Nerath Reborn

... out of the darkness

or, heroes ascendant

Wilbur and Chris move to the site of the battle with Jack’s troops. They find a few of the human soldiers and Llewellyn lying in various states of disassembly, as well as Bei’s green stuffed puppy, and Billy. Billy, weezing, is lying on his side in a pool of blood. “that Llewellyn… cough cough… got me good. lot of good I did…”

His head drops to the ground. His eyes close. He whispers, “Heard
Jack… trap… for Bei! Gotta… gotta… stop… King…”

Billy coughs again, and lies still.

Charlie and Bei are carried into the dark forest. After a few minutes, a voice calls from the darkness, “Here they are.” They here the sounds of horses stamping their feet, and find themselves hoisted onto horsebacks, where they are tied down.

The group rides off into the darkness, and eventually the two children fall asleep from exhaustion.

Chris looks up from Billy’s corpse, and finds Wilbur heading back to the village. “Well, that’s a lost cause. I’m going to go help Charlie and Bei!”

Wilbur sees the desperate fighting around the gate, as the goblins struggle to force their way in or at least hold the gate open. The main force is advancing slowly over the field from the south. Wilbur finds a place where the pallisade has been dislodged, and creeps through.

Seeing the Aleman, he says, “We need to close the gate. I have an idea, but I need a barrel of ale.” The aleman, surprised at Wilbur’s return, calls for a few men to help him. “Whatever crazy idea you have had better work.”

Moving into the dark forest, Chris hears the stamping and whinying of horses. But beyond the light shed by the burning catapult, he can only navigate by sound. After several long minutes of searching, he finds a few horses, tied to trees.

With a mighty heave, one of the barrels goes flying into the middle of the melee at the gate. Thinking of the words from the next page in the witch’s spell-book, “To make a meal more filling,” Wilbur casts an encantation… “Super size me!” The barrel of ale grows to an enormous size, sealing the gate area and allowing the defenders to quickly cut down goblins suddenly cut off form reinforcements.

This buys the village a brief respite, but only a few moments. Soon after, the main goblin force reaches the south wall of the palisade, and the gambit proves it’s worth – the village defenders can’t shift their meager forces quickly enough to defend the south wall, and goblins and human soldiers begin coming over the pallisade.

Villagers begin fleeing as they can, throwing up bundles and bales to be able to climb over the palisade. Wilbur waits until many have fled before joining them. As he runs away, he fires a flaming arrow into the giant cask of ale, setting off a massive explosion as the highly alcoholic beverage burns…

Chris hears the explosion, and now sees flames leaping high in the sky from the now destroyed village. A few moments later, he hears a nasal voice cursing, “Now, where did Chris go off to? And who put a root there?!”

“Wilbur! Over here! I’ve found some horses!”

Together, the two ride to the north, after their friends.

Charlie wakes to jostling, as the soldiers and Jack carry him and Bei past a long line of dusty peasants. They stand next to their wagons, and it is soon apparent they are awaiting their turn to enter a castle with their meager piles of vegetables and grain.

Soon, they pass beneath the portculis of a castle, where they see food form a wagon being added to a massive pile. Charlie and Bei are removed from the horses.

Pointing at Bei, Jack calls to a lady-servant, “Clean this one up – His Majesty will want to speak with her. And this one,” he waves off-handedly at Charlie, “I suppose you should take him to the dungeons.”

Charlie begins struggling, and crying out at the peasants, “Help! Help! We’re just kids!” They look up, anger in their eyes, but held in place by fear.

Bei is taken to a room in the central donjon of the castle, filled with beautiful furniture, tapestries, and stained-glass windows. There three lady-servants set to bathing her, dressing her in a beautiful dress, and bringing her food.

After eating, Bei says, “Well, thanks, I guess I’ll be going…” The women’s faces fill with feat as Bei reaches for the door. "Please, madam, you shouldn’t disturb his majesty… he may be resting outside, in his throne room.

Charlie is deposited in a cell in the dark dungeon, where he soon hears crying from a neighboring cell. “Um… hello?”

After a few moments, the crying ends. “Hello,” responds a woman, with a sniffle.

“Uh, I’m Charlie. Who are you?”

“I am… my name is Jill.”

And another voice chimes, from another cell, “And I am Phillip, a knight and a prince, held here for many long years.”

Charlie discovers that Jill is the sister of Jack, and she had spent some time trying to restore her brother after his brain-scrambling fall. But before she found her brother, she was found and captured by other agents of the Rotten King, who has been apparently making good use of Jack’s skills.

Phillip, on the other hand, has lost track of his time imprisoned. He was a prince, due to marry his betrothed though he had just fallen in love with a peasant girl he met in the woods. But he found himself set upon by monsters and captured by an evil witch named Malevalance. A trio of fairy godmothers attempted to rescue him… and two were killed in the attempt, and Phillip recaptured. At some later point, he was transferred here, and it was only with Jill’s capture a few months ago that he found out his current captor – the Rotten King.

“We’ve got to get out of here!” Charlie says, feeling a slightly loose stone on the wall of his cell.

With little rest, Charlie and Wilbur emerge from the north edge of the Great and Awful forest. Just off the northern horizon, they see signs of a castle.

As they ride north, they periodically find well worn paths in the dust, which they surmise as showing the frequent passage of people on horseback. With this insight in mind, they spot a patrol of soldiers, and are able to hide.

Eventually, they approach a castle, and hide their horses in the last copse of trees. They see a long line of peasants stretching out of the castle gate, and a large number of soldiers drilling off to the side. They also see a framework of cages, like Peep and Blues’ camp…

“Hey, there’s a stream pouring out from their moat,” Chris points out to Wilbur. “We can sneak in that way!”

Together, the two creep up to the castle, using the stream and the tall grass next to it to hide their approach.

A knock at the door… and Bei is escorted by a soldier out to a chair in the huge central chamber of the castle. In a throne resides a massive, cracked egg – the Rotten King, Humpty Dumpty.

“Ah my dear. I am pleased that you would join me.”

Bei sits in the chair, nervously eyeing the King. He continues, “Tell me about your home.”

“My home?”

“Yes. Where you are from. It is a long way from here, yes?”

“Um, I guess so… it’…”

The king interrupts here, “Yes, tell me about the armies of your home! Do they have many horseman? What about wizards?”

Startled, Bei stammers, “well, um, I don’t think they have…”

“And you’ll help me? I mean, I can help you. Get home. You want to go home, yes?” The king is getting excited, half rising from his throne, spittle flying.

“Um, I, yes, I want to go…”

“You’ll help me, right? Why won’t you help me?! We can do this without your help! Guard, return this welp to her chamber! Remove her from my sight! Wizard!”

A door behind the King’s throne opens, and a stooped wizard in patched black robes hustles out, “Yes, my liege?”

“How much longer? How much longer before I have my armies and my gate?”

“I need another two, perhaps three days to finish preparing, master,” Bei hears as she is hustled back to her chamber. As the door closes, she hears Humpty Dumpty’s maniacal laughter…

“I think I’m through!” Charlie cries, and then his excitement wavers. He’s just opened a hole into another cell. A hand grips his own – Jill’s. “It’s ok… this is a start. I see they didn’t take your possessions, but they probably will when they bring food. You can hand things over to me!”

“Hey, that’s a good idea…” Charlie agrees, and find that he has completed his task not a moment too soon. They hear the main door to the dungeon open, and Charlie quickly hands through his helmet, brass knuckles and 8-ball. He frantically plugs the hole with the stones.

“To the back of the cell, you!” shouts one of the guards as he opens the door and brandishes a spear. Another guard steps in and pats Charlie down. “Nothing. He’s got nothing.” They back out from the cell, leaving a bowl with stale bread and a bowl of water.

Waiting for them to finish distributing food and then exit, Charlie mumbles, “OK, now let’s get out for real,” as he starts scraping away at the masonry with the edge of his metal helmet.

In the castle’s shadow, where spillover from the moat becomes the stream, Wilbur and Charlie eye a port where a stream of water exits the castle wall, occasionally carrying food scraps or other trash.

Whispering to each other, they decide to use that as their way into the castle. They have some difficulty swimming against the current, but they manage to clamber up into the hole.

Holding their breath, they climb up the tube against the current. Soon, they’re able to prop themselves up and take breaths in the small open space at the top of the tube. Further down, the tube changes into an open trough – they emerge into a busy kitchen, where servants are chopping and cooking.

As they take this in, one of the people turns from where she’s chopping vegetables to throw scraps into the open tube. As she opens her mouth to call out, Wilbur hastily casts his daze enchantment, buying him and Chris time to duck out behind a table. A few moments later, the spell wears off, and the lady rubs her eyes and shakes her head.

“We need a distraction!” Chris whispers to Wilbur. Wilbur obliges by causing an onion on the back shelf to grow to giant size, collapsing the shelf and causing food and jars of spices to clatter to the floor. The two kids crawl across the floor, and duck out the door.

Bei notices air vents in her room which seem large enough to fit through, but she knows she has no chance of using them while being watched by the lady-servants.

“If only they could get tired and take naps!” Bei thinks, bending all of her imagination to wishing they would. Within a few minutes, the ladies begin yawning, and one by one fall to sleep in their chairs, or curled up on the four-poster bed.

With a hasty stack of boxes on a chair, she makes her escape into a dusty air vent.

Finally, Charlie has a hole large enough to escape through. He opens the doors to Jill and Phillip’s cells, and together they approach the door do the dungeon. Slowly openening the door, Jill spots one guard snoozing, and another leaning against a pillar, his back to the door. Jill quietly creeps out behind the leaning guard, and Charlie stands ready with his 8 ball…

Within a moment, it’s all over, Jill having stunned the one guard, and Charlie having taken out the startled-awake guard with his 8ball. They scrounge weapons and armor, and exit the dungeon.

They see only one door before the stairs at the end of the hall. A mixture of many strange odors emerges from the door. Charlie creeps in, finding a table piled with books, and an unfurled a scroll written in red ink:

“Soul for soul, one sacrificed, one controlled. Drink this mix to be the master”, followed by a long list of names:
King Wenceslas
The Dragon
Sir Wolf
The Big Bad Wolf
The Evil Queen
The Green Knight
The Pied Piper
Red Riding Hood (with a jotted note: “deceased”)
The Frog Prince
The Man on the Moon
Iron John
Billy Goat Gruff (with a jotted note: “deceased”)

Charlie stopped reading here, rolled up the scroll and stepped out of the room. Showing it to Jill and Phillip, he says, “You guys have got to get some help!”

Phillip says, “Yes, we must make our escape and get word of this to Wenceslas. He looks prepared to work some dark and horrible magic that will make him master of this world!”

Charlie shakes his head, “No, you need to go get help. I’ve got to rescue my friend.”

Jill looks back and forth between them. “OK. Charlie, I’ll help you rescue your friend. And as soon as we find a way for Phillip to make his escape, he’ll do that. Phillip, I know you’re a knight and all, but as a knight, you have the best chance of any of us to get word to Wenceslas!”

Bei reaches a place where the vent opens to the outside. “Hrm, I could make my escape now. But I’ve got to find and rescue Charlie!” She turns away, and continues crawling down the tunnels.

Carefully, Charlie, Phillip, and Jill open the door at teh top of the stairway. Just as they step out, they duck back in at the sound of a door opening off to their right.

“C’mon Wilbur, stop laughing about the onion. We need to find Charlie and Bei!”

At hearing this, Charlie steps back out. “Oh hey, twerp, over here!”

After a moment’s introductions, the five of them set out cautiously searching the castle. They move down the hallway… and are startled when a soldier steps around a corner!

Springing into action, Phillip, Jill, and Charlie are able to kill the soldier before he can make a noise. But around the corner, they hear another solider, “Hey, Arthur. Where you at?” His footsteps approach down the corridor.

Wilbur spots blood from the soldier exposed in the hallway, and tries to distract from it by creating a glowing blue arrow pointing the other way down the hallway. The approaching soldier calls behind himself, “Hey guys, there’s something going on down here! And there’s blood!”

Knowing that the alarm will soon be given, the heroes spring into action, stunning this guard, and racing down the hall to deal with any remaining ones. Only through sheer luck are they able to stop the remaining guards before they call for help.

In the aftermath of the brief battle, they try to quickly clean up and formulate a plan to find Bei and affect Phillips escape with the dire news.

Crawling through the air vent, Bei hears whispering in a hallway. Looking out, she sees Charlie, Wilbur, and Chris, along with two adults she doesn’t know. “Hey guys… open this vent!”

Now reunited, the heroes decide that perhaps the best thing to do is end the threat of the Rotten King once and for all. “I know where he is!” Bei tells the others. They sneak through the castle, entering the barren throne room where the King sits. Hidden from his view by the pillars lining the walls and supporting the upper galleys, they espy him conferring with Jack. Quickly, in whispered voices, they make a plan.

Jill steps out into the middle of the throne room, alone. “Jack!” she calls out.

Jacks head snaps around from where he had been gazing up at the King. “J… J… Jill?” He steps away from the king’s side.

“You!” cries the king. “You dare to come here?! Stay away from her, Jack!”

But Jack is still slowly stepping towards his sister, apparently torn by loyalty to his king and love for his half-remembered sister.

The Rotten King loses Jack’s loyalty, however, when he loses his temper, steps away from his throne, and strikes at Jill, firing a stream of rotten putrescence at her. “Stay away from her, Jack!” But Jack races forward to wipe the foul black fluid off of his coughing, gagging sister.

With their opening presented, the children and Phillip race out behind the Rotten King and attack him from behind.

In their excitement and abandon, the children suddenly grow into their full power in the Grimm lands. Charlie realizes that his greatest strength comes not from bullying the other kids, but from protecting them – and he has the ability to protect them. Wilbur is able to weaken the magical effects around him by imposing his own logic. Chris is able to escape notice, even in plain sight. And Bei grows into the great hero she always imagined she could be, transforming into a glowing angel wielding a flaming hammer.

She flies forward, shouting, “Your tyranny ends now, Rotten King!” Surprised, Humpty Dumpty turns and is surprised by a hammer slamming into his face. With a massive SCHPLUNCH, half his shell collapses, and rotten, foul smelling fluids spray out… right into Bei’s face.

She collapses, gagging, wrapping her wings around herself.

The Rotten King’s cry of pain draws attention. Jack spins from his sister, and leaps to attack the king. Two guards come racing in the front door, and the wizard enters from a side door. Charlie and Phillip begin attacking the King, while Wilbur and Chris move to stop the others.

Using his bow, Wilbur slows the guards who are approaching Jill, where she is still getting to her feet. Meanwhile, Chris escapes the wizard’s notice and cuts into him from behind, disrupting his attempt at an incantation.

Meanwhile, Charlie, Jack, and Phillip carry out a furious battle with the enraged king. He shouts and cries degenerating into spittle filled babble, he strikes wildly, charging them each in turn and trying to crush them with his massive bulk.

Seeing the person who hurt him so severely, he moves to attack Bei where she is still coughing on the ground. Charlie shoves her out of the way, and takes the hit himself… a blow that weakens his will to the point where he flees the battle.

Meanwhile, severely wounded, the wizard flees out the front door of the chamber. Chris pursues, but stops when he sees a squad rushing up the steps to help. He slams the door shut, and lowers the bar. He and Wilbur then move to help the still woozy Jill where she is fighting for her life with the guardsmen.

The Rotten King now turns his wrath on Jack and on Phillip, who are not able to do much damage to the king. However, they distract him long enough for Bei to recover. She rises to her feet, glowing even brighter, and once more strikes the king.

With the sound of shattering eggshell, he collapses. His shell, now fully broken, is no longer able to contain the evil within, which explodes outward, throwing Bei, Prince Phillip, and Jack to the floor.

Just as they knock down the last guard, Chris and Wilbur turn to see a brightly glowing angel rise from the ground and strike Humpty Dumpty. The blow seems to make the rotten king explode, and they turn their heads to avoid being splattered in the face with his foul yolk.

Jill races past them, shouting, “Jack!” They turn, and see Jill helping Jack to his feet. Prince Phillip is slowly rising again…

And Bei lies motionless, covered in sticky dark yellow and black goop. They see Charlie behind a pillar, shaking. “C’mon Charlie. C’mon… we need to help Bei!”

But there’s no helping her. She lays still, unbreathing.

They sit in silence for a moment.

Then the silence is broken by the boom of a ram against the barred door.

Charlie looks around. “Hey wait, if the king is dead… who’s the king now?” He picks up the crown, wipes it clean.

“Hey, um, Phillip, I think you should be the king now.”

Phillip had just taken the crown and sat upon the throne when the door came crashing down. The soldiers rush in, and look around in confusion.

They’re startled from their confusion by Jack calling out, “The King is dead. All hail King Phillip!” and dropping to his knee. The soldiers, following his example, drop to their knees and bow their heads.

The children, as well, begin kneeling when they hear a blood-curdling cry from outside. “What the…” Chris and Wilbur are first to the door, and outside in the courtyard they see a glowing ring forming in the air. The wizard, in his patched black robes, drops the now still corpse of a child.

“You won’t catch me!” He turns to face the glowing ring…

and falls to the ground, an arrow and a lawn dart in his back. Looking through the ring, Wilbur and Chris see a city street, with pavement, and cars, and people walking in modern clothing…

“Hey guys, this looks like our chance to get home!” Chris calls out.

Solemnly, Charlie scoops up Bei’s body. “I think… I think we should go home. Good luck, Phillip, Jack, Jill…”

Together, muddied and bloodsoaked, the three children step through the portal, and find themselves standing on a street corner in their hometown. Cars screech to a halt, and someone nearby begins screaming. “Ohmigod, someone call 911! These kids look hurt!”



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