Reads: 46

The whole group gets through the barrier and they each transform. Target turns into a light purple dwarf hamster with red eyes this time. Drip and Drop remain sewer rats as usual. Rain transforms into a red rose this time, getting a flower pot again. 

 

Emerald turns into a large black hedgehog with green eyes. Aonghas turns into a black wolf with red eyes again. Mungo transforms into a black cat with blue eyes. CrossBones transforms into a shadow person again. 

 

Jamie transforms into a red, orange, and yellow beagle puppy. Pàl turns into a dark purple owl. Malcolm turns into a blue bull. Fraizer transforms into a grey and green wolf. 

 

"Oh! I may not be a wolf, but I am an adorable puppy!" Jamie says, wagging his new tail happily. 

 

"Hey! What did I turn into?!" Malcolm asks, snorting and digging at the ground.

 

Jamie and Fraizer both glance at Malcolm and burst out laughing.

 

"STOP LAUGHING! I DEMAND YOU TELL ME WHAT I WAS TURNED INTO!" Malcolm yells, snorting again. 

 

"Meow! Malcolm... You wouldn't believe me if I told you... Meow!" Mungo says, tail twitching.

 

Malcolm bellows angrily and kicks at Mungo. 

 

"Meow! You're a bull!" Meow!" Mungo says, jumping out of the way.

 

"Ummm... Guys... We have company..." Aonghas says, pointing a paw into the distance.

 

Malcolm slowly turns around and sees a monster approaching. 

 

"GO AWAY!" Malcolm bellows and charges at the monster. 

 

His horns hit the monster and it goes flying away. Malcolm turns, snorting and returning to the others.

 

"Wow, Malcolm! You're awesome!" Jamie says and lick's Malcolm's left leg. 

 

"EW! STOP IT!" Malcolm bellows. 

 

"Alright, can we all just stop fighting and get on with saving the princess or whatever?!" Rain asks, trying to move herself.

 

CrossBones bends over and picks Rain up from the ground using his magic. 

 

"Right... Say... In this darkness, doesn't Mycono castle look just like that place we were stuck at earlier...?" Aonghas asks.

 

"Wait... You mean to tell me that this whole time we were actually underneath the place we've been wanting to go?!" Drop asks.

 

"That's awesome!" Drip squeals.

 

"Let's go!" Jamie says, taking off running without looking where he is going first.

 

"Wait! Jamie!" Pàl screeches, "I can check to see if the coast is clear, first!"

 

Jamie skids to a halt.

 

"Hey, you're right! You're an owl!" Jamie says.

 

"Yes! I can see in the dark now!" Pàl says, flying around.

 

"Go check things out, please..." Fraizer says.

 

Pàl flies off. The rest of the group is left sitting in the dark and eerie silence. Not a sound is heard after the flapping of Pàl's wings fades into the distance. Jamie gets really frightened and hides behind Malcolm since he is the largest of the group. Malcolm irritatedly swats at Jamie with his tail. Finally, the silence is broken again as the sound of wings renters their ears. 

 

"Not a person in sight... Just a bunch of wandering spirits..." Pàl reports.

 

"Then what are we waiting for?!" Malcolm asks and charges forwards, "Let's go!"

 

Malcolm is closely followed by Pàl in the air and Fraizer Aonghas at his sides. Target, Drip, and Drop all hitch a ride on Fraizer's back. Jamie and Emerald are at the back of the group as they are the slowest. Mungo takes to the center of the group along-side CrossBones holding Rain. 

 

Before long, they enter an area full of spirits. A chill ripples down their spines as they accidentally walk through some. 

 

"I don't think I like what's going on..." Jamie whimpers. 

 

"Just keep on walking..." Fraizer advises. 

 

"It's okay, Jamie... You still have me to walk with..." Emerald says, sniffing the air with his little snout.

 

"You're a hedgehog, but you're still bigger than me!" Jamie exclaims, smiling. His tongue lolls out of his mouth.

 

Before long, the group finally makes it to the castle, only to find that it is guarded by monsters. 

 

"Meow! Pàl! I thought you told us everything was clear! Meow!" Mungo yowls.

 

was all clear!" Pàl says.

 

"Never mind! I can easily destroy monsters with my horns!" Malcolm yells.

 

"Hey! I never got to use my sword... Please, let me take them on! Please! Please! Please!" CrossBones pleads, pulling out his sword.

 

"NO WAY!" Malcolm bellows before charging at the monsters.

 

This time, the monsters move out of the way at the last second, attacking the rest of the group.

 

"Augh! Those darned things! You're supposed to stay still so I can kill you with my horns!" Malcolm bellows, turning and charging at them again.

 

CrossBones swings his sword and it hits the arm of one of the monsters. It screams in pain, holding its arm. 

 

"CrossBones, you aren't strong enough!" Malcolm bellows. 

 

Rain is floating above CrossBones' head as he used magic to put her there. She screams whenever CrossBones swivels around quickly.  CrossBones keeps trying to fend off the monsters, but Malcolm eventually gets them and they fly away from the impact against his horns. 

 

"Malcolm, CrossBones will never get better at killing monsters if you don't give him a chance..." Pàl points out.

 

"WE DON'T NEED HIM TO GET BETTER AT KILLING MONSTERS SINCE WE HAVE ME ON THE TEAM!" Malcolm bellows and defiantly stalks off. 

 

"Malcolm... How do you intend on entering the castle?" Pàl asks.

 

"The same way I handle everything.  With my pure awesomeness and brute force!" Malcolm says. 

 

He charges forwards and smashes the castle door with his horns. He becomes dizzy and thrashes about, smashing everything around himself. 

 

"Malcolm! Stop!" Jamie, Fraizer, and Pàl all cry out.

 

Mungo simply swipes his tongue over a paw and wipes his ear, clearly enjoying watching Malcolm be destructive. Malcolm finally stops, snorting and stomping a hoof. All the castle guards are merely spirits now and everything in the castle is malformed. That's not just because Malcolm smashed things, either... 

 

"What happened here?!" Fraizer asks, sniffing the staircase which is now twisted and even upside down in some places.

 

"Distortion. It's the effects of the Distorted Realm being opened," Aonghas says.

 

"Say, how do you know so much about this distorted realm?" Pàl asks.

 

"Memories lost in time..." Aonghas says, glancing at Emerald.

 

Emerald grunts in approval. 

 

"Meow! Isn't the princess's bedroom all the way at the top? Meow!" Mungo asks.

 

"And you know that because...?" Fraizer asks.

 

"Meow. Oh, you know... For the bit of time where I worked for Scotty, we kind of snuck into her bedroom quite a few times... Meow," Mungo says, flicking his tail about.

 

"Oh boy! Oh the joy!" CrossBones cries out. 

 

Everybody looks around and finds him to be missing. Pàl turns his head and spots him at the top of the first flight of distorted steps. 

 

"Hey! How'd you get up there so fast?" Pàl asks.

 

Everyone else's gaze slowly turns to where Pàl is looking. CrossBones waves a purple stubbed arm at everybody. 

 

"Let's follow him!" Jamie yips, scurrying up the steps. 

 

Everybody else follows along. CrossBones is the first to reach Sìneag's bedroom. He knocks and there is no reply. He then realizes that he'll probably need real hands to knock and gives up, opening the door with magic. Everyone else crowds around for a chance to see inside. Sìneag isn't in her room. Shield is in the room though.

 

"Hey! It's Shield!" Jamie yips excitedly. 

 

Shield turns around slowly and faces the group. He's frightened at first, but then he realizes who everyone is.

 

"I assume you're the McNeills plus eight?" Shield says, coughing.

 

"Yes, yes we are!" the McNeills all say at once.

 

"And I also assume you are looking for the princess...?" Shield asks.

 

"Yeah, have you seen her?" Pàl asks.

 

"Maybe I have, maybe I haven't... I can give you a hint, though. Are you ready?" Shield asks.

 

They nod their heads so Shield clears his throat. 

 

"I can only tell you this once, so make sure you are listening...

 

Though the path you go,

May be dark and scary so,

If you care to listen,

You'll find what you are missin',

If you do not slow,

You may stub your toe,

If you do not know,

The light that blinds you will show,

The person you have lost,

Is where your item's been toss't, 

Please take out your shield,

And your sword you must wield,

Open up your mind,

It's how you'll find the kind,

What you're looking for,

May be where you were before,

Though if you do not hurry,

You'll have reason to worry,

What are dreams about?

Are they things that you doubt?

Those nightmares you have still...

Do down your spine they send a chill?" Shield says, seemingly coming up with random rhymes off the top of his head.

 

The whole group just stares in confusion.

 

"You'll work it out... If you need a hint as to what the poem means, go see Scotty. He knows all about it," Shield says.

 

"Wait, can you please repeat the poem?" Jamie asks.

 

Shield gets frustrated and is about to yell at the little puppy, but then he calms down and shakes his head no. 

 

"But... But why not?!" Jamie asks, about to cry.

 

"I already said before I recited the poem that I can only say it once..." Shield says.

 

The stairs creak outside the bedroom door and Shield gets nervous.

 

"Guys, somebody is coming... You better flee through my... I mean, Sìneag's bedroom window..." Shield said, blushing.

 

"And how am I supposed to fit through there?!" Malcolm asks.

 

"...good point..." Shield says, sweating. 

 

"Hey! Maybe I know how to teleport!" CrossBones suggests.

 

"Oh dear... Please don't..." Rain cries out.

 

"Oh come on!" CrossBones says.

 

"No, I don't want to teleport..." Rain says.

 

"Oh come on!" CrossBones says, teasingly swirling Rain around as if she's going through a portal. 

 

Rain screams.

 

"Guys, whatever you do, do it now!" Shield cries out, covering his head with a blanket. 

 

"Come on!" CrossBones says, producing a purple blob that sucks them all in.


Submitted: June 10, 2022

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