Rasmus and Co. Inquiries. Part I
"Okay, fine, whatever. We have returned your missing princess, & are feeling really impatient to get our fancy cutlery & go home," Pirro paused thoughtfully, "Or were you hoping for a duel? Fine. First one to have a wardrobe malfunction or lose consciousness is the loser."
Pirro, poised with his sword, awaited a response.
It might be said that Anonymous had finally realized the futility of arguing with the secretary and had backed off down the corridor to come up with a different strategy.
In truth, however, he had simply run out of breath and had been forced to stop to rest.
The mage was just feeling up to trying again when he suddenly heard someone coming. Turning, he saw a very large, strange-looking man shuffling down the hallway toward him. The man paused next to him.
"HO HO HO, I am Hungercles! My boss sent me here to destroy a mage! Have you seen one?"
Thinking quickly (for once), Anonymous pointed at the secretary.
"Right there," he said.
"HO HO HO, Thank you!"
The daemon walked toward the secretary and, pausing in front of her desk, exclaimed, "HO HO HO, I am Hungercles! My boss sent me here to destroy you and—"
"Do you have an appointment?" the secretary interrupted, looking down her nose at Hungercles.
"HO HO HO, well, no, but—"
"No appointment means no destruction."
"HO HO HO, but—"
Not waiting to see how the argument went, Anonymous slipped around the two and entered Pelli's office. Glancing around, he saw a complex array of TV monitors (each displaying a different part of Pelli's hideout), levers, and buttons. Plainly, this was the control console that Pelli used to operate the traps and such around his lair. Cautiously, he hurried toward it.
He was not, however, cautious enough to avoid the tripwire that Pelli had left across the entrance, just in case the mage should reach his office.
Anonymous tripped and went flying across the office, right toward an open window. Fortunately, his cloak snagged on one of the levers, triggering it in the process. He fell with a crash onto the villain's control system, tripping another lever. Getting to his feet, he staggered and steadied himself on another one of the levers, accidentally flipping it.
"Hmm, I hope none of those did anything important," Anonymous murmured.
Before Pelli could reply to Pirro's challenge, three things happened. First, the door behind the villain suddenly swung shut and latched itself. Then, the bars around the heroes suddenly retracted, freeing them.
"Ha! We have you now, villain," Rasmus cheered.
At that moment, the third thing happened. Suddenly, several doors in the walls opened, unleashing a horde of angry polyps into the room.
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Pelli grinned. "You may think I'm beat, but not this time.
These polyps attack only those who cannot rhyme!
Your lives will be over in a—" Pelli snapped "—snap"
unless you defeat me in a duel of rap!"
Danaë fumed. "Worm, you forget your station:
you suffer from underarticulation.
Your manners are lacking; your clothing atrocious;
the sheet round your neck reeks of unseemly gaucheness.
You've fewer IQ points than your catsuit has straps;
you are the ass in your assless chaps;
you need no maps; your raps portend your collapse."
The polyps wavered.
Pirro ripped an axe off the wall & started in on some mad riffs, unfortunately he had no idea how to play.
Meanwhile, Anonymous was looking around Pelli's office. After a thorough search, he concluded the villain was not in the room. Disappointed, he sat down at the desk and began to rummage through the various books and papers. In the process, he accidentally switched on the intercom.
As the polyps wavered, a voice suddenly filled the room.
"Hmm, 'Villainy for Dummies,'" Anonymous voice came over the intercom. "That seems like something a bad guy would read."
Pelli yelled, "Quit going through my stuff, you blasted mage!"
Unfortunately, he was so enraged that he forgot to rhyme.
The polyps turned toward him menacingly.
"EEEEEE" the dastardly fellow squealed like a castrato on helium, & ran through the door, the polyps close behind!
Pirro cautiously peeked through the shattered doorway. The door beyond was shattered as well, failing to conceal the horde of polyps consuming the battered remains of Pelli. But close at hand was Anonymous absently browsing the contents of the office.
Hearing the commotion, Anonymous glanced up and saw the polyps finishing off Pelli. Knowing it was his duty to rescue those in distress (whatever their affiliation), the mage stood decisively, putting his hand on the desk to push himself upright. In the process, he accidentally pushed one of the levers on the control panel. Immediately, a trapdoor opened beneath Pelli and the polyps, causing them all to drop out of sight.
Carefully, Pirro and the others made their around the gaping opening and joined the mage in the office.
"So, I guess that's it, then?" Pirro suggested.
"It appears so, but I thought the princess was supposed to lead us to our reward," Anonymous mused, glancing over at Danaë.
"My presence should be reward enough," she replied disdainfully, as she walked into the office and sat down in the chair. In the process, she leaned back and bumped one of the levers on the control panel. Immediately, the door to the safe in the office opened.
"It must be our reward," Erica said excitedly.
Anonymous walked over and began to examine the safe's contents.
"Just another book about villainy and a large sack of oboloi. I thought we were supposed to get more than a book for our reward..."
Ignoring him, the other adventurers hurriedly gathered the oboloi. Glancing around the office once more, the group headed toward the exit from the caverns.
Surprisingly, they safely exited the structure without incident and resumed their trek to Cademia.
Meanwhile, in Pelli's (former) stronghold...
"Well, that could have gone better," (future) Erica said, removing her secretary disguise.
"I don't see how," Hungercles commented, also removing his disguise. (Future) Feoras continued, "I didn't get locked a room with a man from the IRS, so I didn't go insane!" He was about to start singing for joy, when (future) Erica interrupted him.
"But you stopped me from stopping Anonymous! He still got the book!"
"That's not my fault. I was insane!" (future) Feoras protested. "Besides, 'Pelli' should have stopped him!"
"Pelli" appeared, still very much alive. Pulling off his mask, he was revealed to be (future) Pirro.
"I forgot to take the book out of the safe, okay? Besides which, how as I supposed to remember that Danae was an expert at rhyme?" he replied irritably.
(Future) Erica rubber her forehead and sighed.
"This is getting us nowhere. We still have a chance. We just have to get the book away from Anonymous...preferably without informing him about who we really are."
"Why can't we just tell him?" (future) Feoras asked, scratching his head. "I was still insane when we made this plan, so I'm kind of unclear on the details."
"If we tell Anonyomous that we are from the future and that he decides to become an evil dark lord so that our group will have a challenge and become better heroes, he's just as likely to conclude that becoming an evil dark lord is his destiny. It probably wouldn't do the spacetime continuum any good either."
"But he's so much better at being a dark lord than a hero..." (future) Feoras muttered.
"Be that as it may, we still need to stop him from conquering Cythera," she replied. "Since this plan didn't work, we'll have to try again."
(Future) Erica glanced at the other two.
"So, any suggestions?"
"We could try telling them what happened," (future) Pirro suggested. "Maybe they'd give up adventuring."
"Maybe," (future) Erica said with a frown.
"We could try this again," (future) Feoras speculated. "We know their next quest. We can replace the villains again and try to stop Anonymous from reading any more of the book."
"Or we could just go off on our merry way and let the topic die," (future) Erica sighed.
"We'll wait," (future) Feoras suggested. "With any luck, the next adventure will inspire people, and we won't be needed."
"It's worth a try," (future) Pirro agreed.