How the Grinch Stole Cythera



  • or something

    I spent the entirety of last night writing this on a whim, and I don't know why. It wound up really long somehow. I haven't really read it since I wrote it, and I don't usually write, so it's probably bad. My apologies if it is. I spent a while debating whether to post it or not, or at least proofread it first, but wound up just running it through a spell check and leaving it as is otherwise. But it's mostly in Cythera (I think), so here it is.


    It was a clear, pleasant day in Catamarca, filled with the scent of cemetery flowers and the peculiar clanging ambience that newcomers always have such a hard time with. At the entrance to the city's Citadel stood a tall young woman with braided black hair and very large feet named Thyia. This particular day was more or less exactly like any other day Thyia could remember.

    "That's odd," Thyia thought to herself, interrupting her assessment of the scene, "I can't remember a single rainy day in my life. Where are we getting our water?"

    "From the spring, ya dolt."

    Naturally, the source of water was the spring underneath the city. The spring that gave everyone the plague a few years back before a weird kleptomaniac redheaded lady killed a polyp and cured everyone.

    "Right. Wait, how can you hear me?"

    "With my ears."

    Therime always was a smart one. Thyia could have retorted back with an irrelevant snark about Therime's wardrobe, consisting of white pants and a white tunic baring his chest, but she had learned it was usually better to let her brother be. Besides, she had just been thinking out loud.

    A different voice interrupted her thoughts, "Okay, I'm sorry, you two, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave."

    Thyia turned around and was met with the mustachioed face of Judge Metopes. In the midst of Thyia's helpful expository ruminations, several people had gathered around the entrance to the Citadel, and were now pacing endlessly in circles behind her. "You're blocking the entryway, you see," added Metopes. The considerate thing to do, of course, would have been to move to a more open space, but Thyia decided to let the people get some exercise, instead.

    "If we were to leave, where should we go?" asked Thyia, as she observed the assorted guards, womans, and mans continuing their aimless circular marches.

    "Anywhere. Don't you have things to do?" responded an increasingly flustered Metopes, his eyes focusing back on the growing crowd with none of Thyia's apparent amusement. "No, we are very bored," said Thyia. "We are very bored," added Therime, looking bored.

    "Well, in that case, there's a fellow at the Green Goat who has been acting rather strangely. You should go check it out."

    After careful consideration, Thyia agreed. "Yeah, that does sound more interesting. Come on, Therime, let's go." And Therime went, together with Thyia, as the mob behind them assembled in single file through the Citadel doorway at a brisk pace. From the Citadel, thirty paces to the north northwest, past House Strymon, town hall, and a passing guard. "Top of the morning," greeted Therime. "I'm just a guard, I'm not permitted to speak of such," replied the guard. "Okay, weirdo," said Therime.

    At last, they arrived, and looked around for signs of the strange man. In the back corner was Eumelus, as always, asking for change and wishing the plague on visitors. The smell of fresh cooked food wafted from the kitchen, as did the smell of Eumelus. At the small table in the opposite corner sat a visibly inebriated man wearing a blue tunic with no sleeves and a gray kilt. He appeared to be engaged in a dispute with Sardis, representative of House Atussa, who stood agitatedly beside him.

    "You don't understand," pleaded Sardis, pointing to the man's chair, "I come here every day, and sit right here. This is my spot." The man in the chair clumsily downed another mug, before sputtering through tears, "Just…let me drink in peace. I got here first, okay?"

    Exasperated and clearly distressed, Sardis turned to Thyia. "Thyia, it's good to see you. Listen, you've seen me sit here before, haven't you? Please tell this man that this is where I always sit."

    "Maybe. Didn't Darius used to sit there?" replied Thyia, as the drunken man began to squint his eyes and stare at her.

    "Well, um, yes, but…"

    "Name," interrupted the strange man.

    Thyia pointed to herself and hesitated, "My name? Um, I'm Thyia…" Therime, looking less bored now, added, "The real question is, what's your name?"

    The man paused for a long time and then blurted out, in a single breath as if vomiting, "asdkjghasdgagsdgdfadsfdsafgdsagfdsa."

    Therime, his face contorting into equal parts confusion and revulsion, replied, "I…I didn't catch that…" Before the strange man could respond, Parium, the innkeeper, arrived from the kitchen, chiming in, "I don't know what he's talking about, but he responds to 'Bellerophon,' which I presume is his actual name."

    Bellerophon let out a snort, seeming vaguely amused, and turned his attention back to Thyia. "Yeah, whatever. Job." Reminded of the city's mysterious redheaded savior's peculiar manner of speaking, Thyia replied, "You know, you sound like someone I met once." "You met Morgan Freeman?" "What? No. Who? I mean the way you ask questions with just one word."

    Disappointed, Bellerophon turned and muttered, "Oh." His brow furled in disgust, realizing who Thyia was reminded of. "You must have met my sister. Of course. Everyone here has met my—"

    Bellerophon said something here, but Thyia couldn't make it out, because Parium, Sardis, Eumelus, and a guard outside all interjected in unison, "Rudeness is not rewarded."

    "—sister. Hero of Catamarca, savior of Cythera, slayer of scylla! The one who can obliterate a portcullis with a single spell! The one who can spread flour on mountaintops! And all I ever managed to do was negotiate that stupid wine contract. Yeah, take that, sis!" Bellerophon blathered, downing yet another mug. "Hey, Thyia…and…you. That dude." Bellerophon pointed a very unsteady finger in the general direction of Therime. "Yeah…you guys wanna see something pretty rad? From the future! So Sardines can have his stupid seat back."

    Bellerophon downed one final mug and attempted to stand up, leaning on a bemused Sardis for balance. Therime turned to Thyia, shrugged, and walked over to pick up the burden of supporting the Hero's drunken brother, as a now relieved Sardis sat down in his place. "It could have been me, you know," said Bellerophon, as the three of them headed for the door. "I could have done all those things my sister did. But noooo, Magpie had to choose her, instead. Stupid orange Yoda…"


    "Where are you taking us?" asked a surprisingly unsuspicious Therime. "Head for the cave north of Cademia," slurred Bellerophon, "You guys know where that is? It's north of Cademia."

    And so Thyia and Therime and Bellerophon marched on to the cave. Seagulls flew overhead, gleefully scouting which group of Cademian children enjoying lunch outside to unload their next bowel movements on, but altogether it was really quite a boring journey. Many paces of Bellerophon's babbling later, and Therime's bored face had returned in earnest. Eventually, as they approached an embankment, where the River Sitia forks into some other river, a gradually sobering Bellerophon announced, "Here we are, at last! This cave will take us to a Seldane city, and the Seldane there have these portal things, and, well, you'll see."

    "Wait, live Seldane?" asked Therime, finally becoming suspicious.

    "Yeah, yeah, don't worry, they're real friendly," Bellerophon replied, "or, I mean, they basically just sit there and moan about their lost son or something, I think. But they leave you alone." "Ummm…okay…" said Therime, not feeling particularly reassured.

    The cave was dark and musty, as caves generally are, and reeked of poison. If Thyia and Therime were sensible, they would probably have just left and returned to Catamarca to go be bored, but that would be an anticlimactic end to the story. So instead they ventured further into the cave with their still mostly inebriated new friend, and as the passageway opened and Bellerophon seemed to gain confidence, signaling the end of another uneventful stage of their journey, Thyia wondered if the interesting part Bellerophon promised was finally drawing near.

    "Okay, so there's a hole here, in a cave, and we're going to jump in it, and we'll come out in an ancient Seldane city with live Seldane." And Bellerophon jumped in the hole. "Sounds like an all-around safe plan," said Therime, following Bellerophon down the hole. "Um…yeah, ok," said Thyia, joining after the others.

    Passage down the hole was brief but uncomfortable. Thyia emerged in what appeared to be a ruin, and landed flanked by a very large mushroom and a very large slug. In the distance, she could clearly make out the sound of charging footsteps and panicked cries. Perhaps these metics were not so friendly after all? Before she could confront Bellerophon, a furry, green, human-sized creature emerged from behind one of the larger mushrooms and bolted for the hole.

    "Uh-oh," muttered Bellerophon, as the green creature scurried up the passageway.

    "'Uh-oh'? What is going on here?" demanded an agitated Thyia, as a portly man wearing an orange loincloth and a tie passed by yelling an unintelligible exclamation. Bellerophon nervously watched a small yellow creature produce lightning from its cheeks before responding, "It's those portals, they've been breached, I think. We—"

    "…'We'? We what? Bellerophon, I swear…"

    But Bellerophon was distracted by the soft hissing sound coming from a brightly colored nearby mushroom.

    "Psssssst. Bellerophon, you have to help us."

    "What in the—" Bellerophon jumped back. The mushroom turned around and stood up on two stubby feet, revealing a strange, short creature clad in a blue vest and a diaper, with an enormous red-spotted mushroom cap.

    "Toad?!"

    "Please help us, Bellerophon," Toad repeated.

    "I'm not rescuing your stupid Princess, Toad," said Bellerophon, as Thyia and Therime watched, bewildered and slightly horrified. An extremely large-eyed equine the color of the sky sprinted past the four, apparently uninterested in their presence.

    Toad shook his head. "No, no, it's not that. It's the Grinch! He's going to steal Christmas! Again!"

    Bellerophon rolled his eyes, "Toad, I have to get back home, and someone really ought to seal these portals."

    "Oh, yeah, you have to catch the Grinch to do that, too. He stole your Portal Hacker 3000."

    As a gray bird flew by, squawking, "Register EV!" and, "Smoke me!" an increasingly anxious Thyia implored, "Can someone PLEASE explain to me what is going on?!" A freshly determined (and increasingly sober) Bellerophon responded immediately, "We're going to find the Grinch, that's what's going on."

    "Wait!" cried Toad, "Before you go, you should assemble a TEAM, collect MUSHROOMS, and UPGRADE your equipment!" "Why do we need mushrooms?" asked Bellerophon. "Um…I don't know, but you must assemble a TEAM! Go to the PORTALS and speak to PROF X."

    Bellerophon seemed oddly excited by this particular order. "Sweet, so I'm X-Men now," he said, turning to the still distressed Thyia and Therime, "Ha! Take that, sis!" "…" "Right, on to the portals, then."

    Toad waved goodbye. "Good luck, BELLEROPHON! We are depending on you!"

    The path to the portals was straightforward, but by now the cave was filled with strange creatures Thyia had never seen before in her life. A frog balancing atop a wheel, exclaiming, "here come dat boi!!!!!" rolled by in the rainbow wake left by a joyfully singing cat with a body seemingly made of pastry. A monkey of sorts, likely not of this world, perhaps addressed as "lame" by another passerby, appeared to be unsuccessfully offering a bribe to a gray-eyed man in a black cloak.

    When they did finally reach the portals, there was no sign of Professor X. Bellerophon called out his name to no avail, but his hails caught the attention of a heavily armored woman who had been speaking to a vaguely birdlike reptilian biped about calibrations.

    The woman approached and asked, "Hey, is your name Bellerophon?"

    Bellerophon replied, "Yes, I need to find Professor X to build a team so I can save Christmas."

    "Right, okay. He told me to give you this note," said the woman, handing Bellerophon a piece of paper, "I'm Commander Shepard. It looks like I'll be working with you."

    Quote

    Bellerophon,

    Sorry I couldn't meet you in person. Here are my recommendations for your team:

    Commander Shepard (already here)
    Leonardo da Vinci (he should be napping in one of the Seldane's pallets)
    Sara Quin (Pnyx)
    Ignae (Lands End)
    Abydos ghost (Abydos)
    Coach Z (Cythera, but I don't know where)

    Professor X

    Bellerophon seemed sincerely disappointed. "Awwww, man, I was really hoping to meet Professor X and become a certified member of the X-Men."

    "Hey, unsuccessful brother guy," said Thyia, grabbing Bellerophon's arm, "priorities!"

    "Why don't you guys find a way out, I'll take care of da Vinci," offered Shepard. Bellerophon nodded, "Um…yeah, that seems fine." "Great. I should go," replied the Commander.

    A part of Thyia wondered what she had gotten herself into. She had lived through the plague, and the LandKing crisis—although admittedly she was rather distant from it—and there was that one time some ruffian tried to steal her cheese wheel and she accidentally chased him to a whole farm full of ruffians (miraculously, she did recover her cheese), but certainly nothing quite on the scale of this. Still, another part of her was beginning to feel genuinely excited at the adventure and thrill of it all. A third part of her felt hungry.

    "Hey Bellerophon, I'm feeling a little hungry, how about you?"

    Bellerophon didn't hesitate, "One second, let me just divide food…" and handed Thyia a handful of grapes and some sort of meat, maybe? "Um, thanks…" said Thyia, examining the brown mushroom-shaped food. Cautiously, she tried a bite, and promptly gagged. "Oh, this is terrible! What is this?" Startled, Bellerophon turned around, eyes turning to the mushroom steak in her hand. Puzzled, he replied, "That's a good question!" Thyia glared at him.

    Together, the trio reached the passageway back to the first cave, which had now most recently been traversed by a woman named Olivia who kept showing everyone some sort of card of hers adorned with a crest. "So…do we wait here for the Commander, or…" asked Therime, looking to his sister and then Bellerophon and then back to Thyia. His question was answered by the prompt arrival of Shepard, together with the new, heavily bearded recruit. "We should go," said Shepard, pointing to the hole ahead.


    Thyia reached her arm out forward until it hit Therime's back. She felt it recoil immediately.

    "Stop doing that!" barked Therime.

    "Sorry," muttered Thyia, insincerely. It was dark out now, and no one had brought torches. Bellerophon estimated it was around 8 o'clock in the evening. Both of Cythera's moons shone from above, but not bright enough to create meaningful light, especially in the cascading shadows of the mountains. Thyia found it easier to maintain her bearings through touch rather than sound, particularly with the apparently tireless seagulls continuing their overhead calls and quest for attractive dropping targets. They were getting close to Pnyx, at least.

    Leonardo, who had spent the entire time writing and drawing obsessively, seemingly unperturbed by the rapidly evaporating light, suddenly announced, "I've been looking at some maps I made of the cave we were in, and I believe the passage to the south may have led directly here."

    "Oh, yeah, come to think of it, I think my sister might have mentioned something about that," replied Bellerophon casually.

    "You could have told us that before we wasted four hours out here," said Therime, as Thyia's outstretched arm accidentally poked his back again. "Therime, you're a sidekick, so I'm going to kick you in the side," said Shepard, "Renegade interrupt!" "Ow!" cried Therime, as the Commander's armored foot made contact with his abdomen.

    Upon arrival at the Magisterium, the fivesome were immediately met with Selinus, outside his usual post in the library, or, at this hour, his quarters. "Eh? What can I do for you?" greeted the old man. "Shouldn't you be asleep?" responded Bellerophon, who Selinus squinted at before asking, "Have I met you before? What's your name?" "I need to wash my butt," said Bellerophon, prompting a facepalm from Shepard. "I'll remember that, I need to wash my butt," replied the oblivious librarian. As Bellerophon reveled in his own joke, Thyia decided to step forward.

    "We're looking for a Sara Quin, have you seen her?"

    A youngish woman with shortish hair emerged from around the corner, dressed mostly in black and looking decidedly out of place and time. "Hey, you're looking for me? Which one of you guys is Bellerophon?" Bellerophon raised Therime's hand. "Okay, whatever, we're here to find the Grinch and head home, right?"

    Suddenly, a very brief, uplifting piece of music seemed to sound from all directions.

    "On to Lands End, then!" proclaimed Bellerophon, proudly. "Abydos is north of Lands End," observed Leonardo, earning a surprised look from Thyia. "On to Abydos, then!" declared Bellerophon.

    "Hey, Sara, do you have a torch?" asked Thyia, as the now sixsome embarked on their latest, increasingly repetitive journey. "Like a flashlight? We can use my phone," replied Sara, procuring and fiddling with a small, controller-like object, as Thyia observed with interest. "Hey, I just remembered that my guns have flashlights on them," added Shepard. "Great, so now we've wasted half a day and needlessly traveled in the dark because no one can remember anything," Therime retorted, failing to note that the author wasted almost an entire night writing this story.

    In the dead of night, the road from Pnyx to Abydos should really be one of the more eventful parts of this quest to save Christmas or seal the breach or whatever. One would expect encounters with ruffians or even possibly harpies aplenty. Curiously, however, the path was completely clear, save for one encounter with an older man with a smooth, deep voice.

    "Is that Morgan Freeman?" asked Sara, as the man came into view. "Hello, everyone, you just move along now, I'm sure you have an important mission to attend to, and there's nothing to see here, I assure you," replied Morgan Freeman. "This man sounds nothing like you, Bellerophon," said Thyia. Bellerophon looked indignant, "What are you talking about, we sound exactly alike!"

    Professor X's chosen ghost was waiting just outside Abydos as the group arrived, eyes filled with sorrow, accompanied by a very short-legged green figure with a white face, wearing a purple hat and an insignia on its chest. The ghost jestured about. "What is it doing?" asked Therime. "I think it's gesturing," said Bellerophon. "Oh." The green figure stepped forward.

    "Hey there, ho there! I'm the Coach Z! I hear you folks are on a mission to find the Grornch, and I'm here to help finish the jaerb!" The Coach was met with blank stares from all around, including the ghost, but soon the awkward silence was broken by the uplifting jingle, only this time playing twice in succession.

    "On to Lands End, then!" announced Bellerophon, getting it right this time. And so they set off.

    It was still very dark out, but with Sara and Shepard's mysterious sources of light, Thyia could concentrate on things other than locating Therime's back and annoying him by poking it. She wondered why Cythera was so devoid of ruffians and wildlife (other than seagulls) tonight. She wondered what Morgan Freeman was up to, all on his own. She wondered where this Grinch was, and what was he doing? What did he look like? Did he have an accent? She always liked villains with accents.

    Her thoughts were interrupted by Sara, who had appeared to be ruminating on her own, speaking to no one in particular, "Heh." The Abydos ghost turned to her with an inquisitive expression. "You're a ghost," continued Sara, "and I'm walking with you. So you could say I'm…nevermind." The ghost turned away with a puzzled expression.

    They arrived at Lands End to find that, yet again, exploration was rendered unnecessary. At the entrance to the volcano cave stood a red lizard creature with a friendly expression and a substantial fire emanating from its tail. From said fire, a being, face dancing with the flames.

    "Char, Charmander!" spoke the lizard. "Greetings humans!" said the being, "I am called Ignae. I believe we share a quest, do we not?"

    "I believe you are correct," said Thyia.

    "Good!" replied Ignae, looking pleased, "I have word that this Grinch you seek has returned to the city of the East." "Tokyo?" said Coach Z. "No, Catamarca," corrected Bellerophon. "Catamarca?" asked Thyia, surprised. Ignae frowned. "No, the place you call Ayrit. The cave where this all began." "Ohhh," said Bellerophon and Thyia in unison.

    "Now, I believe we have a full complement?" said Ignae. Thyia nodded, "I believe so." "Then I believe we should be on our way."

    And on their way they went.


    "So you're a fire sprite?"
    "Yes, I suppose so. I am a kind of god, in a way," replied Ignae.
    "I'm an atheist," said Shepard.
    "So am I," said Ignae.
    "So you don't believe in yourself?"
    "I thought you said you were an atheist."

    The sun was just beginning to poke through above the horizon as the group neared the entrance to the cave which would take them to the other cave, the Seldane city. In spite of Leonardo's certainty of the location that the southern passageway from the first cave exited, no one could figure out a way back in, so instead they were forced to go the long way to the entrance by the river fork.

    The cave was quiet, and surprisingly empty. No strange creatures escaping, no distant cries or stampeding footsteps. They did pass by one fallen escapee, a strange, baby faced purple creature with large ears and a triangle above its head, clutching a shiny red bag, lying ominously still on the ground. Sara seemed particularly affected by the sight.

    "This feels suspicious," observed Therime. Thyia and Shepard nodded in agreement. The Commander turned to Coach Z, "Coach, I want you to keep watch out here, just in case anything happens. You think you can handle that?" "Aye-aye, Craptain!" replied the Coach, enthusiastically. "It's 'Commander'," said Shepard, "…nevermind."

    Passage through the hole was more congested this time, and even more uncomfortable. As Thyia emerged, she saw that the entire cave had somehow been fortified by an enormous wall, like a castle. A cacophonous symphony of voices could be heard within, and although they were hushed and Thyia could not make out what anyone was saying, she could sense their terror. From the top of the wall emerged a strange creature with a long neck, prominent eyestalks, ears that flowed down its back, and a toothy, sinister grin.

    "Yousa come in here for the Grinch, yes? He has been waiting for you."

    An enormous door at the base of the fortress began to open, flanked by armored guards.

    "Mesa called Jar Jar Binks—"

    Before he could finish, Shepard reached for her sidearm, quickly pointed it at Jar Jar, and fired, shouting, "Renegade interrupt!" Jar Jar crumpled to gasps and cries of shock, and as a commotion within the city ensued, the guards at the door began to charge. The Commander switched to a larger weapon and made quick work of the massively disadvantaged guards, smiling, "That was almost as fun as that time I punched that reporter!" "Quick! We must find the Grinch!" bellowed Ignae. "Char!" affirmed Charmander.

    Ayrit had descended into utter chaos. Characters of all kinds thunderously stampeded, madly attempting escape as guards fought to keep them restrained. One guard struck down a perplexingly jovial red furry creature with an orange nose and large, round eyes, falling with a thud that could scarcely be be heard amidst the sounds of people screaming, swords clashing, and dramatic music that had begun playing from all directions. As Shepard continued to singlehandedly keep the guards at bay with her ridiculously overpowered weapons, Toad emerged from behind a mushroom, battered but miraculously alive.

    "BELLEROPHON! You made it! And you've assembled your TEAM! Listen, you must enter the main building just ahead, the GRINCH has sealed himself inside. But to gain access, you must solve a puzzle. Take these DISCS, and place them on pedestals in the correct order to unlock doors. Go, now!"

    "Wait, what is the correct order?" asked Thyia, but before he could answer, a guard shouted, "That's them! Focus on them!" and an arrow struck Toad in the side, rendering him unconscious.

    "Toad!" exclaimed Bellerophon in horror. "Oh, crap," said the Commander, examining her gun, "we should go. Now." "But Toad!" pleaded Bellerophon. "Look, I just ran out of thermal clips," explained Shepard, "and I don't see any lying around here, which means I can't shoot anymore. We gotta go." "Hang in there, you crazy little mushroom man," said Bellerophon, fighting back tears, "we'll come back for you. I promise."

    The path to the building was short, but suddenly perilous without Shepard's guns to protect them. Seeking cover behind mushrooms and rubble, the Commander guided the others to safe passage, while Charmander offered some light short-range defense by spitting embers. As they made their way, a blue-skinned man with curly brown hair approached directly into the guards' line of fire, wearing gator boots and a tunic with two spikes, panting heavily.

    "May I join?" asked the man.

    The guards seemed momentarily caught off guard. "Join? Why would you want to join us?" asked a particularly well-bearded guard. Shepard, spotting their chance, motioned for the others to make a dash for the building, before shouting, "He means us!"

    "Oh, that makes more—hey!"

    The strange oblivious blue man was immediately taken down by an arrow as the Commander prepared to join the others. To the right, however, she saw Leonardo, still diagramming wildly. "Hey, genius, we'll have time for that later, we gotta go!" said Shepard, grabbing him by the arm. Leonardo began to protest, "Wait! I think I—" but before he could finish, an arrow struck him in the head.

    "No!" yelled the Commander, but it was too late.

    Realizing Leonardo was beyond help, Shepard made a break for the others, as a seemingly endless stream of guards continued to charge. Her armor serving her well, she met Thyia, Therime, Sara, and the ghost at the entrance. "Leonardo didn't make it. Where are the others?"

    Thyia nodded and hung her head, "Bellerophon's in the rooms," she said, pointing to a door to the left that had just closed, "trying to get the discs to work. Charmander ran back to try and get Leonardo, but a guard immediately got him. Ignae just disappeared after that." "Damn," replied Shepard, turning around to see the feinted Charmander lying motionless on the ground, its tail fire now spent.

    Just then, the noise of a door opening could be heard, significantly louder than the previous occurrences. Bellerophon shouted exuberantly from the distance, "I got it!" and emerged from the far left door. He motioned to the others to follow, and cautiously entered the central doorway. "I'll keep watch, you guys go," instructed Shepard.

    Thyia, Therime, and Sara quickly headed down the hallway, but before they could reach the end, Bellerophon reemerged, looking confused.

    "He's not here," Bellerophon announced, "there's no one here."


    Thyia arrived in the main room and looked around. Bellerophon was right, the Grinch wasn't here. But a soft sound seemed to be coming from one of the pallets, the one on the eastern side of the room. "Hey, can you guys here that?" she asked. The others went silent. Thyia approached the pallet cautiously, and listened closely. The sound appeared to be a muffled voice. As Bellerophon, Therime, and Sara stood by, Thyia peered at the base of the bed, and noticed a bony gray toe sticking out from underneath. With Therime's help, Thyia lifted the pallet, revealing a tall Seldane, bound and gagged.

    "Sabinate!" exclaimed Bellerophon, rushing in to free the Seldane.

    Sabinate hacked and coughed as Therime removed his gag, and turned to Bellerophon. "The portals," Sabinate said, "that place you call the portals. The one you seek is there."

    "Come on, guys, let's go," said Thyia. "Hang in there, Sabinate," said Bellerophon.

    Bellerophon hesitated, but Thyia immediately headed back to the hall to find Shepard. "Commander!" she called, "He's at the portals!" "The portals? How are we going to get there?" "I…I don't know." The battlefield was as treacherous as ever. Getting inside had been trying enough; safe passage to the portals seemed all but impossible.

    "Hey, has anyone seen the ghost?" asked Sara, arriving with Bellerophon and Therime. Bellerophon looked alarmed and turned to Therime, who shrugged. Thyia looked around, but found no sign of the ghost.

    Just as everyone was about ready to panic, a figure turned the corner and approached Thyia, jesturing wildly outside. Thyia turned around and exclaimed in surprise, "Ghost! You're here! Wait, what are you doing?" "Gesturing, again," answered Bellerophon, "I think it's telling us to go outside." "It still looks pretty dangerous to me," said Shepard, but the ghost continued to point. Cautiously, the heavily armored Commander led the others out, turning right to scout past the corner of the building.

    A commotion had developed in the distance, around the portals. Guards were retreating from the group's location to support those at the portals, and still guards at the portals were falling left and right. Suddenly, the fighting seemed to momentarily halt, and a man began sprinting away. Soon, the guards began chase. They were all heading straight towards Shepard.

    "Crap," said Shepard, "they're coming for us! Guys, get back!"

    But before anyone could get back, the man approached Shepard.

    "Hello, I am Grapper," said Grapper, "you should find the Grinch. He is in one of the bedrooms. I will take care of the guards." Grapper ran back to the guards and in seconds they were all dead. Then Grapper went to find some more guards.

    Stunned, Shepard and co. watched as Grapper faded into the distance, leaving behind him an endless trail of guard bodies. The now vacated portals area could be seen ahead, with the bedrooms lying to the northeast. The Commander knew what had to be done. She set off, with the others following close behind.

    With Grapper clearing the way, the path was straightforward. Thyia could feel her heart beating as they approached, the finality of it all setting on her. Her heart had probably been doing this the whole time she had been here, she realized, but this was the first chance she had to notice it. She barely had time to ponder the thought when the green furry creature from long before came sprinting from on of the bedrooms towards the portals.

    "Grinch!" shrieked Sara. "That's him!" screamed Bellerophon. The Grinch glanced in their general direction, but did not slow. "To the portals!" ordered the Commander, "and spread out!"

    The plan worked, and the Grinch stuttered to a halt, unable to find an unobstructed path.

    "It all comes down to this, Grinch!" bellowed Shepard. "Hand over my Portal Hacker 3000!" yelled Bellerophon. The Grinch glanced back for signs of his guards, but in the far distance Grapper could be seen continuing to slice through their ranks with absurd ease. The Grinch turned back and paused briefly, thinking, before erupting into a cackling laughter. Shepard and Thyia glared back.

    "You want this back, do you?" the Grinch screeched, procuring a controller in his right hand, "This, the device that manipulates these portals to send them to any place, any time, any world its owner desires?" The Grinch wagged the device around for a second as an incensed Bellerophon watched on, "Ha ha ha, never!"

    With that, the Grinch charged forward and to his right. Therime and Sara were quick to respond, dashing immediately in the same direction. Therime approached first, and made a dive for the Grinch's legs, but the thief spun out of his grasp and continued onward. The Grinch lost crucial momentum in the effort, however, allowing Sara to close in on him. As he fought to free himself from Sara's hold, Bellerophon came sprinting forward and dove for the Grinch's legs, tripping him and sending him and Sara to the ground, as Shepard quickly arrived on the scene to pin him down. Bellerophon reached for his Portal Hacker 3000 and wrestled it from the green monster's grasp.

    "Yes!" shouted Bellerophon triumphantly, "We did it! Take that, sis!"

    "We still need to take care of this guy!" said Thyia, observing the Grinch's continued struggle to break free. "Right, okay, I'm going to redirect the north portal," replied Bellerophon, settling down, "Get ready to bring him in!" Bellerophon fiddled with the device as Thyia, Therime, and Sara took strategic position near Shepard and the Grinch. The ghost didn't move; Thyia shot it a look, but the ghost shrugged and poked its finger through its incorporeal body.

    A flare of blinding purple light flashed out of the northern portal as Bellerophon made one final motion on his device. He beamed with pride and awe, before turning and gesturing, "Go! Go now!"

    Shepard repositioned to lead the Grinch towards the portal, but, suddenly, he finally broke free, sending the Commander to the ground. Making one final mad dash at Bellerophon, Sara and Therime moved in quickly in flanking position. Attempting to thread the space between the two, the Grinch dove forward, perilously close to the northern portal. Unseen from behind Therime, Thyia leapt forward and dove across, contacting the Grinch in the shoulder. The force dealt was just enough to catch the Grinch off balance, and as he frantically attempted to find his footing, the momentum of Thyia's hit sent the Grinch's left foot into the portal. As Thyia fell to the ground, the Grinch disappeared into the purple swirl, his hand making one last desperate attempt to grab Thyia's—perhaps for support, perhaps to drag her with him—but he could not hold on, and was soon completely engulfed by the portal.

    As Therime ran to hug his sister, Bellerophon looked on in elation and disbelief. Sara turned to him in similar bemusement. "So, did you finally outdo your sister?" she asked. "No," replied Bellerophon, "she really did a lot. But, hey, we both saved Cythera, kind of. And I saved Christmas, too. So, yeah, take that , sis!" Sara chuckled. In the background, the ghost quietly departed, with a pleased expression.

    From a short distance afar, Commander Shepard watched on, smiling. She nodded, saying, to no one in particular, "I should go."


    The frog on the wheel passed by again, continuing to announce, "here come dat boi!!!!!" as the singing rainbow cat flew about. A dancing banana maniacally repeated, "IT'S PEANUT BUTTER JELLY TIME!!!" as a disembodied dog head over a floating rainbow plane barked something unintelligible. A thoroughly unsettling-looking human baby danced in an unnatural fashion in the distance, next to a young man with very orange hair singing and dancing.

    In the middle of the madness stood a confused and terrified Grinch, pleading with a man dressed entirely in leopard print to tell him where he was. The man turned and said, "P-P-A-P," before breaking into dance. The Grinch quickly turned to a younger man, wearing a black coat and glasses. "Excuse me, sir, I don't know how I found myself here. Can you please tell me where we are?" begged the thief of Christmas. "I'm not a rapper," replied the man, before falling back into a raucously cheering crowd. Dismayed, the Grinch turned away, reflecting on the events of the day in resignation.

    From above, a slightly robotic, slightly unnerving voice spoke, "Welcome, Grinch. You ask where you are? You are everywhere, Grinch, for you are now a meme."

    The Grinch searched above frantically for the source of the voice. A meme? What is a meme?

    "Please be advised that not all memes are created equal," said the voice, "Right now, you are a forced meme. Only time will tell what future awaits you, Grinch. Good luck on your tests."

    As the voice finished, a portal opened directly in front of the Grinch. This portal wasn't like the Seldane portals; it was ovoid, outlined in bright orange, and its destination could be seen clearly, like a false reflection.

    An arm reached out from within the portal, grabbed the Grinch by the arm, and pulled him in. Moments later, the portal closed.

    The end.


  • Global Moderator

    Really good to see you, Buzzzzy :) .

    An amusing and well-written story. I particularly liked the numerous references to other fictional stories (although I must admit to not recognizing most of them). Fortunately, Grapper was there to save the day.

    I have to say Bellerophon deserves a lot of credit: negotiating the wine contract? Saving Cythera doesn't even begin to compare!



  • I know just enough about Cythera (and have had just little enough sleep) to find this amusing!

    @selax_bot, on 25 December 2016 - 02:38 PM, said in How the Grinch Stole Cythera:

    Fortunately, Grapper was there to save the day.

    Grapper will always be there to save the day.



  • Thanks! :) I just read this thing through for the first time since writing it, and I basically came away with two conclusions. 1. Considering everything, I'm impressed with how relatively coherent this was, and B. I went way overboard with the references :p

    @selax_bot, on 25 December 2016 - 02:38 PM, said in How the Grinch Stole Cythera:

    I have to say Bellerophon deserves a lot of credit: negotiating the wine contract? Saving Cythera doesn't even begin to compare!

    Right? Truly great accomplishments just never get the appreciation they deserve.

    @ikaterei_bot, on 26 December 2016 - 09:27 AM, said in How the Grinch Stole Cythera:

    Grapper will always be there to save the day.

    He will forever be the hero Cythera needs.

    This post has been edited by Buzzzzy : 26 December 2016 - 12:18 PM



  • Oh my turtle!! This is totally amazing! : __o A Buzzy-chronicle was the last thing I was expecting, and it is perfect : __D I feel like this is a Christmas present for me, because it's full of Cythera jokes, which are one of my favourite things in the world <3 Thank you for writing and posting this awesome chronicle!

    I am in awe of your writing skills! The sheer amount of words you wrote in one night is impressive in itself (it took me two days to read it!), but the story is so perfect without even any planning or editing! And it is one joke after another, without any boring filler. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, I was grinning or laughing the whole time ^_ __^ I especially loved the Cythera jokes - actual Cythera-related stories are pretty rare anymore. Some of the other references I had to look up, but they seem to fit the story well ^ ___^ For example, Commander Shepard was perfect for the job of saving Cythera (until she ran out of ammo).

    I want to include a list of my favourite lines from the story, but this is going to be really long - it's pretty much the entire story >_>

    • peculiar clanging ambience that newcomers always have such a hard time with. (Ah, Catamarca music <3)

    • I can't remember a single rainy day in my life. (I wonder if Cythera even has weather...)

    • a weird kleptomaniac redheaded lady killed a polyp and cured everyone. (Sounds exactly like the player character, yup)

    • mustachioed face of Judge Metopes (Reference for the non-Cythera players ^_ __^)

    • several people had gathered around the entrance to the Citadel, and were now pacing endlessly in circles behind her.

    • "No, we are very bored," said Thyia. "We are very bored," added Therime, looking bored.

    • From the Citadel, thirty paces to the north northwest,

    • "Top of the morning," greeted Therime. "I'm just a guard, I'm not permitted to speak of such," replied the guard.

    • "You don't understand," pleaded Sardis, pointing to the man's chair, "I come here every day, and sit right here. This is my spot." (Love the NPCs' inability to consider sitting or standing in a slightly different place ^_ __^)

    • "Maybe. Didn't Darius used to sit there?"

    • "Name," interrupted the strange man. (Brilliant : __D)

    • "Yeah, whatever. Job."

    • Parium, Sardis, Eumelus, and a guard outside all interjected in unison, "Rudeness is not rewarded."

    • The one who can obliterate a portcullis with a single spell! The one who can spread flour on mountaintops!

    • Sardines can have his stupid seat back." (Sardines : __D)

    • Stupid orange Yoda…

    • "Head for the cave north of Cademia," slurred Bellerophon, "You guys know where that is? It's north of Cademia." (So helpful)

    • If Thyia and Therime were sensible, they would probably have just left and returned to Catamarca to go be bored, but that would be an anticlimactic end to the story. (Glad they weren't sensible!)

    • "Sounds like an all-around safe plan,"

    • "I'm not rescuing your stupid Princess, Toad," said Bellerophon

    • a gray bird flew by, squawking, "Register EV!" and, "Smoke me!"

    • the rainbow wake left by a joyfully singing cat with a body seemingly made of pastry.

    • "One second, let me just divide food…" and handed Thyia a handful of grapes and some sort of meat, maybe? (Yay, mushroom steak!)

    • Bellerophon estimated it was around 8 o'clock in the evening.

    • "I'll remember that, I need to wash my butt," replied the oblivious librarian. (Bellerophon is so mean!)

    • "Like a flashlight? We can use my phone," replied Sara, procuring and fiddling with a small, controller-like object, as Thyia observed with interest. "Hey, I just remembered that my guns have flashlights on them," added Shepard.

    • failing to note that the author wasted almost an entire night writing this story. (I disagree with it being a waste, but thanks again for spending your night writing this!)

    • "This man sounds nothing like you, Bellerophon," said Thyia. Bellerophon looked indignant, "What are you talking about, we sound exactly alike!"

    • The ghost jestured about. "What is it doing?" asked Therime. "I think it's gesturing," said Bellerophon.

    • Did he have an accent? She always liked villains with accents.

    • At the entrance to the volcano cave stood a red lizard creature with a friendly expression and a substantial fire emanating from its tail. From said fire, a being, face dancing with the flames. (I love how Ignae can appear in any flame ^_ __^)

    • "Good!" replied Ignae, looking pleased, "I have word that this Grinch you seek has returned to the city of the East." "Tokyo?" said Coach Z. "No, Catamarca," corrected Bellerophon. "Catamarca?" asked Thyia, surprised. Ignae frowned. "No, the place you call Ayrit. The cave where this all began." "Ohhh," said Bellerophon and Thyia in unison.

    • The guards seemed momentarily caught off guard. "Join? Why would you want to join us?" asked a particularly well-bearded guard. Shepard, spotting their chance, motioned for the others to make a dash for the building, before shouting, "He means us!" (Love the Yesterday's Dawn reference : __D That might have been my favourite part of the TS)

    • "Hello, I am Grapper," said Grapper, "you should find the Grinch. He is in one of the bedrooms. I will take care of the guards." Grapper ran back to the guards and in seconds they were all dead. Then Grapper went to find some more guards. (Yes! Every chron is better with Grapper!)

    • But, hey, we both saved Cythera, kind of. And I saved Christmas, too. So, yeah, take that, sis!

    Anyway, this was brilliant start to finish, and I hope you will write/share more stories for us!



  • @breadworldmercy453_bot, on 26 December 2016 - 02:06 PM, said in How the Grinch Stole Cythera:

    I feel like this is a Christmas present for me, because it's full of Cythera jokes, which are one of my favourite things in the world <3

    I'm fine with you thinking of it as such, but my thought process was basically "Man, I miss Cythera, it's been a while, why don't I write a brief silly Cythera story…15 hours later…Welp, nevermind the 'brief' part." And yeah, it was a long night. I started at like 7:30 and finished at around noon (with breaks for food, YouTube, and looking up Elmo/Toad/Rainbow Dash on Google Images).

    Also, re: Uzsuy cameo/Yesterday's Dawn reference, see, I didn't even remember the name of the TS. :p All I remember is hopping in without reading it, and Selax somehow actually incorporating it into the story (sort of). I apparently made other contributions, too? I honestly have zero recollection of any except the first. Probably for the better.

    This post has been edited by Buzzzzy : 27 December 2016 - 04:42 PM



  • Dude! When you said "all night" I imagined "all afternoon/evening until bedtime" @_@ That is intense! How did you stay awake all night? O_O So not only did you come up with all these hundreds of jokes, but you did it on no sleep! Wowev.

    Uzsuy was one of the characters who helped the TS remember not to take itself too seriously ^_ __^ It was great! Also, if your TS contributions helped at all to make you the writer you are today, it was totally worth it.


  • Global Moderator

    @buzzzzy_bot, on 26 December 2016 - 12:18 PM, said in How the Grinch Stole Cythera:

    Thanks! :)

    You're welcome.

    @buzzzzy_bot, on 26 December 2016 - 12:18 PM, said in How the Grinch Stole Cythera:

    Right? Truly great accomplishments just never get the appreciation they deserve.

    Indeed, Bellerophon deserves a monument.

    @buzzzzy_bot, on 26 December 2016 - 12:18 PM, said in How the Grinch Stole Cythera:

    He will forever be the hero Cythera needs.

    True, very true.

    @buzzzzy_bot, on 27 December 2016 - 04:41 PM, said in How the Grinch Stole Cythera:

    Also, re: Uzsuy cameo/Yesterday's Dawn reference, see, I didn't even remember the name of the TS. :p All I remember is hopping in without reading it, and Selax somehow actually incorporating it into the story (sort of). I apparently made other contributions, too? I honestly have zero recollection of any except the first. Probably for the better.

    I didn't actually catch that that part was a reference to Yesterday's Dawn until 453 pointed it out. An amusing callback to a good story :) .


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