By Tailrace Dragon


SCENE: Britanny Bay, looking towards the harbour of Britain. Numerous skiffs are floating about, many of them packed full of people. The buildings of the city are draped in flowers and decorations in an attempt to camouflage the damage left behind following the Guardian's invasion 6 months before. A huge, colourful crowd is milling on the docks. Lord British, surrounded by guards and sundry nobles, is prominent amongst them. Bards and musicians from across Britannia are gathered and are playing a rousing song. The object of all this attention is a ship that has just cast off and is pulling away from the quayside: the Deadly Seeker. The Avatar appears on the deck and clambers onto the railing, clutching the rigging with one hand and waving with the other, acknowledging the cheers that started as soon as he had come into sight. As the acclaim continues he blows kisses at some of the female onlookers, to great approval. Shamino and Sir Dupre then appear behind the Avatar, carrying something large between them. They hoist it onto the railing where it can be seen to be an effigy of a very fat person with a beard, dressed in dark robes. The crowd roars when they see it. Shamino holds it in place while Dupre fetches a lit torch which he hands to the Avatar. The Avatar holds up the torch to the crowd then sets fire to the effigy. The throng's cheers double in volume at this act. The Avatar hands back the torch then whips out the Shade Blade with which he knocks the blazing figure off the ship and into the bay, to even greater applause. Several skiffs converge on the steaming lump in the water, the passengers bickering over who should get to keep it. Meanwhile, the Avatar sheaths his sword and continues to wave. Dupre climbs onto the railing as well and pulls out a telescope. He scans the crowd and occasionally halts at a young lady to whom he waves. Shamino may be about to do something similar when he notices that a nearby skiff contains Amber, along with Raymundo and a man rowing. He leans over the side to shout down to them. Iolo appears on deck, moves to the railing and waves, but nobody seems to take much notice of him. The one exception is Coop, who pushes his way out from the crowd and runs along the quay, shouting and pointing to the triple crossbow he is holding.

AVATAR: (Shouting) Farewell! Bye! (He blows a kiss at the crowd then speaks normally to Iolo) Iolo, what dost thou think Coop wants? (Shouting again) Adieu! Bye!

(He continues to shout and wave)

IOLO: Coop? Where is he? (Iolo scans the dock) Ah! There he is. He must be trying to tell me that he hath sold another triple crossbow, bless him.

DUPRE: (Peering through telescope) Er...Iolo - thy triple crossbow doth not have a large IOLO trademark on it by any chance, doth it?

IOLO: Of course not! I would not use a stock weapon! Mine hath the red kill stripes round it.

DUPRE: Yes, that's what I thought.

IOLO: What art thou saying, Dupre?

DUPRE: Heh, heh. Only that the one Coop's holding...

IOLO: Nooo!

(Iolo runs off to check his equipment. Meanwhile Shamino has been saying his goodbyes to Amber and has even cut off some of his hair and tied it round an arrow, which he then shot into the side of the skiff. He remembers too late that it is a burst arrow. This does not impress Amber who bawls certain choice words, which rival the rower's for graphicness and originality, at Shamino. Luckily for Shamino no-one on the ship notices his blunder. Raymundo stands up in the fast-disappearing skiff, water lapping about his feet, and tries to get the Avatar's attention)

RAYMUNDO:Avatar! Hey, Avatar!

AVATAR: (only paying him part of his attention) Yes, can I help thee?

RAYMUNDO: Only that I shall be wanting to add some new scenes to the Trials of the Avatar and I wouldst therefore be most pleased if thou couldst keep a journal of thine adventures for me.

AVATAR: Yes, yes, yes.

RAYMUNDO: The financial rewards should be excellent.

AVATAR: (suddenly taking a full interest) Huh? What? A journal? Certainly! I’d be most happy to.

(Raymundo ducks under the surface and returns with a small box. He quickly opens it and removes a book, held closed with a seal. He throws this to the Avatar who only just catches it. Only then does he start shouting and screaming for help, realising that the other two have swum off towards another skiff bobbing about nearby.)

IOLO: (Rushing up to the Avatar) Avatar, we must stop now!

AVATAR: (Turning away from Raymundo and dropping the book on the deck beside him) What? Why?

IOLO: (looking frantic) I've forgotten my triple crossbow! I took a normal one by mistake! This is terrible!

(Shamino mumbles something. Only the word "senile" can be made out)

AVATAR: (annoyed) Just calm down, Iolo. We are not stopping now. We'll be boarded by hordes of these idiots after souvenirs (He waves his hand at the swarm of smaller boats), who will rip the ship apart, eat all our food, steal all our...

(His paranoid ramblings are interrupted)

DUPRE: Actually, Avatar, I would really, REALLY like to stop too.

(Dupre is staring intently through the telescope, grinning widely)

SHAMINO: (After checking that Amber is out of earshot) What is it, Dupre?

DUPRE: (Still looking) Oh, ho, ho, ho!!

SHAMINO: Let me see!


(Shamino tries to grab the telescope but Dupre scurries part of the way up the rigging and continues to look at whatever it is he's seen)

SHAMINO: At least tell me where to look, wilt thou?


AVATAR: Dupre, tell him.

DUPRE: Oh well, I suppose so - the upstairs window of the second house from the end of that row beside the harbour (The Avatar surreptitiously removes the runes for Roaming Sight from his rune bag). Oh ho! She's waving at me, Shamino. At least I think that's what she's doing. Hee hee. What a pity thou dost not have a telescope, Shamino.

(The Avatar casts the spell.)

AVATAR: Phhwoaah!! Thou'rt right Dupre: 'tis such a shame the others can't see this.

(Shamino starts shaking the rigging in an attempt to dislodge Dupre)

DUPRE: Stop that Shamino; stop it right now. Shamino. I mean it. SHAMINO! I CAN'T SEE ANYTHING! STOP SHAKING IT!

SHAMINO: That water looks very cold. And I don't think I've ever seen thee swimming in thine armour.

DUPRE: Thou wouldst threaten ME, thou oaf?

IOLO: Please stop it, someone is going to fall in.

DUPRE: Fine, fine. Here, Shamino.

(Dupre throws the telescope down to Shamino who catches it. He hurriedly peers through.)

SHAMINO: Aaaah! There's a bloody tree in the way!

(Dupre sniggers at him)

IOLO: Thou'rt such a rotter, young Dupre.

DUPRE: Hey, I didn't know that tree was there. I wasn't looking at IT! Besides, Shamino likes trees.

(Shamino glares up at Dupre and drops his hand to his sword hilt. Dupre pretends to be terrified, biting his knuckles and so on.)

IOLO: Oh, no violence, please. We've hardly even left.

AVATAR: (Before Shamino can do anything he might regret) Er, Shamino: I believe I told thee that I wanted thee to steer.

SHAMINO: (sounding very surprised) Thou didst?

IOLO: (alarmed) Nobody's steering?!

SHAMINO: Thou told Iolo to do it!

IOLO: Did he? Oh, I don't think he did.

DUPRE: (still on rigging but now looking for'ard) I think that I see rocks ahead! Somebody had better start steering soon.

SHAMINO: Art thou sure "steering" is the correct nautical term? I thought...

IOLO: (starting to panic) SHAMINO! Hurry or we'll crash!

SHAMINO: I thought thou wert going.

DUPRE: Those rocks look AWWWfully sharp!

IOLO: (Absolutely frantic) SHAMINO!!!

AVATAR: (sternly) Shamino! That's enough.

SHAMINO: Aye, aye, cap'n!

(He runs to the wheel and makes a very sharp turn away from the rocks. Iolo falls over, the Avatar only just grabs the railing to prevent the same thing happening to him and Dupre loses his grip on the rigging. He starts to fall but snatches another rope. However, unlike the rigging, this rope is not tied down; rather it is casually coiled around the railing. It unwraps as Dupre clings to it and he swings across the deck)


(And halfway across he falls off, drops 10 feet, performing a somersault in mid-air, and smashes head-first through a thick wooden grating into the hold. A loud crashing sound emerges, followed by much groaning and swearing. The Avatar, Shamino, Arcadion and the Guardian all laugh at him.)

IOLO: (looking horrified) Oh my!

(Iolo pushes himself to his feet. Suddenly cannonfire is heard.)

IOLO: Aaaah! We are attacked! Pirates! We're all doomed! Oh, why did Gwenno have to go away?

AVATAR: Be quiet, Iolo! 'Tis only LB giving us a 21-gun salute.

IOLO: Oh. Art thou sure? (He walks over to the railing beside the Avatar and looks back towards Britain, from whence puffs of smoke can be seen billowing out from 7 cannon lined up at the side of the dock. He looks relieved when he sees this, but still checks the other side of the ship, in case they were shooting at something there. Satisfied, he turns back to the shore.) Hey - there's someone standing on their own over there - beside the Cove road.

(The Avatar ignores him and wanders over to the grate to see if Dupre is okay. Shamino studies the lone figure using the telescope.)

SHAMINO: I think it's Nastassia, Avatar!

AVATAR: (Running back to the railings) Let's see!

(Shamino throws the telescope over to him. He misses it and it falls into the sea.)

ARCADION: Butterfingers!

AVATAR: Shut it, you! And give me POWER!

ARCADION: Here you go, Master.

AVATAR: (Holding the Black Sword above his head) BY THE POWER OF CASTLE OF FIRE!!!

(Flashing lights and other special effects.)

ARCADION: That'll be 50 gold.

AVATAR: I said, "shut it", Arcadion.

ARCADION: No, no Avatar. You said "shut it, you", not "shut it Arcadion".

(The Avatar ignores him and casts Roaming Sight again.)

AVATAR: Thou'rt right Shamino, 'tis Nastassia. Iolo: get me a quill and ink!

IOLO: What? Why dost thou want a...

SHAMINO: (sarcastically) He is making a will, fool!

IOLO: A will? Oh, no! I've already made mine; I left it with Smith.

(Meanwhile, in the Deep Forest: a horse, in a very tidy stable, is chewing something white and papery. Part of it falls from his mouth to the floor. On this scrap are the words "This is the last wi-". Meanwhile, back on board the Deadly Seeker...)

AVATAR: IOLO!!! Get the bloody ink!

IOLO: Bloody ink?! Oh dear, where am I going to get blood out here? Will normal ink...


ARCADION: You tell him, Master!

IOLO: (Eyes fixed on the Black Sword) Aaaah!

(Iolo runs below deck. The Avatar leaps across to the broken grating.)

AVATAR: Dupre, art thou drinking all the ale down there?

DUPRE'S VOICE: No. Only some of it.

AVATAR: Well throw me up a bottle.

DUPRE'S VOICE: Here thou art!

(A bottle shoots up through the grating. The Avatar catches it.)

AVATAR: An empty one, please!

(He places the full one on the deck beside him.)


AVATAR: NOW! (An empty bottle whizzes up. The Avatar misses this one.) Not again!

(Shamino guffaws at the Avatar's apparent lack of hand-eye co-ordination as the bottle drops back down. The sound of breaking glass is heard.)

DUPRE'S VOICE: Argh! That wasn't funny!

(Shamino is trying hard to restrain himself from laughter.)

AVATAR: Sorry. Another one, please! (A cork pops. A gurgling sound follows. It lasts for 3 seconds then an empty bottle flies up. This one is caught) Cork as well! (A cork emerges. The Avatar reaches over to grab it and does so, but overbalances in the process.) Oh bugger.

(Shamino sniggers as the Avatar vanishes into the hold. Much crashing, cursing, smashing and swearing follow. Iolo appears back on deck carrying a quill and ink bottle. Shamino is by now laughing merrily away.)

IOLO: (looking around in confusion) Avatar? Where art thou? (He turns to Shamino who is bent double with laughter.) Where is he?

SHAMINO: He...Ha, ha, ha...he...ah, ha, can't...BWAHAHAHAHA!!

(Shamino dissolves into hysterics, collapses onto the deck, holds his stomach and kicks his legs about in the air. Iolo turns away from him and starts peering around the deck for the Avatar. The Avatar emerges onto the deck from the same door Iolo has just used. He is dripping with ale, but he is carrying the bottle which now has a cork in it.)

AVATAR: Ah, Iolo...

IOLO: (spinning around in surprise at the voice behind him.) Eeeeek!

(Iolo faints, dropping the quill and ink. The ink bottle smashes, spilling black ink across the deck.)

AVATAR: NOOO! (He rushes over to where he had placed the journal. He picks it up and breaks the seal then runs back to the ink. As he does so a piece of paper falls out of the book. The Avatar grabs it and sees that it appears to be blank.) Aha, this'll do.

(He places it on the deck, picks up the quill and writes a note, using ink straight from the puddle, rolls up the paper, kisses it and puts it in the bottle, all of the time looking only at one side of the sheet. He sticks the cork in the bottle, climbs onto the rail and waves at Nastassia. She waves back. The Avatar hurls the bottle towards the shore with all his might. It splashes into the water not too far from the shore. He watches as Nastassia runs down to the beach.)

SHAMINO: (recovered) Dupre, what didst thou just write?

AVATAR: (blinking in confusion) Err, Shamino: I am not Dupre.

SHAMINO: That's funny. Thou dost smell like him.

(He starts to snigger again)

AVATAR: No I don't.

SHAMINO: Thou dost! I canst smell thee from here! (This time the Avatar starts to laugh too: Dupre, wearing the Leather Leggings of Stealth, has just emerged from a hatch behind Shamino and is sneaking up behind him. Shamino is confused by the Avatar's mirth.) I wouldn't laugh if someone told me I smelt like Dupre. In fact.......Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa-mf!!

DUPRE: Gotcha!

(The Avatar averts his eyes.)

Some time later...

SCENE: Dupre is at the wheel. Shamino is hanging from the rigging, bound and gagged. The Avatar steps onto deck in a clean suit of armour. He takes a long, deep breath of fresh, wholesome sea air and is promptly splattered by a seabird. He clenches his fists, shakes with fury, whirls around and storms back inside.

DUPRE: (As the Avatar disappears) Cheer up - it could have been a dragon. Ho, ho!

(Even as he chuckles at the Avatar a huge shadow darkens the deck. Dupre looks up, his eyes filled with terror)

Some time later...

SCENE: Dupre, wearing a clean suit of armour, is at the wheel. Shamino is hanging upside down from the crow's nest, bound and especially well gagged. The Avatar steps onto deck in a clean surcoat. He takes a long, deep breath of fresh, wholesome sea air and jumps to one side. Nothing happens this time, so he walks warily over to Dupre.

AVATAR: How are things?

DUPRE: All quiet. Even Shamino, heh, heh! (He waves at Shamino who wriggles about). How's Iolo?

AVATAR: He should be fine. I put him to bed and gave him a mug of hot milk. (He sighs). Dupre, I'm worried about Iolo. He's too old to be adventuring. I mean, if something happened to him akin to what just happened to thee, he'd probably have a heart attack.

DUPRE: I almost had one as it was.

AVATAR: Exactly. By the way; hast thou been going through mine equipment?

DUPRE: No, why?

AVATAR: Someone hath - and he seemeth to have taken something. Don't know what though - I'm useless at that memory game.

DUPRE: Which memory game?

AVATAR: Er... thou dost one...

(Meanwhile, as the Avatar is trying desperately to change the subject, one of the windows at the stern opens and Iolo's head pops out and looks about. He then produces the Leather Cap and Plate Gauntlets of Missile Protection and drops them overboard, a cold gleam in his eye. Back on the deck...)

DUPRE: Leather Vest of Flameproof, didst thou say?

AVATAR: What hast thou done with it?

DUPRE: Um, to put this... (he takes a deep breath) after that (he shudders) accident with the, the...(he points to the sky; the Avatar nods) I thought there was no way I'd get it clean so I...ah...threw it overboard. 'Twas truly stinking, Avatar.

AVATAR: THOU DIDST THROW IT AWAY!?! How couldst thou?! Thou bastard!

DUPRE: Avatar, it doth not matter. Why would I need an enchanted leather vest? Didst thou think I'd jump into a river of lava or stick my head in an oven or...

AVATAR: I damn well wish thou wouldst. Either of them. How canst thou know about what 'twill be like on the Serpent Isle? It could be covered in volcanoes or inhabited by fire elementals or something! AND I JUST THOUGHT THOU WOULDST TAKE GOOD CARE OF IT!!!

DUPRE: Sorry.

AVATAR: (Visibly calming himself) Anyway, we'll anchor just around that headland tonight (he points out the feature).

DUPRE: Er...should we not sail all night? 'Twill give Batlin more time to perform his evil deeds if...

AVATAR: We are going to stop there (points).

DUPRE: But...

AVATAR: Now shut up and get Shamino down.

Some time later...

SCENE: It is dusk and the Deadly Seeker is floating, sails down, in a bay.

AVATAR: Lower the anchor!

(Dupre runs to the darkened bow. A splash is heard)

SHAMINO: (Now untied and apparently none the worse for wear.) But was that the anchor or Dupre?

(Iolo steps out on deck. He has a large cloak wrapped around himself and is wearing a night-cap on his head.)

IOLO: 'Tis very cold out tonight.

AVATAR: No it is not. 'Tis June, and...

IOLO: Where?


IOLO: Where's June?

AVATAR: Er...she hath gone.

IOLO: Oh. Why have we stopped?

SHAMINO: I think the Avatar is just going to tell us...


(Iolo wanders about, trying to keep warm.)

SHAMINO: Look out!

(Iolo falls through the broken grating. More crashing and smashing.)

AVATAR: Whooops! Shamino: light the lanterns. (Dupre returns from the bow (dry)). Dupre: go down and see if Iolo is in trouble.

(Shamino and Dupre set off to their tasks).

IOLO'S VOICE: Oooohhh!

AVATAR: Hmmm. When I take the skiff ashore, Shamino, thou shouldst try and fix that grating.

SHAMINO: Ashore!? I thought thou toldest LB that we'd be at the Serpent Isle before the week is out?

AVATAR: (very seriously) Circumstances have dictated that I alter the arrangements previously put forward.

SHAMINO: What exactly was in that bottle?

AVATAR: Thou dost think me drunk!? I should teach thee a lesson for even suggesting such a thing...

SHAMINO: (hastily) No, no, no - I meant that note thou didst put in the bottle and throw to Nastassia.

AVATAR: Ahhhh...I see.'twas an order for a new telescope - we're sure to need one after all.

SHAMINO: I didn't know that Nastassia made telescopes.

AVATAR: She doth not. I...uh...told her to go into Britain and buy one. So that she could give it to me tonight.

SHAMINO: I'm sure she will.

AVATAR: I told thee to go and fix the grate.

SHAMINO: Yes, once thou hadst gone.

AVATAR: I've changed the plan again. Fix it.

SHAMINO: Why me?

AVATAR: Because I doubt Iolo will be in a state to do anything for a while and if I leave Dupre up on deck alone he'll rush off to the Emerald. Thirdly, because I am in charge and thou wilt do what I damn well tell thee to! Now get started.

(Shamino walks over to the grate and bends over to examine it. There is a huge rumble and the whole ship rocks violently. Shamino topples over into the hold and the Avatar sprawls on the deck.)


SHAMINO: Ahhhhhhhh!


(Dupre runs up on deck just as the Avatar regains his feet.)

DUPRE: What happened? Are we sinking?? Children first!!!

(He rushes to the railing and dives over head first. There is no splash. The Avatar runs across and looks over. Dupre is lying spread-eagled on a sandy beach.)

AVATAR: I think that what happened is that we ran aground. And since when hast thou been a child?

DUPRE: Zhaana shed I vosh, remmmbur?

AVATAR: Vaguely. Now get back on board - and think up a good excuse as to why thou didst not lower the anchor when I told thee to. And why art thou talking like that?

DUPRE: (staggering to his feet) I hmmph, hoggrurp bluuurgh! (He swallows a mouthful of sand.) Ah, that's better - 'twas something in my mouth. 'Tis gone now. And actually, I did lower the anchor - I'm surprised thou didst not hear it!

AVATAR: I did hear it actually. Hmmm...perhaps a Sea Serpent bit through the chain.

DUPRE: (clambering back on board) Chain? What chain?

AVATAR: (sarcastically) The chain that is customarily attached to anchors. It makes it slightly easier to get it back up, didst thou know?

DUPRE: No, I did not. (He snorts) I don't know a thing about sailing actually. But I do know that the anchor I put in the water did not have a chain attached to it. (The Avatar is trying very hard to breathe normally). Thou knowest what I think, Avatar? I think that someone hath sabotaged this ship. Probably some "ex-" Fellowship members.

AVATAR: (very quietly) Dupre, come with me. (He beckons for Dupre to follow him and walks for'ard to where the anchor and its winding mechanism are situated. The Avatar holds up his hand to halt Dupre as they approach the equipment and he continues forward alone. He kneels down to look at something then walks back to Dupre and says, very sweetly - ) Dupre...what does an anchor look like?

DUPRE: (He snorts again) Don't ask me! I'm just a land-blubber!

AVATAR: Lubber.

DUPRE: Whatever.

AVATAR: Does it look something like a pick?

(The Avatar illustrates a pick/anchor shape with one of his hands.)

DUPRE: Er (thinks hard) ... probably more like an axe, actually.

AVATAR: (a touch of horror creeping into his voice) An axe?

DUPRE: Yes - the anchor I chucked in looked a lot like an axe. In fact, if it wasn't so dark I would've sworn that it was an axe.

(The Avatar almost rips his hair out. He trudges across to the grating, yelling for Shamino as he goes.)

SHAMINO'S VOICE: Yes, Avatar? What happened?

AVATAR: Never mind. Where didst thou put the LifeStealer Axe?

SHAMINO'S VOICE: I must have left it beside the anchor - why?

(The Avatar ignores him and slowly turns back to Dupre. As soon as Dupre sees his face he runs for the railing and leaps over, feet first this time. However, he catches one foot on the railing and drops head first. The Avatar bounds up onto the railing, Black Sword in hand and gazes down.)


(He jumps down onto the beach. Dupre raises himself and sprints into the gloomy surroundings. The Avatar runs after him.)

Some time later...

SCENE: The deck of the Deadly Seeker. Shamino is hammering replacement planks over the grate. The Avatar scrambles onto the ship. He slowly walks over to Shamino who stands and turns as he approaches.

SHAMINO: Good to see thou'rt back, Avatar! To be honest I did not expect to see thee until about noon tomorrow. Or hast thou tired her out already? (The Avatar says nothing, just stands there.) 'Twas just a jest, Avatar! Avatar? (Shamino lifts his lantern up and shines it into the Avatar's face. He has a great big black eye.) Ouch! Didst thou trip in the dark, Avatar?

(The Avatar still does not speak. However, he opens a pouch on his belt and removes a piece of paper. This he holds by his side.)

AVATAR:, when thou spokest to Amber this morning...

SHAMINO: (bit worried) Yes, Avatar?

AVATAR: Did she say she was going to give thee a...present?

SHAMINO: Well, er...(remembers) Oh yes! She did. Sounded like something interesting too, heh, heh, heh...

AVATAR: And where is this present?

SHAMINO: Oh...well - she said it would be with whatever Raymundo gave thee. all the excitement I must have forgotten to ask thee for it. Canst thou give...

(The Avatar cuts him off with an upraised hand.)

AVATAR: Dost thou know what this is, Shamino?

(He unfolds the piece of paper and holds it up to Shamino. The ranger moves the lantern closer and peers at it. He sniggers while reading it.)

SHAMINO: Er...well...hmmf...yes, Avatar - if I can call thee that (He snorts) - 'tis the letter thou didst write to Nastassia - art thou sure thou didst want me... show that to

AVATAR: And dost thou know what this is? (The Avatar turns the letter so Shamino can see its reverse side. Shamino blinks a few times and his smile vanishes. Even in the fairly dim light of the lantern all the colour seems to drain from his face. His glance shifts between the Avatar and the paper several times and he utterly fails in an attempt to regain his smile. On the back of the letter is a sketch of Amber - posing seductively without much in the way of clothing. Below is written: "lots of love, from Amber." Shamino stutters a few things. The Avatar lowers the drawing). Dost thou know how much this hurts, Shamino (he points to his black eye)? Because it is nothing compared to the pain thou wilt be in once I've finished with thee.

(He spits on his gauntleted hands.)

SHAMINO: (Absolutely terrified) Aaah, aaa, Avataaar! No! Please!


(Shamino is hurled across the deck. He hits it, rolls a few times, then lurches to his feet, dabbing at a cut on his cheek. The Avatar advances on him.) Can we not settle this another way, Avatar? A duel?

AVATAR: (blinks – not what he expects from Shamino) A duel!?


AVATAR: (with an evil grin) Certainly! Even better, in fact! But...we had best do this properly!

(He starts to pull off a gauntlet)

SHAMINO: Of course! (Shamino slaps the Avatar across the face a couple of times.) I challenge thee! (He dashes away from the Avatar, towards a hatch) I'll get some weapons and armour!

(He disappears through the hatch.)

AVATAR: (Holding face) Grrrrr...rrrrr... (snarls)

(Shamino dashes down deep into the ship, making for Dupre’s cabin. He knocks and enters.)

SHAMINO: Help me, please, Dupre! The Avataaaagh!

(He slips on an empty ale bottle and crashes to the deck.)

IOLO’S VOICE: Aaah! What was that?

(Shamino manages to stand again.)

SHAMINO: Sorry! Anyway – the Avatar’s going to fight a duel with me but I don’t want to so I thought that if thou didst wear a helm and fight him then he wouldn't know that ‘twas thee and not me and as thou couldst beat him easily 'twould work out well for everyone and I’ll give thee ale and...oh. (He finally notices that the cabin is empty. He swears, then perambulates over to Iolo’s cabin). Hast thou seen Dupre, Iolo?

IOLO: Oh no. He went ashore and I do not believe he hath yet returned, but...Shamino? Shamino? (Iolo helps Shamino off the floor, complaining about back pains in the process. Shamino is shaking and is as white as a dread spider.) Art thou feeling well, Shamino? I'll pour thee some hot milk...

(He turns around.)

SHAMINO: No. No need. (He resignedly heads out the door, shoulders slumped and head drooping. He trudges to his own cabin and opens a chest, removing pieces of mail armour. He lays them out on his bunk. His eyes linger on the piece left at the bottom of the chest. The glowing piece...) The...Chain...Coif...of...Valour!

SCENE: A short time later, on deck. The door is kicked open and Shamino, armoured and carrying several weapons, swaggers out and heads over to the Avatar (who is now wearing a helm).

SHAMINO: All right, Snugglekins, I’m ready. Shall the beach do for this? We might damage the ship by fighting on board!

AVATAR: I was thinking the same thing. Poo Poo Head.

(The Avatar jumps onto the beach; it is conveniently lit up by both moons.)

SHAMINO: Heh. Got some spirit, eh? ‘Twill do thee no good. No good at all!

(Shamino springs off the ship and somersaults twice before hitting the beach. The Avatar laughs.)

AVATAR: Pitiful.

(He runs a few steps then (without bending his legs), bounds over Shamino and onto the ship's railing. He backflips off, lands on his hands and continues somersaulting backwards for some distance. The display climaxes as he launches himself feet-first into the air, where he spins round a few times, before landing on his feet. He raises his arms.)


(He tumbles into a cartwheel followed by several somersaults, hand-springs, backflips and theatrical dives that would disgrace a footballer. He pauses briefly, then returns to his starting position via a series of triple toe-loops, Cossack dancing, hurtling through flaming hoops and even juggling whilst riding a horse upside-down.)

AVATAR: <Yawn>

(He grabs a low-flying magic carpet, loops the loop, barrel rolls, performs a spectacles, then immelmanns and throws himself off, rolling, spinning, twisting, posing for a Rodin and plunging, gracefully, into the sea.)

SHAMINO: Pah! (He whistles, summoning a dragon. He jumps onto its back etc., etc., etc. (This goes on for some time.) Eventually...) Whew – now that we're warmed up – pick thee a weapon!

(He whips out a pair of rapiers. The Avatar touches one gently, as if worried that he might break it. He holds it up, eyeing it askance, staring at Shamino, guffawing and finally tossing it into the knight.)

DISTANT VOICE: Uuuuuuurgh!

[Er...maybe I meant "night". Whoops!]

AVATAR: I think a real sword would be in order!

(He draws the Shade Blade.)

SHAMINO: (Gulps despite the chain coif) Quite right!

(He throws the other sword away.)


[Actually, it now appears that my earlier distinction between "night" and "knight" was absolutely pointless. The event to which it referred was obviously completely unrelated to my wording. I humbly apologise to anyone whom I may have offended.]

(Shamino draws the Longsword of Stone Strike.)

SHAMINO: I have a long, sharp lesson for thee today!

AVATAR: How appropriate – thou fightest like a cow! Aaah!

(Shamino takes the offensive)

SHAMINO: Thou art a pain in the backside, sir!

AVATAR: Thy haemorrhoids are flaring up again, eh! Ha-ha!






AVATAR: Thy stench would make an outhouse cleaner irritated!

SHAMINO: Errr...even before they smell thy breath? Nooo!

(The Avatar lunges at Shamino, somehow sliding the tip of the Shade Blade under the magical coif and just digging the point into the ranger’s chin. A burst of movement from the Avatar, a flash of black, a snap of tearing metal links, and the coif, torn asunder, falls, useless, to the sand. Shamino’s eyes widen. Several revolting noises are heard and a look of disgust crosses the Avatar’s features.)

AVATAR: Uuuurgh! (He draws his sword back into a ready-for-finishing-off-with-a-tremendous-smite position. Shamino’s trembling blade rises to en garde.) Only once have I met such a coward!

SHAMINO: Err...really?

AVATAR: Nah, not really. (He swings the Shade Blade and smashes Shamino’s Stone Strike sword into several shards. Shamino sinks to the sand and snivels.) Heh, heh! (The Avatar kicks Shamino around until the Sun rises over the mountains – when Dupre staggers slowly into sight.) Where, by all the Virtues, hast thou been?

DUPRE: Hee, hee! The Emmmmmerald. Tizh a good, good pub, Avatar. <Hic, burp, etc.>

(In seconds, Dupre is lying in a pool of unconsciousness beside Shamino.)

AVATAR: (Taking off his helm and shaking his hair out.) Ah, I feel much better now. (He lodges a prone companion under each arm and somersaults onto the ship. He throws them through a door, then returns to the railing to retrieve and repair the sword and coif: except the tide has come in – and they have gone.) Aaaaah! <EXPLETIVES DELETED>

(He smashes his head off a number of inanimate objects plus Iolo, when he comes on deck to see what the noise is about.)

The following day, about noon.

SCENE: The Seeker is making good time, ploughing through the warm, bright blue sea. The mainland is a distant haze off to port. On board, everyone is conscious...

SHAMINO: Sail ahoy!

(He points to a sail on the horizon ahead.)

IOLO: (Sounding worried) It seemeth to be heading towards us.

(The ship is indeed on an intercept course for the Seeker. As it draws nearer a black flag unfurls on its highest mast.)

SHAMINO: I don’t mean to scare anyone, but I think that’s a Jolly Roger.

(Iolo looks very worried. Dupre brightens up and starts stretching. The Avatar casts Roaming Sight.)

AVATAR: Thou’rt right, Shamino: ‘tis a pirate ship. Man the cannon!

(Everyone looks at the Avatar.)

SHAMINO: Er...Avatar...

(He spreads his arms, taking in the deck and indicating the distinct lack of cannon.)

AVATAR: Now what, bugger. I KNEW something was missing. Well, we shall just have to destroy them in hand-to-hand combat. To your battle stations!

DUPRE: We don’t have any, Avatar.

AVATAR: Prepare to repel boarders, then!

DUPRE: Righty-ho! Charging 90 gold a bed ought to do that, eh?

(He laughs. The others cringe.)

AVATAR: Seriously! Cut them down as soon as they board us!

(Iolo and Shamino look at each other.)

IOLO: Avatar, I’m sure thou dost know that missile weapons are best employed with a considerable height advantage...

(Shamino nods in agreement. Both then immediately rush up the rigging to the crow's nest.)

DUPRE: Cowards! Chickens! Poltroons!

AVATAR: Never mind them, friend Dupre. We can handle this lot ourselves.

(He whips out the Black Sword and takes up position beside Dupre. The pirate ship closes in, then swings around to parallel the Seeker as the buccaneers check for any cannon on their prey. Spying none, they converge on the Seeker and hurl grappling hooks across. Perhaps 150 pirates – complete with swords, daggers between teeth, handkerchiefs on heads, peg-legs, eye-patches, hooks, parrots, etc. – line the closest railing and rigging. Dupre yawns, dons his helm – complete with bottle-shaped crest – and draws his sword (the Broadsword of Poison Weapon). The Avatar merely stands and looks heroic – cloak and hair billowing out behind him. As the pirate ship is drawn in, its name can be seen as the Cold and Angst. The two ships smash together and the first pirates swing over to the Seeker)

(Dramatic fade out.)

(And back in again.)

(As the Avatar readies the Shade Blade, a big grin on his face, the leading pirate freezes and lifts a trembling hand to point at the defenders.)

PIRATE 1: (posh voice) It, it,''s...I, I...don’t believe’s, it’s...HIM!

(The Avatar smiles smugly and pats the Black Sword)

PIRATE 2: (even more posh) Who?


(The pirates instantly fall silent. The Avatar stares in shock then turns to face Dupre, completely confused. One pirate lets his dagger fall out of his mouth. It lands in the sea.)

PIRATE 3: (same again) Oh drat!

(He instantly covers his mouth. A voice speaks from behind him.)

MOST POSH VOICE: Language, please, Torquil! (The owner of the voice leaps onto the railing of the Angst. He is dressed as a clichéd pirate captain, with fancy clothes, long hair, small moustache and a large, feather-sprouting tricorn hat [yes, I know it isn’t very medieval and no, I don’t care :-p It isn’t a serious story. What do you mean, I could’ve fooled you? It’s not that bad is it? Oh.]. He swings across on a rope.) Permission to come aboard, Sir Dupre?

(Dupre glances at the Avatar then back at the pirate captain.)

DUPRE: Of course, Cap’n Hue-Jahmmtone.

(He turns and grins sheepishly at the Avatar, who is tapping one foot on the deck.)

HUE-JAHMMTONE: (jumping off railing) I cannot begin to apologise for this, this unwarranted hindering of thy peaceful progress, friend Sir Dupre (Dupre sheaths his sword and shakes hands heartily with the captain. The Avatar warily sheaths the Black Sword.). We had absolutely no idea it was thee! Again, we are most terribly sorry.

DUPRE: (embarrassed) Oh please, ‘twas an honest mistake. Could have happened to anybody. By the way, I don’t believe thou hast met the Avatar...

(He indicates the Avatar.)

HUE-JAHMMTONE: (His face brightening) Thou art the Avatar!? (Shakes hands even more heartily.) Thou art a great hero of mine, milord...of all of us actually. We strive to emulate thee in our own humble way, if thou art not offended...?

AVATAR: (very bemused) Oh, no, no, certainly not!

HUE-JAHMMTONE: It is good of thee to say that, milord. Good. Now, if I may make some introductions? (He indicates his waiting crew. The Avatar nods.) Come on, boys! (He waves at the crew. They start to jump onto the Seeker. H-J begins the introductions.) This is First Mate Tarquin; Tarquin, the Avatar.

PIRATE 1: Terribly pleased to meet thee!

AVATAR: Thank thee. Pleased to see thee too!

HUE-JAHMMTONE: Mylltone-Smythe. The Avatar.

PIRATE 2: Greetings, oh Virtuous One!

AVATAR: Hail and well met!

HUE-JAHMMTONE: This is Percy. Percy, the Avatar.

PERCY: I saaay, this is a gweat honaa. I have aaalways wanted to meet thee, miwaaard.

AVATAR: ‘Tis always nice to meet an admirer. I thank thee!

HUE-JAHMMTONE: And this is Torquil. Torquil, meet the Avatar.

PIRATE 3: The Avatar! In person!! My friends back home will never believe this!

AVATAR: Thank thee. Thank thee very much. Wouldst thou like mine autograph?

DUPRE: If thou dost not mind, friend Hue-Jahmmtone, can we not have the introductions later – before the Avatar’s ego geteth so big it sinketh both ships. Ha, ha, ha!

HUE-JAHMMTONE: (shocked) Oh, Sir Dupre! Thou wert ever the rude one! But certainly I have no wish to detain thee on thy journeys any longer, so (He begins to merely point out the crewmen, who smile and nod at the Avatar as they are mentioned.) That’s Peterkins, Anthony, that’s De Tritus, Tarquharfarquhar, that’s...(He is interrupted by a choking scream: the pirate he was just pointing to, and who was still on the railing of the Angst, drops off into the sea, clutching vainly at the bolt projecting from his chest.)...never mind.

PERCY: Oh, I saaay!

MYLLTONE-SMYTHE: Jolly bad show!

TORQUIL: Oh dr...dear!

(Everyone looks up at the crow’s nest, where Iolo is waving his fist in triumph. Shamino is desperately trying to calm him down.)

AVATAR: (shouting) Dost thou mind, Iolo?! We were having a civilised conversation down here! These fine fellows are old pals of Dupre’s! They are NOT attacking us! Clear?! (Iolo stops his celebrations and sinks guiltily out of sight into the depths of the crow's nest. The Avatar turns back to the pirates.) Sorry.

HUE-JAHMMTONE: (looking back down at the Avatar) Oh, forget it! (He makes a dismissive gesture.) He probably just slipped and pulled the trigger. Now, where was I? Oh yah! This is von Güttern, this is Hungersford-Dean d’Elphinfflow-Chevalier...

(Some time later...)

AVATAR: We are all greatly pleased to see you. Now, can we get you anything?

HUE-JAHMMTONE: Do not even suggest such a thing, please, milord. We could not have the Embodiment of Virtue (Dupre snorts) serving simple pirates like us, as if thou wert a, a low-life peasant slave scum. No offence, of course! (M-S whispers something to him.) Oh, PLEASE, Mylltone-Smythe, learn some manners. (H-J looks embarrassed) Sorry about that, brave Avatar! He was just reminding me that we have got to say "low-life peasant domestic management scum" these days: but old habits die hard don’t they, what?

AVATAR: I could not agree more. We should string the lot of them up, eh?

(The Avatar, Dupre and the pirates all chortle at this)

(Some time later...)

HUE-JAHMMTONE: Well, we had best be going. I thank thee, milord, for thy generous gift of time and, from all of us, I must say that I really hope to see thee again soon and may thy journeys and quests succeed with flying colours, so that thy glorious form may be cascaded with sweet victuals and wines and more gold than thou couldst eat!


(A great cheer of hoorays. The pirates sing For he’s a jolly good fellow and turn to go back to their ship, saying farewells all the time.)

TARQUHARFARQUHAR: I hope that someday soon we shall raise a glass or two of the best Abbey Wine with one another!

HDdEC: May the winds of fortune blow pleasantly through thy hair!

ARCADION: Yes, bugger off, you bunch of snooty-nosed, stuck-up, poncy, yah-type bastards!


HUE-JAHMMTONE: (turns around, his face as red as the Guardian’s) I beg thy pardon, sirrah! What didst thou say?

AVATAR: (cringing) Oh, nothing, not a word...

ARCADION: I told you to get stuffed, you freaky, upper-class, swab-bastard, fat-waster, pain-in-the-arse, toffee-nosed, crazy and utterly laughable bunch of yahs!

HUE-JAHMMTONE: I thought so! Nobody insulteth the Pirates Who Say Yah! and liveth!

(The other pirates lay their hands on their hilts.)


HUE-JAHMMTONE: We are the pirates who say: ... YAH!

AVATAR: Dupre, thou dost make some very strange friends when I’m not around.

DUPRE: Ah, they’re nothing. Did I tell thee about...

AVATAR: I think thou shouldst keep it for the moment, Dupre.

HUE-JAHMMTONE: Do not try and ignore us, you yellow-bellied, blind, cheating, overaged, drunken bunch of cheap-ale-swilling, daemon-loving, low-life-scum-git-plebs!

ARCADION: Er...ah...I give up. He has your Companions in a nutshell, Avatar!

AVATAR: Shut up, Arcadion. I think the readers have had enough of all this talk, colourful as it may be. NOW – TO BATTLE!

(The Avatar grabs H-J by the lapels and yanks him forward, to be met by his simultaneous Glasgow-kiss and knee-in-the-groin. H-J dies instantly and the other pirates whip out their swords and throw themselves forward, yelling war-cries. The combat that follows is something like a mixture of the fight scenes in a 50s Hollywood pirate swashbuckler, a 50s Hollywood medieval swashbuckler and Saving Private Ryan, all taking place in Hook’s Abattoir, Butcher Shoppe and Pizza Restaurant (e.g. Pizza Frederico) after the owner had spent too many late nights reading Murder by Mongbatand The Carver Chronicles then waking up with a nose-bleed.)

Shamino and Iolo start shooting while Dupre draws his sword. The Avatar sweeps out the Black Sword and continues the movement to cut down 3 pirates with one stroke, one of them Tarquharfarquhar. The next 25 pirates trip over their remains and end up in a huge pile. The Avatar jumps back and tells Arcadion to "Torch ‘em!" Flames leap across the deck into the pile and an enormous explosion hurls burnt body parts and weapons in all directions. This shrapnel rends an astonishing number of pirates, causing an even more astonishing volume of blood to spurt everywhere.

Dupre decapitates one pirate, runs another through, then attempts to remove the Broadsword. Whilst doing so, another pirate descends on him, only to be hit by a burst arrow, shot by Shamino. As he splats down onto the deck, Dupre realises that freeing his sword may take some time. As other pirates are closing in on him, he whips out a bottle of Daemon’s Arse Ale and drinks it in 2 seconds. Immediately, he unleashes a fearsome breath of vile and noxious gases in a tremendous burp which inflicts unspeakable damage on the lungs of the nearest 15 pirates, sending them convulsing to the deck, coughing and choking.

The Avatar, meanwhile, is surrounded. He rams his swords hilt into the face of one, then backflips over another. He slices this man down, somersaults forward, bounds off the deck and roundhouse kicks the nearest 8 pirates, breaking the necks of all but one who flies across the melee into a ninth pirate who is about to throw a dagger at Dupre. Both fall into the hold.

Above, Shamino aims his magic bow and shoots. A burst arrow strikes a pirate archer, on the Cold and Angsts rigging, who drops his own bow and throws up his arms in a pathetic attempt at a dramatic demise, then twirls round to face the rigging and tumbles off backwards. Cut to an obvious dummy bouncing about 20 feet into the air after it hits the railing, falling against the hull of the Seeker, bouncing again then splashing into the sea.

Onboard the Seeker, Dupre has recovered his sticky sword and slashes at Percy. Percy turns away – his face spouting the necessary quantity of blood – staggers to the railing, flings up his arms, drops his sword, screams and slumps against the railing which conveniently breaks and allows him to hurtle into the sea.

This sort of stunt is repeated many times in the ongoing battle.

Iolo shoots and hits Mylltone-Smythe who was standing on the railing for no apparent reason. He raises his arms, screams and is unrealistically catapulted into the briny deep.

Dupre cleaves De Tritus, then yells a warning to the Avatar. The Avatar high-kicks Anthony – graphically smashing his skull – then turns to face this new threat. It is Hungersford-Dean d’Elphinfflow-Chevalier who is swinging down on the Avatar using a chandelier, aiming both his feet at the Avatar’s head. The Avatar ducks and slashes upwards with the Shade Blade, removing his assailant’s legs, although the buccaneer continues his swing until it reaches its highest point when he lets go and shoots into the air, somersaulting repeatedly. The Avatar blows him apart in mid-air with a fireball from the Black Sword. As he lowers his gaze back to the deck he notices 3 pirates about to throw dirks at him. He raises the Shade Blade, but the first one’s head vanishes, the second is lifted off his feet and flung into the sea (arms raised and screaming) by a magic quarrel whilst another burst arrow turns the third pirate into a passable imitation of a kipper.

Peterkins grabs Dupre from behind. Dupre performs a lightning-fast and highly-complex move which results in him rolling across the deck and Peterkins sailing through the air into a group of pirates who were merely standing there, waiting for just such an opportunity to be sent sprawling. Peterkins regains his feet, snatches up an axe that was lying on the deck and aims a chop at Dupre. The knight darts back, then lunges forwards, skewering the pirate. He stumbles back – taking the sword with him – turns to face the railing, waves his arms about, drops onto the railing and heaves himself over to fall, screaming, into the water.

Von Güttern knocks back a potion of missile protection. He somersaults over a group of pirates, narrowly missing the sail that the Avatar rips down onto them. Dupre moves to intercept him, but slips on something unpleasant and crashes to the deck. About 20 pirates dive on him, their daggers raining blows onto his armoured body. Iolo and Shamino shoot, but their missiles bounce off von Güttern who swings his axe at the mast and slices clean through it. Shamino and Iolo topple out of the crow’s nest as it overbalances and only just grab onto the edge. They scream for help as the mast continues to tip over. The Avatar spins around, reaches for his rune bag and amazingly removes the runes for Repair without even looking. He casts it at the mast which stops falling and springs back up into its proper position, propelling the piercing-projectile pair off the crow’s nest, about 50 feet up and then plummeting back down, head first.

As they fall, they spin and twist so that they are the correct way up and facing the fighting. Iolo lifts his crossbow and shoots – his bolt nails Torquil to the railing by his head. Shamino shoots and kills 3 pirates with one burst arrow. Shamino reaches the deck and lands normally, apart from the splintering cracks of shattered tibias and femurs. Ignoring these he throws down his magic bow, and overcome by bloodlust, launches himself into the fray, brandishing his 2-handed hammer. Iolo, however, was wearing the Leather Boots of Bounce, so when he hit the deck he was rocketed back up into the air, whirling madly. When he reaches his apogee, the boots fly off into the distance and with an unmusical shriek, the bard plummets back to the deck and falls into the hold. The sound of breaking glass is frightening to hear.

Meanwhile, von Güttern, having smashed the mast, turns to meet the Avatar. Their duel initially seems to be taking on titanic proportions, but it soon dissolves into farce as they keep slipping in pools of blood. Finally, the Avatar aims a tremendous blow at the pirate and removes his right arm. Von Güttern runs to the railing and stops. He then proceeds to shout about how he shall have his revenge. Dupre, unable to move because of the pile formed by 19 of his attackers, quits his manic cleaving of the last pirate when he hears the cursing and shouting...

DUPRE: Avatar – strike that fellow again!

AVATAR: (despatching, savagely, another opponent) What for? He’s out of it!

DUPRE: Because Von Güttern deserves another!!!

The surviving pirates start to wail upon hearing this and turn back to the Angst, throwing aside their weapons and clothes as they rout. Then, the REAL slaughter begins! Shamino recovers his bow as Iolo backflips out of the hold: both start pouring missiles into the rabble. The Avatar (having finished off von Güttern) shouts for fire and a fireball spreads out in the thick of the pirates, some of whom, in synchrony throw up their arms, scream, pirouette several times and topple to the deck. As they leap back to the Angst, one buccaneer is hit by a burst arrow and transfixed to his ship for a few moments before the arrow explodes, sending him piece by piece into the shark-infested mess that the sea around the two ships has become. The last dozen pirates cut the lines and turn their ship away. Tarquin runs to a cannon and picks up a flaming torch. He is about to fire when he is kneecapped by a pair of magical missiles and hurled backwards, in slow-motion, by a burst of fire. Another pirate, also caught in the explosion, runs about ablaze before clambering onto the railing, yelling melodiously, spinning round and round insanely, reaching for the skies and finally falling into the water. The Avatar and Companions applaud this performance, apart from Dupre, who is still frenziedly hacking at his last pirate. Tarquin, who – being in slow-motion – is still in the air, floats gracefully into the hold, dropping his torch as he goes. The torch sets off the gunpowder stored there and the Cold and Angst is ripped apart by a series of ever-larger explosions – much like a James Bond Bad Guy’s Base. Finally, it completely disintegrates in a ball of orange flame, the warm glow lighting up the smiling, blood-stained faces of the Avatar, Iolo and Shamino who peruse their handiwork with an almost unvirtuous sense of pride. Dupre is still trying to bump off his opponent who is not only tenaciously clinging to life, but ramming his dagger repeatedly under Dupre’s breastplate. Eventually, the pirate expires with a loud, wet "schlop."

The Avatar wanders off, searching for pirate survivors, whom he Compassionately stabs with the Shade Blade.

DUPRE: Ha, ha – that taught them!

IOLO: It was quite fun, actually.

SHAMINO: I thought they were thy friends?


SHAMINO: Well...we've just been locked in mortal and bloody combat with them!

DUPRE: And? They do that all the time in Buck Den.

SHAMINO: But they don’t brutally kill one another there, do they?

DUPRE: Not very often. But who careth? I have plenty of other friends – like thee!

IOLO: Oh, thank thee, Dupre.

SHAMINO: I would rather not be a friend of thine if thou’rt going to kill me!

DUPRE: Relax; I only kill my special friends.

SHAMINO: (outraged) I am not a special friend of thine?!?

DUPRE: No, thou’rt a prat. Now get me out of here.

(He indicates the heap of slain pirates that he is partially buried under. The Avatar walks up, wiping the Black Sword.)

AVATAR: I let Arcadion finish off the ones who were still slightly alive. Seeing as he started it I wasn't going to let him feed on a healthy one. By the way Shamino, I think thou’st hurt thy leg.

(He points to Shamino’s left leg and its protruding fracture. Shamino glances down at his leg, then at the Avatar’s)

SHAMINO: Thou canst talk!

(The Avatar looks down, back up and double-takes back down again. Three daggers are sticking out of each of his legs. What has caught his horrified interest however, is the sword projecting out from under his gorget. He tentatively touches it, gives it a little tug and grimaces. He then looks back at Shamino.)


(He falls down face first, snapping the sword beneath him. Once he has fallen, 5 magic crossbow bolts can be seen stuck in his back.)

SHAMINO: (aghast) By Lord British’s Beard! They’ve killed the Avatar!! Those bastards!

AVATAR: (picking himself up) I’m not quite dead. (He pulls out the runes for Great Heal.) Shamino, couldst thou...?

(He indicates the weapons sticking out of him.)

SHAMINO: Certainly, Avatar.

DUPRE: (still stuck in bodies) What about me?!

IOLO: I’ll help thee, Dupre. (He starts towards Dupre. But before he gets there...) Uuuurgh!

(He collapses. Meanwhile, Shamino has removed the offending weapons from the Avatar, who casts Great Heal.)

AVATAR: Ahh, that’s better! (He does a couple of tuck-jumps.) I could fight that lot again now!

(He does another tuck-jump: this time he lands on a loose brain, slips and falls into the hold. The brain is kicked into the air and bounces off Shamino’s head.)

SHAMINO: What’s that?

DUPRE: Wilt thou get me out?

SHAMINO: All right, all right.

(He begins to move the bodies away. While he is doing this Iolo regains his feet.)

IOLO: Sorry about that. I don’t know what came over me. Argh!

(He collapses again. Shamino stares at the unconscious bard for a while before resuming his efforts. Soon, Dupre is freed.)

DUPRE: About time too! (As he clambers out from the battered pile and stands up, jets of blood start spraying out from him in all directions, creating an interesting fountain effect. Dupre does not notice. He pulls off his gory gauntlets, revealing clean hands, and instantly coughs. He covers his mouth and when he takes his hand away it is covered in blood.) Hmmph! I must have burst that mouth ulcer.

(He feels around inside his mouth, finds nothing, coughs up more blood and falls forward to land with a splat. Iolo gets back up.)

IOLO: I...Bluurgh!

(He drops to the deck again. The way he falls on this occasion provides a view of a poison dagger projecting from his right armpit. Shamino steps over to Iolo and is reaching down to withdraw the dagger when the effects of the adrenaline wear off and he suddenly becomes aware of the multiple fractures in his legs.)

SHAMINO: Aieeeee! (He runs into a corner.) Thou shalt regret this day!

(He also falls in a heap. Darkness descends as the deck, finally, lies still.)

ARCADION’S VOICE: Where is everybody?

The next day...

SCENE: The Avatar and Dupre are standing on the now-clean deck, next to the wheel, poring over the chart. At least, the Avatar is poring over the chart; Dupre is pouring into his mouth... Shamino is at the bow, ostensibly on watch, but in fact just looking for fish. Iolo is sitting on another part of the deck trying to repair his lute, which the Avatar "accidentally" sliced into 5 pieces, coincidentally right after Iolo had announced he would be playing Stones for them (for the seventh time that day)...

AVATAR: Well, we're almost there – perhaps only half a day more of travelling.

DUPRE: <Glug> Dost thou think they'll have good ale on the Serpent Isle, Avatar? <Swig>

AVATAR: DUPRE! I have never been there before! How would I know?

DUPRE: Well, I just thought that...


AVATAR: Hmmmph – what’s Shamino on about now? (To Shamino without looking up) Be quiet, we’re busy! Now, Dupre, thou’st asked me about the ale on the Serpent Isle about ten times and...


DUPRE: Nine times – once ‘twas the wine.

SHAMINO: It's right in front of us!!!

AVATAR: Will you shut up, Shamino!?! Now, where was I...?

DUPRE: Or perhaps it was the mead. They were bringing out a new mead in...


AVATAR: Oh, go and play with Iolo, wilt thou?

IOLO: (looking up) What? Did someone call...oh, what’s that white thing?



(Everyone falls over. Dupre lands stomach-first on the wheel. This has the dual effect of turning the ship so that it scrapes along the side of the iceberg and of acting like a very violent Heimlich Manoeuvre, resulting in him regurgitating his beer. The Avatar sits up, wipes the chart clean and returns his attention to it. Iolo is screaming repeatedly.)

AVATAR: Stop rocking the boat, Shamino!!! And stop that irritating scraping noise!

SHAMINO: It’s not me – IT’S THE ICEBERG!!!!!

(Dupre throws an empty bottle at Iolo, quieting him.)

AVATAR: Shamino. There are no...

(He breaks off as several lumps of ice drop onto the deck around him from the great adamantine pinnacle of awesome, shimmering cold stuff above. He looks up, his mouth falls open and his eyes widen. Dupre’s mouth widens and his eyes fall open. Iolo’s eyes are closed and Shamino is in a yellow-bellied, lily-livered, blue funk, waving his arms about and fainting. The Avatar, like the hero he is, recovers almost immediately and calms his companions by slapping Dupre around (and receiving a punch in the mouth for his pains), kicking Shamino in the face and jumping up and down on Iolo’s stomach.)

SHAMINO: I told thee. I told thee; but didst thou listen? Oh no! Thou didst know everything... <etc.>

AVATAR: QUIET!!!! (He waves the Black Sword about and everyone quietens.) Now: Dupre! Turn us away from this thing and...

SHAMINO: But there're hundreds!

AVATAR: What!!???

(Shamino leads the Avatar over to the bow, which is noticeably lower in the water than before it hit the iceberg. He waves his hand, taking in the multitude of icebergs of all shapes and sizes ahead of them.)

SHAMINO: See?! Believe me now?!

(The Avatar spins round.)

AVATAR: Dupre! Turn us round now! Get us back the way we came! NOW!

(As the ship turns ponderously around, Iolo joins the Avatar and Shamino at the bow. He looks over the side.)

IOLO: Iiiieeeee!! We’re sinking!!

(The Avatar casually glances over the railing at the gaping, jagged rend in the ships hull. Even more casually he removes from his Rune Bag the runes for Repair and, yawning, casts it. The hole is fixed instantly.)

AVATAR: Now Iolo, thou wilt go and bale out the hold.

IOLO: Why me?

AVATAR: Or I’ll tell Dupre that thou didst let that salty water reach his ale barrels...

(Iolo immediately runs for the hold.)

SHAMINO: Whoa! I didn't know he was that fast. I thought...

AVATAR: Hush! I’m thinking. (He furrows his brow, puts his hand on his chin and thinks aloud.) First: why are there icebergs here?

SHAMINO: Well, er, I thought that that is what happeneth when thou dost go north.

AVATAR: Nonsense. We were sailing about this area all the time during the Black Gate business and there were no icebergs then. And that was autumn. This is summer. The weather tendeth to be warmer in summer.

SHAMINO: Mayhaps we didn't come to this exact area though? We didn't see any pillars then either, did we?

AVATAR: Hmmmm, yes. Let’s check the chart.

(They walk back to the stern where Dupre is at the wheel. Iolo runs out a door and throws a bucket of water overboard (yes, including the bucket). He then runs back inside again.)

DUPRE: We're clear of the accursed ice now!

AVATAR: (looks about at the retreating icebergs) Excellent. Well, just parallel the edge of the field; try and get round ‘em. (The Avatar picks up the chart. He holds one side and Shamino the other.) That Grav is where the pillars are supposed to be. That line is our course so far, so we should be about, er, here!

(He points at the chart.)

SHAMINO: I can't remember if we travelled this way or not last time.

AVATAR: Me neither. There aren't any icebergs marked, though.

SHAMINO: What about that tiny wee writing there!

(He points.)

AVATAR: Oh yes! I hadn’, ah well noticed: I wondered how long thou wouldst take to see that.

SHAMINO: But what does it say?

AVATAR: Er, it says (he holds the chart up to the light and peers closely at it), "Ha ha ha Avatar, you dumb blonde you; you think that you can beat the Guardian? Muahhaaahahaha! Never! He shall use your bones as – " Urrgh! Er-um, the next part isn’t so important, but then it says, "Oh yes, Avatar, I hope you enjoy what the Guardian left around the pillars for you! Muahahahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaa!" ‘Tis signed, "Batlin."

SHAMINO: Well, that would mean there is no way through. We’ll have to turn back. What a shame. Damn, I had so wanted to...

AVATAR: Wait! But how did Batlin get through? There must be a route, as he must have written this before he left!

SHAMINO: Hooray.

AVATAR: The only question is: where is it?

DUPRE: We could ask some local fishermen.

AVATAR: We’re miles out into the sea, Dupre.

(He rolls his eyes.)

DUPRE: What about these fishing boats?

(Dupre points at four equally sized ships approaching them. The Avatar walks over to the railing and looks at them with interest. They can be seen to be medium-sized galleys.)

AVATAR: They're galleys.

SHAMINO: Do fishermen use galleys?

(Iolo comes out of a door, throws another bucket overboard then studies the ships as well.)

DUPRE: (snorts) Don’t ask me!

AVATAR: I wouldn't have thought so.

DUPRE: The black, er, um – sails – that’s it! - er, I think they're quite impressive really.

IOLO:Black and red aren’t they?

SHAMINO: Funny. The red part looketh a bit like a face, actually.

DUPRE: Whatever next!?

AVATAR: No, I’m sure it is a face. And I think I've seen it before somewhere...

(Several fireballs speed towards them from the galleys, making a ripping sound as they pass.)

EVERYONE: It’s the Guardian!!! Well, his face.

AVATAR: But that’s not important. Dupre, steer Nor-nor-west!

DUPRE: What???


SHAMINO: What art thou doing? Thou’rt not going into an ice floe, art thou?

AVATAR: They’d be crazy to follow us, wouldn’t they? Well, wouldn’t they!?

(The Avatar pushes the frozen [Oho – what a pun! Ice, you see? Never mind...] Dupre away from the wheel and steers the ship amongst the ice. His companions look at each other doubtfully.)

SHAMINO: Er, Avatar, if they work for the Guardian they can’t be sane, can they?


(The galleys sweep ominously into the ice after the Seeker, their banks of oars beating rapidly, in near-perfect harmony. The black sails flap about, the face of the Guardian on each one seems to be staring straight at the Seeker.)

IOLO:Ohhh, I don’t like this. We’ll hit an iceberg and we’ll all drown...

AVATAR: Shut up!

(The Seeker turns and twists around many diversely-shaped icebergs. The more maneauverable galleys have no trouble following, except they have to leave more space for their oars. Fireballs continue to reach out towards our heroes [for want of a better word], sometimes missing by only very small margins.)

IOLO:Avatar, let us surrender! They cannot treat us that badly! I think... Urgh!

(Dupre beats him to the deck with the edge of his sword.)

AVATAR: Thank you! Shamino – get to the fron... bow and look for any submerged icebergs! And tell me this time, if thou dost see one! (Shamino runs for’ard. The Avatar continues to spin the wheel madly, dodging past any visible iceberg that comes near. A fireball roars past between him and Dupre. They both duck instinctively and Dupre grabs something hanging on a cord around his neck.) What's that, Dupre? It’s not one of these pickled rotworms again is it?

DUPRE: What, thou dost mean this? (He holds up, by the cord, a white, spherical, fairly transparent object for the Avatar to examine.) ‘Tis my lucky Delayed Blast.


DUPRE: Well, a few years ago – before I was knighted [*CHEAP PLUG* - Sir Dupre Indeed!: coming in the not too distant future (or possibly already here depending on when you’re reading this (And keep up the good work if you have actually read this far – only another 9 350 or so words to go :) You can make it.)) from the dark and loathsome abyss which Tailrace jokingly refers to as his mind, the (serious) tale of how a renowned drunkard and low-life became an epitome of valour, honour and chivalry! *END OF PLUG*] I had a fateful encounter with this mad mage – absolutely raving he was – during which he cast Delayed Blast at me, but it didn’t go off – which was incredibly lucky as he had paralysed me at the time. Anyway, after the spell – the paralysis spell that is – wore off I was able to overpower him and destroy him following a long and vicious battle. I thus helped to make the land safer for all good, law-abiding, virtuous people. (To himself) Heh. I gave him ‘Sword of Death’ all right – Muuahahahahaaahem, I digress. I returned to the Delayed Blast and picked it up and kept it as a lucky charm – well, I actually tried to sell it to Greig – the ‘lucky provisioner’, remember him? – but he told me to <ANATOMICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TASK>. So I kept it. Good story, eh Avatar? Avatar??

AVATAR: (waking up)Huh? What? Oh yes! (He violently veers the vessel around an iceberg.) Now give it to me!

DUPRE: What...?

(The Avatar snatches the Delayed Blast and rips it off Dupre’s neck.)

AVATAR: Take the wheel. (He pushes the protesting paladin over to the wheel, then speaks in a slow, mysterious voice.) I remember reading in some ancient, mystic tome – perhaps even the Codex of Ultimate Wisdom itself – a secret, very little known method of recharging a failed Delayed Blast. (He sets the Delayed Blast down gently on the deck and takes a deep breath. He then proceeds to maniacally stamp on it until it starts to glow and pulse. He picks it up and looks about.) Dupre – steer the ship so that iceberg is between us and that galley.

(He points in various directions.)

DUPRE: Well, if thou dost know what thou art doing...

(Dupre pilots the ship in very close to an iceberg and follows it around until it is between the Seeker and the pursuers. While the iceberg is passing, the Avatar throws the Delayed Blast at it; it lands on a sloping slab of ice but is glued magically in place. The Seeker now heads away from the iceberg, and with exquisite timing, just as the foremost galley scoots around the iceberg, the Delayed Blast blows up. The explosion sends icy shrapnel ripping through the sail and sweeping over the deck of the galley, but more importantly a huge chunk is taken out of the iceberg. The upper parts overbalance and crash down through the deck of the galley. The vessel starts to founder immediately.)

AVATAR: Hahah!! EAT DEATH, YOU MORONS!!! (The other galleys rush around the iceberg and dodge past the sinking galley, abandoning the survivors to flounder helplessly in the freezing water or to attempt to climb onto the iceberg. The Avatar looks ahead and becomes positively inspired.) Dupre, steer tightly around that very small iceberg there (He points.), then return to this course.

DUPRE: Another cunning plan?

AVATAR: Certainly.

(He pulls a smoke bomb from his belt and throws it at a passing iceberg; a huge cloud of smoke billows out from it and masks the Seeker from the view of the galleys. The Avatar dashes to the bow.)

SHAMINO: Avatar, there’s an iceberg ahead!!

AVATAR: I know!

(He pulls a container of invisibility powder from his belt and waits for the moment. The iceberg nears.)

SHAMINO: Aaaaah!

(He cowers down, shielding his head with his hands, but the Seeker jerks aside at the last second and the Avatar flings the powder over the tip of the iceberg, which disappears. Dupre brings the Seeker back onto its original course.)

AVATAR: (proudly) A very good throw, even if I do say so myself. Didst thou see it, Shamino? No? Oh, well. (He sighs. Meanwhile, the galleys rush out from the smoke and, unaware of the invisible iceberg, dash straight for it, hot on the tiller of the Seeker. There is a massive CRUNCH as the leading galleys battering ram strikes the iceberg, leaving the ship stuck. The other two jink past on either side and continue after the Seeker.) Heh, heh! Taught them! (An explosion judders the Seeker, throwing the Avatar and Shamino into the railings. The Avatar rapidly regains his feet.) How dare they! (He hurries to the stern where a scorched hole has been blasted through the hull.) Cheek! (He pulls out the Flam and Por runes and casts the spell at the nearest galley. The fireball whizzes away and misses utterly. Howls of derision echo from the targeted galley. The Avatar turns red with mixed anger and embarrassment.) They, they mock me? The Avatar? (The Avatar has the last laugh, however: the fireball hits and instantly boils an iceberg. The second ship sails straight into this searing sheet of steam and screams for succour emanate from it.) Aha ha ha ha haaaa!!! Were you lot laughing at me, then? Eh? Aha-haaaa! (He makes several rude gestures at the galley.) Now, what shall I do with this one? (He studies the final galley for a moment.) Hmmmmm – ahah! I know! Dupre – steer for that iceberg.

(He points at the said iceberg.)

DUPRE: This is fun!

IOLO: (Regaining consciousness) Oooooh!

(The Seeker heads for one of the larger icebergs, the nearest galley still tailing them, the steamed one having fallen behind, its oars still.)

AVATAR: There’s an absolutely evil spell I invented recently; and I intend to use it here. Muahahahaha! (He starts waving his arms about and pulls out some prepared reagents.) Dupre – turn now! (The ship leans over as it turns away from the iceberg at the last possible moment. The Avatar points at an area of water off the starboard bow of the galley.) Vas In Quas Nudi!

(The area at which he is pointing starts to shimmer with magical energy and glows with many different colours.)

DUPRE: Oooooh! That soundeth like an interesting spell – what doth it do?

AVATAR: It’s called "Siren". It doth not affect us...

DUPRE: Damn.

AVATAR: ...but for them (he points at the galley) ‘tis a different matter. Heh, heh...

(Figures on the deck of galley can be seen rushing to the starboard side of their ship. Cheers and wolf-whistles ring out as the figures jostle with one another to get a sight of whatever it is they can see in the magical field. The officers on the deck have obviously put any idea of steering from their minds. The rowers below deck on the other hand, cannot see anything and continue on the same course, unaware of the iceberg for which they are swiftly heading. The galley, travelling at almost full speed, crashes into splintering ruin on the ice.)

DUPRE: Well, it must have been a fun way to go.

SHAMINO: Look out!!

(The Avatar and Dupre immediately switch their attention to where the Seeker is heading. After Dupre had turned the ship away from the iceberg he had neglected to return the wheel to amidships. As a result, the Seeker has looped around and is now heading back the way it came. And the steamed ship, now seemingly recovered, is bearing down on them, its battering ram sending up sheaves of sloshing spray. The Avatar shoves Sir Dupre away from the wheel and spins it to starboard, sending the Seeker straining aside from the stabbing – [Okay, that’s enough Ss :)] As the Seeker dodges away...)

SHAMINO: (Pointing at the galley) Oooohooo! Look at that, Dupre!

(Dupre rushes to the rail.)

DUPRE: What? What? Ohhoho! Come and see this, Iolo!

IOLO:What is it, Du... OH!!

(He turns away in disgust.)

AVATAR: What’s going on, Dupre?

DUPRE: The battering ram! It’s shaped like a...

AVATAR: Right, right, I get the idea!!! Take the wheel! (Dupre resumes the steering while the Avatar leaps to the railing. He snatches the Jewelled Axe of Fire Doom from his belt and waves it at the passing galley.) Come on then! Don’t want to fight hand-to-hand do you? Come back here and taste my Righteous Fire! (An arrow zips over from the galley. It hits the Axe, knocking it from the Avatar’s hand. It falls end-over-end into the grey sea. The Avatar drags his eyes back up and flames seem to flash across them.) Right. THAT’S IT!!!! Vas Kal An Mani...

SHAMINO: Avatar?

IOLO:Is that virtuous?

DUPRE: Must we do this?

AVATAR: ...In Corp Hur...

COMPANIONS: I’m leav...

AVATAR: (quickly) Only joking! Ha – really had you guys going there! (He puts on a Shamino-like voice) Oh, must we do this? I don’t want to do that, Avatar! Oh, Avatar, no! Please don’t!

(He sniggers.)

IOLO:Don’t take the mickey, Avatar. How were we to know?

AVATAR: ‘Twas a joke – ‘twas funny; some people just have no sense of humour. I mean, I laugh at anything!

SHAMINO: Should we not get Dupre back?

AVATAR: Huh? (Shamino points at a nearby iceberg. Dupre is climbing up it.) I don’t believe it! What is he DOING!? Why can’t he take a joke? (The Avatar steers the ship back over to the iceberg.) Name?

DUPRE: Not telling.

AVATAR: EH? Not...? Come on now: name?

DUPRE: Nope.

AVATAR: Dupre, tell me your name.

DUPRE: Won’t.

AVATAR: If you don’t, I can’t ask you to join. It wouldn’t be polite to invite someone to join if thou didst not...

DUPRE: What? You think I’ve left? (Dupre jumps down onto the Seeker, laughing.) You really thought I’d left? Ha ha! I hadn’t really! Ho ho ho – that ‘twas a classic. Ha ha haaaaaargh!!

(The Avatar punches him unconscious.)

AVATAR: That wasn’t funny. Now, did anyone see where that ship went? (Iolo and Shamino cast about as the Avatar steps over the prone Dupre to the wheel. There is no sign of the galley.)

SHAMINO: Not a sign of it.


AVATAR: I don’t like this – let’s find those Pillars pronto.

(The Seeker moves away from the iceberg. As it does so the galley launches itself from behind the selfsame iceberg, heading straight at the port beam of the Seeker.)




(He spins the wheel and brings off an impossibly tight turn towards the galley. The ram just misses the Seekers stern whilst the Avatar’s ship crunches across the portside oars of the galley, brutally dismembering the manacled rowers within. A grappling hook is hurled from the galleys stern and it catches on the bowsprit of the Seeker. The two ships start rotating round and round and round – the starboard rowers of the galley still going strong. A goblin, looking like the captain, appears by the railing of this goblin-crewed galley.)

CAPTAIN: Who art thou that sails so good? Art thou insane?

AVATAR: No, she hath just got a load of ale in the hold and a load of debts to pay on the Serpent Isle... er... I’m talking rubbish, amn’t I?

CAPTAIN: And I the same! Thou shouldst not kill me just for attacking thee!

AVATAR: I don’t mind that thou tried to kill me, but pro- actually I do mind!

(The Avatar grabs Iolo’s crossbow and aims it at the captain.)

CAPTAIN: No, wait! Mercy! I plead for thy Compassionate and Honourable sparing of my humble life!

AVATAR: Aye, right.

(His fingers tighten on the trigger.)

IOLO:Is that virtuous?

AVATAR: What...oh, um, yes. (He lowers the crossbow.) What dost thou want?

CAPTAIN: Well, I heard thee mention the Serpent Isle, oh mighty Avatar!

AVATAR: What of it?

CAPTAIN: I have had enough of being a slave to the Guardian and...

GUARDIAN: Traitor! Kill him, somebody!

VOICE: Die, scum!

(The owner of the voice runs at the captain, waving a sabre. The Avatar lifts the crossbow, but before it reaches his shoulder, the captain spins around, quick-draws a Fire Wand and shoots the sabre-gob in the face with messy results.)

IOLO:I may puke.

CAPTAIN: (keeping an eye on the rest of his crew.) Sorry about that, Avatar. As I was saying, I have had enough of the Guardian – and so I will tell thee this: thou dost have a Serpent Statue, dost thou not?


CAPTAIN: Well, ‘tis a trap! The Guardian enchanted it and sent it to Britannia from Pagan as he knew thou wouldst get thy hands on it!

AVATAR: What is this "Pagan"? A place?

CAPTAIN: A place, yes, but I know very little – what I do know is that the enchantment will make the statue explode if thou dost pass through the pillars, scattering thy ship throughout the Void!

AVATAR: Oh, thanks for warning me. I shall destroy it!

(He removes it from his pack.)

CAPTAIN: Perhaps thou shouldst not, for it mayeth be useful on the Serpent Isle – if thou canst get it there. That is why we art here. To try and take it from thee. We have the means on our ships to dispel the enchantment. Having done that we were to take it to the Serpent Isle and deliver it into Batlin’s paws.

AVATAR: Well, dispel it for me then, if thou wouldst be so kind.

(The Avatar throws the statue over to the captain, who catches it.)

CAPTAIN: Thanks. (To his crew:) Come on boys, let’s go! Cast off! (To the Avatar et al:) Hahaaaaaa!!! So long, suckers!

(He makes rude gestures at the Avatar, who is holding the railing VERY tightly. The grappling rope is cut and several goblins with oars rush over to push the Seeker away. They pause long enough to moon at the Avatar and Companions.)


(He covers his eyes.)

AVATAR: Gaah! (He rips off part the railing with a thundering crack and waves it at them.) Pond slime! Pond weed! Pond scum!

SHAMINO: (Trying not to laugh at how the utterly furious Avatar has been taken.) Calm down, Avatar! Should we not be going after them?

AVATAR: (Bright red and waving the piece of railing like a madman.) Silence, thou stupid, simpering snot! We will, believe me! But first, I want to finish off the subject at hand, RE: pond...


(They all drop dead.)

AVATAR: Oh. They're all dead. What did I do? (Shamino and Iolo appear just as confused as the Avatar.) Never mind. (He throws the piece of yew railing away.) Let’s get the statue back and...

SHAMINO: Er, Avatar, I think there was more to their plot than getting the statue.

AVATAR: What dost thou mean?

SHAMINO: I mean he was stalling us! LOOOK!!!

(He points in the opposite direction to the now-drifting galley. The Avatar and Iolo spin round.)


(He looks faint.)

AVATAR: Hah! (He raises his arms. The galley that had struck the invisible iceberg earlier is within several seconds of smashing into them. Its crumpled metal battering ram still looks sharp and highly dangerous.) Vas An Mani In Corp Grav Mas Flam Frio Vex Nox Hur Por!!!

(A huge ball of magic energy jumps into the air from the Avatar and drops with a magical sort of sound onto the galley, encasing it in noisome green smoke through which shoot lightning bolts and blasts of flame. It freezes over with ice, then a series of vicious explosions rips it apart with much banging, cracking and screaming.)


IOLO:Is that virtuous?

AVATAR: Ha HAH! I’m invincible!! You saw me waste that ship didn't you? Eh? EH? Ha – that showed ‘em! I made up that spell on the spur of the moment too! No reagents or anything! Hear me? NO REAGENTS!! NO RUNES!!! NO SPELLBOOK!!! HAHAAAAH! In fact, I don’t need these anymore. (He unfastens the rune bag from his belt and throws it overboard.) I am now supremely powerful! Batlin’s no match for me now! Not that he ever was! Bleh – forget that fat waster – the GUARDIAN shall fall before my mystic skills and my sheer bloody excellence!

IOLO:Is that virtuous?

AVATAR: Wilt thou stop saying that, Iolo? I can’t hear myself speak! Now, where was I? Oh yes! I am now...

SHAMINO: Actually, Avatar...

AVATAR: WHAT?! Why do people keep trying - nay, daring – to interrupt me? Me, the Avatar!!!

(He pulls out his reagent bag.)

SHAMINO: (cowering) B...b...b...but I-I-I-I-I-I-I thought he was right this time...

AVATAR: (incredulous)RIGHT???!!?? HOW could he POSSIBLY be RIGHT? I am the EMBODIMENT of Virtue, remember? It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to be unvirtuous!

SHAMINO: W...w...w...well, er, um...pride?

AVATAR: What about pride? (He throws the reagent bag overboard.) I’m not proud! I could never be proud! I’m humble! I am the humblest person in Britannia! And don’t you forget it, you miserable nematode! Pah! I don’t know why I’m wasting my precious breath talking to thee – thou’rt not the sort to be even seen with the likes of me! I should just laugh at thee! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! That’s what I think of thee and thine accusations! (He takes out his spellbook.) What dost thou know about pride and humility anyway?

IOLO:Well, er, doth pride not go before... (a shadow falls across the deck) Ulp...a fall?

SHAMINO: That doth not look like a dragon this time.

IOLO:Or a gargoyle!

(Everyone looks up. A black balloon, emblazoned with the Guardian’s face, is floating over the deck like the pall of doom [or something]. Some people are visible in the basket, but their activities cannot be discerned.)

AVATAR: (momentarily shaken) Er...ah...AH! More Avatar-fodder! (He tosses the spellbook down onto the deck and lifts his arms.) Vas In Mani An Corp Por yes – Vas An Corp Xen Ex Grav Ylem – no. In Grav Mani Mas Ibex what was it again?

IOLO: (pointing at the balloon) Aaah! Look – they've got flaming oil! We’re doomed! Doomed!

AVATAR: Never! Vas An Grav Nox Flam In Mani – NO! Er, (Getting desperate) Vas Nox Ylem – – AHA! Vas An Mani In Corp Grav Mas Flam Frio Vex Nox Hur Por!!!

(Pause. Long pause. One of the balloonists drops an oil flask to get the aim. It does not miss by much.)

SHAMINO: Er, Avatar – nothing seemeth to have happened.

IOLO:Aaaah! Help! Abandon ship!

(He starts running about in circles.)

DUPRE: Ohhh.

(He holds his head.)

AVATAR: (panicking) I’m out of mana! I’M OUT OF BLOODY MANA! (He tries to haul the Black Sword from its sheath, but it catches on his backpack.) HELP! Shamino – do something!

SHAMINO: But what can I do!? I thought thou wert the most powerful person in Britannia. If thou canst not save us, how could


(Three people lean over the edge of the basket and prepare to drop flasks of oil. Shamino fumbles with his magic bow and manages only to drop a burst arrow on his foot.)

SHAMINO: Ayaaaah!

(The Avatar cowers down, waiting for the inevitable roasting, but just then...)


(Three shots ring out simultaneously and the three balloonists all pitch over backwards, dropping their weapons into the basket. This bursts into flame to accompanying screams. A couple of burning figures jump out and tumble into the sea nearby. The Avatar and Companions turn to face the source of their salvation – it is another ship, the same size as the Seeker and is also crewed by merely four men – they are all unarmoured: they wear wide-brimmed hats with large feathers attached; loose tabards, decorated with ankhs and each has a rapier. One is holding his, the others have them sheathed and are lowering smoking muskets. They all have ridiculously over-the-top French accents. The fellow with the drawn sword speaks.)

VOICE: At-tohn-seeong!

(The other three line up, stand at attention and slope muskets.)

VOICE: Deeess-meeest!

(They wander over to the nearest railing to the Seeker apart from one who takes the wheel and steers his ship in closer. As they approach, the one with the drawn rapier sheaths the said weapon, doffs his hat and bows to the Avatar with a flourish! The Avatar bows in return.)

AVATAR: Er, thanks. Whoever thou art.

VOICE: Eh am D’Arvagntar. (He bows again and then puts his hat back on top of his long, blonde hair.) Avec mes companyons – Argos Dupont (the dark-haired man, with a moustache, at the wheel waves at them, then swigs from a hip flask), Portholo Fitzpatrick (a grey-haired man waves to them) et ShArmalite Sally Dastard (the last of the group, a fair-haired man with a moustache, shakes his musket triumphantly in the air. All in all, they look VERY familiar.) – Ah make up ze Musketeerin’ Regimont de Bretagne.

AVATAR: Never heard of it, actually.

D’ARVAGNTAR: Ahh, but nous art trés new. En fact – vous art ze Avatar art vous not?

AVATAR: That’s me; the most famous, brave and heroic champion of Britannia!

D’ARVAGNTAR: Ah oui, bien sur. (He smiles knowingly.) Vous look like ze paintin’. Vous art certainalement Claire!

AVATAR: Uuuhr...

(The Avatar looks very uncomfortable.)

SHAMINO: What’s this?

AVATAR: Nothing. Go and...

SHARMALITE: ‘Teez a great ‘onur to meet ze, Claire!

SHAMINO: (Shouting to the other ship.) What dost thou mean by "Claire"?

AVATAR: It’s nothing, now why dost thou not...

PORTHOLO: But ‘teez ‘eez nom.

(He points at the Avatar.)

SHAMINO: Him? His name?! (He also points at the Avatar.) No, no, no! His name is Casanova Don Juan! Everyone knows that!

SHARMALITE: Even Monsieur Nez?

SHAMINO: Pardon?! What art thou saying?

AVATAR: Oh, is that the time? We should be...

D’ARVAGNTAR: We war talkeen’ to meelord Breeteesh et ‘ee zays zat ze Avatar’s nom ist Claire. Mais, nous say, "Non! ‘Ee eez Casanova!" "Non!" zay LB. "Zat eez a fake nom! ‘Eez real nom beest Claire." C’est ça! Honestablement!

DUPRE: Hmmmfff...Claire! <snort><grunt><squeak>

(He clasps his hands over his mouth and turns away, almost crying in his efforts to restrain his mirthful merriment.)

AVATAR: I-I-I deny all your lies! Scoundrels!

D’ARVAGNTAR: Zou dost contradeect meelord Breeteesh?

AVATAR: (bright red) Ah, aah, er, no – of course I don't. (He quickly changes the subject.) But what're you doing here?!

D’ARVAGNTAR: We are on a quest to zave Bretagne from ze eevil creatyooor, Keeesmee!


SHAMINO: Claire! He said that...OOOOOFF!!

(As the Avatar lowers his steel-clad foot, Shamino slumps to the deck, groaning and clutching his groin.)

ARGOS: ‘Ee zay we are goeen’ to Dazee Isle to vankwees ze foul Keeesmee!

AVATAR: Kissme?

IOLO:Well, Avatar, if thou dost say so. (Iolo steels himself and approaches the Avatar.)

AVATAR: (batting Iolo’s arms away) Unhand me, thou infamous old... (Iolo thrusts his face towards the Avatar who tries to push him away. He grab’s Iolo’s beard – to everyone’s surprise it comes off.) What the flip!?

(He turns over the obviously fake beard and eyes Iolo questioningly. He narrows his eyes and grabs Iolo’s hair. Iolo squeals and instinctively grabs his hair, as if holding it down. The Bard twists free of Claire’s grasp and runs to the other side of the deck. The Avatar stares after him for a moment, then turns to the other ship, whose crew have been watching with interest. Shamino and Dupre haven’t noticed though, for different reasons.)

DUPRE: (recovered and walking to the railing) Didst thou say Kissme!? I knew that beast was evil the moment I saw it!! We should go with them, Avatar...Claire <snort><etc>

AVATAR: NO! We are after Batlin. We are not turning around and chasing after ANY fairies!

SHAMINO: Ohh...but Av-aaaaahhh-tar – ‘twill be safe...oh, that hurt!

AVATAR: Exactly! We're heroes. Well, I am! We go to dangerous places.

ARGOS: Zey do zay zat eet eez allied to dark powerz

DUPRE: No dark power – or any power – would want to go anywhere near that...thing!


SCENE: Daisy Isle, the city of Asphodel Grove. In Dandelion Palace a group of shadowy figures are gathered around a dark table. One is fluttering about.

VOICE 1: I love thee! It is true! Yes, I love thee!

(The flapping noise nears another shadowy figure which violently jumps away at its approach.)

VOICE 2: No! Shoo! Do not touch me, thou, thou...

VOICE 3: Cad! How couldst thou talk to a lady like...

VOICE 4: I think thou didst just break the rules of the Game!

VOICE 3: Shut up – don’t interrupt...NO DON’T! THANKS! I did not mean to shout, but thy jangling and clinking... QUIET! irritateth me! I really don’t know...

VOICE 4: I think thou didst just break the rules of the Game!

VOICE 3: Give me strength...

VOICE 1: I love thee!

VOICE 3: Thou canst be quiet too, slag! I truthfully have never before seen anyone so, so profligate!

VOICE 2: And I have no wish to again, I can assure thee!

VOICE 1: I love thee!

VOICE 5: What do we do now?

VOICE 3: Fool! We are waiting for the last of us to arrive.

VOICE 4: I think thou didst just break the rules of the Game.


VOICE 5: I could tell a tale or two to pass the time?

VOICE 6: Naaay! Perhaps some food?

VOICE 1: It is true! I love thee!

VOICE 3: I have the feeling... that some of us would prefer...

VOICE 4: Thou hadst best learn it.

VOICE 3: ...just to stuff their faces...

VOICE 4: Thou didst...

VOICE 3: ...and not get down to the job at hand!

VOICE 7: No food? Hey!

VOICE 6: Yes, please.

VOICE 4: That was a good one!

VOICE 2: Eh?

VOICE 4: No, not ‘eh’ – ‘hay’!

VOICE 2: Nope.

VOICE 7: Me neither. I would like some food too, though...

VOICE 4: ‘Hey’, get it? (Silence.) No? Well imagine thou hadst a talking horse...

VOICE 3: (sarcastically) I think thou didst just break the rules of the Game!

VOICE 4: Not playing anymore. Heehee!

VOICE 6: Anyway, what about this talking horse, eh?

VOICE 4: Close!

VOICE 2: My head’s hurting.

VOICE 7: My stomach is. Why’s it so dark in here?

VOICE 3: It’s a secret gathering, we’re not using our real names... why dost thou think ‘tis dark?

VOICE 6: Here’s a clue – ‘tis probably not because some of us are unclothed.

VOICE 3: Although I suspect that’s true.

VOICE 7: Oho! Any wenches?

VOICE 1: I love thee!

VOICE 7: Really? (Suavely) What’s thy name?

VOICE 1: Kissme.

VOICE 7: Where art thou?!

(Someone can be heard staggering around the room.)


VOICE 6: Perhaps a tale would be a good idea.

VOICE 5: Aha, well – Hub...

VOICE 4: Shut up! I know a better one...

VOICE 3: Kindly desist with thine annoying rudeness...

VOICE 4: I think thou didst just


(Something heavy hits the floor.)

VOICE 5: Aaaaaah! My tail!

VOICE 7: Sorry – aaah! You bit me!

VOICE 3: No, I did - and I assure thee thou dost not taste at all pleasant. In fact, I've eaten a carrot with a more exciting taste.

VOICE 6: Hey, thou’rt a carrot connoisseur?

VOICE 3: I prefer meat actually. Especially horse meat...

VOICE 6: That was uncalled for!

VOICE 2: Hear, hear!

VOICE 7: Stop talking about food!

VOICE 8: MMmmRrrrrooooaaOOOooooo!

VOICE 1: I love thee!

VOICE 7: There thou art!

(A kissing sound.)


VOICE 7: Whoops! <rumble> Feed me!

VOICE 5: I have some cheese.

VOICE 7: Thou dost?

(A swallowing sound.)

VOICE 5: No.

VOICE 1: I love thee!

VOICE 3: I can’t stand this much longer.

VOICE 6: I agree with thee there!

VOICE 3: Quite frankly, I am as concerned about thine opinions as I am about the price of fish-stuffed-with-banana and chips in a lukewarm Minoxian glaze sauce on Talorus.

VOICE 6: Despite your rudeness, I shall offer you a hint: on a quest for Truth, the Lycaeum would be the best place to...

VOICE 3: I know that! Dost thou have the brains of a slime?

VOICE 6: You know, I don’t believe I wish to talk to you any more!

VOICE 3: The feeling, sirrah, is mutual!!

VOICE 5: Oh, when is...

(The door opens. Everyone in the room turns to face the silhouette in the door. It steps in and shuts the door, then makes its way to the table.)

VOICE 9: Sorry I’m late, but... ooof!

VOICE 2: Watch where thou’rt going!

VOICE 6: It’s not who I think it is, is it? Oh no...

VOICE 3: We have no money with us, my fine fellow, so none of thy knavish dealings will succeed here!

VOICE 2: Look, wilt thou please stop poking me in the eye?! <shove>

(A clattering sound.)

VOICE 9: Whoa!

VOICE 6: I’ve told you – you can’t order me about no more!

VOICE 5: Quiet – to business!

VOICE 1: Yes – start now, Voice 8.

VOICE 9: Certainly.

(A chair being pulled out sound.)

VOICE 5: Squeeeeeeaaaaakk!

VOICE 9: Oh, sorry...

VOICE 5: Find your own seat, you gormless great cheesecake!

VOICE 7: Fooood!

VOICE 9: Is that thou, young...



VOICE 1: Let’s get this meeting started.

(Another chair is pulled out. The newcomer sits and lights a candle on the table – this does not produce enough light to illuminate any faces. The newcomer unrolls a map of Daisy Isle in the small pool of light. He sets a crossbow on it to hold it down.)

VOICE 9: Now, this is what I suggest we do: we...


SCENE: Britannia, an ice floe, two ships.

D’ARVAGNTAR: puis, meelord Breeteesh geeves us ze trois muskets et ‘ee zays zat we are now ze Musketeerin’ Regimont de Bretagne.

AVATAR: Wha...what a touching story. <sniff>

DUPRE: I especially liked <sniffle> (He rubs his eyes.) ...the scene in the bar.

SHAMINO: Oooooh!

D’ARVAGNTAR: Mais, nous sommes kept vous from vour quest! I ap-ol-oh-jize for keepin’ vous et...

AVATAR: Err... stop right there!


AVATAR: The last time somebody apologised to us for delaying us, we killed him and his shipmates.

D’ARVAGNTAR: Oh. Ah zee. (He obviously does not.) Well, weeee’ll be goeen’ now aussi! Farewell et Adieu!

AVATAR: Bye. (They all start shouting goodbyes to each other. Except for...) Iolo! Say bye to the nice adventurers!

(Iolo continues to cower at the bow, keeping a tight hold on his head. Meanwhile, the other ship sails off and disappears behind an iceberg.)

DUPRE: Come on now, Cl... Avatar; let us be off also.

AVATAR: Too true, sir knight. We have wasted much time.(Shamino mumbles something, possibly in agreement, but more probably a comment on who the main time-waster has been.) But first we must retrieve that serpent – I have a feeling that we shall indeed need it. Iolo! (Everyone turns to the bow – but Iolo is gone!) What... the... - where did he...?

SHAMINO: Oh, this is spooky; I don’t like it!

DUPRE: (Shaking head and rubbing eyes several times.) But... but... he was...

IOLO: Thou didst want me, Avatar?

(They spin back round. Iolo was standing – beard and all – behind them, looking innocent. He is holding the serpent in one hand. The others remain completely confused.)

AVATAR: Er, I, ah...

IOLO: I'd just gone to fetch this.

(He holds up the serpent.)

AVATAR: I, ah, I... thanks. Er...

(The Avatar walks over to Iolo. He holds out his left hand to take the statue. As Iolo is handing it over the Avatar shoots out his right hand and tugs at Iolo’s beard. It stays firmly attached, but Iolo squeals and drops the statue. The Avatar jerks his foot out of the way and the statue hits the deck. The base shatters.)

IOLO: My bea...! Whoops!


(Just when it looks like the Avatar is going to start laying into someone there is a gust of wind, the sails billow out and the sun, hitherto hidden behind a cloud, shines down upon the deck. There is a fanfare of trumpets. The Avatar and Companions all gaze for’ard. Before them stand two huge, black columns, each with a mighty statue of a snake coiled around it, their eyes staring blankly yet ominously back. The pillars are surrounded by a field of solid ice, through which a lone channel weaves its serpentine path up to the space betwixt the pillars.)

SHAMINO: (awe-struck) By Lord British’s Throne!

IOLO: (whispering) Gwenno. Soon...

AVATAR: My friends (He grips Shamino’s shoulder.) – our quest now truly begins.

DUPRE: I’m thirsty. I hope there are good pubs on the Serpent Isle.

AVATAR: Oh, there’s a thought (The Avatar looks worried.) – do you think we'll arrive off a town and not have time to change.

IOLO: Change?

AVATAR: Clothes! I mean, do you think I should wear this (He indicates his brown tunic and red cloak.) or my white surcoat? Or perhaps the red one? No, no – the magic armour with the red ankh! Argh – suggestions please, people!

DUPRE: The red surcoat. Women love red, thou knowest!

(Dupre smoothes his own surcoat.)

AVATAR: Yes, but ‘tis the Guardian’s colour. Shamino?

SHAMINO: The white. Definitely. It maketh thee seem so pure and virtuous.

AVATAR: Art thou saying I do not look virtuous without it?

SHAMINO: (hastily) Oh, no, no! Just that, well...

AVATAR: I want to look tough and scary!

DUPRE: Magic armour then.

AVATAR: Well, ‘tis just that I prefer the cloak.

(He twirls it around himself.)

SHAMINO: Iolo, what dost thou think?

(Iolo doesn’t reply immediately. He is staring ahead, looking frightened.)

AVATAR: Well, Iolo?

IOLO:A...a...avatar, we're going to crash!

SHAMINO: (jerking his head in the direction of travel) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!

(There is a curve in the channel ahead and the Seeker has no one near enough the wheel to turn the ship away in time. The Avatar is about to make a despairing dive for the wheel when the Seeker follows the curve in the channel on her own.)

AVATAR: By the Serpent! How did that happen?

DUPRE: Heh, heh – which one? Which serpent? (Grinning, he gestures at the rapidly-approaching pillars and their ophidian guardians.) Serpents! Get it?

SHAMINO: (wild-eyed) He speaketh the truth! They have us! Those <EXPLETIVE DELETED> snakes. Look at them! LOOK AT THEM!!! Those great evil bastards!!! They’rt pulling us in! We’re in their spell! We're doomed! Look, Avatar! Look at their eyes – staring at us, entrancing us – they... they shall swallow us as we approach. Why did we have to come at all, Avatar? Batlin can’t harm us there! You hear me? He can’t! Now we shall never return home!

DUPRE: We flaming well will.

SHAMINO: Oh, Amber! How could I leave thee?! Leave thee, just so that I would be consumed by a pair of daemonic vipers! The first woman I really loved – and torn asunder from her by the black arts of these slimy, loathsome, horrendous abominations! No-oh-oh-oh-ooohhhhh...

(He starts to cry and wail hysterically, almost choking.)

DUPRE: Avatar, I just remembered that Shamino dothn’t like snakes.

AVATAR: Yes, strangely the same thought had just struck me too. We should have taken Sentri instead.

IOLO: (glances about) Sentri isn’t with us?

AVATAR: (with incredibly strained patience)No, he isn’t. He went back to his training. Pity.

DUPRE: Indeed. He said he wished to make money legally.

(He starts to laugh, but desists after a dirty look from the Avatar.)

AVATAR: Seriously now, Iolo – Spark. Thou wert looking after him. I'd have thought he would've come with us.

IOLO:Oh, um, now, I remember something about him. He said something about the Fellowship, revenge and a torture chamber. Yes, I know – he went off, with a Death Scythe, to Buccaneer’s Den.

AVATAR: And I thought I’d taught him to be so virtuous.

(He shakes his head.)

IOLO:He also said that he enjoyed the Baths so much when he went with us that he wanted to be near them.

AVATAR: Yes, well, aherm... why isn’t Tseramed here then? He hateth the Fellowship just as much as Spark.

IOLO:Which is why he went with Spark.

AVATAR: Ah. I see.

IOLO:Dost thou know about Jaana? I don’t really feel safe when there isn’t a healer around.

AVATAR: She hast gone back to Cove. She hadst to see to her patients again, after all.

DUPRE: And Lord Heather, ho, ho!

AVATAR: Quite true. We couldst not tear people away from those they love – leaving them waiting, worrying that their loved ones may not return.

SHAMINO: Waaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!!!

DUPRE: What about thee and Na...

(The Avatar interrupts him with a coughing fit.)

IOLO:Here, take this.

(He hands the Avatar a personalised, chequered handkerchief.)

AVATAR: Thanks.

(The Avatar coughs fakely into it a few times then throws it overboard.)

IOLO:What about Julia?

DUPRE: (chokes) Thou... thou honestly dost think we would take Julia with us? Trapped on a small boat on a long sea voyage? In a possibly uninhabited land!? We'd lose our sanity in no time. ‘Tis bad enough travelling around Britannia with her (he shivers).

IOLO:Why, what is wrong with her?

DUPRE: (staring incredulously) What... what’s wrong with her? (He puts on a nagging voice.) We’re going this way. No, this is the way. Wilt thou listen to me? Yes, thou! This Is The Way! That’s a dead end! Well, the map’s wrong. Doth it matter how I know!? Since when wert thou the leader? Don’t talk to me like that! Who dost thou think thou art?...

AVATAR: Thank thee, Dupre. We have the idea.

(He rubs his cheek, remembering an old injury.)

IOLO:And the other person? Erm...

DUPRE: Ummm...

AVATAR: Ah... Katrina?

IOLO:Yes, she’s the one.

AVATAR: (looks slightly embarrassed) Well, don’t laugh, but... I forgot to resurrect her before we left.

DUPRE: Thou dost mean...?

AVATAR: That she is still decomposing deep down in dark, dripping and dingy Dungeon Despise?

DUPRE: Something akin to that, yes.

AVATAR: Verily, ‘tis a shame. I would have preferred a larger team for this.

DUPRE: Mariah!

AVATAR: Mariah! Of course! (smacks his head) I forgot about her. ‘Tis too late now, however. (indicates the looming pillars) Still, it is good to know that there're such brave and stalwart heroes, striving to keep order in Britannia and thwart the Guardian’s evil plots whilst we're away!


SCENE: Buccaneer’s Den. A red glow illuminates the clouds above the towne. Clouds of smoke. Ships and boats are smashed and burning in the harbour; more are wrecked in the channel into the port. An explosion further brightens the dusk scene as one of many fires reaches a gunpowder store. On the beach and docks lie many bodies, the sky about them thick with hungry seabirds. In the streets further from the harbour women – many with babies – old folks and children are running or hobbling from the lower areas of the towne – areas in the grip of flames and violence. A group of armed pirates escorts the stragglers on their journey to hopeful sanctuary in the hills, looking back fearfully as they urge on their families. A significant number of people are openly wearing Fellowship medallions. Suddenly, something whizzes through the air. The pirates duck instinctively, but an old woman towards the tail of the fleeing column is felled by the burst arrow. A war cry follows and a horde of goblins, trolls and tough-looking guards who take their jobs way too seriously charges past the lone, green-clad horseman (holding a magic bow and wearing a Robin Hood hat) in the lead and up the street towards the pirates. These latter slowly raise their swords, giving lie to their fatigue, just before the attackers crash into them, beating and hacking and stabbing.

SCENE: The Baths. Spark, wearing very elegant clothing, is standing on a balcony, basking in the destruction below and the sounds of fighting, rape, murder, looting and pillage that are tearing through the evening. He has a glass of top-quality Abbey wine in one hand and a buxom wench in the other. He spies a movement at a corner of the battered House of Games. It is a man, fire reflecting off his Fellowship medallion. Spark puts down the wine and the wench hands him a triple crossbow. He aims, shoots and hits the person with two bolts. The unfortunate victim is hurled back about five feet and lies still. A servant emerges, Spark hands him the weapon and he starts to reload it. The wench hugs Spark tightly.

THE WENCH: Oh Spark. Thou art such a master shot.

SPARK: Well, let us see if I can hit the mark in a different sort of way...

(A guard sticks his head out the door.)

GUARD: (whispers) Sir: Sullivan.

(Spark instantly forgets the wench (temporarily at least) and turns to the door. Out comes Sullivan, very dirty and crumpled. A pair of guards stand behind him. He blinks in surprise when he sees Spark. Then he laughs.)

SULLIVAN: Ha, ha. Thou art the leader here? (he turns to the guards.) Very good, very good. But thou shouldst not give me my own herbs like that. I of all people am not going to bel...

SPARK: (already tired of him) Throw him to the floor. (as a guard pulls Sullivan’s legs from under him, Spark turns to the wench and says conspiratorially:) I've always wanted to say that.

(Sullivan tries to stand, but Spark kicks him in the ribs and he falls back down.)


(A great dagger appears in Spark’s hand. By placing it under Sullivan’s chin and applying some pressure he persuades Sullivan to raise his head and grimace up at Spark’s face.)

SPARK: Listen, dungball: the only reason you are still alive is because of your recent exploits, funny as that mayeth seem. You see, there have been complaints from certain quarters that the activities Tseramed and myself are conducting here are somewhat excessive. You will agree this is nonsense, but to persuade other people I would like my operations to appear as official as possible. And what could be more official than the presence of the Avatar. You follow me?

SCENE: Cove, the healer’s. Through the groans of wounded, Jaana hears hoof beats outside. Her bloodstained hands finish the present task of bandaging a badly burned woman. When this is finished she wearily staggers past figures on the crowded floor to the door. It opens as she approaches and Lord Heather enters. He is wearing plate back-and-breast – shining brightly, but spattered with mud. He embraces Jaana and kisses her.

LORD HEATHER: Jaana; art thou very tired?

JAANA: No. No, just a little.

LORD HEATHER: Thou shouldst get some rest now.

JAANA: There are still people needing treated, though.

LORD HEATHER: Another shipload of refugees arrived from Buccaneer’s Den whilst I was in Britain. It seemeth likely some will be sent here. (Jaana sighs and closes her eyes.) Especially with events in Britain.

JAANA: (looking up) Why? What is happening there?

LORD HEATHER: ‘Tis very tense. Fellowship agitators – there could be violence at any moment. I certainly don’t believe any more ships will be coming in there. That last ship may be the spar... may ignite troubles, riots.

JAANA: But what is our liege doing about Buck Den?

LORD HEATHER: (sighs) Not enough, I fear. Most of the British Squadron hath sailed. Although that might be to prevent any more refugees reaching Britain rather than halting... whatever is happening on the island. There is talk of them sending balloons to attack the marauders, but I do not know for sure. Anyway, (he raises Jaana’s head and smiles at her.) I need some rest even if thou dost not. Coming?

(Jaana does her best to smile, then, supported by Lord Heather, walks to their bedroom, signalling her two helpers to carry on with their work.)

SCENE: Minoc, mayor’s office. Burnside is working late. He looks scared. A domestic manager sticks his head in the door.

DOMESTIC MANAGER: Sir, J-j-julia’s coming!

BURNSIDE: <expletive deleted>


BURNSIDE: Best let her in.

DOMESTIC MANAGER: Straight away, sir.

(Burnside stands, walks over to a mirror and tries to smooth his clothes and hair as much as possible. He then sits down at his desk again and pretends to be writing something, waiting for the knock at the door. Julia walks right in, her hands behind her back.)

JULIA: Burnside.

BURNSIDE: Julia, what a pleas...

JULIA: Shut up.

(He cringes and drops his quill.)

BURNSIDE: Can I help thee with som...

JULIA: Thou hast heard the news from Britain (a statement).

BURNSIDE: I was talking to the Councillor but an hour ago. (he indicates the crystal ball on his desk) It sounds terr...

JULIA: Dost thou know there are Fellowship members gathering a few streets away?


JULIA: I SAID: ‘Dost Thou Know There Are Fellowship Members Gathering A Few Streets Away?’

BURNSIDE: I had not, b-b-but...

JULIA: Thou dost now. What art thou going to do about it?

BURNSIDE: Well, wh-what are they doing?

JULIA: Just talking. At the moment. ‘Twill not last long.

BURNSIDE: Are they wearing medallions?


BURNSIDE: Then I can't...

JULIA: Thou canst. Call out the guard. Now! Strike before the iron gets hot.

BURNSIDE: ‘Twould be illegal. I could lose... (he tails off as Julia pulls a whip out from behind her back) ...but I could say that they started it.

JULIA: Perhaps thou wouldst want to address them first? Thou art a former member.

(She says this significantly.)

BURNSIDE: No, no, I can't waste a moment. CAPTAIN!!!

(Footsteps sound outside and a guard officer runs in. He eyes Julia and her whip nervously, perhaps worried that Burnside will order him to throw her out.)

OFFICER: Yes, sir?

BURNSIDE: Trouble. I would like thee to...

(As the mayor instructs the captain, he sees Julia smiling coldly at him.)

SCENE: Castle British, the Throne Room. In fact, it has been converted into a war room. A large table has been set up in the middle. A highly detailed, magical, 3D map of Britannia has been conjured over it. Around this map are groups of lords, knights, mages and officers. Most are human, but a few gargoyles are present too. Much conferring is going on and this background hum is enhanced by soldiers in palace guard colours sitting around the table. They wear mirror-bright helmets, each with a pair of tiny crystal balls attached – one fixed in the ear and the other positioned in front of their mouths. In a scene vaguely reminiscent of a W.W.II Fighter Operations Room they move around the map blocks representing land, sea, and air units, whilst despatching and receiving orders and reports through their crystal balls. The incoming messages are relayed to their superiors. Neither Lord British nor Sir Geoffrey are present, overall command being held by Lord Vemelon, a large, but old, general.

VARIOUS VOICES: " position, twenty leagues off shore.", "...fighting in Vesper...", "Captain Birddsai reporteth he is...", "...Fellowship members... 'armed to the teeth'... from Spiritwood... Trinsic", "Sir, another explosion off...", "Milord, I have lost contact with Serpent’s Hold!", "Milord, I confirm that contact with Serpent’s Hold is lost!"

LORD VEMELON: What? How? Nystul?

(The mage is concentrating hard, eyes shut. Finally, he speaks.)

NYSTUL: There seemeth to be a disturbance in the ether between here and Serpent’s Hold. I suspect ‘tis a small blackrock generator.

(Lord Vemelon studies the map.)

LORD VEMELON: It must be on one of those islands off Paws. Commodore: despatch the Slingshot to investigate the islands.

COMMODORE: At once, milord.

(He gives the appropriate orders to one of the controllers.)

LORD VEMELON: There is a chance that it is on a ship, though. Canst thou contact Trinsic?

CONTROLLER 1: Not well, milord.

NYSTUL: ‘Tis probably an island, then. A ship should be able to manoeuvre so that it could block communications with both places.

LORD VEMELON: Relay all messages to the Hold and Trinsic via Jhelom until we rid ourselves of this problem.

CONTROLLER 1: ‘Tis already done, milord.

LORD VEMELON: Now, let us have a look at...

(LB and Sir Geoffrey emerge from the King’s Chamber. Everyone in the room stands and bows.)

LORD BRITISH: Be seated, people.

(Lord Vemelon vacates the Throne.)

SIR GEOFFREY: Situation Report, please.

LORD VEMELON: ‘Twould seem there is much trouble ongoing across Britannia. Serpent’s Hold hath just...

CONTROLLER 2: By the Virtues!

(On the map, Fellowship Isle erupts in bursts of flame and explosions. That part of the map completely vanishes, exposing empty table with the graffiti: ‘To LB, fanks for the fork. Fissif.’[And just try saying that quickly!])

LORD BRITISH: What did happen there? Tell me, somebody!

(Nystul points a strange device at the table where Fellowship Isle had been.)

NYSTUL: There is a powerful enchantment in place preventing me from telling what is happening on the island. From what I could sense before ‘twas cast, though, I would say that there hath been a daemon-summoning. A massive one. Such as has not been seen since the destruction of Magincia.

(There is quiet in the room.)

LORD BRITISH: Who could do such a thing?

NYSTUL: (looking uncomfortable) As I did not have long to analyse the spell I cannot say with assurance, buuut... I would guess it to be... er...


NYSTUL: Mariah, my liege.

SIR GEOFFREY: Mariah!? Sir, thou dost presume much! Mariah is an old and close frie...

LORD BRITISH: Peace, Sir Geoffrey. I must say that...

(A guard rushes into the room.)

GUARD: My liege, there is an armed mob approaching the castle! Some hundreds! They seem to be Fellowship...

SIR GEOFFREY: All non-essential personnel get up on to the walls, immediately! Raise the drawbridge!

GUARD: Sir, the drawbridge winch mechanism hath been sabotaged! The portcullis too!


LORD BRITISH: Never mind now. Inform everyone we are in contact with that we shall be off the ether for a while. Have Lord Kray in Moonglow take over the operations in the meantime. Then everybody to the walls and gate.

SIR BOKROTE: Surely we are not all needed to put down a peasant rabble?

(A tremor runs through the castle. Dust falls from the ceiling.)

LORD BRITISH: Better safe than sorry, I think. Everyone.


LORD BRITISH: That’s thou as well, Sir Geoffrey.


LORD BRITISH: I want thee to go too, Sir Geoffrey. Teach these dogs a lesson.

SIR GEOFFREY: B-b-b-but... fight?!

LORD BRITISH: Yes, Sir Geoffrey, fight. Is there something wrong with that?


(He leans over and whispers something to LB, who looks and sounds shocked.)

LORD BRITISH: Why, thou fraud!

(He grabs Sir Geoffrey’s face and pushes him backwards. The knight drops off the dais and lands on his back on the floor. LB stands. The window behind him shatters, throwing glass everywhere, as a rock enters the room. It lands on the table and crushes it, cancelling the spell. The cannon on the castle battlements fire and the sound of an angry mob, growing rapidly nearer, can be heard. LB draws his sword and is walking towards the door when he senses a spell taking effect in the kitchens, followed by screaming from the domestic management. Sir Geoffrey tries to hide under the throne. LB rushes into the kitchen to find that some armed Fellowship members have teleported in and are slaughtering the slaves. One of them slashes at Nell and she falls to the flagstone floor. LB yells with fury and casts Death Vortex. This kills the man, along with everyone else in the kitchens. Sir Chand-Estroy enters – he has an arrow through his left arm.)

SIR CHAND-ESTROY: Fellowship troops have entered the castle! Fellowship troops have – aargh!

(He drops to the floor, another arrow in his back. The archer is standing beyond, so LB cooks him with a lightning bolt. The Throne Room, however, is full of humans and gargoyles fighting, dying and performing fantastic stunts.)

GUARDIAN: So, British, you are in a bad state, aren’t you?

LORD BRITISH: No! We’re just toying with them!!

(Sir Geoffrey runs, screaming, into the kitchens. He leaps onto the table, off again and charges out the far door. A ten year old girl wielding a battle-axe follows.)

GUARDIAN: I think you could use my help, British!

LORD BRITISH: Begone, fiend! They are your people!

GUARDIAN: No, British – they are yours (‘For the moment’, he thinks.)! And you have lost control over them! This land needs a firm ruler. I could be that ruler!

LORD BRITISH: Never, you big red git!

GUARDIAN: Well, put it this way – I want slaves who can work together in harmony. That won’t be achieved at the moment, judging by the current situation. (A head rolls through the doorway.) I can send in my troops to keep the peace.

LORD BRITISH: A pox on you and your troops. As if I would fall for that.

GUARDIAN: You’ll change your mind soon enough. I look forward to hearing your pleas for mercy!

LORD BRITISH: Too bad you won’t be hearing them. Chinny.


[Will LB give in to the Guardian? Will he undergo some fantastically evil, yet highly original torture? Will he be strong??? If so, will the Guardian invade Britannia, anyway?? How?? And where does Chuckles enter the equation? Find out... in Ultima 9!]

[The above paragraph was, of course, a joke. I apologise to anyone who may have rushed out and bought Ultima 9 upon reading that, in the mistaken belief that these questions are answered in that game...]

[But I have digressed long enough. (‘Hear, hear!’, ‘Shame!’, ‘Get on with it!’, ‘Etc!’) Let us now turn our attention back to the Deadly Seeker.]

SCENE: The Serpent Pillars. The Seeker is... where? Oh, dear – we seem to be too late; the Avatar has left for the Serpent Isle. Sorry. Bye!


(Wait! There she is! Not quite at the pillars yet. If we hurry...)

AVATAR: I have a bad feeling...

SHAMINO: I don’t want to know!!

AVATAR: Huh? What was I saying? Oh, yes: one thing that just occurred to me...


AVATAR: We have sailed in a great ocean voyage; a great marine adventure – and we didn't get caught in a storm! Maketh thee feel somewhat let down.

SHAMINO: Not really.

DUPRE: We didn't fight any sea monsters either!


IOLO: And we didn't go over any waterfalls.

(The others laugh at Iolo.)

AVATAR: Thou dost only go over waterfalls on river journeys, not at sea!

(There is a blindingly bright, brilliant white glow and they are gone.)

SCENE: Above the Serpent Isle. To be precise, above the storm clouds above the Serpent Isle. There is a mighty ankh towering out of the cold seas of New Sosaria. It seems to be made of gold or, perhaps, brass. The centre of the ankh's loop pulsates with a white radiance from which spills a mighty torrent of water, dropping precipitously towards the rumbling, roiling black clouds, which stretch away like a plain in all directions. Yet such is the size of the ankh that the violent rush of water looks from this distance to be a mere silver thread, and the Deadly Seeker to be an insignificant speck of dust as it tumbles over the edge and plummets away into the unknown. As the gloomy clouds swallow this speck, the howling wind carries to us, above the roaring of the hurtling cataract, an eerie, foreboding sound. It reaches, also, Flicken and the guards at the west gate of Monitor, but they put it from their minds, considering it a trick of the wind or goblin troublemakers.

They do not realise that it is the sound of approaching Doom, for them and for their world. The noise? It sounds something like this...



Shall I put in some "legal" stuff? Yeah, why not.

Everything in the above story (The Fearsome Passage) is mine. All mine. Apart from the bits I took from other things, such as Origin, LB, The Goons, Star Wars, Monty Python, South Park, Monkey Island, etc. Nobody should use any of the above story or they’ll get into hideous trouble. Unless, of course, they acknowledge me as the author and send me lots of money. Actually, the second part won’t be necessary. But it would be nice. However, I can’t really see why someone would want to use any of my little story anyway. Stranger things have happened though. Oh yes, when I say that nobody should use the story, by ‘use’ I mean display it in any form or by any means, electrical, mechanical, ethereal, etc., including, paper, cassettes, floppy disks, hard disks, CDs, DVDs, inscribed bananas, videos, MP3s, brains, midis, sheet music, secret microfilm, skywriting and many more. All characters in this are fictional apart from the ones who aren’t and any similarities with real events should probably result in the person who witnessed such events being locked away in a padded cell (except perhaps one bit).

There, I think I’d make a fine lawyer :)

Oooh, acknowledgements time. :)

Firstly, thanks to Erratic Dragon for the whole Dragon Press thing, without which I doubt you’d be reading this. Therefore, others may not agree here... although if you’ve reached this far you can’t be one of them (unless you landed on the down arrow key when you fell asleep.)

Some thanks must also be due to Frostreaver Dragon, who took over Dragon Press from Erratic.

And, of course, there’s the current webmaster of the foremost collection of Ultima fanfiction, the one-and-only Shadow of Light Dragon. Thanks, SoL! :)

Thanks also (again? ;) to all who have e-mailed me their comments and views about The Fearsome Passage (you know who you are and I put in a little reference to your fanfic, in case you missed it. ;D ) and anyone who might do so in the future (provided it’s something complimentary, that is.:)

Oh, and I can’t really forget to thank LB et al., even if they did sully the fair name of Ultima with U9. :(

And also, I feel I should also give thanks to all the previous authors of silly fanfics, all of whom inspired me to do one of my own.

-- Tailrace Dragon

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