Otaku Wish Fulfillment Theatre

Seal of McGuffin roll call:

  • FOUND 4 Seals (POCKY, PAPERWEIGHT, GAMESHARK, CHOKER)
  • STOLEN 1 Seal (BATTERIES) by XELLOSS
  • TAKEN 1 Seal (BISHOUNEN) by GODDESS OF DESTRUCTION, BABY

Unfinished plot points:

  • WHERE is the SEVENTH SEAL?
  • XELLOSS is the LAST BOSS…OR IS HE?
  • MR. E has a TRAP for the HEROES
  • SOMEONE is a TRAITOR
  • STEVE might DIE
  • KATE is REALLY GOOD at QUADRUPLE BYPASS
  • RANDOM WORDS are rendered in ALL CAPS

/ OWFT 24 /

“I pity da foo that fell into my trap!” Mr. E gloated, laughing at the destined heroes.

Kate and Ardweden shared a bored look. “Right.”

Kristen’s jacket turned plaid. “You are…irritating,” he intoned in a way that would have made any intelligent being run for its life.

Unfortunately, Mr. E was not an intelligent being.

(And since I suck at writing fighting sequences, not to mention am horribly, horribly lazy, I leave the resulting beatdown up to the readers’ imaginations.)


Otaku Wish Fulfillment Theatre: The World is Square…that, and Blatant Abuse of Authoress Magic!
Part 24 by Dot Warner
Original concept by Scott Schimmel


“One whole day of traveling and not so much as a tumbleweed,” Ardweden observed as the party waited for Dan to recharge. “I think we might have been gypped.”

“Gee, whatever makes you think so?” Steve asked sarcastically.

“I need a bath,” Scott noted without whining. Too much.

“…” Kristen sulked. Dan, too exhausted to speak, likewise declined to comment. Damien, still mad at everyone for treating him like a chocobo, also said nothing.

Kate returned from scouting the area. “There’s a city up ahead!” she reported with considerable more cheerfulness than the rest of the group felt. “We’ll be able to ask about the seal when we get there!”

“Sleep first,” Dan managed to get out before he entered into blissful unconsciousness.

Kate looked hopefully at Damien.

“Don’t even think about it,” Damien stated calmly, while his glare implied that much hurting would ensue should the point be pressed further.

“All right,” Kate sighed, not wanting to start an argument, and took out a tent.

/ OWFT 24 /

“Welcome to the Eternal Great City!” the official-looking man greeted from his booth. “Are you here to celebrate the Festival of the Authoress that takes place tomorrow? All attendees get a free map and tour of the city.”

“The what?” Kate wanted to know.

“Who?” Was Scott’s question.

Damien had a thoughtful look. “Hm…”

“The Festival of the Authoress celebrates the deeds of She Who Stands between [Light] and [Darkness],” the man explained, a tone of extreme awe and reverence in his voice. “It’s the most holy of Holy Days in our City.”

(“What’s that whooshing sound?” Ardweden wondered.

“The Authoress’ ego inflating, I’d wager,” Steve replied flatly.

“Get back behind the Fourth Wall, you two!” Dan warned.)

Kate turned to the group. “Well, what do you guys think? Wanna check it out?”

“I’m for it,” Dan said, shrugging. “This might be the subquest we need to finish in order to find a seal, and even if it isn’t, we’d only lose a few days.”

“After all that desert, I wouldn’t mind the scenery change,” Scott agreed.

“And I think we’ve earned enough money to stock up on supplies again,” Ardweden noted thoughtfully.

“I’m pretty sure I know who this ‘Authoress’ is, and she’ll probably be willing to help,” Damien put in.

“…” Kristen added.

“Then it’s agreed!” Kate faced the official again. “Sure, we’ll attend the festival!”

The man smiled, and if anyone was paying attention, they might have found his expression rather disturbing. “Excellent. Here’s your map; the tour trolley is over that way.”

“Thanks!” Kate posed heroically. “Let’s go, gang!”

/ OWFT 24 /

“This is the main circle, along which all the shops are located,” the tour guide explained as the trolley glided along the tracks. “On the day of the Festival, everything only costs one rupee.”

The destined heroes exchanged astonished glances and immediately began changing their plans, the first of course being that they would definitely do their shopping on Festival day.

“Finally, another Zelda reference!” Kate exclaimed. “I was wondering what was taking so long.”

Steve facepalmed. “Kate…”

“What? Oh, the Fourth Wall. Sorry.”

“That’s not what I was talking about…” Steve muttered under his breath.

The trolley continued to traverse through the brick-paved streets and past the strange mix of modern and medieval buildings. One particularly large and elaborate structure stood out among the rest.

“To your right is the Sanctuary, where those who wish may go to receive the [Blessing] of the Authoress.”

“It sounds like something worth checking out after the tour,” Damien suggested while Kate took notes.

The next spot of interest was a small, unimportant-looking well surrounded by figures in robes who repeatedly chanted “you have no [chance] to survive make your [time]” while smacking themselves in the forehead with large squeaky mallets.

“This is the Well of Souls,” explained the tour guide, making a warding gesture. “Only the courageous or the foolish dare to sound its depths.”

Ardweden raised an eyebrow. “You don’t suppose that that’ll be where the Seal of McGuffin ends up being, do you?”

Steven rested his head on his elbows. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.”

Dan crossed his arms. “Why don’t we try asking some of the residents first, instead of jumping to conclusions like some people?”

Before an argument could break out, however, the trolley moved on and diverted everyone’s attention. The buildings began to thin out as another open area came into view, followed by several enormous bronze bells that sat at the center of the area.

“These are the Enchanted Bells which will ring tonight at midnight to mark the beginning of the Festival. It is said that those who are lucky enough to witness this magical event will lead interesting lives.”

Scott rolled her eyes. “How original.”

The rest of the tour, being mostly unimportant to the plot, was skipped in the interest of time.

“Well, then, what say we check out those landmarks and ask some questions?” Kate asked as the group got off the trolley.

“Are you kidding?” Scott exclaimed. “This city is huge! I’m not going to walk all that distance in high heels!”

Dan shrugged. “So we’ll split up, then, and meet back here when we’re done.”

So the group paired off and went exploring.

/ OWFT 24 /

“Nothing. Absolutely nothing,” Scott sighed, disappointed. “And my feet hurt.”

“Same with us,” Dan reported. “Everybody just kept babbling about the Festival.”

“We didn’t get any useful information either, but at least my feathers grew back thanks to the [Blessing],” Damien said happily.

Kristen, who wasn’t paired with anyone since he didn’t make much of a conversation partner, just brooded.

Kate tapped her chin. “Okay, plan B: We enjoy ourselves until after the Festival ends tomorrow, then we try again.”

“There is no [tomorrow],” a voice intoned ominously.

The heroes gave a start as several robed figures carrying large bludgeoning objects stepped out of the shadows.

Steve was the first to recognize them. “It’s the guys from the well!”

“There is no [tomorrow],” the first figure repeated.

“You are destined for [destruction],” said a second.

“You have no [chance] to survive make your [time],” put in a third.

“Ha ha ha [ha],” laughed a fourth.

Having finished running the joke into the ground–and about six feet under–all of them bonked themselves again, then slunk back into the shadows.

A massive sweatdroppage ensued in the silence.

“That was…pointless,” Dan managed to get out.

Kate was next to recover. “Wanna go window shopping?”

OWFT 24 /

Scott pressed her face to the window, her eyes glittering. “Shiny…”

An awestruck Kate checked out a store selling hidden weapons of every kind. “Wow, look at all of this stuff!”

Ardweden tried out a gi made of lightweight but tough material. “I know. Isn’t this great?”

Dan gaped at an advertisement for various high-tech gadgetry. “They sell everything here!”

Steve gazed wistfully at the display next door, where magic-shooting guns were being sold. “Yeah, and I can’t use any of them.”

Damien practically drooled over the pictures of various packets of preserved fruit. “So? Neither can I, but you don’t hear me complain.”

Even Kristen seemed to be impressed, not-quite brooding at a rack of swords. “……interesting.”

The window-shopping continued throughout the rest of the afternoon and well into the night after Dan found a small restaurant so that they could have some dinner. They stayed until the last store closed up, and even then would have been reluctant to leave if the owner hadn’t pointed out that it was nearing midnight.

“More walking?” Scott whined when it was decided that they would try to witness the ringing of the Bells.

Steve felt likewise. “We already lead ‘interesting’ enough lives as it is.”

“Come on, you guys,” Kate begged. “This might be important.”

/ OWFT 24 /

A large group of citizens, tourists and robed figures were already gathered before the bell by the time the destined heroes–with tired and grouchy members Steve and Scott bringing up the rear–got there. Along with Kristen, who preferred to hang back and emit an aura of cool silence, and Damien, who preferred to avoid being mistaken for a chocobo, the two of them hung at the back of the crowd, while the others mingled and chatted.

“This is boring,” Scott complained, leaning against a lamppost.

“It’s better than wandering through that desert fighting monsters, right?” Damien pointed out.

Meanwhile, the others tried to talk some information out of the visitors, but most of them were too excited about the imminent ringing of the Bells to talk about anything else. The only people who said things not pertaining to Bells, Festivals, or Authoresses were the robed figures, who kept making Zero Wing references even though the joke was no longer funny and in fact was getting down right annoying. Eventually, even the usually exuberant Kate gave up and rejoined the others.

Finally, it came down to the last few seconds before midnight. Everyone except for the destined heroes participated in the countdown.

“Ten!”

The ground began to tremor slightly.

“Nine!”

The Bells took on an eerie blue-white glow.

“Eight!”

The center Bell began to levitate.

“Seven!”

The others also rose into the air.

“Six!”

Kristen’s trench coat turned plaid, but everyone was too busy staring at the bells to notice.

“Five!”

Damien started molting again, much to his distress.

“Four!”

The Bells were a full five feet into the air now, giving everyone around a good view.

“Three!”

Parents pulled children into their arms.

“Two!”

Scott and Steve clutched at each other for a few seconds before both of them realized what they were doing and very quickly let go.

“One!”

The crowd hushed so completely that even the sound of one hand clapping in the next town could be heard.

Midnight.

The decibel level immediately jumped back up as all of the Bells tolled simultaneously while everyone cheered at the top of their lungs and then some. Twelve deafening rings and accompanying crowd noises later, the Bells descended onto the ground again. After one more earth-shattering yell, everyone wished each other a happy Festival Day and went home.

“That was it?!?” Steve exclaimed incredulously.

“What?” Scott yelled back. “I can’t hear you!”

Steve sighed. “Never mind.”

“What?”

“I said never mind!”

“Let’s find a room and sleep,” Dan, the ever practical leader, mouthed with great exaggeration and accompanied with the appropriate understandable sign language.

OWFT 24 /

Steve had a distinctively strange look on his face as the group approached the booth.

“What’s the matter, Steve?” Kate asked.

“I have the weirdest feeling that we’ve been here before,” Steve murmured, his brow wrinkled in concentration.

“That can’t be possible.” Dan held up the map. “Walking through the desert opened up this part of the map, and we just arrived today.”

It was about this time that Kate finished talking to the official at the booth and came back to report. “Hey, guys, he says that we get a free map and tour of the City if we’re attending the Festival that takes place here tomorrow.”

Again, Steve was struck with deja vu, but since he was generally considered to be the Mostly Useless Sidekick Only Good For Comic Relief, he was ignored.

“What sort of a festival?” Ardweden wanted to know.

Kate shrugged. “Dedicated to an ‘authoress’ or something, whatever that’s supposed to mean.”

“I hope it’s not who I think it is,” Damien shuddered.

“Probably just a newbie who wants to show off,” Ardweden said dismissively.

Thunder crackled [[OMINOUSLY]] in the distance.

“DON’T DO THAT!” The rest of the group sans Kristen yelled.

“I’m sorry! How am I supposed to know if he/she/it has a fragile ego?”

[[**CRACKLE**]]

“ARD!”

“Sorry!”

/ OWFT 24 /

After the tour ended, the group gathered together to discuss their plans.

“I still can’t believe they’ll be selling everything for only one rupee tomorrow!” Kate exclaimed happily. “We’ll definitely be able to stock up on supplies!”

“So basically we have a whole day to go around and talk to people,” Dan mused, unconsciously kicking into RPG Logic Mode. “I’ll bet the locals will be able to help on some stuff.”

Steve muttered some depressing stuff, but since he was talking to himself, everyone ignored him.

“I’m going to check out that Sanctuary,” Damien reported. “I have a hunch about who this Authoress is.”

“I’ll go with you,” volunteered Scott, who was getting annoyed at Steve’s negativity and wanted an excuse to get away.

“The Well,” Kristen said simply, strolling away with sword in hand.

Ardweden ran to catch up. “Wait up, Kristen!”

Dan hastily latched onto Kate’s arm. “What say we go back to the residential district and see if we can find any interesting items?”

“No problem!” Kate said merrily.

“I guess this means I’m alone,” Steve said to the empty space that was in front of him. The empty space, being comprised of nothing but air, naturally had no objections.

“Psst. Hey, mister,” a voice whispered behind him.

Nerf sword ready, Steve whirled and was about to attack, but became rather embarrassed upon discovering that the person who had called his attention was a harmless-looking little girl.

“Uh, what is it?” Steve asked, hiding the sword behind him.

The girl giggled. “You’re funny! Are you new around here?”

Steve forced a smile. “Yeah, you could say so.”

Another giggle. “Great! Will you be friends with me?”

“Well…”

The girl gave Steve the most adorable, puppy-dog look he had ever seen. “Please?”

“Okay, I guess…”

“Yay!” The girl cheered.

Steve blinked as the sky suddenly darkened and the words ‘Chem is Try’ zoomed overhead. “What was that?”

“What was what?” The girl asked innocently as the lighting returned to normal.

Steve sighed. “Nevermind…”

The girl giggled a third time, then pressed a small object into Steve’s hand. “Here, this is for you!”

Steve turned the plastic twisted ring in his hand. “A Möbius strip?”

“It’s a symbol of our unending bond,” the girl explained. She then grabbed his other hand and began dragging him off. “Let’s go, then! I’ll show you around the City!”

“But…”

“Come on! Don’t be such a fuddy duddy!”

“…”

“WAI!” The girl cheered, mistaking Steve’s silence for acquiescence. My name’s Angelina. What’s yours?”

“Steve.”

OWFT 24 /

Stepping into the Sanctuary, Damien looked nervously at the vaguely familiar yet unrecognizable characters depicted in the various stained glass windows. “I don’t have a good feeling about this…”

Scott stopped and blinked at one window. “Hey, look, it’s us!”

Damien examined the picture of the six destined heroes. “Yeah… and I’m not in it…”

“Boo hoo,” someone behind them remarked rather sarcastically. Turning, Damien and Scott found themselves face to face with a man in about his twenties wearing a long white robe with red triangles serving as the border. “My heart bleeds.”

Damien recognized the man at once. “Adam?”

Adam gave Damien a cheeky salute, then casually flicked his ponytail over his shoulder. “Bingo. You have a keen memory.”

Damien blanched. “This means that Dot is here, too, isn’t she?”

Adam grinned. “Yup.”

“Who’s Dot?” Scott wondered, trying to remember if she heard the name before.

“An Authoress with Major Delusions of Grandeur,” Adam spoke in a mock stately tone. “But fortunately for you guys, all the Deity positions have been filled already, so she settled for building herself a city and making me do public relations.”

“So do you know anything about the Seal of McGuffin?” Damien wanted to know, that being the whole point of his being there.

Adam shook his head. “You’ll have to ask the Authoress about that, but I can’t guarantee how helpful she’ll be.”

Scott sighed. “Let me guess…we’ll have to go spelunking down the Well of Souls, right?”

Adam just smiled. “Why else is it there for?”

Scott sighed again. “So Steve was right, in a way…”

“Thanks anyway for your help.” Damien turned to leave.

“Hold on a sec.” Adam rummaged through his long sleeves, then produced a small tear-shaped crystal that shimmered with all the colors of the rainbow. “Take this with you, in case the Authoress decides to play the bad guy.”

Scott snatched it and clutched it tightly. “Ooh, pretty,” she gushed, admiring it. “Thanks.”

“No problem,” Adam said nonchalantly.

/ OWFT 24 /

“Doesn’t look too unusual,” Ardweden observed, circling the well. She picked up a stone and dropped it in, and boggled when no sound registered even after several seconds. “Either this thing is really deep or there’s no water in it.”

“I’ve certainly never seen anyone draw from here,” said one of the robed figures who was currently on break.

“Then why is it here?” Ardweden asked, puzzled.

The figure shrugged. “Beats me. All I know is everybody treats this place either as a place to be worshiped endlessly or avoided like the plague.”

Kristen peeked in as well, and to Ardweden’s immense relief, his trenchcoat did not change colors. “……” he noted calmly.

Ardweden winced at the reminder. “Yeah, I know…but let’s get back together with the others before we do any exploring down there.”

Kristen looked over his shoulder. “……”

Ardweden started feeling a bit worried. “Is there something wrong?”

Kristen frowned slightly. “……not sure,” he said finally.

Ardweden tried to see what Kristen was staring at, but she saw nothing except for residents strolling among rows of houses. “Let’s go find the others,” she suggested.

/ OWFT 24 /

“Another item!” Kate held up the small jar of pellets and studied it. “Any idea what it’s for, Dan?”

“Looks like animal droppings,” Dan grimaced. “I don’t think we’d even be able pay someone to take it off our hands.”

“Well, you never know!” Kate tossed the jar into her pouch, along with several other jars, vials, and bottles.

“I wonder how the others are doing,” Dan mused, searching through some large stone pots by the side of the road.

“Probably not having as much fun as we are!” Kate gushed, jumping to the top of a pile of boxes.

Dan sweatdropped. “You still think this whole thing is just one big game?”

Kate immediately sobered. “I guess I do get a bit carried away sometimes…” she squealed in excitement. “But I can’t help it! Every day in this world has been a dream come true!”

“Even fighting slimes?” Dan asked wryly.

Kate blushed. “Okay, maybe not that..”

The two of them searched in silence for a while.

“I’m worried about Steve,” Kate began suddenly, sitting down on a crate.

Dan shrugged. “He’s always like that.”

Kate blinked. “You mean he normally has ominous premonitions and nightmares about being killed?”

“Uh…” Dan chuckled sheepishly. “Probably not.”

Kate rested her chin in her hands and sighed. “It must be terrible to feel so helpless all the time…” she glared at Dan. “And we’re not very encouraging, either.”

“So you’re saying we should boost his ego by lying to him?” Dan shot back defensively.

“Of course not…but I guess there really isn’t much we can do,” Kate admitted grudgingly. She sighed again. “I wish there were…”

OWFT 24 /

Angelina and Steve walked hand in hand, each munching on an ice cream cone.

“Isn’t this great, Steve?” Angelina beamed.

“I guess…” Steve admitted reluctantly.

Angelina looked up at Steve, scrutinizing his unusual clothing to the point of making him uncomfortable. “You’re a Destined Hero, aren’t you?” she asked brightly, her eyes full of awe.

Steve didn’t look back at her. “Sort of.”

“I can tell! My parents used to be Destined Heroes too!” A small exclamation mark appeared over her head. “That’s right! You haven’t met them yet, have you?”

“Uh…”

“Come on, Steve! I’m sure you can be great friends with my folks, too!”

“…”

/ OWFT 24 /

The rest of the Destined Heroes met up together in the main square.

“Hey, where’s Steve?” Kate asked.

“I hope he’s not off sulking somewhere,” Ardweden said, worried.

“Why don’t we window-shop while we wait for him?” Dan suggested, pointing at the displays behind them.

Ardweden blinked in surprise. “What’s with the sudden change of heart, Dan? You’re usually the one that’s always saying how useless he is.”

“Well, uh,” Dan gulped, cringing under Kate’s Look of Death. “That’s why we need to wait for him, to make sure he’s not in any danger or anything.”

Ardweden gave Dan a suspicious glance, but soon decided not to press the issue further. “Okay.”

OWFT 24 /

“I’m home!” Angelina announced loudly, bursting through the door.

“Welcome back, dear!” A soft, feminine voice called from the basement.

A gentleman with long blonde hair stepped into the room. “Angelina, what did I say about talking to strangers and taking them home with you?”

Steve raised an eyebrow, while Angelina flushed a bright pink. “This time it’s different, Daddy! Steve is a Destined Hero, just like you used to be!”

“Oh, really?” The man approached Steve and appraised him for a few moments. Finally, he extended his hand. “The name’s Mustadio. Pleased to meet you.”

The door to the basement opened, and a young woman with large, thick glasses emerged. “So he really is a Destined Hero, Mustadio? How wonderful! We haven’t had any visitors in ages!” Adjusting her glasses, the woman bowed to Steve. “I’m Lucca. Pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m sorry about my daughter, she tends to be too enthusiastic sometimes. Is she keeping you from anything?”

“That’s all right,” Steve replied, shaking heartily. He forced a smile. “I’m just the Sidekick/Comic Relief, so I’m sure nobody misses me.”

“Hey, Sidekicks are an important part of saving the world, too!” Mustadio chided, shaking a finger at Steve. “They not only have the weighty job of boosting morale, they also provide critical support on the battlefield!”

“What support?” Steve sighed. “Most of the time I just find an appropriate place to cower while the others take care of the enemies.”

“Hm…” Mustadio scratched his chin thoughtfully. “So I guess you’ve never considered being a chemist, then?”

“Huh?” Steve blinked, but he was already being enveloped in a bright beam of light. Moments later, his outfit had changed to something like that of a Pilgrim’s outfit, and an enormous bookbag appeared in his arms.

“My husband’s old clothes fit you perfectly? How very interesting.” Lucca mused thoughtfully.

“What’s going on?” Steve demanded, staggering under the weight of the bag.

“Now you’ll be able to provide your fellow Destined Heroes with curative items,” Mustadio explained.

“And in the front pocket, you’ll find a SightScope,” Lucca added. “It’ll let you see enemies from afar and determine how strong they are.”

Steve couldn’t believe his ears. “You’re giving these to me, just like that?”

Mustadio shrugged. “Why not? I’ve retired from the business of saving the world, so it’s pointless for me to keep them.”

“And besides, we know how hard it is to be a Destined Hero,” Lucca chimed in. “So we do everything we can to help.”

Steve just stood there for several minutes, stunned. Eventually, he mustered the strength to bow deeply. “Thank you very, very much.”

Mustadio clapped his hand on Steve’s shoulder. “No problem. Now, go back to your friends. They’re probably very worried about you. Angelina will guide you.”

“Aww, does he have to go?” Angelina pouted.

Lucca ran her hand through Angelina’s hair. “Yes, hon. Steve has a very important job in front of him.”

“Oh…” Angelina said unhappily. She took Steve’s hand again. “You’ll come back and visit, right?”

“I’ll try,” Steve answered.

—End Event “Chem is Try”—

Mustadio and Lucca watched Angelina walk Steve out the door before reverting to their true forms.

“So much for trying to kill them, eh, Authoress?” Adam asked wryly.

“I should give them a chance to succeed, shouldn’t I?” Dot smirked slightly. “Besides, I’m a bit partial to that one.”

Adam rolled his eyes. “I should have guessed. When are you going to make your big appearance?”

Dot shrugged. “I haven’t really decided yet. Probably sometime around midnight, I guess. Is everything in the Well ready?”

“Yup. All that’s missing in an Impossibly Difficult Level Thirteen Boss.”

Dot’s smirk was now a full-sized grin. “Then I’d better get down there, shouldn’t I?”

Adam shook his head. “You’re enjoying yourself a bit too much, Authoress.”

“Come now, Adam. This might be my only chance to make my mark here. Why shouldn’t I be having fun?”

/ OWFT 24 /

Kate, being the resident ninja with superhuman senses, was the first to spot Steve. “Hey, Steve, where have you been?”

Dan stared at Steve’s new wardrobe. “What’s with the outfit?”

“I think I got into a subquest, or something…” Steve panted, dragging the heavy bag behind him. “I’m a Chemist now, whatever that’s supposed to mean.”

Kate boggled. “Really? That’s great! The Chemist is one of the best non-fighter job classes in an RPG!”

Ardweden hugged Steve tightly. “Congratulations!”

“Nice,” Damien complimented.

Scott patted Steve on the shoulder. “Yeah. Sorry about ditching you back there when you were in a bad mood.”

Kristen also put in his two cents. “…”

“Why don’t we get something to eat?” Steve changed the topic, not used to all of the attention. “I’m starving.”

/ OWFT 24 /

Dan leaned back and stretched. “Ah! Nothing like a great meal to lift the spirits!”

“I wish there was a scene showing the reader what we ate instead of just skipping to the end of the meal, though,” Damien sighed wistfully, then realized what he was saying. “Er, I mean…”

Scott stared tearfully at the remains of her dessert. “I wish I weren’t too full to finish this…”

Ardweden let out a satisfied belch. “Sorry,” she apologized sheepishly. “But I just couldn’t help myself.”

Kristen stacked the empty plates in front of him meticulously and refrained from gushing about the food because that would not be proper bishounen behavior.

Kate began calculating their tip. “Thank goodness everything’s going to be super-cheap tomorrow,” she said, relieved, when she came up with the amount.

Steve was about to put in his two cents about the meal when a huge explosion sounded from outside.

“It’s [Her]!” Someone screamed, and the other patrons in the restaurant immediately went into a state of hysteria. “Run for your lives!”

The Destined Heroes gave each other a significant look, then went into battle mode.

“Let’s go!” Kate posed heroically. She winked at Steve. “We’ll be counting on your help, too.”

Steve blushed.

/ OWFT 24 /

Their enemy was not difficult to find: the heroes merely had to go in the opposite direction in which everyone was fleeing, and soon she loomed over them ominously, her jet black wings beating to keep her aloft.

Damien, realizing who she was, began molting in earnest. “D-d-dot!” He stuttered, backing away nervously. “W-w-what are you d-d-doing here?”

“H-h-having fun, of course,” Dot replied, mimicking Damien’s tone. A huge ball of energy began to form in her hand. “And what could be more fun than Random Property Damage?”

She quickly got her answer.

“Spam Bomb!” A cannon on Dan’s shoulder opened up and began pelting Dot with junk mail.

Ardweden jumped into the air, hands cupped. “Borderline Copyright Infringement Generic Ki Blast!”

Scott pointed her wand at Dot. “Pretty Lovely Beautiful Shining Magnificent Something or Other!”

Kristen dropped into a battle stance. “slice, dice, and make julienne fries,” he stated quietly.

Kate spread out countless ninja stars in her palms the way a card shark might a hand of cards. “Barrage of Pain!”

Steve tossed out potions and ethers left and right, grinning like mad. “Keep it up, everyone! We’re beating her!”

Damien hid his head under a rock. “Tell me when this is over,” he moaned.

With Steve helping to keep the party in tip-top condition, plus the increased powers they had accumulated while fighting in the desert, everyone attacked relentlessly, giving Dot no room to retaliate.

“So, that’s the way you want to play, huh?” With a mighty push of her wings, Dot simultaneously rose higher in the sky and pushed the heroes back with the gust they created. “Well, let’s get something straight here: nobody does anything unless it’s on my terms!”

“Brave words for someone who’s losing!” Kate sneered.

“You’ll be singing a different tune when I fight you at full strength,” Dot warned. “Once you face me at the bottom of the Well of Souls, you’ll wish you’d never been born!” She reared her head back.

Damien whimpered and covered his ears. “Oh, no…”

“O~HOHOHOHOHO~~~!”

As the others face faulted in shock from this frighteningly accurate imitation of Kodachi, Dot flew off.

“And you’d better not try to skimp on this fight, or you’ll never be able to leave the City!” she called over her shoulder.

OWFT 24 /

The group wasted no time in running after Dot and jumping down the Well. Unfortunately, since the interior was pitch dark, they quickly lost her (and themselves) within the vast labyrinth.

“Great, what now?” Dan wondered.

“That’s when you ask for help,” Adam answered, stepping from the shadows.

It took a full five minutes from everyone to recover from a group heart attack.

“Watch out, you guys, he’s working for Dot!” Scott warned, pointing her wand at Adam. “What are you doing here? Did Dot send you to finish us off for her?”

“On the contrary!” Adam replied defensively. “The Authoress just wants to make sure that you survive through her ingenious traps, that’s all!”

“And how are we going to know you won’t backstab us the first opportunity you get?” Steve asked suspiciously.

Adam sighed. “Doesn’t the term ‘fate worse than death’ mean anything to you?”

Kate crossed her arms. “What if letting you guide us through is that fate, hm?”

Adam sighed again. “Fine, fine, don’t believe me. You’re on your own. But when you get down there, don’t be mad if I say ‘I told you so’.” Before anyone could react, he tossed a flashlight into Scott’s arms. “There. Now I can tell the Authoress I did something. Have fun.”

As Adam disappeared again, Scott fumbled around with the flashlight, thinking it might be a bomb. When she was certain it contained no explosives, she pointed it into the dark.

“Maybe we should have asked him to stay,” she gulped, as countless pairs of eyes glowed back at her.

/ OWFT 24 /

—Some time later—

“More stairs?!?” Scott exclaimed, dangerously bordering on whine mode. “When will this end???”

A monster jumped out at her.

“Aiee!” Too terrified to shout the appropriate attack phrase, Scott pointed her wand at the monster and reduced it to dust.

Scott peered through the SightScope. “More battles ahead, but I think the exit isn’t too far from here, either.”

Kate rolled up her sleeves. “Well, then, let’s not waste any time!”

OWFT 24 /

More time passes
“Okay, this is getting ridiculous,” Ardweden panted as she plowed through a small army of Goblins. “How many levels have we passed through already?”

“Nine or so, I think,” Dan replied. “And from the RPGs I’ve played, dungeons like these usually have around thirteen levels.”

“Great…”

/ OWFT 24 /

–Yet more time passes–

Kristen’s eyebrow twitched ever so slightly as her trenchcoat turned plaid. “a dead end.”

“No, that can’t be it! This is only the twelfth floor!” Kate began running her hand along a wall. “There’s got to be a switch somewhere.”

“Or maybe a secret code we have to enter somewhere,” Dan mused. “Say, Kate, do you remember any RPGs where there that happened?”

Kate’s eyes lit up. “Yeah! Thanks for the reminder! I think I know what to do now!” Slipping on her mask, she went into Ninja mode and zoomed off. Less than three seconds later, she returned and removed her mask. “This way, guys!”

The group followed her until they got to a particularly prominent slab of rock.

“This wall is hollow, so there’s got to be something on the other side,” Kate exclaimed, getting out a small knife. Putting her mask on again, she began to carve rapidly, and soon she finished a four-word inscription.

—ERAU QSSI DRLO WEHT—

Steve cocked his head. ” What the heck is that supposed to mean?”

The words began to glow and rearrange themselves.

THE WORLD IS SQUARE

With an audible “ping” sound, the wall moved back.

“The world is square…” Steve read to himself. Then he groaned. “Oh, I get it.”

“It was how you opened the way to an Experience Egg at Daryl’s Tomb in Final Fantasy VI,” Kate explained.

Ardweden coughed. “Don’t we have a showdown to get to…?”

/ OWFT 24 /

“Welcome to my lair,” Dot greeted, grinning at both her victims and the beautiful alliteration she was making. “Are you ready to face your [Doom]?”

“After making us go through that dungeon, we’re ready for anything you throw at us!” Kate boasted.

Dot raised an eyebrow. “Oh, really? Then what about…this?”

With a gesture, a huge stage moved into view, complete with moving lights and the latest audio equipment.

“One of you must face me in a karaoke match. If you win, I’ll let you have my most prized possession…but if you lose, you all have to become my slaves.” Dot grinned even wider. “And since I’m the challenger, I get to pick what songs we sing.”

The Destined Heroes got an unmistakable sense of [Impending Doom].

“I only have two words to say to you, my delectable victims.” Dot was now smirking ear to ear. “Britney. Spears.”

[[**CRAC-THOOM**]]

“You are evil,” Scott accused, shivering.

A microphone appeared in Dot’s hand. “I know,” she said gleefully. “Isn’t it FUN?”

(And since I’m actually a very nice person, I’ll spare you the details of the not-so-musical showdown.

You’re welcome.)

“How can this be?” Dot exclaimed, looking at her score. “It’s not possible!”

“We won,” Scott barely managed to get out, her eyebrow still twitching from the ordeal. “Now leave us alone and never come back!”

“Very well,” Dot sighed. “I am an Authoress of my words, after all. The treasure that you seek is in that chest over there.”

The heroes rushed towards the aforementioned chest, almost bowling over each other in the process. Eagerly, they opened the box and grabbed its contents…

Steve facefaulted. “A roll of DUCT TAPE?”

“Sure.” Dot grinned again. “It’s the most useful thing to have around a place that’s constantly falling apart!”

Even the usually pacifist Ardweden began to glow an angry red.

“Oh, we’ll show you falling apart,” she growled, hands curling into fists.

Dot’s cheerful demeanor wavered slightly. “Uh-oh…”

Insert much hurting here.

Dan dusted off his hands. “Much better. What say we get out of here?”

“You’ll…never…escape…” Dot managed to squeak through what was left of her teeth.

Insert much more hurting here.

/ OWFT 24 /

Steve opened his eyes blearily. What the heck did we do yesterday…? A memory came to him. YESTERDAY? Oh, no!

Sitting up, Steve looked around, and was immensely relieved to find that he was still dressed as a Chemist, with Angelina’s plastic Möbius strip dangling merrily from his wrist.

Thank goodness, Steve thought with relief. I was sure that we were going to be stuck in that godawful City forever…

“Morning, Steve!” Adam greeted with false cheerfulness, leaning against the door. “Glad to see you’re finally up! Come on, get ready for breakfast! We’ve got to get ready for the Festival of the Authoress that’s taking place tomorrow!”

Steve turned several shades of green. And blue. And purple. And… well, you get the general idea.

“Just kidding. This scene is just another one of those traumatizing nightmares you’ll keep getting, being the Sidekick and all.” Adam shrugged. “Heck, you might not even remember this when you wake up.” He wagged a finger at Steve. “But I do hope you keep in mind that the Authoress doesn’t give up easily. Stay on your toes and watch out for her. I’ll do my best to knock some sense into her, but she usually ends up getting what she wants anyway.”

The room blurred and began to fade.

“Remember, kid,” Adam’s voice rang in Steve’s ears. “Beware the recurring Authoress.”

/ OWFT 24 /

Seal of McGuffin Role Call: No change

New plot points:

  • MR. E was BEATEN DOWN PAINFULLY (now at 0W/2L)
  • SCOTT got a SHINY CRYSTAL
  • STEVE upgraded to CHEMIST (because he COULDN’T upgrade to ENGINEER)
  • RANDOM STUFF was DESTROYED
  • the AUTHORESS made the DESTINED HEROES sing BRITNEY SPEARS (UGH)
  • the DESTINED HEROES won a roll of DUCT TAPE
  • the AUTHORESS got a MAJOR OWIE
  • the FESTIVAL is always TOMORROW

Unnecessarily Long and Tiresome Authoress’ Notes:
My first Improfanfic post, yay. I hope you guys didn’t get too lost by my jumpy writing style and abrupt scene changes. This part was heavily inspired by Majora’s Mask, but it also had plenty of other references, both obscure and not so obscure. Did you spot them all? (Zero Wing, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy VI, Legend of Mana, and Slayers NEXT, to name a few.)

(the rest of the story)

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