Chapter 14: Losing Control

The Almighty Do-er of Stuff watched Mr. Stickybuns and his other birds fly off until they were mere specks in the sky. Someone knocked timidly on the door. The Almighty Do-er of Stuff didn't move. "Come in, Azuma."

Azuma opened the door and stepped inside. He was shaking. "Are... are you really sure you want to do this, ADoS? It's just that... that I've never done anything like this before and... and no one else has either, so... so it could be dangerous." He blinked at the Almighty Do-er of Stuff hopefully.

"Of course I'm sure! I don't care if it's dangerous; I have to bring Inspector Walnut and the other fluffy turtles back."

"Dintiradan won't like it. If... if he finds out, then... then he'll probably take away all our powers."

The Almighty Do-er of Stuff watched a goldfish swim around and around in its bowl. "Oh, he wouldn't do that. Would he, Lampost?"

Lampost didn't respond.

"But... but..." Azuma sputtered.

Nalyd slunk inside. "Are we almost ready? Nalyd has other things he could be doing instead, you know."

"Almost. You two should start getting things ready."

Azuma looked helplessly at Nalyd. Nalyd shrugged and swept a section of the Almighty Do-er of Stuff's floor clean of hair and feathers. Then he drew a large pentagram in chalk and placed a candle at each point. "You brought the skulls, right?"

"S... skulls? We don't need skulls for this ritual."

"Bah! Of course we do! We need skulls for every ritual! Nalyd will be right back." He slunk out of the room.

A moment later, someone knocked on the door. "ADoS? It's me, Nioca. What did you need me for?"

The Almighty Do-er of Stuff let him in. Nioca took one look at the pentagram and turned to leave. "Oh no. I'm not getting tangled up in this."

The Almighty Do-er of Stuff held him back. "Why not?"

"All magical experiments must be done in one of the laboratories with Dintiradan's permission. You know that!"

"This is more important than that!"

"Oh, really? How so?" Nioca folded his arms across his chest.

"I'm going to bring the fluffy turtles back."

"Not with my help." Nioca pulled free of the Almighty Do-er of Stuff.

"Fine. I'll go get Ephesos to help me."

Nioca laughed. "Ephesos? You honestly think you have a chance of convincing Ephesos to help you create a bunch of undead fluffy turtles?"

"They're not going to come back as undead. We're bringing them back to life!"

"Excuse me." Nalyd entered with an armful of skulls. He began setting them up in various places in the room. The Almighty Do-er of Stuff's pets all moved away from him any time he came near.

"You're what? ADos, the fluffy turtles have been dead for days, and they don't hang around in the Miscellaneous Forum or anything like that. They're too far gone to be brought back to life now."

"Just because no one's done it before doesn't mean it's not possible. We're a lot more powerful now than we used to be."

"You're crazy." Nioca turned to go again.

"I guess I'll have to go get Ephesos, then," the Almighty Do-er of Stuff said.

"Come on, Nioca. You're not going to let Ephesos show you up, are you? Don't you want to prove that you're better than him?" Nalyd asked.

"I'm doing just fine, thank you very much. Why should I care one bit about Ephesos? We're healers, not rivals." Nioca's ears went red and he avoided looking at Nalyd as he answered.

"Ha," Nalyd said quietly.

"I... I'm going to go back to the infirmary now." But Nioca stayed where he was. "No, on second thought I'll go straight to Dintiradan and tell him what you're up to if you don't stop this experiment at once."

"Snitch," Nalyd muttered.

"Please, Nioca. You don't have to do much. We might need you to help the turtles, or to provide extra energy in case Nalyd or Azuma get too tired."

Nioca looked around the room at all the skulls leering at him. Then he exchanged glances with Azuma. If he backed out now, Nayld would never let him hear the end of it. "All right, I guess I'll do it." He took up position beside the pentagram.

"Finally!" Nalyd lit the candles and stood beside Nioca. Azuma and the Almighty Do-er of Stuff joined them. Nalyd and Azuma started chanting. A dark portal appeared in the center of the pentagram. The Almighty Do-er of Stuff took a deep breath and stepped through it.

---

Student of Trinity met Niemand in one of the laboratories. Niemand shuffled a stack of papers dispiritedly.

"Well? How did your experiments go? Did you get any interesting results?" Student of Trinity asked.

"I couldn't finish them. Andraste mentioned something about discovering called the Infinite Cheeseball Glitch and Slarty decided to go see if he could help recreate it." Niemand sighed.

"Oh. Well, is there any way I could help?"

"I doubt it. Well, I'll get Slarty back to finish it sooner or later."

The resulting pause in the conversation was interrupted by Student of Trinity's watch alarm going off. He sighed. "Time for another mod meeting."

"Why don't you quit? I know my life's been much less stressful ever since I did. It's not like you're even needed, really. Dintiradan seems to know everything by himself."

Student of Trinity shrugged and walked over to the Moderator Board. The other mods were already inside, though Dintiradan was missing. ***** tapped his claws on the table. Alorael glared at the Lurker, who was sipping a bottle of skribbane. Randomizer and Delicious Vlish held a whispered conversation together. Zephyr Tempest played with several little creations while Saunders watched him closely to make sure he didn't summon anything too large. Danielle looked bored.

Tyranicus moved his chair so that Student of Trinity had room to sit down. "How is it going?"

Student of Trinity shrugged. "The usual, I guess."

Dintiradan entered with Ephesos. "Good afternoon, everyone. Ephesos has returned and decided to resume moderation duties."

"Glad to have you back," Delicious Vlish said.

"As you can see, I've tried to keep things as close as possible to the way they were run at Spiderweb. However, several mods resigned in order to spend more time on their projects. In addition, I promoted the Lurker, Zephyr Tempest, and Danielle due to their invaluable help in getting everything organized and running smoothly again after Spiderweb's collapse."

Ephesos sat down between Delicious Vlish and Tyranicus. "Fair enough, I guess. What's this meeting about? What happened?"

"Oh, nothing happened. We meet every day at this time to make sure everything is going smoothly." Dintiradan sat down and looked at several papers in front of him. "First up..."

---

The Almighty Do-er of Stuff looked around. So this was the afterlife. It was very dark and featureless. There were numerous figures in the distance, but they looked like they would keep away. He took a few steps forward. The place made him very uneasy. "Inspector Walnut! Turtles! Where are you?!"

His calls echoed back at him, but that was the only response. The Almighty Do-er of Stuff walked on.

---

Nioca was furious. "You sent him into the afterlife? I thought you were going to try to summon the turtles out!"

Azuma and Nalyd were too busy chanting to pay any attention to him.

Nioca looked around. There was still time for him to act. He could go get Dintiradan and stop the experiment. He took a step away from the pentagram. The animals sitting on perches and ledges around the room shrieked at him. "Okay! Okay! I'll stay!" He checked to make sure that he had several Balms of Life in his inventory.

---

Iffy returned to the spot where he had discovered the secret passage and opened it up again. He used his new skills to pick the lock on the door. It took a long time, but eventually he managed it. He opened the door and crept inside. Behind him, the section of wall slid shut.

Arancaytar heard Iffy's footsteps. "Huh. It's too early for dinner, isn't it?"

"Shh!" Garzad said.

"Oh, quit being ridiculous. It's only Iffy. Iffy! I demand that you let us loose at once!" Emperor Tullegolar said.

Iffy stared at the three prisoners blankly. It was one thing to suspect that Dintiradan was hiding something, but to find out that his suspicions were right... "Dintiradan said you all left."

"Well, obviously, he lied," Garzad said.

"I did leave, actually. The Lurker captured me and brought me back," Arancaytar said.

"Well, what am I supposed to do now?" Iffy asked.

"Get us out of here!" Emperor Tullegolar said.

"I can't! Dintiradan will find out! We'll never even get outside before you get recaptured, and I'll get captured too."

"Besides, even if we do get free, the Lurker will just track us down again," Arancaytar said.

"Well then, give me one good reason why I shouldn't raise the alarm right now. If I turn Iffy in, I'll get to go free, at least," Emperor Tullegolar said.

"Please don't do that," Iffy said. He bit another fingernail.

Suddenly, there was a muffled yell from the labs and an alarm went off.

"This might be the best chance we ever get," Arancaytar said, "I never thought I'd say it, but ET's right. Get us out of here."

---

"Inspector Walnut! Turtles! It's me, ADoS! I'm here to save you!" The Almighty Do-er of Stuff had gone very far into the afterlife now. Every once in a while, he looked behind him. The portal followed him so that it was never more than several steps away.

The Almighty Do-er of Stuff spotted a familiar group of creatures in the distance. He ran towards them. "Turtles!"

The fluffy turtles saw him and crawled towards him as well. He noticed they had a washed-out look to them. As they clustered around him, begging for sanity, he pushed them towards the portal. "Come on, you know how this works. Through the portal and you'll be alive and just fine again."

As the turtles scurried towards it, occasional sparks would fly from the ground towards them. They all disappeared through the portal without mishap. Inspector Walnut was the last one through. He pointed his head into the distance.

The Almighty Do-er of Stuff looked carefully but spotted nothing interesting. "What is it?"

Inspector Walnut just kept pointing.

"Do you want me to keep going? Is that it?"

Inspector Walnut nodded.

"What's out there?"

Inspector Walnut nuzzled the Almighty Do-er of Stuff's knee and then pushed him in the direction that he had pointed. Then he stepped through the portal.

"I... see." The Almighty Do-er of Stuff stared in the direction that Inspector Walnut had pointed. He glanced back to make sure that the portal was still holding together well. Then he walked on.

---

Nioca looked around the Almighty Do-er of Stuff's room nervously. The fluffy turtles had all made it out of the portal fine. Now they circled around the three Spiderwebbers and the pentagram and watched the portal patiently. Azuma and Nalyd were still chanting. Nioca realized they were concentrating so hard they probably hadn't even noticed the turtles arrive. He looked over the turtles. They looked slightly insubstantial but otherwise fine. Nioca sighed in relief. The Almighty Do-er of Stuff would return through the portal soon and this mess would be behind him.

There was a yell from the labs and an alarm went off. Nioca jumped at the noise. Several of the Almighty Do-er of Stuff's pets shifted uneasily on their perches. However, the two necromancers and the fluffy turtles all failed to react in any way.

Nioca wrung his hands together. "Come on, ADoS, come on. Get back here."