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!”

Home, sweet home
or, maybe the village isn't the bastion you thought, part 2

returning at night, the cheerful reunions are broken by a frightened call from the wall of the partially erected palisade. “Riders!”

Two men on horseback are riding at a breakneck pace out of the woods to the east. The village’s archers, a dozen boys and old men, run to stand on crates and bales to have a clear shot… and Bei notices they wear tabards emblazoned not with the egg shape of the Rotten King’s troops, but a stylized W. Repeating this information, Billy calls out, “Wait! They’re from Wenceslas!”

And the people notice arrows flying from the edge of the woods, at the riders. They soon reach safety within the pallisade, where people are stil frantically working on building a gate.

“We are knights of King Wenceslas’, three sent to aid you against the Rotten King’s tyranny.” Someone notes that there are only two knights. “Our companion… delayed our pursuit.” They are quickly welcomed in, and they set to aiding in the preparations, long through the night.

There’s another false alarm during the night, with a lone figure seen approaching the village. This is discovered to be Llewellyn, previously thought lost in the river. She tells of wandering the woods, at times pursued by soldiers, and seeing this village. With a happy reunion, she rests with the other children.

The children are woken by calls of, “They’re back! They’re back!” Looking to the south, they see a small group of men hobbling out from the woods to the south… the remnants of the force sent to free the children held by Peep and Blue.

“We were devestated… there was a large force of goblins there, and no chidren. They’ve been dogging our retreat…”

That day, they see activity to the north, as the Rotten King’s forces setup a camp and begin constructing something behind cover.

With morale down, at the loss of many of the village’s combat capable adults, the news of a second force approaching from the south, and the mysterious work to the north, a group of villagers mobilize to flee. One of the Knights is blocking their way, trying to keep them and warning them that if they flee, they will surely be picked off by the Rotten King’s forces, but together, they may survive. He’s not succeeding in persuading them, however…

Charlie steps forward, and in a stumbling fashion convinces them, promising that he and the other children will determine what’s going on to the north, and neutralize it.

They split up – Charlie fashions a great shield from a barrel, and openly walks towards the northern encampent. With this distraction, Chris sneaks into the woods to directly enter the camp and find out what is being built, and Bei, Wilbur, and Llewellyn take cover at arrow range, preparing to fire flaming arrows into the encampment.

Chris finds the encampment strangely empty – there are many fires burning, but only a handful of men standing guard or around. He easily makes it to the enclosure, where he finds a completed catapult. With his knife, Chris makes swift work of the ropes, disabling it, and then for good measure pulls a flaming log from an unattended fire and set it afire.

Seeing this, Bei, Wilbur, and Llewlyn begin firing arrows into the encampment to give Chris a chance to escape. The guards race from the encampment to engage them…

Seeing the flames rise in the encampment, people in the village let out a cheer, and open the gate to rush out and assist the children. Their cheers change to cries of fear and pain, as a troop of concealed goblins rise from the field and race forward to hold the gate. The larger force begins advancing from the forest to the south.

Charlie quickly dispatches the guard who comes at him, and races to help Wilbur, Bei, and Llewellyn, who are being driven back by the soldiers. Bei has activated her focus, Puppy, who is single-handedly holding off 4 soldiers. But meanwhile, the chidren are being wrestled to the ground, and the soldiers are attempting to restrain them.

After disabling two soldiers, Puppy is killed. Charlie manages to knock down the soldier trying to restrain Wilbur, and tells the nerd to run… and he does. Seeing how hopeless the situation appears, Bei imagines that someone could arrive to help… and amazingly, Billy Goat Gruff appears out of nowhere, knocking a soldier into the distance. Side by side with Charlie, the two of them try to clear the way for Bei and Llewellyn to escape…

And with a cry, Llewellyn takes the sword of a fallen soldier, and cuts Billy down from the flank.

Seeing this betrayal, Charlie turns, and ignoring the advancing soldiers, as well as the ones who have tackled Bei to the ground, he unleashes his rage upon Llewellyn. “Traitor!” He pounds her down to one knee…

And in desperation, Llewellyn as well imagines help arriving. Too late, however, as Charlie takes the sword he’s been using and cuts through her face, dropping her dead to the ground.

“Oh ho, good job, men. This is the one his majesty wants!”

In the light from the burning encampment, and now the burning village, Charlie sees Jack stepping up from behind the soldiers. Two of the soldiers are carrying Bei, bound, into the darkness.

“Set her down, you! That’s my friend!” Jack steps forward, and warns Charlie, “You should give up, boy. I don’t want to hurt you.”

With an incoherent shout, Charlie rushes at Jack, and tries to knee him in the crotch. Jack deftly twists his thigh to block the attack, then swings his woodsman’s axe at the boy.

A moment later, picking himself up from the ground, blood poring from his wounds, Charlie surrenders.

Hiding in the grass, Wilbur and Chris see Charlie and Bei carried off into the darkness. Behind them, flames are rising from the gate area of the pallisade.

Seeking Information
Would you believe they put a man on the moon?

The village springs into action, with a contingent of men heading out to free the children at Peep and Blue’s camp, and the remaining people building a palisade and crafting weapons.

Speaking to Billy, they find that he was on a mission for King Wenceslas to determine the nature of the Rotten King’s foul plot – with his injuries, however, he will be able to complete his mission. The children volunteer to complete it, however.

Noting the danger they face in scouting the forest and the Rotten King’s lands directly, they seek another source of information – the Man on the Moon. Billy suggests they use the cow who jumped over the moon to reach him, and he’d heard that it had last been spotted in The Cat’s custody, somewhere in the sleeping kingdoms.

With a rough map in hand, they set out to the east, dodging patrols, riders of the Rotten King’s army. After a day’s hard travel, they escape the Great and Awful Forest.

Soon, they stumble across a fallow field, covered with high grass. At the edge, they find a farmer and ox, both sleeping deeply and unwakeable. As they travel across the sleeping kingdom, they find more such farms, and they stumble across the footprints of a giant… and a discarded giant-sized pair of high heels. Eventually, they find a castle, filled with sleeping people, and a scattering of skeletons in varied decayed garb. They bed down for the night, enjoying the protection from the elements afforded by the castle walls.

In the morning, they set out again, wandering the sleeping kingdoms searching for The Cat. They find a field of catnip, with a well worn path. Turning to follow the path, Chris cuts a bit of catnip and places it in his pack.

Soon, they see smoke in the distance – the first signs of life they’ve found – and they soon hear the sound of a fiddle. They find a shack, with a small field and a cow wearing heavy iron manacles. Chris sneaks into the yard and sets to work picking the locks on the manacles, while Bei and Charlie hide behind the cow… and Wilbur sneaks up to the shack. Within, he sees a human size cat playing a fiddle… stopping it’s playing only to admire it’s large, sharp claws.

The clatter of a falling manacle from the yard alerts the cat, who sets down his fiddle, stands and walks out the front door of the shack (on the opposite side from the children). Wilbur, seeing his opportunity, climbs through the window of the shack.

The cat spots the children with the cow and begins to approach them, calling for them to leave his property alone. Charlie steps out with his 8 ball… and Wilbur steps out from the shack, with the cat’s fiddle in hand. “I suppose this is of no value, then?” he asks, holding it as if preparing to break it. The Cat, caught between the two possessions, is frozen. Meanwhile, Chris has almost finished removing the iron weights from the cow.

The stalemate is broken when Chris removes the catnip from his bag, throwing it past the cat and Wilbur. Unable to resist, the Cat leaps after the catnip, Wilbur sets down the fiddle, and the children hop on the back of the cow, who jumps to the moon.

A few minutes later, they land with a “SPLAT” in gooey cheese. In the distance, the children see a hill with a green wall and a tower. Wading through the cheese, then climbing up the rocky hill, they reach the green wall and see that it is a hedge, with a wooden gate. The gate, however, has been boarded up – and Bei notices a thin thread reaching down from a loop at the top to the boards. While Chris sets to work disarming this trap, Wilbur wanders off around the edge of hedge, and thus being left behind when the others manage to pry an opening and enter.

Inside, Charlie, Bei, and Chris find themselves in a hedge maze, with sets of giant three toed footprints in the moon dust. Picking a direction, they set off.

Wilbur, meanwhile, returns to the gate and enters. He sees the other childrens’ footprints, but chooses to set off in the other direction.

After several minutes of wandering, the children find themselves only inching closer to the tower. Losing patience, Charlie pulls out a sword and begins hacking his way directly through the hedge! With several minutes of work, he’s able to speed their progress through the labyrinth.

Wilbur, meanwhile, discovers the source of the giant three toed prints… a giant mouse! Realizing that he smells strongly of cheese, he tries to distract the mouse with a flaming arrow to scare it away… which only seems to infuriate it further! Sprinting through the labyrinth, Wilbur spots a small hole into which he ducks, gaining temporary protection from the mouse.

With much more hedge trimming, Bei, Charlie, and Chris reach the center of the labyrinth. They find a small low house, with a tower attached at the back. From the tower, they see a bronze telescope projecting, pointed towards the Grimm lands. At the door to the house, they notice another trap, but one that seems to be malfunctioning. A steady drip of a pale fluid drops from the eaves over the door, prompting Chris to work at the lock from the edge. Just as he gets the door open, and the children duck in the door, Wilbur comes racing from the hedge maze, cackling wildly as a giant mouse chases him. He ducks in the door, and closes it behind himself.

The children find themselves in a house, well furnished but with a look of neglect. Wandering further, they find a library, with walls covered in books, and a spiral stairway in the back. Charlie cautiously takes the lead in climbing the stairs, while Wilbur begins examining books in glee.

Halfway up the stairs, Charlie comes to a halt looking face-to-face with a small dragon.

AAAGH!” they both scream, with the small dragon slithering around and racing up the stairs, and Charlie momentarily rocking back on his heels.

“They’re here, they’re here! They’ve come for you!” the dragon calls out as he races up the stairs. Charlie chases after, and at the top, runs into a door that slams in his face.

Wilbur realizes that most of the books in the library are journals, diaries of events going back to the 1800s. Skimming through, he finds chronicles of the exploits of brave hereos and horrible villains, all written in the same precise hand writing…

At the top of the stairs, Charlie knocks on the door and calls out to those inside, “Hello? We’re here, um, looking for the man on the moon. We’re looking for information to try and help out our friends in a village being attacked by Jack and some king…”

There’s no response.

After a few minutes of this, he decides to do things the simple way – he knocks the door down. Stepping in, he finds an old man standing with a heavy pan in his hand, ready to hit him. The man pauses, and sets the pan down, “Why, so you are! You’re the kids who dealt with Red Riding Hood! It’s OK boys, these children are friends.”

Two small dragons come slithering out of hiding, and curl up on piles of books. “I do hope my bookwyrms didn’t startle you too much. They were just looking out for me. I’ve been expecting a visit from one of the Rotten King’s ‘representatives’ for some time now – hence the traps.”

Speaking with the Man on the Moon, they find out about some of the Rotten King’s activities. He has acquired the services of a wizard, who he has set to work on several incantations. One of them seems to have increased the rate at which children from the Real World travel to the Grimm Lands, whom the King has set about capturing by hiring the services of Peep and Blue. He has also begun amassing an army, and fortifying his castle. He has also made a larger version of Peep and Blue’s encampment, with a key difference – the cages are installed with massive spikes in the ceiling.

Also, during their discussion, they see that he has access to the real world! At one point, he opens a large white box… and pulls out a cold beer in a glass bottle. They see an orange extension cord running across the floor to a door, from which a slight glow shows.

At this point, the children waver. Debating among themselves, they almost decide to step through the door, to return home. But in the end, they decide they must help their friends back in the village.

Reaching safety?
or, maybe the village isn't the bastion you thought


Party wandered away from Blue & Peeps camp, chatting with their new friend (Billie) and looking for food and a place to sleep. Billie had entered the forest, sent by King Wenceslas, to spy out what the Rotten King is up to. However, he was captured by B&P, who tried to get him to behave like a sheep. Now, he will lead the kids to a village where they should be safe.

Wandering off from the others, Bei encounters her little blue friend again, who leads her to a chicken-pot-pie tree. There, the children eat and bed down for the night.

The next day, they opt to travel off road, figuring that stealth is better than speed. Their advance is halted by a river. As he fills his water skin, Charlie meets a talking fish, who offers to lead them to a ford. Following the fish down stream, they come to a ford… which is just next to a bridge.

Billie freaks out – “Troll!” Charlie, Reyna, and Llewelyn begin crossing at the ford, while Wilbur and Bei opt for the bridge. Chris stands back to wait and see what happens.

The river has a strong current, and the ford mainly consists of submerged rocks. The crossing children had removed their shoes and rolled up their pants… and halfway across, they shout in pain as fish begin nibbling upon them! This throws Llewelyn off balance, and she falls in the river. Charlie throws his backpack (shattering the pot-pie he saved) to the shore, and dives after her.

Wilbur walks across the stonework bridge, and at the halfway point, in mid-blink, walks into the leg of a 12 foot troll. He tries to daze it, but it just thinks he’s babbling. Laughing maniacally, Wilbur ducks between the trolls legs, racing for the far side of the bridge.

Bei races back to the ford, where Chris is struggling to convince Billie to cross. With much coaxing, they cross, where they find Reyna panting on the shore. In the middle of the river, they see Charlie struggling to pull a bloodied Llewelyn to shore. He disappears briefly under a mob of fish, and loses his grip on Llewelyn.

The troll manages to slam Wilbur into the stone wall of the bridge, and then lift him in the air. “Your silver or your flesh, that is the troll toll!” Chris’ imaginary friend Clive races onto the bridge to attempt to distract the troll, slamming full force into the troll’s side. It doesn’t even notice.

Chris finds a long stick, and holds it out to help pull Charlie to shore. Unfortunately, he’s much too heavy, and pulls her in as well, where she is immediately beset by the fish ford mafia. Bei also finds a long stick, which Charlie gets ahold of. He also gets hold of Chris, and then Billie pushes on Bei to pull the chidren out of the water.

Dangling from the troll’s grip, Wilbur tries to stab it in the eye with a pencil. He misses the eye, but shatters the pencil against the troll’s face, making it flinch and drop him. This time, he manages to escape the bridge. The troll rails at him, “If I ever make my way off this bridge, I WILL find you. You will pay the toll!”

The children, in shock at the sudden loss of yet another friend and their own near escapes, lie panting in the edge of the forest.

When they get up to travel again, they see deep grooves in the road, as from a recently passed heavy ox-cart. Remembering that the aleman had mentioned he would pass through a village on his way to the king’s castle, they choose to follow the road, the road to Merville.

After a few hours’ travel, they top a rise and see below them a large break in the dark, black forest. Recently plowed fields, a small collection of houses and a few stone buildings, the smell of fresh baked bread…

“Merrville should be a safe place to rest. King Wenceslas said it’s one of the last places untouched by whatever darkness has tainted the forest.” Entering the town, Billie ducks to the stalls behind the tavern to munch on hay.

The children enter the tavern, and see a dozen or so people sitting against the far wall. In the middle table is a tall, broad shouldered man, dressed in bright green outfit. “Children! Welcome!” he calls out to them. Chris immediately ducks back out the front door.

The man asks the children to sit, and orders food for them. They notice that the other people are pale, and don’t touch their food or drinks. The fire burns warmly in the fireplace, but does not seem to bring any cheer. Wilbur uses a mumbled prestidigitation charm to make it appear as if he’s consumed all his soup, then ducks up the stairs in the back of the main hall.

The man in green tells the kids he serves the king, who is buiding a city for children, a place where they can be safe in this dark, dangerous world. He asks if they would like to go with him, and they mumble excuses, such as, “Um, we, um, need to go meet our friend.”

“I’m sure your friend is already in the city!”

“Um, we, um, need to go, um, someplace to the east.”

The man progresses from asking them to join him, to telling them they should join him, to ordering them to join him. Finally, he pulls out rope. He quickly ties Bei’s hands behind her back, and gets Charlie in a headlock to attempt to tie him up as well.

Outside, Chris hears approaching footsteps and hides. A pair of redcaps approach, pulling a train of children tied together! Chris races back to the stables to get Billie.

Wilbur searches through the rooms upstairs, finding straw mattresses and clay bedpans (though not knowing what they are…). In one room, he finds a bag with jars of spices. Picking out a jar of pepper, he heads downstairs.

Bei manages to slide out of the man in green’s grip, and move towards the fireplace, where she spotted some tools she may be able to rub the ropes against.

Meanwhile, seeing the children face the man in green, the townsfolk have stood up, and begun to advance. “I’m Jack the giant killer, hero of the realm! I serve the king! How dare you defy the king!” he shouts at them. Meanwhile, taking advantage of the distraction, the ale-man has snuck up from behind, and taken Jack’s axe.

“It’s over, Jack. Head back to your king and leave our children be.”

Jack spins in place, still holding Charlie… just in time to receive a face full of pepper, from Wilbur.

“Billie, some bad people are here! I think they’re friends with Blue and Peep!”

With a cry of, “I’ll murderize ’em!” Billie races out of the stable, and around the front corner of the tavern. Chris hears a loud THOOM! followed by a sickening SMACK. She looks around the corner to see the children huddling against the front wall, the frayed end of the rope on the ground in front of them. One redcap stands nearby, and Billie is collapsed against the wall, blood seeping from his side.

Blinded, sneezing, Jack tackles the ale-man, and they wrestle on the ground. Townsfolk gather around, kicking at Jack as well. Charlie lies on the floor incapacitated with sneezing and crying from the pepper. Bei frantically rubs the rope against a hook to free herself, and Wilbur edges over next to the fire. He tries to reach in for a log, but the heat is too intense.

To protect his friend, Chris throws a lawn dart at the redcap. Steadily stomping towards Chris, the redcap jerks it’s head to the side to avoid the missiles. It bends its knees, and leaps at Chris feet first. Chris manages to duck and roll to the side.

With a roar, Jack throws off his assailants, and runs out the front door of the tavern. “Come, we’re leaving!” he shouts to the remaining redcap “What about the children?” “We’ll be back for them…”

Blue and Peep have found their sheep...
or, "let's go TOWARDS the cages..."

The children mill about the clearing, with Charlie badly wounded and bleeding from the ears from Little Boy Blue’s horn attack. Bei comes in, and discovers that just by thinking happy thoughts – and getting Charlie to do so as well – she can heal him of some of his wounds. After some miscounts, they realize that one of their number – the outsider, Chris, whom Bei and Llewelyn had tried to save – is missing.

Chris comes to, stuffed in a cage with his imaginary friend, the giant swashbuckling badger Clive. Smooshed to the bottom of his cage, he struggles to see around him. From his limited field of view, he finds himself in the midst of a large number of hanging cages, each holding a child in various stages of misery.

The children – Bei, Charlie, Llewelyn (NPC), Reyna (NPC), and Wilbur set out to find Chris. Fortunately, Wilbur’s time in boy scouts gave him the skill to pick out the trail trampled by dozens of ensorceled children following the boy in blue. They strike off the road through the forest.

Chris overhears a teenage boy and girl talking. “Blue, I’m exhausted!” “But think of all the little lost sheep we’re saving. Besides, Peep, the king pays good gold for them!” He sees them walk past. “And Jack was right when he warned us to expect many more than usual.”

The trampled trail ends at one of the dirt roads cutting through the forest. Again, Wilbur notices the dirt is more widely disturbed to the north, and leads them that way. They soon meet with a man, struggling to replace the wheel on his ox-cart.

“A group of children? Why yes, I did be seeing a group of kids, following a tall blond lad, right? Yep, they walked right on by, not offering a lick of help, nor even the time of day. Downright rude they was! Not a talkative bunch, either.”

The children speak with the man, and find that he’s an aleman, on his way to deliver his wares to the king in the north. “Not a savory fella, but he pays good gold.”

The children help him fix his cart, and briefly debate having him cart Reyna (still injured) to a village for rest. They decide against this, however, choosing not to risk separating. They quickly outpace the ox-cart, despite their many limps.

Chris notices a child in a nearby cage looking at him. “Hello,” he manages to utter. “Shh, keep it down! You don’t want to attract their attention!” replies the other kid. That of course just emboldens Chris. “What is this place?”

The boy whispers to Chris that he’s not sure, but that a group of kids were carted off recently, and that Chris is one of the replacements. They stop whispering when they see the tall boy in Blue arguing with one of the short, gnarly creatures, like the ones the children saw leading the dwarf and witch down the road.

“While we appreciate your assistance in improving our facilities, the issue of your pay and meals is the responsibility of the king.”

“Well, without food we’ll be no use in making those improvements. Why don’t you just let us have one of them kids. Howabout this juicy looking one, here?” The goblin is pointing at a chubby kid in a cage near Chris. The boy, wide eyed and white as a sheet, begins trembling.

“We’ll require payment. The usual price.” Gold exchanges hands, and Chris can just barely turn his head enough (as he still has Clive sitting on him) to see Blue manipulate something on the far side of a post. The chubby boy’s cage descends to the ground, Blue returns, and unlocks the heavy padlock.

The boy, crying for his mommy, is dragged away, kicking and screaming, by a pair of goblins.

“We HAVE to get out of here, Clive,” Chris whispers, as a wonderful smell suffuses the camp. “Where’s my pack?”

“I don’t know. I can’t feel it with my bum.”

Chris’ attempts to reach around and feel for his pack in the crowded cage causes he and Clive to begin swinging. Peep notices this, and walks over. “Stop that, stop that now! Behave like the rest of the flock!”

Chris ignores this, and now intentionally swings the cage in wider and wider arcs. The cage strikes Peep, knocking her down. Purpling in rage, she swings her crook, sparkling with electricity, and knocks Chris unconscious.

The children reach a point where a small side trail sets off from the road. A quick inspection reveals that Blue and his flock went down the side trail. Once more, they debate who should go. Bei and Charlie strike off to rescue Chris, with Wilbur saying, “I believe it will be safer here.” Reyna and Llewelyn look at each other, look at Bei and Charlie’s receding backs, then at Wilbur. They turn and follow Bei and Charlie down the trail.

“Well, I suppose there is safety in numbers,” he murmers, as he follows the others.

Chris awakens to find he’s no longer squished into the bottom of his cage by a massive badger. “Clive? Clive?!” he calls out. The sun has moved well towards setting, and a quick inspection reveals a bowl of gruel set in the corner of the cage.

“Tallyho, Chris!” Clive calls out from below. “How’d you get out there?”

“I don’t know. I was knocked out by that girl, and I awoke out here!”

“Clive, can you find my bag?”

The badger swaggers off, and returns some time later with Chris’ bag. “This does seem to be quite a large facility! Fortunately, you’re near the edge.” On the tip of his toes, he hands the bag up to Chris, who looks through it for something to use to pick the lock.

“I guess a lawn dart is my best bet,” he mumbles as he looks at the large keyhole on the even larger padlock. He wiggles the tip of the dart in the keyhole… one pin… two pins… and he drops the dart, almost into Clive’s head!

“Watch out what you’re doing!” Having almost been skewered, Clive reluctantly hands the dart back up to Chris. “Wait, Chris… guards!” Clive warns as he ducks away, leaving Chris to hurredly hide his bag.

Two goblins in armor, with spears, come marching by. “This one looks good,” says one, eyeing Chris. “Eh, not enough meat on him.” They continue on their rounds.

Not long after sunset (when the forest transitioned from gray and gloomy to dark and gloomy), the children reach the edge of a clearing. In the pale moonlight, they can see a few campfires, and a hut with flickering candlelight in the windows. The hut has a short metal tower next to it, with a slowly nodding figure holding a spear, and closer to the campfires is a taller, but rickety, wooden tower. Between the hut and the trees is a low stone well, and on the other side of the hut is some structure they can’t make out in the failing light.

In a quickly whispered conference, Bei and Charlie decide to sneak out to house. Wilbur opts to walk along the edge of the clearing, just within the treeline, while Reyna and Llewelyn wait among the trees.

Bei and Charlie make it, unnoticed, to the hut. Sitting beneath the window, they think they hear voices inside… and then the hear the sounds of a pair of marching goblins. With only a moment’s hesitation, they sidle around the house, but are a moment too slow.

“I think I saw something go around the house.” They hear the clang clang clang of armored joggers. “Get behind me!” whispers Charlie to Bei, and he readies his brass knuckles and his spear head.

This time, Charlie succeeds in opening the lock on his cage. He lowers himself down, hanging by his fingertips, then drops the several more feet to the ground.

“Time to cause some trouble,” he whispers to himself, eyeing the post where he’d earlier seen Blue cause a cage to drop.

Picking his way through the trees, Wilbur happens to glance at the hut in time to see Charlie and Bei duck around the corner, with two goblins jogging along, one behind the other. “Well, I can do something about this!” he says to himself, chanting the rhyme he learned from the witches book to daze an opponent. He stuns the first of the goblins, who halts in mid step. The following goblin trips over him, tumbling to the ground in front of Charlie. With a “Whump!” Charlie knocks him out cold.

He and Bei circle around the front of the house, and sitting beneath a window listen to the conversation within.

“With this new influx of children, we should probably contact the Pigs for more cages. We have more than enough gold to pick up more.”

Bei stops listening to the conversation, as she has now noticed motion ahead of her. A shadowy shape is moving near a post, next to a cage on the ground which contains a lumpy shape.

Looking over the top of the post, Chris sees a panel covered in levers. As he contemplates what to do, he notices a pair of eyes staring at him from next to the hut. “Well, times up!”

He runs his arm across the board, flipping all the levers. Behind him, the hundreds of cages crash to the ground, simultaneously.

“What the…?!” a male voice cries from inside the hut. The door flies open, and light stabs out into the night, illuminating a goat in the cage on the ground. A tall blond youth, in blue leather, steps out slowly scanning from left to right.

Charlie, seeing his opportunity, tackles Blue, driving his spear point into the youth’s side – again.

Chris makes a break for the treeline, tumbling over Bei who has started to retreat from the front of the house. Hearing the noise of the crashing cages, and shouts of “Wake up, wake up you mangy dogs! Form up!” from the campfires, Wilbur heads in that direction.

Bei begins retreating, but realizes that Charlie’s not with them. She looks around the corner, and sees him wrestling with the boy in blue. She sees the goat ramming against his cage door, and shouting in a gruff voice, “Come on, lemme out of here! I’ll murderize ya! Murderize ya!”

Bei sprints out to the cage, examining the lock. “Are you gonna get me outta here or what?” asks the goat. “I’m trying!” Bei looks around. “If only I could find the key! If only it could have been knocked from Blue’s belt when Charlie tackled him!”

In the light streaming from the open doorway, she sees a gleaming, large brass key. As she reaches out for it, it’s shadowed by the form of a teenage girl with tight curly hair, carrying a shephardess’ crook.

“Form up, you, form up!” Wilbur sees the goblin commander gets the last of his troops – 10 goblins – in line. “Forward…”

He never finishes his command, as Wilbur quickly uses his daze spell on him. The commander stands in place, mouth open. And his soldiers stand, at attention, waiting for him to finish.

“That seems to have stopped them, for now,” Wilbur thinks to himself. “Now let’s see if their tents contain anything useful.”

A quick inspection of the closest tent reveals a pair of cots, a half-eaten bowl of stew with some unrecognizable meat in it, and a few empty packs. “Hrm… I suppose I can cause a little trouble behind their backs.” He pulls a log from one of the campfires, and begins lighting the tents. The goblins stand at attention, waiting for their commander’s order.

With a cry of rage, Peep swings her crook at Bei, knocking her aside. Struggling to her feet, Bei tries to run past Charlie and Blue, hoping Peep will stumble over the two combatants, but she’s pulled back and thrown to the ground by the crook. Her backpack spills open, the contents, including her beloved stuffed puppy, scattering.

Blue throws Charlie off of him with a hard punch to the gut. Charlie stumbles to his feet, and his eyes open wide in fear when he sees Blue reaching for his horn.

Wilbur heads along the outskirts of the camp towards the hut. As he passes the wooden tower, he’s brought up short by one of the goblins, just reaching the bottom of the ladder. “Quick! Get in formation!” he shouts at the goblin, who rushes off without hesitation.

“Hehe, now to see what’s in the house…” Wilbur thinks.

“I must cull the bad sheep from the herd!” Peep shouts as she stands over Bei’s prostrate form. She raises the crook over her head, glistening with electricity… when she’s tackled from the side by a giant green dog.

“Puppy!” Bei sits up, looking over at where Puppy has come to life (larger-than-life, even!) and stands over Peep, snapping at her face. Her crook has snapped, and she’s covering her face with her arms.

“Now I can free Mr. Goat, here…” she says, turning her attention to looking for the key again. “Aha! There it is…” she reaches for the key in the grass.

Wilbur hears the shouted, “March!” off to his left as he approaches the house. “Well, that’s not good,” he thinks as he sees two columns of goblins approaching the front of the house. “Don’t fail me now!” he thinks as he chants, again, the rhyme to daze the front most member of a column. The row of goblins moving at speed, tumble to the ground.

“And now I can inspect this hut.” Inside, he finds a few furniture – a bed, a table with spilled soup, a few cabinets – and a locked chest. With a three letter combination lock, he quickly surmises that the password must be “BAA” – the favorite word of both Little Boy Blue and Little Bo Peep. Within the chest, he finds a few books with painted portraits, spare clothing…

and bags of gold.

Charlie quickly steps forward, aiming a swift kick at Blue’s crotch. Seeing this attack coming, however, Blue turns his hip to the side, and retaliates by blowing his horn in Charlie’s face. Knowing what’s coming, however, Charlie manages to step partially out of the blast and cover his ears, saving himself from the worst damage, but is still staggering. Bei, as well, is in the blast area, but notices what’s happening and covers her ears. Peep, trying to protect herself from Puppy, is not so lucky.

“Key… key…” Bei races to unlock the padlock, seeing Blue raise the horn to his lips again.

The padlock falls to the ground, and the goat goes bounding out of the cage.

Blue takes a deep breath, turning to squarely face Charlie.

And the goat strikes Blue, hard, launching him out of sight.

Charlie picks up Blue’s horn from where it fell. Seeing the small group of approaching goblins, plus another dozen or more marching into sight from the far side of the clearing, Charlie and the goat look at other and say, “I think it’s time to go!”

Bei picks herself up from the ground. She spots Puppy, reverted to a stuffed animal, lying next to the quiet Little Bo Peep. Scooping Puppy up, she heads past the house and towards the edge of the forest. She runs past Chris, who is removing a lawn dart from the hand of a goblin, crumpled at the base of the ladder to the metal tower.

In the forest, they find Wilbur handing bags of gold to Reyna and Llewelyn to carry, and looking back at the hut as flames begin to lick at its walls.

Fleeing Red Riding Hood
or, exercising the better part of valor

Frightened, the children decide to move along the forest trail, heading away from the direction Charlie thought he saw Red running.

At one point, they hear marching from ahead on the trail, and they (noisily) duck off into the trees. They may not have been quiet, but they were quick, and they managed to stay out of sight of a troop of short, gnarled beings with long pointed ears and crooked noses, armed with spears and armored in rusty breastplates and crooked helmets. In their midst, they escorted an old lady, chained.

The soldiers halted when, from behind, they were hailed with a call of “Sir! Sir!” A pair of the short creatures approached, dragging a tiny man with a droopy hat. As soon as they halted, he drifted off to sleep, standing.

“We got the drop on this one, sir, but the others got away!”

The leader of the gnarly creatures inspected their catch. “I’d prefer to just toss you in the river, but it would be a waste of perfectly good chain. Heh… the King will probably want to speak with you anyway.” He pointed to the old lady. “Chain him to her!”

Soon, they continued marching on their way.

The children debated with each other… “Should we help them?” “But there’s so many of them!” “They have spears!” In the end, they decided there’s nothing they can do… and besides, they still worry about being hunted by Red…

Over the course of the day, as they continue walking along the trail (and hoping it will eventually lead to a village, or some outpost of civilization), they consume the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Charlie had collected from the tree the previous day. As night falls, the gray light of the leaf filtered sunlight being replaced by the gray light of the leaf filtered moonlight, they reach another large clearing.

Silhouetted in the moonlight, they see atop a short rise the outline of a house. Their noses meet the overpowering odor of burnt gingerbread cookies.

They slowly approach the house, Charlie taking the lead. As he approaches the house, he sees that the front wall has been demolished. Leaning against the wall, he find that it’s the source of the gingerbread odor. Tearing off a chunk, he takes a bite.

Wilbur, still keeping his distance from the bully, circles the house. In the back, he finds a set of cages behind the house, with small piles of foul smelling substances which he chooses not to further investigate.

Continuing his circuit of the exterior, Wilbur notices that the windows have all had their glass broken. Turning the corner to examine the third wall, he finds dismembered hands and heads… remains of creatures like the short gnarly beings they saw before. Choking down bile, he looks for usable tools, scavenging a helmet.

Charlie finds that the walls of the house are made of gingerbread! Some of the demolished front wall has been burned, and crumbles like charcoal. He tentatively steps inside.

Bei stays in the middle of the field with the still weak Reyna, but Llewelyn approaches the house. Chris follows, as well, his imaginary friend Clive exhorting him to bravery. True to form, of course, no one notices Chris’ advance.

Charlie finds a large room, with a massive fireplace against the side wall, a counter along the remains of the ruined wall, a bookcase, and two doorways – one through the side, and the other in the back wall. In the middle is a table with a shattered leg. A shattered plate, with scattered cookies lies on the floor, and smeared pies cover the counter.

In the corner, he finds the burnt, skeletal remains of a short creature, with a shattered spear and crooked helmet. Charlie gathers the cookies from the floor, and takes the helmet and broken spear.

He steps through the back door, and finds a smaller room with a bed and a bureau. In the top drawer, he finds granny panties. He continues his inspection, opening the lower drawer…

Llewelyn steps into the house, while Chris pauses outside.

The silence of the night is split by a horrible screaming, and Llewelyn is nearly flattened by Charlie racing out of the back of the house. Llewelyn follows.

But Chris remains standing outside the house, encouraged by Clive. The screaming cycles… “AAAAAAGH!” silence “AAAAAAGH!” silence “AAAAAAGH!”…

Charlie eventually comes to a halt, cowering behind Bei and Reyna. “We need to run! We need to get out of here!” he says, not answering their questions, “What happened?” “What’s that screaming?”

Chris stepped into the back room, and sees an open drawer on the bureau. With the screaming, he sees a flash of white over the top of the drawer. He steps over and looks within… to find a pile of bones, that shake in time with the screaming.

He closes the drawer, and the shaking and screaming end. He opens the drawer, and it begins anew… and he notices something at the back of the draw. Chris removes a small book, and slams the drawer shut.

With the silence, Llewelyn finds her courage restored, and re-enters the house. She enters the side room, which has it’s door knocked off it’s hinges. This room is not lit by the moonlight that streams in the windows in the other rooms… and she kicks something hard.

She picks up a small jar… and steps into the dimly lit kitchen to inspect its contents.

Meanwhile, Wilbur has entered the house, and see Chris inspecting the contents of the small book. “What is it? Can I see it?” he asks in his nasally voice.

“Sure. It’s like rhymes or something.” Chris replies, handing the book to Wilbur.

will finish writing the rest later… summary now

the children decide to retire beneath the boughs of the trees. Charlie successfully imagines a bed of soft leaves for himself and the injured Reyna. He tries to stay up, keeping watch, and in his exhausted state sees Clive out of the corner of his eye. Clive tells him to rest – he’ll keep watch.

Wilbur stays up, puzzling through the rhymes in the pale moonlight.

During the night, Clive detects approaching soft footfalls, and sees a familiar flash of red ducking behind a tree. He wakes Chris, and they concoct a plan to ambush Red. This plan is inadvertently helped by Chris snapping a twig, calling Red’s attention, and allowing Clive to flank her. Wounded by a well thrown lawn dart by Chris and seeing the other children waking, she flees from her suddenly alerted prey. Clive, Chris, and Charlie catch up to her, and in a desperate melee manage to separate her from her basket. She explodes in a shower of blood, and a nauseous Charlie buries the noxious basket, not daring to look within at its contents.

Meanwhile, Wilbur has figured out the rhymes. Saying one aloud, he casts a spell! Unfortunately, it dazes his friend, Llewelyn, who is halted in the middle of a sentence…

After a well deserved, and uninterrupted rest, the children continue wandering along the forest trail. They’re now keeping an eye out for food and water, and at one point step off the trail to find a stream and fill the water bottle they recovered from Red. Seeing fish leaping from the water, Wilbur tries dazing one… which falls numb, and floats downstream. Charlie leaps after it, scooping it from the water and crying, “I caught a fish!” (to which Wilbur murmers, “WE caught a fish…”).

The children hear a horn sounding in the distance. They look around, trying to find the source of the sound… and see Chris and Reyna marching off, back toward the trail! Charlie catches Reyna, lifting her from the ground to stop her – and Wilbur dazes her with his newfound magical ability. But Llewelyn and Bei fail to stop Chris’ march… to join a blond teenage boy dressed in blue leather, blowing on a horn. He has gathered about him a group of ragged children, some wearing nothing but rags, many appearing starving.

Bei continues trying to stop Chris, but Llewelyn hides at the treeline. The boy chastises Bei for her resistance, and grabs her. Charlie races into the clearing, charges, and stabs the boy-in-blue with the broken spear shaft he collected earlier. The boy drops Bei… and blows a loud note on his horn that throws Charlie to the ground and makes him bleed from his ears. Mutually badly wounded, Charlie and the boy disengage, the boy heading into the forest with his enthralled children…

Welcome to Grimm
or, blame it on Wilber

Walking home from school one fall evening along a ridge, a group of children find that one of their classmates, tiny Wilbur Knox, is being shaken down by the school bully, Charlie O’Doyle. When Wilbur manages to free himself from Charlie, the larger boy is unbalanced and falls down a ridge into the dark woods below. When some of the children attempt to go down and help, they, too, fall and suffer injuries.

With some effort, the group manages to return to the ridge, though one is unconscious with a compound leg fracture, and another two from blows to the head. They find themselves, however, not on their familiar path home but in a large field, ringed on all sides by tall, dark trees, their only illumination being from the dipping sun and the rising moon.

Our characters are:
Wilbur Knox, nerd
Charlie O-Doyle, the bully
Bei, the dreamer
Llewelyn, the normal kid, and
Christian Berk, outcast

They are accompanied by a few NPCs: Kyle, Larry, and Reyna (who has the fractured leg).

Confused, frightened, worried about their wounded friends, and now hungry and thirsty, the children mill around a bit in the field. Kyle, who had bumped his head, and Wilbur, socked by Charlie, come to. Christian finds that his longtime invisible friend, Clive, has manifested, and points out that the flowers of the field are candy, and several of the children enjoy the bounty. Bei discovers a tiny tray, laden with a cup of milk and a small sandwich.

Their wonder soon turns to terror, when on a distant rise, framed by the full moon, they spy the silhouette of a massive wolf… standing on it’s back legs.

The children flee, the wolf chasing after them. They find a path leading in among the dense trees, and go down the path, quickly becoming encompassed in total darkness. A female voice calls out to them, “Quick! Over here!”

Ducking off the path, they huddle together and can hear the “thrum, thrum, thrum” of the wolf’s steps as he goes running by. In the dim light of the full moon filtering through the treetops, they see a girl of about their own age, in a red hood and with a basket. Seeing their condition, their benefactor offers to lead them to her grandmother’s – perhaps she can help their wounded friend. But first, they need food, and someplace to sleep for the night.

In the dark, their new companion offers to lead the children to a place she knows with a PB&J tree. Until they see it, the children can’t believe it. At first, they’re confronted by a horrible odor… much of the fruit has fallen to the ground, and is rotting. But, indeed, some Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches seem to be hanging on higher branches.

“Help me fetch water” the hooded girl says to Larry. They disappear into the trees, and, with only small amounts of moonlight filtering down, Charlie climbs the tree. Llewelyn attempts to knock some PB&Js down by throwing rock, but ceases her attempts after nearly hitting Charlie. Charlie loads his backpack with sandwiches, and begins climbing down.

Before he reaches the ground, the still of the night is broken by Larry screaming in the distance. Charlie drops down, and the children huddle together, debating their course of action. Their indecision is broken, however, by the hooded girl racing into the clearing.

“The wolf! The wolf found us! Run!” she shouts as she races past them and back to the trail. The children follow, Charlie carrying Reyna (who is still unconscious, her condition worsening), and they run until they are exhausted, eventually moving off the trail. The hooded girl collapses, sobbing. “I’m so sorry about your friend. The wolf… the wolf…”

Exhausted, the children settle in for sleep as best they can. Next to a tree, Bei finds a blanket, just her size. Even the outcast, Christian, eventually falls asleep, though he’s more wired than tired.

Charlie, the bully, wakes to a tapping on his shoulder and the sounds of chirping in the distance. The gray light seems a bit lighter. There’s enough light for him to make out the face of the hooded girl, and to see that her hood is a brilliant red. “Hey sleepy head, help me fetch some water for the smaller kids.” He follows her away from the small clearing, and they find a clear stream. Red hands him an empty waterskin, which he fills.

When he stands up and turns around, he finds Red standing close to him, and she embraces him. “You’re so strong, and handsome…” She says to him, pulling him close, nuzzling him.

Bei wakes to a gently poking at her shoulder. Bleary eyed, she sees a 4" high, blue skinned man standing before her. This little man warns her that her friend is in great danger, and she has to help him. She looks around to see that Charlie is missing, and when she looks back down, the little blue man is gone.

Bei wakes the other children, and she, Wilbur, and Christian agree to go check on Charlie. Llewelyn agrees to stay behind and watch over Reyna, who is now developing a fever.

Red has embraced Charlie next to the stream, and is brushing cheek to cheek. He half-heartedly tries to push her away…

Until she bites into his neck.

Fortunately, nervous about the wolf, he had put on his brass knuckles.

Bei, Christian, and Wilbur step into the relative clearing around the stream and see Red and Charlie embracing. They hear Charlie shout, and see him punch Red in the side of the face, knocking her to the ground.

The other kids approach, asking, “Why did you hit her?!” “What’s going on?”

“She bit me!” Charlie yells. Wilbur and Bei step forward to check on Red, but before they can reach her Charlie has pulled out his 8 ball and thrown it at her head. He misses, but the ball somehow hits a rock and bounces back to his hand.

Red stands in a huff and walks away…

Bei, Wilbur, and Christian shout at Charlie a bit… until they notice the two red bite marks on his neck, and they realize they didn’t see any bruises on Red’s cheek, where she had been punched with a pair of brass knuckles. They look down along the stream for Red… but she’s not in sight.

Back in camp, Red steps out from the woods.

“Where is everyone?” asks Llewelyn.

“Oh, they’re carrying back the water. Shall we check on your friend?” She puts a friendly arm around Llewelyn’s shoulders, and leads her over to Reyna, who lies feverish on the ground. As Llewelyn lean over to check on Reyna, Red shoves her to the ground, pinning her. Llewleyn struggles, and when she feels Red bite into her neck, she heaves the vampire off of her.

They square off, and Red appears ready to pounce, when Kyle wakes from where he had managed to sleep through the earlier commotion. Red cold-cocks him, hefts him over her shoulders, and races out of the clearing.

Wilbur, Bei, Charlie, and Christian return just in time to see Red’s cloak flashing out of the clearing. While the others check on Llewelyn, Charlie chases after Red. At one point, Red leaps over a tall fallen log. Charlie follows, vaulting over… and then gets slammed into the tree.

Charlie stumbles to his feet to see Red zipping into the distance, with Kyle over her shoulders. He throws his 8 ball after her, but it misses and bounces back to his hand when it hits a tree.

Sullenly making his way back to the camp, he finds the others debating how to help Reyna. With some incredible wishful thinking, Bei finds she’s able to partially mend Reyna’s fractured leg. She also finds the little blue man again, who explains,

“Little Red Riding Hood used to be a good little girl. She would carry baskets of bread and fruits to her grandma. But something happened to her when she was in the belly of the Big Bad Wolf… I wish the Woodsman had never cut her free. Since then, she’s left a trail of dried up corpses throughout the Wood. Sir Wolf thought he had stopped her, once – he knocked her basket away, and she seemed to explode. But she was back within days.”


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