"What do you mean you do not know how he died?" Screamed the lead Zealot mage.
Melly could tell he was the leader. He had an air of authority, and he was wearing a fancier black robe with a full hood, whereas the others were dressed in dull brown robes. Melly wasn't one hundred percent sure, but she thought the man also looked more like a wizard.
The three members of the party had all ducked behind a smoking shrub and were now staring at the remaining trio of Zealots.
Three versus three, Melly thought.
The smoke made it hard to make out the surrounding buildings. But she already knew exactly where she was. This was her street. Surrounding the Zealots, the villagers stood silently. They were motionless and seemed to be in a magic-induced trance. Iron collars had been fastened to their throats, and they were all wearing blank expressions.
It must be the work of the wands of subjugation, Melly thought.
"Something came right out of nowhere, headed straight for him and killed him instantly!" offered one zealot in explanation. "I couldn't see what it was, maybe a rock or something?"
Melly looked down at her hand, at the innocent-looking potato. It sat there dull and unmoving. “Bloody thing,” she whispered.
She had tried to get rid of it on her way here but the thing kept following her like it was possessed and flying back into her hand. After several failed attempts to discard it, Melly gave up and kept the vegetable weapon.
The Zealot leader surveyed the area around the corpse of their companion and growled.
"I can't see anything through this damn smoke!" he shouted. With a well-practised flick of his two-foot wand, he sent a surge of wind through the air to clear the scene.
Finally, Melly had time to inspect the surrounding buildings.
She clenched her fists and her lips set themselves in a wire-thin line. Where once her home had been, there was now a gigantic smoking crater.
"What the heck did you do to my house?" Melly shouted, forgetting she was supposed to be hiding. She ran forwards in a blind rage.
The three Zealots flinched at the unexpected intruder, proceeding to point their wands at her. Melly the Furious glared at her foes armed only with a Potato. With all her might, she flexed her arm and hurled the engorged spud.
The potato never left her hand.
The three zealots looked at each other in confusion and then snickered.
Melly looked down and screamed in rage. It was futile. The Potato was stuck to her skin. She tried to throw it again and again with no luck.
"What the hell is going on?" she asked as she furiously danced around in circles, desperately trying to throw the magnetic potato at the Zealots. "Why is this happening now?"
"Oh, Damn," Clemiticus said. He had somehow appeared beside her with Derrick closely behind. "Your potato has a cool down."
"Cool down?" she asked, completely ignoring the now confused and enraged expressions on the faces of the three Zealot mages.
"Why aren't our wands working?" muttered one of the robed figures.
Clemiticus walked in front of Melly, turned his back on the zealots and examined her weapon. "Well, you see a cool down is a cooling-off period where you have to wait before you can use the item again. Yeah, looks like it has at least a ten minutes cool down. Just wait for a little while, and you'll be able to use it again," he added.
The Lead Zealot swore and strode towards them. He grabbed Clemiticus by the shoulder, forcing him to turn around and face him. He eyed Clemiticus with disgust.
Melly thought the man looked strikingly similar to the first man they had found near the strange idol. Old, balding and with sunken eyes.
"Dude, do you mind?" Clemiticus spat. "We are having a conversation," he harrumphed, "some people are so rude."
Clemiticus shoved the Zealot's arm away and turned back again to Melly. "Try looking at the item's info. See if there's a clock or cool down tracker."
"Argh!!" The Lead zealot screamed. He lunged forward with his wand, forgetting it was used for magic and clobbered Clemiticus over the head.
"Ouch! That hurts, man!" Clemiticus fell, clutching his head. "What did you do that for?"
The enraged mage turned his focus on Melly and looked at her face closely for the first time. Suddenly, his anger evaporated.
"W, what are you doing here?" he stammered. His two companions moved to his side, and they too got a closer look at Melly.
"Is that her?" murmured one.
"What's she doing here?" asked the other. They looked into the sky as if the clouds would pounce on them.
"What are you on about?" Melly asked totally confused.
The Lead Zealot collected himself. "No, not her. She's much too young. Although there were rumours she had a daughter. I guess they were all true."
"What do you know of my mother?" Melly demanded.
A nasty smile spread across his face. "I wonder what it would be like to have this one as a slave? I wonder if it would force her mother to do anything I say?" he said with eyes flashing with greed. He then raised his wand to prepare for a spell.
"Can I use my potato yet?" Melly asked. A look of disgust contorting her face.
Clemiticus took a moment from his self-pitying to look up at the Potato's information.
"Says five seconds left."
"Great!" she gave the zealots a murderous smile. "I don't know where my mother is. However, I know that you three bastards have cost me my damn house!" she shouted, flipping her potato in hand.
The lead zealot gave her a patronising smirk. Melly didn’t like the way the mage was looking at her.
"I wonder what you would look like with a collar on," he said, leering.
His cronies gave appreciative nods.
"Shouldn’t have said that!" muttered Derrick, as he gave the Zealots a rueful grin.
The lead zealot scoffed. "What can this little girl do? I am all-powerful. I have mastered death. I will be your undoing!"
"See, I told you," Clemiticus confirmed. "Lazy writing for these bad guys."
"Shut up!" Melly roared. She clenched her teeth and threw her weapon as hard as she could, striking the Lead Zealot square in the face.
The Potato instantly rebounded to the man on his right then continued to strike the third. Then the potato snapped back into Melly's hand with an audible slap.
The lips of the lead zealot trembled. "H, how?"
All three of the Zealots stood motionless for the briefest of moments before the light in their eyes vanished and all three collapsed to the ground, dead. As the leader dropped to the ground, a large stone fell from his pocket.
"Well, that was easy." mumbled Clemiticus. "I told you they always have something stupid to say."
Clemiticus scrambled on the ground still in pain and motioned to pick up the fallen stone.
Melly looked up as the sounds of collars falling to the ground echoed all around them. The bad guys were dead, and the villagers were free.
A blue flash of light flickered above the screen and a rich voice rang out.
"Quest complete!" Fairy announced. "The party has received two thousand experience points each."
"Clemiticus has reached level eight."
"Melly has reached level five."
"Derrick has reached level four."
"Congrats, guys!" Clemiticus managed an odd smile of triumph as he hauled himself upright. He dragged a jumble of mud out of his pocket and began eating another one of his special delicacies. No doubt trying to replenish his health points from the cranial blow he had just received.
"Look here!" Clemiticus waved the stone at them, still chewing his 'food'. "Remember this? It's that ogre's kidney stone. How on earth did this guy get this?"
Melly rolled her eyes and shivered with disgust.
"What? Do you want it? It may be valuable." Clemiticus misinterpreted Melly's expression. "Here, take it," he offered it to her.
The putrid smell of the object wafted too close to her nostrils. "Ew! No!" she screamed as she slapped the Kidney stone out of his hand.
It fell between them and cracked on the floor. The shell ripped open, and a yellow gas poured out and shot upwards and enveloped the three party members.
"Ah!" Melly screamed. The smell overwhelmed her.
"This ain't good!" yelled Derrick.
"It's so yellow," Clemiticus commented. "Smells disgusting."
The gas rippled like a wave and flew up and surged into their nostrils. The three coughed and gagged.
"Clemiticus has been infected with the Doom curse."
"Derrick has been infected with the Doom curse."
"Melly has been infected with the Doom curse."
Melly threw up her arms. "Oh, great! What now?"
"This ain't good!" repeated Derrick.
“You think?!" she shouted at her father.
"Calm down a sec." Clemiticus said and turned to his always cheerful cobalt companion. "Identify de-buff."
The Blue fairy beamed and proclaimed. "The party has been cursed with the Doom curse. This effect will last until death or is removed by the one who made it. It seems the rock was never a kidney stone. Just a cursed item the Ogre had swallowed by accident."
"Oh, and that's so much better," Melly grumbled and looked down to find an odd shape among the shrapnel of the now broken rock. Scrunched up and faded and covered with mould was a letter.
"Clemiticus there!" she pointed at it, not wanting to touch it.
He scooped it up and read:
Greetings! If you are reading this, I regret to inform you that you are dead. Within one week, you will feel the effects of the Doom curse. On the fourteenth day, you will die. And yes, it will be painful. Very painful. Your eyes will pop, your hair will fall out, your bones will splinter. You will be covered in boils. Heck, your boils will be covered in boils. If you wish not this fate, come to me and I will gladly remove said curse. For a price, of course. Hope to hear from you soon. Hope you are feeling well.
Yours sincerely, Fredreek Von Lousy of the Bluehill town.
As if in response, the all too familiar blue light flickered once more and Fairy then sang. "Your party has been granted the quest, 'Do not die'. To complete this quest, travel to Bluehill town and meet with Fredreek Von Lousy and pay his price."
"We accept the quest," Melly spoke quickly.
"Quest received! Travel to Bluehill town and hunt down the man named Fredreek Von Lousy. He will give you information that will lead you to great loot," the blue fairy sang.