Outside Saeti was throwing up. This in and of itself was enough to concern Parry immensely, but before she could do anything, the wolf-were had collapsed. With a cry of alarm she ran forward and scooped her best friend into her arms, despite a rather disgusting surroundings (Saeti was throwing up, remember? Well, let me tell you, puke does not just go away, and especially not wolf-were puke. It sticks around for a long, long while if it is not taken care of, and is really nasty besides. Its usually a greenish color-)
“Excuse me, but can we PLEASE not talk about this?!” Dirwe yelled up at the sky while pointing to Parry. Poor Parry looked like she was going to throw up herself, evidentially she had not realized before exactly what she was quite literally getting herself into when she tried to pick up Parry. Her left eye started to twitch and it looked like she wanted to scream, but could not quite find the air to do so.
Dashing forward Cin scooped her up out of the filth. “What happened?” He asked the general gathering.
“Like we know,” Cratty answered, shrugging, “She just started throwing up all of the sudden.”
Cin frowned, there had to be a reason. “Aitys!” He called to the little rabbit, looking around for it. From his shoulder he heard a squeak. “Aitys, ask Saeti what she ate while we were at the Black Hovel.” The little rabbit hopped down and over to the ailing wolf-were where she repeated Cin’s question. The creature wimpered pitifully.
Turing back to Cin, the rabbit translated, “She says that the only things she actually ate while she was there were the cookies that came with her meal.”
“Cookies?” Cin gently set Parry down before rusing back inside to get a sample of the cookies Parry had consumed. He was back a moment later with a package of them. “Chocolate Chip Cookies,” He read across the label. There was a gasp as people remembered the meeting with Old Olle.
‘Saeti, lay off the chocolate next full moon or you are going to get ill.’ Was echoing through their minds.
Cin turned the package over and started reading the ingredients so that he would not have to partake in the collective recollection. Suddenly he turned to Parry, but found that while everyone else was distracted she had collapsed. Gathering her up he decided to interrupt the people that were staring off into space distractedly, “Hey! Do any of you know anything about poisons?”
There was a collective blinking as people realized that they were back in the real world again. One man raised his hand. “I suppose I do, I own an apothecary shop.”
“Old man, what can neutralize the poison Trorine?” There was a unison gasp then hushed whispering from the crowd as they recognized the name of the deadly poison.
“Well, I think that Wennariss is just about the only antidote that can take care of that.” He said, rubbing the back of his head.
“Do you have any in stock?” Cin asked urgently.
“Actually, you are in luck, young man, I do.” He turned, “I will go get it.”
“Cratty,” The gate keeper looked up at Cin, “Go with him. I am going to stay here and take care of Parry and Saeti.”
The other man nodded and headed off after the old guy without another word.
The old guy, however, had plenty to say, most of it sticking his nose where it definitely did not belong. “Wow, things were pretty tense back there between you two, just now,” He said rubbing the back of his head, “I am surprised that you just came like that. I thought that you were going to explode when he was talking to you, but you held your temper incredibly well.” He grinned, “Good job.”
Cratty snorted and looked away. “You are wrong.”
“Oh?” The old man raised an eyebrow and looked back, “How so?”
“I just did not want to do anything that might endanger her.” He said with emphasis on the last word.
“Ah, I see, a rivalry over the girl, is it?” The old guy grinned knowingly.
“Heh,” Cratty smiled suddenly, “I wish I were even that far up in the standings. She does not even know that I exist.”
“I am sure that she knows that you exist,” The old man said wisely, “She probably just does not think of you, or is incapable of thinking of you as anything other than a friend.”
“I KNOW THAT ALREADY!!” Cratty shouted, “What do you think I was just saying?!”
“Eh, sorry,” the old guy waved a hand, “Sometimes I get confused. Ah, here we are.” He said, unlocking the door to a shop. A little bell tinkled over head as they entered.
Cratty did not have long to wait, the old man set about preparing the Wennariss for use immediately. The time it was taking, however, seemed infinite as the man prattled on and on about absolutely nothing. Finally it seemed that the mixture was done. The old man put it into a packet and held it out to Cratty. Just as he was about to take it, a cat jumped up out of nowhere and snatched it away.
“What the?!” Cratty watched cat go.
“Oh, no, I was afraid that would happen,” the man moaned, “The Wennariss mixture is one that is extremely popular with cats. I would make you another, but that is the last of my supply of Wennariss.”
Cratty turned to the man, wide eyed, before dashing out into the street. He looked all around for the cat, but could not see it anywhwere. Just when he had given up hope, he heard something from above him.
“Geeze, he really is not very good is he,” He looked up to see the pirate girls standing on the roof of the appothocary. One was holding the packet and the other the cat.
“Maybe Cratty should really be Crappy,” Dirwe said with a half smile.
“Now that is not nice,” Tsidu said, squeezing the cat a little, causing it to yowl.
“For goodness sakes, Tsidu, let that thing go,” Dirwe, said, shaking her head.
“What the hell do the two of you think you are doing?” Cratty screamed from down in the street, “You two are lucky that you are not down here or I would be VERY angry!” He shouted, shaking a fist at them, annoyed that they had succeeded where he had failed.
“Actually, I think his name should be Crabby,” Tsidu, said in a sad tone of voice.
Dirwe giggled, “I think you are right. Let us get this back to the Black Hovel.”
The two of them were off then. By the time Cratty got back the mixture had already been administered and he could only watch as it took effect. Though he was relieved to see Saeti lift her head again (she actually woofed first to scare away the cats that had been gathering around her ever since she had taken the medicine) he was still a little jealous and annoyed that he had not been the one to bring it back. Maybe if he had Parry would have at least thanked him.
It was as Parry was shaking herself to get out the kinks that Cin realized that something was missing. “Hey, did anyone see the title?” People shook their heads and looked around, maybe they were hidden somewhere. Several minutes into their search, however, they were interrupted by a bright light from overhead.
Chapter Eight: The Incredible Edible Chuheese (Or why magic makes everything better.)
Everyone stared at the huge letters floating in the sky (with the exception of Parry, who was looking at her knitting again). The before anyone had the chance to even say anything, huge grey clouds rolled in and covered the sky (but not the words) completely.
“Aw, man, I think it is going to rain,” Tsidu whined, shading her eyes in a completely unnecessary manner as she gazed up a the clouds. A low rumble over head seemed to confirm her suspicions.
"Worse than that," Dirwe groaned, "I think we're having a rerun."
"What do you mean?" Parry looked up from her knitting. As she caught sight of the lettering still floating overhead, her expression changed. A normally calm demenor dissapeared behind a mask of rage. "WHAT?! I thought we got rid of that two chapters ago! Why is it back?!"
"Woah, Parry, calm down, it is just a title." Cratty said taking a few steps back and looking around frantically for a place to hide. Not finding one immediately apparent (besides the restaurant, but he did not want to go back in there if he could help it) he side stepped behind the conveniently located Absin.
"No, this time that stupid person who write our story has gone too far." Cin drew his incredibly heavy sword and pointed it at the chapter title. "I will distroy it, for I hate cheese!" A sudden and spontanious appause caused him to turn his head. "What the heck?"
"You're doing it, Cin!" Parry cheered, "You're lifting the sword!"
With mute horror, the boy slowly turned his head back towards his sword. The moment his eyes saw what his body was doing, he collapsed. The group groaned, shaking their heads.
"I can't believe, he was so close!" Parry moaned, staring upwards.
"I'll bet he forgot how heavy it was in the heat of the moment, and that's how he managed to keep it up." Cratty muttered beside her.
"I can hear you!" Cin reminded them, a vein bulging from his forhead.
"So what?" Cratty rolled his eyes, "It is not like you can do anything about it."
With a growl, Cin jumped at Cratty, "We will just see about that!"
Just as it looked like a fist fight would break out, an unfamiliar cough caught their attention. Looking up from where he had Cratty by the collar, Cin raised an eyebrow at the unfamiliar man before them. "Ah who the heck are you supposed to be?" He paused, “Wait a minute; I have seen you somewhere before, have I not?” He furrowed his brow, trying to remember.
"Me? I am just your run of the mill wizard." The man coughed again, "I have to ask, though, did one of you just now say that you hated cheese?"
"Yeah, that would be me." Cin sneared, "You got a problem with that old man?"
"How can you not like cheese?!"
"How can you all speak in unison like that?" Cin countered, "You all must practice or something."
"Not liking cheese," Feiskar shook his fuzzy his head from where he had suddenly appeared on Absin’s shoulder, "It is criminal."
Saeti howled in agreement.
Parry burst into tears, "I cannot believe I ever fell in love with a cheese hater!"
"Now I know why I do not like him," Cratty muttered to Dirwe, "It is because he is a cheese hater."
"Are you sure it is not just because he got the main female character and you did not?" Dirwe muttered back.
Cin twitched as he stared at his comrades in disbelief. "What in the-"
"Would you like rectify your mistake?"
“Rectify my…” Cin stared at all of them in disbelief, before deciding suddenly that he was not the one at fault here. “Listen up, all of you! Just because I happen not to like cheese does not give you the right to say those kinds of things. In fact, it was my not liking cheese that got us out of the last mess we were in, or have you all already forgotten Shosel and the Black Hovel.” He waved behind him at the building.
“But still!” Tsidu exclaimed, close to tears herself (for no apparent reason other than Parry was crying.) “How can you not like cheese and still claim to be a good guy?”
“I bet that even the evil warlord and his daughter like cheese!” Dirwe added.
The disbelief on his face growing, Cin shook his head, “Do you not think that you all are taking this just a little bit too far?” He asked, wondering whether or not he had better give up his title as Savior of Saviors and save his own skin instead.
“Lad, there is a way out, you know,” The old wizard broke in at last. “Try my Chuheeze, you will like it, I promise!” He smiled in a way that was distinctly reminiscent of Shosel.
“Look, I do not want your cheese, old man, and before you even try it, not, I do not want it with green eggs and ham. I do not want it in a box, I do not like it with a fox. I do not want it here or there, I do not want it anywhere! I do not care if you give a *bleep*, but I do not want your cheese old man!” He paused as another burst of spontaneous applause rippled through the group. “Geeze you guys change sides easily!” Cin muttered in disgust, shaking his head.
“I do not know what came over me,” Parry said, shaking her head, “It was so strange, like I was in a fog.”
“More like I was swimming in something sticky,” Dirwe said, frowning, “I could here myself talking, faintly in the distance, but I was not there to actually make it happen.”
“What the heck is going on here?!” Cin shouted, wishing he could bang his head against a wall. Maybe blunt trauma to the cranium would make things clearer to him.
“Well, there you go, Feiskar,” The old man (who by now everyone has hopefully realized is Nieru), “The boy I chose as a hero is able to use some simple magic (the kind those who have not been trained can use). On the down side, though, he appears to be turophobic.” He shook his head.
“I am not afraid of the cheese!” Cin yelled, “I just do not like, it, okay? Give me a break!”
Cratty snickered, “Says he is not afraid of the cheese. I bet he would not touch it, though.” He grinned while everyone else rolled their eyes at him.
“You know something, I have had it with all of you,” Cin said turning away, “This is so not worth my time, I am out of here.” To everyone’s horror he turned and left in the direction of the nearest tavern (which was coincidentally, and at the same time quite conveniently located about fifty feet down the road; they were on the verge of entering the next town.)
“Wait, Cin, I am coming with you!” Parry called, running after him to catch up. There was sudden movement in the rest of the group as they to hurried after their respective leaders (the pirates and Saeti are with Parry and Feiskar had changed shoulders not too long ago to Parry to try and comfort her after the discovery that Cin was a cheese hater, and Absin’s with Feiskar, remember?) Finally it was only Cratty and old Nieru left.
“So, are you going to follow them?” The old guy asked, looking over at the bewildered gate keeper.
“I just do not understand how this can keep happening,” Cratty muttered, “How does that guy keep getting all the girls, all the good stuff, all the glory! Darn it, I am just as good as he is, what am I missing?”
“Well, heros often have a certain magnetism about them that other people, though they can emulate that hero in every other way, cannot seem to copy. To answer your question, boy, you need to become a hero yourself.” The old man turned to go, moving off towards town at a rate faster than a man his apparent age should have been able to achieve.
“And how am I supposed to do that?!” Cratty yelled after him. There was a pitter pattering around him as the rain that had been gathering overhead most of the day finally began to fall.
“You will know when the time comes,” Nieru replied, raising an arm to wave, but not actually looking back, “Well, you will either know, or everything you actually care for will be destroyed.” He disappeared from sight while Cratty stood there with a dumbfounded expression on his face.
“The guy is a loon. An absolute loon,” He shook his head and headed into the tavern after the others.
They were easier to find than he expected. For one thing they were the one that everyone else was staring at. For another, they were the only group with a giant pair of knitting needles somewhere among its members. Cratty shook his head, Parry really knew how to keep a low profile. He ambled over and was surprised to find that they were all not simply trying to get drunk. They were actually trying to figure out a strategy as to what they were doing for the rest of the quest. Shaking his head the former gate keeper signaled one of the bar maids for a drink. He then turned back to listen as the blue squirrel mage attempted to organize things with charts, graphs, and other presentation like meeting supplies that he kept poofing in and out. It appeared that Cratty was the only one even trying to listen anymore. As such he decided to do the decent thing. Reaching into the center of the group he grabbed the mage off the table.
“Feiskar,” He said in a bored tone, “Do us all a favor and go get drunk, okay?” He then proceeded to dunk the squirrel into the tankard that the barmaid was just bringing over. He set the tankard onto the table and waited until the squirrel came up sputtering to say, “And remember to stay away from the chocolate liquor, got it?” He turned back to the group without waiting for an answer.
For the most part the rest of the adventurers seemed amused (though Parry looked distinctly more concerned than amused, and Cin’s amusement was limited to a raised eyebrow and an ever so slight smile.) They turned them back to the table and for a few grim minutes stared at it as they all realized that though Feiskar’s speech had indeed been incredibly annoying and actually absolutely impossible to listen to, it had been their best hope. Groaning Dirwe picked up her tankard, and, while everyone else stared, downed it in one go. She slammed the mug down and looked over at Tsidu and Parry, grinning in challege. Not to be out done, the two of them downed their mugs as well. This led to chugging all around the table. Cin called for more drinks. Three drinks later and everyone had a nice rosey glow over their nose. Five drinks after that and they were ready to try to figure out the riddle. "A right," Cin slurred, "We 'ave tree clues."
"No we don." Cratty contradicted. "We 'ave a profensy, a profesnie, a profensizle. We 'ave a predishon."
"Yeah, right, fergot 'bout that." Cin hiccuped. "So yesh, who hash the profeshnizle?"
"I gotsh the predishon right here," Parry yelled in joyous reply, waving the magic eight ball around.
"No, no, not dat, we already seen dat." Cin hiccuped again rather loudly. "We wan tah know how wer spossed to save the choshen ones."
"But I thought we wer the choshen wons. We are da chosen ones, rite?” Parry asked, unable to remember herself all of the sudden. Actually, she was wondering why there were pink rabbits floating in the air over their heads…
“We are the choshen ones tah save da choshen ones.” Cin replied, looking where Parry was, but seeing figures of her dancing instead.
“Well dat doeshn make mush shenshe,” Tsidu slurred.
“Yesh,” Cin replied, “Well neider doesh anytin elshe in dish shtory. Look, what wash the protelefshnizle?”
Parry though for a moment (apparently very hard for a drunk person) before coming up with, “I think it was something like "The great lors of da lans shall shleep, ‘til shome one releashes all deir sheep.”
“What?” Dirwe said suddenly, wincing in confusion, “Dat doeshn make any shense.”
“You already said that.” Cratty frowned at the girl, his vision swimming.
“No didn', dat wash Shudi,” Dirwe replied, sticking out her tongue.
“Whatever,” Cin took a deep breath and looked around, “Doesh anyone ‘member what da profeshtinizle really wash?”
"In darkest times
Heroes shall emerge
but darkness shall claim them
Till there comes a day
That one can reverse
The plant Wennariss." Absin recited in an off handed manner.
“Woah,” the rest of the group stared at their till now unintelligible comrade, “You cin talk Abby?” Tsudi asked in a stunned voice.
“Of course I can,” He chuckled, “I only use the accent to mess with your mind. And do not call me Abby.”
“Aw, but ah like Abby.” Tsidu whined.
“And dat ish sho wrong!” Cratty exclaimed.
“Yes,” Abby grinned, “But you do not have to worry about that.”
“What? Why naht?” Cratty asked, frowning in an exaggerated manner.
“Because,” Abby replied, grinning, “You will not be able to remember any of this tomorrow.”
Cratty blinked, “Oh..yeah.” He shrugged, “Back to the riddle.”
“Wait, ish it a riddle?” Parry asked, scratching her head, “I thought it was a profenshenee.”
“It ish shometin, okay?” Cin replied, shrugging, “So, um, what the heck is Wennarish?” He asked in an apparent laps of memory.
“It ish dat antidote we used on Shaeti.” Parry reminded him.
“Great,” He moaned, “Sho we need an anidoe to an anidoe?”
“We are lookin’ for an ani-anidote?” Tsidu asked, “Well then why de we not just use poison?”
Everyone stared for a moment, amazed that one, she had actually sounded somewhat sober, and two, she had actually made a suggestion that they could use and not just her normal babbling.
“Dat achually makes shense,” Cin said in an amazed tone of voice, ”Wow..why did we not think of dis when we were shober?”
Tsidu shrugged, “Because we were sober,” She suggested, once again making more sense that she was supposed to be able to.
“Whatever. I am going to bed,” Cin said with a yawn and a stretch, “Abby, you write down the ansher and make sure we are up before three tomorrow.”
The other man shrugged, “Yeah, yeah, whatever,” He watched as everyone got up and headed upstairs to rooms he knew he was now going to have to reserve and pay for. “And quit calling me Abby,” He called after them, “It will probably be the only thing you guys remember when you wake up tomorrow.” He muttered sourly.
At the top of the stairs they all parted ways going into separate rooms and collapsing onto the beds that were available, most of them having already fallen into a drunken stupor before their heads hit the pillows.