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 Post subject: Zamorak's Bane III: Time Unknown, by Jaron
PostPosted: December 24th, 2014, 3:36 pm 
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Zamorak's Bane III: Time Unknown
by Jaron (2005-2006)


Foreword: Insert Vision-related Pun Here

Hiya, everyone! It's me again. Since you're on this page, it looks like you're about to read my third story, Zamorak's Bane III: Time Unknown. It was written between September 6, 2005 and March 12, 2006 for those that are interested. Perhaps the reason it took so long this time around was because a lot of stuff happened in the interim. I rose a couple of ranks on the RuneVillage forums and even became a Player Moderator on Runescape! (Psst...still Jaron99. Like I could change my name anyway.) Or the reason could be that, unlike ZB1 and ZB2 which were 40 parts long, ZB3 turned out to be 60 parts long! So, for those of you that like to read, you've got your work cut out for you. Or printed out, as the case may be. Anyway, I'll stop boring you to death and let you start in on the story. By the way, I sometimes have people ask me if I'll be writing a ZB4. At this point in time, I have one more idea for the series and I plan on using it. I even wrote two ZB4 tie-ins into this story, if you're keen enough to spot them. Enjoy!

Prologue: Last Time, On Zamorak's Bane II...

The next few days were spent looking for the original members of the clan. Now that they all remembered everything after drinking the potion, it was only right to seek out those who hadn't regained their memory. About a week later when all was said and done, it was decided between a few of them that they wanted to have one of those balloon parties in the Seers' Village Party Hall. Only seven of them could make it that day, but it was just as well. They were to meet in the upstairs of the Party Hall. Jaron, Ultima Cow, Omegaman, Brandon and Bebitwinnie were lounging around in the Pub upstairs when Andrey walked in. "Am I late?" he asked. "Nah, we're just waiting on Twisas," Jaron replied. "I brought some items to put in some of the balloons," Andrey grinned. Omegaman replied happily, "Great! I did too. We should have a good par--" With a purple flash of light, Omega was cut off in mid-sentence. Twisas arrived and ran up the stairs in her pink pointed hat, only to see no one there.

"--ty, then," Omega said, before he realized where they were. Tombstones, dead trees...this place was familiar. "Are we...west of Ardougne?" asked Jaron. "Right you are," came a familiar voice. CrazyArcher appeared behind one of the tombstones. "Not you again!" exclaimed Brandon. CrazyArcher only laughed. Raising his hand, thick transparent blue walls appeared all around them, separating the group into twos. Jaron and Ultima Cow were trapped in one box, Omega and Brandon in another, Bebitwinnie and Andrey in the third. "Teleportation boxes," CrazyArcher said. "Where are you sending us?" demanded Jaron. CrazyArcher shook his head and smiled as a blue light shone inside the boxes. "Not where, my friend. Not where."

Part 81: The Spell of Unknown Effect

There was nothing they could do--the blue walls were impenetrable by weapons and their time was up anyway. "If not where, then what?" yelled Brandon. CrazyArcher's smile only widened. They all felt a strange sensation similar to teleporting, but somehow different. As everything faded out of view, Omegaman thought he saw CrazyArcher's smile suddenly fade.

And suddenly the walls were gone. So were CrazyArcher, Jaron, Ultima Cow, Bebitwinnie, and Andrey for that matter. Omegaman and Brandon stood alone where they had just been trapped moments before, west of Ardougne. Brandon glanced around before speaking. "So...uh...did his spell backfire?" Omega slowly shook his head, looking straight ahead in shock. "I don't know. But everyone's gone but us..." "...Well, let's go look for them, then," Brandon replied, trying to take Omega's mind off the matter of where his two best friends (among others) had gone. At that moment, as if on cue, they both heard muffled voices even further to the west--and the voices were heading their way. Omega was able to make out "Take your places!" among them, although that made no sense whatsoever. "We've gotta get out of here," Omega said quietly. Brandon silently nodded and together they ran eastward to Ardougne.

And suddenly the walls were gone. So were CrazyArcher, Omegaman, Brandon, Bebitwinnie, and Andrey for that matter. And yet everything seemed different to Jaron and Ultima Cow. Jaron turned around on the spot. "Where are we?" he asked aloud, taking off his teal pointy hat and scratching his head. The sky was a darker red than it had just been, and although they still seemed to be in the same spot west of Ardougne, it had even more of a distinctly evil edge to it. Ultima Cow looked around as well, and shrugged. The same tombstones were there, although the writing on them seemed more blurred and worn. The extent of the dead trees seemed to reach further out in every direction. The land itself was devoid of life. "It seems similar to CrazyArcher's little haven, but at the same time..." Ultima Cow's voice trailed off. Then out of nowhere came a yell: "Who's there?" The voice startled the two of them, and in no time they were surrounded by evil Monks in blood-red robes with crossbows. "Not again," mumbled Jaron. "Who are you?" demanded one of the Monks. The two simply stood there. "Have it your way! Ready your crossbows!" "The shoot first, ask questions later kind of guy, eh?" Jaron yelled. "I already asked you a question," the Monk replied, eyes narrowing. "Oh. Right. (Get us out of here, Ultima.)" Ultima Cow nodded. As he raised his staff and yelled "Lumbridge Teleport!", the Monks shot their crossbows. The two of them left not a moment too soon, as the bolts flew right through where they had just been standing a moment before. In hindsight, it probably wasn't too smart on the Monks' part to line up in a perfect circle.

And suddenly the walls were gone. Along with everything else, really. For a few seconds, Bebitwinnie and Andrey were standing on a dark patch of land. They could only see for a few feet in front of them, that of which was heavy forest. And then they appeared in Lumbridge, to the surprise of many nearby adventurers. "What happened?" asked Bebitwinnie. But before Andrey could speak, they were surrounded by other people. "How'd you do that?" asked one. "Do what?" Andrey replied. "Appear out of nowhere like that! And where'd you get that cool blue armor?" Brandon seemed stunned as another person spoke up and addressed Bebitwinnie. "Where can I get white robes like yours?" Bebitwinnie was speechless, too, but at once they both seemed to partially realize what was going on. They looked at each other, Andrey tilted his head westward, and Bebitwinnie nodded. Then they both sprinted west into the forest, leaving all the questioners behind.

Part 82: Clarification

Bebitwinnie and Andrey ran towards Draynor Village--or what would have been Draynor Village, had it been built yet. Instead, they came upon the wooden frameworks of several buildings and a few civilians working on putting the walls up. They moved back into the shadows of the forest to confer. "This proves it," Andrey said, "we've somehow gone into the past." Bebitwinnie nodded. "Remember what CrazyArcher said? 'Not where, my friend. Not where'." "Yeah, I think he was being sarcastic. He's not our friend, after all," Andrey replied. Bebitwinnie rolled her eyes. "I mean about the 'where' part. It's not where, it's when." "Then we've got a problem," Andrey said, looking kind of nervous. "What's that?" asked Bebitwinnie. "Our armors and weapons. These people have never even heard of Rune, let alone seen a Dragon sword. And your white robes? They're all used to the regular blue ones. I don't think any of them had amulets or rings either. To blend in, we need to put all our stuff where no one's going to find it." "We can bury it," Bebitwinnie suggested. Andrey pulled a makeshift spade out of his backpack. "And you just happen to have a spade on you," she said, rolling her eyes. Andrey grinned. "I was going to throw it into the drop party chest and have everyone wonder who put the spade in. But this works better," he said as he started digging a hole.

Omega and Brandon ran all the way into Ardougne through the north entrance and over towards the market, entering the market square at the west entrance. "That's...a long way...to run," Omega said between intakes of breath as he leaned on an open doorframe. "Yeah...it takes a lot out of you," Brandon replied, finally regaining his breath as well. "Dang, all that running made me hungry," Omega said. "Stay here, I'll get us something," Brandon replied. Omega looked down at his feet. It really had been a long way, but his experience in Agility helped somewhat. Brandon returned with a full cake. "Here ya go," he said, giving half of it to Omega. As they ate their cake, several people started filing out of the market square. "What's with all the rush?" Brandon wondered out loud. Omega looked over towards the market--and choked on his piece of cake. He pushed--Brandon--hard inside through the doorframe he was leaning on. "Hey! What's that for?" Brandon exclaimed. Omega said nothing, but pointed out the nearby window, eyes wide. Brandon looked, too--and saw himself and a tall Paladin in a silver hat getting ready to fight not thirty feet away. "We--that's--I--the--" Brandon began to stutter. Omega crouched down so he could barely be seen behind the window, and surveyed the area. Sure enough, a group of twenty-one other people with Jaron, Omega, and Ultima Cow in front stood on the sidelines across the square. Brandon could barely understand what he was seeing. "That guard...he said he saw me steal a cake...but it wasn't that me, it was this me! We've gone back in time! By...just a little bit?" Omega handed a Emerald ring to Brandon, and gave him instructions. "That's got a couple uses left on it. Teleport to the Castle Wars arena. I'll meet you there in a second." Brandon nodded, and rubbing the ring, disappeared in a flash of purple. Which, of course, no one noticed, since they all were watching the fight. Omega turned his attention back to it. The fighting Brandon fell over backwards, and barely got up in time. Grabbing a Rune arrow out of his quiver, Omegaman ran upstairs to the balcony and aimed it at the Paladin. Letting loose, he heard his arrow hit its mark with a loud "THUD!" Everyone gasped, and the Paladin looked around, wondering what had happened. At the same time, Brandon seized the chance and pinned the Paladin to the ground. Omega grabbed another Emerald ring and rubbed it, teleporting out just as the Jaron downstairs looked up at him.

Part 83: First Encounter

Jaron and Ultima Cow arrived just outside Lumbridge Castle via their teleport spell. The place seemed deserted--there was no one around. "...Where is everyone?" Jaron asked, to no one in particular. Suddenly, they heard a yelp of surprise and something coming down the stairs of the nearest tower. Seconds later, a man emerged next to the castle gate. He was wearing robes and a hat that had a mix of brown and dark blue on them. "State your allegiance!" he called out to them, pointing a crossbow in their general direction. Jaron and Ultima Cow just looked at each other, each having no idea what to do. "Allegiance?" Ultima Cow said, uncomprehending. "For or against?" the man called again, without lowering his crossbow. "Against what?" Jaron asked. The other man simply stared out at them. "You're...not from around here, are you?" Jaron shook his head. The man seemed to mull this over for a bit, then started to relax a little. He looked like he trusted them, and cautiously walked out to where they were. Stopping five feet away, he still stared at Jaron and Ultima Cow. "What?" Jaron asked. "It's just...not very many people know the teleport spells any more. How can I be sure I can trust you?" "We can't make you trust us," Jaron replied, "that's up for you to decide. But I give you my word that we won't hurt you as long as you don't hurt us." To his surprise, the other man actually smiled, and led them inside. "Works for me. Care to come in? It's not safe out here."

"Why don't you just keep the gates closed if you're so afraid of others?" Ultima Cow asked. "One of the other factions' mages came and superheated it to the stone. It won't budge," came the man's reply. (Factions?) thought Ultima Cow. He looked at Jaron, who shrugged in reply, obviously wondering the same thing. Jaron took advantage of the pause in the conversation to look around. Everything still had an evil-looking edge to it, although the inside of Lumbridge looked...better off. Just off to the left, a big statue caught his eye. It was brownish, and looked like an adventurer with a Lobster Pot in one hand and a hatchet in the other. Some actual tinderboxes were set at its feet. "What's this?" he asked, walking over to it. "And why is it in bronze?" added Ultima Cow. "That," the man replied, "is the Shrine of the Noobs. I suppose you really aren't from around here." "Who wants a statue of a 'noob' in a castle courtyard?" asked Jaron, eyebrows raised. The reply came in the form of a sigh and a story. "It's the stuff of legend now. As the story goes, a long time ago, CrazyArcher was--" "CrazyArcher!? He's not still around, is he?" Jaron interrupted. Now it was the other man's turn to look surprised. "Why, yes, he rules over most of Runescape. But let me finish this story first, and it may answer any questions you have. Anyway, CrazyArcher was walking along, and a 'noob' started begging to buy the red hat atop his head. CrazyArcher kept walking, saying it wasn't for sale. But the 'noob' persisted. And in his anger, CrazyArcher slaughtered the young adventurer there on the spot. To his surprise, he heard cheers come from nearby. Apparently, more skilled adventurers had wanted the 'noob' dead for some time. Sensing his chance, CrazyArcher went all around Runescape and killed every 'noob' on the face of the planet." "Heh, that's funny," Ultima Cow smiled. "Yes, for over a month there was much rejoicing all over the land. But all was not well. Without the ones called 'noobs', our entire economy crumbled. Everyone knew the best prices. No one was going to pay 200 gp for a piece of coal, or much less sell you their Rune Plate Mail for five Emeralds. Items were not being sold or bought, only held. The people grumbled, worse came to worse, and riots broke out. And when Runescape seemed doomed, CrazyArcher appeared again and claimed he would restore the land to its former glory. Most trusted him, although there were the descendants of some that said he was truly evil and lying to us all. But they were ignored. The rest is history. He did lie to us, and took his chance to become ruler of the land. He slowly grew in power, and now no one can stop him."

Andrey sighed as he threw all of his best armor, weapons, and accessories into the hole he had dug. Bebitwinnie did the same. All the amulets, swords, rings, robes, etc. When they were done, both of them had only the normal clothes on them and nothing else, besides Bebitwinnie, who got to keep some of her runes, as they were still a common item in this time period. "So where do we go now?" asked Bebitwinnie. "Jaron usually answers that," Andrey sighed.

Part 84: An Unknown Friend...Revealed

Jaron and Ultima Cow followed the man into Lumbridge Castle's main room. "So...where is CrazyArcher now, then?" Jaron asked. The man shook his head as he turned towards them. "This is not a good time for Runescape as far as information goes. Wherever he is, only his own followers know of it. And right now, our people don't even know how many others are for us and how many are against us. The only group we are aware of right now that follows in CrazyArcher's footsteps is known by the name of the 'Lava Faction'." "The Lava Faction?" Ultima Cow queried. The man shook his head again. "We only know their name and that they aid CrazyArcher. As for the rest, regrettably, I can't spare the time to tell you right now. We were just about to try to detach our castle portcullis from the stone. As a matter of fact, it was a Lava mage that did this to us. We need to fix it in case of an attack." Jaron chose his words carefully. "If we were to...help you with your gate problem, would you fill in more details for us? It's kind of important." The man pondered the situation for a short moment, and then smiled. "I'd be happy to. We can use all the help we can get!"

"Well, our first plan of action should be to get some better equipment," Andrey told Bebitwinnie, who nodded. "We're cut off from our present-day bank," she said, "What we have is what we've got. I could probably use more runes." Andrey consented. "Well, at the moment, our best way to make some money would be to help people out. Maybe someone back in Lumbridge has a job for us. I don't think anyone will recognize us without our other equipment...we should be good to go." With that, they set back off to the east, towards Lumbridge Castle.

The work on releasing the castle's portcullis was harder than expected, even with a lot of people working together. Jaron and Ultima Cow sat down just outside the castle, when another person came into the courtyard, telling everyone it was time for dinner. The same man they had talked to earlier came up to Jaron and Ultima. "You've more than proven yourself with your hard work, guys. You're welcome to come have something to eat." Jaron smiled. "Thanks, we'll be there in a minute." The sky was starting to get dark--well, darker, anyway. Ultima Cow frowned. "Why are we waiting? I hope it's not a buffet-type thing and everyone else eats it all." To his surprise, Jaron laughed. "Hey, Ultima--while we were working, I thought of something." "What's that?" replied Ultima Cow. "This," Jaron said, holding up a Jade ring on his hand.

Omegaman and Brandon sat for a while and pondered what to do or how they could make their situation better, but came up with nothing. "What do you do when you can't think of anything?" Brandon asked Omega. Omega looked up to see tons of people teleporting at once into the Castle Wars lobby. "I usually go for a round of Castle Wars," he replied, smiling. Twenty minutes later, they both came out with big grins and two tickets apiece. That's when Omega's Ring of Talking began to start emitting static. "Zzztzt...anyone there?" Eyes wide, Omega and Brandon ran outside for better reception. Brandon had left his ring in the bank chest during the Castle Wars game, so Omega held his up and spoke into it. "Hello?" Moments later, the voice came back. "...Omega?" "Jaron! It's so good to hear from you!" "Same here! I've got so much to tell you...wait--first off, where are you? Or...when are you?" Omegaman spoke again. "Brandon and I got sent back about half an hour before his fight with that big Paladin in Ardougne, which was...maybe a week and a half ago?" "Ultima Cow and I are fine...sort of. We got sent waaaay into the future." Omegaman looked up to the sky, trying to imagine his friends in history books hundreds of years from now. But the beautiful evening sky led his thoughts astray. "Look at all the stars," he said. Jaron's reply came, after a few seconds: "Yeah, it's a beautiful sight. I don't look at the sky very often." "It's weird, knowing we're looking at the same night sky, although we're decades apart." Then, out of the blue, a third voice came. "Hello?" Omega was stunned into silence for a bit. Jaron broke the ice first, although his voice seemed a little deeper. "Uh...hi. Who is this?" "My name is Jaron. How did you get a hold of a Ring of Talking?" Omega's jaw dropped, unsure of what to say. The future Jaron again spoke, although Omega could now tell his voice was indeed deeper; he must be trying to camouflage it. "Well, Jaron my friend, that's not really an important issue. But, my other friend, do you understand what I do?" Omega gulped, and followed Jaron's lead in changing the tone of his voice. Jaron had told him this story several times in the past week and a half. "I do, I think I understand now. So, Jaron is it? I have a gift for you." "A gift?" came the reply. "Yes," Omega said. "All you have to do is go to the gate where Lumbridge meets Al Kharid. Enter Al Kharid, then take twenty steps north and four steps east. Dig there, and you'll find a treasure chest." A short silence came from the other end, then: "How do I know my 'step' is the same as yours?" Omega smiled. "Trust me. If you look for it, you'll find it." Then the future Jaron spoke once more. "Jaron, good luck finding the treasure chest. And as for my other friend, shall we continue this discussion another night?" "Agreed," said Omegaman, lowering his hand and cutting the connection. Brandon stood a couple feet away, mouth agape. "So...what exactly is it that we understand?" Omega smiled again. "That we have a long night ahead of us."

Part 85: A Long Night

Omegaman withdrew his single Amulet of Glory (used only for emergencies) from the Castle Wars bank chest and teleported himself and Brandon to Al Kharid. As Omega walked up to the bank booth to withdraw a spade, he talked sideways to Brandon. "You always said you were a pretty good Herblorist, right?" "Yeah," Brandon replied, pondering something. Omega faced him with a look of concern. "What's wrong?" "Oh, it's nothing. Pretty funny, actually...remember when we took a short time off at Draynor before battling CrazyArcher? I was going to make some potions for the group to use, but seeing as we had already found the other ones in Al Kharid, I decided I didn't need to make any." He smiled and continued, "And now, it seems I'll be making them after all." The sky was darkening even more. Brandon withdrew twenty-four water-filled vials and herbs, along with other ingredients, and set to work making the eight Super Sets.

After Brandon finished up all of the potions, he and Omega took spades and walked out to the gate between Lumbridge and Al Kharid. Walking twenty steps north and four steps east, they started to dig. "Hey, just a second," Brandon said. "What?" Omegaman asked. "Where'd the treasure chest come from?" Brandon replied. Several seconds passed as Omega stared at him, and then dropped his spade on the ground. "Good call. I'm going to the General Store, if they're still open at this time of night. Be right back."

Luckily, the General Store was indeed open, and let Omega buy one of their chests. Brandon and Omega spent the rest of the night digging, and finally buried the chest (with all of the potions inside it, of course) a few feet deep in the sand, and then covered it up with sand again, making sure the ground was flat. It wouldn't help, though, because the sand felt kind of weird from being dug up anyway. Daylight had finally broken by the time they were done. "Whew. That took longer than I thought. Now what?" Brandon wearily asked. Omega tilted his head back and recalled what he remembered. "Well, we came by in the morning to dig up the chest--wait a second, it's morning now. Oh, shoot. ...We have to get out of here unseen. If we're spotted, it could ruin everything." Together, they ran back down to Al Kharid Bank. "I just realized something else," Brandon said. "What a day for remembering stuff. Okay, what is it?" Omega replied, slightly exasperated. "If we're going to keep the time line going correctly as everything happened, we have to remember that our bank is not our own. Whatever we take out, our past selves might realize it." "Another good point," Omega said, depositing back the spade. He took out a Mime Mask and a Blue Halloween Mask. "Put this on," he said, handing Brandon the Blue Mask. And then, after a moment, added, "You do realize you just used all of your herbs. You told me you checked them at Draynor." Brandon clasped his hand to his mouth, and his eyes got very wide. "Oh, shoot...staying unnoticed is going to be harder than I thought..."

Omegaman and Brandon put on their masks and left through the Al Kharid gate. As they walked up the main path just outside Lumbridge Castle, they saw the entire group down the road. All twenty-two people, each holding a spade, coming the opposite direction. "(Don't say anything,)" Omega quietly warned. As the large group passed, Jaron (with his teal colored hat) uttered a "Hello." Omega and Brandon just nodded and continued on, even speeding up a little. The past Omegaman turned around and watched them walk off. "Weirdos..." he muttered, turning back and continuing on. Seconds after that, the future Omegaman turned around as well to watch the rest of the ground go in the gate. "Well, that was ironic," he said. "I thought it was kinda funny. Remind me later to make fun of you for calling yourself a weirdo," Brandon replied, laughing.

Part 86: Two Assistants

Early the next morning, Andrey and Bebitwinnie walked into Lumbridge Castle to find the Cook in the kitchen, fretting over his stove. "What's wrong?" Bebitwinnie asked him. "(And can we help?)" Andrey muttered under his breath, unheard. The Cook turned to face them and then blurted, "Today's the Duke's birthday again and I completely forgot to make a cake again and I don't even have the ingredients to make one if I wanted to! Again!" "Jeez, don't hyperventilate, man," Andrey said. "We can help you out. What do you need?" Bebitwinnie asked, getting to the point. "Some flour, an egg, and some milk. And quickly, please!"

"One minute we're fighting the epitome of evil, then next minute we're fighting an ugly little goblin." The goblin Andrey was battling swung its bronze spear, but completely missed and stuck the ground at his feet. "And a pathetic one at that," he added. Andrey used what unarmed combat skills he had to dispatch the creature, and then knelt down and took five glittering coins from the goblin's small money bag. He tossed the coins up to Bebitwinnie. They were alone in a nearby forest, so they were free to talk without worrying about being heard. "Oh, lighten up a little, Andrey. CrazyArcher's the one that sent us back in time, so by triumphing where he thought he beat us, we're still fighting him. In a way. Anyway, this should be enough for a bucket and pot. I'll run to the General Store up the road, and you go get some grain from that field down the way. We'll meet up at the windmill, okay?" Andrey stood. "Yeah, alright...you're right. The sooner we get this done, the better. At least the windmill's still standing...I wish Draynor was." With that, the two took off in separate directions.

The same man in the blue-brown pointy hat Jaron and Ultima Cow had first talked to came up to them now. "What's your opinion on it?" Jaron looked at him and nodded. "Yeah, we can't get any further with this portcullis by hand. We're really going to need some good chisels and hammers. No offense, but all of the ones you have are way too dull to be of any use. Why don't you just get new ones?" "No offense taken. But it's not easy at all to get the simplest things anymore. Since CrazyArcher took over, he wanted to make sure that only his followers get the best of tools. It's not safe enough anymore to even go down to the General Store, although the shopkeeper there is only alive because he promised to sell CrazyArcher whatever wares he has. We even get our runes from a third-party vendor. He doesn't have a set schedule, but just comes around when he can. He always seems to be on the run to avoid CrazyArcher's followers, but we all appreciate him greatly. He doesn't sell tools, though, only runes."

The Lumbridge Cook took all of the ingredients Andrey and Bebitwinnie brought to him and quickly made a delicious-looking cake. "What can I ever do to repay you?" he asked them. "Well, to tell the truth, we're kind of low on funds at the moment," Bebitwinnie said. "Ah, of course. I can only spare you a few hundred coins, unfortunately, but here you go," he replied, grabbing a bag of gold from a nearby cupboard and handing it to them. "Oh, take this pie, too. I made it in case you were not able to get the ingredients in time, and I'm sure you're hungry anyway." "Thanks!" said Andrey, taking the pie and realizing how hungry he actually was. As he tried to take out half of the pie to give to Bebitwinnie, he ran into trouble. The pie wouldn't budge, and the Cook seemed amused. "Eat pies often? Every pie is enchanted to only be eaten in thirds." Andrey stared at the pie a moment, and then smiled at the Cook. "Ah, thanks. I remember now...I'm so hungry I had almost forgotten about it!" Bebitwinnie simply half-smiled, realizing this was probably another forgotten aspect of the past.

Part 87: Fifteen Minutes of Relaxation, Fifteen Minutes from Now

Omegaman and Brandon stopped for a rest just outside Draynor Village before heading on. "We need to plan out what happens from here," Omega said. Brandon nodded, and they both tried to recall what had happened to them just a week before. Then a look of surprise crossed Brandon's face. "Oh, wait, first I need to put the herbs back! Our group came here right after digging up the chest, and that's when I looked at my herbs! There's no way I'll get them all back in time!" Omegaman grimaced, realizing this as well. "We've got one shot," Omega said. "What's that?" Brandon asked. Omega motioned for Brandon to follow him, and then went into Draynor Bank and withdrew around fifty herbs. "Given all of the combat training I do, I get a lot of herbs. Unfortunately, I can't identify many of them. Can you tell if these are the ones you need? If so, you can borrow them...I usually don't check my herbs." Brandon gave them a good look over and smiled. "You've got plenty of Irits, just enough Kwuarm, and seven Cadantine, among other things. All we need is one more Cadantine, and we're set." Omegaman put on his mime mask and went around the bank, asking everyone if he could buy a single Cadantine herb. Luckily, he found a seller, and traded a few thousand gold coins for the herb. "I hope I don't notice a few 'K' missing," Omega said, handing Brandon the Cadantine. Brandon took all twenty-four herbs and banked them, and with that, the two ran off to Falador, hoping to stay ahead of the other large group that would no doubt soon be heading their way.

"Well, without better tools, I highly doubt we'll be getting much farther," Jaron remarked, disappointed. The other man grimly nodded. "Unfortunately, I agree. We're completely open to attack with that portcullis glued open, and it's much worse than we thought. Do you share the same view?" he asked, looking to Ultima Cow, who nodded as well. The man sighed. "Well, I suppose we'll have to post a few guards just inside the entrance tonight to be safe. I don't know how long our situation will last." Jaron's smacked his forehead, suddenly remembering something. Then he noticed everyone was looking at him. "Oh. Yeh, uh, I think we may be able to help you. But it'll have to wait until tonight. If all goes well, we can fix your gate tomorrow." The man stared for a moment, then smiled. "I don't know how you'll achieve it, but I have no reason to doubt your words. Whatever you need, I'll make sure you get it." Jaron returned the smile. "Thanks! But I think all we'll need is some time alone."

Andrey and Bebitwinnie took a leisurely walk up to the Dwarven Mining area, where they were able to buy a couple pickaxes with the money they had gotten from helping the Cook. "Still, mining's not my strong suit," Bebitwinnie told Andrey as they headed deeper into the mines. "Well, I'll mine whatever you can't, and I can still smith a lot of stuff as well. I know you probably won't be used to the armor, but until we can get something else for you, it's better than nothing." Bebitwinnie nodded. As a mage, she liked her white robes better, but Andrey had a point. Maybe taking on a second mode of combat for a little while wouldn't be too bad, she mused. Their plan for now was to mine some ore and make some homemade armors and weapons. Andrey would be fine with it, of course, already being a great warrior. She pushed her thoughts aside for now and chipped away at a piece of iron sticking out of the ground.

Part 88: Another Mystery Explained

Omega and Brandon, upon entering Falador, promptly headed for the Pub there. They took to the upstairs, so they wouldn't be noticed by others sitting in the floor below. "So what now, weirdo?" Brandon inquired. Omega didn't seem to notice the name-calling; he looked lost in thought. "Well, when we were in Draynor, I went out and made more arrows. You looked over your herbs, and everyone else just met back in fifteen minutes. ...And I'll overlook that this time." Brandon grinned, and then spoke up again. "I remember we crossed the distance between Draynor and Falador pretty quickly that day. And then we went to battle the Monk. Or, at least, we were going to." Omega sat straight up in his seat. "What's wrong?" Brandon asked. Omega shook his head. "Nothing, just stay here for a minute," he replied, running down the Pub's stairs and across the street.

A couple minutes later, Omega returned with a small satchel in hand. Brandon looked at the bag, and tilted his head, imposing a silent question. Omega plopped the bag down on the table, and Brandon loosened the top and looked inside to find a large amount of Air and Law Runes. "What are these for?" Brandon asked. "I have a hunch I'll be needing some," Omega replied. "How's your stealth?" he asked. Brandon thought about it. "Better than most, worse than yours," he decided. Omega nodded. "Good. Then all we have to do now is wait."

They both ordered some ales from downstairs and sat by a window on the upper floor, looking over the entire town of Falador. "There's actually a really good view from here," Brandon commented, surprised. Ten to fifteen minutes later, a large group passed through the south entrance of the city. Omega sat up in his chair from where he had been waiting, staring at the gate. "There," he pointed. Brandon turned in his seat and saw a group of 22 people journeying up the main street (and attracting stares from onlookers all the way at their sheer group size.) Once the party had left through the north gate, Omega stood up. "That's our cue."

Omega and Brandon slinked along behind the group, far enough away to not be noticed, but still closer than Brandon would have liked to be. As the group of 22 entered Taverly via the gate in the large stone wall, Omega and Brandon stood back, just to either side of the gate. The wall hid them from view, but they could easily see what was going on. Omega looked over to Brandon and got his attention. "Move in on my mark. But try to make your first attack unseen, because two against one isn't good for this guy," he said quietly. The Monk of Zamorak they knew so well suddenly jumped to the ground right in front of the large group. They all pulled out weapons, to which he simply laughed. "You can't beat me," he said to them. Tai spoke up, "Oh, I think we can." Andrey added his two cents as well: "You're a little bit outnumbered." The Monk laughed again. "22 to 1? Sounds like good odds." He took his magic Dragon Dagger from his robe and threw it into the air, catching it as a Longsword when it came back down. "You actually plan on fighting us?" Bnjy put forth. "I don't plan on fighting you, for a lack of words. Since you won't actually be fighting, that is. You've all caused enough trouble--I can't have you barging in when my Master's about to reestablish his reign over Runescape, now can I?" Out of nowhere, the Monk immediately pulled a vial of grey powder from his robe and threw it at the group. When it shattered in front of them, the powder turned into smoke, knocking them all unconscious. Smiling smugly, the Monk slowly walked over to the now-unconscious Jaron and raised his Longsword, its tip pointing straight down. "I've waited so long for this," he spoke aloud. Back at the gate, Omega fired a Rune arrow straight at the Monk. "So have we. Move in, Brandon!"

Omegaman's aim was true--the force of the hardened arrow knocked the weapon out of the Monk's hand. Omega ran forward, firing arrow after arrow at him. And before the Monk knew what was going on or even who had attacked him, Brandon's Dragon Halberd dealt the finishing blow with its extreme range of attack. Omega walked up to where the Monk lay dead. "That was easy," Brandon said, walking up alongside. Omega looked around, other matters on his mind. He ran over to a clothesline where Druid robes were drying, grabbed a couple shirts, and returned to the battle scene. He tried to wipe up any blood that was on the ground, and then wrapped up the Monk in them, covering the wounds. Brandon watched him, trying to figure out what he was doing. "I don't want it to look like there was a battle here. We had no clue where the Monk had gone when we woke up, remember?" Omega said to him. Brandon nodded and looked over to see himself asleep on the ground, and shuddered at the thought of what might have just happened. "Hey, wait a minute...I just saved my own life," Brandon grinned. Omega only rolled his eyes and dragged the Monk to a hole south of the town, dropping him down into the dungeon. Walking back, he saw the Monk's magic Dragon Longsword lying on the ground where he had dropped it. Omega looked around and noticed a Druid with a white pointy hat surreptitiously watching from a window. Omega waved him over, and the Druid cautiously walked outside to meet him. Handing him the Longsword, Omega asked, "Could you please hold onto this for a while for me? And it's also important that you only give it back to me or talk about it if I'm alone with you, okay?" The Druid nodded, took hold of the sword, and walked back inside. Then, pulling some runes out of the satchel he had brought, Omega teleported himself and Brandon to Camelot.

Part 89: "Final" is a Relative Term

Omega and Brandon arrived just outside of Camelot Castle. Carefully looking in, they saw that it was deserted. "Let's go," Omega whispered to Brandon. Together, they ran through the courtyard, into the castle, up to the second floor balcony, and hid there behind some pillars. "You can cast Camelot Teleport?" Brandon inquired. "Yeah, but I'm not as good as a regular mage. I've only really learned the teleport spells and getting us both here took a lot out of me. Can you cast it?" "Yeah, kind of," came the reply. "Good. Next time, we do it separately." About ten minutes later, CrazyArcher suddenly appeared in the middle of the castle courtyard with a flash of light. And he stood there.

By a half-hour later, CrazyArcher began to pace back and forth. Evidently, he hated to wait. From their hiding spot on the balcony, Omega could hear him muttering. "Where is he? He knew to meet me here..." A few more minutes passed, and then CrazyArcher just sighed and shook his head. Omega and Brandon watched as he held his arm out, and a egg-shaped grey thing appeared there. It had a long rod on it, and CrazyArcher spoke into it. "Citizens of Runescape--" he began, and then stopped. He then did something Omega and Brandon couldn't see from their hiding spot, but CrazyArcher seemed pleased. Then he took a deep breath to say something, and a huge squeal came from the oval for a couple of seconds. When it ended, CrazyArcher simply said, "Is this thing on?" But it had worked--Omega and Brandon could now hear his voice everywhere around them. He spoke into the grey oval again. "Ah, good, it works. Neat. Okay then. Citizens of Runescape, listen well! My name is CrazyArcher, and from this day forth, I shall be your new ruler!" Just then, Jaron ran up to the courtyard entrance with the original large group and yelled back, "I don't think so!" CrazyArcher seemed surprised and agitated at the interruption. "What are YOU doing here? You should be dead right now!" "Ha! You'll never rule over Runescape, CrazyArcher. Not as long as we have a say in it. We've beaten you before, and we can do it again." CrazyArcher paused for a moment, and then brought the oval calmly up to his mouth again. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by." Then he reached around the back of it again and there was a loud clicking noise. Then he threw the oval aside, and it turned to dust upon hitting the ground.

CrazyArcher wasted no time. "Where's the Monk?" he asked suspiciously. Jaron shrugged. "One second he was going to kill us, the next second he split. It seems your servant wasn't so trustworthy after all, eh?" he taunted. The Omega on the balcony smiled, finally able to put the puzzle pieces together. But the Brandon there next to him only noticed a small grey-tipped arrow silently moving toward his past self. CrazyArcher replied to Jaron's accusation by growling. "He's the best servant I've ever had--loyal, capable, and more trustworthy than you could possibly imagine. So are you going to tell me the truth about where he is or beat around the bush?" "You idiot, we seriously don't know," countered Twisas, "and besides, we wouldn't tell you if we did." The arrow made contact with Brandon's past self, as EaglesFan spoke up. "Yeah, so are you going to give up your crazy plans of world domination or beat around the bush, as you say?" CrazyArcher grinned. "Hah! Give up my plans? No way! Actually, I've already started them." The group just looked at him with confused stares, which led him to explain. "One of the powers my lord Zamorak bestowed upon me is a type of reverse Telekinetic Grab. With a single arrow and one of the Monk's potions, I can effectively and silently administer any potions I want to anyone, anywhere." CrazyArcher nodded towards behind the group. Still confused, they all turned around to see Brandon standing there with his Halberd. And then he attacked.

The group below dispersed from where they stood, scattering and trying to avoid Brandon's attacks. The Brandon above watched the action below. "Huh. I don't remember any of that at all." Just then, CrazyArcher rose into the air, his back to the two on the balcony. He was laughing at the action below. Omega grabbed a Rune arrow out of his quiver and stretched it tight against his bow, taking aim at CrazyArcher's back. He released the arrow, but the bowstring made a small "twang!" noise that CrazyArcher unfortunately noticed. CrazyArcher spun around in mid-air and barely caught the arrow, which threw him toppling to the ground anyway. Omega reached into his satchel and grabbed a handful of Air and Law runes, tossing them to Brandon. Then he teleported. "Now that I remember," Brandon said as he took a glimpse of CrazyArcher's landing. Then he teleported out as well.

Part 90: Like a Puzzle

Omega and Brandon rematerialized just outside Camelot Castle. Brandon stood against the wall with his back to the entrance, afraid to look inside in case someone were to see him. "So...what happened next? I don't completely recall," he said. "I was still kind of dizzy from that old coot falling on top of me at the time." Omegaman opened his mouth to say something, but the Jaron inside the courtyard interrupted them. "SCATTER!" came his yell, followed by a flash of purple light, and then two more. "Oh yeah, now I remember," Brandon said. Omega peeked around the corner to see CrazyArcher taunting them. "Ha ha ha!! I cut your numbers in half!" "You cut less than half. We can still defeat you anyway," Jaron shot back at him. The three archers of the group of 22--Omega, Twisas and Toxic--readied arrows and shot them straight at CrazyArcher. The Omega at the gate gasped, realizing something, and readied an arrow of his own. CrazyArcher held up a hand, and the three arrows heading for him shattered in mid-air. "Heh! You can't even touch me!" Aiming and firing, Omega shot his Rune arrow from the courtyard entrance. It hit its mark on CrazyArcher's right arm, which caused him in turn to yell "Aah! Who shot that??" Omega jumped back behind the gate as some of the group turned to look at the entrance. No one had seen him, luckily. "Shoot, that was my last arrow," he muttered. Even Brandon could now hear CrazyArcher's words. "Enough! You fools stay standing even after everything I throw at you! That's either determination or stupidity. This will finish you off. Your time is up." Omega gasped again and chanced a look around the corner. CrazyArcher was holding his vial of red energy-evaporating liquid, and had already started splashing people with it. Brandon got Omega's attention. "Hey--look." Omega turned around to see Iissam, a long way down the road, head into the forest between Catherby and Seers' Village. Staring at his empty quiver, Omega put his Halloween Mask back on and ran into the forest, saying to Brandon "I'll be right back."

The masked Omegaman approached Iissam in the forested area. "Wha--who are you?" she asked. Omega lowered the tone of his voice so that she wouldn't recognize him behind his mask. "Um...that's not important. But I know who you are. And I need to ask a big favor." "What is it?" Iissam replied, skeptical. "I need a Magic Shortbow and a Rune arrow," Omega said. "You have one right there," she pointed out. He was, of course, holding his own bow. "Oh. Yeah, but I need another. And fast, please. I'll pay you, of course." Iissam narrowed her eyes and pulled a Rune arrow out of her knapsack. "I've got twelve of these on me, but my bowstring for the Shortbow is in the Bank." Omega nodded and grabbed one thousand gold coins out of his own knapsack, handing it to her and taking the arrow. "I just need one. I'll meet you in the Bank for the bow in a few minutes. Thanks!" he added, running back off in the direction he had come, leaving Iissam there, confused.

Omega, his mask now off, ran up next to Brandon at Camelot Castle's gate. "What'd I miss?" he muttered. Brandon shrugged as he secretly watched the action from around the corner. "Beats me. I was in Lumbridge for this part of the battle. ...Wait a minute! Shoot--I forgot! Our group teleported back here! We have to hide, Omega!" "Go. Give me one more second," Omega replied. "Well...hurry!" Brandon said, running out behind a nearby tree. Omega took his own Magic Shortbow and the Rune arrow and set them on the ground. Then he pushed it, somewhat hard, along the ground, and it barely skidded to a stop right next to where Jaron was lying on his stomach. (Perfect.) Omega smiled to himself and joined Brandon behind the tree, just as Bebitwinnie, Brandon, Tai, Magicana, EaglesFan, Bnjy, Petrenks, Coran, Low Scorer, and ACher materialized where Omega had been just a moment before. The ten of them ran into the courtyard. Omega could barely hear CrazyArcher cackle something, but it was followed by Bebitwinnie bellowing "No, it's not!" The next thing Omegaman and Brandon noticed was a large puff of red smoke rising from the courtyard. "Dang...he got them all," Omega said. The two ran back to the corner they had been hiding at before. "How did you get so strong?" Bebitwinnie asked CrazyArcher. "Don't you recall our last encounter? Oh wait, I guess not," he replied, laughing. He produced a green vial from his robes, and Omega suddenly reached into his satchel of runes again. CrazyArcher held up the vial. "Here's the antidote to that memory-suppressing potion, by the way. Not that any of you will ever get it! Heh heh heh!!" Omega grinned as he found the ones he wanted, and held his arm out from around the corner. "Telekinetic grab!" he muttered, and the green vial rose out of CrazyArcher's palm and sped towards the courtyard entrance. Omega backed up a little, moving out of the group's view, but still in range to grab the vial. It landed softly in his hand. "Heh...this is awesome," he said to no one in particular.

Omega entered the Seers' Village Bank alone, but with his mask on again. There he found Iissam at a nearby Bank stall, holding a Magic Shortbow. Her Rune Hatchet had a green pointy hat on it...it was anyone's guess why. Omegaman walked over and set ten thousand coins on the table. "Whoa--that more than pays for it," Iissam said to him. "That's okay. I need you to do one last thing for me," Omega said. "What is it, sir?" He handed her the green vial. "I need you to deliver this to Jaron for me. I believe you know who he is...anyway, he'll be in here in a couple of minutes. Please be very careful with this. Oh, and tell him they only need one drop each--there's enough for everyone in his group." "Um...okay," Iissam said, not fully understanding. Omega smiled, nodded, took his new bow, and walked back out of the bank. Of course, with his mask on, Iissam didn't see his face.

Part 91: It's About Time We Got a Break

Omega and Brandon lounged in the top floor of the Seers Village' Party Hall. There was a Bar up there, with two barmaids that brought them all the drinks they wanted. The top floor was usually empty, save for the occasional party (such as the one scheduled a week and a half from now.) "Should we be up here? What if the group comes up?" Brandon asked Omega, who stood up from his comfortable chair and walked over to the Party Hall window. He looked outside and beckoned Brandon over. On the street below, Brandon saw the group of twenty-two, looking worn out from their battle. "Look out there," Omega replied. "This is where Jaron gave his short little 'Time to go, keep in touch, we'll have a party, now go away' speech." Brandon laughed. "Yeah, he never was good at speeches, was he?" As the group below walked into Seers' Bank, Iissam walked up to them, hatchet and vial in hand. Omega smiled and returned to his seat; Brandon followed suit. Omega sighed and spoke again. "Well, it looks like everything's all said and done. All those mysteries about the missing Monk and the floating vial...it was us all along, wasn't it?" Brandon grinned. "I'd have never guessed," he replied. "Well of course you wouldn't have. It's not every day a reincarnation of evil teleports you back in time," Omega laughed. Brandon grimaced. "Oh, yeah, how'd he come back to life, anyway? That's a mystery that hasn't been solved yet." "Hmm. I don't know. Ah well, we'll think about it later. After all we've done, we deserve a rest." With that said, they sat back in their comfy chairs. About ten minutes later, Brandon suddenly said out of the blue, "Do you think your past self will notice your herbs are missing?" Omega closed his eyes before responding. "...Shoot. Well, let's go to Lumbridge." "Why?" Brandon queried. "Let's just say I've got a hunch," Omega replied.

The rest of the day passed with the two walking all the way from Seers' Village to Catherby to Taverly to Falador to Draynor Village. When they passed Draynor, however, Omega's Ring of Talking came to life. It was getting dark. "Zzztt...hello?" came a voice. Omega jumped at the sound, realized what it was, and replied. "Future?" "Yeah, it's me. Hey Omega." Omega and Jaron had slightly adjusted the frequencies on their rings so that their past selves wouldn't hear the conversation. It was something they had planned a while back in case they needed to talk privately, and fortunately, both of them remembered it. "Hey, I want to ask you a question," Omega started. "Yeah, what is it? (Tell him I said hi, too!) Oh, and Ultima Cow says hi." "...Doesn't he have his own ring?" "He changed the frequency a bit and he doesn't want to change it back." Omega nodded to no one in particular. "I see. Ok, about my question. Why do you think the rings still work? You're way off in the future, right?" "Yeah. I see what you mean. Hmm...well, there's only one explanation I can think of. The rings work because they were made in the same time period, and they're kind of linked between each other. So hopefully, no matter where or when we go, they'll work." Omega pondered that. "Okay, works for me, but what about Andrey and Bebitwinnie? Heard from them?" "Nope, I have no clue what's going on with them," came Jaron's reply. "One more thing--" Omega asked, "--why did the rings work with your past self?" "That's a tough one, too... ...Well, okay. The ring I'm using right now to speak to you and the ring I had on back then are the same one, right?" "Yeah." "Well, maybe it's not only linked to the others, but to itself. I'm sure the Druids never expected there to be two of the exact same ring at any one point in time. Does that help any?" Omega thought it over. "Yeah, it does. Thanks, Jaron." "No problem. Now I have a favor to ask of you, if you don't mind." "Anything. Name it." "Perfect. Are you near Lumbridge?"

Part 92: Thinking Outside the Box

Omega was confused, but responded to Jaron's question anyway. "Yeah, we're just outside of Draynor." Jaron's voice came back over the ring. "Good. I need you to make a trip to the Lumbridge General Store..."

After the conversation, Omegaman and Brandon walked into Draynor Bank. They both withdrew around 250 coins, hoping their past selves wouldn't notice the small amount missing. Omega also took a couple of ropes from his account. "What are those for?" Brandon asked him, intrigued. "I'll show you when we're done with Jaron's errand. Let's go--it's getting dark." Together, they half-walked half-jogged down the paved path heading east towards majestic Lumbridge Castle. Although it was really one of the smaller castles of the world, it was still just as beautiful and towering. The two stopped a couple buildings short of the castle, below a hanging sign that read "Lumbridge General Store." Going inside, they found the shopkeeper and his assistant busily sorting items on their shelves. The shopkeeper turned at the sound of the door opening. "Oh, good evening. No offense, but please hurry, we're about to close." "This won't take long," Omega smiled, setting the 500 coins on the front counter.

Not five minutes later, the two of them walked out of the store. Omega was carrying a large chest-type casket, its lid closed to protect the contents inside. "You know, I've used more of these in the past day than I ever have in my life," Omega joked. Brandon grinned. "Yeah...did you see the look on the shopowner's face when we told him what we were buying? I don't think he gets orders like that very often." Omega rolled his eyes. "This is Lumbridge, Brandon. I'm sure he gets orders like that...just not...that many," he replied. Brandon looked around. Indeed, there were a couple of adventurers clad in bronze huddling together just off the road. From the looks of things, one of them was trying to trade two Air Runes for an Emerald.

Omegaman and Brandon walked through the gate (under the perfectly-good portcullis) into Lumbridge Castle's courtyard. Lumbridge wasn't the type of area to have guards around. Falador, Varrock, and Yanille all had them. Ardougne even sported a few Paladins. But this evening, there were only a few civilians wandering around. As the two came to the castle door, it burst open and a little red Imp ran out. It kind of looked like a demon, only it was a foot tall. Moments later, the castle chef burst out after it, yelling "Come back here with my hat!" "That's something you don't see everyday," Brandon muttered. They continued inside.

Yet even though there were no guards around, it didn't mean suspicious activity went unnoticed. Carrying a large casket through the castle halls was a sign of suspicious activity if there ever was one. Luckily, there wasn't anyone around. The cook was outside chasing the imp, the Duke was probably upstairs in his bedroom, and that was...about everyone. "This kind of reminds me of that time in the Black Knight's Dungeon," Omega grinned, thinking of the little covert operation he, Jaron, and Ultima Cow had tried long ago when they had barely met. "I've never heard that story," Brandon said. "Remind me to tell you later," Omega replied. They came to another door and opened it to find the ground floor of a tower. A ladder led upwards, but they were perfectly fine where they were. Omegaman quietly set the casket down and looked at the floor. "Those boards there," he pointed, "they look kind of loose."

The next morning, Jaron and Ultima Cow awoke to their host's call for breakfast. As they got out of their makeshift beds on the upper floor of the castle, Ultima Cow spoke. "Do you think it'll work?" "I don't see why not," Jaron replied. At the large table in the middle dining room, they ate their fill of food with all of the other faction members. Shortly after breakfast, Jaron took their host aside. "Follow me," he said. The host followed uncertainly as Jaron and Ultima Cow walked into the nearby tower, the same one Omega and Brandon had been in decades earlier. The tower was mostly empty, save for some of the faction's rune supply. Jaron looked around and finally smiled. Getting on his knees, he reached for some of the tower's floorboards and pulled them out. "Hey!" came the host's cry. "We'll put them back, just give me a second," Jaron requested. And true to his word, less than a minute later, he had found and pulled out a casket from under the floorboards. "What--I never knew this was here!" "It wasn't," Ultima Cow grinned. Jaron carefully opened the casket, and although it was very old, it had safely protected the contents inside--nearly a hundred chisels and hammers.

Part 93: Mr. Mud's Got Some Explaining to Do

The Mud Faction's leader stared at the chest of tools Jaron had just pulled out of the floor. "Wha--I--this is amazing! Is this for us?!" Jaron nodded, smiling. "It's all yours." Their host's eyes were extremely wide with amazement. Apparently, the smallest items (even chisels and hammers) were some of the rarest to find since CrazyArcher had taken over the economy. "I--I don't know what to say! Thank you just doesn't suffice!" This was a good feeling. Jaron patted him on the back. "No problem. What do you say we go back and pry your portculis from the rock it's melted to now, and then maybe later you can explain to us about these factions again?" The host suddenly remembered his deal he had made earlier, and nodded so fast his blue and brown pointy hat nearly fell off his head. "Oh! Yes, of course! I'm afraid I don't know much, but I'll tell you everything I do." "Thanks. Let me get that," Jaron said, picking up the semi-heavy chest of tools and carrying it outside.

The rest of the work on the portcullis went by without a hitch. With new chisels and hammers, it was easier to dislodge the fried gate from the stone it had been superheated to. And although the tools themselves were decades old, no one could tell. All of the tools had all been perfectly preserved by the casket and untouched by anyone, so they had almost the same amount of sharpness as they had the day they were bought. Soon enough, the portcullis was free (although slightly worse for wear) and the gate slammed down to the ground below. The Mud Faction leader clicked his lips and shook his head. "Well, I don't know how easy it'll be to put back up to let you guys out later, but we're safe inside for now. That is, if you intend on leaving," he added, looking over to the two adventurers. Ultima Cow nodded. "Yeah, we'll have to go sooner or later. We've got some...unfinished business." The host nodded, although he had no clue what they meant either way. "All right. Well, let's go inside, and I'll fill you in on what little I know."

Jaron, Ultima Cow, and their host walked into the large dining room of Lumbridge Castle, decked out at this point in time, of course, with blue and brown tapestries. They each took a seat at the table and relaxed a bit. Some of the other faction members were running in and out, busily attending to things nearby, but for the most part, the three were alone. Jaron began speaking first. "So, this is the 'Mud Faction', right? How did you come by that name? What's it stand for?" The leader chuckled. "To tell the truth, we're not entirely sure. The name's been with us for years. I think it has something to do with our proximity to the muddy swamp just south of here." Ultima Cow asked the next obvious question--"How many factions are there?" Their host sighed. "Only our Rune vendor knows for sure, probably. We don't venture far outside, for fear of whatever's going on out there. We only know of two factions--ours and the Lava Faction. They're the pro-CrazyArcher folks that pester us now and then." "Do you know where their base is?" Jaron inquired. "Not exactly, no. But we all assume it's near the Karamja volcano. If our Mud name comes from the swamp, then Lava must stand for something, too. Karamja's the only place with lava that's remotely close to us." The discussion continued for a while, but true to his word, the host didn't know too much about the outside world. But it was still enough to help Jaron and Ultima Cow out a little. "Now, what I figure," the leader said, leaning forward, "is that there's probably a faction wherever there can be one." "What do you mean?" Ultima Cow asked, confused. "Well, we're only still here because our large gate protects us from the occasional attack. There's other places that have security measures like that, such as Falador or Varrock. Even the Karamja volcano is pretty well defended--there's only one way in, and if you control that, you control the entire volcano. But places like Draynor Village--they have no protection! It's probably a ghost town by now." Jaron nodded, thinking it over. "You're probably right. Plus, if there was a faction in Draynor, it would probably get attacked by the Lavas, who would then leave you alone because you're farther away." The host nodded. "Exactly my point." Ultima Cow took a deep breath and spoke as well. "Well then, Jaron, if we're going to find out anything more about what's going on, we need to search for some of these Factions. I doubt Al Kharid could defend itself. Do you think we should head for Varrock?" Jaron nodded in answer to his friend's question. Their host gave a weak smile. "Well, as much as I'll miss you guys, it seems you've got your own agenda to follow. Rest here for tonight--I'll make sure the gate's opened for you in the morning."

Part 94: One Possible Chance

Over a day's time, Andrey and Bebitwinnie had successfully created some makeshift armors for themselves. Andrey didn't mind at all, of course, being a warrior at heart, but it took some getting used to for Bebitwinnie, since she had always worn her lightweight white robes beforehand. "The sooner we get out of this situation, the better," Bebitwinnie commented with a half-grin as they walked away from Falador. The furnace there had worked perfectly for smelting the ores, and the nearby dwarf, Doric, had let them use his anvil to make armors. Andrey smiled, too. "Yeah. I don't want to be stuck in Runescape's history forever. Why do you think CrazyArcher sent us back in time?" "I don't know," Bebitwinnie answered, "It just doesn't make sense. You'd think he'd send us somewhere...or sometime...where we'd be immediately captured or something." Andrey nodded at that, and silence followed. The two continued walking eastward, for lack of somewhere to go. Taverly didn't even exist yet--there was a stone wall where the gate should have been. A few minutes later, Andrey spoke up again. "Maybe he didn't mean to." "Pardon?" Bebitwinnie replied. "Oh, I was still thinking about what you said. Maybe CrazyArcher didn't mean to send us back in time. It's not like him to let us slip through his fingers like that. I'm still wondering how he was there in the first place. We've killed him what, twice now?" Bebitwinnie laughed. The funny thing was, it was true. "Yeah, I think so. Ah, to know what happens behind the scenes around here," she said. Andrey nodded. "If only we could talk to the gods themselves, eh?" Bebitwinnie stopped in her tracks, and it took Andrey a few seconds to realize she wasn't walking alongside anymore. "What's wrong?" he asked, concerned. "I just thought of something," she replied. She appeared to be deep in thought. Several seconds ticked by. "Well, what?" asked Andrey again. Bebitwinnie suddenly realized he was staring at her, and spoke up. "Oh, right. Well, you know how Zamorak apparently visits Reldo pretty often in the Varrock Castle Library?" "Yeah...so?" "Well, what if that library isn't limited to Zamorak? What if it's the one place in the world you can speak to the gods? What if we could talk to Saradomin himself?" Andrey's mouth dropped open. "I see where this is going! If we could talk to Saradomin, he could tell us what his favorite color of pointy hat is! And what he eats for breakfast! And who--" "Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of getting out of the past," Bebitwinnie replied. "Oh. Well, there's that, too."

Andrey and Bebitwinnie were nearly to Varrock when sundown came, so they stayed for the night just down the road from the city. The next morning, they went first thing up to Varrock Castle, and into the library there. A young historian greeted them. "Hello! I'm Reldo. How can I help you?" The two simply stood there--they hadn't thought of this situation. Reldo in the past? How old was he, anyway? Bebitwinnie spoke up, unsure of what to say. "Um...hi, Reldo. I'm Bebitwinnie, and this is Andrey. We just came to look around for a bit. "Ah, okay! There's not too much now, but I plan on expanding my collection," came Reldo's answer. He walked a few feet away. "(What do we do now?)" Andrey whispered to Bebitwinnie. Just then, a Guard walked in and spoke to Reldo, who nodded. "Be right there. Hey, you two! I have to go attend to something. I'll be back in a few minutes, if you need anything." "Oh, no problem! Take your time," Bebitwinnie answered, as Reldo hurried out. "Never mind," Andrey said, grinning. "Now what?" Bebitwinnie looked around, and spoke out loud. "Uh...hello? Saradomin? ...We wish to speak to you!" A few seconds later, to their amazement, a blue light shone over in the corner. "Who summons me?" came a voice. The two stepped over to the light, unsure again of what to say. Bebitwinnie introduced them and explained their situation, of how someone called CrazyArcher had sent them back in time, and they wished to return. There was a short silence. "If you are indeed from the future, where are your futuristic clothes? Surely fashions evolve over time," said the voice. Bebitwinnie nodded and told Saradomin about how they had buried their armors and weapons near Draynor on their first day. Again, the blue light was silent for a bit. Finally, Saradomin spoke again: "There is someone else you should talk to." Andrey stood there, mouth agape and defiant. "Like who?" Slowly, the blue light turned green, and then another voice came. "Of thee, who is the faster runner?" Andrey and Bebitwinnie looked at each other. What was that supposed to mean? Andrey shook his head and pointed at her, explaining: "I'm always decked out in armor. You're probably faster than I am." Bebitwinnie nodded assent. Suddenly, a small satchel appeared in Bebitwinnie's hand. Looking inside, she found an assortment of runes. "What are these for?" she asked. The green light didn't answer her question, but only responded: "I suggest thee head for the south gate." And without another word, both Andrey and Bebitwinnie vanished.

Part 95: Three Groups of Two, Two Groups of Three

When Andrey reappeared, he was still standing in the Varrock Castle Library, but something was different. There were more books on the shelves than a minute ago. Everything looked extra-decorative. He looked around, but Bebitwinnie was nowhere to be seen. "I wonder if I'm...back in present day?" he muttered to himself. Someone yelped from behind a bookcase, and Reldo stuck his head out. He wasn't the same young man Andrey had seen moments before, mainly because he hadn't aged enough, but he still looked about the same. "Oh, hello there! You gave me quite a shock--I didn't hear you come in. Is there anything I can help you with?" Andrey looked around. "No, I don't think so, thanks." "Anytime, sir. By the look of you, you seem to be new around here. Should you need anything, don't hesitate to ask." Reldo disappeared behind the shelf again, probably organizing his books. (Oh yeah, I still have all that Iron armor on,) Andrey thought to himself. He was about to head into the hall outside, but stopped at the door. "Hey, Reldo?" Reldo stuck his head out from around the bookcase. "Yes?" "Was your father's name Reldo as well?" Reldo looked surprised to hear that question. Apparently it was the first time anyone had asked it of him. "...Why, yes, actually. He, and most of my other ancestors as well." Andrey slowly nodded. "Huh. Thanks," he said, as he turned and walked out, leaving Reldo standing there, slightly confused.

When Bebitwinnie reappeared, she was still standing in the Varrock Castle Library, but something was different. Actually, lots of things were different. The sky coming through the windows was darkened a bit, and blue and red tapestries were hanging all over the room. The books on the shelves looked very old, although she recognized a few titles she had read before. She took off her heavy armor, happy to be free of its burden. But it was obvious something was wrong. Just then, someone else (also clad in blue and red robes) walked in and stopped at the sight of her. "Who are you?" he asked quickly. "Uh...hi. My name is Bebitwinnie," she replied. The man only glared at her. He didn't seem very friendly, and Bebitwinnie instinctively put a hand into the satchel of runes she had. It was behind her back, though, so the man standing there didn't notice. "Are you a friend or foe?" came his question. Bebitwinnie was confused. "Uh...friend or foe of who? I don't want to fight you, I guess we could be friends." The man shook his head and smiled, although his smile didn't seem quite right. "Maybe he missed a noob after all. Friend or foe of CrazyArcher, you idiot." "Oh, CrazyArcher? His foe, of course. My friends and I killed him twice, but apparently he keeps coming back to life somehow." The man grimaced and produced a light blue dagger from his robes. Bebitwinnie stared at the dagger in apparent half-shock. "I...suppose that was the wrong answer then? Heh..."

Part 96: Second Encounter

Jaron and Ultima Cow walked down the road north of Lumbridge, towards the city they knew as Varrock. Whether it was even named Varrock anymore, or whoever resided in it, they still didn't know. The weird thing was, the further the two walked, the more they came to believe that the Mud Faction leader was right in his assumption--no one lived where they weren't protected. All of the farms along the way were empty, devoid of people and animals. The only thing in one of the farms was a grey pointy hat sitting on a table. Strangely, even the weeds seemed to have stunted growth. It was all just empty and dreary. The greyish sky didn't help things--even though it was morning. "Is all of Runescape like this, you think?" Ultima Cow asked his companion as they trudged down the road, on the lookout for anything suspicious. "Probably," Jaron said. Ultima Cow nodded and spoke again. "It's a shame. Places like Draynor and Al Kharid...probably deserted. Edgeville for that matter, too." Jaron sighed. "Yeah...I'm gonna miss Draynor Village. So small. So peaceful. So flammable," he replied, grinning. Ultima Cow only rolled his eyes and continued on. "Hey, I'm kidding," Jaron assured.

Bebitwinnie stared at the Rune dagger her enemy was now holding just several feet away. "So...heh...you support CrazyArcher then?" she said, trying to stall long enough to think of a plan. "You're darn right we do. The Steam Faction is one of CrazyArcher's most loyal supporters," the man replied. Bebitwinnie was confused. "...Steam Faction? What's that? Don't you still have coal as a power source?" The man laughed. "Of course we have coal. Steam is just our name. What's wrong with you?" He seemed to be taking pleasure in Bebitwinnie's lack of knowledge of the time period. (He's letting his guard down enough for a sneak attack,) Bebitwinnie thought as she silently felt the runes in the satchel for signs of a skull and crossbones. "Sorry. I'm...not from around here. AIR BLAST!" With her last word, she caught her attacker offguard as a powerful gust of wind slammed him into the bookcases behind him, rendering him unconscious. "Great. Now they all know I'm here. Where do I go now?" she muttered. Just then, she remembered Guthix's words: "I suggest thee head for the south gate." "He must have meant me, not Andrey," she surmised. Running out the door, she came face to face with another Steam Faction member. Another Air Blast sent him sprawling against the far wall, too, and she ran down the hallway towards the castle entrance.

"Well, there's Varrock," Ultima Cow said. Jaron nodded. They were just coming up on Varrock from the south, and from the looks of it, the gate was moderately defended. About three or four rangers stood at the top of the city wall, while a man in blue and red striped robes stood under the gate. "Friend or foe?" he called out. "Oh, not this again," Jaron muttered. He walked up a little closer to the city gate before responding. "We're enemies of CrazyArcher," he called out. The rangers readied their bows, and Jaron and Ultima Cow took a hesitant step back. "Uh...if now's not a good time for you, we can always come back later," Jaron stammered. The man under the gate smiled. "Nonsense. All enemies of the Steam Faction, and CrazyArcher for that matter, must be dealt with. Aim, rangers!" Suddenly, a yell came from inside the city. The man under the gate turned around, and his robes suddenly caught on fire from a glancing Fire Strike. "Wha--ow! Hot!!" As he hopped around, trying to put the fire out, Jaron and Ultima Cow noticed Bebitwinnie running full speed toward the gate. "...Bebitwinnie?" muttered an amazed Jaron. "Bebitwinnie!" Ultima Cow called out, astonished. The rangers spun around and aimed at her, but Ultima Cow quickly let loose an Air Wave and knocked them all off of the wall they were standing on, and they fell several feet to the ground below. As Bebitwinnie ran up, Jaron and Ultima Cow wasted no time in turning around and sprinting away from Varrock alongside her.

Part 97: Change the Past, Correct the Present

After Omega and Brandon had buried their casket of chisels and hammers under the Lumbridge Tower floorboards that night, they went just outside the castle to find a place to stay. It was getting dark out, and both of them were pretty tired by this point. "There's a house up the road we could probably stay at," Brandon commented, pointing to a house with a light in the window. Omega wearily nodded. It had been an eventful day--he had almost forgotten that their battle with CrazyArcher and his Monk had taken place just this morning. That night, they slept peacefully in that inn for only a couple hundred gold coins. The next morning, Omega got up at about the crack of dawn. "What are you doing up? Go back to sleep," Brandon muttered groggily, pulling his pillow on top of his head. "No time," Omega said, continuing. "We need to get this done as soon as possible." Brandon sighed. "Get what done? Does this have anything to do with those ropes you brought?" "Yep," Omega smiled, "Come on, get up. I'll need your help."

About a half an hour later, Omega and Brandon were standing at the ocean cliffs just south of Lumbridge Castle. "Why are we here?" Brandon asked, looking at the waves crashing on the rocks below. Omega looked over the cliff, too, but he seemed to be scanning the cliff wall. Tying one of his ropes to a nearby rock outcropping, he pushed himself over the edge and repelled so far down Brandon could only see his pointy hat. "Hey, what are you doing!?" Brandon cried out. Omega peeked back up over the top, grinning. "Just follow me, jeez. I'll show you."

The end of the rope stopped just at a hole in the cliff, which they recognized as the Monk's old tunnel lair. Brandon looked around, surprised. "Oh yeah, the tunnels! You told me about these, but I had forgotten about them. Are we heading somewhere?" "Nope," Omega replied simply. "We're here for that." Omega pointed over to a table loaded with herbs and potions. "Whoa!" Brandon yelled, seeing the table for the first time. "Careful, Jaron says some of those explode. Remember how I gave you those Super Set herbs so your past self wouldn't notice they were missing? Well, I figure it's about time I put mine back," Omega said. Brandon nodded. He looked over the table, picking out certain herbs. "Here's an Irit...here's a Cadantine...here's another Irit..." He started handing them to Omega, who was tallying them up as Brandon continued his search. "Here's another Kwuarm...wow, I don't even know what this herb is," he said, moving it aside. By the time they were done, Omega had taken all he needed--eight Irits, Kwuarms, and Cadantines--and Brandon was going to take several other good herbs as well. "Eh--I wouldn't," Omega said, looking at Brandon. "Why not? It's not like the Monk's going to come back for these," Brandon protested. "Yeah, but we're here because our past selves are still milling around, remember? What would you do if several rare herbs suddenly showed up in your bank account?" "Probably jump for joy," Brandon replied matter-of-factly, but he took Omega's advice and left the herbs anyway. "We'll come back another day for them," laughed Omega as they headed for the entrance to the cave.

Andrey left Varrock Castle and looked around. He could spot a few Dragon Halberds and some other rare items he knew, but there weren't that many around. "Perfect. I'm back in the present," he assured himself. "Hmm...what to do now...I suppose I should go get my stuff back from where I buried it near Draynor," he commented, starting his walk south.

Part 98: Regrouping

Once they were safely as far south as Lumbridge again, the three stopped running. "So, where have you been?" Ultima Cow asked Bebitwinnie. Bebitwinnie shook her head and excitedly replied, "You might not believe this--but Andrey and I were in the past! It was amazing! There was no Rune, let alone Dragon, and pies were only eaten in thirds, and Draynor wasn't built yet, and--wait--Draynor!" Jaron held up a hand. "Jeez, take a breath. First, we believe you, since we're in the future at the moment. Second, do you know where Andrey is? And third, what about Draynor?" Bebitwinnie smiled and took a deep breath before responding normally. "I don't know where Andrey is. I think Guthix sent me here." She looked around, worried. "By the way, where are Brandon and Omega?" Ultima Cow fielded her question: "They're in the present, actually. About a week and a half earlier, to be exact." She nodded. "Well then, maybe Andrey's with them. As for Draynor, obviously, we couldn't walk around in our modern-day clothes since they hadn't been invented yet. People kept staring and asking me where I got my robes, and I couldn't truthfully answer them. So Andrey and I buried all of our stuff near Draynor Village, which was just being built at the time. Hopefully, it's still there." The three immediately set off west towards Draynor, but only a few steps later, Bebitwinnie asked, "Hey--how did you know where Omega and Brandon are, anyway?" Jaron held up his hand, with the enchanted Jade ring on it. Bebitwinnie rolled her eyes. "Oh, duh, the Rings of Talking. We buried ours," she said, laughing.

Andrey was nearly to Draynor Village. His quiet solo journey had been filled with many different thoughts, such as: (Where's Bebitwinnie?) (Where's everyone else, for that matter?) (Heh heh, maybe I mean when's everyone else.) (I wonder if I should get a Dragon Scimitar...) Needless to say, the time passed quickly. Traveling down the last stretch of road, he saw two people emerging from the eastern forest, one with a bundle of herbs in his arms. (Hey...is that...?) Andrey ran down the road towards the other two, as they suddenly went back into the forest.

Brandon was only a few steps away from Draynor Village Bank when Omega grabbed him and pulled him behind a tree. "Hey! What was that fo--" began Brandon. "Ssh!" Omega retorted, pressed against the tree. "Andrey's down the road. If he sees us, and then sees our other selves and talks about meeting us here, something bad could happen!" "Oh," Brandon replied, understanding the severity of the situation. But it was too late--five seconds later, Andrey came around to their side of the tree. "Hey, guys! I'm lucky I found you here. What are you doing behind this tree? And what's with the herbs, Omega?" Omega had tried to hide the herbs inside his pointy hat, but to no avail. Both Omega and Brandon were speechless at Andrey's questions, however. "We...uh...I..." Brandon stammered, but Andrey interrupted him, obviously excited about something. "Have you seen Jaron, Ultima Cow, or Bebitwinnie lately?" Omega's eyes lit up at hearing that, and tested Andrey. "Wait a second...didn't you just come back from the battle with CrazyArcher yesterday?" he asked. Andrey shook his head, not understanding. "Yesterday? Omega, that was almost two weeks ago." Omega and Brandon both breathed a big sigh of relief at that. Omega started laughing. "Boy, have we got a story to tell you," he said.

Jaron, Ultima Cow, and Bebitwinnie strolled into Draynor Village, which was now completely abandoned and oddly smelled of rotting cheese. "Yep, he was right. There's no faction here," Ultima Cow pointed out. "Yeah--what's with these factions?" Bebitwinnie asked. Jaron headed towards a nearby house, coming out with two spades. Smiling, he handed one to Ultima Cow and addressed Bebitwinnie. "Heh--found these in there. Only two, though. Tell us where to dig, and I'll tell you about the factions and what's been going on around here in the meantime."

Part 99: Repossession

Jaron and Ultima Cow started digging in the spot Bebitwinnie had pointed out to them, just east of Draynor Village. Bebitwinnie seemed slightly frustrated. "Are you sure? It's my stuff, I should be the one digging it up instead of you guys..." "No, really, we insist," Ultima Cow countered. Bebitwinnie sighed and sat down--obviously, she wasn't going to change their minds. "So, about the factions--" Jaron started as he thrust his spade into the dark ground, "--apparently CrazyArcher's finally taken over the world. You can probably tell that from the gloomy atmosphere around here. Anyway, there seem to be groups of people spread out over the land. They're calling themselves 'Factions'. Ultima Cow and I met the Mud Faction, which were really nice to us--they don't like CrazyArcher. But there also seem to be pro-CrazyArcher factions, like the Steam Faction you came upon and the Lava Faction." Bebitwinnie shook her head--this was a lot to take in all at once. "Mud...Steam...Lava? What does it all mean?" she asked. Jaron sighed and leaned on his spade for a moment. "We were hoping maybe you had a clue," he replied. "Sorry, nothing," Bebitwinnie said sadly. Jaron nodded. "We'll just have to keep exploring, then." Just then, Ultima Cow gave a yell of surprise. "The hole--it's blue!" Bebitwinnie walked up to their semi-deep hole and saw, sure enough, a blue tint. "That's weird," she muttered as Jaron and Ultima Cow tossed their spades aside. Ultima Cow knelt down and brushed some of the dirt aside in the hole. To everyone's surprise, he uncovered two big orbs of blue light. He knocked on one of the orbs, but nothing happened. Kneeling down more to take a closer look at it, he spotted something white inside of it. "Hey, it looks like your robes are in this one," he said, pulling the orb out of the hole and setting it on the ground. Bebitwinnie bent down to pick it up, but when she touched it, the blue light became very bright--and the orb shattered, leaving white robes and an Air Staff sitting on the ground.

Omegaman, Brandon, and Andrey were all diligently digging into the dirt east of Draynor Village. Andrey had already told the two about how he and Bebitwinnie had been sent to the past, buried their belongings, helped the Cook of Lumbridge, made some makeshift armor, and then simply gone to Saradomin for help in the end. Omega and Brandon in turn explained to Andrey the answers to all of their past mysteries--why Brandon had been falsely arrested in Ardougne, what happened to the Monk in Taverly, and the secrets of all the strange intervention in their final battle. "It all makes sense now," Andrey grinned as he shoveled out another chunk of dirt. Only a minute or so later, they, too, came upon the two glowing orbs. "You buried orbs?" Brandon asked. "No...we didn't..." Andrey replied uncertainly. Crouching down, he picked up one of them. "I think Bebitwinnie's robes are in this one," he announced. And then upon grabbing the other, it shattered in a shower of light, dropping its contents--full Rune armor, a Dragon Longsword, an amulet, a ring, and a pointy colored hat--on the ground.

Bebitwinnie picked her belongings up off the ground and smiled. "I get it," she said, apparently happy about something. "What?" Ultima Cow pressed. "Andrey and I buried our stuff in the past, and we've jumped who-knows-how-many years into the future. These robes should be all dirty and decayed. But when we told Saradomin about them, he must have put some sort of protection spell on them so they wouldn't age and so that only we could get our stuff back! That's why the orb opened when I touched it, but not Ultima!" Just then, the other orb disappeared. "Wha?!" Ultima Cow yelped, but Jaron merely raised his ring to his mouth. "Hey, uh, Omega, whatcha doing?" After a short burst of static, Omega's reply came: "Oh, hey Jaron. We found Andrey, and he just dug up the stuff he buried. Guess where he was all this time?" Jaron smiled, although Omega couldn't see it. "Hmm, lemme guess--the past?" "...How'd you know?" came Omega's confused voice. Bebitwinnie grinned, walked over to where Jaron was standing, and spoke into his ring. "Hi Omega!" "Oh. Well that solves that," Omega laughed.

Part 100: Relocation

Jaron, Ultima Cow, and Bebitwinnie walked into one of the many now-abandoned houses of Draynor Village. They had decided that, although there was no one around, it just didn't seem safe to stand around outside. The rotten cheese smell was stronger inside the house, but it was tolerable. "So, any news on your end?" Jaron said into his ring as Ultima Cow stared out the window for any sign of activity. "Not really," Omega replied, "how about you?" "Actually, we met a new faction today. The Steam Faction," Jaron said. "(Faction?)" they heard Andrey say in the background. "That makes what, Mud, Lava, and Steam?" Omega asked. "So far, yeah," Jaron replied, continuing. "We're going to have to look around some more to find some of the other factions. I just wish we knew the names of the rest of them--Mud, Lava, Steam...it seems like a pattern or something." "I don't have any idea," Omega said. They were silent for a little while, and then Jaron spoke up again. "Hey, if you've got nothing else to do, would you mind asking Reldo about it? He always seems to know a little bit about everything. Varrock's kind of tied up here at the moment, and he's probably dead at this point in time anyhow." "Well that was particularly blunt," Omega remarked, "but sure, we'll go. We just have to make sure we aren't spotted by our past selves." "Good call. I'll talk to you later," Jaron said, lowering the ring. "Heh, Andrey doesn't have a clue," Bebitwinnie laughed. "Let's just hope they can come through for us," Ultima Cow sighed.

Omegaman lowered his Ring of Talking and looked at Andrey and Brandon. "So Varrock, eh? That's pretty far away. Can you teleport us there?" Brandon asked. Omega shook his head. "I could, but I only have a couple of Law Runes left, and I'm saving them for an emergency. We can walk it." Andrey sighed, then realized the other two were staring at him and spoke up. "Oh, uh, I just walked all the way here from Varrock. It's kind of depressing to have to go all the way back now." Omega smirked. "Yeah, but think--had you not come, you wouldn't have met us here." "Yeah, you're right about that," Andrey said, grinning.

"So, where should we head for?" Bebitwinnie asked, sitting down in one of the old chairs of the house. Jaron sat down, as well. Ultima Cow was still looking out the window, for lack of anything to do. "Well, let's think about it," Jaron started, taking off his blue pointy hat. There can only be factions where they can defend themselves. That takes out this place, obviously, since no one's here. Things don't look too good for Port Sarim, either. Rimmington has no defense whatsoever. So the closest thing to us that would possibly have a faction would probably be Falador. Or Draynor Manor, but that place creeps me out." "Me too. Let's go to Falador," Ultima Cow said, his first words in quite a while. "Sounds good," Bebitwinnie added. Jaron smiled, stood, and replaced his hat. "That settles it, then. Falador it is."

Part 101: Third Encounter

Walking from Draynor Village to Varrock took a few hours, seeing as there was no clear-cut path straight to it. Andrey was finally happy to see Varrock Palace come into view, though. "There it is! We're finally there," he sighed. Omega only rolled his eyes and continued. Andrey had complained most of the way, but Omega figured he had a right to, coming all that way and then having to go all the way back. Andrey was the first to burst into the Palace Library, as Omegaman and Brandon leisurely walked in behind him. "Can I help you?" Reldo asked, turning to the three newcomers from a bookshelf. "Ah, you look familiar," he added, seeing Andrey again, although this time he had a colored pointy hat on. "Uh...yeh, we met earlier today," Andrey stammered. Omega took control of the situation and spoke up. "Hey, Reldo. We just stopped by for some information. What do you know about Mud, Lava, and Steam?" Reldo's face brightened at his words. "Ah, so Sedridor's told you, then!" he exclaimed happily. "Told...us what?" Brandon asked, confused. Omega stepped on his foot, trying to get him to be quiet. Reldo's grin suddenly faltered, like he had let out an enormous secret. "Uh...I mean...you..." he stuttered, at a loss for words. Omega decided to bluff his way through it all and come to Reldo's rescue. "Yes, you're right, Sedridor's told us about it. We just wanted to know if you had anything to add." Reldo smiled a little bit, seeming calmer. "Ah. Well, okay then. No, not really, I'm afraid. Sedridor's the resident expert on this sort of thing. He knows more than I do about it at the moment." Omega nodded, a plan of action already forming in his head. "Okay. Well, thanks anyway, Reldo," he said, walking out. Brandon and Andrey followed him out, still slightly at a loss for words.

Once safely in the Palace courtyard, Omega turned to the others. "Well, it seems we've got another lead," Brandon said. "That we do," Omega smiled. Andrey just stood there, staring straight ahead. "Hey, are you okay?" Omega asked him. "Se...Sedridor? But--but that's...past Draynor!" Andrey said, with an edge of sadness to his voice. Omega understood--now they had to go all the way back to Draynor again. Poor Andrey. "Say another word about it and I'll smack you," Brandon muttered. (This is going to be one long journey,) Omega figured.

Jaron, Ultima Cow, and Bebitwinnie were closing in on Falador's south gate. "So, what do you think we'll find here? A group against CrazyArcher or for him?" Ultima Cow asked the others. Jaron shrugged and replied, "At this point, it's anyone's guess, really. I just suggest we don't lie about our own alliance or else it might cause trouble for us down the road." Bebitwinnie nodded her approval. "Yeah, you're right about that. If they want to kill us, I'd rather we knew it right away." Jaron laughed--it was true, they really would. As they finally approached the south entrance to Falador, they found a man clad in white armor standing in the doorway. "Halt! State your alliance!" he called out. "(Well, that's more original than 'For or against',)" Jaron muttered to the other two, stopping. But aloud to their greeter, he replied "We are enemies of CrazyArcher!" The man in white seemed to narrow his eyes as he asked his next question. "What faction do you belong to, and what is your business here?" Ultima Cow spoke up. "We don't belong to a faction--we're just looking for answers, basically. Can we call a truce?" "A truce? You want to come in, you mean?" the man in white queried. "Well, I was going to put it more subtly, but yeah, can we talk to your leader?" Jaron replied. The other man stood there, silent, for a moment, and then turned towards the city. "Follow me," he called to them. The three followed him, but they weren't more than twenty steps inside the city when a large group of armed white-armored people ran at them from every direction--out of houses, out of the gate towers, out from behind bushes, and from across the landscape. In a matter of moments, the three were surrounded and vastly outnumbered. "Wow," Ultima Cow whistled, amazed at this faction's stealth and speed. "Surrender your weapons and come with me," the original white-clad man demanded. "Not like we seem to have a choice," Jaron said as he put his Dragon Battle Axe down under the watchful eyes of twenty other people.

Part 102: Misunderstanding

Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie mimicked Jaron, setting their staves down on the ground. "Runes, too. And those rings and amulets," one of the white-clad people said, pointing at them. Ultima Cow grimaced and threw his runesack down onto the ground. Bebitwinnie did likewise. All three of them handed their amulets and rings to a nearby guard. The original man they had seen under the gate motioned to the three, and they followed him up the road. They walked all the way around the Falador Castle moat and across the drawbridge, the other twenty faction members flanking them the entire way. "Sort of a lot of security for three little adventurers, eh?" Jaron asked no one in general. "Better to be safe than dead. We take no chances," the leader in front scoffed. Coming to the castle's front door, the leader beckoned them inside. The other twenty stayed behind, in the courtyard. Walking up the stairs, the four of them came to what Ultima Cow decided was the main room. It was more like a large office, really, with papers strewn about here and there. Another man clad entirely in white armor was sitting behind a desk, reading something as they came in. Upon their arrival, he smiled, stood, and asked his fellow faction member, "And who are these?" (He doesn't seem that mean,) Jaron thought. Hopefully that thought would hold true. "My king, these three said they wish to call a truce," their captor said. "Oh ho! A truce, eh? And which faction are you from?" the king asked them. "We're not from a faction. We're just adventurers, actually, trying to find our way home," Jaron replied. The king stared at Jaron for a moment, then his eyes drifted to the other two standing with him. "Not from a faction, eh? Preposterous. A likely story, but no one isn't in a faction anymore, save that nice rune vendor that comes around now and again. As for your 'home', it's probably destroyed by now anyway. Guards! Throw them in the dungeon! The White Knights shall not tolerate such nonsense!" Jaron looked taken aback. "Wha?! Wait a second--the White Knights? After all these years? I'm a member of the White Knights, too!" But the king was indignant. "You're not any member I know of, and I know them all. To the dungeon with you!" "But--!" It was too late, as six White Knight guards had come up the stairs and dragged the other three back down into the basement.

The next thing they knew, they were locked in a nice little cell in the basement of Falador Castle. The guard had left, leaving the three alone. The stone walls and floor were damp and cold, but it didn't matter. What did matter was that the situation seemed hopeless. For being quite old, the cells were in very good shape. There was no way even a master lockpick like Deathstorm could have gotten out of this one. "So...are you really a member of the White Knights?" Bebitwinnie asked, intregued, as they all sat down on the cold stone. "Yeah...it's a long story, though," Jaron replied. "By the looks of things, we've got time," Ultima Cow said, grinning. Jaron laughed, then sighed. "...Yeah, but it's all classified information. If I told you, I'd have to kill you. Or something like that." Ultima Cow smiled, secretly not knowing if Jaron was being sarcastic or not. Jaron seemed to sense that, and added, "Heh, I'm just kidding. But I'm still not allowed to tell you." "Aw...I could use a nice story to pass the time," Bebitwinnie groaned.

To everyone's surprise, Andrey walked the whole way back to Draynor Village without complaining. Omega, Brandon, and Andrey went across the bridge south of the town to arrive at the Wizard's Tower, the first and foremost location in magical studies, the second probably being the Wizard's Guild down in Yanille. Upon arriving, they promptly headed downstairs, trying to cause as little suspicion as possible. "Which one's Sedridor's room?" Andrey asked, slightly impatient. "This one on the right, I believe," Omega answered, pushing the door open.

Part 103: A Continued Pattern

Omega walked through the door to Sedridor's room, with Andrey and Brandon following him inside. For once, luck was with them--Sedridor was sitting at a nearby table, reading what looked to be an old book on Rune studies. He had a blue pointy hat on--the look of fashion for any wizard, really. "Um...excuse me," Omega said, making Sedridor jump. Apparently, he hadn't heard them come in. He looked up and half-smiled at the three standing there, not sure whether he should reprimand them for coming in unannounced or feel smug about them coming for his advice. That's the only reason anyone came to Sedridor these days--some question about the art of Magic. "Can I help you three?" he asked. Omega braced himself, trying to think of how to word his next question. Whatever Sedridor knew was probably classified information, and why would he just give it up? "Um...yeah. You know...Ultima Cow, right?" Omega inquired. Sedridor's face brightened--Omega was on the right track. "Ah, yes! Of course! We are very good acquaintances, you might say. You must be some of his friends--he talks about you all quite often." Omega pushed forward. "Ah, good. Um...Ultima's in a bit of trouble, and we need your help." Sedridor's smile then faded, as he replied, "Oh, that's not good! Not good at all. Is it a matter of life and death?" "(More like life and being stuck in an evil projection of the distant future,)" Andrey muttered, although Sedridor didn't hear him. "Yeah, more or less," Omega answered. "Hmm." Sedridor seemed to be weighing his options. "What was your name again?" "Omegaman. And this is Brandon and Andrey." "Ah. What exactly is it you need to know?" Andrey and Brandon leaned back against the wall, letting Omega do all of the talking. He seemed to be taking it in stride well enough. "Well, at this point we've got three clues. Mud, Steam, and Lava. We were hoping you could shed some light on this. Anything at all would help." Sedridor grinned once again, making Omega's mood brighten. "Ah, yes. Not sure how you found out about all that. We were thinking about releasing this knowledge to the general public of Runescape, but not yet." "Pardon me, but what knowledge?" Brandon asked, his first words since entering the room. "Why, the ability to make combination runes! It's a newfound part of the art of Runecrafting. Let's see...there's Mud, Steam, and Lava, as well as Mist, Dust, and Smoke..." Omega's mind reeled. Not only had they found someone that knew something about Jaron, Ultima, and Bebitwinnie's predicament, he was able to continue the pattern as well! "Mist, Dirt, and Smoke," Omega mumbled to himself. Sedridor nodded. "Dust, not dirt. And yes, that's correct. By combining two runes, we can make a new rune with the power of both! Mud is from Earth and Water. Steam is from Water and Fire. Lava is from Earth and Fire..." "I get it--" Andrey interjected, "--so Mist is Air and Water, Dust is Air and Earth, and Smoke is Air and Fire?" "That's also correct," Sedridor grinned. Omega shook his head, amazed. "Thank you so very much. We'll relay this information to Ultima Cow, and hopefully it'll help him out. We may come back later." "No problem. Any friend of Ultima's is a friend of mine," Sedridor replied. The three left the room, went upstairs, and walked out of the tower, stopping out of earshot of the other wizards. "That explains a lot," Omega whispered to his friends. "How so?" Andrey asked. "Well, Jaron said the Mud faction was near Lumbridge Swamp--where there's a lot of water and earth. And the Lava faction's supposedly in the Karamja Volcano, where there's lots of earth and fire." "And lava," Brandon added, dryly. "Well, that too. With this information, we might be able to pinpoint other faction locations!" Andrey thought for a moment, and then blurted out, "Well, mist--it's air and water, right? Catherby sure fits that description." "That's a good one," Brandon agreed. Omega nodded. "Yeah, nice! We have to tell the others about this." He rose his Ring of Talking to his mouth. "Hey, Jaron--" There was no reply on the other end. They waited a few seconds, and then tried again. "Hello?" Omega asked. Again, no reply. Omega lowered the ring. "That's not good," Brandon said, fearing what the others might have gotten into.

It was day two of Jaron's, Ultima Cow's, and Bebitwinnie's life in the cellblock of the Falador Castle basement. They had been fed well enough, given the White Knights' hospitality, but they were losing time. Not to mention that sitting on the cold stone floor got boring after the second hour. "Do we still have no plan?" Bebitwinnie muttered, still frustrated at their situation. "I've got nothing," Ultima Cow sighed, staring at the nearby stone wall for imperfections. Jaron nodded assent. There was really nothing they could do, and no one who would believe their outrageous story. And then the wooden door to the cellblock opened.

Part 104: An Old Friend

The creaking of the wooden door signaled to the three that someone was entering, but at the moment, they really couldn't care less. Jaron simply stared out of their cell at the one across from it. Strangely, it didn't seem to have a door on it. (I guess with things as they are, it's hard to get the materials to make iron doors,) Jaron thought. A moment later, an old looking man with a grey pointy hat walked up in front of their cell. Jaron's face lit up when he saw the newcomer. "Tif--Tiffy Cashien?" The old man smiled wryly and replied, "Actually, Sir Tiffy Cashien the Fifth. Apparently, I look a lot like my ancestors. And you've passed the test, good show, what?" Jaron stood, wondering where this was going. The Tiffy back in his time was a close friend and ally. Was this Tiffy about the same? Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie stood up, too, for lack of something to do. "Passed...a test? What do you mean?" Jaron asked. Tiffy smiled again. "Why, you've recognized me, old bean! That proves our assumptions that you are, indeed, a Temple Knight. No one else would know my name." (Temple Knight?) Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie wondered, but they kept quiet, realizing that something important was happening. Jaron shook his head. "But the king said he didn't know me--that I wasn't a White Knight at all." "The king knows what we want him to know, basically," Tiffy continued. "We have hidden surveillance devices in that room, as well as every other room in the castle and around the city. I believe our beloved king also said he knows every member of the Knights. Well, let me assure you, there are many he doesn't know of. He's quite stubborn about his position as king, what? Likes to make himself look more important than he is." Jaron nodded. "Okay, I get it. After all this time, the Temple Knights are still acting covertly?" "That's correct, old bean." Tiffy saw the confused looks on Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie. "Are these your friends, Jaron? It is Jaron, right? Have you told them anything?" "I'd trust them with my life, but no, I haven't told them about the Temple Knights." "Jolly good show. Well, perhaps we ought to. You see, you two, the Temple Knights are basically a covert group of White Knights, really. We have the best technology around, and carry out all sorts of secret missions, what?" "Ah," Ultima Cow said, getting the jest of things. "Well, I'm here to help you out, old bean," Tiffy said, getting right to the point. "I'd take all the help I can get at this point in time," Jaron replied, grinning. "Ah, a temporal science pun?" "Uh...no, I was actually referring to being locked in a cell," Jaron answered. "Oh, right. My fellow Temple Knights figured you had come from the past, seeing as your name was in our record books from long ago. Anyway, to the mission, what? You are familiar by now with the factions, correct?" "More or less, yeah," Jaron replied. "Good. Well, the Lava Faction has managed to obtain one of our CommOrbs. Those are the little blue ball thingies that hold information on most of our missions. Can't have that falling into the wrong hands, what?" "It already seems to be in the wrong hands," Bebitwinnie stated. Tiffy shrugged. "True, but they can't manage to extract the information--they can't figure out how to turn it on. Yet, anyway. We need you to sneak in and destroy the CommOrb by any means." "I thought CommOrbs were supposed to self-destruct in the wrong hands," Jaron stated. Tiffy sighed. "Usually, yes. We don't know why this one didn't, but we're looking into fixing the problem. We're jolly good at fixing security holes, what?" "Yeah...but I'm sure the volcano's defended," Ultima Cow spoke up. "Oh, it is. Here, take this," Tiffy replied, producing a vial of grey powder and handing it to Jaron. "This looks familiar...oh--the Monk had this! It's a sleeping potion." Tiffy grinned again. "Astounding, old bean! You already know the works, good show. Unfortunately, we can't give you much for the trip. At this point, alliances can be shaky, what? Have to make sure you don't run off. Therefore, Jaron gets nothing except his hat, being a true fighter already. But you other two can have your staves and a small amount of runes." "I would need my amulet to teleport us there," Ultima Cow said. "Not quite," Tiffy replied, handing Ultima a small red orb. "What's this?" Ultima inquired. Tiffy laughed, evidentely pleased with himself. "Have you wondered at all why that cell there has no door on it?" he asked, pointing behind him. Ultima held out the orb, and a stone in the other cell's wall shifted, revealing a crawlspace. "Can't have actual prisoners finding that tunnel, what? There's a small passage that goes under the city wall. This tunnel connects onto that. Use the orb to open the hatch, which will let you back into the outside world. Got that, old bean?" "Sounds good," Jaron said, as Tiffy unlocked the door. "Jolly good. Come back when you've completed your task, please. We'll distract the guards from finding out you're not here in the meantime. If you succeed, I'll...persuade...the king to help you with whatever you need." "Thanks, Tiffy," Jaron replied, heading for the tunnel.

Part 105: Prison Break

Omegaman, Brandon, and Andrey found a small inn located in Draynor to stay the night at. After all the walking back and forth the previous day, they needed the rest. Actually, having nothing else to do, they decided to sleep in until around noon. Afterwards, they took a stroll around Draynor. Needless to say, it didn't last very long. "So, what do you think happened to the others?" Brandon asked, as Andrey eyed some wooden horses in the market square. "Well, I've got three theories," Omega started. "One, they lost their rings somehow. I have no clue why, and you'd think they wouldn't all lose their rings at the same time, so that theory doesn't really hold water. Two, some evil faction came and took them hostage, and confiscated their rings as well. That's why I immediately stopped talking when they didn't answer the first time. If their stuff was taken, we don't want anyone else knowing about the rings." "And the third?" Brandon inquired, as Andrey shelled out some money for a grey horse. Omega sighed. "Or three, they're dead. Fell into a pool of lava or something. ...But I don't expect that at all," he hastily added, seeing Brandon's shocked expression. "Yeah, I guess," Brandon agreed, still glum. "The only lava around anyway would be in the Karamja Volcano, and they have no business going there, since they said it was home to an evil faction, right?" Brandon said, and Omega nodded. "That's what I figure. I'd put my money on the hostage situation. But they're resourceful--they'll pull through. For now, we need to just make sure we stay out of our past selves' way." "Hey, guys, look what I got!" came Andrey's cry from across the square. Omega and Brandon turned to see Andrey and his horse. "(Let's pretend we don't know him,)" Omega whispered to Brandon, smirking and walking away.

Jaron took his teal pointy hat off of his head and got down on his hands and knees, inspecting the tunnel. It progressed into the wall for quite a long way, but it was so dark in there that none of them could see very far. "I'll go first," Jaron said, crawling into the tunnel. The opening was quite small, but he avoided hitting his head on the ceiling. A few seconds later, Ultima and Bebitwinnie could see only blackness in the tunnel again. "Hey, are you still in there?" Bebitwinnie called. "Yeah, come on! I think it goes for a long way!" Jaron called back. "This would be the perfect time to find out I'm claustrophobic," Ultima muttered, kneeling down and following Jaron's lead. Bebitwinnie grinned and followed as well.

Somewhere between ten and twenty minutes of crawling along in complete darkness later, Jaron saw a faint light. "Hey, you guys, I see something up ahead!" "I see it, too," Ultima agreed. A closer inspection revealed that there were two small lines of faint sunlight, about six feet away from each other. The tunnel also became much wider and taller at this point. "These must be the two doors, one leading into Falador, the other going outside," Bebitwinnie stated. "Well, which one should we choose?" Ultima Cow asked, pulling out the small red orb that Tiffy the Fifth had given to him. "If we are where I think we are, we should pick the one on the left," Bebitwinnie replied. "Sounds good," Jaron agreed, as Ultima Cow held the orb up to the left panel. There was a small clicking sound, and a little bit more sunlight came in. "...Is that it?" Ultima Cow said, stunned. He was expecting the trap door to simply fly open. Jaron grinned, although in the darkness, it was hard to notice. He pushed on the door, and it easily opened upward. "Yep, that's it--you unlocked it." He slowly stuck his head out the top for any sign of activity, and then pushed the trap door the rest of the way open and climbed out. Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie followed. They let their eyes adjust to the light for a moment, and then Jaron pointed to the south. "Well, Tiffy was correct. We're right outside the Falador city wall, and there's Port Sarim down there to the south. I doubt anyone lives there anymore, but we could probably find a boat to take us to Karamja." The sun, however, had different ideas, as it had almost already completely set on the horizon. "How about we continue tomorrow?" Bebitwinnie offered, as the field started to darken. "Yeah, let's do that. But where should we stay? We can't sit here against the wall, someone might find us," Ultima put forth. Jaron looked back at the open hole. The small amount of sunlight that was left flooded into the hole, showing that the tunnel's end produced a medium sized room. "We could stay in there," Jaron said. "It's probably our best bet," Bebitwinnie agreed. Ultima nodded and jumped back down into the hole, the others doing the same. Jaron then closed the trap door, leaving it the tiniest bit open so daylight would signal the next morning.

Part 106: The Mission Begins

Ultima Cow woke up the next morning when sunlight shone through the crack in the trap door. (Oh yeah, Jaron left it unlocked so we'd know when it was daytime. Well, time to get on with the mission, I guess...) he figured. "Hey, you guys, wake up." Although it was dark, Ultima could see Jaron groggily sit up. "Why? Am I missing lunch?" he mumbled. "...What?" Ultima asked, confused. Jaron chuckled and sighed. "Heh, nevermind." "It's morning already?" Bebitwinnie asked, yawning and sitting up herself. "Yeah, we should get moving," Ultima replied. He pushed the trap door the rest of the way open, and sunlight flowed into the room. Climbing out, he let his eyes adjust to the light (being in a hole for so long) as Jaron and Bebitwinnie came out after him. The fresh air was certainly nice. Although the Temple Knights obviously kept their passage clean, there was no way to avoid all of the dirt it contained, seeing as it was an underground tunnel. "Heh, you're a mess," Ultima Cow told Jaron as they started walking south. Jaron looked at his clothes, all covered in brown dirt. He brushed most of it away. Unfortunately for the other two, the dirt had blended into Ultima Cow's blue robes and Bebitwinnie's white ones. Jaron pulled out his teal pointy hat and set it back on his head. "At least my hat didn't get dirty," he exclaimed happily. "I swear, sometimes I think you care about that hat more than anything else," Bebitwinnie laughed.

The three were almost to Port Sarim when Ultima opened up another topic of conversation. "So why do you think we haven't seen anyone outside of the factions? Are they all scared to be out for some reason?" Jaron nodded and said, "The Mud Faction leader said it was dangerous to be out here, but how dangerous can it be if there's no one to oppose you?" "My point exactly," Ultima replied, then added, "In fact, if we were completely quiet, what would there be to hear?" To test his question, the three walked in silence for a couple more minutes, arriving at Port Sarim. Once inside, though, they did hear something--muffled voices. "(Drat--in here!)" Jaron whispered as they ducked into a nearby abandoned store. Less than a minute later, seven men in red and brown robes passed by the windows, not even looking inside. Each one of them had a battlestaff, except the orb on top of it, oddly enough, was the color of lava. When they had been gone for a while, Jaron spoke again in a whisper. "(So...do you think they're gone?)" Ultima Cow nodded and replied, "Yeah, I think so. Did you see their staves? Those were awesome! I don't know what they do, but I wouldn't want to run into one." "Oh yeah. That makes me feel much better about this mission," Bebitwinnie said gruffly, walking outside.

Being much more careful now, the three of them slowly made their way to the docks of Port Sarim. Much like everything else around the world, it was abandoned, except for a boat in the harbor with red and brown sails. "This must be their boat. They probably came out to attack Falador or Lumbridge," Jaron stated. "Probably not Falador; they're too heavily defended. Quite possibly Lumby's second wave. Good thing we fixed their gate," Ultima Cow added. "Well, it's fine by me," Bebitwinnie smiled, boarding their empty boat. Jaron threw off the rope mooring it to the dock, and they floated out to sea.

Omega, Brandon and Andrey walked back into Draynor Bank and leaned against the wall in the corner. "So, just to be on top of things, what did you guys do for the week after the CrazyArcher battle?" Omega inquired. "I was pretty much fishing in Catherby the whole week, except for when I went to Varrock the day before the party to sell what I had caught," Brandon said. "I don't think I left Falador until the day of the party," Andrey said. Omega nodded and added his two cents. "And I was training in the Legends Guild for most of the time. Good, then we shouldn't run into our past selves as long as we stay away from Falador, Varrock and Catherby. Let's go to Karamja--I've got an idea."

Part 107: Fourth Encounter

As it turned out, Ultima Cow was pretty adept at steering a boat. And although the three of them were sort of a motley crew, they safely made it through the rough waters to the island of Karamja. In their time, Karamja was a tropical island, bursting with bananas, pineapples, palm trees, loads of fish, and an active volcano. (It seems one thing hasn't changed, at least,) Jaron thought as he surveyed the land. Like the rest of Runescape, it was pretty much decimated and deserted, with the exception of the smoking volcano to the west. "Why would anyone want to stay in an active volcano? Isn't it dangerous?" Bebitwinnie asked as Jaron tied the boat to the dock. Jaron nodded and started walking westward with the other two. "Yeah, you'd think so. I don't believe Karamja's ever actually erupted, though. It mostly just smokes all the time." "Also, the area people go into isn't actually the center," Ultima Cow put forth. "There's a vent in the side with a rope attached to it. That's how people go in and out." "Ah, okay. So...what's our plan of action?" Bebitwinnie inquired. Jaron pulled out the vial of grey powder that Tiffy had given to him. "I figure this vial is good for one diversion. The volcano has an entrance sort of room--I'm sure they're guarding the entrance 24/7. So we get everyone into the room, drop the vial, and knock them all unconscious. Then we should be able to slip into the first few rooms without any problem." "And after that?" Ultima asked. Jaron shrugged. "And...after that...I'll make up another plan."

Omegaman, Brandon, and Andrey arrived at Karamja with no problems, although night was falling already. At present, there was a small business that would take passengers from Port Sarim to Karamja for only thirty coins, which was actually a pretty good value. "You still haven't told us what your idea is," Brandon said, as the three of them started walking past the base of the smoking volcano. Omega smiled. "Fine, all right, I'll tell you a little bit. I want to go to Seers." Andrey looked at Omega with a confused expression. "Seers' Village? Why?" "Mostly a reinforcement. But we had to go this way, since our past selves were in Falador and Catherby. There would have been a good chance of a meeting if we'd gone the other way around." Andrey groaned. "So let me get this straight--we're walking to Brimhaven, taking a boat over to Ardougne, then walking again all the way up north to Seers? Do you have any idea how much walking that is?" "Probably a day's worth. But we've got time to burn. Let's go find a place to stay in Brimhaven. It's a nice little town," Omega replied, grinning. "Yeah, sure, if you like pirates," Andrey muttered.

The future three trekked up the side of Karamja volcano and looked down into the vent. Jaron bent over the edge and looked down inside. At the bottom of the rope were a few people clad in red and brown robes, walking around with crossbows. "What's the deal with CrazyArcher supporters and crossbows?" Jaron asked no one in particular. Just then, as Jaron turned to get a better look, his pointy hat dropped right off his head and fell to the ground far below. A Lava Faction member saw it and walked over, staring at it. Then he looked up and saw Jaron's head poking out from the opening in the ceiling. "Hey! You up there! What are you doing?!" Jaron smiled and replied, "We're invading your volcano, of course! We've got an army of like...uh...thirty people! You'd better get some reinforcements before we arrive!" The Lava Faction member yelped and turned to his comrades. "Invasion! Get everyone in here! Aim your crossbows at the vent for when they drop down!" About fifteen more faction members ran into the room, loading bolts into their crossbows. Jaron looked around and saw the mass of people. "Uh...can I have my hat back?" "No!" Jaron shrugged and dropped the grey vial into the hole. The vial broke, and the powder turned to smoke. Coughing, each of the Lava Faction members fell over, unconscious. As the dust settled, Jaron climbed over the edge of the vent. "Nice one," Ultima Cow said, laughing. "Never get between me and my hat," Jaron replied, sliding down the rope.

Part 108: Perils of the Volcano

Bebitwinnie, the last of the three to descend the rope into Karamja volcano, landed on the ground with a dull thud. Jaron picked up his teal pointy hat and looked around, making sure the twenty or so Lava Faction members were fast asleep. Ultima Cow walked over to a very large rock in the corner of the room. "Hey, take a look at this," he called to the others. Jaron and Bebitwinnie came over and investigated the rock. Stuck to the rock was a handmade sign that read, 'Under no circumstances move this stone.' "What do you suppose is behind it?" Ultima Cow asked. Jaron shrugged and replied, "Beats me, but we're not strong enough to budge something that big anyway. Let's move on." The others nodded, and the three silently moved into the next room.

"Strange, this place seems different than I remember it to be like," Ultima Cow said, once they had navigated their way through several rooms. Jaron nodded. "I've noticed that. It's like they've redecorated or something. Added extra walls to block off rooms, and completely redesigned the layout of it all." They came out into a hallway just as a Lava Faction member was walking down it. "Wha!?" he yelled, but that was all he could say before Bebitwinnie unleashed an Air Blast. Flying backward and slamming into the nearby wall, the faction member slumped over, unconscious. Bebitwinnie grimaced and lowered her Air Staff. "(So how many people do you think heard that?)" she whispered to the other two. "(I don't know, but our stealth rating isn't going very well,)" Jaron whispered back. Bebitwinnie smiled as she walked into an adjoining room. This next room was huge. It also held a glowing pool of lava at the bottom of a steep incline. The slope was that kind of cliff that would be easy to slide down, and hard to gain your footing to climb back up. The three walked over to the edge, looking down. "Well, this goes down for quite a way," Ultima Cow said, whistling. "Yeah, wouldn't want to fall in that lava, either," Jaron answered. Suddenly, they heard faint quickening footsteps. Bebitwinnie wheeled around to see a single Lava Faction member running at her with arms outstretched. (He's going to push her down the cliff!) Jaron realized, but it was too late. Although the faction member had pushed Bebitwinnie fairly hard, she had grabbed his arms at the last moment, bringing him down the cliff with her. Together, they started tumbling down the incline, with no way to stop. "Bebitwinnie!" Jaron yelled, unable to do anything. Ultima Cow simply watched in horror as she slipped down the slope. Thinking fast and raising his staff, he yelled, "ENTANGLE!" Large vines sprung out of the slope from nothing and halted Bebitwinnie's movement instantly, although the faction member had since torn from her grip and fell the few more feet into the pool of lava below. "...Thanks!" Bebitwinnie called up, gasping for air. Ultima Cow shook his head, still worried. "Don't thank me yet! That only lasts a few seconds! Get your footing back!" As he finished talking, the vines started to decay, finally completely falling away from her into the lava below. Slowly but steadily, Bebitwinnie steadied her footing and climbed back up the cliff. Jaron reached out a hand and helped pull her up the last few feet. "I really owe you guys one," she gasped. "Don't mention it. Just glad you're safe," Ultima Cow grinned. When Bebitwinnie had finally caught her breath again, they moved on to the next hallway. But once again, they heard footsteps coming, and ducked behind the doorway as two chatting Lava Faction members walked by. "Pfft, but you never know when he's actually coming," one said. "How's that? You'd think CrazyArcher of all people would be on time." "Yeah, you would think so. But the last few times he's arrived, he came in about a week late, and didn't even seem to realize it. Like he didn't know what day it was or something." The voices trailed off. The three looked at each other, confused expressions on their faces. "(What was that about?)" Ultima Cow asked. "(No clue. Maybe we'll find out if we keep going. Stay close,)" Jaron replied, entering the hallway and walking in the opposite direction the other two faction members went.

Part 109: A Foe Returned

The three stealthily made their way down more of Karamja volcano's corridors, looking for any sign of their objective, the Temple Knights' CommOrb. "So what's it look like again?" Ultima Cow asked. Jaron sighed. "It looks like what it sounds like--a big blue orb. Kind of like your red one you've got there, but bigger. And blue." Ultima Cow seemed satisfied with the answer, but had another question. "But how are we--" As they turned another corner, all three of them came to an abrupt and silent halt. About fifteen feet away, two Lava Faction members were walking down the hallway in the same direction, unaware of the group's presence. Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie looked at each other and grinned. Then, quietly, they snuck up behind the two faction members--and whacked them over the head with their staves. Both faction members fell to the ground, unconscious. "That was easy enough," said Bebitwinnie. Jaron nodded. "You were saying?" "Oh, right. How are we going to get close enough to the CommOrb to steal it back? Obviously, the room will be guarded. We'd need like...a disguise or something." Jaron mulled it over, looked at the unconscious faction members on the ground, and smiled.

Only a few minutes later, the three were continuing their stroll around the volcano. But now, Jaron and Ultima Cow were decked out in Lava Faction robes being worn over their existing outfits. Bebitwinnie was still wearing her own desert robes, but the mix of mud from the Temple Knight tunnel made it look as if she was from another faction, so they stuck with that. "You forgot to take off your hat. It kind of gives you away," Ultima Cow told Jaron as they walked down yet another hallway. "Oh, right," Jaron replied, putting away his hat. About to turn another corner, they heard voices once again. This time, the voice was recognizable. It belonged to CrazyArcher.

Omegaman, Brandon, and Andrey, with nothing else to do, took another late-night stroll around the coastal town of Brimhaven. Perhaps they could find some thief to stop or something. It wouldn't be hard--pirating and black market sales abounded in Brimhaven, although no one ever cared enough to do anything about it. Not like anyone picked it as a vacation spot, either. "So, are you ever going to tell us what your grand master plan is?" Andrey asked, as they left the inn they had decided they would stay at. "Yeah, what about these reinforcements?" Brandon added. Omega smirked. "I usually like to keep my grand master plans to myself. Besides, I haven't completely figured it all out yet myself. And reinforcement, Brandon." "What?" "Reinforcement. Just one." Omega smiled to himself as Brandon and Andrey tried to figure out what on earth he was getting them into.

CrazyArcher's voice could be heard loud and clear in the next room over. "And be ready--they'll be coming soon." "How soon, my lord?" asked what Jaron assumed was another faction member. Jaron decided to risk a peek around the corner of the doorway. CrazyArcher was standing there, indeed talking to a Lava Faction member. "Within the next two days. Be prepared, and don't fail me." "Yes, my lord," the member replied, as CrazyArcher walked away from Jaron's position. He opened a door in the wall, and Jaron saw that the room was small and empty. It was barely big enough to be a closet! CrazyArcher entered the room and shut the door behind him. Suddenly, there was a faint flash of blue light seen in the crack under the door. Jaron pulled his head back from around the doorway and signaled for the other two to get ready.

Part 110: The Orb at Last

The three turned the corner and moved into the large room CrazyArcher had been standing in moments before. Jaron and Ultima Cow had on the Lava Faction robes they had stolen from the two unconscious guards, and Bebitwinnie's normally white desert robes were stained with the dirt from both the Temple Knight's underground passage and her earlier tumble down the slope. The plan was that Bebitwinnie's robes made her look like she was from another faction, but at this point, none of them knew if a white/brown faction even existed. As such, Jaron and Ultima Cow stood on either side of her, holding one of her arms back. As they entered, the faction member that had been talking to CrazyArcher turned toward them and eyed them suspiciously. (He must be the leader), Jaron figured. "What's going on here?" he demanded. Jaron tilted his head toward Bebitwinnie and replied in his most menacing voice, "We found this one lurking around outside the volcano, and brought her here for...uh...questioning." Bebitwinnie tried to put on her best 'oh no, I've been captured, whatever shall I do?' face as the leader narrowed his eyes at them. Hopefully, he would buy the story. And wouldn't recognize the three as not being actual faction members. And wouldn't call in other guards to take Bebitwinnie away. Actually, now that Jaron thought about it, there were a lot of things wrong with this plan. Drat. Finally, the leader sighed and said, "Fine, take her into the next room and make sure she stays there. I've got to go deliver a message to the others." He walked out the way the three had come in, and Jaron tried his best not to let a look of surprise cross his face. Instead, he nodded, gently tugged on Bebitwinnie's arm for emphasis, and walked on.

"Why did I have to be the hostage?" Bebitwinnie asked when the three were in the next room and out of earshot of anyone else. "I haven't seen any women among the Lava Faction ranks, have you? I figured we'd play it safe," Jaron replied, taking out his teal pointy hat and replacing it upon his head. Ultima Cow chuckled. "Well, that went...relatively well. Now, where's that orb?" he said. They were now in what seemed to be a makeshift prison. It was a long hallway with cells on either side, and another doorway at the end. It wasn't very well designed, and not nearly as good as the White Knight's prison, but it still looked like it would keep a prisoner from escaping. It had a pretty good capacity as well--perhaps ten cells on either side. They cautiously walked to the end of the hallway, and peeked into the next room. It looked like a laboratory of sorts, with all kinds of tools lying around on tables. At the center of one of the tables was a large blue orb--exactly what they were looking for. A Lava Faction scientist was apparently working on the CommOrb, with his back to the three. Tiffy was right--they were trying to find out how to get information out of it. Jaron motioned to the others to get behind the doorway, and then walked into the room with his Lava robes still on. Ultima Cow snatched the hat off Jaron's head as he walked past. "How's it progressing?" Jaron asked in a gruff voice again. The scientist jumped straight up, not realizing someone had come in. "Oh, uh, quite well, actually. I think I've almost got it all figured out. We should be able to access it by the end of the day," came the scientist's answer. Jaron nodded. "Good. By the way, the leader wants to see you. Right now." The scientist look shaken at the news, as if trying to figure out if he'd done something wrong. "Uh...yes, yes sir..." He hurried out of the room, but didn't get any farther than the doorway before Ultima Cow hit him over the head with his Fire Staff. Another faction member unconscious. "Very nice. I'm going to have to reconsider using a staff as a weapon one of these days," Jaron grinned as Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie entered the room. "Heh. Just grab the orb and let's get out of here," Ultima Cow replied, handing Jaron's hat back to him.

Part 111: Not Really a Nice Place to Visit, Either

Jaron picked up the large blue orb, judging its weight. "It's not actually that heavy," Jaron remarked, holding it up with one hand. "So...now what?" Ultima Cow asked nervously. Jaron smiled and shook his head, as if Ultima had forgotten something obvious. "Now we just teleport to Draynor with your Amu...with your...oh, shoot." Ultima rolled his eyes. "Yeah, unless you've forgotten, the White Knights took our amulets and rings." Jaron frowned. "Actually, yeah, I did forget that. ...Well, we'll just have to leave the way we came in, then." Ultima Cow, now slightly more nervous, looked around the lab. "We'll have to take out anyone we come across--starting with them," Ultima stated as two Lava Faction guards ran in through the doorway. One spoke up right away. "We saw the scientist outside and came as fast as we could! ...Where are you taking the CommOrb? And what's up with your hat?" Jaron realized that he and Ultima were still wearing the Lava Faction robes, although Jaron had replaced his hat yet again. These guards apparently weren't very bright. Ultima tilted his head in question, Jaron nodded, and with a huge Fire Blast, the two guards were running around the room, yelling about their robes being on fire. Which was the same moment the other three decided to slip out with the CommOrb.

Unfortunately, they didn't get any further than past the prison, because in the next room (where the leader had spoken to CrazyArcher) the leader had returned, with two more guards. The look on his face was of pure anger. "You two aren't in my ranks! And you're stealing our property!" "Actually, this belongs to a friend of mine," Jaron replied as casually as he could, tapping the orb he held. The leader simply growled, made even more angry by Jaron's defiance to be afraid of him. "We weren't told to expect you for another day. But that doesn't mean we're not ready now!" Then, to his two guards, he commanded, "Run through the volcano and let everyone know we've got intruders! Have them block all passages to the exit!" The guards hastily nodded and hurried out. Jaron could hear their echoes of "Intruders in the volcano! Guard the exits!" get fainter as they went about their task. "You expect to take all three of us on?" Jaron asked, grinning. The leader smiled, which wasn't particularly a good sign. "Not really. But I won't let you get away with that," he replied, pointing to the CommOrb. He quickly reached into his robe pocket and pulled out an Air Rune and a Law Rune, and before Jaron realized he had cast Telekinetic Grab, the CommOrb was floating through the air towards the leader's open arms. Ultima Cow hastily reacted and did the same, casting another Telekinetic Grab on the orb. As a result, it wavered above the ground between them as both tried to use their magic to overpower the other. Both the leader and Ultima were trying so hard not to lose the CommOrb, they couldn't do anything else. Jaron walked over to the CommOrb, which was floating right in front of him. "Say, what did Tiffy tell us to do again? I think this qualifies." Without another word, he clasped his hands together and brought them down hard on the blue orb, causing it to fall and shatter into a thousand light blue pieces. Each piece was so small that even the best crafter would have never been able to put the orb back together, let alone get it to work. The leader and Ultima both recoiled slightly, having pulled so hard on something and then having it disappear. "I think that narrows our remaining objectives down to one--to get out of here," Bebitwinnie remarked, lobbing her Air Staff to where Jaron stood between Ultima and the leader. Jaron caught it singlehandedly and grinned. "Yep, looks like it." He spun around and smacked the Lava Faction leader (who was only standing a few feet away) with Bebitwinnie's staff, knocking him unconscious and sending him sprawling to the floor. "Man, that is fun. Now I really want one of those," he said, gratefully handing Bebitwinnie her staff back.

Part 112: Wave from the Past

Jaron, Ultima Cow, and Bebitwinnie could hear the scuffling feet of the Lava Faction members getting into position, ready to block the three from leaving the volcano. "We're not going to be able to hold all of them off," Ultima Cow stated. Jaron frowned in reply, scratching his head next to his pointy hat. Ultima was right, he reasoned. Jaron's close combat manuevers didn't work well against an entire army (especially without his battle axe,) and Ultima Cow could only set so many people on fire before they found a way to counteract his spells. The only things that had actually been of any use so far were Bebitwinnie's Air Blasts and a good, hard, stick of wood. Too bad they didn't have more wood. The running sounds were getting louder, signaling to the three that they were running out of time to think of options. "Air Blasts seem to be the only effective tactic so far," Bebitwinnie said, as if reading Jaron's mind. "Yeah, but it would take a lot of Air Blasts to get from here to the rope leading out. There's bound to be enemies at every single turn," Jaron replied. Bebitwinnie frowned, lost in thought. Suddenly, her head lifted up as if she had had a revelation. "Hey, Ultima, remember those stories you've told be about your guys' first adventure? When you saved those people in Taverly?" Ultima nodded. "Yeah, what about it? That was a long time ago." "Well, you told me you kept a Fire Wave going until you knocked out every Black Knight in the dungeon. What if I did that with an Air Wave?" Ultima Cow looked taken aback. "I did tell you I fainted afterwards and almost got eaten by a stupid spider, right? And I wasn't moving when I did that Fire Wave. You'd have to run through all these tunnels!" "It's not like we seem to have a choice," Bebitwinnie growled, accented by the ever-closer sounds of enemies. Ultima Cow didn't look like he enjoyed the notion one bit, but he also saw that it was most likely their only chance of escape. "I do have one question, though," Bebitwinnie said. "Yeah?" Ultima Cow asked, to which Bebitwinnie sheepishly replied, "Heh--got a Blood Rune?" Ultima rolled his eyes as he reached into his runesack.

Blood Rune and Air Staff in hand, Bebitwinnie took a deep breath and looked down the first hallway. She silently pointed her staff down the corridor just as Ultima Cow had done a long time before, and ripples of air shot out of it. Three unlucky Lava Faction guards chose that moment to appear out of a doorway halfway down the hall, and were blown backwards through the air before they knew what had happened. Two of them hit the back stone wall and were immediately knocked unconscious, but the third simply hit the floor and skidded towards his comrades. It didn't matter, though, since he was too sore to get up now anyway. Slowly, Bebitwinnie took a step. It was apparent that this was a hard thing for her to do, as her face was tense with concentration. Jaron felt like he couldn't even relate to how she was feeling, since he never really used magic anyway. Waves of air continued to fly out of her staff, and she took another step. And another. She was at a walking pace now, still far from the entrance, but moving steadily with Jaron and Ultima Cow close behind. "Left," Jaron said, as she turned the corner without replying. (Probably a better idea if she didn't talk,) Jaron figured. He focused his attention on trying to remember which way they had come. It had been a long, winding maze, and a lot of it looked similar. "Left here," he said again. As Bebitwinnie turned the corner, waves of air flying from her staff hit two guards in the next hallway, knocking them down and unconscious as well. Air really was a good weapon here, as being blasted against a stone wall wasn't the best thing for you. Bebitwinnie slowly picked up speed. She seemed like she might just fall over at any moment, but kept going anyway. Turning corner after corner, she had now come to a jogging pace, still otherwise silent. Jaron seemed to recognize the area better--they were almost back to the rope! Bebitwinnie looked even more exhausted than before, but the three had run into (and knocked out) so many enemies that Jaron was sure they never would have made it out with a different tactic. The next turn produced about seven faction members, all standing in a line. Jaron watched the ripple of air knock all of them down as Bebitwinnie jogged past. This time, though, two of them got up and started chasing after the group. Ultima, looking over his shoulder, pointed his staff backwards and unleashed a Fire Blast, setting their robes on fire and stopping them in their tracks. Bebitwinnie's pace slowed, as she was obviously tired well beyond what her body could handle. Jaron said "Turn right," and as the three made the next turn, Bebitwinnie saw the rope leading out of the volcano. And then fell face first onto the floor. Jaron grimaced, meaning to catch her, but not knowing when she would faint. Ultima spun around again and set off a couple of Fire Strikes at some advancing enemies. "Hey, how are we going to get Bebitwinnie up this rope?" Ultima asked, looking at the hole high up in the ceiling. Jaron looked up as well, and sighed. Drat. Why did all of these plans have a catch?

Part 113: Method of Escape

Nervously and thinking fast, Jaron looked to Ultima Cow, then to the tall rope, then to the unconscious Bebitwinnie, then to the ominous hallway. A couple of guards ran in, and Ultima blasted them back with a Fire Blast. "I've got an idea! Hold them off!" Jaron yelled over the uproar of more oncoming guards. "Fine, but I'm running out of Death Runes!" Ultima called back as Jaron ran over to the rope. "What? Why? I thought you had a lot left!" "Tiffy didn't give all of them back to me! The rest are still in Falador!" Jaron grunted and grabbed the bottom of the long rope, tying it in a knot. While Ultima Cow blasted back guards whenever they entered, Jaron continued tying knots on the bottom, trying to make the lowest knot as large as possible. "Jaron! I'm out of Death Runes! I've just got a few Chaos and Mind left!" Jaron, finally satisfied with his work, jumped up on the rope. "Try to aim for their crossbows, then! When I climb to the top, grab Bebitwinnie and get on!" Ultima nodded, starting to realize where Jaron was going with this. Quickly, Jaron ascended the rope, which led to the outside of the volcano. He took a quick look around. Luckily, there didn't seem to be anyone nearby. (Good. Maybe my luck's changing for the better,) he figured as he looked down into the volcano. Ultima Cow, between Fire Bolts, had picked up Bebitwinnie and her Air staff and walked over to the rope. Jaron had made the knot big enough for Ultima to put his feet on, and he stepped up onto it. Jaron then braced his feet against the ground and pulled hard backwards on his end of the rope, causing Ultima and Bebitwinnie to rise. Several Lava Faction members suddenly brandished crossbows and took aim at the two still in the cave. With one arm around Bebitwinnie to make sure she didn't fall and the other holding his Fire Staff, Ultima did as he had been told and cast Fire Bolts on the faction members' crossbows, setting them ablaze. The faction members immediately dropped their burning weapons, but since Ultima and Bebitwinnie were already halfway up to the vent opening by now, they couldn't retaliate in any other way. Finally at the top, Ultima carefully lifted Bebitwinnie out onto solid ground and climbed up himself. Strangely enough, some sort of magical protection stopped the rope from coming completely out of the hole or catching on fire, so Jaron could do nothing but let go of it and let it fall into the volcano again. "CrazyArcher probably made sure no one could just come and strand them all in the volcano," Jaron guessed. A Lava Faction member swiftly climbed the rope and poked his head out of the vent, but Ultima whacked him with his Fire Staff and he fell quickly to the ground below, on top of some of his fellow Lavas. "That'll teach them," Ultima laughed, hoisting a still-unconscious Bebitwinnie upon his shoulder and walking with Jaron towards the ship they had sailed over on.

The boat was almost to Port Sarim when Jaron walked up to Ultima Cow, who was commendably steering the ship. "Hey, Bebitwinnie just woke up. I'll take over if you want," he said. Ultima smiled a word of thanks and walked back into the ship's cabin where she was lying on a bed. "So how'd it go?" she asked, smiling as Ultima walked in. "Perfect. That was amazing how you kept that Air Wave up for so long. I really think you saved all of our lives. How do you feel now?" "Eh, pretty well, considering. I don't feel like I can cast any spells anytime soon, though." "Yep, that's about how I felt. Anyway, we'll be landing in Port Sarim in just a minute here, and then we'll probably be returning to see Tiffy." Ultima's last words were underscored with a huge jolt from the ship, followed by Jaron's call of "Uh...we're here!" "You forgot to teach him how to pull into a dock, didn't you?" Bebitwinnie giggled as Ultima rolled his eyes.

The three made their way to Falador's underwall passage, and Ultima Cow pulled out the small red orb that Tiffy had given to him. The orb glowed, and they heard the click of the trapdoor unlocking. Ultima let the others enter first, then followed and used the orb to lock the door behind him. They crawled through the pitch black passage until reaching the end, where Ultima again unlocked the door with his orb. Locking the door behind him once more, Ultima and the other two moved back into the cell they had been in only a day or so earlier. To be on the safe side, Jaron pulled the cell door shut and let it lock them in. Not five minutes later, the main prison door opened, and Tiffy walked in with a white pointy hat atop his head. "So, did you complete your mission?" Tiffy asked, getting straight to the point. Jaron nodded. "Yep, the CommOrb is destroyed for good." "Jolly good show! I knew you would be as resourceful as your dossier said you were, what?" "So what happens now?" Bebitwinnie asked, also getting to the heart of the matter. "Yes, of course. Well, in the meantime, you'll be staying one more night here." "Why?" Ultima Cow asked, slightly frustrated at the delay. "Two reasons, old bean. One, we must make sure the orb is truly destroyed. Not that we don't trust you, but it's standard operating procedure, what? Two, the longer the king believes you're being held down here, the better it looks for you when I convince him it was all a mistake. Don't worry, I'll make sure you get a good dinner in here. You must all be starving, what?" Jaron smiled and nodded as Tiffy left again. Good old Tiffy.

Part 114: Reconciliation

Tiffy was true to his word, and the three 'prisoners' were given a big dinner that night. It consisted of some of the best beef and stew any of them had ever eaten. "Hey," Ultima Cow started between gulps of stew, "where do you think they got the cows for this meal? I haven't seen any around lately." Jaron shrugged. "Well, if I know Tiffy, he's probably got Temple Knights protecting some cows somewhere. They're very resourceful," he said. "Heh, that's what Tiffy said about you--resourceful," Bebitwinnie said, smiling. Jaron grinned. "That could be one reason I'm a Temple Knight myself," he replied.

The next morning, the three awoke to a guard telling them to get up. Apparently, the king had requested their audience. (Why couldn't Tiffy bring us a pillow, at least?) Jaron grumbled to himself as they got up from the cold stone floor. The three walked up and into the king's chamber, where he looked down at them from upon his throne. They stopped and faced him, waiting for him to speak first. "...It seems there has been a mistake," the king began. "One of my officers has found some papers that show you are, indeed, a White Knight. Jaron, is it?" Jaron nodded, finally happy to be on the king's good side. Unfortunately, the king didn't seem to even acknowledge the others' presence. He stepped down from the throne and approached the three, only meeting eye contact with Jaron. "I sincerely apologize for what you've been through, holding you against your will and all. If there is anything I or the rest of Falador can do for you, we are at your disposal." "Uh...thanks," Jaron replied. "But what I'd really like right now is to have our weapons back, and maybe a little bit of information before we continue on our way." "Of course, of course," the king uttered, snapping his fingers. Several servants wearing white pointy hats entered the chamber, carrying the three's weapons and accessories. Jaron took his Battle Axe, and Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie were returned the rest of their runes and their staves (which Tiffy had taken back to storage the night before.) The king smiled. Apparently he felt like he couldn't do enough to earn their respect back. Which, probably, he couldn't. "Now, exactly what information do you need?"

The king's information helped out a little bit, but not nearly as much as Jaron had hoped. At the moment, he only knew the locations of a few of the factions. Jaron figured Tiffy and the Temple Knights probably knew much more about each faction, but Tiffy wasn't around to ask. "Well, let's see," the king had said. "There's the evil Lava Faction to the south, somewhere around Karamja. There's a faction occupying Varrock and Lumbridge...Heat and Mud, I believe. No, not Heat. Steam? Yes, that's it, Steam. And I think there's another faction out in the wilderness. My troops go to Edgeville now and then, and run into them and have little skirmishes and whatnot. Kill? No, that's not it. I can't remember their name for the life of me. Ah well." "Do you know anything about what's on the other side of White Wolf Mountain?" Ultima Cow asked. The king seemed like he wasn't going to answer for a moment, but to Jaron's relief, he did. "No, I don't. We used to send people over the mountain, but none returned. So we stopped, deeming it too dangerous to go." Deciding they wouldn't learn anything more, the three thanked the king and left Falador, taking the north exit.

Omegaman, Andrey, and Brandon were halfway to Seers by now. That morning, they had taken the boat from Brimhaven to Ardougne, and then started their final stretch north. Andrey finally picked that moment to start whining about his feet again, and Brandon seemed like he was going to explode. "Anyone there?" came a voice from Omega's ring--it was Jaron! (Perfect timing, Jarodomin,) Brandon thought to himself, as Andrey stopped complaining. "Hey--how are you?" Omega replied, stopping in his tracks, finally relieved to hear his friend's voice. "Not bad. We got taken hostage by the White Knights, but Tiffy sorted everything out. What's new?" (Who's Tiffy?) Omega thought, but out loud replied, "Eh, I've just got a plan going along here that should come to completion in a couple of days. Andrey, Brandon and I are almost to Seers' Village." "Seers' Village, eh?" Jaron replied, and then several seconds later, "Oh, I get it! Good thinking." "Wha--? How come he figures it out so easily and we can't?" Andrey said. Brandon told him to be quiet. "By the way--we figured out the rest of the puzzle!" Omega said, excitedly. He took no time in relaying to Jaron what Sedridor had told them, about the combination runes and the possibility of Mist, Dust, and Smoke Factions. He also added in Brandon's thought of Catherby fitting the Mist description. Jaron's voice came over the ring once more. "Ah, great work! That really helps us out. We'll head towards Catherby, then. Talk to you later." "Fine, but don't make it another week-long silence, eh? You had me worried," Omega replied. "Heh, sorry. No problem."

Part 115: Two Surprise Meetings

Jaron, Ultima Cow, and Bebitwinnie walked northwest into Taverly, formerly the village of the Guthix-following Druids. Presently, like every other small village, it was silent and deserted. "No one here, either," Ultima Cow sighed, recalling memories of some of the people that lived in these houses in his own time period. Some of them had saved his life a time or two before, but here and now he was too late to save any of them. He lifted his eyes to the snowy mountain up ahead. White Wolf Mountain (as it was called for being snowy-white and inhabited by wolves) was just barely on the other side of the small village, and Catherby was on the other side of that. "Hopefully Brandon's right and we'll meet some allies in Catherby," Bebitwinnie said, trying to change the topic somewhat. "Hey, let's go see if the Dwarven Passage is still open," Jaron said, pointing to a small shack in the distance to the north.

A short walk later confirmed that the Dwarven Passage, the best shortcut to the other side of White Wolf Mountain, was closed. Caved in and boarded off, actually. "No doubt CrazyArcher's doing," Jaron grumbled, frustrated at now having to go over the mountain instead of under it. "Eh, it's fine. If any wolves are around, we can hold them off," Ultima replied. (Yeah, that's true...in all reality, going over the mountain should be a piece of cake,) Jaron figured, heading west and starting up the side of the mountain.

The slopes of the mountain seemed slicker than Jaron remembered. Everywhere he stepped was basically a sheet of ice. Of course, there was a perfectly good chance that changes in weather over time were responsible, but Jaron kept having the strange feeling that the ice was unnatural. "Does any of this seem...wrong to you?" Jaron asked the others, breaking a previous silence. "Everything since we've arrived here has seemed wrong," Ultima replied, rolling his eyes. "Yeah...but something more. Especially here." The three walked in silence for several more seconds, treading carefully on the abundant ice. "Well, I don't hear any wolves, do you?" Bebitwinnie put forth. Jaron stopped and looked around. "No, I don't--and don't you find that strange? Wolves, of all animals, not being here? I would think the big ones at least would be able to hold their own. It's like they're all completely gone." No sooner had Jaron spoken than they heard footsteps in the snow--and they were close. Suddenly, Jaron felt a stabbing feeling of freezing cold, followed by extreme disorientation. A second or so later, he realized that he was entombed within a giant block of ice, unable to move or speak. He couldn't even turn his head to see if Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie had suffered the same fate, but the lack of noise behind him made him figure that they had. Then Jaron realized he also couldn't move his chest enough to breathe, and just as he started to suffocate, the ice vanished and he fell to the ground, gasping for air.

Omega, Brandon and Andrey arrived in Seers without any trouble. However, there seemed to be trouble in Seers, as quite a few people were gathered outside the bank. As they walked towards whatever was going on, two people in the group of bystanders turned around and waved. One had a Rune two-handed sword, and the other a simple light green pointy hat. Omega waved back, walking over to them. (Ah, it's Magicana. I hope he hasn't seen any of our past selves lately. And who's the other guy...one of Jaron's friends...Ecksey? No, Eerfy--yeah.) Magicana spoke up first as the three neared. "Hey, sorry I can't come to the party tomorrow. I promised someone else I'd help them out a while back." "Oh, uh, no problem," Omega replied. "What's going on over there?" Andrey asked, trying to see over the crowd. "Eh, two guys fainted in the middle of the street, apparently," Eerfy replied, looking back to see some Seers carry the two into a nearby house. "By the way, Eerfy," Omega said, "will you be near Seers tomorrow?" Eerfy shrugged. "Well, I was going to go to Catherby to fish, but I guess that can wait. What do you need?"

Part 116: A Cold-Hearted Predicament

From his position on the ground, Jaron moved his already-stiff neck to get a view of his attacker. Although his vision was slightly blurry, he saw two people in white robes, both with some strange purple staff. White was a good color for this area, as it camouflaged with the snow perfectly, although Jaron couldn't recall a faction with only white as their color. (Was that a magic attack? And who are these people?) he wondered, still shivering from the cold. "...I th-thought there was a law against p-people attacking each other outside of the wilderness," Jaron stammered, freezing. (Of course, not like CrazyArcher or the Monk ever followed that law anyway.) One of the two white-robed magers scoffed at Jaron's statement. "Hah, not since CrazyArcher took over, fool." Jaron slowly got up as the two mages smugly watched him. Apparently, these two were the type of people that took pleasure in others' misfortune. Jaron looked back to see Ultima and Bebitwinnie slowly get up as well. Both of them were shivering, too. "S-so what is it you want?" Jaron asked. He felt the heat returning to his body, as if the cold only lasted a short time. "Basically, for you to die," one said, smiling. "You see," said the other, "we hide out here, waiting for passersby, ambushing them and taking their stuff." Jaron grunted, voicing what everyone else already suspected. "And you're only telling us this because you're going to kill us anyway." "Yep, that's about the size of it," came the mage's reply. (Looks like I have two options, then,) Jaron thought, pulling out his battle axe. But then in a flash, it all happened again--the disorientation, the ice cube, the stinging cold, the suffocating--and Jaron dropped to the ground once more. "It's not like we didn't see that coming," one of the mages remarked. "And don't you two try anything, either," he continued, eyeing Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie suspiciously. Ultima looked like he was fuming and ready to obliterate someone, but knew not to intervene because the sheer strength of their magic easily outmatched his. Bebitwinnie simply looked worried and cold. Jaron's mind raced for a way out of this situation, but he couldn't seem to think of any.

Despite being in Seers' Village earlier, Omega had just teleported himself, Brandon and Andrey to Ardougne. Andrey and Brandon were finally happy to hear Omega's plan, since they had been standing right there while Omega had talked to Eerfy. For now, though, they were looking for a place to stay the night. Ardougne was full of inns and pubs, so it didn't take long to find one. As they were walking along the street, Andrey turned to say something to Brandon, only to see him eating a big piece of chocolate cake. "Wha--hey, where'd you get that?" Andrey demanded. Brandon simply pointed over his shoulder at a bakery stall they had passed a few steps back. "I thought you learned your lesson about that earlier," Omega said, grinning and recalling Brandon's Master Paladin fight. Without missing a beat, Brandon pulled two whole cakes from the bag on his shoulder and handed them to the others. "Old habits are tough to break, I suppose. Thanks," Omega added, taking the cake. "Man, you are good," Andrey said, eating his own cake.

Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie slowly crept forward towards Jaron, who was once again struggling to stand up. His Rune armor seemed to hold the cold in, making the feeling last longer for him than it would for Ultima Cow or Bebitwinnie. "And what do you think you're doing?" one of the mages demanded, pointing his purple staff at Ultima Cow. "Nothing," Ultima replied, not wanting to show how afraid he actually felt at their current situation. "Then drop your staves," the mage said, changing the direction of his staff to Jaron and silently threatening to finish him off. Ultima and Bebitwinnie reluctantly bent down and set their staves on the ground. "Now back away, all of you." Ultima helped Jaron to his feet, and the three of them took a few shaky steps away from the mages. "Any last words?" the same mage asked, a smile of satisfaction on his face. Ultima let out a half-smile himself, holding a handful of Air and Law runes behind his back. "Yes, actually. CAMELOTTELEPORTTELEKINETICGRAB!" Several things happened in that moment--as purple light started to envelop the three, Ultima Cow's and Bebitwinnie's staves floated back to Ultima's waiting hands. The ancient mages, realizing a little too late that they'd been tricked, cast another Ice Burst. Jaron moved in front of the Ice Burst, taking the full impact for the others--and then the three of them were just outside Camelot. Ultima Cow had their two staves, and Jaron was trapped in an ice cube again. A second later, the block of ice disappeared, leaving Jaron on the ground for the third time. "C-c-cold..." he stuttered, unable to move. Ultima shrugged and cast a Fire Strike on him, which warmed Jaron up a bit too much. "Aah! Hot!" "Well, which is it then?" Ultima replied, watching as Jaron jumped up and tried to put his flaming pointy hat out.

Part 117: A New Lead

Jaron shivered, his body unsure of whether to be hot or cold. Once he had put his hat out, he replaced it atop his head. Ultima Cow handed Bebitwinnie back her staff, which he had tele-grabbed. "If we were just going to teleport to Camelot, why didn't we do that in the first place?" Bebitwinnie asked, adding, "We could have avoided that entire mountain." "Well, I'm starting to run low on Law Runes," Ultima replied matter-of-factly. "And isn't our mission to seek out allies? We didn't know there'd be hostile people up there." "At this point, I don't have any idea what our mission is," Jaron sighed. He looked around, noticing that Camelot Castle seemed abandoned and overgrown with weeds. The front gate was a bit off of its hinges as well. So with that, the three started heading for their original location of Catherby, hoping to find someone--anyone--well, anyone that wouldn't try to kill them.

Their journey, however, proved fruitless. Catherby was just down the path from Camelot Castle, and it was just as deserted as the castle had been. Jaron walked into what used to be a bustling bank, but there was no one there now. A couple of overturned benches indicated that a small struggle might have taken place, but there was no other evidence of it. All of the bankers' booths were empty and devoid of items to use as well. Jaron walked back out to see Bebitwinnie staring into the nearby water. Ultima Cow wasn't nearby, but Jaron figured he must be searching around the town. "Whatcha looking at?" She turned at his voice and tilted her head down towards the water. "Look at all the fish! There's tons here--more than I've ever seen. This town must have been deserted now for quite a while--with no one here fishing, the fishes' numbers keep growing." "Easy meal, I guess," Jaron acknowledged. "Yeah, but not safe enough to get," Bebitwinnie reminded him. "Speaking of which," Ultima Cow interrupted, walking up from their left, "look up towards White Wolf Mountain. I think I can see those mages all the way up there. We should probably leave the area." Jaron nodded, remembering that the main slope of the mountain was just on the other side of town. He was right--it wasn't safe. "Well, let's head for Seers' Village. There's probably not much of a chance of anyone being there, but it's close enough that we might as well check it out," Jaron said.

Once again, their instinct was correct. Seers' Village, which used to contain a quiet population of future-tellers, was empty as well. Save the quiet dwellers of the village, the bank there was Woodcutting Central, one of the busiest trading markets in the entire land. Of course, it wasn't now. A closer inspection of the village revealed that the only thing left worth mentioning about it was the old spinning wheel in one of the houses. "Now what?" Ultima asked. "Dunno...dead end," Jaron grimly replied. "So much for Brandon's idea," Bebitwinnie put forth. Jaron's eyes lit up. "Oh, that's right--this was Brandon's idea," he said, raising his Ring of Talking.

Omegaman, Brandon and Andrey had finished their cakes and were browsing Ardougne's "Adventurer's Store" when they heard Jaron's voice come over Omega's ring. They hurried outside and around the back of the store, trying to dodge any questions from onlookers about why Omega's ring was making noises. "Hey, what's up?" Omega asked. "Not too much," came Jaron's reply. "We got held up by a couple of powerful mages...it seems they've learned magic that can turn you into a block of ice." "That doesn't sound like much fun." "It's not. Anyway, we followed your tip, but Catherby and Seers are both deserted. Any more ideas?" "Well, what about Rellekka?" Andrey said. Jaron thought about it for a moment before responding. "Hey, that's a pretty good idea. They've got makeshift walls, right? Rellekka could defend itself in a siege...thanks. We'll head there, and hopefully we might meet someone. Someone that doesn't want to kill us on sight, anyway. By the way, how goes your little mission?" "Tomorrow morning," Omega replied. "Ah, right. Okay then. Good luck with that--talk to you later."

Jaron lowered his ring and looked around the deserted village. "Well, it's getting pretty dark. I guess we should stay in one of these houses for the night," he said. "Tomorrow morning, we head for Rellekka."

Part 118: A Second Chance

The next morning came soon enough and without incident. Jaron, Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie left Seers' Village, heading north along the darkened road. It was only a little after sunrise, and Jaron noted the shades of dark blue in the sky mixing with the reds the sun gave off. Even with all of this, however, the whole land seemed darker and more gloomy than he was used to. Following the path, the three crossed two different bridges, noting the sheer amount of fish swimming in the water below. "Yep, no one seems to get out much," Bebitwinnie said, restating her opinion at Catherby. After about a half-hour of walking, the three finally approached the barricade walls of Rellekka. In their own time, it was the town of the Fremenniks, a Viking-like people known for their extra-protective headgear. (But what is it now?) Jaron wondered as they approached the front gate. (Actually, I don't even recall them having a front gate.) "Halt!" came a cry from behind the large gatedoor, followed by "State your faction and allegiance!" Jaron took one more step forward, starting to get a knack for this diplomacy thing. "Actually, we don't belong to a faction, but I suppose you could call us allies of the White Knights. We're against CrazyArcher." The large door opened a crack, and a middle-aged main wearing one of the Fremennik helmets stuck his head out. "We've barricaded ourselves in Rellekka because of people without factions. Why should we trust you?" Jaron thought a moment before replying, "If you mean those mages on the mountain, they tried to kill us, too. We're just explorers looking for allies. A long time ago, I did some tasks for the Fremennik...they rewarded me with the name Thordur. Does that count for anything?" The main at the gate seemed to think a bit more, and then opened the gate. "You and your party may enter, brother Thordur."

Upon entering Rellekka, the three noticed not only Fremenniks around, but other people as well. Some were clad in white and blue robes, while a couple had only white ones. The man who had opened the gate accompanied the three to the main hall. "That would be the Mist Faction," he said, answering Jaron's unvoiced question. "They were pushed back from Catherby by the Ancient Mages and by others in red robes. We let them and the remaining Seers live with us." Jaron nodded, storing the term 'Ancient Mages' away in his mind for a later question.

Omegaman, Brandon and Andrey awoke in Ardougne, and after a quick stop at the Ardougne Bank, immediately set off westward. "So do you think this will work?" Andrey questioned. "Only one way to find out," Omega answered, quickening his pace.

Twisas withdrew her pink pointy hat from the bank in Catherby and hurried northwest. Jaron had invited the whole clan to one of those balloon parties in the Seers' Village Party Hall, but he had personally told her via the ring not to expect many people to come. As Twisas rounded the corner of the Party Hall building, she saw Andrey walk in. She almost called out to him, but figured against it, seeing as they'd be talking in just a minute anyway. Entering the building, she ran up the stairs--to find no one there. (Wha--where is everyone? Jaron said we'd all meet upstairs before the balloon drop...) Moments later, Eerfy ran up the stairs as well. Twisas turned around, recognizing him as one of Jaron's friends. "Are you Twisas?" he asked, to which she nodded. "Ah, good. Omega says they'll be back in a few minutes, and to just sit tight." He then ran back downstairs, his job apparently done.

Omega, Brandon, and Andrey silently approached CrazyArcher's area west of Ardougne. Already, their six counterparts were trapped in the three blue boxes. The three newcomers were behind the boxes, so CrazyArcher didn't notice them. "If not where, then what?" Brandon's past self yelled. But in response, a blue light shone in the boxes, and suddenly the boxes--and the six--were gone. From CrazyArcher's point of view, one moment he was watching the blue boxes disappear, and the next a stray Rune arrow was flying towards him. With a sudden shock and realization, he whipped his hand up, and the Rune arrow shattered in midair. "What the heck was that?" he yelled, apparently angered. He saw the three standing there, and his jaw dropped. "Wha--why--I sent you to the future!" "No you didn't," Brandon replied. "YES I DID! Two of you to the Steam Faction, two to the Lava, and two to the Blood! How the heck are you here now?!" Omega smiled. "Well, apparently, we're here because you have the power to send people to different times, but you don't know how to use them." Before anyone could react, Omega had whipped another Rune arrow out of his quiver and shot it straight at CrazyArcher with pinpoint precision. CrazyArcher simply looked annoyed and held his hand up, once again shattering the arrow in midair. "KNOCK IT OFF WITH THE ARROWS! I must admit, I do seem to have a weakness with them, but that won't matter once I send you all where you belong!" Another transparent blue box appeared around the three, ready to send them to another time. Omega tilted his head in a mocking tone. "Are you sure you want to do that? It seems to me that you tried this two minutes ago, and it sent me back a week. Can you afford the risk?" CrazyArcher fumed, but apparently realized Omega was right, because a moment later, the boxes shattered and CrazyArcher was gone in a blue flash. "That went well," Andrey said. Omega smirked. "Well enough. Come on, Twisas is waiting on us."

Part 119: A Cryptic Rhyme

In the long townhall of Rellekka, Jaron, Ultima Cow, and Bebitwinnie stood in front of what seemed to be the Fremennik leader and the Mist Faction leader. The Mist Faction leader was wearing, of course, white and blue robes, while the Fremennik leader was wearing traditional Fremennik clothing, basic brown garb and a helmet with horns sticking out of it. "I've been told you are looking for allies, are you not?" the Fremennik asked. Jaron nodded. "Yes, we are. It's a long story, actually, but we're on a mission to stop CrazyArcher once and for all." The Mist Faction leader scoffed. "Good luck with that. He's got too many people loyal to him to fall that easily." "Hopefully, that won't matter," Jaron said, wondering if Omega's plan to eliminate CrazyArcher in his own time period was successful or not. Unfortunately, he doubted it. "So basically, we're looking for anything that can help us in our quest. Any rations, clues to his whereabouts, mystical items, things like that." The Fremennik nodded. "You appear to be quite trustworthy, brother Thordur. Since you seem to be traveling the land, you can probably get your own fish. I've been told they are plentiful at the moment. We will supply you with expert fishing equipment, as well as firemaking supplies." "Every little bit helps. Thanks," Jaron replied. "But I believe we can go one step further," the Fremennik answered, interrupting him. The three had no clue what he was talking about, but were led to another wooden building on the outskirts of the town. "You are aware that we house the Seers that left their village, correct?" the Fremennik asked, standing outside the building's door. "Yeah, it was mentioned," Jaron said. "Good. This building is the home of their wisest Seer. He's not all quite there, if you know what I mean. But he is very good at what he does. Perhaps he'll help you." Jaron thanked the leader and walked inside, Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie following.

The inside of the building was dim, but not completely dark. Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie had kept quiet thus far, since Jaron had apparently done good works for the Fremenniks that they had not. Talking to a Seer, however, shouldn't prove difficult. "Hello?" Ultima Cow called out into the building. An aged Seer clad in white robes and a white pointy hat slowly entered through a doorway leading to the next room. "Dost thou require assistance?" he asked. Jaron was searching for the right words to use, so Ultima stepped up instead. "We need help in defeating CrazyArcher. Can you provide us with any information?" The Seer smiled and sat in a nearby chair. After a moment, he spoke again:

What you seek is strewn o'er the land;
You must go, and it, demand.
'Round a trapezoid is what you call
The locations of them all.
The Dusty ones live by their tree,
They may have something for thee.
With the prize may come a price;
So hope your reason will suffice.
Many several paces south
A giant cave looms its big mouth.
What you seek there is alive,
But for your life you may well strive.
Smokes then hold your next location
Whilst you'll not have a revelation.
As you quest on for the pot,
Another face you just might spot.
The trapezoid will show the way
To your last spot that very day.
The rest will become clear in time
As you come 'cross a friend of thine.

After all this, the Seer stopped speaking and fell asleep. "Huh. That's original," Ultima said. "Yet strangely personal," Jaron replied. "So the places we're looking for now are in the shape of a...trapezoid?" Bebitwinnie asked. Jaron nodded. "Yeah, seems that way. A trapezoid is one of those shapes that's like a rectangle, but one side is longer than its opposite side." Ultima Cow spoke up again. "The Dusty ones live by their tree/They may have something for thee. You think that could be the Grand Tree? The Gnome Stronghold?" Jaron shrugged. "Better place to start than any. Let's go."

Part 120: No Ally Left Behind

Deciding now to visit the Tree Gnome Stronghold far to the west, Jaron, Ultima Cow, and Bebitwinnie went back to the Rellekka main hall. The Fremennik and Mist Faction leaders were still there. "Ah, did you learn anything that helped you, brother Thordur?" the Fremennik leader asked, standing up as the three entered the hall. Jaron smiled and replied, "Yes, actually. I think so, anyway. We wanted to thank you all for your hospitality. We've got a new lead for our quest, and we have to get going." The Fremennik leader nodded. "Completely understandable. Let us give you some fishing and firemaking equipment before you go. You might be able to scrounge up some food out there. Any enemy of CrazyArcher is a friend of ours!" The Fremennik leader hustled out and motioned for them to follow him. Bebitwinnie and Ultima left, but Jaron turned around before exiting. The Mist Faction leader was still sitting at the head of the main hall. "Um...bye. Thanks," Jaron said. The leader waved and smiled. "See ya."

The Fremennik leader handed a few harpoons to Ultima and reached back into a crate of fishing supplies. "He sure keeps to himself, doesn't he?" Jaron said, walking up to the others. The Fremennik nodded. "Yes, he's very quiet, but he's a good friend and an excellent leader. I like his hat, too. Lobster pot?" He handed some small orange cages to Jaron. "Thanks. By the way, what's an Ancient Mage?" "Hmm. Well, there's two types of mages in the world, you see. Regular ones and Ancient ones." "Are they just...old?" Ultima asked. The Fremennik laughed and tossed a tinderbox to Bebitwinnie. "Goodness, no. The spells are, though. A long time ago, someone discovered a way to learn ancient spells. They're slightly more powerful--you certainly don't want to be caught in one of their Ice spells, or you're a goner. But they come with a price--higher rune costs and the fact that by learning Ancient spells, you forget all the modern day ones." "Permanently?" Bebitwinnie inquired. "Uh...I don't think so. Ah, here's that hatchet." He handed a steel hatchet to Jaron. "Well, that's all we can spare. Good luck with your quest, Thordur and company."

"He seemed more lively after we came back," Ultima said as the three walked south. Jaron nodded. "I think he realized that we're the only ones actually doing something about CrazyArcher, so maybe he saw us all as a last hope. That's the vibe I'm getting, anyway." Reaching the deserted Seers' Village, they turned west a bit. "It'll probably take most of the day to walk all the way to the Stronghold," Jaron said. "This is when I hate not being able to teleport," Ultima replied, dejected. Just then, Omega's voice came over the Ring of Talking. "Jaron?" "I'm here," Jaron replied, raising his ring and adding, "How'd your little encounter go?" "Eh, so-so. The Rune Arrow didn't hit him, although it was a close call. Anyway, get this--he said he sent two of us to the Steam Faction, two to the Lava Faction, and two to the Blood Faction." "Blood Faction? That's weird," Jaron replied. Omega's voice came again. "Well, not as weird as us not going where he thought he was sending us. He must not be very good with his time travel powers yet. I told him that, and he rushed off somewhere. By the way, we met up with Twisas." "Hi, guys!" Twisas called over the ring. "Hey, Twisas! Good to hear from you," Jaron called back. "So, whatcha up to?" Omega asked. "Well, we met up with an old Seer from Seers' Village," Jaron began. "He recited this strange poem, and then conked out. It was something about...what we seek is all over the land, but we won't know what to do with it...and the Dusty ones live by their tree." "Dusty ones? You think the Dust Faction is in the Tree Gnome Stronghold?" Omega asked, his voice full of excitement. "Yeah, that's what Ultima said. We're heading there now. Can you tag along? We might need your help with something. I don't know what, but if you're not doing anything else..." "Sure, we'll head that way," Omega replied. "When do you need us? We can take the glider," he added. "Well, we can't, so take your time," Jaron laughed. "Ah, right. Okay then. Well, talk to you later," Omega answered. "Bye," Jaron said, lowering his ring. "Well, that was a nice little diversion," Bebitwinnie said. "Yep. Only a couple more hours of walking to go," Jaron replied. "Ooh, ooh, I know!" Ultima said, enthusiastic about something. "Okay, I spy something...brown." "Is it a tree?" Jaron asked. "Dang. Yeah..."

Part 121: Sixth Encounter

"Well, how about this one, then. Let's see...it's brown," Ultima started. "It's a tree," Jaron and Bebitwinnie said at the same time. "Hmm, right again. You guys must be psychic. Okay, okay, I've got another one," Ultima said, scratching his head next to his blue pointy hat. Jaron held his hand up. "Before you start--is it a tree?" Ultima stopped and stood there in silence, followed by "Dang. How'd you know?" "Call it intuition." "Oh, look, we're here," Bebitwinnie announced. Sure enough, the entrance to the Tree Gnome Stronghold was just ahead of them. "Well, that was fun. We should play that again sometime," Ultima offered. "Yeah, when we're in the desert, where every answer is sand," Jaron replied. Bebitwinnie smiled, trying to hold back a laugh. "Who goes there?" came a voice from behind the large stronghold gate. It was basically a large wooden door, with the ancient symbol of the tree gnomes written on it in green. Ultima and Bebitwinnie motioned to let Jaron do the talking again. "Um...hi. We are adventurers, on a quest to stop CrazyArcher once and for all. Can you help us in any way?" The person on the other side of the gate was quiet for a moment, but then replied "You say you're enemies of CrazyArcher?" "Indeed, yes we are," Jaron answered. There was another silence for a few moments. Finally, the door opened, revealing a gnome about half the height of any of the three. He wasn't dressed in traditional green gnome garb, but instead in robes with a mix of white and brown. He reminded Jaron of Bebitwinnie's own robes earlier, back when they were infiltrating the Lava Faction. She had gotten most of the dirt out of her robes since then. "You may enter," said the gnome, addressing the three. "Welcome to the Dust Faction."

The three of them (and the gnome) walked north from the gate, towards the Grand Tree. It was, as its name implied, the biggest tree in the entire land. Over four stories tall with an underground complex of roots, many gnomes held shops on the outlying branches. Or used to, anyway. Jaron had no clue what might have befallen the gnomes in the past few decades. "I'm just wondering," Bebitwinnie began, "does anyone ever say they're anti-CrazyArcher just to get into the Stronghold? Not that we're his allies, of course, but security seemed kind of lax." The gnome shook his head. "No. To be a supporter of CrazyArcher and denounce him as your leader is unforgivable. No one loyal to him would ever do that." They arrived at the door of the Grand Tree, the ground level entrance. Walking in, they saw another gnome sitting on a small throne, dressed in Dust Faction robes, but with a yellow crown atop his head. "My King, these three say they are on a quest to destroy CrazyArcher, and seek our aid." The King stood up and addressed the three. "We don't have much of anything to aid you with, adventurers. Do you have anything particular in mind?" Jaron swallowed, trying to remember the poem the Seer had recited for them.

The Dusty ones live by their tree,
They may have something for thee.
With the prize may come a price;
So hope your reason will suffice.


"Well, King...um..." "Narnode." "King Narnode. We recently talked to a Seer from the Mist Faction, and he told us a cryptic rhyme that basically said we need several items to defeat CrazyArcher. One of the poem's lines led us here, and so we were wondering if you knew about anything that could help us," Jaron answered. The King seemed impressed already. "The Mist Faction? How are they? The last I heard, Catherby was besieged." "Well, they moved back from Catherby and Seers' Village into Relekka. There don't seem to be any problems there, though." "Good, I'm glad to hear that. ...What was your name?" "It's Jaron, sir." "Right, Jaron. Do you have any other clues that could tell you what we have that you need?" "The poem only said that with the item would come a price." The King stood there, his eyes looking as if what he had heard had confirmed some fear. He seemed to snap out of it soon enough. "Yes, thank you, Jaron. Would you mind waiting outside for a minute?" Jaron nodded, and the three left the Grand Tree as the door shut gently behind them.

"That was awkward. What do you think they're talking about?" Ultima asked. Jaron shrugged. "Beats me. I hope it works to our advantage, though." "Shh--I can hear them," Bebitwinnie said, holding her ear close to the door. The first voice that came was of the guard that escorted them from the gate. "But my King, without it, the Grand Tree will surely die with another attack! It's the only backup we have in case the tree gets sick again!" "I know that, of course! But it's also our last one. The way I see it, the Grand Tree keeps getting sick because of CrazyArcher. If these three people can stop him, then it will all be worth it. Besides, if CrazyArcher attacks the tree only twice more, it will all be for naught anyway," the King replied. Silence followed, and Bebitwinnie stepped back from the door. "It sounds as if the item heals the Grand Tree when it gets sick, but it's the last one," she stated grimly. The door opened once more, and the gnome beckoned them in.

The King was first to speak. "Jaron and company, I believe we know of the item you seek. However, when the Grand Tree gets sick from an attack, this item is what heals the tree. Unfortunately, we have only a single one left. If you can prove to me that you have the capability of defeating CrazyArcher, I will let you have it." Jaron nodded. "We can do that."

Part 122: Undeniable Proof

King Narnode raised an eyebrow, but Jaron simply raised his arm, moving his hand up to his mouth. "Omega, you there?" he asked, speaking into a greenish ring. "Yep. Just playing a game of Gnomeball," came Omega's reply. They could hear Andrey yell "Gooooooooal!" in the background. King Narnode blinked and shook his head. "Gnomeball? That game's been lost for years. We don't even have the materials to make a ball anymore." Jaron smiled and nodded. "Omega, looks like we'll need your assistance. Oh, and take that ball with you when you leave." "Sure thing. We're heading for the bank, then," Omega answered.

"Wha--who was that? What kind of magic is this?" King Narnode asked the three. Jaron shrugged. "Actually, I don't really know what kind of magic it is. See, those are my friends--in the past. I'm actually from that time period, too, but CrazyArcher somehow sent us into the future. We're trying to defeat him and get back to where--uh, when--we belong. Anyway, they're in a time when CrazyArcher doesn't rule the world, so pretty much everything is plentiful. Which brings me to my question--do you need anything?" King Narnode looked like he was struggling to understand it all, but after a moment, nodded. "Um, yeah--sure. Can you get us some Air Runes? Our rune vendor was here a week or two ago, and didn't have any for some reason. I don't expect him to come back for another two weeks." "Air runes. No problem. Anything else?"

"Okay, it's all buried," came Omega's voice over Jaron's Ring of Talking. "Okay, lead us to it," Jaron said, climbing down the trapdoor in the middle of King Narnode's throne room. The trapdoor led down into the underground tunnels where the roots of the Grand Tree were. The whole area looked dark and deserted. In their present time, these tunnels were lined with precious ores. But now, either the ore veins had gone dry, or no one had any more pickaxes. "See the door to the north? Go through it," Omega said. The three and King Narnode did as they were told, following Omega's directions back and forth, arriving at a seemingly normal patch of ground. "You should be over it," Omega finally told them. Jaron removed his pointy hat, took the spade he had been carrying around, and started digging. Only a couple of feet deep, he found a small chest. Under King Narnode's watchful eyes, Jaron lugged the chest out of the hole and opened it. Inside were a multitude of Air and Law Runes, with quite a few Death and Blood Runes thrown in as well. Under all the runes was an old but preserved Gnomeball. "This--this is amazing!" King Narnode exclaimed. "I agree. And it's all for you," Jaron smiled. "Oh, wait," Ultima told them, reaching in and grabbing a couple Bloods and a handful of Laws. "Okay, now it's all yours," he asserted. "These--are real?" Narnode asked, taking an Air Rune and casting aside all suspicion. "The funny thing is, they've been here for decades," Jaron said. "Omega just buried them in a place he knew no one would pointlessly dig at. By the way, this is our proof of standing a good chance against CrazyArcher." King Narnode, still in shock, slowly nodded. "Right--right. Well, let's get back upstairs, then."

Once again above ground, Narnode presented the three with a very small, brown, round object. "Here it is, the item you seek," he said as Jaron took it and turned it over. "Wow. So this is it?" Jaron asked. "Indeed it is. I have no idea as to what your use will be for it, but I sincerely hope it aids you in stopping CrazyArcher. Can we do anything else for you before you leave?" Jaron tilted his head, answering, "How did the next part of that poem go again?" Bebitwinnie cleared her throat and recited, "Many several paces south/A giant cave looms its big mouth./What you seek there is alive,/But for your life you may well strive." "Ah, yeah, like that. Thanks," Jaron smiled. "Sounds like the Underground Pass to me," King Narnode offered. The three groaned, but agreed that the description did sound about right. Thanking King Narnode, and with the small round object in hand, they left the Tree Gnome Stronghold and headed south.

Part 123: Seventh Encounter

Twisas stood there, staring at the ground as Omegaman packed dirt over the hole he had dug. "So--I don't get it. What just happened?" she asked. Omega smiled, patting the last of the dirt flat over the ground. "Okay, you know how we told you that Jaron, Ultima, and Bebitwinnie are in the future, right?" Twisas nodded. "Yeah, it seems hard to believe, though." "Hard to believe or not, it's still true. Now, if we buried our stuff here, what would happen to it?" he asked. Twisas shrugged. "Nothing. No one would ever find it--unless they knew exactly where to look!" she said, her eyes lighting up with understanding. "Exactly! When they get it, all the stuff in it will be several decades old. Still usable, but old." "So we can send stuff to them, but they can't send stuff to us?" Twisas inquired. "Yep," Omega affirmed, heading for the ladder.

As Omega and Twisas climbed up and out of the tunnels under the Grand Tree, Brandon and Andrey were waiting nearby. "So, did they get it?" Brandon asked. "Dunno, they haven't said anything yet," Omega replied. "So what do we do in the meantime?" Andrey asked. They all stared at each other in silence. "I bet I could beat you all in Gnomeball again," Twisas said, grinning.

The four were halfway to the Gnomeball field when Jaron's voice came over Omega's Ring of Talking once more. "Omega?" "We're here," Omega replied, raising his own ring as the group stopped. "Did you get the stuff we sent you?" "Yeah, we did. It was exactly what we needed--thanks," Jaron answered. "No problem. So where are you off to now?" Omega asked. "Well, according to the Seer's poem, we have to go south now and look for a big cave. King Narnode suggested it was the Underground Pass." "Sounds about right," Brandon chimed in. "Yeah. The Seer said what we seek there is alive. It's got me stumped, but we're heading there anyway." "Well, we'll tag along in case you need anything," Omega offered. "Thanks. I think we might be needing a rope or two."

The large city of Ardougne was almost straight south from the Tree Gnome Stronghold. Jaron, Ultima, and Bebitwinnie arrived in East Ardougne to see what they had seen everywhere else--devastation and abandonment. "I wonder why there's no one here. You'd think they would be able to defend their city gates and stop intruders," Bebitwinnie said. "It is kind of weird," Ultima agreed. "Hey, that's where the old general store used to be. Let's check it out," Jaron said, pointing to a nearby building. The three entered the building, looking for a rope or anything useful. As usual, though, it was completely ransacked. Nothing was there at all. "Dang," Jaron said, turning for the door. "(Ssh!)" Ultima whispered as he looked out the window at the street. Two people in dark red robes with pointy hats to match turned a nearby corner and walked westward. "(They're going towards the Underground Pass,)" Jaron stated. "(It's weird how their robes aren't a mix of two different colors,)" Bebitwinnie noticed. With the two strangers out of sight, Jaron, Ultima, and Bebitwinnie left the run-down store and slowly ventured after them. They passed a tall wall marking the entrance to West Ardougne, and saw the two robed strangers in the far distance. They were at the entrance to the Underground Pass, yet there seemed to be something in the way. One of them moved his arm, and then something happened, and they disappeared out of sight. It was really simply too far away to tell. The three continued towards the cave opening, and finally noticed that a large iron door blocked the cave entrance. "Hey--I just remembered something!" Ultima exclaimed as they walked towards the door. "What is it?" Jaron inquired. "Remember what Omega told us CrazyArcher said? He was going to send two of us to the Blood Faction! What if this is the Blood Faction?" "Then they're obviously our enemies," Bebitwinnie said. "Yeah. But we need the item inside anyway. Be on your guard," Jaron said as he firmly grasped his battle axe. As they neared the door, a small slit opened in the center. "Why aren't you wearing red robes?" a gruff voice said from within. Jaron stepped forward. "We captured a couple adventurers and took their stuff. Are you going to let us in or not?" "Show me the password, then, stupid," the man replied. Jaron turned around so that only Ultima and Bebitwinnie could see him. He had an expression of amazement on his face, not knowing what to do. Finally, a thought came to him, and he mouthed something to Ultima. Ultima nodded, reached into his rune satchel, and handed one to Jaron. Turning around, Jaron held up a Blood Rune to the man behind the door. At once, the slit closed and the large door opened. (Whew! Lucky guess,) Jaron thought as he and Ultima walked through the door. Bebitwinnie followed them through the door, and then knocked out the sentry with a quick blow from her Air Staff. "So, was that the easy part or the hard part?" Ultima asked, smiling. "I'm not sure yet," Jaron replied, a half-grin on his face.

Part 124: Through the Pass Again

Jaron, Ultima Cow, and Bebitwinnie weren't looking forward to the trek ahead of them. Each of them remembered what had happened last time--they went through the entire long thing, just to have Zamorak nearly kill them all at the end. Nevertheless, with a job to do, they pressed on. The first obstacle they came to was as untouched as it had been the day they first came to it--the eerie swamp. Taking their cue from the last time, the three looked for a side path and crossed that way. The very next thing they saw was the old drawbridge, but this time, it was already down. And also seemed to be reinforced with steel. "I guess they figured if they were going to use this place as a Faction, they might as well spruce it up a bit," Bebitwinnie ventured. Jaron nodded in agreement and crossed the bridge. The medium-sized pit came next. "Ah, I remember this," Jaron grimaced. Ultima laughed. "You should. You and Catherine both fell down it, remember?" Bebitwinnie spotted a pile of ropes over to the side. "Hey--there are ropes here! We don't need to ask Omega for one, then." She grabbed one, threw it over the rock in the ceiling, and swung across. She was followed by Ultima and Jaron, who, luckily, didn't snap the rope and fall. "Things are looking up already," Jaron said, grinning.

The three turned the corner to come face to face with the gigantic metal grid. "Aw, drat! Does anyone know which way we went last time?" Jaron asked. "I think it's different for every person, but the same for that person every time," he added. Ultima nodded. "I think I do...didn't you go...three squares forward in the middle, and then over?" Deciding he had nothing else to lose, Jaron walked across the middle squares in the first three rows. "Over which way?" he asked. Ultima shrugged. "Beats me, pick one." Jaron grimaced again and moved diagonally to the left, breathing a sigh of relief when nothing happened. He ran across the end of the grid, happily arriving at the other side. "How do you remember these things?" Jaron called across to Ultima.

Luckily, Ultima Cow had remembered enough about his and Bebitwinnie's grids that the two were able to make it across without much difficulty and as little guesswork as possible. They pushed onward through the dim cavern, hoping to reach the end sometime soon. "I find it kind of odd that we haven't seen any other Blood Faction members," Ultima stated. "Maybe they're all in the big room at the end," Bebitwinnie offered. Jaron shrugged. "All I can say is that they picked a good spot for their faction. I don't know why anyone in their right mind would want to come here on purpose." With another step, a spike came out of the wall and skewered Jaron's hat. The spike was old, but still quite sharp. With disdain, Jaron retrieved his hat and remembered that the passages around this area were booby-trapped. "Perfect," he muttered, now searching nearby walls for signs of traps as he slowly moved on.

Turning another corner, the three came to a murky well. "Hey, isn't this the well we jumped down into?" Bebitwinnie asked, pausing. "I think so," Jaron agreed, looking down into it. It seemed safe enough, but of course, nothing had seemed safe since they entered the cave. Chancing it, he jumped into the well, and the others followed.

The remainder of the Underground Pass happened almost just as it had for them the first time around. They came to steel cages, now empty, and used a small tunnel to arrive at a ledge. The ledge led them to the narrow spike walk, but this time, each of them had the skill to pick the lock of a nearby door instead. Continuing on, they came to a large door, and upon opening it, saw what they had come all this way to see. The grand cavern, wider than the eyes could tell. "It looks bigger than I remember," Ultima said, mouth agape. Jaron merely stared out towards the library-like building in the center. He thought he could make out two red-robed faction members, but they were simply too far away for him to be sure. "Let's move on. We're almost there."

Part 125: The Purpose of Henry

The three quickly made their way to one of the nearby small, narrow rock bridges. "Don't fall this time, eh?" Jaron joked to Ultima Cow as he jumped over a gap. Ultima simply shuddered and followed suit. "Yeah, especially if the Blood Faction made their main base at the bottom down there," Bebitwinnie chimed in. Jaron and Ultima stopped dead in their tracks. "I didn't think of that," Jaron said quietly. Ultima hadn't, either. He grasped his pointy hat tightly--if it fell, it would tip everyone off anyway. "All the more reason not to fall, then," Bebitwinnie said, jumping a gap behind them. Continuing on, now albeit more nervously, the three were coming closer and closer to the building in the center. Jaron could now affirm to himself that there were indeed two Blood Faction members there, although luckily, neither had seemed to notice the three adventurers slowly making their way inward. "(I think you're right, Bebitwinnie. There's simply not enough people up here to have a faction. They must all be down there,)" Jaron whispered to her, pointing downward. "(Ssh! Hold still--one of them's moving!)" Ultima hissed, dropping down and trying to listen in on the conversation.

"D-d-do I have to?" one of the two Blood Faction members asked of the other, who nodded. "Yes, it's your turn, man. We all have to at one point," he replied. "B-b-but what if something h-h-happens?" Apparently, he was scared to death about something. "Hey--you know the rules. CrazyArcher made them, and he enforces them as well. If you're not going to feed Henry, you're not going to be in the Blood Faction. And I'm not going to put my reputation on the line to bail you out of this one." The scared faction member looked at his feet, as if trying to decide which course of action to take. "W-why do we even have to go inside, anyway? Can't we just drop it off at the door?" "No, you know Henry only eats from his golden plate. He's picky like that. And CrazyArcher wants us to keep him alive for some reason. We don't question him, we just comply. So are you going to feed him or do I have to call the guards?" Slowly, the shuddering faction member nodded and crept over to the library-like room's door.

Jaron hadn't noticed it before, but there seemed to be a pile of raw sharks next to the door to the middle room. The three were only a gap or two away from the building, and with one faction member apparently heading inside, they could easily overtake the other. The frightened, shaking member slowly opened the large door, a large shark in hand. "H-henry? It's t-time to eat...I brought you a shark..." The door silently closed behind the member, and a few seconds later, Jaron heard a strange ruffling sound. Followed by something even stranger. "H-Henry? What are you--" "CLUCK CLUCK CLUCK!!" "AUGH! NOOOOOOO!" The man's screams seemed to die out, and Ultima, overcome with shock, jumped up. "What the heck was that?" he exclaimed, forgetting the other faction member in the commotion. "What the--hey!" It was too late--they were now spotted. Wasting no time, the three cheated fate and leapt over the small gaps, hoping to run up and overpower the remaining Blood Faction member. But then he did something they hadn't expected--he willingly jumped off the cliff into the dark abyss. "Now why'd he do that?" Ultima shouted, panicing again. "He must be warning the other faction members that we're here! We have to hurry!" Bebitwinnie answered. "What you seek there is alive,/But for your life you may well strive. This has to be it," Jaron confirmed. "Perfect," Ultima grumbled, turning to the nearby door. "Do I detect a note of sarcasm?" Bebitwinnie asked as they walked toward it. "Nooooo, of course not," Ultima muttered, pushing open the door.

Part 126: Henry's Fate

Ultima opened the door, stepped through, and stopped dead in his tracks. Bebitwinnie bumped into him and circled around. "Henry is...a chicken?" Ultima asked, staring at a dark yellow chicken in the middle of the room. Over to the side was the unconscious body of the Blood Faction member. Jaron walked in through the door as well, noticed they were stopped, and said "What's up, Ultima?" Ultima Cow turned to reply and pointed at the tiny bird. "Look at it. It's just a--" "Ultima," the chicken suddenly interrupted. "Great, now it knows my name. That's just creepy," Ultima complained. The chicken tilted its head and slowly walked forward. "Ultima? Ultima! FLEE FROM ME, ULTIMA! Muahahahahahaaa!" "That does not bode well," Jaron said, backing up. But the door had somehow shut behind them, and now they were trapped in the room with a slowly advancing evil chicken. "Now what, Jaron? Kill it?" Ultima asked. Jaron nodded. "Yeah. Let's finish this." Meanwhile, Henry had other thoughts. "Jaron? FLEE FROM ME, JARON! Muahahahahahaaa!" Henry kicked his tiny leg forward, and a huge blast of air knocked the three back against the wall. "Henry knows magic?!" Bebitwinnie exclaimed, jumping back up. "Seems that way," Jaron replied. He raised his Dragon Battle Axe and ran straight for Henry, but Henry kicked his leg in mid-air again, and a scortching blast of flame came out of nowhere and knocked Jaron to his knees. He slowly stood back up, and a small wave of water hit him from behind. He turned around to see Bebitwinnie sheepishly grinning. "Your hat was on fire again." "Back off, Jaron," Ultima called to him. "...Why?" Jaron asked. "Remember our duel long ago? Magic spells have more effect on armor. You'll get fried." To accentuate his point, Henry kicked another wave of flame at Jaron, hitting him in the back. Knocked down again, he struggled up and moved over behind Ultima. "Fine, you've convinced me. Take that stupid chicken down."

Omegaman, Brandon and Andrey were walking around Ardougne, mainly waiting for something to happen. "So...do you think they got captured again?" Brandon asked. "I dunno," Omega replied, shrugging. "Personally, I'm hoping they found their own rope and didn't need us to get them one." "That might be the case, too," Brandon agreed, hopeful once more. "Let's see how they're doing anyway," Andrey offered. Omega sighed. Contacting them now shouldn't do any harm. And if they weren't in trouble, it would alleviate any concerns the three had. "Okay, fine." He raised his Ring of Talking up to his mouth. "Jaron? Are you there?" A couple seconds later, Jaron's voice came over the ring, but Omega could make out sounds of a battle in the background. "Yeah, we're here...we're fighting a chicken, believe it or not. Small, evil, annoying stupid magic-using thing." "(FLEE FROM ME, BEBITWINNIE! Muahahahahahaaa!)" "(Great, how'd it learn my name?!)" Andrey snickered at the thought of a small chicken beating up Jaron. "Anyway," said Jaron again, "once we defeat this thing, we're going to have to get out of here. The Blood Faction knows we're here, and they're on their way. I don't know where we're going, but it probably won't be Ardougne, if you want to move on." "Okay. Good luck," Omega said, hearing Henry's maniacal laughter once again. "Thanks, we might need it," Jaron muttered, before the ring became silent again. Omega and the other two stood silent for a moment. "Well, where to?" Andrey spoke up. "Let's go fishing," Brandon suggested. Omega rolled his eyes and teleported the three to Camelot.

"ENTANGLE!" Ultima yelled, casting the spell at Henry. Henry was trapped in place, but continued to shoot off magic spells in every direction. "That did little good," Bebitwinnie called. She cast another Fire Blast at the chicken, and one of its feathers finally ignited. It started squawking and flapping, but stayed rooted in place due to the Entangle. Sensing what might be his only chance, Jaron ran up and finished Henry off with a swift stroke from his axe. As most evil creatures seem to do, Henry ignited into a pillar of flame and disappeared. "Whew. Is it finally over?" Bebitwinnie asked, walking up to the spot Henry had been. "I guess so," Ultima agreed. Jaron looked closer and found Henry's bones and yellow feathers laying there on the ground. "So...do we take these?" he asked, uncertain. Suddenly, a banging sound came from the door, and it started to budge open. "They're here!" Bebitwinnie gasped. Jaron quickly scooped up the feathers and bones, and Ultima used his Amulet of Glory to teleport the three to Draynor Village. When the Blood Faction arrived, the room was empty.

Part 127: An Unnumbered Encounter, but an Encounter Nonetheless

Jaron looked at what they had collected. "So...we've got a small round thing, evil chicken bones, and some yellow feathers. How is this going to help us again?" "Well, let's get the other stuff, and then maybe we'll figure it out," Ultima replied, grinning. "Right. Where were we supposed to go now?" Jaron asked no one in particular. Bebitwinnie recited, "Smokes then hold your next location/Whilst you'll not have a revelation./As you quest on for the pot,/Another face you just might spot." "How do you do that?" Jaron said, astonished at Bebitwinnie's memory. "I take it the 'revelation' part has to do with us not knowing what the heck we're doing," Ultima offered, "but where are Smokes, and what 'pot'?" "Smoke was one of the factions Omega told us there would be," Bebitwinnie pointed out. The three were silent for a moment, deep in thought. "What about the desert?" Jaron asked. "The desert? Who in their right mind would go all the way out there?" Ultima asked. Jaron nodded. "Exactly. It's about the only place left a faction could be. And who would attack it? Besides, the desert fits the 'smoke' description better than anywhere else." "Yeah, but I don't see how 'steam' is very becoming of Varrock," Bebitwinnie pointed out. Jaron stared at her, speechless.

"Or maybe because that one river is west of Varrock, signifying water, and evil people live there, representing fire. Water and Fire make Steam," Jaron added as the three walked into Al Kharid. "Yes, yes, we've heard all your theories in the last ten minutes," Bebitwinnie said, exasperated. "Ooh, Al Kharid's just as deserted as everywhere else," Ultima stated. A cactus thrived here and there, and the camel population seemed unaffected, but the small city just wasn't the bustling marketplace it usually was. Mainly because there was no one around. "Well, guess there's no one here, then," Bebitwinnie said. "Not so fast--what about past the Shantay Pass? Maybe they're out there," Jaron suggested. Bebitwinnie sighed, but knowing it was their best lead, consented and moved on.

The Shantay Pass headstone still stood tall, but the gatekeeper had long since moved on. "I guess it's free to go through here now," Ultima said, smiling at his first good luck in a while. "It was only five coins to pass through anyway," Jaron replied, rolling his eyes. They walked under the headstone and continued on. The entire land seemed darker and drearier than usual, possibly because of CrazyArcher's magical impact. Nevertheless, the desert was still quite hot. Jaron raised his Ring of Talking to his mouth. "Hey Omega, whatcha doing?" "Just fishing," Omega replied a second later. "(I got a big one!)" Andrey yelled in the background. "...Right. We're heading out to the desert, if you wanted to come," Jaron offered. "Okay, we'll be there soon," Omega replied. The three could hear Brandon talking as well. "(Dude, that's an anchovy,)" he laughed. "(I knew that,)" Andrey answered. Ultima snickered. "Having fun?" Jaron asked nonchalantly. "It's always fun with Andrey around. By the way--the king of Varrock announced today that farmers are teaching others how to farm. You know, growing stuff. It sounds interesting, and Brandon wants to get in on it, but I told him we have to help you first. Anyway, talk to you later," Omega said, cutting the connection. "I can just picture him rolling his eyes," Jaron said. Bebitwinnie didn't hear him--she was concentrating more on the small silhouette on the horizon. Was it a mirage? It didn't matter--there wasn't any time to lose. She grabbed the other two and pushed them behind a nearby cactus. "Hey--what are you doing?" Jaron griped. "(Ssh!)" Bebitwinnie hissed, crouching behind the cactus as well. A couple minutes went by, but finally a man in a very multicolored hat walked past. "Hey!" Jaron yelled, leaping up. The man, extremely startled, jumped three feet in the air and dropped a collection of various runes onto the ground. He started to back away from them, but decided he wouldn't be able to outrun them if he tried. "What--what do you want?" he stammered. Jaron smiled, figuring that if this guy was afraid of them, then they had no reason to be afraid of him. "First off, we're not here to hurt you. Second, do you know where the Smoke Faction is?" "Why do you want to know?" the man asked, narrowing his eyes. "Well, in a nutshell, we're adventurers on a quest to kill CrazyArcher once and for all. We heard they might have something that could aid us." The man seemed to relax a great deal, and grinned. "Then we have the same desires, more or less. I am Ecksey, Runecrafter extraordinaire, at your service." "Ah--you must be the rune vendor I keep hearing so much about! Ecksey--do you know a guy named Eerfy?" Jaron inquired. "My ancestral line contains many Eckseys and Eerfys...it's all quite confusing," Ecksey replied, smirking.

Part 128: The Rune Vendor Revealed

Jaron smiled back. At least someone they knew--sort of, anyway--was in this time period with them. Then his eye finally caught hold of the multicolored pointy hat atop Ecksey's head. It was like nothing Jaron had ever seen before, and he wasn't going to pass this chance up. "By the way, Ecksey--nice hat! Where did you get it?" "Thanks. I call it my Infinity Hat. I forgot why I call it that, but eh, whatever works. I got it one day from one of the factions I sell to. They didn't have much money, so they gave me this instead. I don't know where they got it from, though. Sorry." Jaron looked disappointed, but there was nothing they could do about it anyway. After a moment or two of silence, Ecksey spoke up. "So, is there anything I can help you guys with? Runes and whatnot?" "I think we're covered there," Ultima answered, smiling. As long as Omega, Brandon, and Andrey could contact them, they were indeed well-equipped. Looking over, Jaron noticed that Bebitwinnie seemed deep in thought. "Hey...anything wrong?" he asked her. She looked him straight in the eye and responded, "As you quest on for the pot,/Another face you just might spot." Jaron's eyes widened with realization. "You mean--we--and he--" he stammered. Bebitwinnie simply nodded. "...Huh?" Ecksey asked, completely out of the loop and not hesitating to show it. Jaron smirked. "Um...okay. A Seer gave us some sort of prophecy on how to go about defeating CrazyArcher, and part of it was that we'd meet someone on the way to the Smoke Faction. ...Oh, wait a second, we don't even know if we're on the right track to find them." "Actually, I just came from there. The Smoke Faction's just a bit farther out in the desert," Ecksey replied. Jaron stood there a moment before he realized his mouth was wide open. "Oh. Well, since the Seer took the liberty of mentioning you in our quest, do you have anything that might aid us in defeating CrazyArcher?" Ecksey thought a moment, and then shrugged. "Really, all I've got is a couple Dragon Daggers, most every Runecrafting talisman, and a bunch of runes of each type." "What do you mean by most of the talismans?" Jaron inquired. Ecksey frowned. "Eh...it's kind of sad, actually. A couple Lava Faction members found me one day, and in my hurry to get away I dropped the only Air Talisman I had left. I can't make Air Runes anymore, which means the anti-CrazyArcher factions can't get them either." "That would explain why the Dust Faction needed Air Runes!" Ultima exclaimed, putting two and two together. Jaron grinned, seeing an opportunity. "There has to be a reason the Seer mentioned you. I'll tell you what, Ecksey--if we get you another Air Talisman, will you let us have one of your daggers?" Ecksey quickly nodded. "Of course. I'd be surprised if you actually got a hold of an Air Talisman, but sure, I really need one."

Omegaman, Brandon, and Andrey grabbed another small chest from the Al Kharid General Store and stockpiled it full of every type of Runecrafting talisman, per Jaron's request. They went through the Shantay Pass with it, and moving a bit to the east, buried the chest there.

"Jeez, it's hot here," Omega said over the Ring of Talking on Jaron's hand. "It's warm here, but not nearly as bad as it usually is," Jaron replied into the ring as he and Ultima dug down into the sand. Jaron, Ultima, Bebitwinnie, and Ecksey had moved into position just east of the old Shantay Pass. "Hey, we got it," Jaron said, striking a wooden object with his spade. They lugged the chest out of the hole and opened it, revealing a multitude of talismans. Ecksey's jaw dropped. "What--how did you get all of these?" he asked, astounded. "We've got some connections," Jaron simply replied, grinning sheepishly. Ecksey rummaged through the chest, finding not one, but four Air Talismans. And what was more than that--the chest wasn't limited to only Air Talismans. Every other type of Runecrafting Talisman was in there as well. "These are all for you, by the way. You could probably hide the ones you don't need at the moment for safekeeping," Jaron pointed out. Ecksey slowly nodded, still overcome with amazement. "(Isn't it funny how everyone we help is always speechless?)" Ultima said aside to Bebitwinnie. Ecksey snapped out of it and grabbed his Dragon Dagger, handing it to Jaron. "This can't even begin to repay you, but thank you very much," Ecksey said. Jaron nodded. "Thanks. Don't get too excited, though. If we manage to defeat and overthrow CrazyArcher, selling runes won't be illegal anymore, and your business might drop." "It'd be worth it to have him gone for good," Ecksey replied, his face full of determination.

Ecksey gave the three simple directions to the Smoke Faction's location, which was situated out in the deep desert. They thanked Ecksey once more (who actually seemed more thankful than they were) and headed off to the southeast, a new object in hand.

Part 129: Eighth Encounter

After possibly another hour of trekking through the desert (although it seemed like much longer than that to the three) they could finally make out the shape of a large camp up ahead. "It's about time," Ultima sighed, happy to know their warm desert journey was coming to a close. When they had closed the gap between themselves and the camp about halfway, a person wearing white and red robes came to meet them. (White and red robes means Air and Fire, which apparently makes Smoke. This is the right place, all right,) Jaron figured. "Halt. What is your business here?" the robed man asked. From as far as they could judge, he looked completely unarmed, albeit a little old and quite wise. They stopped in their tracks, complying with the man's order. "We are adventurers on a quest to defeat CrazyArcher, and a wise Seer told us you may be able to help," Jaron said, getting to the point. The Smoke Faction member's eyebrow raised a little bit, as if questioning Jaron's truthfulness as well as his motives. Apparently, that was what he decided to do. "Come with me, and talk to our faction leader," the man said. "But be warned--we have ways of dealing with enemies. I suggest you don't try anything...funny," he added.

The camp turned out to be a little bit bigger than the three had expected. The Smoke Faction had about as many members (or possibly more) than the other ones. Every member was clad in white and red robes with a matching pointy hat, and watched the three carefully as they passed. Most of them weren't as old as the person the three were now following, but a few were around that age. There were also many white tents set up in a few straight lines--they reminded Jaron of the streets of Varrock, all straight and orderly. "Here we are," the man said, stopping in front of another tent. This tent was slightly bigger than the rest, and set up at the end of the row, so as to create a dead-end path. They all stepped inside and found another Smoke Faction member sitting in a chair at a table, scribbling something onto a piece of paper. He looked up at the new arrivals. "What can I do for you three?" he asked. There seemed to be a subtle edge of suspiciousness to his voice, but if the other guy had brought them all the way here, they obviously couldn't be that bad. Jaron repeated his monologue again. "Um...hi. We're on a quest of defeat CrazyArcher, and a wise Seer told us that the Smoke Faction would be able to aid us in our quest. So, basically, we've come to see if you can indeed help us in any way." "Then you've come a long way, --" "Jaron." "--Jaron," the leader finished, standing up from his place at his table. There was an uneasy silence for a moment, while the leader seemed to be scrutinizing the three for trustworthiness. Jaron decided to speak up again. "Uh...we traded the other factions something for their help. Is there anything you might be needing?" In all actuality, they had only traded the Dust Faction and Ecksey. They just kind of raided the Blood Faction. The leader shook his head. "Nope, I think we've got everything covered. I'll make you a deal. I think I know what you're looking for. Amaze me and prove to me that you can be trusted, and I'll give it to you." Jaron thought for a moment and pulled out the small round object the Dust Faction leader had given to him. "The Dust Faction leader gave me this," he offered, hoping it would help the Smoke Faction leader's decision in some way. But he simply shrugged. "I know nothing of the Dust Faction." (Oh yeah, they're in opposite corners of the land,) Jaron realized. He replaced the object and started rummaging through what he had. "Lessee, small round thing, chicken bones, feathers, Ecksey's dagger," "Ecksey?" the leader asked, perking up, his eyes wide. (Of course! They must know Ecksey well.) "Oh, yeah. We helped him out with some stuff on our way here, and he let us have one of his daggers." The Smoke Faction leader sat back down. "Any friend of Ecksey is a friend of the Smoke Faction," he said, smiling. "So you'll help us?" Bebitwinnie asked, cheerful. "No," the leader replied.

"...No?" Ultima asked. "Not yet, anyway. I said amaze me and prove to me you can be trusted. You have yet to amaze me." Jaron's mind raced for an example. Somehow, he didn't think this leader would be impressed by objects suddenly turning up four feet under them. Omega wouldn't be able to find their exact location anyway. Suddenly, a thought struck him. "Alright. If I can guess what you're going to give me, can we have it?" Jaron asked. "That would indeed amaze me," the leader replied. Jaron tried to recall the Seer's poem from what Bebitwinnie had said.

Smokes then hold your next location
Whilst you'll not have a revelation.
As you quest on for the pot,
Another face you just might spot.


He made his decision. "Is it...some sort of potion?" The leader grinned and stood up again. He walked over to a crate in the corner of the room and pulled out a vial with an orange liquid in it. "Here, you've earned this. It's an extremely strong poison taken from the most dangerous scorpions. This is how we defeat the very few enemies that actually come from time to time. We put it on darts. The poison is very effective and kills quickly, so don't poke yourself with it." Jaron cautiously took the orange vial, wondering now if he actually wanted to carry this around. "Thank you very much," he managed to say. The leader nodded. "Not a problem. I wish you luck on your quest. I apologize, but I have much business to attend to," he said, returning to the table. The three took their cue and left the tent.

Part 130: Demonstrations of Logic, Patience, and the Ability to Mess Things Up

As the three left, orange vial in hand, Bebitwinnie recited two more lines of the Seer's poem. "The trapezoid will show the way/To your last spot that very day. We're getting to the end of it," she pointed out. "So, a trapezoid, eh?" Ultima said to no one in particular, walking down the Smoke Faction's main street towards the entrance. Jaron silently nodded, deep in thought. "I'm guessing you've got an idea," Ultima said, smirking. Jaron shrugged. "Well, let's think about this one. A trapezoid is basically a rectangle with the top side smaller than the bottom. The places we've been to are supposed to be in the shape of a trapezoid, right? Lessee...we've been to the Gnome Stronghold, for one." "Then the Underground Pass," Ultima added. "Which would be directly south," Jaron calculated. Ultima continued, "Then we came here." Jaron seemed puzzled. "Not only is 'here' way off to the east, it's off to the south as well. This doesn't seem right." The three walked on in silence, each of them trying to make sense of the Seer's obscure directions. "Well...what if it's sideways?" Bebitwinnie asked. Jaron's jaw dropped--obviously he hadn't been thinking of that. "That's right!" he exclaimed, adding, "If the top of the trapezoid is on the west side, then it's like the whole thing is rotated! Now, a perfect trapezoid would have the same distances from each point. So our next location would be the same amount east that we are now, and would be just as far north from the Grand Tree as we are south of the Underground Pass." Ultima made a motion with his hand in the air, following Jaron's strange directions. "That can't be right," he mumbled, stopping in his tracks. "Why not?" Bebitwinnie inquired. "Because that location would be the dead center of the wilderness." The other two stopped as well, and Jaron redid his calculations. Straight north of here, past where the Grand Tree would be--Ultima was right. "Dang," was all he muttered, but it was enough to affirm Ultima's sinking suspicion. Jaron did a quick relay with Omega's group via his Ring of Talking, to let him know where they were heading. With a sigh, Ultima Cow then used his Amulet of Glory to teleport the three to Edgeville.

Omegaman teleported himself, Brandon, Andrey and Twisas to Varrock, seeing as it was a lot closer than walking from the desert. Once there, Andrey noticed that everyone in town seemed to be heading in one general direction--north. "What's going on?" Twisas asked a passerby. "Farming demonstration," he replied, pointing in the general direction of Varrock Palace. Since they were basically heading in that direction anyway, Omega shrugged and decided to join the action. The four went straight towards the Palace courtyard, but the movement of the general public suggested the demonstration was taking place around back. Upon circling the Palace, they found a large group of people huddled around the Varrock Royal Gardens, where a farmer with a tan pointy hat was showing off his techniques. "See, now we take this rake and get all the weeds out of the patch. Nothing's going to grow in a patch where the weeds choke the flowers." The farmer weeded the patch, then continued to show the audience how to plant a seed and water it. "Is it just me, or does this seem a bit boring?" Twisas asked. "I hear it can have some pretty good rewards in the end," Omega said, shrugging. Brandon pointed out the value of being able to grow your own herbs for making potions. Unconvinced, Twisas decided to head back into the Palace Library, figuring even books would be more interesting than watch grass grow. After hearing the farmer's tips on how to keep certain crops from getting sick, the other three doubled back to join her. It was already getting to be evening, and if they wanted to help Jaron's group out, they would have to hurry north.

Omega, Brandon and Andrey walked into the Varrock Palace Library to find Twisas sifting through shelves of literature for nothing in particular. "Ready to go?" Omega asked, to which Twisas turned and nodded. As the four made to leave, an astonishing sight met their eyes--CrazyArcher appeared, right there in the library, in a flash of blue light. He immediately took a step back, mouth wide open. "Wha--what--four of you? There were three two seconds ago!" Omega smirked and replied, "Did you just leave Ardougne? That was this morning." CrazyArcher remained silent with a sort of "Dang, I messed up again" look on his face. In a single fluid motion, Omega grabbed his bow and a Rune Arrow, shooting it point-blank at CrazyArcher. Who, of course, threw his arm up and made the arrow splinter once more in mid-air. "KNOCK IT OFF!" CrazyArcher yelled, still frustrated with Omega's constant arrow-shooting. In another flash of blue, he was gone again. "Am I...missing something here?" Twisas asked, still shocked to have seen CrazyArcher appear in a place like this. "He must have thought he was at the Steam Faction in the future," Omega surmised, taking the occurrence now as natural. "Come on, let's go to Edgeville and I'll explain on the way."

Part 131: Obstructions and Instructions

Jaron, Ultima Cow, and Bebitwinnie reappeared just outside the Edgeville bank. Edgeville, really having no way to defend itself in a siege, seemed just as deserted as all of the other towns they had been to. "Ready?" Jaron asked, somewhat excitedly. Ultima looked at Jaron like he was crazy. "You sound like you want to head out into the wilderness," Ultima pointed out. "Well," Jaron replied, shrugging, "I just realized that with CrazyArcher ruling over Runescape, the entire land is like the wilderness. Which makes the wilderness no different from anyplace else." Ultima mulled that over for a second, and then nodded, deciding Jaron was right. It made him feel a little bit better, anyway. The three walked a few steps northward, and then Bebitwinnie held up her hand. "(Do you hear something?)" she whispered. They stopped--and then Jaron and Ultima heard it too. A faint sound, not easily recognizable, but something they new to get away from by instinct. "Get down!" Jaron exclaimed, dropping to the ground as the other two did the same. A split second later, a lone arrow flew over them, piercing the air where they had been standing at only a moment before. (That's what it was...a bowstring tightening up,) Jaron figured. They spun around to face their attacker. It turned out to be a single young man in grey robes with a grey pointy hat. He was standing in the west doorway of the old Edgeville bank--apparently, he had heard them arrive. The grey-robed man was shaking--he had had the element of surprise before, but now he was spotted and outnumbered. Pausing only for a moment, he sprinted back into the bank and out the north door, running across the landscape of the wilderness and not looking back. "Hey!" Jaron yelled, starting to chase after him. "Do you think he's one of the people we need to talk to?" Bebitwinnie asked as she and Ultima caught up to Jaron's running pace. "If so, I hope the rest of them don't try to kill us, too," Ultima mumbled. The grey-robed man was fast, and soon the three couldn't see him anymore. They only knew the direction he was heading--but that was enough to follow him.

Things weren't going as well as they should be, the Lava Faction leader mused as he strolled through his faction's base. Not only had the people CrazyArcher had told them to hold escape, but they had sustained a few casualties on their side in the skirmish. No one could find Adrian, but it was entirely possible he had fallen into the lava in what they called the 'lava room'. That room had a steep cliff leading down into a big pool of lava, and Adrian seemed to be in there a lot. They were really going to have to put a guardrail up one of these days. On top of all that, half of their crossbows were burnt beyond repair, due to that stupid mage's fire spells. And he himself still had one whopper of a headache. The leader walked into his office, hoping to get some work done on organizing his staff. Hearing a faint crackling sound, the leader turned to notice a blue light shine under the door of the nearby closet. The door opened, and the leader saw CrazyArcher standing there. He seemed slightly fazed, but who was he to question the mighty CrazyArcher? "My lord! We were not expecting you so soon," the leader started. CrazyArcher merely grunted, so the leader continued, trying to break the bad news easily. "Uh...yes. Anyway, you know the people that you said would appear within a day or two? They actually appeared immediately after you left. They caused a lot of chaos, destroyed the CommOrb we were working on, and...um...escaped." "You let them escape?" CrazyArcher growled, his first words upon entering. "No, my lord, we didn't let them do anything. I actually called all the guards to block the exits. But one of the attackers used a highly sophisticated Air Wave spell and knocked most of our guards unconscious. And then another held the rope up so we couldn't stop them from leaving. I'm sorry, my lord." CrazyArcher seemed disgruntled, but somehow the leader got the impression that CrazyArcher was happy about something else. "(I'm in the right place and time, at least,)" he mumbled under his breath. "What, my lord?" the leader inquired. But CrazyArcher merely responded, "Take your two fastest couriers; send one to the Blood Faction and one to the Steam. Relay the following message: Leave only a skeleton crew in your factions. Take everyone who remains and look over the entire land. There are three people out there--one goes by Jaron, one has something to do with a Cow, and I forget the other. Find them and kill them immediately. Nothing else matters now." The leader slowly nodded, realizing the weight of CrazyArcher's request. "I expect the same of this faction," CrazyArcher said, narrowing his eyes. The leader nodded again, much faster this time. "Nothing less, my lord. I will go and tell everyone to prepare for battle right away." The leader ran out, leaving CrazyArcher there alone. "Three entire factions out looking for you, and I'll be leading this one. Your time is running out, Jaron," he laughed, smiling evilly.

Part 132: Ninth Encounter

Jaron finally ran out of breath and stopped running. They hadn't seen any trace of the grey-robed man since he had fled Edgeville, but that hadn't stopped them from continuing on. "So do you think he was part of a faction?" Bebitwinnie asked no one in particular. Ultima nodded. "He was wearing grey robes, wasn't he? Must be part of some grey-symboled faction." "My point," Bebitwinnie continued, "is that the two Ancient Magers we ran into on White Wolf Mountain both wore white robes, but they didn't seem to belong to any faction. This guy could be the same." Ultima mulled it over and shrugged, agreeing that it could be possible. Just then, they heard voices in the distance, which seemed to be coming from the left. The three ducked behind the nearest trees they could find, and Jaron cautiously peeked his head out to see what was going on. Not too far away, two more grey-robed people were walking south, back towards Edgeville. "Yeah, it turned out to be a good day," one said. "I'll say! All that valuable armor!" the other replied, excited. "Yep! But without barely anyone to sell it to around here, it's slightly useless. Still, we can use some of the other stuff. Those daggers are nice, and some have pretty good poisons on them. The guy had a bunch of runes on him as well, and we're still trying to figure out what the round thing is." "Runes seem to be harder and harder to come by these days. Don't take what you got for granted, Jim." "Oh, trust me, I don't. But besides--" By this time, the two grey-robed men had moved on and were out of the three's hearing range. They weren't able to discern anything but mumbling now. "Anyone want to hazard a guess at what they were talking about?" Bebitwinnie asked. "It sounds like they killed someone for their belongings. Typical wilderness actions," Jaron said, with a touch of uneasiness. Silently, in case there were other grey-robed people around, the three pressed on in the direction they had been going. Less than five minutes later, Jaron could make out a gated area not very far away. "Oh, now I know where we are," he said. Ultima and Bebitwinnie looked ahead to see it as well. "That's...the King Black Dragon's lair, right?" Ultima asked uneasily. "That it is. Do you think that's where we need to be going?" Jaron asked, slightly cautiously. "It's a better lead than anything else," Bebitwinnie commented as they closed in on the gate. Coming nearer, the three heard voices coming from the hole in the ground. The gated area led to a ladder, which led to a lever, which led to the KBD--or used to, anyway. Jaron didn't really think the KBD was still alive if these people were using the area as a main base. Strangely, the KBD seemed to regenerate after a while each time a dragon slayer tried to destroy him. These people must have found a way around that. Jaron silently pushed open the gate, which let out a low squeak. Grimacing, the three stopped dead in their tracks again. But when no one from below came to investigate, they figured it was okay to continue. Jaron crept over and peeked down the ladder hole. Just as he had suspected--several grey-robed people with grey pointy hats were walking around down there. Not many, but a few. If this was indeed a faction, it didn't seem to have many members. "(The Seer's poem said something we need is here. And obviously these people don't like us. Should we just barge in?)" Ultima whispered to the others. Jaron nodded. This would have been a perfect time to have another vial of Tiffy's sleeping potion, but nooooo. Ultima walked over to the ladder and cast a Fire Wave into the hole. From the hole there suddenly came a lot of yelling, which Jaron took as his cue to jump down, battle axe in hand. "Who dares oppose the Death Faction?" one grey-robed member yelled. "We do. Back up, all of you!" Jaron called, making sure the seven or so faction members were retreating to the back wall of the cavern. Ultima and Bebitwinnie followed Jaron down the ladder. "So, Death, eh? That's pretty good. I should have guessed that, what with the grey and the wilderness and all," Jaron stated. "What do you want?" one of the faction members growled. "You have something we need to destroy CrazyArcher," Jaron replied. He looked around, but there was no sign of any treasure anywhere. Also, to his surprise, none of the faction members seemed to care that he opposed CrazyArcher, either. Bebitwinnie seemed to have noticed this as well. "So...are you guys allied with CrazyArcher?" she asked. "We don't really care one way or the other. We just stay out in the wilderness and live off the belongings of the idiots that come out here," someone replied. "(I'll be right back,)" Jaron said, pulling the lever that led to the KBD's lair and disappearing. Not two seconds later, one of the Death Faction members quickly cast a spell on Ultima and Bebitwinnie.

Jaron reappeared in a large, familiar cavern. Indeed, it was the place the King Black Dragon usually resided, but now it was more of a treasure room. Everything the Death Faction seemed to have was stored here. Tons of armor, weapons, runes, food; you name it, and it was there. Jaron frowned and looked around, hoping to find something that would attract his attention. Then he noticed it--near the front of the massive pile, a small round object. One that looked almost exactly like the object Jaron had gotten from the Dust Faction, except for being a different color. Jaron picked it up, and deciding that this was what they had been sent here for, pulled the nearby lever to return.

Part 133: Items Acquired

Jaron reappeared in the entry cavern where the Death Faction members were. Upon arriving, though, he noticed that something wasn't right--someone was unconscious. Fortunately, it was a Death Faction member. "What happened?" Jaron asked Ultima and Bebitwinnie, who were still standing with their backs to the wall and their staves pointed at the faction members. "That one over there," Ultima said as he motioned towards an unconscious female faction member, "cast some sort of spell on us as soon as you left. It didn't seem to do anything, though. Bebitwinnie retaliated with a Wind Bolt and knocked her out. Did you find what we're looking for? What are we looking for, anyway?" Jaron grinned and held the round object in the palm of his hand for Ultima to see. "Sweet. That looks like the other one. Was there anything else?" Ultima asked. Jaron nodded. "Yeah, tons of Rune stuff and a bunch of food and weapons, but we didn't come here for that." Silently, Jaron was hoping that this (true) testimony would stop the Death Faction members from trying to fight back when the three left. Only time would tell if that were actually the case. "Let's get going, then," Bebitwinnie said, cautiously walking over to the ladder. She and Ultima ascended to ground level, and Jaron grabbed the rungs of the ladder as well. He paused, never taking his eyes off of the Death Faction members. "Um...sorry for barging in and all, but we need this item to stop CrazyArcher. I left the rest of your stuff alone." He was met with an awkward silence, as well as many grave stares. Deciding to stop while ahead, Jaron quickly climbed up the ladder and out of the cavern.

The three closed the gate behind them on the way out. "That went pretty well, don't you think?" Ultima asked as the three headed south. The sky was already pretty dark, even for the Wilderness. It was probably really close to nighttime by now. "Yeah, not bad," Jaron agreed. Suddenly, they heard muffled voices and turned around. With lightning-fast speed, all of the Death Faction members climbed the ladder out of their cavern and were poised, ready to attack. Each of them was also decked out in full Rune and various Dragon weapons, but still with a grey pointy hat. Jaron, Ultima, and Bebitwinnie were now pretty much outnumbered. "No one opposes the Death Faction and lives!" one yelled. "That doesn't really bode well," Bebitwinnie remarked. Jaron shrugged, wondering why the Death Faction was trying to oppose them when they could make such an easy getaway. "It doesn't matter. Get us out of here, Ultima." Ultima cast a Lumbridge Teleport, and a purple light enveloped them. But just as fast as it had come, it was gone, and they were still standing in the Wilderness. And by this time, the Death Faction members had opened the gate and were charging at the three. "That's unusual," Ultima said, eyeing his staff. "More than that, it's dangerous. Run!" Jaron replied, starting to sprint southward. "Why didn't your teleport work?" Bebitwinnie inquired as the three raced away, the Death Faction members on their heels. Bebitwinnie also cast a Lumbridge Teleport, but the same thing happened. Ultima gasped, putting two and two together. "The spell she cast on us! It must have been some sort of Teleport Blocker!" "Ooh...that's not good," Bebitwinnie mumbled. "Forget it, we can still outrun them!" Jaron put forth, trying to increase the distance between them and the faction members. But then, out of nowhere, something flew in and hit Jaron, making him stumble and fall. Ultima and Bebitwinnie skidded to a stop and ran back to help him up. "What the heck is this, pie?!" Jaron yelled, looking at the pie dish now lying on the ground. Ultima looked up in time to dodge another flying pie, and quickly got to running again. The three continued to run, but started getting tired quite fast. At this point, the Death Faction had started firing arrows. Luckily, every one of them had missed thus far. Ultima tried to teleport the three to Lumbridge every ten seconds or so. "How long...do you...think the...block lasts?" Jaron gasped between breaths. Ultima shook his head and tried to teleport again. This time, it worked--and the three arrived in Lumbridge. All three stumbled at the change of scenery. "About that long," Bebitwinnie muttered from the ground, lying on her back.

After resting for a bit (mainly lying on the ground trying to catch their breaths,) the three decided to decipher the rest of the Seer's poem. "The rest will become clear in time/As you come 'cross a friend of thine." Bebitwinnie recited. Jaron scratched his head, trying to think of an explanation. "So basically, now that we've got the stuff, we need to know what to do with it. A friend of ours...Tiffy, maybe?" With no other leads, the three started west towards Falador. But they had only traveled a short distance before night fully set in. "We should probably get some rest," Ultima said, noting how dense the nearby forest was. There was a good chance they wouldn't be found here. Lacking sleep, the other two agreed and spent the night in the forest east of Draynor Village.

Part 134: Tools of a New Trade

Jaron was standing alone. Everything around him was black, which was quite odd because the last thing he remembered was going to sleep near Draynor. Although completely black, the area he was in didn't seem the least bit evil, like the rest of the world did. It felt almost...peaceful. It also didn't take Jaron long to realize that this had happened to him before. And in that instance..."I was dreaming," Jaron mumbled aloud. "Yep, and you are again," came a voice from behind him. Jaron whirled around to come face-to-face with his complete likeness, once again, right down to the teal pointy hat. "Uh...hi, Shadow," Jaron waved, nervously smiling. Shadow smiled back. "At least you remembered my name this time around. It's almost time I fulfilled my end of the poem," Shadow said. Jaron suddenly realized with a shock that Shadow must be the 'friend to come across,' not Tiffy. Of course, there was no way the three could have known that. "What do you mean by 'almost'?" Jaron asked. "I'm not allowed to help you very much until you've figured enough out for yourself," Shadow answered. "Ah, there's rules to being dead?" "More or less," Shadow grinned. "Huh. Well then, what else do I need to figure out for you to be able to help me?" "The uses of the small, round objects you've found. Ask Omega. He'd know. It's kind of ironic that you're in the right spot, too." Having said enough, Shadow turned away and started to walk into the blackness, as he had done once before. But this time, he turned around again. "By the way, just between you and me--CrazyArcher's sending his three factions out to find you. The Lavas are starting west near Rimmington and making their way east. If you hear footsteps, don't take it for granted that they're allies." With that, Shadow turned once more and walked away. He seemed to fade into the blackness, until Jaron was standing there, alone.

Jaron woke up with the realization that it was early morning, and that he had work to do. Looking around to make sure there weren't any Lava Faction members nearby already, he raised his Ring of Talking to his mouth. "Hey, Omega, you there?" A few seconds passed before Omega's groggy voice came back over the ring. Apparently he had been sleeping. "Yeh...you need something? We're ready in Edge." "Oh--right. Well, uh, we thought we would need something, but everything worked out with that. We're down near Draynor now," Jaron replied. His talking had woken up Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie, who were looking around and wondering what time it was. "Anyway, I've got a question," Jaron continued. "We've got two little round things, and I need to know what they do." "...Why would you think I'd know?" Omega asked cautiously. "Because Shadow came to me in a dream last night and told me you would." Bebitwinnie sat bolt upright at the mention of Shadow's name. Omega didn't speak for several seconds. Then: "If he said I would know, then it has to be something you wouldn't. Something I've done recently that you haven't." "Like Farming?" Bebitwinnie asked. Jaron could almost hear Omega gasp. "Farming! They must be seeds!" Jaron looked around and barely noticed a couple farming patches several feet away. They were totally overgrown with weeds, which is why the three hadn't spotted them the previous night. "There's a couple of farming patches right here," Jaron said into the ring. "Could you send us equipment?"

Not more than an hour later, the three in the future had dug up a chest with a couple rakes, seed dibbers, spades, rusty watering cans, and the like. Following Omega's instructions, they carefully raked all of the weeds out of the patches, until they looked almost as good as new. Jaron planted the two different seeds in the two different patches and watered them. (Bebitwinnie had gone to the sea to the south to get the water.) About this time, Ultima heard the rustle of leaves in the distance. "Someone's coming," he stated. Jaron recalled with a shock that the Lava Faction was coming, and hurriedly told the other two to climb the nearest tree and not make a sound. Sure enough, not three minutes later, a couple of faction members in red and brown robes walked past, looking from side to side. Luckily, they didn't seem to pay much attention to the farming patch. When they were long gone, the three jumped down.

The rest of the day was rather boring and went about the same. Jaron kept watering the two patches every hour or so, and luckily, neither plant seemed to get sick. The Lava Faction didn't pass by again, but Jaron had the feeling their safety wouldn't last much longer. Unfortunately, by the time they fell asleep that night, the plants hadn't made much progress. One was still basically a sprout while the other was maybe a foot or two tall. The weird thing was that both seemed slightly blue.

Part 135: Culmination

Jaron looked around. All was blackness once again. "So, did we figure enough out?" he asked, turning around, expecting Shadow to be behind him again. But Shadow wasn't there. "Yes, you did," came Shadow's voice. Jaron wheeled around again to face the direction he had started in. Shadow was standing there, grinning. "How do you do that?" Jaron asked, referring to Shadow's quick arrival. "It's a privilege that comes with being dead. Anyway, the Lava Faction is retracing its steps. You're going to have to get to safer ground, preferably Falador." "But the plants aren't done growing yet!" Jaron cried out. "Yeah they are. It's remarkable how much they grow at night. Anyway, you've almost got everything you need to destroy CrazyArcher." "There you go with that 'almost' again," Jaron responded dryly. "Yeah, the end might be trickier for you. But in the meantime, here's what you should do with what you have..."

Jaron woke up a few minutes later, Shadow's instructions fresh in his mind. Looking over at the farming patches, he could tell even with the dim dawn light that they had finished growing. He promptly woke the other two, telling them to get ready to move towards Falador. Ultima groggily got up and let out a "Woah!" when he saw the farming patches. In one was a blue-tinted, fully-grown Magic Tree. The other one was Flax, simple as that. Jaron quickly felled the Magic Tree with several hits from his Dragon Battle Axe, and chopped a few logs off of it. He then picked the Flax plant out of the ground, and with nothing more to do, the three left the old farming equipment where it lay and set off northwest towards Falador.

Tiffy came, barely after sunrise, to the Falador main gate to greet the three. "You're back, what what? Do you need anything, old bean?" Jaron nodded, explaining their situation. "CrazyArcher's factions are out to get us, and I've got all the parts I need to make a weapon that will destroy him. Can we stay in Falador for the time being?" Tiffy vigorously nodded, telling the nearby guards to make sure Jaron got anything he needed to complete his task.

The three sat down in an empty house, and Jaron laid all of the items out on the table. A few special Magic Tree logs (special because the tree was from a Grand Tree seed,) some Flax, Henry's evil chicken feathers and bones, one Dragon Dagger, and a vial of extremely powerful scorpion poison. Jaron retrieved a sharp knife from a White Knight with a white pointy hat, and promptly got to work. Taking one of the Magic Tree logs, he carved it into a sparking blue Shortbow. Spotting a spinning wheel in the corner of the room, he spun the Flax into a bowstring and strung the shortbow. Grabbing the other log, he fashioned it into a single long Magic arrow shaft. "I take it Shadow gave you instructions?" Ultima asked, admiring Jaron's handiwork. "More or less," Jaron replied, continuing without skipping a beat. He then put Henry's yellow feathers into the arrow shaft. Taking the knife he had used to cut the logs, he carefully sawed the handle off of the Dragon Dagger. Then he inserted the Dragon Dagger's remaining tip into the end of the arrow shaft, in effect, making an magic-shaft-evil-chicken-feather-Dragon-arrow hybrid. "So what are the bones for?" Bebitwinnie inquired. "Actually, Shadow said we didn't need them. We were supposed to kill Henry for his feathers, not his bones," Jaron replied. Finally, being even more careful, he coated the tip of the arrow with the orange scorpion poison. "That's awesome," Ultima breathed, amazed at the end result of their quest. "Shadow said it's not done, though," Jaron replied. "It's not? What else do we need to do?" Bebitwinnie asked. Jaron grimaced. "To get it blessed."

Part 136: One More Mini-quest

"Blessed?" Bebitwinnie echoed, frowning. "Yeah, that's what Shadow said. I don't really know why, but if he said to do it, it must be important," Jaron replied. Ultima Cow frowned as well. "There's only three ways to bless things, that I know of," Ultima began. "One is to have one of those Prayer Books." Jaron shook his head. "I don't have mine on me, and even then, I'm missing a couple of pages from it. Somehow I doubt the White Knights would keep Prayer Books on hand. Then again, I figure there probably wouldn't be any remaining in this time period anyway." "Two," Ultima continued, "is to contact one of the guys at the Monastery up north." "What's the third?" Bebitwinnie inquired. Ultima shrugged. "I would suspect someone on Entrana could help, as well." Jaron mulled it over a moment, then came to a conclusion. "Let's ask Tiffy."

"You rang, old bean?" Tiffy asked as he entered the room the three were in. Jaron had asked one of the white-hatted guards outside to see if Tiffy could come, and sure enough, he was there in no time at all. "Great scott--look what you have there, what what? Jolly good show!" exclaimed Tiffy as he eyed the Dragon arrow sitting on the table. Jaron grinned. "That's our weapon. But apparently, we need to bless it. Do you know if the Monastery or Entrana is still inhabited?" Tiffy frowned, and the three feared to hear what he would say next. "No, old bean, I'm afraid the Monastery was overrun quite some time ago. As you implied, it's simply not defended, what?" "We've come too far to let this stop us...what about Entrana?" Bebitwinnie asked. Tiffy sighed again. "You see, we don't know if Entrana is inhabited or not, old bean. They could be all secluded over there, or simply non-existent. Worse yet, we don't have any evidence to support it either way, what? You're on your own with that." "You don't have any boats?" Ultima queried, but Tiffy merely shook his head. "I apologize, but no, we don't have any boats. There's no point in guarding them night and day from attack, what? Well, if you require nothing else, I must get back to my duties. The Lava Faction is getting braver, and soon they'll be pounding on our front door."

Even though Tiffy had left, the three were still racking their brains on a way to get to Entrana. "We don't have a boat, and we can't make one with the Lava Faction patrolling the area," Ultima stated. "What about the gnome gliders?" Bebitwinnie asked. Jaron thought a moment more, then shook his head. "I doubt it. For one thing, if Entrana is occupied, they probably have safeguarding measures or spells to prevent boats from landing. That way the Lava Faction would lead them alone. It's probably the same with air entries." "From what you're saying," Ultima muttered, "the only way to get to Entrana would be to have the Monks pick us up." Bebitwinnie laughed at the notion of the Monks of Entrana coming all the way out to pick three adventurers up. But Jaron was merely silent. "That's a great idea..." he mumbled. Bebitwinnie did a double-take. "What?" "We could have them pick us up!" Jaron continued. "All we would need is to let them know we were here!" "And how would be do that?" Ultima asked, trying to point out possible flaws in Jaron's plan. "We give them a date. A day to come for us," Jaron replied. "We don't even know what day it is now!" Ultima cried out. Jaron looked at him with determination in his eyes. "Then we find out. We learn what day it is, and contact Omega. He tells them to drift just out of port, on that day, every year. Then they pick us up and take us over to Entrana." No one spoke for several moments, trying to take all of this in. Finally, Ultima grinned. "Okay, you're right. That sounds good. What do you say we teleport to Ardougne and take a look at the Clock Tower?" The three promptly let the guard outside know they were leaving, and moments later had teleported to Ardougne.

Part 137: Take the Time to Find the Time

"So...run this by me again?" Omega asked, trying to understand Jaron's plan. He, Brandon, Andrey and Twisas were walking towards Port Sarim. Jaron's voice came over Omega's Ring of Talking once more. "Okay. We need to get to Entrana, but the only way for that to happen would be for the Monks there to pick us up. So we're going to find out what day it is here and now. We need you guys to go to Entrana and tell them to come to Port Sarim on that day, every year. If they stick to it, eventually, they'll find us. We're heading for the Clock Tower now in the hope that it's still running and has the correct date." "Sounds good, I suppose," Omega replied. "Thanks. I'll call you when we learn something," Jaron answered, cutting the Ring's connection.

In their present time, the Clock Tower was inhabited by some nice guy. Kojo, Jaron believed his name was. At any rate, the place was deserted now. Worse yet--"It's broken," Ultima stated, looking up at the old clock. The face of the clock was looking quite bad, and the numbers were barely distinguishable. Springs and gears were poking out of machinery here and there, no doubt an act of sabotage. The clock couldn't have simply broken on its own on this scale of damage. "Well, I can't say I'm surprised, at least," Jaron pointed out as the three turned and started walking away. "Yeah, but it could have made our quest a lot easier," Bebitwinnie replied. "You know what would make things easier? Dropping your weapons and staying where you are." The three whirled around at the new voice to see five Blood Faction members with crossbows at the ready, standing in the open Clock Tower doorway. Each had their trademark blood-red robes and matching pointy hat. "Yes, you. Put your weapons on the ground, or we'll fire." Silently cursing himself for letting his guard down, Jaron set his battle-axe on the floor. Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie did likewise. Ultima Cow seemed to back up, his hands behind his back. The Blood Faction member smiled and addressed the three again. "Good. You know, CrazyArcher's not very happy about you killing Henry." "From the looks of it, Henry's killed more than his share," Jaron mumbled. "Well...true. Nevertheless, CrazyArcher has ordered us to kill you three on sight. And don't worry, since you were so compliant, your deaths will be quick," he laughed. Jaron grimaced at the faction member's odd sense of humor. Sensing a lull in the conversation, Ultima immediately threw his hands out and cast a Fire Blast on the five faction members. Their crossbows caught fire, and in a matter of moments they were weaponless. "Wha--how did you do that?" the Blood Faction member yelled. "You don't need a staff to cast a spell," Ultima replied. Surely everyone knew this? "That's not what CrazyArcher told us..." Well, apparently not. The three picked up their weapons, and before the Blood Faction members could react, Bebitwinnie had teleported the three of them back to Falador.

They reappeared just outside the Falador main gate, where the guard seemed slightly stunned. "Huh. Looks like Tiffy rerouted the teleport location," Bebitwinnie stated, looking around. The guard let them in again, and they were promptly ushered to another room. Ultima took a chair at the table immediately upon entering. "After using a staff for so long, it seems to take a lot out of me to cast a spell without one," he mumbled, burying his head in his arms. After a minute or two, Tiffy walked into the room. Ultima sat up, and Jaron got up off the table he had been sitting on. "Did you get any ideas for getting to Entrana, old bean?" he asked. Jaron nodded, then decided to shake his head instead. "Well, actually, we have a plan, but we can't figure out what day it is. That's all we need to know at this point." "Well I knew that, old bean! It's the twelfth of Lathary. You could have asked me, what?"

Part 138: Final Preparations

Rather than wait around, Omega's group decided to catch the first boat heading for Entrana. In all actuality, it was the only boat heading for Entrana, but it made frequent trips for whoever wanted to head out to the holy island. Per the Monk's request, the four weren't allowed to bring any weapons or armor onboard with them. This was a long-standing custom, but occasionally people found loopholes around it. The Monk walked from person to person, inspecting runesacks and other satchels for hidden daggers and whatnot. He stopped at Omega and looked into his face. "I remember you," he muttered. "Heh, no crafting supplies this time," Omega sheepishly grinned back. Without any distractions, the group boarded the boat as it set off for Entrana. As they were about halfway there, Jaron's voice came over Omega's ring. "Watch him say we don't need to head to Entrana anymore," Twisas laughed. "Don't even joke about something like that," Andrey grumbled in reply. Omega simply rolled his eyes and answered the call. "It's the 12th of Lathary here," Jaron informed them. "So you're not even in the same month we are," Omega stated. He felt like he tell Jaron was nodding. "Yeah. Can you ask the Monks to drift near Port Sarim every year on the 13th?" "Sure thing," Omega replied. Jaron thanked them again just before cutting the connection between their rings.

The head Monk of Entrana entered the church where Omega, Brandon, Andrey and Twisas were waiting. "You are the four who requested an audience?" he asked, speaking with a tone of politeness while at the same time implying he had other matters to attend to. Hoping sincerity was the best course of action, Omega launched into a detailed explanation of what the future was going to be like. Over his lecture, the head Monk sat down, trying to take all of it in. When Omega had finished, the Monk simply stared at him for several moments before speaking. "This is all quite hard to believe, but I can tell that you are not lying. Why, then, have you come here?" "We've got a few friends that CrazyArcher sent into the future. They need to get a weapon blessed to finish him off once and for all. Unfortunately, they have no way to contact Entrana. All we ask is that you send a boat to Port Sarim every single year on the thirteenth of Lathary. If conditions get dangerous, you don't have to dock the boat. Just have it there, in case someone comes." The head Monk took this in a little while longer, and then inquired, "How will we recognize your friends?" Omega smiled, trying to pick out the most recognizable details. "Two are mages, and the other's got a teal pointy hat."

"I can't believe he agreed to that so easily," Twisas stated as the four got off the boat in Port Sarim once more. Omega shivered. "Me either. He's a walking human lie detector, at any rate." "So what now?" Brandon asked, racking his brain for objectives to complete. "I think that's about it on our end. But I do have some unfinished business I'd like to take care of," Omega replied, leading the way north. Just out of Port Sarim, Andrey spotted a familiar face walking out of Falador. "Hey, it's Magicana!" he said, pointing at their friend. "Hey, what's up? Did you help your friend out?" Omega asked, walking up to Magicana. Who, strangely, stood there in silence. "W...what?" Magicana asked. Omega repeated what he had said. "Your friend. You said you couldn't come to the party earlier because you were going to go help him out." Magicana continued to stare at them as if he had no clue what was going on. "I...yeah...he's fine. ...I gotta go." Without another word, Magicana hurried past them and off to the south. "What's up with him?" Twisas asked, having not seen him in Seers in the first place. "Beats me," Omega replied, a concerned look on his face.

Early the next morning, on the thirteenth of Lathary, Jaron, Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie stood at the Falador front gate. "Look! I see it!" Bebitwinnie said excitedly. Through the trees in the distance, they could indeed make out the white sails of an Entranan ship. "Let's make a break for it while we can," Jaron decided, hurrying towards the ship in the distance. When they were almost halfway to Port Sarim, a flimsy arrow flew by and struck a nearby tree. The three stopped dead in their tracks and wheeled around, looking for the assassin. Instead, they saw several Lava Faction members to the east, who were now yelling at the top of their lungs for backup. Wasting no time, the three now started sprinting towards the ship. More arrows flew, but they all missed. Since Ultima had destroyed the Lavas' good crossbows, the ones they were now using were of poor quality. Luckily, the Entranan ship spotted the three coming in the distance, and drifted closer to Port Sarim. By now, the three were being followed by a number of Lava Faction members. A number growing larger by the second.

Part 139: Final Encounter...On Both Ends

At quite possibly the last moment, the Entranan ship struck the Port Sarim docks while a door opened in the side of the ship. Without a moment to lose, Jaron, Ultima Cow and Bebitwinnie leapt the few feet over the water into the ship's hold. A Monk promptly shut the door, and the three heard the thudding sounds of a few Lava Faction members jumping, hitting the side, and splashing down into the water. As the ship took off for Entrana, the three steadied themselves and thanked their rescuer. The Monk merely bowed and responded, "So the ones we have waited for are here at last. Two mages and a teal hat wearer." Jaron grinned, laughing on the inside at what Omega must have told the Monks back in the present. "You know, however," the Monk continued, taking on a more serious tone, "that we still do not allow weapons or armor to our holy island. Even being on this ship is a special circumstance. You must leave your belongings here before you go ashore." The three nodded, expecting no less.

When they walked ashore on Entrana, Ultima and Bebitwinnie still had their robes, but no staves. Jaron had to leave his battle-axe and armor behind, decking down to his green shirt and tan slacks. The Monk on the ship had heard their plight and allowed them to take the arrow, but they had to hold it out in plain view at all times. They entered the main Entrana church to find yet another Monk facing away. He turned when they entered, astonished to see the newcomers. "Today's the day?" he breathed. Jaron shrugged. "We haven't been waiting as long as you have, but sure, today's the day." The Monk walked over, eyeing the Dragon arrow warily. "Well, then, greetings! I am the head Monk of Entrana. Is it still true, you need to get a weapon blessed?" Jaron nodded, indicating the arrow. "Be careful, that poison on the tip is lethal," he added. The head Monk eyed the arrow over, then looked down at his feet and closed his eyes. When he looked back up, his expression had changed, and so had the tone of his voice. "It's been a while," he said. The three took a half step back, startled to hear the voice of Saradomin. "Saradomin?" Bebitwinnie cautiously asked, trying to affirm her guess. The head Monk nodded. "Yes. In this dark time, I have decided to watch more carefully over my followers on Entrana. When any attackers come, I use my powers to dispel them. At any rate..." He carefully took hold of the arrow, and a blue light started shining around it. The light was suddenly gone as soon as it had come. The head Monk handed the arrow back, then seemed to turn into his old self again. "We have fulfilled our promise at last. Good luck." The three returned their thanks and left for Port Sarim.

They were halfway to Port Sarim, with a new Monk on the boat. He had one of those purple staffs the mages on White Wolf Mountain had used. The plan was to get the three to Port Sarim safely, while the Monk cast Ice spells over the opposing faction members. There had only been about fifteen of them, so it wouldn't be that hard, he mused. When they docked at Port Sarim, Ultima was the first to go up on deck and look around. He came back down looking very pale. "Forget fifteen. Try a hundred and fifty. It's a sea of Lava and Steam Faction members, and even a couple Blood. And CrazyArcher's standing in front of them all, waiting for us." The Monk shook his head, indicating he couldn't take out that many people. Jaron grimaced, trying to come up with a plan.

The door in the side of the ship opened, and Ultima and Bebitwinnie slowly scrambled onto the Port Sarim docks, holding their hands high in the air to show they surrendered. They stood mere feet away from CrazyArcher, who didn't look very happy. The door in the ship shut, and the ship drifted out. "Where's Jaron?" CrazyArcher growled. Ultima gulped, trying to show fear to CrazyArcher on purpose. "He's still on Entrana. We were coming to inform Falador of our progress, and he was going to follow in a few minutes." CrazyArcher narrowed his eyes but didn't say a word.

The Entranan ship pulled around the coast, out of sight of the faction members. The door opened, and Jaron jumped out, running to the side of a Port Sarim building. Finding a nearby ladder, he quickly climbed up to the roof.

"So why was he on Entrana, anyway?" CrazyArcher asked, smiling that evil smile he usually did. Ultima looked to Bebitwinnie as he tried to come up with an answer for this one. "Um...the Entranans have that glass-blowing furnace, you know? We were making a glass sword that would be lightweight yet deadly. You know, like Bulldog's sword a few weeks ago.

Jaron stealthily leaped from roof to roof. Luckily, all of the faction members below seemed to be concentrating on Ultima and Bebitwinnie, and weren't looking up. (One more roof and I might be close enough,) he mused, preparing for his biggest leap.

CrazyArcher laughed. "Okay, one more question--why are you telling me all this? You're spilling every secret you've got without me even having to torture you. I expected better of you, really." "Because we're stalling, you idiot," Ultima replied. They heard a faint twanging sound, like an arrow being shot from a bow. CrazyArcher whirled around to face the sound, a look of shock on his face. He saw the arrow coming at him just in time, and held his hand up to break it like all the others. And then the strangest thing happened--nothing. There was a blue shimmer around the arrow as Saradomin's power seemed to cancel out CrazyArcher's, and a split-second later it struck him. The sheer power of the arrow dug into CrazyArcher, while the scorpion poison caused his death almost immediately. He fell to the ground with the collective gasp of a hundred and fifty faction members.

Part 140: Ten to One the Factions Try to Get Their Revenge...

The multitude of faction members stared unbelievingly at CrazyArcher's lifeless body for a moment, and then looked up at Jaron. Their shoddy crossbows fell from their hands, but they were too stunned to notice or care. Ultima and Bebitwinnie took a silent step back, hoping to make a quick retreat, but already other faction members had surrounded them and blockaded their path to the sea. The Lava Faction member furthest in front, most likely CrazyArcher's current right-hand man, turned around and quietly spoke with others. "(They killed our lord. We've got them surrounded,)" Ultima heard him say. "(Even if the one on the roof runs, we can take our revenge the other two,)" spoke another. "(Forget the speech! The time for action is now! Let's tear them limb from limb in CrazyArcher's name!)" called yet a third. Everyone turned back to Ultima and Bebitwinnie, who were growing less comfortable by the second.

Jaron could do nothing but look on in shock. Their plan of action had been thrown together quick and sloppily, and no one had apparently taken this part into account. He had no plan out of this one. No idea at all, and no way to save his friends. Jumping off the roof to defend them would be suicide; all of them knew that. He sank to his knees as the faction members closed in.

Ultima and Bebitwinnie weren't going down without a fight. Bebitwinnie released a fearsome Air Wave, pushing back several enemies, but not knocking them out. Ultima cast a few Fire Blasts, setting some robes on fire, but nothing major enough to stop the factions' slow advance. They seemed to be taking it all quite leisurely. Ultima took a quick glance up at the roof Jaron was on. He was on his knees, apparently in shock. (I guess he doesn't have a plan this time,) Ultima figured solemnly. The factions were maybe ten feet away now in all directions. As a last-second thought, Ultima grabbed an Air Rune and a Law Rune and tossed it up to the roof Jaron was on. "Drop your staff and come here," Ultima quickly told Bebitwinnie.

Jaron caught the runes in mid-air, slightly confused. There was only one spell he would be able to cast with this, and magic wasn't his strong suit anyway. But this was obviously their only option, and their only chance at that. Looking down, Ultima had already raised his Fire staff horizontally above his head with both arms, and Bebitwinnie was holding onto it in the same way. Taking a deep breath, Jaron stood up again and cast telekinetic grab on Ultima's Fire staff. The staff jerked into the air with both Ultima and Bebitwinnie hanging from it. The hundred-plus faction members gasped again, apparently not seeing this coming. Now sufficiently off the ground, the staff was much more slowly gliding over to Jaron's roof. Jaron grimaced, feeling like he was going to drop the two, but unwilling to stop trying. The faction members tried to jump up and grab the two hanging from Ultima's staff, but Ultima kept raising his feet and kicking to bounce up off their heads. In their rage, the factions had apparently completely forgotten about the crossbows at their feet. After what seemed like an eternity, the staff floated over the roof and the two hanging on let go. Jaron staggered, dizzy from the spell, and Ultima grabbed his shoulder to steady him. "We're not out of the woods yet," Bebitwinnie remarked, and as if to accentuate her point, a crossbow bolt flew through the air. Ultima and Bebitwinnie leapt the first roof (which was the largest gap) and waited for Jaron to cross. Still slightly dizzy, he made the jump, but started to fall backwards upon reaching the other side. Both Ultima and Bebitwinnie grabbed his flailing arms and pulled him forward. "Tha--" Jaron started, but was cut off with a reply of "Thank us later" as the other two ran off and another crossbow bolt pierced the air above Jaron's hat.

The three leapt more accurately from roof to roof, slid down the ladder at the end, and dove onto the waiting Entranan vessel just as the factions rounded the corner. The Monk pulled the door shut once again just in time to hear the thuds of faction members hitting the side of the ship.

The three stood in the Entrana church (without armor or weapons, of course,) and faced the head Monk. He spoke again in the voice of Saradomin. "You've done it--" Saradomin said, "--once and for all." Jaron's face was still quite solemn. "There's still the matter of the factions. They're all out there, waiting for our return," he pointed out. The head Monk smiled. "Not to worry. I've removed the rock that holds the TzHaar." "Who are the...TzHaar?" Bebitwinnie cautiously asked. "The TzHaar are a powerful race of people that live in the depths of Karamja volcano. When the Lava Faction took over the volcano, the TzHaar refused to conform to their beliefs and worship CrazyArcher. So the Lava Faction set a large stone in place to block the entrance to the TzHaar city. They did it in such a way that the TzHaar would not be able to break through from their side. But now they have been released, and will not rest again until every pro-CrazyArcher faction member is eliminated." "That ties up that loose end, then. But what's going to happen to us and this time now?" Jaron wondered aloud. "You three will be returned to your own time. Your lives will continue normally, and long after you perish these same events will take place. In your absence, CrazyArcher will attempt to rule over the land, and you shall come from the past to defeat him. As for now, I will have the TzHaar spread the word that CrazyArcher has been killed. People shall congregate outside of city walls, the power of magic will be retaught, the world shall be rebuilt. And soon enough, the land will be safe once more. Everyone alive owes you, and your allies in your present, a great debt of gratitude." With Saradomin's final words, a blue light shone around the three. When it had vanished, they were safely in present-day Falador castle, their belongings that had been left aboard the Entrana ship now on the table beside them.

Epilogue: A Party of a Different Sort

All seven of them--Jaron, Ultima Cow, Bebitwinnie, Omegaman, Brandon, Andrey and Twisas--met in the lobby of the Castle Wars arena. After such an adventure, they had decided it was time for another rest. As Jaron sorrowfully dropped his pointy hat into the nearby bank chest, Omega walked up to him. "I've got something I think you'll like," he merely said, grinning at Jaron's confusion.

In the midst of battle atop the Saradomin castle, the group (minus Bebitwinnie) were stopping intruders left and right. Jaron used a Dragon battle axe to slash at one Zamorak intruder, who faded away to reappear in his own castle. Turning around to face another oncoming opponent, he twirled the battle axe's handle in his hand. When he slashed out for the kill, it was suddenly with a long sword. Twirling the handle again, Jaron whirled a half-turn to the left to stab another enemy with a poisoned Dragon Dagger. "Man, there's only one way this thing could be any better," he laughed. "If it could turn into a staff?" Bebitwinnie asked, running up the steps with the Zamorak flag. She lobbed her Air staff to him, and he spun and knocked another enemy unconscious with it. "If it could turn into a staff," Jaron agreed, grinning and tossing her Air staff back to her.

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 Post subject: Re: Zamorak's Bane III: Time Unknown, by Jaron
PostPosted: December 24th, 2014, 3:39 pm 
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That was way, way better than ZB1 or ZB2 in my opinion. I think I hatched the ZB2/ZB3 time travel plotline after Timesplitters 3 came out, haha.

Part 126 is always my favorite. After this was written I continued to call every Evil Chicken I met in RuneScape Henry. It even caught on among a few friends, if I recall correctly! :D

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