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Christmas Saga 2 Page 2
by d Galloway

Mitchell pulled a few more shots at the ninjas, taking out six more. However, twelve more ninjas jumped out from nowhere, now armed with close-range weaponry. demigod tried to fire a few more spells, but quickly collapsed from exhaustion. Mitchell, meanwhile, ran out of bullets. The ninjas surrounded the two, weapons ready to tear them apart.

Suddenly, the roar of another car roared through the air. A gigantic garbage truck pulled into the garage, ripping through the roof like a knife through butter. At the wheel was GG Crono, with Pierson and Mabat riding shotgun.

"About damn time!" shouted Mitchell. He threw demigod into the truck and jumped in after. The ninjas started grabbing onto all corners of the truck, smashing through the windows and tearing at the doors.

"Watch this," said Pierson. He pushed a button, and several slides on the truck opened, revealing hidden weaponry. Flame erupted from the traps, sending the flaming ninjas flying everywhere. The few that still hung on were taken out when the machine guns popped out. After ensuring that the ninjas were all dead, the truck slowly barrelled out of the garage.


Wil bowed before Queen Iceabella again. "Your highness, the yeti is dead. Will you now let me and my companion go?"

"Yes," said the Ice Queen. "I keep my promises. Rise now, Wilfredo Martinez." Wil quickly stood, shocked that Iceabella knew who he was. "Yes, I know who you are, and I have been informed of your quest. I wish you luck against the wizard Mordack." She waved her hand, and the bars around Cedric's cage dissapeared. "Now, take him out of my kingdom, my pets!"

The wolves led Wil and Cedric out of the castle, and took him to a path far south of the crystal cave. With nowhere else to go, and an annoying owl to keep him company, Wil continued on his quest.


"We know d Galloway is here," said the cloaked figure. "Bring him to us."

"Why?" asked Gemini. He slowly took backsteps to the display case. "What do you want with my brother?"

"He is NOT your brother!" said the cloaked figure. "He is a scientific freak now. Give him to us."

"You didn't answer my question," said Gemini. "What do you want with him?"

"He has much to answer for," said the cloaked figure. "You have no idea what torture he has submitted us to. His mere existance is an insult to us. Now, if you will be so kind-" The figure finally realized that Gemini had been stepping closer and closer to the display case. "What do you think you're doing?"

Gemini quickly slammed his fist into the case, shattering the glass. He grabbed the Phoenix Staff, and readied it for battle. The cloaked figure's followers took a few steps back; they obviously didn't expect the tall guy to fight back.

Gemini's eyes narrowed briefly, but suddenly jumped open in pain. His body began to quiver, as he fell to his knees. The jewel shot out of the case, and hovered in front of Gemini's forehead. After a few agonizing seconds, the jewel shot itself into Gemini's right hand, burrowing through the flesh and into the very thick of the muscle. The mage grabbed his arm, trying to stop the gushing of blood.

The cloaked figure's men, confident again, approached the crippled young man. They were surprised when his head arched back up, his eyes a fiery red. Gemini climbed back to his feet, filled with renewed strength. He pointed the staff at the approaching enemies, and a tornado of fire spewed forth from the headpiece's mouth. The cloaked figure's army quickly rolled out of the way; those that didn't were incinerated instantly. The cloaked figure himself simply shuffled aside.

"Good, good," it said. "You now possess the staff. Now, I have a message for your brother."

"What?!" Gemini's voice sounded much gruffer and more powerful.

"Tell him to continue his travel," said the cloaked figure. "We are most anxious to meet him properly." The cloaked figure and his army dissapeared in a flash. Gemini's eyes died, and he collapsed on the ground.


"You're lucky we showed up, demigod," said Pierson. "We had a feeling Mitchell would screw up again."

"I killed demigod and Wilfredo, remember?" said Mitchell.

"Then why are they still alive?" said Mabat.

"Some idiots said they couldn't kill people from around here," said Mitchell. "They'd be shark food by now if it wasn't for that."

"Anyway, we found the info we needed," said GG. "The ninjas have worked especially for two organizations. One is called the Morally Correct People For Total World Domination. They're just another right-wing group of reactionary preachers trying to set the world back to the seventeenth century. The other is called the Anti-Illuminati Coalition For World Freedom. They're just another group of conspiracy nuts trying to overthrow every form of government."

"I have a feeling they were involved in the dissapearances of Weiila and Starstorm, and probably tried to kill GG Crono," said demigod. "We need to find out more, and try to stay away from the purple ninja."


After a horrifying snowstorm, Wil climbed through a narrow mountain pass, passing by a natural hot spring on the way. He warmed himelf briefly, then continued his death march. He climbed up a small cliffwall, and began to cross a long wooden bridge, when the sound of devilish screeching reached his ears. As he looked up, a gigantic, two-headed bird swooped from the sky, grabbed him and carried him into the sky. Cedric, meanwhile, just watched on.


Galloway finished piling the cheese on his nachos, paid for the collector's mugs and shirts, and started to walk out of the gift shop. The mass destruction didn't faze him a bit. He was barely worried when he saw his brother unconcious, holding a stolen staff.


Gemini's mind reeled in pain, barely able to remain concious. A strange voice began to reach out in his mind. "Gemini. Gemini. You have taken me up, Gemini."

Gemini found himself answering back in his mind. "Who are you?"

"I am the Phoenix. I have been sealed in this staff for two millenia. By taking me up, you have made yourself my new host body."


"My enslavement to this piece of metal began long ago. A mere year before my destruction and rebirth, a cabal of human priests destroyed by body. They enslaved my essense, the source of my power, to this headpiece. They then sealed my remains in the gem, so that I could never be reborn."

"Why would they do that?"

"A soul is powerless without a body. By placing my body in a prison near my essense, they have allowed me to retain much of my power, while at the same time rendering me powerless. I cannot leave my prison; I cannot be reborn. The cycle of my existance has been shattered."

"Hasn't somebody tried to free you yet?"

"Return to reality. You do not deserve to know everything yet."


Gemini's eyes snapped open. He climbed to his feet, rubbing his forehead vigorously. He gazed at Galloway briefly, then started for the exit, Phoenix Staff in hand.

Galloway watched in amazement. "...What the hell was that all about?" Elizabeth and Kiro finally got out of the bathroom, and followed Galloway and Gemini to the car.


The bird continued to fly for countless miles, before dumping Wil into a large nest. As the bird flew off again, Wil saw he was not alone: a giant egg was also inside the nest, along with a golden locket. Wil grabbed the locket, but before he could satisfy his curiosity, the terrifying sound of cracking reached his ears. He looked at the egg, and saw a pair of beaks tearing through the shell. In a matter of minutes, a hatchling two-headed bird revealed itself. Its eyes looked at Wil, obviously hungry.

Wil started crawling back, until he was at the edge of the nest. "Uh, nice birdies. Good birdies. Uh...cootchie-cootchie-coo!"

The bird lunged at Wil. Just as it seemed all hope was lost, though, another pair of talons, this time much smaller, grabbed Wil and dragged him off. The bird snagged Wil's cloak, tearing it off his shoulders. The two heads started fighting over the piece of cloth.

Wil looked at his savior, and saw the eagle he had helped earlier.


The ninjas met on a nearby rooftop, watching the garbage truck pull in front of the RPGC Police Station. The entire RPGC Task Force (plus Mitchell) left the truck and went inside the station. The ninjas started talking and laughing at each other in japanese, with a few strangely speaking chinese, despite the fact that there are no chinese ninjas.

"(Wait!)" said one of the ninjas. "(Where is Heaven's Soldier?)"

The ninjas suddenly jerked as something raced along their backs. After a few seconds, their lifeless bodies fell to the ground and tumbled off the buildings. Their blood stained the pavement red, their screams breaking the waning day's peace.

Heaven's Soldier cleaned his swords, and prepared to jump to the street level. He quickly and wisely decided against that, and took the elevator down.


After setting up a base camp around the hole, Val and F. Galloway built a small fire, killed some rats, stuck some pointy sticks into them, and started cooking. "Why aren't we doing marshmallows?" asked F. Galloway.

"Because those are for wimps and elves," said Val. "That, and I forgot to bring some."

"Do you really think Glenton's gonna come to a hole in the ground? If he wants to steal something, he'd have better luck in the Louvre or something like that."

"We fell for the damn brochure. Glenton is a million times dumber than I am. Do you think he can avoid this?" F. Galloway sighed at Val's superior reasoning, ate her rat, and went to bed.


The little car sputtered along, passing over hill and dale. Gemini was half-asleep in the back seat, still clutching the Phoenix Staff.

"So now you're cursed?" said Galloway. "Damn, that sucks."

"I'll get out of it somehow," said Gemini.

"You could be a little more supportive, Galloway," said Elizabeth. "Your brother was nearly killed back there."

"And you dropped my new cup!" said kiro.

"Ah, look on the bright side," said Galloway. "He's now a freak, just like everyone else in this car."

The vehicle swerved to the left and right violently as everyone started to beat the everloving crap out of Galloway.


The eagle dropped Wil off on a sandy beach, right by a beautiful blue ocean. Cedric conveniently sat on a nearby rock formation. "Don't even ask me," said Wil, quickly wiping the bird crap off his forehead.

"Oh, Wil!" said Cedric. "I found someone else on the beach!" The owl flew to another rock formation, just barely in front of the water. Wil walked behind, and saw a body, face down in the sand. He rolled the seemingly dead body over, and recognized the face: Crotanks.

Wil looked at the horizon, and saw the setting sun. He grabbed a nearby rusty crowbar and started for the treeline for some firewood. Just as he was about to leave, though, he saw a large, neatly-wrapped object by Crotanks. He was about to take it when the body stirred.

"Cro!" said Wil. "What the hell happened to you?"

Crotanks climbed to his feet, rubbing every part of his body in pain. "Wil? Am I in Puerto Rico now?"

"No, thank God!" said Wil. "We're in some magical, tingly-wingly, pixy-wixy land. Just sit there and get some rest."


The car pulled into a small parking lot, right by a Motel 6. The front clerk looked through the window, licking his lips hungrily. Despite this, the group just climbed out of the car and walked through the front door.

The clerk was now behind the desk. On the desk itself sat a bloodied butcher knife, a few torn strands of human hair, and a napkin filled with catgirl ears. "Welcome to the Hotel 6," said the clerk. "Would you like a room?"

"First, it's a Motel 6," said Galloway, "and second, how much?" Elizabeth, Gemini and kiro, however, were already backing away.

"Just six bucks a night," said the clerk. "In fact, if you promise to go into a deep, deep sleep, I'll give the room to you for free!"

"Sounds nice," said Galloway. "Come on, let's go!"

Elizabeth, Gemini and kiro started to run, but after Galloway had tied them up a few times, they reluctantly followed.


The revivalists broke for another night. Weiila continued to struggle with her chains, but couldn't free herself. Chameleon, meanwhile, melded into the shadows.


The nuts broke for another night. Starstorm continued to struggle with his chains, but couldn't free himself. Smoke, meanwhile, vanished in a puff of smoke.


Wil finished setting the fire, just as the sun vanished from the horizon. "And to think we almost lost it," he said. "That orb is indeed a beautiful thing."

"I never knew you were so philosophical," said Crotanks. "Come on, we have to get back to RPGC!"

Wil sat by the fire. "I can't. I need to findsome wizard named Mordack. He's captured Santa's workshop, and will destroy Christmas forever!"

"Not my problem," said Cro. "I just finished escaping from some island. At least I got a mirror after helping a beast."

Wil arched an eyebrow. "A mirror?"

Crotanks unwrapped the object, revealing a beautiful mirror. Its surface was a beautiful pearly white, its frame made from solid gold. "The beast said it reflects the truth of things. It'll probably catch a few bucks on the black market."

Wil looked into the mirror, and saw...a rather old guy with a staff.


Chameleon and Smoke entered a strange temple. Already inside was the purple ninja, who was watching a pedastal in the center. A cloaked figure entered the chamber, his head bowed. "My assassins," said the cloaked figure, "our plan is nearing completion."

"The angel is still a prisoner," said Chameleon.

"The catboy is still a prisoner," said Smoke.

"Good, good," said the cloaked figure. "Now, you will free them tomorrow. They will help greatly in the destruction of RPGC." Chameleon and Smoke both bowed, and left the temple.

"Now, as for you, Rain," said the cloaked figure, "I have another target for you to destroy. His name is Crotanks."

"Why is he so important?" asked Rain.

"This action will lead Wilfredo Martinez into the Land of the Dead," said the cloaked figure. "He will be most certainly dead after that. Then nobody will be able to stop Mordack from completing his mission."

Rain bowed, then left the temple. The cloaked figure grinned under his hood.

"Tonight, we will meet, Galloway. I will kill you myself."


The clerk entered the room, knife in hand. Galloway and the others were sound asleep, although Elizabeth, Gemini and kiro were still tied together. The clerk grinned evily, brandishing his bloody knife. He stepped ever so slowly toward them, licking his lips in hunger.

He stopped as something plunged into his chest, then pulled back out. After a few painful final seconds, the clerk fell to the ground. Galloway climbed to his feet, holding the clerk's heart in his right hand.

"Very good, Galloway," said a familiar voice. Galloway turned, and saw the cloaked figure standing by the open window. "Now, you will die as well."

The figure jumped out the window. Galloway followed in suit.


Pitch huddled near a smoking chimney, shivering with the night. "Oh, how I wish I was in the furnaces of Hades, tending to the souls! Their screams of pain were so warming to my ears! Earth is much too cold!"


" I hooked the beast up with Beauty, he gave me a mirror, and I got shipwrecked back here," said Crotanks.

"Man, you're one of the most selfish guys I've ever met," said Wil. "At least I'm trying to save Christmas from an evil wizard."

"There goes the self-righteousness again," said Crotanks. "And what's with the owl?"

"Oh, me?" said Cedric. "I'm his helper on this quest."

"Only without the 'help' part," said Wil. "He's the most cowardly thing I've ever met."

The seas suddenly became stormy and violent, as dark clouds obscured the stars and moon. Thunder and lightning crashed in the sky, as the sea began to boil. "What the fuck's going on?" asked Cro.

"Either someone just broke the sixth seal," said Wil, "or an evil ninja with control over weather is coming."

Sure enough, a bolt of lightning struck the sand, only twelve feet from Wil and Cro. From the flash emerged a purple ninja. "I am Rain. Crotanks of RPGC, you have been convicted of crimes against us."

"" said Cro. "I'm not fighting anyone here. I just wanted to get a stupid mirror."

"That matters not," said Rain. "For your transgressions, you must die."

Wil quickly fired a Blizzaga spell, blasting into Rain head-on. The ninja froze solid, allowing Cro to start smacking him senseless in a fifteen hit style-change combo. Rain unfroze after the flurry of blows, finally landing with a hard thud on the sand. Wil fired a fireball at the sprawled ninja, while Cro started to bring his foot down on the ninja's head.

Rain grabbed Cro's foot and threw him into the path of the fireball. The projectile burned into Cro's back, sending him flying back to Rain. The purple ninja uppercutted Cro into the air, and as he began to fall back down, Rain fired a giant ball of water at him. Upon contact, Cro was flipped around in mid-air, and finally crashed to the ground.

In desperation, Wil fired a Thundaga at Rain. The ninja raised his hand, absorbed the blast, and fired it back at Wil. The black mage was thrown into the distance, crashing with a thud into the nearby rocks.

Cro started to climb back to his feet, but Rain grabbed him by the neck and lifted him off the ground. "It is over, Crotanks. You must die."

Rain threw Cro's nearly-lifeless body into the air, and raised one hand. A lightning bolt ripped through the sky, striking the body in mid-air. After a few sizzling seconds, Cro's lifeless body hit the ground. Rain looked back at Wil, assured that he was still alive, and vanished. All that remained of him was a small notebook, half-buried in the sand.


After a few minutes, Galloway and the cloaked figure stopped in a deserted area just off the road. "This is a perfect place for you to die," said the cloaked figure.

"What happened to 'go to the meeting place'?" asked Galloway.

"Are you that dumb?" said the cloaked figure. "THIS IS THE MEETING PLACE!"

Galloway looked back at the note. Sure enough, the hotel was the exact spot where he was supposed to meet. "Okay, that's done with. Now why do you want to kill me?"

"It is because of you that we exist," said the cloaked figure. "I'll make sure you die for your crimes."

"Whatever," said Galloway. "It's late, so let's make this quick." Galloway immediately powered up to Super Saiyan.

"Impressive," said the cloaked figure. "Now, let's begin." The cloaked figure drew a knife and assumed a fighting position. Galloway fired an energy beam, which the cloaked figure simply flipped over. At the same time, the figure flipped over Galloway, readied the knife, and plunged it into Galloway's back.

The Super Saiyan turned, but instantly felt himself weaken. He fell to the ground, suddenly short of breath. "That knife was poisoned," said the cloaked figure. "You'll be dead within seconds."

Galloway powered out of Super Saiyan and collapsed completely on the ground. After a few seconds, he stopped breathing completely. The cloaked figure pulled the knife out of Galloway's back, cleaned the blood off, and sheathed it. "So long, GOD."

The figure turned and started away, but stopped when he heard footsteps behind him. He turned, and saw Galloway standing behind him, now wearing golden armor and carrying a long, white broadsword. The cloaked figure took a few steps back. "What? But you're supposed to be dead! There's no antidote for this poison!"

"It was easy," said Galloway. "I just used my weakening to lower my power to a non-existant point, then rapidly increased it to become a Kai Lord."

"K...Kai Lord?"

"And is this form, I can neutrilize any poison. You could have killed me, though; you just needed a faster poison."

"...You are indeed a Gary Stu," said the cloaked figure. "Now, I must withdraw." Another sandstorm appeared, and when it dissapeared, the cloaked figure was gone.


Wil's eyes slowly opened, his vision still disoriented from the impact. He slowly climbed to his feet, using his staff as a balance. The sand seemed to slide and slip under him, as he staggered forward like a drunk. After several agonizing minutes, he reached Crotank's lifeless body. "...goddamn ninjas," he gasped. "I'll make sure that purple guy pays for this."

"Oh, Wilfredo!" said Cedric. Wil looked at the owl with his only still-open eye. The owl was pointing one of its wings to an object in the sand. Wil stumbled forward and grabbed the object. It was actually a small leather book, much like a journal. Wil leafed through the pages, reading the exploits of a knight on a quest to save his beloved. Towards the end, his love had died, and he was searching for a way to ressurect the dead without using zombies. Finally, he reached the final entry.

"I have found the answer I sought. It is said that there is a way to travel to the Land of the Dead, where souls remain until they are judged. The Lord of the Dead, Shaherizad, was himself once a man, but for his transgressions against the gods, he was chained to a throne and placed within the horrifying land, forced to forever watch the suffering of others. It is said, however, that any living mortal has the right to challenge the Lord of the Dead if they can only reach him. I already know of Shaherizad's horse, Nightmare, who can take me to the Land of the Dead. He travels to the mortal world on the nights of the new moon, where he feeds on noxious plants. I also placed a spare Tame Animal spell in a secret magical pocket dimension..."

A black skull, filled with burning embers and the smell of sulfur, magically appeared in Wil's hands. Next, a large, jet-blacked winged horse flew from the sky, landing by a nearby vine filled with nightshade berries. Sighing at the laws of universal chance, Wil grabbed the magic mirror, clutched the skull, and approached the horse carefully. When he was only a few steps away from Nightmare, he held the skull out. The skull glowed as a visible trail of odor reached the horse's nose. It arched its head back, turned around, and slowly approached Wil.

Wilfredo jumped on the horse, which immediately flew off over the ocean. Cedric flew behind them.


Galloway returned to the room after about an hour of recharging. He snuck back through the room window, where the other three were still sound asleep. The clerk's body was still on the floor, having stained much of the carpet and walls. Galloway started to get back to bed, but suddenly realized how Elizabeth and, possibly, kiro would react.

Sighing, he went downstairs for a bucket and mop.


Mitchell sat on the police station roof, a rifle in one hand and a beer in the other. On the floor below him, the RPGC Task Force was sound asleep, as was Poke. Mitchell continued his long watch nevertheless, relying on the beer for energy.


After what seemed like an eternity, Wil saw something approaching Nightmare. It started as the top of a volcano, then grew into a whole volcano, then grew into a massive island, black as night and fiery as hell. Nightmare zoomed forward, before rapidly descending on a large plateau. Wil quickly jumped off the horse as it was just above the ground, with Cedric landing on a dead tree beside him.

Surrounding Wil were hundreds of souls, screaming and moaning in torment. The sky was a swirling mess of darkness, the ground black and cracked. He was indeed in the Land of the Dead...

And he quickly realized this must have been a trap.

The black mage sat on a blackened, ash-covered rock, surveying the bleak, desolate landscape before him. The weeping of souls became ever-louder, threatening to drive Wil to insanity. Cedric, meanwhile, cowered and shivered on the tree branch. Suddenly, some of the weeping vanished.

"You...You are alive, aren't you?"

Wil turned, and saw two ghosts standing behind him; a man and woman, to be exact. Both seemed to be in their fourties to fifties, with old-fashioned 50's clothing and ghostly transparancy. "And you are?"

"I'm Gregory Jones," said the man. "My wife is Martha Jones. Our son, Jeremy, will arrive to this land soon."

"We are both waiting in this world to pass to the next world," said Martha. "But we cannot pass until all ties with the mortal world have been severed."

"So you want me to help you?" asked Wil.

"If you can challange the Lord of the Dead," said Gregory, "you can ressurect us, for at least a little while. Then we can find our daughter and stop the man who murdered us."

"...I'll think about it," said Wil. He rubbed his chin for a few minutes, then sighed. "I'll see what I can do. I'm already after a friend's soul."

Gregory handed Wilfredo a couple of old, moldy coins, while Martha handed him a ticket. "These are needed to reach the Lord of the Dead," said Martha. "The ticket will open the first gate, and the coins will pay for passage across the River Styx."

"Thanks," said Wil. He looked up at the owl. "Cedric, stay here. I don't need any annoying owls right now." Cedric simply nodded in response. Wil gathered his stuff and wandered into the dead heart of the dead world.


Suddenly, and unexpectantly, nothing happened.


The Land of the Dead stretched for miles, down a long, winding road. A few pirate zombies tried to grab Wil, but he simply bumped them off the edge. Wil continued down the path, until he saw a fortress in the distance. He passed through the path, and finally reached the drawbridge.

The bridge itself was made of human bones, with skeletons and zombies surrounding the gate. Two in particular stood out. The first was a large, minotaur-like skeleton, complete with a bag of what looked like coins. The second was an armored being, with a long sword.

Wil grabbed the ticket and walked pass the first guard. When he reached the second, though, the guard's sword passed in front of him. "Tickets, please," said the guard. Wil handed him the ticket, and watched as the guard scanned him. "You look alive."

"I'm...recently dead," said Wil. "I haven't been dead long enough to become transparant."

"...Very well," said the guard. "Go on." The gate opened, and Wil quickly passed through.


Val and F. Galloway slept.


The RPGC Task Force slept as well.


Galloway was too busy washing to sleep.


Wil skirted the wall on the narrow path, only a few feet above the deadly River Styx. Finally, he reached the wider path, only to find his way blocked by an armored skeletal corpse. Wil leaned forward, examining the armor. Finally, he found something important: a gauntlet with an inscription:

"Let Mortal Man
Pass Through the Fod
And Claim His Right
To Challenge Shaherizad
Keeper of the Sod."

"This might be the knight," said Wil. "Too bad." He grabbed the gauntlet, jumped over the remains, and continued down the path.

Finally, he reached the banks of the River Styx. A rotting wooden boat sat in the water, filled with spirits. At the head sat Charon, the boatman of the dead. Wil handed the coins to the imposing hooded figure and jumped into the boat. Charon grabbed his scythe and pushed off the shore, rowing to the other side of the river.


Weiila slept like a captive baby.


Starstorm slept like a captive baby.


The boat stopped at the other end of the river, on another river bank. Wil jumped out of the boat, followed by the many souls. After another brief climb, Wil reached a second gate, this time with a handle. As he reached to touch it, though, the door suddenly transformed into a human face.

"Ah, a mortal!" said the door. "Come, extend your hand, and I will feed on your flesh!"

"I did not come here to die," said Wil. "I have come to meet with your lord, Shaherizad!"

"You ignorant mortal! Shaherizad will allow no living man to visit him! I will only let you pass if you can answer this: what is the only emotion that will never reach the Land of the Dead?"


(while Wil is thinking over the answer, let's have a word from our sponsor) For all your sick, twisted writing needs. Home to preteen lamers and Mary Sues.

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Wil finally stood again. "Love. The answer is 'Love'."

The door growled. "WHAT?! You knew the answer! Fine, go see the Lord of the Dead! You will still stay here, forever!" The door returend to normal and opened. Wil walked through the doorway, filled with anxiety at what he would face.

The throne room sat on a swirling nexus of souls, which provided ample light in the horrifying world. On a black throne sat a towering figure, which directed the souls either to the ceiling or to the vortex. Wil started to approach, but was quickly grabbed by two large guards in red armor. They dragged him before the throne.

Sitting there was an unbelieveably tall figure. It looked like a man, only with grey, rotted skin, shrunken eyes, and a bonemail vest and headpiece. His body was chained to the throne itself, his head arched forever back. His voice was just as dark and dead as his body. "Why do you come to this place, still wearing your flesh? If you had sought death, it would have been easier to find it in the mortal world."

"I did not come here to die, but to demand my right of challenge!" Wil threw the gauntlet on the ground before the Lord of the Dead. The guards drew back.

Guard 1: He has the gauntlet!
Both Guards: Impossible!
Guard 2: He challenges death!

The Lord of the Dead banged his fist heavily on the throne. "Who are you to challenge death?"

"A man of flesh is all I need be," said Wil.

"Very well," said Shaherizad. "And what do you want? The soul of some dead maiden?"

Wil thought about it, but realized he didn't know any maidens worth ressurecting. "I seek the souls of Crotanks, Gregory Jones, and Martha Jones."

Shaherizad's eyes narrowed. "You seek to revive three souls? That is a difficult task indeed. The tomb does not open easily. Now, let me think of an appropriate task." He went into deep thought. "Ah, yes. Here is your task." He cleared his throat.

"For thousands of years, I have sat on this throne. I have heard every sad story that can be heard from human lips. I have seen tragedies that have destroyed empires, injustices that defy reason, and love that would make the stars themselves grow cold. This I have never done: I have never shed a tear. Make me cry."

Guard 1: Make death cry?
Guard 2: Sooner could he turn the sea to stone!
Guard 1: Or fire to ice!

Wil reached into his pack and pulled out the "Giant Book of Horrifying, Tear-Inducing Nightmares." He scanned all the way to the back of the book, where the real horrors were contained so that they would not escape and destroy an unsuspecting world. He skipped passed the first four major tear-enducers (Rise of the Robots 2, Getting the Next Big Game Without the Proper System, Wilfredo Singing, and a Galloway Fanfic), and finally found the most terrifying thing, one that would scare even death itself.

Wil reached back into the bag and grabbed the magic mirror. "If you really want to cry, then truth alone will be my sword!"

He uncovered the mirror and raised it to Shaherizad's eye level. The mirror's face turned black, only to be covered with images even blacker. The Lord of the Dead stared into the mirror as his existance was unveiled before him: his confinement to the throne while still a man; his deprivement of all humanity, and the birth of a new thing altogether. His is an existance that has no possibility of redemption, no escape, only an eternity of solitude and sorrow.

The other spirits drew back in pain, as the mirror began to buckle and shake from the images being displayed. Wil closed his eyes, not daring to look at the mirror's face. Finally, the glass exploded into thousands of sharp shards.

Just as a single tear fell down death's cheek.

"Truth is indeed a terrible thing," said Shaherizad. "I have worn this mantle for so long, I have forgotten its dreadful weight. You have won this challenge, and have been granted a stay from this terrible inevitability. Bring him the souls he seeks!" Wil wiped his forehead; this corny solution actually worked!

The souls of both Gregory and Martha Jones were brought to the throne room, with a still-living Cedric following behind. Before Wil's eyes, the souls returned to flesh and blood. "The other soul you sought has been restored to his body already. However...I fear I cannot let these two souls remain forever."

"We understand," said Martha. "We'll find our daughter before our time runs out."

"You have until midnight on Christmas Eve," said Shaherizad. "If the gods were to learn of your absence, it will be most unfortunate for us all. Now, my mare will take you to the mortal realm. We will meet again, Wilfredo Martinez. I assure you...we will meet again."

"I hope that's not for a long time to come," said Wilfredo.

"It is never as long as you would wish," said the Lord of the Dead. Nightmare landed by the entrance to the throne room. "Now go!" Wil, Gregory and Martha climbed onto the horse, as Cedric hitched a ride on the rear. The horse flew off into the sky, and began his return to the beach.


Elizabeth woke early the next morning, while Gemini and kiro were still snoring soundly. Galloway was sleeping in a chair in a corner, surrounded by buckets and stained mops. A finger was sticking out of the closet door, but she didn't want to risk looking.


Val and F. Galloway finished sleeping, and went back to camping. There were only a few days left until Glenton's attack was planned to begin.


Nightmare landed on the beach once again. The sun was just passing over the eastern horizon. Crotanks, meanwhile, was frantically searching for his stuff. When he saw the black winged horse, he took a few steps back, then angrily eyed Wilfredo.

Wil jumped down, leaving Gregory and Martha on the dead horse. "Good to see you're alive, Crotanks," he said. "I need you to do a little favor for me."

"Where's my mirror?!" shouted Crotanks. "I want my goddamn mirror!"

"It...kinda broke," said Wil. "Just do this for me, and I'll pay you back."

"WHAT?!" screamed Cro. "How can you pay me back? That mirror was bloody-" Wil reached into his money sack and handed Cro two handfuls of gold coins. "-cheap. Now, what was this about a favor?"

"I need you to get back to RPGC," said Wil. "These two need to find their daughter, and I need to stop Mordack. Now, hurry up and get on that horse!"

Cro nodded, and jumped onto the studly mare. The horse flew off into the sky, towards the farway land of RPGC.


Galloway teleported back, carrying a full container of gas. After pouring it into the tank, he jumped in and started the motor. After a few more painful seconds of nothing, the rest of the group jumped in, and the car began to go down the road.

"Do you have any idea where we're going?" asked Gemini. "I mean, we've already dealt with the cloaked guy."

"One, the guy's still alive," said Galloway. "And two, I got another note while I was cleaning." He pulled a note out of his pocket and handed it to Gemini, who quickly read it:

"You will go north, to Canada. There, we shall continue our battle."

"It doesn't even say WHERE in Canada to go," said Elizabeth. "How do we find someone up there?"

"I'm thinking he'll find us," said Galloway. "And when he does, we'll be ready."


The revivalists poured into the room, and immediately fell to their knees. Goodwright walked to the podium, dressed in a fine suit. Weiila suddenly remembered what the day was: Sunday.


The nutcases poured into the room, and immediately started spitting on various worldwide organization symbols. Goodwright walked to the stage, dressed in his usual attire. Starstorm suddenly remembered what the day was: Sunday.


Wil and Cedric continued down the beach, and found a wooden sailboat on the shore. After plugging the hole in the bottom with the beezwax Wil had kept from the forest, the mage started to push the boat.



Wil finished pushing the boat out and jumped on. Cedric, meanwhile, flew to the helm and perched on the front.


Santa stopped watching Wil from the telescope and returned to the middle table of his lab, which consisted mostly of a large glass dome. He pushed a few buttons, and images from the dreams of many children flashed before him. After he became bored with his massive invasion of privacy, he returned to his office, where he started playing on his massive pipe organ.

Below him, hundreds of children from many different lands worked on billions of toys while dressed in stereotypical clothing from their homeland. Strangely, the children from Mexico vastly outnumbered all the others combined.


The revivalists continued their lengthy rituals and celebrations, chanting thanks to their many vile organizations. Weiila struggled with her chains quite loudly, but nobody moved to stop her.

"Quiet, girl! You're free to go," whispered a voice.

Weiila turned, and saw Chameleon standing in the cage with her, already unlocking her chains. "They'll be busy for hours," continued the ninja. "Now, come with me." He grabbed Weiila's arms, and the two dissapeared.


The nutcases continued their lengthy rituals and celebrations, chanting thanks to their many vile organizations. Starstorm struggled with his chains quite loudly, but nobody moved to stop him.

"Quiet, boy! You're free to go," whispered a voice.

Starstorm turned, and saw Smoke standing in the cage with him, already unlocking his chians. "They'll be busy for hours," continued the ninja. "Now, come with me." He grabbed Star's arms, and the two vanished in a puff of smoke.


Wil and the little boat continued to sail for hours. Fortunately, the wind was with him, so travel was quick. "Any idea where we're going?" he asked.

"Mordac lives on an island somewhere out here," said Cedric. "We'll have to find it before we can save Christmas. By the way, do you know where it is?"

"No, you stupid owl!" said Wil. "Do you think I have ANY idea what's going on here?" He slumped on the back of the small boat. "This day can't get any worse..."

Almost immediately, an island appeared on the horizon. Wil's eyes flashed to life, and he immediately steered the ship towards it.


Nightmare landed with a resounding clomp on the police station roof. Mitchell stared dumbfounded as Crotanks and a 1950's couple climbed off the horse, which flew off the moment the last of them touched the ground. Cro stared at the doughy man, filled with a mixture of shock and "you're still here?" syndrome. "Is Poke in? We need to talk."


Poke was going through his various stacks of paperwork, then got bored and went for the local horoscope. He was prepared to laugh when he saw his own horoscope:

"You will get involved in a grand conspiracy. You must tread lightly against a virtually invincible enemy. Your allies are not what they seem. You will not get lucky during your entire life. Lucky numbers are 23, 19, and 48."

Poke winced at the beginning, then sighed when he read the rest. "Even the universe is against me."

The sound of footsteps alerted the entire RPGC Task Force to the stairs from the roof. Cro and Mitchell led the way down, with the 50's couple coming in close behind. "Poke," said Crotanks, "we have a job for you."


Wil's little boat pulled onto the island's beach. The island itself was covered with vast, lush jungles, along with a large volcano at the top. The moment the boat pulled aground, Wil and Cedric looked around anxiously. "I don't have a good feeling about this," said Cedric.

"Me neither," said Wil.

Suddenly, claws ripped through the back of Wil's shirt, and hoisted him into the air. Cedric, meanwhile, was grabbed by another pair of claws. Wil looked up at his attackers, and saw strange, blue-furred humanoids with bat-like wings and sharp claws. Wil was dragged deeper into the jungle, while Cedric vanished from view.


Galloway and co. kept on driving. Nothing happened to them worth mentioning.


Weiila appeared on the street, outside a large parking garage. Suddenly, Starstorm popped up in a puff of smoke. "Weiila!" gasped the catgirl. "Where the hell are we?"

"I have NO idea," said Weiila. "The last thing I remember, I was-"

The simultanious screams of revivalists and nutcases penetrated the air. The two grabbed each other and started running like hell.


" we need to reunite them with their daughter before Christmas Eve," said Cro. "Think you can help?"

"We'll see about it," said Poke, "but right now we have to find Weiila and Star."

"Not anymore!" said Pierson, looking through the blinds. "Looks like they're coming to us!"

Weiila and Star ran through the door, slamming the door right on Pierson. "HELP!" shouted Weiila. "THEY'RE AFTER US!"

Mitchell ran down the stairs, gasping for air. "There's an army of revivalists and conspiracy nuts coming to us!" said Mitchell. "We need to stop them!"

"Okay, okay," said Poke. "What's the only guy these maniacs will be afraid of?"


The revivalists and nutcases stopped when they saw a figure standing in front of the police station. "IT'S THE MOST HORRIFYING THING OF THEM ALL!" shouted the two armies. "RUN!" They ran off, leaving the cardboard cut-out to its guard duty.


Val and F. Galloway continued to sit in the hole, eating plenty of food and drinking plenty of water.


That night, Galloway finally reached the Canadian border. The car pulled into the guard stop, where a Canadian border patrol guy stopped them. "I'll need to see some identification there," said the guard. Galloway quickly showed him his license. "And a birth certificate." Galloway showed his birth certificate. "And a urine sample."


Wil landed with a thud on the sand, looking up at his captors. Indeed, they were furry blue winged things, gathered into a clearing while watching Wilfredo. "This one looks tasty!" said one of the creatures. "Shall we?"

"I don't know," said one of the others. "He doesn't look like my type. What do you think?"

"I say he looks old and tough," said another. "I like my meals to be young and tender!" The monsters started bickering with each other, while Wil struggled to find some way to get rid of them. Finally, on pure instinct, he pulled out his harp and started jamming. The creatures stopped and started listining to the beautiful music.

"What is that?" asked one of the creatures.

"I don't know, but I want it!" shouted another. The creature flew at Wil and grabbed the harp from his hands. The other monsters started screaming and chased after it.

Sighing, Wil grabbed a nearby fish hook and started back to the beach. When he was nearing his boat, however, he heard a cough from the bushes. "Wil...*gasp* help me..."

Wil pushed back the vegetation, and saw a badly-wounded Cedric lying on the ground. Wil smiled, and left the owl behind.

Suddenly, a voice boomed from the sky. "Fool! You must help the owl, or you will not defeat Mordack!"

"Says who?!" shouted Wil.


Wil grumbled and grabbed Cedric in his arms. He made his way to the boat, grabbed a nearby conche shell, and sailed off.


It was late at night when Wil's little boat reached the beach again. This time, he landed by the hull of an ancient ship, which had been propper up vertically on the shoreline and fashioned into what looked like a little house. Grabbing Cedric in his arms again, Wil walked to the door and rang the nearby bell.

The door flew open, revealing an ancient hermit, complete with knee-length white beard, Charles Manson-like hair, scrawny limbs, a half-crazed look in his eyes, and a potatoe sack for clothing. "Who are you, and what are you doing on my beach?!"

"I need some help, unfortunately," said Wil. "You see-"

"Eh?" said the hermit. "Speak up, sonny! I can't hear a gosh-darn word you're sayin'!"

Wil finally realized the old man was also near-deaf. Sighing, he grabbed the perfectly-shapped conch shell and handed it to the hermit. The old man put it to his ear as Wil finally continued speaking. "My owl-guide was injured by a bunch of blue things."

The old man nodded knowingly. "Must have been those harpies! God knows why we didn't wipe those things out years ago! Well, take him inside! I'll have him fixed up in a few days!"


"Now that the evil threat is taken care of," said Poke, "let's start figuring this out. First, Weiila and Starstorm were kidnapped by opposing, yet startling similar armies."

"And Weiila mistook me for a catgirl!" said Star.

"It was a mistake!" said Weiila. "I had just been saved by a white-clothed ninja!"

"And we've been attacked by a purple ninja," said Heaven's Soldier.

"Same here," said Cro. "In fact, I was killed by one!"

"Which brings us into situation two," said Poke. "Mr. and Mrs. Jones were also dead, but ressurected temprorarily by Wilfredo Martinez, and must find their daughter by midnight on Christmas Eve."

"Please, we need to find her," said Martha. "If you can help in any way-"

"I'm sure we can," said Poke. He turned to Mitchell, who was sitting behind a desk the whole time. "Mitchell! Start digging through every bit of intelligence we have! Find Elizabeth Jones before I kick your doughy butt out of-" Poke suddenly went dead at the thought of any physical contact with Mitchell.


"...and a hair sample." Galloway cut a hair and handed it to the guard. "And another hair sample." Galloway repeated the process. "And a hair sample from another part of your body."

"This is so boring!" shouted Kiro. "I'm outta here!" She fired her bazooka at the window, blowing it apart. She then jumped out the whole, followed by Gemini and Elizabeth. Galloway, meanwhile, tried desperately to carefully remove hair from a more...private region.


(four days later)


Val and F. Galloway rubbed their beards, oblivious to the fact they were both female. "Well, this has been the most waseful week of my life," said Val. "PC didn't even show up!"

A large truck pulled up by the two, filled with various valuables. The window rolled down, revealing PC Glenton. "Hey, Bitchker! Why are you sitting in that hole when beautiful Rock Ridge is just over the next hill!" He then drove off, splashing dust over the two.

"...Maybe we shouldn't bother getting the photos developed," said F. Galloway.

"Just forget it!" said Val. "TO THE ESKER-MOBILE!"


"...and a DNA sample from all future children, up to eight generations." Galloway slammed his head against the dashboard, barely able to keep from blowing up all of Canada.

"Bill!" shouted another guard. "Are you trying to hold the Americans again?!"

"...Yes, boss," said the guard.

"Please forgive him," said the other guard. "You are welcome to enter Canada now."

Elizabeth, Gemini and Kiro returned at last, having had a whirlwind tour of much of the Canadian border. They jumped into the car, which finally drove into the mystical land of Canada.


"Well, this sucks," said Poke. "We've been looking for that daughter for four days, we haven't found where the revivalists, nutcases and ninjas came from, and Mitchell STILL hasn't left."

Pierson grabbed another one of Martha's baking. "On the plus side, the cookies are excellent." Martha continued to hang around in the kitchen, while Gregory drank down another tall glass of whiskey and smoked his eighteenth cigar of the day. The entire room was beginning to smell like the inside of a Ford.


Crotanks stood on the roof, looking into the distance through a telescope. In the distance, he saw an approaching sand storm, which soon began to be focused around a single object, which grew ever larger as it came closer. Finally, he realized what it was...and started to panic.

He grabbed the nearby bell-chain and started pulling for dear life, all the while screaming, "ESKERMOBILE! ESKERMOBILE!"


The entire station started to panic, as everyone withdrew to behind Poke's desk. Gregory and Martha were confused, but quickly followed suit. Finally, after several agonizing seconds, the Esker-Mobile crashed through the wall, imbedding itself halfway into the station lobby. From inside, Valkyrie Esker and F. Galloway emerged, coughing and sputtering.


The little car continued through the vast expanses of Canada, running over about a third of the population and causing general madness and destruction, all of which cannot be told here lest the Canadian Stealth Army comes and erases any evidence of the author's family's existance. Finally, they reached a small spot back along the Canadian border, the ocean to one side of them and an impenetrable wall of trees and tree-like Canadians on the other. The car sputtered to a halt as all four climbed out.

"This looks like an ideal spot for a showdown," said Galloway. "Okay, let's push the car out of here. We don't want a repeat of the kiro incident."


"It is when YOUR FINGER'S ON THE GODDAMN TRIGGER!" shouted Galloway. "Just start pushing."


"Did you have a nice trip, Val?" asked Poke.

"You know, besides the hole in the ground, and Glenton beating me for once, not bad," said Val. She then looked at Gregory and Martha. "So, who are those two bastards?"

Gregory and Martha both screamed and covered their ears. "Uh, Val," said Heaven's Soldier, "they're a ressurected 50's ideal family. They have low mental tolerance to public swearing."

"Oh, sorry," said Val. "Well, nice to meet you, whoever-you-are. Name's Valkyrie Esker."

"Valkyrie?" asked Gregory. "Martha, do you know what that means?"

"Why, yes!" said Martha. "It's a pagan!" Val's eyes rolled slightly. "This is so exciting! We've never met a real pagan before! That might explain that clothing!"

"Of course!" said Gregory. "A real lady wouldn't wear something like that!" Val banged her head against the Esker-Mobile.

"Just who are you?" asked F. Galloway.

"I'm Gregory Jones," said Gregory. "And this is my wife, Martha. Nice to meet you, pagan and harlot."

Val and F. Galloway were about to knock their head against the walls again, but stopped when they realized something. "Jones?" asked Val. "Did you say Jones?"

"That's right," said Martha. "Is...something wrong?"

"Are you related to Elizabeth Jones?" asked F. Galloway.

"...OUR DAUGHTER!" shouted Gregory and Martha. "WHERE IS SHE?!"

"She's with Galloway," said Val. "Things have gotten a lot more complicated."


The hermit finally finished applying various medical herbs and spices to Cedric's many injuries. After a few minutes, the owl rose back up, brushed himself off, and looked around. "Say, I feel better already! Tell me, what was in that medicine? My employer would be most interested."

"It's just some stuff from the sea," said the hermit. "I never figured out quite what was in it, but it can heal any injury. Here, your friend can keep some." The hermit turned to Wil and handed him a jar of green slime, which the black mage pocketed. "Now, where were you going?"

"My owl and I need to reach Mordack castle," said Wilfredo. "When we were attacked by the harpies, we were looking for a safe passage to his island. Do you know how to get there?"

"Morack!" gasped the hermit. "He's the nastiest sort of wizard you will find, I tell you! Normally, I wouldn't let you tangle with the likes of him, but judging by your appearance, this is a most serious problem! I can't take you there myself, but I know someone who can take you straight to his island! Follow me outside!"

The hermit led Wil and Cedric back to the beach, where the hermit played a strange tune on a flute. A beautiful mermaid swam onto the shoreline, her brilliant eyes and shell brasiier glistening in the sunlight. "Pearl, this man needs your help!" said the hermit. "He needs you to take him to Mordack's island."

The mermaid nodded in response. The hermit returned his attention to Wil and Cedric. "Pearl can't speak human-talk, but she's agreed to help you! Just jump on your boat, and she'll guide you right to the island!"

"Thank you, sir," said Wil. "Come on, Cedric! We're almost done!"

"Aye-aye, Wil!" said Cedric. Wil and Cedric jumped into their boat and followed the mermaid into the distance.


The small group finally finished pushing the car into the sanctity of the trees, and returned to the clearing. Sure enough, the cloaked figure was standing there, holding absolutely nothing in his hands. "We meet again," he said. "And you have brought Trisha, as well."

"Trisha?" asked Galloway. "Who's that?"

"Think back to the disk I left," said the cloaked figure. "It had the entire log of one of Kaizer's scientists. Trisha was Elizabeth's project codename!"

"Wait a minute," said Galloway. "You mean, YOU killed that entire terrorist group just so you could leave a disk?"

"I also hired you to take out that group," said the cloaked figure. "Valkyrie Esker's involvement was the only unplanned situation, but she will become a great asset soon. I just need to take Trisha back."

"...Do you know this guy, Elizabeth?" asked Gemini.

"I've never seen him before in my life," said Elizabeth.

"Of course she hasn't!" said the claoked figure. "But she is still needed for the good doctor's plan to be complete."

Galloway's eyes slowly bulged open. "Good doctor... Do you mean Dr. Kaizer?!"

"Who else?" asked the cloaked figure. "Now, give her over."

"You'll have to kill me first," said Galloway.

"Too bad," said the cloaked figure. Galloway started powering up and fired an energy beam. The cloaked figure raised his hand, and the energy beam looped around and ran right into Galloway, sending him flying back into the water. Gemini raised the Phoenix Staff and fired another flaming blast, but the fireball vanished when it touched the cloaked figure. Kiro fired a few bazooka shots, which just looped away from the figure.

Finally, the cloaked figure teleported forward, knocked both Gemini and kiro out with a few blows, and grabbed Elizabeth by the neck. After a few seconds, her eyes closed, and she fell limply to the ground. Galloway finished climbing back up just in time to see the cloaked figure lift Elizabeth over his shoulder.

"She'll recover," said the cloaked figure. "I just pinched a few pressure points."

"Why are you doing this?" asked Galloway.

"It's already too late to stop us," said the cloaked figure. "Soon RPGClassics will attack the puppet armies. Against such fanatically loyal warrors, they will fall horribly. Farewell, d Galloway." The cloaked figure and Elizabethwere swallowed in a tornado of leaves, and when it dissapeared, they were gone.


Wil and Cedric continued to sail into the horizon, following the mermaid for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, they reached a small black island. The sky was blotted out by rings of fire, with smoke bellowing out of the center of a skull-shaped volcano. The waters right next to the beach were filled with rocks of all shapes and sizes. The mermaid dived deep into the water and swam under Wil's boat, which was quickly being tossed around in the stormy waters.

Finally, Wil saw the inevitable: the boat was heading towards a large rock. "BRACE YOURSELF, CEDRIC!" he shouted, just as the boat crashed into the rock. Wil and Cedric were thrown towards the beach, as the boat's remains tossed and turned onto the shore.


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