A group of scribes waited at the bottom of the staircase at the capitol building, and after a while, Cyrek came out with King Peripetio. Once they approached the podium that had been set up for them, Cyrek addressed everyone who had gathered, “King Peripetio has generously decided to give you some of his time today to go over the issues concerning his recent health, but make it quick because he only has a minute to spare! Okay, go!”
“Do you really think a minute is enough time to go over everything?” a curious scribe inquired.
“Would you rather spend this minute going over that or the matter at hand?” Cyrek replied.
Cyrek called on another reporter, who asked, “Your majesty, why has your behavior been so strange lately?”
King Peripetio answered, “I just wanted to try using some humor to ease the tension. I guess it didn’t work!”
“What about reports of palace workers feeling so concerned about the way you’ve been acting that you’ve had to be physically restrained to keep you at bay?” a keen scribe questioned.
“What reports? Who made these reports?” King Peripetio shot back.
That scribe admitted, “Well, we did, but we based it off of stories we heard from other people!”
Another scribe challenged him, “If you’re so healthy, why do you have your son running the kingdom?’
King Peripetio retorted, “What? Am I supposed to have him sit around and do nothing ‘til he inherits the kingdom? You want someone totally unprepared suddenly take charge?”
“How come he didn’t appear with you for this event?” a skeptical scribe probed.
“Hey, this is supposed to be about me! You really wanna talk to him?” King Peripetio pushed back.
This same scribe responded, “Yes, I think we need to.”
King Peripetio shifted uncomfortably. “What? Right now?”
The scribe nodded, and King Peripetio hesitated. Cyrek jumped in, “Well, your minute is almost up anyways. It may be too late for a side by side, but you can go get him.” Cyrek saw subtle signs of something worrisome about King Peripetio, so he wrapped his arm around him and suggested, “Let’s go get him!” The scribes erupted in whispers at the audacity of the casual way he handled the king, but Cyrek and King Peripetio ignored them.
A moment later, Aleta got escorted out with a handsome, well dressed man on her arm, and a discerning scribe told them, “We were hoping to speak with King Peripetio’s son, not his son in law!”
“My brother is… indisposed right now. Nothing too serious, just some… digestive issues,” Aleta relayed to them. “Trust me, you don’t want to speak with him right now! How can my husband and I help you all?”
“I want to gooooo!” Peripetio, who was tied to a chair, voiced loudly. “I want to talk to the pretty people!”
Krimeno differed, “You mean the scribes? They’re not really all that attractive!”
Cyrek entered into the hallway where they kept Peripetio with another Peripetio, and the one bound up exclaimed, “Wow, what a mirror!”
The free Peripetio fully morphed into Impusa, who commented, “I don’t think they bought it.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you were selling something!” Krimeno remarked.
“You wonder why I haven’t given you a raise in years! It’s ‘cause of instances like that!” Cyrek rubbed his temples. “And I agree, they’re suspicious. They can smell blood here.” Krimeno opened his mouth to articulate a thought, but Cyrek cut him off, “It’s a metaphor! They’ll doubt the reports of the king’s health based on what they just witnessed, but they can sense panic in the palace. They’re not gonna stop ‘til we can discredit Konna and all of the crazy rumors about the leadership of Chaos!”
Aleta and her husband joined them, and Aleta piped in, “Most of the rumors are absolute bunk, but Konna got one right: my father has lost his mind!”
Peripetio wondered, “Does he miss it?”
As Aleta stared at Peripetio sadly, her husband remarked, “I haven’t known the king for long, but this behavior doesn’t make any sense for him! One day, he was a little off, then the next day, he’s completely gone! It’s weird, it’s like someone put a spell on him or something!”
Cyrek, Aleta, and Impusa’s eyes widened at that reference, and then Aelta queried to Peripetio, “Dad, did someone curse you?”
“Lots of people curse at me!” Perpetio stated.
“Did a nasty sorceress use magic on you?” Impusa grilled him.
Perpetio chirped, “Oh yeah! The hooded lady! She made me feel wonderful!”
Cyrek needed clarification, “By make you feel wonderful, you’re talking about the brain scrambling effect, right?” Peripetio nodded as he rocked back and forth, and the other four gazed at each other knowingly.
“It’s working!” Mercinon shouted gleefully as he held a pan over a small fire.
“I know it’s working! I’m the one who taught you how to make that cake!” Marcin regarded him as he swept around Dason’s birdcage.
Mercinon dished his dessert up and set it next to a slew of pan-fried meals. “I know, but I really thought you lost it!”
Marcin conversed, “Actually, I lost it over a decade ago! See, after my scholarly days, I went to look for work and-.”
“You already told us that story!” Thanamenti snapped as she exited Echinda’s cavern room. “We don’t need to hear it twice!”
“What’s the matter? Did those superpowered jerks defeat another monster?” Mercinon pondered as he started prepping for his next culinary project.
Thanamenti spat, “No! Well, yes. They destroyed the potianaks somehow! And the zubenu that I forgot about. You know, the monster I set out when I thought they’d go northeast and then they went northwest! Anyways, that’s not what’s wrong right now. Haven’t you been paying attention to what’s happening with our plan?”
Dason spoke up, “No! He’s just been waiting for the day you say one of the monsters actually won!”
“That’s not true!” Mercinon hid his guilty face behind his fire. “I just trust your judgment, so I immerse myself in other important things!”
“Important things, huh?” Thanamenti eyeballed all of his finished work with some contempt. “Where did you get that fire anyways?”
Mercinon reminded her, “You got irritated by macrame and burned everything.”
Thanamenti cracked a small smile. “Oh yeah! Well, this last monster is truly powerful! I do believe it will finally put an end to those meddlesome do-gooders!”
“You say that about every monster!” Dason pointed out. “How’s that working out?”
“Shut up!” Thanamenti barked. She studied the image in her bubbling cauldron and cooed, “Yes, it won’t be long now!”
As Exelda, Akintos, Stocastin, Narcius, and Kefalia past some thriving olive fields, Kefalia squealed, “We’re nearing the Agrochorio village! Eek! I’m so excited to see it again! I know we were just here a few months ago, but it’s so much fun to revisit my hometown! It’s really a magical place!”
Narcius plugged his nose and commented, ‘It smells magical!”
“If it’s so wonderful, why did you leave?” Akintos probed.
“The farmer I worked for caught me flying and thought I was a sorceress,” Kefalia explained. “He kicked me out, and no one here wanted to talk to me anymore. Gosh, things sure have changed since then! Now everyone calls me a hero! Wait, now the Konna supporters think we’re all… sorceresses! Huh, I guess things haven’t changed that much then!”
Exelda asserted, “That won’t last long! Once we get the rest of the feathers, we’ll be able to save our polis and we’ll go back to being heroes again! I just hope that this place will be the one representing earth!”
Stocastin quibbled, “I’m telling you, the volcano represented earth because lava isn’t fire! We got earth and wood, so we need-.”
“No, the feather at the papermill was the water one,” Exelda disputed.
“They made their paper from trees, and trees are wood, therefore, it was a wood feather,” Stocastin argued.
Exelda countered, “I know trees are wood! But Mylos found the feather and used it as a bookmark. His business is right on top of a river, so odds are that he found it near the water!”
Stocastin disagreed, “There’s also a lot of trees in that proximity.”
“Yes, but they haven’t spent a lot of time there ‘cause of that fire-breathing chicken, so it had to be water,” Exelda reasoned.
“It’s called a zubenu.” Stocastin folded his arms and pouted.
Exelda grinned triumphantly, but when she found herself walking in the citified section of this region, she halted her footsteps and frowned. “Where are we going?”
Narcius responded, “We were gonna ask you that!”
Exelda mulled it over for a minute. “Hmm… Last time we came here, we went left towards the vineyards and faced a monster there. I think we should go right this time since we’re probably gonna have to face another monster and I doubt that they would place a monster in the same place twice!” From the left pathway, they heard a deafening, ghoulish screech followed by a number of citizens’ screams, so Exelda expressed in dismay, “Or maybe they’ll go to the exact same spot again! I don’t see the point since they’re still recovering from the last one, but whatever!” The five of them hurried in the direction that they heard their next adversary.
They came across a tall, stone barn with a thatched roof and wooden doors, which were open at the present. They saw two older blonde people whispering to each other in a plotting way, and Kefalia joyfully greeted them, “Mom! Dad!”
“Well, hello there!” her father rejoiced. “How are you doing?’
“Fine!” Kefalia embraced her parents and then continued, “Well, I’m a little exhausted from work, but otherwise, we’re-.”
Exelda interrupted, “Um, hello! Let’s save pleasantries for later! Don’t you think we should kill the monster before we catch up on things?”
Kefalia’s mother assured Exelda, “It’s only dangerous if we go near the treasure in the barn!”
“You’re trying to steal your boss’s riches?” Narcius reacted in shock. “Wait, he keeps it in the barn?”
“I don’t know where he keeps his gold and Drachmas, but that’s not the treasure we mean,” Kefalia’s father let Exelda know. “We found it in the manure pile, we think it’s been there for a few days.”
Exelda perked up when she heard that. “A few days? Is it a gold feather?”
Kefalia’s mother confirmed, “Yeah! How did you know that? Are you psychic?”
“Yes, and I predict that terrible things will happen unless you stay right here and stay out of our way.” Exelda led the other heroes to where they could peak inside the barn without drawing out the monster, but they didn’t see anything. “Stocastin, turn invisible and find out what monster we’re dealing with.”
“I can and I shall!” Stocastin disappeared as he marched towards the barn. The other four watched and waited for a minute, and then, all of a sudden, they heard that horrible screech again! It created so much wind that it nearly knocked the heroes down! Stocastin reappeared as he flew backwards out of the barn, and when he landed, he informed them, “It’s a banshee.”
Everyone understood what that mean, and Exelda reveled, “See! Didn’t I say that our research would pay off?”
Akintos riposted, “Probably! But we’ll still never admit it!”
Exelda shook her head, and then she turned back to Kefalia’s parents. “Do you guys still carry your pet rock with you?”
Kefalia’s mother held up a pigeon-shaped statuette and proclaimed, “Sure do! Why?”
A giant, green, almost reptilian woman waited behind a haystack. She heard a noise enter the barn, so she pounced, ready to strike. She was mid screech when she realized that it was an object made of stone. She studied it in confusion when suddenly, an invisible force pried her jaw open! Narcius and Akintos held back her hands, and she watched in horror as Exelda carried a large bale of hay to her and shoved it down her throat! She tried to screech as she watched Kefalia fly to the top of a mountain of manure, and she began to lose her breath as she watched Kefalia gingerly pick up the feather. “Ew! Would it break the spell if we washed it?”
“I dunno.” Exelda picked up the rock pet as they casually exited the barn. “Maybe we could throw it in a sachet of fragrant plants.”
“I hope the air and wood feathers aren’t in such crappy places!” Akintos kidded. They all laughed as they rejoined Kefalia’s parents.