Chapter 26: Decisions

Junk Keeper and Filth Finder peered around the corner. A feeding group from Bugtopia was scavenging from a couple of dumpsters.

"Well, we're in the right spot. See that GIFTS over there? He's Spider. He'll keep you out of trouble. Do the same for him," Junk Keeper said.

"Right." Filth Finder swallowed nervously.

"Any questions?"

"N... no. I think I'm good."

"You don't have any recall crystals on you, right? They will search you when you get back to Bugtopia, and if you get caught trying to hide one, things will not go over well at all."

"Don't worry, I don't."

"Okay. Go whenever you're ready. I'll watch for a while until I'm sure you're safe."

Filth Finder checked to make sure no one was looking in his direction before scurrying over to Spider. "Er, hello Spider."

"Hi. You're cute. You must be the one I was told about. Filth Finder, right?"

"Yes."

"Good. This is a newly created feeding group, which means no one knows each other well yet and no one should be suspicious of you. Just feed normally until it's time to go." Spider caught sight of a large bug. "Gotta go." Spider ran after it.

"Um. Okay." Filth Finder walked over to the nearest dumpster. There were several GIFTR and GIFTC scavenging from it already, but none of them paid much attention to him. He sorted through the trash until he found several pieces of spam that looked decent and began eating.

---

Drew, Andraste, Captain Jeremiah Parr, First Mate Mad Johnny, Dikiyoba, and Toby-Linn held a conference in what was left of Duwithia's office. The desk, file cabinet, and Periodic Table had been taken away before the explosion. The other door had been blown off its hinges, revealing the charred remains of a bedroom. The pirates had searched both rooms several times but found nothing useful.

"So, let's start by making sure we're on the same page. Toby-Linn, you start. What can you tell us about this mine?" Drew asked.

"An' the accursed ninjas," Captain Jeremiah Parr said.

Toby-Linn explained everything she knew about Duwithia, Coleridge, and the mine. It wasn't much.

"An antimagic spell, huh? That's going to be difficult to work with," Drew said, "Captain, do you have any mages who could remove it?

"No."

Salmon, ScurfFiend, and Eieeoia stood outside the office, eavesdropping in on the conversation. Ru'vay clung to Eieeoia's tail.

The Ratt joined them. His chest had been wrapped in several layers of bandages. "What did I miss?"

"Shh!" Salmon said.

"I don't know much about magic, but I doubt any of our mages could either. There are a few items from KoL I could try, but I doubt they'll work," Drew said.

"Yarr! Where be ye e'en from?" First Mate Mad Johnny asked.

"Spid--ow!" Andraste was cut short by an elbow in the ribs from Drew.

"With all due respect, that is none of your business," Drew said.

The Ratt knocked on the door. "Excuse me! I know who could remove the spell!"

Salmon rolled his eyes. He and the rats hid.

First Mate Mad Johnny opened the door. "What be ye doin' out here?"

The Ratt stepped inside. "Well, I couldn't help overhearing and I think I have the solution. The Mage Guild has lots of powerful mages and wizards. One of them should be able to help us." He gave directions.

"That is a long way away," Andraste said, "Ecksian will definitely attack before we can get there and back."

"We don't need to go," Drew said, "Just the people with the antimagic spell on them. And the pirates certainly don't have to take them all the way there. Just getting everyone to the mainland will work. But we can work out the logistics later. Diki, tell us how you ended up here."

---

In the main cavern, Attorukkip had recovered enough to help Ephesos and Murrrhal. Drew had left the Kingdom of Loathing equipment with them. They sorted through all of it for healing items that weren't magic.

"The medicinal herbs should probably go to the hippies, right Ephesos?" Attorukkip asked. She looked over and saw that Ephesos had fallen asleep. "Oh. Never mind then."

Iffy found a tattered blanket and covered Ephesos with it. Then he resumed digging graves for the fallen slaves.

Goldenking and several pirates entered from outside. "That's the last of the loot that needs to be loaded onto the airship, right?"

"Aye."

"Excellent." Goldenking walked over to Iffy. "So, you helped rescue everyone, eh?"

Iffy nodded.

"You did a good job."

"All of us would have died if you and the pirates hadn't shown up."

"Well, we would have been in trouble too if Drew hadn't summoned the pirates, so that's nothing to be ashamed of."

"I know, I just..." Iffy shrugged and kept digging.

---

Filth Finder was extremely relieved to get away from the portal. "Now what?"

"Now we visit a few forums, let you lurk some, and eventually have you make a few posts. That way, plenty of bugs will see you and no one will be able to connect me to you after you've gone."

"Where are we going first?"

"Oh, I thought we might start off in the Games Forum, then maybe head to the Literature Forum and check out the current roleplay. You much of a gamer?"

"Not at all. But if you can find me a good discussion on Spiderweb games, I can fake it."

"Everyone's excited for Avernum 5. Avoiding discussions on Spiderweb games will be more difficult than finding them at this point."

---

Captain Jeremiah Parr stood on a crate in front of his crew, the Spiderwebbers, and the surviving slaves. "Avast an' listen up! This be the plan! We be makin' three trips. The hippies an' those with the barbed wire will go first. The hippies will be dropped off at--"

"Set down at the Mysterious Island and not harmed in any way," Drew said.

"Right. Like he said. The others will be left at the Nearby Plains. The next group will be the noobs an' 1337 h4x0rs, who will be set down at the nearest Google station. The third group will also be set down at the nearest Google station. It could be a few days befere e'eryone be out considerin' the current weather, but that can't be helped. Also, since they left se'eral explosive potions behind, we can destroy the mine so the ninjas can ne'er use it again! Arr!"

"Hooray!" Toby-Linn said.

"Yarr!"

"\/\/007!!!"

---

Chrrcht and several of his friends entered the Literature Forum. "Hello."

"hey"

"Oh. Hi!" Spider said, "What are you doing here?"

"We're thinking about starting an RP. Just a small one."

"Do you need any help?"

"We'll call you if we do," Chrrcht and his friends entered the Roleplaying subforum.

Goo Eater nudged Garbage Gatherer. "we should watch them it would give you something to do while you wait"

"I suppose." Garbage Gatherer and Goo Eater entered the RP forum.

"Goo Eater says you've been to the Spiderweb Software Message Board. Do you still know where it is? Can you give us directions?" Chrrcht said.

"Oh. Is that what this is about?"

"well yes"

"Tcht said he thought he knew the coordinates. But he said he wanted to check again to be sure. We haven't seen him since, so we're a bit scared to try it. I mean, it could transport us straight into a wall or something."

"I left Spiderweb because it was dangerous. It's always getting attacked or having someone's experiments go wrong."

"it s dangerous here too"

"Yeah, it sucks here. Besides, we might be able to contact Jeff if we're at Spiderweb. Maybe he can help us. Somehow," Chrrcht said.

"I doubt it."

"please question mark"

---

Chatter stumbled blindly back to a Google station and walked straight into the ticket machine.

"Chrrrk!" The crickets sitting on his shoulder poked him.

Chatter opened his eyes. "I can still see! My eyes haven't melted from the sheer horror! Er, let's see. We need to search for some place that sells amnesia spells, brain bleach, or anything else that will wipe that terrible, terrible sight from my memory. Urgh!" He fumbled with the controls until something came up. "Let's get out of here!"

Chatter and the crickets climbed into the Google vehicle and slammed the door. It took off.

Chatter slumped into a seat. "I mean, I know about Rule 34, but camel wrestling? Really? Gah."

---

Spider and Filth Finder paused outside the Literature Forum.

"Well, go on in," Spider said, "I'll be around when you're done."

Filth Finder stepped inside.

"Hi!" Spider said.

"Hello. I was hoping, er, I could see the current RP."

"Excellent!" Spider knocked on the door. "Hey, Chrrcht, someone wants to join you."

"No! I, er, just want to watch," Filth Finder said.

"Um... we were kind of hoping to keep it just to ourselves. Easier to keep under control, you know," Chrrcht said.

"Oh, he says he just wants to watch, so that shouldn't be a problem."

Chrrcht sighed and muttered, "She's so silly. Why won't she take no for an answer?"

Goo Eater shrugged.

"Okay, he can come in," Chrrcht said.

Filth Finder entered.

"Filth! How did you get here? Where are the nymphs?" Garbage Gatherer asked.

"They're safe. But what are you doing in here? I thought you were imprisoned!" Filth Finder said.

"Well, I can't leave. Do you have a way to get us out of here?"

"Not yet."

"Wait, what's going on? Are you two rebel spies?" Spider drew her sword. "Are you?"

"spider please calm down"

"No way. There's something funny going on here."

Chrrcht turned to his friends. "Is there anyone who doesn't want to go to Spiderweb now that we know exactly where it is?"

No one said anything.

"Good. Then there are enough of us to take control of the portal long enough to get away. Anyone disagree?"

"This... this is insane!" Spider said, "Are you all rebel spies? If you were really holding an RP in here, show me it!" She pointed her sword at Chrrcht.

"spider i m very very sorry for this" Goo Eater hurled himself at Spider, knocking the sword out of her claw and pinning her against the wall. "go exclamation mark i ll catch up exclamation mark"

"You heard him. To the portal. Now!" said Chrrcht.