Chapter IX

     "How's it look?" asked Drum Boy.
     "It'll fly again, after some maintenance. Any sign of Tim?"
     "No. We should follow the ropes on the harpoons. Do you think it's safe leaving the glider unattended?"
     "We don't have any choice. Tim needs our help immediately." Psycho removed the cranks from their slots on the charging devices and set out with Drum Boy in search of their lost companion.
     Following the ropes wasn't as easy as they'd hoped for it to be. They were often laying across high branches as a result of their quick descent over a horizontal distance of approximately one mile. It was more than fifteen minutes before they finally discovered the harpoons' point of origin, a hill on which the trees were all pushed over. Two harpoons were on the ground there with the ropes still coiled, having not been thrown.
     "There," spoke Drum Boy, pointing to an extremely large clearing to the north. A perfect circle had been cleared from there as perfectly and unnaturally as on the hill where they stood.
     Psycho instructed Drum Boy to take the loose end of rope from one of the two unused harpoons so they could find their way back to the hill. The two then began to run for the clearing.

     Tim was picking at the earth with his sword when he was greeted by Psycho.
     "What in the world happened to you?" he asked, observing the multiple scratches on the boy, sleeping bane, mutilated monster and massive deforestation.
     "It's a long story," replied Tim, standing to greet his friend. "Where's Drum Boy?"
     "Here! Am I too late?" asked the bane, dropping the rope he'd been dragging behind him.
     "I suppose," began Tim, who explained the events as they had transpired since his fall from the craft.

     "...and he fell asleep right away."
     "A metamorphosing bane," pondered Psycho. "When did you say you first met him?"
     It was right before Ryan started chasing me in the town with the market," Tim recalled. "He's some sort of traveling salesman or something."
     "How's a guy supposed to get any sleep with all you guys yawing like this?" spoke Annoying, much to everyone's surprise. He was still snoring up until that very moment. The bane sat up and looked up at them from a sitting position. "Wow, you actually held up your end of the bargain," he spoke to Tim. "These guys friends of yours?"
     "Yes, this is Drum Boy and Lord Dangerously Psycho," introduced Tim.
     "WHOA!" Annoying sprang to his feet. "You're really one of the Psycho Brothers?" The Bane of Annoyance took a deep breath. "HellosiranddoIhaveadealforyou!Pleasehaveaseatandlistentothisgreatoffer..."
     "QUIET!" demanded Psycho. Annoying stopped mid-statement, standing with his mouth wide open. "This is amazing. You are obviously the Bane of Annoyance, but your use of free will goes beyond that. You can also morph, and into an incredibly more powerful being. Moreover, after a tremendous display of your true power, you're still able to apply your free will, which should have been almost completely exhausted, to your high level of annoyingness."
     Annoying didn't budge.
     "I just need to know," continued Psycho, "do you have enough free will to link mentally to human Earth?"
     "Oh," stated Annoying. "Yeah, I do. I thought you were going to ask me something difficult. Phew!"
     "Definite winner with this one," muttered Drum Boy.
     "How do you manage to replenish your free will so quickly?" interrogated Psycho.
     "I'll only talk to Mr. Puppet," replied Annoying, handing a hand puppet to the Lord.
     "Don't mess with me," warned an angering Psycho.
     "Oh, I'll do it," spoke Tim, taking the puppet from him. Donning the puppet and speaking in a higher pitch, Tim repeated Psycho's question.
     "You see? I like this boy. He'll play games with me. The secret lies in this." Annoying held aloft his protractor. "Through a protractor, I can amplify my free will and thus amplify myself." Annoying completed his explanation matter-of-factly and nodded his head.
     "I see," spoke Drum Boy. "Channeling. By focusing on a single object it becomes easier for the bane to make use of his potential. It's exactly like how I used my drum. If I concentrated my thoughts on the drum, my free will flowed at a greater rate. I expect you have a similar but unnoticed `high' as you battle with your axe."
     "One always focuses on his weapon during battle," remarked Psycho as if it were common knowledge.
     "And you are superior to all in weapon combat. See what I mean?"
     "Could you please treat my friends with respect," requested Tim of Annoying.
     "Weeeeellllllllllll... OK!" answered Annoying, taking the puppet back from him. "Where are we, anyway?"
     "You don't know?" questioned Tim.
     "No, I only arrived because you channeled your own power through the protractor. You weren't even trying to summon me, were you?"
     "No, I was trying to fend for my life," admitted Tim. "I don't even know myself where we are."
     "Well we won't be here long," spoke Psycho. Following these ropes we can get back to the glider." Psycho noticed that Drum Boy wasn't paying attention to him. "Hey, wake up!"
     "Hold on," replied Drum Boy. "I think somebody's watching us."
     That being said, the sounds of someone's fast retreat came from the bushes to the side.
     "Who do you think it was?" asked Tim.
     "I don't know, but I think we should all stick together," declared Psycho. "Perhaps that beast wasn't the only follower of the Prophets in this forest."
     "Yeah, why'd that guy have it in for you, anyway?" asked Annoying. "Are you really on the hit list of the Prophets? If anyone needed my calling card, it was definitely you. That settles it!" he suddenly proclaimed. "From now on, I'm going to travel with you, too! Just... where are we going?"
     "Listen..." began Tim.
     "I think it would be a good idea to have him come with us," interrupted Drum Boy. "He's clearly in command of some potent skills.
     "Even if he is a little off the ball," added Psycho. "What do you say, Tim?"
     "Um..." Annoying was in a pleading position. He was extremely childish, but would prove to be an interesting companion. "OK, I guess."
     "YIPPEEEEE!!!" cheered Annoying. "So, um, where are we...?"
     The celebration was cut short by the emergence of a somewhat familiar figure. Tim couldn't believe his eyes. Into the clearing stepped cautiously the first being he had encountered upon his entrance to the Bane World, the man who'd introduced himself as Anonymous the Paranoiac.
     "Um, hello there," the bane spoke nervously. "I've been asked, well actually told, anyway, I have to ask you, why are you in our forest? OH, PLEASE DON'T HURT ME! I DIDN'T MEAN ANYTHING BY IT! Um, so, why?" The being cowered there at the edge of the clearing awaiting a response.
     "You're Anonymous, right?" spoke Tim.
     Anonymous opened his eyes and noticed that none of them had moved. "Y..eah?"
     "Do you remember me? I nearly fell on top of you less than three weeks ago in the Kingdom of Psycho."
     "AH! I DIDN'T WANT TO ASK YOU! THE OTHERS MADE ME DO IT!" apologized Anonymous profusely, cowering to the ground once again.
     "Who? Who wants you to find out who we are?" asked Psycho.
     "The... the residents of the Forest Euphoria," answered Anonymous.
     "Why'd they send a wimp like you to find out?" asked Annoying.
     "HEY! I'M NOT A WIMP! I'M A PARANOIAC!" snapped Anonymous. Annoying was taken aback by this sudden outburst.
     "You'll have to excuse my companions," spoke Tim apologetically. "We're only in this forest because our glider was attacked by a creature named Gawron..."
     "AAAH! DON'T SAY HIS NAME!" Anonymous dropped to the ground once more. "That monster has been tearing the forest apart looking for somebody. He k-killed three of our clan and a bunch of the trees! OH PLEASE! DON'T LET HIM FIND US!"
     "Relax, he's dead," spoke Psycho.
     Anonymous was shocked. He took a step backward in disbelief. "Y-y-you're trying to trick me!"
     "His body's lying right there," pointed Annoying. "If a mound of fur is still capable of terrorizing a populous, the joke's on all of us."
     Anonymous looked at the corpse from afar. "Did... you do this?" he asked.
     Before Annoying could take full credit himself, Tim replied, "Yes, we did."
     "Hey! Wait just a minute!" shouted Annoying.
     "He summoned you, right?" asked Psycho. According to battle tactics, his summoning of you was his move in the fight. It was Tim's battle and Tim's win. Rather than taking credit, he gave us all credit. Got it?"
     Annoying stood smug and silent.
     "I and my allies defeated Gawron," restated Tim.
     The paranoiac's mood changed once again. "Oh! Well then, our leader is going to want to meet the four of you! Your names, if you will?"
     "We really don't have time for..." began Psycho.
     "Listen," interrupted Anonymous, much to Psycho's surprise, "your flying dohickey crashed, right? You might like some help to fix it, right? In actuality you're trespassing in our forest and it wouldn't be wrong if we were hostile and not this hospitable, right?" Psycho was silent but not stunned. "I've been watching you since you crashed. We'll get some people to work on your machine with you. Just follow me, and all will be fine."
     "You're suddenly outspoken for someone who calls himself paranoid," assessed Annoying.
     "I'M A PARANOIAC, GOT IT?! Oh, thank you! That's the wonderful thing about our clan, the creative uses of our free will. I've been working on new personalities. Wuddya think?"
     "You're terribly unpredictable," remarked Drum Boy.
     "And you all thought I was bad!" commented Annoying.
     "Well, then," spoke Tim, "I'm Tim, hunted by the Prophets for an unknown reason."
     Psycho thought this an odd introduction for someone who had been trying to keep a low profile, but since this `clan' knew of Gawron anyway, he figured Tim would be explaining in detail eventually. "I am Lord Dangerously Psycho, and you would do well to address me with respect," he stated sternly.
     "I am the Drum Boy, Bane of Mass Destruction."
     "The name's Annoying. Pleased to meet'ya!"
     "Excellent! What a crew! He'll enjoy this! Would you bring the beast's skin, too?"
     "Drum Boy, go get the dead monster," directed Psycho.
     "You go get it!" he replied. The two immediately conceived the same idea. "Annoying!"
     "No, way. I'm not dragging that thing after us!" shouted Annoying.
     "You wanted credit for the kill? You claim its body," explained Psycho.
     Annoying shrugged and retrieved the dark skin. "I'm probably going to regret joining these guys," he muttered.

[Chapter VIII] [Chapter X]

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Last page update: 7.21.98