The Forest of Euphoria is quite unlike the other areas of the World of Affliction, but then few are alike at all. Quite the opposite of the Kingdom of the Brothers Psycho, where some resemblance to a civilized nation of property and law existed, those who resided within Euphoria didn't have so much as separate sleeping quarters. Everything they had was communal, but so far as their lives went, they may as well not have known of the concept of property anyway.
This clan encompassed all banes imaginable, as diverse a group as the followers of the Prophets. They were not, however, any bit a militant group, or even one which was concerned with any of the matters of life. They were hardly even concerned with their own well-being or states of health. To this melting pot of a culture, all which was important was emotion.
Throughout every day and night, the clan participated in a never- ending festivity, eating, drinking, dancing, singing, playing games and otherwise enjoying themselves to the fullest. During this celebration, the banes would allow their free will to flow at immense rates, and in its complete exhaustion the mass total and rate of flow would increase for the individual. Thus, to be a part of the clan is to increase your output of free will through unending, jovial celebration.
They had no concern for the trivial matters of the outside world until the creature named Gawron took up residence within their forest as a base of operation while he searched for the transgressor. When his presence was first noted, the clan followed the standard procedure of sending its most recent member to speak with the intruder and ask him to join the clan. When this clan member did not return, others were dispatched to find and speak with the outsider. Only one of this group returned, announcing that the others were dead. This "Gawron" was a menacing brute, and the only way they could have hoped to defeat him was to combine their strengths and their evolved free will to confront this threat.
No one was interested in this idea. Their leader, who's free will had experienced a kind of peak which enabled him to link to human Earth, alone understood that the damage Gawron was causing and his aggravation would destroy the clan's existence along with the forest unless he was stopped. All that mattered to the clan, all that had ever mattered to them, was the communal high they received, and their ignorance of this threat would have been their undoing.
Anonymous had been the most recent addition to the clan. He was found by them after becoming lost in their forest, this following his running away from some unclear danger. He was inducted as a way for him to expel his free will in better ways than paranoia, and taken aside by the leader of the clan, he was the most receptive individual to the threat of Gawron. Unfortunately, his response to hearing of the beast was little more than sheer terror and panic.
As a week passed, the therapy of the clan's celebratory lifestyle had a great effect on Anonymous who was beginning to find it possible to take on personalities which would benefit him much better in society, should he ever return to it. As the most recent member, it was also his duty to go and investigate the falling object which crashed within the woods and bring back any survivors.
Such was his duty as he brought Tim, Psycho, Drum Boy and Annoying to the clan along with the news of Gawron's defeat.
As the four followed Anonymous across the many acres of trees, Tim began to make out something which he suddenly realized he missed since his imprisonment within the Bane World, the sounds of music in the distance. As a god, he had a natural appreciation for music, and for the past three weeks he had been deprived of it. The boy became much more relaxed as they approached the site of the clan's gathering.
Psycho, on the other hand, was becoming impatient as they trekked further away from the glider. "How long will this little sojourn of yours last?" he questioned.
"It will be up to the leader," spoke Anonymous, not even turning his head. "He will want to thank you, but beyond that I know nothing."
Psycho didn't want to have to take any more of this, but he understood that he had no choice in the matter, a concept which only made him more impatient and unhappy. He also understood that the goal of these banes would probably be to convince them to stay as members of the clan. Naturally they would have to decline this offer, but how receptive would they be of this? He had no wish to fight his way back to the damaged glider.
"Hey, Anonymous?" spoke Tim.
"Not right now I'm not," responded Anonymous. "I am currently Pay Llewol. Anonymous simply would not function in this situation."
"Oh, part of your personality experiments, huh?" discerned Tim.
"You understand! Now I feel peachy! Peachy LOL!"
"Oh, never mind," sighed the boy. Along with the music, he could now hear the sound of rushing water.
"Here we are," spoke Anonymous. The five entered a small clearing where scores of creatures were dancing among the trees near a small waterfall in a stream. Some were asleep and others were eating, and a few stood upon a platform playing wooden instruments. All the activities stopped when Anonymous took the skin from Annoying, leapt onto the stage and announced, "I've brought us four travelers, and I have special news! They have killed the beast Gawron! We have brought back his pelt as proof!"
His audience broke into cheers and the party began again in much fuller swing. Some of the banes went over to and studied the four strangers. Psycho pulled back his arm from one who touched his sleeve. Annoying began his sales pitch on another who merely ignored him and returned to the festival. Tim was as intrigued with the banes as they were with him, and Drum Boy simply studied the surrounding area.
"Hey, great job!" spoke a man who approached Anonymous on the stage. "You're using your different personalities a lot better already. You actually managed to get up on stage without breaking down!"
"I... I've still got a lot to practice," stuttered Anonymous. "It's hard. PLEASE DON'T PUNISH ME!"
"Oh, just keep celebrating and you'll be fine." The man took the remains from Anonymous who bounded down and joined the party. "Hey, you four! Follow me!" The man, evidently the leader of the clan, climbed to the top of the small cliff from which the waterfall flowed. The four looked to eachother and followed. Psycho put on a stern look.
"So what brought you all to the Forest Euphoria?" questioned the man, now alone with the four. "The only structure anywhere near us is the Builders' tower."
Drum Boy pulled out the handdrawn map of the Bane World. "So then we must be somewhere within this region," he pointed out to Psycho. "Not at all where we want to..."
"Oh, forget about those things," interrupted the man. "You found us, and dat's the only important thing."
"Who are you?" asked Tim.
"Uh! No fair! I asked you a question first! But if you must know, I am named Sicko."
"Sicko... and what would you be the bane of?" questioned Psycho.
"Nothing," he replied. "Er, well, I don't mean NOTHING nothing. It's just I don't have any specific... whatever. I suppose if anything, my primary trend would be pleasure... self pleasure and emotion. I have grown to have an extremely high level of free will, and I busy myself by coordinating the clan. Now it's your turn. How is it you all arrived here?"
The four gave a brief description of their travels up until that very moment, including the story of Tim being from Earth which his allies believed to be true. It all was news to Annoying who listened intently as well.
Sicko sat thoughtfully for a minute following. "An interesting story," he finally remarked. "So the brute was in our forest so he could look for you, huh kid? Let me ask you, if I offered you a chance to forget all your troubles and live your life in complete bliss, partying day and night, would you accept the offer?
This was exactly what Psycho was waiting for, and he could see in the look in Drum Boy's face that he had predicted the same. Before Tim could reply, Drum Boy spoke his mind.
"Yeah, somehow I thought you'd try and keep us here, but it won't work for practical reasons. I can see why this would be a great place to stay and I can understand that those who enter probably don't leave and so on, but if Tim was to stay here, the Prophets would send every one of their minions here to retrieve him, and your entire forest would be torn apart. Now cut the recruitment crap and talk to us on a personal level."
Sicko looked angry at first, but when Drum Boy explained the part about the forest being destroyed by the followers in search of Tim, a saddened look set in. Psycho wondered what this would mean for them. Perhaps Tim alone would be released, or perhaps turned over to the Prophets unconditionally. He waited for Sicko to reply.
"All right," Sicko finally spoke. "I see your point. If this boy isn't encountered elsewhere, they're gonna send out the whole brigade for him, so I obviously can't make him stay. I'll tell you all what... You can all leave the Forest Euphoria, but only on one condition."
Sicko paused before stating his condition. It appeared as though he was thinking over his terms carefully. Tim tried to guess what this condition might be. He only hoped that they wouldn't have to go kill some other monster. Finally, Sicko turned to them again and stated...
"You must take me with you."
This came a surprise to all four of the travelers. "Are you serious?" questioned Psycho in disbelief.
"I know what you're all thinking," explained Sicko. "For someone who is so determined to bring people in and coerce them into staying as a part of a clan for the rest of their lives, it's an odd thing for the leader to want to leave it himself. Yet, I have been here a couple hundred years, and through intense emotion and induced happiness, I have brought my free will to another level. This level enabled me to develop a kind of link to humans of Earth who are in a state of extreme bliss, the same kind of link you three claim to be able to create.
"Something I've discovered through these links is dat humans have much more severe states of emotion, and more often than anything else, these intense emotions are a result of some factor the World of Affliction doesn't have, interaction between genders."
This difference Tim did notice throughout his travels. The Bane World didn't have opposing genders. Everything seemed to be masculine, not that there was a different gender to oppose it to. Reproduction was an afterthought, another one of the things the gods had supposedly gotten right when they got around to creating humans.
"Interaction between opposite genders..." spoke Psycho. "Yes, it's a factor in many murderous tendencies as well. I've noticed it."
"Well," spoke Sicko, "I want it. In here emotion can only go so far. I want to be able to understand first hand the thrills of lovemaking, the agony of losing a mate, and the emotion which is called love but bears no definition. I want these things for myself."
"So you want to study Tim," discerned Drum Boy.
"No, I want to escape with Tim. If he does find a way out, or even if he just finds some better link to human Earth, I want to be there. There is only so much I can do watching over this clan, and I yearn for something more meaningful. Take me with you, it's all I ask."
The four looked to eachother to develop a response.