A Little Role-Play
Doctor Marcel, along with Anes, already awaited his three employees who were just returning from their second attempt of kidnapping Edna. Babbitt stopped the car a few meters before the two men; Doctor Marcel saw him looking to the back of the van and saying something to someone. A moment later, the door at the back of the vehicle opened and yet after another moment, Bladder appeared with an unconscious chubby girl in his arms. Babbitt and René got out of the car as soon as the heavyset man stood in front of their employer and Anes. The latter scrutinized the blond woman with a critical eye.
“And who is this?“, he inquired. “I was expecting a dark haired woman!”
“I would like to know this myself”, Doctor Marcel remarked quietly with a hint of rage in his voice. “Edna couldn’t have changed this much, could she?”
“Sir, this is the girl I saw in Edna’s company when she was last in the village”, Babbitt explained. “The owner of that car with that license plate number you’ve given me weeks ago.”
Comprehension dawned on Doctor Marcel’s face after he heard the explanation. Gears were turning in his head while he examined the young woman. She could be of use for him, no doubt about it. Besides, he did order to have her kidnapped if they could not get Edna. A malicious grin formed on his face.
“Bring her to the others in the recreation room, and then meet me in my office”, he instructed. He and Anes left the three men and the only woman among them alone. Babbitt, Bladder and René shared an apprehensive look. They would be going to this town again, would they? Their employer certainly did not look happy but his grin was even scarier. Whatever he had planned, it could not be good for the sleeping girl...
Meanwhile, Doctor Marcel rolled up to his office with Anes by his side. If his three employees outside would not prove themselves as incompetent after he told them of his plan, then he might be able to make Edna pay for everything soon. It would only be a matter of time. Anes departed from the doctor when they reached the floor with the dormitories to check up on a few special patients. Doctor Marcel continued on his way alone. He did not need help, most of the time, despite being old and disabled. Just because he lost the ability to use his legs several years ago did it not mean he had to rely on others for every tiny microscopic thing. Doctor Marcel nodded at the guard, who was keeping watch at the cell door that led to the padded room where Edna spent ten years of her life. He arrived at his office a minute later, only to be surprised to find a young man with a paper bag covering his face standing behind his desk.
“What is it that you want, Ruben?“, Doctor Marcel growled at his oldest son as he got to the back of his desk.
“I only wanted to know if I could help with your plan?“, Ruben asked. With his single working eye, the old man gave him a good once-over.
“We’ll see”, he eventually replied. “Now, get out or hide before my minions arrive!”
Ruben gave a quick nod and rushed for the closet, which he used as a hiding place. And not a moment too soon for the sound of a fist connecting to the wood of the door resonated through the room.
“Enter”, Doctor Marcel called. The door opened and Anes, Babbitt, Bladder and René filed in like geese. They all stopped in front of him, each of them having an expression that showed curiosity in their faces.
“Now then, I want you all to wait for a few days and keep an eye on the newbie and Lilli. Let those who are close to them dangle. Then let Edna know we are holding her friends hostage. If she’s a good friend, she would come and try to liberate them”, Doctor Marcel instructed. “Be prepared for her arrival and don’t let her fool you again. Get it?”
He directed the last two sentences to Babbitt, Bladder and René, all of whom had been tricked by Edna on the day she escaped. All three saluted and said together:
“But doctor, how can you be so sure she’s going to come?“, Babbitt questioned. “What if her friends escape before she comes for their rescue?”
“That’s why you all are going to keep a close eye on them”, Doctor Marcel replied, deliberately ignoring the other question. Even he was unsure about this, it was all speculation based on Edna’s friendship with those two females. For all he knew, he could be completely wrong but he would not admit out loud to anyone present. He still had his pride.
The meteorological conditions had worsened from a gentle summer rain to a downpour, much to Edna’s disappointment. It was not like she hated the rain or the way how muddy the ground became but she tended to catch colds when it was raining cats and dogs and this was the last thing she wanted. Therefore she sat on her bed, her stomach full of meatloaf leftovers she and the Key Master were eating half an hour ago, and continued finding out more about her earliest years of life from her parents’ diaries. While eating, she invited him over to a sleepover once again. Now the Key Master had left for his hideout to get his things. Edna listened closely while reading for the sound of the door opening – the Key Master still had a spare key, after all. Every now and then, her eyes flickered to Harvey, expecting him to say something about her having the Key Master over. But no words came out of the terry cloth rabbit’s mouth. Was he perhaps so pissed off that he had no words to describe his feelings? At times like these she worried he did not want to be friends with her anymore but then she thought of her earlier conversation with the Key Master. Even if Harvey was mad at her, it did not mean their friendship was done for. Plenty of friends had fights and were mad at each other and yet, they still remained friends and forgave each other. So, why should it not be the same for them? Edna’s eyes traveled back to the lavender blue diary in her hands:
April 30th, 1992
I noticed a little boy around Edna’s age and an older boy playing in Doctor Marcel’s yard. When I asked him, he told me that he was married once but got divorced before his ex-wife discovered her second pregnancy. It was actually her who took care and raised little Alfred and Ruben (those are the boys’ names) but she died in a car crash just recently. I know how it feels to lose someone that way, so I showed sympathy. But he did not seem to care; he showed no sign of sadness or anything. I just hope that this is his way of coping with the pain...
Anyway, I invited little Alfred over to play with Edna – Ruben had run away. They got along pretty well and played for hours to no end. It was just adorable! I could imagine them becoming the best of friends.
Edna could not remember how she first met Alfred; she only knew that she had known him for almost as long as she had Harvey. It was nice to read how they met. Still, the lack of emotion on Doctor Marcel’s part over the death of his ex-wife should have clued in on her mother that he was an evil man. Even if they were divorced, he could have shown a little grief over her passing away. In Edna’s opinion, only evil and emotionless people did not grieve when they lost a loved one. Shaking her head in disgust over the old man’s behavior from over twenty years ago, she took the diary with the brown leather cover and opened the page with the same date:
April 30th, 1992
Vivian came back with a little boy after her short visit to our neighbor’s house. She told me it was Doctor Marcel’s son. Didn’t know he had a son or that he was married. I always thought he would remain an old, grumpy, unmarried man. Guess I was wrong. But whatever, Edna was playing with her rag doll rabbit and her elephant in the sandbox when Alfred joined in. They had a lot of fun building sandcastles, although they usually grumbled after about five seconds. Vivian thinks they look cute together and I, for one, can’t disagree.
Edna recalled her tempomorphing experience when she finally reached her old room in her old house on the night of her escape. She was looking for Mattis to keep an eye on him, to make sure he really was not Alfred’s murderer. She found him sitting under the umbrella with Doctor Marcel on the porch. Mattis mentioned he thought that both children would make a nice couple and that he could see them being together in the future. Had he been of this opinion ever since the day Edna and Alfred first met? Maybe if things had gone differently, they both would really be together. What would Mattis say if he were still alive and knew his daughter had a crush on someone other than Alfred? Especially since the object of her affection was a known murderer... But who could control their feelings?
Edna decided not to think too much about this. Those were all things she could not change and she had to accept this. So, she kept on reading about how she played almost every day with Alfred and how she spent a lot of time with her parents. She read about happier times she could not remember since she was too young back then. It filled her with joy but it also depressed her to see the written words about things she could never regain. But what she could get back were happy times, not necessarily the same as in her childhood. All she had to do was to work towards it... but first, she was being lazy by closing the diaries and taking Tina’s PlayStation Portable and commencing to play.
The Key Master had just finished packing his stuff; glad he could spend a night, or several, in an actual home and eat something other than sandwiches, like the meatloaf he had earlier. His only complaint about it was that it was leftover that were just heated up in a microwave and not freshly made. Still, it was better to have consumed something different, so he did not cry or throw a temper tantrum because of this. Besides, it would be childish. He left the house and walked over the field into the woods. He trod upon the road he and Edna had walked on almost every day since he came here. They both knew the way by heart, unlike the rest of the forest. Heavy raindrops pelted down through the treetops on him and on the ground, leaving it muddy. It was kind of expected, seeing how overcast the skies were. Only he would prefer if the downpour had waited until he had reached his destination. Gene Kelly might think differently but the Key Master was certainly not in the mood to sing and dance. All he wanted was to get out of the rain and take a warm bath. This was why he hurried up to get to Edna’s apartment as fast as possible.
The Key Master arrived at his destination at last and used the key Edna had given him to quickly unlock the door. He used the elevator to get to the right floor and not even five minutes later, he unlocked the apartment door before entering.
“Hello? Princess?“, he called after closing the door behind him. He heard the sound of another door opening as he walked towards the living room. When he arrived there, he found Edna standing there, with a black object in her hands. Her eyes widened when she saw that he was wet to the skin.
“Do you mind if I take a warm bath in your bathroom?“, the Key Master requested.
“Not at all, go ahead”, she replied. “I’ll be in my room, so you know where to find me when you’re done.”
“Okay”, he nodded and went with his stuff into the bathroom. There he filled the bathtub with water, not too hot but also not too cold, just the right temperature. The Key Master stripped off his dripping wet clothes and hung them over the heater. He turned the tab off once the tub was full and added bubble bath. Then he got into the water container, leaned back and relaxed. The warmness felt like heaven to his hypothermic skin. It had been too long since he last relaxed in a bathtub; he had almost forgotten this marvelous feeling. It was amazing how granted people took things like these while other would not even dare to dream about such luxury. He could consider himself lucky that he had the possibility to shower in his hideout, even though it was still unnecessarily complicated. However, it was better than smelling like a walking dump.
The Key Master decided it was enough relaxation in a bathtub that was not his after an hour and half had passed. He got out of the tub and removed the plug. While the water went down the drain, he dried himself off before opening his bag and taking out some fresh clothes. The Key Master got dressed and then emerged from the bathroom with his bag in hand. On his way over to Edna’s room, he left the object next to the couch. A second later, he stood in front of her bedroom door; he raised his fist and pounded a few times on the wooden surface.
“Come in”, came from the other side almost immediately. He pushed the handle down and opened the door to enter his friend’s room, who he found sitting on the bed, still with the same black object in her hands and pushing buttons. She glanced up from it and greeted him with a smile.
“Take a seat wherever you want”, she invited him. The Key Master decided to sit next to her on her bed; he wanted to know what the thing she was playing with was. He looked over her shoulder to see she was controlling a black haired man clad completely in black. The character had a giant sword in his hand – the Key Master wondered if it was compensating for something – and he was battling a couple of floating fireballs with angry faces. Under the screen were the letters ‘PSP’, left to the screen was a directional pad and a joystick and on the right side were four circular buttons.
“What does ‘PSP’ stand for?“, the Key Master asked.
“PlayStation Portable”, Edna replied. She paused the game and turned her head to look at him. “I reckon you remember the first PlayStation console?”
“Yes, I do. Even had one”, the Key Master confirmed. It was the first console he bought for himself from his own money after saving up for at least a year. When he was not working or spending tine with his girlfriend or friends, he spent a lot of time playing on it. He had a lot of fun with it, even though he did not have many games since buying those were not on his priority list. Perhaps he could have called more games his own if certain circumstances had not occurred. But it did not matter; it was not like he could get his old console and the respective games back. He would never get any of his old possession back; he could only get new stuff.
“I never had one, Mattis didn’t have the money to afford one and I would have needed to save pocket money for several years before I had enough together”, Edna responded. “This here is actually Tina’s but she lent it to me.”
“And how is the game you’re playing? Whatever it is...“, the Key Master wanted to know. Edna took a brief look at the handheld console in her hand and then back at him before replying:
“Oh, it’s just the prequel of an old game for the original PlayStation; it’s actually fun to play once you get the hang of it.”
She went back to the video game and continued playing with him watching.
A small group of people – consisting of Petra, the Beeman, Max, Professor Nock and Maestro Frank – gathered around the unconscious woman lying on the couch in the television room. Earlier they had watched Bladder bringing her in.
“Two newbies in two days! Isn’t it exciting!?“, Petra exclaimed in her perpetually happy way.
“I’m more concerned about it. What if Doctor Marcel sent Bladder out to capture people, no matter whether they are actually crazy or not”, the Beeman replied calmly, in a stark contrast to Petra’s excitement.
“And who says this is a human? It could also be a Velociraptor... an overweight Velociraptor”, Professor Nock piped up. The Beeman stared incredulously at the dinosaur obsessed man and Max said something none of them could understand, though it was evident that his voice was full of sarcasm. The professor seemed to see extinct reptile about everywhere, to the point that it was getting ridiculous. Before the bald man in bee costume could make a comment came a groan from the unconscious woman.
“Ugh, wha’ happened?“, she mumbled as her eyes flickered open. “Last I remember are three men at my apartment door...”
She slowly sat up, holding her head as if she had a headache. She did not seem to have registered that five people were gathered around her.
“Are you human or a dino disguised as a human?“, Professor Nock suddenly asked. The newbie turned her head sideways and stared at the five people. Her eyes widened and her jaw dropped in astonishment. Then she moved her head around as she took in her surroundings. First, she looked at the green couch she was sitting on, then her eyes traveled to the shelf, where a small potted plant and an ugly ashtray from occupational therapy stood on, above her. Afterwards she turned her upper body around to see a green chair behind her before she looked at the ceiling lamp with a drawing of Pumuckl attached to it. On the opposite wall, she saw a television set, where a superhero movie was shown, and a big potted plant in a corner. In the end, her eyes were back on the five people around her, confusion written all over her face.
“Are you human or a dino disguised as a human?“, Professor Nock repeated.
“Uh what? What kind of question is that?“, the stranger asked, looking weirdly at him. Suddenly, Petra pushed Professor Nock away and vigorously shook the newbie’s hand with a big, toothy grin on her face.
“Hi, I’m Petra!“, she introduced herself excitedly. “What’s your name?”
“Uh, my name’s Tina Kemmer”, she replied, somewhat dumbfounded. She looked at each of them. “And you guys are...?”
“I’m Professor Nock, local dinosaur expert”, the old man with the hair-do reminiscence of Albert Einstein replied. “You don’t happen to know where I can find dino DNA, do you?”
Tina stared strangely at him, obviously at a loss for words.
“Don’t mind him. I am known as the Beeman”, the bald man said, shaking Tina’s hand. Then he pointed at the man next to him: “And this is Maximillian, but we call him Max.”
“And I am Maestro Frank! I am the reincarnation of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart!“, the last one introduced himself pompously.
“Uh, nice to meet y’all”, Tina replied, still baffled. Once again she looked around. “Uh, where am I?”
“You’re in an asylum for the mentally unstable”, the Beeman answered calmly. Tina jumped up, exclaiming:
She started to pace around the room, like a wild animal trapped in a cage. She made erratic gestures with her hands and arms.
“What am I even doing here? I’m not mad! There’s no reason for me to be here!”
The Beeman, Petra, Max, Professor Nock and Maestro Frank watched her as she continued pacing and ranting about how she should not be here and that she was about to visit her parents. After a while, she plopped back on the couch with a heavy sigh and shook her head.
“If it’s any consolation to you, the head of the asylum is mad and would do anything to find a certain former patient”, Maestro Frank explained. “At least that’s what I heard. They –“he gestured at the Beeman, Petra and Professor Nock “– know more about this.”
Tina, who was sitting down again and was looking at Maestro Frank, turned her attention towards the other three he gestured at, wordlessly asking them for an answer. It was the man clad in a bee costume who gave a response:
“A few years ago, there was a mass breakout – five patients escaped. One of them was a girl who the head of this institution had a personal vendetta against. As far as I know, she had something to do with the death of his son.”
“The story sounds kind of familiar...“, they all heard Tina mumble, more to herself than to them.
“You’re the second girl who was kidnapped by Doctor Marcel’s minions”, Petra commented as cheerful as though she was announcing that she would have an important role in a cult series. Tina frowned at her:
“I’m... the second one? And did you just say Doctor Marcel?”
“Yes and yes”, Petra confirmed.
“Are you all telling me that Doctor Marcel wants to catch a girl, who escaped from this asylum a few years ago and who had something to do with the death of his son, and by doing so, he won’t hesitate to kidnap other people?“, Tina questioned.
“Pretty much”, Professor Nock shrugged. Tina’s eyes widened and once again she jumped up.
“Edna!“, she exclaimed. “He’s trying to get her back here! Where’s the other person who was kidnapped? Maybe there’s a connection between this person and me.”
“Well, the only things you two have in common are your gender and hair color”, the Beeman replied. “But I can still take you to her. I think she’s playing a board game.”
Tina nodded before following him out of the television room, with Petra, Max, Professor Nock and Maestro Frank in tow. He led them to the biggest room on this floor and headed straight to a table, where a group of people were huddled together as they played a board game. A little away from them was a blond girl with pigtails, who supported her head with her arms and watched with a bored expression on her face.
“Hoo-hoo, Lilli!“, Petra called, waving at the girl. The little girl turned her head towards the group of people approaching her, then she swiveled her whole body on the chair so that she could look directly at them.
“Yes? What is it?“, she asked when they all stood in front of her.
“There’s someone here who would like to meet you”, the Beeman explained and stepped aside to reveal Tina. Both girls stared at each other slack-jawed and with wide eyes.
“You!?“, they exclaimed simultaneously, pointing with their index fingers at each other.
“Oh, isn’t this nice? They already know each other”, Petra commented happily.
“We bumped into each other once”, Tina explained, frowning at the overly cheery woman before turning her attention back to Lilli: “So, Doctor Marcel had you kidnapped too? But why? Is there a connection between us?”
“Well, when you answered your phone, I heard you say the name Edna. Does she happen to be Edna Konrad?“, the younger girl questioned. Tina nodded and went on to explain:
“She’s my housemate and friend.”
“Then maybe she is the connection between us. Edna used to be my roommate in the convent school and she is also my friend, even if we haven’t seen each other in years.”
Tina took a chair and sat down on it, her five followers did the same.
“Edna mentioned that she hid out in a convent school for three years before she moved in with me”, the chubby blond woman said. “She told me she had a friend there. So, you must this friend. This Lilli... Right?”
“Yes, I am”, she confirmed. Before either of the blondes could say anything else, the sound of a fanfare resonated throughout the recreation room. Everybody turned their attention towards the cushion castle next to the windows, where a tall dark haired man with a purple pillow on his head stood guard.
“Drogglejug!“, he announced and stepped aside. Another man, also dark haired, emerged from the pillow castle. He wore gray casual suits and wore a bucket on his head as if this was a crown.
“It is time to enter the mysterious and legendary world of Hoth Motigor! Who will be the brave warriors, ready to defend their home from evil?“, he announced pompously in a booming voice. In a flash, everyone but a small group rushed out, only Petra, the Beeman, Lilli and Tina, who stared around in confusion, remained.
“Ah, here are my proud and brave warriors!“, the man clad in gray said, still in the same voice.
“Does he always talk like he consumed a thousand ham sandwiches?“, Tina whispered to her companions. “Who is he anyway?”
“That’s Adrian, king of the recreation room”, Petra whispered. “And the other man there is Drogglejug; he’s as eloquent as he’s attractive.”
Tina gave Petra a weird look when King Adrian’s eyes fell on her. He strode towards the group, his eyes fixated on the newbie.
“Ah, a new subject! Who might this fair maiden be?”
All Tina did was to make a dumbfounded face.
The downpour had turned into a thunderstorm. The skies growled and howled like it was in a rage. Lightning flashed, illuminating the dark sky in a blindingly white light. Stormy clouds chased people back to their homes, to the warmth and dryness of their beds. Among them were Edna and the Key Master, only that they sat on the couch in her living room reading Captain Useless comics and with two steaming mugs, one filled with tea and the other with hot chocolate, standing on the coffee table. There was nothing on television that piped their interest and neither of them was in the mood for a movie or a video game. Thus, it left them with reading with one of Edna’s CD providing background music.
“As soon as the rain stops, I’m going outside to get myself dirty in the mud”, Edna announced, closing the comic she had in her hands and taking the next issue.
“Or you could go to a spa and take a mud bath”, the Key Master responded.
“Hm nah”, Edna shrugged, opening the comic issue she was holding. “I think mud outside is more fun.”
She began reading Captain Useless Against Currywurst Breather. The opponent was a guy who overfed himself with currywurst and tended to belch quite a lot and who liked to squirt curry sauce on about everything. In one panel, he knocked Captain Useless out by burping right into his face and in the next panel he proceeded to decorate the Honk Mobile with curry sauce. It was up to Handy Boy to have the vehicle cleaned. In the end, Captain Useless captured the Currywurst Breather by learning to hold his breath long enough to not be affected by the unpleasant smell and by having Handy Boy force feeding him a peppermint while Captain Useless disarmed the opponent with a grappling hook.
“Aren’t you going anywhere this summer?“, the Key Master suddenly asked after finishing the issue he was reading.
“Why? Hoping to secretly live here without anyone knowing?“, Edna retorted with cheeky grin on her face. She threw Captain Useless Against Currywurst Breather on the ever growing piles of read comics. Then she leaned forward to the coffee table, took her mug and drank from her hot, brown beverage. It was only after her container for liquids was back on the table did she answer the question: “But no, I’m not going anywhere on vacation. I wouldn’t know where and I could mostly likely not afford it. And I don’t have any family members left I could visit... well, not any I know of.”
“I know how that feels...“, the Key Master responded in an unusually crestfallen voice. However, it was back to its normal tone a second later: “At least you don’t have to keep hidden, you can just go on with life and have a job.”
“Yeah, I’m actually surprised that no one realized my identity”, Edna remarked with a shrug. “Maybe it’s the same case with you?”
“I highly doubt it. People would most likely recognize me because of my unusual skin color”, the Key Master replied. “Besides, as far as I recall, you were the one who insisted I hide out in a little house behind a forest near this town because no one ever ventures out there to, only to later try to convince me to go out in town. I’m kind of failing to see the logic.”
“Well, when we first met each other again after years, I thought it would be for the best to keep you hidden. But when I realized that no one recognized me, I figured it could be the same with you. That’s why I tried to persuade you to go among people, so that you won’t have to be alone all day long anymore”, Edna tried to explain. She knew her explanation made no sense at all and everything about it was like one big weak excuse. “But you actually did go to town once in a while. I guess nothing we do makes any sense. A Vulcan would have a field day pointing out how illogical our actions are.”
“And this human here is pointing out that you watch too much Star Trek“, the Key Master smirked. Edna stuck her tongue out at him.
“But I think there are worse things one could watch too much”, he added. “Like bland love films where the characters are even more one dimensional than cardboard cutouts.”
“Like Twilight?“, Edna suggested. She was met with a confused look. “Just be happy you don’t know this franchise.”
“I’ll just take your word for it”, the Key Master responded. He threw the comic he was reading on the pile of read issues too. “But do you have any suggestions what else we could do? I’m not quite in the mood for comics the whole evening.”
“Well, what do you propose we do?“, the female member of the species homo sapiens retorted. Admittedly, she was also getting tired of just reading comics. “I mean it’s still raining... Are we still on Earth or are we on Ferenginar?”
“If we’ve taken on art as hobby, then why don’t we do something artistic?”
She eyed him thoughtfully; the sentence “he has a point” kept running around in her mind. There was no reason they could not draw or work with clay, only their own creativity was the limit. So, she sprang up and hurried to her room to get the materials.
While Edna got her things from her room, the Key Master decided to make himself useful and put the stack of comics neatly back into the box they were stored in. Then he put the box right next to the couch, so that none of them would trip over it. He sat back down on the couch just as Edna came back with her sketch-pads, pencils and erasers, which she all put on the coffee table right next to the mugs.
“If you want to do something with clay, just tell me”, she said as she sat back down again.
“I’m fine with drawing”, the Key Master replied before taking the mug that was filled with tea and drank it all up. “I don’t even have an idea what to make. I might have one if I were more talented but I’m not, so I won’t even attempt it.”
He watched Edna, who had already a sketch-pad on her lap and busily drew something. She, oblivious to his eyes on her, mumbled an unintelligible response, not looking up.
“And what would you have created?“, she questioned, tugging her hair behind her ear to prevent it from frequently falling into her face.
“I’m looking at my muse right now”, the Key Master replied. The young woman put her pencil down and turned her head sideways to see what he was looking at. Her jaw dropped when she realized she was the object his dark green eyes were fixated on.
“M-me?“, she stammered, clearly baffled. He could hardly blame her. How often would someone imply or even outright state that he wanted to make a clay figure of her? He could imagine it happened hardly, if ever but maybe it had more something to do with the fact that he did not know anyone, aside from Edna, who worked with clay. Nevertheless, the Key Master was of the opinion that she would be an excellent model for a sculpture – whether big or small.
“But why me? I’m sure there are loads of other people who would be better to immortalize”, a still astounded Edna stated.
“But you’re a more memorable person”, the Key Master retorted. He watched how she made big, googly eyes and how her cheeks took on a pink color. It appeared that he left her speechless.
“W-wow, I... I’m fl-flattered... I... I don’t think anyone ev-ever described me t-that w-way”, Edna stuttered, playing nervously with her hair. The Key Master did not say it out loud at this moment, but he was nonetheless certain that he could never forget someone like her; no matter how often Doctor Marcel would erase his memories.
“But you do know you can only get better at something if you do it regularly”, she pointed out after she calmed herself down. “Why not make a bowl or something? As long as it’s recognizable. I am still not sure what that thing on the shelf in the television room in the asylum was...”
It sounded like she was mumbling the last part more to herself than to him. Still, the Key Master had a vague idea what she meant, having seen it the short time he worked there, if it really was the ugly, deformed ashtray. If it was, then he was amazed that they still had it on display and not replaced it by something else.
“Perhaps you’re right, but I still decide to do a drawing tonight”, he stated and reached for the second sketch-pad and pencil. Out of the corner of his eyes, he could see Edna shrugging and going back to her picture. With the pad on his lap and the pencil in his hand, he began drawing.
If one were to come across Amy right now, they could easily confuse her with a walking volcano. A few weeks ago, she had been hired by Doctor Marcel to hold a therapy session but at the last minute, and with last minute being ten minutes ago, he canceled the session. All her preparations for naught! To think that she could have used her time for something else or to attend therapy sessions in other mental institutions made her blood boil. She could have been at home or at her sister’s place the whole time and could have relaxed before she and Anika were on their plane the day after the next.
“Amy? Shouldn’t you be holding a therapy session?”
It was Ben, who came across his girlfriend and questioned her.
“Shouldn’t you be in the surveillance room?“, she retorted. Amy sighed and added: “My session got canceled and I only learned about this about ten minutes ago.”
“Oh”, was all her boyfriend had to say. She saw his eyes rapidly moving around as he thought about what he could say to make her feel better. But what Ben was not aware of was that Amy usually felt better when he acted this way. She thought he looked just adorable but never told him this since he did not like to be described with this adjective. With a smile on her face, she took his hand.
“How about I join you on your way back to the surveillance room? I could need your company”, she suggested in a soft tone. Ben reciprocated her smile and pulled her close to him.
“I would like that”, he responded and gave Amy a quick kiss. Then they walked to the surveillance room, where he was supposed to be and which was deserted of any life forms. Amy was a little surprised that no one was in the room. Normally there would be at least one person present, usually Bladder, René or Ben. But if she thought about it, she had not seen the former two, as well as Babbitt for quite some time. Her first thought was that they were fired but she quickly discarded this theory; she knew they belonged to what she liked to call “Doctor Marcel’s Inner Circle”. Those three would have needed to do something really bad to get laid off.
“Say, I haven’t seen three of your colleagues around for quite some time”, Amy stated while taking a seat. “D’you know where they are?”
“I’ve seen them coming back today and yesterday from wherever they were on the monitors and both times, Bladder held an unconscious girl in his arms. Doctor Marcel went down to the archives while both girls were brought to the recreation room. I don’t know what is going on but it looks all very suspicious to me”, Ben whispered in a hushed voice. Amy’s eyebrows furrowed as she listened to her boyfriend. It sounded like they had reason to worry that Doctor Marcel had gone even madder than he already was.
“That’s weird... Maybe I should go to the archives and see if I can find anything?“, she suggested. Ben nodded in agreement.
“Yeah, I think you should. Just be careful no one catches you there”, he warned her.
“I’ll be careful”, she smiled and rose to her feet. She was about to head out of the door when she stopped and looked questioningly at Ben. “The archives are in the basement, near the laundry room, right?”
He nodded in confirmation and with a wave, she was out of the room. Amy walked down the hallway and down the stairs for several floor, only coming across Anes, who walked past her without so much as looking at her. She was glad he did not stop to interrogate her; she hated talking with him and thus spoke with him as rarely as possible. Every time she had a conversation with him, she was reminded just what heartless and inhuman kind of person he was. It was hard to believe that he was married. What kind of person would want him for a husband? There were countless other men with a much better personality. Amy shook her head in an attempt to not think about Anes anymore and went on her way.
She reached the basement, the doors leading to the laundry room were right ahead. Turning to her left, she walked down a small set of stairs and walked through the first door she saw. Lights were switched off and there were no windows, leaving the room in a blackness that made it impossible to see the own hand in front of one’s face. Amy left the door ajar, so that a bit of the light from the basement shone in the archives while she touched the wall for the light switch. She found it soon enough and pressed it, brightening up the room. After completely closing the door, she made an observation of the archives, her first thoughts being that there too many files to check out.
“Holy shit”, Amy mumbled to herself, turning around just so she did not have to look at these shelves anymore. Her eyes fell upon a small cabinet right next to the door. Curious what could be hidden in there, she walked closer to this piece of furniture and opened the upper drawer. It was filled with folders, each one marked with a name. As she skimmed through the names, she realized those were all the current patients and, upon closer inspection, she realized that none of the names were unfamiliar to her. If there really were two new patients in this asylum, then where were their folders? Had they not been made yet? This would not surprise Amy, seeing that the two new patients had only come here recently. Still, she thought Doctor Marcel might have created files on them already when he was here shortly after their respective arrivals. Wondering to herself if there was a computer in the archives and had some information on the newbies stored in it, she ventured deeper into the room. She walked past countless shelves, all of them containing files about patients, both current and former. At least Amy assumed there were former patients; there were too many folders for just the current ones. How many patients had been here? And what happened to those who were not here anymore? Were some declared clinically sane and did others die here? How many had actually managed to break out? And how long had the current patients been here? Amy knew that Edna was stuck in a solitary cell for ten years – she told her this after all the night they first met.
“Sheesh, if Doctor Marcel had been in charge of this institution since the first patients had been brought in, I feel great sympathy for those poor souls”, Amy commented, her brown eyes traveling over the shelves. That was when she noticed there really was a computer at the end of the room. She headed straight for it, not looking left or right, only stopping when she stood right in front of it. Without any hesitations, she pressed the power button and waited while the computer booted up. Soon, she would know more about what was going on here. Not long until she would uncover secrets that only Doctor Marcel’s inner circle were aware of. However, it seemed that there still was one last obstacle and that was the password for the computer.
“Fuck”, Amy cursed under her breath. She took the mouse and moved the cursor on screen to the button that gave the user one single hint of what they chose for a password. If she was lucky, she could perhaps easily decipher it based on the single hint; if not... she would need to try and guess.
“Name of Goethe’s spouse?“, Amy read aloud, clearly confused. “Was he even married?”
She tried to think back to her German classes. She knew he did a lot of things in his life and worked almost all of his life on Faust but she could not remember he was ever married. Maybe she had just forgotten about it. With a shrug, Amy took out her cell phone to call or message Ben, hoping he would know the answer. Unfortunately, she had little to no reception down here.
“Seriously?“, she commented, obviously not amused. “Might as well turn this fucking computer off and go back.”
The coffee room was small, dark and dingy. A single ashtray was in a corner opposite of the seating area. Next to it was one single yellow chair and at the wall stood a coffee automat. Lilli was not fond of the smell in the coffee room; it smelled like someone used up several bottles of cheap perfume to cover up an unpleasant fragrance. Under the dim light of the ceiling lamp in the room sat five people in a half circle with a sixth person sitting across from them. Several books were around their Dungeon Master King Adrian. On the table were a few character sheets, a cup and dice. Lilli noted that only one person looked like she did not know what was going on and that was the newbie.
“Uh, what am I supposed to do?“, Tina questioned. Petra, who sat on her left hand side, gave her a sheet of paper.
“First, you need to create a character to represent you”, she explained joyously. Tina nodded and Lilli, along with the other four, watched her taking the book about job classes and creating her character. It took a few minutes, during which every ocular organ was on Tina, but eventually they could start with their role-play. King Adrian cleared his throat and spoke in a loud, booming voice:
“In the mythical world of Hoth Motigor, our heroes – the brave and fierce Amazonian warrior Lillegrimm, the beautiful mage Petrulla, the noble Sir Droggalot and calm animal trainer Apisor – traveled through the land on their way to free their rightful ruler and knock the fake king off his throne. Near a village, where they could restock their supplies, they met a new ally – a Magic Knight by the name of Terra. Could you describe your appearance?”
He directed his question to Tina.
“Uh sure”, she confirmed. She cleared her throat before she began the description about her character’s appearance: “Well, my character is tall and slim. She wears formfitting armor with her blond hair, which is tied up in a ponytail, hidden under her helmet. She has some piece of cloth around her waist to emulate a skirt. Her weapon of choice was a sword, which she can imbue with the power of her available spells.”
“Ah yes, pretty nice”, King Adrian commented and went on with his narration.
Terra used to be a high-ranking officer on the fake king’s court before defecting. She was now branded as traitor and searched by her former colleagues. Knowing she could be a valuable ally for the group, she joined them but refused to say why she defected. Still, the brave warriors welcomed each and every help they could get and therefore did not question her any further. The group of five continued on to the next village, where Sir Droggalot was responsible to restock their supplies. It used to be Petrulla but she tended to buy things none of them could and would need. Meanwhile, Apisor and Lillegrimm were in the local weapon shop to replace their current weapons with better and stronger ones. That only left Petrulla and Terra, both of who wandered around town square, listening to rumors.
King Adrian looked up and at the group:
“Now, how about you two tell us what kind of rumors you hear?”
Petra looked excited; Tina looked like she still had no idea what she was doing. The ever grinning blond woman leaned forward and told one example of rumor they were listening to:
“How about someone met a beautiful yet fatal woman in the woods in the middle of the night? One who seduces men only to kill them and this guy barely managed to escape?”
“She could behave like the sirens in Greek mythology. Y’know, seducing men with their singing but we females are immune and can save them”, Tina contributed. “And how about rumors of two lone travelers, both of who could join the heroes towards the end of their journey?”
“They would have to be NPCs then, unless we find two additional players”, King Adrian commented.
“Yes, you are right, my good man. The idea is good enough to be incorporated into the role-play”, the king of the recreation room agreed with his most loyal servant. He turned to Petra and Tina: “Any other rumors you could have heard?”
“How about sightings of a lindworm in the mountains?“, Tina suggested. “Defeating it could yield a rare and valuable item that could be useful later in the journey. A kind of Chekhov’s gun.”
“Hm, sounds good to me”, the Beeman commented. “But I think it’s enough for now. Can we please go on with the role-play?”
“I am the king! I decide when we will continue!“, King Adrian exclaimed loudly. Five seconds later, he added in a calmer voice: “Now we continue with the role-play.”
And he went back to narrating.
About two hours later, around sundown, the five brave warriors met in the local inn, where Petrulla and Terra recounted what they heard in the town square. The valiant Lillegrimm was itching to get to the mountains and defeat the lindworm. However, she also knew her companions were exhausted and needed rest, so she did not push her allies. The creature would still be in the mountains tomorrow, ready to slaughter any unassuming travelers. Thus, the heroes ate a lavish meal before turning in. That night, when the moon shone high in the dark skies and the whole village was peacefully sleeping, there was one hooded figure, who snuck into the room where the five heroes slept in. He held a long, thin knife as he crept towards their beds. He has to be swift and silent and he had to make sure he got the right person. Then again, even if he killed the wrong person, it wouldn’t matter as long as they did not scream in pain and thus did not wake the others. He stopped next to one bed and waited, listening intently if everyone was still asleep. All he could hear were the soft breathings of the heroes, who were all in the land of dreams. He stood up as quietly as he could and looked at his soon to be victim. It was too dark to make out a face but he was still able to see that he was next to one of the female party members. He raised his knife high, the full moon’s light reflecting on its blade. With one swift movement, he brought down his weapon, about to pierce this poor girl’s heart.
King Adrian paused for dramatic effect. The other players, with the exception of Drogglejug, all leaned forward with anticipation written all over their faces. King Adrian seemed to enjoy the attention he got from his subjects, judging by the self-congratulatory smirk on his face.
“And? And?“, Petra urged in a hushed and eager voice.
“And? And?“, Tina repeated in the same tone.
“Drogglejug...“, he rolled his eyes and shook his head. King Adrian raised his hand to silence them but before he could utter a single word, he was interrupted by a call:
“Dinner time! Come on, ya loonies, we don’t have all night!”
The role-players moaned in disappointment while putting everything they used or planned to use away. Then they joined the others on their way to dinner, escorted by various minions of Doctor Marcel.
The thunderstorm raged on all night long until one hour before the sun announced the dawning of a new day. Both the Key Master and Edna spent the rest of the previous evening drawing, though the latter refused to tell or show him what she was drawing. However, he noticed that she kept glancing at him. Had she been drawing him? It would make sense if she did, he could think of no other reason why a person, who was busy drawing, kept looking at another human being in close proximity. It would certainly be a funny coincidence, considering what he talked with her about. The Key Master gazed at the young, still sleeping woman, who had her arms around him. Like every time he spent the night in this apartment, they had an argument about his sleeping in her bed and her sleeping on the couch, only for them both to end up sleeping in her bed. Why did they not just save time and decide they would always sleep in her bed, even though there was an available bed in the other bedroom? Well, Edna mentioned the previous night she was planning to buy a sleeping bag for him, so that he could sleep on the living room floor but he kind of had his doubts she would really purchase one. He had a feeling that she actually enjoyed sleeping in one bed with him. After all, he always woke up with her arms around him and with her looking quite content. But he was better off not making any assumptions; for all he knew, she could just reach for something to hold on when she was in the land of dreams. Perhaps she usually held Harvey in her arms when he, the Key Master, was not with her. Slowly and carefully, he wriggled himself out of her embrace and got up. It was still early in the morning but this did not mean he could not prepare breakfast. Thus, the Key Master snuck out of Edna’s room and went to the kitchen, where he gathered flour, sugar, eggs, milk and cocoa powder together. He mixed the ingredients together in a bowl until it resembled something like thin batter for a chocolate cake. Then he took a frying pan and vegetable oil, which he heated up a small amount of. Once the oil had the right temperature, the Key Master poured a little bit of the batter into the pan and left it like this for a few short minutes. He flipped the chocolate pancake around with a spatula to let the other side solidify. The finished product landed on a plate that the Key Master quickly got out of one of the cupboards. This pancake looked a little burned but that was normal. If one were to make pancakes, the first one would always look like a failure – at least when he made them. He was not entirely sure whether or not this was true for everyone, if he was honest with himself. The whole process was repeated several times until all of the batter was used up.
“Smells delicious”, he heard a female voice comment. He turned around to find Edna leaning against the doorframe. She had her arms crossed under her chest and a smirk adorned her face.
“Well, I hope you will like the taste too”, the Key Master retorted before turning his attention back to the final pancake he had in the pan. He flipped it around and turned the heat off; the platform would still be hot enough. Behind him, he could hear footsteps as Edna approached him. They stopped soon but he heard her opening the cupboards and taking something, presumably two plates, out. She closed the cupboards and opened the drawers instead, rummaging for the needed cutlery.
“I’m gonna set the table”, Edna announced. The Key Master nodded in acknowledgement and he heard her leaving the kitchen, though her steps were now much slower. He thought back to two months ago when he first spent a night here. He had also made pancakes for breakfast and he could still remember Edna’s comment about them. The Key Master chuckled to himself as he recalled how embarrassed she was upon realizing what she had said. Would she really have done what she had said she would do? Probably not, he did not think so. The Key Master loaded the final pancake on the pile and removed the pan from the still heated stove top. He took the heavy plate and carefully balanced it in his hands on his way to the living room, where he found that Edna had already set the dinner table. He added the heavy plate to it all.
“Lady’s first”, he said indicating at the pancakes. However, Edna shook her head.
“No, you’re my guest and you already went through all the trouble of making breakfast. You should fill your plate first”, she declined. A grin appeared in her face. “Besides, I’m not a lady, least of all a fair one.”
“Oh, with the right garments and lessons on the proper way to speak, you could surely be one”, the Key Master commented while filling his plate.
“Funny, last time I checked, my name was not Eliza Doolittle”, Edna retorted with a smirk and a raised eyebrow. The Key Master chuckled before he took a seat, having decided the amount of pancakes he filled on his plate was enough. Now it was Edna’s turn to fill her plate. Once she had done it, they commenced eating.
“You still can’t remember your name, can you?“, she suddenly asked about twenty minutes later, after they finished consuming their breakfast, as though they never interrupted their conversation.
“No, it’s like there’s something preventing me from remembering this and a couple of other things – like the circumstances that led me to being stuck in an asylum”, the Key Master replied.
“I know how this feels... back then when I did everything I could to escape the asylum with your help, I regained my memories bit by bit – especially later when I found my way back home. However, I couldn’t recall anything about the day and what really happened when Alfred died. It was only when I was in my old room and tempomorphed into the past when I remembered what really happened...“, Edna trailed off. “But there has to be another way for you to recall all those things. I mean, you don’t want to live the rest of your life knowing there are memories in your brain you can’t access.”
“No, either I completely remember it or I don’t even know about the memories my brain is unable to access”, the Key Master retorted as they cleared the table.
“I know my friend Lilli was once hypnotized by Doctor Marcel. He created some behavioral blocks in her mind which she overcame one by one by hypnotizing herself. If only we knew whether or not he used hypnosis on you too, then maybe we could do the same to you”, Edna recounted. She started to clean the used dishes, pan, spatula and cutleries.
“If he really used hypnosis on me, I would really like to know the reason”, the Key Master remarked with a towel in his hand. Something must have happened back then if Doctor Marcel thought it was important to suppress the Key Master’s memories... or that old man was just sick and twisted. Maybe he even had something to hide, which the green-skinned man saw but was not supposed to. Each explanation sounded plausible to him. Nonetheless, the Key Master thought while drying the pan, there was no reason to make him forget his own name.
“By the way, how was the party?“, he asked as he put the pan back to its place.
“It was fun and loud”, Edna replied. “But I could have done without Sebastian gawking at me like he never saw a girl before.”
“Why did he do that? He sees you almost every day; he should know what you look like.”
“Well...“, Edna nervously glanced up at the Key Master, “I might have cleaned myself up... a little... Tina insisted on making a picture...”
She muttered the part so low it was impossible to hear. However, he nonetheless heard her and raised both his eyebrows.
“Now I would like to see that picture.”
Breakfast was over in the asylum as well and the patients were brought to the recreation room, at least those who had not disappeared or were in solitary cells. Lilli hoped she, Petra, Tina, Drogglejug and the Beeman would be asked to continue with their role-play from last night by King Adrian. They had to stop while they were in the middle of it and they were escorted to their dormitories after dinner. Lilli, Petra and Tina spent hours talking about Hoth Motigor with the ever so cheerful Petra explaining everything that happened since they started with the role-play, so that the other two blondes were up-to-date. She had to stop when one of the guards assigned to nightshift threatened to let her suffer the same fate the disappeared patients had to endure. Although intrigued by what he meant, the two newbies had waited until breakfast before they asked questions. This was when they learned that some patients were suddenly taken away, usually by Anes, and were never seen again. Lilli and Tina had shared a look of worry with each other – why would they take patients away to somewhere unknown? What were they planning to do with them? The tale certainly explained why Lilli had not seen either Peter or the Washing Maniac during the two days she had been here. At first, she thought they had been declared clinically sane and had therefore been released but quickly discarded the theory when she recalled how mad Doctor Marcel was. When Lilli had broken into the asylum to save her friend Edna, she had been told by the patients that the doctor neglected his duty as the head of this institution but she had quickly realized that it had changed over the years. If anything, she had a feeling he was abusing his position to torture the inmates.
Not wanting to waste any more thoughts on a sick, twisted, old man, she looked around for something to distract her. King Adrian had not yet announced the continuation of their role-play and Tina was busy playing My Rainbow Colored Cabinet with some other patients. Drogglejug stood gallantly guard in front of the cushion castle and the Beeman and Petra were nowhere to be seen. Lilli decided to wander around a little, first to the room where inmates could express themselves creatively, better known as the arts and crafts room. That was where she found the man in the bee costume, which did not come as a surprise to her. One could say this was his favorite area of the recreation room; even if he expressed his dislike for occupational therapy more than once. Then again, no one liked occupational therapy. The Beeman offered Lilli to join him and draw something too. She declined and left the room, deciding to head for the television room. On her way to this room, she had to walk through the main area, where she found that everything was still exactly the same it was when she found the Beeman’s current location. Did King Adrian ever plan to continue with the role-play? Maybe there was something Lilli could watch on television.
“Oh hello Lilli!“, Petra greeted the girl enthusiastically. Lilli approached the woman with the braided pigtails and sat next to her on the couch.
“You just missed the movie. It was a romantic comedy, you know”, Petra told Lilli with a big toothy smile.
“Not my cup of tea”, Lilli shrugged. “Mind if I change the channel?”
“Not at all, go ahead.”
Lilli took the remote and zapped through the channels, hoping to find something that looked interesting. But all she could find were those shows with those insane families that are usually shown for unemployed or retired people. In short, those kinds of shows that made her feel like she was losing some brain cells. And the only other things she found were those shows for little kids and pre-school kids. With a sigh she turned the television off and left with Petra the room. On the way out, she spotted Professor Nock hiding behind the chair. If she thought about it, he always seemed to be in this spot. Lilli thought about asking him when she suddenly heard the sounds of fanfares from the main area. Curious what it was about, the two blondes followed the sound. King Adrian emerged from his cushion castle just as the two females arrived. Tina was now alone, it seemed like she just finished playing My Rainbow Colored Cabinet. The Beeman arrived a second later and took a seat next to Tina; Lilli and Petra decided to join them. The fanfares stopped and King Adrian began to speak in a loud, booming voice:
“My brave warriors, it is time to return to Hoth Motigor and continue our journey, which has been so rudely interrupted! Come, my warriors, and fight for your land!”
“D’you guys reckon we should strut like warriors too?“, Tina mumbled to the other players. She, Lilli, Petra and the Beeman walked over to where Drogglejug and King Adrian were and followed these two to the coffee room.
The king of the recreation room and his loyal subjects set everything up for their role-play and soon, Lilli, Drogglejug, Petra, Tina and the Beeman sat in a half circle in the seating area with their Dungeon Master sitting across from them. The story continued.
With one swift movement, he brought down his weapon, about to pierce this poor girl’s heart. She woke up in time and managed to jump out of the bed. To his horror, the hooded figure realized he almost killed the wrong party member. If this had been the right person and if they had been pierced in their heart by his blade, he would not be in this mess.
“Who are you, what do you want?“, Lillegrimm asked in a hard voice, waking her comrades. Her eyes were as cold as steel, her mouth formed a thin line and her blade was pointed at the intruder. Apisor, Petrulla, Sir Droggalot and Terra armed themselves with their weapons upon seeing the enemy.
“I am Hugo, one of the king’s most loyal subjects”, the intruder replied in a strong voice. He moved his head. Although they could not see his face, they knew he was looking straight at Terra. “I was sent to eliminate this useless wench but I seem to have chosen the wrong target.”
Before anyone had the time to react, he blinded them with a bright light. All they could hear were his fast retreating footsteps; by the time they could see again, he was gone.
“It seems that our dear king has already decided to send his men after me”, Terra remarked in a grim voice. “We have to be more careful from now, perhaps we should have guard duties at night.”
She noticed her companions staring at her and with a wave of her hand; she said that she would explain everything in the morning and that it would be important for them to catch some sleep. Everybody else agreed with her suggestion and soon, everyone, with the exception of Terra, was back in the land of dreams.
Our heroic group continued on with their journey through Hoth Motigor in search of their rightful ruler. It was known that their old king had a child, though nobody knew their gender, and he or she was the heir of the throne. However, before the old king was murdered his child had disappeared without a trace. No one knew whether or not his heir was still alive or dead as well. There was hope he or she was among the living and ready to take their rightful place on the throne and thus as King or Queen of Hoth Motigor. Down with the oppressive rule of King Marcel! Cast away the dark clouds over the once proud and beautiful castle! It was time for a new dawn, the dawn of a new ruler! If only they knew where the monarch was. But this was why our travelers searched far and wide, even if this was the last thing they did. At the moment, they were on their way to Reptilanor Mountain. After having heard of the rumor about the raging lindworm that endangered travelers and hikers, they were itching to battle this creature and slay it. With courageous hearts and an unbreakable will, the fearless five warriors ascended Reptilanor Mountain. The road was steep, devoid of any flora, with the exception of tiny tufts of grass underneath a couple of rocks. The fauna was made up of reptiles of all sizes, lying lazily on the rocks, watching the group with their small eyes. High above in the sky, the sun’s heat radiated down on Lillegrimm, Sir Droggalot, Petrulla, Apisor and Terra. Sweat drenched their clothes – at least the parts that were not made of metal. The heat was unbearable but they could endure it. They could endure anything from temperatures of deserts in Summer to the freezing cold Antarctica. Therefore they kept on with their ascension until they reached the summit. Up there, standing tall on its hind legs, was the lindworm, the most gigantic reptile on the mountain. It glared down on them with its eyes as red as blood and it snarled its sharp pointy teeth. Our heroes barely had time to gaze upon this humongous creature before it spread its wings and roared ferociously. In the blink of an eye, it flew high up in the air and came diving down right where the group was standing. Everybody scattered to avoid being crushed by the enormous lizard. The earth shook and rumbled as the lindworm landed, causing the five heroes to lose their balance and fall down. Everyone, bar Sir Droggalot, got light injuries in the process. The lindworm was about to snap at Apisor if Petrulla’s timely use of magic had not distracted it. Terra imbued her sword with the powers of ice, giving the blade a light blue, cold aura. Raising their weapons high, she, Sir Droggalot and Lillegrimm charged at the beast, managing to slash it a few times before it swiftly turned around, sending them flying with its tail. The three sword users hit a stone wall and groaned in pain. Petrulla continued using her magic and healed them while Apisor summoned his bees to sting the lindworm in its eyes. The reptile thrashed around, roared or breathed fire in random directions. It hit Apisor and left behind scorch marks on his skin. Sir Droggalot, Lillegrimm and Terra had already recovered from their little contact with the rock wall and were back to attacking the beast. It was a long and hard fight with many injuries. Our heroes were exhausted but so was the lindworm. In fact, one well placed thrust in its chest, the place where its heart was, and it would be slain. It was Lillegrimm who raised her sword and approached the lindworm. The beast was about to snap at her when she pierced its heart, killing it instantly. It fell on its side with a loud thud, twitched once and then lay still, its glassy and empty eyes looking to the horizon.