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The Pen is Mightier than the Sword
Sweetcherrie

Lost.....

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"Am I alright? Am I alright!? Do you think I'm bloody alright?" Mira screamed at Knight, and then to no one in particular, "I've just been thrown around like a leaf in a whirlwind and he asks if I'm alright. I half expected to see my stomach sitting in my lap when we had finally stopped and I worked up the courage to open my eyes." The occupants of the jump pod quickly unbuckled themselves and as Knight was studying the control panels intently trying to determine the extent of the damage, Mira unlocked the hatch and opened the door. A loud creak shattered the relative silence of the craft and it was immediately filled with a rather dreary, gray light. Slowly, Mira peered out of the hatchway and saw the ground below was covered in a thick carpet of fog. Up until this moment he had wanted nothing more than to get out of that pod and breath fresh air again, but that fog stopped him in his tracks. For all he knew there might not even be ground beneath the fog; he might just hop out and fall forever through that odious looking fog. Daryl coughed loudly behind Mira, and asked in a aggravated tone, “Are you getting out, or are you just going to block the way for the rest of us?” Returning to his senses, Mira made his way onto the plane's surface, and breathed a sigh of relief when his feet touched ground.

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With all that had been going on Sweetcherrie was getting rather tired of this place. Mynx falling out of the sky was just that little bit extra that almost made her wish she was at home, having a nice warm bath, instead of being here in these cold caves.

 

She looked at the note in her hands and wondered if Inbi would still be able to hear her, and suddenly she started giggling uncontrollably about the whole situation. This had been supposed to be a simple cleaning job, and instead she found herself standing with a dream paperized Inbi in her hands, Mynx falling out of the sky, and caves that led nowhere.

 

Having to sit down before her knees would give way she continued laughing on the floor.

 

“You know, if I wouldn’t know any better, I’d say we simply have to wish for things hard enough to make them happen.” She hiccupped from laughing in between words.

 

“I mean, I wished for help, and we got it….falling out of the sky even!”

 

Sweetcherrie poked in the rock bottom, “You see this isn’t hard, it’s soft…soft!”

 

The ground under her was indeed starting to feel like a soft mattress, and each time she poked, her hand disappeared deeper into the ground. Sweetcherrie wobbled up and down on the floor now, a big grin on her face.

 

“You guys should try this, it’s fun. Maybe I should wish for a couple of drinks for all of us, or a bar around the corner.”

 

Behind them they suddenly heard noises, as if a large group of people was standing just around the corner of the next cave-wall. Sweetcherrie’s face turned more serious, and her laughing faded away.

 

“Wow, this is really ‘be careful what you wish for’.”

 

She’d said it dryly, but even she didn’t feel like laughing about it anymore. Holding on to the wall she scrambled up and stepped away from that part of the floor that was now almost wobbling as jell-o.

 

“Think we should have a look?”

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*CLICK*

 

 

*CLACK*

 

“Wheeeeee!”

 

 

*CLICK*

 

….

 

Appy looked at Valdar with a puzzled look. “Why doesn’t it go CLACK again?” She bounced up and down a bit experimentally, but the button didn’t move at all.

“Nooo.. the bouncy button broke!” Appy wailed, as she bounced once more, really hard.

 

*CRACK*

 

Appy looked down, fearing for what she might see.

 

“Uhoh..”

 

On the button a big crack was now seen. It ran straight through the middle with smaller cracks appearing rapidly along it’s line. The two children were now illuminated by an eerie red glow, which was spilling through the cracks, from somewhere under the button's surface.

 

“We.. we should prolly get off, right?” Appy asked Valdar slowly. The planewalker nodded and the two children climbed on Bubble’s shoulders again, to look from this somewhat save place at how the button cracked up completely...

Edited by Appy

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The pulsing red light continued to grow brighter as the cracks propagated. Appy and Valdar stared at the broken button with an air of expectancy for a long moment, waiting for the inevitable and cataclysmic explosion.

 

They were not disapointed - The entire chamber vaporized in an instant, as did most of the fortress. Valdar "oooh"ed at red shinies as they mingled with green sparkles in a purple haze, and Appy cheered. Secondary explosions rocked the Planewalker's shield, adding pink, yellow and green hues to the conflagration before dying out. Bubble merely sighed another jet of flame as the two children clambered back onto its shoulders.

 

"Well? Now what?" Valdar asked brightly.

 

Appy frowned, trying to remember what they were supposed to be doing. "Ummm, lemme think. Oh yeah, we came here to resc-"

 

She got no further as the grey fog rushed in to fill the void where the fortress once stood. Latching on to the children's thoughts, the world around them immediately resolved itself into rolling plains of grass, under a grey sky. What caught their attention however was the REDDER and SHINIER button sitting right where the old button had been.

 

"Another bouncy button!" they both exclaimed, leaping off the Demon's shoulders and on to the button. Unlike the ancient button they had been jumping on, this button was brand new, and clicked and clacked crisply. At the apex of one of his bounces, Valdar looked up.

 

"Hey, WOW look at the sky!"

 

Appy looked up, lost her balance and did a backflip to land on her feet. "Hey, it's Myn-no wait, that's Gyrfal-ummm- wave!"

 

"Hiiiiii!" Valdar shouted as a visage of uncle Gyrfalcon, Mira and Knight gaping in astonishment at them. A heartbeat later, the image vanished, and a startled owl as big as the sky hooted in alarm and careened off-sky. A battle raged across the heavens for an instant, before being replaced by a hooded lich.

 

Appy squealed in alarm as an enormous eye blotted out the sky. It was a metaphor of course, but Valdar waved cheerfuly at it anyway. Moments later it was gone, replaced by Sweetcherrie again. She looked up from the piece of paper she was holding in surprise before vanishing.

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"...Was that what.. I thought it was?"

 

As Knight surveyed the damage to the lander, he had caught the image of the bouncing children floating through the sky, and commented; when they disappeared, he returned to his surveyance of the pod.

 

"Well, it looks like it will take some extensive repairs to fix this. Perhaps then, gentlemen, we should continue on our merry little way, until we can find what we came for? This is of course, assuming we can even figure out where we are going. I had hoped that there would be some indication as to... direction, but it apppears that there is nothing but mist here. It is odd; I had imagined that we would find... trolls."

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::Wait:: said Inbi. ::Let me check it out; I can't get hurt.::

 

Sweetcherrie hesitated, then stopped. "Okay."

 

Gryphon nodded, not really paying attention to anything but Mynx. Mynx herself was rubbing the back of her head, clearly still recovering from the landing. Inbi didn't wait any longer. She took off, leaving the paper for a stalactite and then a rock and then pausing in astonishment at the sight that met her eyes.

 

The first thing that registered in her brain was the large tree, branches growing up and out into a sort of gigantic umbrella. And at the base of the tree was a pond, sparkling blue and playing host to floating lily pads. When Inbi got over the fact that not only was there a bar deep within the caverns, but that the bar contained a tree and a pond, she was able to realize that this bar was almost exactly like the Pen Keep: Worked into one wall was the familiar fireplace; the bar ran nearly the entire length of the room; the Mighty Couch sat exactly as near the fireplace as it would let itself be placed; lanterns hung from branches and rafters all over the room; a series of pillars played across the area; the floor was made of hardwood; rock surrounded the fireplace and served as a border to the tree; a loft was set into the rafters; and doors led into what were presumably the kitchen, supply room, and restrooms.

 

What wasn't the same as the Pen's tavern was the fact that this bar was apparently run by and for trolls. An aproned troll served troll patrons their drinks. A dolled-up female troll slipped between the tables with a large platter, narrowly missing the hand of a troll man questing to pinch her. Two bouncer trolls guarded the entrance.

 

Inbi briefly forgot her dream-form in her panic to escape, but remembered when the rock that was hosting her failed to turn around and flee. Then she allowed herself to calm down before returning to the three guild-leaders and presenting the news.

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Gyrfalcon crouched near the jump pod, casting around for tracks in the strange misty grayness before standing and looking around at their surroundings. “Wherever this is, is isn’t under the fortress. There’s a distinct lack of a visible ceiling... and it just doesn’t sound right for a cavern of some form.” He left unsaid that in the muffling gray fog, it didn’t sound right for being outdoors either. The whole place was odd.

 

Daryl sat at the base of the lander and clutched his head. He had been fine before they had made their ill-fated jump into the unknown, but his vision had split apart and a headache had started as soon as Knight had thrown that switch. The buckling, tumbling, and arcs of magic coursing through his form had only made the headache worse, and now he sincerely hoped that his head would just stay together for a few minutes. More then anything, the werefox wanted his headache to go away or an aspirin the size of his head... or both.

 

Knight and the others started and pointed at the sky, but Daryl ignored them as he closed his eyes and pressed his hands against his temples more tightly, desperately wishing for his headache to disappear and that aspirin.

 

Gyrfalcon blinked in surprise as a vision of Valdar and another – Appy? waving happily at the party for a moment in the sky before the vision faded away and the opaque grayness returned. “This place is really, really strange.” the half-elf said, showing his surprise by stating the obvious.

 

“You think?” Mira said dryly before turning to glance at Daryl. “What’s up with you?” he asked as the werefox opened his eyes and looked around, surprised.

 

“Hey, my headache went away!” Daryl said happily.

 

Knight frowned. “Anyone hear a whistling sound?” he said in confusion, looking around. Behind him, there was a crack of stone meeting stone and a stream of profanity. He whirled around to see Daryl clutching his head with something lying to the side.

 

Mira bent down to inspect the object while Gyrfalcon quickly checked Daryl. “You’re lucky you’re so hard-headed.” Daryl informed his friend as he used the corner of his cloak to dab away a bit of blood from Daryl’s head. “And a lycanthrope, the scratch is already closed up.”

 

Mira held up the object, which was roughly the size of Daryl’s head. “There’s a word stenciled across this... ‘aspirin’.” he said in confusion.

 

Daryl looked at it in confusion... “I was just wishing for an aspirin the size of my head.” he said.

 

The party looked at each other, confused. Mira was the first to see the possibilities.

 

“If what we wish can become reality here, then-“

 

Knight broke in “We can wish to find Sweetcherrie and Gryphon!” he said as he realized the possibilities.

 

Gyrfalcon began to grin. “It’s worth a try, the worst that can happen is nothing happens. At the very least, we might pick up a sense of which way to go to find them.”

 

Mira nodded “Lets try to think the same thing, I’d hate to go straight to them and land in the middle of a bunch of trolls because Daryl decided to wish for a big steak or something.” he said, casting the werefox a wry glance.

 

“Hey, I don’t always think of food.” Daryl said, crossing his arms. “Money tends to be another big one. And sleep.” he said, grinning.

 

Gyrfalcon shook his head and laughed as he gathered up his quiver and bow. “Ready to go?” he asked as the others gathered up their equipment.

 

They nodded and focused their thoughts on finding Sweetcherrie and Gryphon.

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As Gyrfalcon, Daryl and Knight bend their combined wills on finding Gryphon and Sweetcherrie the very air around them starts to pulse with barely restrained power. One by one all of those present become aware of a sensation of tension and a tingling sensation of magical potential, much like electricity in the air, slowly it builds around them causing every hair on their bodies to stand upright.

 

Without warning there is a sharp cracking sound as the power earths its self... somewhere... and a dark hole opens up under the quartet with a flash of light causing temporary blindness as they fall and fall for what seems like an eternity.

 

Blinking tears from their eyes and trying to stop the ringing in their ears the adventurers slowly become aware of their new surroundings. The first thing they notice is a large silver mirror, apparantly set into the wall of a cave. Images flicker across it's surface and the three catch a glimpse of Gryphon and Sweetcherrie who appear to be standing near a bar, however the details are indistinct and the collage of images continues to shift and change, seemingly randomly.

 

The second thing they notice is a strange snuffling sound coming from behind them. Slowly, and with some hesitation Gyrfalcon, Daryl and Knight turn in perfect time with each other to see a large scaly beast that appears to be an unholy melding of a basilisk and crocodile.

 

The beast seems to be stunned, presumably from the same flash of light and clap of thunder that transported the adventurers to it, but even as they watch it stops moving and though it appears to still be blinded, it raises its nose and begins sniffing the air around it before giving off a strange warbling cry which is answered in kind from further down the passageway behind it...

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While Gyrfalcon, Daryl and Knight had been attempting to locate Gryphon and Sweetcherrie, Mira encountered a bit of a problem. He wanted to help rescue the two lost guild leaders, he really did, but as soon as he closed his eyes and started to think about where they could be, his mind started to wander. How long had they been standing here like idiots trying to find out where their two lost companions where? Probably only a handful of seconds, though it seemed much longer. This whole business was looking more and more dangerous every moment, but more importantly, more and more boring. This place Knight's contraption had taken them was rather dull by his standards and from what he had seen so far there was little chance of finding adequate accommodations if this turned into an extended visit. What he would give for a mug good ale, a game of dice and song; any song. Maybe a barmaid or three to dance with if the song was particularly good. He could almost hear it now, it was a lively tune, ripe for dancing. The fiddle weaved its way around the flute and the laughing in a way that would bring life to even the oldest pair of legs. By the stars he could hear it!

He opened first one eye, and then the other and was amazed to find himself standing in the middle of a crowded common room with the song and laughter and pounding of boots on the wooden floor filling his head. A pretty tavern maid appeared at his side with a tray full of mugs from which he quickly snagged one, and just as quickly forgot all about his lost friends.

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After his encounter with his uncle's virtual ghost, Patham decided to have another look at the lands around him in hopes of finding his lost companions, or just anyone. He was starting to feel very lonely in this strange place. He changed to his owl form in a flurry of feathers and took once again to the skies. He flew in ever growing circles, all senses alert, looking for any signs of life.

 

He never expected what hit him. At first it felt hot, then he saw the flaming eyes and fiery breath. Terror swept over him as he crashed into the unknown creature. He was surprised that he did not get burnt to a crisp right away. What he could see was at least ten feet tall and covered in shinys.

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~ Written together with Patrick ^_^ ~

 

 

Mid-bounce, Appy tried to turn around in alarm at Bubble's roar, lost her balance and fell down in a small heap on the Button.

She snapped her head back up, only to see Valdar descend on the button again.

 

"Argl!" she managed, before being flung into the air again by the rebound.

 

With the next bounce up she did a back-roll midair and landed neatly on her feet, already running towards the roaring demon...

 

------

 

His vision blurred from the impact and the fierce shine of the creature. Patham started sliding towards the ground as he saw a small shape running towards him. What trap had he fallen into?

 

------

 

Appy shooed Bubble aside, who did so with another gust of flame in resentment, and kneeled next to the big owl. "Ooooh are you alright?"

The look of concern on her face was genuine. And the world around them turned slightly less bright without either noticing.

 

Patham hooted weakly, then realised that whoever it was who was talking to him would not understand that. He tried shifting back to his human shape, but in his weak shape only got half the way. His head, torso and arms were now those of a human, while his legs were still those of an owl. To the young girl the sight must have been quite shocking. It should've been..

 

"Patham!!" the girl cried out, and almost smothered the poor man with her hugging. Noticing that he was protesting weakly, she let go and promptly turned around to shout at Valdar that she found a friend.

As she said that she cried out, remembering that they had been looking for friends themselves.

She turned back to Patham again and asked in a frantic voice: "Did you see them? Did you see anyone? What is this place? Where is everyone?"

 

Patham was nearly overwhelmed by the questions, but finally managed to finish shifting back to his human form, his legs only barely touching Appy.

 

"I don't exactly know what this place is, but there is a lot of magic at work here and I do not understand that. I was with Vene, Mynx and others earlier but lost them in a fog. We had been looking for Sweetcherrie and Gryphon. Do you know where they are?"

 

Appy shook her head and looked at Valdar, who, with great reluctance, had finally abandoned his shiny red button to see what all the commotion was about.

"Did you hear all that? Look it's Patham!" She pointed at the human next to her and beamed for having found someone.

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::Stephen! Can you follow this?::

 

Saying this, Tanny throws a mental rope made of earth threads in the direction she can dimly sense Stephen's voice is stronger.

 

Stephen concentrates, deepening is contact with earth. Amid the faintly weird threads, he easily recognizes Tanny's imprint and, after taking some time to let it settle on his awareness, starts following it in a quick stride, keeping everything else out of his mind. Or trying to, as he could sense some memories lurking just outside his conscious thought.

 

All of a sudden, he gasps and almost stumbles, sending an angry, shaken thought to his friend.

 

::What happened? The thread nearly broke!::

 

::Mynx cried out, then someone else found us. They're fighting!::

 

 

Stephen frowns, puzzled, once again following the meandering thread. They who? Fighting what? This time, though, there's no answer to his inquiries besides a mixed feeling of annoyance, wonder, and anger drifting back from the guide-thread.

 

 

Tanny stares blandly at Tzimfemme, letting feelings of annoyance and anger fill her and using them as a barrier to ward off memories. A corner of her mind registers Mynx leaving through a rip in the fabric of the plane, followed by Anna.

 

I'm tired of this. I'm tired of having my memories play with me. I am Tanryell of Leyanne, I am Myrienne's blood, I have been exiled. But I am not going to let something out there to play on my memories to use me, to turn me into something I am not!

 

She lets the thoughts repeat themselves, feeding the cold anger until in her mind she can shape it as a tall wall around herself.

 

::Wolf-Lady!::

 

The call is distant, echoing through the coldness she has created around herself. Grasping firmly the guide-thread, she starts weaving other earth threads around it, thickening the rope and, at the same time, letting them envelope her.

 

::Stephen. Come!::

 

Anger usually flares. But for Tanny, it froze all around her and set her apart from the world. She stood in that icy plain, one image set firmly in her mind while pulling the energy of the threads all into herself. She feels the strain - in a detached way, not affecting her. She feels the cold air threads trying to merge into her weaving. She feels water condensing around earth.

 

The air, she ignores. The water, she weaves into her net. And opens herself to the energy pulsing through her.

 

 

Stephen again misses a step, feeling suddenly as if plunged into an icy river. Coldness freezes him for fractions of a second, but before he can realize he isn't following the thread, but being pulled by it - with a loud crackling sound he finds himself in a place of sharp, biting cold wind. And another fraction of second later, he finds himself stumbling into Tanny.

 

::Stephen... I can't hold this for too much longer... help me...::

 

Arms wrap around him to give him support, and he feels the pulll of earth threads. And instinctively, not really conscious how, he adds to the energy pulsing in Tanny.

 

 

The onlookers just glimpse Stephen appearing suddenly and stumbling into Tanny, and they both vanishing a couple seconds later. A blast of chill air is all they feel.

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Valdar stared at the were-owl for a moment.

“Aww, you mean it’s all not real?”

The owl-turned-human nodded, still somewhat dazed, and Valdar’s ears drooped in disappointment. Just then, Bubble gave a low rumble, startling both Patham and Appy. The sky changed hue, from cheerful blue to a threatening red, and small tendrils of smoke started to rise from the ground.

“Stop it!”-Valdar commanded, reaching for a small bag tucked under his belt. A terrible chorus of despairing squeaks filled the air as the little elf reached in and withdrew a handfull of glowing orbs, which he offered to the demon. The demon tipped the small handful of mice souls into it’s fiery maw with undisguised greed.

 

The ruckus died as Valdar stuffed the bag back under his belt. “Feeding time.” he explained apolageticly.

 

They stared at him.

 

“I guess that kinda makes sense” He admitted. “Reality cant hold on properly so close to the madness so it bounces around what’s inside people ’s heads!”

 

“You mean they’re stuck inside their dreams?” Appy asked.

 

“More like nigntmares” Patham muttered.

 

Without waiting for the others, Valdar bounced towards the nearest tree, and poked it hard. “Lets see what it really looks like!”

 

Reality around them evaporated into mist.

 

“Ohhh.”

Edited by Valdar and Astralis

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In silence they listened to what Inbi had to say, but inside Sweetcherrie got more and more angry. This was our guild! And she sure as hell wasn’t going to let a couple of trolls take over the place they had just inherited! What would people think if the guild and the confessional would already be in ruins so short after Gryph and her had taken up the task to run it?

 

No way was she going to let that happen!

 

Inbi had finished talking, but all Sweetcherrie was thinking that they would show those trolls what they were made off. If only the rest of their friends was there as well. The desire of storming in with all the adventurers became so strong that she had already taken a couple of steps towards the entrance when Gryphon held her back.

 

“Erm…Sweetcherrie? Where are you going?”

 

But Sweetcherrie had reacted on her anger and she had stormed in without thinking what the possible results would be.

 

Behind her Mynx cursed, and urged Gryphon to follow. In her head Sweetcherrie could hear Inbi saying something, but a red veil had covered reason, and she just stormed into the troll-filled tavern.

 

**Daryl, Knight, and Gyrfalcon

 

The ogre that had been about to attack was flickering, and suddenly our three adventurers were pulled away; the next moment Daryl, Knight, and Gyrfalcon were standing face to face with a different beast.

 

The troll looked stupidly surprised to have three people land onto his beer, but the surprise only lasted shortly.

 

**Mira

 

The barmaid bent over. Her lips were coming closer and closer. Anytime now she would kiss him. She smelled sweet and Mira moved forward slightly to speed up the process.

 

But when her lips touched his he could only think that she should definitely brush her teeth. Sjikes! What a smell had this woman come out of her mouth! He opened his eyes, and jumped backwards; he had landed next to a surly troll barmaid, and she giggled because he had kissed her.

 

**Appy, Patham, Valdar, and Bubble

 

Appy blinked.

 

“Oooh, poofing trees! Goodie, let me play!”

 

The girl bounced over to the next tree and stuck her finger in it. The tree evaporated and surrounded Valdar, Appy, Patham, and even Bubble in thick fog.

 

As the fog disappeared Appy and Patham were gone. The planewalker turned around, but the only one left was Bubble.

 

Appy and Patham heard music play, but it sounded horrible, it was surely a troll that was playing that piano.

 

**Anna

 

She wiped the tears away, and tried to see her surroundings through her blurry eyes. The world had become vague and the slayer had already started thinking that she really needed to stop crying, when all of a sudden a horrible visage looked at her through the fog.

 

The most horrible troll of all was looking at Anna as is she was candy after diner.

 

**Tzimfemme and Vincent

 

All had happened fast; Mynx disappearing through a jump into a self-created portal, Tanny and Stephen had somehow zapped out, and now there was only here and Vincent Silver.

 

And on top of that, this stupid mist had come drifting in. The naked mage muttered all sorts of different things under her breath.

 

And then suddenly Vincent was standing on top of a toilet, and as his foot slipped in he blinked.

 

“What the?!”

 

Next to the naked mage something growled, and Tzimfemme turned her head calmly to look where the sound had come from, only to find herself staring in the eyes of a very, very ugly troll. Come to think of it, was that a pokerchip she felt under her bum?

 

**Vlad

 

Lying on his back, staring at the blue sky Vlad decided that this world wasn’t so bad after all. Even the mist was tolerable…wait a minute! Mist?

 

The world had only just cleaned up, so where did this mist come from?

 

The ground under him felt soft, and as the fog cleared Vlad could see that this was definitely not outside anymore even though there were still tree branches handing over him. Under him he heard various surprised screams, and growls. He tried to ignore the disturbance of his peace and quiet, but then turned around with an annoyed sigh, and nearly fell of the rafters he had landed on.

 

**In the Pen Keep tavern

 

Gryphon and Mynx almost knocked over Patham who had landed closest to the entrance, and Sweetcherrie was screaming with surprise as Appy landed almost on top of her.

 

The moment of happiness to see her friends again only lasted a split-second. The next moment the trolls had come into action and started attacking our brave group of adventurers.

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Hearing a whisper of sound behind him Gryphon whirls and slashes out expecting to defend himself against an approaching troll, only to pause in mid strike.

 

Some distance away, two massive trolls, easily several times the size of the ones facing off against the adventurers watched the fight beginning to unfold. In that quiet instant before the proverbial storm one troll turned to the other and with a brief grunt and some gestures, the two lumbered off into the darkness of the AVV.

 

Just seconds later Gryphon was distracted from such a puzzling sight as the sound of heavy footsteps rushing in his direction brought him back to himself. Once more he spun in place his mind on the here and now as he summoned magic and strength to fight the hordes of trolls approaching from every direction.

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"Hi! At last we've found you!" - Patham said, then noticing the shocked and fearful gaze of Sweetcherrie he realized that something was wrong. He turned, following her stare, and noticed the trolls.

 

He started shouting while he shapeshifted:

 

"I'll take the ..."

 

Unfortunately the rest of the sentence came out in owlish, as he was already in that form. The first thing he noticed was the extremely sickening smell of the trolls. It showed him how much more sensitive his owl nose was compared to the one he disposed of in human form.

 

He flew at the nearest nose, and nearly ended up in its gaping mouth, as showing a rare moment of intelligence, the creature had tried to bite Patham into two. Only swerving upwards towards the eyes had allowed Patham to avoid almost certain death. Once he was there, he decided to exploit his situation, and with his claws he aimed at the troll's eyes. He managed to claw out the right eye and severely damage the left one, before a sweeping blow by the troll's right arm made him fly through the air. The troll let out a low-pitched moan, and moving around blinded, and in pain crashed into another troll, knocking both of them to the ground. Both started to get up slowly.

 

Patham, reeling from the force of the blow, managed to crash land not far from the trolls, and just sat on the ground, the glazed expression on his eyes showing that he had no idea what had just happened.

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The little Planewalker froze. A sudden wave of intrusion made Valdar's eyes narrow for an instant. His inner defenses brushed aside the weak attack easily, but it startled him.

 

"Woooah! Did you feel that?"

 

Silence was his only answer. Valdar blinked a few times to make the world shift back into solidity, and looked around. The sunny glade had vanished, replaced instead by the gloom of deep forest. It was utterly silent, without the normal sounds of the woods. The small elf turned around slowly on the spot.

 

"Ummm, Appy? Are we playing hide and seek now?"

 

There was no answer. Clear blue eyes flickered with a shadow of doubt as he considered switching to magesight or mindvision to search for the others.

 

"Appy?"

 

He spun around to look at Bubble. "Did ya see where they went?"

 

The enormous demon shrugged, growled something in it's demonic tongue that made both of the little elf's ears stick straight up.

 

"Summoned?!"

 

A moment later, the empty glade melted back into the thick fog.

 

***

 

They arrived in the midst of a chaotic battlefield. The small Planewalker stood on Bubble's shoulders, perfectly balanced on the rippling muscles of the eight-foot tall demon foot soldier. He seemed to hold himself differently. Perhaps it was the unsheathed Katana held in one hand, with blazing silver flames reflected in the steel. Bubble roared as it smelled blood, a challenging cry of insatiable rage and hunger that did not _quite_ match the dozens of shiny ornaments attached to it's body.

 

The melee froze with the exception of Gyrfalcon, who skewered one of his three opponents and staggered back to a ready position, bleeding. Nor could Tzimfemme stop the nail-studded plank's graceful arc that ended with a sickening splat in the side of another Troll's head. No one was close enough to see the clear blue eyes of the Planewalker momentarily fill with red clouds. His expression remained absolutely neutral as he calmly addressed his mount.

 

"Bubble. . . Feed."

 

The demon grinned beatifically as twin midnight blades slid from their sheathes with a menacing whisper.

Edited by Valdar and Astralis

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Tzimfemme squatted, elbows on knees, chin on fists, and studied the clean space from where Mynx had vanished. Slowly the corners of her mouth slid out into a smile. "She broke free," marveled the naked mage, unfolding her legs and sitting down properly. "Perhaps now the others will--" She broke off and looked to her right as sycamore leaves fell from that direction, darkening from yellow to red even as the wind gained speed. Goosebumps stippled her skin and the air clotted with crumpling, browning leaves; Tzimfemme squinted her eyes against the stinging particles of dried leaves and barely saw Stephen wink into existence and out again, dragging Tanuchan with him. Immediately, the wind died, but Tanuchan's forest remained except for that circle where Mynx had been. "She did not escape her purgatory," murmured Tzimfemme, and went back to contemplating the clean space.

 

Some time later, the mist crept up from all sides and swallowed Tzimfemme and Vincent Silver, but halted at the edge of the circle.

 

*****

 

Tzimfemme looked up at the troll, insulated. "And whose purgatory are you," she asked, almost politely, while shifting her weight and picking up the poker chip. The troll reared back, threw down his cards--an eighty-seven of skulls, a pair of ducks, and two card-backs, tilting on the breeze--and brought his arm down fast. Tzimfemme heard herself speaking a spell, with some surprise, but not as much surprised as the troll was when his palm slid off of the perfected forehead.

 

"Ha!" yelped the naked mage. "Invulnerability!" for only eighteen seconds, she added to herself, and turned her back to the troll while climbing onto the table. He shot out his hands and grabbed hold of the mana-formed ribs spraying backwards from the naked mage's spine, but when he pulled, his fists slipped off of them and slammed into his own chest. Meanwhile, Tzimfemme perched on the far edge of the table, looked over her shoulder, and pulled her face into a grotesque expression while trailing a maroon-marked foot over the table. The troll took the bait and swung at her foot, and as she whipped it away and vaulted off the edge of the table, boards shattered. She braced herself and punched upwards at the table's underside; one loose and splintering board popped free from the table, and she had just enough time to grasp it nails-outwards before the god's visage and its invulnerability drained away.

Edited by Quincunx

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Leaping into an area temporarily clear of trolls Gryphon concentrates bending the magic around him to his will. With an immense crackle a bolt of lightning leaps from him to the nearest troll, incinerating it almost instantly before leaping to another leaving a smoking corpse in its wake.

 

Gryphon watches for an instant to be satisified that his spell won't kill any of his friends before turning back to the fight and disembowling another troll nearby.

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Sweetcherrie blinked, but she wasn’t given time to be surprised. A troll about the size of a small truck took a step towards her, and it shut through her head that the monster wouldn’t even need a weapon; the smell of its breath would possibly be enough to knock her out. In her hands she still had the sword that had been hanging in the Portal rooms, and it was now weighing heavier and heavier as her arms had grown tired. With absolutely no idea on how to fight this monster, she planted her feet firmly on the ground, and tried to prepare herself mentally for what would come.

 

While this was happening, Inbi was watching in awe as, one by one, people began appearing. Most of them were adapting to the surprise swiftly - Gyrfalcon had already knocked one down and he had only just gotten there. Inbi cursed inwardly. It appeared she could do nothing but watch her friends fight, maybe watch them get hurt. That's when she noticed Sweetcherrie. She had apparently no idea how to fight, as she was standing all wrong, and holding the sword awkwardly. And she had not noticed the troll behind her, beginning to swing... Without thinking, Inbi rushed to the guildleader's aid, setting herself up inside her head at the same time she mind-shouted, ::Duck, Sweetcherrie!::

 

She reacted instinctively on the voice inside her head, and felt the swoosh of a troll’s arm just missing her head above her. The fast movement of ducking nearly swiped her of her feet, but she saw the troll in front of her, and it was adrenaline that kept her from tumbling over.

 

::I have no idea how to do this Inbi, help!::

 

The sword seemed stuck to the ground, and didn’t want to be lifted. Sweetcherrie mustered all her powers and with a shock the sword let go of the ground, and swung backwards, its speed almost pulling her over.

 

Inbi mentally cringed at her friend's plight. She had not developed the muscles to be using this sword... Inbi herself was more of a dagger person, but perhaps she could offer some advice at least. And, she could see behind Sweetcherrie, which would be of some use with two opponents.

 

::Okay, well first, - Block that!!::

 

This was said as the first troll had moved forward and begun to swing his fist. Luckily the weapon was moving in the right direction, as aided by its momentum from being pulled from the ground. With only a little bit of redirection the sword swung straight into the troll’s fist and left a yawning cut in the trolls arm. Sweetcherrie appeared to be lucky once again, the sword was heavy, but it cut through flesh as a warm knife through butter. Her eyes grew big as she saw what had just happened, and almost she had turned around to jump with joy that she had actually managed to hit the troll, when she realized that she might’ve hit the troll, but that he wasn’t dead yet.

 

Inbi wanted to have a short moment to tell Sweetcherrie all the little things that she was doing wrong, but could see that the trolls weren't about to grant her that. So she began to instruct as a constant monologue.

 

::Don't stand so stiffly. Spread your body weight a bit. Dive left! Now shift your grip a bit. Don't hold it like it's going - left again! - like it's going to escape on you. It's a tool...::

 

Her body was protesting against what Inbi told her to do, but her mind forced her muscles to react. Diving left and right to avoid being turned into mush by the two trolls, she slowly gained control over the sword instead of it controlling her. Sweetcherrie squeaked as she slid the stomach of one of the trolls open, its intestines came rolling out in a puddle of blood, and still the damn beast wasn’t out. It grabbed for its stomach, and at least Sweetcherrie was given some breathing space.

 

The stench that came from the troll’s lunch made her feel sick, but she had no time to think about it. Inbi was drilling her into diving forward; the troll behind her had apparently attempted to give her a not so welcome hug.

 

Even though with Inbi’s help it was going better than before, she had still received a couple of slashes over her body. Her left leg was bleeding, and started to go numb. And her hands were blistered from handling the heavy sword.

 

::I don’t know if I can keep up too much longer Inbi..::

 

Inbi couldn't feel what Sweetcherrie was feeling, but she knew that the woman must be sore and tired. She learned fast, but was moving even slower now than at the start, but it was no longer because of uncertainty. It was because she was quickly becoming worn out.

 

::You're doing well,:: Inbi insisted, not sure what else to say. They would have to find a way to end this quickly. She glanced over the area, trying to see whether there was anything they could use... and caught of glimpse of Valdar atop his Planar Steed. ::Do you have the strength,:: she mused, ::to force the fight nearer Valdar?::

 

Sweetcherrie nodded, but wondered silently about how she would be able to dodge one troll to force the other closer to Valdar. At that moment she suddenly heard a whistle and a voice that to her sounded like an angel singing.

 

“Hey, Ugly! Come and get me nananana!”

 

Appy was standing behind the troll, and had just thrown a poolball towards its head. She was holding her hands in front of her nose and while wiggling her fingers she was still chanting ‘nana nanana’, when the troll decided to change targets and go for the little girl instead.

 

As the troll was nearing Appy turned around and ran off towards Bubble, the troll dumbly following her, as if it was playing tag now. With one troll out of the way Sweetcherrie regained some of her hope that she would be able to get out of here alive, and she dived left as a warning of Inbi resounded in her head.

Edited by Katzaniel

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Patham shakily stood up, and tried surveying the battle around him, but he could not bring his eyes to focus. As he wondered how serious concussion he had received he failed to notice that he was unconsciously shifting between his two forms in a rapid succession, several times within a second even. One moment his owl hearing heard a troll bearing down at him from behind, then as a human he tried ducking, and the moment after that, the troll's swing went clean over him, as he had again shifted to his owl form.

 

It only added to Patham's confusion.

 

He finally managed to make his eyes focus and could turn to face the troll behind him. His sudden shifts of shape had stopped and Patham was now in his human form. He reached inside of his cloth tunic, and drew out the dagger.

 

As he looked at his own reflection in the blade, memories suddenly washed over him. He knew nothing as he fought against the beast, as it was merely reflexes, and something more, which guided him. Patham was lost in his memories. The one and only thing, which reminded him of his father, was this dagger. Its blade had never been blooded before. In a circular pattern around the hilt, below the metallic blade, his father had carved a phrase, which Patham had always tried living by.

 

Do not judge others, until you are ready to judge yourself...

 

Patham suddenly snapped out of his memories. He saw that blood covered his left leg. He first thought that he had been gravely wounded, but then realised from the smell, and the colour of the darkish liquid that it was the troll’s blood.

 

Looking in front of him Patham saw the troll lying on the ground, seemingly unmoving. He walked round its feet, which were of the size of small tree trunks, and went to inspect its head. Upon seeing the clawed out eyes he realised that this was the troll he had wounded while in owl form. Glancing at his dagger, he noted the thick blood on it. The wound in the troll's chest showed where the dagger had hit it.

 

As he reached the creature's head, which reached to his waist, he could hear its breath coming out in gasps. It was clearly nearing the end of its life, and greatly suffering. The dagger must have pierced some vital organ.

 

Kneeling down, Patham touched the trolls head. These creatures were mostly forced by their circumstances, into being the monsters they became. In Patham's mind it was clear that they did not deserve to suffer. They had come into this battle, knowing that they might not all survive. This one had drawn the short straw in the fight against Patham.

 

Patham lifted his dagger and with one swift movement, cut the creature's throat, putting it out of its misery in a few seconds.

 

He then stood up and turned to see how his friends were faring against the remainder of the creatures.

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Tzimfemme used the board sparingly, never blocking blows that would shatter the weakened wood and dodging instead; she roved over more ground than most participants while swiping at the oncoming troll's knees and elbows. Once, when the troll had over-extended his arm, she held the counterattack and looked around while he recovered. Not far away, two trolls were flanking Gyrfalcon but he held them off easily, and closer than that were a pair fighting each other when they could have surrounded Tzimfemme. She frowned. "Inconsistent," she muttered, then vaulted onto a table as the pursuing troll swept his clawed foot at her and brought the board down from overhead, two-handed, to bite into the flesh just above his kneecap. The troll roared and closed his hands on the board as Tzimfemme let go; he bellowed again as it shattered and stuck splinters into his palms, she gathered the quincunx power into a soft silver ball and thrust it at his head at close range before scrambling away.

 

Unarmed, she sprinted and side-stepped through the melee until she found a troll-free circle surrounding a better fighter. Tzimfemme ducked and rolled into it gratefully, then stood up at the fighter's back. "Yo," she began, "mind if I stand here for a bit and get some spells ready? My weapon's broken."

 

"Sure," Knight replied, as he twisted the approach of a charging troll and sent it stumbling into another. "Watch out for the slippery spots, the trolls spilled some beer when we arrived."

 

The naked mage struggled to recall a useful blue spell. "I found something. . .inconsistent with these trolls."

 

"Yeah?"

 

"I tried to trace whose they are, since most if not all of these surroundings have been people's purgatories," she continued, and began to cast a spell off to the side of the pair, "but it traced back to Guild Leader of the AVV. Not a name. Why?"

 

One troll menacing Knight and another from a nearby battle broke away and swung at the area Tzimfemme's spell had landed. While their limbs ripped through the Hallucination, Knight struck at the near troll's unprotected back. "What's the AVV stand for, this area?" he asked, stepping back to counterattack another troll.

 

"It does, something like your Black Rose division. I don't know who's running the place now--"

 

"Sweetcherrie and Gryphon sent out the call for help," Knight added.

 

"--right," the naked mage amended, "I remembered that. . .Anyway, this place is now being run along Marxist lines. Work is Struggle, Struggle is Work, or nothing for free in other words. Some of us had to fight our inner demons and now it looks like everyone gets to fight these anonymous demons." She squinted into the distance and lobbed another spell up and over the crowd. "Thoughts?"

 

Knight paused to catch his breath. "We're not winning this fight. I see the dead trolls aren't regenerating like they should," and they both looked at the bodies lying under the illusion of Knight , "but there's always the same number of trolls attacking us." One of the more distant trolls noticed the gap in the ring surrounding Knight and Tzimfemme, and charged forward into the path of Tzimfemme's descending Paralyze. "I don't see either Gryphon or Sweetcherrie setting up a fight we can't win."

 

"Point," Tzimfemme murmured, "but they haven't really got control of the trolls either. . .Oh, it can't be that simple." She set her shoulders. "Knight, if you run into anyone else in the battle, pass this on: These trolls belong to Gryphon and Sweetcherrie, but they aren't aware of it, their guildleader power is running wild and provoking a story but they have to resolve it, and pass all that on until it gets to either of them." The naked mage scanned the tavern again. "I can't see either of them from here, can you?"

 

Knight didn't reply for a moment, as he braced himself and his extended arm, and let a she-troll run onto his fist and knock the breath out of herself. "All I can see are trolls."

 

"I'll run off and try to find them, then," she concluded, flicking a Double Time spell at her feet. "Good luck, tho' you don't need it, there won't be any fatalities." Tzimfemme burst forth from the circle of attackers just before the trolls' feet swung upwards and entangled with each other, pulling both trolls off balance. "'Sfunny this never happened with elder powers, it's the same degree of control," she mused, skipping sideways around a troll trying to bearhug and crush her, "and speak of the devil, there's Gyrfalcon--YO! GYRFALCON! News!"

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Mynx had let out a low growl of frustration when the trolls first appeared, but after that there was no time for thought.

Discarding her robe and everything of excess on her body, Mynx pulled out a pair of sai, uncharacteristically sharpened until they were closer to short swords than the blunt defence weapons they're usually intended to be.

With a feral battle cry, Mynx leapt into the midst of the fight, dogding between her friends and the spells they cast as she leapt onto the back of one troll and planted a sai at the base of its neck, severing its spinal cord.

The thing let out a bellow as it began to topple, crashing into a few of its kind that weren't paying attention.

Mynx hung on grimly to the planted sai, trying to remove it from the sinking flesh as the troll hit the ground with a crash, throwing both Mynx and her sai into a nearby wall.

The feline managed to twist in time to land (mostly) on her feet, shaking her head to try and clear it before she retrieved her two sai from the ground and charged once more into the fight.

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Daryl staggered, landing hard on a table. One moment he’d been riding around on the head of a staggering ogre, holding on for dear life, and the next moment he was standing on top of a drinking bar, one foot in a giant mug of beer, and Gyrfalcon was landing hard beside him. From the crash of metal and tinkle of broken glass, Knight had landed near the wine racks. And right in front of Daryl was a very surprised looking troll. Surprise quickly changed to anger, though.

 

The troll howled in rage from finding a werefox in its beer and backhanded Daryl, sending the werefox and the beer flying deep into the room. Gyrfalcon used the troll’s distraction to turn his bloodied katana on his latest foe, his blade’s keen edge slicing across the troll’s face and then through its throat as it screamed in enraged pain, turning to a gurgle as blood began to fill its throat.

 

Satisfied that the troll was out of the fight, Gyrfalcon hopped down from the bar and immediately took on a pair of trolls, his katana a silver blur as he batted away reaching hands and cut deep wounds into their bodies.

 

Gyrfalcon was managing to keep the fight in his favor, wounding both trolls severely without a scratch, when a large hand slammed into his head, dirty claws cutting across his scalp as he twisted away from the blow. Coming around and shaking his head to clear the stars, he saw a third troll join the other two, glaring through blood-shot eyes, while behind it the feet of the first troll kicked feebly before stopping.

 

“Ooookay, now I’m annoyed.” Gyr said with a snarl, katana hissing through the air as he spun it through a loop on either side of himself, the feel of his blood slowly sliding down his temple increasing his anger.

 

There was a burst of light to the side, and then a blood-curdling roar of pure malice as a demon foot soldier appeared with a little elf boy balanced on its shoulders. Everyone froze... or nearly everyone. Gyrfalcon took the opportunity to press the attack, fighting his newest opponent, darting to the side and cutting its hamstrings apart before giving it a solid kick that dropped it on its back, writhing. As the other two trolls hung back in shock Gyrfalcon drove his sword into the troll’s heart and gave it a twist. Wrenching his sword free, Gyrfalcon growled and leapt over the troll’s twitching body, sword flashing as he attacked the two wounded trolls.

 

From the side, he heard a familiar voice- Tzimfemme’s. “Yo! Gyrfalcon! News!” she shouted, ducking under a troll’s arm and planting her elbow in its stomach, causing the troll to gasp for air. Tzimfemme stepped aside and let Gyrfalcon take her place, his katana carving through the troll’s flesh as she related what she had figured out about the battle.

 

“You know... I’m pretty sure you’re right, Tzim.” Gyrfalcon said, tripping a troll and stabbing it as it fell. “A lot of the trolls I’ve taken down should have stood up by now, and there are more coming through the doors all the time. Thanks for the warning, if I see Sweet or Gryphon, I’ll pass the warning on.”

 

Tzimfemme patted him on the shoulder and then looked further on, seeing Mynx cling to a toppling troll, a sai buried in its neck. “I’ll let her know next.” Tzimfemme said, ducking between two trolls as Gyr started cutting his way deeper into the room, looking for Daryl.

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The troll drove her further and further back. With Inbi shouting in her ear Sweetcherrie was getting quite handy in wielding the sword, but she would need a way out sometime soon. Her eyes flashed back and forth to see wether there would be a possibility to get a break from this troll, and just as the troll moved to smash a chair on top of her, she saw a door at the back of the cave.

 

"Duck!"

 

The chair splintered with a smack against a table as Sweetcherrie did what Inbi shouted. Her eyes flashed over the confusion and she saw Patham looking her way.

 

"There's something there! If we just-," She swung her sword, but missed, and had to dive to the right to not get a facial make-over from the troll, "-get rid of this one!."

 

The troll had given up on finding more furniture to rearrange her cellstructure, namely to something without any structure, and now stormed towards Sweetcherrie with its fists high in the air. Only by another shouted command from Inbi she managed to tumble away from the grabbing fists.

 

Patham assessed his situation by two rapid glances to each side. He had to get past a large troll in order to attack the one close to Sweetcherrie. He lunged headfirst at the troll, closing the distance between the two of them in long strides. Just as the troll swung its large club at him, Patham shifted into his owl form, and flew past the hurtling weapon. Flying through the legs of the still flabbergasted beast posed no further problem.

 

Patham flew close to the ground, until he was close to Sweetcherrie then rose rapidly, and three meters from her shifted back to his human form, looking immediately around to see whether anything close by posed an immediate danger.

 

"What's your plan?" - he asked Sweetcherrie, as he lifted his sword to block any incoming attacks from the troll.

 

"If we would just manage to-," she hacked into the troll's arm, and almost got her sword stuck, "get there, I'm sure we could hold our ground better from there."

 

"Distract the troll." - Patham whispered. "I'll try getting behind it, and knocking it out."

 

Distracting? That would be easier said than done, this troll seemed to notice anything and everything, of course it was her bad luck to get a particularly smart one. Sweetcherrie decided that shouting might be the best destraction, and possibly it would even surpise the beast.

 

"Yo! You! Ugly face! Yeah! Look here!" with her sword she aimed for its face, and for a moment it seemd to work, but then the troll must have seen a movement in the corner if its eyes, and with amazing speed it turned around and swung his arms through the air to launch them at Patham.

 

His back wasn't entirely turned to her, but Inbi screamed at Sweetcherrie to take her chance, and she stuck her sword in the troll's side.

 

Patham ducked from the troll's blow, but there was no need to do so, as Sweetcherrie's strike to its side halted its attack, and enraged, the troll turned back towards Sweetcherrie, but all it managed to achieve was to create Patham an opening through which he could attack, and he slashed deep into the troll's other side.

 

The troll sank to his knees, and with a large bang it fell forwards.

 

"Come on! We have to hurry."

 

Sweetcherrie pulled Patham along towards the door she had seen, and luckily the door wasn't locked. Together they dove into the quiet of a tavern, and Patham quickly moved to close the door behind them.

 

The cavern they had entered was large and spacious. The lights here only came from torches, and instead of a way out it almost seemd as if they were entirely trapped now. In the middle stood a large round table, and around it there were quite a few chairs. In front of each of the chairs an amulet lay on the table, and above the middle of the table a book hovered in mid-air.

 

With the oaken door firmly closed behind them, Sweetcherrie felt save to explore the cavern further and walked around the table. As she did so the book turned with her, and started glowing brighter when she took a step towards it. When she stretched out her hand the book opened and like wildfire the pages flipped over, until it had apparently found the page it wanted to show to them.

 

Not knowing exactly what to do, Sweetcherrie looked at Patham, "Do you think it's save?"

 

Patham listened for several seconds at the door, but heard nothing from outside. Satisfied that they were at least moderately safe here, he followed Sweetcherrie to the strange tome. One glance at it was enough for Patham to realise what the book described. He now understood why things had happened the way they had during the last several hours. It

 

was all clear. How could he have not realized earlier?

 

"I'm pretty sure it's safe here." - he said in reply to Sweetcherrie's question, then returned to reading the two pages, where the book had opened.

 

"If I read this correctly then someone with sufficient control over the flows of energy would be able to achieve quite powerful things simply by thinking strong enough about them, don't you agree?"

 

"Is that what it says?"

 

Sweetcherrie thought about this for a minute. The ground had softened when she had thought it would, and all her friends had appeared when she wished them here, and were those trolls real, or were they coming from her. But that would mean that she could all end it with a simple thought, a simple wish. No, it couldn't be that easy, could it?

 

Patham looked at Sweetcherrie, thinking the same thoughts that she had been.

 

"Hmm..." - he mused, then offered a suggestion, while his gaze lingered on the pages of the book, as though he were hypnotized. "Why don't you try wishing something?" - he suggested, hoping that it would work.

 

"As in what? I mean I can hardly wish for flowers coming out of your ears or something, this is not going to work anyway."

 

Despite the serious situation they were in Sweetcherrie had to giggle about that funny thought, and wished that it would work the way Patham said it would, at least she would have something to laugh about then.

 

Patham looked quizzingly at Sweetcherrie as she giggled and wondered what she could possibly be wishing for. After nothing happened for several seconds, he asked: "So, what did you wish for?"

 

With her mouth open, Sweetcherrie stared at Patham. Cute little tulips were sticking out his ears, and she wondered why he hadn't felt them yet.

 

"Err...nevermind, I think you're theory might hold ground. But wishing those trolls away isn't that simple. I mean they're big and...and," she shuddered "mean."

 

Patham noticed the direction of Sweetcherrie's gaze and felt around his ears, plucking the tulips from them with a wide grin across his face.

 

"You see that was easy. Those trolls wouldn't be harder at all." - he said putting a comforting hand on her shoulder. "If you want we can hold hands and wish both for the trolls to disappear at the same time to see whether it works."

 

"You can always try."

 

Sweetcherrie had forgotten that Inbi was still there. The voice was reassuring somehow, and she nodded, "I guess I could try, but wouldn't it be better-"

 

Patham shook his head, "I think this is the only way, this book is pretty clear about it."

 

"All right, we'll give it a go."

 

She extended her hand towards Patham, and hoped he wouldn't notice how it shook. After all, if it was this simple, wouldn't it then be her fault that those trolls were there in the first place? And wouldn't it be her fault that her friends were in danger? But she shouldn't think about that now, now was the time to think off a tavern without trolls.

 

After several long seconds of waiting, Patham released Sweetcherrie's hand and walked to the door.

 

"Here goes nothing." - he said and opened the door a crack, peeking out.

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