will not, Mr. Scar. Perhaps these archeologists can be of some assistance. How can we find them, Mr. Goring?

Austin : [Chuckling at Clint's naievety] Aaah, no, Mr Scar, I am quite certain that Trindle will not just hand the kid over. The point is that, *if* we have the correct paper work then it wont be kidnapping and we wont be breaking the law. [Looks at Chastity] I'm sure some members of the party will be happy to be on the right side of the law.

Alice : For a change!

Sven : You need to go to Antilegomena, and join the expedition that Professor Perrin is about to lead. Now, it's crucial that you keep a low profile, otherwise - [looks around at the party] yeah, you know what? [Gives a big smile] You'll be fine!

Austin : Antilegomena, excellent [To the party, inspirationally] Let's go save the world! [Pauses and looks around. To Sven] Which way is Antilegomena? [Gets out 'An illustrated guide to scary places in the Realms' that Fleabag gave him earlier]

Sven : [Peers at the book] Antilegomena probably isn' t there, as there's nothing particularly scary about it. However, this book will have directions. [Gets out 'An illustrated guide to boring places in the Realms'] Travel well, my friends. When you have information, go to the Strangely Mediocre And Relaxing Tavern in Antilegomena, and you'll be able to find me from there.

[Everyone says their goodbyes to SVEN, and he heads off in one direction, while the party take the other.]

[Book V, Act X, Scene III. The Srangely Mediocre And Relaxing Tavern in Antilegomena. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT and SMOCK are here, having travelled for two days. It is now early evening, around 7pm, and is getting dark. The town is pretty quiet, and the only person on the street is CLAIRE DARE, an anxious looking young woman in a business suit.]

Claire : [Spotting the party pulling up] Ah! You must be the final six!

Claire Dare

Clint: [Looks around.] Could be. But there are only five of us, babe. Unless you count the Big General, of course! [Does a classy hip thrust for emphasis.] Maybe you'll get to meet him later.

Claire : [Clearly very stressed] Oh my God! [Counts the five party members] Well, I count six, and if anyone asks, there are six of you.

Alice : What's the name of the sixth person?

Claire : Uh, Dave.

Alice : And what's he like?

Claire : Very nice, he's very polite, and very quiet. Often wears suits and is really good at chess.

Alice : Ah, I don't like him. [To the party] All those in favour of throwing Dave out of the party? [Holds her hand up]

Clint: [Raises his hand as well.] Dave seems kind of like a loser. Just call the sixth person Harvey. He's a 6' tall invisible rabbit.

Chastity : [Frowns at Clint] We'll do no such thing. I think Dave sounds like a perfectly nice gentleman.

Claire : Thank you - he's my boyfriend.

Chastity : I vote we keep Dave in the party.

Claire : Well, he's actually my brother, but he's really nice!

Austin : [To Claire] What a close knit community you must live in here. [Looks around. To Claire] So, what now?

Chastity: [To Claire] Of course he is, dear! It sounds as if all of us [glares at Alice and Clint] could learn important lessons from him. Now, why do we need six? Are you seating for dinner?

Smock: [Complains as she has been doing for the past two days] I wish Sven was here, then he could make up six.

Chastity: [Sighs heavily] As do I, young lady. Mr. Goring always knows just what to do.

Claire : That's how many people we've budgeted for. I'm the administrator for the expedition, and it's the administrator's job to do all the costs. It's a very important position when you're the administrator. The administrator does all the important work.

Alice : So what are you? Some sort of secretary?

Claire : [Glares at Alice, before turning to Chastity] Won't you please come in? I'll tell someone to keep a look out for Dave.

Clint: Sure thing, toots. Go make me a cup of coffee or something while you're at it.

Claire : [Sharp intake of breath] I'll see if I can find someone to get you some. I'm an administrator, I don't make coffee. [Stalks into the hotel, followed by the party, several members of whom get tangled up in the revolving door before being spat into the foyer]

[The foyer is very quiet, with just one person ARTHUR MCCREEPY, here.]

Claire : [To the party] This is Professor McCreepy, he will be part of the expedition.

Arthur : [Nods to the party] Delighted to see you. [To Claire] Any sign of that coffee?

Chastity: [Arthur] Hello, good sir! You must be in charge. We have spoken to your secretary at length.

Arthur : A nun? How delightful. [Looks passed Chastity at Smock] Mmmm. [Back to Chastity] No, I'm not in charge, but you might ask the secretary to bring you to our great leader.

Claire : [Huffily folding her arms] If only there was a secretary here!

Smock: [Folds her arms snottily and glares at Arthur] What?

Austin : [To Smock] Good, I can see that you are not so keen on that low profile nonsense either. [Takes a cursory glance around. To Claire] Is there a bar in here somewhere?

Smock: [Gives Austin a nod and a satisfactory smile] That's right. Heroes aren't s'posed to be hidden away like cowards. [To Claire] I want a drink too, Miss Administrator.

Arthur : Heroes, eh? How delightful. [Bows slightly to Smock] I just wondered if the little girl would like to see a bunny rabbit.

Chastity: [Steps in front of Smock, defensively] No, she most certainly would not, pervert!

Austin : [Smirks] This should be amusing. [To Claire] So you must know of all the important social events in these parts, are there any parties afoot this evening?

Arthur : [Quite calm] My my, what is perverted about asking if the child would like to see a rabbit?

Claire : [Glares at Austin] I said, I'm not a secretary! [Thinks for a moment] Oh, I mean, [gives a big smile] sure, I know all that sort of stuff. We administrators are invited to all the parties, you know.

[Time passes.]

Alice : [Prompting] So...?

Claire : Oh yeah, there's one on tonight, but I'm not invited. Well I am, but it's [mumbles something incoherent]

Austin : [To Claire] Well, if you could tell me who's party it is I'm sure after I have ha a quick word with them they'll invite us all.

Alice : It's what? I didn't catch that?

Claire : Nothing, it's not important, I don't want to go to that stupid party anyway. I bet everyone at it will be an idiot, except the person pouring the wine. [Storms off]

[Exit CLAIRE.]

Chastity: [Watching Claire go, sadly] And that's what comes of women in the workplace! That poor girl needs to find a good man.

Arthur : [Steps close to Chastity] What's perverted about rabbits? [Looks Chastity up and down] My, but you are an unusually attractive woman.

Chastity: [Primly] It was how you said it.

Arthur : Interesting. How about this? [Clearly is trying to sound nice, but failing] Would you like to see my bunny?

Chastity: [Claps her hands over Smock's ears, horrified] Obscene!

Smock: [Pushing Chastity out of the way] How do you know what I want? [To Arthur] Where's the rabbit?

Austin : [In disbelief, to Smock] All that wineing and all you really wanted was a rabbit?

Arthur : [Gives a smirk at Chastity, before turning to Smock] Here you go, little girl. [Takes a dead rabbit out of his pocket and holds it out. The cause of death isn't obvious, but there are blood stains on it]

Arthur McCreepy

Smock: [To Austin, pouting] No... [At the sight of the dead rabbit, screws up her nose and steps back] Ew! That's disgusting! And very disrespectful! [Scowls at Arthur] And I don't like you.

Arthur : That just makes it more fun.

Alice : [Gives Arthur an incredulous loo] Why are you carrying a dead rabbit in your pocket?

Arthur : Well, I'm hardly going to leave him in my suitcase, am I?

Austin : [To Smock] He is seriously unplesant, isn't he! [Austin wanders a little further away from Arthur] There must be a bar or cafe around here someplace?

[Enter VITTOR MACDISSI from another door.]

Vittor : Yes yes, the bar is here. And yes, Arthur is very unpleasant, a disgusting fetid sore on the ass of humanity oozing the pus of low brow teenage angst ridden goth culture. [Gestures to himself with an elaborate drink filled with bits of fruit and little umbrellas] I am Vittor, kiss kiss, delighted to meet you. If you want to have a drink in the bar, then kiss kiss kiss, I am ecstatic to meet you.

Vittor Macdissi

Clint: [Backs away from Vittor quickly.] Get away from me, you freak! This one's all yours, Sleaze. You were saying you wanted to go to the bar, after all...

Vittor : How typical of the small minded bourgeois thought slavery. [Steps into the bar]

[The party follow him in, to find a small bar with no one else there. VITTOR goes behind the bar.]

Vittor : What would you like? [Looks at Clint] No doubt something small minded and bland, with as little imagination as yourself?

Clint: Whiskey. [With emphasis.] Straight.

Vittor : [Taking out a bottle of Dack Janiels and pouring a shot for Clint] Here. Dull your senses and anaesthesise yourself against the futility and banality of your existence.

Clint: Yeah, whatever. [Accepts the whiskey and steps away from the bar, quickly.]

Alice : [Sidestepping Clint to avoid being knocked over] So, Vittor, do you work here?

Vittor : [Breaks into hysterical laughter for a second and then looks very serious] No.

Alice : [Startled] Uh, okay.

Smock: [Tugs at Austin's sleeve] Is that guy speaking English?

Alice : Let's just get some drinks and sit over there. [Points at a table]

Chastity: [Disapprovingly] This is a highly inappropriate place to bring a child! [Puts her arm around Smock protectively]

Clint: She's [with emphasis] SIXTEEN, Chas. Nothing wrong with taking her into a bar!

Chastity: [To Clint, sweetly] I'm just as likely to take child-rearing advice from you as you are likely to bathe, Mr. Scar. [Takes a sniff in Clint's general direction and gags. Gasping for air] In other words, un!

Smock: [To Chastity] Can I at least get a drink since we're here? Everyone else is and I wouldn't want to attract attention, after all.

Chastity: [To Smock] Certainly! You may have water or milk. I see no harm in that, though I will want to sniff them to ensure no one has tainted them.

Austin : [Browses the cocktail list] Hmm, well I shall have a Sinsinatty Shoogle please.

Smock: [To Austin] Ugh, what's that? Sounds like some breed of dog. [To Chastity] No, I want a real drink, like what Clint's having!

Vittor : [Puts a tiny shoe on the bar, pours some vodka in and begins shaking it, as he nods at Smock] That's it, don't bow to the dictatorial rigidity that's so ingrained in everyone else. Sixteen? Drink all you want! Live! Fuck! Grab life by the balls and get its attention. [Puts the shoe down in front of Austin] Live on the edge! [Quickly takes a napkin and folds it into a suprisingly convincing shoelace, which he places on the shoe]

Austin : [Delicately sips from the shoe, savouring the flavours] mmm.

Chastity: [Looks at Austin's shoe drink] How disgusting!! [Snaps at Vittor] My young companion will have [huge emphasis] lukewarm milk [gives Smock a warning glare].

Smock: [Frowns and pouts at Chastity] Aw. [Folds her arms and slouches sulkily] Real heroes get to drink good drinks. They get to have big feasts with huge tankards full. Austin, you should get something less... freaky.

Austin : [To Smock] Variety is the spice of life, you know that. [Takes another sip from the shoe]

Smock: Variety, maybe. But I ain't seen anyone spicing their food with old socks.

Vittor : [Bends down for a moment, before returning with a huge plate of steak and potatoes, garnished with old socks, which he produces with a flourish] Voila!

Alice : [Getting a Cina Polada] Oh great, I love music.

Clint: What the hell? Why would you ruin perfectly good socks that way?! [Examines his own moldy old socks.]

Vittor : Think not of it as ruining perfectly good socks, but as injecting a new life force and vitality in an otherwise banal and pedestrian meal. [Serves up drinks for the party, including a shot of some sort of spirit for Smock] Are you all here for the expedition?

Smock: [The look of disgust for the food is soon replaced with excitement as she spots the drink poured for her. To Vittor as she reaches for the drink] Awesome! We certainly are. What are we s'posed to be looking for anyway?

Vittor : Life! Excitement! Living history - the secrets of the very struggle of good versus evil!

Alice : I thought we were looking for an axe?

Vittor : Oh yes, and an axe, too.

Clint: So who all are we waiting for, anyway? We're here, McCreepy's here, the secretary's here. [With just noticeable distaste.] Even you're here. Let's get the party started.

Austin : Well I'd like to get changed before we start a party. I wonder where our rooms are? [Looks around] Where did Clare go?

Chastity: [To Austin] To fetch coffee?

Austin : [To Chastity, patiently] No, to show us to our rooms of course, so that we ... those of us that have personal hygene as part of their daily routine, may wash and change for the party.

Vittor : [Face lighting up] Party? Now that's more like it!

[Enter SISTER CONTINENCE. A nun with long red nails and heavy make up. She is smoking a cigarette.]

Continence : What's this I hear about a party?

-=- Tue, 17 Oct 2006 08:21:47 +0100 -->

Clint: Do we look like we need chaperones? Except for the kid, but we'll keep an eye on her.

Austin : [To Continence] What manner or form does your chapperoning take?

Smock: [Frowns at Clint] What do I need a sharp prune for? And since when can you get a sharp one?

Chastity: [To Smock, enunciating carefully] Chap-e-rone! It's a word you should learn very quickly. It means well-meaning adult [gestures modestly to herself] who watches over hormonally erratic young person [gestures daintily to Smock].

Clint: [Helpfully] Basically, she means a cock-block.

Chastity: [To Clint] Mr. Scar, how ridiculous! I made no mention whatsoever of any form of fowl!

Austin : [To Clint] now now Mr Scar, let's not be too hasty, Continence does appear to be wearing a PVC habit after all.

Clint: Yeah, that's true. And that's a good habit to have!

Austin : [Looking quite enthusiastic] Indeed Mr Scar, let us not presume that the [Pauses, whistfully] chaperoning be negative to our [looks for an appropriate phrase] higher interests.

Clint: And here I thought that chaperoning was only supposed to be negative to our lower interests. [Gives a hip thrust for emphasis.]

Austin : [Raising an eyebrow] Well it has certainly not had a positive effect on your subtle sense of subtlety. [Smirks. Then to Continence] Do you have a curriculum vitae, that I may peruse?

Continence : [Moving stealthily across the bar to Austin, her PVC habit making a squeaking noise as she does] Sure. It's tattooed on my ass.

Alice : [Raises an eyebrow and leans back on her seat, slowly craning her head downwards, just as Continence briefly lifts her habit] Hm. [Surprised] Hm! You were a stock broker for three years?

Continence : It was the Eighties, darling. Everyone was doing it. link to Conti's page

Smock: Well I don't want a [ennunciating to Chastity] sha-pear-rone. Besides, she's already going with Austin. [To Vittor] So where's the party?

Vittor : The party is where ever we make it, the fun is in what we make of the mundane, the joy is in our very approach to life, not just in the joyous things we find, for in that approach, we find everything joyous, everything from fucking to being fucked. [Aside] In particular that one! In fact, [Leaps onto the bar, with music swelling in the background, and breaks into song with a wonderful singing voice] Bring me joy in the way that I -

[Enter JC PERRIN, a crusty looking old professor type, waving his arms in the air.]

Perrin : Stop that, stop that!

Prof. JC Perrin

Austin : [Still reading Contenace's CV] You went to Bodine! [Smirks] I went there a few times too, the finest all girls private educational establishment there ever was, if you don't mind me saying so. Nice ass too [Winks at Contenance]

Clint: [Unclenches his fist.] You tell him! None of this happy happy, joy joy, I have to sing crap!

Continence : [Gently stroking her ass] Yes, it is very fine, isn't it?

JC : [Nods at Clint's words] Quite right! Quite right! Now, you are all here for the expedition, correct? Correct?

Smock: [Enthusiastically] Yessir! We can even fight all the zombies and mummies you accidently raise up when you spring and ancient curse! [An over-eager gesture manages to knock over the drink Vittor poured for her.] Oh poo!

JC : That's the kind of clumsiness that will get us all killed! Killed! [Dramatically] The artefact for which we are searching is an axe so old, so mysterious and so enchanted it doesn't even have a name.

Alice : What's it called?

JC : The Axe Without A Name.

Smock: That's a stupid name! It takes too long to say. Do you even know what it does? How come you need to find it?

JC : Really? Really? What's so stupid about it?

Austin : [To Smock] Powerful magical weapons are the only weapons that can harm the like of the horsemen, or Trindle, for example. [To Contenence] Thank you, that's an impressive CV. [Ponders. To Smock] If it is indeed a very powerful magical weapon then it'll probably be able to talk to us. [Chuckles] Although it may not want to.

JC : [Peers at Austin] I wonder why! I wonder why! [To the party as a whole] Now, you lot are the experts on the Entruscan era, correct?

Chastity: [Looks blankly at JC. To Alice and Smock] This sounds like work for the men. Why don't we make some tea and sandwiches while we wait for them?

Alice : [Looks blankly at Chastity. To JC] Yes sir, we're the experts on Enter Rust Can era.

Chastity: [Adds helpfully] A bit of lemon juice might do the trick.

JC : Lemon juice? Lemon juice? I see, I see. [To Vittor] Two glasses of whiskey. [Back to the party] I suppose you want to know the route?

Chastity: [To JC] Oh, yes, please. Thank you, kind gentleman.

Austin : [To JC, casually] Who do think, in your opinion, is the most interesting character of the Entruscan era?

JC : Good question, good question! I think my favourite would have to be the Axe Bearer. What about you? You are the experts after all.

Austin : [To JC] Hmm, Yes, the Axe Bearer. [Muses] I was always personally interested in those who have wielded Beaucaphalus, the wonder sword, but that's rather an aside to our current venture. [Looks briefly upwards, and excitedly] But the Axe, the Axe [Looks around the party. To JC] We're all rather hoping that history will become reality in the near future, just imagine seeing it for the first time! [Goes glazed over]

Smock: [Giving Austin an incredulous look, to JC] How come you like the Axe Bearer the best? He doesn't even have a good name either! It does nothing to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies! Probably because the Axe doesn't even have a name. Geez you people are so uninventive!

JC : [Gives Smock an incredulous look, before turning to Austin] Indeed. Quite. Beaucaphalus is a fascinating character in the events. Quite fascinating. Quite fascinating. His constant changing of sides during those events characterises much of. [Breaks off, staring into space]

Smock: See, at least that sword has a name! What events? What are you talking about now?

JC : What events? What events? You [emphasis] are an expert in the Entruscan era, aren't you?

Smock: [Shrinks back] Oh, um, yeah... I mean no. I - I'm just the apprentice student thingy. [Shuffles her seat closer to Austin] I'm just learning from Austin, see, so I can one day be a cool archaeologist or something... So maybe you could teach me? About the events you're talking about? Since it's good to learn from a bunch of teachers and all that...

Clint: [To JC, apologetically] Grad students. Whaddaya gonna do?

Austin : [To Smock] Beaucaphalus the wonder sword was known to fight with only the most powerful people, and would often change from working for the side of good, to working for the side of evil, if he thought they were more powerful. [Adds as an after thought] Beaucaphalus has incredible healing powers, amongst others, but [with a look of horror] is also digustingly vain, proud, arrogant and hypocritical [checks his finger nails briefly]

JC : [Sighs in sympathy with Clint] I hope she at least does your lectures and washes your car for you?

Alice : [Nodding at Austin's words] It was simply unimaginable!

[Enter ARTHUR, standing at the door, watching.]

Arthur : My my, everyone's here. [Smiles a creepy smile] This will be fun. fun.

Clint: Mostly, she makes the coffee. Anyway, since we're all here, shouldn't we be getting on with things?

Chastity: [To Arthur] What will be fun?

Arthur : Making new friends. [Sits down very close to Chastity]

JC : [Stares at Clint as though enraged for a moment] Yes! Yes! Of course. [Looks around the room] I see we are missing some people, but it is no harm for us to start. [Opens up a flip chart that has a map on it. There are no distinguishing features and nothing marked on it] We will start here [points to the map] go onto here [points again] then through here [one more point] and finally, finish here. [Points one last time] Any questions?

Austin : [To JC] If and when we find the Axe, who shall be the Axe Bearer? [Looks around those in the room] Who shall carry the Axe?

Chastity: [Dismissively] Mr. Scar, of course. An axe is the weapon of a brute.

JC : Maybe not! I have recently made some incredible discoveries that suggest there is a lot more to the Axe Bearer than was previously thought. All will be revealed at tomorrow's lecture!

Smock: [To Clint, whining] But I'm tired and hungry and I want to sleep now! [To JC] Where's our rooms?

JC : I'm sure I have no idea! [To Clint] The inadequacy of your graduate students is none of my concern. The lecture will happen tomorrow at 9AM sharp. That is when I will reveal the shocking new information that I have discovered. Until then, no will know. No one! [Storms out, almost colliding with Clare, who's coming back in]

Chastity: [To the others, with a sigh] I'm afraid these so-called "geeks" have nothing in their lives but their work. He'll never tell until he has an audience. [Sadly] It's the closest these men come to having a social life.

Austin : [To Clint] Isn't that the kind of thing undergrads do? [Turns slowly to Smock] A fine chance to proove that you are much more than adequate.

Alice : I could totally seduce him faster than she could!

Clint: Why don't we do tomorrow's lecture now, as a dry run. [Nods in Smock's direction.] You know how graduate students are. You'll have to give it three or four times anyway.

Austin : [To Alice] I was thinking more of the 'hastle the Profs until they give in - anything for a quiet life' approach.

Clint: We could just try sending Alice to find out...

Smock: [To Alice] Nuh uh! I could find out before you!

Alice : [Leans back looking cool] Sure you could. [Falls off her chair]

Clare : No one is going to disturb the Prof - it is very important that he gets some sleep tonight. He gets cranky during lectures if he doesn't have at least ten hours sleep in a blue room the previous day.

Austin : [Eyes go wide for a moment at the mention of 'Blue room'. To Clare] You have Blue rooms? Do you have Rose ones too? Those are my favourite.

Clint: [To no one in particular] Why am I not surprised?

Smock: [Getting frustrated] Well if no one's gonna show us where our rooms are, I'm gonna sleep outside! [Gets up from the table]

Austin: [To Smock] I expect that Clare knows where our rooms are, she seems to be the only person around here that knows what's going on.

Clare : [Puffing up with pride at Austin's words] That's right! I am the only person here who knows what's going on! You will be staying in the brown room.

Continence : That's my room, darling.

Clare : [Flustered] I mean, the red room.

Vittor : Mine.

Clare : Come with me, I'll find a room for you.

[Exit the party and CLARE.]

Continence : How very boring they all are.

Vittor : I liked them. They have an energy that seems like they are shaking a fist in the face of life and spitting in its eye.

Arthur : I have a rabbit in my pants.

[Book V, Act X, Scene IV. The Mauve Room. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT and SMOCK are here, each in a smaller room off the main suite. It took CLARE a few tries to find their room, but it is now the following morning. Only ALICE is in the main room at the moment, trying to order room service. Enter CLARE, in a state of panic.]

Clare : It's the Professor!

Alice : No, you're the secretary.

Clare : What? No, I mean, the professor is dead!

Austin : [Wanders into the main room, wearing a Hugo Shmucksozi silk quilted dressing gown, a night cap buy Da-da, black legwarmers and silk persian slippers. Yawning] Dead? Dead! [Looks around in a panic] Where?

Clare : In his room! Come quickly!

Alice : Sheesh! It's not like he's going anywhere! [Starts banging on the doors of the other party members] Come on! Wake up!

Clint: [Wanders out of his bedroom, rubbing his eyes grouchily.] Keep it down, babe! Some of us are trying to sleep! [Does a double-take as his brain catches up.] Wait, what did you say?

Alice : I said [loudly] wake up!

Clint: No need to shout! What's so important, anyway?

Clare : The professor! His bedroom! Dead!

Clint: What?!? How? When?

Smock: [Bursts out of her room, fully clothed and awake. To Austin, Clint, and Chastity's closed door] Come on guys, I've been up for ages. You know, in the wilds you have to be early to keep on top of the game! If we were birds, you'd have all starved by now! [To Clare] You came to the right place! We're heroes, so we can help you. I'm sure Chastity can fix the professor - she's married to Phili.

Clare : The professor's dead! I'm not sure! I don't know!

[Enter CHASTITY, coming from her room.]

Chastity : What's all this commotion?

Clare : [Gives a tired sigh] The professor's dead. Moidered!

Alice : Geez, Smock, been at that early morning espresso?

Smock: [To Alice, shrugging] Nope. I guess people just don't have energy when they get old.

Alice : [Gives Smock a curious look] Huh? Oh, that's right, I keep forgetting, you're a [finger quotes] little girl.

Smock: I am not! I'm a big hero too, even though I'm the youngest. [To Clare, now ignoring Alice] Show us to the professor's room and we can see if there are any clues and stuff. Austin's the best at that bit.

Chastity: [To Clare] Yes, dear, do let me take a look at the poor man. [Hopefully] Perhaps he's only mostly dead.

Alice : My mistake. You're just a creepy weirdo who pretends to be a little girl.

Clare : [Face lights up] Well, he lost a lot of blood, but I think I've managed to find most of it. Come on!

[CLARE leads the party to JC's room. It has clearly been ransacked, and there are papers and books strewn all over the place. JC is lying on the bed, having been smashed on the head with something heavy, as well as stabbed in the back a number of times.]

Alice : We sure it's not suicide?

Chastity: [Examines JC's many gaping wounds. To Alice, super sweetly] Obviously, the cause of death is inconclusive, dear.

Clare : It's clearly foul play!

Alice : [Taking out her magnifying glass] So. The Chicken Liberation Front, his old enemies?

Clare : You're an idiot.

Alice : Maybe, but an idiot with a magnifying glass!

Clare : The keys are in the door. [Points to the keys, which are in the inside lock] His lecture notes are missing.

Austin : [Donning a pair of surgical gloves enthusiastically, and starts searching the room carefully casting his expert eye around the scene. To Clare, whilst searching and examining] Did you have a backup copy of his lecture?

Clare : No, he was very protective of this lecture, he didn't want anyone to hear what he was going to say. [Thinks for a moment] Until the lecture.

Austin : [To Clare] Naturally. Do you know if and where he may have kept A backup copy of his lecture, somewhere that the killer might not have looked?

Clint: So who all has keys to the professor's room? And where are his lecture notes?

Smock: [Clearly less enthusiastic after Alice's comment] Who'd kill someone about a lecture?

Alice : You've clearly never been to a first year Dumbputer Science lecture at U Hell, Smock!

Clare : [To Austin] Yes, yes I do!

Chastity: [To Clare] Could you get a copy for us, dear? We do so love to learn!

Clare : [Face drops] Oh. I'm afraid they're back in the university, that's about three days ride from here.

Chastity: [To Clare] But surely he wasn't planning to give his lecture from memory?! Everyone knows professors are lost without their yellowed moth-eaten notes stained with coffee rings and lonely nights.

Austin : [Still searching the place. To Chastity, incredulously] Don't you think the killer might have stolen the lecture notes. [Sighs] Why else would they have killed him [Spies the Prof's coat and winces at the elbow patched tweed] Appart from his horrific dress sense of course!

Clint: Much as I hate to say this, he's right, Chas. Besides, there's got to be a reason this room is trashed! Either the killer ransacked it, or the prof was a real slob. [To Clare] Was he a slob, by the way?

Smock: [To Chastity, looking at the professor] Can you fix him? [To Clare] Well? Do you know who'd want to kill him?

Austin : [To Smock, *still* carefully searching] He looks way beyond fixing to me. [Finds a man sized nappy and comforter] Ewwww! [Casts them side] On 24/10/06, djob@staffmail.ed.ac.uk wrote:

Clare : [Nods at Clint] Yes, he was a real slob. [Looks at the nappy] And he was lazy. I've no idea who would want to kill him, he was universally loved.

[Enter CONTINENCE.]

Continence : So, I see the old bastard is dead.

Chastity: [To Continence, scolding] Show some respect! Does your faith mean nothing to you? [gesture's to Continence's clothes]

Continence : [Taking out a cigarette, and clearly waiting for someone to light it for her] Sure it does, you just don't know what my faith is. [Runs her eyes across the mess in the room, coming to a rest on the adult diaper] I guess the map is gone?

Clint: [Lights up the cigarette.] What map? You don't really mean that none of you know how to find this place without a map, do you?! What kind of operation is this?

Continence : [Accepts Clint's light] Of course we do, we just don't know what to expect when we get there. It is frightfully dangerous. Of course, as experts in the Entruscan era, you'll be able to guide us through the traps safely, won't you?

Chastity: Of course. Can you tell us how to get there?

Continence : Tell you? Darling, I'll be coming with you!

Clint: [To no one in particular] That's what they all say! [Does a hip thrust and gives Continence a sleazy grin.]

Continence : [Gives Clint a wink] Sure they don't say that they'll be going, Sweetie?

Clint: [Unfazed.] Some of 'em do, but none of 'em mean it. Anyway, maybe if they took the map they left the lecture notes. Let's give a look.

Chastity: [Gingerly searches the professor's pockets] I don't feel any notes, but here's a tiny pencil, so maybe I'm getting warmer.

Clare : [Aghast] Sister! He wouldn't keep his lecture notes in the trousers that he's wearing! [To the party in general] I'm quite sure that whoever took the map took the lecture notes too.

Austin : [Finds a man sized nappy changing mat, a large feed bottle filled with milk, some hewletts ointment and some wetwipes] Eeew! [Stands up and stops searching] I'm pretty sure there is nothing of value [Clears his throat delicately] nothing of particualr interest left in this room.

Smock: Well, looks like the prof's dead, and someone stole all the important stuff. [To Clare] Where's breakfast?

Clare : Breakfast? Breakfast? How can you think of breakfast at a time like this?

Alice : [Stomach rumbling massively] Because it's breakfast time.

Clare : But what about the professor?

Alice : I don't think he's hungry.

Austin : [To Clare] Yes, best to sort the Prof out first [Austin carefuly checks the Prof to see that he is dead]

Clint: He's dead, Sleaze. I mean, look at him! Now c'mon, let's find something to eat.

[The PROF is definitely quite dead. Enter ARTHUR, who stands at the door.]

Arthur : Did you kill the Professor?

Austin : [To Arthur, whilst covering the Prof's body with a sheet] Claire found the Prof a few minutes ago. It seems athough the Prof's killer stole the map and his lecture notes.

Arthur : So you did kill the professor?

Smock: [To Arthur, indignantly] No. Heroes don't go around killing civilians! [To Clare] Look, he's dead, there aren't any clues, and the only way we're gonna find out what his lecture was about is to get to this site or whatever and find it ourselves. And you wouldn't want us to do our sleuthing on an empty stomach would you?

Arthur : Are you heroes? I didn't know. [Looks directly at Smock] You seem very rude for a hero.

Clint: You don't know many heroes, do you? through next Thursday - at a conference.

Arthur : Only my dear mother.

Chastity : How nice!

Arthur : Here's a picture of her. [Shows Chastity]

Chastity : [Pales visibly, before turning to the party] That's turned me right off my breakfast.

Clint: Oh, c'mon. It can't be that bad! [Takes a look and also pales.] I'll just investigate the gruesome corpse for a while longer.

Alice : [Eyes widen] Let me see! [Takes a look] Well, that's not so bad. [Looks more closely] Oh! I see. She's bending over. [Pales a little, before turning to Clint] Yeah, I think we should check out the brain seeping out of his skull for a while.

Chastity: [To Arthur] Really, young man, just what is the meaning of this? [snatches the photo back from Alice]

Austin : [Indignantly to Arthur] No of course we didn't kill the Prof or anyone else for that matter. [Looks at Arthur suspiciously] Did you kill the Prof? Where where you in the past 8 hours or so, since we all saw the Prof alive? Filling your pants with dead rabbits?

Arthur : [Snatches the photo back from Chastity] It's my dear mother, picking up her bathrobe after getting out of bed. [Calmly to Austin] I was in my room killing rabbits. How do I know that you didn't kill the Prof?

Clare : [Shocked] Yeah! How [emphasis] do we know that you didn't kill the Prof?

Chastity: [Firmly] We most certainly did not kill the [finger quotes] Prof. We can all vouch for each other, and we are all [hesitates] respectable, Phili-fearing citizens. And how do we know YOU didn't kill the Professor?

Clare : Yeah! [Turns to Arthur] How [emphasis] do we know that you didn't kill the Prof?

Arthur : [Smirks at Chastity in a very annoying way] In that case, I'm sure that you didn't kill him. I am a well known and respected academic. We don't kill people. Besides, maybe you should investigate the other people who were here last night first. That Vittor seems like a seedy type. I think he might be foreign.

Austin : This is silly, it is unlikley that any of us killed the Prof as he was going to present his talk to us and then accompany us to the site, and therefore non of us had anything to gain by stealing the map and lecture, or by killing the late Professor. Appart from that you'd have to be really stupid, and very sick to return to scene of the crime and accuse others. [Glances very briefly at Arthur, from the side of his vision]

Clare : Yeah! [Emphasis] Really stupid!

Continence : On the contrary, Mr. Sleaze. If the Professor gave his lecture then we would all have followed the map together. Stealing the map and lecture would mean that who ever killed him would be able to find it by themselves.

Chastity: [To Continence, self-righteously] Well, we have no interest in finding it just for ourselves. Our reasons are pure and noble, and for the greater good!

Austin : [To Continence, dryly] Yes, but they wwould hardly be standing around here waiting to be founf out, would they. The killer is most likely on his way to the Axe site already, unless the killer is the kind of really sick and twisted individual who would hang around just to see what happend after the deed.

Alice : So, whoever isn't here killed the Prof?

Austin : [To Alice] No, [pauses] As you'd say in mathematics, it would be incorrect to deny the antecedent.

Alice : So who ever killed the prof [emphasis] is here?

Chastity: [Snaps at Austin] Don't speak lawyer!

Arthur : I think we should go down and have some breakfast. I have some delicious kitten eyeballs that I'd be happy to share.

Austin : [Indignantly to Chastity] Fascist! I shall speak when and wherever I please!

Chastity: [To Austin] You misunderstand my punctuation, Mr. Sleaze. There was clearly no comma. Speak all you want, just don't speak [exagerrated emphatic finger quotes] lawyer.

Alice : That's right, Aus, there was clearly no [long pause] comma.

Clint : Oh for God's sake. Let's see if the others are still here. [Moves to leave the room, but finds Arthur blocking the door] Get out of my way, freak!

Arthur : [Unperturbed] Certainly.

Austin : [To Chastity] Perhaps you should learn to speak properly then, and not in prole street lingo! [Roles his eyes] Besides, I was not using legal nomenclature, the terminology I used was that of mathematics, specifically logic!

Chastity: [Sweetly] Shall I make some nice, soothing tea for you, Mr. Sleaze? You do seem to be getting agitated.

Arthur : And some kitten eyeballs. I know they always calm me down.

Austin : Let's go have breakfast then!

Clint : [Barging out passed Arthur] Move it, freak!

[Exit ALL, downstairs.]

[Book V, Act X, Scene V. The Kitchen. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, SMOCK and CLARE are here, with CONTINENCE and ARTHUR having returned to their rooms to get changed. In the kitchen is DUBBLES, a man with a puppet that looks uncannily like him. He turns to look at the party as they enter.]

Dubbles : [Peering at the party, his scary eyes making everyone just a little bit uncomfortable] Hm, yes. I suppose you want food, right? It's just not right. Guests shouldn't be in my kitchen, but with no staff what are you supposed to do? Hm? Hm?

[DUBBLES turns and looks at the puppet.]

Puppet : Gey've got goo gome gin gear.

Dubbles : That's right, Dubbles, they got to come in here. [To the party] Are you hungry?

Dubbles

Smock: [Snapping out of staring at Dubbles] Oh yessir! We're starving! Plus the professor got whacked, so we need to fill our bellies before we can start investigating!

Dubbles : Oh, well that won't do at all then, will it? Come on in and sit down. I'll get some nice food for you. I hope you don't want none of them kitty eyeballs that weirdo with the bag of bunnies brought in, no sir, I through them all out, didn't I, Dubbles? [Looks at the puppet]

Puppet : Gou sure did, Guggles.

Dubbles : Someone whacked the Prof, eh? Now why would someone want to go and do a thing like that? Did they hurt him?

Smock: [Peering around for any sign of food] He got whacked a fair amount of times I'd say, cuz he's dead right now. And we don't want any eyeballs of any sort, or anything that he's killed [points at Arthur]. Or touched. Or even looked at.

Austin : [Nodding in agreement with Smock] Especially not rabbit.

Dubbles : Dead? Well that's just not right, eh? Where's everyone else?

Austin : [To the Party] Of course Arthur has a very good motive for killing the Prof, professional jealously and competition. If he discovers the Axe first it will be great prestige for his academic career. [Pauses] On the other hand, perhaps Trindle murdered the Prof.

Alice : Maybe, but if it was Jerome, he's likely to have killed everyone else too, isn't he?

Dubbles : [Taking food out of the fridge] Uh, shouldn't we tell someone about this? Is it right to be sitting around having breakfast while a killer is on the loose?

Chastity: [To Dubbles, dubiously] And whom do you suggest? Some half-cocked local sheriff? Last #9

Dubbles : Yes, that's the kind of thing I was thinking about.

Puppet : Gor gat least gearch ge gotel.

Dubbles : [Nods in agreement] Well said, Dubbles!

Austin : [Nervously] That sounds a bit dangerous, someone else might get hurt. Perhaps Mr Scar would lead the search?

Clint : Sure, Lawyer, I'm a hero, you know! [To Claire] Am I right in thinking that we're the only people in the hotel?

Claire : No.

Clint : No I'm not right or no there aren't any more people in the hotel?

Claire : Sorry, I said no meaning yes.

Austin : This could take a while I feel. [Glances at his nails] Perhaps we should eat something whilst we sort it out.

Smock: And what are we s'posed to look for that isn't gonna be there after breakfast? I'm hungry! [Cranes to see what Dubbles is bringing out]

Dubbles : [Putting out a selection of cold food and fruit] Maybe the killer, eh?

Chastity: [Fretfully] Well, I must say I don't approve of missing breakfast, the most important meal of the day, but it does seem to me that we oughtn't be dawdling when a killer is on the loose!

Austin : Well, we have already searched the room, I think the killer is probably long gone, after the Axe no doubt.

Alice : Well, it's kinda unlikely that the killer would have waited in the room!

Chastity: [Snaps her fingers] That's [huge emphasis] what he wants us to think!

Alice : So, uh, you think the killer is back in the Prof's room? Unlikely.

Austin : [To Chastity] You know that is highly unlikley. The killer would have to be really stupid to go back to the Prof's room.

Smock: Well, mister creepy dead rabbits looks like the kinda guy who would be both violent and stupid enough. But let's have breakfast first, then we can go find the Axe, cuz the killer's bound to be there! [Starts ravenously shoving food into her mouth]

Chastity: [To Smock, sweetly] Should I try and find a shovel for you, dear? I'm not sure those dear little hands of yours can force enough food into your mouth at once.

Smock: [To Chastity, mouth full of food] 'o, bu I coul sho use sum'in oo ring. [Swallows and gives a toothy grin]

Chastity: [Watching Smock in disgust and horror] For Phili's sake! You'll choke! Now, you chew that mouthfull 100 times, and then I'll give you something to drink.

Austin : [Rolls his eyes and sighs, fetches Smock a glass of water] You really are an endless bore sometimes Chassers old girl!

Chastity: [Sweetly] If only we could all be as [finger quotes] colorful as you, Mr. Sleaze.

Austin : [Nodding in agreement with Chastity. Sighs] If only they could, sister, if only they could. [Checks Maplin out for a few moments]

Dubbles : [Peers at Maplin] Wow! That sure is one fine looking fore arm. I've seen lotsa nice looking fore arms, but darn it all if that isn't the best of the lot of 'em. I bet with an arm like that you'll find the killer in no time. What do you think, Dubbles?

Puppet : Gi gink ge'll gind ge giller gin go gime.

[DUBBLES smiles and nods enthusiastically in agreement.]

Clint : [Clearly getting annoyed with the puppet] Maybe we should interrogate the puppet?

Austin : [To Dubbles and the Puppet] Why thank you, most kind of you to say so. [Scowls at CLint] Come now Mr Scar, these gentelmen have offered us food [Gestures to Dubbles and Dubbles] Don't you think that's rather kind of them?

Clint : Sure lawyer, if you want us to hang around while you get to know your groupie better, we'll do that.

[Enter CONTINENCE, ARTHUR and VITTOR.]

Arthur : [To Vittor] Here they are. They're heroes, you know.

Vittor : Well, they've certainly done a thorough job of searching that fridge.

Smock: [Matter of factly] We can't start hero work until we've had breakfast.

Continence : Which probably accounts for why the Prof was murdered before breakfast.

Smock: 'ell... [quickly chews up what's in her mouth and swallows it] We can always do some work [emphasis] over breakfast. [To Continence] Where were you last night?

Continence : In my room. Praying.

Alice : [Helping herself to some food, addressing Arthur] What about you? Same question.

Arthur : I suppose she was in her room praying.

Austin : [To Arthur, sighs] Alice meant where abouts were you last night.

Arthur : I was in my room.

Dubbles : Not true! [To Austin] That's not true. [Shakes his head] Not true at all!

Arthur : For most of the night.

Austin : [To Arthur] And for the other part of the night where were you?

Arthur : Being harassed by [gestures to Dubbles] this.

Dubbles : He was putting kitty eyeballs in the fridge! The bowl toppled over and they were everywhere.

Alice : [Eyes wide in alarm as she looks up from the bowl of pickled onions she's eating] Everywhere?

Dubbles : [Nods] I think I got most of them, but I can't be sure.

Austin : [Stands up, straightening his already perfect jacket] Well, now that we have finished breakfast, perhaps we should search the rest of the building for clues, and possibly the killer. [To Contenence and Arthur] Despite or apparent lackidasical approach to heroism, we searched the Prof's bedroom *before* breakfast. [To those assembled] Does anyone have a good suggestion for where we may best begin searching?

Smock: [To Austin] Wait a second. [To Vittor] Where were you, then?

Vittor : [Gives Smock a superior look] Celebrating my love of my inner self through the expression of desire by the application of pressure to the favoured appendage of my outer self.

Austin : [To Vittor] That is as may be, but [Emphasis] where abouts where you masturbating?

Vittor : In the sanctuary that is my room. Would you like to see the evidence?

Austin : [To Vittor] No, that will not be necessary, thank you. It would no more confirm your whereabouts any better than we have already established. [To All] What wwe need is a witness who saw or heard something.

Dubbles : Maybe one of the other guests heard something? [Nods] Yeah, that wouldn't suprise me one bit, no it wouldn't, not at all.

Smock: [To Vittor] Ew! All night? [Nods in agreement with Dubbles] Yeah, let's go question some more people! Hopefully they have nice alibis like Continence. [Skirts around Vittor and Arthur as she makes for the door.]

Chastity : How many other guests are there?

Dubbles : Three more, yes ma'am, three more. That nice Claire and the other two. [Gives a shiver] They're right strange.

Smock: Strange how?

Austin : This could get complicated! [Sighs] What is strange to someone who thinks that praying is a 'nice' alibi. [Frowns dissaprovingly at Smock approval of prayer]

Chastity : Oh, behave yourself, Mister Sleaze. Finally the child has gotten something right!

Dubbles : How? I'll tell you how. One is all dark clothes and stinky candles, almost set fire to the place he did. He kept threatening to kill people, so he did. The other? Well, she was just lovely.

Alice : What's so strange about that?

Dubbles : It just didn't seem right that she'd be giving him a blow job. Nice girls don't do that, right?

Alice : [Shrugs] Idunno.

Austin : [To Dubbles] Sounds nice to me [Checks his nails as if bored]

Smock: [To Austin] Well it was nicer than them two [points at Arthur and Vittor]. [To the party] Let's go meet the arsonist!

Austin : [To Smock, as she points at Arthur adn Vittor] Marginally.

[DUBBLES leads the party upstairs and points at one of the doors.]

Dubbles : That's where he is, uh-huh. In there. It wouldn't surprise me if he's the killer though, no sir.

Chastity: [Knocks on the door] Hellooo! Could we have a word with you, please?

[The door swings open. Standing there in a very flimsy dressing gown is BRANDY. She gives a big warm smile when she sees the party.]

Brandy : Oh wonderful! The heroes are here. ### The party have had many dealings with Brandy, including one where she poisoned ### them and left them for dead. They later discovered that she is Vituun Kusipaa, a ### Keyser Soze style arch criminal who was behind many of the major crimes in the ### realms. She was last seen with Darius, who persuaded her not to kill the party who ### were, at that time, hanging precariously from a rope over a mine shaft.

Chastity: [Shocked] You again?! And nearly naked, at that!

Clint: [Busy leering.] Not that there's anything wrong with that! [To Brandy, warily] But what the hell are you doing here?

Brandy : For the love of learning, Clint! I thought a well educated man like you would understand my thirst for [leans in close to Clint] knowledge.

Brandy

Clint: [Obligingly looking down Brandy's dressing gown, and clearly not really listening.] Yeah, that's me. Thirst for knowledge. Gotcha.

Austin : [Sarcastically, to Clint] Perhaps a drink of brandy will quench your thirst for carnal knowledge, Mr Scar. [Roles his eyes. Then casually glances around the room]

Brandy : [Making no effort to cover herself up from Clint's gaze, nor to stop Austin from looking in] Indeed, Mr. Sleaze, but beware, not everyone is man enough to survive a taste of Brandy.

[Everyone peers in to the room to see that FLEABAG is inside, sitting down with his pants down around his ankles. Everyone's blushes are spared by a strategically placed vase of flowers.]

Fleabag : [Smiles a filthy smile at the party and gives them a wave] Hello, Pretties.

Clint: You again! I suppose we should have known when they told us about the freak with the dark clothes and the stinky candles! And in cahoots with her, too. [Looks around the room suspiciously.]

Brandy : [Smiles at the party] To what do we owe this pleasure?

Clint: There was a crime committed here last night, and we're out to solve it. [Drily] Not that you'd know anything about crimes.

Brandy : [Still smiling warmly] About as much as you know about solving them. Come on in, officers.

Austin : [Steps back from the door. To the party] It seems that our search has come to an end, since we have found one of the most muderous, backstabbing, toxic, psychopaths we have ever met, right here in the hotel.

Brandy : Why, Austin, I'm insulted! Only "one of"?

Clint: [Firmly] One of. You meet a lot of murderous, backstabbing, toxic, psychopaths in our line of work.

Brandy : [Looks around the party] I see.

Dubbles : [Peering in] She's not the bad one, no sir, it's him! [Points at Fleabag] Don't know why a nice girl like that is wasting her time with someone like, no I don't. Makes no sense, no sir.

Smock: [To Brandy] Oy! I know you. You visited my house heaps. [Narrows her eyes suspicously.] I don't remember you being a baddie though. [To Dubbles] Fleabag is just a weirdo, but... [turns to Fleabag] how come you're here?

Fleabag : [Cheerfully] I'm getting a blow job.

Brandy : [To Smock] Of course you don't, because I'm not a baddie, just misunderstood.

Smock: [Screwing up her nose at Fleabag] Couldn't you have done that at Duck Ranch? [To Brandy] But Austin said you're a psychopath, and everyone knows that the girl villain is always the sexiest.

Clint: Back at Duck Ranch, kid, he'd have to pay for it. Anyway, the lawyer's right - we've probably found the criminals already. Let's search 'em! [Ogling Brandy again.] I'll start with her if one of you takes care of him...

Fleabag : Au contraire. Back there, [emphasis] I would have been paid for it!

Brandy : [Turns and puts her hands against the wall in classic search mode] Knock yourself out, Clint.

Chastity : I think not! We'll have no unseemly behaviour here, Mister Scar. And anyway, everyone knows that no one can search a young girl for contraband more thoroughly than a nun. [Pulls on a huge, shoulder length rubber glove]

Brandy : [Glances back] Knock yourself out, Sister.

Clint: [Disappointed] Guess I'll just search the room instead.

Alice : [Walking in past Brandy] Bitch.

Brandy : [To Alice] Slu - [Chastity sticks the glove in, causing Brandy's voice to go up very high] -ut!

Austin : [To SMock] Brandy is also known as Vitun Kussipa, she once poisoned us all and left us to die. [Glances over to Brandy from the door way] Another time she was about to kill us all when Mr Boddy intervened.

Smock: Well, if you tried to kill them, then you're definitely a baddie! [To Austin, a little uncertain] But my parents really liked her. [To Fleabag] How come you were threatening to burn down the place then?

Brandy : [Waves a scolding finger at Austin] Not true, Aussie. It was that nice Darius who was there. Boddy was your friend, remember?

Fleabag : I wasn't, Short Round. I never did anything of the kind.

Clint: We heard that you almost burned the place down anyway. And you were making death threats. Been hanging out with her for far too long!

Smock: [To Fleabag] Dubbles said you did. [Turns to Dubbles] But I don't think Fleabag is the kinda guy who uses smelly candles... or wears much in the way of dark clothing, or any at all.

Fleabag : [Gestures to himself] Not long enough, my pungent friend!

Dubbles : It was him, yes it was, I'm sure. He had her in his room and lots and lots of candles.

Fleabag : I have been known to wear clothing on occasion.

Austin : [To Brandy] Darius, Nigel [shrugs] Is there really a big difference? [Casually lights a cigarette, and blows a few smoke rings]

Brandy : Nigel's the one who's wife you killed, even though he sacrificed his first wife to save all of you, and who now, driven mad with grief, has joined forces with the man who killed your fiancee on your wedding day.

Chastity: [Re-emerging from her search. Removes her gloves briskly and reports] Clean as a whistle. [To Brandy, in a lower voice] Though, dear, you really could stand to incoporate more fiber in your diet.

Brandy : Thank you, Sister, I -

[BRANDY is interrupted by the sudden appearance of COUNT QUACKULA, in a flash of light and smoke. He is holding a bowl of cereal and appears to be addressing someone the party can't see.]

Quackula : And there's no better source of natural fibre than Drake Flakes. All the protein and fibre of duck feathers encased in golden brown nuggets of bran. [Eats a spoonful of Drake Flakes before breaking into a big smile] Mm-mm! They're quackalicious! [Pause] Three, two, one. [Breaks into a big smile again] Hi! I'm Count Quackula, and I never go anywhere without my Drake Flakes. [Holds the bowl up to his face] Theeeeeeey're drake!

[Exit QUACKULA into the bathroom.]

Dubbles : [Peering in] Hm, I'm suddenly very hungry.

Clint: Well. That was weird. [Shakes his head.] You want to search Fleabag next, Chas? No way in hell I'm doing it!

Chastity: [Looks at Fleabag, assessing] No, I don't think I shall. He's clearly a heterosexual man, so not inclined to such behavior.

Fleabag : Oh no, Sister, I'm AC/DC. Do your worst, I'm known for smuggling [licks his lips] contraband.

Count Quackula

Chastity: [Wrinkles her nose] I think not, Mr. Bag. My speciality is young girls. [Sweetly, with a smile to Austin, offering him rubber gloves] Perhaps Mr. Sleaze could assist you.

Brandy : It's okay, Sister, I've already checked him out.

Chastity: [To Brandy] And why would we trust you, villain?! --- F \ No newline at end of file

Brandy : Because I'm so beautiful, and [puts on a sad face] so afraid that I'll be misunderstood and [face looks sadder] I'm only wearing this skimpy itsy bitsy dressing gown.

Smock: Aww... [To Chastity] They are good reasons.

Clint: Yeah, you have to admit she makes a convincing case...

Chastity: [Indignant] I admit nothing of the kind! She is a conniving, murderous tart!

Fleabag : After all, it is a teeny weeny itsy bitsy dressing gown!

Dubbles : [Nodding his head] Poor little thing, I think we should believe her. What about you, Dubbles?

Puppet : Let's geep 'er!

Brandy : Sister! You say it like it's a bad thing! Brandy and the party, back together again, best friends for ever!

Alice : [Muttering] Bitch.

Brandy : [Muttering through a smile] Tart.

Chastity: [To Alice] Language!

Alice : She said it first!

Clint: What does it matter? We've still got things to find!

Dubbles : Well, this just doesn't make sense. No sir, no sense at all. Not one little bit.

Austin : [From the doorway. Looks at Chastity's gloves in disgust] Sister, you really ought to learn to trust people a bit more. [To Brandy] It was an accident, Dominique walked into a fight, we had no way of knowing she was there. [Shrugs] And if Darius hadn't cast a spell on her she wouldn't have been there either.

Brandy : [Wags a finger at Austin reproachfully] Naughty, naughty, there you go again, mixing up Darius and Boddy. You really should know the difference between those two.

Alice : [Nods] She's right, Aus. One of them is a lying, cheating, lowlife, and the other is, hm. [Stumped]

Brandy : The other is Darius.

Smock: Now I'm confused!

Brandy : Boddy is the one who's wives keep getting killed around your friends, Darius is the one who sold his soul to God.

Clint: Why don't we not worry about Boddy and get on to figuring out who murdered the prof already! Could it have been that freak in the other room?

[VITTOR, ARTHUR and CONTINENCE protest loudly at this.]

Alice : Oh, not you lot. He means the [emphasis] other freak.

Dubbles : No ma'am. No other freaks staying here, just them. And that nice secretary lady who's angry all the time. No one else in the hotel all evening.

Alice : Huh. [Looks at the three protestors] Then I guess he was talking about you freaks.

Clint: What about the other freak, with the breakfast cereal?

Chastity: [Suddenly suspicious] Where IS that secretary?!

[CLAIRE's voice can be heard calling from down the corridor.]

Claire : I'm an administrator!

Dubbles : Don't pay no attention to him, no sir. He's just a red herring. The hotel was locked last night, so you know what that means.

Alice : That we spent the night in a fire trap?

Chastity: [Calls to Claire] You get in here right now, young lady! You are a suspect in a murder, just like the rest of these shady characters!

Austin : [Sneezes louds across the Continence, Arthur and Vittor] Aaaachooo! [Recovers. To Continence et al] Oh, my I beg your pardon [Coughs painfully, then wheezez] I appear to have contracted a virus! [Gathers himself. To Chastity] Inded sister, where is Clare, [ponders, then sneezes into a handkerchief] She did 'discover' the body!

Claire : I am [emphasis] not a suspect in a murder, I'm a secretary.

[Everyone stares at CLAIRE.]

Claire : I mean administrator! Anyway, I'm the one who found the body, I can hardly be murderer, can I? [Rolls her eyes in derision] Tut!

Clint: From where I'm standing, sweetcheeks, that makes you a prime suspect. 'Sides, you obviously didn't much like the old bastard, did you? Treated you like a secretary and all that. Maybe you offed him to get respect - you chicks are always doing crazy stuff like that.

Claire : Absolutely not! I loved him like a father.

Alice : [Taking notes] So he wasn't doing you, then?

Claire : Well, sure he was. [Defensively] Hey, I didn't say I loved him like he was my father!

Clint: [Thinking hard, and showing some strain from doing so.] How do we know that it was someone from inside the hotel? Has anyone checked to see if the front door is still locked?

Dubbles : Sure did. Place is locked up tighter than a - uh [catches Chastity's glare] it's locked up tight. It had to be someone here. Yes sir.

Vittor : Alright! Which one of you did it? Which one of you killed this great man? Out with it, I insist!

Smock: [Rolls her eyes at Vittor] The murderer's hardly gonna confess, especially when there's heroes around to apprehend him!... or her. [Glances at the puppet Dubbles] Or it.

Puppet : Geye gidn't goo git!

Dubbles : He's right! He was with me all night!

[Everyone gives a big "Oooooooh!".]

Dubbles : Hey!

Brandy : So. The only people who could have killed the Prof are here. This begs the question as to why the murderer would have stayed, [glances to Dubbles' puppet] and if the porter can be trusted.

Puppet : Ge's really grustworthy!

Alice : That's good enough for me!

Clint: [Sarcastically.] Well, I'm glad that's settled, Bimbo. [Pulls out a cigar, as a prop and to help himself think.] As far as why the murderer would have stayed... Maybe because if he or she ran, everyone would know who did it?

Brandy : If he or she had the axe, he or [meaningful glare at Austin] she wouldn't care.

Clint: I suppose. Anyway, once we figure out who it was, we can ask 'em. Let's start by finding those lecture notes and the map!

Chastity: [To Clint] Agreed, Mr. Scar. Perhaps we need to search the premises?

Brandy : Alternatively, we could head to the caves where the Axe is supposed to be, and rely on the murderer showing us the way.

Chastity: [To Brandy, exasperated] Yes, we're quite likely to take the advice of a murdering hussy!

Brandy : Excellent! Everyone who wants to come had better get ready.

Alice : What about the Professor?

Brandy : I doubt he wants to come.

Chastity: [Glares at Brandy. To the party] We aren't seriously going to follow this harlot?

Clint: Look at it this way, Chas. Wouldn't you rather be able to keep an eye on her to keep her from doing anything else to us?

Vittor : If she's going to the caves then I'm going too!

Continence : And me!

Arthur : Me too!

Dubbles : And us.

Brandy : [Gives Chastity a mischevious smile] Come on, Chas, all the cool kids are doing it.

Clint: I don't suppose we have much choice then. One of you is a murderer, after all, and we're not letting you get away with it!

Brandy : Better bring all of those sharp weapons of yours Clint. The rest of us are unarmed, remember?

Austin : [To Brandy] I agree with the plan, the murderer is after the axe, after all. [Checks his nails briefly] Terribly sad really. To kill someone for a silly axe. [Sighs]

Vittor : [Leans in angrily to Austin] It is not a silly axe! It is a priceless and holy artefact that is more important than life itself!

Clint: [Snorts] Yeah, right. Don't get so worked up. You can buy that sort of thing at any church...

Chastity: [Shocked] Mr. Scar! How blasphemous! The holy is not for sale!

Brandy : [Getting dressed] Everything's for sale, Sister.

Vittor : Not like this you can't, you Philistine! This is the Axe Without A Name, a weapon more powerful even than Beaucaphalus The Wondersword!

Clint: Great. And with half the personality, I suppose?

Vittor : [Sneering at Clint] Which is still twice the personality you have!

[The sound of some loud banging from downstairs interrupts the conversation.]

Smock: [Exasperated] What now?

Alice : Someone's banging on something.

Dubbles : It's coming from the door, yes, let's check it out.

[Exit ALL.]

[Book V, Act X, Scene VI. The Main Hallway. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, SMOCK, DUBBLES, CONTINENCE, ARTHUR, VITTOR and FLEABAG are here. There are ten JEROMITES outside trying to break the door down.]

Dubbles : Huh. Customers. I suppose I'd better let them in.

Clint: Oh, c'mon... they'd tear the place apart!

Fleabag : That's right, they are of the most reprehensible character. Not like us at all.

Continence : Let's get out the back!

Clint: We can't just leave the other two behind! Someone go get 'em!

Alice : Aw! Back upstairs? Can't the secretary go?

Austin : [Looking worriedly at the Jeromites] Perhaps we should all go.

[Enter BRANDY, coming down the stairs, and now armed.]

Brandy : Looks like Jerome's found out about the lecture.

Alice : Don't you mean Jeromes?

Brandy : [Looks out] Ah, I see.

Austin : [Frowns] It may well have been Trindle that murdered the Prof, then left the Jeromites to try to kill us and delay us whilst he finds the Axe.

Brandy : Unlikely. If that were the case, he would have killed all of us at the same time as the Prof.

Dubbles : [Nods vigorously] True. No one can get into the hotel. That's how the Prof wanted it. Yes sir. He said "Dubbles, I want no one to get into the hotel." Then I said "Really?" And he said "Yes." And I said "Are you sure?" And then he said "Piss off and stop annoying me you idiot." And then I said "Really?" And he said "Yes." And then I said -

Vittor : Cease this mindless prattling! You are giving me a headache! We need to get out of here, now!

Clint: And as soon as we grab the secretary, we will. I'll take care of it and meet you all out back. [Turns to find Clare.]

[As soon as CLINT turns around he is almost nose to nose with CLAIRE.]

Claire : What's going on here? Are they Jeromites outside?

Smock: Yes they are, so we're about to make a strategic retreat!

Austin : [To Smock, nods in aggreement] Nothing beats good strategy!

[Everyone quickly heads towards the back door of the hotel.]

Alice : [To Claire] Hey, how do you know what Jeromites are? They were only created yesterday, right?

Claire : I'm a secretary, it's my job to know these things.

Clint: I thought you were a personal administrative assistant?

Claire : Uh, look, I'm just trying to make it easier for you. Can we just go now? [Doesn't wait for an answer] Good. Now, who has a carriage out the back? Quickly now. [Avoids eye contact with Clint]

Alice : I think ours is out the front, right? [Everyone turns and looks out through a window at the front of the hotel and sees that a bunch of Jeromites have the carriage up on bricks and have removed the wheels, which they are now using to break the windows] I wonder why they just didn't use the bricks.

Clint: Do we really need a carriage? They don't seem smart enough to realize that we've slipped on out the back.

Chastity: [Sniffs disapprovingly] Most inefficient!

[One of the JEROMITES throws a brick through the now open window and hits ALICE on the head with it.]

Alice : Ow! [Rubs her head] I guess that's why they didn't use the bricks!

Dubbles : [At the back door, key in hand] Are you sure I should open this? The Prof said that I shouldn't open the doors under any circumstances. He said it could be dangerous.

Fleabag : Look, sunshine, it's going to be dangerous for you if you don't up this door quick sharp!

Clint: [Pushes Dubbles aside, flexing his door-kicking foot meaningfully] We don't have time for this! People are getting bricked!

Chastity: [To Dubbles, sweetly] The dead Professor, you mean?

Dubbles : [Nods] Yes ma'am. That's the one. Uh-huh. [Realisation dawns] Oh. I see.

[CLINT kicks the door open, revealing a carriage that is clearly too small to fit everyone. It looks as though one or two will have to be left behind]

Continence : Me first! [Pushes her way passed the party and leaps onto the carriage]

Chastity: [To Continence] My dear, hadn't you better stay behind and buff your habit?

Clint: [Guffaws] Is that what you nuns call it? I've always wondered! [Makes no move to hop onto the carriage.]

Alice : [Getting onto the carriage as Arthur and Vittor push their way on too] Come on, Stinky! They're coming!

Clint: We'll never all fit, Bimbo! Women and children first. [Looks at Austin.] Also gay lawyers.

Smock: [Following Alice] This is gonna be squishy.

Austin : [Slides into the carriage, ttrying not to get his suit crumpled. To Clint] I you're not gay Mr Scar, why are you so obsessed with my sexuality? [Smirks] [Miraculously, everyone somehow fits on, and the carriage takes off, with CONTINENCE driving. Unfortunately, there is far too much weight for it to move quickly enough, and it looks like the JEROMITES will soon be upon it.]

Arthur : [Hanging onto the back] As someone who is most definitely not the murderer, I insist that someone [glares at various party members] who brought weapons to the hotel and is therefore a suspect, be made to leave.

Clint: [Irritated] As someone who brought weapons to the hotel and is therefore in a good position to ignore you, I suggest you kiss my ass. [Turns to defend the carriage from any Jeromites who get close enough.]

Arthur : While I am flattered at your suggestion and am more than willing to take it up later, perhaps while wearing an over sized clown suit, I once again would like to point out that I couldn't possibly be guilty.

[The JEROMITES easily catch up with the carriage, although the various party members, BRANDY and FLEABAG manage to keep them at bay, It is clearly only a matter of time before one of them gets on, though.]

Alice : [Glaring back at Continence from where she beats off a Jeromite] I bet I could drive faster!

Smock: Yeah let Alice have a go!

Fleabag : [To Arthur] So you couldn't be the murderer?

Arthur : No. It is a well known fact that I have sworn an oath not to harm another living soul. In fact, one could say that -

[FLEABAG leans back and draws a kick on ARTHUR, sending him flying off the carriage and into the path of the JEROMITES, and causing the carriage to speed up somewhat.]

Clint: What the hell?! Those freaks'll tear him apart!

Chastity: [To Fleabag, shocked] Mr. Bag! How could you?! [cranes her neck to see Arthur out of the window]

Fleabag : [To Clint, shrugging] Sure they will, but it was either that or let them catch all of us. Besides, you heard him, he couldn't be the murderer.

Austin : [Frowns as Arthur is engulfed in Jeromites. Considers the situation for a moment. To Fleabag] So you think that because he wasn't the murder then we don't need him as he couldn't have the map etcetra?

Fleabag : [Smiles and does a finger gun at Austin] Click-click! Finally, one of you is thinking straight. Now, who all else is above suspicion?

Vittor : [Speaking without an accent for the first time, and clearly quite worried] Well, I'm a very shady character!

Claire : [Quickly] I hated my job!

Dubbles : [Panicky] I once stole some biscuits.

Continence : Fuck you.

Austin : [To Fleabag, calmly] When it comes to suspicion, you could say that I 'stole the book'. [Smirks smugly at his own joke] It seems that we are now traveling swiftly enough to be out of danger for the time being.

Fleabag : [With a smile playing about his lips] For the time being.

[The JEROMITES are exactly matching the pace of the carriage, jogging along side it.]

Alice : Uh, are they going to be with us the whole time?

Austin : [Casually loading his sling shot. To a Jeromite] Are you going to follow us all the way?

Jeromite : [Sounding remarkably like Jerome] All the way where?

Chastity: [To Austin, scolding] For Phili's sake, Mr. Sleaze, be careful! Will you also blurt out what you're getting Smock for Philimas?!

Austin : [To the Jeromite] To wherever we are going? [Fires two shots at the Jeromite]

Austin : [To Chastity] If you had been paying attention, sister, you would have observed that I have not divulged any information. [Smirks] Besides, we don't know where we are going anyway. [Chuckles, shaking his head as he reloads his slingshot] And no, Smocks phimbo pressy is a secret.

Chastity: [To Austin] I heard what you almost said! [To Smock] Don't worry, dear. I will thoroughly examine any gifts to be given to you to ensure they are appropriate for a young [pauses] lady.

Austin : [To Chastity, chuckling] What I almost said [laughs. Checks his hair. To Smock] Don't worry, I'll give it to you in private. [Smirks] We have already seen how old Chassers does thorough examinations [Does the putting on big rubber gloves motion]

Chastity: [Horrified] Mr. Sleaze, you mean to tell me you are getting Smock a [enormous emphasis] human being?! [To Smock] Good people believe slavery is wrong, young lady!!

Clint: Oh, now, c'mon, Chas. I'm not the lawyer's biggest fan, but you don't really think he'd give the kid a person, do you? Maybe a bunny, or something like that. [To the drivers up front.] Faster, dammit! Let's lose these losers!

Austin : [As the smirk dissapears from his face. Dryly to Chastity] Sister, I was joking. If you had your wits about you, you might have realised that the human being I was refering to was indeed, my good self. [Tp Smock] So the questions is, I believe, is the indoctrination and brainwashing of the innocent and vunerable proletariat, as perpitrated by the church, slavery or merely good business sense? [Smirks. To the Jeromite] What do you think?

Alice : [To Austin] Isn't it time for someone to say that she's only a child? Even though she's not?

Jeromite : I'm a zombie, incapable of independent and abstract thought.

Continence : [Still driving] There are too many people on the carriage, we need to lose someone!

Fleabag : [Sizing up Dubbles] Who shall we choose?

Smock: [To Austin with a blank look] Huh?

Dubbles : [Protecting his puppet] No! Not Dubbles!

Austin : Hmm, [To Fleabag] He has a point, the puppet is almost certainly the lighter of the two. [To a Jeromite] So do you, second generation, zombies have some form of telepathic link to Trindle, can he hear what we are saying?

Jeromite : [One of about forty who is jogging alongside the carriage] No, Sleaze.

Vittor : This is unacceptable! We must lighten the load!

Fleabag : [With an evil smile] Who do you suggest we throw off next?

Austin : [To a Jeromite] So how do you know who I am if you have no mental link to Trindle? [Smirks] Did he show you all photographs?

Jeromite : Yes, and he showed us photographs of Lucy the day he killed her. Boy, that was hilarious.

Jeromites : [In perfect unison] Ha. Ha. Ha.

Austin : [Looks peeved. Fires a few more shots at Jeromites, taking careful aim] Bad, bad, bad, bad, bad! [Sighs. Then looks around the carriage to see if there are any heavy items that can be dumped to get more speed]

Chastity: [Horrified] You awful, awful creatures! [digs into her bag and comes out with a can of peas, which she hurls at a Jeromite]

[Bonk. CHASTITY hits one of the JEROMITES square in the forehead and knocks him down, just as AUSTIN hits another one, not knocking him, but slowing him.]

Jeromite : [Another one, who wasn't hit or knocked down] Mmm. We love when nuns throw their pea over us.

Clint: [Digs around for something to throw at the Jeromites as well, finding only a bix of cigars.] Dammit, give me something to hit these freaks with!

Continence : I'm going as fast as I can!

Alice : [Shoving Continence out of the way] Let me drive! [To the party] More haste, less speed. [Jams on the brakes, causing the Jeromites to collide with the carriage, knocking them all to the ground]

Austin : [Regaining his balance, holding on to the carriage. To Alice] I think more speed less haste might be what we need right now! Step on it!

Smock: [To Fleabag] Why don't we just throw them all off? [Gestures to the non-party members] The only one we need is the murderer cuz he has the map. And since they all claim not to be. No point keepin' 'em.

Alice : [Floors the accelerator, causing the horses to spin their legs for a moment before shooting off] Yeeeeha!

Fleabag : [To Smock] So, you're not the murderer then?

Clint: [Firmly] No. But you're not tossing the kid off of a moving carriage anyway.

Austin : [To Clint, sincerely] Yes, but do we really need two nuns? [Smirks]

Chastity: [Hurt] Mr. Sleaze! I have been your loyal companion through thick and thin! I have tended your wounds and served you delicious pastry treats!

Jeromite : [Calling after the carriage as it disappears into the distance] It doesn't matter if you have the axe, we will have Minus Thrift within the week! ### Minus Thrift is a famous walled city which is the traditional ### seat of command in the Realms. It is reputed to be built on top ### of an enormously strong source of magic.

Alice : [Calling back] Yeah? Well where are you gonna put it? It's huge! [Barely notices the carriage lurching all over the road and sending the suddenly enormous number of oncoming pedestrians running and screaming]

Austin : [To Chastity] Indeed sister Chastity, despite your personal [Does finger quotes] 'issues', I was rather hoping that we wouldn't have to throw either of you overboard.

Chastity : Do be quiet, Mister Sleaze, less you give the others even more reason to throw [emphasis] you overboard.

Continence : [Turns to Austin, holding a very sharp dagger] Touch me and I'll kill you.

Clint: [Up front, to Alice] Watch the road, Bimbo!

Alice : [Turns back] Yikes! [Jams on the brakes] What the hell are all these people doing blocking up the road? [Blows the horn, which plays "La Cucaracha"] I say! Move yourselves!

Smock: [Pokes her tongue at Fleabag.] And no one's gonna throw Chastity overboard either! [Leans over the side of the carriage to yell at the pedestrians] Get out of the way you nincompoops! [To Alice] Where'd they all come from? Can't you just steer where there's no people. Obstacles just make it harder you know.

Alice : There is no place where there's no people, there must be millions of them!

Austin : [Sighs, looking into the distance] Has there ever been a nun with a sense of humor.

Alice : Sure there was. Sister Mary was travelling with a bunch of people in a carriage across Vansyltrania when they were attacked by a bunch of vampires, and all the rocking caused Sister Mary to spill her holy water all over her, making her really angry. One of the others in the carriage said "Sister! Sister! Show them your cross!" so she looked out the window and said "Look at what you've done, you pointy toothed bastards!"

[A tumbleweed blows across the scene as an embarassed silence descends. One of the people walking against the carriage addresses the party. This is NOLTY NICK.]

Nolty : Hey, you gotta turn around! [Makes a turn around sign with his hand] Gotta turn right round.

Alice : Right round?

Nolty : Right round like a record, baby.

Nolty Nick

Austin : [See Nolty's shirt and smoothly slips on a pair of Gorgeous Harmony sunglasses. To Nick] Perhaps you could help us, why are there so man people gathered here, what event is afoot?

Clint: [To Austin] Perhaps he can help us, and perhaps pigs will fly. You don't seriously think that anyone wearing a shirt like that can be taken seriously, do you?!

Nolty : It's the only shirt I have left! We're fleeing from the Jeromites!

Austin : [To Nolty] Ahh, thank you [Looks around to see which direction the people are running in]

[The people aren't running, but are clearly moving as fast as they can and have travelled a large distance. They are, of course, coming from the exact direction that the party are heading in.]

Nolty : Saaaaaay, that's a nice carriage.

[Everyone looks at each other for a few moments.]

All : That's a nice carriage.

Nolty : Seeing as how I'm fleeing for my life and all, how about you trade me a piece of old stick for my shirt?

Austin : [To Nolty and the All] We too are fleeing from the Jeromites, but we have come from the other direction! I suggest we go this way! [Points left. To Alice] Step on it!

Fleabag : Uh uh, [points in the direction that the people are coming from] that's where the Axe is.

Clint: [Shrugs] Then we're going that way, dammit. Bimbo, if you see any more of those Trindle-worshipping freaks, run 'em down!

Dubbles : [Shakes his] No sir, no way, no how, uh huh. Let's all go to my Mom's house. She always has lemonade and cake there, we can have that instead of being killed by the Jeromites.

Nolty : I'll come with you if you give me a bit of old stick.

Clint: [To Dubbles] If you don't want to come, hop off. We've got work to do, dammit, and no time for lemonade and cake!

Dubbles : [Gets down off the carriage] Well, that's a fine how do you do! What do you think, Dubbles?

Puppet : Gat's a gine gow go gou do.

Nolty : How many Jeromites are following you?

Chastity: [Eyeing Nolty disapprovingly] Why is the number important, for Phili's sake?! Too many!

Nolty : [Idly scratching his crotch while talking to Chastity] It's just that there's a few thousand [juts his thumb in the direction that the crowd are walking away from] that way.

Chastity: [Whaps Notly's hand with a rolled-up tea towel] There will be [enormous scary nunlike emphasis] NO touching your Pee Pee!!!

Nolty : [Dead calm] By who?

Chastity: [Ominously] By ANYONE.

Nolty : [Falls to his knees] Nooooooo!

Alice : So, uh, we want to head to the thousands of Jeromites?

Smock: [Looking at Fleabag suspiciously] How come you know where the axe is?

Clint: [Scratches himself, just to annoy Chastity.] Good question, kid. [To Alice.] Think we can go around 'em, Bimbo? We can't just let Jerry get his greasy hands on that thing, after all!

Fleabag : Everyone knows where the axe is. [Gives a greasy smile] Just not exactly where it is. I would have thought that [licks his lips] experts on the Entruscan era would know that.

Alice : Go around them? I guess, but wouldn't it be easier to just plough down through the middle, horn blaring?

Nolty : [Still wailing] It's the end of the world!

Austin : [To Alice] Through the middle horn blaring sounds like the most appropriate course of action. [Looks at Nolty] But this man does appear to know something about the wand, which is curious. [To Nolty] What do you know about the wand?

Nolty : Wand? I don't know what you're talking about! ### Austin seems to assume that Nolty is referring to Faern's wand. Faern is ### an ancestor of Alice and is said to have raised the family fortune by "selling ### a bit of an old stick" to the elves for a vast fortune. When the party investigated this ### they discovered that the bit of old stick was, in fact, a very valuable magical wand

Austin : [To Nolty] A bit of old stick, man! You said you wanted a bit of old stick! [Rolls his eyes] Did you want just any old bit of stick or a specific bit?

Clint: [Trying, not very successfully, to stifle his laughter.] He wants a bit of stick. Heh heh.

Chastity : [Glares at Clint] Behave yourself, Mister Scar.

Nolty : I just wanted any old bit, but now it doesn't matter. Who wants a bit of old stick when you can't even rub it against your crotch?

Smock: Ew! [To Alice] Let's just go find the axe already!

Alice : Good idea! [Drives off, managing not to hit anyone]

Vittor : [Clearly getting worried] So, thousands of Jeromites?

Clint: We can take 'em!

Chastity: [Dismayed] No, no, no! We need a plan! A measured, reasonable response to overwhelming odds. Something expressed with excellent diction and flawless grammar that has been voted for and approved unanimously.

Alice : Let's their kick asses!

Chastity: [Sighs] Oh, how I wish the Colonel was here! Or Dr. Trindle, when he was good. Or Mr. Giles. [Sighs] When he was good. [Ponders] Why does this party have such trouble keeping strong, positive male role models?!

Clint: [Ignoring Chastity.] Good plan, Bimbo. Glad that's settled. Can we get on with it?

Fleabag : Why Sister, you still have me! [To Alice] You might want to stop when you get to the crest of this upcoming hill.

Chastity: [To Fleabag] And why should we stop at the crest of this upcoming hill? Thanksgiving holiday.

Fleabag : So you can see all the Jeromites that we will have to face.

Clint: Well, dammit, what the hell else can we do? We can't just give up! Do you know a road to go around them or something useful?

Austin : [To Fleabag, lightly] I don't believe that you have witnessed the amazingly destructive power that is Alice's driving.

Alice : [Looks at Fleabag, revving up the horses] Vroom vroom!

Fleabag : [Holds up a finger] No need to worry, my pretties, we have something that they don't have?

Vittor : [Clearly very worried] Copious amounts of sweat?

Chastity : The lord on our side?

Continence : A stylish but deadly approach to life?

Claire : Lots of post-it notes?

Alice : A dismembered finger?

Clint: The Big General?

Austin : [Looks at Alice] Dismembered finger? [Thinks. To Fleabag] A few million copies of Fluffy the Vampire Slayer's 1281 calendar? [Then looks at Fleabag awaiting his answer]

Fleabag : [Pointing at Austin with the dismembered finger] Close, but not quite. We know where the axe is.

Alice : If we know where the axe is, then why did someone kill the Prof to find out where the axe is?

Fleabag : To find out the where the axe is.

Alice : And this we need to know because?

Fleabag : We don't know where the axe is.

Smock: [Clearly confused, to Fleabag] So you killed the professor?

Fleabag : [Indignant] Certainly not! [Calm again] He was dead by the time I got there.

Chastity : Oh, stop speaking in riddles, Mr. Bag. Do you or do you not know where the axe is?

Fleabag : I know of some caves where it is, [looks around the group] and one of you knows where in the caves it is.

Clint: [Looks suspiciously around the carriage.] We'll burn that bridge when we come to it. We have to get to the damn caves first!

Fleabag : No need to worry, my pungent friend, the South/North Open Treaty army is protecting it.

Austin : How big is the S.N.O.T.A. ?

Fleabag : They prefer to be called the Snot Army. SNOTA makes them seem foolish. There are several thousand, with more on the way. ### Still on the carriage : Alice, Austin, Chastity, Clint, Smock, Fleabag, ### Brandy, Continence, Vittor and Claire.

Austin : [To Brandy, exasperated] So you killed the prof then?

Brandy : Now, now, Austin, you know I don't get involved in anything unsavoury like murder. Besides, I was giving Fleabag a blowjob at the time. And if I did kill the Prof, I would be very unlikely to admit it in front of a bunch of heavily armed people such as yourselves. I would be more likely to bide my time and kill you off in the caves. Wouldn't you say, Continence?

Continence : I've no idea what you're talking about.

Austin : [To Brandy] We're Heros, not hangmen. I really couldn't care less if you killed the Prof or not, it would just be nice to know who did it so that we can get on with the job of finding the axe [Shrugs]

Clint: Also so we can make sure they don't kill us, you know...

Fleabag : Ah, but what if the person who killed the Prof is in league with Jerome? Maybe then you might care who it is.

Clint: What do you mean, if?! Of course the person who killed the prof is in league with Jerry! Why else would you kill a harmless old professor? Unless you were an oppressed secretary, or a sociopath, or something like that. [Looks around the carraige.] Hmm....

Austin : [To Fleabag] Well, no I really don't care if the murderer is in league with Trindle. I don't care about the axe either com to think of it. [Shrugs] What would I do with an axe? [Sighs] It probably has a beastly personality, vain, arrogant and self important. [Rolls his eyes]

Vittor : [Arrogantly, to Clint] I'm Neurotrash, if you insist on affixing a label to me. I would be offended but I know that one of your intellect relies on others to do their thinking for them.

Alice : [To Austin] Yeah, imagine having to deal with that!

Fleabag : If you don't care about the axe, then why are you here? You're either a fool or a liar. I think I may have to revert to calling you stupid after all.

Austin : [To Fleabag] The Path. That's why I am here.

Fleabag : [Genuinely impressed] My my, Mr. Sleaze, you show hidden depths. [Gives a sleazy smile] Excellent. [Turns to Brandy] See?

Brandy : [To Austin] Then you're a fool. There's no such thing as The Path. It's just an excuse that sociopaths use to excuse their actions.

Chastity : [Haughtily] And how do you excuse your actions, dear?

Brandy : I don't. I'm not ashamed of what I am, dear.

Austin : [Deftly slipping his jacket and shirt off his left shoulder, exposing his aspect. To Brandy] So that's sociopathological is it? [Slips his shirt and jacket back over his aspect, carefully readjusting his shirt, tie and jacket]

Clint: No, it's a bump.

Austin : [To Clint] Thank you Mr Scar. [To Brandy] You see, even Mr Scar can see that it's not sociopathological.

Brandy : [Peers at it] So you sold your soul to a demon, so what?

Austin : [To Brandy] That's the point, I didn't sell my soul to a demon [Smirks]

Brandy : [Gives a big smile] That's what you think.

Clint: Give it a rest, babe. I'm not the lawyer's biggest fan, but I'll take his word over yours any day. Besides, even if you're right, there's nothing we can do about it now, so why worry?

Brandy : I'm not worried. I'm actually enjoying seeing how delusioned our Austin is.

[The carriage has reached the crest of the hill, and the party can see an enormous flat area in front of them, where they can see for miles. There is one large hill that is about half a mile away that looks like there are thousands of people gathered on it, and off in the distance what looks like a huge army of tens or even hundreds of thousands heading this way.]

Alice : Uh, so, the guys on the hill, they're the Jeromites, right? And that huge army heading towards them, that's the Snots?

Fleabag : If only.

Austin : [Smugly to Brandy] If I'd sold my soul to a demon I think I'd know about it. I did not make any form of contract or deal with Azzugus, it was Aggie that made deals with old Zuggy.

Brandy : I neither know nor care who those people are, but I do know lots about selling souls to demons. And yours, my friend, has been sold. [Points at Austin's shoulder] And there's the price tag.

Austin : [To Brandy] But if I didn't sell my soul, who did? [Looks really worried]

Brandy : [Looks over the other party members meaningfully] Who indeed? [Perks up] Now, I do believe we have to make a crazed dash to the mountain top. Let's go! [The carriage roars off towards the hill top. There's clearly enough time for the party to get there before the JEROMITES.]

[Book V, Act X, Scene VII. Halfway up the hill. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, SMOCK, FLEABAG, CLAIRE, BRANDY, CONTINENCE and VITTOR are here in the carriage. FLEABAG has just pulled the handbrake, causing the carriage to stop halfway up.]

Alice : Hey! What's going on? I thought we were going to the relative safety of the Snots?

Fleabag : No, we're going to the relative lack of safety of the caves.

Claire : [Consolingly to Austin] Don't worry, I've been through something similar. I once had a pimple [dramatically] right on my cheek!

Austin : [To Brandy, disconcerted] So how can some one sell someonelses soul? Don't they have to get a signed affidavit of something? [Frowns]

Claire : [Wounded at Austin's callous disregard of her heart wrenching story] On an ass cheek!

Brandy : [Smiles sweetly at Austin] I don't know. [Leaps down off the carriage] Right, let's find that axe. I'm sure it has a [barely suppresses a smirk] holy purpose.

Clint: [Following Brandy, turns back to Claire.] Hey, don't worry babe - I can check ya tonight to see if it's come back!

Austin : [To Claire, sharply] Please don't compare the theft of my soul to a pimple on you derrier again. [Gets down from the carriage. To Brandy] So how does one go about gettng rid of one's aspect and getting one's soul back?

Claire : [Tearfully to Austin] It was on the first night I was going to have anal sex, I wanted to look pretty! [To Clint] Oh, thank God someone cares!

Brandy : [Shrugs] Idunnno.

Austin : [To Brandy, looking displease at Mr Scars cheesyness] So my soul was inside Agatha for a while, after Darius killed me the time before the last time we tried to save Dominique, and she had done a deal with Azzugus, and then she died and I was reborn. [Thinks hard frowning] I guess it must have been Aggie [Frowns] Or Darius. Hmm, probably Agatha. [Looks across the party] She may well have sould [Smirks briefly at the irony of his weak pun] all of our souls to Azzugus.

Brandy : No, not everyone's just yours. [Frowns] And I already told you, Darius didn't kill you, he didn't kill anyone. You would do well to remember this, because he's the one who knows all about selling souls. [To Fleabag] Let's go. [Draws her sword and walks towards the cave] ### Darius claimed to have sold his soul to God. As part of this supposed agreement ### he wasn't allowed to kill anyone. As far as the party know, he never has.

Clint: [To Austin] Look, Sleaze, worry about the state of your soul later. We have to get that axe before Jerry does, and we can't let those two out of our sight! [Follows Brandy, and mutters under his breath.] Hell, he's a lawyer. Selling souls is what they do!

Chastity : Well said, Mr. Scar. We must follow them, but, [looks back at the other, non-party people] don't forget that we have a traitor in our midst.

Austin : [To Brandy] It was Boddy who killed me? [shrugs] Hard to remember the details when you are dieing.

[BRANDY ignores AUSTIN and addresses the rest of the group.]

Brandy : Well? Who's coming?

[Each of VITTOR, CONTINENCE and CLAIRE make assenting noises.]

Brandy : Who wants to go in the front?

[Silence descends.]

### For the record, Boddy did NOT kill Austin. He stabbed him and wounded him ### to slow the party down, and it was Maria's followers who killed him.

Austin : [To Brandy, dryly] You sound pretty keen, why don't you go first.

Clint: [Boldy] Step aside, toots, and let a real man handle it! over on... the 6th. internet access here in Cork or not. I won't be completely January, and the extra 2 hours

Smock: Yeah! It's Clint's job to be the first to run into all the baddies and take all the stabs and swipes and claws and rakes, cuz he's the toughest hero. And it's just like in the wild, the alpha male is responsible for protecting the pack, after all.

Clint: And don't you forget it! on 10.07

Austin : [Glances] I hope they roll out the beta soon, the alpha is well past it's sell by date [wafts stinky's smell away]

Brandy : [Steps back to let Clint pass] Be my guest. We need someone to trip the first few traps anyway. new player. If you're

Austin : [To Brandy] It works better if you don't tell him that.

Brandy : Not really, you're overlooking his complete absence of rational thought. He's already forgotten what I said.

Austin : [To Brandy] Deniability! You can't deny that you could have prevented harm from comming to Mr Scar when you have just suggested that he would remove the first few traps by being stupid enough to walk into them. Not only have you made yourself partly responsible for the harm that will no doubt come to Mr Scar, you have also implied that you have forknowledge that there are traps within, suggesting that you may be, in some way, resposible for the setting of the aforementioned traps! {sighs I hope you have a good lawyer. [Dryly] Mr Scar certainly does.

Brandy : Then that means you're available to act for me?

Smock: [To Brandy] He's not going to defend someone who tried to kill him, stupid.

Brandy : [Looks Smock up and down with a smile] Yes, that would be almost as stupid as insulting someone who saved the lives of your parents.

Austin : [To Brandy, dryly] Action does not necessaryly disclose motive.

Smock: [Narrows her eyes suspiciously] Yeah... But as if you done that.

Brandy : [To Austin] Quite. [To Smock] Yes, why on earth would I have to do that?

Austin : [To Brandy] So why didn't you kill us when you had the chance? Why did you save Smocks parents?

Brandy : Action doesn't necessarily disclose motive.

Alice : So, just because you didn't do something evil doesn't mean you're not a bitch.

Brandy : Correct.

Chastity : Oh for heaven's sake! Answer his questions!

Brandy : Of course, Chastity dear. [To Austin] The first time I didn't really care whether you lived or not, I just wanted to torture you because you beat me up. I save Smock's parents because I'm a real nice person and they worked for me. They are quite the expert cheese makers, until one of their idiot children blabbed to anyone who'd listen. immediately after Austin device. Although it blamed the person that Interestingly, Brown was killed party later found out be none other than

Austin : [Suprised, to Brandy] Did I beat you up? I don't reacall doing that! [Frowns] Was that before or after you poisoned us?

Brandy : Before. The reason I didn't kill you the second time I had a chance was because Darius talked me out of it. It would serve you well to remember that he and Boddy are very different people.

Austin : [To Brandy] Well, sorry for beating you up, but I must say I don't recall the event. Wheb was that [Frowns] Anyway, I know Darius talked you out of it, but what did he say?

Brandy : Sure you don't. He asked me not to kill you. Now, who else is going up front with big brave Clint?

Smock: [Folds her arms] Well I was an only child! And my parents never said they worked for anyone! And I never saw you save their lives!

Brandy : Then I guess it must never have happened, and they're either dead or still rotting in jail.

Austin : [To Brandy] Perhaps you would like to go up front with Mr Scar, a coalition force, so to speak.

Brandy : Ah yes, Beauty and the Beasts.

[BRANDY and CLINT go first, followed by ALICE and AUSTIN, CHASTITY and CLAIRE, SMOCK and VITTOR, and finally, CONTINENCE and FLEABAG.]

Vittor : [Unhappy] Why must I be so close to the front? Surely one of the less valuable members of the group can go ahead of me?

Austin : [To Brandy] Aaah! Now I remember, just after you tortured us, I slapped you twice and kicked you in the bum. Then you tried to kill us again. Someone else had already beaten you up, and you had also tortured those nice girls you had tied up in your basement. [Checks his nails] I feel entirely vindicated. [Sighs with relief]

Smock: [A little hurt, to Brandy] You didn't have to poke fun at my parents being in jail.

Brandy : That's right, I didn't have to, but I still did. I also didn't have to get them freed, but I still did. [To Austin] Yeah, doesn't surprise me that you'd feel good about beating a woman. For the record, those women in the basement of debasement weren't put there by me, but by the Holy Church of Phili.

Alice : HPC? Is that your mob, Chas?

Chastity: [Deeply offended] Certainly not, young lady!

Alice : Oh. Then, Adam Torque wasn't a bad guy using the CPH as a tool to put down the masses?

Austin : [To Brandy] You didn't put them there? Well that's okay then. [Rolls his eyes] They where terrified of you, the pleaded with us to keep you away from them. [Shrugs] Anyway, it's all history now. [Surveys the cave entrance]

Smock: [To Brandy, hopefully] You mean they're not in jail anymore? [Getting a little more excited] Where are they? Do you know what they're doing? Are they okay?

Brandy : Why don't we talk about it after we have the axe?

Smock: [Nodding] Okay! [To Clint] Come on - let's just search these freaks for the map! Then we can get the axe quicker!

Austin : [To Brandy] Because that might be too late.

[VITTOR, CONTINENCE and CLAIRE all protest loudly at this outrageous suggestion.]

Brandy : [To Austin] Why, I guess you'll just have to make sure that nothing happens to Brandy in this awful place.

Chastity: [To Brandy, snapping at her with a rolled-up tea towel] Speak in the first person!

Brandy : Mm! That's an awfully nice snapping action you've got there, Sister. Brandy likes it.

Austin : [Sniggers] Just wait until you see her club.

Brandy : More like her in it?

Smock: [Hands on hips, to Vittor, Continence and Clare] All right, you lot. Line up against that wall. We're gonna find this map and get the axe quick smart.

Fleabag : [As the three all complain loudly] I like your style, Short Round. Execute whoever took the map for murdering the Prof, and execute whoever didn't for lyin' to us and wasting our valuable time!

Austin : [Looking a little alarmed at all the talk of killing. To Smock] Wasting time has never been punishable by death, cadet. [Stealthly and swiftly frisks the suspects if they let him] [None of the three permit the search, and all pull away, with CONTINENCE pulling out a dagger.]

Continence : You'll have to kill me first!

Fleabag : You heard her, gang, do her in!

Chastity: [To Fleabag] Mr. Bag! We are most certainly not going to [finger quotes] do her in! [To Continence] Surely you can understand you must cooperate, young lady? Your refusal makes you appear most suspicious.

Continence : How about your refusal? Let's search you first! [Points at Fleabag] And him.

Fleabag : [Immediately has his shirt of and pants down around his ankles] Knock yourself out!

Austin : [Takes a few steps back, looking from Continence to Fleabag] This could be entertaining.

Continence : [Puts on a huge, arm length rubber glove, glancing at Austin] I'm sure it will be, when it's your turn.

Austin : [To continence] I won't be having a turn, searches should be entirely voluntary I believe. In any case, it is in the map holders interest that we use the map to find the Axe. All I have is this [Produces what looks like a paper weight in the form of a pyramid]

Vittor : [As Continence's eyes light up at the sight of the pyramid] Then I refuse to submit to a search!

Austin : [Carefully puts the pyramid away, making a mental note of the reactions it recieved] Yes, it seems that the murderer missed that little gem. [To Vittor] Naturally I was expressing my own opinions, which are not necessarily the opinions of my colleagues. They may well kill you if you don't submit to a search.

Fleabag : [Still bent over, but addressing Vittor] I do believe that I'm in favour of putting a plug in you, boy.

Clint: Give it a rest already. We're not killing the little deve just b= ecause he doesn't want a hand up his ass.

Vittor : Well, I didn't say I didn't want that - I just don't want anyone searching me!

Smock: [To Clare] Empty your pockets!

Clare : [Trying to hide behind Vittor] No, empty [emphasis] your pockets!

Alice : [With a slight look of disgust] Oh god, I hope she doesn't!

Austin : [Sighs, rolls his eyes] We could be here all day. I've got the key, so who has the map? [Claps his hands] Come on now, we need to get going before the Jeromites get here.

Continence : Very well, then, [dramatically] I have the map!

Vittor : No! I do!

Claire : They're lying! I have it!

Austin : [Smugly to Continence, Vittor and Claire] Prove it.

Vittor : If we do, what's to stop you killing us?

Alice : Oh please! What's to stop us just killing you and taking the map?

Fleabag : I think I'd want to kill them even if there was no map.

Smock: Fine! Just to show that I'm not the murder, even though I couldn't be because I'm a hero! [Kneels down, digs into her pocket and begins placing stuff on the ground. First to be fished out is Twitch, her extra large pet cockroach; then an acorn; what looks to have once been a piece of bread now squished up into a ball and going mouldy; three buttons; a knucklebone; a small feather; a worm; some dried herbs; an apple core; and a muddy rock] Bust mostly everything go stolen be the Morcs.

Smock: We don't kill civilians - we're heroes! We just need the axe right now and then you can deal with the authorities later. We just do the adventure stuff, not the boring courts and paperwork. Well, except Austin. But he's... different.

Vittor : [Appalled] This is the most disgusting thing I've ever seen! [Stamps on Twitch and some of Smock's stuff, causing a sickening crunch as he does so]

Fleabag : You shouldn't have oughta done that. [Grabs Vittor by the shirt and head butts him, knocking him to the ground]

Smock: [Slumps as her heart breaks, staring gobsmacked at the crushed carapace of her little friend. To Vittor, tearing up] You killed Twitch... How could you!? [With a feral growl, launches herself at Vittor, ready to punch him as he lays prone.]

Vittor : Ugh! Help!

[FLEABAG gets on top of VITTOR's chest and starts beating him savagely, aided by SMOCK, who lashes out at him too.]

Chastity : Oh dear Lord! Stop this immediately!

Chastity: I mean it! [Whips out a rolled up tea towel and brandishes it warningly for emphasis]

Alice : Come on, Stinky!

[ALICE and CLINT drag off SMOCK and FLEABAG, the latter of whom has inflicted substantial damage on VITTOR, who is covered in blood.]

Fleabag : [Looking like he's taken a bite out of Vittor's cheek] Bastard! You scumsucking bastard!

[Suddenly, TWITCH jumps out of a crack in VITTOR's shoe and trots over to SMOCK, completely unharmed.]

Fleabag : Huh, will you look at that? I guess they are indestructible after all!

Austin : [Watching Chastity readying her tea towel] Trust the nun to join a fight that's already happening. Just couldn't miss out on a fight [Tuts. Then watches curiously as Twitch trots back over to Smock]

Claire : [Terrified] Please! I don't have the map! I swear!

Austin : [To Claire, kindly] Then perhaps you would not mind if I searched you, [Glances at Smock and Fleabag] I guarantee that I'll be more subtle than these two.

Claire : [Emptying her pockets, throwing everything out on the ground] There! Take it! Take it all!

Smock: [Scoops Twitch up and starts cooing and petting him gently] It's okay little buddy. The mean man won't hurt you again!

Alice : [To Continence] What about you?

Continence : I might hurt it.

Austin : [Glances at all of the things Claire threw on the ground. Smoothly to Claire] Would you mind if I still proceeded with the frisking?

Claire : [Wails] I knew I should have waxed my ass last night! [Assumes the position]

Austin : [To Claire, suprised] Ermm, perhaps not, that's not quite what I had in mind. [Straightens his jacket briefly, then walks to the mouth of the cave, carefully looking for any traps that there might be]

Claire : [Gives a peculiar squeaking noise as Clint searches her] Ooooh!

Alice : [Looking at the disturbing expression on Claire's face] Yeeeeah. I think I prefered when we were beating them up!

Smock: [Narrows her eyes suspiciously at Continence] Do her! I bet she has it!

Continence : [Holds her knife out threateningly] Bring it on!

Austin : [To Smock] Be careful now, you can do this without hurting anyone. [Hopefully] Wouldn't that be nice?

Continence : Okay, I have the map, and I killed the Prof, and I'd do it again, I tell you, in a heartbeat! You can come in with me, but no one is going to lay a hand on me or I'll slit their gizzard.

Alice : What's a gizzard?

Continence : It's a part of a bird's stomach, where food is ground up.

Alice : [Intrigued] They grind food in their stomachs?

Continence : [Conversationally] Sure, because they don't have any teeth.

Alice : Huh. I didn't know that.

Continence : Yes, and, although strictly speaking, humans don't have a gizzard, it's often used as a threat, usually in jest, but some times quite seriously, as in this case.

Alice : Cool. Knowledge is fun!

Continence : It sure is, Alice. Would you like to know more about bird parts that are often used when referring to humans?

Alice : I sure would, Continence!

Continence : Well then, let's sing a song about - hey! Wait a minute! [Waves her dagger threateningly] Get back!

Austin : [Looking agitated by the delay, sighs in relief] Excellent, =20 well, now we know who the cold blooded murderer is can we get going? =20 [Checks his nails briefly]

Vittor : [Clearly in great pain] What about me? Won't someone please help me? Perhaps a kindly nun?

Continence : [Gives Vittor a kick] Ah, shaddup!

Chastity : For shame, Mr. Scar! I am more kindly than any party needs. [Gives Vittor a glass of milk and a penguin bar] There there. [To Claire] Why don't you stay with him, dear? It might be dangerous inside.

Vittor : I don't want that hairy assed slut looking after me!

Chastity : Fine, we'll let Mr. Bag look after you.

Vittor : [To Claire, trying to make a cheesy grin] How're you doin', toots?

Smock: [Stamps her foot] No! We can't keep going until we have the map so we can know where all the bad stuff is! [To Clint] And we're not leaving Austin behind - especially with someone who tried to kill one of our party members. [Puts Twitch back in her pocket]

Austin : [To Clint, sneering, coldly] Mr Scar, the souless lawyer with a demon growing out of his shoulder is less likely to stay behind and wait for the Jeromites to get here than you are to have a pedicure.

Claire : Jeromites? I'm coming too!

Vittor : [To Claire] Please, stay here with me, I'll even shave your backside!

Austin : [Grimacing, to Vittor] There where to many pimples to allow shaving to be an option, I suspect waxing would be your best option as a dipilatory could be very painful with that much acne. [Surveys the cave entrance once more. To Continance] May I see the map please?

Continence : No. The map is of the interior of the caves. I will show it when we get there.

Austin : [To Continence] Very well. {To Clint Mr Scar, would you and your testosterone fueled ego care to lead the way.

Smock: [To Continence] We need the axe for hero work. You just need it cuz you're greedy. So hand the map over, and you can stay here with these two. [Gestures at Clare and Vittor]

Chastity: [Finally over her silent disgust at all of the ass-waxing talk] Yes, Mr. Scar, do take the lead. [Gravely] You are the only man we have to turn to for such things now [shudders in horror]. Q29udGluZW5jZSA6IFtkaXNkYWluZnVsbHldIEkgZG9uJ3Qga25vdyB3aGF0IGEgY3V6IGlzLCBi dXQgSSBjYW4gYXNzdXJlIHlvdSB0aGF0IEkgaGF2ZSBhcyBtdWNoIHJpZ2h0IHRvIHRoZSBheGUg YXMgeW91IHNlZW0gdG8gdGhpbmsgeW91IGRvLiANClNlbnQgZnJvbSBteSBCbGFja0JlcnJ5riB3 aXJlbGVzcyBoYW5kaGVsZCAg

Austin : Well, if we don't get a move on it won't be an issue because =20 we'll all be dead.

Chastity: [To Austin] I quite agree, Mr. Sleaze, though must you express yourself in such dreadful slang?!

Austin : [To Chastity] Dreadful slang? [Sighs] This is no time for one of your psychotic episodes, Chassers old girl. [To the others, quietly] We're going to have to keep an eye on her.

Alice : We could get Fleabag to have one of [emphasis] his psychotic episodes and cut out one of Vittor's and put that on her.

Vittor : [Clings to Claire] Please stay with me, I don't care how hairy your ass is!

Claire : [Close to tears] That's the most beautiful thing anyone's ever said to me! [Book V, Act X, Scene VIII. The Very, Very Dark Caves. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, SMOCK, CONTINENCE, FLEABAG and BRANDY are here, walking three abreast, with ALICE, CLINT and BRANDY in the front, AUSTIN, FLEABAG and CHASTITY in the second row, and SMOCK and CONTINENCE in the third row. The caves are very, very dark.]

Continence : The map only starts once we're well into the caves. I suspect that I am far enough back not to be killed by the first bunch of traps.

Alice : [Whispering loudly to the party] Why don't we just beat her up and take the map?

Smock: [Glaring at Continence] That's what I want to know!

Continence : [With an unbearable, almost Austin-like smugness] Because of this. [Takes out a fair sizable piece of paper] I've memorised the map, and now I will destroy it. [Scrunches up the paper into a ball larger than a tennis ball and, with no small amount of difficulty, crams it into her mouth]

Austin : [To Continence] How do you know what the map looks like when viewed through the key? We can hardly apply the key to your memory! [Looks at Continence indignantly]

Continence : [With a mouthful of paper] Whaff kfeyf?

Austin : [To COntinence, sharply] It's quite simple, only the paper version of the map that you are currently masticating is of any cartological value. It requires the application of a carefully crafted optical device, that which I previously refered to as the 'key, that can distort the graphics on the map to show their real pattern. [Sighs]

Continence : [Painfully swallowing the map] Idiot. [Suddenly begins choking]

Austin : [Ponders Continence's choking] Hmm, perhaps the Behind-Lick manoever would dislodge the map. Or we could just let you choke to death, then cut the map out of your oesophagus.

Chastity: [To Continence, scolding] That really was a foolish strategy, dear. I'm afraid you'll never be one of the great super-villains.

Continence : [On her knees, wheezing] Please, help me!

Austin : [To everyone else] Does anyone know how to perform the Behind-Lick manoever? [Ponders Continence] I think it's kind of a huging, squeezing action with a carefully timed jumping type action.

Continence : [Finally spits up of a huge glob of paper and phlegm, which lands on the ground in front of the party with a sickening squelch] Gasp!

Alice : Sure, I'll give it a go, Aus. [Gets behind Continence]

Smock: [Screwing her nose up at the gob of paper] Ew! [To Continence] You're stupid! Chastity is right. You'll never be a good baddie. Sure, you've got an outfit going on, but you really need to work on your strategy. [To the party] Can we leave her behind now? [Ponders the map] Clint, I think you should get it because you're leading the way.

Alice : No way! It should be someone in the back who holds it! ### Updated Map

Map

Smock: [Quickly takes a few steps forward so that Alice and Continence are now the two last in line.] I'm not touching it!

Alice : Oh please, you carry a cockroach but you won't touch the paper?

Smock: Cockroaches are very clean animals! Unlike humans.

Alice : [Gives Smock a baleful look] Depends on the human, I guess.

Austin : [Gets two pairs of tongs from his bag and carefully picks the map up with them, unfolding it carefully to see how damaged it is] Never has one map been in such dire need of breath freshener.

[Everyone crowds around AUSTIN to see the map. Although it has clearly seen better days, it is legible, and doesn't look as though it needs a special lens to see it with.]

Continence : [Recovering] Okay, I kept my part of the bargain, now let's get the axe.

Chastity: [To Continence, incredulous] You did no such thing! You have only proven yourself to be deceitful, foolish, and [looking at the map in digust] disturbingly phlegmmy.

Austin : [Dons some surgical gloves over the top of his white silk gloves and gets a sizable pile of kleenex from his bag and dabs all of the saliva, blie and other mucal excreetions from the map, then pops it into a see thru polly bag] It doesn't appear to be too badly dammaged.

Continence : [Even more incredulous] What? Where have you been for the last ten minutes? Austin said that I could come with you and be protected by you if I gave you the map. Then I handed it over and Smock and Alice thanked me. [Rolls her eyes] Idiot.

Alice : [Peers at the map] Doesn't look too difficult to traverse either, except for that huge hole in the centre with the jagged edges around it. [To Continence] What?

Continence : I know! She really doesn't know what we're talking about. Maybe we should leave her here with the foreigner and that hairy girl?

Chastity: [Glaring at Continence. To Clint] Mr. Scar, do please borrow some of Alice's [finger quotes and a disgusted shudder] playthings and bind and gag this silly trollop!

Clint : Sure thing, Chas. [Reaches into Alice's bag and takes out a blindfold and some handcuffs] Sorry, Bimbo, but the Sis says I've gotta do it. [Holds Alice's hands behind her back]

Alice : Hey!

Chastity: [To Clint, impatiently] Not the good trollop, the bad one!

Clint : Sorry, Chas. [Grabs Continence and, after a brief struggle, has her handcuffed]

Continence : What the hell are you doing? Don't listen to that crazy bitch!

Chastity: Thank you, Mr. Scar. [Hands over her ears] The gag, as well, please. She is such an ill-mannered, noisy trollop!!

Continence : Ill mannered? What are you talking about, you fu -

[Mercifully CLINT gags CONTINENCE at just the right moment.]

Clint : Hey, where did all the teethmarks on this gag come from?

Alice : [Shrugs] Idunno.

Austin : [To Clint] Well, Mr Scar, since you are quite badly wounded I suggest that you make Continence walk infront, perhaps you should tie a rope around her neck in case she tried to run away?

Smock: Good idea, Austin! Maybe a pet will teach Clint some responsiblity.

Austin : [To Smock, mirthfully chuckling] Indeed it may, but I fear you are not aware of Mr. Scars previous 'beastial' relationships [Smirks at his poor pun]

Brandy : [Raises an eyebrow] Are you really going to send someone who's bound and gagged to walk ahead of us? [Glances at Smock] Heroes, eh?

Fleabag : My my, I like it. Shows that they have [huge emphasis on the S and K] sssspunk. Yahoo isn't

Clint: Would you rather she was behind us, doll? I'll be right here to keep an eye on her! [Wanders alongside Continence, keeping an eye on her and not really paying as much attention to where he's going as he ought to be]

Brandy : [Watching Clint brazenly checking out Continence] I'd rather we left her behind.

Austin : [To Brandy] If we leave her behind she'll probably be killed by the Jeromites, and if we let her walk behind us she may try to kill us. [Shrugs] This way she, and we may survive long enough to see that she stands trial for the Profs murder. [Muses] Heros have to be practical too.

Brandy : You mean in the same way that Claire and Vittor will be killed by the Jeromites?

Austin : [To Brandy] No, not at all. They were free to do as they pleased, they didn't want to come with us, so that is their problem. Continence would not have stood any chance against the Jeromites, bound, incapacitated.

Brandy : So you are going heroically make her walk ahead of us? [Shrugs] Not that I really care, it's just that I find it difficult not to comment on your hypocrisy.

Austin : [To Brandy] Would you rather the murderer walked behind you? [shrugs] I suppose you're right in a way, I've never heard of a hero that strived to save the life of a murderer.

Brandy : There are a lot of things that you haven't heard of.

Alice : Oh please! Is this some sort of sexual thing where the two of you fight and bicker until eventually you start kissing to the sound of swirling music? Because if it is, can we just jump to that part already?

Chastity: [To Alice] For Phili's sake! You know good and well Mr. Sleaze does not [finger quotes] enjoy the company of women. [To the party, briskly] We can put the harlot between two of us in the middle. Problem solved. Now stop your bickering and sham flirting!

Alice : What? Wouldn't it make a whole lot more sense to put Continence in the middle?

Austin : [To Chastity, smirking] Just because I don't enjoy being in the company of a withered old hag like you Chassers, you old witch, does not mean that I am homosexual. Perhaps you should shave that moustache off once in a while.

Chastity: [Sweetly] Yes, Mr. Sleaze. Your constant and not at all desperate or grasping denials have us all thoroughly convinced of your heterosexuality. Now swish on over here and assist Mr. Scar with our prisoner so that we may finally depart!

Alice : I think you should sashay, Aus!

Austin : [Ignores Chastity. Sighs, then goes ahead of Clint carefully look for traps and danger, muttering] Bloody path.

Clint: Hey, did anyone ever ask why this freak here thought it'd be a good idea to murder the Prof and take the map?

Smock: No. It clearly wasn't a good idea. [Clarifying to Brandy] Continence is the villain. We're not supposed to look after her! Duh!

Fleabag : Besides, I think she would have stomped on poor old Switch if she'd got the chance.

Brandy : [Shrugs] What do I care? I say we push her ahead of us to spring any traps.

Austin : [To Brandy] Unfortunately that only works with certain kinds of traps. Additionally, Continence may spot a trap andavoid it, leaving it for one of us. [Carefully scours for traps] Does anyone have a spare torch?

Alice : [Hands one over] Sure Aus. I think it's nice that you're carrying a torch for me.

[The party advance slowly, with CONTINENCE continually trying to push back against the party. Everyone stops when they see that just up ahead one of the walls has a large number of holes in it, each about an inch in diameter.]

Smock: [A little excited] Ooo! That looks like a trap! Oh, I mean... [Calms down, to Austin] Do you see anything?

Austin : [To Smock] It could be a trap, or a distraction to draw one's attention away from another trap, or both [Frowns, then starts carefuly examining the area for a trigger]

[AUSTIN checks around the area and discovers that the floor immediately ahead looks as though it pushes down. The holes extend about ten feet along the wall.]

Austin : [Checks to see if it is possible to walk around the trigger floor area] Hmm, the classic pressure triggered trap. [Looks very cautious] A great trap for a secondary trap.

[It appears as though there's just one large flagstone covering the floor in front of the holes.]

Chastity: [Peering at the flagstone] Oh, dear. This doesn't look good. Can we test it? [Fishes a sack of flour out of her knapsack and hands it to Austin] Here, see what this does.

Austin : [Ponders the trap] We could just jump across, but some of our obese party members might not make it [Condsiders Chastity momentarily] Perhaps we could set it off, but that could be difficult if it's a gas trap. [Tries to examine one of the holes without triggering anything]

Austin : [After inspecting one of the holes. To Chasisty, taking the flour bag] Thank you, sister.

Alice : Oh, I get it. You're going to bake a cake and throw it on the stone. Not bad, but wouldn't it be quicker to just throw the bag of flour?

Chastity: [To Alice, sweetly] Brilliant suggestion, dear! However do you manage to dress yourself each and every morning?

Alice : The secret is, Chas [looks to each side to make sure that no one is listening in] to sleep in your clothes!

Chastity: [To Alice] My, that does explain quite a bit! [To Austin] Are we ready to test this trap?

Austin : Everyone stand back [Looks to see if there are any suitably sized stones lieing around to jam into the nearer bolt holes. Carefully puts the bag of flour onto the pressure sensitive flag stone, making sure that he is not in the line of fire]

Austin : [To Chastity] It is a pitty that we cannot say the same about you, sis.

Chastity: [To Austin] What a peculiar thing to say, Mr. Sleaze. Unlike you, I am well contented with my gender.

Alice : What? You mean Aus would prefer if you were a guy?

Austin : [To Alice] I would prefer it if she was nice. [Proceeds to check the cave for further traps] didn't set it off.

Fleabag : Come on! Let's throw her [clearly means Continence] on it!

Austin : [To Fleabag] That, I believe, would be murder. [Austin tries to use his torch to trigger the trap with a push]

Fleabag : Sure, but so what? We're on a mission from god! [Grabs Continence and sends her staggering onto the floor, which immediately triggers showering her in bolts]

Austin : [Looks quite shocked] What! That was totally unnecessary! [Goes to see if Continence is alive]

Chastity: [To Fleabag] Mr. Bag! How could you?! [rushes to Continence and prepares to muster some healing mojo]

Fleabag : [Strolling past the three] Better not take too long there, I bet the trap will reload itself before long.

[CONTINENCE is quite dead, and there isn't (yet!) any sound of the trap reloading.]

Clint : Pretty low, Fleabag.

Brandy : [Suddenly pointing her sword at Austin's throat] Almost as low as stealing from the dead?

Chastity: [Draws her mace and attempts to rush to Austin's defense] Drop your sword, harlot!!

Brandy : I'll do [speaks up over the sound of Alice's sword clattering to the floor] I'll do no such thing. I'm just reminding Austin here to share. After all, sharing is caring, wouldn't you agree, Sister?

Austin : [To Brandy] Just because you're a nasty piece of work doesn't mean that I am [Calmly walks on, off the pressure pad, checking to see if the next part of the cave is safe]

Chastity: [To Brandy] You call threatening people with your sword [finger quotes] caring?!

Brandy : Sure. It's caring about sharing. [Starts searching Continence]

Austin : [To Brandy] So you are going to share anything you find then? [Ponders] And by the way, you cannot steal from the dead, as a dead person cannot own property. Anything that Continence had belongs to her next of kin, the state, or the persons or establishments detailed in her will. [Goes back to checking for traps]

Brandy : Hm, now if only there was someone trustworthy enough to look after it until her will can be read. [Continues searching Continence, pocketing the odd item or two]

Austin : If only.

Brandy : [Smiles] Yeah, but what are you gonna do? [Gets up] Right, who's the next patsy?

[The party hear the unmistakable sound of voices up ahead.]

Brandy : [Smiles] Yeah, but what are you gonna do? [Gets up] Right, who's the next patsy?

[The party hear the unmistakable sound of voices up ahead.]

Austin : [Draws his dagger and moves behind Brandy]

Chastity: [Readies her mace and whispers] Can anyone hear what they're saying?

Austin : [Shakes his head, and does the 'shush' finger over lips gesture]

Chastity: [Frowns and shakes her finger at Austin scoldingly and leans toward the sound of the voices, trying to hear something] [Enter POSEY PARKER and ANTHONY PARKER, nonchalantly walking towards the party. POSEY is wearing a nice dress while ANTHONY is naked.]

Anthony : Well, I supposed we'd better reset the trap.

Posey : Reset the trap?

Anthony : Yes, reset the trap.

Posey : Good idea, Ant.

Anthony : You think that's a good idea?

Posey : Yes Ant, I - [spots the party] hey!

Posey Parker

Anthony Parker

Austin : [Waves to Posey] Hello. Pleased to make your aquaintance, miss, my name is Austin Sleaze [bows very slighty in a gentlemanly manner] What on earth is a beautiful lady like your goodself doing in a place like this?

Chastity: [To Posey] "Why? Did you set it?

Posey : [To Anthony] She thinks we set the trap.

Anthony : She thinks we set the trap?

Posey : Yes, she thinks we set the trap.

Anthony : She's right.

Chastity: [To Anthony, shocked] You should be ashamed of yourselves! How could two such clean-cut youngsters have gone so horribly wrong?!

Alice : [Pointing to Anthony's bushy pubic hair] Well, not [emphasis] that clean cut!

Posey : How could we go wrong? How could [emphasis] you go wrong?

Clint : [To the party] These freaks are driving me crazy!

Austin : [To Posey] Yes, we triggered the trap. [Matter of factly] We are here to get the axe. [Hopefully] Do you know where all of the traps are in these caves, and if so, could you lead us past them? [Explaning, graciously] That way you won't have to reset them, and you can just relax and [Catches Posey's eye] be beautiful. UG9zZXkgOiBbZ2lnZ2xlc10gYmUgYmVhdXRpZnVsPw0KU2VudCBmcm9tIG15IEJsYWNrQmVycnmu IHdpcmVsZXNzIGhhbmRoZWxkICA=

Austin : [To Posey] Yes. [Pauses. In a friendly way] So could you lead us past any other traps that there might be?

Anthony : [Stepping in front of Posey] Certainly not! We're here to prevent people like you from getting your hands on the axe, [glances down for a moment] or any other enormous weapons.

Posey : Enormous weapons?

Anthony : Yes, enormous.

Austin : [To Posey] Oh, pardon me. I thought for a moment that you might be heros, Heirophantic knights or something like that. [Looks over Posey] You don't look like evil, murderous villans.

Chastity: [To Austin] Don't you know by now that anyone can be an evil, murderous villain?! On 11/01/07, Heather wrote:

Posey : [Stepping in front of Anthony] Nor do you.

Anthony : [Stepping in front of Posey] We are Path Gallants. Here to prevent evil, murderous villains everywhere from entering this sacred place.

Alice : You mean, the sacred place we've just entered?

Anthony : Uh, yeah.

Austin : [Smirking at Chastity] I knew it! Path Gallants, heros to the end. [Looks anoyed] I suppose you have to test us before we can pass?

Chastity: [To Austin] Let us hope they do not test for larcenous tendencies!

Anthony : [To Posey] They think we're going to test them.

Posey : They think we're going to test them?

Anthony : Yes, they think we're going to test them. [To Austin] No, we're not going to test you.

Austin : [Sighs in relief] Phew! Well that's a relief, so many of our previous encounters with Path Gallants have involved tests. [Glances around] Soooo, Can you help us get to the axe please? [Looks at Brandy and Fleabag nervously] Well, at least by us I mean the Queensview party.

Anthony : No.

[As one, the entire party react with an irritated sigh.]

Anthony : We can only release the axe to whoever knows how to use it.

Clint: [To Posey, irritated] You only release the axe to whoever knows how to use it?

Austin : [To Posey] And how will you know who knows how to use it? [Humerously] Is it stuck in a big rock, and only the true holder of the axe can pull it out!

Alice : [To the party] Sure sounds like a test to me.

Posey : There's only one person who knows how to use it.

Austin : [Ponders, smiles at Alice] I expect you know how to use the axe?

Alice : Uh, sure, I, uh, yeah, I bet I can.

Anthony : [Rolls his eyes at Austin] Why should she be able to use it?

Austin : [To Anthony, srugging matter of factly] Would you pick a fight with Alice if she were wielding the axe?

Clint: It's an axe, for Philli's sake! You hit people with it!

Anthony : [Calmly to Austin] I'm standing in front of a bunch of heavily armed people wielding nothing other than this enormous erection, I'd have no problem picking a fight with her. [To Clint] I don't hit people with it, because I'm not the rightful axe bearer. Only one may use it. ### It is, of course, a long way from being even remotely enormous

Chastity: [To Anthony] Who is the one? [Adds in a scolding voice] I must tell you that preoccupation with your genitalia is very childish [quickly, to Clint] and we'll have [enormous emphasis] nothing on that subject from the [finger quotes] Little Private.

Anthony : Childish but understandable. None of you are the one, and that much is clear. We see those who are very good, who wish that they were the one, but they are not. Then we see the very evil, who wish to force us to believe that they are the one, but they fail. Sometimes we see pigeons, but they're mainly here by accident. Once we saw a unicorn, but that may just have been a horse with a spear through his head.

Austin : [To Anthony] I guess you've never seen another mans genitals then. [Raises an eye brow] If that's what you call enormous. [To Posey] How dissapointing for you.

Anthony : [Hugs Posey to him] Hey! She's my sister! We've got a link that people like you will never understand!

Alice : [Looking ill, turning to Austin] At least, we hope we never do!

Austin : [Nodding in agreement with Alice] There is always hope. [To Posey] Well I have the key, [Briefly shows them the key] so perhaps you be so kind as to lead us safely to the Axe, so that when the bearer of the Axe arrives, they can get it immediately. As there is a massive army of Jeromites not far behind us, time is rather of the essence.

Anthony : Lead you there?

Posey : Lead them there?

Anthony : Yes, that's what they want. [To Austin] You fool, no one can get through, not even the Jeromites.

Austin : [Glances around, then shrugs. To Anthony] Why? What is going to stop fifty thousand Jeromites?

Anthony : [Pales visibly] Uh, well, I'm not telling you. The Link will know what to do.

Austin : [Glances at Alice. To Anthony] And where might you 'link' be?

Clint: [Also glances at Alice, then turns to Chastity.] We're doomed!

Alice : [Echoing] Dooooomed!

Chastity : [Turns to the party] Wait a minute! The "Link"? Haven't we heard that before? demon, tried to kill since, with several Usually those saying it Typically they referred

Austin : [To Alice] Alice sweetie! You are 'The Link', remember! [To Anthony] The Link is quite certain that she wants to get to the Axe, [Glances at Alice] Aren't you. [Shrugs] I just though that Anthony might have his own personal 'Link', but I doubt it, he doesn't appear to have much of anything [Looks pointedly at Anthonys crotch as he says this]

Clint: [Conversationally] You know, lawyer, you're never gonna hide your sexuality if you keep staring at that thing. [To Anthony] But he's right - we've got your Link right here. So step aside, and for the love of Philli, put on some clothes, freak!

Austin : [To Chastity] Why on earth would I want to hide my sexuality?

Chastity : Why on earth would you think that I would even want to discuss the matter with you?

Anthony : [Looks Alice up and down] Sure sure. If you're the link, then you'll be able to pass [ominously] The Test.

Alice : [Nervous] What is it? Some sort of endurance thing? Maybe I have to wear some frumpy clothes? [Looks down at Anthony, her nose wrinkling up in disgust] Do something with you? [Looks to Posey] Watch you two together?

Anthony : No, [hands over a pen and some paper, that were cunningly hidden on his person] just write in 250 words or less why you think you're the Link.

Austin : [To Chastity] Oh, was it Mr Scar that made that comment. Well =20 Sis, if you'd stop accusing me of being homosexual as often as you do =20 then I might not have assumed if was you that made the snide remark. =20 [Watches as Anthony hads over the pen and paper. To Alice] I'd go for =20 the 'less' option. Perhaps you could write a formal mathematical proof.

Clint: Oh, come off it! Do these two look like they'd recognize a formal mathematical proof even if it painted itself purple and danced naked on a table singing "formal mathematical proofs are here again?"

Alice : I don't know, I suppose it would depend on whether or not it was a [huge emphasis] log table! [Laughs so hard that milk comes down her nose]

Austin : [Smirks. To Anthony] I don't think 'the link' is particuarly interested in writing anything for you. [Frowns. To Anthony] Will weak puns do?

Alice : Look, I don't even know what the hell this link thing is all about! And as for writing 250 words? What is that, like longer than The Sword of the Things? Forget it!

Anthony : [ To Posey] She could be the one.

Austin : [To Alice, suprised] You've read The Sword of the Things! [Looks curiously at Alice] All five parts of the trilogy?

Alice : Oh, God no. I gave up after the fourth.

Chastity : [Raises an eyebrow in surprise] You read four parts of the Sword of the Things trilogy.

Alice : No, I mean I gave up after the fourth page!

Austin : [Looks disapointed] The fourth page, the one with the publishers information on, the dates etc?

Chastity: [To Austin] No, that would be the dedication page. No doubt she gave up when she saw it was not dedicated to her.

Alice : Too right. Pretty much anything I've ever read has said "To Alice" on the third page.

Chastity: [To Alice, sweetly] And what great works of literature have been dedicated to you, dear?

Austin : [To Chastity] That sounds like jealousy sis, perhaps you'd better say five hail Philli's to atone for your wicked ways.

Alice : Well, there've been simply hundreds of Happy Birthday cards, with everything from pictures of kittens and puppies to scantily dressed buff guys on the front. Then there are all the Saint Talenvines cards.

Brandy : Well well, it looks like we have winner. [To Anthony] Our axe, please?

Austin : [To Brandy] Your axe? [To Anthony] So, which one of us do think the axe bearer is? [Looks at Alice] Alice, the link, could also be the axe bearer. [Ponders] Or perhaps Mr Scar? [Considers Smock] It might be a little big for you, and of course, I prefer a dagger to an axe, a much more subtle tool.

Brandy : [Holds her hands up to Austin] Yeesh! If I didn't try you wouldn't respect me.

Posey : I do believe that the Link is the Axe Bearer.

Anthony : The Link is the Axe Bearer?

Posey : Yes, the -

Alice : [Interrupting] Yes, yes, we get it! And it's not cute, it's just annoying.

Austin : [Claps his hands in a satisfied manner, with a quick rub] Excellent. Alice is the Axe bearer. [To Anthony and Posey] So would you be so kind as to lead us, and the Axe Bearer, safely to the Axe please.

Chastity: [Regards Alice warily] Are we certain dear Alice is the best choice to carry a heavy, sharp object?

Austin : [To Chastity] Come now Chassers old girl, I have already said that this is no time for your jealously. Alice is the Axe bearer and not you. You'll just have to learn to live with it. [Shrugs matter of factly, with a tiny smirk] Phili chose Alice. TGFzdCBmcm9tIGhlYXRoZXIgIzE1Mw0KDQpBbGljZSA6IHllYWgsIHllYWgsIENoYXMsIEkga25v dywgbm8gcnVubmluZyB3aGVuIGNhcnJ5aW5nIHRoZSBzYWNyZWQgYXhlIQ0KU2VudCBmcm9tIG15 IEJsYWNrQmVycnmuIHdpcmVsZXNzIGhhbmRoZWxkICA=

Alice : But that's okay, Chas, I'm sure you can help out too, maybe by making up a nifty prayer about me?

Austin : [Nodding in agreement] Good idea Alice. [To Chastity] Or you could embroider a tapestry illustrating Alice's great and heroic deeds, or write a biography of her saving the world. [Ponders] Just imagine! You could tour the world giving lectures on the history of Alice, the axe bearer.

Chastity: [To Alice] I don't believe I have any thread quite that shade of [skeptical look at Alice's hair followed by finger quotes] blonde, or I surely would, Mr. Sleaze.

Austin : I'm sure your artistic embroidery skill can accomodate a little artistic license. [To Anthony and Posey, dramatically] The Jeromite army will be upon us soon! Let us not waist the time that the defending army's sacrifice is giving us, with idle chatter.

Posey : Well said!

Anthony : Indeed, well said. Please, follow me. [Steps towards the wall and walks right through it]

Austin : [Raises and impressed eyebrow, tries to follow Anthony, carefully] How do you make these walls.

Posey : [Also walking through] We don't. We just use them.

Alice : [Looks at the wall suspiciously] Well, here goes nothing!

[ALICE walks through, followed by CLINT and then CHASTITY. SMOCK, however, bangs off the wall, as do BRANDY and FLEABAG.]

Smock : Hey! What gives?

[Book V, Act X, Scene IX. The Corridor. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, POSEY and ANTHONY are here, standing in a stone corridor which is lit up by torches in sconces.]

Alice : [Turns and looks at the wall] Where are the others?

Anthony : She wants to know where the others are!

Posey : She wants to know where the others are?

Anthony : Yes! She wants to know where the others are.

Alice : [Turns to the party, shooting a dirty look at Anthony] Anyone got any better ideas on how to test out the axe?

Austin : Hmm. [To Alice, with a smirk] Well you'd probably the first person ever to get rid of an echo using an Axe.

Alice : An echo using an axe?

Austin : [Giggle, then looks around] So, where's this axe then?

Clint : Where's the squirt? How come she's not here?

Anthony : [Smiles] Oh, you know why.

Austin : [Glancing back] Because she wasn't on the Path? [Frowns]

Alice : [Wearily] Everyone's on the Path.

Anthony : This has nothing to do with the Path, this has to do with six souls, entertwined throughout time. ### This is a reference to the party of Alice, Austin, Chastity, Clint, Harvey ### and Jerome. There have been a number of times in the past where ### only people from that group have been able to do/see certain ### things

Austin : [Looks miffed] Oh. That's a shame. [To Alice] So What about Hutger Rauer, that Antipathy chap, was he on the path too?

Clint: More importantly, what would happen if we hit him with the Axe? [Turns expectantly to Posey and Anthony]

Chastity: [Wisely] Do not expect to solve all of our problems with violence and bloodshed, Mr. Scar! [To Posey and Anthony] Well? What would happen?!

Posey : I guess it would hurt him!

Alice : [To Austin] I don't know if Hutger is on the path, Sven and Darius always said that everyone is, even if they don't know it. Being an Anti-Pathy might be different though. Or maybe it just means he's on it and doesn't want to be?

Clint: Maybe he's just on the path walking the other direction!

Alice : Or maybe trying to stop people from getting further on it?

Austin : [Looks worried] It's more than slightly concerning leaving Smock back there with Fleabag, Brandy and a hoard of Jeromites. I hope she'll be okay. [Frowns. To Anthony] Can't you make an exception for her, there's a good chance she'll die if we leave her.

Anthony : [Shrugs] It's not my exception to make. You'd just better hope she's still there when you get out.

Austin : [Sighs] Very well, lets get going. The sooner Alice gets the axe the better. [Pauses in his stride fo a moment] I hope.

Alice : What could possibly go wrong?

[The party follow ANTHONY and POSEY down the corridor, before coming to a large opening, in which there is a large, two handed axe up on a stone dias.]

Alice : Well, where's the axe?

The Axe With No Name

Austin : [Looks utterly amazed, then composes himself] Impressive. [To Alice] It's even colour coordinated with you clothing. [Austin notice's that Alice hasn't seen the axe yet] It's just here Alice [Points to the Axe]

Alice : Huh. Looks more like a scythe to me.

Anthony : [Annoyed] It's an axe!

Austin : [To Anthony, thumbing through a small book] No, it's not, Alice is correct, it is a scythe, by the universally accepted "Poxford Universal Classifications - Melee Equipment", [Shows the cover of the book to Anthony briefly] or PUC-ME, by abbrieveation. [Considers for a moment] But of course the prole will not use such terminology, so 'Axe' may be more convenient.

Anthony : [Angrily] Look! This axe has existed for hundreds of thousands of years, and it has always been called The Axe of No Name - that's it's name, okay?

Posey : The Axe of No Name is it's name?

Anthony : Ah, shut the hell up!

Alice : [Takes the axe] Wow! It's really light!

Austin : [Looks suprised] Well it doesn't look it [Ducks out of the way as Alice tried the Axe for balance]

Alice : I know! [Swipes it around a few times, but accidentally lets go, causing the axe to hit Clint] Oh no! [Looks horrified]

Clint: [Also horrified.] Hey, watch it with that thing! You could put someone's eye out!

Chastity : That's my line!

[Miraculously, CLINT is completely unharmed, even though he took a pretty tough blow.]

Alice : Sorry Clint - hey! What gives?

Clint: [Feeling around for a gaping wound, and pretty surprised that there isn't one.] What gives is that you just bloody well hit me with an axe, Bimbo! Maybe it doesn't work on us hero types?

Alice : Oh calm down, Clint, it's only an axe. It's not like I hit you with something that could hurt!

Anthony : That is correct. It doesn't work on the chosen party. Of course, you know what that means? [Looks to the party, awaiting their response]

Clint: That we're gonna have to hit Jerry with the Scythe with No Name instead?

Chastity: [Shocked. Scolds Alice with nunlike intensity] Do be careful! You can't take for granted that [huge emphasis] every dangerous weapon or pointy object will turn out to be perfectly harmless!

Alice : But if even a fraction of them are, Sis, look at the lampoonery we could have!

Anthony : [To Clint] If this Jerry you speak of is Jeromitus, then he is also immune.

Austin : [Looking at the axe, frowning] Does it not talk? What kind of a super weapon can it be if it cannot talk?

Axe : Hey! I let my looks do the talking!

Alice : [Still holding the axe] Hey! So do I!

Austin : [To the Axe] Fair enough, you are a rather glorious looking axe. Do you have a name?

Axe : No.

Austin : Would you like one?

Axe : Of course not!

Chastity : [Tuts loudly] What would happen if everyone thought that way? And no one else had a name either?

Axe : Then I'd be a damned fool to think any other way!

Chastity: [To Axe] Language!

Austin : [To Chastity] Sister, out of interest, just what are you going to do to stop Mr. Axe using vulgar language?

Axe : Usually English, but a large number of ancient languages which are lost to all but [dramatically] The Axe With No Name.

Chastity: [To Austin, ominously] A nun has her ways.

Alice : So, uh, if we can't use the axe to stop Jerome, why did we bother getting it in the first place?

Anthony : I didn't say you can't use the axe to stop him, just that you can't use it to kill him.

Austin : [Looks dubious at Chastity claims of 'ways'. To Anthony] Would you care to give us an example?

Chastity: [To Anthony, looking ill] I hope you are not suggesting we use this weapon to threaten his child?!

Anthony : [Offended] Certainly not! [Calms down] You might need to kill his child, though.

Chastity: [Horrified] We will do no such thing! There must be another way.

Anthony : [Shrugs] Well, that's really up to you, I guess. [Opens a door on the opposite side of the room, before turning back to the party] You'd better come up with it pretty quick, though.

Austin : I vote not to kill the boy. [Glances around the others for their opinion]

Clint: Of course we're not gonna kill the little brat! But let's explore the kidnapping angle. Chas'll know how to take care of him, and that way Jerry won't get his hands on him, either. Plus, it'll give Smock someone to play with.

Alice : Of course we're not going to kill him! [To Anthony, nodding at the now opened door] What's this?

Anthony : An open door.

Austin : [To Anthony] And where might this doorway lead to. To Trindle?

Anthony : To the mighty battle that's raging outside. To the cataclysmic fight between good and evil. To the very moment that will decide the destiny of the entire planet! [Everyone looks blankly at ANTHONY for a moment.]

Anthony : [Exasperated] Yes!

Clint: Then let's get to work! [With a nod towards Anthony and Posey] Beats standing around here listening to those two losers!

Alice : [Dramatically] Let's go, [glances at the two in a superior manner] losers! [Walks out the door but gets stuck because the axe catches the sides of the door]

Axe : Ow!

Alice : Uh, sorry. [Turns the axe and walks out]

[There is light up ahead, approaching the party, and this part of the corridor is otherwise unlit.]

Chastity: [To Alice, whispering] Do you see anything?

Clint: Of course not, Chas. It's pitch-black here, for Phili's sake! When that light gets here, THEN we'll see something.

Chastity: [Scolding] Mr. Scar, must you be so unpleasant?!

Alice : [Nods in agreement with Chastity] Don't be ridiculous, Clint, I can see the lights!

[Enter SVEN GORING and PETER DEADPAN. They have clearly been involved in a fairly hectic battle recently, although SVEN has his usual smile and on, while PETER, of course, curls his lip up in disgust when he sees the party.]

Sven : [Smiling even more brightly when he sees the party] Haw! [Counts them out] One, two, three [triumphantly] four! [Turns to Peter] Looks like you owe me a GP, my friend!

Austin : [Beaming smile] Peter! Sven! Great to see you. [Gives Peter a big hug, then Sven, enthusiastically] You really must have a look at Alice's scythe, it's rather fabulous.

Sven : [Checking out the axe] Haw! What an awfully fine axe you have, Shooter!

Axe : Hello, Sven.

Austin : [Smiles] Ecxcellent, old friends I see. [To Peter] So what's the situation out there?

Peter : The world's largest Teddy Bears Picnic is going on.

Alice : [Excited] Wow! What's it like?

Peter : [Deadpan] There's lots of wonderful things to eat and wonderful games to play.

Austin : [To Peter, laughing hysterically] Aaahhaaa! Teaddy Bears' Picnic! [Creasing up] 'eddy Bea' icni' [Laughs more, looking like he's going to pass out]

[ALICE and CLINT roll their eyes at each other.]

Sven : [Clapping Peter hard on the back] Haw! What a card! Seriously folks, it's all looking pretty bleak out there.

Austin : [To Sven, hopefully] Well, perhaps you know of a good escape route? [Taps a wall to see if it's solid]

Chastity: [To Sven and Peter] Oh, I am so relieved to see the two of you. Our party has been sorely lacking strong male leadership since [enormous disgusted emphasis] the creature got its hooks into our beloved Colonel.

Sven : [Punching Austin playfully on the arm, nearly knocking him over] Haw! I doubt that strongly, Sister! [To the party in general] There's no secret exit, friends, just a tunnel leading out to a SNOT stronghold, which is surrounded by Jeromites, who have it cut off from Minus Thrift. Thrift is the one of the other

Austin : [Nervously tapping at other areas of the tunnel wall, in the hope that there might be a 'walk through' section] A grave situation indeed! I expect that a lot of people will die.

Sven : [Grimly] A lot of people are dying, Oz. The only way to stop it is to separate Jerome from the infant.

Clint: Well that's not so bad. Hell, how hard can it be to nab the little squirt?

Sven : Pretty hard, although the kid is in a building surrounded by the SNOT army, which is in turn surrounded by Jeromites.

Clint: So all we have to do is sneak through the Jeromites, grab the kid, and sneak back through! [Looks over at Austin meaningfully.]

Austin : [Looking really very nervous] Sneaking, yes, sneaking sounds good! [Looks back the way the party came from]

Sven : Ah. I see, I think I explained it wrong. Forgive me friends, I've been dead for too long. The child is in a Dome, which is like a sanctuary, although Jerome is still getting power from him. The Dome is surrounded by the SNOT army, preventing the Jeromites from getting at it, while the Jeromites are surrounding the SNOT army.

Alice : [Trying to map all this out] Who's surrounding the Jeromites?

Sven : [Ominously] More Jeromites.

Austin : [To Sven] So Trindle is currently separated from the child and he is therefore weakened?

Clint: But he's still drawing power from the kid, so he can't be weakened that much. [Pauses] Hey, if Jerry can draw power from the kid even with an army between 'em, kidnapping won't help us, will it?

Sven : [Nods at Clint's words] That's right. He's not so much weakened as not as strong as he could be. There's only one way to truly separate him from the child.

Chastity : [Scolding] You had better not be about to say that the child has to be killed!

Sven : [Holds his hands up] I don't make the rules, Sis. [Sadly] For good to triumph over bad, sometimes good people must do bad things.

Austin : [To Sven] So why has the child not already been killed?

Sven : Because no one can get into the Dome.

Clint: Yeah? So how the hell did the kid get inside?!

Sven : Someone put him in there.

Austin : [To Clint] I suspect Trindle put the Dome around the kid.

Sven : Actually, Oz, I think it was Azrael, before she was captured.

Austin : [To Sven] Why bother capturing Azrael now? Surely she just the victim here?

Sven : Uh, she was captured by Jerome.

Austin : [Nodding] Oooh. I see. [Looks more relaxed, casually prodding the odd wall to see if they are walk through]

Chastity: [Looking quite ill] So, are we to use the axe on the dome or the infant?!

Austin : [Laughs at Chastity] Well, we should be careful, the dome could be a sanctuary type place.

Sven : [Looking very serious] I'm afraid she's right, Austin. The axe is one of the few weapons that can inflict damage in a sanctuary.

Austin : [To Sven, matter-of-factly] You mean, inflict damage on your chosen target, rather than your self, of course. Any weapon can do damage in a sanctuary, albeit on the aggressor as aposed to the victim.

Sven : [Laughs good naturedly] Haw! You lawyers!

Chastity : [Sniffs haughtily] Surely it's the sanctuary that causes the damage?

Sven : Haw! You nuns!

Austin : [Rolls his eyes at Chastity's remark] No, sis, it's the attacker that causes the damage. That is the meaning of the word [emphasis with finger quotes] "cause".

Chastity : I think you'll find that there are several meanings of the word cause. Simply choosing the one that suits you - while probably a common and even acceptable means of arguing for a lawyer - does not automatically render me wrong. For example, this headache that I now have is certainly caused by you, even though I am the one who chose to expose your irritating pedantry. However, we do not have the time for this, Mister Sleaze. [To Sven] What needs to be done to the child?

Sven : [Starting to head back the way he came, clearly expecting the party to follow] The child must be killed.

Austin : [To Chastity, laughing] I expect you know several meaning for the word hypocrite too, sis. [To Sven, gravely] You mean Alice must kill the child. [Glances at Alice]

Sven : I'm afraid so.

Alice : Hey! I'm not going to do it!

Chastity: [To Alice] Of course you aren't! [To Sven] Can we not hide the child somewhere?

Sven : The child can't be taken out of the dome!

Austin : [To Alice] I shan't watch. [Hopefully] Wouldn't a really big bomb kill Trindle? Or lava, or something?

Alice : Yeesh! Thanks for the support, Austin! What happened to us not killing the baby?

Sven : Maybe, but unless you've got a very big bomb with some lava that contains bombs in it, then it looks like well, you know! Alex has a different address,

Austin : [To Alice, anoyed] You have my full support! I shall defend you in court should you be tried for murder!

Alice : [Throwing the axe down on the ground] What? So it's okay for the baby to be killed as long as [emphasis] you don't do it?

Austin : [Patiently, to Alice] No Alice, you are the only one who can wield the scythe, and the scythe is the only thing that can hurt the child. [Explanitory hand gesture] Nothing justifies killing the child but no one seems to have an alternative option. [Shrugs] At least we might be able to explain the situation to the child and ask them if they are willing to sacrifice themself in order that we may kill Trindle, it's father. [Looks very sad about the whole situation]

Alice : [To Sven, who has picked up the axe] How old is the child?

Sven : [Checks his watch] About four days.

Chastity: [To Alice, growing upset] Young lady, before you do this, think what your uncle would say to you at this moment. Remember what you do today will stay with you the rest of your days!

Sven : Think about what he'd say if he knew you didn't stop all the killing outside.

Chastity: [To Alice, reluctantly] If it must be done, I will put the child to sleep first and ask Phili to ease it's pain--and to forgive us all for this grave sin! [The party reach the exit of the cave. and can see a large red dome here. The SNOT army is clearly being pushed back by the JEROMITES, and are retreating slowly.]

Sven : Come on, Shooter, [holding up the axe] sometimes good people need to do bad things.

Clint: Yeah, but doesn't that make them bad people? [To Alice, supportively] But we're all okay with that.

[SVEN nods in agreement at CLINT'S words, ducking slightly to avoid an incoming JEROMITE, which appears to have been fired at the dome from some sort of catapult, before holding up the axe. ALICE takes the axe an enters the dome.]

Sven : [Draws his sword, before addressing the party] Better get your weapons out, folks, just in case.

Clint: [Whips out his sword and follows Alice.] Hah! [Pauses and turns to Sven.] Did you say that the dome was a sanctuary? Or just that IF the dome was a sanctuary, the Bimbo'd be okay anyway?

Sven : [As Alice enters the dome] I said the first, but meant the second too.

[As soon as CLINT gets to the threshold, he is thrown back by some unseen force, and lands on his back.]

Peter : Very graceful.

Chastity: [Rushes to Clint's aid, scolding] Mr. Scar, do be careful! Aren't things grim enough without you making a ruckus?!

Peter : Yes, stop making so much noise, we can hardly hear the war over you.

[The dome suddenly glows very brightly, momentarily blinding everyone. When the light dims again, all the JEROMITES have reverted to JEROMITE 1.0s, and the SNOT army begin to push them back quickly, with many of the JEROMITES falling to the ground or disappearing.]

Sven : [Grimly] Looks like she did it.

Clint : [Dusting himself down and getting up, watching the Jeromites run off] Is the Bimbo okay?

[Enter BRYAM TUFF, a man in his early twenties with a slight build, who is wearing a head band and a cloak with a hood. There are many other people now watching the party, but no one approaches.]

Bryam Tuff

Chastity : Claude? The somewhat depressive chap with big hair? What happened to him?

[The wand that BYRAM holds out is FAERN's wand.]

Chastity : Giles? A relative of that villain Montgomery Giles?

Clint : [Prompting] And? [Glances into the dome] Say, is she going to come back out of there?

Austin : [To Bryam] Yes, we know Marasmus, please excuse me one moment [Looks around to try to spot Alice] Alice! Are you alright?

[Enter ALICE, coming back from the dome, without the axe. She has a face like thunder, and is spattered in blood.]

Alice : I'm fine.

Sven : [Puts his arm around Alice, but addresses Bryam] We're familiar with her.

Chastity: [Appraises Bryam thoughtfully] Your manners and grammar are excellent, young man. I, for one, would not object to you joining us. [Goes to Alice, hands her a dampened hanky, and begins vigorously inspecting her] Are you quite sure you're all right? Loss of appetite? Double vision?

Alice : I think I'm gonna be sick.

Axe : [Calling from within] Hey! A little help here?

Clint : [Suspiciously to Bryam] You're not a singer in a boy band, are you?

Chastity: [Rummages through her bag and hands Alice a motion-sickness bag] Here, dear. [To Clint] How rude, Mr. Scar! This young man is clearly outfitted for a costume party of some kind. [To Bryam, sweetly] Isn't that right? And what is your costume, young man?

Alice : [Looks Bryam up and down] Very slightly.

[Enter CLINT, returning from the dome, which now appears to let him pass in and out.]

Clint : [To Sven] Come on, I think this is a two man job, the axe is pinned to a large table in there.

Alice : [Folding her arms, annoyed] Yes.

[The JEROMITES are clearly on the run now, and some of the people from the SNOT army are gathering around cheering, not sure what the party did, just that they did something.]

Clint: [To Samuel, deadpan] Yeah, there's a talking axe without a name in there. Why don't you and the lawyer talk about... whatever it is that you people talk about, and Sven and I'll get it back.

Bryam: [Looks around the party, and again] [To Austin] That must be you then. Erm...A talking axe?

[The party are now getting pushed and jostled quite a bit, by the triumphant crowd.]

Alice : [To Bryam] Yeah, it's a lot nicer than any of the talking swords we've had.

Clint: [Incensed.] After what we've been through, there damn well better be! [Pulls out a victory cigar and looks around for a light.] [CLINT and SVEN go into the dome and those outside can hear the sounds of much exertion as they pull the axe out. Soon CLINT returns carrying the axe, which is covered in blood, while SVEN is holding something wrapped up in his jacket. The crowd are cheering madly.]

Peter : [To Bryam] Maybe they'll have little sandwiches cut into the shapes of babies?

[The crowd slowly start to realise what SVEN is carrying, and start to become somewhat subdued and uneasy.]

Alice : [Angrily to the crowd] What? You think a war is going to be ended easily?

[Enter SNYDER and VINDEL. The latter is an elf with long hair, while SNYDER looks his normal self. He smiles very briefly before taking on his usual angry look.]

Snyder : There they are. [To Vindel] These are the ones who are most likely to be able to help you. [To the party] This is Vindel, he's an elf from the Interior, and wants to talk to you. [Glares at them angrily, before whispering something lowly to Alice]

Vindel

Snyder

Clint : Sheesh! Did she send everyone to meet us? What did she tell you about us?

Bryam : [Holding out the wand] You mean this wand?

Snyder : So! This is the Scumbag who killed Claude, eh?

Chastity: [To Bryam, scolding] Careful with that wand, young man! You'll poke someone's eye out!

Vindel: [casts cantrip, his hair flows in every direction, his eyes turn white and small, lightning sparks run across his body] I do not know who you are human, but if you value your life, you will give me that wand. Why do you possess such an item?

Vindel: [casts cantrip, his hair flows in every direction, his eyes turn white and small, lightning sparks run across his body] I do not know who you are human, but if you value your life, you will give me that wand. Why do you possess such an item?

Austin : [To Vindel] Pleased to make your aquaintance [To Snyder, rolls his eyes] No. Of course not. [Sighs] Claude gave the wand to Bryam and bade him bring unto the interior. Claude also asked Bryam to find us and ask us to help him get to the interior [To Bryam] Do you know who killed Claude?

Bryam : [Looks Vindel up and down, unimpressed] Because Claude gave it to me. [Turns to Austin] He was mortally wounded by some bandits, but was sure that they were sent by someone called Wilberforce Giles.

[SVEN throws the baby's body on a convenient fire, much to the shock of the crowd, who slowly start to drift away.]

Snyder : Giles! That scumbag!

Austin : [Gives a 'well said', nod at Bryams explanation. To Snyder] Is, or was, Wilberforce Giles a watcher at any time, perchance? Has he any relationship to Montgomery Giles?

Snyder : He's his brother! He was in the Watchers long before Monty was, and served with much distinction.

Austin : [To Sndyer] So are the Watchers going to clean up their own mess or leave it up to someone else and deny all responsibiliy as per usual?

Snyder : We don't have any responsibility in this matter!

Alice : [To Austin] Sounds like the second one.

Snyder : [Pointing out each of the party] Alice, Austin, Chastity, Clint, [to the others] Sven and [big smile] Peter! This is Vindel.

Alice : And what are you going to do with the wand?

Bryam: [Giving Vindel a nasty look] Yes, it's Bryam. And I suppose you don't mind me calling you elf, then? [Holding the wand toward him] Glad to be rid of it. I can't stand magic, personally. Not of the arcane variety anyway

Clint: [Puffing away on his cigar, while holding the Axe casually. To Snyder] Thanks for the heads-up, Baldie. [To Vindel] You need something? And why do you people all have such girly hair?

Alice : [Rolling her eyes] Don't just give it to him!

Bryam: Well, I was just going to give it to you lot anyway. It doesn't look too dangerous to me. Here [to Alice] do you want it instead? I don't

Alice : [Takes it] Thanks. I'll look after it.

[SNYDER, SVEN, CHASTITY, CLINT and AUSTIN all give a quiet snicker.]

Alice : Hey!

Alice : [Scratching her back with the wand] What? We humans are too dumb to look after the wand?

Bryam: [Snatching wand away] Whoa, hold on. Not both at once! [Gives it to Alice][To Vindel] Sorry Elf, I trust her more right now

Alice : That's right, Vindel [thinks hard] Loo!

Chastity : Perhaps, Mr. Vindel, if you told us what you want to do with the wand, it might calm the girl down.

Austin : [To Vindel, in a calm manner] Indeed, the wand was in the possesion of Alice's family for many years, and we have seen and heard of it's powers many times over the millenia. many

Clint: [Shakes his head.] You mean we have to go back to the Interior *again*?! We just left!

Chastity : Well, we did promise to bring it back....

Snyder : And we do need something to tempt the elves into helping us.

Snyder : The party's over, Scumbag!

Bryam: [Smiling] I sure hope so. As you said, we worked so damn hard!

Bryam: Never stopped me before

Snyder : Nor the rest of these Scumbags!

Sven : [Puts his arm around Bryam, squeezing him in a friendly manner] Haw! A party animal, I like it, friend! Unfortunately time isn't on our side. You and [waves at the party] these reprobates need to go straight to the Interior, while the rest of us make our way to Minus Thrift. The Jeromites will be back, stronger and geekier than ever.

Austin : [To Vindel] Yes, Vindel, the known world is in peril, and all of us here and Bryan, intend to return the wand to the interior. [Pauses] However we're missing one of our number right now, Smock. Perhaps we should go and find her before we return to the interior.

Bryam: Oh well. I'm sure I'll pick someone up on the way. [To Austin] Another one? This is getting very crowded

Austin : [To Bryam] We left Smock in the cave, with Brandy and Fleabag. Whilst Fleabag might take care of her he might just do so inorder to sell her as a slave, whereas Brandy is simply a pathological killer. [To Vindel] Indeed, recovering Smock is a great deal more important than sandwiches, or celebrating. [To CLint, sternly] Whilst the momentary victory is a success, the death of the infant is really no matter for celebration.

Snyder : Smock? The very rude child? She's fine. She left with Brandy, who was going to bring her to her parents. Pathological killer? Nonsense! She's a lovely lady, nearly as my lovely wife, Patience. That Fleabag, on the other hand, he's a real scumbag.

[Enter HARVEY, spattered with the blood and pocket protectors of many JEROMITES.]

Harvey : By the saints! Thank Phili you're all okay!

Alice : [Does a double take] Harvey? Is that really you?

Harvey

Harvey: Indeed, dear niece! [Beams proudly at Alice] I see by your bloody visage you've been giving these villains what for, what!

Alice : [Glances over at the fire where the baby's body was thrown] Uh, yes, yes we have.

Austin : [To Harvey, smiling] Good to see you Colonel! How is Jasmine, I hope she's okay [Looks behind Harvey to see if she is around]

Harvey : [Face grows dark] Gah, Private Sleaze, she's not too well, I'm afraid. [Voice booms] Not too well at all!

Vindel:[to Harvey] And who might you be?

Harvey : Eh? What the devil is going on here? Who is this chappie? [Loudly] I, sir, am Colonel Harvey Kingston Short III. Who are you, eh?

Austin : [To Harvey] This is Vindel, colonel. He's an elf from the interior, but he's not prejudice against humans, like so many other elves.

Harvey : I should hope not!

Vindel: It is an honor to meet you, sir Harvey. [to the party] Could someone please explain to me what happened here, I am getting quite curious

Harvey: [To Vindel] That's COLONEL, recruit! And I was making my way back to the troop when I met battle! Ah, it was like the old days, the smell of fear and urine thick in the air [looks blissed out, begins absently munching on a honeyed locust].

Snyder : [To Chastity] Sister, although I know that for some reason you like to hang around with these scumbags, I was rather hoping that you would come to Minus Thrift with the rest of us. There are a lot of injured and bereaved people there.

Alice : So you want her healing skills?

Snyder : No, we want her to shake them roughly and say "Pull yourself together!"

Austin : [To Vindel, suprised] Oh! Congratulations Vindel, and welcome to the troop. [To Harvey] Colonel, this fine fellow [Gestures to Bryam] Managed to retrieve the wand! He'd like to come with us to the interior.

Harvey: [To Austin] War makes strange bedfellows, private Sleaze!

Chastity: [To Snyder, flattered] I would be delighted to assist you, Mr. Snyder. But I daresay the party cannot get along without me [looks expectantly at the rest of the party].

Alice : Of course! [Time passes.]

Alice : I mean, of course we can't.

Snyder : I'm afraid you'll have to, we have many serious injuries in the city, it's a matter of urgency. When the others return [a little hopefully] with the elven army, you can be reunited.

Chastity: [Modestly] If you insist, Mr. Snyder. There is but one of me, and so I must go where I am most needed.

Harvey: We'll do our best to get along without you, good Sister!

Alice : I'll make sure everyone stays on the straight and narrow, Sis!

[CHASTITY says her goodbyes to the party, as do SVEN and PETER.]

Snyder : [To the party] Okay, things in the Interior are very difficult, the Morcs are fighting several different battles against the elves. If the elves unite against them, they should easily defeat them. You need to Cafe Apologia, which is on this map. [Hands them a map.] And then, once you have reunited the elves, you will return, bringing an army that, once joined with ours, will defeat the combined armies of Dangsten and Jeromitus.

[The party start to slip away.]

Snyder : [Walking around, becoming increasingly oratorical] And then we will bring peace and freedom to the world, and everyone will know the name of Snyder, the man who organised the freedom of the known realms.

[Exit the party.]

Snyder : [Not noticing] And then they will build the statues, and name streets and schools after me, perhaps even a minor city or a fishing competition. My fame will live forever, people will know and love the name Snyder, the man who - [suddenly notices that everyone is gone] hey! Where did they all go?