Chapter VII

     Tim held his arms tightly. "It's getting pretty cold up here," he declared as the wind picked up a bit on the rooftop.
     "Can't bear the elements?" teased Drum Boy. "I wonder what's inside this building. I haven't seen a single creature enter or exit it besides our two, or at least on the facing side. You think anybody lives here at all?"
     "I know I don't want to stay up here much longer," chattered Tim. The three began to approach the door leading to the stairs.
     "Where do you think you're going?" asked Drum Boy of Annoying. "You're supposed to guard the glider, remember?"
     "But it's f-freezing up here! Besides, I'm getting hungry!" he complained.
     "So? Psycho has all of the food with him, and you're on the job, so just stay put." Drum Boy disappeared into the stairway with Tim following him silently.
     "But... but..." Annoying was cut off as the trap door slammed shut over the exit. "...I'm lonely." The man walked back over to the glider and pouted profusely. Then he started making funny and grotesque faces. He turned to show one to somebody and was reminded of his solitude. Annoying simply shrugged and continued, forgetting he was supposed to be sad.

     "Why do you treat him so harshly?" asked Tim.
     "Who, the morph? He just gets on my nerves a little, just as I tend to get on Psycho's, I suppose. That other new guy, Sicko, he seems ok, but I can't shake the feeling he's only doing this for himself, like that he'd abandon the rest of us to achieve his goal."
     "Am I the only one who tries to get along with everybody?"
     "Ah, human tendencies. How the majority of you all developed such trust and compassion for others is beyond me, and I would usually attribute such tendencies to ignorance. Still, a day doesn't pass when I don't wish the gods had possessed such wonderful traits. We wouldn't have been sealed here if a single one had possessed such sympathy as you."
     Tim stopped short in his tracks. What Drum Boy had just spoken set him contemplating things in a new light. He was calling Tim human based on his character. This was something he couldn't fabricate. His mind hadn't been altered when he was made mortal, so many questions arose suddenly. Did he possess these characteristics before entering the Bane World, or were they gained through his condition? Are the other gods really devoid of or incapable of such traits, or was there something in his creation as a Recent which allowed for it? Could his companion Recent as well possess...
     "Hey, what's the matter?" Drum Boy interrupted Tim's thoughts. "I didn't mean to insult you. I praise you for your human traits and only wish more could have possessed them."
     "Um, thank you," spoke Tim, falling back into thought. How different was he from the gods? As the pair wandered the upper floors of the structure, Tim was too consumed in his thoughts to pay much attention to anything but these new questions. And so was his attention not with the immediate situation when a large figure shattered through the window of the room they had just entered and threw him to the wall.

     As the creature who collected weapons had never intended to offer them in sale, commerce being an institution which had only been made to work in the more orderly region of the Psycho Kingdom, his abode was severely disorganized. The pair of customers sorted through piles of weapons for a long period before settling on what Psycho, the only one of the two with a sense for such items, deemed to be of good value to them. Among their pickings were a much more suitable sword for Tim, a staff for Sicko and all the bolts they could find in the room to be used with the crossbow they'd kept with them since taking it from Ryan. They didn't need any of the multitude of daggers as they'd brought plenty with them, mostly for throwing, but Psycho did eye one with a golden handle and inlaid jewels before deciding it to be far too elegant for Jester back at the castle.
     "We select these," spoke Psycho, showing the creature the items they had separated from the others.
     Sicko opened the pack they had been carrying and presented the fruit as promised. "I'm sorry, this probably wasn't as much as you were expec..."
     "Hurrah!" The creature snatched the bound food and tore it open, biting into one of the pieces of fruit from the forest where Sicko resided. "Mmm... delicious! Oh, and so much of it! One, two... seven pieces! Oh, thank you!"
     "You accept seven pieces of fruit for all of these?" asked Psycho in disbelief.
     "You are planning to approach the screen, are you not?" asked the man between sticky, juicy bites of the fruit.
     "It really isn't any of your concern, is it?" replied Psycho.
     "I know you are. It's what you were talking about as I first approached. That being true, I shall probably see these weapons back in my possession rather shortly, now won't I?" The creature bore an almost evil grin. "In any case, such things are easily replaced, but this!" He eyed his newfound pleasure, holding the half-eaten morsal up toward the light of the doorway. "This is hard to come by here! I hope you are pleased with your transaction, now please leave me be."
     The pair honored his request as they most certainly were pleased with their bartering.

     It would have taken much less, but to be flung ten feet back against the wall brought Tim from his trance quite effectively. The aggressor appeared to him as a large, majestic, red bird, but with an additional pair of brawny arms like those of a man. It stood upright and stared across the room at the stunned boy. Tilting its head as it examined him, the monster emitted a resounding, low squawking noise and made to run toward him.
     "Aargh!" Drum Boy sprinted toward the threat from the side and struck it on the left arm with his mallet. The creature, although in pain from the assault, had merely to throw open its wings to cast Drum Boy backwards and to the ground.
     The beast again turned its attention to Tim. The boy, realizing his danger, began to run but was grabbed by the much too-swift monster. Tim struggled as best he could but was unable to prevent his captor from dashing back out the window through which it had entered. Clutched by the beast, Tim was now staring downward at the pavement hundreds of feet below them as they began to plummet downward from the building.

[Chapter VI] [Chapter VIII]
Last page update: 4-18-99