The wolf quickly morphs into a man and scoops up a couple of twisted cords that are laying on the ground. "Turn around, you two, and put your hands behind your backs."
Minky and I do as we are told. We managed to trick these men once and I don't think they are too kindly disposed to us now. I feel my wrists placed one atop the other and they are being cinched tightly together. The wolf is not in a good mood and doesn't seem to be concerned about maintaining my circulation.
"The Baron was going to rip my little girl apart in front of my eyes for letting you two escape," he tells us. "But then he said he was going to give us this final chance to set things right. Believe me, boys, we will not fail to bring you to him this time.
"These are enchanted cords. So even if you try to change to Minks in order to slip your bonds, they will still grip you."
No one has bothered to search us, thank God. The bag with the mirror isn't visible but someone would be able to feel it if they brushed against it. It's a good thing it's small; about the size of a lady's compact mirror. I glance to my left, where Minky is standing. I can see him wince as the cord is tightened around his wrists. My poor Minky. He has been through so much in the last few hours. This just isn't fair. He looks over to me and gives me a sweet, brave smile.
A hand grabs my arm and propels me forward in the direction of the giant bird. This is the Phoenix, Minky had said. Damn, it's to a bird what a kangaroo is to a mouse. Its head is as big as I am. And as the wolf guys pushes us in front of the Phoenix, it does the strangest thing. It lowers its head and presses the top of its head against Minky. It's... it's like a caress. I guess the Phoenix doesn't like what's going on, either.
Minky kisses the top of the bird's head. "It's alright. We know you are being forced to do these things. No one blames you."
That majestic fowl raises its head and shows me something that I didn't think possible from its kind. There is a streak of tears smearing the feathers below its eye. Minky's forgiveness must have touched it very deeply.
It lowers its head between us and I hear a gruff voice say...
"They have wax in their ears to protect themselves from your verbal spells, so they are unable to hear me. I know you have been in the presence of the Warlocks. I believe that you and they must have some sort of plan to save us. So, even if it means I endanger the ones I love, I will help you where I can."
"Thank you, royal bird," Minky tells it. "Just listen to Nicky and if he has need of you he will tell you."
The huge head swivels and the eye appraises me. I can't help but feel it finds me somehow lacking. Shoot, I can't help but find myself lacking. We don't even have a plan. We have no idea how we are going to trick the Baron.
The huge bird settles down to its breast and lowers its head to the ground. The wolf guy helps Minky and me both to climb upon the broad back. There is a girdle of sorts that has been strapped across the breast and up in front of the wings. Minky straddles this girdle and the man straps my boy's legs to it. I'm sitting directly behind him and so my legs are lashed to Minky's.
"This will keep you secure and prevent your falling," the man tells us. Then he places a hand on each of our knees. "I already told you boys I do not like doing this. And I want you to know that I am sorry."
With that said, he taps the Phoenix on the neck and steps back a couple of paces. The bird rises to its feet, takes two bouncing steps forward as it spreads its wings and is quickly airborne. I feel my stomach contract when we leave the ground. I've never flown before, not even in a plane. And I don't know many people who have flown bird-back.
This would be fun if I weren't concerned about our destination. My head is racing, trying to think how I'm going to get the Baron to give me his Midas gaze and how I'm going to direct my mirror at him in time to reflect it back to him. What if he doesn't untie my hands? What if he rips Minky apart in front of my eyes?
I'm feeling nauseous now with all the foreboding I'm feeling and the thoughts that are running through my mind. I would feel much better about this if I were on the mission by myself. Having Minky with me just adds to the paranoia factor. He is trying so hard to be brave for my benefit. God, I love him so much. I can feel the damn tears leaking from my eyes again.
I can feel something else too. There is something wriggling around in that invisible sack that the mirror is in. I glance down but, of course, I'm unable to see anything. Then something appears from the top of the sack. Oh Lord nooo... it's a damn spider! It's a big one too! Its body is about the size of a quarter! It's started scrambling up the front of the cloth that I'm wearing toga-style, heading for my right shoulder. With my hands bound behind me and my legs bound to Minky's, there isn't anything I can do to avoid it.
Oh my Gawd... oh, my Gawd... it's wrapped its creepy legs around my ear. I squeeze my eyes shut and cringe. I just know I'm about to get bitten. But I'm in for an even bigger surprise. Rather than the bite I expect, I hear a voice in my mind that I don't expect. It isn't in my ear, as I would figure it would be, if indeed it's this spider that's speaking to me. It isn't an audible voice at all, but it just seems to appear in my mind.
"Boy, listen to me. I planted my minions in the bag to protect my mirror. Now that I know the dangers you are facing, I am glad I had this foresight. You intend to use the mirror as an entrapment for this Baron, do you not? Just answer me in your mind, there is no need to be verbal."
"Yes, yes,"I answer, more calmly than I feel right now. It's the wizard's spirit from the cave. And somehow it is able to use this spider to communicate with me. I can't describe the relief I feel, knowing that I'm not all that likely to get bitten now. Still... I have a spider on my ear... ewwwww.
I form some thoughts of my own. "We have no plan though, Mr Wizard, sir. And with my hands tied, I don't know how I'll open the bag to use the mirror."
"Leave the ropes to me. The venom of my creatures can melt through them rather quickly."
No sooner had I heard the words spoken in my mind when I feel another stirring inside the bag on my chest. I glance down to see spider after spider emerging from the bag. I quickly lose count after a dozen or so. They fan out in all directions but then seem to converge around my bindings. I can feel them crawling on my arms and hands. I lift my wrists slightly away from my body to allow them full access, but with the pit of my stomach knotting and twisting on me. Have I told you I hate spiders?
Formidable venom, indeed. It must be like acid. I feel the bindings loosen and then fall from my wrists. The blood rushes back into my hands and I feel them throbbing and full of icy needles from the lack of circulation. I carefully pull them in front of me – carefully so as not to dislodge any of my benefactors. Only when I pull my hands in front of me I see that there are no spiders on my hands or arms. But here they come, racing down my shoulders and making their way back into the sack on my chest. Soon they are all hidden from view once more, except for the one I can still feel on my ear.
"Untie your friend now, boy," I hear.
I'm quick to do his bidding. I know just how aching Minky's wrists and hands are about now. And as I begin to loosen his ties, I feel Minky start, no doubt surprised that my own hands are loose. So I press my face up against the side of his own and whisper what has just been transpiring. Then, of course, I have to seal my explanation with a kiss to the world's most perfectly formed ear lobe.
We continue to fly for what seems to be about ten minutes and then the Phoenix slowly settles us down to the ground in a meadow, just on the edge of a forest. As soon as we touch ground the bird swivels its head around and eyes Minky.
"We are just at the edge of the Barony here. I would give you the opportunity to sneak up on the village and the Baron if you are able. That is if it will allow you better opportunity to surprise and, hopefully, defeat him."
Minky nods his head and, I'm sure, is giving one of his disarming and heart-rending smiles. The bird bends its head towards its girdle and uses its beak to quickly snip away the bonds on our right side. Then it reverses its head and does the same on our left side. Free at last, we slide from the leviathan neck and drop to the ground.
No sooner have we dropped to the ground when the bird begins morphing into its human form. And standing in front of us is an extremely handsome woman of some thirty years or so. I find myself looking at tree tops once again, still unused to seeing someone of the opposite sex standing naked before me.
"I am taking a desperate chance in freeing you boys. My own daughter and son stand, frozen, in the Baron's throne room. I do not want to endanger them, but we must do something to free ourselves from this monster. Now, tell me what have you planned against the Baron."
I find myself gulping before replying. After all, we have no plan except to trick the Baron into staring into a mirror to freeze himself. And I reveal as much to the lady.
"That is it?" she questions. "Our safety hinges on such slim hopes?"
"Well," I answer, "I do have a back-up weapon." My skin prickles as I force myself to reach into the invisible bag. The spiders, as though sensing my desire, quickly scramble up my arm to allow the lady to see them. Gawd... I can't believe I'm doing this.
Keeping my own gaze averted from them, I tell the Phoenix lady, "Minky and I can attest to the potency of these spiders' venom. If the Baron should defeat our efforts then someone needs to take this bag and sprinkle these guys onto him. I think it will only take one or two of them to give a lethal dose."
"Back into the bag, please," I tell them, forcing myself to look at the disgusting creatures perched on my arm. They quickly scramble back inside.
My ability to command them suddenly releases a lot of the tension I've been carrying. Arachnophobia is an irrational fear, like most phobias. I realize that I have a small army at my call and I'm beginning to feel a bit of attachment to these little guys.
The lady still looks hesitant, but I believe she is committed nonetheless. "Very well," she replies. "So, how should we approach this? Do you want to sneak into the barony from here?"
Minky places a hand on my shoulder. "Nicky, I think we should allow the Phoenix to fly us to the Baron. We must not endanger her or her children. Our hands and legs are free. We will be able to react quickly when we need to. The Baron will not know that we were trussed up before we were put onto her back. He should have no reason to be suspicious."
"Minky is right," I say, looking towards the lady. "If we should fail, we don't want the Baron taking this out on you or your children. Just take us to him as you were commanded to do."
A look of gratitude comes over her features and then she is quickly morphing into that huge, regal bird once again.
"If, and when you are able," she says, "pass the bag with the spiders over to me. I will personally shake the contents of the bag on him."
She bends forward, laying her neck on the ground. "Climb aboard, boys, and we will continue the journey."
I help my little Minky to climb onto the shoulders of the bird. As I help him up I can feel the shivering that is coursing through his body. Oh gawd... he must be frightened to death. And I am so afraid for him. I already lost him once. If I lose him again the Warlocks will not be able to save him this time. Only Number 3 still has any magic abilities. The other two boys were drained in bringing my Minky back to life.
As I seat myself behind him I pull him in close to me and press my cheek against his ear.
"Listen to me, Minky. When we are in the presence of the Baron, I want you to immediately change into a mink. I want you to be as slippery and as hard to catch as possible. Then insult the man, antagonize him. If we can get him angry enough he may not think very clearly. But stay away from him; don't get close to him."
He swivels his head and shoulders around to try and look at me. "But Nicky, I want to stay close to you and help to protect you."
"Please understand, Minky. I won't be able to think clearly or act quickly if I am worried about you. I have to know that it's me that is in harm's way and not you. Will you please, please do this for me?"
Tears are coursing down my boy's cheeks and his lips are quivering. "All right, Nicky. I do not want you to have to worry about me. But I am afraid for you. I do not want to lose you, Nicky."
At this he breaks down into sobs and is unable to speak anymore. I press my cheek against his once again. "We are both more afraid for the other than we are for ourselves. But you have an important job to do. You must make him angry, enraged. In your quick mink form he won't be able to reach you and so he will turn to me. I hope he will attempt to use me as leverage against you. I rather suspect that he'll attempt to paralyze me right away with his Midas stare. And I'll be ready for the bastard."
Unable to speak, my boy simply nods his head in understanding. Then he reaches an arm around my head and pulls me in tight against his cheek. "I l-love you, N-Nicky."
I feel the bird descending once again and look below us, to get the lay of the land and see how we can position ourselves. There is a stockade in the center of a large meadow. Constructed from logs, it looks like some fort out of the old west. And to the back of the complex is a huge, log edifice. If it were stone I'd call it a castle. But evidently there are no stone masons among the Baron's slaves and so he's had his palace constructed from the materials the people could use.
The Phoenix settles gently towards a huge courtyard that takes up most of the fort. Only I see that this courtyard isn't empty. It's filled with row upon row of wooden statues. These then are the people that the Baron holds captive, the family members which the Baron uses to force his slaves to do his bidding. The front two rows contain no statues however. There are simply blood stains to mark where people once stood, frozen, waiting their turn as the great bear's dinner. The blood stains march in a line up to the next intended victim. It is a boy child of perhaps ten or so. His face is frozen in a look of absolute horror.
The Warlocks had told me that the Baron turns them back into people before he devours them. He changes into that humongous grizzly bear and then uses one paw to hold his victims pinned to the ground. Then he rips at their extremities and attempts to make it as drawn out and painful a death as possible. The Warlocks believe the pain and horror he inflicts on his victims somehow enhances the brute's Midas powers.
Such a sight should turn my knees to jelly. But it has the opposite effect. My guts are turning into a seething maelstrom of anger as I slip from the back of our mount. We landed in a clear area in the center of the rows of frozen people. And I walk, purposefully, past row after row, heading towards the open double doors of the Baron's poor excuse for a castle. And I don't hesitate when I reach those immense doors but continue inside. Minky is right behind me.
I've stepped into a enormous hall with torches attached at intervals to the walls, shedding scant light into the center of the room. But there is a dais at the room's center and I don't slow my pace as I head towards it. Coming closer I can see that it is a rather macabre-looking throne. It's composed of the interlinked bodies of children frozen into place. He seems to have made a game of twisting them around one another in all positions imaginable and then freezing them in place with his Midas stare.
"Why the hell are your arms unbound?" A voice echoes from the center of the dais and throne. A huge, fat man slams a ham of a fist down upon the arm-rest of the throne: an arm-rest that is composed of two girl children lying prone upon one another. "That stupid wolf cannot take simple directions. Well, he gets to watch me consume that fat wife of his this evening. We will see if that helps his obedience any. I still have his two kids to keep him in line."
The giant of a man stands up and takes a couple of steps forward. Long, unwashed hair is tied into a pony tail in the back of his head. He wears a crown that seems to be fashioned from finger bones. His dress is appropriate for his backwoods surroundings as he is wearing a fringed, buckskin garment, heavily stained. My stomach does a twist as I realize that these are human skins I'm looking at. His pudgy face is oily and carries a malevolent, sneering look as he gazes at us.
"Well, Mink boy. You have led my subjects a merry chase, have you not? But now that is over and you belong to me. It is my own cursed bad luck that I allowed your mother to escape. However, I am quite certain she will turn herself in to save her little mink child. And then I will have the only two people immune to my mighty Midas stare. After all, boy, it is important that everyone realize that there is no escaping my powers."
Minky, remembering my instructions, turns into his mink form. Then, standing on his rear paws he announces...
"You dumb, fat bastard. The Warlocks themselves protect my mother. You cannot get your oily pork belly within a thousand feet of her and you know it."
Then my little buddy astonishes me. He bounds over towards the dais, and jumps up to the first step. He squats, raises his tail and then... oh my gawd, he's taking a dump! With his offering dropped ceremoniously on the first step of the dais, Minky squeaks contemptuously and trots back by my side. With his tongue hanging from the side of his snout, a purely Minky grin, he loudly announces to me...
"Now there are two pieces of shit on the throne, Nicky."
When I see the look of astonishment and indignant anger on the face of that sick man, I can't help but bursting into laughter.
"Well, well, your majesty. It appears there is a now a son to inherit your dynasty. Perhaps you can have a small crown fashioned to fit the little turdlet."
There is a terrible, vibrating roar and an immense bear is standing on its rear legs in the spot where the pudgy Baron had stood. The crown slips from its head and dashes into fragments at its feet.
"Dodge, Minky, dodge!" I whisper to him.
My boy commences to cavort and dance around the interior of the throne room. He slings insults with every bounding leap and twist of his lithe body.
"How can a fat old bear catch a swift mink? Give up the chase, fat man, you are helpless and hopeless. You could not outrun my mother."
"I do not have to catch you, you little rodent. I simply have to capture your little friend and then you will give yourself to me."
The bear is on all fours now, still standing upon his dais. He swings in my direction. A look of concentration comes onto its features and its eyes appear to widen. This must be it! This must be the famous Midas stare that he doesn't know I am immune to.
As quickly as I can, I reach into the invisible bag and pull out the mirror. Holding it in front of myself I aim it towards that malicious glare. There is a scream of pain from the bear and the huge animal lurches from the dais and lands on the floor, writhing in agony. But... but, he isn't frozen! What is happening?
Still roaring loudly, the animal twists onto its rear haunches and heaves its front quarters into the air. From its right shoulder to the tip of its paw, it has been converted to wood. The brute has a look of astonishment on its face, and then it glances up at me.
"A mirror? You rotten little shit. You aimed a mirror at me? I'm going to eat you, boy. I'm going to rip the skin off of you and eat you one small bite at a time."
The bear gazes down at its right side and it immediately turns back to flesh and fur. And then the grizzly sets up a terrible howl for assistance.
"Guards, get your asses in here. Catch these two immediately or your own children join in my feast tonight."
Two dozen men and women pour into the open doors of the throne room. The last two swing the doors shut, blocking off our exit. I change to a mink myself and feel the weight of the bag tugging on my smaller body. Holding the bag up to keep it from dragging on the floor, I follow my buddy's lead. Now there are two minks bounding about the room, dodging the arms reaching for us.
"Find the Phoenix woman, Nicky. Give her the bag." Minky yells at me as we pass one another on our fourth or fifth trip around the room. We are way too wily and dodgy for these people. But their very numbers will soon prove to be our downfall. There is no way we can avoid capture forever.
I spot her on the other side of the room and twist and dodge in her direction. I make it appear as though I'm unable to avoid her and have, at last, been captured. She holds me by the scruff of the neck.
"The bag, boy, give me the bag," she whispers. I'd already taken it from around my neck and so I hold it up. She feels it and grasps it.
"I have one of them your majesty," she hollers.
"Good for you," he hollers back. "I will free one of your children for your loyalty. Now bring the mink to me."
She is carrying me by the scruff of my neck and I'm offering no resistance. It's important that she be able to get alongside of the grizzly.
I hear a howl of pain towards one section of the room and I look over to see a man shaking his hand. "It bit me! The damned mink has some teeth, I tell you!" Minky is dodging away from the man. And he is yelling towards the Baron. "If you hurt him, Baron, I swear by the gods I'll rip your nut sack off."
The bear seems in a good mood as he watches the woman carry me towards him. He yells back to Minky. "It's up to you whether I hurt him or not, Mink boy. Stand still and I promise that neither of you will come to harm. Keep evading capture and you can watch me skin your friend alive."
"Don't do it, Minky!" I yell. What ever you do, don't get caught."
"Shut up, you little cousin to a rat," he tells me. We are alongside the Baron now and the bear scoops me up with one gigantic paw. Holding me in front of its face it says...
"I usually prefer my victims be in their human form before I have my fun. But it makes no real difference in your case. I'll just start chewing on one of your paws and your screams will bring your little friend to his senses."
There is a scream, alright. But it doesn't come from me. True to his word, Minky has dashed between the legs of this mighty bruin and latched onto its testicles! Twisting and flipping his body, my boy bounces back with a couple of fur bags between his teeth and once again commences to dodge the army of men and women trying, unsuccessfully, to scoop him up.
Enraged and in tremendous pain, the bear flings me like a missile towards my little protector, knocking us both off our feet. Before we are able to rebound and escape, hands have us once again by the scruffs of our necks.
Looking over towards Minky, I still see two shaggy bags hanging from his jaws, and a look of supreme triumph on his face.
"Pteew..." and the bloody bags land on the floor. "I wish you would wash now and then, Baron. Your balls taste horrible."
The bear is standing on its hind paws, stretching towards the ceiling. Its roars are ear splitting and are actually shaking dust from the crossbeams. But it suddenly stops roaring and a look of confusion seems to cross its features. Suddenly it drops to all fours and then rolls onto its back. It's twisting its body, attempting to scratch its back on the floor.
The roars turn into panther-like screams and bellows and I can see tendrils of smoke edging up his sides. A few seconds of writhing and it's a fat man and not a bear laying on the floor. His eyes are opened huge and wide and there is a look of pure panic on his face.
The man heaves himself to his hands and knees and I can see that the floor where he was lying is smoking and turning dark in spots. And then I look at his back and feel the gorge rising in my throat. There are a dozen holes in his naked back the size of silver dollars. Smoke is curling up from each hole.
He looks over towards me with a facial expression of a frightened animal. Even as bad as this man is, I can't watch without feeling my stomach lurch. Turning my head away I can hear him flop onto his belly. There are kicking sounds as though he is going into spasms.
Our guards have dropped the both of us and are staring, open-mouthed, at the man that has held them captives for so long. Minky has turned away also. I'm sure this is even harder for him to watch than it is for me. I change to boy form, walk over and scoop my little mink up into my arms. It was the right thing to do because he is shaking and whimpering and clutching me tightly. I'm feeling awful shaky myself, but I'm going to be strong for his sake.
I carry him, rocking him and crooning to him through the crowd of gawking people. Elbowing my way through the throng I carry my little mink towards the doors. Neither of us look back towards the thing that is still thrashing on the floor.
The Phoenix lady beats us to the door and lifts the locking lever. She swings one of the doors open and I carry my mink out into the sunshine and air. She runs a hand through my hair as I pass by her and silently mouths "Thank you." I give her a quivering half smile.
Sitting on the steps, I settle my little furry creature on my lap. He doesn't stay furry long, though: he changes to the blond-haired boy that makes my heart flutter. His face is pressed into the crook of my neck and he's squeezing me like he's trying to turn me into Nicky juice.
"Nicky... I do not believe it. You are still alive. You did it. You killed the Baron! And you are still alive... you are still alive." And he's bawling again. This time I'm bawling right along with him. Relief washes through the both of us.
"Not me, Minky. Wedid it. You and me and the Wizard and the Phoenix lady. When you think about it, that dumb monster didn't stand a chance."
When we changed to our mink forms, our clothes dropped off of us. And here we are sitting on the porch, cuddling in the nude and I don't give a fig who sees us. That's sure a change from when I first came to this world just a week or so ago. We don't have our privacy very long. People are gathering around us, smiling, trying to stay their distance because they can see we are both a bit distraught. You can tell they want to come over and thank us but they are being gracious and giving us some space. I'm starting to feel a little like a monkey in a zoo though but all I can do is smile back and continue to rock my minky boy.
Poor Minky. He's pretty much out of it. He's gone through an unbelievable amount of crap in the last 24 hours and he's just physically and emotionally drained. I don't think he knows there is anyone here but us because he has his face pressed up into the crook of my neck and his arms wrapped around me. Soon the Phoenix lady sits down beside us and wraps her arms around us.
"Come, little ones. I'm going to have some friends take you to my cottage so you can rest. We owe you such a great deal and I expect the chance to recuperate in private is a small down-payment."
Sendol 'whoops' and lands on my back, driving me under the water. I was expecting it though so I do a quick roll and come up behind him, giving his cute butt a pinch just as my head breaks the surface. He squeaks and Minky laughs.
Minky knows that Sendol has a crush on me. And Sendol is such a little fox. Well, not literally, ha ha ha. He's a squirrel, actually. He can change into a little, rust colored, bushy-tailed cutey. That's why we are swimming in human form. Squirrels can swim but they can only doggy paddle. He could hardly compete with a couple of minks. Besides, being naked with him is loads of fun. And Minky doesn't mind. He even told me that Sendol would be lonely now that Minky had a boyfriend and he asked me if I wouldn't mind cuddling with him and doing stuff. Now, who am I to disappoint my boyfriend? Besides, that physical stuff is seen as very normal and natural here. Yes sir, just try to wipe the freaking grin off my face.
It's been a week since the Baron dissolved into a puddle of pure meanness. And the Warlocks have been super busy turning all those statues back into people. They set their cauldron up in the courtyard of the castle and have been changing them back one at a time on an assembly line basis. Sendol didn't need a second trip through the cauldron, though. Little Number 3 said that as soon as the Baron croaked, Sendol changed back. That's because they had already run him through their cauldron once.
While we were sleeping at the Phoenix's cottage, she flew Minky's mom and Sendol back to Minky's house. The next day she flew us there, too. It's just that all these people kept coming up and saying thank you and stuff and hugging us. It was nice for awhile but you can be over-appreciated. It was great to go to Minky's house... our house now. Gawd, I can hardly believe it.
Minky and I took the mirror and our spider army back to the Golem's cave yesterday. The wizard said he had a conversation with the Warlocks and it was decided that the two of us were to be trained in the use of the magical items inside of the cave. The Warlocks said trouble seemed to pop up occasionally on this planet and we are their choice for superheroes to fight the villains.
Before I could say no for the thousandth time, the Warlocks ganged up on us. They said that, unlike our battle with the Baron, they would be able to help us in any future endeavors and keep us pretty safe. Just look at it as an adventure, they said. We would be their little two-boy army, or police force or whatever. Then Sendol whined until they said we could recruit him if we wanted to. They told us we could deputize anyone we wanted to. I don't know how I'm gonna pin a badge on Sendol's cute little chest, though. I guess I'll just have to give him a star-shaped hickey.
Anyways, we have two more days to relax at home. Then we will spend a week of beginner's lessens at the Golem's cave. By then the Warlocks will be through converting all the statues back into people again and then they will return to their cottage. "Come on by after your training," they said. "We already have a job lined up for you."
Gawd... I just hope this one doesn't involve spiders, or golems, or dragons, or bog lizards. Maybe just cute bunny rabbits or something. Someone said something about a flying, purple people-eater... but I'm sure that's just a joke.
Well, I think I'm gonna tickle Minky and Sendol until they surrender.
Editor's note: I've been helping Pauly with his stories for a while now, suppressing excess semi-colons, restoring lost hyphens and that sort of thing, as well as spotting the odd continuity error. In fact Pauly is a fine writer who could probably manage quite nicely without me, but I enjoy getting a sneak preview to each chapter as soon as it is written. In fact I've been enjoying this story a lot, and it seems a bit of a pity to leave it here – so if any readers out there are with me in wanting to know what happens to Minky and Nicky next, this would be a really good time to send the author a mail mentioning this. Maybe if enough of us ask nicely we'll get some more – David Clarke.
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