Choose your own adventure in this RPG-esque epic that lets the readers impact the story.
When last we saw our fearless heroes, they’d landed in Render’s home city of Trelenodora. While Clyde and Jonathan split off to hit the market and get some supplies, Render led the others off on a quest for revenge against his old mentor, Captain Rothbury. They broke into the captain’s home, only to interrupt tea time with Render’s own father, Thomas Render V! Undeterred by this turn of events, Render VI raised his sword. It’s killing time!
: Why are you standing around here? You came to kill! It’s time to get blood on your hands! You’ve always wanted to be a killer; now’s your chance!
: Think you have what it takes to defeat me, boy? We’ve raised our standards at the school since you dropped out.
: I can beat you any day, old man! Bring it on!
: I swear, if you say “ho snap” one more time…
: And son, if you follow through with this foolish plan, I will have no choice but to ground you. Your mother will be most unhappy, and don’t get me started on how the kids will react.
Render: Enrique! Keep my father out of the way while I kill Rothbury!
: But you said I could help kill people!
: I’ll leave all the city guards to you when we make our daring escape!
: Give it your best try then, Boyo!
Render lunged, brash in battle as he was in speech. Rothbury countered his attack with a quick parry, blocking and throwing Render’s sword to the side. He laughed, and Render realized that the old sea dog was toying with him. Rage rekindled, Render lunged again, starting his attack with renewed vigor.
The two danced about the garden, stepping over potted plants and pivoting to avoid the priceless statues placed in picturesque nooks. Rothbury was in his element, deflecting all of Render’s blows and laughing all the while. Render got some satisfaction in seeing that Thomas Render V was perfectly apoplectic beside the surreally calm Enrique.
Meanwhile, Rivers seemed to have taken the tea party under his hand. He was serving Mrs. Rothbury another slice of carrot cake when the fusion-mage accidentally knocked a crystal decanter to the ground, shattering the expensive item. And then, Render saw his chance: as Rothbury flinched and cast a quick glance back at the tea party, Render struck. There was a tearing of fabric, a metallic glint under Rothbury’s torn clothes, and a familiar voice cried out in surprise.
Render: Wait a minute, I know that voice!
: Oh dear god, I know that voice. That can’t be who I think it is…!
????: It is I, Spoonlad!!
A slightly oversized and anthropomorphic spoon leapt from the ruins of Rothbury’s breast pocket, easily alighting on the tea table. Although he’d tarnished slightly and there were a few new nicks in his polished exterior, there could be no doubt that it was, in fact, Spoonlad, the fearless fanboy who’d been left behind all those episodes ago…
Before Fuzz McCoppo had a chance to react (or to enact the great plan he was preparing), the halfling Streebless dove right at his face, clawing, biting, scratching. Fuzz was hit with such great momentum that the two went flying straight out the door and tumbling down Mt. Rockslide.
Meanwhile, Streebmore made a similar move on Enrique, and Enrique almost met the same fate as his new police officer friend.
For, you see, for all this time…something…
…was hiding in Enrique’s pants.
Or, should I say…someone…
And that someone had just made his presence known.
Spoonlad: Oh, my sexy hero Enrique! I won’t let him get you! Not after all we’ve been through together! Not after all the times you’ve saved this world’s many lands from destruction! This time someone’s going to save you, and that someone is ME!
And so the animated spoon dove straight out of Enrique’s pants, just in time to meet Streebmore in mid-air, blocking the halfling from latching onto the sexy hero’s face.
Streebmore and Spoonlad both fell to the ground in a heap, and slapped each other into unconsciousness.
After the mandatory flashback forced everyone to look up with vaguely far-off expressions, it took Render a moment to regain his focus. When he did, he saw that Spoonlad had leapt off the table and was poised mid-air with arms wide open, tears in his eyes and a shower of sparkles around him. He was heading toward Enrique, who had gone unnaturally pale.
Spoonlad: Sexy swordsman Enrique, now that we are reunited, I can once more take my rightful place within your pants!
: Augh! Stay away from me, you spoony…spoon! We left you to die! I thought you’d finally made your last appearance in this story!
Spoonlad: Ah, my beloved Enrique, my burning desire for you was greater than the pull of death! But when I regained consciousness and found you gone, I was at a loss! My love gone, my life had no meaning, and so I set off to find you!
: But how did you fall in with Rothbury?
Spoonlad’s voice sped up, as though he were trying to get the words out quickly so that he could get back into his lover’s embrace.
Spoonlad: While on a soul-searching voyage, Rothbury’s crew attacked our ship. I was a hostage, and feared for my life. Although I knew that I faced certain death, I told Rothbury that my love for you was pure, and that one way or another I would find a way to return to you! I think my story moved him, for he took me on as one of the crew, and I eventually worked my way up to his apprentice!
: And you thought that Rothbury would help you get to us? Hah! Fat chance!
Spoonlad: Perish the thought! When I met Rothbury, I saw my chance: I could start a new life! I could become the captain of my own ship of pirates, and take the seas by storm! And, if we happened upon you fellows, I would take you for my prisoners, and then Enrique would finally be mine once more, one way or another!
: That was a terrible mistake, and is never going to happen, ever again.
Spoonlad: But we had such good times when you didn’t realize I was in your pants! Imagine how much better it will be when you *do* know!
: Rivers! Can you please fuse him into something that I can throw into the depths of the sea? Something heavy that will sink and never resurface??
: He’s already metallic. You could probably just throw him in as-is and he’d sink.
Spoonlad: Such cruel words, my love! But I know that my determination will help you see that my love for you is pure and true!
Render watched as Enrique struggled to get away from Spoonlad’s embrace. The swordsman soared over the tea table, rushing toward the far side of the garden. It was then that Render made his startling discovery.
: Crap! While you two had your lovely-dovey reminiscences and extensive flashback, Rothbury escaped!
: And the tea ran out!
: And the tea ran out! Quickly, we must go after him, before this plot can take any more dramatic twists!
Jonathan and Clyde spent the morning gathering the necessary supplies, and came back with several heavy boxes and a regrettably lighter purse. As the two stowed the crates below, Jonathan was troubled at how little they’d been able to get, and how few coins remained. No matter how he turned the numbers in his head, they were dangerously close to bankrupt, and he knew that Render wouldn’t listen to reason. So, as they worked, Jonathan talked to Clyde about how they could earn some extra coin to keep the adventuring fund full.
: That’s everything we need, I think. Or at least everything we can afford to buy at this point.
: I keep telling ye, lad, if ye lent me a bit a’ gold, I could turn a pretty profit by whipping up a few gadgets to sell.
: Unless you already have some amazing inventions you invented with your own supplies, I think you’re out of luck.
: Hear me out, lad. You said yourself we’re strapped for a bit a’ cash, and settin’ up a shop might be just the way to raise a few funds. And what better place to set up a shop than here in the renowned market city of Trelenodora?
: Well, there is the fact that it’s a city run by pirates.
: I don’t see how working for pirate merchant lords is any different than workin’ under your captain, if you don’t mind me sayin’ so.
: Also, working in the city might mean we’re less likely to get fused with inanimate objects by that daft sorcerer. And it don’t have to be forever. It could be a money-making holiday.
: Well, we do need money…but I don’t know anything about keeping a shop. I’m in the transport trade.
: There ye have it, then! Ye can act as delivery boy for my merchandise. Deliver it to my best and highest-payin’ customers.
: Or I could deliver your customers. A taxi service might be just what we need.
: That’s another alternative, aye. But what would the cap’n say to you ferrying people about in his ship?
: He’ll just have to deal with it. We’re dipping into the emergency funds as it is, and even Render understands that we need money to keep adventuring, especially since we always end up with more trouble than treasure.
: I’m a new and valuable asset to th’ team! Anyway, if you don’t give ‘im the chance t’ argue, I’m sure he’ll come round to seein’ it your way. Eventually.
: It’s decided, then. I’ll send a note to his estate and suggest he vacation with his family while we earn some money. A month should do it.
: I’m off t’ see about sellin’ some pieces in one of those shops, then. Back in a bit.
Having reached a decision, Clyde headed for the market while Jonathan sat down to pen a letter to Render. He wondered how best to say “I’ve taken it upon myself to actually do some honest work for a change and get some money to support this dysfunctional crew” without actually having to say it like that. He was blotting the paper dry when Clyde came into the room, a slightly bedraggled man behind him.
: I’m so good, not only did I land a sweet bargain with one o’ the merchants, I found our first fare!
: Greetings, sir. I’m in need of a ship that can get out of here, fast, and your friend assures me that you’re rather good at this sort of thing.
: Fast getaways are a specialty of mine. Welcome aboard, Mr…?
: Rothbu—rg. Mr. Rothburg, and I’ll pay you double fare if we can be off within five minutes.
Jonathan: Done and done! Welcome aboard, sir!
And so ends this month’s edition of “The Gates of Life.” Will Render figure out what became of his old mentor? Will Spoonlad be able to reclaim his lost love? Will Rivers finally find some more tea?! It’s up to you to choose by commenting below!
Which Gate Do You Choose?
: MY SHIP! THEY’VE TAKEN MY SHIP!
: Jonathan made a few valid points in his letter, Render…
: I’LL HAVE HIM WALK THE PLANK! I’LL HAVE CLYDE INVENT A PLANK OF NEW AND ABHORRENT MEASURES AND I’LL MAKE THEM BOTH WALK IT!
Enrique: They’re the only ones who really know how to work the airship, though.
: *sigh* At the very least, they’ll get a strong talking to and I’ll dock their pay.
and Enrique: They’re getting paid??
Indentured Family Service
: Well, son, it seems you’ll be staying for a while. You mother will be thrilled. She’s kept your bedroom just the way you left it. I’ll see to getting you a job in the family business and setting you up with an allowance.
: But I don’t want to-
: Then we’re going to sit down and have a serious discussion about your obligations to the family and how you’re going to make your mother proud and marry a nice girl of our choosing. I know for a fact that the Mortisses’s daughter Mildred is still available.
: Rivers! Enrique! New plan! Forget revenge, we’ve got to escape my parents!
My Way or the Skyway.
: You seem to have a good solid head on your shoulders, my boy, and I could use someone of your skills. Tell me, have you ever considered taking up piracy for a living?
: You have no idea…
: I’m starting to have some doubts about this passenger of ours…
You Spoony Lad!
Spoonlad: My life was going so well! I had a new purpose, new friends, and a new goal in life! Why did you have to come back into my life, Enrique-kun?!?
Enrique: I will be happy to leave it again, the sooner the better.
Spoonlad: No, don’t you see? It was destiny that brought us back together! At first I thought I would have to choose between you and my new life, but now I see that my new life was in fact a way to get closer to you! It’s Destiny, I tell you! Destiny!
: Short of dumping him in the bottom of a disused cutlery drawer, Enrique, I don’t think you’ll get rid of him that easily.
Vote for your favorite Gate by posting in the comments!