December 19th, 2008

legend of hero

Hall of Heroes: Act V

Kevin flexed his muscles experimentally and lifted his sword arm. "The pain's gone, too." He crouched. "All of it. Even the huge ache from coming here."

"Well!" David said gleefully. "This changes things."

Trent stared at the flasks in his hand. "I don't believe it."

David walked over and grabbed one of the flasks. "We should each take one of those and keep it in our pocket. Trent, you're hurting the worst. You drink the extra."

Trent shook his head to focus. "We've only got four. I'll wait until I actually get injured." He gave two to Kevin.

Kevin handed the spare over to David. "Your pocket zips up. You keep this."

"Fine by me!"

"Okay, guys," Trent said, hoisting his spear again, "I'm feeling a little better about our chances now. Although ... I do have to say." He took a deep breath. "Does us finding those healing potions just now bug anyone else?"

Kevin stared at Trent like he was insane. "No. I like not dying. Next question."

David shuffled away from the alcove, examining the floor stones carefully. "What do you mean? What's wrong with finding useful equipment?"

Trent followed, looking back at the wall and above them at the nearest shadows. "It's not that I'm not grateful. But didn't it seem just a little ..." he trailed off.

"Awesome?" Kevin said, getting irritated. "Helpful? Treasure chesty? Designed to make you complain?"

"C'mon, Kevin. I'm just ..." Trent went silent again, emotions fighting on his face.

"You're just wondering what healing potions are doing in the magical world inside the portal we made from an RPG character's necklace," Kevin said dismissively. "For once, Trent, can you not look a gift horse in the mouth? It'll help us get home, won't it? So let's just go."

"Alright," Trent said quietly.

"Hang on," David said, stopping. "Wait a second. You want to go home, Kevin?"

"Uh ... that's what we all agreed on. Including you."

"That was the plan back when we were all hurting and afraid, before we found weapons and healing potions. Now we have options. We can explore some more. There must be other secret doors here -- maybe another exit --"

"Oh, no you don't," Trent interrupted firmly. "No. Preparedness is only one factor. For another thing, what if they're missing us back home? Nobody even knows we're here, and if what you said about the necklace is true, Kevin, then nobody else will even be able to see the thing in your closet."

"Well, then, why don't we go back just long enough to leave a note?" David argued. "Trent, remember back when you told Kevin he had to figure out the weirdness in his life? There's an entire world here, and you want to give up after just one room of one building! That's not going to figure anything out. We can't just go back now."

"I'm sorry, David." Trent sighed in frustration. "I ... look, guys, I know this is just going to sound like sour grapes. It's not, I swear. I really don't know how to put my finger on it. But even accepting everything we've already seen ... throw away all of the complaints I've made, and something about this still doesn't sit right with me."

"Has anything about this sat right with you yet?" David said grumpily.

Trent shook his head and didn't answer.

Kevin stared up at the glowing doorway near the ceiling. "Well," he said, "whether or not we plan to stay, we should get up there and at least figure out whether we can go home."

"Huh? Was the pendant a one-shot item?" David said, startled. "You didn't say anything about that!"

"No! No," Kevin said. "Prince Yan-Li used it too, remember --"

"Yan-Li?" Trent interjected.

"-- and Diune. But maybe it's some sort of 'Quantum Leap' thing, where you can't go back the same way." Kevin bit his lip. "Trent's right on this one. We should try going home, and if it works, take this little by little. Eat dinner, find some equipment --"

"Prince Yan-Li? From Dragon Legend 2?" Trent asked.

"All we have is a description," David hedged. "But it sounded exactly like him. Kevin, hang on -- what if we can't return here after we go back?"

"Diune said the portal would come back to the same place every time. If we can go home, I don't see why the portal wouldn't work again."

"Kevin --" Trent said -- "and this is just a question, I'm not going to make anything out of it -- exactly how many video game characters have you seen now?"

"Still just Rosalind," Kevin said. "But like David said, Diune described Prince Yan-Li to a T."

"He's --"

"From a different game. I know."

"And who is this Diune?" Trent asked, sounding increasingly lost. "And the Eversor you mentioned?"

Kevin sighed. Back when he had jumped through the portal, he had hoped that reaching the new world would change things. There would be something meaningful to do. New people to meet. Friends to take it all in with him. But ever since they'd arrived, most of their trip had been bickering, interspersed with endless questions and a few sharp shadow claws. And the strange new compatriot who had brought him here was dead. All in all, the shine of saving the Shadow Kingdom had worn off quickly.

"I did promise you answers," Kevin said. "I'm sorry. We should have talked all this out before I came. Let's go home."

"What?!" David said. "Kevin --"

"I'd just as soon not have homicidal shadow things jumping in to interrupt my answers every thirty seconds," Kevin interrupted, raising his voice. "Let's go, David. It's been a long day."

David looked pleadingly back and forth between his friends, whose tired expressions were more than enough response. His shoulders drooped and a pout settled across his face. "Fine."

Kevin raised his sword, grimly eyeing the shadows at the base of the nearby ramp. "In a way I'm almost glad those things are in our way. I really could use something to beat up right about now."

Trent leveled his spear. "You and me both."

David stepped forward, staff angled out. "Well, I'm glad there's at least something we all agree on."

Trent chuckled -- humorlessly, but the laugh was surprisingly infectious. Kevin joined in, and even David found himself smiling.

"On the count of three, then?" Kevin said.

"Works for me."

"One, two, three. Charge!"