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NIGHTMARES ARE CREATED BY THE MERE EXISTENCE OF PLACES LIKE THIS!!!!!
Having been scratched to hell by brambles and attacked by an assortment of trees, bushes and a now-penned and traumatised pheasant, I have a better idea as to the enormity of this project.
I have found a total of five currently habitable buildings, one of which is big enough to house the pub/town hall. There are a further three buildings that need a little work to make them fit for use.
I've found the river, about 3/4 of a mile from the village centre. Considering it passes through a major city and at least two villages before it gets here, it seems fairly clean - about the only thing around here that is!
All I can do now is try to work on some of the urgently needed repairs and wait for Ahdkaw to catch up with me in a day or two. I hope it's only a day or two or the beer I brought from the last city will have run out, as will my food, at which point I face the prospect of pheasant and water - not a good combination!!! Pheasant is no good without alcohol.
Right now though, I feel it's time for a relaxing drink and smoke before I have to get on and sort out my bedspace for the night. Think I'll move into the pub, that way at least I'll be on-hand for arrivals AND any trouble during the early days.
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As Kaz perches on one of the few unbroken bar stools, quietly supping on her booze, a shadow slips from the grimy clutter of the pile of shattered bar furniture in the back corner. It silently places itself in the dying light that shuffles in through the one good window and watches as Kaz spins, suprisingly fast for someone who should be well drunk by now, to face it.
The figure is wearing a long ragged brown coat and a widebrimmed hat, both streaked with the yellow and red earth of the badlands out to the west of here. What she can see of his face, shadowed beneath the hat, looks just as dusty but the two six-shooters he holds, one in each hand, have a just-polished gleam as he raises them casually in her direction.
"Now you don't look like you're on the run from the law and you sure as hell ain't no runaway slave. I had you down as one of those rich eastern kids that come out here looking for thrills but then you're a little bit too damn fast for that aren't ya?"
He lowers the guns again and cracks a smile.
"So lady....who you running from?"
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"I have NEVER had to run from anyone or anything, and I don't intend to start now." she said, coldly looking the stranger over, trying to work out if he actually posed a threat. She decided that he was just another fool trying it on with what, for all intents and purposes, appeared to be a lone, defenseless, runk female.
'Nobody that had any chance of being a threat would have guns that shiny.' she thought, and pushed away from the bar.
"Oh, I'm sorry," she said, smiling sweetly. "Where are my manners!" She leant further down the bar and picked up a bottle of beer and a clean tankard. Turning back to the stranger she passed him the bottle, and cracked him round the side of his head with the tankard, in one swift movement. She removed his coat and checked to see if he was carrying any other weapons.
Satisfied, she went and got the collar and chain she'd fastened to the bar in readiness for the watch-werewolf. She fastened it round the strangers neck and, satisfied he was going nowhere, went and sat down, skinned up and finished her beer.
Fifteen minutes later, as he started to regain conciousness, Kaz stood up and walked over to him. She stood on the chain, close to the collar, effectively pinning him to the floor. Her steel toe-cap just under his nose.
"Shall we talk about who YOU are and why you think it's a good idea to sneak up on a lady?" she said, in a calm voice. She smiled at him as realisation of the full extent of his predicament slowly dawned on him.
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Penfold looked up, this lady really was pretty fast for a drunken stoner. She shouldn't have assumed that a chain would stop a stranger though. Not with all the ex-slaves in these parts. She was standing way too close to him and a chain meant to keep a werewolf at the bar was far too long to keep this prisoner from being trouble.
The loop of chain caught her across the side of the head before she had a chance to react, "Sorry lady, I do so hate to hit a woman" Penfold muttered as he unlocked the collar and collected his coat and guns.
Not bothering to search her he retreated across the room when she came round he spoke again "I reckon we could fight all night at this rate so I say we call it a draw and save us both the bruises. Anyhows the names Penfold and I'm a bounty hunter, now what brings you out here?"
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"Tranquility, solitude. Why would a bounty hunter be out here? There's no bounty on my head and nobody else for three days hard ride, at least." Kaz replied, her interest peaking with the unexpectedly rapid recovery from the vicious blow she had dealt Penfolds head.
"I merely seek space and time to provide a sanctum where those with the will to learn, can do so. I have a good feeling about this place and choose to stay here awhile and see what becomes of it. You, my friend, have the option of either spending the night within the 'confines' of WestHaven and then resuming your journey or staying and being a key influence within the education of those who will, inevitably, pass this way and become enthralled enough to wish to learn. It is up to you. Now, however, it grows late and I feel I must take my leave. Please, make yourself as comfortable as possible for the night. If you choose to stay, I shall speak with you again. If not, safe travels my friend."
Kaz spun on here heel, collected a couple of bottles of beer and headed for the stairs and bed, confident that any conflict with Penfold had been resolved.
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Looking across this vast land you could almost believe it was endless, walking across it didn't just make you believe it, it literally forced the reality of it upon you.
Strange then, that after only one and a half days of travelling across this lush landscape, had the traveller arrived at the end of that endless lushness, to see what stretched before him. Hot, dry, dusty, dead desert. The distinction between the two couldn't have be more extreme, a sharp line cutting across the world with the precision of a butcher.
He noticed a sign just inside the desert, and wandering closer, read,
At least now I know I'm going the right way now, he thought dramatically.
A mere two hours later, he arrived at the town Kaz had mentioned all those days ago, and ye gods, it was exactly how she had said it was, abandoned. There were several buildings for sure, but mostly in a dilapidated state, they would need a lot of work to get into top condition.
The bar was quiet. Possibly too quiet. He looked in through a window, it was dusty and cobwebbed in there. Had he got the right place? He checked his map, but soon discovered he was never given a map. Paranoia set in.
I need to sit down and get a beer, he thought, and then barged in through the door as loudly as possible trying to sound hard, just in case.
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Kaz heard the sounds of someone crashing head-first through the front door of the pub.
'Ahdkaw!'' she thought, as she reached for her jeans and shirt.
'Typical!! He turns up AFTER all the shit I had with Penfold. Why does that name always summon an image of mice??!'
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There was keening sound. The sort that one might expect to hear from an airplane or bomb falling out of the sky, on account that the volume and urgency of the sound grew, louder, and louder until with a great deal of rattle, breaking, and whatnot, it stopped on the floor of the pub.
It was oddly enough wearing a brown three-piece-suit and lighting up a cigarette while dusting itself off.
However, it was obviously no longer a sound and was rather, or at least appeared to be, a man, or soemthing else wearing a man-suit. Regardless of these allegedly disputed facts, it stood up and started making odd sounds which vaguely resembled "Ay ay kay mein owwz et gone ay"
Shortly before finding something to plant it's alleged rump upon and begin polishing a wicked-looking massdriver apparatus.
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Kaz looked at the heap of rags held together by the distinct stench of stale beer and gave it a wide birth in the hope that it would appear more humanlike when the smell died down a bit. She turned round taking in the scene of the aftermath of what had, all in all, been an eventful and rather busier second night in WestHaven.
Ahdkaw was slumped in one corner, still holding an unopened bottle of beer and what looked suspiciously like a half-eaten bacon sandwich??!!
'What a night!' she thought, carefully picking her way across the floor. There was no sign of Penfold though. 'Perhaps he decided not to stick around,after all.' she thought with a touch of disappointment mixed with a distinct lack of suprise. 'His loss!' she decided, then decided to blame Ahdkaw and his 'grand' entrance the night before!
She walked over to where he was slumped in the corner, took the beer from him, opened it and connected her steel toe-cap with the top of his leg and laughed to see his face reflect the agony his body must have just suffered.
"Morning!" she bellowed, bent just a couple of inches from his ear.
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After terrorising Ahdkaw whilst he slept -just because she could, Kaz grabbed a beer, skinned up and went to sit outside. As she sat down, movement at the edge of the clearing caught her eye. Someone or something was skulking around in the bushes. After a while she caught enough of a glimpse to work out it was Penfold.
'What the hell is he doing now?' she wondered as she watched him with mild curiosity.
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Penfold knelt in the thick bushes that surrounded the old pub, rifle held lightly in his hands and against his shoulder. His eyes stayed fixed straight ahead as the barrel moved slightly, following the movements inside the pub. Even though he was barely breathing Kaz still spotted him as she sat supping her beer; as she turned to face him he gently squeezed the trigger...
She was a tough one, no doubt about that, but she was from the east and didn't know how things worked out here. Sure she had the Official Papers of Settlement for the Village of Westhaven but settlers didn't tend to last too long in these parts. And as for all that crazy talk about some damn magic university, well, there was more than just outlaws and runaways up in the badlands; there were demons leftover from the great wars. They were attracted to magic like flies to fresh shit and they weren't all as nice as that Horab creature either.
In the pub the pile of rags suddenly unclenched and burst upwards out the door, ripping it off its hinges with a crash. The rags fell as it ran revealing an emaciated maggot-white body with long scrawny arms and a gigantic bulbous head. Just in time Kaz span and managed to block a sharp biting lunge at her face, red staring eyes and gnawing razor teeth stopped just inches away from her. As she brought her other fist into its chest a shot rang out off to the left and the creatures body jerked suddenly to the right, hitting the side of the building and falling still, thick red blood gushing from the side of its head.
Behind the bar Ahdkaw woke, stood up, muttered "Hey Kaz, keep it down could you? I'm not feeling so well" and stumbled out past the body without even noticing it, accompanied by his usual morning retching sounds.
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Wiping the sick from his mouth, Ahdkaw stood up straight. The previous night hadn't been that wild had it? He couldn't remember. A sharp stabbing pain in his head advised him to go sit down and get another beer.
Approaching the table where Kaz was sat, he noticed from the corner of his eye some strange-looking creature lying peacefully on the ground. Thankfully it looked dead, spatters of red surrounded the immediate vicinity as well as on Kaz's clothing. Lucky then that she was wearing shiny leather, as she sat and sponged the red away. Ahdkaw nodded at Kaz and she looked up, "Thanks for kicking my shin," he said as he hobbled closer.
Kaz only smiled, and passed him a bottle of beer, "How many of these do we have left?" he asked with some concern, "Oh, enough for the next couple of days I'm sure, but we already have some more ordered and it should be delivered soon" she replied.
Ahdkaw sat at the table and looked at the dead maggot-like creature, "You think we can eat it?", he pondered. "We have a butchers block and blade in the bar, I can go and get it for you," replied Kaz.
"No!" Penfold shouted from the bushes, somewhat surprising the hapless Ahdkaw, "That's my bloody meal, I shot it fair and square! But you can have the legs if you like."
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"No, you're alright mate. Got pheasant penned up round the back of the pub. Had to build a run for them. Figure the first I caught was female and bloody loads have turned up since! I'll let you keep it all for yourself - if you REALLY wish to eat something that looked like a maggot even before it was dead." Kaz said in a most sickened and disgusted tone.
She turned back to Ahdkaw. "Nice of you to try and join the land of the living." she said, voice dripping sarcasm yet eyes lighting up with humour and pleasure at finally having chance to sit and have a drink with her old alco-warrior friend.
"Have any fun on your way here? 'Coz I think we're gonna have quite a bit of it here!" she added with a quick glance towards the corpse laid on the ground in front of them.
"Can I borrow the block and knife?" came a voice from somewhere behind. Kaz turned to see Penfold preparing a fire and cooking pot in readiness for the corpse.
"There is no way on that abomination is going on my butchers block, and if you even think about trying it, I'll give you the knife alright!!!"
Ahdkaw nearly fell off the edge of the table with laughter, "You haven't changed much have you Kaz!"
"Never bloody will mate." she said grinning at him. "Never bloody intend to." She stood up and walked over to the wall of the pub, moved a couple of planks of wood so they were sat level and even, and settled herself in the sun with a beer and started to skin up, happy with the world in general, for the present at least!
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Penfold sat back a little way from the fire, good and bloated from a couple of demon steaks. Ahdkaw had been a bit unsure at first but had soon been converted by a succulent bit of rump. Kaz point-blank refused to have anything to do with "badlands beef" and eyed the strips of jerky that were hanging drying from the porch roof with barely concealed disgust.
"That was a maggot imp, and I'm sure you cold of handled it yerself" Penfold looked at Ahdkaw for a minute and then spoke directly to Kaz "Leastways you could, but I'll tell you somthin for free; if theres one of them then there'll be another dozen along soon. They're worse than roaches for that, though at least it keeps you from starvin anyhow."
He took another sip of beer, "Anyhow if you folks are gonna be doing any of that magic then this place is gonna be crawling with demons faster'n a hillbilly runnin to a still after the laws gone. Not just these little ones either. So why the hell are you coming all the way out here to set up your college? and is he..."
Penfold pointed at Ahdkaw, who was busy scrubbing some of yesterdays vomit off of his shirt "one of your lecturers or what?"
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"The magical residue, and the attention it generates, is the entire point behind establishing the college here." replied Kaz haughtily. "We are not open to just anybody. This is, after all, to be a college of excellence. Applicants will only be forwarded by those who already excel in their field. Whether that field be magic or combat. And, yes, I hope he is one of the instructors, on the combat side."
She continued to stare at Penfold, daring him to retort. She'd had her idea's questioned, her methods scrutinised, her choices condemned - and that was before she got to this god-forsaken hellhole which was 'WestHaven'. Hmpff, some bloody haven!!!!!
She stood and walked into the pub to get some cold beer as the sun had already warmed the bottles they had outside.
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As if by magic (actually it was magic), a miniscule dot of light appeared, expanding outward until it reached the size of a really large bubble (much like the bubbles in The Prisoner, but yellow and made of light). Then an almighty crack of thunder bellowed across the town before Eldorado Sunshineface appeared from the bubble at the base of the stairs that led up to the entrance of the College of Combat and Magic. The light bubble dissipated around her, like used confetti brushed from a brides gown.
Eldorado checked her limbs for obvious damage or change, it appeared she had fared quite well during her multi-dimensional jump, except that one of her hands had formed into a crablike claw. "Bugger," she thought, "will have to look into fixing that at some point."
Consulting her photographic memory, the only spell she could find required two hands (and no claws). Disappointed, she began to climb the stairway, pulling a golden key from her pocket as she reached the entrance. She unlocked the doors and wandered inside. The hallway was old and musty, pictures frames lined the walls, all containing no images whatsoever. One picture frame was labelled 'Eldorado Sunshineface - Founder', so she removed it from the wall, and pulled out the polaroid of herself which Nub had taken of her all those years ago. She looked young and fresh in that photo, much different from how she was now. Placing the polaroid in the frame, she rehung it in pride of place at the head of the hallway, it would be the first picture anyone would see upon entering. However they would have to get up pretty close to actually see the image.
To the right hand side of the corridor, more stairs led upwards to the staff room and office complex. Eldorado went upstairs, and claimed the first office she came across as her own. There was a large circular oak table within, surrounded by plush chairs, except one at the head of the table that was even plusher. She sat down at the head of the table and perused her surroundings, a window on the East side of the room looked out over the pub of Westhaven, where she could see Kaz sitting in the sun doing what she did best, whilst Penfold was busy cutting up a demon-maggot and stringing the strips up on a nearby tree. Ahdkaw appeared to be scratching his jumper for some reason Eldorado couldn't quite figure. Another window to the North, looked out across the land, stretching out all the way to the Badlands. It would be a good window to watch for demons from she thought.
Not that she could do anything about them if they did turn up. Her magical skills had been virtually decimated due to the loss of her cauldron whilst attempting the highly dangerous multi-jump spell she had just performed. One of the well-known side-effects was the destruction of not only the cauldron itself but also the Operating System residing within it. She would have to find some other method to activate her spells from now on, since there were no other cauldrons as they were lost to the sea of conciousness, along with her fellow witches.
Settling back in her EZ-Recliner, Eldorado spun around to face the condiments table in the corner of the room and poured herself a malt-vinegar.
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Kaz watched, with a growing sense of satisfaction, as the College of Combat and Magic appeared in the absolute centre of WestHaven.
Perfect. Mistress Sunshineface - bloody stupid name but the hag liked it for some strange reason, although she had never quite taken to the name Eldorado ('dora -as she preferred - always said "It sounds too foreign, and nothing good is foreign!!!" - wouldn't have sent any college if she felt there was anything amiss with my planning, I never even hoped she would come herself! thought Kaz, pausing long enough to throw Penfold a smug grin.
"Stop scraping at that bloody puke down your chest Ahdkaw, go put a clean shirt on and get ready to have your entire existence scrutinised, ripped to shreds and then put back together by someone more disgusting than all of us put together - well, except maybe maggot-breath over there!" she said, indicating towards Penfold as she spoke.
Kaz stood, brushed down her clothes and walked into the pub. Sitting at the bar, she dragged her rucksack towards her trying to remember which pockets the more select drink and drugs were.
She eventually found the bottle of Vodka she'd been saving for when Scave was able to join her - he'd just have to bring another with him - and started searching for the skunk she knew was somewhere at the bottom of the bag. The skunk suddenly leapt out of the bag like a frightened rabbit to reveal a bag of "northern lights" along with the bottle of Dex and bag of coke she'd squirreled in readiness for any suprising or alarming eventuality. After a dimension-jump of the size it must have taken to get the College HQ to WestHaven, 'Dora would need several pick-me-ups!
As Kaz got up and turned to walk back outside to collect Ahdkaw, a strange package at the end of the bar caught her eye. She went over to it and tried to inspect it without having to actually touch it. A label dangled from one, oddly-familiar, bulge.
Kaz thought, 'Dora might want this. Hers looked a bit shabby when I went to see her. Scave'
Why the hell had he gone to see 'Dora? Oh well, doesn't matter as long as she's here!
She picked up the package and set off in search of Ahdkaw. She found him exactly here she'd left him - Suprise, bloody suprise, not even changed his outer layer of puke!
As he saw Kaz walk out of the pub, Ahdkaw hurridly took his jumper off - the last thing he needed right now was Kaz nagging at him again, STILL!! He stood up, fell over, and dragged himself back on to the table. He laid there for a couple of minutes trying to gather enough concentration together to be able to even think about standing up.
As he felt himself drifting off to sleep, he heard the impatient foot-tapping of
Kaz so he sat up and hurriedly pulled himself together.
"Penfold coming with us?" he asked as he tried to stall Kaz so he didn't have to try and stand quite yet!
"No, I think 'Dora might prefer a quiet first day here, as seen as she's brought the whole College HQ with her which will have drained her strength almost completely. I think she might want a little time to regain herself before being faced with -him!" said Kaz, still not able to get around the fact that he'd actually eaten the demon-maggot.
Kaz and Ahdkaw set off, slowly so that Ahdkaw didn't fall over again, across what now appeared to be the courtyard of the college and up the front steps of the gothicly imposing building.
Penfold watched Kaz and Ahdkaw walk up the steps of the newly-appeared College with some annoyance. They hadn't even asked him if he wanted to join them, let alone told him what was going on. Bloody typical! he thought. Well lets see what they have to say when they do want my involvement, my input. They can shove it, well, unless it's beneficial to me of course!
With that he turned back to the demon-maggot, slightly disgusted with himself for eating it - only doing it to prove a point to Kaz. He would be SO glad when it ran out and he could graciously accept pheasant.
He couldn't get it out of his head though, that they had excluded him from the welcome visit to the College. Nor could he understand why the College HQ had relocated here, WestHaven, of all the god-forsaken places they could go!!
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Having finished unloading both his pistols and reloading them with silver bullets, Penfold ran to catch up with Kaz and Ahdkaw "This one of your lecturers is then?" he asked Kaz, not failing to notice that she picked up speed as he approached. "Another traveller from other worlds huh? She must be pretty damn good to bring a building with her but you had better hope like hell she's got a few more tricks up her sleeves 'cause she just put a big bowl of magic on the table and shouted 'Come and get it' to every damn demon for 500 miles around"
Kaz stopped and turned to face him, rage clearly written on her face "Will you stop being so damn negat..." she was cut off by 'Dora's voice barked from the entrance of the college "Kaz, Ahdkaw good to see that you're ready for me. I didn't know that you knew Penfold"
Penfold, who was just about to get into a heated argument about "damnfool easterners" with Kaz spun round to see a nasty looking old lady with a crab claw for an arm staring at him. "Who the hell are...", 'Dora interuppted him smoothly "I'm Eldarado Sunshineface, you've never met me before but I've met you, or a version of you anyway." At this Penfold decided it paid to be subtle and only muttered "Damn travellers, always talk in riddles" under his breath before speaking more clearly again "Well I hate to break up a reunion, especially a reunion with people I've never met, but a good sized army of demons is going to be here by dusk, so I was kind a wondering if you had any more of that magic up your er...." here he got distracted by the crab claw again.
"I'm afraid moving the college here has used up all my available energy, so if you and Ahdkaw would like to start securing the grounds, I need to have some words in private with this establishments Dean" 'Dora dissapeared inside again, followed by a smirking Kaz.
Penfold waited for them to dissapear "I've only got about 400 silver bullets left, how about...?" as he turned he saw Ak was face first in the dust again. "Well demons feed on two things; magic and fear so maybe you can slip behind 'em without been noticed, huh?"
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As the College door creaked shut behind her, Kaz turned to see Ahdkaw fall flat on his face, again, and Penfold staring at him, a look of disbelief on his face.
Grinning maniacly, kaz shoved the door back open with her boot "Just drag him round with you," she yelled. "Even unconcious he can prop up posts and stuff while you secure them in place. When he regains enough consciousness to feel it, boot him a couple of times in one leg." She made as to enter ther college proper then hesitated "Only one leg!" she stressed, then added "I want him able to stand and work without constant whining!!"
She let the door close behind her and followed after 'Dora. When she finally got to the top of the stairs - she was sure that each time she'd got more than half way up, more stairs appeared.
I know the older witches and warlocks used to add stairs so they had time to get settled behind their desk before people could get there but surely the journey didn't take that much out of 'Dora?! she thought at one point when; knackered (through what felt like half-hours mountain climbing), she'd sat down and drank half the bottle of Dex - for the added stamina only, of course!!!
As she entered 'Doras room, it struck Kaz just how old the witch was looking lately. She definately put the hag in haggard.
"Well met, my friend." Kaz said as she approached the chair near the fire where 'Dora was slumped. Noticing the shattered cauldron in the far corner of the room, things started to make a little more sense. "Scave sent a package for you." She added, holding it out for inspection.
"Open it for me Kaz, please. This damn claw is the result of the jump, and that bloody thing!" she said, indicating the shards of shattered cauldron with an odd mixture of disgust, pain and an air of loss.
Before opening the package, Kaz sat in the chair opposite 'Dora and lit a spliff she'd brought with her, ready-rolled. "You look like you might be in need of this." she said as she passed it over to the hag, smiling sympatheticly as the pain and weariness became more evident with movement.
A couple of minutes later 'Dora was sat in complete silence. A strange and disconcerting state for Kaz to see her in, she couldn't recall EVER having seen her lost for words.
"How....?" 'Dora started to say, then stopped again still stunned by the appearance of something that should not, could not possibly exist! could it?
"Look, 'Dora. I'm gonna go make sure those two have made a start on defences. I'll come back a bit later, when you've rested and got your head together a bit." Kaz said, and stood up to leave. 'Dora seemed in no fit state to explain anything and the only other person who could possibly explain any of this was miles away. She needed to commune with Scave and find out what the hell was going on! She also needed a beer and to find out where the skunk had vanished to before Penfold tried to eat that as well.
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The induction process in the College of Magic and Combat was over in seconds, it involved little more than an old hag named Eldorado talking about crazy things like multiple-dimensions and different versions of the people to have already arrived in Westhaven. Ahdkaw hadn't a clue who she was and what it all meant, but he was sure of one thing, he didn't trust the old hag at all. There was something not quite right about her, and the crab-claw hand wasn't exactly an endearing feature.
So it was with much joy when Ahdkaw finally returned to the pub where he grabbed a bottle of beer, and sat down on a bench outside. Relaxing on the bench, he soon noticed a rather large lump of hash lying on the ground beneath him, it could only have been one person that dropped that, Kaz, but nevertheless Ahdkaw decided to roll a fat one from this lucky fresh supply, and then snuck the remaining hash into his jerkin pocket. He had found the jerkin hanging from a coatrack inside the pub, it was a nice fluffy multi-coloured dream-jerkin, and it's beauty surpassed even that of the female pheasant in the back yard.
As Ahdkaw toked heavily, he could see Penfold waving at him through the plumes of smoke, he seemed to be gesturing all around, and was carrying an axe and some wire. "I wonder what he wants?" Ahdkaw pondered.
Taking another toke and a large gulp from his beer, Ahdkaw clambered up, the pain increasing in his muscules as they stretched, and strolled toward Penfold.
"Stop right there!" Penfold shouted suddenly and dropped his wire. Ahdkaw looked around expecting something vile to suddenly wrench his head from his shoulders, but could see nothing noteworthy.
"What's wrong?" Ahdkaw enquired.
"That is!" Penfold pointed toward a small mound of dirt in the ground.
With that Penfold ran over to the mound and began swinging wildly with his axe into the soft peat, soon the ground beneath his feet turned a dark shade of reddy-brown. He looked up and smiled at Ahdkaw, "All done!" he proudly stated, and returned to where he left his wire, leaving a trail of reddy-brown sticky footprints across the ground.
Ahdkaw remained in his place, and thought, "Demon-moles, now that's got to be an issue for the security of this place."
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As Kaz came out of the College building, she could see Ahdkaw standing, next a patch of freshly churned earth, looking rather bemused.
"Whats up with you this time?" she asked him.
He glanced in Penfolds general direction and moved towards Kaz.
"Lets go back to the pub for a quick drink and chat." he said, and walked off without waiting for a response.
Kaz followed. Something in Ahdkaws voice was 'wrong'. She'd known him long enough to, sometimes, not question his judgement, merely trust it.
Walking into the pub, she pushed the front door closed.
"Whats wrong? she asked as she settled herself at the bar, beer in hand.
Ahdkaw told her about the demon-mole and how he thought it was a seemingly unstoppable threat.
"Skin up while I think about this one." said Kaz, as she sat down on the nearest barstool.
"I've got nowt to skin up with." replied Ahdkaw, trying not to think of the lump of hash in his pocket.
"I know you have, coz I saw you pick up the lump that got knocked off the table earlier, so stop being a tight git and skin up!"
"Did you actually see this mole?" Kaz asked, suddenly breaking the silence that had fallen over them.
"Not exactly. Why? What you getting at?" he replied. Suddenly not sure if he'd seen it at all. He got up and left, suddenly needing to be in the warm sun to try and clear his head.
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Penfold sat on the couple of remaining slats of the top floor of the villages wooden clock tower, rifle poised and standing slightly to one side of the slatted western window. Behind him a few strips of mole jerky were hanging from the ceiling and by his feet were the cracked shells of half a dozen 3ft long giant centipedes. They had been a lucky find, easy killing and the perfect food for a combat situation because you could just suck the innards out raw.
Below the tower AK was stumbling around trying to "find the whiskey bottle" but he could probably handle himself after all. Penfold had been impressed when another maggot demon had ambushed them and Ahdkaw had nutted it between the eyes before tearing its throat open with his teeth. A few years back another traveller had told Penfold about a "Drunken Man" combat technique where the fighter seemed harmless right untill he landed the killing blow and as he sat watching the steep slope that led up to the badlands he wondered if Ahdkaw was an expert at this art.
Movement. Penfold held his breath and swung his rifle to track it. The ground at the top of the valley was becoming a writhing mass of brown fur, flooding down towards the college.
Demon Hamsters! Penfold shouldered his rifle and ran downstairs, grabbing his mallet before he headed up the slope.
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With Ahdkaw somewhere outside and Penfold busy shooting his lunch for the next three weeks by the sounds of it, Kaz thought again about Scaves unexpected intervention. She headed upstairs to the 'suite' she'd comandeered for herself. It comprised of 2 bedrooms, one of which she had made into a lounge, and a bathroom. As all food was done outside the pub, she needed nothing else. She bolted the door and prepared a bath. She was going to have to relax if she was to manage any contact with Scave tonight. She poured herself a beer and skinned up.
Then, as an afterthought, she grabbed pen and paper, did a quick note, went downstairs and, using a lump hammer and a six-inch nail (even though she knew it was a bit 'overkill'), attached it to the outside of the pub door.
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Fortunately this was only a small group of Demon Hamsters not one of the big herds that roamed the southern end of the badlands. Barely numbered 5000 of the little devils if Penfold was any judge. Of course it didn't do to waste bullets on them, he was only shooting when the occasional maggot demon washed in on the furry tide. The way to handle hamster demons, as he showed AK when the drunken master finally caught up was with a strong pair of boots and, if one was handy, a mallet.
"Well out here it's what we we call square dancin' course it'd be nice if there was a few more of us and as your lady freind dont seem to be wanting to join us you'll have to put up with me as your partner." Penfold threw a mallet to AK who managed to catch it while almost falling over "I'll do the calls now; and ah 1,2,3 and 4.... GRAB YER PARDNER BY THE ARM..."
As the sound of squelching demonic rodents echoed across the valley, Penfold reflected that though a good hamster dance was always fun, the real trouble would arrive after sundown.
SWING 'EM ROUND AND DOZY DOE..."
Splattitty splat splat splattitty splat....
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"What the f*ck is going on up there?". Ffarg was only slightly sturred by the noise that was going on above him. All the same he was pissed. He had after all slept for over a 7 decades - the trials of parenthood taking its toll. He dusted off his bed sheets, now mere rags, falling to dust as his long nailed fingers swept wildly across his withered torso. He blinked. Twice. He hated waking in the dark, but then it's always dark underground. Who the hell is shooting a gun up there... surely bullets aren't that widely available that someone would be using them at such a rate? And only 'gunslingers' held the weapons of mass destruction. In the hands of a gunslinger, on bullet is all that is required. In this age common men opt for a more earthly protection - magic. He scolled himself - it was no longer his age!
Ffarg blinked again - damn it where is that candle?! Oh Fuck It - Ffarg snapped his fingers, illuminating a pale blue aura around his forearm, his back ached instantly and the backs of his eyes screamed at the intrusion of his new found friend. His eyes took only a few moments to adjust. He shook his head and took something out of his pocket and put is in his mouth. He hadn't had a smoke since he went into hybernation 70 years ago... he was dying for a fag!
He found the ladder and made his way towards the night chill, some fucker up there must have a light!
The trap door pushed open with suprising ease, dust bellowed upwards in tiny mushrooms and the old wood creaked with a noise that felt like it would leave splinters. The old door was open, probably the work of the weather, the old work house didn't show any signs of human interferance. He popped his great head out, looked around and then climbed out. The building directly oposite, the largest of the small cluster, had lights - but the shooting was not coming from there. Ffarg clasped his staff, 3 metres long, and not much taller than himself, ducked under the doorway and headed out into the night.
When he'd arrived here the small hamlet had been deserted, but not for long. The evil that had run the townsfolk out had long gone, but Ffarg now felt a growing unease - something was not right. His thick skin crawled and it was all he could do to stifle the shiver that ran down his huge spine.
Sex - preferably with a Female
FFarg reached the doorway of the 'well-lit' building, took a quick look over each shoulder (the shooting was coming from the opposite side of the clearing - some idiot was fireing wildly into the undergrowth) and stepped in.
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Splattitty splat splat splattitty splat....
Its all she'd heard all bloody night!
Kaz consoled herself with the thought that, whatever Penfold was doing, at least it was keeping him busy and, more importantly, out of her way.
Last night, whilst in contact with Scave, Kaz had learnt of the demise of all but a handfull of witches, the few surviving having scattered. She had asked over and over, "What happened? Why?". The only reply she got was "Ask 'Dora. It's up to her to tell you."
There was a lot to prepare, Scave had told her that he had managed to get hold of two watch-werewolves, a breeding pair! She had decided to convert two of the rooms out behind the bar took keep them in. A pen would have to be built in one, for pups, and the other could be their living quarters.
That would have to wait though, Scave had said he dispatched them a week ago and were due to arrive any day now. He, however, would not arrive for at least another couple of weeks as recruiting for the College was taking more time than either of them had anticipated.
In the meantime, she needed to talk to 'Dora.
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Penfold threw a giant centipede to Ahdkaw and then sucked down on one himself. That had been a damn fine hootenanny and aside for a bunch more mole demons, maggot demons, winged gargoyles and giant lizards nothing really bad had turned up yet. A faint blue glimmer, hinting at dawn, was forming in the east and nothing trying to kill them had come out of the badlands in nearly 20 minutes. Sitting down on a relatively unbloody rock he pulled out his knife and began scraping the accumulated fur and gore off his trousers and boots; things might not turn out so badly after all, he still had plenty of ammo and had barely even had to use the silver bullets. So long as no more wizards, witches or other damn idiots did anything too foolish in the next few days he might even get a chance to ride out to a cave where he had a lot more ammo stored.
The dawn chorus was just starting and sitting in the gentle light enjoying the smell of the pungent smoke that drifted from Ahdkaws spliff one could almost believe all was right with the world, Penfold lay back and drifted into a light sleep...
Chirp chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp scream chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp chirp chirpy chirp
"That was a funny bird call" Penfold mused "thought I knew all the birds round these parts"
chirp chirpy chirp scream chirpy chirp chirp
There it was again.
Penfold kicked Ahdkaw awake as he ran past and down the slope into the village where he bumped into Kaz asking "It's not you thats been screaming?"
Kaz glanced at him disdainfully "I'd figured it was something to do with you, maybe you'd breathed on..."
A fresh scream cut her off "It's down by the river". Penfold started running again only to be stopped after a few steps by a tall earth caked figure.
"Shit! Zombie!" He drew both pistols as the figure turned to face him.
"Don't shoot" came 'Doras voice as she appeared behind him. "This, I believe, is Ffarg and he's a wizard".
Penfold lowered the pistols again despite muttering "Same damn difference" under his breath. Dora stared at him even more beadily than usual for a moment "Now I think you had better go and find out who's screaming, I need to speak to Ffarg here, he will be very handy when the real demons start turning up. Don't you agree?"
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The scream, as it turned out, was the guy in charge of delivering the watch-werewolves.
Kaz found him cowering under his cart, neither his horse nor the werewolves were anywhere to be seen.
After spending about an hour coaxing the driver out with various drinks and drugs - purely medicinal - Kaz learnt the werewolves had travelled in human shape. Franz, the driver, had carried them for eight days completely unaware he was transporting shapeshifters - especially hellspawn shapeshifters of such an unholy nature! as Franz had put it. Upon arrival at WestHaven, the two werewolves had grown restless in human form and hadn't even waited for the cart to stop before they had 'changed'.
Kaz offered Franz lodgings until his nerves calmed and a horse could be hitched for him. He refused point-blank on the basis that he would rather walk and take his chances than stay there!!!!!!!!!
Kaz sighed, wished him well and turned to the pub. She needed to sort the living quarters for the werewolves and warn the others that they had arrived.
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The village had been eerily quiet all day and Kaz was now starting to worry that it wasn't due to the arrival of the werewolves, but the result of something more sinister - but what could possibly cause everyone to vanish?
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As if on cue a giant, 40-story tall Margaret Thatcher appears on the horizon, walking steadily towards the town's center. Letting out a Godzilla-like scream, she looked around as if expecting something or someone to interview her. Horab, who was previously doing something or other, walked out and yelled up at her, "Hey man, shutter off dude!" which was replied to by another Godzilla-like scream.
She then stepped on horab.
A passerby might've heard Horab mutter something to the effect of "fuck this noise" from under her foot, just moments before the insanely-tall, Mega-Thatcher was suddenly propelled out of eyeshot into the wild blue yonder.
Horab stood in the rather largish-size, 20k-footprint, lit a smoke and smiled to himself, satisfied that his hangover remained uninterrupted, before turning towards the suddenly renovated pub.
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Kaz had spent the last few days helping the werewolves settle in and then between the three of them, they had readied the bar. The beer delivery had finally arrived, all repairs had been done. A food delivery was due this evening. Then preparation could properly start for the official opening of 'The Lair'.
Mia and Lycan had settled into their quarters and had gotten into a 'normal' routine for changing and hunting. Their duties and position had been fully explained to them;
they were to handle the general running of the pub,
deal with any problem customers,
handle any other problems should they occur.
Kaz had explained to them the purpose behind the college and the sort of trouble it could well attract, and had already started to. They were still willing to take the job after that, so that was fine. One less thing to worry about.
There had been constant sounds of construction coming from every corner of WestHaven and from the reports Kaz had gotten from Mia after each hunting session, the college was almost fully up and ready to run. Kaz thought it about time she went and had a look to see just how near to completion everything was, starting with a visit to 'Dora - something she'd been meaning to do for a few days but had never found the time for.
She told Mia she was going to the college, grabbed a bottle of vodka from behind the bar and headed off to the main college building.
The last time Kaz had seen 'Dora, she was accompanied by the wizard Ffarg, who had moved into the college and already started basic classes with the few students who had arrived early. She wasn't quite sure which area of magic Ffarg covered but, from the haunting image that had stayed with Kaz from their first encounter, she wasn't sure she wanted to know.
There was no sign of 'Dora within the college. Kaz asked a student if she knew where 'Dora could be found. "She's out at one of the new buildings," replied the lass hurrying towards the stairs, "But I don't know which one!" she added looking back over her shoulder.
'Well I'd planned on having a look, perfect excuse,' thought Kaz.
Heading outside, she stopped on the steps and sat down to skin up. Sitting there, it took her offguard when a noticeboard began to form in front of her. Why be suprised? silly cow! she thought, reminding herself of where she was sat.
When the noticeboard had finished forming, there was a map of the new college buildings. Each building seemed to be in newly made clearings just inside the forest that almost fully surrounded WestHaven. The buildings seemed to be in a protective circle with the main college building being at the centre. Bet thats dead-centre! thought Kaz as she stood up to look at the map closer. As she did, she could see another building starting to etch itself on the map. Ah! Thats where 'Dora is then. she thought, watching with interest as the image grew and developed.
Kaz studied the map carefully, checking there was no vital building missing. She carefully read;
Ten training areas and two arenas. It's gonna take a lot of people to fill these bloody things! she thought as she headed off down the college steps. And thats just with lecturers!!
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A man walked through the door, wearing black ballon pants red sash and a tank top. Exposed flesh betrayed a life spent honing his body to physical perfection. He moved with an economy of movement that implied the ability to disable and dispatch any foe. the expression on his face was flat but would nonetheless impale any cowardly wrongdoer with fear, his eyes were hard but held a soft kindness that was in contrast to the rest of his appearance.
Eldorado stood in the central landing watching the visitor impassively.
"Welcome stranger to the College of Combat and magic. Do you seek training in the martial and arcane arts?" The man who some said was from the flower of heaven, would anyone ask, who others would say was the son of Hell spilled upon the earth regarded the dean of learning a few moments,and then in slow heavily accented speach stated,
"I have no need of training in arts martial, nor arts arcane. I am called Tagashi.
I am looking for something that I do not know. My journeys have brought me here at this time. It is a pleasure to have your aquaintance."
"Hmm well, if you're not here for training I'm not sure how I can help you, but you are certainly welcome to look around."
"Yes thank-you, you are too gracious. I welcome your hospitality, may I be able to repay it in kind."
And with a slight bow of his head turned slightly, just as the doors flew off their hinges with a large human shaped more or less beast behind.
The beast was strange-looking in that it had curling horns and a snout with a human-like mouth and eyes, and tusks that protruded from under lips. Clad in black chain mail. Had anyone took a moment to notice these things that is, as it flew across the room and into the wall behind.
Horab strolled in and casually stated, "If you can defend yourselves, I heartily suggest preparing yourselves to do so, an entire legion of trollocs are outside and they obviously don't know the first thing about manners." As if on cue another of the beastly trollocs, this one with a beak for nose and mouth and feathers for hair, and it's shins replaced by bird's feet, brought down a rather large wickedly curved and blackened sword where horab had seemed to stand, apparently missing him entirely. with a nimble but seemingly excruciatingly slow movemnt, horab reached out and seemed to push at the trolloc.
Upon contact however the inhuman beast flew backwards as if hit by a giant invisble piston. the trolloc toppled over two more of the ghastly creatures running up the steps, however these were followed by two or three dozen more, and a flood of the grotesque abberations were visible.
Pausing to light a smoke horab muttered, "Man, incorporeal or not, I'm really gonna need a shower after this."
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As Kaz set off to view the progress of the college and, indeed, WestHaven itself, she couldn't help but feel a little pleased with herself;
From the start, it had been the plan to arrange the colleges outer-laying buildings in a combat, magic, dual skill formation and that, according to the map, was how 'Dora was creating it.
I've really got to catch hold of her and ask her what the hell is going on! Kaz thought as she approached the first building, close to the natural boundary of WestHaven.
Instinctively, Kaz glanced across the town square towards the pub. She could see Mia returning from hunting/scouting, and Lycan waiting, restlessly, outside 'The Lair' for her return. S'pose he wants a bit of time out too! she thought.
Hardly suprising, really!!
She turned to look at the college building in front of her. It was a combat building, Archery. Handy to have on the edge of the road in! she thought.
As she started up the steps to the entranceway of the school of archery, Kaz heard a short, sharp bark. It was wolflike but with a hint of voice to it. "WRKAZZ"
She turned to see Mia hurtling towards her and Lycan hurrying into the pub, hesitantly glancing first towards Mia then in the direction she'd come from (with fury not unlike a Tasmanian Devil), the woods beyond the furthest boundary of WestHaven, behind the pub.
Kaz glanced back towards the college of archery. Dismissing it, she turned and headed back down the steps, motioning for Mia to head back to the pub and change, that she would meet her there.
She didn't like the look of this, at all!!!
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Angus accepted this as he accepted most things, badly. Smiling at the local yokel he tramped off into what seemed the dead centre of this Westhaven. With his feet just barely removed from the vicinity the local yokel carefully replaced the Westhaven sign with one saying. New York. Everyone has some form of employment in Westhaven it's just that the idea of meaningful had been forgotten somewhere around the pub.
Strolling past the local grave robbers gave Angus an idea of the idyllic way of life preserved and loved in these parts. Transit vans full of holes were ferrying their precious nothings away, while the former residents of the holes were left to bask in the sunlight.
There was obviously a big demand for graves and if it wasn't for their obvious multiple uses Angus might just have suspected the suspicious. Luckily he didn't need to know what Penfold did with his hole to view him as suspicious.
He smiled deeming himself well prepared for this haven of the west.
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After many an ardous month checking the tequila cacti he had planted in the desert Penfold wandered back into town "Hmmm wonder what that big new arena thing is". He pushed his way though the bustling crowds and read the sign pinned to the entrance.
Slowly he took another bite of juicy cactus before yelling "Ahdkaw! Mouldy cabbages at 50 paces! C'mon man!"
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In amongst the hustle and bustle of the cacti sales pitch, which happened to pass through the crowd, along a path unkempt by time or memory, the other sellers were performing similar patternistic behaviours, gesticulating wildy, pizza, cabbage, turnips, all manner of tradesman.
Wait, what was that? Cabbages?
The ground trembled, the audience fell to a eerie silence, which was only interrupted by the ground trembling.
Tremble... Rumble... Boom!
Rocks, Cacti and dust exploded outward, spreading cacti love across the entire arena. Penfold stumbled. He looked up, toward the source of the terrible blast, and through the settling dust, and the steady removal of sharp desicive cacti spike things from his person, a figure emerged.
It was ahdkaw strangely enough. He was armed with one of the filthiest, oldest, smelliest and mushiest cabbages the entire arenas spectators had ever seen, smelt, felt.
Spoldge went the noise, as the cabbage struck penfold square in the chin, sending him hurtling backwards in ever-rotating, non-gymnatical way.
He looked to be in quite a state. That smell! Eurgh!
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Penfolds head bounced off the side of the arena nice and solid. He lay still for a long moment before shuffling slowly to his feet. "Well you got me good, care for a victory drink?"
Ahdkaw grinned, it had been too easy "Is that some of your pressed cactus? Don't mind if I do" he said, snatching the bottle and quaffing a goodly portion.
"Er no," explained Penfold, stepping over Ak as he fell to the floor vomitting green golf ball sized lumps of nameless anatomical goo "It's Dr Goodmans Special Tincture of Mouldy Cabbage, famous as the worst tasting thing in the known world." "Nice is it? I never did get round to trying it."
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Cough. Splutter. Vision blurring, emergency ejection systems in process. It was a thick bile, huge lumps of the cabbage he'd eaten earlier was billowing wildly in every direction but down. Things were not good.
Soon, the lumps subsided. Later, the liquid began to dry up. Later still he was violently puking air, unable to stop. This was very bad.
With extreme willpower, Ahdkaw reached into his pocket, hand trembling trying to grab at something contained within. Another spasm came and he fell to the floor. He was in a pitiful state.
Penfold studied him carefully, "This looks bad," he said.
Achingly Ahdkaw brought his hand from his pocket, transferring the bottle in his hand to his his drinking hand, just before breaking out in emergengy liquid injection.
Struggling now, Ahdkaw twisted the cap of this mysterious brew and took a swig.
He stayed on the ground, but seemed to be somehow growing, his breath became calmer.
He slowly rose to his feet and faced Penfold. Sweat ran from his forehead and sick from his chin, but he managed a smile, and said "Good one that man."
Suddenly he transformed into a giant armour-plated 300-ton cabbage, and drove toward Penfold. Penfold laughed and shouted, "You'll never catch me, ha!" He ran, and the giant cabbage rolled after him.
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Kaz leaned against the doorframe of the pub, watching the comical antics of Penders and Ak. It was nice to see her two old friends back.
WestHaven had been quiet over winter, which had come as a blessing when Mia had discovered she was pregnant. Things had been complicated as it was Mia's first conception. Nobody actually knew if she would have a litter of pups or a couple of kids, nor what complications might present themselves. As it turned out, Mia had carried three pups to full term with no complications. Now, a month on, the pups were just starting to get the hang of the fact that they didn't always have four legs, which was actually a good source of entertainment!
It had also given 'Dora the time and space she needed to finish building the College and rebuild the reputation somewhat of the Arcane Council since it's decimation last year.
Things might be starting to look up! she thought, pushing herself away from the doorframe.
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Kaz then dived back into the doorway again as Penders rushed straight past her, pursued by 300 tons of homicidal cabbage fury. Penders seemed to have developed the bad habit of talking to himself, he was saying "Oh fuckitty fucking fuck fuck fuck" at the moment. He zigged, he zagged, he zigzagged, but still the rolling mouldy doom remained hot upon his posterior. He burst through the cabbage taco stand again, just as Albert the taco guy finished clearing up the mess Ak had made. Roll, scoop, mouldy cabbage leaves, only one thing for it. Run, munch, run, munch, run, munch, rumble, run, munch munch. Penfold felt the fortunate swelling in his abdomen, salvation! He stopped and bent over, releasing a massive yellow cloud of cabbagey fart directly into the robo-cabbage-AK's path.
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Kaz couldn't help it!!, she collapsed into one undefineable heap of giggling hysterics at the antics undertaken by Penfold and Ahdkaw!
It didn't matter how fucked up her head was, Kaz could always count on those two silly-born-c*nts to cheer her up!!!!!!!!!
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Creak. Ahdkaw looked up from his gyroscopical control station, cracks were beginning to appear in the fine-woven mesh of cyber-cabbage strands, a yellow gas began seeping in. Crack! Ahdkaw spun his head around just in time to see a huge crack appear across the inside of the cabbage, seriously threatening the integrity of the entire structure. Ahdkaw knew the dangers of rolling a large cybernetically enhanced robo cabbage with a large hole in it's side. He quickly pulled on the emergency stop-roll cord, squeezed his eyes shut, and hoped for the best.
Kaz looked on, rolling around in the cabbage strewned street, laughing hysterically at the proceedings, obviously unaware of the true danger that she had placed herself in. The cabbage here is universal. All cabbage is connected. She looked toward the rolling gaint cabbage, Penfold was now running in circles, occasionally letting blast with his stenchful breath, whilst the cabbage began to hiss and screech. Sparks began to fly and cracks started appearing across the surface of the cabbage. Such was the power of Penfolds gases.
The cabbage stopped.
Both of them looked on, the cabbage just sat there, slightly smoking.
Mouldy, sickly cabbage skin exploded outward, but unlike the usual cabbage skin, this super-fine cyber-mesh of cabbage leaves, consisted of much sturdier stuff. A chunk struck Kaz in the thigh, she let a scream of such pain, as the cabbage shard shot straight out of the back and lodged itself in the ground.
Blood pumped from the open gash in her leg, and Kaz slumped to the floor, grasping for somewhere to escape this horrific downpour. Penfold barely had time to notice all this before another shard lodged itself in his head, deep into the cranium it went. Penfold looked startled and moved his hand to feel the hole in his head. He fell to the floor instead.
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Kaz managed to crawl her way back to the pub doorway. It was the best protection she was going to get. AK might be an imbecile but he'd never do anything that would endanger beer!!!
She took her belt off so she could try and stem the bleeding from her leg and started to skin up - Purely for medicinal purposes she told herself, and tried to stifle a giggle, failed, and screamed with the bolt of pain coursing through her leg. It was going to take more than mild sedatives to stop this one, AK would pay for this - just as soon as she could stand long enough to chase him down and catch him!!
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Hole in the head again, wrench the bit of cabbage free, scoop the bits of brain out of the dust and tie your belt round your head to keep the skin flap tight round the grey stuff. Just like they do in the films. Sigh.
Penfold picked himself up off the floor and stiffly walked over to a battered black dial phone that was unaccountably placed on an dusty wooden table in a corner of the arena. He spoke a couple of hushed words into the reciever and then headed for "Ye Olde Death Arena Tea Rooms" which had recently been built on the corner.
A black Hudson Terraplane screeched to a halt in the centre of the arena, throwing an arc of dust across AK's body, he opened his eyes for the first time since the cabbage exploded. 4 figures in sharp suits leapt out, 2 to each side, tommy guns simultaneously raised. He closed his eyes again. Thwachathwakathwaka tiny cabbages* sliced into Ak's body, throwing him backwards. More ammo hammered into the side of the death arena, Albert the taco guy, Kaz's other leg (sending her joint flying too) and 15 or 16 other spectators and passer-bys. The tyres screeched again and then silence decended on the arena broken only by the moans of the injured and the tinkle of Penfolds teacup.
*Also known as sprouts.
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As the dust and shredded cabbage leaves settled, a faint outline of someone appeared briefly in the doorway of the plane. Kaz tried to get a better look, but as she did so, the figure vanished. Curiosity getting the better of her pain, she pushed herself up so she was able to stand. waves of nausia threatened to put her straight back on the ground again but she held firm and gritted her teeth until toothache kicked in. That's a pain I'm more used to and better equipped to handle! she thought with a faint smile as she searched through her various pockets. The third search of her pockets saw the discovery of a couple of half-decent painkillers and a flask of Vodka. A crap do for a chem-warrior!!!!!! she chastised herself.
"Mia!!!" Kaz roared. The watch-werewolf barmaid appeared at the door instantly. Four months on, Kaz was still impressed by the efficiency and dedication displayed by Mia and her husband Lycan. "Mia, I need drink and drugs." she said, "And get hamster-features over here!" she added, nodding towards Penfold. "You'd better bring drink and drugs for him as well! Looks like he'll need them. Get 'Dora too, we'll need her to patch his head and my leg."
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In the stands Kaz's femchem girls watch the sun shining through the holes in Penfolds head. The effect is hypnotic. They begin to sway and chant, anti-cabbage songs. Meanwhile in the arena, bits of cabbage, bone and blood start to draw together. First in small piles then in a large mound. The mound takes human shape. It whirls and bits of cabbage sharp as glass fly out from its head and hands and body. Cabbage claws form into hands and stiffen to steel hooks. The crowd in the arena stands screams as cabbage shrapnel pierces bodies. The femchem girls keep chanting, the shrapnel bouncing off their leathers. Slowing the slaw- man searches for Ak. Seeking to embrace him in cabbage death.
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Whilst Mia ran round finding the drink, drugs and healer as Kaz had instructed, Lycan went to pick up the now-unconcious Penfold. Carefully lifting him, Lycan somehow managed to get a shirt over the gaping hole in Penfolds head and stem most of the bleeding. Lycan stood up, adjusted his weight, and carried Penfold into the pub.
Kaz had managed to clear enough space on one of the tables, and Lycan laid Penfold down carefully, making sure the shirt holding in the old grey matter didn't shift.
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