In the previous episode, our heroes were shocked to discover that Steve was the traitor! But fortunately, it was revealed that Xelloss was not the Final Evil Villain ™ after all, but Dalton. What will the heroes do with this new information? Do they even still remember that they’re supposed to be questing for the Seals?

Suspicion and Instinct…That, and Things get [Complicated]!
this part by Dot
original concept by Scott Schimmel

“Wait a minute…” Kate tapped her chin thoughtfully. “Did you say Dalton?”

James nodded. “Yeah, the guy from Chrono Trigger.”

“You mean the loser from Chrono Trigger,” Steve corrected. “I wiped the floor with him both times, and I didn’t even use my strongest characters either!”

Kate struck a fist into her palm. “That’s right! No wonder his name sounded familiar!” She then realized what Steve was saying. “Wait a minute, how can he be the Last Boss, then?”

“Yeah!” Scott chimed in. “How do we know you’re not just another one of Xelloss’ plots to distract us?”

James began to look a bit nervous. “Would Xelloss come up with something this complicated?”

“Yes,” all the heroes said in unison (Kristen included!), as if this should be obvious.

“Um, uh…er…” James pointed behind them. “Look, it’s Mr. E!”

Dan pointed the Inhumanly Large Gun of Frag he had found in the castle towards James. “Nice try, mister, but no cigar.”

“I pity da foo who ignores my presence!”

The heroes soundly defeated the game’s resident Recurring Boss ™ without even so much as a backwards glance.

“Now, then…” Ardweden began, pointing her Magical-but-Tone-Deaf Singing Lute (For Bonking Purposes Only) at James. “There’s the easy way, or the hard way. Which do you choose?”

“This wouldn’t be one of those ‘heads you win, tails I lose’ things, would it?” James asked weakly.

Kate grinned from ear to ear. “My, aren’t you the little genius.”

And so, once again, this episode begins with a painful beatdown. Two, for that matter.

Aren’t I such a sadist?

/ OWFT /

“Okay, now what?” Scott asked as she dusted off her hands.

“I think the only person we could ask was just beaten into unconsciousness.” Steve commented dryly.

Kate, using her ninja powers, sped-read through the now phone book thick Convenient Plot Summarizing Diary. “Well, before we got sidetracked by all these confusing subplots, we were trying to get the Seal of Bishounen from the Goddess of Destruction, baby.” She scratched her head sheepishly. “I think. It’s hard to keep track with all this stuff going on.”

“Then going back to that quest would be the best thing to do, I guess,” Ardweden said as she popped open a bag of Lawrence Chews.

/ OWFT /

Somewhere out there, a writer screamed in pain.

(There. You got your one cameo, LC.

You’re welcome.)

/ OWFT /

“Fourth Wall getting a little fragile lately, hm?” Steve observed dryly, but of course nobody heard him.

“And I need to get all this stuff fixed,” Dan reminded the group, gesturing to the now rusty suit.

“……” added Kristen, who somehow managed to make sense despite speaking nothing but ellipses.

“Okay, then!” Kate posed heroically now that everyone had uttered at least one line. “Let’s go!”

After they had made their exit, Xelloss appeared and poked James’ prone form with his staff.

“Ow! Don’t do that!” James complained, not bothering to move since it hurt too much.

“Sorry,” Xelloss apologized much too cheerfully to sound contrite. “Ano, James-kun, I hate to say ‘I told you so’, but… ^^;”

James glared at Xelloss. “Oh, so this is the thanks I get for trying to get those annoying brats off your back?” He winced as Xelloss poked rather hard at a bruise. “OW!”

Xelloss shook a finger at James. “Watch your tongue, James- kun. Annoying or not, they are the Destined Heroes after all.”

James managed to push himself up slightly. “What’s with you, anyway? You could have wiped the floor with them at the very beginning of this whole mess.”

Xelloss cocked his head. “True…” He soon smiled again. “But then, what would be the fun in that? ^^”

“Oh, that’s right, you’re a Mazoku,” James remembered.

“Yup yup yup! ^^” Xelloss beamed, inadvertently sending his staff into James’ side a third time.

“……the universe hates me.”

“Hey, that’s my phrase!” Scott’s voice could be heard complaining distantly.

/ OWFT /

The blacksmith peered at the remains of Dan’s suit through his magnifying glass. “Hm…excellent workmanship, I must say. Whoever made this must have been an expert mechanic and electrician.”

“Can you fix it?” Dan asked anxiously.

“It’ll take a few days, but I guarantee you’ll be satisfied!” The blacksmith’s eyes began to take on a slightly disturbing glint. “This will be my masterpiece! I’ll go down in history!”

Scott sweatdropped. “That doesn’t sound very reassuring…”

“Please be careful with it,” Dan begged.

“No problem!” the blacksmith handed Dan a list. “While I’m working on this, mind doing a little shopping for me?”

Kate took one glance at the list and nearly facefaulted. “Hey, this is that list of Bishounen the Goddess of Destruction, Baby wanted?”

“What?” The blacksmith got up and looked over Kate’s shoulder. “That’s strange, how did that get here?” He headed towards his worktable and began to sort through the chaotic mess.

“How suspiciously convenient…” Steve mused.

Kristen made a quick headcount and realized they were not at their full number. “……”

Ardweden also noticed. “You’re right! Damien’s been missing for a while now! Where is he, anyway?”

/ OWFT /

“…and then I was forced to…” Damien shuddered. “Ugh. I don’t even want to think about it.”

“Take your time,” the psychiatrist advised soothingly.

Damien sighed heavily. “It’s not fair, y’know. Even Steve got to be useful for a while, and he’s only the Sidekick. But I have to cower in every fight, avoid being used as a pack animal, and…” he shudered again. “Double ugh.”

The psychiatrist wrote down a few notes. “Go on.”

“It’s not fair,” Damien repeated glumly. “All I wanted was to be treated with a little bit of decency, but no, I’m the Team Mascot Who Looks Like a Chocobo.” He raised a wing angrily. “I’m a phoenix, dammit!” Taking a good look at his wing, he sighed again. “And I can’t seem to stop molting…”

Damien went into a second round of molting when the Destined Heroes burst through the door and dragged him out, asking him where in the world he had been and if he were the traitor.

(Although given the way things have been going, everybody has played traitor at one point or another by now.)

/ OWFT /

As punishment for running off on them (although technically, it wasn’t his fault), they made Damien carry all the things the blacksmith wanted them to buy.

“Let me see…” the blacksmith sorted through the various items a bit more slowly than Damien would have preferred. “Bromide, Mithril, Sultan’s Silk, Chantage, Royal Syrup…”

Damien watched in horror as more feathers drifted to the floor due to the added stress. “Can you at least let me put this stuff down while you’re looking through it?”

“Hm? Oh, yes, of course, go right ahead.” As the relieved Phoenix let the packages to the ground, the blacksmith continued his inventory.

“Uh, sir?” Dan began tentatively. “If you don’t mind, I’d like to have my suit back, please.”

“It’s in the corner over there,” the blacksmith gestured carelessly as he checked his goods. “And thanks for the help. Now I won’t need to close down shop to restock!”

“No, thank you,” Ardweden said, bowing, as Dan tried out his suit.

“Oh, definitely,” Dan said in awe as he discovered the suit’s newly implemented operating system. But by then, the blacksmith was entirely lost in his task and didn’t hear a word.

“Great! Now we’re officially back on track to get the Seals!” With the list in hand, Kate struck her Heroic Pose #314. “Let’s get going!”

/ OWFT /

“No! You can’t make me go! I don’t care if it’s for the fate of the world!”

Scott waved her wand threateningly at the uncooperative bishounen. “Stop complaining and go already. It’s not like we’re asking you to be sacrificed or anything.”

“It’s a fate worse than death, I tell you! I’ve heard the rumors! I’d rather have my gums scraped than face anything of that sort!”

“Okay, now the references are getting ridiculously obscure…” Steve muttered as the bishounen, kicking and screaming all the way, was dragged onto SUV-Dan.

/ OWFT /

The Goddess of Destruction, Baby, rubbed his hands in glee as the long string of chained bishounen were paraded before him.

“Excellent! That’s all of them!” He did a giddy little dance. “Let’s see Stephica top THAT!”

Kate blushed a little at the intentional entendre and coughed. “Uh, the agreement was that we got you these bishounen for the Seal…”

“Details, details…” Grumbling a bit, the Goddess of Destruction, Baby snapped his fingers and the Seal stepped forward. “There you go.”

(A momentary lapse in the narrative occurred as the Authoress bashed her head into the keyboard repeatedly as she tried to remember just exactly what the Seal of Bishounen looked like. Then she realized that if she didn’t remember, then it was a good bet that nobody else did, either, and therefore she would be free to Make Things Up.)

Scott resisted the urge to go googly-eyed and gush over the bishounen. “Uh, hi. You’ll be traveling with us for the time being.”

“Hello,” the bishounen answered shyly, smiling in a way that made Scott nearly swoon.

Kristen narrowed his eyes. “……”

The bishounen sweatdropped. “Of course you’re the better bishounen, sir,” he affirmed hastily.

“Oh, and since you’ve been so nice to augment my collection, here’s a bonus!” The Goddess of Destuction, Baby snapped his fingers again and two bishounen carried what could only be described as a large phallic object to the foreground.

More blushing, coughing, and sweatdropping commenced.

“No, thanks, ‘niichan,” Ardweden declined, trying not to stare. “It wouldn’t fit anywhere.”

As Kate was also busy gawking, Dan took the opportunity to pose heroically. “Great! Then it’s one more seal to find before we go after the one Xelloss stole from us! Onward!”

/ OWFT /

Adam watched in amusement as another crumpled ball of paper sailed over his head. “Running out of plot points already?”

The Authoress made a frustrated noise. “Every time I try to come up with a subquest, I realize that it’s already been done!”

Adam shrugged. “Don’t try to do something new, then. This is supposed to be a shameless parody, anyway.”

/ OWFT /

“Welcome to the Eternal Great City! Have you made your pilgrimage here to celebrate the Festival of the Authoress?”

The Destined Heroes exchanged glances and, having come to wordless agreement, nodded at each other.

They then proceeded to level the city to the ground.

/ OWFT /

Another piece of paper went into the wastebasket.

“So much for that one, eh?” Adam observed dryly.

“Oh, be quiet.” The Authoress buried her head in her hands. “There’s got to be something interesting I haven’t thought of yet…” Her eyes suddenly lit up. “Of course, a Resurrection Quest! Why didn’t I think of this before?”

“Steve’s already died once, remember?” Adam reminded the Authoress.

The Authoress grinned wickedly. “Who said anything about Steve kicking the bucket?”

Adam raised an eyebrow. “Uh-oh. I know that look…you’ve got an Evil Idea, don’t you?”

“You bet!” The Authoress cackled. “O~HOHOHOHO~~!”

Adam winced. “I hate it when she does that,” he murmured under his breath.

/ OWFT /

Steve groaned as the group entered a dungeon. “Great, a puzzle-solving dungeon! Why couldn’t it have been just ugly monsters?”

Damien swallowed nervously as said monsters, drawn by the light of Ardweden’s torch, emerged from the darkness. “You’re about to get your wish soon enough…”

Insert fight scene here.

Can you tell I’m getting lazy?

/ OWFT /

Yet Another Evil Boss hit the dirt, thanks to the collective efforts of the Destine Heroes. (Except Damien, of course. He was still the Completely Useless Team Mascot.) As it dissolved in a spray of light, the Seventh Seal appeared.

“It’s a…roll of Duct Tape,” Scott observed as the rest of group stared.

“I have a Very Bad Feeling ™ about this…” Damien whispered, beginning to molt again.

“And indeed you’re right!” Xelloss exclaimed, materializing before the heroes.

A large exclamation mark appeared over Kate’s head. “It’s you!” she shouted, pulling out her weapons.

“How are you gentlemen?” Xelloss greeted with a smile. “I really must thank you for going through all that trouble of getting the Seals. Now all of them will belong to me!”

“What you say?!?” Dan roared furiously.

Steve facepalmed. “Okay, now that we have the Obligatory Zero Wing Reference out of the way, can we please get down to fighting?”

“Not until I’ve made my heroic re-entrance!” The Authoress declared as she materialized onto the scene cosplaying as Amelia.

Blank stares all around.

“Mind re-introducing yourself, too?” Ardweden requested sheepishly. “So much has been going on, y’know…”

“I am the Authoress, Mistress of All that is Cutely Evil!” She paused, then added, “or Evilly Cute, whichever you prefer.” She then wagged a finger at the Destined Heroes. “That was a horribly mean thing you did, burning down my beautiful City.”

“Before you get your revenge,” Xelloss interrupted, casually dropping into a defensive stance. “Mind letting me battle it out with them first? ^^”

“Of course…” the Authoress smirked. “Not.”

Xelloss facefaulted. “Pardon? ^^;”

Now the Authoress was grinning ear to ear. “This is my revenge.”

And then she whipped out a microphone.

The Destined Heroes, fearing another assault of (shudder) Britney Spears, covered their ears.

With a glint in her eyes, the Authoress raised the microphone to her mouth and began to sing.

o/ Happy happy joy joy! Happy happy joy joy…! o/

Insert collective sweatdrop here.

Xelloss’ eyes grew to the size of saucers and began to twitch. “No, not that! Anything but that! ^^;”

The Authoress stopped in mid-sentence and looked at Xelloss. “Are you saying you don’t like my singing?” she asked, feigning hurt.

“Er…uh…yes? ^^;”

The Authoress smirked again. “Wrong answer.”

o/ Koi ni koi suru, onna no ko ni wa… o/

The Destined Heroes used this opportunity to make their escape.

/ OWFT /

“Do you think we’re far enough yet?” Kate panted, running at the head of the group in full Ninja mode.

“I’m not stopping until I fall apart!” SUV-Dan declared, revving his engine to emphasize the point.

“Why do I have to run, too?” Damien, tailing further and further, wailed loudly. “Isn’t an SUV supposed to have seven passenger seating?”

“You’re keeping up, aren’t you?” Steve pointed out dryly. “Besides, I think Scott’s developed an allergy to your feathers.”

“ACHOO!” Agreed Scott, blowing her nose into the handkerchief that Kristen offered her.

An immense explosion lit up the sky in the distance. “I think that’s the signal to go faster!” Dan was about to put himself into high gear when James appeared, levitating over the group’s heads so that he wouldn’t get run over.

“Go away!” Kate shouted, chucking a few ninja stars at James. “Can’t you see we’re busy?”

James blocked the stars with a quick shield spell. “You have to go back and help Xelloss! He’s your only hope of going home!”

“Oh, like we’re going to fall for that,” Steve snorted.

James made a frustrated noise. “Think about it, people! Even if Xelloss is the Final Boss, how are you supposed to fight him if that Authoress, uh…person, thing, whatever, kills him?”

This brought everyone to a screeching halt.

“That’s right!” Ardweden exclaimed. “And Xelloss still has the final Seal hidden somewhere!”

Dan began to shift into reverse. “So we actually have to help Xelloss, then…” he admitted grudgingly.

Scott suddenly thought of something. “Does this mean all of us are traitors?”

Ardweden bopped Scott lightly with her Lute. “Will you please drop the traitor thing already?”

/ OWFT /

Given that the universe, aside from hating Scott, has an evil sense of irony, the Destined Heroes arrived just in time to see the Authoress capturing Xelloss’ soul in a small round orb.

“You…killed Xelloss!” Scott exclaimed, then blinked. “Can she do that?” she asked Dan, who shrugged.

“You bastard!” James seethed, shaking.

“Oh, hello!” The Authoress greeted, noticing the group. “Did you decide to come back and accept your punishment?”

The group’s response was to bring out their various weapons.

“I was hoping you’d do that.” With a wave of her hand, the Authoress floated into the air.

“What in the─?” Dan boggled as everyone began to step in place methodically.

“You’ve been doing so much of the traditional ‘hack-and-slash’ battles that I thought you’d like a change of…pace, so to speak,” the Authoress smiled as everyone else groaned at the bad joke.

Recognition dawned in Damien’s eyes as he took a tentative step forward and the floor beneath him lit up in a series of blue tiles. “Final Fantasy Tactics, right? That was a great game!”

“Mind filling the rest of us in on how this is supposed to work?” Kate asked, staring at her own glowing grid.

“These boxes represent how far you can move,” Damien explained. And when you choose an action, the red tiles show the range of the action.” He pointed to the list that had mysteriously appeared over his head. “For example, one of my actions is…Feather Bomb?” He narrowed his eyes at the Authoress. “Very funny.”

“You’d rather be a chicken?” The Authoress asked playfully.


“Then stop whining and play already!”

Scott, suddenly having an Important Recollection ™, went through her pack of stuff and pulled out a large tear-shaped crystal that sparkled all the colors of the rainbow. “Hey, wouldn’t you rather have something shiny instead?”

“Ooh! Shiny!” The Authoress exclaimed, grabbing the crystal out of Scott’s hand before disappearing.

“You forgot to ask her to get us out of this stupid battle screen, Scott,” Steve observed.


/ OWFT /

In conclusion…
The group didn’t believe James’ assertion that Xelloss was not the Final Villain, and beat him up (along with Mr. E) as a result. James also got a bit of poking from Xelloss for failing the mission. While Dan was getting his mecha suit fixed, they found the list of Bishounen that the Goddess of Destruction, Baby wanted. Damien, who had been left behind, went to see a psychiatrist, but was dragged back into the group by the other heroes. After receiving the Bishounen Seal from the Goddess of Destruction, Baby, the group went questing in a puzzle-dungeon and found the seventh Seal, a roll of duct tape. This was when Xelloss showed up and was about to steal all of the Seals, but the Authoress also appeared and proceeded to sing badly. The heroes ran for their lives, but doubled back when James reminded them that if they truly suspect Xelloss to be the Ultimate Villain, they should make sure that he stays alive for the Final Showdown. Unfortunately, Xelloss’ soul was caught by the Authoress by this time, and the group nearly had to fight her in a Tactics-style match until Scott remembered the Shiny Crystal Adam had given her in Part #24 and used it to ward off the Authoress. Too bad Scott didn’t mention anything about being placed back into the game, so they’re still stepping in place even as we speak…

(the rest of the story)