Chapter 9: ...Comes Great Fatigue

In the Nethergate Forum, Ephesos slammed his book shut. "Done."

"With what?" Chatter asked.

Tyranicus mooed and hurried over.

"Does this mean now you behind me can change?"

"Yes." Ephesos took a deep breath. "RESTORATION!!!"

There was a flash of green light around Tyranicus. "Thanks, Ephesos, now I can--oh, come on!" He stomped his hoof angrily. "I'm still a bull."

Ephesos shrugged wearily. "Sorry. It looks like... like the spell didn't recognize... recognize... um... oh, right, being a cow as a negative effect... just your inability to talk."

"You can still speak cave cow, right?" Slartucker asked.

Tyranicus snorted.

"Oh, good."

"I think your spell restored my mana too," Zeviz said, "I guess it really does cure every negative effect."

Randomizer touched his bandaged wrist and winced. "Not quite."

Ephesos staggered slightly. "It's been a long day so I think... I think... I think I'll turn in for the... for the..."

Nioca steadied him before he fell. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah... yeah." Ephesos shook his head to clear it. "I'm just tired. The spell took a lot more... more... effort than I... than I expected. Bed." Ephesos took a few steps and collapsed.

"What happened to him?" Tyranicus asked.

Nioca nudged Ephesos with a foot. He muttered something and turned over. "Oh, he's alright. Just asleep."

Synergy yawned. "I think that's our cue to go to sleep too. See if you can wake Ephesos up long enough to get him back to General."

---

"...didn't even know you were here, so I guess I was just really lucky," Grime Grubber finished.

"So, no rattling chains?" Trash Taker asked.

"Nope." Grime Grubber said, "But the scrying pool was way better anyway."

"Why don't you show Grime where to find the best trash? I need to speak with Dad for a moment."

"Okay. Come on!" Litter Locator ran upstairs. The other nymphs followed.

"What is it?" Filth Finder asked.

"I think we should go back to B--"

"No! We are not going back there. Chief Spider is crazy, for starters."

"But it's been years since we were last there. Things have probably changed a lot. And I can't imagine Spider would still be in charge. Besides, it would be nice for if the nymphs had others to play with."

"Yes, but there's no guarantee that--"

"And even if we don't like it, there's always the portal."

Filth Finder sighed. "That is true."

"Then why don't I go check to see what it's like? I can leave now and be back in a few days."

"All right. Just be careful."

"I will be."

---

Goldenking and Iffy returned with several planks between them.

"That's all you have?" Marlenny asked.

"Don't worry, we're going back for another load," Goldenking said.

"Well, take some more people with you, then. We don't have time to waste."

Andraste looked south. "Hey guys, it looks like we've got trouble approaching."

Riibu was visible and sprinting towards them. A mob composed of fire ants, mariachis, mummified cats, gnomes, and even a penguin was after her.

"She managed to tick off just about everyone, didn't she?" Salmon asked.

Marlenny shook her head. "They're gaining. She's not going to make it. They're well out of arrow range too."

"What are we waiting for? Charge!" Andraste sprinted towards the monsters.

"Yes!" Niemand said, "Charge!"

Iffy looked at the dagger he had. "I'm not sure this is going to be enough. That penguin looks tough!"

Goldenking tossed him a basic meat spork. "Here you go. And stay away from the penguin."

"This is a weapon?" Iffy saw that everyone else was racing towards the monsters. "Oh well. Charge!"

A mariachi brained Riibu with his guitar. She fell and was promptly swarmed by fire ants. "Ow! Ow! Ouch!"

Marlenny shot the mariachi and Salmon's fishing rod snagged Riibu's shoe and dragged her to safety. She squished the ants that were still clinging to her and handed the dinghy plans to Salmon. "Here you go."

"Why didn't you just turn invisible?" Salmon asked.

Riibu stood up. "They saw my footprints in the sand. Now, if you don't mind, I think I just earned the Sir Robin trophy. Catch you later!" Riibu ran off again.

Niemand and Jewels knocked gnomes left and right with the butts of their weapons.

"Come on, get out of here. I'm a Blender, so I'd hate to have to use the other end," Jewels said.

Goldenking rushed in to help. "Aura of flames!"

The badly singed chieftain of the gnomes stood up. "Retreat! Sougnd the retreat!"

The gnomes scurried off. Jewels sighed in relief.

Andraste was busy smashing ants when a mummified cat leapt at her.

"Kitty! Wait, what are you--arghhh!" The cat began to shred her leg. "Someone help! I can't hurt such a cute creature!"

Three more cats attacked her. Iffy stabbed one with his spork and Marlenny quickly shot the other three, but it was too late. Andraste was unconscious on the ground.

The penguin approached Salmon with a blowtorch at the ready. "Hand over the plans and no one gets hurt, capice?"

"I don't think so." Salmon cast. The line wrapped around the blowtorch several times, but when he reeled in he found a rocking horse's head on the hook. He shrieked and tossed the fishing rod aside.

Niemand and Jewels rushed in to help him. The penguin dodged their attacks easily.

"He must be a scaling monster. It's going to take everyone to bring him down." Jewels swung her axe again. The penguin ducked and threw a handful of sand in her eyes. She staggered back.

The penguin yanked the halberd out of Niemand's hands and knocked him to the ground. Then it held the blowtorch to his face. "I want the plans."

"Now what do we do?" Iffy asked.

Meanwhile, Riibu was approaching the Nearby Plains when she saw Drew in a meatcar. She waved him down.

"What are you doing here?" Drew asked.

"Stealing plans... went all wrong... monsters... penguin... everyone else fighting them... probably need help."

"You angered the mob, eh? That's not good. Get in. I have just the thing."

Marlenny saw that Salmon was standing with a blank look on his face. "Come on, snap out of it." She shook him gently.

"Huh? What? Oh yeah, the penguin."

"Plans. Now."

"Okay, here's the plan. We all attack at once. I mean, being horribly burned is probably curable with one of those soft echoey green scratchy thingies. And if it isn't, well, we'll just stick an opera mask on Niemand and tell him to write a script that revolutionizes the music industry," Salmon said.

"Salmon!" Jewels said.

"What?"

Suddenly, there was a horrible snarling sound. A tall, misshapen yeti was shuffling towards the group.

The penguin's eyes went wide. "Eat the adventurers, not me!" It ran off.

When the penguin was gone, Riibu pulled off the yeti fur she had draped over her and jumped down from Drew's shoulders. "We're really lucky that worked."

"No kidding. Though I figured we'd get to the Distant Mountains before needing that trick." Drew pulled out a scroll of drastic healing and read it while facing Andraste.

She regained consciousness and stood up. "Thanks."

"You picked up the meat and supplies too? That was fast," Marlenny said.

Drew shrugged. "I still need to go back for a few more things." He looked around. "I'll pick up the rest of the wood too, shall I?"

---

Student of Trinity sat alone in a small room crammed with bookshelves. Each bookshelf was crammed full of books.

Nikki walked in, picked out a book, and sat down.

"Where have you been?" Student of Trinity asked.

"Oh, I, um, needed to get something to eat."

"I packed plenty of food."

"I know, but, um, the meat you packed contaminated it all."

"And you've been gone an hour!"

"I got lost, okay?"

Student of Trinity sighed. "Okay, fine."

Somewhere outside the room, someone yelled, "Hey! Who added The Beatles, Oscar Wilde, and, um, 'Arancaytar' to a disambiguation page called 'Unbelievably sexy'?"

Student of Trinity glared at Nikki.

"What?!"

---

*****, Terry, Cheese, G'ree't'l, and Attorukkip sat in the Moderator Board. MadScientist, a green rat, was there too. A few moments later, a sexy red rat slipped into the forum.

"Ah, you're here, Dani," *****

"Yeah. Sorry I'm late."

"Okay, here's the situation. Neither Garzad nor Fatalclaw can fulfill their mod duties at the moment, so we need someone to temporarily take their place. MadScientist also needs a new assistant. Sort it out," ***** said.

"I want to be a mod," Danielle said quickly.

Attorukkip pulled out the spell Student of Trinity had given her. "I actually have a spell I want to work on, and probably other spells after that, so if I don't get a position, I don't care."

G'ree't'l shrugged. "I can help MadScientist, I guess."

"Good. Dani, you're the temporary mod. G'ree, you'll help MadScientist. Dani, stay here so I can show you what you need to do. The rest of you can go."

---

The group from the Nethergate Forum entered the Geneforge 4 Forum. Tyranicus had the still-sleeping Ephesos slung across his back.

"What are you doing?" Slartucker snapped.

Azuma jumped in surprise. "Er, nothing."

"Oh, relax. They're fine," Randomizer said, "Although I guess it is getting late, so it's time to settle down for the night. Come on, kill that rat and let's go."

"Um, okay." Azuma waved his hand and the rat skeleton fell with a clatter.

"Aww..." Nalyd said.

"Yeah, yeah, you can reanimate it tomorrow. Hurry up now."