Rib wandered through Otto’s Food and Herbs with the long list of ingredients the potion master needed. He was impressed that the man could remember every single thing. He glanced at the list and marveled at some of the things required: sheared wool of lamb, two quail livers, heart of a robin, a splinter from a wooden spoon made from a thousand year old oak tree, a dragon scale, tooth from a cow, two babies’ teeth, and a glass of orange juice, just to name a few. The list was from top to bottom, front and back.
How am I ever going to find all of this? he thought as he scanned the store. Surely not all of these items can be found here. I might have to go to another store. Rib sighed and remembered who he was doing this for. His beloved king needed his help. As tedious as this was, it was for a good cause.
He carried on shopping for more of the common items in Otto’s, so focused on his task that he didn’t realize that he could no longer sense the Graveyard Fighters’ location.
Fox and Creston arrived at the foot of a mountain and looked up at its peak. They knew that Peg was up there. Having spent a good hour and a half walking there, the idea of having to climb a mountain made them want to cry. Their feet angrily ached with each step they took.
“Why didn’t we just take horses?” Creston whined. “I don’t see how people walked all over the Seven Lands to get places when there were perfectly good horses waiting to be ridden.”
“Indeed,” was Fox’s response. He waited a few seconds before Creston moaned in disgust.
“Oh, get your mind out of the gutter!”
Fox chuckled like a ten year old boy.
They returned their attention to the summit and dread filled their hearts. So much so that Creston asked, “Like how important is this guy to you? Like, are you best pals or what?”
Fox shook his head disapprovingly. “We’re not going to leave him there. We burned down his club. It’s the least we could do.”
With his arms crossed, Creston muttered, “No it isn’t. We could do a lot less.”
“Quit your bitching and let’s go.”
Much to their feets’ chagrin, they begin the climb up the mountain to rescue Fox’s probably ex-boyfriend or whatever.
“Ma’am, I’m really sorry, but I just need one,” Rib pleaded. He stood before an angry mother clutching her infant daughter for dear life upon hearing his request for a tooth. “It’s of the utmost importance. You see, I have a sick friend who needs this tooth.”
“Damn right, he’s sick!” The mother spat at his feet. A nice juicy green loogie now adorned Rib’s right shoe. “Going around harvesting baby teeth is beyond depraved. You should be ashamed of yourself!”
“But nothin’! If you don’t get the fuck away from me, I’ll kick yours!” The mother didn’t move, but the look she gave him told him she would make good on her promise if he continued to try her existence.
Rib surrendered and quickly back stepped until he was no longer in her line of sight. When he felt it was safe to, he turned away and wandered back to Otto’s Food and Herbs.
I could have taken her. I could have taken her and that tooth if I wanted. But he did want to and yet he couldn’t do it. He was having a hard time reconciling the thought. He had more power than both of them, but he yielded and withdrew. Why did he do that? Why did he hesitate? Could it be that he had limits, lines that wouldn’t cross? Was he not the complete monster he thought he was?
Rib also had to think about what he was doing. He had no problem laying waste to villages because he never had to look those people in the eyes while he killed them. But here, he literally needed permission to take a baby’s tooth. He’d never needed anyone’s permission before he killed them. Why was this happening now?
The answer came to him as he watched a woman walk out of the store with a basket full of eggs. The potion master sent him shopping. He took the list out of his pocket and examined it thoroughly. It suddenly dawned on him that most of the items made absolutely no sense. Why would a potion need a single pubic hair from a twenty year old virgin man with red hair? That was oddly specific and a bit intrusive. This was obviously meant to embarrass him.
Why did it take me so long to figure out? Rib thought angrily. Perhaps I was so blinded by my desire to serve my beloved that all common sense left me. His thoughts drifted to the potion master, the one who sent him on this fool’s errand. He tried to make an ass of me. I bet he’s sitting in that cave laughing at me. I’ll show him!
Rib jumped to his feet and disappeared in a puff of purple smoke, causing much commotion in front of the grocery store.
Contrary to Rib’s belief, Peg was not laughing at him. He was too busy trying to get free from his bonds. He was impressed that someone with such dainty fingers could tie a knot so tightly and effectively. Who would have thought?
The more he wriggled his wrists, the tighter the ropes constricted them. Since he planned on using them later, he opted to give up hope of escape. He would just have to wait for the sorcerer to come back and maybe sweet talk him into letting him go.
What could I tell him that would persuade him to let me go? He seems pretty sweet on the Skeleton King, so many I could offer him advice on how to romance the pants off him, you know, put in a good bone for him, or rather in him. Peg chuckled at this.
What else could that guy possibly want that he could offer? He certainly didn’t feel like he could entice Rib with his masculine wiles.
He was bigger than what most people would consider attractive, or at least that’s what he’d been told by men he’d tried to court. No one had really paid him much attention other than folks who only wanted to fetishize him. That didn’t feel good either. This was a common thing for him until he met Fox.
Fox came to Wilshire Village seeking a potion to help with an ailment of one of his friends. While preparing the ingredients, they got to talking about their lives and eventually the topic of relationships came up, like it does with people who’ve only met for the first time. Fox talked about how the love of his life just disappeared one day and hadn’t seen him since. Peg wanted to relate, but had never had anything like that. The more they spoke, the more Peg could sense himself falling for him.
Once the potion was completed, Fox had to go back home. Peg was sure they would never meet again, but Fox kept finding himself back at Peg’s potion shop every so often. Before long, they became fast friends, and…
Peg’s thoughts were disrupted when he heard the sound of approaching footsteps. The sorcerer made quick work of that bullshit list I gave him. Or maybe he realized it was bullshit and is coming to kill me. While dying would suck, it would be worth it to know that he convinced a grown man to ask a young man for a pube.
He braced himself for death when heard his name called from behind the purple curtain. How did the sorcerer know his name?
“Peg? Are you here?” It was Fox’s voice. Peg hadn’t heard anything so beautiful in his life that wasn’t the words ‘free’ and ‘all you can eat.’
“Foxy! I’m here! Come get me out of here!”
Creston and Fox emerged from the curtain and rushed to his sides. They immediately got to work on the ropes, but found it difficult to untie.
“Foxy, Crusty, I’m so glad you’re here!”
“I’m glad one of us is,” Creston said, tugging at the rope on Peg’s right hand. The rope scraped the already reddened skin, causing Peg to grimace.
“Careful! I want to use that later!”
They attempted to be more graceful in their efforts to free him, but to no avail.
Frustrated, Creston drew his sword and aimed the tip of the blade at Peg’s right hand. “Fuck this shit. We don’t have time for this!”
His friends shouted in alarm as Creston spoke the spell to ignite the blade. Peg stared at Fox hoping to quash what was about to happen, but it didn’t help. There was no time to stop him. A fireball shot out from the sword and burned the rope away, freeing Peg’s hand. He made short work of the second rope and the job was done.
Peg stood up and hugged Fox as tightly as his aching hands would allow. Creston rolled his eyes and shook his head.
“Why you hugging him? I did all the work!”
“Cuz I’m saving the best for last, you big lug.” Peg promptly gave Creston an equally tight hug. “Now let’s get out of here before-“
A gust of wind and bright purple light announced Rib’s arrival in the cave. He dramatically pulled the curtain away, almost ripping it off the wall, and stood in their way. His eyes widened when he saw Fox and Creston standing there.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Rib asked, unable to hide his surprise.
Creston aimed his flaming sword at Rib and grinned. “What? You didn’t receive our RSVP?”
“What the hell is an RSVP?” Rib and Fox asked in unison.
Creston stared at them with disbelief and then sighed. “Never mind. We’re here, get over it!”
Peg glanced at Rib’s face and was thrilled to see his irritated expression. “So, how was shopping?”
“You bastard!!” Rib’s anger was immediate as evidenced by his reddened cheeks. His hands ignited into purple flames that seemed to be composed of both fire and ice.
The hateful death glare he was giving Peg and Creston told Fox that they were going to die ten times over if they didn’t get out of there right now. With the sorcerer blocking the only exit, they were backed into a literal corner.
Creston and Rib raised their respective weapons, prepared to fight to the death. They proceeded to shout as they raced toward each other, both of them ready to clash in the middle.
Just when they were about to meet, Creston found himself facing a tree. He tried to halt his attack, but he had too much momentum built up, thus running face first into the tree. He gave a painful groan as he slid to the ground.
From the base of the mountain, Fox gazed up at the cave entrance to see if Rib had realized what happened and came after them. The purple sorcerer did not emerge. That didn’t make him feel better. “We should probably get going while the going is good.”
Creston stood up to see that they were no longer in the cave, and all three of them were safe. He glanced at Fox sideways and scrunched his face. “I thought you said you couldn’t teleport.”
“I never said that,” Fox said innocently.
“I looked you right in the face and asked you if you could teleport and you said no.”
Fox arched his brow and asked, “Do you want to do this right now? Riblet could come out and find us if you don’t keep your voice down. Do you want that?”
Creston crossed his arms and spat at Fox’s feet. “Fuck yeah, I do! I want to melt his fucking face off. I could have done it if we weren’t suddenly whisked away… I mean teleported away. You lied to me!”
Fox scoffed, insulted. “I’ve never lied to you. I didn’t say I can’t teleport, I just meant I couldn’t teleport to where Peg was from where we were.” He pointed to the cave and then pointed to their current location. “That is the extent of my teleportation abilities. Satisfied?”
Creston said nothing, but was visibly upset.
Peg cleared his throat, drawing attention to himself. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I could use a drink. Let’s say we all go back to The Yard and hash it out with some cute dancing boys and some cream quakes.” This elicited solemn looks from both Creston and Fox. Their sudden change in demeanor caused Peg to pause. “What?”
Creston exchanged a guilty glance at his best friend before resting an arm on Peg’s shoulder. He took a deep breath and let out a mournful sigh.
“I’m afraid The Yard burned down when Fox and I tried to make your Dispel potion.”
“What?! W-what happened?” Peg’s once manly voice cracked as the news sunk in. “But, my yard!”
“We’re really sorry,” Fox added.
“Yeah, really sorry that your cream quakes will never bring the boys to The Yard ever again.” Creston slapped the mourning man on the back a few times before saying, “The good news is that you’re probably going to need something to do to fill the hours. Welcome to the Gravy!” With that, he led the way back toward Wilshire Village for lack of a better destination, thinking about how this mission couldn’t have gone better.