“I hope James hasn’t run away,” Tracy says. ZoopZoop, the now emerald green gecko hailing from the bizarre desert world where our original two heroes landed named Romduppleschwoop 4, nods his head in agreement while its squishy toes are firmly suctioned onto Tracy’s shoulder. ZoopZoop’s eyes are focused on the infinite green flame carried by Tracy. They are a few hundred feet away from where they last saw James and the desk.
“He’s probably still varnishing the desk,” Ozburtle the Wizard says. “I bet it looks all antiquey now. I can’t wait to see it.” Ozburtle scrunches his eyebrows together as he watches ZoopZoop mesmerized by the flame. “It seems like our littlest adventurer is quite taken with the Eternal Flame of Azfuril, quite taken indeed,” Ozburtle says.
“I’d say,” Tracy says. “Do you have any idea why that is? Does it unlock some sort of secret chamber of consciousness in its third eye, or something like that?”
“Sort of,” Ozburtle replies. “It’ll be best to start from the beginning.” The wizard pulls a crystal-clear orb out from underneath his cloak inside of what must have been either an incredibly large pocket or some mysterious vortex within the fabric. “If you’re wondering Tracy, I have a mysterious vortex within the fabric of my cloak where I keep magical items.” Ozburtle went on to list orbs, potions, trinkets with magical properties like a hairbrush that creates bunnies and an acorn that can make any room exactly room temperature. “My cloak also changes color, but I digress,” Ozburtle said. He holds the crystal-clear orb in the palm of his left hand and waves his right hand above the orb while he recites a series of words in flat monotone, “The past make real again / Forget tomorrow, remember our sin / Show us the Empire of Khazaduul.”
“Hey! Where did you three go? What happened to the minotaur? Why is Ozburtle holding an orb?” James asks.
Tracy, ZoopZoop, James and Ozburtle the Wizard instantaneously appear in the middle of a crowded medieval market square but in an orange desert.
“This is Romduppleschwoop 4 over 1000 years ago,” Ozburtle says as he exchanges two pieces of copper to a food cart merchant for a bag of roasted chestnuts and pops one in his mouth. “Chestnut, no, ok, so back in the day the empire was ran by this guy,” Ozburtle says as the three heroes morph into the court chamber of a stone gothic castle. What appears to be a king or emperor is raising the sword over the neck of what appears to be a kneeling knight.
“Is he being knighted?” James asks.
“Oh god, where did you come from?” Tracy asks and punches him on the arm. “I’m glad you’re ok,” she says and pats him on the shoulder.
“Yes, yes, we’re all happy you’re not dead, now where were we,” Ozburtle scratches his beard while James mouths the words I could have died as he touches his chest. “Right,” Ozburtle says, “this is Emperor Khazaduul. He ruled two thirds of the planet, and not just the known world like Alexander the Great of your world or the British Empire.” Emperor Khazaduul raises his sword high over his head and swings down onto the kneeling knight’s neck. The emperor laughs as blood spurts forth and the blinking eyes of the newly decapitated head rolls toward the side of the court.
“Did I mention the cruelty of the regime?” Ozburtle asks, and says, “Yes, he was very violent and ruled his land mercilessly. He was known as Khazaduul the Bloody.”
“Twenty-seven blinks! Record it scribe!” Khazaduul the Bloody commands as a woman in green robes feverishly writes down the words on a blue parchment with silver ink speckled with gold.
“He considered himself a scientist,” Ozburtle harrumphs as he eats another roasted chestnut and adds, “like Joseph Mangala or one versed in burning supposed witches and scientist. His word is truth and all else is heresy.”
“Did that knight commit heresy?” James asks.
“Oh yes,” Ozburtle replies. “That man mentioned that he was a tad chilly and since the Emperor felt content with the temperature—” Ozburtle stops speaking and makes the universal and apparently interdimensional sign of getting your head chopped off.
“A bit of a temper,” Tracy says.
“Beep!” ZoopZoop replies.
“Wow, it speaks,” Tracy says. “Why you so quiet now?” she asks ZoopZoop. ZoopZoop is still mesmerized by the flame.
“Very curious,” Ozburtle says. “Very curious indeed.” Ozburtle, Tracy and James turn their attention away from ZoopZoop and see Khazaduul the Bloody and the entire court staring in their direction.
“Who, IN THE NAME OF ME!” Khazaduul exclaims. “Are these trespassers?” Khazaduul asks no specific individual.
“I think they can see us,” Tracy says as she waves the green flame in front of the advancing soldiers that encircle the four heroes.