The Battle Royale S2 [Round 4: Burnination Studios]

The Battle Royale S2 [Round 4: Burnination Studios]
Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 2: Prospect Creek]
Originally posted on MSPA by Godbot.

The pancake burst open in a shower of syrup and fried batter as Umbra rose to its full height, surveying the pancake lake for its attacker from nine feet in the air. Not that Dream was trying to hide, of course. He flew to Umbra’s eye level, stopping just out of reach.

“Who are you,” demanded Dream, pointing a large dreamknife dripping with syrup and cinnamon sugar at the towering shadow, “And what are you doing in my subconscious?”

Butter coalesced on the surface of the pancake, spelling out a rather large


before dissipating as Wardell waded through the message, hastily making his way towards the edge of the pancake.

Umbra screamed, lunging for Dream. Its stiltlike legs were still rooted to the spot, though, so it just fell forward, clumsily trying to grab at Dream from far out of reach. It quickly recovered, managing to pull one leg free and plant a hand on the ground in time to steady itself, and it aimed its free arm at Dream. With a sickening rubbery sound, its arm extended far over its usual limit. Long, thin holes in its shadowy skin stretched open from the strain, revealing a hollow interior. Dream flitted out of the way as the arm shot past him, slashing the arm for good measure. Umbra retracted its arm, howling in pain, and planted it on the ground, pulling its other arm free and stretching it to swipe at Dream as it scrambled towards him on three limbs. Dream dipped out of the way, floating between Umbra and –

Whose body was that?

‘UMBRA WONDERED,’ wrote the butter.

That was definitely the person Umbra knew it was protecting, but… that wasn’t Sereno.

Where was Sereno? Who was this?

It was about then that Umbra noticed that its hand had only three blocky fingers.


Despite being mired in syrup wearing shorts and only one boot, and despite his heavy, syruplogged scarf dragging behind him, Wardell somehow managed to wade his way to the outer limits of the pancake. Climbing over the edge turned out not to be a problem; It just came apart as he walked right through it.

That’s not to say there weren’t any other problems, though.

In the time it had taken him to run away from Umbra, the outer pool of syrup had extended another 20 feet in all directions, and it was starting to flow (in the loosest sense of the word) down the street, picking up dirt and dust as it went. As Wardell watched, an enormous waffle fell from the sky and crashed into the ever-expanding lake of syrup, making a pathetic little splash in the thick, unmovable liquid.

Well, at least now Prospect Creek had a creek again, he guessed.

Even Wardell had been paying enough attention to understand the basics of what was going on: Prospect Creek’s mind-altering hallucinogenic gas was distorting Photographer’s reality-altering dreams, and everyone was losing. Umbra had apparently possessed Photographer, so it was trying to protect him now that-

Come to think of it, that probably meant Sereno was dead.


Anyway, Dream was trying to protect Photographer from Umbra, who was trying to protect Photographer from Dream. The fighting going on around him just got Photographer stressed, which was what had caused things like that collapsing saloon from a couple of minutes ago, and the syrup flood right now. The longer the fighting went on, the bigger the battlefield became, and there were no signs of anyone planning on stopping.

If he ran away, Wardell figured, he probably wouldn’t be able to find safety. The fight needs to end.

If Dream won, Photographer’s hallucinogenic nightmares would be over. Mostly.

But if Umbra won (the likely scenario), the dreams would end. Everyone would be safe, and they could all move on to the next round.

Seemed straightforward enough.


Umbra wailed in rage and frustration, pulling free of the syrup and stretching to enormous proportions to dive at either Photographer or Dream – even Umbra wasn’t quite sure who it was attacking or why. With a glance over his shoulder, Dream flew forwards to catch Umbra by the shoulders, trying to hold it back as it reached for Photographer with a 30-foot arm. Dream didn’t have time to stop it. He grabbed the handle of dreamknife, which he had pinned to Umbra’s chest in his haste to catch it, and raised it over Umbra’s head, preparing to stab through a purplish eye.

Umbra planted a hand on the ground by Photographer and raised its other arm. Three thick, blocky fingers closed around Dream and hurled him into the syrup, making as much of a splash as a thick viscous liquid could manage. As Umbra blindly crawled forward, reaching for its new host body, Dream hastily recovered, spiraling around Umbra’s arm as he raced it to Photographer’s sleeping form. He kicked it out of the way at the last second and turned to face Umbra, hovering just above the pancake’s surface. Umbra shrank down to about nine feet tall, solidifying to heal its wounds as it raced towards Photographer on long, spindly legs.

Dream raised his blade and crouched down a bit, bracing himself.

Umbra pulled an arm back, and-


‘SMACK,’ wrote the butter, but its words were quickly erased as Umbra fell onto them. It climbed to its feet in a daze, just in time for another book to smack into its head, sending it staggering backwards. It quickly turned to face its new attacker.

“I am trying to read,” announced Wardell, producing a hardcover copy of Discrete Mathematics Without Applications and pointing it at the shadow. Umbra gave a low, guttural growl that quickly grew into another scream as it lunged, forgetting about Photographer to attack this new intruder. A book to the face quickly persuaded it to stop.

‘HE TRIED TO SAVE ME,’ wrote the butter to his left.

‘YOU TRIED TO KILL ME,’ wrote the butter on his right.

“You’re being too noisy,” said Wardell, giving Dream a subtle nod while Umbra was distracted.

Luckily for Dream, he was utterly speechless. He sheathed the dreamknife to pick up Photographer in one hand and the real knife in the other and hastily floated away from Umbra’s frustrated screams.

Wardell twisted his scarf, squeezing out most of the syrup while Umbra was distracted.

“Thanks!” exclaimed the scarf. Wardell wordlessly clapped a book around one of its ends. The scarf’s muffled protests were subtitled in the butter in front of him, but the writing quickly stopped when Wardell glared at it. Just as he was deciding whether or not he should dunk his scarf in the syrup again, Umbra’s hand surged towards him, so he let the scarf go to parry it aside. He glanced at the pages he had opened to.

SPI, read one page.
DERS, read the other.

The book slammed into Umbra’s face. No big loss, really.

A colossal hand blindly slammed into the syrup nearby, splattering Wardell with syrup. It was too far away to hit him, but much too close for comfort in a situation where he couldn’t even run. The scarf lashed out on its own, grabbing either end of one of the rips in Umbra’s arm and pulling it open. Umbra roared in what sounded like agony but quickly crescendoed into another wail that made waves in the syrup and blew Wardell's scarf back, freeing its arm.

As Umbra readied another scream, Wardell pulled his hood up, drowning out the attack with the books' singing and droning.

<div style="margin-left:40px">Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye:
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.</div>


Admittedly, Wardell hadn't seen that coming.

“Scarf,” Wardell muttered over the chanting.


“That's a ghost.”

“Wait, really? Umbra is?”

“The coat seems to think so. How fast can you get me the encyclopedia?”

One end of the scarf plunged into the back of Wardell's coat, rummaging for a specific book. “Give me three minutes,” estimated the other end.

“I can manage that,” replied Wardell, drawing The Iliad and The Odyssey from his coat. He dodged out of the way as Umbra's hand slammed down in front of him, closer this time. He wasn't worried.

This was and always had been a fight between a ghost-hunting detective-for-hire with an infinite supply of large, heavy projectiles and a shrieky nine-year old.

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 2: Prospect Creek]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.

The happy, sane middle ground between the flying-ant dogfight and breakfast-dominated ex-town was the most relieving thing Geoff had seen in a long time. There were no random non sequiturs endangering his life, no murderous angels going insane and killing everyone. It was just a calm patch of desert, its most interesting features a few rolling dunes.

Geoff was becoming more and more aware of the effects the gas was having on him as he slowly moved along, half-carrying the supremely intoxicated Jeremy with him. His mind was losing focus, his reaction time was slowing, and everything just seemed less important.

For example, he didn't find himself particularly interested in Jereme's ramblings about how "they shaid to find'um and, uh... curvy, man, curvy! We hafta 'seeek theem oouut' or someoof."

It took a moment for the word "someoof" to meander its way casually through his mind and connect with the fact that Jeremy was no longer leaning on him for support. When it finally made it there, the Hattallan stopped, stood still for a moment, then turned to look.

One of the dangers of gathering myna gas was the risk of a sinkhole devouring the whole operation. The gas itself was the result of slowly-evaporating pools of liquid in a cavern below, only activated once it had filtered through the ceiling and out into the sunlight. People had tried to extract the raw liquid before, but they'd all failed. The caverns' ceilings were, by necessity, quite unstable, and any attempt to dig down invariably led to the whole place collapsing, releasing toxic amounts of gas and leaving everyone above dead or dying.

Jeremy, once he realized what was happening, started to flail. He didn't like sinking into what amounted to quicksand in the middle of the desert, really, and he made every effort to communicate this to his companion.

His efforts, of course, just lead to him being dragged down faster, and Geoff's efforts to assist weren't exactly doing much more. It wasn't long before they were both swallowed by sand, never to be seen again.

At least, that's what they assumed. When they fell out of the ceiling and onto a cold, damp floor, they changed their inebriated minds.

The only light was a dim flickering in the distance, and it seemed like the only logical goal. After a few awkward moments (and more than one "accidental" tumble on Jeremy's part), they managed to stand. Geoff, leading the way, moved towards the wall and, once there, started feeling his way along it.

After a few minutes and more than one slip, they made it to the far side of the cavern. There was a tunnel there, and the other end was lit. (By what looked to be sunlight, at that.) Slowly, they made their way down it. After twenty feet or so, the slick stone floor gave way to sand once more, and after a bit of a curve and ten more feet, they were outside once more. The tunnel's entrance was surrounded by wooden walls holding back the dunes that loomed around them, and climbing (well, stumbling) to the top of a convenient set of stairs, they could tell that it'd be fairly well-hidden.

"Let's, uh... Let's go back inside," Geoff suggested. "It's cooler in there." Jeremy, having lapsed into mumbles a while back, just turned and started back, nearly falling over the side of the stairs.

Back in the tunnel, they noticed a side-tunnel that hadn't been obvious from the other direction. Apparently, whoever had carved out this tunnel and hidden the exit had used it as a temporary home- a pool of water rested in one corner, and the three small crates were discovered to hold some sort of well-preserved meat.

It didn't take much to convince either that the small side-cave might be a good place to set a spell.

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 2: Prospect Creek]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 2: Prospect Creek]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Tim Swhales was worried.

The ants were in disarray; he barely had any control over his own mount.

And there was an enraged angel flying straight at him, very fast.

An enraged angel who, by the looks of things, was getting ready to blast him with magic.

In desperation, Tim jumped to another ant, just as Sirius unleashed the Angel Sphere and blasted the one he had been sitting on moments ago. Its exoskeleton exploded rather spectacularly.

DAMMIT! Not Gertrude! She was my favorite! You'd better make him pay for that one!

Wonderful. His new deity wanted him to take revenge for a giant flying ant.

Sirius, meanwhile, had adjusted his trajectory and seemed to be readying another sphere. And Gertrude's demise had panicked the other ants, rendering Swhales in even less of a position to calm the swarm.

So instead, he continued jumping from ant to ant, as Sirius vaporized his makeshift platforms and drew ever closer.

Good. Swhales wanted to get close. Well, not really, but it was the best plan he could think of.

He withdrew his dirk from its strap, and prepared his throw as carefully as he could while jumping around and trying not to get blasted by holy energy or stray ant heads.

Then he said a quick prayer to his new deity, flung the dagger at Sirius' back, and hoped for the best.


A black glow enveloped the dagger, and it flew with inhuman precision, striking Sirius in the right wing. He screamed for a moment, and his flight slowed down; but, he did not stop. He flew towards his attacker, still jumping around on the increasingly-panicked ants.

And just as he was about to close in, Swhales jumped on his back, sword in hand.

The angel hadn't expected that; the impact from Swhales' landing knocked him lower. However, he regained his bearings soon enough to utter one crucial word before Swhales was ready to strike.


Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 2: Prospect Creek]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

The flames surrounded Sirius' body almost immediately. Swhales barely had time to think oh shit that's right this guy can set himself on fire how did I forget that before his own legs were ablaze. He jumped back onto the nearest ant to avoid further exposure, but that just set the ant on fire. It was a temporary solution at best, and Sirius would probably regain his bearings soon and leave Tim antless.

He offered a silent prayer to the Eccentric for help.

STOP, DROP AND ROLL! came the reply.

Swhales was starting to wonder if his new patron was really all that much more useful than the older ones.


Before Swhales could puzzle out the meaning of the Eccentric's words, the burning ant he stood on suddenly stopped flying, dropped towards the ground, and then started rolling in midair. Tim held on tightly to the least-on-fire part of the ant's head that he could find, as his steed spun faster and faster.

The ant's spinning soon generated a whirlwind around it, and the flames on both Timothy and the ant glowed. They slowly jumped to the whirlwind, guided by the Eccentric's mad hands.


The fiery whirlwind flew upwards, back towards Sirius, picking up speed. The angel quickly dodged, and the ant flew past him, going high up in the sky; but he knew it would return soon.

Fortunately, there were now few other ants remaining, and they wouldn't bother him while he was on fire, much as the effect annoyed him in general. But he was still curious - what, exactly, had brought them here?

Perhaps his spiritual vision would provide answers. He stared at the nearest ant. A strange aura surrounded it, but it was unidentifiable.

Then he looked up, and turned his attention back to the whirlwind, which was now on its return circuit.

"...It's worse than I thought," he grumbled to himself.

Two familiar spidery hands were sticking out from the whirlwind, spinning it around faster and faster. Somehow, that accursed Eccentric, the being who was ultimately responsible for him being here in the first place, had decided to help Swhales out.

As if everything about this entire battle wasn't frustrating enough already.

Still, the tornado was simple enough to dodge. Sirius could easily see it coming... He easily flew aside, despite the injuries to his wing, and watched the ant go past.

As it did, Tim Swhales' most recent meal struck Sirius in the face.

The vomit was far too thick for the heat to evaporate; the flames only served to make the smell even worse. Sirius had reflexively closed his eyes as it approached, and was now blinded by the bile; there was no way he would be able to predict and avoid the ant's next strike. He tried to wipe the vomit away with his hands, but he doubted he would be able to react in time with the ant's growing speed.

Swhales, for his part, was wondering when the hell he could get off this ride.

And the Eccentric didn't seem to care what either of them thought.

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 2: Prospect Creek]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

Dream couldn’t help but glance over his shoulder at the man (the Photographer, for some reason, couldn’t seem to remember him very well at the moment, or really remember anything much besides pink fluffy clouds that looked somewhat like elephants) who was now fighting that other thing, the other dark thingy that had no business clinging onto his spineless pile of goo’s mind. Or subconscious. Or whatever.

Bits of dream trailed behind them as he continued to drag the slumbering photographer along. He had his mind on fish, it seemed, for a school of possibly-piranhas leapt out of his tracks before being suddenly gutted in midair by something invisible. They landed on a shore of rice. Uncooked rice, thankfully, because the Dream was fairly certain that he didn’t want to trudge through tons of grains of sticky crap.

Nothing hostile. At least not overtly or directly so. It was just a dream that made no sense, at least less sense than usual. The only thing really dangerous was that shadow thing. Which someone was already fighting for him. Hopefully that’ll turn out alright.

What kind of dreamself can’t keep a handle on his subconscious monsters? But going back and fighting was too dangerous for the Photographer. This monster was different than the usual…somehow. Could a guy he didn’t really know really hold up his own until it went away? Sometimes subconscious monsters just didn’t die. But they can kill. On top of everything that was happening, his ward definitely did not need a death on his subconscious.

Okay, so obviously the subconscious monsters couldn’t hurt anybody when he was conscious. This crazy beast was no exception. It was better to destroy it, of course, but containing it would be good too. And it would stop all this insanity and random destruction going on. Did whatever cause this weird dream also apply in consciousness? Hopefully not…but it seemed best bet would be to wake the Photographer up.

He dropped the sleeping photographer onto the ground (rice) rather roughly. The Photographer didn’t mumble. Erm. This was going to be a little awkward and not exactly enjoyable. The Dream nudged him with his foot. Considering that he was a blobby thing, this really didn’t do much. Kicking wasn’t useful either. Slapping his face made him jiggle a little, but he was sure that was due more to his consistency than to conscious movement due to being slapped.

Okay, so maybe getting verbal would be a better plan.

“Hey, wake up.” Oh, that was just pathetic. The penguin agreed before zooming off into the sunset. “HEY. GET UP. WAKE UP SO THAT THING’LL STOP EXISTING.” Nope. “YOU’RE LATE. YOU’RE VERY, VERY LATE. THERE’S A. Uh. Ah. A….meeting. A MEETING. THE BOSS WILL NOT BE HAPPY IF YOU’RE LATE.” Well, he was definitely making him worried. A pastiche of his boss always seemed to show up when he was anxious. The Dream punched the screaming dream-boss until it shattered then turned back to the Photographer. “THIS IS A DREAM. THE THING YOU’RE IN IS A DREAM. IT’S TIME TO WAKE UP NOW. BECAUSE THIS IS A DREAM. NOTHING YOU SEE IS REAL. THIS IS A—“

Great, great, he’s stirring, he’s definitely waking up…

…Hm. The Dream didn’t feel any less insubstantial. And yet the Photographer was standing up…so…

“Uh. Are you still asleep…?”

The Photographer turned to him, looking somewhat sheepish. “I’m pretty sure. I mean, this is a dream, isn’t it? That’s pretty obvious. Why else would I be standing on a bunch of rice?”

The Dream was so bewildered that he almost didn’t notice the rice disappearing. “But…you…uh…do you mind actually waking up…?”

“I’m not sure. This is sort of the first time this happened.” The Photographer looked around, interested. “This place’s sorta related to my dream…sorta. That’s cool, I guess. So, what’s going on?”

“It’s a lucid dream, I think,” said the camera.

“Hey! You’re fixed!” said the Photographer rather chipperly.

“Not exactly. This is a dream, remember?”

“Oh.” Before he could look too disappointed, the Photographer fished around for the knife, which had gotten completely engulfed somehow while he had been unconscious. “Ah, here you are! How are you?”

“I’m just glad you’re finally back to somewhat normal. You are, right?”

“I dunno,” he replied, much too happily for the knife’s liking. He simply grumbled. “So. Lucid dreaming.”

“…Yeah,” the Dream said, unsure what else to do. He shouldn’t feel so flustered…wasn’t he always supposed to be calm and collected? But…he was actually talking to what was essentially his creator. Or at least part of himself, sort of. Or he was the one that was part of him. Or something like that.

“I’ve really never done this before,” he said conversationally, looking around. “Are they always as weird as this? I think I see a flying chair.”

“Uh. No.”

Arms folded behind his back, the Photographer spun around a little, taking in the altered, bizarre landscape. “Hm. Soooooo…what do you do in lucid dreaming?”

“Well, it’s your dream,” the dream-camera said, knowledgeable and kind as ever, despite not exactly existing. Was she even allowed to know things he didn’t know? Whatever. The Dream was still amazed that he was actually walking and stuff. “Really, you can do what you want in your dream.”

“Really?” the Photographer said as the sounds of a certain fight between a ghost-hunting detective-for-hire with an infinite supply of large, heavy projectiles and a shrieky nine-year old drifted through the air. The Photographer continued looking around. Well. That cloud should stop being cotton candy, as nice as cotton candy is, and that house should be there and that door shouldn’t just be floating in the middle of nowhere and that chair ought to get down from there and penguins don’t live in such an environment, poor penguin, and pancakes usually didn’t make up the ground and…

“Hm. What’s that?” the Photographer said, finally turning towards the thing that crawled into his subconscious without permission.

The Dream trailed behind, still feeling bewildered. He shrugged. “I have no clue.”

“Then,” he said slowly. “It doesn’t belong here, does it.”


The Photographer continued staring, looking the calmest he had been in ages. “It’s gonna be hard. It’s not actually part of my dream. I can’t really…”

“Remember, it’s your dream,” the ever patient and intelligent camera reminded.


Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Sirius needed a plan.

He knew the ant would charge again soon - it probably was right now. He wouldn't be able to clear enough bile from his face before it struck.

He'd have to react without even seeing it. The best option he had would be a spell. He dispelled his fiery barrier and reflected on his options.

There was no chance of preparing another Holy Gale. It would be effective, but the casting would take too long; the ant would surely arrive before he finished.

But none of his other spells seemed suitable... he had one protective spell, that might do the job, but it wouldn't work this high off the ground, and he couldn't fly down safely enough in this state...

A second later, he stopped flapping his wings and dropped swiftly towards the ground.

Two seconds after that, the ant rocketed past his last position. It stopped itself, and turned around, readying itself for what the Eccentric hoped would be its final charge.

Sirius intended to grant that wish.


"Found it!"

Wardell's scarf pulled itself out of his coat, and handed the bookworm the Complete Encyclopedia of Ghosts, Spirits, Phantoms, and Assorted Apparitions. He quickly flipped through it with one hand, tossing a copy of A Tale of Two Cities at Umbra to buy himself some time.

"Ah! This looks like it." He read through it quickly.

Doppelgeist: It is unknown if this spirit is actually the ghost of a living being or if it has some other origin. Very few have been observed.

This spirit attaches itself to a living being, and at first takes on the form of a younger version of its host. It will reflexively protect the host from all harm to the best of its ability; however, it is not a benevolent spirit. It offers this protection for purely selfish reasons.

As the Doppelgeist remains with a host, it gradually grows older in appearance. At first, the Doppelgeist appears to be roughly seven to nine years old; it will then age at a slower rate than its host for a period ranging from one to three years.

At this point, the aging becomes more rapid. The Doppelgeist will appear to be a year older in the space of a month, sometimes aging even faster. There are even a few reported cases of a Doppelgeist aging at least ten years in less than an hour. The circumstances which spur this sudden growth are unknown at this time, as so few specimens have been observed.

The aging continues until the Doppelgeist's apparent age matches that of its host; at that point, the host's soul is destroyed, and the Doppelgeist takes over their body completely. This appears to be why it is so protective of the host; it does not wish to let its future body be harmed. Once the takeover is complete, the host's body will be nothing more than a mindless killing machine.

Despite their unusual characteristics, they are quite vulnerable to standard exorcism techniques.

Wardell looked up; Umbra still looked about nine. Well, at least he wouldn't have to rush this.

"Hey, scarf!" he shouted. "Can you get me a holy text? Doesn't particularly matter which one."

The scarf immediately responded by handing Wardell a book marked with strange runes, written in an unfamiliar language. Considering the sheer number of phrasebooks and language trainers Wardell had read in his life, that in itself was unusual, though far from impossible.

He flipped through, confirming it to be basically unreadable, then shrugged and simply flung the book at Umbra's face.

Umbra glowed a bright green, and then vanished.

Wardell let out a sigh of relief, then went over to pick up the books he'd thrown or discarded during the battle. No sense letting them go to waste, after all.



The Eccentric's voice served as a warning to Sirius, who had given up on even wiping his eyes. He needed full concentration.

Earth, grant me protection... Earth, grant me protection...

He felt nothing. And he was falling faster.

The ant charged, straight down towards the falling angel. Swhales was feeling weak; he was sure he would soon pass out, and the Eccentric didn't seem to care. The Grandmaster was only out for revenge against Gertrude now, and Swhales was only important if he could help with that.

Earth, grant me protection... Earth, grant me protection...

Any decent tactician watching the scene would have observed that if Sirius moved out of the way, the ant would most likely hit the ground and end its charge rather spectacularly. Unfortunately, Sirius couldn't see it, and was too preoccupied with his spell preparations to reflect on the ant's likely tactics.

Earth, grant me protection... Earth, grant me protection...Earth, grant me protection!

A response! Sirius began to flap his wings to slow his descent; he was less than a foot off the ground, but it was enough to prevent the impact. Not that he could see through the bile.

It didn't matter. He had a spell to cast.

"Stone Wall!"

The ground below began to shake.

The ant paid it no heed, and flew downwards, gravity moving it down even faster than before.

The earth around Sirius suddenly began to rise up in a circle.

The ant flew closer.

The walls rose higher, and began to curve in, closing into a sphere.

Sirius could feel the structure closing, protecting him from every direction...

He could also feel the intense heat from the ant, drawing closer... it was almost here...


The next thing he felt was the severed head of a fire ant landing on him.

He finally wiped the bile from his eyes, now that it was relatively safe; Swhales had likely survived, but he was unlikely to break through the walls any time soon.

Looking up, Sirius saw that the structure was closed, but there was a sickly green stain at the center, where the walls had joined together. A quick glance at the fluid leaking from the head explained matters; it was the same shade of green. The ant must have arrived just in time for the walls to decapitate it.

Sirius prepared a quick regenerative spell. Swhales was weak, if he was even conscious, but it was hardly worth taking the chance.



Swhales groaned as he hopped off the ant and slid down the earthen structure he found himself on. He began to crawl away, on his last legs.

"Can't... can barely move... no shape to fight..."

SO, YOU CAN'T FIGHT BACK, CAN YOU? The Eccentric's voice suddenly took on a slightly amused tone; it frightened Tim even more than the sheer rage had. THEN I GUESS I'LL HAVE TO DO THIS MYSELF.

Tim's shortsword suddenly began to glow with dark energy, and lifted itself from the sheath. Then Tim's body began to glow, and was lifted into the air.

"Wh... What are you doing?"


Tim found himself unable to do anything but watch as the Eccentric carried him and his sword towards Sirius' makeshift fortress. As he drew near, the earthen structure slowly opened up and sank into the ground. Sirius emerged, angrier than ever. He raised his hand in preparation for a spell; clearly he didn't intend to waste any time.


Tim never saw what happened next. He was too busy having his head chopped off by his own sword.


"Angel Sphere!"

Sirius had unleashed the spell before he saw Tim's headless body fall to the ground. That caught him by surprise; the spell shouldn't have done that.

He didn't have much time to ponder what had happened before the torc around Tim's bloodied neck started glowing and hurtled towards him. It snapped shut around the angel's neck before he could react.


Sirius' screams continued until he vanished from Prospect Creek.
Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Schazer.

“Suppose it’s just the two of us, then, darling?”

The Charlatan grinned his brazen grin to the deserted control room, knowing full well the Composer hadn’t followed him. Without missing a beat, the green-clad Grandmaster sidled to the nearest keyboard, smacked a few keys, frowned, and tossed the banks of monitors into the emptiness above with a flourish.

The Charlatan had just got them all gracefully suspended in mid-air around him, when his co-host’s arrival was heralded with the creep of bone-chilling, unblinkered, universal loathing. Mustering a grin beneath to match the one on his mask, the Charlatan turned.

“Hah. And I thought I’d escaped your frigid clutches.”

The Composer just glared past, attempted to scorch a scornful gaze through, or (on mere principle) disapproved of, the Charlatan. Behind him, a screen flicked spasmodically between a hazy desert and a burnished metal moon.


“Welcome to Endymion. An artificial moon, it was created as a futile quest by a legion of arrogant mortals, who attempted to defy the laws of their universe and assemble here a perpetual motion device.

They were ultimately unsuccessful. Their desire, devolving to obsession, to personally maintain the machine-planet’s workings blinded them to the original intents of their project. The Sons of Endymion were forsaken by their kin, left to fend for themselves on their tiny world.

Abandoned, the inhabitants persevered until stability was reached. Its purpose; shifted wildly from the device they originally strived for – yet between the sun and the stars and the planet it danced around, Endymion, its machinery, and its children found balance. Perpetuity."

"I have now torn this planet from the perfect needle’s point it spun upon, and sequestered it in a dimension of its own. The systems making this place habitable for humans will shut down in due time as a consequence. You have until then, at the latest, for the round to end.”

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.


All around him, warm fog drifted through the streets, and it just felt right. Brass and iron and dark, wet brick and steam. Geoff walked down the street- no, not a street. A catwalk. His steps clanked a bit, echoing down into the distant, fog-masked space below, and as he moved along, he felt as though his smallish, brown vest should really be billowing behind him a bit more.

If he stopped to think about it, he would probably realize he was still a bit high on the myna gas from the last round. But he didn't stop. He strode forward, occasionally reaching out to brush his hand along the iron pipes that weaved towards him, followed him along for a bit, then playfully darted back out into the fog. He was entranced by the place, feeling as though he'd never quite been anywhere that was quite as wonderful and perfect and right.

A drop of rain landed on his hand as he reached out to admire the brasswork around a T-join in a pipe, and another soon joined it. Another, then, and more, and soon the rain was coming down in torrents, instantly soaking through his thin, warm-weather-wear and chilling him to the bone.

And it was a good chill. If anything, it made the place feel more right, more perfect, and all he wanted was some mood-fitting music and maybe a trenchcoat and he'd be content to die right then.

A ladder came up to the walkway on the left, and, in a trance induced both by the residual gas exposure and his captivation by this world, Geoff went down.

Voices echoed up from below him as he descended, and as the fog parted to reveal an actual street, a few red-brick buildings on either side slick with rain, he saw the pair of beings making the voices. They were structured much as Hattallans or Humans were, with two arms, two legs, and a head, but both were much thinner than anyone Geoff had ever met. Their willowy, whiplike bodies reminded him of spiders, and though they were both hunched over in the archway before a door, they still looked like they'd be a head taller than him, at least.

One, wearing a blue garment that looked like it could've just been strips of fabric wrapped around his body over and over, was leaning over to speak into a small, horn-like device on one side of the archway.

"I know it's not supposed to be," he was shouting at it, "but it is! Just let us in!"

A high-pitched, feminine voice came out of the device as Geoff approached.

"It's not the end of your shift yet," it said, almost playfully.

The second being, wearing a similar garment (this one soaked to an indistinguishable colour recognizable only as "dark wet"), spotted Geoff stepping onto the ground at the bottom of the ladder and beckoned him over, making what space he could under the arch. Geoff hurried over, the perfection of the chillly rain turning into something a bit more like the discomfort it actually was, and gratefully accepted what little space there was. The second being put his finger to his lips in a "shh" gesture.

The one in blue sighed, looking like he was holding back a curse, then said, "Coral, would it help if Daddy and Uncle Serran used one of their sick days?"

"You weren't sick this morning!" Coral was clearly just being difficult now.

"No, no, we're sick, really." Her father elbowed his companion and coughed into the microphone. "Hear that? And we've, uh-" He glanced momentarily at Geoff. "We've got a new friend with us, honey! He'd love to meet you!"

"Ooh!" The squeal caused some feedback on the speaker, then merged with it, and by the time both had subsided, the door was already swinging open. Geoff, who the second person had gestured into the middle of the arch, suddenly had something wrapped around him, burying its blond-haired head into his midsection. After a moment, the head looked up, and said, her voice high enough that most people over 40 wouldn't even be able to hear it. "I'm Coral!", she announced, dragging the newcomer into the building.

"Hi, Coral," he replied, putting on his best "kindly grown-up" voice, "I'm Geoff. Very nice to meet you!"

She wasn't even listening. Already, she'd homed in on a small console near the door and was starting the tour. "This is the call buzzer! I get to let people in when they're supposed to come in!"

"That's a big responsibility," Geoff said.

The girl beamed. "I'm seven now!"

"Coral," her father interrupted, "can you go log those sick days for me? We wouldn't want to lose track of them."

She squaked and darted away, scampering up a wrought-iron spiral staircase in the far corner of the room in her eagerness.

"Sorry about Coral," he said, "she's at that age, you know how kids are." He held out a hand. "Keen, by the way."

Geoff took it and shook. "Geoff."

"Please, have a seat," Keen said, gesturing him to one of the stools by the door. "I've just got to make a call, I'll be back in a second."

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Tentative reserve. I'm probably posting today, but I'll step aside if somebody else wants to get something out.
Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Fetch me a sacrifice!


You killed that ant! You must do penance!

The elephant! The elephant will destroy us all!

Can you tell me if it's Tuesday yet?


And that was very rude of you! You there, bearer! Bring me a chalice filled with blood so I may wreak vengeance upon this intruder!

By the by, young fellow, the torc doesn't come off unless your head does. Just thought you might like to know that! Oh, and could you fetch me a dozen eggs, I was rather hoping to make a cake.

Sirius' only response to the barrage of demands was to continue screaming until he ran out of breath. It didn't go unnoticed; a rather large, rotund man with very red skin, stubby legs, and large, flat feet soon came along to investigate. He was grinning from ear to ear.

"Huh! Must be a new specimen from Genetics," he said to himself. "Discarded you, did they? Well, there's no need to worry yerself, lad. Least we're not back in the old days of 'immediate termination', right? Come along, I'll introduce you to the rest of the freaks we've got hanging around here."

Sirius was too worn out from screaming to say a word in protest. Even though at least sixteen gods were telling him to tear out the strange red creature's throat with his bare hands. He ignored them and simply followed the man down through the streets; they seemed surprisingly empty of life, and filled instead with machinery. Sirius might have taken a moment to admire the craftsmanship if he wasn't too distracted by all the yelling.

Sirius' guide soon stopped at a large grating in the floor.

"Here we are, friend. Johnny's is right this way."

The red man lifted the grate, and began climbing down a ladder beneath it.

"It's been around since the old days; it's technically a legal establishment now, but, well, emphasis on 'technically'. Besides, it would have been too much work to move."

Sirius followed his guide down, unsure of what else he could do. The gods had their own suggestions, but they were along the lines of "set it on fire" and "drop down the hole headfirst". At the bottom, there were several tunnels; one of them had a crude cardboard sign taped beside it.

The read "Johnny's". The red man walked towards the tunnel, and motioned to Sirius to follow.

A short walk later, the two emerged in a noisy bar. Sirius was actually grateful for the clamor; the cacophony from the gods began to blend in with the sound of the patrons talking. His guide pointed him over to the bar.

"Well, have a seat there, youngster. First drink's on me, but you'll have to introduce yerself." He laughed, and walked off. Sirius sat down at the bar, and noticed there was no one behind it; so he simply waited.

About a minute later, the red man walked out behind the bar, wearing an apron.

"That's right, I never introduced myself, did I?" he said, laughing. "Name's Johnny. So, youngster! What do they call ya, and what's yer poison?"

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

”Ow,” the Photographer said, though he wasn’t sure why. The force of something against his head woke him up, though whatever the something was, he couldn’t see it now.

He was awake. He really wished, for once, he was asleep. When he was awake, he was weak and confused and…and…stuff. That lucid dreaming thing he just did, that was the best he had felt. Control and power. He could use things like that. Also, for some reason, being awake now had the problem of feeling fuzzy and weird and it was hard to hear…uh…hear…the knife. Right.

The knife said something like…something was gone? Yeah, something went away. He hoped it wasn’t something important. There was also something else. A shoe was stuck somewhere too or something.

“I wanna go back t’ sleep,” the Photographer mumbled in reply and slumped onto the floor. But he didn’t go to sleep. Instead, he lay on the ground looking like a very odd hobo. It figures that the time he wanted to go to sleep he wasn’t able to. Maybe if he just stayed on the ground, he would go back to sleep eventually.

Then someone stepped in him.

After a bit of struggling and waving about, the two were separated and the Photographer had another shoe to add to his collection. The blob of whatever continued to lay motionless in the hopes that whoever was curiously digging their foot into his side would leave, but found himself instead being dragged somewhere by his legs. It seemed incredibly rude and presumptuous of this person to decide to take him somewhere though he supposed that it was also courteous of the person to think him uncomfortable out lying on the ground, which he had been. Though being dragged wasn’t much better.

The Photographer’s response to all these complaints was a resounding ‘whatever.’ He went back to trying to get to sleep again. When he started lucid-dreaming again, everything will be all better.

There was the sound of a hatch opening and then he was being dragged down, his head hitting each step of a stairway on his way underground. He mumbled apologies to every step along the way. They seemed preoccupied by something else. Actually, a lot of things seemed preoccupied by something else. He never heard quite this much collaboration before.

The person dumped him on a slab, though it could tentatively be called a bed if someone wanted to. After a few seconds, the Photographer allowed himself to take a peek at his surroundings. Pipes. Bright screens, almost blindingly so. Something that sounded like squabbling pistons. Things that connected to things that did other things to move that thing. Everything connected to everything else to make up a really big Thing. Individual voices and one really big Voice. There seemed to be something really…really…awe-inspiring, maybe? About all these individual pieces working together, making up this Thing, whatever it was. Very inspiring.

The Photographer went back to trying to go to sleep as, over some sort of telecommunication device, the person murmured, “…found something interesting…won’t give me back my shoe…”

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

"I'm Sirius," the angel replied unenthusiastically.

"About what?"

He glared at the bartender.

"That's my name."

"Are you-"

Sirius' glare intensified.

"Never mind," Johnny said quickly. "Well, Mr. Sirius, what can I get you to drink?"

"Noth- AAGGGHH!"

Gin tonic vodka beer whiskey ale arsenic just water for me milk dragon's blood the strongest stuff they've got!

Sirius screamed as the flood of voices in his mind announced their orders. Desperate to make it stop, he repeated their myriad requests to the bartender.

Johnny looked at him, puzzled.

"Are you sure you want all that?" he said. "It sounds to me like you've got a killer hangover already."

Kill him. He's standing between me and my offering.

"...yes, I'm quite sure."


It was inevitable that Jeremy Brackett would find the bar. It was a bar, it was on the same planet as Jeremy; sooner or later, their paths were certain to cross. It had just happened to be sooner.

He hadn't expected to find Sirius drinking heavily, though.

"Hey, barkeep!" he said eagerly. "I'll have what he's having!"

Jeremy paused for a moment, and then added: "And do you serve pies here, by any chance?"

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.

By the time Keen finished speaking in low, urgent tones into the little handheld thing tied to the wall, Serran had grabbed a trio of cups from what evidently amounted to a kitchen nook in the corner. They were quickly filled with something hot, sweet, and quite welcome after the chilly rain, and Geoff accepted his gratefully. Keen picked his up from the tiny, wooden table, sipped it appreciatively, then said, "Just got off the phone with Weather, they say we shouldn't be having rain for the next three days."

"They take the steam into account?", Serran asked. "You know how they're always forgetting that."

"Nah, I thought of that, and so had they. They're getting calls from all over, it seems. That's not the half of it, though."

Geoff arched an inquisitive eyebrow at him.

"Tenet says they're getting reports that the sun's gone."

Serran spluttered on his drink. "The sun... How can the sun be gone?"

"Beats me. All I know is that's what people are saying."

"Guess we'll find out in a few hours," Geoff commented.

Keen frowned at him. "A few hours? How do you figure?"

"When the sun comes up, it either will or it won't. It's hard to mess that up."

"Geez," Serran snorted, "how old are you? This moon's tidally locked to the planet below, everyone knows that."

"Sorry, I just got here, I'm not familiar with-"

Both natives stood up sharply, staring at the Hattallan. "You came here from off-moon?!", Keen demanded.

"Yeah, I was going to-"


"Kol's sake, Geoff, now what?!"

Geoff and his client, a cobbler named Murray, were running full-tilt down a dirt road, with half a dozen guys behind them.

"Everything's fine, Murray!"

"Fine?! I don't know if you noticed, but neither of us have ever been to Tentwell City before this, and before we can even get the lay of the land, you go and piss off the very group you're supposed to be infiltrating!"

"Just stick close!" Geoff ducked into a stable, one attached to a relatively large inn. "Most horses aren't used to strangers and will try to buck you off if you don't know them," he told Murray as he untied a pair of reins. "An inn's dedicated mounts, though, are used to being lent out for all sorts of errands to all sorts of people. They'll be used to strangers, and we don't have to worry about being thrown off by an uncooperative ride."


Geoff couldn't find any horses, stables, or even anything resembling an inn. Keen and Serran pounded the cobblestone road behind him, their feet splashing in the increasingly-common puddles.

A ladder loomed out of the steam on Geoff's right, and he lunged for it, pulling himself up as fast as he could manage. His willowy pursuers, though, were faster than he was, and he soon found himself just running again, this time along another catwalk, and now with his pursuers just a few steps behind him.

The pipes that weaved in and out of the mist around him loomed closer, enveloping the catwalk in a bit of a tunnel. They grew thicker, too, some starting to show up as wide as a tree. He could hear water rushing through some of them, a muffled gurgling and whooshing that started to follow him as he went, growing louder around him.

The catwalk split, going left and right, and Geoff ducked right, still running for what he assumed was his life. He could only go twenty paces or so before he gad to choose again, this time left, then another turn, right, and another, right again. Another, and another, and another.

He was just starting to realize that Keen and Serran were no longer behind him when the catwalk suddenly ceased to exist below him. Instead, he stepped about half a meter down, into cold, flowing water, and it grabbed his foot and yanked it back the way he'd come. He slammed forward, rather grateful to be slapping hard into water and not the solid metal of an empty pipe.

After some coughing and spluttering, he managed to grab a few reasonable breaths from the empty top third of the pipe he was being pulled along, and he settled himself in as best he could. The open top had long since gone away, and he had no real choice but to go along for the ride.

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

It figures the one time he actually wanted to go to sleep would be the time his narcolepsy refused to show its slimy, metaphorical face.

It seemed the harder he tried to clear his mind, the harder it was to actually sleep. So instead, he tried to think about everything at once. He thought about watermelons. He thought about his devilish boss, who would certainly be fussing up a storm with him being horribly late with submitting pictures. He thought about that book that hadn’t finished telling him its story and probably never will, now that he thought about it. He thought about an old man poking him in the side.

“Ow,” the Photographer said indignantly once he couldn’t ignore it anymore. It didn’t actually hurt, but it sometimes made people stop. He opened his eye a little and saw two men staring at him.

“See? I told you. It’s alive.”

“For fu—for cryin’ out loud, Snake, I hate the rain. And you make me walk over here to look at some blobby mess?”

“I’m a photographer,” the Photographer said, though not loud enough for anybody to hear. Although he was still indignant, he didn’t want to catch the attention of somebody called ‘Snake.’

“Look at this consistency. I have no idea what this thing is made of…”

“I don’t really care. Snake, you gotta stop dragging in these rejects off the streets.”

“But it has my shoe.” The Photographer imagined Snake (whoever he was) pouting. “And it won’t give it back.”

Well, if he wasn’t needed in this conversation, maybe he could go to sleep now.

“I’m not fishing it out. Not gonna get sucked in or anything.”


“I doubt that would happen. In any case, I’ll be sure to hold on to you tightly.”

“Oh, thanks.


“If it starts sucking me in, though, I’m letting go.”

“Oh, thanks.

The Photographer was wondering if the second man had just been sarcastic twice in a row when a meaty hand pushed into his side. With a yelp, the blob jumped up and then fell over the side, dragging the owner of the hand along with him. Snake immediately let go of the second man, who was pulled into the side of the metal table rather painfully before his hand was freed. The Photographer sat up nervously.

“I, uh, that’s not, I mean, that seems a little,” he stuttered before falling into meek silence. After a moment, another appendage popped out and dumped a shoe on the floor in front of him. “Um. Sorry.”

“Oh good, my shoe,” said Snake, who didn’t look half as tough as his name implied. He picked it up, ignoring his friend, who was slumped on his floor. He examined his shoe with a criticizing eye. “…You’ll wash off of it, right?”

“…Um…I guess…”

“Good, good…So, how are you?”

It took a moment for the Photographer to realize that Snake was talking to him. “Um. I’m okay?”

“For fu—Snake,” the second man said in an odd tone that struggled to be even. He carefully sat up, still rubbing his side. “There’re bigger things to worry ‘bout. The fucking sun’s gone!”

Snake reached over towards the second man’s wrist and pulled on a giggling rubber band that the Photographer didn’t notice before. It snapped. The second man winced, took a few deep breaths, and said, in a much calmer tone, “The sun’s gone.”

“Now that’s just ridiculous,” Snake replied in a tone that did not at all imply that ridiculosity was afoot.

“I heard it! Just after you called me, you know! People are talkin’ ‘bout it everywhere!”

“…So it’s a rumor.”

The second man shifted uncomfortably. “Yeah. I guess. But think about it! How could anybody fu—mistake the sun disappearing for something else? Huh? It’s so ridiculous, it has to be true.”

“Or perhaps it’s so ridiculous, it’s hard not to talk about, which is why the story spread so quickly. The sun can’t simply vanish, you know.”

“…she’s lonely.”

The two men turned to where the Photographer sat. He had been muttering to seemingly himself, ignored and unnoticed.

“What?” the second man asked. The Photographer seemed to withdraw into himself somehow without really moving.

“Um, uh, the moon, um, Endymion. Um, she…well, it’s sort of like…she doesn’t see her friends…? So…um…she’s alone. And lonely.”

The two men continued staring at the Photographer, who actually could probably sink to the floor, but felt that would make him feel even more self-conscious.

“…You can talk to moons?” The second man finally said.

“...’Alone?’ Oh dear…”

And immediately, the second man turned on Snake again. “That’s what you focus on?”

“If Endymion’s ‘alone,’ then that means that there’s no sun. And…the planet is gone too.”

“You’re shitting me. You don’t believe me and then some—OW.” Snake had snapped the rubber band again. “SHIT,” the second man shouted emphatically. He quickly drew his wrist away from Snake.

“You know I don’t like you—“

“Yeah, yeah, they leave a bad taste in your mouth or whatever. Very important. It’s not like we’re gonna die soon.”

“This is indeed a very grave matter. We must inform him. You,” he said suddenly, gesturing to the Photographer, who was only just getting up. “Come with us. We need you to explain.”

“Um, I don’t think I—“

“Oh, stuff it, ya lil’ mistake,” the second man snapped harshly before grabbing his arm, apparently not noticing his grasp slowly sinking in. “The more we waste time, the less time we’ll have fixing this damn problem.”

The Photographer said nothing, though he did agree with what Endymion said. This wasn’t exactly a fixable ‘problem.’

Re: The Delicious Engagement [Grand Battle S2G3] [Starts Tonite]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Sirius didn't even notice Jeremy's entrance. He was too preoccupied with the discovery that the only thing worse than a pantheon of gods yelling mental requests at him was a pantheon of drunken gods yelling mental requests at him.

He almost wished he could actually get drunk. Angels weren't exactly physically designed for it. But instead, he had to remain completely sober as he listened to the gods' wild carousing and their requests for such absurdities as "a rainbow's collar" or "the head of a jellyfish".

He'd had this accursed necklace on for less than an hour and he was already losing his mind. How could that human have managed it for so long? Had he simply succumbed to the insanity?

It was almost a relief when the pie struck him in the face. It gave him something else to focus on.

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Godbot.

About half a mile below the network of catwalks and tubes that make up Endymion's residental areas is a barrier of clouds, and below that, solid ground. There are a number of fables that parents tell their children about what that cloud barrier is, and why you shouldn't go past it, but it's just a result of the extreme heat from the machinery in the lower districts hitting the mass of cold air produced by the upper residential districts' environmental controls. This was discovered by accident while Endymion was being built, and the moon was quickly redesigned to incorporate artificial rain into the maintenance of the artificial oceans and tides that make up the majority of Endymion's perpetual motion system.

- Excerpt from A Comprehensive History of Endymion

A set of rusted pistons forced open an enormously heavy door set into Endymion's metal surface. The sharp hiss of pneumatics was drowned out by sheets of rain pouring in through the gradually widening opening. Wardell stumbled up the stairs towards the exit, urged onwards by a tall, willowy fellow wrapped in a variety of work belts.

“Out!” he barked, pushing Wardell off the tarp covering the stairs and onto the moon's ground floor. “This isn't a place for civilians.” He took a few steps back to get out of the rain. “There's a sign out front,” he called up the stairs. “Can't you read?”

Wardell didn't look up from his copy of A Comprehensive History of Endymion.

“Right, then,” the foreman growled. He pulled a large, important-looking lever, and the doors groaned shut.

DANGER, said the words painted across the front. SALVAGE OPERATION – NO CIVILIAN ENTRY.

Wardell calmly adjusted his hood and made his way to the underside of a staircase leading to the upper balconies. Raindrops splattered onto the vast metal floor, leaving ripples in the thin layer of water that covered everything. Off in the distance, vertical water wheels built halfway into the sides of buildings and streetlamps provided hydroelectric and mechanical power to the lower districts. The yellowed lights flickered irregularly in the heavy mist. Heat sinks and broken pipes belched steam that rose through the occasional gaps in the clouds. Wardell's clothes clung to him in the heavy, humid air.

One end of his scarf pulled back his hood, silencing its music. “You need shelter, Wardell,” the other end reminded him. Wardell's hands clenched around his book.

“You're...” he began, then swallowed. “You still talk.”



“I'm not really sure,” it admitted. “But you can't just stay out here. You're covered in syrup.”

“That's fine,” muttered Wardell. He propped himself against the underside of the stairs.

“The others are going to be looking for you,” the scarf pleaded. “You're out in the open.”

“I exorcised Umbra before Photographer's dreams could kill us all,” Wardell countered, still not looking up from his book. “None of them would want to kill me for that.”

Admittedly, the scarf was a bit surprised that Wardell had been paying that much attention. “Humidity ruins the pages of books,” it sighed.

Wardell didn't look up. He fidgeted with the corner of one of the open pages.

“It's true,” the scarf said. It knew this would work; it was just hoping it could use reason to get through to Wardell, instead. He was such a child sometimes.

Wardell cautiously looked up at the endless rain, as if dealing with it carefully would make it leave him alone. He took a step out from under the stairs. His scarf pulled two thick encyclopedia volumes from his coat, flicked them open, and brought them together over Wardell's head like an umbrella.

Wardell looked up at the scarf quizzically. “Won't the rain clean you off?” he asked, reading an open page of Volume 317: Quk – Qwr out of the corner of his eye.

“I hate the rain!” said his scarf, a little too forcefully. “So does your jacket,” it added after a moment.

“...But not being washed?”

“It's a clothes thing,” it said uneasily. “You wouldn't get it. Besides, you still smell like myna gas.”

Wardell raised his sleeve and sniffed experimentally. Everything around him groaned and began to ripple and contort. He quickly pulled his face away, blinking away lightspots.

“Fair point,” he muttered queasily. “Let's go.”


Somewhere after a steep, dark drop that had deposited him in a much larger pipe carrying something approximating the contents of a small river, Geoff found himself tangled in what felt like a filthy metal grate. The rushing water echoed and crashed all around him, and he just barely managed to get ahold of one of the bars and pull himself free of the overwhelming flow of water. He stayed there for a few moments, clutching the grate and gasping for breath. The grate was covered in waterlogged debris, and every breath he took was putrid – this was probably where garbage was filtered out – but the long, dark journey down was taxing to say the least, and Geoff needed a moment to recuperate; he had no way of knowing if what came next would be worse. He brushed his free hand over the rusted bars until he felt what was unmistakably a lock, keeping the removable grate fixed in place.

Moment's over.

He plunged a metal crossbow bolt into the small gap between two sections of pipe that had been cutting into his leg. It took all of his strength to push off from the grate against the endless deluge pushing him back down. He kept a firm grip on his improvised handhold and lashed out with his opposite leg, smashing the rusted metal grate free of what was left of the lock. As it spun out of control in the rushing water, Geoff was pushed along with it thanks to the force behind his kick. He ducked and covered his head blindly as the dislodged metal grade spun past him, nearly hitting him on the head. If he were knocked out in these conditions, he would definitely drown. He fell straight through a series of thinner metal screens – filters, most likely – before hitting the bottom of the pipe hard as it suddenly leveled off.

This was the best getaway ever, Geoff decided with a mental groan as he pulled himself to his hands and knees. He made it a few feet before collapsing onto his side again in exhaustion, somehow managing to make it to the mouth of the pipe. He rolled over and fell into a pool of clear, cool water, which was somehow more overwhelming than his entire nightmarish escape.

He bobbed to the surface, gasping for air. Clean, pleasantly enough. A few agitators shaped like tuning forks lazily stirred the contents of the tank, sucking the screens down into drains at the bottom.He caught ahold of the nearest agitator and let its arm carry him to the side of the tank. In the distance, several more tanks took in water from several hundred more pipes. Possibly several thousand more, Geoff slowly realized as the agitator arm carried him in a slow arc across the surface the tank. This room was gigantic. Somewhere overhead, a series of huge waterwheels spun rapidly under the power of a waterfall that spilled water from what must have been an entire district of Endymion into a giant vat with BLOCK D painted on the side, which dominated the center of the room. From there, pipes redistributed the water into smaller tanks, and then into what looked to be about a dozen pools dotted with agitators. It was hard to guess at what the actual purpose of this room was supposed to be, but it was one of at least four, and Geoff's impression was somewhere between 'waterworks' and 'cathedral.' As the opposite arm moved out of the way, Geoff noticed Wardell crouched by the end of the tank with a book in hand.

“Wardell!” he called. No answer.

He sighed and let go of the arm once he was close enough. “Wardell,” he repeated as he paddled towards the edge. After Geoff threw a few crossbow bolts, Wardell looked up from the romance novel he was supposed to be using to dry off his syrupy coat and boots.

“Oh, hello,” he said with a blank smile. His scarf shot out and wrapped around Geoff's middle and hauled him up onto the dry platform next to the tank. It was surprisingly strong, for a length of bloody wool. Wardell went back to his clothes and novel. A bit of butter on the sleeve of his coat started to spell out 'WARDELL WENT BA-,' but that only got it dunked into the vat of water again.

Geoff lay on what felt rather like a smoother kind of concrete for a few long moments.

“So, you're covered in syrup,” Geoff offered as a conversation starter. “Is that...” he started, but he realized he had no idea which question to ask first. There were too many.

“Photographer got high on myna gas. His dreams become reality, and the gas made his dreams turn random and dangerous – and they got a lot bigger. Somewhere in the last two rounds, Photographer picked up Umbra, too. I had to get rid of it before things got any worse.” He paused to turn a waterlogged page of his book. “I guess that means Sereno is dead.”

Geoff was actually a little startled. He was pretty sure he hadn't heard Wardell say so many words at a time before. Or that many words total, for that matter.

“I suppose,” Geoff replied. “I haven't seen Steinwaffe around, either. But that makes two separate occasions where Umbra's attacked people randomly. I think we're better off,” he said grimly.

“I don't,” said Wardell after a pause. He didn't look up from his coat, even though he was just watching it dry. “I don't think it was fair to Sereno that he got dragged into this. I'm sure The Eccentric just wanted Sereno for his doppelgeist, but that wasn't Sereno's fault.” Wardell's tone of voice wasn't hostile; actually, it was very passive.

As much as Geoff wanted to remind Wardell that this whole scenario wasn't fair to anyone, he did have a point. When he put it like that, Geoff felt sort of bad about it. He turned away with a small sigh, pulling out of the conversation before it got any more awkward. Knowing Wardell, he wouldn't even notice the difference.

He took a moment to review: Endymion was slowly going to fall apart, or something, now that The Composer had taken it from its place in the universe. As before, there was a time limit. This might be a habit of The Composer. Something to watch out for in later rounds.

The natives are friendly enough, but something about his being from off-world was very upsetting to them, even though it was mostly true. He wasn't sure he wanted to know what they would have done if they'd caught him.

Something in the neighborhood of four or five contestants remained. One was sitting right next to him, doing nothing. Each successive round would either make it harder to find his dwindling number of targets, or make it harder to hide from your opponents. Probably the latter, from what he'd seen of The Composer's rather brutal methods.

Romance novels make poor sponge-

Geoff's last thought was interrupted by what was unmistakably a klaxon. Even on an alien world, alarms were still plainly recognizable as alarms. He turned to Wardell, who was already kneeling by the edge of the tank he had just fished Geoff out of, as opposed to, say, springing to his feet, or checking his surroundings. Either Wardell was completely oblivious, or, Geoff realized as Wardell started pointing, he already knew what he was supposed to be looking at. One of the agitators had stopped moving, and warning lights lit up the tank of water. Metal plates sealed off the pipes pouring water into the tank, and the water levels in all the other tanks began to rise as the one below them slowly drained.

The scarf swiftly pulled free of Wardell's neck and wrapped around his wrist to get a few more feet of reach. Before Geoff could ask what was going on, it had already coiled around the stopped agitator, and Wardell was extending a hand to Geoff. “Are you coming?” he asked, as if that was supposed to be enough for him to make sense of what was going on. He took Wardell's hand and started to say something, and then grabbed on with both hands as the scarf hauled them both off of their feet and lowered them into the tank, which only had a few inches of water left in it.

Also, a corpse with a jagged knife in the back of its neck, lodged halfway into a drain.

Wardell was already rolling the victim onto his back when a maintenance worker appeared on the edge of the water tank, staring dumbly at Geoff and Wardell.

“Welp,” said the scarf.


Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by slipsicle.

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

As the Photographer walked, he listened and felt the world underneath him turn towards decay. From the gears and pistons to the engines to the conglomerations of systems to the moon, all of it was spinning towards decay, though not every part knew it. The moon argued against itself, each part and piece trying to do their job, some of them finding that they couldn’t. It could be potentially maddening.

“It won’t take long,” said Snake, leading the way. “You just have to tell him what you told us.”

The knife was telling him that it probably wasn’t a good idea, that it was a seriously ridiculous story (thought true) and whoever this authority figure was, he probably wouldn’t be very agreeable to a big black blobby thing. In fact, he probably would rather vacuum up big black blobby things because authority figures don’t like their carpets muddled. Did they have carpets here?

“I still don’t think this’ll work out,” said the second man. He still didn’t give his name. It seemed a little rude. Which, really, seemed to be his entire character. But it wasn’t like the Photographer was surprised. He already knew that you couldn’t find depth and understanding in other people. Real emotion came from his friends…or, friend, now.

The knife told him that there was probably some sort of small hole he could slip into if he made a break for it. Probably nobody would follow him in sewers.

He hadn’t really paid attention to the camera for a while. It was starting to bother him. He was the Photographer, so of course, he needed a camera, but the camera was broken. But even so, he could still be a Photographer if he still carried the camera, right? But now he was no longer thinking of the camera as a part of his identity.

Without that anchor, was he really the Photographer anymore? Even if he held the camera, if he kept it while it was broken, it didn’t really mean a thing.

The knife replied. Apparently, he had been talking out loud. The two men didn’t seem to have heard him, though, or they were ignoring him. He was used to that.

The knife reminded him of the lucid dream and the part the camera had played. But really, nostalgic, sentimental feelings didn’t amount to anything much. If he had no tool for a trade, then he had no purpose. Thus, he was nothing. He was spinning towards decay too, really.

There was only one tool left he had, really, that he could use. But if a knife was his anchor, then what was his purpose? If he couldn’t be a photographer, then what would he be?

And with that, he suddenly collapsed. Was it just a spark of imagination that the world seemed to decay faster around him?

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Acolyte Calor stepped up to the pulpit, a solemn expression on his face.

He had given this sermon many times now. He had memorized it by now.

That did not diminish its import in his mind. He needed to let the people know.

Calor gazed over the myriad faces of his congregation and began.

"Welcome, disciples. I see new faces in this crowd, as well as old friends. Even so, to many of you, this sermon will be unfamiliar; it is, after all, not at the regularly scheduled time. But I am proud of all of you that you chose to come here, and listen to these words, so that you may know the fate which awaits us all."

He paused for a moment before continuing.

"The end of our world will be upon us soon."

He looked around the room, allowing the weight of his words to sink in. Murmurs swiftly passed through the congregation; he held up a hand and continued.

"It may come in a month, a day, or five years. Perhaps later. But make no mistake. It will come, if not in our lifetimes, then in our children's. And we must prepare ourselves for that time as best we can."

He pounded on the pulpit with his fist for emphasis.

"I speak of the coming of the Winged Arbiter. He shall descend upon Endymion and pass judgement on us all. Only those who are just and faithful shall be protected from his wrath."

He raised his arms, and motioned to the congregation to rise.

"To begin, you must hear these words, and commit them to memory. Repeat the words as I speak them. They are our guide to eternal salvation."

"The Harbinger shall descend, on wings of purest white
Our Savior will be hidden from his sight
To the devout, new Words will be revealed
And the Door to Salvation shall be unsealed
The Voice of Endymion will speak
And the wicked shall be proven weak

The congregation repeated the chant. Acolyte Calor motioned to them to sit down.

"Thank you. This prayer is but a small piece of the prophecy, but it is of great importance. Remember: in the coming crisis, our faith is essential."

He bowed his head.

"May the Lord guide us all to salvation."

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

”Aaaah, shit, shit, shit.” Mongoose jumped away as the ground crumbled like cake. Before the rift grew too wide, he managed to grab Snake’s wrist and pulled him over to his side. The two of them backed away a safe distance and watched as the new crevice eventually stopped shuddering. Then Snake reached up and snapped Mongoose’s rubber band three times.

The two stood in silence for a while longer (though Mongoose rubbed his wrist sullenly) before Snake finally said, “Should we go down there?”

What? No! We can’t—it just—why would—AGH.” Mongoose kicked some debris around before facing Snake again. “Why the hell would we follow a reject that just turned into sludge, washed down the drain, and somehow left a trail that ate through the ground?

“Because it’ll certainly be interesting.”

“What—you—it’ll be suicidal, that’s what it’ll be! Running through stupid sewers after some sentient muck that just up and fainted and—you’re not even listening!” Mongoose knew this was a fact because Snake was already carefully jumping down the crevice.

With the benefit of Snake being out of sight, Mongoose let out a few curses as quietly as he could before following. As infuriating as Snake was, he wasn’t about to leave him alone.

“Glad you could join us,” Snake said pleasantly as Mongoose splashed down and managed not to fall over. As the young man waded over to the side, Snake reached over and snapped the rubber band exceptionally hard.

“Fffffff—us…?” Mongoose hissed. It was then he noticed that Snake was holding a knife. And now that he thought of it, he remembered that the reject definitely had a hilt sticking out his side.

“Hi,” said the knife. It was not quite something he expected.

“This knife was very helpful and I would tell you what is going on, but we must hurry.”

There were several choice exclamations Mongoose could exclaim, and indeed tried to exclaim, but it all came out as spluttered nonsense.

“Maybe I’ll tell you later. Judging by the direction this sewage is rushing, it would probably be a good idea to head this way.”

“If we can talk to each other, then he must not be far,” the knife added. Mongoose wished it would stop. “And if you see a camera, it would be good to pick that up.”

As the two of them started trudging through the surprisingly large sewers, Mongoose ventured nervously, “Not…everything’s gonna talk, right? Like, walls…and stuff…”

“It depends,” the knife replied very airily.

“Ah, I can see the tell-tale trail of black sludge…watch your step,” Snake called back. “It would be good to find him soon. I’d hate to think what would happen if he managed to cut straight through Endymion.”

Mongoose stopped. “That can’t be possible.”

“With him, anything’s possible, really,” the knife said, and as Mongoose stared, he was quite certain he saw it shrug. He decided to just imagine that it was just Snake talking, or perhaps even a third person that was far more sensible and probably didn’t try to punish him every time he said a nasty word. He would like such a person to exist.

The floor felt as though it were buckling underneath him. Mongoose would say it was probably his imagination, but that seemed quite a stupid thing to think considering the circumstances and he walked a bit faster. He only ended up running right into Snake’s back.

“What? What is it?” He tried not to say ‘What’s wrong now?’ but, regardless, it came out through his tone.

“Well. It appears this leads downwards.”

“How far downwards?”

“Very far downwards.”

Mongoose finally just peered over Snake’s shoulders. He was right. It was very far downwards. He was fairly certain that it wasn’t built like that before, mostly because it was a ridiculously large pit that probably didn’t quite fit the proportions of the entire moon. Yet another impossible thing to throw into the pile, really.

“We’re not gonna jump down there,” Mongoose said suddenly.

“Now, I wasn’t going to say that we were,” Snake replied.

“Oh how swell. At least you’re not completely suicidal.”

“But we should find our way down, in any case. And if I understand correctly, this being a dream of sorts, we may find one easier than you think.”

“Yeah. Right.” Mongoose looked around for something nice, like a ladder. Or maybe a slide. Then he realized what had been said. “Wait. What.”


“You said ‘dream.’ I heard you say ‘dream.’”

“Oh, yes. This is a dream. That’s part of the explanation of what’s going on, yes.”

“What. Okay, whatever. Who’s dreaming.”

“The one we are looking for, of course.”

“Are you saying I’m just part of a dream that some stupid reject’s having.”

“No, that’s not how it works. You’re real. It is not that we’re implanted in the dream, it is the dream is implanted in the real world. Although the effect is about the same, I suppose.”


“Well, you see—“

“No. No, no, no. No. Don’t explain. Please don’t. Let’s just finish this already.”

Snake seemed to be laughing silently at him. The bastard. “Alright.”

The kni—no, no, the third person said, “Uh, we should hurry. The last time I was with him, he was sort of having an identity crisis. And I don’t really think that’ll bode well for this dream.”

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

Sirius wiped the pie from his face and glared angrily at Jeremy. The door-mage simply grinned back.

Jeremy wasn't too surprised when the punch to the face came. Although, he had to admit, he hadn't expected it to come from the bartender.

Johnny stepped over the bar and picked Jeremy up off the ground, holding him up by his collar.

"You've got some nerve, mister! I'm proud of my meat pies, and I don't appreciate seeing one wasted on some cheap prank. Don't expect to get another one."


Johnny threw him to the ground. Jeremy decided it would be a good time to flee; as he did, the bartender turned to the angel.

"Sorry about that, Mr. Sirius. We get troublemakers like that in here every so often. I feel like I need to show 'em how we do things around here. This is a respectable establishment, after all."

And with that, Johnny stepped back over the bar and began polishing some glasses, as though nothing had happened.

Sirius was taken aback. In his homeworld, his life had been nothing more than an endless cycle of dealing with nonsense. And his experiences in the battle had, so far, been no better.

When was the last time he had seen anyone else show such contempt for nonsense? He couldn't even remember.

The sight brought a tear to his eye. It was beautiful.

Then the voices started screaming again. Sirius sighed, and asked for another drink. It was the only thing he could think of to calm them.


He couldn't say how many hours later it was. The gods had mostly calmed down; there was the occasional half-hearted hey, fetch me a goat, wing-boy, but for the most part, they were simply laughing.

For perhaps the first time in his life, Sirius felt something approaching peace of mind.

And then some idiot in a cloak decided that Johnny's was the best place to tell people about the coming of the apocalypse.

"THE END IS NEAR!" he shouted. "The wicked shall be judged! Repent now, and you may be saved!"

A moment later, a very large creature wearing a helmet came in and grabbed the zealot by the shoulders.

"That's enough out of you, mister. We'll see what the Grand Inquisitor has to say about your heresy."

"We cannot be silenced!" the cloaked man yelled. "Endymion must know! The end is coming!"

The creature grunted, and hit him in the back of the head. He fell unconscious, and the gargantuan carried him out.

Johnny turned to Sirius and gave a small giggle.

"That's the third guy this week. You'd think they'd have wised up by now, but nope. All it does is get 'em arrested."

Sirius said nothing. He was busy learning just how easily influenced drunk gods could be.

The end, he said?
Wow, I haven't had a good day of judgement in a thousand years. Hey wing-boy! Get on that, why don'cha?
Why stop with the wicked? Kill 'em all, let Death sort 'em out.

"I think I've had enough to drink," Sirius said abruptly. "Thank you very much for your hospitality, but I really must be going now."

He ran off before the bartender could say another word.

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Pinary.

Had Hattallan scientist and inventor Fellen Wernscroft been born in another time altogether and in a different section of his home galaxy, he might've become good drinking buddies with a man named Rube Goldberg. Wernscroft was best known for his astonishingly (and pointlessly) complicated creations, which would often fill entire rooms with cogs, string, and tiny mechanical contraptions, all of which would work in harmony to perform some tiny, meaningless task. Of all of his works, his most famous was a device that, over the course of twenty minutes or so, would carve a piece of wood into a smaller and smaller piece until all that was left was wood shavings. It then burned the shavings.

The office of the Grand Inquisitor of Endymion would've made Wernscroft roll his eyes. There didn't seem to be a single section of wall that wasn't in motion; everything constantly shifted or rolled or ticked away, with no apparent purpose in sight and no obvious start or end to be found.

"The offices of the three heads of Endymian government are all designed to be microcosms of the moon as a whole; as goes the world, so go the rooms."

Geoff shot Wardell a look; the human had taken out A Comprehensive History of Endymion again.

"So, what, something breaking out there will damage it in here too?"

Wardell scanned the page, flipped to the next one, and read it over as well. "Doesn't say," he replied.

Just as Geoff was about to respond, a section of the wall swung open, letting in a pair of male beings, both of the same spindly species Geoff had first encountered. At least, Geoff assumed they were- one of them was wide enough that he had to turn sideways to fit through the door.

"So," said the large one, "these are our two suspects?"

"Yes, Acolyte Calor," the smaller replied, "and with the Grand Inquisitor's demise, the duty of solving the crime-"

"-Falls to me, yes, I know. I am familiar with the scriptures, Minister Dreus." He stressed the apparently-lower rank of the smaller man, then turned to glower at the pair. "Don't worry, I will investigate quite thoroughly just who killed the Inquisitor."

Wardell, in a near-unparalleled act of sociability and extroversion, looked up sharply. He didn't say anything, but the cogs moving in his head were obvious to everyone in the room.

Geoff just swore to himself.

Calor smiled grimly down at the pair. "Now, you two are entitled to due process, of course. How, why, and when you killed the Inquisitor will be ascertained as fast as possible, and the sentence will be carried out soon after."

Geoff was about to start shouting something at him, probably about how he was an investigator and that he could be an asset to the investigation, about how they were losing crucial minutes as the real murderer escaped, or about how he and Wardell had absolutely no reason to kill any sort of Inquisitor, but before he could get out a word, the heavy doors behind him slammed open and a small, soaking wet page hurried in, brandishing a tiny piece of paper at Calor.

The Acolyte barely glimpsed at the paper before cursing under his breath, grabbing Dreus, and practically running out the door.

As the door slammed behind the two priests, the page giggled a bit. Geoff eyed him cautiously, and his giggles only increased. "Well," the kid asked, "are you gonna keep sitting there, or are you going to get rescued?"

Geoff blinked at him. "Rescued?"

"Duh. Come on!" Still giggling, their apparent rescuer grabbed one of the wall's many gizmos and twisted it, making the section of wall Calor and Dreus had used to enter open again.

As the lad darted down the dark passageway, Geoff and Wardell rose and followed. It wasn't every day a tiny child saved you from an apparent execution.

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by Dragon Fogel.

End it!
Burn it all in flames!
No, rend the very ground in twain!
No, storms!
Drown them all in a great flood!
Just stab them in the heart, one by one!

Sirius held his head in pain. That stupid cultist had made the gods even more unbearable. Of all the horrible and senseless things he had been forced to deal with, a forty-way argument over how to end the world was by far the worst.

And then a forty-first voice spoke up, louder than the rest. It was unpleasantly familiar.

I can silence them, you know. It would only take me a moment's thought.

Sirius grimaced.

"What's your price, Eccentric?"

Price? What makes you think I have a price?

"You're responsible for these gods getting loose in my head in the first place. I doubt you'd offer to silence them again out of the kindness of your heart."

I'm hurt! You think so little of me, Sirius? And I thought we'd be such great friends.

"Get to the point."

It's nothing, nothing at all. Just a few simple favors. You scratch my back, I'll keep you from going insane and destroying this world.

As if to drive the point home, the other voices became even more cacophonous. Sirius sighed.

"You have a deal," he relented.

Splendid! I knew we'd be such good friends. Now, I just need a few things, and I'm sure they'll have them around here somewhere... give me a few minutes while I check.

And then there was silence in Sirius' mind.

It was wonderful. Even if it wouldn't last.

Re: The Battle Royale S2 [Round 3: Endymion]
Originally posted on MSPA by MalkyTop.

Voices twisted around him, gibbering, chanting, laughing, a mix of madness that drilled into his mind and clung tenaciously…

The Dream didn’t like where this was going. The fact that he had lost his ward was worrying enough, but his own appearance had become drastically different. That only happened when there was an instability in identity.

His new appearance was gaunt and crooked and...actually, well, sinister all around. He couldn’t say he liked where this was going.

As it was his duty to take care of his ward’s health, both physical and mental, the Dream started down through the labyrinthine sewers. It didn’t feel like it was a lucid dream. He could only hope it would stay that way.


Jeremy found himself disappointingly outside, out where people milled around, being not-drunk, out where it felt vaguely damp, out where bartenders didn’t give you large frothing mugs of liquor. It was all very saddening. Which meant it was probably a good time to have a drink.

But not back where he had come from; he was fairly certain he wouldn’t be welcomed back. Just keep opening doors until he found a different bar.

When Jeremy reached for a doorknob, he was somewhat surprised when the doorknob reached back. He still had the presence of mind to yank his hand away when the knob bit down. And then it went back to being a regular doorknob.

Shaking his hand as though it had been bitten, Jeremy glanced suspiciously up and down the street. He could only think of one situation where doorknobs could bite, and it wasn’t a very welcome one. Choosing a random direction, he slunk off. It was probably best to not mess with doors for a while.


And all around, the town was warping in eerie, but subtle ways. There were some things that grew darker. There were some things that grew deadlier. And there were some that didn’t seem to change at all but lay in wait, ready for any passerby to find out how much they did change…