[Book VI, Act V, Scene I. An abandoned cottage near the warehouse. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, DUR, HARVEY, SCARLETT and JUNIOR are here. Everyone is in reasonable health now, with the exception of AUSTIN who is clearly very ill, but not in an immediate danger.]

Alice: Look! Austin's waking up! [To Junior] Good job! [To the party] Quick! Let's all crowd around him and make it difficult for him to breathe!

We've got a new address for the distribution list - that's Colin, an old enemy who's come back to haunt us. Please make sure he's on all mails from now on, except, of course, those complaining about him.

Clint: I'm fine where I am, Bimbo. Whatever he's got could be contagious! [Glances over now and then to see if Austin's awake yet.]

Colin! Welcome back!

Austin : [Coughs, weakly] Oh, I did it! I made it. Saved us all. [Breaths faintly]

Alice: It was a bang on the head, Stinky. [Cuffs Clint over the head] And it is contagious!

Harvey: Stand back troop and give the private some air. [To Clint] Perhaps private Scar, you could stand to stand away back than most, eh! [Whispering loudly to Alice] Dearest niece, don't forget to boil that hand [gestures to the one Alice cuffed Clint with]

Hello all! Great to be back

contagious! >[Glances over now and then to see if Austin's awake yet.]

Dur: Yep! He's gone crazy, we're going to need to amputate! [Looks around] Where the devil is my bag?=20

Junior: [Points it out] Over there, Doc, but, you know, there doesn't really seem to be much uh, medicine in it, or bandages, or anything really, except what appears to be a very old sandwich. [Burps] I, uh, threw it away.

Clint: [Perks up.] Hey! Did anyone see which way Pestilence or those other jerks went?

Ugh. Summer undergrads => I'm in management now. Nooooooo!!!

Dur: Noooooooooo!!! My sandwich! Do you know how hard it was to piece that thing together? I had to search nearly a dozen dumpsters!

Harvey: [Stomach rumbles massively] Mmm, sandwiches. Perhaps what private Sleaze needs most of all is a slap up meal to get him back on his feet, fighting fit! Nothing restores the constitution like a plate of curried brussel sprouts!

Austin : [Pale in complexion, takes on a translucent quality at the mention of curried Brussels sprouts] Perhaps a little brandy first, colonel. [winces in pain after the effort of talking]

Harvey: No, private Sleaze. I'm fine, but I thank you for offering. A cup of tea would go down well, though!

Alice: Gee, Aus, that's real nice of you. Just woken up from a near death experience and offering to make drinks for everyone? I like it!

Scarlett: Hey there, Austin, I'm Scarlett. I managed to get dragged in to that ambush too.

[CHARLOTTE PARKER-KENSINGTON briskly enters the room wielding a notepad and pencil.]

Charlie: [Surveying the room] Splendid! The Queens View Party, at last. [Squints her eyes and peers critically at Harvey and Chastity] And I can see I came not a moment too soon, with the Colonel and Sister Chastity clearly overdue for a well-earned retirement! Just a moment and I'll make a note to put in for a "Golden Handshake" for the both of you [begins feverishly jotting something down in her notebook, muttering] decrepit . . . doddering . . . well past prime . . . termination recommended. . . .

Austin : [To Alice] Sounds more like Human Resources Management, kind of like demons, but much nastier and much more soulless.

Harvey: [To Charlotte, angrily] Excuse me, madam, and who are you to stride boldly in here, uncouth, unannounced and unintroduced? Eh? [Huffs] Retirement, indeed!

Charlie: [To Harvey, encouragingly] That's right, Colonel, retirement is just around the corner! Plenty of time to sip lukewarm tapwater, dandle children on your knee, and bark at the paper boy! Won't that be nice?! [To the group] Forgive my rudeness, but I was so relieved to finally find you, I quite forgot to introduce myself. I am [draws herself up proudly] Charlotte Parker-Kensington, your new Watcher!

Austin : [Makes a great effort and sits up. To Charlie, most indignantly] Well, Miss Charlotte Parker-Kensington-Watcher, you stick to what you are best at, 'watching' per se, and leave us to do the 'doing', and if anybody is going to fire or retire anyone around here, it is the colonel that shall be doing it! [Faints with exhaustion]

Harvey : [Bows curtly to Charlotte] Well then, dear child, you should start by watching your manners, what!

Alice: A watcher? Ew! I think I'd prefer if she was an estate agent!

Charlie: [To Alice] Don't be absurd! Only a fool would dabble in real estate in this market. [To Scarlett] Your services are not required just now, so perhaps you could peddle your wares elsewhere while we talk? Good girl! [To Dur] And you--fetch me some cool water, please [hands Dur a copper piece for his troubles]. Now, once we have some privacy [looks pointedly at Scarlett and Dur] we'll get down to business!

Harvey :Now troop, once we have some privacy [looks pointedly at Charlie] we'll get down to business, what!

Charlie: [Pats Harvey on the arm] Right, Colonel, that's what I said! [Flips notebook open and starts writing, muttering] Memory fading . . . tendency to repetition. . . .

Harvey : [Eyes light up] Ah, bless you child, are you taking lunch? I'll have some golden honeyed locusts, hmm, a pound should do, no, two pounds. Throw in a smattering of curried brussels and perhaps a side of snakes feet. [Darkly] Make sure they're not boiled! Fried, I say, fried! Oh, and a diet beverage. [To the others] Troop, lose not a minute in your ordering, stomachs are a-rumbling!

Charlie: [Continues writing and muttering] . . . heart-attack risk dangerously high. [Slips pencil into notebook briskly] There! Now, I see these servants refuse to leave, and we are wasting precious time by humoring a declining old man, so let us get to the point. Mr. Snyder sent me here to warn you [dramatically flips open notebook, flicks through several pages, stops on a page, then reads aloud]: "You are in grave danger!"

Austin : [Sits up a little way. To Charlie] Grave danger of what? Being bored to death by a watcher?

Scarlett: [Gets in Charlie's face] And you, bitch, are in grave danger if you keep up this attitude!

Harvey : Indeed, I rather thank that message from Snyder was meant for you, dear girl, not us!

Dur: [Bites into the copper piece] Hey! This isn't food!

Alice: [Dur] That's okay, you can exchange it for goods and services, such as food and narcotics.

In and out for the next 2.5 hours

Dur: [To Alice] That's the most absurd thing I've ever heard!

Austin : [Impatiently] Grave danger of what? We are always in grave danger! Do I look like I have just been having afternoon tea with sister Chastity, or do I look like I have just gone a few rounds with four psychopathic murders? [Points at his wounds and dressings. Sighs] Why oh why does Snyder always send trainees?

Harvey : [To Dur] Indeed private, it would seem that absurdity [gestures towards Charlie] is all the rage, these days! [Turns to Austin] Quite right, private Sleaze, well said that man! We are a professional and highly capable unit, yet seem destined to have the ill mannered and inexperienced foisted upon us at every turn.

Clint: I'll take care of it, Harv. [Gives Charlie a sleazy grin.] What say you and I go somewhere private and get down to business?

Scarlett: [To Harvey] want me to kick her ass, Colonel? On 13 Jun 2008, at 15:21, Tom Henderson wrote:

Charlie: [Cheerily] My, my! You ARE an excitable lot, aren't you?! I can see why I was assigned to you. As I was trying to say before you

all fell to pieces: you are in grave danger, as the Clementinians have chosen to target you.

Clint: Tell us something we don't know! Anyway, screw the Clementinians. Pestilence was just here!

Charlie: [Eagerly] I'll tell you quite a lot you don't know, Mr. Scar! I only recently completed my thesis, a comprehensive, groundbreaking study of the Clementinians, and my knowledge on the subject greatly surpasses that of anyone in the known world. It is fortunate, indeed, that I was prepared to take a break from my work to assist all of you.

Austin : [To Charlie] And when did you work that one out? before or after I was beaten unconcious? Why don't you be a good girl and sit and watch, quietly from the corner, rather than wasting our time telling us things that we have known for months.

Alice: Yeah! What does your, uh, watch say about that? On 13 Jun 2008, at 15:39, Tom Henderson wrote:

Charlie: [To Austin] Though I am an expert on the Clementinans, I have only just started studying you and the rest of your party, and so I really couldn't speak to your period of unconsciousness, Mr. Sleaze. Do be patient, though, as soon I will know you better than you know yourself. [Claps her hands to call the party to attention] Now, do give me your attention so that I may give you your orders at once! Time is of the essence!

Alice: Cool! Looks like she got us food after all, Harvey! [To Charlie ] Mine's a chicken supper, but with no mushrooms. I hate mushrooms. Or do I love them? If only we had a watcher to tell us! On 13 Jun 2008, at 16:10, Heather wrote:

Charlie: [Impatiently] No, not THOSE orders! [To the group] Right, now I know where the Clementinians are at this very moment, and I propose we go there at once. Form a line in this order: Mr. Sleaze, Mr. Scar, the Colonel, Sister Chastity, and Miss Basset-Short. Then, follow me! [To Scarlett and Dur, kindly] I'm sorry, but it really would be safer if you would go your own way now. Where we're going, there will be little work for beggars and prostitutes.

Scarlett: [Enraged] Look, you pencil necked geek, back off. I'm with these guys because I helped save them earlier. Until they say otherwise, I'm not going anywhere.

Alice: [To Charlie] You know, you're not a great waitress. First you forget our food, and now you insult everyone! On 13 Jun 2008, at 16:21, Heather wrote:

Clint: Besides, there's always a place for prostitutes! Anyway, tag along if you want, but we only take orders from the colonel. And we ignore half of those, too!

Scarlett: I sure will, Clint. [Leans in close to Charlie so they are nose to nose] Got a problem with that? On 13 Jun 2008, at 16:36, Tom Henderson wrote:

Charlie: [Earnestly] My only concern was for your safety, as these are dangerous times to pleasure the men of the Queen's View party! I did not expect a [finger quotes] lady of your profession would be so eager to plunge into combat. [Marvels] Indeed, you must be paid very well!

Harvey : Perhaps, dear child [to Charlie] your skills of observation are so weak that you did not notice a key member of our troop is ill and in need of convalesence. We are not marching anywhere, unless it is to the nearest eatery. Please don't slam the door on your way out.

Clint: Obviously a job for a highly trained medical professional! Unfortunately, you're the best we've got, Dur. Take a look at the lawyer and tell us what's wrong with him, would ya?

Scarlet: Yeah, don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out! On 13 Jun 2008, at 16:59, Tom Henderson wrote:

Charlie: [Perplexed] Let's all just calm down. I'm here to help! There's no need for this hostility. [Digs through her backpack and hands Austin a potion] Here, take this. It should fix you right up.

Dur: [To Clint] I'll give it a shot, but the better question might be what ISN'T wrong with him! [Goes over and attempts to diagnose Austin]

Harvey : Hostility! You call this hostility? By the saints missy, we're being positively charming! You should see us in hostile mode! Or rather, you shouldn't. Good day. [Looks at Charlie] I said good day!

Chastity: Pay them no heed, child, they often react like this to organization. [To the party] you should be ashamed, especially you, Scarlett. After all, it's a miracle she only thought one party member was a lady of the night! On 13 Jun 2008, at 17:10, Heather wrote:

Clint: Aww, c'mon, Harv. I'm sure we can find *some* use for her. [To Charlie.] Hey toots, do you have any talents other than being bossy?

Charlie: Oh, yes! I'm also very organized, extremely well-read, and rather handy with a sword!

Harvey : [Bristling] Perhaps she can round up some paperboys for me to bark at, what!

Clint: So, basically, you're like our old friend Monty, but a girl? I mean, hells, that's a step in the right direction, but Monty didn't work out for us and he even had a clipboard!

Charlie: [Cheerfully] I'm also not a traitorous snake!

Harvey : Hmmm, yet you claim to know more about the Clementines than anyone else alive on earth, which draws me to the conclusion that you must be the...[gasps] leader of the Clementines! [Scratches at a sideburn] Mmmmmm, traitorous snakes feet! [Stomach rumbles massively]

Hi folks. We're travelling tomorrow so no posts until Tuesday.

Austin : [To Dur] I have already recieved medical attention, [points at his bandages and dressings] thank you verey much. [Eyes the potion suspiciously. To Charlie] So how do we know that you are who you claim to be? [Slips the potion carefully into his pocket]

Charlie: [To Austin] Oh, excellent question! Very vigilant, Mr. Sleaze. [Rummages through her backpack and pulls out a few items] Here is my badge, and here is my identification card. Oh, and here's the personalized clock-pen they gave me when I joined! All very official, as you can see.

Harvey : May I see the identification card? [Holds out his hand for the card]

Harvey will check the card to try and gauge its authenticity

Charlie: [Hesitates] Perhaps someone with fresher eyes and sharper vision should inspect it, so that there is absolutely no doubt? Mr. Scar--no, he's surely illiterate--Mr. Sleaze, do please examine my identification card for the Colonel [offers the card to Austin]. [To Harvey] Now, surely you'd like to take a rest after all this excitement? I'll see if I can get this chap [nods to Dur] to fetch you some pur=E9ed prunes and a straw [hands Dur another copper piece].

Austin : [Accepts the card from Charlie. To Harvey] If I may inspect =20 the card colonel, I do have extensive expertise in counterfitting =20 [hastely adds] Detecting counterfits, that is. [Austin examines the =20 card for authenticity]

Harvey : [To Austin] Inspect away, private Sleaze, inspect away! [To Charlie] Save your money, girl, you'll need it for the next coach out of this town.

No more posting from me until tonight

Alice: [Leans over to look at the card] Looks authentic to me - I'm pretty sure that it's a card.

The card definitely seems genuine

Dur: [Bites into the second coin] Drats! Tricked again!

Harvey : Well dearest niece, if you say so, that's good enough for me, eh! Still doesn't explain why they'd send such an ill mannered child, though!

Definitely away now

Alice: [To Scarlett] Can't it be both?

Charlie: Marvelous! Then we're agreed--let's make haste to the warehouse!

Austin : [Looks at the potion carefully, opens it and sniffs the contents gingerly] Hmmmph. [Quaffs the potion that Charlie gave to him. To Scarlet] One endeavours to ascertain the fidelity of the credentials of the purveyor of the potion one is about to quaff. The

caveat being: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? - Who will watch the watchers themselves?

Junior: Uh, if it's okay with you guys, I'd like to tag along this time. I don't want to be on my own if Pestilence turns up again.

Charlie: [To Junior] We are delighted to offer you our protection. Now, could you tell me where I might purchase some supplies in this town? Let's see, we need [jots a list as she speaks] a quantity of intumescent firestop putty, a trephine, a replacement ferrule for my pencil, and some torches.

Dur: We're going back?!

Junior: Getting hold of the putty, trephine and ferrule will be no problem, but torches are not easy things to round up at 6.30 on a Friday afternoon in Dystopia.

For 10 nerd points, what movie was that paraphrased from??

Chastity: [Nods in agreement with Dur] Why on earth would we want to go back?

Clint: Maybe we're going to lead a mob or something? Always wanted to do that! Need a few pitchforks, though.

Charlie: [Brightly, to Clint] I'll add it to the list! [To Dur] We're going back to investigate the Clementians, as I said! One can never know too much about one's mortal enemies, after all!

Alice: [To Clint] At least it'll make a pleasant change from being chased by them! [To Charlie] Now, you do know that it was the Clementines who almost killed us the last time? And that Pestilence was there too?

Austin : [Checks carefully under one of his bandages to see if the potion has worked at all] Was that a healing potion or what?

Charlie: [Excited] Pestilence?! But that doesn't sound like his style at all. Fascinating! As soon as we can get those supplies, we must go to the Clementinians. [Beams] This second book is going to write itself!

Clint: Hey! And don't forget that weird guy who looked like Pestilence but wasn't. That's gotta mean something important, right?

Alice: That they have the same hairdresser? [AUSTIN's wounds have definitely healed somewhat.]

Austin gain 8hp

Clint: Didn't we mention that that freak Pestilence was here?! I could've sworn we did. You know, we walked in to the warehouse, ran into the bad guys, passed out, and when we woke up we were here! [Pauses.] Speaking of which [turns to look at Scarlett], who the hell are you?

I've just realized that unless my memory is tooootally shot, we first met Scarlett in Austin's dream, right?

Alice: Yeesh, Clint! Is your memory tooootally shot? She came and joined in the battle when she saw us being attacked!

Not exactly! What Alice says is true, even though the first time Scarelett appeared was in Austin's dream, because her voice seeped into his subconcious - or something like that!

Austin : [To Scarlet, whispering] Don't mind Mr Scar, he's a little bit slow sometimes!

Clint: Oh. Oh yeah. Must've been hit harder than I thought!

Ah. Gotcha!

Alice: Or maybe not hard enough!

Poor Clint!

Charlie: [Delighted] This is all too thrilling, I must say! I only wish we could begin our first quest together tonight, but I suppose we must find a place to rest and regain our strength. Who knows what tomorrow might bring?! [To Junior] Show us to your finest hotel, good man!

Clint did mention this earlier (05.01.032), by the way! My bad for not reacting to it then! Apologies, Tom!

Clint: [To Scarlett, clearly trying to make the best of it.] Sorry about that, babe. What say I take you somewhere quiet so I can make it up to you in private?

And here I was just trying to not notice the big "Hey you, I'm a PC" sign that Scarlett's wearing! *sniffle* Oh, hush. If I were Charlie, I wouldn't pay any attention to Clint anyway!

Junior: [Awkwardly] Uh, I don't really own any hotels. I'm just a flyer-hander-outer.

Charlie: [Patiently] Well, naturally you don't OWN any hotels! You're a peasant! But surely you've noticed a hotel or two in town?

Junior: Well, sure, [looks a strange mix between horrified, curious and excited] but, uh, are you sure? You are a girl, right?

Charlie: [Raises an eyebrow at Junior] Right, we'll find our own hotel, then! [To the party] Follow me, group! [Attempts to lead the party outside]

Alice: Hang on a sec. [To Junior] Why would her being a girl be a problem?

Junior: [Laughs self consciously] Uh, because girls normally work in places like that, not go there as clients.

Charlie: [To Junior] We're are clearly adventurers, not prostitutes, you simpleton. [Looks at Scarlett] Well, to be fair, she IS a prostitute, so perhaps there is some small room for confusion. But the rest of us are not and simply wish a place to eat, rest, and formulate a plan and two back-up plans to that plan!

Junior: Then why would you want to go to a hotel? [Laughs nervously] To sleep?

Away for an hour

Dur: So all of a sudden we formulate plans now? [Raises an eyebrow] That is ver unlike us.

Austin : [To Charlie] Scarlett is not a lady of negociable affections, and I suspect that she has never been one. She is a warrior, that obviously prefers the armor of honour, rather than a nice shiny steel and leather cuirass. [Sighs and checks his watch. To Junior] Is there an inn in town where we might find good food and good beds to sleep in?

Junior: Sure! You could try the fair and reasonable tavern. On 18 Jun 2008, at 09:50, djob@staffmail.ed.ac.uk wrote:

Junior: Sure! You could try the fair and reasonable tavern.

Dur: That sounds promising!

Clint: To hell with that! I say we try Junior's hotel!

Charlie: [To Clint] Don't be greedy, Mr. Scar! You have your already have your so-called Camp Tramp [nods at Scarlett]!

Alice: [Peers at Scarlet] Then you're a guy? Oh! That explains a lot!

Chastity: Oh for Phili's sake! Please! Behave yourself!

Clint: [Innocently.] What'd we do, Chas? [Shrugs and turns to Junior.] All right, you, the fair and reasonable tavern it is. Sounds boring as hell, but.. [indicates Charlie and Chastity with a nod of his head.]

Junior: It's not boring at all! There's a whorehouse there, and blackjack, and a huge bouncy castle! [Thinks for a moment] Oh wait, I'm mixing it up with my tenth birthday party.

Alice: [With mild shock] You went to a whorehouse for your tenth birthday party?

Junior: Hey, Mom had to work that day! Come on, everyone, let's go! [Exit ALL.]

Next scene coming right up

[Book VI, Act V, Scene II. The Fair And Reasonable Tavern. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHARLIE, CHASTITY, CLINT, DUR, HARVEY, SCARLETT and JUNIOR are here, having just arrived. The pub landlord, MAL URRAY is here, having just exited the pub, holding a barrel of beer in one hand and a pint of half drank beer in the other. His face lights up when he sees the party.]

Mal: Howay the lads! All are welcome! Welcome one and all! Except Oirish, of course, can't be doin' with those Oirish!

Mal Urray

Harvey: A wise sentiment sir, and one which explains why your pub is still standing, what!

Apologies for the lack of posts - it's been that kind of a day!

Mal: [Gives Harvey a nod] Sir, why sir, hearing such beliefs warms my heart, so it does! Warms my heart more than torchin' Scotchonions. [Steps back, gesturing to the door] Please, it will be a pleasure to serve you. Pints for the men, glasses for the ladies.

Harvey: [Bows to Mal] Certainly sir, but we are indeed famished so will require sustinance. Sustinance, I say!

Austin : [Frowns briefly at the exterior decor of the F.A.R.T. To Mal] Of course, one prefers haute cuisine, if it is available.

Charlie: Well said, Mr. Sleaze! [To Mal] What have you to offer us, sir?

Mal: 'aute cuisine? 'aute cuisine? We don't have none of that poncy French stuff! [To Charlie] We've got bangers and mash Miss, and plain honest shepherds pie.

Alice: You have pie made out of shepherds?

Mal: Sure do! But don't worry, we only use the tenderest of shepherds!

Dur: [Already tying a napkin around his neck] Less talk! More shepherds pie!=20

Mal: [Slaps Dur playfully on the back, almost knocking him over] Ha! That's what I like to see! Come on in, friend, we're just talking about how much we all hate those Merrigans! [Holds the door open] It's wild in there!

Dur: Don't mind if I do! [Heads into the F.A.R.T]

Austin : [Gingerly tries to see if it is safe to venture inside] Your hospitality is most graciously recieved.

Charlie: [Follows Austin and Dur, distressed] Slow down, you two! You aren't preserving the marching order I prescribed!

[Enter DUR, enthusiastically, followed slowly by AUSTIN, CHARLIE and then others.]

Mal: [To Alice] Here, you'll need these ducks. [Hands a duck to each of Alice, Scarlett and Charlie]

Alice: Uh, okay. [Takes her duck]

[There are just two patrons in the bar, TEITH FLYD, who is sitting at the bar, and YOBY JUNG, who is standing in the middle of the floor, completely and holding a tiny book in front of his privates.]

Mal: [To the party] Enjoy!

Teith Flyd

Yoby Jung

Teith: [Smiles at the party, clearly very, very drunk] Tho thare thou thoing? [Hic]

Harvey : [Steps inside, drooling] By the saints, finally, a meal! [Turns to the others, quietly] Let's not let our guard down, troop!

Alice: [Holds up her duck] Quack!

Mal: [Steps behind the bar] Right! What can I get you fine folks?

Teith: [To the party] Thong thong thong, thong thong. [Takes a drink of whiskey] Thong thong thong thong?

Harvey : [To Teith] Er, eh? [Turns to Mal] I say fellow, are the ladies expected to cook our lunch? [Gestures to the ducks]

Clint: [Follows Harvey inside.] And why not, Harv? Better them than him! [Gestures to Mal.]

Harvey : Very true, very true! [To Alice] Dearest niece, please remember to remove the feathers this time, eh!

Unfortunately I have to head away again for the next few hours.

Alice: [Protectively] From Ducktor Phil? No way!

Mal: [Laughs good naturedly] No need, friends! We have an assortment of delicious foods that were cooked mere days ago.

Yoby: [Looks at Charlie's duck] Hey! What are you doing with that pig?

Charlie: [Holding the duck by the scruff of the neck] Don't be such a baby! This is how their mothers carry them, you know. [To Mal] Do take this filthy creature back immediately so that I may place my order.

Yoby: No, no! You're supposed to say "That's not a pig, that's a duck." Now, go on, say it!

Charlie: [Delighted] Oh, splendid! Local color! Let me jot this down [awkwardly tries to write a note in her notepad, still holding the duck by the scruff of the neck]--yes, ready! "That's not a pig, that's a duck!" [Waits in anticipation, pencil poised]

Clint: And when you're done, get me a beer, would ya? [Edges over to Alice.] Is it just me, or have these losers gone round the bend?

Yoby: I was talking to the duck! [Roars with laughter, causing his book to slip several times, showing that he could really have managed with a smaller book.]

Alice: [To Clint] They're so far around the bend they're coming back again!

[MAL slams a bunch of beers on the counter.]

Teith: Thong thong thong? Thong thong.

Alice: Especially this loser. [Sits at the bar] Hey, is this a pair of someone's false teeth?

Teith: [Grabs the false teeth and pops them in his mouth, before speaking in a very cultured accent] Ah, how very kind of you my dear, they are my teeth. [Moves his mouth around] Actually, they're not, but they're close enough.

Dur: I don't care what you call it, just cook it so I can eat it!

Clint: [Blinks incredulously, grabs a beer.] This better be a damned good beer! [Takes a pull.]

[The beer is warm and flat.]

Mal: [Taking a drink of his own] Ah! Just like beer ought to be! Not like those damn Traut beers, with their cold drinks and huge heads.

Alice: I thought it was the Oirish had huge heads.

Mal: Well, they do, but we're talking beer here. [Slaps up a plate of congealed mashed potatoes and burnt sausages in front of Dur] Enjoy, my friend!

Clint: [Eyes the food.] Just like mom used to make!

Mal: [Laughs heartily] There's plenty for you, too, my friend! Plenty to go around!

Alice: Except for the Oirish, Scotchonions, Merrigans and Trauts?

Mal: And the gays and Churchies, of course.

Yoby: Amongst others. [To Alice] Say, what are you doing with that pig?

Alice: [Confused] Uh, okay. What are you doing with that pig?

Yoby: [Grabs her duck] That's not a pig, it's a duck!

Alice: I was talking to the duck.

Charlie: [To Yoby] Right, we've humored you long enough now, and we must have some privacy.

Yoby: [Raises his eyebrows suggestively] Really? Like what you see, baby?

Charlie: [To Yoby, unimpressed] Do go away.

Alice: [To Yoby] What the hell are you doing with that candle?

Yoby: That's not a candle, it's a book!

Alice: I was talking to the book! [Laughs so hard that milk comes down her nose]

Harvey : [To Yoby] I say sir, there are ladies present! Please do go away and find some suitable attire!

Austin : [Smirks at Alice's joke] You got him there girl!

Austin : And any attire would be better than none. I believe that a news paper may provide more adequate coverage.

quiet today, is everyone stateside or something??

Mal: Of his tiny genitals maybe, but not about the churchist plots!

Yes! This is where we went last weekend.

Charlie: [Leans down and attempts to take the book] Sounds interesting!

Chastity: Churchist plots?

Mal: Oh, aye! They're all the rage, you know.

We've had some personnel changes in the last week folks, with both Paul and Heather dropping out for the foreseeable future. Please make sure to use the mailing list from this mail in future

Charlie: [Stands up, disgusted] Your book isn't about Churchist plots at all! It's an advice book on how to get women to notice your miniature genitals!

Scarlett O'Heather, not me!

Yoby: [Enraged] They're not miniature, they're average sized! Mother always says so!

Dur: That's because mother's have to love their son's genitals no matter their size. It's in the mother's guide book... I think.

Austin : [Looks disgusted .To Yoby] Did your mother inspect them on regular occasions? [holds a hand up swiftly] Don't answer that please. Your mother was obviously more interested in protecting your feelings than in propagating the facts. [Dryly] Not that there is much 'fact' to propagate.

Yoby: [Gives Austin a hurt look] What do you mean "did"?

Austin : [Looks alarmed] You mean to say that you mother still inspects your genetalia on regular occasions? Is that really necessary?

Mal: Oh, come now! Of course she does! That's how it is for all of us here!

Alice: You mean [horrified] your mother inspects your genitals?

Mal: Oh, God no! Yoby's Mum does!

Austin : [To Mal, stunned] Why does Yoby's Mum inspect all of your genetalia?

here!

Dur: [Thoughtfully] Where is your mom now? Its been ages since I've had my genitals inspected properly!

Mal: [Leans in and whispers to Austin] Haven't a clue, mate, but I'm not complaining!

Yoby: Down at the barracks. She likes to help out the soldiers with their inspections.

Chastity: [Irritated] Please! Can you stop thinking about each others' genitals for once? [To Mal] Now, my good man, you appeared to include members of the Church in your list of hated peoples, is that true?

Mal: Too right. We hate them! [Gives Chastity a look] You know, with that weird scarf, you almost look like a nun!

Charlie: [To Mal] Your ignorance is appalling! How can you claim to hate that which you cannot even identify?!

Mal: Wow! Check out Miss I Love The Church! [Holds up a beer] Drink some of this, Missy, and you'll start to hate all sorts of things, even things you didn't know existed!

Dur: What about things that DON'T exist? Will we hate them too? Like my imaginary friend the Squirrelador?

Mal: [Angrily slamming his glass down on the bar] I HATE the Squirreladator!

Dur: [Angrily as he covers an imaginary set of ears] Shhhh!!! He'll hear you!

Alice: [Looks from Dur to Mal with disbelief] You freaks! He just made it up! And it's not the Squirreladator, it's the Squirrelador!

Mal: Squirrelador? Oh. Oh, well he's cool. [Gives Dur a polite nod] My apologies.

Clint: [Glances from Mal to Yoby to his beer.] Uh oh. [Puts the beer away.] I guess this stuff really IS bad for you!

apologies - waaaay overslept today!

Dur: [Nodding] Apology accepted. Right squirrelador [Nudges then air]

Austin : [To Charlie and the others] Well, it seems as though Mr Dur and his, erm, imaginary friend, are fitting in nicely. Shall we beseated and peruse the menu? [Looks around for a nice table to sit at.]

Yoby: That's a delicious idea!

Harvey : Rather, and the invitation was not global, chappie! [Looks for a table]

Yoby: [Looks downcast] Oh. Okay. [Mutters an "awww" out of the side of his mouth, before giving the party a hopeful look]

Mal: [Gestures to an empty table] There y'go, maties.

Harvey : [To Mal] You have my thanks. Come troop, let us take the weight off our feet, eh! [Walks over to the table]

[The party all sit at the table.]

Chastity: What an unpleasant man! And what on earth was he talking about? Hating the church? I've never heard such nonsense in all my life!

Charlie: [Enthusiastically] I couldn't agree more, Sister! Why waste energy hating simple folk for their believe in such an outdated, quaint institution?! It's like hating little children for believing in Canta Slaus or the Beaster Runny!

Chastity: [Enraged] Outdated? Quaint? Institution? Young lady, you should be ashamed of yourself! Imagine how your parents would feel if they heard the bile that you are spewing - ashamed, that's how! You have made the world a little stupider with your closed mindedness!

Dur: [Sadly] There's no Beaster Runny?

Charlie: [To Chastity, perplexed] What do you mean, bile? I said it was quaint! People love quaint. You know, like how people love the Oirish and all their funny little sayings, and their straw huts, and all the amusing drunkenness!

Chastity: They are completely different! They are a bunch of men who speak in a completely incomprehensible language, spend all their time in their special houses doing all sorts of strange things to each other and treat women like second class citizens!

Alice: Er, is that the Oirish or the Church of Phili?

Dur: No Canta Slaus either? My whole world is a lie!!

Alice: Of course there's a Canta Slaus! Who else do you think gives me all those presents at Phillimas? [With derision] Daddy?

Charlie: Canta Slaus was merely a myth created by parents who are unable to control their small children through discipline! Though he does originate from a real person, a lunatic named Naint Sicilus who used to invade local homes and leave so-called gifts behind [shudders]. [Adds brightly] He was eventually caught and stoned to death!

Clint: You tell 'em, Bimbo! [Glances past Alice to Harvey, incredulously.]

Alice: [Horrified] They made him smoke cheese until he died? [Thinks for a moment] Well, I suppose there are worse ways to go.

Chastity: [Loudly] Do not presume to assume that the Church of Phili is in the same category as the generous Naint Sicilus [aside to Dur] a holy man who gave benevolent gifts to the poor, until he was murdered by the local rich, [sighs, sadly] still, at least they felt so guilty, they donated money to the church. [Turns to Charlie once again] Do not forget, girl, that this party is an instrument of the Church of Phili!

Harvey : [Nods in agreement] Absolutely spot on, dear sister! Poor Sicilus, I blame the big beard, what! People have great mistrust of large beards!

Clint: As well they should! I mean, you've got an old guy with a big beard sneaking into houses at night to leave "gifts" for his special friends, the children! Don't try and tell me he didn't have it coming!

Harvey : Hmm, [scratches at a sideburn] you might be onto something these, private Scar! He did rather leave himself open for finger pointing! [Looks around] Where's the food eh? Stomachs are a rumbling here!

Austin : [Who has just finished neatly placing a small towel carefully over his seat. Sits down carefully, trying not to touch the grimy furniture. To Mal] Do you have a menu please? Or perhaps you would be so kind as to delight us with a verbal introduction to your cuisine?

sorrry, v busy today conferencing commitie...

Mal: Sure thing! We've got -

[Enter GEORGE LA FORGE, a man in uniform, scrambling out from beneath the table.]

George: Enough! I've heard enough! [Stands up] I've heard enough talk about your love of the church. I've heard enough talk of your belief in [spits on the floor] Canta Slaus. [Narrows his eyes] I've especially heard enough about the Beaster Runny. [Tuts] Imagine, grown adults believing in a snotty bunny!

Harvey : [Jumps in surprise] By the saints! I say sir, who are you to be lurking beneath our table and eavesdropping on our private conversation?

Clint: [Leaps in outrage.] Yeah! And I thought Naint Sicilus was a perv! [To Harvey.] Want me to boot him one, Harv?

George: La Forge. George La Forge. [Flashes a badge at the party] Harma Initiative. [Glares at Clint] Put that boot away before you hurt someone.

Mal: [Almost bowing and genuflecting] Mr. La Forge! How wonderful to see you! Is there anything I can get for you? Perhaps a picture of Oirland for you to burn?

George: Just leave us alone.

Mal: Yes sir, Mr. George. I mean, Mr. La Forge.

George La Forge

George's Badge

Charlie: [To George] These are only harmless tales for children, sir! How can you possibly object? [Thoughtfully] Unless you yourself are superstitious and simple-minded? That might explain it.

Chastity: The church is not a harmless tale for children!

George: I am here to protect the superstitious and especially the simple minded, so I'm sure that you will realise that I'm here to help you. While the Harma Initiative will tolerate church membership - for the time being - more egregious superstitions and black arts will not be tolerated. Now, given that this law only came into being [checks his watch] in ten minutes from now, I'm prepared to let you off with a warning this time. [Glares at the party]

[Everyone looks at GEORGE expectantly and there's a stand off for a good two minutes.]

George: Don't do it again!

Harvey : I say, a law that's going to begin in 10 minutes time? You're a bit ahead of the times, aren't you fellow? [Looks at the uniform] Are you a military man, sir? Like myself?

George: I am a military man, sir, but not like you. I'm a member of the HARMA Initiative.

Austin : [Checking his nails in detail. To George] And what, pray tell, is this HARMA initiative?

Harvey : [To Austin] An ominous sounding organisation, I think you'll agree, private!

George: An initiative set up by HARMA.

[Time passes.]

Alice: And they are?

George: The organization that set up the initiative.

Alice: Oh, okay.

[Everyone leans in and starts talking amongst themselves.]

George: Okay! Okay! If you're going to make such a song and dance about it, HARMA is the Hierachy of Absolute and Righteous Moral Authority.

Mal: [Steps over] Er, is everything okay folks? Not bothering the [stilted] important man from the Initiative?

Charlie: [To George, scoffing] What, some new brand of church? There's nothing particularly new about that!

Austin : [To Mal] What on earth makes you think that he is important?

Harvey : And who set up this...initiative?

Mal: [Through a forced smile] He.. just... is... All Initiative members are, aren't they, Yoby.

Yoby: [Now wearing a suit] They sure are!

George: [To Harvey] HARMA! We have been put in place to keep a watchful eye on the morals of the people [whirls to Charlie] and we are not, missy, a church, not by a long way.

Austin : [To George, bored] Who put you in 'place'?

Harvey : Hmm, so you are a police force? Tackling crime and arresting criminals and so forth? I find the best way to deter ne'er do wells is the visible presence of policing, none of this hiding under the table, or hiding in hedges and wildly guessing the speed of carriages as they travel along the road, what!

George: We are concerned with a different kind of crime, we don't bother with that sort of pettiness. Oh no, we are concerned with Thought Crime. [To Austin] No one [with disdain] put me in place. I underwent extreme testing and training. I am one of the chosen few. The Untouchables. Watch. [To Mal] Ask me if I want a free drink.

Mal: Uh, would you like a free drink, Mister George, sir.

George: [Grabs Mal's arm and twists it behind his back, slamming him onto the party's table, face first into Dur's food, and spilling their drinks] That's bribery. Do it again and you'll find yourself in jail.

Charlie: [To George] Don't be absurd! How can you possibly punish someone for their thoughts, let alone guess the thoughts in the first place!

Dur: [Continues eating his food around Mal's face] There has to be some kind of code you people go by, isn't there? How do people even know if they're committing "thought" crime?

Harvey : [To George] Desist sir, I say, desist! There is no need for such an unnecessary display of your power within this town! Unhand that man so he can freshen our drinks and mop down the table!

Dur: No need to worry about the table colonel! I got it! [Begins licking the food and drink off the table]

Austin : [To George] That was not bribery. You asked him to offer you a free drink, and he complied with your request. At no point did he request any form of favour from you in exchange for the free drink, which, I hasten to add, you requested, so if it was indeed a bribe, as you wrongfully call it, then you yourself are guilty of 'Agent Provacateur', which is illegal, and a henious crime.

Alice: [Looking ill] I think you missed a bit here. [Points to a piece of ancient, stuck on chewing gum underneath the table]

George: [To Charlie] I can't tell you that, otherwise you might use it to your advantage.

George: [Sneers at Austin] Is that a fact? [Pulls on Mal's arm once more] Did you want a favour?

Mal: Yes! Yes! I was going to ask you to overlook the fact that I own a "Kiss Me I'm Irish, and then I'll punch you in the back of the neck hat" that I bought last Saint Daddy's Pay!

George: [Smugly] I thought as much. [Lets Mal go] I'll let you off with a warning. This time.

Harvey : Is there a list of banned, or soon to be, in about 6 minutes, banned thoughts?

Dur: [Now chewing the gum from beneath the table] You still haven't told us was constitutes an "illegal" thought. Or how you find them.

George: [To Dur] That's right. [To Harvey] Sure. It's available at the Harma Initiative's headquarters. Although, of course, it changes on a regular basis. The general gist, however, is a zero tolerance policy on witchcraft. That's what caused the war. We're going to make sure it never happens again.

This isn't exactly true, although the war was caused by evil humans and non-humans using magic

Charlie: [To George, skeptically] And who has given you this authority, if I may ask?

Harvey : [In a loud whisper to Alice and Chastity] Oh, so she is aware of the concept of manners, eh!

Alice: [In an even louder whisper] What? She has no what?

George: [Flashes his badge one more time] The Harma Initiative! You know, being an idiot may soon be illegal. You might want to do something about it.

[Exit GEORGE.]

Mal: [Still lying in Dur's food] Er, is he gone?

Austin : [To Mal] Yes, thankfully. He clearly belongs in a mental institution. Those symbols that his badge is composed of are from the 'U-Chung', an ancient system of divination. He obviously does not consider that part of the witchcraft that he seeks to outlaw. He appears to be a hipocritical fascist zealot.

Harvey : Well, if everyone speaks rather than thinks, they can't do a thing, eh! No mulling over, no pondering, no formulating nor daydreaming. Just speak whatever comes to mind! We should all follow my dear nieces example and the thought fascists will be thwarted!

Alice: If I had a metal clothes hanger that I stretched out at the right angle I could probably scratch that itchy part in my back and not have to turn around and why is that part suddenly itchy because I've just been sitting here for the last five minutes and it was grand until I looked up and doesn't that light look a bit like a jewish guy with the little things hanging off it and why do they have them any way I wonder if it's like the corks that they use in Waltztralia and are they wine corks because that's funny I thought all Waltralians drank beer all the time so where did the corks come from and what did they use before they had corks and does kangaroo taste like chicken or does chicken taste like kangaroo...

Mal: Er, good idea, that man.

Chastity: This is a most worrying development! A fascist oppressive movement that's trying to control people's thoughts? What about the church?

Austin : [To Chastity] Oh come now sister, the competition will do the =20 church good.

Harvey : [Claps his hands together and looks proudly at Alice] That's the way, dearest niece, that's the way indeed! No thought police on you!

Charlie: [Adds helpfully] Or kill it off altogether. [Cheerfully] But survival of the fittest and all that!

Austin : [To Charlie] Considering the years of experience and the numerous, brainwashing hardened hipocritical zealots that they issue, the HARMA don't stand much of a chance.

awa hame

Chastity: First of all, young lady, survival of the fittest is nothing but nonsensical pagan propaganda perpetrated by godless so-called scientists. I can assure you, we are not descended from monkeys!

[Everyone turns and glances at CLINT, before turning back to CHASTITY.]

Chastity: Er, yes, well. I fear I must return to my church immediately to warn them of this impending disaster. I'm sure I can trust the rest of you to investigate our [wink] problem.

Chastity: Thank you for your kind words, Mr. Sleaze, but I fear I must return.

Scarlett: I will accompany you, Sister. If these maniacs are serious, then it will be too dangerous for you to travel alone.

Charlie: [To Harvey] And surely you'd like to go along, too, Colonel? A man in your state of decline surely deserves a nice rocking chair and a bowl of sugar-free sucking candies. No doubt the church could give you a safe haven until your wife can come along to take you back home.

Harvey : It saddens my heart to hear that, good sister, for without your guiding presence, I fear for the spiritual wellbeing of the troop, what! However, I understand, you must warn your churchgoers of this latest threat.

Clint: [Scoffing.] Ah, come off it! Let's just kick ass and take names! It's always worked in the past.

Harvey : [To Charlie] You're not too old to put over my knee, young lady!

Clint: But Harv! What would your wife say?

Alice: Ten GP!

Come on! I had to go for it!

Harvey : She would no doubt say something along the lines of "Hey GI, my turn to slap flabby ass!" Ah bless, but I do miss her greatly.

Alice: [Disturbed] Ew!

Chastity: I need a break from all this perversion and naked posterior slapping. [To Scarlett] Let's go to the convent!

Harvey: No! No! What I meant is that she dislikes bad manners even more than I!

Austin : Indeed colonel, I have heard that your good lady wife is renowned for her extensive repetoire of techiques for dealing with badmannered boys.

Harvey : [Proudly] Yes indeed, private Sleaze, they come from miles around for her disciplinarian methods - very effective, I believe, though sadly, I think short lived, as I've noticed a number of "repeat" offenders turning up.

Chastity: I must take my leave of you now, travel well.

[Exit CHASTITY and SCARLETT.]

Mal: [Cleaning up the table] Discipline, eh? Can't say that I don't like it!

Charlie: [To Mal, slipping him a copper piece] Yes, just clear the table like a good chap and be on your way. [Claps her hands] Chop chop! We have serious work to do, and there's never enough time in the day to hear about the fantasies of working folk.

Austin : [To Charlie] Do they train you from a young age at 'Watchers'?

Harvey : [Picks up a soggy piece of food and drops it again to the table] I notice that that George fellow managed to depart without telling us who had set up this HARMA initiative. [To Mal] How long have they been around?

Alice: [Nods at Austin's question] Her parents must be very proud.

Mal: They just arrived yesterday!

Harvey : [Surprised] What, just yesterday? I thought they were more established than that! How many of them are there? Where are they based in this town?

Mal: Ah, yes. There seems to be several hundred of them, they moved into an old army barracks.

Charlie: What happened to the local authorities?! Surely they would object to having their power usurped in this manner?

Austin : [To Mal] Where abouts is this old army barracks. I would like to give it a wide berth if possible.

Mal: Uh, well, strictly speaking, we're in the barracks. [To Charlie] The local authorities are still here, but they had to make way for them. Orders direct from the king - they are being rolled out to all towns, starting with Dystopia, seeing as how it is inextricably linked to all sorts of evil doing and all.

This is true, based on its proximity to the Placebium mine in which the party were once enslaved. Dystopia is also where Jerome turned evil, although the party never quite found out what happened to him

Dur: Perhaps they were the first to be punished for their evil thoughts?

Yoby: [Now naked again, sitting at the table] Not yet, for the laws do not come into being for at least another three minutes. However, people are saying that there is some fear amongst the local authorities.

[Everyone turns and looks at TEITH, who's sitting at the bar, talking away to no one in particular.]

Teith: I believe that there is some fear amongs the local authorities. [Hic]

Austin : [To Mal, suprised] The King? King who? Where did he come from? The king of where, exactly?

Dur: [Looks confused] Who's he talking to? Hmmm... maybe he has a friend like the squirrelador?

All: [Exasperated] Squirreladator!

Mal: The King of the Northern Terrotories! King Dave. He's trying to make sure there's a smooth handover when the elections come.

Although he's never been mentioned by name, there is a king, it's just that he doesn't mix with the likes of the party!

Charlie: I suppose that's a sensible strategy, though it all seems a bit heavy-handed, what with the mind-crimes and such.

Clint: [Looking worriedly.] Let's not stick around to get arrested for thinking about how stupid the idea of thought-police is! Let those guys deal with freaks like these [nods at Teith and Yoby] while we deal with the Clementines. [Pauses, confused.] Or was it the Clementians?

Yoby: [Leans in confidentially, taking a bite of Dur's food as he does] I've heard that this is all about controlling the use of magic in the Realms, especially the black arts.

Alice: [Gives Yoby an incredulous look] You just heard that a second ago! It's what that guy just said!

Yoby: So it IS true!

Alice: [Shrugs, pointing at Charlie] I don't know, she's the expert on Clementinification.

guys >deal with freaks like these [nods at Teith and Yoby] while we deal with the >Clementines. [Pauses, confused.] Or was it the Clementians?

Dur: [Looks to Teith and Yoby] I don't think anyone would want to police their thoughts.

Clint: Not if those HARMA freaks get their hands on her she's not!

Charlie: [Confidently] Dead or alive, I know more about the Clementinians than anyone!

Alice: Really? Then what's a Clementinonion?

Charlie: Just another leaf of lettuce in your word salad, I'd suppose!

Harvey : It's what makes a Clementinian cry when cut! [Laughs long, loud and alone]

Clint: I thought it was a sharp sword that did that, Harv! Haw!

Alice: [Looks confused] Huh? Oh, I see. You don't really know anything about Clementine, you're just a bitch. Okay.

Clint: [Leans back in his chair, clearly amused.] Hey! No need for that, Bimbo. If you and this mouthy broad have your differences, settle 'em the civilized way... Mud wrestling!

Harvey : [Glares at Clint] I say private Scar, enough of that! Let us but hope the thought police do not indeed, delve too deeply into that morass of a mind, eh!

Charlie: [To Clint] There's no need for that! I believe I can clear everything up with a simple explanation. Miss Basset-Short merely lacks the proper education to articulate her thoughts on the subject of Clementine and the Clementinians, and she is too proud to ask for assistance and would rather indulge in childish name-calling to mask her shame. [To Alice, courteously] Allow me to explain. "Clementines" refer to the core group, who believe themselves to literally be part of Clementine. "Clementinians" refers to all believers and followers, which includes a large group of aspiring Clementines. I am as yet unable to distinguish between these groups, so I think it best to stick with the general term.

Alice: [Leans back in her chair, pretending to be asleep] Snore!

Junior: [Climbing out of a cupboard] So, time for dinner, eh?

Austin : [Gingerly poking something on his plate, with a fork. To =20 Charlie] This lump of, ..., erm, stuff, appears to have the same =20 exquisite level of education, knowledge and skill in social niceties =20 and plesantries that you yourself have acquired. [Pokes the gristel =20 again] Only it seems to have learned when to keep it's mouth shut.

Charlie: Don't be juvenile, Mr. Sleaze. If you have a problem with me, then be man enough to confront me directly and do not hide behind tortured metaphors involving the fatty tissue of a gangrenous rat! [points to the forked lump]

Harvey : Actually, as you have brought it up, I have a problem with you. I find you rude, ill mannered and ageist. Now I also say the same about our very own private Scar, but he has other qualities in abundance which more than make up for those character deficits. I trust him with my life. What qualities do you possess, apart from your claim about being a know-it-all concerning the Clementonions?

Charlie: [To Harvey] I am descended from a long line of Watchers, and I have spent my entire life in preparation for this assignment. I am a trained swordswoman, a seasoned adventurer, and the foremost expert on a subject that should be of great concern and interest to you. As for more personal qualities, I think it pointless and rather vain to make pronouncements about my virtues. With time, I hope you will be able to vouch for me as you have Mr. Scar. For now, though, I hope that you have at least judged that I am unimpeachably honest and forthright. Surely that isn't the worst place to start building a good working relationship? [Brightly] And, really, aren't "manners" rather arbitrary? For instance, the Imerickla tribe consider being stabbed by strangers a compliment!

Austin : [To Charlie] But we are not Imericka, and I was not hiding =20 behind anything, I was using light humour to emphasise your arrogance =20 and stupidity, but it seems that you are not intelligent enough to =20 realise that. Shame. [Stands up and takes a few steps] Now, if you do =20 have something important to tell us then do so.

Charlie: [Curtly] Simply put, the Clementinians have targeted you because you are on The Path, and they will not rest until you are destroyed. The Association of Watchers requested that I travel with you and help you, given my expertise on the subject.

Clint: Oooh, better listen to her, lawyer! They'll go after you and your, uh, little problem first!

Alice: [Looks down at Austin for a moment before turning to Clint] And you're familiar with his "little problem", are you?

[Enter JACK WATERS and LEE TOMMY JONES, the two cops that the party dealt with after LUCY's murder. The former of whom rear ended the party's carriage a few days previously.]

Lee: [Steps into the middle of the room, with a serious look on his face and gives a weary sigh] These are dark times.

Jack: Worry not, my friend, for we will bring justice. We are here to ensure fairness to all, to - [spots the party] ah, the murderers. Maybe they know something about the murder?

Jack Waters

Lee Tommy Jones

Harvey : And what murder would this be, eh? Are you here to aide the HARMA initiative?

Austin : [To Clint] It's called an Aspect. [Indignantly] Little problem indeed. Just because your 'little general' it positively elven, and you are unable to come to terms with this, is no good reason to take it out on others. You should see a therapist.

Yoby: [To Austin] Ooooh! Sounds like someone's got some scandal to dish! Tell all, and don't leave out even the tiniest detail - [snickers] see what I did there? I made it sound like I was talking about the story, but I was actually talking about what the story is about! Gosh, I'm ever so clever!

Jack: [Loudly to Harvey] No! [Calms down] Meg Angel was murdered tonight, the mother of Lucy Angel.

Austin : [Visibly pales] Meg is dead? Oh my goodness! [Steadies himself on a chair, then sits back down in his seat, looking pained and lost. To Jack] How did it happen?

Harvey : By the saints, that is grim news indeed! Do you have any leads?

Lee: Just a few, but they're useless. [Tosses a few frayed dog leads on the table]

Boom boom.

Jack: Murder. She was garroted and stabbed in the back.

Lee: There are one or two other things that we found at the scene that we couldn't trace back to anyone where she was staying, however. They could be useful.

Harvey: Good grief, garrotted and stabbed! Now's that just overkill! What are these things you found?

Jack: [Holds up a bottle of nail varnish and reads the label] Slut red. And we found a jacket, too.

Lee: It smells like [dreamily] soft.

Jack: But that jacket is how we're going to catch the perp.

Dur: Did anyone question Meg about the incident?

Lee: Yes, but she said nothing.

Harvey : [To Dur] You mean, did anyone question the lady who had been murdered, the victim, the victim who had been both garrotted and stabbed, about who murdered her? [To Jack] Are you sure the jacket belongs to the murderer? Is it a male or a female jacket?

Austin : [Looks horrified] She was such a nice lady. [Looks as if he is about to blub]

off to meetings, *a drink*, dinner etc ...

Alice: [Squeezes Austin's arm] Er, there there.

Jack: It looks rather like a female jacket, but the fool has his name written on the inside. We're convinced it belonged to the murderer - for it is splattered with blood.

Charlie: How dreadful! [Flips open her notepad and begins writing furiously] And why do you assume this group was involved in the murder?

Jack: Woah, woah, woah, lady, unless one of this group is Hugio Choss, no one's accusing you of anything. [Pauses for a moment] Are you Hugio Choss?

Hugio Choss is, of course, Austin's favourite designer

Harvey : A good question, officer. She has identification which states otherwise. But in this day and age of counterfeit documentation, who is to know.

Jack: Indeed. [Takes a quick glance at Charlie's fingers] No slut red nail varnish there, I see.

Alice: [Hands in pockets] So, er, officer, anything else we can help you with?

Lee: No, Miss, just keep an eye out for Choss. We think he may be in league with Junior Junior and the Clementines.

Clint: Given what he does for a living, I'm sure of it!

Charlie: [To Lee] Fascinating! Tell me everything. First, did you mean the Clementines, or the Clementinians?

Jack: Uh, actually I'm talking about the Custos-Clementines.

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] The Custos-Clementines? Are they some sort of a splinter group?

Charlie: Oooh, wonderful! I'll get at least an article out of this. Possibly a book chapter! [Scribbles notes excitedly] Now, what can you tell me about the Custos-Clementines? My understanding is that they appear to have merged with the so-called Clementines, but where did they originate? How did they differ originally? What is the etymology of "Custos," for example?

Jack: [To Harvey] No, you're thinking of the Wooden-Clementines, the Custos-Clementines are those wasters in the warehouse that I sent you to. [Gives Charlie a puzzled look] The etymology?

Alice: [Helpfully] Something to do with insects, I believe.

Jack: [Looks Alice up and down] I'm sure you do. [To Charlie] I have no idea. I don't care what you call them, because they're scum. Custos-Clementines? Scum. Clementines? Scum. Clementinians? Scum. Oirish? Scum. Merrigans? Scum. Scotchonions? Scum. Satin-Merrigans? Really rather nice. [Goes a little school-girlish] They're just such hot blooded, passionate people, and I love their music. Me and Mrs. Jack go to a little place where they serve the most divine little rolls. I pretend like they're criminals, and stab them with my fork.

Clint: Hey, if you hate everyone, you've come to the right place! But why are you wasting time with trivial crimes like murder when they're serving flat beer here?!

Jack: Don't you dare mock this tragedy with that tone.

[Exit JACK and LEE. As soon as they are gone, JUNIOR stiffly climbs out of the cupboard again.]

Junior: Wow. There sure are a lot of spiders in that cupboard.

Mal: Cupboard? You mean my spider habitat? Where I keep my beloved pets? My only friends in this cruel world? Without whom I'd die of loneliness?

Junior: [Scraping some dead thing that had lots of legs off one of his shoes] Uh, sure!

Harvey : Perhaps we can help you seek out the murderer?

[Too late, they are gone.]

Yoby: [To Harvey] Wow, that was rude! Let's solve the murder anyway. Let's see. [Points at Teith] I think it was him.

Clint: [Relieved.] Thank Phili those idiots are gone! I wouldn't have put it past them to blame us for everything. [To Austin, a hint of concern in his voice.] You okay, Sleaze?

Dom's gone for the day

Austin: Just about. Why on earth would Meg be murdered? And the items found at the scene? Slut red nail polish?

Harvey : And a jacket! I know private Sleaze, it sounds to me like a setup, what!

Alice: [Trying to take a drink with her hands still in her pockets] Slut red nail polish? Who could that indicate?

Charlie: Certainly no one I know! Honestly, it doesn't sound like a very nice color. I prefer "Clear" [wiggles her neatly trimmed nails].

Harvey : Perhaps the murderer only uses nail polish on their toenails. [To Alice] Dearest niece, you know of these lady makeup things, tell me, is this a commonly available nail paint? Perhaps the brand is only available in certain places, or towns?

Clint: Hmm. Didn't those bastards set us up for murder once before? Maybe they're trying to do it again? Let's see those hands, Bimbo!

I *completely* forgot I had a noon meeting. Oops!

Alice: [Holds out her hands, almost blinding everyone with her shiny red nails] That brand, Unc, Best Lil' Whore's Slut Red is only available from a few select stores. It's very difficult to get and very expensive. Well, you know, you've seen Jasmine's bills.

Harvey : Well, dear niece, I certainly don't recall seeing that on one of the bills. [Gasps suddenly] The most expensive thing I've seen on a bill is Bestli L'Whores Slutre'd, which I was informed was an incredibly expensive foreign medicine for stress reduction! [Scratches at a sideburn]

Austin : Well, it could be anyone then, they are not doing a very good job of setting us up, if indeed that is what is going on.

Alice: Well then, Harv, I just don't know where she gets it from so! [To Austin] No, it couldn't be anyone, that's the whole point, Aus.

Austin : [To Alice] Yes it could. Anyone can buy that nail varnish and anyone, with exceptional taste, can buy Hugio Choss.

Alice: No, it doesn't. Most people wouldn't even know how to get it. Now, maybe any slob can get a Huge Choss jacket, but that's not the case for Slut Red.

Austin : [To Alice] You loose your Slut Red all the time! leave it behind in the ladies, in taxis, bars and cafes. And it's Hugio Choss!

Alice: [Frustrated] Okay. So maybe any Hugio Choss can get a Huge Choss jacket, and maybe I once left some nail polish behind me in a bar, but that doesn't mean absolutely anyone could get them.

Junior: [Climbing back out of the cupboard] Woah. Are they always like this?

Charlie: [To Alice] That does sound like you. [Gestures at Alice's skirt] I mean, you clearly misplaced the rest of your outfit at some point, correct?

Alice: Incorrect. There simply wasn't enough material left to finish it off, some real fuddy duddy came in demanding they make her a really boring brown suit. [Looks Charlie up and down] Oh. [Gives a smile] Sure. I misplaced it.

Dur: [To Junior] No never! They're being much more civilized than usual.

Harvey : Hmm, am I right in thinking troop, that the items left behind are quite expensive and hard to come by? Perhaps we should check the town for an emporium and see if they sell them?

Junior: [Gives a nervous laugh] Cool. Maybe we should get some mud?

Alice: Nah, they can be got anywhere!

[Everyone gives her an incredulous look.]

Alice: Oh come on! I was just joking! Let's check out a shop in the morning. [Loudly to Mal] Garcon! Rooms for everyone!

Yoby: Yay!

Alice: Except him.

Yoby: Aw.

End of scene, next one coming right up

[Book VI, Act V, Scene III. The Tavern. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHARLIE, CLINT, DUR and HARVEY are here, as are JUNIOR and MAL. It is now the next morning, and the party have just come down for breakfast.]

Mal: [Wearing a filthy bathrobe and smoking a cigarette as he serves up the food] Cor, blimey, strike a light, Gordon Bennet and all that kind of crap. You'll never believe it!

Alice: Believe it? I don't even understand it!

Charlie: [To Mal] Who is this Gordon Bennet? Another guest?

Harvey: [Eyes the food hungrily] Perhaps sir, you could close your bathrobe. And I also suggest the donning of some appropriate underwear!

Mal: Oh, and frilly pink French knickers aren't appropriate?

Alice: Maybe they might be if they weren't so filthy.

Mal: [Closes the robe, barely, before sitting on the table beside Charlie] He ain't no guest, Sweet'eart, I'm just surprised, gobsmacked, a little bit wooo, a little bit waaah, a bit [does an air hooters squeeze] 'onk 'onk! [Nods and winks several times at her, smiling inanely] Eh? Eh?

Austin : [Storms in, furiously, wearing a blue Versucksi suit] As if Lucy's death and now Meg's death was not enough! [Indignantly] Someone has stolen my Hugio Choss jacket! [Pauses looking around] Well! Has anyone seen or heard anything suspicious?

Clint: See? I told you! I bet the cops have your sissy jacket, lawyer!

Mal: [Leans over to Austin, revealing even more] Well, I just did!

Alice: I'll tell you what's suspicious, some of my nail polish is missing!

Clint: Could one of those freaks who were here last night be stealing things from us, maybe?

Charlie: [To Austin and Alice] You're clearly being framed! This is disgraceful. We have a mission to do, and no time for investigating this sort of nonsense on the side!

Alice: [Nods at Charlie's words] Clearly! I just hope the cops see it that way. I don't know, Stinky, when could they have stolen them from us?

Mal: [Helpfully] Maybe they stole the stuff that was found at the other murders last night?

Harvey : There were other murders last night? By the saints man, why didn't you tell us when we came down? How many murders?

Mal: That's what I was trying to do, but you were too busying insulting my underwear! Two more murders, apparently! We'll get to hear about it first hand now, though, as Jack and Lee always come here for their morning coffee. [A little sulkily] And they don't criticize my underwear.

Austin : [To Mal] They probably shop in the same place as you.

Dur: Perhaps they are related? Maybe we are being framed by the very people we are looking for?

Mal: Oh come on, do you really think that cops would have the time to go stealing underwear from people's clothes lines?

Alice: [To Dur] Maybe, but we better find the fast, in case there's more evidence presented against us.

Dur: Better all of you than me! That's my motto! But if they are related, the murders at least give us a starting point for our own brand of investigating.

Clint: You mean, I kick doors in, and you root around on the floor for food?

Harvey : True enough. We'll find out all about it no doubt from the officers on their arrival. Three murders in the last day, that's just terrible, troop! I wonder if the HARMA people are involved in any way?

Charlie: It is tempting to wonder if there is a connection, given that they have only just arrived to the area and are looking to punish people for their alleged thoughts! Though surely they wouldn't feel they have to operate in secret, given their boldness with us.

Clint: Having permission from the king'll do that to a person! Anyway, babe, take it from me - of course there's a connection! [Sagely.] When you've been doing this as long as the rest of us, you get a feel for that sort of thing.

Alice: [Gives Clint a look tinged with pity] Oh God. Here's where he starts hitting on you. Why don't you show her how you can fit your whole fist in your mouth, that always impresses the ladies!

[The door is kicked open. Enter JACK and LEE, wielding swords. There are clearly a bunch of uniformed (not Harma Initiative) men behind them, also armed.]

Jack: Everybody on the floor, now!

Harvey : Good grief man, you can't expect the ladies to lie on that floor, can you? It is my guess that it has not been cleaned since this bar was opened! I've seen people hanged as war criminals for less!

Charlie: I quite agree, Colonel! Besides, this is the only suit I brought! [To Jack] Could we perhaps just raise our hands meekly to show our lack of aggression and the absence of weapons?

Clint: Our what now?

Mal: [Nods at Harvey's words] That's true, and before it opened it was the town dump.

Alice: [Frowns at Charlie and Harvey] Don't be such [draws out a square in the air with her fingers, complete with frowny face in the middle] Let's dance! [Gets up and starts to dance]

Jack: Hey! That's not what I meant at all! [Angrily] Hands in the air!

Charlie: [To Jack] Delighted to accommodate you! First, though, could you please explain why we are suddenly being treated as common criminals?

Jack: Because you are common criminals!

Lee: Uncommonly common, as a matter of fact.

Jack: Now, hands up!

Clint: You guys sure you want me to do that? [Glances at his unwashed shirt.]

Harvey : Indeed so, private! There have been enough killings without adding the entire patronage of this bar to the spree! Now then, am I to believe that you believe we are somehow linked to these heinous crimes?

Jack: A shirt so moth eaten and sweat covered that it could only come from [dramatic point at Clint] one person, evidence of food having been taken from the trashcan, [eyes Dur suspiciously] and the clincher, a copious amount of half eaten, fluff covered golden honeyed locusts leading to this very etablishment. The only piece of evidence that we found that doesn't point directly to you people is a letter to someone called Charlie from his mother, talking about his [sneers] secret agent father.

Junior: [Still sitting at the table, but head down as he whispers to the party] You know, it, uh, sure does point to you guys. I don't think you want to be taken in though.

Charlie: [Gasps] How dare you invade my privacy and endanger Father's secret mission!!!

Harvey: [Slams his hand on the table] By the saints, man! I believe that is referred to as an embarrassment of evidence! So much evidence left at the scene that it could only have been left for one reason, to wrongly incriminate the people who did not do it! Would any self respecting murderer leave such a trail? Would anyone be foolish enough to lose a pocketful of wonderfully succulent golden honeyed locusts? [Pats his pockets discreetly]

Clint: Yeah! It can't be us, because it too obviously *is* us. What kind of idiots do you think we are? [Pauses.] Besides - I only have one shirt.

Austin : [To Jack] The colonel is correct, why would a real murderer leave precise clues that would lead to his arrest, and then stay the night at an inn where he has met the local constabulary the evening before? That does not make any sense! Any murderer would leave false evidence in an attempt to implicate others whilst he escapes!

Jack: [To Clint] I don't know. What kind of idiot *are* you?

Lee: [Dramatically to Austin] Unless that's what you want us to think! Now, all of you, kneel on the floor with your hands behind your backs, the back of your necks, that is, with your fingers locked in together, but kind of backwards, if you know what I mean? Well, maybe upside down is a better way to put it, so that your thumbs are pointing down.

Harvey : Eh? You want us to kneel upside down on the floor with our fingers locked and thumbs pointing down towards the backs of our necks? Speak sense man, sense, I say!

Austin : [Looks puzzled] He means that we should have our knees behind our necks, with our hands back, with thumbs pointing upwards?

Harvey : Knees behind our own necks, or someone elses! And I suppose you're right private, if we're upside down then our thumbs pointing downwards would mean they should actually point upwards, what!

Austin : [To Harvey] Well, they must mean behind someone else's neck, otherwise it will be extreemly difficult for us all, not to mention most un ladylike for the ladies.

Alice: Maybe we need to form a circle? That way each of us can do it do someone else?

Jack: Okay, I'll make it easy for you! Drop all your weapons.

Charlie: That's sensible enough, but what do you consider a weapon? Do you adhere to STA Regulations? You know, anything with a point or an edge, or made of wood or metal, or consisting of more than two fingers of liquid is considered dangerous? Oh, do you consider holy water a weapon? Or what about a pencil? Sort of a gray area, really. . . .

Harvey : Now that is a far easier command, far easier! Clear and concise and unambiguous. [Looks around the room and places his sword on the table]

Alice: [Nods at Charlie's nords] Or maybe my devasting [looks puzzled] uh, what's the word, again? [Face lights up] Wit!

Jack: Let me see. [Consults a small book, underlining something] All of those, except novelty pencils that have a "Hello Smitty" kitten on them.

Alice: Like yours?

Jack: [Holds up and gives a big smile] Love it!

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] Although how private Scar is to detach his armpits and lay them on the ground, is beyond me!

Austin : Indeed colonel, I believe that if anyone had ever thought of anyway to do that, they would have done so immediately, and spread the word so that no one would ever suffer again.

Charlie: [To Jack] Yes, I'm sorry, but I just don't see how we can comply with your request. It's just too non-specific.

Jack: I see. How about a demonstration? [Takes out his sword and puts it on the ground] See? [Then takes out a dagger and does the same] Not too stressful, is it? [Takes out a club and bashes Charlie over the head with it] Understand?

[The blow catches CHARLIE on the side of the head and she sinks to the floor.]

Forgot to say, Kevin is out for the day so his work mail is off the mailing list (the hanson one), please make sure you use the distribution list on this mail

Austin : [Shocked] That was a completely unprevoked attack! [Gets out his sling and readies it] Colonel, perhaps it is these two hoodlums that commited the murders! [Moves behind Harvey]

Alice: [Draws her sword and steps up beside Harvey] Hey! What the hell is wrong with you?

Dur: [Gets behind Austin] Maybe we shouldn't enrage them further? [To Mal] If we're about to be dragged kicking and screaming to jail, could you bring out the breakfast first? I was led to believe that our night's lodging here involved [takes out a crumpled and filthy card from the room] a selection of delicious pastries.

Mal: Hey! That card is the property of the tavern!

Harvey : [Picks up his sword from the table] I say fellow, that really was the last straw! How dare you assault a member of this troop without cause!

Jack: [Smiles] I was hoping you'd say that. [Gestures behind and more and more cops come in. There are clearly more than can fit in the bar] I'm arresting you on suspicion of murder, three counts, reckless driving, threatening an officer and [with a smile] resisting arrest.

Mal: And stealing a note from a hotel! Don't forget that! Honestly, if there was just a little more puking and flatulence, why, it would be like having a bunch of Oirish here!

Jack is referring to when HE rear ended the party and was then threatened with a lawsuit by Austin - probably!

Clint: [Eagerly.] Well, if we're going to be arrested for all that, let's make sure that we're actually guilty of one of 'em, Harv!

Jack: [Nods] Yes, Harv!

[There are now about fifty cops in the tavern.]

Dur: [Whimpering to Mal] Isn't there a secret passage that leads out of here?

Mal: Sure!

Dur: Where is it?

Mal: [Pouring himself a beer and getting ready to watch the fight] I don't know - it's a secret, innit?

Austin : [To Mal] How about a back door [looks for a back door to make a run for]

[AUSTIN looks behind and spots a back door, which that very moment opens, with even more cops coming in.]

Alice: [Checking on Charlie] Yeesh, what is this? A donut convention? [An excited murmur runs through the cops.]

Alice: [To the others] You know, if we're going to do something, we need to do it soon. Are we gonna make a run for it?

Junior: [Still covering his face, and whispering] Don't let them capture you.

Clint: [Looks around for a window to burst through.] You guys run for it - I'll keep 'em busy!

Harvey : No dear niece, of course we're not going to run for it! We are going to make a strategic retreat, what! [To Mal] I say fellow, why don't you give these officers a few donuts each, what? You there [to the police] start forming an orderly queue for your free donuts! [Points to the side of the room opposite the door]

Jack: Chaaaaarge!

[There is a window right beside the party's table, just right for jumping through.]

Cops: Doooooonuts! [As the cops move in, batons and swords swaying, the party suddenly start to move very fast as they did back in Queens View when surrounded. ALICE badly injures at least three of them, while HARVEY punches four of them hard on the face without them even getting a chance to react, CLINT, while heading towards the window, easily picks up CHARLIE while shoving a cop back into the others and AUSTIN gets off at least ten shots at the cops coming up behind, sending them diving for cover.]

Dur: [Who somehow slips behind the bar and grabs a stash of food] This speed thing is great! [The cops are clearly freaked out by this.]

Jack: Stop them! You know what the are! We can't let them escape! [Swings and hits Harvey]

Harvey lose 8hp Remember, the HP page is:

Hit Points

Ouch!

Harvey : Ach! My favourite shirt! Hiiiiiya! [Tries to karate chop Jack]

Clint: Hey! Weren't we gonna withdraw, strategically? This isn't as easy as it looks! [Nods at Charlie, slung over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.] And I'm out of practice.

Austin : [Follows Clint towards the window, fireing as often as he is able to] Run! These men are not police! They are gangsters in uniforms!

Alice: [To Austin] That's what police are!

Junior: [Gets up on the table with Clint] Uh, not sure how you guys can do this, but I'm sure glad you can do this! [Takes Charlie] You can move faster than me, bud.

[There's another quick round of combat, with the party taking out another ten or so cops, including JACK, who gets a karate chop to the neck that sends him flying into the latest bunch of cops to come in through the front door. The party are now all up on the table backing off towards the window, with CLINT leading, then JUNIOR carrying CHARLIE, and finally each of DUR, AUSTIN, ALICE and HARVEY backing towards them, easily holding off the very freaked out cops.]

Cop1: Hey! There's no donuts at all!

Cop2: Gee whiz, what a swizz!

Cop1: We've been gypped, cat.

Cop2: Some squares must have been behind this.

Lee: [Shouts at Cop1 and Cop2] Hey! What did I say about using fifties lingo?

Harvey : Quickly now troop, through the window! [Waves his fist menacingly at the cops] Why I oughta!

Austin : [Swiftly opens the window to left the others out] Quickly! Before they find the donuts hidden behind the bar!

Clint: [Stands aside to let the others through.] Yeah! There'll be a riot if they find the donuts hidden behind the bar!

Harvey : [Stops suddenly and looks towards the bar] What private Scar, why didn't you mention this previously? Troop, to the bar, there's donuts needing a rescuing!

Austin : [Looks alarmed] Colonel, I believe that private Dur has rescued some for you, we should run! [Austin slips out of the window and will provide covering fire where he can]

Dur: Hey! I didn't see any donuts when I was behind there!

[At least a quarter of the hungry policemen head to the bar, while the others keep an eye on the party who back out the window.]

Alice: What now? There are a bunch of police carriages here.

Clint: You have to ask, Bimbo? We borrow a police carriage and make our getaway! It wouldn't be your first time, would it?

Harvey : [Wavering] By the saints private Dur, either you did or didn't liberate some donuts! Out with it man!

Austin : There are no donuts! It was a ruse to distract some of the mafia! [Austin rushes to find the fastest looking carriage, and remove the harness pins from any other carriages that he can]

Harvey : Ah, I see. Ha! We certainly fooled those flatfoots with the donut ruse, eh! Ha! Imagine falling for that! [Looks forlornly backwards, before helping Austin sabotage the other carriages]

Dur: [Also helping out, looking a little sad] Yeah, imagine falling for that.

[In double quick time, the carriages are disabled and the party disappear into the distance.]

Cop1: Oh man! They escape AND there are no donuts?

Cop2: Talk about harshing my buzz.

[ALICE follows directions from JUNIOR, and the party are soon out of sight and parked down a dark and lonely alleyway. Whatever caused them to move so fast has clearly worn off.]

Junior: Woah. That was intense. How did you guys do that?

This is the second time this has happened. It also happened back in Queens View when the party were similarly surrounded and outnumbered

Harvey : Years of fine training, sir! My troop are a well oiled machine, what! A cohesive unit! [Attempts to revive Charlie]

Dur: Sir! Stand back! I am the doctor here - it is important to do this properly, to proceed with an initial investigation. [Checks Charlie's pulse and such] Hm, the subject appears to be [looks to the party and speaks slowly, clearly trying to gauge their reaction] maa- female! [Checks his pockets] No smelling salts. [To Clint] Can you do the honours?

Alice: Juny, can you take a look to make sure no one's coming?

Junior: Uh, sure. [Heads out to the main road, out of earshot]

Alice: Okay, what on earth is going on here?

Harvey : Do you mean in general, dearest niece, or the specifics of seeming to move faster than normal time should permit? It is strange, twice now we've been out numbered and in deepest peril, and twice now we have managed to achieve this, heightened, state of action!

Clint: I wish I knew, Bimbo! I don't trust it - I don't remember this happening before we met up after we were having all those weird "dreams." We need someone who knows about this weird magic crap! [Absently leans over Charlie and exposes an armpit for a second.]

Austin : [Winces and turns away as Clint exposes his armpit] That is more likely to kill her than revive her Mr Scar!

Alice: [Also wincing as the armpit does its nasty, sinful business] I don't trust it either, Stinky. Ever since those, well, I don't think they were dreams, and ever since we got [points to her back] these weird pattern things, we've had it. We need to figure out what it is. Right now, [points to the stirring Charlie] do we want to tell her about it? She seems trustworthy, but she is a watcher, after all, and her first duty is to them. [Sniggers] I said "doody".

Dur: No, you didn't, you said [proper, European pronounciation] duty.

Alice: Oh? Huh. That's not funny at all.

Harvey : [Scratches at his sideburn] Hmm, I think that this is something we should keep to ourselves for the time being. But you are of course correct, dear niece, we need to find out what and where it's coming from!

Alice: [Nods] Agreed! [To the rest of the party] Now, we are all in agreement here, right? Not a word to you-know-who until we know more, okay?

Austin : [To Alice] Well, we could mention the pattern, but not the speed thing?

Alice: [Waves her hand vaguely] Not sure, Aus, how about seeing if we can find out anything about it from her?

Harvey : Alice, could you make a quick sketch of the pattern? We can show her the drawing to see if she recognises it, and not let her know that we each have one.

No posting from me until 4pm or so.

Austin : [Looks aprehensive] Perhaps it would be better to remain ignorant of the meaning. It has not done us any harm before now.

Alice: We need to decide quickly, she's just about to wake up. Okay, how about we have a code word, and just say that if you want me to draw it? [To Austin] Let's make the codeword "Legal".

[CHARLIE wakes up.]

Austin : [To Charlie] Welcome back. How do you feel? [Offers her a mint from a small tin]

Alice: Damned cops! What they did should be il-uh, ill advised under any circumstances.

Kevin's work address is back on the list

Charlie: [Woozily] What happened?! The last thing I remember, that brute assaulted me! [Accepts the mint] Thank you, Mr. Sleaze.

Alice: Oh no, Charlie, Clint was just trying to help you, it was the cop. [To the others] Who on earth is trying to frame us?

Austin : [To Charlie] Well, they attacked us, conjouring up a plethora of farcical *legal* charges, and we fought half of them off and made our escape.

Alice: [Momentarily looks terrified] You mean *legal*? Or legal?

Kevin, you missed a few mails there because of a clash back at 77. Back on the list now.

Austin : [Sighs] I mean whichever one was your secret code word. [Rolls his eyes]

away

Charlie: [To Austin] How exciting! What are we trying to hide? [Shakily pulls herself up and starts dusting off her suit]

Alice: Uhhh, ourselves! From the cops. In the meantime, do you know anything about this? [Draws a crude but passable version of the pattern]

Clint: We, uh, saw it somewhere. Yeah, that was it. So we're curious. Might have been one one of those music videos or something.

Charlie: [Delighted] Yes, it's the sign of Clementine! How marvelous! Where did you see it? I really should take some notes about this [digs out a notebook and waits expectantly].

Alice: Well, we saw it in a trailer park! That guy Nambu had it, pushed into the wall of his trailer.

Clint: Was that it? Guess it wasn't a music video after all!

Off to work and all that.

Alice: Uh, I think he might have been watching a music video at the time.

Charlie: How fascinating! I wonder if the trailer park is a holy site to them? Could you give me the location, coordinates if possible?

Clint: Oh, it was a ways over that way. [Waves vaguely in what may or may not be the right general direction.] But you don't want to go there - you can check in any time you like, but you can never leave.

Alice: [Nods at Clint's words] Yeah, on a dark desert highway, there was a smell of colitas there too, I think. So, uh, what does the sign mean?

Charlie: [Enthusiastically leaps to her feet and assumes a lecturing stance] In short, the sign indicates that one has been in a way touched [lays her hand on Alice's arm to illustrate the concept of touching] by Clementine. And once one has been touched in this way, one becomes part of Clementine. Through this connection [interlocks her fingers dramatically], all of those bearing the mark become part of a the perfect collective consciousness, always moving together [marches in place], thinking the same thoughts [touches her temple], believing the same beliefs [pauses, stumped, then does jazz hands]. A remarkably efficient system!

Harvey : Yes indeed, do tell. Is it good or evil or what its significance is?

Alice: [Looks horrified] It sounds perfectly awful!

Harvey : Good grief! And how many are involved in this...collective?

Clint: And what about those poor souls who want to get out of the collective?!

Charlie: [To Harvey] I don't yet know, but as I said, I do know where to find them so we may soon know first-hand. [To Alice] Awful? But don't you think there's a certain beauty to the harmony of the structure? Imagine a world with no wars, no conflict, everyone working cooperatively, sharing the same ideals!

Alice: [Sceptically] No countries? Nothing to kill or die for? And no religion too? You're a dreamer!

Charlie: [To Clint] Nothing in my research suggests that anyone has ever wanted to leave the collective.

Alice: [Eyes widen as she gulps] Well, that sounds great.

[Enter JUNIOR, coming back from the main road.]

Junior: It's the cops! They've found us!

Clint: Great. Terrific. How did those idiots find us? [Heads for the stolen carriage.] Let's make like a tree and get the hell out of here!

Harvey : [Looks at the carriage] Gah troop! I suppose we should have turned off the siren and the flashing lights!

Alice: But they're the best parts! [Leaps aboard] Where to?

Harvey : As far away from the clutches of the HARMA initiative and the police as we can get! How far is the nearest large town where we can blend into anonymity?

Clint: Where we can what, Harv? [Looks around at the party incredulously and turns back to address Harvey gently.] Have you been out in the sun a bit too long or something?

Harvey : [Mutters] Well, so much for the collective mind, what! [Loudly] What I meant, private Scar, is we should find the nearest place where we can be inconspicuous. Where there are so many people that we can blend in. Where a group of strangers arriving will not raise an eyebrow of suspicion. Hide. Keep our heads down! Go incognito! As the Vietnumnumese would do back in '67, the wily curs! They would ambush our forces, and then blend amongst the local people, making it near impossible to tell who was friend or foe.

Austin : [To Junior, indignantly] Did they find us, or did they follow you to get to us?

Junior: [Does a double take on Austin] Why don't you ask them? Remember, I'm also wanted for murder, the last thing I want is to be arrested by those idiot.

Alice: [Zooms further along the alleyway] Where will we go? There are bound to be town guards at the gate.

Clint: Who says we have to go out through the gate?

Is there a wall or something that could be climbed? Sans, one assumes, the carriage?

Alice: [Shrugs] Idunno. I thought we were going to check out the Clementines?

Yes, there is a wall, although it's fairly high and goes right around the town. It could be climbed, though.

Austin : There is bound to be a secret back door. [To Junior] Do you know where it is?

Junior: Haven't a clue. [Nods to Charlie] She's the expert, maybe she knows?

Charlie: [To Alice] Oh, yes! We must go to the Clementinians while we still know their location.

Alice: To the warehouse!

All: De ne ne ne ne ne ne ne ne ne ne Ware House!

[Exit ALL, zipping through the streets.]

End of scene, next one coming up

[Book VI, Act V, Scene IV. The Warehouse. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHARLIE, CLINT, DUR, HARVEY and JUNIOR are here, having just arrived. The party have crept up quietly to look in through a back window and can see that, although the warehouse is empty, there appears to be two bodies lying prone on the stairs leading down.]

Alice: [Squinting to see] Hm, looks like they have sword wounds. I wonder what's going on?

We have a new player (re)joining, that's Erin. Please make sure her address is on all mails from now on.

Alice: To the warehouse!

All: De ne ne ne ne ne ne ne ne ne ne Ware House!

[Exit ALL, zipping through the streets.]

End of scene, next one coming up

Clint: We're not gonna find out by standing around out here! [Looks around for a door to kick in.]

Hiya Erin, and welcome back!

Alice: [Spots an already kicked in door] Looks like someone beat you to it!

Austin : [Takes a quick look at the bodies, searching them briefly, avoiding blood and dirt at all costs] What on earth is going on here?

Clint: These weren't the guys those idiot cops say we murdered, are they?

Charlie: [Scanning the room] How dreadful! We seem to have lost the Clementinians again!

Alice: [To Clint] I thought we murdered those guys!

[AUSTIN's search reveals that each of the men is dressed in armour, and that they both had shields with the sign of Clementine on them.]

Alice: [Points at it with her sword] There, Charlie, that's the sign!

Charlie: [Leans in to look at the men] Someone must have attacked the Clementinians!

Alice: Are they Clemenintinonions?

Clint: Of course not, Bimbo - they're dead!

Alice: Oh. Okay. [Looks confused] What?

Harvey : [Checks the bodies to gauge how they died] So, who would murder these Clementianonions? [To Charlie] Do these knights usually protect someone?

[The two men were killed by swords.]

Alice: Huh. I wondered if they had slipped in the oil.

[Now that she mentions it, there's quite a lot of oil on the steps.]

Harvey : Well dear niece, certainly rule nothing out! It's also possible that they were involved in a duel, with both inflicting a fatal wound! [Looks around to see if the whole room is doused in oil]

Austin : [Looks at the oil] Colonel, we should get moving, this scene has all the trappings of a trap!

Harvey : Very much agreed, private Sleaze! Agreed, I say!

Alice: You mean it has [very stagey] "oil" the trappings!

[The party begin to scramble back up, but a young man, TRISTAN GARIBALDI, appears at the top of the stairs holding a torch.]

Tristan: [Face contorted with rage] Defilers of Clementine! [Goes to light the stairs]

[Enter LUCKY BASKET, coming from the side of TRISTAN.]

Lucky: Noooo! [Dives at Tristan, knocking the torch from his hand.]

[LUCKY ends up falling towards the party, while TRISTAN is pushed backwards.]

Tristan: You bastard!

Tristan Garibaldi

Lucky Basket

Charlie: How thrilling! The Clementinians consider us a threat! [Flattered] I wonder if they've read my monograph?

Charlie: [Pulls out her sword and tries to intervene between the two] Cease this fighting, boys! Surely this argument can be settled with measured, cooperative discussion?!

Harvey : [To Tristan] By the saints sir, we did not commit this outrage! [Points to the two bodies]

Lucky: [Getting to his feet quickly, salutes Harvey.] Lucky Basket reporting for duty, Sir! Now let us all dispose of this ruffian!!! [Turns and tries to run up the oily stairs.]

Hey all...good to be back! (in proper rookie fashion...I posted a while ago...but only sent it to Conor...sigh.

Basket is, of course, pronounced "Bas-kay"

Tristan: [Shakes an angry fist at the party] I will have my revenge! You have defiled that which I love most in the world, and I swear a Holy and Sacred vow that I will avenge Clementine. [Turns and leaps out a window, even though it is right beside the open door]

Alice: Hm. Well, that was rather odd.

Austin : [To Lucky] Not so hastely! He may be able to tell us who those two bodies are, and who might have killed them, and who the Celementines are, and why they ... well why lots of things really [To Tristran] So, what are you doing here, and who killed those guys in the basement?

welcome back Erin!

Lucky: Quickly, we must catch up with this fiend. [Eyes the stairs.] If we form some sort of human chain, we can scale the banister. [His eyes brighten.] Just like issue #8!

Alice: Or [thinking hard] we could climb up really slowly. How hard can it be? [Slips and falls on her rear end] Ow. [Looks at Lucky] Issue #8?

It isn't all that slippy, and someone more careful than Alice could get back up

Welcome back Erin!

Harvey : Odd is not the word for it dearest niece! [To Lucky] I say, are you a military man, what?

are you a military man, what?

Lucky: [Rushes to Alice's side.] Miss Alice, are you okay? This is all you need on top of your poor aching heart. [Straightens himself up bravely.] I will try and scale this dreadful wall of oil for you. It is my duty as the newest member of the party. [Quickly salutes Harvey and tries to rush up the stairs. Slipping and falling on his face.] I simply didn't run fast enough. [Tries again with the same result.]

Alice: Not as odd as my shoes. [Everyone looks down to see that she's wearing two odd shoes, before turning to see what Lucky has to say]

Alice: Uh, I'm fine, thanks. [Reaches down to help him up] Come on, young fella. [Tries to pull him up but also falls down] Hey, that's a cool looking ceiling.

Lucky: Thank you, Miss Alice. The floor is really nice too! What a splendid place to meet you all! [Slowly gets up and offers Alice his hand.] This is the luckiest day of my life!

Alice: [Pulling herself up] Uh, good to meet you too, Lucky, is it?

Harvey : [Looks approvingly at Lucky] Slow and steady won the race, what! [Attempts to carefully help Alice and Lucky to their feet]

Charlie: [To Lucky, amused] Good for you, young man! Now, be still a moment and tell us what you mean by "newest party member." I am this party's Watcher, you see, and it's technically required that you receive clearance from me before joining.

Alice: Woah, woah, woah! I don't recall us [finger quotes] technically agreeing that YOU could join!

Lucky: [Giggles when Alice says his name. And again when Harvey compliments him.] Wow! I'm really here. This is AMAZING. And I thought *yesterday* was my lucky day! [To Charlie.] And another contest winner! Good for you!

Harvey : Eh? What contest? [To Charlie] And my dearest niece is quite right, you certainly don't give the orders here, young lady!

Lucky: [To Charlie enthusiastically.] Don't worry, Miss! They'll learn to accept you in time. We can't expect to join the greatest adventuring party of all time and be accepted immediately! We have to prove ourselves. But I know we can! [To Harvey.] I'm sorry Colonel, sir. I'm just so excited to meet you all. [Digs into his pack and pulls out a double handful of fussy bits of paper.] 10,000 coupons, sir. I had all the kids count them to make sure. The Queens View Few Coupon Redemption Catalog said I needed 10,000. It took ages, but we did it.

Alice: The Queens View Few? [To the others] That's that comic book that Derek Hall and Michael Portico wanted us to get involved with. [Takes a look one of the coupons and studies it for a good thirty seconds] Yep. It's a coupon alright.

Derek and Michael were publicists who tried to get the party involved in merchandising. As far as the party are concerned, the comic book only lasted a handful of issues.

Charlie: [To Lucky] Poor thing! You have been swindled by rogues, I'm afraid. This party most certainly does not accept untested boys into its ranks. That would be most dangerous, indeed! But I'm sure your [regards the party skeptically] heroes would be happy to oblige you with autographs and a few mementos before we send you on your way. [Looks at the party pointedly] Right?

Lucky: [Looks sadly down at his coupons for an instant. Then his face brightens. To Charlie.] But they accepted *you*! And you were untested! And danger? I *love* danger! [Digs in his bag and pulls out an old tattered order form and offers it to Austin.] Certainly the law has something to say about this? The rules say 10,000 coupons can be redeemed for an adventure with the party. You are the greatest lawyer in the world. I know you can help me!

Alice: [Amused] He has a point, Charlie, we *did* accept you! That said, we are about to go into certain death. That's probably not the best thing for him.

Harvey : My niece has a point. [To Lucky] Young cadet, many thanks for your help back then, but seriously, this is far too dangerous an undertaking for you. Perhaps when you graduate to the rank of private, eh!

Lucky: If you are facing your certain death, then I will protect you until my certain death. Certainly if you are facing your death, you need an extra fighter. And one that will fight to his death to protect you from your death could certainly be useful. I've practiced my whole life for this. If I am to die, Miss Alice, then my final wish is to die among my heroes in a battle to save the world! Who could ask for more than that?

Dur: Listen if he has the coupons he gets the adventure right? Who are we to nullify this contest? I'm sure we can have the boy sign a waiver relieving us of any harm that might befall him. [Whispering to Austin, licking his chops a bit] Be sure to write in a clause stating that any of his organs will be donated to my "Feed the Homeless" charity, yeah?=20

Welcome Erin :) Sorry I have been a little MIA this week. Its been=20 hectic.

Austin : [To Lucky] Queens View Few Coupons? [Pauses] I am afraid we have never heard of them, what are they for? [Holds a hand up never mind that, let's get out of here [Carefully walks up the stair case]

Alice: Where are you going, Aus? Aren't the bad guys [points down the stairs] that a way?

Sporadic posting for next two hours

Austin : [To Dur] Certainly not, his organs are his own property even =20 after his demise. [Continues carefully up the stair case] I see no =20 reason why he should not come with us, after all, Junior and Charlie =20 are still alive. [Looks back at them] Between the three of them they =20 might just make up for the absence of Sister Chastity, in body that =20 is, not mind [Rolls his eyes] Thankfully.

sorry for odd timing of posts our e-mail seems a little 'lumpy' today

Lucky: [As if noticing Dur for the first time.] Oh wow! *Another* contest winner. Wasn't it difficult to find all those coupons? All of us orphans were scouring the dumps searching for them. But it was worth it! [To Austin.] Oh, I want my organs to be donated. I'll sign something if I need to. There's a young blind boy at the orphanage who could use my eyes. And our old House Master could use my liver. He has some sort of a disease that slurs his speech and makes him beat us. Poor old thing.

Yes, something is definitely wonky with email today.

Mine too.

Harvey : Steady on there, cadet! What would your parents think about this wild abandon? Eh?

Charlie: [To Harvey, patiently] Colonel, he lives in an orphanage under the [finger quotes] care of a drunken brute! Clearly he has no parents! [To Lucky] Do forgive the colonel. He is quite old and can be a bit tactless at times.

Harvey : Well missy, perhaps his parents worked there!

Lucky: [Shaking his head quickly.] Oh, that's okay! I never actually said they were dead anyway. They are, of course. The Colonel has very important things on his mind. Always planning out the next great battle, and how best to deploy his troops. I can't expect him to remember the little things about my life. Lucky contest winners like me and you are just fortunate that he talks to us at all.

Alice: Maybe his father is that drunken brute!

Alice: Maybe his father is that drunken brute!=20 =20

Dur: [Looks interested at Lucky] Perhaps you can give me the names and locations of these orphans? I'd like them all to sign consent forms for my "charity".

Austin : [To Charlie] I thought you said that you were a watcher, not a talker! [Decides against going back up the stairs and carefully makes his way back down the stairs]

Austin : [To Charlie] I thought you said that you were a watcher, not a talker! [Decides against going back up the stairs and carefully makes his way back down the stairs

Lucky: Oh no, Miss Alice. He wasn't my father. I never knew him. But I always pretended things about him. It made the dark nights full of screaming and crying pass ever so quickly. [To Dur.] What a great idea! Most of the kids have 2 or 3 fatal diseases...(and it only takes one!)..which is why most of them haven't been adopted. How lucky for them to be able to die and help others! How long did it take you to collect the coupons?

Alice: [Disturbed] Er, how nice. Let's head down into the dark dangerous place.

Harvey : [Steps away lively] Fatal diseases, eh? Tell me this, why was that blighter about to set us on fire? Was he another coupon collector?

dangerous >place.

Dur: [To Lucky] Nonsense dear boy. I collected no coupons. I am a valuable addition to this team, as a surgeon, unlike yourself and her [points to Charlie]. Who do you think keeps this lot alive?

Lucky: Oh, you had someone collect them for you then? Weren't the stories amazing? The arch that told the Battle of Minus Thrift was my favorite. [Bows his head respectfully and cast an apologetic glance at Alice.] Despite the fact that we lost the greatest hero, ever. [More enthusiastically.] Didn't the comics make you feel like you were actually there?

Alice: What do you mean the greatest hero ever? Jerome? Let me see that!

Harvey : [Gasps] What tosh is this? Greatest hero!

Lucky: [Pulls a comic book out of his pack, and looks at it with adoration.] This was my favorite issue. Issue #6. The fatal conclusion of the Battle of Minus Thrift. [Hands it to Alice.]

Clint: [Wakes up from an odd reverie of some sort.] WHAT? Jerome, greatest hero? That son of a [looks at Lucky and quickly shushes.]

Wow, that took a looooong time to read through to catch up! Erin, you're making us all so prolific! Also, did I already say hiya or not?

Alice: [Flicks through it for a moment before showing a two page spread to the party] Sigh.

[The picture on the spread is of JEROME, lying dead, bleeding from many sword wounds, with a dead Morc in each hand. Each of ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT and HARVEY are nearby. CLINT and HARVEY are in tears, AUSTIN is standing looking vacantly into space, CHASTITY is praying over him and ALICE is on her knees, shaking her fist in the air shouting "Why?"]

Alice: Oh my god. Look at that. [Points to herself on the page] My hair was never that big!

Sorry. Lucky is very enthusiast and talks a LOT. Hi back at you!

Lucky: Mr. Clint, you are the greatest fighter that is still alive!

Charlie: [Looks at the spread] Yes, this is a popular misconception, I'm afraid. Mr. Trindle was quite horrid, though, and not at all a hero. We thought about putting out some corrective educational PR on the subject, but figured there was no harm. He is dead, after all, so what does it matter what people believe of him?

Harvey : Some people are more powerful dead than alive! Many religions were built on the death of their leader.

Alice: What does it matter? [Turns the page over to show a drawing of the party at a funeral. Alice is wearing a highly inappropriate tiny black dress with a veil over her face and says "I'll never love again"] That's what it matters!

gone for 30 mins

Lucky: Horrid? Not at all a...We can't possibly be speaking about the same Jerome. He gave his life at Minus Thrift. [Puts a comforting hand on Alice's shoulder.] What kind of fan are you, lady?

Austin : [Nods in agreement at the picture] Indeed, that dress is way to long for you. [To Charlie] Could you make yourself useful and light one of those torches, without igniting the oil please!

Charlie: [To Dur] You heard Mr. Sleaze, good fellow! Do light a torch, won't you? [To Lucky] What can you tell us about the young man you were fighting when we entered?

Harvey : [Looks sternly at the picture] That is absolutely disgraceful! How dare they publish such nonsense?

Clint: Harv, they're marketing directors, for Phili's sake! What do you expect?! I say we tear their heads off.

Lucky: [Trying to take the comic back.] Oh, please don't tear it! [Confused.] I don't understand. It's a faithful retelling of your grand adventures. Why are you all so angry?

you >expect?! I say we tear their heads off.

Dur: [Holds out a hand expectantly to Charlie while speaking to Clint] That's your answer for everything! =20

Clint: Because, much like the food at that trailer park we visited a while back, it's a pile of steaming crap!

Austin : [To Lucky] It is about as faithful as a firm of lawyers in a pension scandal at a major bank. [To Charlie] Have you prepared the torch that I asked you for yet?

Charlie: [Absently hands Dur a copper piece] Chop chop, let's have that torch!

Lucky: [Quietly looks at his comic. And wordlessly places it in his pack. Then his face brightens.] Ah. Okay. [Winks at Austin. And nods knowingly.] Right. Got it. [To Charlie.] How did you get your coupons? Did you have school children get them for you? You seem too...not the right target audience for the books.

Clint: [Looks around the room.] Hey, shouldn't we be investigating rather than yakking about lawyers and comic books and packs of lies?

Austin : [To Clint] Then perhaps, Mr Scar, you could find a torch, light it and pass it to me please. [Looking at Charlie] Our new recruit appears to unable to manage this simple request.

Alice: [Takes out a torch and lights it, giving to Dur] Here, give that to Charlie to give to Austin. Aus, can I borrow a torch from you? I've just given away my last one..

Lucky: Don't worry, Austin. I'll go and procure the torch of the ruffian that tried to set you alight. Then you can give that torch to Miss Alice. [Eyes the stairs with determination.] I *know* can make it up those stairs. I just need to go a little faster.

Harvey : Slow and steady won the race, cadet, however, in this instance, I think you can safely leave that torch go. As we shall have to leave you. It is far too dangerous for you to join us. Well then troop, shall we descend?

I'll be out tomorrow. Independence Day. No offense to you brits! Kevin Day Receptionist =20 Hanson North America 300 E. John Carpenter Freeway, 15th floor Irving, TX 75062 =20

Tel: 972-653-5500

Fax: 972-653-5616=20 Kevin.Day@hanson.com www.hanson.com =20 =20 =20 =20

Harvey : Slow and steady won the race, cadet, however, in this instance, I think you can safely leave that torch go. As we shall have to leave you. It is far too dangerous for you to join us. Well then troop, shall we descend?

I, meanwhile, intend to celebrate the birthday of the nation in the same way as I celebrate my own birthday - by sleeping in until I physically can't take it anymore. Which is to say, I'll likely not be around in the morning at all. You know how it is.

Lucky: Right, Sir! You said that before! I'll go get it and we can be on our way then. [Slowly begins to work his way up the stairs.]

Do the rest of us still play tomorrow? Or are the Summer Americans taking the day off too?

Junior: Uh, let's not. Let's just keep going down.

Austin : [Takes the torch and begins going down the stairs slowly] Let us try to avoid being eaten to a pulp again.

Harvey : Easy does it, private Sleaze, that slippery character might have poured oil on these steps also!

Alice: Hopefully he'll still be full, though.

Sorry Dom, couldn't resist!

[The oil becomes scarcer the further down the party go, until, at the bottom, there is virtually none. They come to a small room, about twenty foot square, the opposite wall of which is covered in a shimmering blue light. To the right of it is a small piece of metal halfway up, which is about ten inches square.]

Junior: [Steps up close to the light] Hm, shimmery!

Charlie: [Begins descending the stairs] Cleverly phrased, Colonel! Let us hope we haven't been given [enormous emphasis and finger quotes] the slip!

us hope we haven't been given [enormous emphasis and finger quotes] the slip!

Harvey : [Bursts out laughing, loudly and longly, before finally subsiding. Wiping tears from his eyes] By the saints, that's a good one what! We haven't been given the ship! [Looks at the light]

Lucky: [Looking around the room amazed.] Wow, they never had anything like this at the orphanage. Our only light source was a candle that we got to burn every other even Tuesday. [Walks over to the metal square.] Wonder what this does?

Alice: [Stands beside Lucky, peering at it] Well, whatever it does, it's doing it now. Who wants to touch it?

Junior: [Stepping back from the light] I think I'd rather touch the metal thing than this.

Harvey : I'll give it a bash, dear niece! [Touches the light with his sword]

[The sword flies out of HARVEY's hand and ends up embedded in the (stone) wall between ALICE and LUCKY, with a "thwoinggggg" sound.]

Alice: Yikes! Careful, Unc, that could have had someone's eye out!

Charlie: [Impressed] Fascinating! Does it only do that with metal, I wonder? [Gingerly taps the light with a bit of an old stick]

Lucky: [Starts trying to pull the sword out of the stone.] Good job, Sir! Now we know what the light does!

Austin : [To Alice] Perhaps you should wear your sunglasses? [From an angle, throws a mint into the blue light] This could be some kind of portal.

[As LUCKY struggles with the sword and fails to get it out, the stick zooms overhead, almost hitting DUR who ducks just in time, while the mint ricochets around the room like a bullet, ending up shooting into JUNIOR's mouth.]

Junior: Choke! [Coughs and splutters, clearly unable to breathe]

Lucky: Oh wow, now we REALLY know what the light does. [Goes over and starts pounding Junior on the back.] Good job!

Austin : [Watchs Lucky trying to help Junior] Is he going to be okay? I have heard that the Hindlick manoveur is the appropriate action in this case, [to Dur] but I'm quite sure that should only be performed by a qualified doctor.

Harvey : [Gives Junior a thump on the back] There there, out with it! [Looks again at the light] Well, how odd! Perhaps it only works with something living? [Attempts to retrieve his sword]

Lucky: [Still pounding on Junior's back.] If you need a volunteer Sir, I'm ready. I know if I get the angle just right, I can make it through.

Junior: Cough! Hack!

Dur: Step back! This is a job for me! [Trips on a carelessly discarded piece of old stick and falls headlong towards Junior, hitting him in the stomach with his head]

Junior: Gasp! [The mint flies out, and he slowly recovers] Woah. [To Lucky] Thanks man. You know what, that was actually pretty cool!

Austin : [Deadpan] I thought as much, obviously only a manoeveur for a trained professional to perform. [Examines the floor area and carefully searches the rest of the room]

Lucky: [Enthusiastically beaming at Junior.] Wasn't it! You were integral in finding out a key piece of information about the wall of light. How lucky are you!? [Reaches up toward the metal plate with his sword.] This must DO something.

Junior: Uh, fairly lucky?

[LUCKY taps the metal, but nothing happens.]

Charlie: [Surveying the room] Perhaps it's a puzzle! Could we perhaps could get something to bounce off the light and ricochet back to hit this plate?

Alice: [Looks at Harvey's sword that's embedded in the wall] Maybe it's something to do with this sword?

Austin : We should search the room first, carefully, before dangerous experimentation.

Harvey : [To Charlie] Hmm, I like the way you're thinking! Or perhaps we have to create a link between the plate and the light, a human chain, or somesuch?

How are are they apart? I have to leave for the airport in a few...but will post later this evening when home. And a merry July 4th to all you statesiders!

[The party search the room and find another body, off to the side of the stairs, dressed in a similar manner to the other two, and also killed from stab wounds.]

Alice: Funny how we didn't notice him earlier, isn't it?

Junior: Well, it is kind of dark down here.

Lucky: It's not so terribly dark, really. [To Austin.] What if we throw one of the bodies into the light? They were once alive. It would be an experiment...of sorts...to test the Colonel's theory.

Colin's gone

Harvey: Ah, a less awful version of the dreaded kitten test. Good idea, that man!

Austin : [To Lucky it could also be vey dangerous and messy, we should all take cover whilst you try your experiment.

awa flying, have a great 4th of July!

Lucky: [To Junior.] Want to help?

Junior: Uh, sure. [Takes off his jacket and holds it over Austin] There, that ought to keep him clean.

Charlie: [To Clint] Surely you can help Lucky with this disgusting task?

Tom's probably sound asleep in bed!

Clint: Sure! [Grabs the feet of the body] Okay, kid. You take his arms, and let's swing him in.

Talk about lucky!

Lucky: [Quickly moves over to take the arms of the body.] I'm sure it won't make a mess, Austin. But you may want to move waaaaay over there. Just in case. Ready when you are Mr. Clint.

Austin : [Looks unimpressed by the impending experiment, hides behind the stairs, gets a towel out and covers himself with it] Ready when you are!

Clint: On three then! One.... two... three! [Does his part, swinging the feet and legs towards the light.]

Lucky: [Swinging his end of the body.] This is dreadfully exciting!

[The body swings gracefully through the air, only to bounce back again with a shower of sparks.]

Alice: [Applauding] Yay! Do it again! Do it again! It's like the Fort Of July!

Austin : [Looking offended] No, don't do it again. How would you like it if someone played around with your corpse? [Austin dons a pair of latex gloves and carefully searches the body, finishing by closing it's eyes] Have a little respect for the deceased.

Lucky: [His eyes searching the ground.] Maybe slow and steady wins the race after all. [Glances over at Harvey for approval.] Ah ha! [Picks up a stick, then tries to slowly push it into the wall of light.]

Alice: [Puts away her Merigan flag, sulkily] Yes, Dad.

[LUCKY prods the metal plate, but nothing happens.]

Junior: I wonder what would happen if we touched it.

Lucky: Oh, I'll do it!

so the wall of light is also metal?

Nope, I just read your mail wrong!

Junior: Uh, cool. Can I have your comics if you die?

Charlie: [To Lucky] Let's not be hasty, young man! Perhaps that's how this unfortunate corpse met his sticky end! Surely there's something we're missing here.

Alice: Well, [points at the body] he does look like he died of stab wounds, doesn't he?

Charlie: [Gestures to the metal plate] Well, then, be my guest, Dr. Bassett-Short!

Dur: Stab wounds eh? Not bad for an amateur diagnosis.

Alice: [To Charlie] I'm a doctor, dammit, not a metal plate pusher! [To Dur] The blood gave me my first clue. And see here? He's wearing armour? People with armour often get stabbed.

Lucky: [To Charlie.] You can push the plate, and I'll touch the light.

Alice: Sounds like good advice, Dr. Parker-Kensington!

Austin : [Stands aside trying to avoid any flying swords etc] Dr. who?

Clint: I think she means the mouthy one, lawyer.

Austin : [Still pondering the body. Glances up to Clint] Oh. [Looks back at the body] There must be some clue [Begins a through search and examination of the body. To Dur] Doctor would you care to heplp me?

Alice: Sure! [Pulls off one of the shoes] Ew! Do they always smell like that?

Austin : [Glances at Alice] Oh, sorry, I was talking to Mr Dur, I thought that he may have some forensicaly relevant medical opinion of this corpse. [Looks again] What were you planing on doing with the shoe?

Austin : [Glances at Alice] Oh, sorry, I was talking to Mr Dur, I thought that he may have some forensicaly relevant medical opinion of this corpse. [Looks again] What were you planing on doing with the shoe?

Clint: Never ask a question you aren't prepared to hear the answer to, lawyer! I wonder what would happen if I touched the light... [Hesitantly moves his hand towards the light.]

Alice: [Confused] I thought we were searching the guy!

Charlie: [Excitedly pulls out a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers] I'll search for clues! [Attempts to examine the corpse]

Austin : [To Alice] Indeed, we are. Is there anything in or on the shoe that may shed light on this situation?

Alice: [Regards the magnifying glass with clear envy] Hm. [Thoroughly checks the shoe] I think he may have recently stepped in dog shit.

[CLINT touches the blue light, and is fired hard across the room, banging off the far wall.]

Clint lose 69hp - down to 1 now.

Austin : [To Clint, sarcastically] Why don't you try that once more, Mr Scar, I'm sure the third time it will do something nice.

Charlie: [Horrified] Mr. Scar, do be careful! The Watcher's Association just cut your health benefits to cope with a recent budget crunch and--wait, let me check [pulls out a huge book and rapidly flicks through it]---just as I feared! Injuries sustained through "recklessly touching unclassified supernatural objects or structures" are no longer covered! Oh, dear!

Alice: [Peers at Clint] Come on, Stinky, we can fight these budget cuts!

Clint: [Woozily] Did anyone get the number of that carriage? [Peels himself off the wall.]

So apparently they decided to close the parking lot for repairs. Nice of them to not tell anyone and let me drive to work, drive home, and then walk back to work in the lovely Houston summer, eh? I feel a new man!

Lucky: Good for you Mr. Clint! Now we know for sure. [To Charlie.] Are you writing your own comic book?

Dur: So the strange light causes delusions and mental instability? Or was that a pre-existing condition Mr. Scar? =20

Lat from Kevin #128

Junior: I bet this metal plate has something to do with getting through. [Looks closely at it]

Clint: Whatever you do, don't touch the light!

Lucky: [Looking up at the plate.] I tried to push it. Maybe if we try to pry it upwards? [To Junior.] Want to give it a try?

Charlie: Good idea! Perhaps the plate is there to protect a switch of some kind? [To Junior, handing him a copper piece] Let's try prying the plate, good man.

Austin : Just be careful, remember, if Mr Scar was not crawling with as much bacteria as he is, he would probably be dead.

Clint: Ha! It takes more than being thrown across a room by a wall of light to take *me* down!

Barely, though!

Lucky: [Trying to jam his sword underneath the metal plate.] Nothing can stop you Mr. Clint! [Pausing to look at him.] Do you need a bandage? A tea towel perhaps? I'm sure...[Looks around.] Hey? Where's Sister Chastity?

Austin : [To Lucky] The church had some competition, and she went to warn them. They called themselves HARMA, or something silly like that. [Continues searching the body in detail]

Lucky: [Slightly disappointed.] Oh. [Goes back to trying to pry the plate.] But good for her! The church is lucky to have someone like her.

Charlie: Not to mention, she was far too elderly for the rigors of travel and adventure. It's really for the best that she turn her attention to fleecing her flock, so to speak.

Lucky: [Laughing.] You're funny! I expected her to be here when I entered the contest, too. I'm sure she'll finish up her important church business and rejoin us soon.

Austin : [To Lucky] I do hope so, so few people [glances at Charlie] seem to understand the importance of the core team sticking together. We are all in grave danger whilst one of us is on leave.

Lucky: How right, Austin! "All for Everything or One for Nothing." Issue number three! Did she have to sign any sort of legal contract saying she'd come back?

Harvey : Now now, troop, I'll hear no wrong spoken of the good sister! She may return in time, I do hope she does indeed, for I miss the dear old thing!

Apologies for the silence, started a new job today

Austin : [Frowns at Lucky] I am starting to doubt that anything in those comics is true. I will have to sue the publishers on behalf of us all, if I ever get time.

away home

Harvey : Do that, private Sleaze! Me, weeping over the demise of the doctor! What stuff and nonsense!

Lucky: Oh, but it IS true! It shows how you are the greatest military mastermind in the entire word, Colonel! Mr. Clint is a true warrior, Miss Alice is a tragic beauty, Sister Chasity the soul of kindness and Austin is a most important lawyer! Together you are the most extraordinary adventuring group in history! [To Austin.] Certainly you can admit that all of THAT is true!

Alice: Well, it sounds half right about me, I suppose.

[LUCKY tries to prise up the plate, but it is flush with the wall.]

Junior: [Looks at the copper piece sceptically] Uh, thanks. [Pockets it]

I'll be on a bit later tomorrow, about 2pmish Irish time

Harvey : Yes indeed dear niece, they seem to have mixed fact with utter fiction in their attempt to spice things up, as if it needed spicing up, what!

Austin : [To Lucky, modestly] Well, I may well be exceptionally important, but that is not because I am a lawyer, it is because we have saved the world several times. [Continues searching the body, smugly]

Lucky: I know! How dreadfully exciting! And now I get to save the world too! [Searching the room.] I was wondering, Austin. If a building is owned by the government, what sort of legal action could be taken if a private citizen wanted to buy it from them?

Austin : [To Lucky, laughing] You want to sue the government to force them to sell their property to you? [Chuckles] That would cost you rather a lot more than I suspect that you can afford.

Lucky: Oh, I will be able to afford it. That's why I'm here. To raise the money. So there are legal avenues open to me?

i'm out for a couple of hours

Alice: Yeah. Could we find a better time to talk about this?

Junior: I'm pretty sure that [points at the metal plate] this is the key to getting through.

Dur: Well if that's the case, how do we use it?=20

Are we all still level 6?

Austin : [To Luck, light-heartedly] Well, it really depends on what government property you want to buy, of course, then we build a case in support of your requisition, and then we find some good lobbyists to promote your cause and your case. [Pauses] But first we need to know what property you want to acquire.

Alice: Yes, do tell! Because listening to Austin talking about law is super fun!

Junior: Uh, I suppose we could touch it.

Most of us!

Charlie: [To Junior, skeptically] Again? Didn't we already try that? Well, do try it, good man. That copper piece wasn't just a gift, you know!

Lucky: [Searching the room.] Maybe there's some sort of trip for it somewhere. Oh it will be easy to buy. I want to buy the orphanage! It's a grand place, but I just know it can be better.

Junior: Not like this, we didn't! [Closes his eyes and braces himself as he touches the plate] Huh. Nothing happened. [Puts his whole hand up against it] Hm. What a gyp.

Clint: Maybe one of the bad guys has to do it! [Looks around for one of the bodies so he can use *it* to touch the plate.]

Austin : [To Clint] What make you think that these are the bad guys? [Continues searching the corpse. To Lucky] You want to buy your old orphanage to make it better! Well you certainly have a good cause, many years of experience, and, of course, it would relieve the burden on the tax payer. [Raises an eyebrow] That should not be too expensive, off the record, naturally.

Alice: Huh, I thought we were the bad guys!

[CLINT heaves the body over and pushes the hand against it, but nothing happens.]

Clint: Aw, hell. [Gets out a cigar and sits painfully on the floor.] There is a way in, right?

Lucky: Are you alright Mr. Clint? Can no one heal your wounds? I bet I can. [Waves his hands over Clint. His eyes closed tightly on a face set of sheer determination.] Hooba Hooba Hooba. [Opens one eye peeking at Clint.] Did that help at all?

[No.]

Alice: Dur, come on, you can do something for Stinky, right?

Lucky: Oh well, you never know if you can do something until you try. [Continues searching around the room.]

[As part of CLINT's examination, he touches the plate, and suddenly the blue light disappears.]

Maybe, maybe not! End of scene, next one coming right up.

[Book VI, Act V, Scene V. Beyond The Blue Light. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHARLIE, CLINT, DUR, HARVEY and LUCKY are here, peering into the space opened up by CLINT. There is another room here, about 30' x 40', with another blue light in the far wall and a similar metal plate. There are about twenty bodies here, strewn about the place.]

Alice: Wow! How did you do that, Stinky?

Clint: I don't know, Bimbo, I just touched the plate! Damn, I'm good!

Lucky: God job, Mr. Clint! I knew one of us would figure it out. Try it again!

Clint: [Puffs away at his cigar, scratching his head.] How the hell do we get through this thing? [Examines the metal plate again.]

Something tells me I'm missing something incredibly obvious. Fortunately, that fits right in with Clint anyway!

Austin : [Stops searching the corpse] Perhaps Mr Scar could try the same thing in the next room on the next metal shield thing? [Peers into the next room and steps into it very carefully, checking for traps]

Clint: Sure, why not? Give me the all clear and I'll give it a shot.

Alice: You know, you are looking a little peaky there, Clint. Are you sure you should be doing that?

Remember, he's just on one HP!

Lucky: Want me to try again, Mr. Clint? I can try a different word this time.

traps]

Dur: [Quickly attempts to cast his own healing spell on Clint as he peers nervously into the next room] Perhaps we should first figure out what happened to them. [Pointing to the bodies]

[DUR casts a spell on CLINT, and he shimmers slightly, clearly getting better.]

Clint gains 10hp

Clint: Sometimes, Bimbo, a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. And since I don't see many men around here... [Glances over at Harvey.] You wanna take this one, Harv?

Austin : [Studies the bodies in the next room to see if there are any clues as to how they died, or who they are, counting them] Mr Scar, when you have finished playing doctors and nurses with Mr Dur, perhaps you could throw that corpse through into this next room to see if it triggers a trap, if you could spare a moment?

Lucky: I'll do it, Austin! [Attempts to toss a body into the next room.]

Alice: [Appalled at Austin] How would you like it if someone played around with your corpse? Have a little respect for the deceased.

[With some difficulty, LUCKY heaves the body to the edge of the room and drops it in, so that it is completely inside. Nothing happens.]

Junior: Come on, Clint. [Does a weird boxing stance] Do your thing.

Austin : [To Alice] I have the utmost respect for the dead, and a good reason for testing the next room for traps. [Carefully steps through into the next room, ready to jump back if there are any problems]

Harvey : Well troop, I believe it is my duty this time. I wil attempt to touch the plate. [Looks around all the various bodies to ascertain how they died]

Alice: Im sure we're all glad to hear that.

[AUSTIN steps into the room very slowly, and doesn't seem to fire any traps.]

Lucky: Don't worry, Miss Alice. I'm sure they'd be delighted to know that they were able to help, even beyond the boundaries of death. I hope I'm THAT lucky some day. [Follows Austin into the room.]

Clint: Yeah, the dead have gotten us out of a lot of tight situations! [Follows behind.]

Austin : [Carefully searches the next room for traps or secrets] And they have gotten us into more, I believe.

Lucky: Let's see if these ones have any secrets to tell. [Begins searching the bodies.]

Harvey : It looks like there was quite a battle here, troop! What on earth is going on here? [Looks at the plate] I am going to try it, this time.

Lucky: Excellent observation, Colonel! And a sound plan of attack. Do you want us to deploy behind you in the standard cover/retreat formation?

Harvey : I believe the term is cover/tactical withdrawal formation, cadet!

[HARVEY steps up and presses the metal plate with his hand, causing the shimmering light to disappear. There is a corridor here, with several bodies strewn about. Further along the corridor, out of sight, comes the sound of someone grunting.]

Lucky: Excellent job, Colonel. Your battle plan was drawn up perfectly! And it sounds as though someone ahead needs our help!

Harvey : Careful all, this may be the trap we've been waiting for! [Begins moving along the corridor, sword drawn]

Clint: [Whips out his own sword and follows after Harvey.] You mean, aside from the curtain of light that blows stuff up, Harv?

off to sleep

[The party edge along, until they come to a turn in the corridor, which they peer around. They see DUMKIN LINKAGE, an angry looking dwarf, pulling bodies into pile in the corner. He spots the party.]

Dumkin: [Rolls his eyes] Clemuntime!

Got some minor techinical difficulties uploading his pic. Suffice it to say he's an angry looking dwarf And about time too!

Charlie: [To Dumkin] Hello, there! Are you a Clementinian perchance?

Dumkin: [Stares angrily at Charlie] No. I'm a janitor.

Alice: [Whips out her notebook] And was it that you do here, exactly?

Dumkin: I janit.

Alice: And that is?

Dumkin: What a janitor does.

Alice: I see. [Writes in the notebook]

Compared to the pic I have, that guy is happy!

Charlie: [To Alice] Oooh, I didn't know you were a note-taker, as well! What type of notebook do you prefer? I'll only use the college-ruled spiral-topped reporter's notebook, [confidentially] preferably in sky blue! [Laughs delightedly] I know, it's rather whimsical of me!

Lucky: [Raises his hand enthusiastically.] Oh, oh. I know what a janitor does. They steal food from the kitchen, break things, blame others, then hide in the kitchen. But they are also very helpful. The will empty a trash bin if you promise them half of your food for a month.

Alice: Uh, I like one that you can write in.

[ALICE holds up her notebook, showing that's covered in nauseatingly cute pictures of puppies and cats.]

Alice: [Confidentially to Charlie] I like ones that have stickers of baby animals dressed as humans.

Dumkin: [Glares at Lucky with what appears to be pure hatred] I never break anything. I just find what's been broken.

Lucky: [Lowering his sword.] Well, good for you! [Nods toward the bodies.] Do you have to clean up this mess, you poor thing?

Austin : [To Dumkin] Do you know who or what killed all of these people?

people?

Dur: [Nervously to Dumkin] Hopefully it wasn't you.

Dumkin: [To Lucky] Who else is going to do it? [Points at Alice] Her? I don't think so. [Turns slowly and dramatically to Dur and Austin, before making a sudden but fake lunge at Dur] Hah! [Bursts out laughing, but then settles back into his old demeanour] It was Pestilence.

Dur: Eeeee! [Hides behind Austin until he realizes the lunge was fake] Errr... Do you know WHY he killed all these people?

Ausitn : [To Dur] I think you would find that Pestillence's answer would be 'why not'. [Austin gets his sling ready. To Dumkin] And is Pestillence around at the moment?

Dumkin: He killed them because they are Clementines. [To Austin] No, he only got as far as the previous room.

Clint: Hmm. So Pestilence is out killing Clementines these days, huh? Why?

Dur: What does that mean?

Dumkin: Because he's an evil murderer who doesn't understand the glory of Clementine.

Clint: I can understand that!

Lucky: [Looking back down the corridor.] Is Pestilence likely to still be around? I can go dispatch of him for you, Mr. Clint.

Alice: Yeeeah. Probably not, Luck. He attacked us when we tried to come down here the last time - huh, or did he? Remember? We were ambushed on those stairs back there, and then he came from behind.

Charlie: That horrid beast! I wonder why he's going after Clementianians with such viciousness?

Lucky: [Sighs mournfully and looks sadly at Alice. To Dur.] Her heart is breaking. I wish *I* could have been at Minus Thrift. I know I could have saved Jerome and by extension Miss Alice from this unbearable sadness. Don't you wish you had been there?

Alice: What? What are you talking about? It's Pestilence that was here, Pestilence!

Clint: He's talking about your unbearable sadness, Bimbo. Don't you listen?

Dur: [To Lucky] From what I've heard? Not one little bit. =20

Lucky: [Sadly. To Clint.] She's so distraught, she doesn't know she's sad. [More energetically. To Dur.] But it would have been soooo exciting! And, wow, to fight alongside Jerome. Wow.

Dumkin: I'll be distraught if I have to listen to any more of this crap. Who are you people and what the hell are you do?

Lucky: This is the Queens View Few...the greatest adventuring party of all time! The three of us [points at himself then Charlie and Dur] won the chance to go on an adventure with them. Aren't we lucky? I'm not sure who that is [points at Junior], but he's really quite splendid.

Junior: He's right, I am quite splendid, and I'll stick my boot down your throat unless you get the hell out of our way.

Clint: Hey! Random pointless violence is my job!

Austin : [To Lucky] We are not the Queens View Few, we are the Queens View Party. [Indignantly] Where do you get all of those strange ideas from, it cannot all come from those nonsense comics, surely!

Lucky: [Quickly.] Oh I'm sorry, Austin. [To Dumpkin.] They are the Queens View *Party*...the greatest adventuring party of all time. Won't you let us pass? We have a terrible need to go save the world!

Dur: I wouldn't call it a need as much as it is a stigma that we seem unable to avoid.

Alice: I think of it as more of an opportunity!

No Colin posting today

Harvey: No, niece, it's a duty!

Lucky: I'd say it's an honor.

Dumkin: I don't care what you call it, I want to know what the hell you people think you're doing here.

Austin : [To Dumkin] Well, firstly we are trying to find out where 'here' is, secondly we would like to find out why all of these bodies are here and why Pestillence killed them, thridly it would be useful to find out who and where the Clemetinians are andwhy it is that they are so interested in us. [Looks carefully at Dumkin, looks suprised] Are you a Dwarf?

Dumkin: No, I'm a seven foot transvestite ogre named Dave.

Alice: Pleased to meet you, Dave. Now, can you answer his question about where we are?

Dumkin: Under a warehouse. Why the hell are you here?

Charlie: [To Dumkin] Aren't you the philosopher?! There are many schools of thought, really. Some think an all-seeing deity created us out of clay, carrot, coal, and bits of sticks, a primordial snowman, if you will. Others think we are descended from apes. Still others believe we only exist [leans in and whispers dramatically] in our own minds!

Dumkin: [Punches himself in the head several times] Ow! Ow!

Harvey: Stop it, man! What are you doing?

Dumkin: Trying to get her out of my mind.

Dur: If I existed in my own mind, I'd at least exist with an endless supply of food! [Looks at the party] And maybe better traveling companions.

Clint: Look, Dave, we're here because we're trying to find out what the hell is going on with Pestilence and the Clementines and all that crap. Like the lawyer already said. Got it?

Alice: [To Dur] There's no way your mind could come up with a group as cool as us!

Dumkin: [Angrily] But who are you? What is your interest? Are you Clementines?

Clint: Yeah, face it, Doc - you'd probably just come up with a couple of ham sandwiches. And you, shorty, would it help if we said we were Clementines?

Dur: [To Alice, nodding] Or one a recklessly dangerous! [To Dumkin] Well, My name is Dur, and my interests include candle light dinner, night time walks on the beach, oh and food, regardless of where it comes from or where it has been.

Dumkin: In that case, get the hell out of here!

Junior: Come on, let's just kill this guy.

Charlie: [To Dumkin] Right, that's enough of your nonsense. You, sir, are impeding an official investigation [quickly flashes her W.A. identification], and I must insist you step aside before I am forced to take further action!

Clint: [Sympathetically, to Dumkin] I'd listen to her. She's likely to talk your ear off if you don't!

Lucky: [Smiling at Dumpkin.] Oh come on now. If you let us by, we'll take care of whatever it is that is producing all these dead bodies. Then you won't have near as much unpleasant work to do.

Dumkin: [Takes out a tiny axe] Back off! Or there'll be another seven bodies to stack!

Alice: Eight.

Dumkin: What?

Alice: There are eight of us. Me, Austin, Charlie, Clint, Dur, Lucky, Harvey and Junior.

Lucky: [Ticking of the names on his fingers as she names them. His eyes widen when she gets to Junior.] Junior? So that's your name! It has been bothering that I did not know how to address you, my friend!

Clint: [To Dumkin.] Got kind of a short temper, don't you? Just a little pun - but it was small of me.

Dur: [Cowering] Clearly he plans on letting me live?

Dumkin: [Points his axe angrily at Dur] I'm going to kill you first! [Swings it around some more, nearly hitting Charlie's ID card] I don't know who the Watchers are, but you'll soon be watching your friends die. [Permits himself a smile] See what I did there? I turned what you said about yourself against you. That was cool. [Looks angry again] Right, now, where were we? Oh, that's right, you were about to run away screaming.

Lucky: [Drawing his sword.] I don't want to have to cut you into tiny [looks Dumkin up and down]..er pieces. Lower your weapon and move aside.

Austin : [To Lucky and Dumkin] Hold on just one moment [To Junior, suspiciously] That was a rather sudden change in character, are you feeling quite all right?

Charlie: [To Austin, patiently] Mr. Sleaze, be kind. Simple folk must eat scraps found in back alleyway bins and take their rest in gutters. It's only natural that they are not as even-tempered as we.

Lucky: [To Junior.] Did sleep in gutters, too? Wow, we are like long lost brothers!

Junior: I'm fine, Aus, I'm just bored with this idiot holding us up. [To Lucky] Sometimes.

Harvey : [To Dumkin] Listen, wee manny, there is no point in becoming irate with us, what! We did not attack this place, nor kill all of these people. But perhaps together, as a unified troop, we can stop it from happening again!

Dumkin: Right! Enough's enough! [Fires the axe at Harvey]

And that's where we must pause. I'm away for the next week, so we'll restart on Monday 21st

I hate cliffhangers! Kevin Day Receptionist =20 Hanson North America 300 E. John Carpenter Freeway, 15th floor Irving, TX 75062 =20

Tel: 972-653-5500

Fax: 972-653-5616=20 Kevin.Day@hanson.com www.hanson.com =20 =20 =20 =20

Dumkin: Right! Enough's enough! [Fires the axe at Harvey]

And that's where we must pause. I'm away for the next week, so we'll restart on Monday 21st

[Bonk. The axe hits HARVEY square in the foreheard. Fortunately, the top hits him and, while judging from the sound it made, it hurt, it doesn't draw any blood.]

Austin : [Fires his slingshot at the dwarf] Drop your weapon now and we will spare you!

Lucky: [Draws his sword and advances to attack Dumkin, grinning with enthusiasm.] Ooooooh. You are in BIG trouble now.

[AUSTIN's bullet strikes DUMKIN in the chest, while LUCKY moves in close, accompanied by ALICE.]

Dumkin: [Drawing a dagger] Never!

Lucky: [His smile broadening as he glances over at Alice.] Now you are in GIGANTIC trouble.

Alice: Yes, I've got my [emphasis] sword! [Thinks for a moment] I mean, my [emphasis] short sword.

Charlie: [Draws her sword and charges the dwarf] Colonel, do be careful! At your age, you really should avoid blows to the head, you know!

Dur: [Drawing his dagger but looking unsure] Please keep him at least partially alive so we can try to get answers out of him!

[CHARLIE, ALICE and LUCKY soon have DUMKIN pinned back against the wall, without anyone getting hurt, just with a lot of pushing and shoving.]

Dumkin: You bastards! [Puts his dagger to his own throat] Okay, you are going to tell me what you're doing here or the dwarf gets it.

Alice: [To Lucky] I don't think the dwarf gets it at all!

Lucky: [Glancing over at Alice.] I guess he's trying to make his own point. [To Dumkin, cheerfully as he's trying to force the dagger out of his hand.] I'm here to save the orphanage. What are YOU doing here?

Dumkin: What orphanage? You're nothing but a damned Path Ethic!

[LUCKY pushes DUMKIN's hand enough to let CHARLIE and ALICE wrestle him to the ground.]

Junior: [Stands over the pile of Dumkink, Alice and Charlie] Mm. Nice.

Dur: [Raises an eyebrow at Junior] What's nice about tangling with a demented dwarf?

Charlie: [To Dumkin] What do you know about Pestilence?

Junior: It depends on who's doing the tangling.

Dumkin: He's an evil bastard who tried to get in here last night, and killed a bunch of our people. What do you know about bad breath?

Charlie: There are a multitude of causes, some as innocuous as having just eaten strong-smelling spices such as garlic--others are more sinister, such as stomach abscess. What are your other symptoms? Perhaps I can look them up in my Field Guide to First Aid?

Dumkin: Well, I have a lot of indigestion, and I - hey! What are [struggles] your other symptoms, bitch?

Dur: [Watches the three tussle] Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot here.=20

Alice: [Turns and glares at all the men watching] You wanna give us a hand here?

[All the guys break into a polite round of applause.]

Clint: Really, you're doing great here as it is!

Lucky: Oh, I'm sorry Miss Alice. I thought I was helping. [Tries to sit on Dumkin's legs.]

Dumkin: Get these whores off me!

Junior: [Lands a swift kick into Dumkin's crotch] Hey! You behave yourself!

Austin : [To Dumkin, inquisitively] Are you Path Gallant, by any chance? [Junior] Do stop tormenting him. [Sighs. To Dumkin] We are the Queens View Party, with a few others who seem to believe that they have some right to be with us based upon their ability to collect coupons of some form of prolefood packets.

Junior: I'm not tormenting him, I'm making him respect the ladies more.

Dumkin: [To Austin] Fuck you. I'm no Path Gallant.

Clint: [To Junior.] Go ahead, make him respect the lawyers more too!

Junior: Nah. I'm idealistic, not sadistic.

Lucky: [Beaming at Junior.] *I'm* idealistic too! [Attempts to punch Dumkin in the stomach.] Respect Austin's authority!

Harvey : [Rubs his forehead] I say, there was no call for that! [To Dumkin] Listen, wee manny, we have had a few run ins with Pestilence previously, and let me tell you this, we are most definitely not on his side! Tell us more about his attack last night? What was he after, apart from the usual mayhem and murder!

Dumkin: Then who's side are you on? You're certainly not on mine! He was here for the Third Dimension of Clementine.

Clint: Hey, we're the Queen's View party! We're on the side of truth, justice, and... [trails off.] uh... the Queen's View way!

Harvey : [To Dumkin] And what, do tell, is the Third Dimension of Clementine?

Austin : [To Harvey] I expect that it is the one that comes after the first two dimensions. [Sniggers. Searches Dumkin while he is held down]

Dumkin: If you were supposed to be here, you'd already know that. [Screams like a girl as Austin tries to search him, squirming to make it more difficult] Don't take my scab collection!

Lucky: [Excited.] Ooooo. Dwarf scabs, wow! Get it if you can, Austin. Several of the boys at the orphanage collect scabs, they'd love to hear about some of the more exotic ones.

Alice: [Looking ill] I think I'm gonna puke.

Dumkin: [As Austin tries to search a purple purse on his belt] Don't just waste it! Put it in the purple purse!

Austin : [To Dumkin, indignantly] I have no interest whatsoever in your 'scab' collection, you vile little man. [Carefully looks into the purple purse]

[About twenty gold pieces come pouring out of the purse.]

Alice: [Shocked] Unbelieveable! Dwarves puke gold? Quick Aus, stick your fingers down the back of his throat. It'll be just like boarding school all over again!

Lucky: [Stares at the gold. Awed.] Oh wow, his scabs are really...really cool.

Dur: [Looks disappointed as the gold falls from the dwarves purse] I was hoping for a mid-adventure snack.

Austin : [Swifties the gold. To Alice, looking queasy] Just exactly which boarding school was that?

Alice: [Proudly] One without any fat girls! Hey, [watches Austin pocket the gold] what gives?

Dumkin: Help! Thievery!

Lucky: [To Austin.] Do all dwarves have this much gold, Austin? I'll have enough gold to save the orphanage in no time! That's about two a piece, right? [Holds his hand out.]

Alice: Yes, Austin, think of all the good you can do the orphans.

Harvey : Now now cadet, that is what I believe is called a stereotype! You'd better watch out for those, get you into all sorts of trouble!

Charlie: That's quite enough ill treatment of our prisoner. Perhaps he could be tied up or somewhat similarly restrained and Alice, Lucky and I can get up? I can then explain what the Third Dimension of Clementine is. [Enthusiastically] It's really rather interesting!

Harvey: Yes indeed! [Looks for rope]

Dumkin: [Helpfully] I have some rope.

Dur: I know how to tie people up!

[Within minutes, DUMKIN is skillfully tied up, with his hands behind his back.]

Alice: [Peers at the knots] Nice work, Dur!

Austin : [Examines the knots] So, [Pauses, to Dumkin] The third dimension of Clementine, what is it?

Dumkin: Fuck off, you thieving bastard.

Austin : [To Dumkin] I am merely looking after them whilst you are my [clears his throat] Our captive. You may have them back later. [checks his nails] besides, where did you get them from? [looks suspiciously at Dumkin] did you pay your taxes? [Looks around at the bodies] Or did you steal them from all of these people you murdered?

Dur: [Smiles at the knots] I've had LOADS of practice!

Dumkin: [Tries to get at Austin, but is held by Clint and Harvey] I never murdered anyone! You're the ones who've invaded our sanctuary! [Spits a disgusting phlegmy glob onto Austin's trousers]

Charlie: [Momentarily looks disgusted at Dumkin] Clementine is a five dimensional being, existing in dimensions other than our own. To access a particular dimension one must use what is known as a Node of Clementine. I suspect Pestilence believes that he can extract power from one.

Lucky: Oh Wow, is Mr. Clint a Node? He's the one that let us in, right? [To Charlie.] This *is* exciting!

Charlie: Isn't it? No, Mr. Scar is not a node. A node is a glowing glass sphere.

Dumkin: [Sarcastically] Wow. Aren't you an expert?

Charlie: Actually, I am *the* expert.

Lucky: A glass spear? Wouldn't that just break when you used it?

Charlie: I suppose that depends on what one use it for.

Dur: How many uses can one spear have?

Lucky: [Shrugs.] I guess. You're *the* expert. I still think steel would be better. How do you know all of this? This wasn't in the comics.

Austin : [Frozen for a minute, grimaces at the phlegm, then gets a piece of paper from his note pad, scrapes the gob off, then takes his suit off and puts an new one on. To Dumkin] You'll pay for that! [puts on some rubber gloves and shoves as much of his trouser into Dumkin's mouth as he can] Nasty little man!

Charlie: [To Lucky] I never claimed to be an expert in spears. I am an expert in Clementinism. Most of my research didn't involve comic books.

[AUSTIN tries to stick the trousers into DUMKIN's mouth, but he keeps it closed, with the result that much of the glob is wiped onto his face.]

Alice: [Appalled] Austin! What the hell are you doing?

Lucky: [Excited. Speaking very rapidly and pantomiming his words.] He's teaching him a lesson. Just like he did in Issue 5 when he stuffed that phoney contract into the evil landowners mouth and saved all his workers from serfdom under a cruel master and then they all rejoiced (yaaaay!) and carried Austin around on their shoulders and made a statue of him out of mud to honor his valiant defeat of their wicked master. [Catches himself and straightens up like a big boy. Embarrased.] Right, Austin?

Alice: I think you'll find, Lucky, that the statue was made out of snot.

Lucky: [Opens his mouth to speak then stops and frowns. He turns with his back to the groups and takes an old beaten up comic out of his backpack. He thumbs through the pages muttering "snot? snot? snot?" under his breath.] Ah hah. [Puts the comic back in his pack and turns back to Alice.] I'm sorry Miss Alice, it was mud. Perhaps our friend here can make a statue of Austin out of snot. He seems to have ample material.

Dumkin: Oh my God. Please, kill me now. [Quickly shuts his mouth again]

Clint: [Supportively.] Hey, I know the feeling. It'll pass once the lawyer gives you back your gold and you buy a few gallons of beer, though!

Dumkin: [Grimly] We both know that's not going to happen. You're going to kill me like the Path-Ethics you are.

Dur: Nonsense! We hardly ever kill anyone without any reason at all! Unless we have to of course!

Clint: [To Dur.] Maybe he's got too much waxy buildup in his ears, doc? [To Dumkin.] We're not Path-Ethics, and we're not going to kill you! [Under his breath.] Unless you keep this up, anyway...

Dumkin: You lying bastards. If you think I'm going to bring you to the inner sanctum, you've got another thing coming. Maybe you could get that [nods at Charlie] bitch to lead you.

Junior: Hey! [Grabs Dumkin by the throat for a moment, forcing his mouth open, before stuffing Austin's trousers in] I've had enough of this guy. [Lets him go with a shake] You had the right idea, Aus.

Austin : And it is no longer his gold! It is not even enough to cover the VAT on the price that I paid for that suit! [To Charlie] Do you know where the inner sanctum is?

Clint: [Gets up to look around.] Hey, even if she doesn't, how hard can it be to find? Even the dwarf knows where it is!

Dumkin: I'll never tell you, and you'll never find it, never, never, do you hear? [Laughs] Never! [Roars with laughter] Never!

Alice: [Points at an opening in the opposite wall to the one the party came in] Maybe it's there?

Dumkin: [Stops abruptly] Gah! I mean, uh.. maybe it's not!

Harvey : [Proudly] By the saints, dear niece, you have the eye for detail! Let us inspect this opening!

Austin : Certainly [Carefully inspects the opening] It's an opening all right! [Smirks]

Dumkin: [Sighs] Okay, if I have to, I'll lead you through there. [Smirks]

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] I shall go first, troop, any wrongdoers or the wee mannys hidden cronies will be in for a bashing, what!

Dumkin: [Sniggers] Sure they will.

End of scene, next one coming right up

[Book VI, Act V, Scene VI. A Dark Corridor. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHARLIE, CLINT, DUR, HARVEY and LUCKY are here, with DUMKIN, arranging themselves in marching order.]

Dumkin: [Gleefully] Whoever goes first better be ready!

Charlie: Right, let's have Austin, Lucky, Dur, Harvey, Alice, and Clint. [Claps her hands] Chop chop!

Lucky: [Taking his place in line quickly.] Oh wow... Who gets to subdue the prisoner? I can do it!

Junior is still with us, isn't he?

Dumkin: You couldn't subdue a piece of old tissue.

[CLINT moves to the front with HARVEY, followed by ALICE and CHARLIE, then LUCKY and DUMKIN, then DUR and JUNIOR and then AUSTIN. The corridor leads on into the darkness, which is slightly lit up by ALICE's torch.]

Dumkin: I hope no one stands on a tra-ap!

Yes, Junior's still here

Austin : [Laughs at Charlie] Perhaps Mr Scar should go first, incase there is a fight, he is good at that sort of thing. [Moves to the middle of the party]

Lucky: Oh, I'm sure Mr. Clint can find any trap you have in place. I know Austin is the best, but Mr. Clint is a warrior. Nothing can surprise him!

Dur: I hope that's accurate. I'd hate to stumble into ANOTHER ambush.

Austin : We could blind fold the dwarf and make him go first, on the end of a length of rope help by Mr Scar, naturally.

Alice: Watch this! [Sneaks up behind Clint, clumsily and loudly] Ahem. Surprise!

Clint: [Takes out a cigar and lights it, before taking a long, satisfying drag, and then, a good thirty seconds later, jumps in surprise] Woah! Jeez, Bimbo!

Alice: [Smugly] See?

Charlie: [Impatiently] Yes, very impressive, Ms. Bassett-Short! Now, do let's focus on surprising our foes instead, shall we?

Alice: [A little selfconscious] Aw, thanks Charlie! [To the others] Do we really need to blindfold him? I suppose that would definitely surprise our enemies!

Dur: Perhaps we should gag him as well? That way he can not shout a warning to his accomplices.

Alice: Maybe we should just cut his head off?

Austin : I think a blind fold would suffice as it would make it difficult for him to avoid any traps that there might be. If he does shout a warning to the foe, then at least we shall also be aware of their presence, but lets gag him anyway, so that he is lass able to soil and more of my sartorial splendor.

Alice: [To Austin] Okay. Work away. You can gag and blindfold him.

Dumkin: This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. How the hell am I supposed to avoid walking straight into the wall?

Charlie: [To Dumkin, briskly] Well, we'll have a leash of sorts on you, of course. When we tell you to "stay," that will mean to stop, and so forth.

Alice: [Applauds happily] Yay! This is gonna be cool! Can you make him do tricks, Charlie? [Face darkens] And not that one where he humps people's legs.

Lucky: [Raises his hand and shakes it. To Charlie.] Oh, can I lead him? We were never allowed to have pets at the orphange. Besides roaches of course...and the occasional rat.

Alice: You chose to keep a rat as a pet instead of as a meal? Oy vey! [Turns to Dur] Sorry, that was your line, wasn't it?

Lucky: Oh no, we ate them too! We raised them up from babies and *tried* not to eat them since they were our friends. But we always had too. We ate the roaches, too. A roach always adds an extra little kick to a grass salad, I've found. [To Dumkin.] Oh, but I won't eat you! Don't worry.

Dur: Pets are a good thing to have around. It gurantees you always have at least one more meal! The stray cats and dogs eventually stopped coming around my dumpster though, that made it a little bit harder.

Clint: [Impatiently.] Yeah, look, 1001 ways to wok your dog and all that, but shouldn't we be getting the hell out of here in case Pestilence or the cops come back?

Austin : [To Clint] Considering the possibility that we are currently following Pestillence, the longer we dawdle here, the more likely he is to find this 3rd dimension.

away

Dumkin: Oh please! Following Pestilence? [Nods at Clint] He might smell bad, but at least he's admitting that you're on Pestilence's side.

Alice: [Does a double take on Clint] Is he admitting that?

Charlie: [To Dumkin] Don't be absurd! We are NOT on the side of Pestilence. We are here to stop him, assuming he is up to no good, which is most certainly probably is!

Dumkin: And you're doing this by attacking, robbing and tying up our second line of defence? Good job!

Clint: Hey, you stop Pestilence your way, and we'll stop him ours! [Whispering, to the party.] Are we sure about this guy?

Dur: You're the second line of defense?

Dumkin: Well, janitor and second line of defence!

Charlie: And who's the first line of defense?!

Clint: That'd be us! Or maybe some other losers.

Lucky: Well, I guess we will be fortunate enough be the first AND second lines of defense. [To Junior.] Is there always this much talking? In the comics it was always Quick Snappy Comment then Awesome Battle.

Junior: [Shrugs] Idunno. So far there's been a bunch of having our asses kicked or being chased by the cops.

Dumkin: The first line of defence was those dead soldiers outside.

Alice: Well, there's your first mistake right there. Maybe if you used live soldiers you might do better.

Dumkin: [Narrows his eyes] They were alive. Until Pestilence killed them all.

Clint: [Shrugs insensitively.] Looks like you're gonna need a new first line, Shorty!

Charlie: We'd better get moving, then!

Alice: [Nods sympathetically with Clint's words] Yeah, Clemuntine didn't really do you any favours.

That was his first line to the party!!

Dumkin: [Gives the party a baleful look] Will you at least let me shut the shield? [Nods to the space that the party came in through] Or is that part of your plan to let Pestilence in?

Dur: If Pestilence got past the FIRST line of defense, what did he do after that if he didn't get past you? Did he just leave? Or is he still in here somewhere? [Hesitant to untie the dwarf] Perhaps someone else should turn the shield back on.

Dumkin: [Shrugs] I suppose he went back to his minions to get them to talk their way in here. And by minions I mean you. And by talk, I mean beat up and rob me. And by here, well, I mean here. [Gestures to a similar metal plate to the one outside, which is located in here] I need to press that.

Clint: I say we let him press his little button if it makes him happy. What's the worst that could happen?

Alice: The entire universe explodes killing everyone and everything?

Charlie: Caution, Mr. Scar! It could be a trick. [To Dumkin] How do we know this isn't a trick?

Dumkin: [Sighs] You're the ones who invaded here. You're the ones who attacked me, stole my stuff and tied me up. All I want to do is close the door you left open for your evil overlord. If he really is your evil overlord, there's no point in us even having this conversation, so why pretend?

Charlie: [Triumphantly] Precisely! Why would we talk to you if that were the case. Hence, we are good, not evil! Ha!

Clint: I think what she's trying to say is that we're not evil, just misguided.

Harvey : By the saints, of course we are not evil! Infact, things only turned nasty when you attacked me with your axe, what!

Lucky: [Snaps his fingers.] That's *right* Colonel! [To Dumkin.] So why should we trust that you aren't evil? You attacked us when we were being quite civilized.

Dumkin: I only attacked you because you came down here and refused to tell me what your business was! Now if you really are good, let me close the shield.

Harvey : Well troop, it looks like trust is the major issue here. He doesn't trust us, and I'm not sure any of us trust him. However, that shield was put there for a reason, so I think we should let him close it.

Lucky: Sound tactics, Colonel! [To the group.] I trust the Colonel.

my participation will be spotty at best tomorrow morning.

Austin : [To Dumkin] We told you why we where here, vis, to find out what is going on, and secondly to save the world [sighs] again. We only restrained you because you attacked us. [Rolls his eyes] Mr Scar, kindly press the switch thingy and close the shield.

Dumkin: I told you what was going on, and it's none of your business, you're an invader and nothing else!

Clint: [Sigh] If it'll shut this guy up, sure. [Presses the panel, and the shield reappears]

Dumkin: [Looks surprised] Hm.

Charlie: Thank you, Mr. Scar! Now, let's be on our way, group!

[The marching order is reformed, with CLINT holding DUMKIN on the leash in the front with HARVEY, followed by ALICE and CHARLIE, then LUCKY and AUSTIN, and finally DUR and JUNIOR.]

Dumkin: [Walking straight into a wall] Ow.

Austin : [To Dumkin] Now that Mr Scar has closed the shield to you still maintain that it is none of our business? That we are evil? After all, we were instrumental in defeating the evil forces at the Battle of Minus Thrift on Clementine.

Dumkin: I'm pretty sure you're evil! As for the rest of you, well, Grimli will have to decide.

Dur: Who is Grimli?

Dur: [Blushing furiously] What! You can't just go about peering into people's souls! Its indecent!

Dumkin: Is it, now? And what about the rest of you? Are yours indecent too?

Lucky: Is it? I don't have fearfully strong opinions of decent and indecent. I was lucky enough to grow up in an orphanage where things like that really didn't matter. [Shrugs.] We were too busy looking for food, I guess.

Clint: [To Dumkin.] Indecent? Look around, Shorty, tell me what *you* think. But that doesn't make us evil!

Dumkin: I think whore, thief, lesbian, drunken idiot, pathetic loser, has-been, wannabe and retard.

And today's game is..... who is who!

Charlie: [Delighted] Oooh, let me guess first! [Points to Alice] Whore, [points to Austin] thief, [points to Dur] pathetic loser, [points to Harvey] has-been, [points to Lucky] wannabe, and that would make me [puzzled] a lesbian? But lesbians wear combat boots and have spiky short hair!

Dumkin: Maybe in those porn magazines that you read, keeping them secret from everyone else in your life, terrified that they'll find out your secret. Lesbian.

Junior: [Punches Dumkin hard in the face and knocks him down] Shut the hell up! [Keeps punching]

Dumkin: Ow! Help!

Dur: Not to mention massive superiority complexes... AND they smell bad.

Clint: [To Junior.] Hey, don't you think you've hit the little bastard enough now? Just because someone insults you doesn't mean you should resort to violence! At least, that's what they keep telling me.

What can I say? I rather like Dumkin. Reminds me of my brother.

Junior: [Gets up, pausing momentarily to give Dumkin one last kick] I don't like the way he spoke to the girls.

Dumkin: [Lying down on the ground, spitting up a tooth] Yeah. You guys are totally not evil

Austin : [Pondering] Well, indeed, I have stolen many hearts.

Alice: [Helpfully] And the twenty GP that you should really have shared with the rest of us, particularly me, Charlie and Lucky, as we're the ones who held him down.

Charlie: [To Junior] Mr. Scar is quite right! You WILL stop brutalizing that man, and we will treat him in accordance with the Caneva Jode!

Austin : [Sighs, checks his nails casually] I did not steal them from him. It is standard legal practice to store the belongings of any captive until such a time as they are released. It is also standard, and legal practice for the captive to be held financially responsible for any damage that he, or she, causes, Act IV-19, part 4 section 3 point 16, and Act IV-237, part 1 section 9 point 3, as decreed by the Judiciary in 1265.

Lucky: [Looking admirably at Austin. Excitedly.] Wow, that's spledid! Does that mean that you should give Colonel Harvey payment for the damages to his head? And Miss Alice compensation for the awful...and certainly untrue...thing he said about her?

Clint: No, kid, it means that the lawyer's going to keep the money. That's what the law is for, really.

Lucky: Oh, well...I guess it's alright then! Austin knows best when it comes to the law. But if I don't make any money, how will I save the orphanage? [Enthusiastically.] I guess I'll just have to stick with you guys for as long as it takes. [To Junior.] You didn't get a nickname. I can give you one. I don't want you to fill left out. How about..."Chivalrous Knight"? [Looks at Dumkin.] Or maybe "Punchy"?

Austin : [To Lucky] 'Unnecessarily violent'? Whilst a certain amount of force was necessar to subdue the dwarf when he attacked us, Juniors assault was quite uncalled for, even if the dwarf did make sexist remarks. [To Dumkin] Would you care to tell us your name?

Alice: It's okay, Lucky, I don't mind being called a wannabe.

Junior: Uh, chivalrous knight sounds cool.

Dumkin: He did have one. It's retard. [Sits up] My name is Dumkin Linkage. Now help me up so we can get this over with.

Harvey : Well, sir, now you know, it is very bad form to speak rudely to the ladies of the troop, what! [Helps Dumkin up]

Austin : Well, Mr Linkage, we are the Queens View Party, Alice, the Colonel, Mr Scar, and I am Austin, and this scruffy bunch are Charlie, Dr Dur, Lucky, and Junior, who are proving to be quite useful, occasionally.

Lucky: [Grins foolishly at Austin's compliment. Turns to the group.] Splendid! Now *I* know your names, too!

Dumkin: [Glares at the party] Pleased to meet you, I'm sure. Now, let's get this over with. [Starts walking further down the corridor, but glances back] In a few minutes you'll be shredded into pieces.

Dur: That doesn't sound very pleasant!

Dumkin: It's awful! I'll be picking bits of you out of my beard for weeks after! Still, it's worth it to see non Clementines get their just desserts.

Alice: There's gonna be dessert? Cool!

Charlie: [To Dumkin] Are you a Clementinian?

Dumkin: [Sighs sadly] Would that I were. I'm afraid that I'm only good enough to be a lowly servant.

Alice: [Nudges Austin] Lowly! Get it? [Stifles a laugh]

Lucky: Don't be sad Mr. Dumkin! What you do is very important to the cause! And I bet no one can do it as nicely as you.

Austin : [Sniggers at Alice. To Dumkin] Sorry, you are probably the first dwarf that Alice has ever met.

Dumkin: Certainly not when I'm all tied up and beaten. [To Austin] At least she didn't rob me.

[DUMKIN leads the party to a large doorway, with a big wooden door.]

Dumkin: Grimli is in there, along with your certain death.

Lucky: We'll just see about that, won't we? [To Austin. Eagerly.] Want me to kick it in?

Charlie: Let's perhaps try the knob first, shall we?

Alice: That's way less exciting! Clint, how are you with pulling knobs?

Lucky: [Disappointed. To Charlie.] But if he's going to shred us, shouldn't we surprise him? [Looks longingly at the door.] I *know* I can kick it in.

Dur: Well, I KNOW I can take a bath. Doesn't mean I do it, does it?=20

Lucky: [Enthusiastically.] Oh you *should.* Baths are very nice. I never knew how nice they were when I was in the orphanage. They had a more carefree system for cleanliness.

Austin : [Sighs. To Charlie] Could you pull the nob please.

Clint: [To Austin.] Lawyer, that's something you normally wait to ask the girl until the second date!

I'm alive! Two review articles submitted lasaaate last night, the boss flying to spend a month in Argentina... Whew!

Alice: [To Charlie] Austin doesn't like to open doors in case it's too dangerous.

Remember, Clint and Harvey are in the front, with Alice and Charlie in the second row Whoo! A whole month of nothing but playing games - all Queens View all the time!

Charlie: [To Clint] Surely a true gentlemen always pulls his own knob, Mr. Scar!

Alice: And not just gentlemen, Charlie, they all do it, all the time!

Clint: You say that like it's a bad thing, Bimbo! [Opens the door.] If it weren't for us, you'd have to open doors yourself!

Alice: Don't be silly, Clint, there are always servants around.

[CLINT opens the door, revealing another dwarf, GRIMLI, sitting on a large, comfortable chair, with his legs swinging because he's up so high. He is wearing armour, wields a large and axe and looks enraged.]

Grimli: What the hell is going on here?

Grimli

Harvey : [Steps into the room] Good day, we the Queens View party, here to right wrongs and what not!

Clint: And right now, we're trying to track down the bastard who pureed your guards outside.

Grimli: [Grimly] Maybe it's the same bastard who tied up Dumkin?

Lucky: He was throwing axes at us all willy-nilly. We can't really have axes being thrown at us when we are trying to save the world. It is dreadfully inconvenient.

Grimli: Is this true, Dumkin.

Dumkin: No, he's a liar.

Lucky: Oh, I don't lie. Lying really serves no purpose other than delaying the truth, I've found. It wasn't thrown very well (thank our lucky stars). We were chatting along all civil-like when he just up and threw it at us. Just ask the Colonel about it. He was the target. It was a bit distressing, but I gather he was little concerned at our presence. What with all the dead bodies and all.

Grimli: [Contorts his face as though he's about to have an enormous bowel movement, before roaring out] LIES! [In a normal voice, but still looking enraged] You people have entered the realm of Clementine, why?

Lucky: [Raises his hand to speak.] I was following them. [Motions to the Harvey, Alice, Clint & Austin.] The greatest adventuring group of all time. I imagine they were just out and about righting wrongs and whatnot.

Austin : [To Grimli, pacing slowly] Initially, we have been trying to =20 solve several unsolved murders and the trail led us here. Additionally =20 we have encountered Pestillence, so we also seek him in order that we =20 may try to kill him properly this time, since we obviously didn't do =20 the job well enough on our several previous attempts. [Pauses pacing] =20 Lastly, we are well aware that even though we saved the world in the =20 battle of Minus Thrift, [Takes a few more slow, measured paces] it was =20 a mere skirmish in the greater battle, the battle to save the =20 universe, and that is where we find ourselves now. What purpose, may I =20 ask, do you serve?

Grimili: I help protect Clementine from from liars and thieves who wish to cause harm. And to welcome Sons of Clementine.

Austin : [To Grimli, out of curiosity] And how do you distinguish Sons of Clementine, from those who are not Sons of Clementine?

Grimili: Only a true Son of Clementine knows that. Let Dumkin free.

Austin : [To Grimli] So you don't know then. [Sighs] I take it that you don't know where Pestillence is either?

Grimli: I said, Let Dumkin free.

Charlie: We would be happy to do so, but you can surely understand our position. Your colleague attacked one of our group, and so we are rather reluctant to trust him completely. However, I would be delighted to discuss all matters Clementinian with you, as I am [modestly] the foremost expert in the known world.

Grimli: I'm not asking you to trust him, Charlie. I'm asking you to trust me.

Clint: Oh, well, that's much more reasonable! [To the party.] Let's let the runt go. It's not like he's dangerous - he didn't even hit Harv with the working end of his axe! Even if worst comes to worst, we can take 'em!

Austin : [Watches as they release Dumkin] You have to be patient with them, they are quite slow sometimes.

Grimli: You know that's not true, Austin. Why do you say such things? On 28 Jul 2008, at 10:28, djob@staffmail.ed.ac.uk wrote:

Harvey : Indeed. Well troop, let us release Dumkin as an act of good faith.

Apologies for the silence - up the walls yesterday

Lucky: Excellent suggestion, Colonel!

I probably won't be posting today.

Austin : [To Dumkin] I am quite certain that we will all get along just fine as long as no one is throwing axes at anyone else. Or spitting on them. Or making sexist or offensive remarks.

Dumkin: Or stealing from me!

[DUMKIN is released.]

Dumkin: [To Austin] My money, please.

Charlie: [Flips out a notepad] Marvelous! Now that we're all friends, please tell me all you know about Clementine!

Dumkin: [To Austin, firmly] My money.

Grimli: [To Charlie] No. But I will tell you that I know your group is drawn to Clementine. [Concentrates] With one exception.

Dur: [Muttering to himself] Please let it be me, please let it be me!

Sorry I was out sick yesterday with a nasty cold. I'm mostly better today.

Grimli: [Gives a shudder] One is here to bring destruction!

Dumkin: [Steps up close to Austin, drawing up to his full height of almost three feet] My money.

We're out for the whole day too, I'm afraid. Emergency calls. Hopefully we're back in business tomorrow, I'll mail later to let everyone know what's going on.

Austin : [To Dumkin, indignantly] You ruined my suit, and the compensation is a long way short of covering replacement costs. [Steps away from Dumkin wafting the smell away]

Dumkin: [Steps closer to Austin] Money!

Grimli: [Whole body starts to shake] You people! You have brought someone in here that should not be here!

Harvey : Now now private, in the spirit of the moment, do return that mans money, what. I'm sure you'll be reimbursed in other ways.

Austin : [To Harvey] It will be worth it simply to be distant from his personage [Gives Dumkin the cash. To Grimli] To whom do you refer? [Glances around, gestures to Junior] Junior perhaps?

Charlie: [To Grimli, helpfully] Or perhaps the colonel? I know he appears far beyond retirement age, but he simply insists he's fit for adventuring.

Grimli: [Eyes half open, hand up as he moves it across the party] One here who plans the destruction of Clementine and of your party! [Suddenly turns to Charlie, and snaps his eyes open] Ah! [Gives a big smile]

Charlie: [Eagerly, pen poised on notepad] Do continue!

Grimli: [Closes his eyes once more] I sense betrayal, and - [eyes shoot open suddenly] Dumkin! [Pulls out a handful of small glowing red orbs]

Dumkin: [Headbutts Austin in the crotch] Get that stitched, Jimmy!

Lose 2hp Austin

Austin : [Crouched in pain] It's him! Get him!

Charlie: [Drops notepad and scrambles for her sword] You rotten little men! I knew you couldn't be trusted!

Lucky: [Draws his sword and advances on Dumkin.] You are in trouble now, little one!

Austin : [Straightens up, readying his sling shot and backing off from Dumkin] Typical, the first dwarf that I have ever met turns out to be an evil psychopath!

Lucky: [Rocking on his feet eagerly.] I've always heard good dwarves are in short supply.

Grimli: Not him, you fool! One of your own party! [Turns to Charlie] You!

Junior: [Stabs Grimli through the back] No, you!

Austin : Nooo! [Shoots Junior] Kill Junior! He is in league with Pestillence!

Lucky: I'm so confused. [Moves to get between Austin and Junior, taking a defensive stance.]

Clint: That makes two of us, rookie! [Looks to Harvey questioningly.]

Lucky: Confusion can be a splendid attack advantage...if I only knew who to attack! What tactics shall we employ?

Junior: [To Austin] Don't be an idiot!

Grimli: [Getting stabbed again and dropping to his knees, before pointing at Charlie] Her... it's her fault...

Junior: Leave her alone!

[GRIMLI falls forward, dropping the orbs. The first one explodes as it hits the ground, immediately followed by another in mid air.]

Alice: [Glances back to the exit] How about the tactic of getting the hell out of here?

Dumkin: [Falls to his knees, which hardly reduces his overall height at all] Noooooo!

Austin : [Still ready to fire at Junior] Who the hell are you?

Junior: Junior Junior, the guy who saved your lives in the trailer park a few days ago and who dragged your lifeless body out of the warehouse after the Clementines kicked your ass.

[All the orbs that GRIMLI had explode, tearing a whole in the floor, and splitting it further all the time, revealing a deep drop beneath it.]

Alice: [Makes a dive for the door] Let's gooooo!

Lucky: He's the guy that stabbed the bad guy. [Excited.] That was bracing! But, explosions usually indicate a good time to leave, I've found.

Were they room shattering, walls falling down explosions. Or polite little dainty explosions? How're you feeling, Kevin? Nothin' worse than a summer cold.

bracing! But, explosions usually indicate a good time to leave, I've found.

Lucky: [Heads for the exit, making sure the others can get out.]

Wow conor...it's like you read my mind.

Clint: You read that in your comics? [Tries to grab Grimli and Dumkin and leap for the door burdened down with the two dwarves.]

Austin : [To Junior] Well, what is your real name, Junior Junior?

[Too late, the floor collapses, sending everyone plummeting through the hole.]

End of scene, next one coming right up

[Book VI, Act V, Scene VII. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHARLIE, CLINT, HARVEY, DUR, LUCKY, JUNIOR and PESTILENCE. Everyone has fallen about thirty feet through the floor and is covered in rubble. Virtually everyone is either knocked out or dazed, and trapped under some amount of rubble, although CLINT and CHARLIE have clearly been pulled clear of it. PESTILENCE is moving some of the rubble from around AUSTIN and LUCKY. DUMKIN and GRIMLI are also here, clearly dead.]

When you're ready to post, post your character slowly coming around.

Pestilence: [Humming to himself] Hi ho, Hi ho, it's off to work we go.

Charlie: [Woozily sits up and surveys the room] Oh, dear! [Pulls herself up and says to Pestilence] That's very kind of you. Here, let me help you--[gapes] YOU?!

Pestilence: [Gives a big, toothy grin in response] Yes, me! Who else would it be?

Charlie: [Impatiently] Yes, yes, we expected to see you, but not to see you--helping out, is it? Surely you're intent on destruction, not clean-up!

Lucky: [Tries to push the rubble off of him. Says something muffled by the debris.]

Clint: [Stirs woozily.] Oooh. That must have been one hell of a party! [Sits up and catches sight of Pestilence.] Uh-oh.

Charlie: [Goes to help Lucky] Mr. Scar, be a dear and help me dig up our colleagues. [To Pestilence] Why are you here?

Harvey : [Opens his eyes slowly] By the saints, my head feels like a troop of hobnailed pixies have been dancing a jig on it for the last century! [Tries to sit up before spotting Pestilence] By the saints!

Clint: I don't think the saints have anything to do with this, Harv! [Goes to help Charlie dig the party out.]

Lucky: [Shakes the last of the debris from his shoulders. Pushes himself up to a sitting position and rubs his head.] Wow, we sure are lucky this floor isn't spiked. [Twists to the side and starts moving rubble from Austin despite the fact that his own legs are still pinned]

Pestilence: [Frees Alice and Harvey, before glancing at Charlie] To help out a bunch of my good chums, why else? [Grabs a rock that's pinning down Lucky and easily tosses it aside] We better get moving.

Lucky: [Glancing up at Pestilence.] Wow, thanks! [Does a double take trying to focus his eyes.] Heeeeey... [Gulps soundedly and goes back to uncovering Austin. Whistling "nonchalantly"]

Austin : [Comes round, looks at all the dust and rubble on him] Another suit ruined! What a perfectly horrible day [Dusts himself down in an annoyed manner, then sports the late Dumkin, goes over to Dumkin and retrieves the gold crowns. Then looks around and spots Pestilence] Ahh. [Looks even paler] Hi.

awa oot

Pestilence: Okay, gang, let's get moving before the bad guys get here.

Alice: I thought the bad guys were already here!

Harvey : Indeed so, my niece is quite correct in that! You, I believe, are the bad egg of this tale, what!

Austin : [To Pestilence] You are Pestilence Sotot, yes? The bad guy?

Pestilence: [Looks wounded at these unkind words] Well, I'm [emphasis] a bad guy. [Points back up at the cave that the party fell in through] They're the bad guys.

[There are at least ten dwarves up there, all wielding bows, who fire down at the party, hitting everyone at least once.]

Pestilence: Damned dwarves!

Charlie: [Shocked, shakes her fist at the dwarves] Not very sporting! [To the party] Let's move out, group! Chop chop!

Alice: [Points to a corridor leading away] Down here, look!

[The party head down there under a hail of arrows. GRIMLI and DUMKIN are clearly dead, while JUNIOR stays where he was, apparently sobbing.]

Dur: I'm scared! Someone hold me!

Sorry for my absence yesterday, my office's internet provider's server were down all day. It was very boring.

Alice: [Points to the sobbing and wailing Junior who's now being hit by a shower of arrows] Maybe he might hold you?

Lucky: [Looking back toward Junior.] We aren't just going to leave him, are we?

Junior: [Kneeling, and leaning back] I deserve to die! Kill me now! [The dwarves oblige, and riddle him with arrows, tearing him apart.]

Alice: [Looking away from the shredded Junior] Ew!

Charlie: [Calls to Junior] There's a shiny copper for you if you'll come along like a good lad!

Alice: [Suddenly distracted by something in Charlie's hand] Oooh! Shiny!

Lucky: Noooooo!!! [Attacks the dwarves with total abandon.] He was my best friend, my best friend in the whole world!

Remember, the dwarves are still up in the room that the party fell through. He can only attack them with a bow

Alice: Oh god, not another one!

I figured so. But he's really mad. He's blinded by his anger. And possibly not too bright.

Lucky: [Flails his sword around in the general direction of the dwarves. When he sees he can't get to them, he picks up pieces of the rubble and starts throwing them at the dwarves.]

Clint: C'mon, rookie! [Puts his hand on Lucky's shoulder.] Getting yourself shot's not going to solve anything! [Pauses.] At least not anything important!

[The dwarves let loose a volley of arrows, most of which hit LUCKY, sending him staggering back before falling unconscious.]

Pestilence: Right, let's go!

Clint: Oh, hell! [Slings Lucky over his shoulder and staggers in the general direction of "get the hell out of here."]

Charlie: Thank you, Mr. Scar! Let's find safety, and then I've got a curative potion I can give the poor boy. Come along, group!

Pestilence: Don't bother with him, he's just dead weight. [Gives a big smile] Wow! We're getting the band back together! [Gives Charlie a finger gun] Click-click! And we've got an accountant!

He's refering to Book III, Act XII, when the party briefly had to hook up with Pestilence beneath Dystopia. He eventually betrayed them, killing a medium term party member (Chac) as he did so. The last they saw of him was when Dangsten pushed him into a bottomless pit, and his last words were that he was counting down from 180. That event took place exactly 180 days before the party killed Jerome, after which Pestilence reappeared, although the first time the party saw him was in Lucy's house two acts ago, which is two years later

[The party move on a short distance where the corridor widens enough for CLINT to put LUCKY down, and for CHARLIE to quickly administer the potion.]

Lucky is back to 1hp

Alice: So, uh, Pestilence. What are you doing here?

Pestilence: The same thing we always do, [dramatically] trying to save the world!

Charlie: [To Pestilence] I'm in charge here, so you can just put your little gun away. [Draws her sword and attempts to lead the party to safety] Follow me, group!

Austin : [To Harvey] We cannot trust Pestillence. You cannot seriously be thinking of letting him live?

little gun away. [Draws her sword and attempts to lead the party to safety] Follow me, group!

Lucky: [Weakly.] Wow, I feel great. Did you guys get the dwarves for me?

Austin : [To Charlie] No. The colonel is in charge here, and we take orders from him.

Pestilence: [Gives a big smile at Charlie's words] Sure thing, Sarge. [Makes a big deal of holstering his pretend gun, before turning to Harvey] Sounds like good advice from Austin, there, Harv. Well, other than the fact that you don't have any magical weapons and will almost certainly be killed by those pesky kids without me to help you.

Alice: [Confused] Pesky kids?

Pestilence: With the bows and arrows.

Alice: They're dwarves!

Pestilence: [Disappointed] Huh. Well, now it's going to be a whole lot less fun killing them. Thanks a lot.

Pestilence: Uh oh! Dissention in the ranks! [Puts on his thinking face] On the one hand, Harvey is the Colonel, but on the other, the Sarge has got a much nicer ass and that cool looking clipboard. [Brightly] Organization is fun!

Lucky: [Trying to draw his sword.] Okay I'm ready. Let's go get the kids...um..dwarves...[Staggers and pauses, pointing toward the direction of the dwarves. Shaking his head as if trying to force the thought out]...you know...um...bad guys.

Pestilence: Sure thing, kid, they're [takes his finger gun out of the holster] that-a-way. [Puts it back in] We need to go this way. [Juts his thumb in the opposite direction]

Alice: Er, where the hell did you come from, Pestilence?

Pestilence: Well, that's a long story. You know that whole "nephew of the devil" thing? Let me tell you, I've been living with that all my life, and -

Alice: Not that! Where did you appear from?

Pestilence: I was with you guys the whole time.

Dur: Maybe we should switch our focus from dieing horribly to surviving?

Lucky: [To Dur.] Oh, I won't die! I'll just go take care of it right quick and then catch up with you. A bunch of little dwarves can't hurt me!

Pestilence: Cool. Off you go! [Turns to the rest of the party] Okay, now, according to my map, we need to go straight for about a hundred yards and then turn right.

Clint: [Clearly skeptical.] What, you were with us the entire time? Invisible, were you?

Austin : [To Clint] He would have to be really quiet too.

Pestilence: On the contrary, I was jabberin' all the time. [Points to his head] Camping in Junior's brain. Of course, every so often I'd have to get out and stretch my legs.

Charlie: [To Austin] That seems highly unlikely, as he never appears to stop talking.

Pestilence: I'm surprised you noticed, Sarge, given that you only ever seem to listen to the sound of your own voice!

Clint: Yeah, well, she's a broad. What'd you expect?

Pestilence: More cooking and cleaning for a start!

Austin : [To Pestilence] That explains why Junior was a little psychotic at times, and why he just committed suicide. I was right, in a way, all along. [Looks disappointed]

Charlie: [To Pestilence] Why have you been traveling with us? And what are you trying to lead us into?

Pestilence: [To Austin] Yep, something about being all torn up inside for having been instrumental in the killing of his wife and kids.

Alice: So it was you all along? You who framed us for those murders? Who killed Lucy? Those other people.

Pestilence: Yep. That was me. [Turns to Charlie] Clementine, baby, Clementine!

Clint: And why are we supposed to trust you?

Austin : [To Clint, coldly] We are not supposed to trust him. He needs us for now, but once he has the third dimension of Clementine, then he will probably kill us.

Pestilence: [Nods] And possibly even before!

Harvey : So, you think framing us for murder is a good way of endearing yourself to the troop, do you?

Austin : [To Harvey] I doubt that. It is more likely that it was a good way of making us more dependent on his help. [Brushes off some more dust]

Pestilence: Neither, it was a great way of getting you down here as quickly as possible!

Austin : [To Pestilence] Same thing.

Pestilence: Ah! The devastating of Austin!

Charlie: [To Pestilence, baffled] Why on earth would we help you, knowing you plan to kill us? [Eagerly flips open her notebook] Though I would like to know all you know about Clementine. Are you a Clementine? Or just a Clementinian?

Pestilence: [Steps up close to Charlie] Because I'm so devastatingly handsome and charming. I'm neither a Clementine nor a Clemeninian, just a scholar, with a thirst for knowledge. The reason you people will help me is that you also want to know more about Clementine, but, because of that disaster when you came into the warehouse the first time, know that they can probably kill you. Now, [sad eyes] doesn't ol' Pesty's saving of the party from the warehouse buy him any kind of co-operation?

This claim of saving the party at least could be true. He appeared during the ambush, but didn't hurt any of the party. Everyone was knocked unconscious (almost killed in Austin's case) and somehow mysteriously were spared and dragged out, allegedly by Junior.

Charlie: First, just because you can read does not make you a scholar. A real scholar devotes her (or his!) life to a subject, immersing in constant research and study, striving for expertise on obscure subjects beyond the understanding of common folk. It is a life calling, not a hobby! Second, we have almost no evidence you were responsible for saving us in the warehouse. Even if you did, you only did so to later use us for some diabolical purpose, so it doesn't count. And, finally, you are not THAT handsome.

Pestilence: [Amused] Sure, but I am FAIRLY handsome! Plus, I have a certificate that says I know more about the Dimensions of Clementine than anyone here. [Holds up what appears to be a map that's covered in blood stains]

Alice: Uh, who's blood is that?

Pestilence: [Points to a blood stain] That? [Points to another] Or that?

Alice: Nevermind.

Austin : [To Pestilence] No, it doesn't, because you are a mudering psychopath, and you obviously need us at the moment. You saved us for your purpose, not from some altruistic motive.

Charlie: [Peers at the map curiously] Where did you get that?

Pestilence: [Snaps the map closed and puts it away] I devoted my life to the subject, immersing myself in constant research and study, striving for expertise on an obscure subject beyond the understanding of common folk. It was a life calling, not a hobby! Actually, a Clementine gave it to me. [Turns to Austin] Sure, when you put it like that it makes me sound like a bad guy, and, well, I guess I am, but what would you prefer? To have been killed by those Clementines on the stairs and have your eternal soul absorbed into their disgusting collective, without a chance of resurrection? Or to still be alive?

Clint: So you're saying that you may be a murderous, untrustworthy psychopath, but it's better than the alternative?

Pestilence: Alright! Ten points for the Stinky One! [Aside to Clint] By the way, I really liked your show.

Charlie: [To Pestilence] May I see your map for a moment? I'd like to make some notes about this.

Clint: [To Pestilence, cautiously.] Always nice to meet a fan... Why are you after the Clementines, anyway?

Dur: [To Pestilence] Someone gave it to you or you killed a horde of Clementinians to obtain it?

Have we discovered anything about the marks on our backs? I may have missed it.

Pestilence: Actually, I drew it. With a little help from a few Clementines. [To Clint] The same reason you're after them, Clint, because they're Anti-Pathies. [Gives Charlie a wink] Now, why would I do a thing like that, Sarge?

No, just that the party agreed not to tell Charlie about it. Lucky doesn't know either.

Austin : [To Pestilence] In what way are they Anti-Pathies?

but did Junior know, and therefore Pestilence?

Pestilence: They want to kill anyone who's progressed along The Path. [Puts on a mock angry face] Oh those Anti-Pathies!

This is pronounced antipathies, of course. No, it was never discussed in front of Junior

Dur: What do you mean 'progressed along the path'?

Austin : [To Pestilence] But surely some of them must have progressed themselves?

Pestilence: [Shrugs] 'suppose. Why don't you ask the Sarge about it. She's a scholar, you know.

Alice: [To Dur] We're not entirely sure, but we think it's something about becoming gods or whatnot.

Charlie: [To Austin] You bring up a very interesting point, Mr. Sleaze! Indeed, there have been Clementines that have progressed along The Path, BUT [waits to build suspense] they have given the power they gained to Clementine, of course!

Alice: And the reason they want to kill us is to take the power that we gained from being on The Path?

Pestilence: Correctomundo! That's why we Path-Ethics must stick together. As for the others? Well, I suppose we need the Sarge to keep things in alphabetical order, the kid to act as a human shield and [looks Dur up and down] well, I suppose there's always a need for some cannon fodder.

Harvey : Good point indeed, private Sleaze. Perhaps some of those on the Path are attempting to stop potential rivals by wiping them out?

Dur: Jeez, they couldn't just make some kind of ointment for these "powers" could they? It would save the celementines a lot of trouble and would save us a lot of dieing horribly. [Whispers to Alice] Should we say something bout the things on our back?

Alice: [Quietly to Dur] I don't think so, this probably isn't the time - we don't have any way to defend ourselves against him if he attacks.

Austin : [To Pestilence] So presumably you want us to go along with you, help you defeat any resistance we meet along the way, then die, giving our powers to Clemetine, and then you steal all the power of Clemetine for yourself?

Lucky: [Swaying a bit on his feet, tries to focus his eyes.] Oh wow, I have no idea what you all are talking about, but it sounds...Say, does anyone have any water?

Sorry for the absence. Lucky is still at 1hp, I presume?

Clint: Good enough for me. I say we follow ol' Pesty for now and get the hell out of here It's not like we've got any choice right now anyway, guys - it's up there with the dwarves, or down here with the sociopath. And I'd hate to have "killed by a munchkin" written on my tombstone!

the >hell out of here It's not like we've got any choice right now anyway, guys >- it's up there with the dwarves, or down here with the sociopath. And I'd >hate to have "killed by a munchkin" written on my tombstone!=20

Dur: Get a hold of yourself kid! [Attempts to slap Lucky while simultaneously "slapping" a healing spell on him.] =20

Pestilence: [Face lights up as he clicks his fingers] Hey! That's a much better idea than what I was gonna do, thanks, man, I'm almost sorry I killed your girlfriend. [Turns to Clint] Actually, I prefer the term Psychopath.

Yep.

[DUR slaps LUCKY across the face, surprising him, but also casting a healing spell. LUCKY's face glows a peculiar shade of yellow, before he suddenly looks a lot healthier.]

Lucky gain 7hp

Alice: Cool! Can I have a go?

Clint: It's not a pony ride, Bimbo!

Alice: [Sulkily] Fine. [Folds her arms]

[The party can see ropes being thrown down from the room where the explosion happened.]

Lucky: Thanks, Doc. [Chuckles to himself.] Doc Dur. [Waves his sword toward the ropes.] Looks like it was a good time to get my feet back under me.

Harvey : [Tugs tentatively on a rope. To Pestilence] Friends of yours?

The ropes are back towards the gap, where Lucky got shot. The party are further up, out of range, so he can't tug the rope. Let's say that he's just pointing at it

Pestilence: No, they're the dwarves who just fired at [points at Lucky] him two minutes ago.

Clint: Then enough talk! Let's get the hell out of here!

Lucky: What should we do, Colonel? [Hopefully.] We can stay here and pick of these foul creatures one by one as they descend toward us.

Charlie: Not a bad idea, group. We could eliminate the possibility of those angry little men following us and catching us unaware!

[Enter LEVITICUS, jumping onto the rubble. He looks up at the party and smiles.]

Leviticus: [Drawing his sword] I'm going to enjoy killing you.

[Several dwarves begin lowering themselves quickly down the ropes.]

Dur: [Whispering to the party] Is he talking to us?

Clint: [Whispering back.] I don't know. Let's ask him! [In his best Travis Bickle voice., to Leviticus.] You talkin' to me?

Lucky: [Lowering to a defensive stance. To Leviticus] Aren't you a little tall for a dwarf? [Whispers to Harvey.] Should we attack before more of those little scoundrels make it down here?

Austin : Personally I believe that a tactical retreat is the best option.

Pestilence: Good idea, team mate! Go straight for a hundred yards and turn right, it'll be safe there. [Thinks for a moment] Or is it turn left?

Leviticus: [To Lucky] That's because I'm not. [Straightens his very nice tie]

Harvey : [To Austin] Agreed, private Sleaze! Let us be off!

Austin : [Moves off down the corridor checking for any obvious traps, nervously. To Maplin] Such a waste! All this talent, stuck down here, running around in a dingy dungeon. [Sighs]

Harvey : [Keeps himself between Pestilence and the party] Troop, follow private Sleaze.

Austin : [To Maplin as Austin goes further down the corridor] One day we will be free of all this nonsense, no more ruined suits or shoes, no more dank pits filled with demons, just sipping cocktails on a beautiful island in the sun.

Alice: No more crazy guys talking to their arm!

[The party move on down the corridor, which is essentially a passageway cut into the rock, that has some struts to keep it up. Meanwhile, PESTILENCE draws his sword and advances on LEVITICUS. The party are soon about fifty yards up, and have yet to see any turns. PESTILENCE is keeping LEVITICUS at bay, but doesn't seem to be doing much more than that, as LEVITICUS is giving as good as he's getting.]

Charlie: [Glancing at Pestilence and Leviticus] This is all too thrilling! The great clash of Good vs. Evil, er, Slightly Less Evil vs. Evil!

Alice: Yes, but which is Evil and which is Slightly Less Evil?

Harvey : A sound and pertinent question, dearest niece! [Looks back over his shoulder at the fight] I wonder if this is all just a show to further dupe us, eh?

Charlie: [To Alice] Hmm, good point! Should we perhaps ask Leviticus his motivation in all of this? [Strains to call out to Leviticus] Hello, there! Could you tell us your aim in this battle?

Leviticus: [Grunting as he calls out to Charlie] First to kill this bastard and then kill all of you!

Pestilence: Hey! That's what I was going to say!

Clint: Well, good luck guys! [To the party.] Maybe we'll get lucky and they'll off each other!

Alice: But would that really be lucky, Clint? Really? [Thinks for a moment] Oh, I suppose it would, actually. Cool! Let's go!

[The party keep going another fifty yards and come to an opening on the right. This is probably the one PESTILENCE was talking about.]

Lucky: Oh, wouldn't that be splendid. Austin, do either you or your arm have any idea where this passageway leads?

Charlie: Let's follow it and find out, group! That's why we're here, spirit of exploration and all that!

Alice: [Holds her torch in to light it up, showing that the passageway goes on about ten feet and then drops off] After you, Sarge. [Smirks]

Dur: Is that really why we're all here? I always thought it was just some random and tragic twist of fate?

Clint: Let's save the philosophy for when we're miles away from the psychos and the runts, Doc!

Alice: [Lowly to Clint, gesturing to Lucky and Dur] Clint! They're standing right here!

Harvey : I shall lead the way troop! But I urge caution what! This screams trap!

[HARVEY cautiously leads the way in, followed by ALICE, CLINT, CHARLIE, LUCKY, AUSTIN and DUR. The passageway goes in a short while and comes to a drop that leads onto another level, about twenty feet lower. Directly in front of the party is a cliff face, which the next level leads under.]

Alice: [Peers down] Just as well someone always travels with her silk rope, eh?

Harvey : [Beams proudly at Alice] By the saints, dear niece, you have a rope?

Alice: I sure do, Unc. I even have some handcuffs in case we, uh, need to take any prisoners. [Holds out the rope, which is long enough to help people climb down] I just hope there aren't many of those dwareves down there. It would be really hard to get them off your shoe if you stamped on one.

Austin : [To Alice] You are carrying a silk rope? [Thinks for a moment] 30ft or more, of silk rope?

I am on holiday for the rest of the week, but may get some posts in.

Alice: [Selfconsciously] Uh, no.

Lucky: [Tries to move to the front of the pack.] I'll go down first, Miss Alice. I can hold off any ruffians while the rest of you descend. And thus preventing any damage to your fine shoes.

Harvey : Well done, dear niece, well done! Right, we'll lower one of us down to ensure the area is safe!

Alice: [To Lucky] How are you going to do that? Bleed on them?

Charlie: [To Lucky] Yes, I'm afraid someone in the full of their health should. [To Clint] Hop to, Mr. Scar!

Lucky: [Looks down at his wounds.] Ah, these are only flesh wounds. I feel fine! Colonel, how shall we deploy?

Clint: [Gives Charlie a look.] Right away, Chuck! [Aside, to Harv.] Bossy, isn't she? [Starts to climb down the rope.]

Out of sheer idle curiosity, how's Clint doing, healthwise? I remember a great big ouch from touching that metal plate, and a bit of a healing spell, but I've lost track of where precisely he stands.

[CLINT quickly scales down the rope.]

Alice: Right! Let's pull it up and get the hell out of here!

Gah! Good question, Tom, he's just on 1hp, the same as Lucky! Let me sort out the hp page.

Harvey : Either private Scar or myself will descend first, to ascertain the safety levels. Then climb back up to help out in the "lowering of the remainder of the party" process. The strongest goes last, as they will need to support the lowering of the second to last. It shall have to be someone who is quite good at climbing, as they will be unable to use the rope to lower themselves.

Alice: Maybe we should leave the rope there in case we need to get back up in a hurry?

Harvey : [Looks around] Well, that would certainly be an option if there was anything to tie it to?

Is there?

Dur: Good idea bimbo! Except for the fact that it will make it that much easier for us to be followed.

[Fortunately there's a conveniently located amusingly shaped stalamite that will do the job.]

Alice: As long as you're with us, Doc, no one's going to want to follow us!

Hey! Now even DUR is calling her bimbo?? Poor Alice!

Lucky is at 7hp. He got healed from Dur a little while back. On Mon, Aug 4, 2008 at 11:03 AM, Conor Ryan wrote:

Clint: Lawyer, can you climb the 20' down, and back up, with the rope?

Austin: [Looks up and down the rock face] It is virtually impossible, only the most skilled of climbers could do it. I probably could.

Lucky: Colonel, perhaps I should follow Mr. Clint down the rope. If there is an attack up here, your presence would surely be needed.

If the "bimbo" fits...

Clint: Great thinking, rookie! That way, we can *both* bleed on the attackers! They really hate that.

Lucky: [Nods in enthusiastic agreement.] They do. Mostly they should be afraid. They will take comfort in our wounds and presume we are weak with blood loss, then we will spring upon them in violent attack. It's the perfect distraction.

Alice: Or, we could just hang around here talking. [Gets on the rope and starts climbing down] Hey, Clint, you've bled all over my rope!

Charlie: [Starts climbing down the rope] Come along, group! Mr. Scar's open wounds might attract hungry predators!

Lucky: [Sighs and follows Alice down the rope.]

Clint: Not to worry, Sarge - it's not like the predators'll be able to smell the blood!

Harvey: [Stomach grumbles hungrily] I say, is it tea time yet? [Climbs down the rope]

Lucky: I bet that's true. Their sense of smell may as finely tuned as ours. To them it probably just "smells like red."

Charlie: [To Clint] Do stop calling me "Sarge"! I have never served in the military, so you see it is rather nonsensical!

Lucky: [Helpfully.] But you are really bossy and always trying to take charge, like a noncommissioned officer who is trying to prove himself to the brass. So it does fit. I think it's nice.

Alice: [Salutes Charlie] Sarge, yes sir, Sarge!

Harvey : Troop, I am no fan of the misuse of military rank, what! Please desist from attaching any sort of military connotation to this girl. It's disrespectful to the corp, what!

[Soon everyone but AUSTIN is down. He unties the rope and drops it down to the party before starting to expertly climb down the wall.]

Alice: Wow. Poor old Junior, being made to see his family being killed like that. It's kind of weird that Pestilence is also an enemy of the Clementines, isn't it?

Harvey : But why, dear niece? Pestilence seems to be an enemy of everyone on this planet!

Alice: Hm, I suppose you're right. So what do we do now? We're stuck in this cave with a bunch of murderous, psychopathic dwarves trying to kill us, and the only person who seems to know how to get out is a murderous psychopath who's trying to kill a bunch of murderous, psychopathic dwarves.

Dur: "When you can't go back the only thing to do is keep moving forward," my mum used to say. Of course whenever she said it we were standing at the edge of a cliff and she was standing behind me so I couldn't get away...

Alice: She sounds like a very wise, woman, your mum. [Suddenly jumps] Wow! Look! That stalagtite looks just like Austin!

Austin: [Almost finished climnbing down] It is me, you halfwit!

End of scene, next one coming right up

[Book VI, Act V, Scene VIII. The Fairly Dark Cave. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHARLIE, CLINT, DUR, HARVEY and LUCKY are here, slowly advancing along a fairly wide passageway. HARVEY, CLINT and CHARLIE are in the front, with ALICE, AUSTIN, DUR and LUCKY behind. A huge voice booms out from further into the darkness, echoing around in a terrifying manner.]

Voice: Death! [Echo] Death! Death! Death to all who enter this cave! [Echo] Cave! Cave! Cave!

Alice: Hey! That's cool! Echo! [Echo] Echo! Echo! Echo!

Come on, admit it, your character wants to play with the echo. If so, just precede anything you want to echo with the [Echo] part and repeat it three times like I've done above

Dur: [Looking horrified] You heard the voice! Everyone back up the cliff, quickly now! [Echo] Now! Now! Now! [Dur] Don't rush us!

Voice: All those who enter this cave meet their doom! [Echo] Doom! Doom! Doom!

Alice: If that's true, how come he's still alive?

Charlie: [Delighted] Dr. Parker-Kensington, your work is [echo] Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant! [Beams] My, what a smart cave!

Lucky: [Drops down to a defensive stance looking around suspiciously.] We seem to be [Echo] surrounded! Surrounded! Surrounded! [His eyes widen.] See! We better get ready before they [Echo] attack! Attack! Attack! [Quietly.] Oh wow.

Alice: Sh! I've got to concentrate [echo]concentrate, concentrate. [Normal] I've got to concentrate, [echo] concentrate, concentrate. Hello, [Echo] hello, hello. [Normal] Echo, [echo] echo, echo. [Normal] Pinch hitting for Pedro Borbau Manny Motta, [Echo] motta, motta.

Okay, film geeks, what movie is that from??

Voice: [Clearly annoyed] Shut the hell up! [Echo] Up! Up! Up!

Lucky: [Looks around nervously. Picks a random point in the cave to speak to. Echo.] Sorry! Sorry! Sorry! [Tilts his head in confusion. To The Cave.] Oh, that's [Echo] okay! Okay! Okay! [ To Austin.] Why would THEY be sorry too?

Austin: I don't know, that depends on who you're talking about.

Lucky: [Motions broadly. Quietly.] Them. The ones the keep repeating everything.

Charlie: Not to worry! This is merely an echo, a geological phenomenon. [Hesitates] Probably.

Alice: Let's advance cautiously.

[The party advance cautiously.]

Voice: Hey! [Echo] Hey! Hey! Hey! Tut, how the hell [echo] hell hell hell [normal] do you turn this thing off [echo] off off off?

[The party come upon DEREK THE DWARF, who appears to be a normal sized man kneeling and dressed in dwarven clothes. He is standing in front of a silver panel, about three foot square, that has one large button on it.]

Derek: [Not noticing the party] Now, which of these is the off button?

Derek The Dwarf

Charlie: [Excitedly holding her hand up and waving it in the air] Oh, I know! It's that large button in the middle!

Lucky: [Still looking around suspiciously.] Do you need some help there, friend?

Derek: [Presses the big button] Ahhhh. [Sighs in relief, before turning to Lucky] Not any more. And you're not my friend. [Draws his sword] I order you to lay down your weapons and surrender, [dramatically] or face the consequences!

Harvey : I don't think so, sir! Drop your sword and surrender, or face the [presses the button] Consequences...Consequences..Consequences..Consequences..Consequences..Consequences..Consequences...

This is a multi-part message in MIME format.

Clint: Yeah, a perfect storm of consequences!

"Hurricane warning," they tell us. "We're shutting down the office for the day," they tell us. "Plenty of bottled water, and keep that computer unplugged lest thy motherboard be fried," they tell us. Pah!

Derek: [Turns to Harvey, voice wavering and sword shaking] A-a-and what consequences are they?

Harvey : [Darkly] An hour in a confined space with private Scar! [Gestures towards Clint]

Austin : [To Harvey] He may prefer the option of shoving a red hot poker up his nostrils.

Derek: This - this poker? Is it really really small?

Harvey : Not at all sir, it was used to poke the fires of hell by a giant! Takes fifteen flunkeys just to carry it around!

Derek: [Gulps nervously] And these flunkeys? Are they teeny tiny?

Alice: Oh for God's sake! Let's just kill him!

Charlie: [To Alice, with a gasp] Just because his sense of proportion is dreadfully ill-calibrated?! How monstrous!

Alice: It's not that, it's because he's such a time waster - he's sense of proportion works perfectly well!

Derek: Er, excuse me, I have a clarification question. Are you guys standing beside me or are you really, really big?

Alice: [Sigh] Tut!

Dur: We don't have time to give classes in mathematics! Listen, you can either die horribly by us, or you can die even MORE horribly by the people chasing us! I suppose you COULD help us, but where's the fun in that?!

Derek: Or we could do this! [Makes a ta-da motion as though about to reveal something stunning, but nothing happens]

Dur: [Continues to watch for several minutes] This is exactly what we DON'T have time for!

Lucky: [To Derek] If we promise kill you, will you use your Eggo to scare off our pursuers?

Derek: I don't understand any of what you just said, but it sounds like a threat.

[Enter EXODUS, leaping from a crevice in the roof.]

Exodus: [Gives a big smile] Well now, more invaders! [Draws his sword] What have they been saying, Little Man?

Derek: [Points at Harvey] He wanted to stick a red hot poker up my ass!

Charlie: [To Derek] I don't think it's quite fair to say that he WANTED to do that. [To Exodus, drawing her sword] Stop right there, evil-doer!

Exodus: [Laughs at Charlie before knocking her sword from her hand] Excellent! Come on, baby!

Lucky: [Draws his sword and moves to get between Exodus and Charlie.] Ahhh, he threatened us first after all. [Whispers loudly.] And you shouldn't call him a "baby", that's not very nice. He's just really short.

Exodus: [Swings at Charlie, hitting her] You should know better!

Derek: [Swings at Lucky] Die, you invading, scum-sucking pig!

[LUCKY parries the blow.]

Alice: [Draws her sword] Charlie!

Dur: [Nervously draws his dagger, noting how much longer everyone's blade is than his.] Maybe I should look into some Diagra if we ever get out of here. [To Lucky] I hear it helps in extending one's sword.

Clint: Help's on the way! [Looks around for a likely-seeming rock to throw.]

Forgot to say, Charlie lose 12hp

Exodus: [Easily parrying Alice's blow] Only the women fight. That does not surprise me.

Alice: Come on, Clint!

Ow!

Charlie: [Scrambles to reclaim her sword] Attack, group!

Clint: [Pulls out his sword.] If you say so, Chuck! [Presses the attack.]

Rassum-frassum 1 hit point. :)

Austin : [To Charlie] You should leave this to the professionals, The colonel would have correctly ordered a tactical retreat, they do have reinforcements, remember? [Fires his sling shot]

Harvey : Not so far private, I'm sure we'll have done with these two in seconds! [Draws his sword]

Alice: [Attacks again, with Charlie, Clint and Harvey] Good old Austin, always an encouraging word!

[HARVEY and CHARLIE each land a blow, while ALICE is injured in return, and knocked to the ground, meanwhile LUCKY and DEREK parry each others' blows again.]

Exodus: [Sneers at the tiny amount of blood drawn by Harvey and Charlie] Are you trying to hurt me or massage me?

Exodus lose 2hp, Alice lose 24hp

Lucky: [Tries to force Derek to the ground with the force of his weight the next time their swords meet.]

If that makes sense. He doesn't, you know, try to run himself through. Or that's not the intent. Just to be clear.

[LUCKY tries to push DEREK over, but he holds his ground, meanwhile, AUSTIN fires two bullets at EXODUS, missing with both of them.]

Derek: Hey! Quit pushing! You nearly knocked me over!

Exodus: [Swings and hits Alice again, knocking her into Clint, sending them both to the ground] Come on, little ones!

Alice lose 14hp

Lucky: Stop fighting me so I can go save my friends. Have you no honor!?

Clint: [Distractedly, from underneath Alice.] He's a bad guy, Rookie! Do you have to ask!

Austin : [Miffed at missing twice, fires his slingshot again] Die!

[AUSTIN hits EXODUS this time, but he hardly flinches, and instead hits HARVEY sending him flying across the room and landing on top of LUCKY.]

Derek: Hooray! I knocked him down!

Harvey lose 18hp

Charlie: [Attacks Exodus] You brute! How dare you beat up an old man?! Have you no shame?

Exodus: None. [Parries her swing, and deals a savage blow, knocking her right down] If it makes you feel better, I will kill you first, traitor. [Holds his sword up high, about to swing it down]

Charlie lose 22hp

[Enter PESTILENCE, literally falling down the drop that the party earlier climbed down. He looks very hurt, and is bloody and bruised, but gets to his knees.]

Pestilence: Hey! [Gives a smile] Not another Clementine to kill!

Austin : [To Charlie] Evidently not. [Fires at Exodus again] We do not appear to be winning, perhaps a tactical retreat would be wise?

Harvey : [Picks himself up and attacks] I say you blighter, this was my favourite shirt!

Alice: But where! We took the rope down!

Pestilence: [Staggers to his feet, and points at Exodus] Let her go, and get the hell out of here.

Exodus: Okay, you win this time. [Gives Pestilence a wry grin, before turning and starting to climb]

Dur: Hey! Why didn't we try that at the beginning? [Tosses Clint a healing spell if I have any left]

Derek: [Shakes an angry fist at the party] We'll be back! [To Exodus] Exy, buddy, can you help me?

[EXODUS turns and stabs DEREK in the throat.]

Exodus: No. [Climbs away.]

[DUR casts another spell on CLINT.]

Gain 8hp Clint

Lucky: [Stands up. To Pestilence.] Oh wow, we are lucky you arrived.

Austin : [Sighs, looks very disappointed. Deadpan] We are so lucky.

Charlie: [To Pestilence, impatiently] Why are you helping us? What purpose are you hoping we will serve you?

Pestilence: [Puts on a wounded face] You know, in some cultures people are grateful when their lives are saved. [To Lucky] Tell 'em kid, you seem to know [pauses as he pretends to get choked up] know how to behave when someone helps you.

Lucky: [Haltingly as if remembering a lesson.] Well when someone helps you, you should say "thank you." And when someone saves your life, you should give them a big hug! [To the group.] I mean, com'on...he DID just chase away the guy that was putting holes in Miss Alice.

Dur: My mother always taught me that when someone helped you that you're supposed to milk it for all its worth, beg for money, or steal the bloke's wallet.

Lucky: You knew your Mother?! Oh, wow. You are so lucky! My mother died while being eaten alive by a pack of wolves while I sat up in a tree. I was only a baby, or I would have saved her. But I remember every one of them, and should I meet them again...they'd better watch out!

Pestilence: [Holds out his arms for a hug] Not to mention that the Sarge was about to get it when old Pesty arrived in the nick of time!

Alice: [Looks at Dur] You disturb me.

Austin : [Raises and eyebrow at Dur's comment, looks at Dur's dishevelled state with distaste] I take it that you did not follow her advise.

died while being eaten alive by a pack of wolves while I sat up in a tree. I was only a baby, or I would have saved her. But I remember every one of them, and should I meet them again...they'd better watch out!

Lucky: [Glances at Charlie. Oh right, her too. [To Pestilence.] Oh, I don't really owe you a hug. I was never really in any danger. [Turns to Alice.] Miss Alice, don't you want to thank the man?

that's more than likely it for me today.

Alice: [Mumbles] Thank you.

Pestilence: [Wipes a tear from his eye] That's what makes it all worth while!

Dur: [Looks at Alice] Hey! You've never thanked me!!=20

Alice: For what?

Clint: Healing me, for one thing!

Lucky: Oh wow! You're right! You healed *me* too! [Goes to give Dur a big hug.]

Charlie: [Sighs] Nothing in your files has prepared me for how sensitive all of you are! Honestly, you'd think you were a ladies' sewing circle, debating the proper weight of paper to use when writing a thank you note!

Clint: Of course I'm sensitive! I come from a long line of sensitive, caring men! Now help me up, woman, so I can go find that Exodus guy and feed him his liver!

Pestilence: I find a two ouncer best. [Looks Charlie up and down] Looks like he was giving you a right hiding. Just as well ol' Pesty arrived to save the day.

Lucky: Maybe Charlie will give *you* a hug, Mr. Pestilence. [To Charlie.] He deserves it, doesn't he Ma'am. After all, he's kind of Junior. And Junior was my best friend in the whole world. So that means he's kind of my best friend in the whole world now.

Charlie: [To Lucky] I think it [enormous emphasis] highly unlikely I would ever hug Pestilence! And please remember, he is the beast that forced Junior to kill his own family! Hardly best friend material!

Pestilence: [Nods as Lucky speaks] Yeah, yeah, I see what you mean. Well, Sarge?

Pestilence: Sure, you say that now, but I know that under that cool exterior you're just itching to get a shot of vitamin P.

Lucky: He killed his family? Well, I guess if that happened, it happened before I met Junior. I can forgive his past. [To Pestilence.] Was his family bad? Did his dad lock him in the cellar for days without food?

Charlie: [Exasperated] There's no such thing as vitamin P!

Pestilence: [Gives a big, toothy grin, somewhat stained with (his own) blood] We'll see. [Turns to Lucky] Sure, why not?

Lucky: That's horrid! Poor Junior! [Turns to Dur. Still offering his hug.] Now *I* need a hug, too!

that's it for me. for real this time.

Clint: [Sternly.] Kid, let's get one thing straight right now - around here, men don't hug other men! You want to hug someone, try the lawyer.

Charlie: Quite right, Mr. Scar! In any case, we are a party of hardened adventurers in the midst of a quest, so there's no need to hugging of any kind. [To Pestilence] Now, if you are quite through with your nonsense, let us be on our way. I can only assume you'll let us know your intentions before long, and we'll deal with your betrayal then!

Pestilence: It's gonna be a loooooong time before I'm through with my nonsense, but I can assure you, Sarge, my intentions are completely and entirely honourable.

Alice: Really?

Pestilence: Well, maybe not *completely*!

Austin : [Briefly check his nails] Well, I'm glad we have that little matter sorted out. [Glances around] Perhaps we can get moving now.

prolly afk tomorrow

Pestilence: Let's sort out those awful Clementines once and for all, they deserve a jolly good punch on the nose. Now, who here knows anything about them?

Charlie: [Briskly] I am the foremost expert in the known world on the subject of Clementine. Perhaps I will tell you something of what I know if you will first tell me where you are leading us and why.

Austin : Let me guess, he's leading us to the third dimension of Clementine, and then he's going to kill us, all to get more power?

Harvey : That sounds very much true to form, to me, Private Sleaze!

Lucky: Excuse me, Colonel Harvey, Sir. But if you feel he is a backstabbing murderous fiend (no offense Mr.Pestilence) that eventually try to kill us all, why are we even discussing accompanying him?

Pestilence: [Holds a hand up to Lucky] None taken. [To Austin] You're half right. I am here to destroy the third dimension of Clementine. As for killing you lot? Well, maybe I will and maybe I won't, but if I leave you here, you'll certainly be killed. [To Charlie] Now your turn, Sarge.

Charlie: [To Pestilence] Do calm down. First, tell me why you are bent on destroying this third dimension of Clementine. I, for one, would advocate leaving it be until it could be studied and written up for the Northern Academy of Science's Science and Stuff Journal.

Pestilence: [Leaning back against a wall] Sorry, Sarge, I guess my rage is uncontrollable. I want to destroy it to get its power, of course. Those Clementines are trying to kill those on The Path, [shrugs] seems like a fair enough exchnage to me. Now why don't you tell us why you really want to find it?

Charlie: To extend my knowledge on the subject, of course. Do you really think it wise to destroy something before you understand it? Extra-dimensional occurrences don't happen everyday, after all.

Pestilence: [Turns his head to the side and looks at Charlie, before taking up another position and doing the same thing] Uh, excuse me, I was just admiring the shape of your skull.

Charlie: What are you, a phrenologist?!

Pestilence: More of a collector.

Dur: Of skulls?

Clint: Hell, I could have told you that!

Pestilence: Of sexy librarian types, [gives a sexy growl] roar!

Charlie: Yes, that's all very flattering, the way you compliment me as you threaten me!

Lucky: [Raising his hand. To Charlie.] Excuse me, Ma'am. What exactly is Clementine?

Pestilence: I prefer to think of it as threatening you as I compliment you.

Clint: Well kid, at least you've gone to the right place, asking the foremost expert in the known world!

Pestilence: [Rests his chin on his hands] Yes, do tell!

Charlie: [Delighted, assumes lecturing stance] But there's so much to tell, I hardly know where to start! Let's see, the followers of Clementine become part of Clementine, the perfect collective consciousness, always acting together as one. Who or what was Clementine originally? We are not certain, but Clementine grows by the hour, becoming ever more powerful and mysterious!

Pestilence: [Dramatically] Den den deeeeeen!

Charlie: [Looks at Pestilence, puzzled] Meaning what? That I'm right? Of course I am!

Clint: Oh, c'mon! Don't tell us you don't know dramatic music when you hear it!

Austin : [Deadpan] Apart from the really interesting and useful information about the flowers, we already knew all of that. What else do you know?

Alice: [To Austin] She was answering Lucky, Aus, not you. He wasn't with us when she told us that.

Pestilence: Yeah! She was answering Lippy, so there, Aus!

Lucky: [Raising his hand again. Excitedly.] Excuse me, Ma'am? How do you recognize a Clementine when you see one? Are they they good guys or the bad guys? Do you know any personally? What is the best course of action to follow if one is encountered? What are their strengths and weaknesses? [Pauses to take a deep breath.]

Harvey : Well asked cadet, well asked indeed! [To Charlie] If Clementine grows stronger on followers power, does this mean the followers in turn, become weaker?

Austin : [To Harvey] I thought it meant that they become stronger?

Alice: So did I! Why on earth would they join with Clementine otherwise?

Pestilence: Oh! Oh! I have a question! Given that the Clementines are trying to kill us, is it a good idea to hang around here asking questions?

Charlie: Quite so! Clementine becomes stronger, and so the collective grows stronger as well. It's quite an admirable system, really. [To Lucky] Most of them will identify themselves as such with great eagerness. The bigger problem is determining who is really part of the fold and who isn't.

Pestilence: Gosh, she's ever so clever.

Austin : Well, we had better get moving soon otherwise she'll be *dead* clever. [Smirks]

Pestilence: [Draws his sword] Right, I'll lead. Who's man enough to be up front with me?

The passageway is wide enough for three

Lucky: [Immediately moves in beside Pestilence, sword drawn.]

Pestilence: [Looks Lucky up and down before giving a big laugh] Okay, Sarge, you gonna come up front too? Seeing as how you're an expert and all?

Lucky: [Laughs along with Pestilence.] I know. Our enemies don't stand a *chance* with the two of us on the front line, do they? [To Charlie.] Are the Clemenitines friend or foe, ma'am? Do they have any weaknesses?

Austin : [To Luck] Most people would consider them to be foe, especially since we just killed a whole bunch of them.

Charlie: [To Lucky] It's hard to say, really, if they are friend or foe. They have their own goals, which I suppose if one doesn't come into conflict with, they are at least neutral. As for weaknesses, there are none that have been discovered.

Alice: Not to mention that they tried to kill us in the warehouse a few days ago, and again coming down the stairs when you first appeared, Lucky.

Away for about an hour

Lucky: [Shrugs.] That could have been a misunderstanding, I suppose. [To Charlie.] We really should uncover their weaknesses, Ma'am...if they are going to be our adversaries. As the old Ghoulhouse Shock comic strip used to say...Knowledge is Power. You wouldn't want to stumble into the most vampire invested corner of the world armed only with lemon juice and iron stakes, would you? When entering into a battle with an unknown foe, knowing is half the battle.

Clint: [Looks at Lucky, agog.] Where'd you come from, kid? [Shakes his head.] 'sides, a good sharp piece of steel has always worked for me!

Alice: [Nods in agreement with Clint] Maybe killing Junior was a misunderstanding too? Why don't you go on up and have a talk with them, Lucky?

Austin : [Getting a bit edgy] Shall we get moving then?

Clint: I hate to say this, but I agree with the lawyer! [Takes matters into his own hands and starts walking.]

Lucky: [Silently follows Clint.]

Pestilence: [Following behind Clint with Charlie and Lucky] I just hope Pestilence doesn't go all evil and stab Clint in the back!

Charlie: [To Pestilence] Must you keep up that incessant chatter? [To Lucky] I quite agree with you, young man! We must learn all we can about Clementine before judging them, and we must learn all we can before facing Clementine in battle, if it comes to that.

Pestilence: Well, Sarge, without you to flirt with me I must make my own entertainment.

Charlie: [To Pestilence] Only a sick mind like yours would consider our conversation "flirting"!

Pestilence: [Fans himself with a make-believe fan] Why Mister Parker-Kensington, I do declare, there are children present!

Charlie: [Irked] You really put the "pest" in Pestilence, don't you?! Isn't it enough that you're a murderous psychopath? Must you also be irritating?!

Dur: Aren't all psychopaths irritating?

Pestilence: Sarge, that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me!

[The party keep moving slowly along, and can see that there are some passageways up ahead, leading off to both the left and right of this one.]

Alice: Make them stop, please!

Clint: [Obligingly.] Shut it, you two! Which way, Harv?

Charlie: He is antagonizing me, I'll have you know! [To Pestilence] Do be quiet, you dreadful man! We have serious work to do here!

Pestilence: Serious work? Like in your [finger quotes] thesis? Hah! You make me sick!

Charlie: You're criticizing MY work?! And what would you call what YOU do, anyway? Mass Murderer At-Large? Chief Spree Killer and Mayhem Maker? Your so-called work is shocking, reprehensible, and utterly self-serving!

Pestilence: Don't forget "stylish"! [Gets in nose to nose with Charlie] The only difference between us, Sarge, is that you bore people to death!

Charlie: [Outraged] At least the "death" I bring is purely metaphorical!

Clint: [Watches the give-and-take with evident amusement.] You two need a room or something?

Alice: [To Clint] Is it me? Or is it getting hot in here??

Pestilence: Well, Sarge, that's a shame, because any more of this conversation and I'd welcome it!

[The ground gives a sudden but brief shake, followed by another longer one, and finally another violent one, sending good sized rocks raining down on the party. PESTILENCE grabs CHARLIE steps into one of the passageways, which is immediately blocked off by a rock fall. The rest of the party also take cover in a similar way, but no one else gets blocked off. When the shaking subsides, everyone is fine, but CHARLIE and PESTILENCE are now cut off.]

Alice: Uh oh! I guess they did get a room!

End of scene, and there we're going to pause until next TUESDAY (19th). We'll be back in Ireland then, so posting will be back to normal hours at that stage

So, that passageway is called "Ireland"? On Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 11:46 AM, Conor Ryan wrote:

[Book VI, Act, V, Scene IX. In The Cave After The Cave In. ALICE, AUSTIN, CLINT, DUR, HARVEY and LUCKY are here, dusting themselves off from the cave in. Everyone took a few hits, but didn't take any significant damage. The passage that PESTILENCE and CHARLIE went down is cut off, as is the way back.]

Alice: [Shaking dust from her hair] Oh no! What are we going to do?

Austin : [Sighs in relief] Well at least we are free from Pestilence for the moment, at least [Looks around, dusting himself of casually]

Are there any other exits from the cave? not much posting from me pm today on holiday from Friday 22nd until 1st Sept

Alice: [Moves her torch around] Well, we can keep going forward, and there are smaller tunnels leading off to each side further up.

Again??

Austin : [To Alice] One of them may lead back to Charlie and Pestilence, we really should check that she is okay.

Clint: That broad'll be fine. She probably hasn't even shut her yap yet!

Alice: Oh for God's sake, Stinky! [To Austin] I think you're right, Aus. Maybe we should follow one around? Or maybe get Clint and Lucky to dig through?

Clint: [To Lucky] C'mon kid, let's start digging!

Alice: Sh! I think I can hear some sort of moaning from the other side!

[Everyone goes quiet for a moment, only for the silence to be broken by a rip roaring fart from the direction of ALICE. There was enough time to hear the sounds of some moaning from the rubble pile, though.]

Alice: [Glares back at the others] Clint!

Lucky: [Starts removing rubble.] Right, Mr. Clint! We'll have this cleared in no time!

Dur: Perhaps we should hurry! I don't wanna be around when the beast that made that noise comes around!

Alice: [To Dur] Well, don't just stand there, Dur! Get working!

Lucky: [Removing rocks from the passageway.] Oh, that's okay Miss Alice. I'm sure Doc Dur isn't used to heavy lifting like I am. At St. Nicholas' Home for Misfit Boys, they used to rent us out to the local Barons when they were building their big plantations. I was moving rocks bigger than this by the time I was three. Now all that experience is coming in handy. How lucky is that?!

Dur: Lucky for the barons I suppose. [Starts helping]

Lucky: [Cheerfully tossing aside a rock.] Oh, it *was* good for them. They had free labor. And they didn't have to feed us, give us water, or a place to sleep at night. I learned how to find shelter and food in unlikely places. It was splendid. Like going away to camp...but with less crafts and more heavy lifting.

Clint: [Pushes a rock back in Alice's general direction.] Sorry, Bimbo. [Turns to Lucky.] Hell, kid, doesn't sound that bad! At least you didn't have to sit around campfires singing kumbaya!

Alice: [To Lucky, not noticing the rock roll onto her foot] I'm not sure what the baron wanted with you, but today you need to move rocks. [To Dur] Come on, Doc. Heave! [Spot the rock and screams] Help! It's a rock monster!

Clint: Look out, Bimbo! It's come to eat your brains! [Rolls his eyes and gets back to work.]

And speaking of getting to work, it's time to trudge out the door to the office.

Alice: But how come it didn't stop to eat you- oh, I see.

Clint: [Still digging.] Of course. Hey, shouldn't we be reaching someone soon? Doc, you want to get ready to ea... treat a patient?

someone >soon? Doc, you want to get ready to ea... treat a patient?

Dur: [Stomach Growls Audibly] If there is anyone left to treat. =20

Alice: [Leaning unhelpfully against a wall] Well, maybe if you weren't just leaning unhelpfully against a wall things might move faster!

Austin : [Nods in agreement with Alice] Proof by example, well done Alice.

Alice: [Shrugs] Monkey see, monkey do.

Clint: Monkey brain lazy people with boulder if lazy people don't give us a hand here!

Lucky: [Rolling a large rock off the rubble. To himself.] Mmmmmm...bananas. [Shouting.] Hang in there Ma'am. We are coming to save you!

Austin : [Puts a pair of gardening gloves over his white gloves, moves a small rock from the cave in, and stops to dab some nonexistent sweat from his brow] This could take a while.

in a meeting most of the day!

Alice: [Gets involved too] Yeah, we better hurry up, who knows what he's doing to her back there.

Harvey: [Also digging away] That's right niece. No member of the troop can be left behind.

[The party hear some definite moans from the other side.]

Clint: [Smirking, listening to the moans] I dunno, sounds like they might be keeping occupied, if you know what I mean?! [Shots Alice with a finger gun] Click-click!

Alice: [Horrified] No I don't know what you mean!

Dur: [Rolls his eyes at Alice as he continues to dig] I'm sure you don't.

Alice: Well, maybe I do, but I'd prefer not to!

Dur: Would you? I always thought you were the kind of person who would rather watch someone else do all the work...

Lucky: [Pausing to listen to the moaning.] We'd better hurry. If one of them is hurt, it could do more harm than good if one of them tries to play doctor without proper knowledge.

Alice: [To Dur] That depends on the workman.

[There is a clear and unmistakable scream from the other side.]

Austin: Quickly! [Starts digging a tiny bit faster]

Lucky: [Removing rocks as fast as he can. Shouting.] Help is coming, Ma'am!

Alice: What the hell is he doing to her?

[A woman's voice can be heard calling out "Oh God!"]

Harvey: The blackguard!

Lucky: [Frantically removing rocks.] We have to get these rocks off!

Dur: Hmmm, that's funny. My dad used to yell the same thing before chaining us kids up and dragging my mother by her hair into their bedroom. But why would they be digging in their bedroom?

Alice: Get them off? I thought we were putting them back on!

Austin : [Looks puzzled at Alice] No, we are getting them off.

Alice: Uh, I knew that! [Carries on]

[There is another female scream, followed by what appears to be a male scream]

Harvey: Gah! They're both in trouble! [Gets a little more frantic with the digging]

Clint: Sounds to me like they're taking care of that without our help!

Austin : [Nods in agreement] It does rather. Perhaps we should dig a little more slowly and noisily?

Harvey: By the saints, Private Sleaze! Have you no compassion? [Pauses for a moment] That scream is eerily familiar to me. Many's the night I heard a poor boy scream like that when my lovely wife was helping him through his Post Traumatic Stress. [Redoubles his efforts] Hold on, young lady, we're coming! We're coming! Yes, someone's coming!

Clint: [Looks from Harvey to Austin and back, then shrugs.] Hold on, guys, we're on our way! [Keeps digging at the same pace, evidently trying a compromise.]

Austin : [To Harvey] You do not appear to be the only one.

Alice: [Up high on the pile, pulling back a big rock] Hang on in there, Charlie, we're almost there. [Peers in the hole] Oh. [Turns to the party] Well, the good news is that no one seems to be badly hurt.

Dur: Is there bad news?

Alice: I'm not sure! [Pushes away a larger rock to reveal the ugly sight beyond] [PESTILENCE and CHARLIE are here, sitting about ten feet apart. Both are looking decidedly dishevelled, dusty and sweaty. PESTILENCE is smoking a cigarette, while CHARLIE is smoothening down her hair. Both are looking a little sheepish.]

Charlie: [Quickly stands up, hastily brushing dust from her clothes] Saved, at last! How marvelous!

Pestilence: Uh, yeah, and not a moment too soon. We, uh, I mean, I thought you'd never get here.

Clint: And from the look of it, not a moment too soon!

Charlie: [Discreetly rearranging her skirt] Quite right, Mr. Scar! Another moment with this beast, and I would never have recovered!

Alice: Uh, I think your shirt is buttoned wrong, Charlie.

It isn't, of course.

Austin : [To Charlie, deadpan] Oh, that is odd. It sounded as if you were indulging in sexual intercourse. It is generally not difficult to recover from. [Smirks]

Clint: That depends on whether you're doing it right or not, lawyer!

Charlie: [To Alice, lightly] Most shirts button up this far, Ms. Bassett-Short! I believe yours is the one in error!

Pestilence: [To Austin] I don't care what it sounded like. We were, uh, just trying to move some of these rocks. Boy, they sure are heavy. [Picks up an enormous boulder with relative ease and shoves it out of the way, so people can come and go easily]

Alice: [To Charlie] Hey! It's easier to scratch your armpit when your shirt is open!

Austin : [To Alice] Why would you want to scratch her armpit? [Looks curiously at Alice] Do you have a soft spot for Charlie, aswell?

boom boom!

Charlie: [Flustered] No one has a soft spot for me! [Composing herself] In any case, I can scratch my own armpit, thank you very much!

Freak!

Alice: [Puzzled, to Austin] Because it's itchy!

Pestilence: [With a big grin] There's nothing soft about it! [Suddenly gets strangely self conscious] Er, that is, I mean, come on, we've got work to do.

Alice: [Watching Pestilence idly scratch his back] Er, do you - do you have a whole bunch of scratches on your back?

Pestilence: [Bad temperedly] From the rocks. They're very sharp.

Alice: But they didn't tear your shirt when they scratched you.

Pestilence: Magic shirt.

Austin : [Whispers to Alice] Magic anger management issues!

Lucky: [Looking mildly uncomfortable, rocking back and forth and avoiding eye-contact. Becomes intently interested in a stick of wood in the passageway.] Oh look, a torch!

Pestilence: [Climbing out over the rocks] Come on, show's over.

Charlie: [Snaps at Pestilence] There was no show!!

Pestilence: That's right! [Draws his sword and storms up the passageway, mumbling to himself, before stopping a few feet up] Well?

Harvey: [Draws his sword] We'd better keep an eye on this villainous bastard, I suppose. [Starts marching down the passageway] Follow me, troop!

Austin : [Lights three cigarettes and offers one each to Alice and Charlie. To Charlie] It is customary.

Does Pestilence have a magic sword?

Alice: [Takes one] And besides, Charlie, smoking's cool [Takes a long, deep drag, before coughing uncontrollably for a good twenty seconds]

No, it doesn't appear to be magical

Charlie: [To Austin, refusing the cigarette] No, thank you! It's a filthy, disgusting habit. [Starts down the hall after Harvey] We really should keep moving, given the instability of this dreadful tunnel.

Austin : [Shrugs, and heads down the hall after Harvey, offers the cigarette to Pestilence] Smoke?

Pestilence: [Finishing off his own cigarette] Never touch the things. [Throws it on the ground and takes the one Austin offered]

[The party reform a marching order of PESTILENCE and CLINT, AUSTIN and HARVEY, ALICE and CHARLIE and LUCKY and DUR.]

Pestilence: [Composing himself] Where's a dwarf when you need to kill one?

Harvey: [To Pestilence] Let's keep the killing to a minimum, chappie! We've got a mission here, and we aren't going to be stopping every ten minutes so you can take a rage break!

Dur: Or any OTHER kind of break! [Looks accusingly at Charlie]

Charlie: [Defensively] I certainly didn't mean to take a cave-in break!

Lucky: [Looking around nervously.] What DID cause the cave-in? Could it have been a trap?

Pestilence: Maybe it was the incessant mindless prattling!

Lucky: [Rapid-fire.] Do you think so, really? Could that really do it? It's rock though. Rock is one of the strongest things in the world. How could talking do something like that? Talking is just words. But I was always taught that words are sharper than knives, mightier than the sword. But I also remember that "sticks and stones can break my bones but words could never hurt me." But then again "stones" and "breaking bones"...so I guess if you think that talking can make the rocks fall...[Shrugs and makes a zipper motion across his mouth.]

Harvey: [To Lucky, encouragingly] Well said, recruit! [To Pestilence, in a loud whisper] How dare you try to dampen the spirit of this young buck? That's a job for the army, what!

Pestilence: The army? I thought that was just about ritual humiliation and buggery!

Dur: Not at all. THAT is the job of a surgeon!

Charlie: [To Dur, appalled] See here, good man, don't you let those so-called street surgeons have their way with you! They are charlatans out for your precious coppers! You're far better off going to a poor house, where you will be given rudimentary health care for only the cost of 12 hours of labor per day! Quite a bargain for the likes of you, wouldn't you say?

Lucky: [Nods enthusiastically at Charlie.]

Dur: Nonsense! As a highly skilled street surgeon, I am more than capable of operating on myself while getting a very fair half-off discount!

Alice: Half off? Is that the surgery you did on yourself?

Dur: Ummmm... maybe? Want me to pencil you in for one?

Clint: Bimbo, why ask questions when you already know the answer?

Alice: [To Dur] If I thought I could get you completely off, Dur, I would! [To Clint] Do you ever have anything useful to say?

Dur: [Looks confused] A- Are you coming onto me?

Alice: Not if even you were the last man alive! [Looks puzzled] If even not you were the last man alive. [Looks more puzzled] Even if all the men alive were last. [Thinks hard] No.

Dur: I'm, uh, glad we cleared that up?

Clint: Don't worry about it, Doc - she's not your type anyway. Too picky about her food! [Looks around for some clue as to the way out.]

Austin : Whereas Mr Scar's type usualy prefers grass. [makes a short Baaa sheep noise}

that's me until the 1st Sept

Clint: Plus, they never want to cuddle, or be held, or "just talk"!

Lucky: Grass is actually tasty when boiled properly. When seasoned with certain barks, it can be quite delish.

Alice: [Gives Clint a disturbed look] You concern me, Stinky. [Slightly lower, but not low enough] So, uh, does this mean that he's part of the party now? You know, with Charlie giving him the you-know-what?

Charlie: [To Alice, icily] No, I [huge dramatic emphasis] don't know what! If you're clumsily trying to imply something, by all means out with it, Ms. Bassett-Short!

Alice: Well, I mean, are you guys engaged, or what?

Charlie: [Laughs, relieved] Don't be absurd! Mother would positively perish if I married beneath me. I'd be cut out of the will, and then what would happen to Bodenringham Manor and the Willets-Carruthers Collection?!

Pestilence: No one would care? [Stops abruptly and gives a smile] We're here.

Charlie: [To Pestilence, disgusted] As if I needed another reason not to marry you! You have no appreciation whatsoever for ancient Meropisian culture!

Pestilence: Sure I do! I've killed plenty of Meropisians!

Away for about the next 2.5 hours

Lucky: [To Charlie.] Oh wow, you knew you're mother, too? How remarkable! [Looks around.] Where is "here", exactly?

Dur: Here is here of course! [Shakes his head] Honestly, the state of public education at orphanages these days have deteriorated since I attended them! I wasn't an orphan mind you, but my mother would send us to the local orphanage for a few days or weeks whenever she needed "alone time".

Lucky: [Sadly.] I wish I had known my mother. [Brightly.] But at least she lived long enough to get me to someone who could take care of me. [To Dur.] Of course we're here, and here is here, but since we're here shouldn't we hear about where the here we are?

Pestilence: You're here as cannon fodder, so why don't you go up front?

Clint: Kid's got a point, though. Why'd you bring us here, Pesty?

Pestilence: To deal a savage blow to those awful Clementines who are trying to kill us, the good guys!

Lucky: [Looking ahead eagerly.] Will they really have cannons? Perhaps we can capture one and use it on them!

What are we looking at? Is there a door?

Clint: [Gives Lucky a look.] Uhh... yeah. Kid's got a point, though. Hell, aren't you supposed to be some kind of evil overlord? You're supposed to be boasting about your plan in great detail! Don't they teach you villains anything these days?!?

Pestilence: [Looks wounded] Evil overlord? You must be thinking of someone else - I'm just one of the gang, as much a member of the party as [gestures to Austin] Alan or [gestures to Alice] Alyssa.

[There is a large metal door set about ten feet down this corridor.]

Pestilence: Here's the plan, gang. We open the door and send in some of the expendables. When the guards are busy with them, the rest of us will go in.

Folks, we're losing Erin for a while, so please take her off the distribution list on your mails

Charlie: [To Dur] Be a good chap and head in, would you? If you survive, there's a shiny copper piece for you! If you meet your doom, I'll personally pay for your burial and send your widow the copper piece. You really won't find a better offer than that!

Alice: [Nods] Seems fair enough!

[A tiny tumbleweed inexplicably blows across the scene.]

All very quiet today!

Clint: Hey! The doc's got his uses patching people up and so on! I'll take a look instead. [Moves up to the door.]

Austin: Be careful, Mr. Sleaze. Look but don't touch. This could be a trap. [The party all peer in to watch CLINT. He takes ALICE's torch and lights up the way, showing that there is a large wheel on the door that needs to be turned to open it.]

Alice: Yay! I'm driving!

Charlie: [To Alice] Perhaps we should let Pestilence drive, since he seems to be the only one who knows where we're going!

Clint: Yeah, and we'd all feel safer, too!

Alice: Hey! [Thinks for a moment] Yeah, fair enough, I suppose!

Pestilence: That's where the bad guys are - they've got the third dimension of Clementine in there. I say we get in there and give them a jolly good old punch on the nose from the Path's finest, what do you say, gang?

Harvey: [To Pestilence] I'm in charge here, not you, upstart! [To the party] Come on, troop! Let's get in there and give these baddies a jolly good thrashing, what do you say?! [To Clint] Private Scar, open the door!

Pestilence: Excellent idea, Colonel! Much better than mine!

Dur: [Watches nervously] Funny, I thought they were both horrible ideas!

Sorry, I was swamped this morning.

Alice: So... how about going back to Charlie's idea about giving your widow some money?

Dur: Preposterous! I've never been married!

Clint: Really? I never would have guessed! 'Sides, all marriage does is give broads license to nag, hound you to your grave. Who needs it? [Opens the door.]

Charlie: Don't be cruel, Mr. Scar! Certainly there's some simple-minded, pock-marked, widowed charwoman out there, just waiting to be swept off her feet by our Dur!

Clint: [Claps Dur on the back.] Hear that? There's hope for you yet, Doc!

Alice: I just hope Pestilence won't be jealous!

[CLINT grabs hold of the wheel only to immediately let go again with a cry of pain.]

Clint lose 5hp

Dur: [Wincing noticeably] Perhaps you should stop touching stuff Mr. Scar. I am a skilled medic, but I can only keep you walking for so long!

Alice: What happened? [Peers at Clint's hands] Ew! It looks like you were burnt!

Harvey: [To Pestilence] What say you open this infernal door, chappie?! A hellspawn like you must surely have hands like oven mitts! [Stomach rumbles ominously] By the saints, what I wouldn't give for a crust of bread! How long has it been since we fed, troop?!

Pestilence: I can't open it, Chappie! Too far along the Path and all. Maybe someone else? [Sneaks a quick look at Charlie]

Charlie: [To Pestilence, puzzled] Why should I be able to open it, if Mr. Scar cannot? [Coldly] I believe you are a coward, unwilling to risk singeing your delicate hands!

Clint: [Looks at his hands.] Ow! Hell, that was *cold*!

And I, apparently, am dealing with significant delay in getting email, so hopefully this is roughly in order.

Pestilence: I'm not just thinking of myself here. Think of all the lovely ladies that would be denied pleasure if these were to be hurt!

Pestilence: Maybe someone with a warm heart, Sarge?

Lucky: I'll give it a go! [Bounds up the corridor and grabs hold] Yeaaargh! [Lets go and composes himself] Nope!

Charlie: [To Pestilence] What, by your punches and slaps?! [Digs out a pair of gloves] With proper preparation, perhaps I can manage this on my own [Dons the gloves and attempts to turn the wheel].

Apologies for the silence all - been spending waay to much time on a client site without connectivity the last few weeks Things should improve from here on

Harvey : [Stands back to watch Charlie] Careful now, what! If this fails, perhaps we can use something to lever the wheel. A stout stick, or a sword.

[CHARLIE gingerly grips the wheel, and easily turns it until there's an audible click.]

Pestilence: Good old Sarge!

Colin, remember that the distribution list is updated. Please use this one

Charlie: [To Clint] You see, Mr. Scar, brute force is not always the answer! Sometimes it merely takes a bit of wise strategy! [Wiggles her gloved fingers]

Pestilence: [Takes out his sword] They've got it fairly well guarded, so get your weapons out and send the canon fodder to the front.

Charlie: [Draws her sword and nods to Dur] Go on, then!

Alice: [Draws her own sword and nods in agreement] Think of your simple-minded, pock-marked charwoman!

Dur: I may be a self-serving, poverty stricken, amoral coward, but I'm not stupid!

Charlie: Oh, very well! I shall take the lead! [Attempts to enter the door]

[The door opens inwards and charlie slowly pulls it back. ]

All: Gasp!

travelling today so that's it until tonight!

[Book VI, Act V, Scene X. The Chamber. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHARLIE, CLINT, DUR, HARVEY and LUCKY are here, with the door slighly open. They appear to be at the back of a large cave, which has about thirty dwarves in it, all facing the opposite way. On a large pedestal at the back of them, between a few of them, is a glowing green orb about 12" in diameter. It has the exact same colouring as the pattern that the party have already seen.]

Alice: [Quietly, but dramatically] Behold, the Third Dimension of Clementine.

Pestilence: Actually, that's the first.

Charlie: [In an awed whisper] Incredible! [Looks at the dwarves] Hmm, perhaps we could negotiate with them? Just to take a peek?

Pestilence: Maybe you could, Sarge.

Charlie: Very well, I will. [To the party] Stand back and be ready to fight [looks at Dur] or flee! [Approaches the dwarves] Hello, there! Could I take a look at that orb of yours?

Alice: Oh no! We're all gonna die!

[The dwarves turn, clearly shocked at being sneaked up behind. One of the fiercest, and certainly the one with the fewest clothes on, who standing at the front (furthest from the party) takes a look, and is clearly enraged. This is FRANK HERTIGUS.]

Frank: [Face contorted with rage] What? What? [Softens a little] Oh, it's you. Sure.

Charlie: [Amazed] Really?! Er, I mean--how wonderfully generous of you! [Looks at Frank carefully] Now, how exactly do we know each other? [Dubiously] One of Mother's tea parties, perhaps?

Frank: Mother's tea party? Well, that's one way of putting it! [Laughs]

[All the dwarves join in laughing, only to stop all at the same time ten seconds later.]

Frank: You don't know me, Charlie, but I know you, as do all the Sons of Clementine.

Dur: [Hiding behind Pestilence] Why aren't they killing her?

Charlie: [To Frank, flattered] You've read my work?

Frank: In a manner of speaking, yes. We know why you're here, Charlie.

Pestilence: [To Dur] Because she's one of them!

Charlie: [To Frank] If you've read my work, you most assuredly do know why I'm here: to learn all that I can about Clementine. There's no mystery there.

Frank: We saw the sacrifice you made, Charlie. [Gestures to the orb] Here, the first dimension of Clementine. See yourself as you really are!

Charlie: [Nervously glances at the party] Yes, all those sleepless nights of research! Awful sacrifice, but well worth it, of course! [Moves to look into the orb]

That's my three, I'm sure!

Clint: [Gets out a cigar and chomps on one end, idly.] This'll be interesting! [Quietly, to Dur.] Probably see herself bossing someone around!

Eh, I think you just don't want to see Charlie as she really is!

Dur: Oooo! Can I look? Why does she get to have all the fun?!

Frank: No. But once she has become a Daughter of Clementine, you can watch while we kill your friends.

Alice: Hey! How come he gets to watch and we get to get killed?

Frank: Well, we'll kill him when we've killed you.

Alice: So why do we get killed first?

Frank: [Exasperated] Because you're special.

Alice: [Touched] Aw! Thanks!

Charlie: [Delighted] A Daughter of Clementine?! At last! What must I do?

Frank: Put your hands on the First Dimension, so that you may see yourself as you truly are. Then, all the other Clementines will get to see too.

Alice: Hey! So she wants to be one of those guys trying to kill us?

Austin: [Idly inspecting his nails] I can't say that I'm too surprised.

Pestilence: Well, I'm shocked!

Charlie: [Puts her hands on the orb] This is all too thrilling!

Clint: Yeah, be still my beating heart! [To Harvey.] Do we go in and kick ass now, Harv?

Dur: [Pulls his dagger] Um... should we be doing something about this?

Harvey : [To Clint] Why yes, private Scar, I believe we do! [Loudly to Charlie] I say, stop where you are! Can't you see this is a trap, girl?

Pestilence: Of course it's a trap, Harvey. It's a trap for us!

[CHARLIE clamps her hands around the Dimension and sparks crackle around it as her head shoots back.]

Frank: [Getting excited] See yourself as you really are! See your place in the Universe and your place in Clementine, and join with us!

[The dwarves all move slowly towards the party. Enter LEVITICUS, from behind the dwarves.]

Leviticus: Well, well, they got this far. How appropriate that our newest Sister brings such wonderful sacrifices.

Austin: [Straightens his sleeve to ensure Maplin is comfortable. To Leviticus] Yes, isn't she [enormous sarcastic emphasis] splendid? Just what sort of sacrifice are you planning, might I ask?

Leviticus: You, of course.

[CHARLIE's whole body begins to shake and shudder, causing even more sparks to fly around. Enter EXODUS and GENESIS.]

Genesis: You seem uncharacteristically quiet, Pestilence.

Pestilence: [Apparently completely unperturbed] Just waitin'.

Austin: [To Harvey, whispering urgently] Colonel, if we have any moves to make, let's make them now, before that bitch of a watcher finishes whatever it is she's doing and serves us up for sacrifice!

Dur: Hell with this! [Throws his dagger as hard as he can at Charlie and looks at the rest of the party] What? The last thing I need is another bitch that wants me dead. You lot never knew my mother!

[The dagger whizzes by CHARLIE, just barely missing her.]

Leviticus: [To the dwarves] Move around! Outflank them!

Clint: [Gets out his sword and waits for the word to rush Leviticus.] What the hell is it with you freaks and human sacrifice?!

Leviticus: You selfishly steal power for your journey on the Path - we are simply redistributing it. And, well, if a few hundred Path-Ethics need to be killed to do it, [smile] hey, that's my kind of of bonus. [To the dwarves] One! Two!

Charlie: [Hurls the orb at Leviticus] Not so "Path-Ethic" after all, eh?!

Lecviticus: Thre - ow!

[LEVITICUS gets smacked on the head by the Dimension, which flies high in the air like an inflatable ball.]

Frank: Don't let the Dimension touch the floor!

Pestilence: [With a smile] That's what I was waiting for! [To the party, pointing in the direction of Charlie] Quickly! There's a door on the other side.

Clint: Not as much as that "pun" was!

Dur: [Starts running towards the door screaming into the air] There's gotta be someone up their that owes me a favor for being the universe's hacky sack! [Dur attempts to cast Summon Monster III: Celestial Hippogriff to distract their enemies].

Charlie: [To Clint] Well, I was under some pressure, you know! [To the party] Quickly, I can see a door!

Clint: [Bringing up the rear, swinging his sword menacingly at anything that gets too close.] Women and [glances at Dur derisively] cowards first!

[Just as EXODUS is about to catch the Dimension, a huge Hippogriff appears in the cave and bangs off the Dimension, sending it towards some of the dwarves who try to catch it, but it just bounces off their tiny little hands.]

Alice: Whoohoo! [Elbowing a dwarf in the ear as she runs] This is just like being at a concert!

Dur: [Staring at the Hippogriff] I can't believe that actually worked! Hey Hippy! Get the Dimension!

Clint: [Staring.] Where the hell did *that* come from?! [Looks around for a dwarf to toss at the Dimension.]

Harvey : By the saints, tiny men and spontaneously appearing wildlife! It's like that night in Vietnumnum all over again, when I sampled a few of the wild mushrooms whilst out on a reconaisance mission!

[Just as the HIPPOGRIFF is about the grab the Dimension, it is knocked out of its reach by a flying, screaming dwarf thrown from CLINT's position. Meanwhile, as HARVEY skewers another dwarf, the Dimension ricochets back towards EXODUS.]

Alice: [Almost at the other side] Let's go!

Charlie: Mr. Scar! Colonel! This way!

Harvey : Quickly now troop! Let us be away while the distractions are in full swing, what!

[The party all successfully get to the other side, now hotly pursued by EXODUS, LEVITICUS and what seems like hundreds of angry dwarves. There is a door here, similar to the one the party came in through, with a wheel on the other side.]

Alice: [Zips through the door] Wow! Look how quick I was - almost as fast at running away as Dur!

Harvey : [Proudly] Certainly you are fleet of foot, dear niece. [Darkly] But not quite as fleet of foot as Dur! [Attempts to close the door when all are through]

[The door pulls out, and HARVEY pulls it shut, but it isn't yet locked (with the wheel).]

Pestilence: [Slips through] Well done, Sarge, I knew you wouldn't let us down!

Charlie: [Uneasily] I must say, your approval makes me think perhaps I've acted in error! Have I played into your hands? Is this all some elaborate set-up or sick game of yours?

Lucky: The door! Lock the door!

Pestilence: Why don't you tell us, Sarge? Tell us what just happened there?

Austin: Yes, tell us!

All: Yes! Yes! Rhubarb! Rhubarb! Rhubarb!

Charlie: I saw that it is my destiny to defend the Path!

Harvey : Perhaps you can see it in your destiny to lock this door, what!

Alice: Quickly!

Charlie: Oh, of course! [Attempts to turn the wheel]

[CHARLIE grabs the wheel but is immediately burnt in the same way CLINT was.]

Alice: Uh oh!

Charlie: [Gasps] Oh, dear! I forgot my gloves!

Clint: Rookie! Get over here and get this thing locked!

I'm not all awake yet, but while Erin's gone for the moment, Lucky hasn't left us yet, right?

Lucky: Yes sir! [Grabs the wheel but immediately lets go with a cry of pain] Ow!

Correct!

Dur: Oh for the love of the gods! [Tries the wheel]

Sorry, it's been a rough morning for me. I won't be here on Monday by the way.

[The same thing happens to DUR, and he jumps back.]

Pestilence: [Rolls his eyes] Yeeesh. This is the group that defeated Jerome?

Clint: Then you turn the wheel! Damn thing seems like it hurts anyone who's on the Path or something!

Pestilence: It hurts everyone who isn't a paid up Clementine - and I hated them before anyone else did!

Charlie: How on earth can we lock it, then? None of us are Clementinians! Perhaps we'd better run for it, group!

Dur: Wait! I have an idea! [Concentrates on the wall, thinking hard]

Are the walls made of stone?

Clint: They're walls, Doc! You can't eat them!

Alice: Maybe he's trying to outwit them?

Yes, they're made of good old fashioned stone!

Dur: Hmmmm. Maybe if I just... [Touches the wall]

Can I use "Stone Shape" to force the stone walls around the door so that it can't open anymore?

Let's see!

[The walls quickly move, closing in around the door (which opens in) so that it is almost entirely blocked.]

Alice: [Looks at the tiny gap left] Well done, Dur! That's a really, really tiny hole! [FRANK sticks his head out through the whole.]

Frank: You bastards! You're gonna pay! Pay! Paaaaaay!

Alice: [To Charlie] Looks like someone else wants a copper piece!

Clint: Hey! Good job, Doc! [To Frank.] The check's in the mail, chump! [Gives Frank a boot to the head.]

chump! >[Gives Frank a boot to the head.]

Dur: [Raises his hands in victory] Wooo! I'm useful! I sure hope Hippy is ok. =20

Frank: [To Clint] You bastard! I'm gonna kill you! I'm gonna kill all of you! Don't you dare touch me!

[The rocks narrow just a tiny bit more, so that FRANK is stuck.]

Frank: Uh. Hm.

Alice: Hey! Let's draw a beard on him, that'll be really funny!

Of course, he already has a beard

Charlie: [Impressed] Well done! Here's TWO shiny coppers for you! [Hands Dur two copper pieces]

Harvey : [Impressed] By the saints, what an incredible feat! Now troop, let us go quickly, as you know a dwarf likes nothing better than to tunnel through rock!

Charlie: Agreed, let's put all this unpleasantness behind us, once and for all!

Alice: You mean, leave Pestilence behind?

Pestilence: No, she means destroy that awful Third Dimension!

Charlie: [To Pestilence] Why are you so keen to destroy the Third Dimension? What is its purpose?

Pestilence: It's a tool of the awful oppressive Clementine regime, used to erode the rights of Path Ethics everywhere, that's why I want to destroy it!

Harvey : [To Pestilence] You sir, only wish to destroy it to see the world burn, what!

Austin : [To Pestilence] After spending so much time with old Chassers, we are all far beyond such altruistic spindoctorisms. You really want to destroy it so that you can have it's power, don't you?

Pestilence: [Shrugs] You got me. Of course that's what I want to do with it. But hey, which would you prefer to have the power? A bunch of murdering scumbags who've tried to kill you multiple times or me? [Gives a sweet smile] Admittedly a murdering scumbag who's tried to kill you, but a murdering scumbag who's on the same side as you.

Charlie: [To Pestilence impatiently] Yes, yes, we're all utterly charmed--but why the THIRD dimension, and not the FIRST dimension?

Alice: [Mutters to Austin] Some more than others!

Pestilence: The higher the dimensionality, the greater the power. I don't want to waste my time on the first. Now come on, these Clementines won't just kill themselves, you know!

Charlie: [Jots down some notes in her notebook. To Pestilence] Marvelous! Lead the way, "cannon fodder"!

Pestilence: [Stands very, very close to Charlie] Aw, a pet name, how cute!

Charlie: [Defensively] That is NOT a pet name! That was meant to be an insult. Stop twisting my words!

Pestilence: So, if it wasn't an insult, it must have been a compliment... hey, thanks, Sarge!

Harvey : Let us move on before those little blighters eat their way through!

Clint: Relax, Harv - if the wall were edible, the Doc'd be back there eating it!

Ah, Labor Day - the day we celebrate hard work by being appallingly lazy!

Alice: Don't be ridiculous Clint! He - hey! Where is the doc?

[DUR is, of course, right with the party.]

Alice: Where's he gone?

Charlie: [To Alice] Well done, Ms. Bassett-Short! We are never to recognize our inferiors. [In a hushed voice] It makes them nervous, and it compromises our comfort.

Alice: Who said that?

Charlie: Mother, I suppose, though no doubt she heard it from her mother and so forth. [Does a double take] Wait--can you see me?!

Alice: [Sheepishly] Yes!

Charlie: Well, do stop asking questions with two possible meanings. This is no time for your semantic antics!

Austin : Although they are preferable to questions with no possible meaning.

Pestilence: It's important to be precise, and not to make your actions seem like they are ambiguous. Don't you think, Sarge?

Harvey : Come along troop, time is ticking away, the dwarfs are busy tunneling out, and my stomach is rumbling like a hamstrain!

Charlie: [To Harvey, ignoring Pestilence] That's your stomach? I had thought the dwarves brought in jackhammers!

Harvey : No, that's me having missed lunch. Imagine the ruckus when I miss dinner also!

Dur: Awwwww, do we have to?!

Harvey : [Eyes wide] By the saints, fellow, I should hope not!

[The party get to another door with a large wheel in it.]

Pestilence: [Eyes light up] Here we go!

Austin : [Acts relieved] Thank the earth for that! [Glances around] Everyone ready for action then?

Clint: Just as soon as we can figure out how to turn the wheel without freezing ourselves!

Austin : Perhaps a pair of gloves will suffice [Hands Clint a pair of leather gardening gloves from his satchel]

Clint: Oh, all right. Worth a try. [Pauses.] These things aren't some freaky French designer gardening gloves, are they? [Shrugs, puts the gloves on, and tries the wheel.]

Alice: Why? Is that what you'd prefer?

[CLINT gets burnt through the gloves. Not enough to be hurt, but enough to let go.]

Charlie: [To Pestilence] Surely there's some way you can open this, no?

Austin : [To Clint] They are neither freaky or French, but they are, naturally, designer gloves, Envi Proudts, a talnted designer, is a keen gardener and has a deep appreciation for herbaceous perennials.

Pestilence: You mean, penetrate the seal to this room the same way I penetrated you[pause]r heart?

Charlie: Certainly, if you think terror and revulsion will do the trick!

Clint: Is that what kids are calling it these days? [Hands the gloves back to Austin, keeping them at arm's length is much the same way as one might an ill-behaved puppy.] Dammit, what kind of weirdo puts a door that can only be opened by the faithful in his secret lair?!

back >to Austin, keeping them at arm's length is much the same way as one might >an ill-behaved puppy.] Dammit, what kind of weirdo puts a door that can >only be opened by the faithful in his secret lair?!

Dur: Do we really wanna know the answer to that question? =20

Austin : We will probably find out shortly, whether we want to or not. [Considers the wheel] Perhaps we can use the pole of the torch to turn the wheel?

can an unlit torch pole be used to turn the wheel?

Pestilence: Revulsion, eh?

Yep!

Harvey : Good thinking that man! [Takes the pole and attempts to use it as a lever]

[HARVEY sticks in his huge pole, and after a lot of puffing and panting, gives a cry of success.]

Alice: Yay! It's open!

Pestilence: Thanks Harv. [Pushes the door open and strides in]

End of scene

[Book VI, Act V, Scene XI. Another Cavern. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHARLIE, CLINT, DUR, HARVEY, LUCKY and PESTILENCE are here. This cavern is laid out in exactly the same way as the previous one, right down to a large glowing orb and angry dwarf called FRANK HERTIGUS, who looks exactly the same as the last FRANK. PESTILENCE strides across the room, clearly heading towards the orb.]

Frank: [Draws his sword] Get back!

Austin : [To Harvey] Perhaps Colonel it would be better if you took the power from the orb, before Pestilence does?

Frank: You fools! Don't you realise what will happen if he destroys the orb and takes its power?

Alice: Uh, the orb will be destroyed and he'll get its power?

Frank: Well, yes, but the whole mountain will be destroyed when he does it, killing us all!

Harvey : You again! Is there no getting away from the man! [To Frank] And what happens if someone other than he takes the power?

Frank: [AS though speaking to a small child] The whole mountain will be destroyed, killing us all!

Charlie: [To Frank] Do modulate your tone. He isn't as senile as he looks!

looks!

Dur: [Looks startled as he mummers to Clint, Alice, and Austin] Did she just DEFEND the colonel? That seems about as likely as an entire mountain collapsing on us and killing us! I have to say, its rather disturbing.

Austin : [Looks alarmed] We had better keep an eye on her.

the old ones are the best

Clint: Hey, let's not gloss over this mountain collapsing and killing us all thing!

Pestilence: [Picks up the dimension, and holds a dagger to it] Well now. [Gives the party a smile] Thanks for all the help, gang!

Charlie: [Shocked] So, that's really it, then? You're just going to kill m--er, us--after all we went through together?

Austin : [Looks at Charlie incredulously] Surely you did not fall for the "I'll love you for ever and ever and ever" line? [Rolls his eyes. Readies his sling shot]

Pestilence: [Gives Charlie a wink] Yep! [Pulls the dagger back, but hesitates, his face growing dark, before looking at Charlie again] Damn you!

Clint: [Looks from Pestilence to Charley to Austin to Harvey.] Uh... do we interrupt now, or do we let them have their little lover's spat first?

Harvey : [Stands between them both] Stop this right now, there will be no killing here today!

Dur: [To Pestilence] Couldn't you just bring the orb to the surface and THEN destroy it? That way we're free of the nasty "mountain collapsing and killing everyone" deatail?

Austin : [To Harvey] Why would I want to kill him? He would drop the orb and we would all die! [tries to shoot the dagger out of Pestilence's hand]

Clint: Hey, lawyer, let the Sarge here try and talk him down from the ledge first! [Gets ready to spring at Pestilence and grab for the dimension if worst comes to worst.]

[AUSTIN shoots at PESTILENCE but misses.]

Frank: [Enraged] No, you fools! We'll never let him take it to the surface!

Pestilence: [To Charlie] You - mean - nothing to me!

Charlie: Oh?! Is that why you can't keep your eyes off of me? Why you're constantly flirting??

[Enter LEVITICUS and EXODUS, from behind the party. They both stop in horror when they see PESTILENCE.]

Pestilence: Shut up! Just should the hell up! [Closes his eyes for a moment] Damn you. [Kicks the Dimension high over the heads of Leviticus and Exodus, sending them running backwards after it]

Charlie: [To the party] RUN!!!

Dur: [Watches the Dimension soar and then raises his hands shouting] GOAL!!! Should we commence in the running now?

Harvey : That would be most wise, private! Come on troop!

[PESTILENCE leads the charge out through a door in the opposite wall, before setting off a small explosive charge that blows a hole clear through the roof.]

Charlie: [To the party] Come along, group! Through the roof!

Austin : [Looks nervously around, trying to avoid the dust from the explsion] Does anyone have a handy ladder?

Pestilence: [Leaps up and grabs onto the hole, pulling himself up] See you, losers.

[The hole is about ten feet up, and a well crafted human pyramid could get someone up there.]

Alice: [Holds up her rope] Maybe we could fashion one from this?

Austin : Perhaps we should form a human pyramid, then I, the most lightly and gracefully built, shall climb swiftly to the top carrying a rope which I shall then lower down for the rest of you.

Charlie: [To Austin] Excellent! [To Clint, Harvey, and Lucky] You three form the base, [to Alice and Dur] you two are next, and then [modestly] I'll take the top position as the second most lightly built. [Claps her hands] Chop chop, group!

Lucky: Alright! The base! [Takes up position]

Out for 1.5 hours

Harvey : [Points to Charlie] Well, she certainly has spirit! [Takes up position next to Lucky] Come now troop, time is of the essence!

Alice: [Shakily climbs up on Harvey] Whoohoo!

Charlie: [Climbs up to the top of the pyramid] Hurry, Mr. Sleaze!

Austin : [Swiftly and gracefully climbs up the pyramid and out of the hole, carrying the rope around his shoulders] I expect that these are the finest evening shoes that have ever walked over you. [Looks for somewhere to attatch the rope to]

Alice: Nah, I've had loads of shoes better than that walk all over me! [To the party] Wow, I can't believe we're going to finally get out of here!

[AUSTIN looks up through the hole, breathing in the sweet scent of free air. When he opens his eyes he realises that he is surrounded by hundreds of HARMA operatives, all pointing their swords at him, which they cock loudly. One of them steps forward, it is JOE NUNPAR.]

Joe: Arrest them immediately and schedule them for purification.

End of Book VI, Act V. Next one coming right up!

Dur: [Gets into position] This isn't nearly as much fun as I though it would be.