Chapter VII

     Extremely stood on the parapet overlooking the rear of the castle. He could hear the steady rapping of a drum nearby but didn't see any sign of... there. Now he saw them, suddenly, there amongst the trees. There were a good twenty already, and for many more of them to appear was inevitable.
     "Where are they?" called Dangerously. Extremely could hear his brother's footsteps on the stairs to the parapet.
     "I see them, they're advancing through the trees," answered the younger Psycho. At once, trees began falling in their paths. "It's begun again!"
     Jester and the boy were now at the castle wall as well. "What's happening?" whispered the once-deity.
     "We're under attack," replied the harlequin. "These guys have been giving us trouble for a couple of weeks now, but the attacks are becoming stronger and more frequent. A mere two hours ago, they actually breached the walls of this fortress."
     "Boy, come here!" commanded Lord Psycho. "Do you see them?"
     He walked to the edge and peered into the trees. They weren't hard to spot. Trees were falling within five feet of each soldier. "Yeah, they're..." THWAP!
     He was on his knees. "Damn! What was that?!" He had been socked in the back of the head. He looked up at Dangerously, whose attention was still with the soldiers.
     "They're all still there," noted Extremely.
     "Hm," Lord Psycho helped the boy up again without an apology. "Well, apparently you aren't helping them with their attack. You have to understand that I suspected you, what with you're low free will and all. This is my brother, Extremely Psycho."
     "He didn't know?" queried the comic.
     "Oh, and this of course is Jester..."
     "In the flesh!" concluded the joker.
     "Let's cut the introductions and do something!" suggested Extremely. Talking won't decrease the threat any."
     "Here," offered Dangerously, handing Ryan's crossbow and bolts to the boy. "I picked this up off of your friendly assassin. Do you know how to use one of these things?"
     "I think so," he answered, accepting the weapon.
     "There..." sighed Extremely as he spotted the man with the decorative sword. "Oust the kingpin, right?"
     Suddenly, the general and six other soldiers tripled their speed and in no time slid right through the solid wall of the fortress.
     "I'll handle him," informed Dangerously. "You keep any more from entering. With that, he ran back down the steps.
     "Well, what are you waiting for?" demanded Extremely just before leaping down to the outside of the wall. The boy loaded the bow and sent a shot sailing into the trees. It didn't appear that he had hit anything, but a soldier did disappear right before his eyes.
     "Nice shot, but let's aim for something this time!" suggested Jester as he bounded back down the steps.

     The general and his six soldiers moved silently through the castle, destroying the ornate furniture and decorations as they passed. Soon they began destroying walls before them too, until they reached a great hall with a large door at each of the four walls. The general began pointing directions as a voice filled and echoed within the immense room.
     "Welcome! Welcome all of you to the wonderful Psycho palace! My, home, and now yours as well!" Dangerously Psycho was speaking from a balcony overlooking the entire scene. "Please, stay awhile, and have a heaping helping of our hospitality!" With his speech concluded, the Lord of the Psychos jumped to the main floor and advanced toward the troops who in turn charged him.
     One soldier didn't take five steps before being pierced by a small dagger. Jester had concealed himself behind a tapestry and emerged right into the path of the apparition, who promptly lunged himself into the comic's drawn blade. The soldier immediately vanished, and Jester cartwheeled his way out of the room, laughing.
     Psycho had an equally simple time eradicating the remaining five. One swing, one parry, and a second swing was all that it took to dispel the illusions. Now all who remained was the General, brandishing his sword.

     "Just try to keep them away from the castle wall!" shouted Extremely, swinging his sickle and vaporizing the soldiers. "When my brother destroys the general, they'll al vanish!"
     The boy strung and fired another bolt, this time piercing a soldier's leg. "But how did they move through the wall like that?" he yelled.
     "They're illusions! They can move about anywhere, so be on your guard!" Extremely took another swing and destroyed another apparition. "And there're more approaching!"
     "But the general was an illusion too?"
     "Huh?" Extremely lowered his guard long enough to almost lose his head to one of the soldiers' swords, but blocked it and stabbed his blade into its side. "Spiteful gods, the general DID go through the wall! This means the general can't be the one..."

     Lord Psycho was now in combat with the general whom he'd believed to be the cause of everything. Unlike the foot-soldiers, this warrior proved to be a formidable opponent.
     "Going around, destroying things with your free-will mercenaries. You've finally made the fatal choice which will end your rampaging, bane! You've decided to clash weapons with Dangerously Psycho!"
     The general didn't say a word, but began swinging his blade toward the man. Psycho darted to the side and swung, but the general's sword had already moved into position and blocked it.
     "You're pretty quick with that thing," began Psycho, but then the general stepped back and held his sword before him. As the Lord watched, the general's decorative sword began changing shape, and was now a large, ornate battle- axe. Without a change in expression, the general lunged at Psycho.
     "Hm, so even your weapon is one of your illusions. A very durable illusion, but still," Psycho used the handle of his axe to deflect the weapon which was being charged toward him. Quickly, he shifted his position and shoved the blade of his axe into the general's side. It did not go very deep, however, for at that very moment a thick, shimmering suit of armor formed upon the unwounded general.
     "Crafty," panted Psycho, leaping back. He was tiring, and this opponent didn't seem to be vulnerable to any strategy he attempted. The general started toward him once more.
     "You seem to be pretty good at avoiding my blade, but how about this?" Psycho sprinted toward the general, who lifted his axe in anticipation. Just before entering the range of his swing, however, Psycho changed direction, swung and slid behind the general who slammed and imbedded his axe into the stone floor. Psycho used the handle of his axe to trip the man. Immediately as the general hit the floor, the Lord leaped to his feet and lunged the brunt of his axe's handle into the man's chest.
     Surprisingly, a hole opened through his chest, allowing the handle to be jammed into the stone lobby instead.
     "What the hell?" The general was looking up at Psycho with a hole in his chest, neatly surrounding the handle which was now splintered with the force upon the floor. The hole closed, rejecting the blade, and leaving the general unharmed.
     "Y-you're one of the damned illusions!"
     Jester had been watching this all from the doorway. Understanding that he couldn't help his master against this opponent, he immediately left to inform Extremely.

     "If the general isn't the cause of this, then who the hell is?" shouted Extremely, amid a new pack of soldiers.
     "It has to be one of these identical soldiers!" answered the boy. He was nearing the last few bolts for his crossbow, and was now concentrating on hitting two or more soldiers with each shot. This was becoming easier as the number rapidly increased.
     Young Psycho was becoming overwhelmed by the immense horde of attackers now around him. The drumbeats were becoming louder, but they were losing the beat they had before. "There're too many soldiers," thought Extremely to himself. "The source of the soldiers must be concentrating too much. If I can just hold out a little longer..." By now, more had made it to and were entering the castle wall.

     The boy watched as soldiers surrounded Extremely. "Damn, I'm out of bolts," he realized. There was nothing which he could do.

     Extremely wasn't going to give up just yet. The drumbeats, now with no rhythm whatsoever, were right upon him. Adrenaline flowing, the young Psycho took a fast swing at a soldier. Then another, dissipating one to his side. He quickly turned, in fear for his life, and...
     "Aaargh!" The shout came just as the last swing was made.

     Dangerously was pinned up against the wall, fending off blows when the general faded away.

     Jester was hanging on a tapestry when the soldiers whom had cornered him disappeared as well.

     "My drum! You've destroyed my drum!" the Drum Boy was in a panic. The instrument he'd been tapping upon now had been completely severed by Extremely's sickle.
     "Always the third swing," muttered Extremely. "Every time, too low."

[Chapter VI] [Chapter VIII]
Last page update: 10-10-98