At that moment, Sugar and Evette returned, and there was another awkward pause.
"Elsie!" cried Evette. "Ma cherie!" She raced across the tavern, only to trip over the still-puzzled Deathspit.
Dolt had also been hurrying toward Elsie. He stepped in the hole Deathspit had left in the floor and went sprawling to land at Elsie's feet. Evette landed next to him.
"Elsie, ma belle Elsie. J'ai pense que je perdu vous pour toujours!" said Evette looking up at Elsie, her eyes shining.
Dolt opened his mouth to say something and then looked guiltily back at Sugar.
Ignoring Dolt, Elsie knelt to help Evette up. The words came to her automatically, her built-in database providing the translation: "Ma belle Evette aimee. Vous savez que je ne vous laisserais jamais."
Yet even as she said so, she felt her eyes drawn toward Sugar. She knew every inch of Sugar, or at least she would have if Lord Cool had been paying better attention. But there was something beyond the attraction she felt for her -- Lord Cool's -- ex-wife. Lord Cool had never had the inclination or the attention span to learn the things he should have known. Merely hearing the word "clitoris" consistently put him into a deep sleep. Elsie felt a need to show Sugar that she knew more, could do better -- be better than she ever had been as Lord Cool.
This was lost on Sugar, who was caught entirely off-guard by Dolt's strong reaction to the strange blonde with obviously fake boobs. Who was this woman who had such a hold on Dolt? Her Dolt. She looked from Dolt to Lord Cool. From his vantage point, Cool had a choice view of Evette's butt and seemed to be in some sort of trance.
Suddenly seeing an opportunity, Mini-E piped up: "We could give each other make-overs!"
"Oh be quiet," grumbled Sugar without sparing him a glance.
Mini-E's lip quivered as he fought back tears. "Big boys don't cry. Big boys don't cry," he whispered to himself.
Dolt and Cool both noticed Sugar getting up to leave in disgust. "Sugar!" they called together. Dolt got up to catch her.
Elsie turned her attention away from Sugar, reluctantly. "Evette..."
"Oui?" replied Evette expectantly.
"Do you still have the 'Fallen Madonna with Big Boobies'?" she asked in English.
"Oui... Yes. Of course," replied Evette, confused.
"I need to see it," said Elsie. "If my memories -- or if LC2's memories -- are correct, it may contain the key to defeating the Adversary once and for all."
Evette handed Elsie the metal tube containing the precious canvas. Elsie tried to ignore the spark of excitement that ran through her when their fingers touched, but succeeded only partially.
"Stu, Ichabod, Solo, I need you to take a look at this," said Elsie clearing the table and unrolling the painting. "Dr. Bruce, this might interest you too."
"Nice rack," commented Lord Cool when he saw the painting.
Evette favored him with a smile. "You do not 'ave to pretend to be zee sexist pig. I told you I am not offended by zee 'omosexual -- 'ow you say? -- lifestyle."
Evette was looking over Elsie's shoulder and Elsie could feel her pressing against her back. She smiled and whispered something in French to Evette, who blushed.
Lord Cool tugged on Stupidhead's robe. "Stu! Stu!" he whispered.
"Fascinating," murmured Stupidhead studying the painting.
"Yeah, I told you it was a nice rack," said Cool impatiently.
"No, no," said Stupidhead irritably. "I mean, yes she does have a nice set, but that's not..."
"Teach me how to say something in French to impress Evette," whispered Cool.
Choas and Ichabod were also studying the painting as Stupidhead gave Cool something to say. "There must be thousands of magickal formulae embedded in the very pigments of this painting," breathed Choas.
Dr. Bruce was also examining the painting when he felt Biff press up close behind him. "Gah!" he cried leaping away. "Stay away from me!"
As Biff once again began to edge closer to Dr. Bruce, Solo noticed Journeyman Jay trying to edge closer to Biff.
"Right here, up and down the curtain by her left arm," said Ichabod. "These are all forbidden spells. The kind The Sorcerer Who Must Never Be Named used when he accidentally created the Adversary."
"That's some pretty serious reality manipulation," agreed Solo. She was nowhere near as well versed as the full-fledged sorcerers at the table, but she knew powerful juju when she saw it.
"Evette!" said Lord Cool loudly. "Je suis un sissy flamboyant et je n'aime pas de filles!"
Evette and Elsie both giggled. Noting the puzzled expression on Sugar's face, Evette pointed at Lord Cool and made the universal wrist gesture. Sugar just looked at Lord Cool and scratched her head in confusion.
"Gah!" cried Lord Cool, realizing he'd been had.
"What are those?" wondered Choas pointing at the painting.
"Her areolas?" questioned Stupidhead.
"No, you dirty old letch," snapped Choas. "There."
"Those are the three Compelling Orbs!" exclaimed Ichabod.
Elsie ran her finger over the painting as she read the code. "Properly imbued, the Orbs can be used as the three corners of a Compelling Matrix. If we could catch the Adversary inside the matrix we could force it to dissipate and rejoin the Boojum."
"Too bad we've only got one Compelling Orb," said Ichabod.
"I know where the second is," said Choas. "All we have to do is pick it up from my father at the sorcerer's university in Lut Gholein."
"Of course, that still leaves us one shy," said Journeyman Jay.
"This Compelling Orb," said Dr. Bruce. "It wouldn't happen to be a metal ball set with a glowing blue jewel, would it?"
"Sure," shrugged Jay.
Dr. Bruce smiled. "I think I know where we can find the third Compelling Orb."
Arch-Mage Suave gazed into the scrying mirror. He was, of course, admiring his reflection, rather than scanning the Catacombs and Church. After his sessions with a few of the Multi duplicates, he was feeling more like his old self again. However, he was still concerned about the mysterious blonde and why his power had not affected her. He touched the glowing blue Compelling Gem embedded at his throat. He did not have enough information to know whether the problem was with the gem or some kind of resistance on her part.
The chamber door flew open and everyone -- Suave, Sister Twisted, Spite, Lazarus, and a quintet of Multi duplicates -- looked up. The Multi duplicate that staggered through the door was nearly naked. That, in and of itself, was not unusual. What was unusual was the fact that she looked about a thousand years old and was grinning ear-to-wrinkled-ear. "What a ride," she managed, falling to her knees before the other Multi duplicates.
Any other comment or explanation she might have made was cut off by a Bloodstar in the back. The Multi clone expired and disappeared in a whiff of smoke.
Red Vex stood in the doorway in all her buxom, flame-haired, ivory-skinned glory. "Ladies and gentlemen," she said, "the bitch is back."
"What happened to the rest of my duplicates?" wondered one of the Multis.
Red Vex shot her a smile that was devoid of humor. "They were delicious."
Another Multi was poking through the fine ashes of her sister. She whistled. "Wow, the must've came and went at the same time."
Red Vex hissed and hit that Multi with a Bloodstar, punching a grapefruit-sized hole in her chest. The Multi evaporated in a puff of smoke while her sisters scattered.
"Let that be a lesson to you all," announced the Hell Spawn. "Red Vex is the plaything of no man, woman, or doppelganger."
"But you look like such a nasty little plaything," taunted another Multi.
Red Vex turned to fire again, but Lazarus ordered the CowLord 2000 between her and the disrespectful Multi clone.
"Bitchy, isn't she?" whispered a Multi.
"I like 'em bitchy," replied another Multi, duplicating herself.
"Enough!" ordered Lazarus. "It is good to see you fully recovered," he told Red Vex.
"It's good to be myself again," she agreed. "I suppose you expect me to serve your master in gratitude now?"
Lazarus shook his head. "I doubt any of us could truly make you do something you did not want to do."
Arch-Mage Suave fingered the Compelling Gem, but remained silent.
"Good," said Red Vex.
"However," continued Lazarus. "I'm guessing that I do know what you want to do, and I think we can help each other."
"What I want to do is find the man who ruined me," snarled Red Vex. "I want to find Lord Cool." She spat the name like something foul tasting. "And when I find him, I will drain him. I will drain him and drain him until his eyes implode. I will drain him until his liver turns inside-out, his skin bleeds, and his balls swell up and burst like overripe melons."
"Ooh," breathed a Multi. "I know what 'drain' is a euphemism for."
"I'm getting hot already," added another, duplicating herself.
Lazarus smiled. "I'm sure we'll do everything we can to arrange you a date with the illustrious Lord Cool."
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