The adventures of Knightmare RPG character, Kully. Fanfic, by Emily Evans.
Treguard clomped down the stairs to the antechamber after Pickle who was dancing in front, dangerously close to getting under the feet of his Master. Treguard inhaled loudly and glared at him, a sign that his patience was wearing thin with the elf and that Pickle was going to receive a boot up the rear side if he didn't behave.
"Oh...I'm sorry Master," Apologised the sprite. "It's all so terribly exciting though - the start of the new season and all..."
"Yes, well." Muttered Treguard. He began to wonder how he had put up with the elf for so long. He realised that Pickle couldn't be all that bad - he would have sent him back to the forest otherwise. He wouldn't even have asked him back for the twelfth season - three seasons on, Pickle was still there.
Pickle disappeared through the archway to the antechamber a few moments before the old veteran, but before Treguard could catch up with him a loud shout was heard and Treguard raced down the last few steps to see what was the matter. Pickle was backed up against the wall beside the archway, looking terrified, and Treguard saw what was sitting on the advisors' bench.
It was an elf - looking a few years younger than Pickle but there could be anything from a few centuries to millennia between them, since elves are immortal. They survive long after humans have gone, and were there long before. This elf was female, and had a tipped nose with deep blue eyes, which - on closer inspection - were surprisingly similar to Pickle's. Treguard dismissed this, assuming that all elves had the same colour eyes and build. They all seemed to have freckles, anyhow. The new elf also had a sprinkling of these over her nose, and was wearing a trademark green dress made of scraps of nature-coloured linen, bare feet and armbands typical of the woodland elves.
"Hello," she said. "Are you Master Treguard?"
Treguard opened his mouth to answer but Pickle was clinging to his arm in an instant. "Oh, good Lord - Master, get rid of it!"
"Now, now, Pickle - we have a guest in our quarters. Show some manners." There was a note of curiosity in his voice, and Pickle picked up on it at once.
"You don't understand, Master!"
"Hush, elf! What's you're name, dear elfin?"
"I'm Kully." She gave an impish grin and Pickle groaned, holding his head in his hands. Treguard was slightly amused at the scene before him, and decided to ask what past it was that lay between them. Kully raised her eyebrows.
"Ask Pickle - he's the reason I'm here, I had no say in it."
Treguard turned to Pickle expectantly, wondering what tale was going to be knitted before him this time. Pickle sighed and started.
"When I first came to the castle in season 4, I was meant to stay as long as the dungeons were functioning and rebuilding and all that...anyway, I left when Majida told me she was going to take over and she'd put a spell on me if I didn't leave and make room for her."
Treguard raised an eyebrow.
"Yes, that's right - she set it all up. Good thing she's gone if you ask me...you didn't ask me. Anyway, during the time I was back in the woods, the break between the fourth and fifth season, the elf king told Kully here that when she was old enough in the fifteenth season, she was to come and take my place. Then I left because of that rude genie, and I didn't think I would be back, and then I did come back, and Kully's path was never revoked...so here she is."
"Err...so how exactly do you two know each other?"
"She's my sister." Pickle sulked.
"Really!" Treguard roared with laughter. "Who would have thought it? Pickle has a little sister...well, well...and would you like to stay, Kully?"
Pickle gestured wildly behind Treguard's back, shaking his head frantically and mouthing the word 'no' over and over, but Kully knew she couldn't get out of it. She was stuck here.
"I don't have a choice, Master - going back would dishonour my race and I'd be sent back here with a note anyway."
Treguard made his decision. "Fine then, you can stay."
Pickle looked like Christmas had been cancelled. "Her? Here? In my place? But I like it here, Master - I want to stay!" He screwed up his nose in disappointment.
"Oh don't worry, Pickle - you are still my number one assistant. Doubtless you could do with a hand sometimes though."
"No arguments, Pickle."
"Does this mean I have to put up with her?" Kully heard this and she looked at him adamantly.
"You haven't exactly been elfkin of the century, you know. Arranging it so that I would get packed off here..."
"I do hope you aren't going to bicker like this all through the season, or you will both be sent back and disgraced." Warned Treguard. They both shut their mouths in synchrony. "Good. Now then...Enter, Stranger!"
A young girl appeared before them and Kully jumped up.
"Ooooh! A real live Dungeoneer!"
"Oh, shut up." Pickle snapped at her. He was definitely not impressed at having to spend a whole season or more with a pesky little sister. He went to get the helmet and knapsack, only to find that she had picked up the latter of the two.
"That's my job!" He snatched it off her and she put her tongue out at him, stamping hard on his foot as she stalked past. He bit his lip, hopping on one foot towards the girl and dropping the bag around her shoulders. Kully watched with interest, seemingly wanting to do her best.
"When I've been here a few months, I want to be just like Pickle." She announced, when the Dungeoneer had departed into the dungeons and the advisors were busy advising. Pickle looked quite pleased with this remark and was actually quite kind towards her for a few minutes, but they were soon fighting again.
"Ah, me. Sibling rivalry." Moaned Treguard, remembering with sorrow the years before when he had had siblings. The many sisters and brothers within these walls - sometimes he even admitted to hearing the echoes of them all from the times in their youths; laughing together...the small footsteps pattering down the winding staircases, and the squeals as they played hide and go seek…how he missed them now.
Kully crouched by Treguard's chair, but Pickle shoved her roughly aside. "That's my spot." He stated jealously. He situated himself between them and made sure that she kept her distance. She sat about a foot away, both of them on their master's right side.
Kully put out a foot and accidentally kicked over a candle, which spilled hot wax onto her ankle, burning her so that she yelped. Fortunately phrase shift hit at that moment. Pickle was aspirated.
"Can't you do anything right?"
"So much for brotherly love." She snapped back. Pickle raised a hand high as if he were going to backhand her, but Treguard caught it in midair and refused to let go.
"Pickle, if you strike her I shall flay you within an inch of your life." Treguard's voice was a low rumble, and both elves huddled as close to the floor as they could with the fright of it.
"Hear this, you two. One of the many things I have learnt in my long human life so far is that you don't know how much family are worth until you lose them. Trust me."
They nodded quickly and scuttled for the corners. Treguard gave them a last cautionary look before he departed, leaving them to sleep in the antechamber.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The quest had gone on for three days. The female Dungeoneer had moved slowly through the first levels and had just passed into the third, when came The Causeway. It was just the same as any other causeway, except the advisors' end had a twist to it.
"Side step to your left, Jamie."
"I don't understand how these work, Pickle. Explain it to me."
Pickle waved her away. "I'll tell you after...look, they're concentrating."
"But I need to know now! I want to help!"
Kully got up and moved towards Treguard. She hung over the back of his chair and said in a loud whisper;
"They've got even more fright-knights around now, Master - they've got them patrolling the woods where we lived. Don't you think it's dangerous to take them on the elf paths?"
Treguard answered her in the normal volume. "Come, now Kully. They can't be all that bad."
"They are, even my brother is scared of them." She nodded in earnest, admiration shining in her eyes.
"Kully, Pickle is scared of heights." Treguard emphasised the last word. Pickle looked up sharply.
"I'm not, Master! I just don't like them - that's all."
They turned to see the Dungeoneer falling from the causeway into the pit below. Kully cried out.
"Oh no! We killed her! She's dead!"
"Don't be silly," scoffed Pickle. "She didn't really die." Treguard sent the advisors home in the background, but the pair didn't notice.
"That was all your fault." Moaned Kully. "You put the poor child-humans off, and now they've lost!"
"Don't call them that - it's rude," reprimanded Pickle. "And it wasn't my fault - you shouldn't have been talking in the first place! I told you to be quiet!"
"I only...wanted...to learn," sniffed Kully. Pickle wasn't listening.
"When the new team comes along, keep your mouth shut - in fact, no. I have a better idea - just bog off." He stamped up the steps to the tower room where he had taken to sleeping, away from his sister. Treguard shook his head and offered Kully a few words of consolation.
"He's just concerned that you're going to take over his place as first assistant, Kully. I shouldn't worry. He'll get over your being here."
She nodded, bottom lip quivering as she curled up in front of the fire. Treguard went to speak to Pickle.
"She isn't all bad, Pickle. She just wants to follow in your footsteps."
"She wants to take my place."
"No she doesn't - she seems to flit between being annoying with you for bringing her here and looking up to you as an older brother. I'll never understand you elves."
Pickle went "hrmph" and swivelled round on the floor to face the window. Treguard tried again.
"Don't you think that it was a bit harsh, the way you spoke to her before?"
"Maybe you should apologise."
"In the morning."
Treguard gave up. Pickle was still bitter at him for saying Kully could stay. He got up and left Pickle to sleep.
Pickle slept, but not at all well.
Pickle woke up automatically during the early hours, ready to go to the antechamber and stoke up the fire. Kully should have done it anyway, but she had a tendency to forget and then wondered why she woke up freezing the next day. He clattered down the stairs to give her some warning that he was coming down, and entered the room.
"Kully?" He couldn't see her anywhere, and checked under the niches and tables to see if she had moved sleeping spots. Still no Kully. He called her name again, and then realised that her blankets were still folded up where she had left them the night before. He scratched his head.
"Where's the daft thing got to?" He wondered out loud.
"What daft thing, Pickle?" Treguard boomed down the stairs before entering. He looked just as puzzled as the elf.
"Where's your sister?"
"I don't know, Master - she's just...gone."
The screen flickered and Lord Fear's face flowed into focus. Pickle recoiled behind Treguard in terror, peeping over his shoulder.
"Good day, Dungeonmaster. I trust you and the pixie are well?"
"What do you want this time, Lord Fear?"
"And I'm not a pixie!" whispered Pickle. Lord Fear grinned at the pair of them.
"Is this charming creature at all familiar to either of you? If not, I may be able to find some use for her within my domain...you know, the usual...bribery, bait, relentless torture for my own pleasure..." Fear hiked Kully up by the ropes that bound her and she struggled, crying out through the cloth that gagged her. "Then again, I would probably still find a use for her whether you know her or not."
Pickle gasped and stretched out a hand towards the screen. "Kully!"
"Ah! You DO know her. Well that makes things all the more interesting for me..."
"Give her back, Fear. Don't make me come in there..."
"Sorry Treguard, no deals to be struck today - gotta go. Ciao." The screen went blank and Pickle turned to face Treguard, anxiously hopping from one foot to the other.
"He's got her!"
"Yes, Pickle. I can see that."
"What if something happens to her!"
"Well, if it does I'm sure Lord Fear will let us know about it."
Pickle bounced with surprising energy. "Aren't you going to DO something?"
"Of course - Enter, Stranger..." The Dungeoneer appeared and Pickle spun on the spot, panicking.
"You can't send that in"
"Hush, Pickle. Just get the quest started." Treguard turned to the new Dungeoneer and addressed him in a grave voice. "Listen, young man. We have a dilemma on our hands. A young elf has been kidnapped from within these walls and is now in the possession of Lord Fear. Your task, when you have your advisors, is to rescue this assistant of mine. Please bear in mind that we may choose to break rules along the way, as there is very little time."
Pickle was curled up in Treguard's chair by this point, biting his nails. Treguard approached him and he hopped out of the way, letting his Master sit down.
"Nervous are you, Pickle?"
"Me? No... not at all - good riddance I say…" Pickle tried to sneer but failed miserably. His Master ignored the cruel response and guided the Dungeoneer, Peter, into the portal, whilst the advisors looked on - Sam, Jareth and Billy.
"It's a room," Billy told Peter, "And it's just green. There's nothing there." The advisors looked at each other, knowing that it wouldn't be that easy. Peter seemed to sense this and asked them to get him into the next room. Jareth studied the room and then realised what should have been blatantly obvious. Treguard had already spotted this and looked as though he were quietly trying to work it out himself.
"Erm, Peter...there isn't a door or portal or anything."
"Yeah...we don't know how to get you out." Sam scratched his nose with his pencil. "Maybe it's hidden or something?"
"We don't have any spells to reveal a doorway though, Master!" Pickle slapped the arm of Treguard's chair in angst. Treguard gave him a warning look and Pickle stationed himself behind the advisors as usual. Sam leant forwards.
"Try walking towards the far wall, Peter. Straight ahead." The others looked at him in confusion, but didn't contradict him - Peter was already walking...
Suddenly Peter threw his arms skywards and with a cry the advisors saw and heard him disappear into the floor! There was the sound of leaves on metal, scratching along the surface, and the screen changed scenes in time to see Peter flop out of a chute onto cold stone. The floor looked very much like pavement, as did the walls, and the ceiling.
Peter shook his head. "Where am I?"
"Well, it's not a room..." Said Billy. Treguard cut him off.
"It looks very much like an unmapped area of the Sewers of Goth. I'd like to say we have the whole place logged but places that don't reform very often, like this place, are a maze of corridors and uncharted chambers...take great care, boys - even I don't know this territory."
Pickle urged them on. "Make him get up, team - take him onwards!"
Peter stood up without being told to, and faced the advisors through the screen. They told him to turn to his left and go forwards until they stop him to stop. The view was very different - much of the path was shown from a diagonal angle - behind and to the right of Peter. This was no problem for the team, they just made sure they were ready with the stop order should something impose upon them.
They came across a ribcage - human or not, they couldn't tell - lying in their path with a few objects balancing along the bones.
"What is there, Peter?" Asked Jareth.
"There's a...erm...spyglass, a...banana..."
"Take it!" They butted in.
"A Horn, an empty bottle and a blank piece of paper."
Pickle jumped in front of them. "Right, boys - we're breaking rules here. Leave the horn because its bad news for anyone. The bottle is no use and so's the paper probably..."
"Pickle." Muttered Treguard. "I agree with the horn business, but I'm a bit unsure on the bottle and the paper. Why don't we let the boys decide?" Pickle fell silent again and watched them with round eyes.
Peter picked up the paper and waved it at them. "I think we should take this. Just a hunch, but gut feelings can be right sometimes, can't they?"
The team conferred for a moment and then agreed. "Go on, then, take that. Now pick up the spyglass."
Peter did as he was told, and the scene before them shocked everyone in Knightmare castle.
"If you kick me again, imp, I'll see that the goblins are appointed as your guards, and we don't want that, do we now?" Lord Fear was standing over Kully, who cowered in the corner she had been thrown into. "I don't suppose they have sent anyone in yet - or they've died in the place of choice or some idiotic feat as such...don't look at me like that. Of course I'm going to stop them coming for you - IT'S MY JOB!"
Fear turned to spy into his pool but Kully stuck out her bound feet and he stumbled over them clumsily.
"You little..." Fear turned and shot an eyebolt at her. She fell backwards with the force of it and a red mark spread across her cheekbone. The opposition glared at the unconscious elf and muttered in a low voice.
"You're lucky they won't find their way through the labyrinth I've left them in the sewers..."
"Put it down!" wailed Pickle in despair, and Peter placed it back on the ribcage. Treguard couldn't help feeling sorry for the assistant - it really wasn't that fair on him. Anyhow - on with the game, he thought blankly. The advisors took their attention away from the elf hurriedly.
"Peter, you're right. Take the paper."
Peter picked it up and rolled it into a tube in his left hand. "Can't we take two things? You never know with the bottle - it doesn't look too dangerous."
"Go on then." Prompted Sam. The bottle was taken into the right hand and the team guided Peter along the edge of the wall. Suddenly they noticed that the path they were walking along had started to narrow, and soon they would be walking on a small strip of stone, the contents of the sewers flowing steadily along Peter's right side.
"It seems quite deserted..." commented Treguard. "In fact, that means you should be even more on your toes, boys."
"I AM on my toes!" called Peter, and they looked back at the screen to see that the stone strip had become so thin that Peter was edging along it on tiptoe so that he could balance and not touch the sickly green fluid. Just as they thought the strip was going to thin out to nothing, a black portal loomed before them...well, not so much loomed as balanced. It was tall and thin, as opposed to the usual wide, rectangular frame they were used to seeing.
"Stop there, Peter."
"What - why have I stopped?"
"The portal...its all thin and small. You're going to have to turn sideways to get through it." Peter did as he was told and inched along the strip once more. Sucking in his breath he slid through the black portal, and the advisors heard him disappear.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"It's a causeway, master!"
"Yes, Pickle, I can see that."
"But I've never seen one like it! How do we get across?"
The advisors looked at each other in despair. "There's no pattern to it at all," muttered Jareth. "I can't see any order to the blocks."
Treguard scratched his beard. "This must be one of Lord Fear's traps - a fake causeway. He knows that these parts must reform at some point, though not fully. It looks to me like bits from every kind of causeway have been fused together."
Pickle caught on. "Yes, Master - look, there's a bit of the Fire-Water-Earth causeway, and there's a number on that block, and some of them have colours on…"
Peter interrupted him. "Does that mean you can see a way to get across it?"
Pickle thought. "Err...no." He admitted.
Billy tapped the other two advisors on the shoulders. "Hey - we could make a run for it!"
"Don't be daft - nobody has ever done that...you'd think you had never seen the show!" Jareth shook his head.
"Then how do you know it won't work?" Retorted Billy.
Sam nodded. "He's got a point."
Jareth thought, and finally agreed, as he couldn't see another way out. Speaking clearly, Sam caught Peter's attention again.
"Peter, we're going to position you in the middle of the causeway, and when we tell you to, you must run as fast as you can straight ahead of you. Got that?"
"Erm...I suppose so..."
"Good. Sidestep right about half a step...that's right...now, get ready..."
Peter leant forwards slightly.
Peter ran straight down the middle of the causeway, and a hail of fireballs began to rain from the ceiling. The advisors panicked and egged him on further, the causeway slowly being demolished behind him as the fireballs hit the blocks.
"Go! GO! Forwards...nearly there!"
A flaming mass overtook him slightly and destroyed the blue block to the left of him. Peter yelled as he felt the heat graze his side, and nearly stopped.
"NO, NO! Keep GOING!"
Peter lunged through the portal.
"Ooooh...it's another empty corridor, Peter."
Peter flinched, remembering what had happened last time his friends hadn't been able to see a way out.
"Can't we just, sort of, stay here and wait for something to happen?"
"Yes...if you want to ROT." Snapped Pickle.
"That's enough, thank you, Pickle." Treguard assumed his Don't-Make-Me voice. "I think you should just take him onwards, boys - unless you can think of something else?" Treguard looked as though he was about to add to that, but was interrupted by a loud noise reverberating off the walls in the sewers.
"Guys...is that a goblin horn?"
Pickle was rocking slowly in a corner. "Don't panic...nothing to worry about...only a little, ugly, brainless, flesh-eating goblin..."
Skarkill strode onto the screen looking, as usual, rather pleased with himself. He circled Peter twice, and gave him a poke in the ribs.
"Not much meat on 'im, is there, me lads? Oh well - he'll do as a starter...any last words, me laverly?"
"Help meee!" yelled Peter, and the advisors looked at each other in shock. They didn't even have any coins!
"Erm - would you like some paper?" asked Peter feebly. Skarkill scoffed and reached for his manacles.
"Hit him, Peter - straight ahead of you!" burst out Pickle. Peter automatically raised the bottle in his right hand and swung forwards. The bottle landed with a loud crack and shattered on the top of Skarkill's head, who slumped very ungracefully to the floor.
"Is he gone?" asked Peter uncertainly.
"Yes!" Said Treguard, in awe. "Pickle! What's come over you? I thought you didn't like violence?"
"Well...it was Skarkill, Master. I was just getting my own back..." Pickle grinned, looking quiet pleased with himself. Treguard knew he was thinking back to the last run in he had had with Skarkill after he had attempted to complete the dungeons.
"Right, Peter. He's blocking the corridor, so we're going to have to guide you over him. Can you lift up your right foot..."
"I can see where he is," said Peter, and walked over Skarkill, treading on him as if he were merely a speed bump in the road. The advisors and Treguard looked shocked, but Pickle was giggling helplessly.
"Erm, all right then team...on with the quest, I suppose..."
Peter walked, on and on. The walkway got neither bigger, nor smaller, and there was no change in the surroundings. Then, after five minutes of endless trekking, three portals appeared in the walls around him - two on the left and one on the right. The advisors explained this to him, scratching their heads.
"I didn't bargained for a hit and miss quest." Mumbled Sam. "I wanted at least a fair chance."
"Well, you might get it this time round." Murmured Treguard - only Jareth heard him and turned to look, searching his face for a clue. Treguard seemed to know as much as he did, by the look he wore - or if he did know something, he wasn't showing it. Jareth turned back to the screen, none the wiser, and looked for a clue. Suddenly Sam nudged him and pointed to the left of the first portal on the left.
"I don't know. Peter, can you turn to your left, raise your right hand and feel along the wall?"
Peter did as he was told and pulled down the small object that was stuck to the wall, seemingly by magnetism.
"It's a fountain pen."
"A fountain pen? In the dungeons? Are you sure it isn't a quill?"
"Yes I'm sure!"
Billy was pondering this, but the only connection he could make was with the paper Peter was carrying, and that didn't seem much use at all. Either way, it was worth a try.
"Where's that paper you had, Peter?"
"Here," Peter waved it vaguely in the air. "What do you want me to do, write on it?"
"Err...yes. I suppose..."
"What do I write?"
"I don't know - anything. Draw a smiley face!"
Peter placed the paper on the wall so he had something to lean on, but before he could draw the face, the paper seemed to become fused around the edges to the stone. He took his hands away and it stuck to the wall, now undistinguishable as to where paper ended and wall started.
Slowly, ink started to seep out of the surface of the paper and spread in lines over it, unmistakeably becoming a map. Sam narrowed his eyes in suspicion. "Hang on - somebody's been reading Harry Potter!"
The others ignored this statement. However similar it seemed to a different storyline right now, any map was better than no map at all. It was shown in close up and the advisors realised that the rooms on the other side of the portals were shown on it. In old English script, words were written in the centre of the mapped rooms - Sam analysed the map carefully.
"The first room to your left, Peter - it says 'Oblivion' in it. I think that's one to miss, don't you?"
Billy nodded in agreement. "So what about the second to the left?"
"That one says 'Fear'. The one on the right side of you says Knightmare Castle..."
"We've come this far, so I'm not planning on turning back to Knightmare Castle when Fear is in one of these rooms - probably with Kully too - and I don't fancy going into Oblivion."
"That settles it!" Pickle jumped up in excitement. "Second on the left, boys!" He scuttled back behind the advisors and gazed on in anticipation, while Sam, Billy and Jareth guided Peter through the aforementioned doorway.
The room was completely dark and grey save for a humming orb in the centre. It was about half a foot in diameter and set in a wooden claw atop a gnarled stick, which appeared to balance unaided on its end. A black fog swirled inside the glass, rolling against the sides as if pushing to get out.
"What in the underworld is that, Master?" muttered Pickle under his breath. Treguard shook his head.
"Beware team, I have never seen anything like this in the dungeons before, and I can't say that it looks very safe. I believe, though, in time we will find out."
"Walk towards it, Peter..."
"Are you mad?" Sam shot a look at Jareth, who rolled his eyes.
"How else will we find out what it is? Safe or unsafe, it isn't moving and we want to get a closer look, don't we-"
"Closer than you think." He was cut off by Lord Fear's voice, echoing off the walls. They all stared at the orb expectantly, and saw Fear's face constructed completely of black fog, turning slowly in the orb as he spoke.
"This, little travellers, is the Fear Stick. You all believe you are so brave, but I believe you will change your minds when this little toy of mine projects fear into your very minds - if you don't go mad, you will most certainly be too scared to move, and so you will be stuck here forever..."
The face rolled apart into the cloudy mass it had been before, and silence spread through the chamber as the echoes died away.
"What does he mean, Treguard? Guys?" Peter called to those in the antechamber. Treguard looked baffled.
"I have no idea...perhaps it's his idea of a joke?"
"Master! Never would I have expected to hear such a thing from you! Lord Fear? Joke?"
Suddenly the room went black and the orb glowed red, pulsing and humming forcefully. Billy was about to ask what was happening when red beams of light shot out in all directions from the orb's surface, bouncing off the walls and meeting as one giant beam. This beam swelled and burst forwards, penetrating Peter's body and re-emerging on the other side of him, only the changing colour as it departed his body. The beam was now blue and scattered into nothing within a few seconds of exiting the surface of his skin.
Everybody stared in shock at Peter, who still stood in the now fully lit room.
"Peter? Are you OK?"
There was something wrong with his voice. Billy turned to Sam and Jareth to see if they had noticed it as well - their eyes were narrowed in suspicion too. Jareth spoke clearly to Peter.
"Peter - why are we here?"
"To...rescue Kully...that elf..." his voice was vague, almost disinterested. Peter froze for a moment, and Lord Fear's voice issued from a voice box too young to have naturally made the sound. "No need for that now, is there boys? How about we just turn back while we still can."
Treguard sat bolt upright at hearing his enemy's words. "Fear! What the devil are you playing at?"
"Must you ask? I thought I had made myself quite clear earlier..."
"Lord Fear!" Treguard sounded horrified. Pickle was rooted to the spot, too shocked to say anything. Apparently this was much against any rule ever devised within the game. Sam leant forwards.
"Sam - what's happening to me?" They breathed a sigh of relief at hearing their friend again, but he sounded foggy, like he had taken a blow to the head and had just woken up.
"Peter - we think Lord Fear is inside you - or part of him at least. You have to get him out!"
"How?" asked Peter. Lord Fear took over again. "Yes...how?"
"Go away, Lord Fear."
"I'm quite happy where I am, thank you - rather comfortable in here, if I may say so - spacey..." Peter's body uttered Lord Fear's low rumble of a laugh, unsuited to the boy they saw standing there. His body slumped again as Fear's power left his mind momentarily. Pickle shook his head in despair.
"Unless Peter can overcome Fear, he's stuck like this for the rest of the game."
"Is that possible?" Sam looked apprehensive. Treguard pursed his lips.
"It must be. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it - you must be careful though, team. Anything your Dungeoneer thinks, Lord Fear can undoubtedly see."
"I'm getting bored..." Fear hinted at them.
"Peter!" All three shouted at him at once. Peter jerked back to himself and seemed almost back to normal for a few moments.
"He doesn't scare you! Don't let him scare you!"
"If you feel afraid of him he'll be able to take you over!"
"Fight against him!"
Pickle was nodding and hopping behind them, while the team shouted encouragement to their Dungeoneer. Peter nodded too as he took in their advice, but they fell silent as they saw him freeze again.
"What are you plotting now, boys?" asked Fear. "Let me have a nose around in here..."
"Peter! Remember what we said!"
They watched as Peter shook his head jerkily, but Fear still spoke from him. "What are you doing? I didn't tell you to move!"
He let out a cry of pain as Fear seized up all the muscles in his body and he stood like a statue, aching all over. Pickle wrung his hands and shook Billy by the shoulders.
"Get him back! Before the opposition finds out what we're trying to do!"
The team called his name, all three f them praying they would be able to make contact again. After a few seconds, Peter shuddered violently and a needle-thin red beam fired out of his neck.
"He's fighting him! He's forcing Lord Fear out!" The elf applauded loudly. He cowered again as Lord Fear bellowed at the top of Peter's lungs.
"How DARE you! How dare you disobey me!"
The voices began to switch between Peter and Fear.
"Get out of my mind!"
"I will do no such thing - cower beneath my wrath!"
Three more red beams shot out of his torso. Peter's legs appeared to give way for a moment, but froze again, knees half bent and body arched backwards so that his head was thrown back.
"Do it - do it NOW!"
"You don't scare me!"
"Believe me boy, I will..."
"I'm not afraid of you and I never will be!"
Lord Fear's voice gave one last agonised howl in Peter's body before there was an explosion of red from every inch of it. Peter fell face down on the floor and lay still while the scarlet glow disintegrated. The three in the antechamber stared at each other in worry. Was he dead?
His body lay motionless. There was no sign of life anywhere. Billy called his name again, and opened his mouth to try a third time, but Treguard stopped him.
"Boys...I'm sorry...he's gone."
All three's mouths fell open in shock. They had no idea what to say - Peter, gone? Did Treguard really mean...
"Lord Fear has gone, I think...but I most certainly am NOT."
They all jumped at hearing Peter's voice. All heads snapping towards the screen they saw their Dungeoneer struggling to his feet.
"I thought you were DEAD!" Pickle gasped.
"Don't sound so disappointed." Treguard glared at him. "Well, young man - you certainly gave us a bit of a shock; are you all right to continue? Are you sure you don't want to come back?"
"I feel a bit queasy, but no - I can carry on."
"Good!" yelled Pickle. "You all seem to be forgetting that my sister is STILL somewhere in there! And you lot want to turn back like it's a game..."
"Yes, Pickle, we get what you mean. On with the quest then?"
Pickle rolled his eyes like it was the most obvious solution in the world, and the advisors carried on advising.
"We think there's a trapdoor to your right, Peter." Pointed out Sam. "Can you see it?"
"Yes." Peter bent down and pulled open the trapdoor. "Do you want me to go down?"
"Any other ideas?"
"Nope." He stood on the edge and jumped into the square, dark hole.
Peter fell for what felt like an eternity. In reality, it was only about twenty seconds, but Peter knew that the longer you fell the harder you hit. Surprisingly he landed as softly as if he had been drifting all the way. Testing the floor by bouncing he also put out his arms and heard a clunk, feeling walls on either side.
"Can you see anything?" he asked his team.
"No - it's all black." Said Jareth.
"There's are walls on each side of me." He hesitated and pushed backwards. "And behind me..."
"What about in front?"
"I was coming to that." Peter put his hand's forwards and felt wood, and a bit lower some metal. "I think it's a door!"
"Open it." Commanded Sam. Peter did as he was told and stepped into a draft.
"It's a corridor." Billy squinted at the windows he could see on the screen. "And at the top of some place too, by the looks of things."
"Well that's strange," commented the Dungeonmaster. "You fall however many feet downwards in the sewers and come out at the top of the Tower of Goth...how bizarre..."
Pickle squeaked on hearing the name, knowing he was closer than ever to seeing the fate of Kully.
Turning to the right, the view turned with Peter showing them the path down that way. He turned the other way and showed the team a similar route.
"Shall we go this way?"
"Looks as good as any," reasoned Jareth. Peter began to walk slowly down the stone passage. Treguard kept a close watch. It seemed very strange - no fright knights, no snapdragons, and no goblins...what was Fear's plan? Sam seemed to be thinking along the same lines.
"There isn't even a slot for blades to come through..."
"Walk faster, then. We can't waste time."
Peter sped up until he was doing a slow jog. It seemed to be a habit of the dungeons now, creating passageways and fall-throughs lasting longer than ever before. He mused this, keeping open ear open in case the others had to warn him of danger.
Eventually the corridor ended with a large oak door with a fright knight knocker. There was no handle.
Sam remembered a film he had seen once and whispered an idea to Billy, who whispered to Jareth. They all nodded and Sam told Billy what to do.
"Use the knocker, Peter."
Peter held the sword of the fright knight and drew it upwards on the hinged arms. Bringing it down again the handle of the bronze sword banged on the wood. He did this two more times before the door opened on it's own, creaking loudly.
"He could have oiled it," sniggered Billy. "It makes the whole thing seem like a bad horror film..." Pickle shot him a nasty look and he shut up. Billy turned his attention back to the new room.
The mossy walls were covered in snail tracks and crumbling. The floor was covered in gravel and sand, and in the far corner lay...
"Kully!" moaned Pickle.
"Peter - walk forwards until you get to this font like thing in front of you. We think that's Lord Fear's Pool. Kully is in the room - we have to get her out."
"She looks like she's passed out, unconscious."
Peter was still walking when he heard a crack like lightening hitting metal. He stopped dead in his tracks and judging by the fact that the other three didn't tell him to move again, it was probably safer to stay like that. Up in the antechamber the three looked on in terror at Lord Fear, who strode to face Peter. His cloak billowed gently with the winds that crept in through various cracks in the walls. Peter shivered, and Fear sneered, towering above the fourteen year old.
"All for an elf." He uttered a low, brief laugh. "One of the lowest races - they aren't even intelligent!"
Fear spun one hundred and eighty degrees on the spot and took a few lazy steps in the opposite direction, still gloating as he went.
"Yet Treguard sends in his boldest, breaks rules and risks his position."
He stopped and spoke over his shoulder before turning and walking back to Peter.
"Well, traveller, it's the end of the line for you, I'm afraid."
He began to circle Peter closely, spitting his harsh words at him in disrepute.
"I didn't expect you to get this far - you should have given up, or at least died by now, but no matter - now I have the pleasure of doing that for you myself. So - would you like to give up now, or give me reason to kill you?"
He smiled in a twisted way, and spun Peter round to face him. "Actually, I'll probably kill you either way - but you don't need to know that."
Peter remained silent. Fear turned up his nose and looked down it at him. Peter was unarmed, nothing there and nothing much to him. Sam, Billy and Jareth had also realised this, and were looking at each other in a panic. Now what?
Treguard sensed the atmosphere and moved out of his chair. Bending down, he murmured something into the ears of the advisors, while Lord Fear did some more gloating.
"Nothing to say for yourself at all, then? Dear me - two deaths in one day...no, wait! Make that three! I must say, it didn't at all throw you - being jumped form level one place of choice to level three sewers - a place where even I won't go in person. Never mind - the further they get, the harder they fall, as I always say..."
While Fear was still blathering, they gave Peter his instructions.
"Peter - we're going to break a lot of rules now, OK? If they go wrong it can be really dangerous, so do as we say."
"When we say so, hold up both hands. When we say now again, throw your hands forwards. Got that?"
Lord Fear was still talking. They took their chance.
"Hands up, Peter..."
Peter held up his arms. Fear looked at him in mild curiosity. "What are you playing at now, child?"
Sam cleared his throat. "Spellcasting, E-L-E-C-T-R-O-M-A-G-N-E-T."
A blue screen made completely of electricity appeared between Peter's hands.
"Now, Peter!" He threw his hands forwards at this order and the screen sailed over Lord Fear, hovered, and then picked him up as though he were a paper clip.
"Stop!" He roared. "What unnaturalness is this?"
"Spellcasting!" called Jareth. "O-R-B."
The orb they had seen before appeared underneath Fear and spun, growing until it was a foot in diameter, filling with a green-grey fog. Billy opened his mouth.
"Spellcasting! D-R-O-P." The screen disappeared and Fear fell, as though he were going to land on the orb. At the last minute, he started to spin, and was sucked through the glass into the centre of the orb. The next thing they knew, Lord Fear was rolling with the fog, distorted through the thick glass and banging feebly on the sides.
"Let me out!"
Treguard laughed and took Pickle by the shoulders, forcing him to look at the screen.
"Look, elf - your sister is waking up. Lord Fear's power has been sucked into the orb along with him."
Kully got up and shook her head. Free of bindings, she stood up and brushed herself off. She turned her attentions to Peter, who looked quite dishevelled by this point. She jumped up and down clapping.
"Oh...you saved me!"
"Erm...yeah...I suppose so...with help."
"Ooooh you're so modern!"
"Do you mean modest?"
"Same difference. Where's Lord Fear? Can we go home now?"
Peter was left to explain everything to Kully (who's eye was still rather black), while Treguard tried to calm down Pickle on his own end. Pickle was dancing around like a mad thing, even though he had been told to get the staff so that he could have his sister brought home. The advisors grinned at each other - now this was a quest to tell the boys at home.
Treguard finally wrestled the staff from Pickle, who had been twirling it like a large baton, and told the team to stand clear.
"This might be a bit tricky - we need to bring both of you home at the same time, so you and Kully will have to hold hands, Peter."
Kully giggled childishly and blushed, holding out her hand. Peter took it and held on tightly, not wanting to do any more falling. Kully blushed harder and shut her eyes tight.
"Returnume!" Treguard slammed the staff into the hard oak and a flash of blue light nearly blinded them all. Kully stood before them along with Peter who was wrestling with the helm - it seemed to have got jammed on his head. Pickle pulled it off with a firm tug and ran around clapping the whole team on the backs now that they were reunited.
"Well done, boys! Great effort!"
"Yeah - thanks. We're just glad you're sister's back."
Pickle beamed. "You aren't the only one!"
Treguard looked at the elf with a sly glint in his eye. "Well that's something I didn't expect to hear!"
"How did you get us back here, Master?" Kully questioned curiously. Treguard cast a glance at her.
"I have the staff, of course, Kully."
She grimaced. "That sounds nasty, Master - is it contagious?"
Even Pickle couldn't despair at this stupidity. He just nearly bowled her over. "I'm never going to shout at you ever again!"
"Well, that's a good note to leave on, isn't it boys?" mentioned Treguard. The tow elves turned to face them.
"They're going? Already?"
"I'm afraid so, you two. Say goodbye, now."
The pair waved with glum looks on their faces. "Bye-bye!"
"Come back and see us!"
Sam grinned. "We will if we can."
"Yeah - if Treguard wants us back." Said Jareth.
Treguard smiled. "I suppose it's a possibility."
Kully blushed again. "And you'll be back, won't you, Peter?"
She gave him a cheeky grin and linked arms with her brother. Pickle tried to look as though it annoyed him, but didn't have the heart, or the stupidity to do it in front of the Dungeonmaster. Treguard held the staff high after passing out the certificates and trophies, and offered his final thanks.
"Goodbye boys, have a safe journey - farewell and fair chance!"
He brought the staff down and the boys disappeared, waving.
"I'm going to miss them," sighed Pickle.
"They'll be back," Treguard reassured them. "For a quest with a few more rules so that they actually get to play. Ah - right on time..."
Treguard was gazing at the screen behind them. They turned to see a close-up of Lord Fear in the orb. Kully giggled and pointed at the bizarre sight.
"How did he get in there?"
"Don't ask." Sniggered Pickle. Treguard waved his hands.
"Spellcasting, R-E-L-E-A-S-E." The elves looked at him in shock as Lord Fear was distributed onto the stone floor of the Tower of Goth.
"What in the underworld did you do that for, Master? He's dangerous!"
"Don't swear Pickle," said Kully reprovingly. "But I agree Master! Why?"
They ran as Lord Fear jumped to his feet and howled in anger at Treguard.
"You said NOTHING, nothing at ALL about spells, or using my own devices against me! That was not fair play, Dungeonmaster...do you know how cramped it is in those orbs? I'm going to need treatment for SMOKE inhalation! And electricity? In the dungeons? Is that legal? I..."
Treguard butted in. "Fear - I hardly think that abusing elves to the extent you did was playing fair, do you?" He gestured towards Kully's eye. "And mind possession? Is THAT legal?"
Lord Fear kept quiet, fuming.
"If I'm not mistaken there is a high risk of death with those orbs - give as good as you get I suppose? All I have to say is that you didn't have to be so rough."
"Me? Rough?" Fear raised his eyebrows in a failed attempt to look innocent.
Pickle stepped forwards, suspicion creeping into his features.
"Master? This may sound a bit rude, but...what in the UNDERWORLD are you and Lord Fear talking about? Are you trying to say that you knew all along that Kully would come back safe?"
Treguard hesitated. "Well - I didn't know, no. I mean to say - this IS Fear we are dealing with, and he can't be trusted to keep anything safe..."
"I'm still here." Snapped Fear. Treguard ignored him, trying to calm Pickle once again.
"If you want the truth, I made a deal with Lord Fear - he kidnapped Kully in the night and took her away...put her in a spot of danger..."
"A spot!" Pickle was trembling in shock.
"It was to teach you two a lesson." Stated Treguard assertively. "You two need to learn how much family are worth. I trust you have learnt your lesson?"
Pickle nodded the sulky look disappearing from his face.
"Good. Thank you for your help, Fear - I do apologise for the spells used, but like I said, give as good as you get..."
Treguard chuckled as Fear gave him a stuffy look and blacked out the screen. Kully looked confused.
"So I wasn't in any danger? It was all set up?"
"So what did Lord Fear get in return?"
Treguard chuckled again. "Well - the one thing he hasn't had in a long time. He couldn't turn it down!"
"Well...What?" Asked Pickle impatiently. Treguard smiled.
"The closest chance he'll get to playing a real hardcore 'baddie'."
Emily Evans | Dec 2002