"What are we going to do?" Nick moaned. David shushed him quickly. He studied the village from between the waving stalks of grain. Sunset was drawing near sooner then any of them cared to admit and the people in the distance were a bee's hive of activity. David turned around on his hands and knees and sat cross-legged in front of Richard and Nick. Richard was playing with a grain of wheat, pushing it around in the dirt in a cast-fallen way while Nick craned his head upward to look over the grain that was hiding them and back to the village.
" Richard sighed, "He didn't deserve to get burned
"He's not dead yet, Rick, so come on! What are your ideas for rescue?" David nudged them, trying to stop them from giving up. They both turned their heads and looked at him, deflated. David half sighed, half groaned. Too late.
"Come on! We can't give up on him! Besides, you know the little git is going to haunt us for the rest of our days if we just let him die. Richard
what else do you know about the villagers?"
"Nothing I haven't already told you, Dave." He said with a sigh, turning back to his grain of wheat. "They're superstitious and extremely gullible
unless your trying to get them to believe something's not evil or possessed."
"Doesn't that just figure?" Nick muttered.
"Do they have a certain type of religion?" David asked, ignoring Nick.
they used to worship the sun-spirt, well, before the eclipse anyway
actually I think they still do, but now they're just convinced that some evil entity is covering it or something like that. Look, I don't know, okay, but I don't see how us sitting here, risking our own arses, will help Roger anyway! I think we should leave while we still can."
"No!" David shouted. He stopped short, then lowed his voice to a horse whisper. "No! I'm not going to just walk away from him. He might be a complete, pompous, horse-faced, jerk and we all hate him for numerous reasons, but he is our friend! And for the love of God, those people are going to roast him alive! We can't just walk away from him. I know Roger would turn back for any of us, he-" David was interrupted by Nick's snort of laughter. "Alright, I'm giving him too much credit. He most likely would turn back for any of us, but your missing the point! He's our friend, given he's a crappy friend sometimes, but our friend none the less and he needs our help! Now, who's with me?" The pathetic muttering of replies wasn't very reassuring, but it was better then nothing and David didn't have time to push his luck.
"Don't over exert yourself, guys." David commented dryly, "Now, Richard-
"I told you everything I know about that stupid village, Dave!"
"No! Completely different question. Those liquids that were for sale in the apothecary's store, or whatever that pace was, do you know what they are?"
Richard looked at a loss. "Uh
drugs and stuff, I suppose
"Anything that could create smoke?" Nick shot his head up and looked at David strangely.
why?" Richard asked again.
" David smiled up at the sinking sun, "I think I've got an idea."
"This is madness!" Nick muttered. David shushed him and pressed closer against the stone wall as another villager passed their hiding place. Slowly peaking around the corner of the building, David saw that the cost was clear and motioned for the other two to follow. Torches were being lit around the village, making it harder for the three to hide. Roger had been moved to the center of the village square. His sulking form could just barely be made out against the flickering torchlight.
"I'm telling you, Dave, madness!" Nick complained again, adjusting the brown villager robe that was too short for him. Three villagers were now laying bound and unconscious in the wheat field, missing their cloths horribly. The disguise wasn't fool-proof, however. Nick's was too short and it showed most of his white socks, Richard's was too long and he kept tripping over it, David's was too big and the sides kept slipping over his thin shoulder blades, even with the hood up. It felt weird to be this thin again, but it was nice. He would have to work on loosing some of those extra pounds when he got home. He could hear Roger's snide comments now.
"Shut up, Nick." David hushed as they stopped in front of the door the the shop. He reached out and carefully turned the nob. By some miracle, it was unlocked and the three men slipped unnoticed inside.
The place looked very different from their last visit only an hour or so ago. It was virtually deserted and dimly lit. Not a soul stirred in the silence. The hollow sound of boots echoed as Richard walked over to a shelf.
"Don't worry, no one will come in here for quite a while." He said while striking a match and lighting a candle, "They believe that the place where a demon is discovered becomes cured for several hours. We are as safe as a rat in a trap."
David stared at Richard. "Your analogy worries me, Rick."
a rat in a trap is safe from predators on the outside for a time, right?"
yeah, sure. Anyway," David said, eager to change the subject, "we need to find something that will create lots and lots of smoke
that preferably won't kill us. We need a distraction, not a WWI battle trench." The tinkling of glass hitting glass as the three searched for any chemical they could use. Unfortunately, as David soon found out, almost none of the labels were in english. In a desperate attempt, he picked up a random vial, unscrewed the lid, and took a bid whiff of the unknown substance. He coughed, spluttered and fell to the ground, pinching his burning nose closed, and spilling the majority of it's contents on the floor.
"Ow, ow, ow! Shit that hurts! Ow
" David moaned pathetically. Seeing the commotion, Nick walked over and picked up the vial and carefully sniffed what was left of it.
"Whoh! Chlorine!" Nick said, pulling his head away quickly. "Your lucky there wasn't more of it! The fumes could really irritate your nose, you know."
"Yeah, no bloody kidding." David growled, pulling himself to his feet, keeping his burning nose pinched closed.
"Well, we definitely can't use this!" Nick said screwing the lid back on and placing it back on the shelf. "It would kill us all dead. My question is
why are they selling it as a drug?"
"No wonder these people are whacked." David laughed. Nick shared the joke and they went on browsing the shelves.
Suddenly, the sound of boots grinding against dirt came near the door. The three men froze, hearts beating fast. The footsteps stopped in front of the door. As quick as lightning they scrambled to find a hiding place.
A single knock on the frame of the door.
David dove behind the counter like a baseball player diving for home base, although David slid a lot further then a baseball player would and knocked his head against the shelf, causing the tinkling of glass as the vials swayed from the impact.
Nick scrambled to steady the vials. He was too late. One-two
three vials fell toward the ground. Nick lunged to catch two of them, and, with a stroke of pure luck, managed it and held them fast in his hands. The third fell to the hard wood floor. Richard, David, and Nick squinted their eyes, waiting for the shattering sound that would send them to their graves. It didn't come. The vial had, by some miracle, fallen unscathed. Nick vary nearly shouted for joy.
A third knock.
Richard ran for the hiding place, but his long robe caught under his feet and he fell to the ground with a thud. David reached out and grabbed his hands, trying to pull him to the safety of behind the counter.
The nob turned.
David yanked with all his might and Richard tried to use his feet to accelerate the process.
The door opened.
Richard's feet disappeared behind the counter just in time and Nick dropped down to the floor just at the villager looked their way. The men dared not breath. The footsteps slowly thudded across the wooden floor. The wide room echoed the careful steps and the three men's rapid heartbeats. The villager walked further away from them, to the other side of the store. There was the sound of metal against wood and the footsteps rapidly walked back toward them, and the door. The boots hit the sound of dirt and and door closed. The three men all let out sighs of released pressure.
"Oh merciful lord in heaven, never again." David breathed, rubbing the top of his head with both hands.
"I was sweating like a bloody overripe cheese! I swear that bloke heard my heartbeat." Nick said, releasing the vials the he had kept clamped in his fists. The rolled across the floor to join the other in the corner.
"Your heartbeat? Mine was beating so hard I could feel it in my eyes!" Richard said, standing up on his shaking legs.
never again." David continued to mutter as they all stood.
lets keep searching. We haven't got much time." Richard and David nodded and the three continued to search the shop, now extremely jumpy at the slightest noise. Nothing they found would work. The chemicals and plants they found produced ether poisonous gases or hardly any. They were just about to lose hope, but then...
"Hey, guys, look at this." Both David and Richard spun around on their heels at the sound of Nick's voice. He was holding a small sack with some sort of black powder in it in his hands. He pinched a small bit between his fingers, lifted it up and sprinkled it over the candle flame. The flame devoured the substance, leaping up to it greedily. The flame flickered purple and a puff of black smoke emerged where the powder was eaten up.
"Perfect!" David burst out, making Nick jump with fright. He walked over and took the powder from him, examining it with joy. "You know," He said, looking up from the bag, "This could actually work!"
"Oh yay! Now we're not risking our lives for the inevitable result of failure," Richard remarked cynically. "there's actually the slight possibility of hope for success. I'm thrilled."
"Thank you, Roger." Was David's response as he placed the bag on the counter. "Now
there's other stuff here
anything that could help!"
The three began to search tirelessly. Anything that could possibly add to the dramatic effect of the show they were about to put on was thrown on the counter next to the black powder. Although, they didn't know how half the things they gathered worked, they were determined to find out. After all, time was running out and the sun was sinking fast.
After what seemed like ages of careful experimentation and two smashed fingers, David smiled down at the contraptions they had made from the numerous, yet strange, resources. "I think we're ready. Boys," He clapped Nick and Richard on the shoulder, "we are going to blow some minds tonight!"
"Goodbye, cruel world
I'm leaving you today. Goodbye, goodbye
goodbye. Goodbye all you- oh FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST! WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU PEOPLE!?" Roger very nearly screamed as another wadded up ball of herbs hit the back of his head. He propped himself up on his elbows and glared at the many faces staring at him in alarm. Orange spots still danced in his peripheral vision. "CAN'T A MAN DIE IN-oh forget it." He growled as another ball of herbs hit him. He fell back on his face and lay there, trying hard to drown out the many voices. They weren't taunting, but comforting, or attempting to be, anyway. They said things like: "Don't worry, we will free you from your gefängnis soon." or "You will be free of that hideous form soon." He really freaked them out when he started spitting back snide remarks. One woman actually screamed and fainted. It was entertaining for a while, but he shut up once he realized that the wood pile under the cage was growing rapidly.
where was I? Oh, right. Goodbye all you people... there's nothing you can say to make me change my mind
goodbye." He muttered, finishing his song. Although
it didn't quite fit the situation since it was the people forcing him to this untimely end and there was a hell of a lot they could say to help him change his mind. Well
maybe it wasn't the end. Maybe he would wake up just as the flames began to lick the bars of his cage with a severe hangover and go on with what was left of his life. Never drinking a drop of alcohol again. Ever.
Quite out of the blue, he herd the villagers begin to sing. It sounded like some old church hymn that lacked all harmony and any structure at all. Roger groaned loudly. Not only did he hate hymns, but this was a really crappy one.
"Oh merciful lord in heaven, kill me now." He muttered, as he rolled over and clamped his hands over his ears.
"Release Solens Kinder!" A loud voice suddenly bellowed. Roger sat strait up and watched at four men carrying torches neared him from all directions.
"Shit." He cursed, his eyes wide. "Shit! I didn't mean it! Really I was kidding, it was a joke see? Ha ha, funny!" Apparently, gibbering pathetically didn't do anything. Time to try plan B.
"Please don't kill me!" He begged. "I want to live! I've got two kids back home and maybe grandchildren soon! I'm too young to die yet!" Thank God David couldn't see the display. That fat, lazy, sob would never let him forget this if he knew. "Please, I-" A crack like a gun shot echoed though the darkness.
Roger jumped up and walked to the bars of the cage, gripping them with his hands and looking around for the source of the noise. The rest of the villagers seemed to be doing the same thing. Suddenly, there was a spark in two of the torches further away from the villagers. The flames flared and turned purple, spewing out heavy, dark smoke. Then the four torches the men were going to use to turn Roger into a living candle suddenly did the same. One of the men dropped his in horror while the other three stared at the purple flames in shock. Panic began to spread, but the huge man who had chased David and the others out of town calmed everyone down.
"Stilte!" The man shouted, "This is only dunklespulver! Nothing more. Some one is playing a trick on us! We-" The man was cut short by another loud bang and a woman's startled scream. Roger squinted though the thickening smoke, trying to make out what was going on.
A roar sounded as two red lights shone though the smoke. There was a bang and another roar. The villagers were stunned and staring up at the two red lights that now looked a lot like eyes with their mouth's gaping. Roger's mouth was on the floor too. This was either really good news, or really bad news.
Now, Roger wasn't entirely sure it wasn't just him, but at that moment, he could've sworn he heard whispering. It didn't sound like normal whispering. It sounded warped and it was amplified by something. He reflexively looked about for speakers, but naturally found none.
"God, I can hardly breath!"
"Shut up, stupid! I've uncovered it, they can hear you!"
"Don't say sorry, shut up!"
Silence. The whispering had stopped, but the people were sill staring up at the huge red lights, completely transfixed. The smoke was getting thicker and it was flowing over the ground like water, and rising fast.
"People of this village!" A voice suddenly boomed across the evening. It seemed to be coming from all around him, there was no recognizable source. A nine on Roger's one to ten impressiveness scale. On the villager's, it was an easy thirty-six. "Your actions have displeased me!"
"Oh great výtrysk! What have we done to anger such a noble creature as yourself?" It was the giant man who had spoken. He and the rest of the villagers who weren't still standing there like deer in head-lights had fallen to their knees. Roger rolled his eyes. What a bootlicker.
The apparition just began to state it's answer when his whole cage vibrated as someone tapped it. Roger spun around to to see a villager smiling at him. It took a moment for him to recognize the black mustache and thick curly hair hiding under his brown hood.
"Nick!" Roger whispered horsely and scurried over to the other side of the cage. "Your rescuing me!"
"Yep. Dave and Rick are busy with the distraction. You like it?"
Roger looked back over his shoulder to the towering, smoky phantom behind him, then back at Nick with surprise.
"You guys did that?"
I'm going to get you out of here." Nick said, feeling like he had to relay that fact as he began to unhook the latch.
"Man! I love you blokes so much!" Roger said softly, then froze in horror when his brain registered what had just spilled out of his fat mouth. "Don't tell Dave I said that!" Nick only chuckled and shook his head. "Actually
don't tell anyone I said that
The entire operation backfired in the moment after that statement. It started when the booming voice of the apparition suddenly stopped and Nick froze, staring with wide eyes. Roger tuned to see the smoke that had shrouded the entire village like a thick blanket, rapidly disappearing, getting sucked out by some invisible vacuum cleaner in the ground. The St. John's Wart, apparently did have a proper use as it absorbed every last particle of the dark gas like a starving hyena.
Two men were left standing in the clear air as the last of their shield vanished into the now purple plants. One appeared to be holding two funky looking instruments that shattered into a million pieces the moment the man dropped them to the ground in shock of the sudden, unexpected exposer.
On a whim, the huge villager spun around to check on their caged demon. Nick, also on a whim, gave a nervous little wave.
Then everything went out of control.
It all happened so fast Roger didn't have time to register it all in his brain. When recalling the incident later, it was all just bunches of nonsense. The large men screamed something in a language he couldn't understand. No surprise. All the villagers seemed to go mad with no direct target, not even the three men who had obviously enraged them. Perhaps it was the brown robes that threw them off guard.
In the confusion, two things happened. One, somehow a torch managed to roll over to the wood pile underneath Roger without getting trampled and hungrily began to eat up the kindling. Roger's widened eyes began to water as smoke rose from below. Roger opened his mouth to cry from help, but he realized it was useless since the entire village was screaming much louder then he could hope to. Thinking on his feet, Roger pressed his back against the bars of the cage and ran with all his might to the other side, kicking the herbs out of his way like footballs. He slammed against the bars, making the whole cage tip. He carefully backtracked and did it again. This time, the cage leaned even further and, with the help of someone's waylaid arm, toppled to the ground below.
It was only in the stomach-turning moments during the fall when Roger realized that that had been a really stupid idea.
The cage hit the ground with a crash and Roger felt a crack vibrate though his entire arm, followed by blinding pain. Perfect, he thought as he ground his teeth in pain. Now not only do I have a concussion from this brilliant adventure, but now a broken arm. At least he wasn't going to be burned alive.
Knock on wood.
As it turns out, thanks to Roger's brilliant luck, those balls of herbs that everyone had been throwing at him were highly flammable. Cradling his left arm, he watched in horror as a cluster of embers separated from the fire and floated downward, on a direct path to him. In a panic, he scooted back, closer to the top of the cage, now laying on it's side, as the embers gracefully settled right on the top of one of the balls of herbs. It burst into a green flame and slowly crept toward him.
Roger spewed out every cuss word in his mental dictionary and many more that weren't. Adrenalin pumped though his body, giving his the raw energy to get up and do something. However, as he looked around, he saw nothing he could do. The door to the cage was directly above him and there was no way he could climb that, not with a broken arm. He couldn't roll it, on one side of him was an extinguished torch that someone had dropped ages ago and the other side, a flaming inferno. Brilliant. Maybe being burned alive wasn't as bad as everyone said
Or it was worse. It didn't really matter, since the end looked immanent anyway and he sure wasn't going to go out easy. Well, he might as well give another pathetic stab at life.
"NICK! DAVID! RICHARD! SOMEONE! ANYONE! HELP!" He screamed at the top of his lungs, which was much louder then he had anticipated. If help was going to come, it better come right now, because the flames were getting dangerously close. Roger quickly pulled back his legs as the flames licked his shoes. He took another deep breath to scream for help again
Roger shot his head up to see David fumbling with the latch to the cage and flinging it open. He had a split lip and he had long ago shed his brown robes, so he stood out against the monotone coloring of the distressed villagers.
"About fucking time David!" Roger shouted. David hesitated for a split second before reaching his hand into the cage, the green fire dancing around David's arm as he pulled Roger out.
"You can thank me later." David muttered as he stuffed Roger into his shirt pocket. Protesting, Roger pulled himself back up with his good arm so he could see over the lip of the pocket and pay attention to what was going on.
David was standing still, scanning the crowd for Nick or Richard. Roger, not wanting to feel completely useless, did the same.
"There they are!" Roger shouted, pointing toward two figures standing back to back. One of them had no robes and the other was waring white socks that were almost glowing in the darkness. Holding a large stick, the man with the socks looked like he wasn't at all afraid to whack more then one head. The other had his fists raised and clenched, but wasn't quite sure what to do with them.
Even in the dark it was obvious who was who.
David began to run up to the two men and Roger had to duck back down in the safety of the pocket to keep from hurling. It was like riding underneath a giant horse walking on two legs. Not very fun. Roger clutched his broken arm closer to his chest. It hurt like hell and the pain only got worse at every fall of David's feet.
"Come on, you two!" Roger herd David say during a brief stop, "Lets get out of here!" He started running again, the sound of his heavy footsteps now joined by two other's. The chaotic noises that had dominated the air waves in the village slowly began to fade away as the group got further and further away from the village.
Half expecting to hear another set of footsteps as someone from the village gave chase, Roger didn't relax in the least bit, but as time went on, he only herd the sound of his three friends. Gradually, they slowed, eventually coming to a complete stop. David bent forward to catch his breath, almost dumping Roger out of his pocket, but Roger was too busy trying to to cry out in pain to spit out a snide demand to watch it. David straitened up, turing to face the other two.
" Roger herd Rick say. Roger perked up his ears in irritation.
all that for nothing." Nick added.
"OI! I'm right here!" Roger shouted, swallowing the pain and lifting himself up to glare at Nick and Richard. They both looked at him in shock.
"Roger! David, you got him?" Nick asked, now smiling.
"What? You didn't hear his blood-curdling scream for help? I saw him on the ground, still in the cage, so I got him out."
"Yeah and nearly crushed my arm in the process!" Roger snapped. Richard was still staring in shock.
"Your welcome, Rog." David replied dryly.
"Come one, lets get out of here! I want to get as much distance between us and that nut house as posable." Nick suggested. No one was complaining about that. David and Nick turned and began to walk down the path, but Richard was standing rooted to the spot.
"Come on, Rick! Lets go!" Roger shouted, extremely eager to leave. He herd his hesitant footsteps begin to follow them. Then, he must have just been imagining it, but he swore he herd Richard mutter something behind them.