Part II

What Next?

When last we saw our heroes, they had just discovered a new ally for their journey…

They already know that. Part one ended just a few lines above us.

Who are you?

I'm the part of your consciousness that is going to keep this story moving.

Haven't we met before?

Iiwi: Let me see if I understand this. Newt's machine malfunctioned and brought us to this world that is not even in our universe; and on top of that, switched us with people who do belong here and in order to get home we have to find everyone and get them into one place?

Squeaks: That sounds about right.

Iiwi: And this twerp that I have traded places with?

Ferdia: A slightly inept princess. And, you're just going to love this, she is a defender of justice and a scourge to all evil-doers.

Iiwi: Well, that is just about the stupidest thing I have ever heard.

Ferdia: You get used to it. Plus you get magic powers.

Iiwi: Hmm, now that could come in handy.

Ferdie: It's not fair. How come everyone get powers but me? All I get is this stupid sword, and it doesn't even work.

The sulking bluebird sat on the ground, knocking the blade in the dirt. He had already tried several methods of activating the swords powers, without success. He was now resorting banging the sword on solid objects to see what would happen. So far it had mostly caused Squeaks's temper, and magical powers, to flare.

Iiwi: I'm surprised you can even lift that sword. It's almost twice your size. So getting back to me, I am you're a-typical, second string heroine living in the shadow of Ferdia's character? We'll just have to see about that.

Squeaks: You had better be careful. One of the things about Amelia's character is that, whenever she tries to out-shine Lina, her plans always get messed up.

Ferdia: As fascinating as this little discussion might be, there still might be a lot more people out there and time is running against us. I would eventually like to get home, even if my apartment is small and dingy.

Ferdie: Mom still trying to convince you to move back home?

Ferdia: Let's just not go there.

As much as a person might appreciate the complexities of the da Birdie family, there were far more interesting things to consider. Like where to go in search of the others.

Iiwi: Bob and Beak should be around. And those two stupid ducks.

Ferdia: I wonder how Newt managed to escape being body-swapped?

Ferdie: It could be because he is the only person who can get us out of here. But probably because he was sitting in a shielded booth while all of this was going on.

Squeaks: Figures. And from Iiwi's count, there are at least four more people out there that we have to find before we can go home.

Ferdie: You know, I was just thinking. What about the people whose places we have taken.

Ferdia: I would rather not think about that.

Squeaks: Presumably, they took our places in our world and Newt is rounding them up for the switch. Hopefully, none of them were put in a position that they did not have the ability to live through.

Ferdia: That would be quite a sight otherwise.

Ferdie: Yeah, but what about what they were doing before going to our world? You said that this guy, Zelgadiss, was on a mission to try and turn himself back to normal. What if he was about to do so before you took his place and now will never be able to change back.

Ferdia: Then he is going to be the world's largest paperweight for the rest of his life.

Squeaks: If you are trying to make me feel guilty… it's working.

Ferdia: It's not our problem, or our fault. Especially those of us who were only involved in this because we received a distress call.

Ferdie: But what if we tried to do both things at once? We could find our friends and complete what these people were trying to do, at the same time.

Squeaks: It's crazy enough to make sense.

Ferdia: In whose opinion?

Squeaks: From what we have been able to tell from the reference Newt gave us, when these people go on missions, they invariable run into allies and enemies. If we complete their mission, then whoever they were supposed to run into, we will run into. And most likely, those are the people that were switched to our world and replaced with people we know.

Iiwi: I don't know what frightens me more; the fact that what you are saying makes sense, or that it means I actually agree with what Ferdie is proposing?

Ferdia: I give up. All right, fine, let's go on some stupid mission that will probably get us all killed.

Squeaks: On the plus side, it is very difficult for people to die in this world, due to the magical affect on physics. People can be literally blown through the air a good couple of miles and still survive.

Ferdia: That is not a theory that I am eager to test. So if we are going to do this, we need to know what mission these people were on. I don't suppose that little reference has an answer to that?

Squeaks: Yes and no. While we might not know specifically where these people were heading, I can tell you that it was probably with the hopes of finding an object called the 'Clair-Bible.'

Ferdie: Who is Clair and why would they want her bible?

Squeaks: Not Clair's Bible, it's The Clair-Bible. It's a spell book that is said to contain all the wisdom of some Water Dragon Lord. It has great power and different members of our little group want that power for different reasons.

Iiwi: Let me guess, Stoney wants it to break the spell on him.

Squeaks: And Lina wants it to get rich. Such a sweet person, really.

Ferdia: And Gourry wants it to get a clue?

Ferdie: Hey! I know I'm not him, but 'Hey!' on his behalf.

Squeaks: Gourry really has no interest in the book. He tags along as the self-appointed protector of Lina.

Ferdie: See, Sis? Nothing can happen as long as I'm around to protect you!

Ferdie paused to contemplate the words that had come out of his mouth.

Ferdie: Did I just say that?

Squeaks: I was afraid of this. The longer we stay here, the more the personalities of the people we switched with seem to be trying to surface. Before you know it, Ferdie will be charging at dragons to save damsels in distress.

Ferdie: I don't wanna save damsels!

Poor Ferdie. How tormented he is.

Iiwi: At least you don't have to look forward to being some dingy princess. Let's be logical about this. We are all here and these people travel together trying to find the Clair-Bible. So maybe there is a place close by that they were going to look for clues. Something tells me a person, or Dragon Lord, word not leave something that powerful just lying in the woods.

Ferdia: What we need is information about where we are.


Everyone jumps at the sudden appearance of the Tour Guide, complete with stand of maps.

Squeaks: I think we've been here too long. This does not surprise me.

Iiwi: Excuse us, but can you tell us where we might be?

Tour Guide: Sure, but it will cost ya!

Squeaks: Fine, someone give him some money.

Ferdia: Why do I have the overwhelming urge to make Ferdie or Iiwi pay?

After some haggling over the cost of directions and a map, the group finally had some idea the general layout of the land.

Ferdia: You know, it just figures that the stupid temple we started at is the place we need to go.

Squeaks: The problem now is that we know the kind of reception we got there before. How are we supposed to convince them to let us in now?

Ferdia: How about we let 'the princess of all that is good and just' knock on the door this time?

Iiwi: How about I fly you up in the air fifty feet and let go?

Ferdia: That's not much of a threat here; I would probably just bounce on impact.

So, having settled that, our four weary wanders made their way back to where they started, at the Temple of the Mystic Monks. Their only hope was that the people at the temple would have the supposed talisman that our heroes were in search of. Of course it was there; that's just how these things work, but we'll just let them find that out for themselves.

Ferdie: I'm tired of walking in circles.

Iiwi: We're not walking in circles, just the same straight line, over and over. There is a difference.

Ferdia: Stop complaining. You don't see Squeaks griping, and he has a heavier load.

Squeaks: I'm too tired to move my mouth.

Ferdia: Knock it off, you guys. I'm worried. The four of us found one another in a relatively short time, but no one else has turned up. Newt said we didn't have all that long to straighten this out.

Ferdie: Maybe this Clair-Bible can help. It is powerful.

Squeaks: If we can locate it. Our counterparts have not been successful so far and they have been hunting for a while.

Time to move things along. After hauling themselves back to the small temple at the bottom of the valley, Ferdia and Squeaks thrust Iiwi at the door to knock. As expected, the attending priest reacted quite differently to 'the princess of Saillune' and before he could slam the door again, Squeaks stuck his foot in the door and Ferdia lifted the poor, confused little man up off the ground by his cowl.

Squeaks: Look, we aren't going to hurt you. We just need something you have here. I promise we will give it back.

Ferdia: Give it to us or I will Dragon Slave you.

Iiwi felt the need to whisper a question to her.

Iiwi: Do you actually know how to do that?

Ferdia: The fireball was easy enough. Why would the other be any different? Besides, it's not like he knows I haven't figured it out.

The small man was trembling so badly by now, one would have thought he was in the middle of having a seizure.

Priest: I will take you to that which you search for. Just please don't hurt us. I know the spell that Miss Inverse speaks of. I have seen what it can do. We are all that remains of this small order, some five hundred years have we…

Squeaks: Not to interrupt this fascinating history lesson, but we are in a hurry.

Ferdia: And I have an itchy trigger finger.

Priest: But you don't understand…

Iiwi: Now!

After some further 'gentle' prodding, the priest took them over to a wall by which the altar of the temple stood. He twisted a candleholder on the wall and a door swung open, revealing a set of stairs that led down to what was presumably the basement.

Priest: I really think you should know…

Squeaks: Keep moving.

Priest: No! There is a demon down there! You can't make me go!

With that, he scrambled away and left the group to stare down the stairs into the gloom.

Ferdia: I knew this was too easy.

Ferdie: Yeah. Maybe one of us should wait up here find help if something goes wrong. I bravely volunteer, for the good of the group.

Iiwi: Oh, no you don't. We go, you go; end of story.

Ferdie: That's what I'm afraid of.

Grabbing a candle off the altar, Ferdia led the way down into the darkness. Ferdie was still protesting as Squeaks dragged him along.

That's the thing about being made of stone; arguments tend to be settled in a very speedy fashion, in your favor. Funny how that works.

Quiet! Iiwi brought up the rear, trying not to concentrate on the feeling of claustrophobia that was creeping up in the back of her brain.

Ferdie: Let go!

Ferdia: Could you yell any louder? The demon would have to be deaf not to hear us coming now.

Squeaks: Besides, you're the one with the Sword of Light. It is supposed to be a powerful weapon against the forces of darkness.

Ferdie: I don't care! I'm not fighting any demon!

Ferdia: Button your beak! There is a room up ahead.

Well-honed cop instincts kicking in, Ferdia flattened herself against the wall and silently made her way to the opening before them. She extended her hand out and spoke in a soft, but determined voice.

Ferdia: Fire-ball!

A roar of flame shot from her hand and into the room that lay just beyond the door.

The Evil Sir Ivan Kiwi/ Xellos Metallium: HEY! You could hurt someone doing that!

Iiwi: It can't be.

Ferdie: What? I don't want to open my eyes.

Iiwi: This has to be a joke.

Iiwi charged past Ferdia and went into the smoking room. The others followed only to stop short and stare at the sight that greeted them. Iiwi was snickering.

Ivan: It's not funny, Redbird.

The gray kiwi stood in the middle of the room wearing a black cloak and purple wig. Ferdie began to giggle and Squeaks fought to smother the smile that threatened break out across his face.

Squeaks: Ivan, I almost didn't recognize you without your sign holder.

The fuming kiwi's expression only darkened further at the comment. With a disgruntled comment that is best left inaudible, Ivan reached behind him and pulled out a small, brown kiwi. The sign-holder was wearing an outfit identical to his boss's, but there was the addition of a sign that read 'The Evil Sir Xellos Metallium.' This newest edition only resulted in further amusement to the others.

Ivan: You think this is a joke? I just want to know who is responsible so I can put out a hit on them.

Ferdia: I am surprised you're admitting to something like that in front of two police officers.

Ivan: You aren't on duty right now, from the looks of it. Besides, who here would corroborate your story?

Sign-Holder/ Chibi-Xellos: Pardon me, sir, but this hair itches.

Ivan: Not now, kid. I want answers.

Ferdia: Okay, the long and the short of it is that we have been sent to another world, and we have to find everyone who has been switched to get home. Explanation enough?

Ivan: Why am I in this dumb outfit?

Squeaks: Because we've traded places with people from this world. You seem to have taken over for this 'Xellos' individual. He is a part of the demon, or monster race of this world.

Ivan: Whom are you calling monster, granite-face?

Iiwi: So he is the one that the priest was warning us about?

Ferdia: Let's hope.

Ferdie: Does that make the sign-holder a little demon? I could fight a little demon.

The sign holder scowled at Ferdie and began to wave his sign in a menacing manner.

Squeaks: Let's not fight. Right now, we need Ivan to get home.

Ivan: You need me, huh?

Iiwi: Yes, and you need us. Unless you would like to stay here in a world were there are no computers, planes, indoor plumbing…

Ivan: All right, I get the picture. What now?

Ferdia: We need the talisman that's down here to continue our 'quest.'

Ferdie: How about this do-hicky?

He held in his blue-feathered hand a gold object that was encrusted with jewels and glittered in the dim light.

Squeaks: If not, the priests around here have a very strange decorating taste.

Iiwi: Where did you get that, Ferdie?

Ferdie: It was sitting in that hole in the wall.

Following his gesture, the others saw that there was indeed a small hutch that had been carved into the living rock around them. Surrounding the opening was a series of characters.

Iiwi: Okay, who brought the universal translator?

Ferdie: Newt never gave me anything like that.

Squeaks: Strange, we understand the languages they speak; I would've assumed the same would be true of the written languages.

Ivan: Unless it is some old, dead language that only geezer priests can read, Sherlock. Can you read ancient Greek?

Ferdia: Well, that's great. It could be instructions, or a warning that getting the talisman wet will cause it to explode, for all we know.

Ivan: Fortunately for all of you, I seem to have the ability to read that chicken-scratch. Roughly translated it says: 'To find your heart's desire, place me in a burning fire. Follow the path marked as true, beware the danger waiting for you. All rights reserved, Mystic Monks, Inc.'

Ferdie: Seems straight forward enough.

Ferdia: That's what worries me.

Iiwi: What are we waiting for? Let's get out of here and go build a fire!

Ferdia: I'll light it.

Ferdie: Hey, Ivan, do you want to trade characters?

Ivan: Not a chance, Blondie.

Leaving the temple, and the terrified monks, behind (although Squeaks insisted they leave some change in the collection box), the ever-growing entourage of Ferdia Inverse left the valley again. One step closer to completing their quest to find the Clair-Bible. Ferdie was unanimously voted to go collect firewood while Squeaks and Iiwi tried to quietly talk Ferdia out of fire-balling the nearest bush.

Ferdia: But it would be a lot simpler.

Squeaks: Keep your voice down. And we get that. But the problem is it might not be such a good idea to tip Ivan off to the fact he has magical demon powers. Not yet, at least.

Ferdia: But there are four of us, if you really feel like counting Ferdie, and only one of him. The sign holder doesn't really count since we can't find anything about Xellos having a smaller version of himself wandering around.

Iiwi: That's true, but the reference does say that Xellos is a bit of a wild card, and one of the only reasons they let him tag along is that they don't know why he wants to hang around with them and they feel it's safe to know where he is than not. His powers apparently have the potential to rival Lina's.

Ferdia: But…

Squeaks: No buts. This is the Mafia Lord of San Viano we are talking about. I would rather not have him know until it is absolutely necessary.

Ferdia: Grumble.

Iiwi: What? Didn't quite catch that.

Ferdia: I said 'fine!'

Ferdie: I found some wood!

The small bluebird arrived back with branches that were larger than himself. Squeaks and Ferdia broke them down into more manageable pieces and they began to construct a bon fire. Ferdie was carrying a tinderbox; they assumed because Gourry had no magic to use as an alternative, and after a few attempts, Squeaks lit some brush on fire. Soon a blaze was going in the center of their little circle.

Ferdia: The writing said, 'Our heart's desire.' I guess as we throw this thing into the flames, we all need to think about the Clair-Bible. That goes for you too, Ivan.

Squeaks: Now everyone stand back. We don't know what will happen when Ferdia tosses that thing in.

And it was a good thing Squeaks had said that; for no sooner had Ferdia underhanded the talisman into the fire than the whole thing went up like she had tossed in a grenade. It would have been an impressive sight if they had not all been ducking for cover at the time. Once at a safe distance, Ferdie 'oohed' and 'aahed' like it was the 4th of July. As the inferno died down, they discovered that the general effect of the explosion had resulted in a burnt path leading away from the bonfire. It had not touched any of the surrounding brush, but instead lead through the woods and out across the landscape.

Iiwi: I guess there is no question where we are heading now.

Ferdie: Won't we ever get a break?

Ferdia: I just hope we pass by some little town on the way. I am completely famished. I think I could eat a horse.

Ferdie: I could eat two. What's a horse?

So our heroes embarked for parts unknown, to face wily and mysterious dangers (as foretold by the talisman's inscription.) As they traveled into the foothills of a mountain range, they soon found their answer in a terrifying and horrible creature.

Ferdia: Why does that look like a duck doing the Dance of Joy?

Okay, maybe not 'terrifying,' but it was still damn scary to watch.

Squeaks: I was wondering when we were going to run into him.

Commander Drake Dumaas/ Vrumugun: Ace! Isn't this great!?! It's wonderful! There is no sign of the Jennies in this world! I'm safe, nothing can happen! No more time in the paint shaker!!!

Ivan: Psst, hey, Duck. Stick to the script, moron.

Drake: I can't help it! I'm just so excited that I won't have to spend time getting tortured in this world!

Suddenly, a random rockslide fell from a ledge above and landed squarely on the dancing duck.

Murphy's Law in full swing, oh yeah!

Et al: Ooooooohhhhhh!!!

Ferdia: I don't know whether to feel sorry for him or applaud.

Squeaks: Poor Drake, you stupid Duck.

Iiwi: I don't care what you say about the physics of this world. He ain't walking away from that one.

Ivan: I think it was best to take him out of the breeding population.

A fox ran by, pausing only long enough to shudder.

Ferdie: So, should we have a moment of silence for our fallen comrade?

Drake: I think that would only be proper.

Et al: Aaaaaaahhhhhh!!!

Drake: What?

Ferdie: Ghost!

Drake: Where?!?

Ferdie promptly faints and the others try to speak through their flabbergasted shock.

Squeaks: How…what…how did you…just under the…flattened by boulders…HUH?

Ferdie: I think what my partner is try to say is, 'How the HECK did you do that?'

Drake: Do what?

Iiwi: We saw the boulders land on you. You should have been squished flat!

Drake: I guess that would explain the really uncomfortable feeling I had a few seconds ago.

Ivan: Neat trick. I need to learn that.

Ferdia: Don't even think about it Ivan.

Another spontaneous rockslide suddenly appeared from the heavens and squished Drake again.

Iiwi: This could be a problem.

Ferdia: I think it would be safer to not get too close to Drake right now.

Ivan: Physically or emotionally.

Ferdia: Don't start.

Drake: I really resent that you know.

This time they only jumped slightly at his reappearance.

Ferdia: Do we have to bell you so you won't sneak up on us?

Drake: I can't help it. It's not my fault!

Ivan: You must have royally pissed of some god or another.

Drake: Besides, it must be a fluke. How many times can something like that happen, anyway?

A third pile of rocks launched down on the gray-cloaked Duck. This was going to go on for a while. Especially if the black duck standing on the ledge above them had anything to say about it. He was quite thoroughly enjoying himself.

Evil Commander Charles D'gal/ Zangulus: And here I thought I was only going to have the pleasure of being able to kill that Duck once. What a pleasant little world. I can't remember that last time I had this much fun.

A voice rose from below.

Drake: Cut…It… OUT!

And with that, D'gal began to loosen another group of boulders from the cliff face to drop down on his enemy, whistling while he worked.

Run Away! Run Away! | Onwards and Sideways to Part 3!
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