(With apologies to and greatest admiration for Graham, Terry, Michael, John, Eric, Terry, and, of course, Carol)
Since the Rogues' Sanctuary was on the way to Lut Gholein, the original plan had been for Solo to accompany Ubet, Biff, Dr. Bruce, and Journeyman Jay for that part of the journey. After the first half-hour, she came to her senses, volunteered to "scout ahead a bit," and never looked back.
Unfortunately, she was in unfamiliar territory, and she had left Ubet with the only map. By late afternoon, she was pretty sure she was lost. To make matters worse, she stumbled into a valley overrun with quill rats and spiked fiends. The little brutes were everywhere, growling at her and shooting needle-sharp quills at her every step of the way. Solo had to keep moving well into the night to get to the other side of their territory.
At last, near midnight, exhausted, bloodied, and annoyed as hell, Solo came to a fortress standing at the mouth of a mountain pass.
"This has got to be the place," breathed Solo, relieved. She hurried to the fortress and pounded on the massive wooden door.
"Hello?" she called. "Is anyone here? Hello?"
Slowly, the heavy door creaked open.
"Whoa!" said several voices.
"Dude!" said several more voices at the same time.
"Sweet!" added a final simultaneous set of voices.
Solo was startled to find herself face-to-face with two dozen boys and young men in tight trousers and with their shirts unbuttoned. This clearly was not the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye.
One of the young men stepped forward and said, "Like, welcome fair maiden. Welcome to the Castle Ebola."
"The Castle Ebola?" repeated Solo. "I was looking for the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye."
Her greeters looked at her uncomprehendingly.
"Um, I'm on a quest to retrieve the Horadric Mallus from them you see, and I was hoping maybe you could give me directions...?"
"Dude!" exclaimed the young man who had welcomed her. "Like, we totally have that!"
"You do?" asked Solo. "I really need to borrow it. The fate of the..."
"Whoa! Like, chill out! You look, like, totally wasted."
"Well, it has been a long trip," said Solo allowing herself to be led into the castle.
"Bill! Ted!" ordered the young man.
Two boys stepped forward from the group. "Dude?"
"Like, go and prepare a bed for our guest."
Bill and Ted looked at each other for a beat. "SUH-WEEET!" they chorused and raced out of the room. Several of the other boys followed, presumably to help.
"Uh..." began Solo, and then lost her train of thought watching the several sets of firm buttocks leaving the room.
"So, like what's your name, fair maiden?"
Solo concentrated on focusing on the person addressing her, and not just his bare chest. "Solo. I'm Solo."
"Whoa. That's too bad. I'm Derek. Scorpio."
"Um, maybe you'd better just show me the Mallus and I'll be on my way," suggested Solo.
"Dude! You, like, totally have to stay the night," insisted Derek. "Like, you are in no shape to travel."
"I think it would really be best if I..." Solo tried again.
"Aww, c'mon. It would really mean a lot to the band, y'know," pleaded Derek.
"Well, I... I, uh..."
Derek went on. "Like, I know our life here in Castle Ebola must seem, like, totally bogus compared to yours. We are but, like, three score young men and boys, all between seventeen and twenty-one, cut off in this castle and naïve to the ways of women. It is, like, totally boring here. We spend our days wearing tight jeans and leather pants, taking off our shirts, growing goatees, and writing and performing non-threatening pop music formulated to appeal to the pre-pubescent female demographic group. We are not used to bodacious babes like yourself." He took a moment to check her out again and then noticed. "Dude! You are, like, totally hurt!"
"No, really I'm fine," said Solo. "I'll just have a healing potion and..."
"No, you like, totally have to see our doctors," said Derek firmly and guiding her to a couch. "Now, lie down here." He clapped his hands twice and left the room, calling, "Dr. Justin! Dr. Leonardo!"
No sooner had Derek left than two more boys entered wearing white jackets and carrying black bags. One wore a stethoscope around his neck.
"You're doctors?" asked Solo incredulously.
"We've, uh, had basic medical training," said Dr. Leonardo. "Now relax, while we examine you." He strode toward her, stethoscope in hand, aimed straight for her breasts.
"And I'm, like, a licensed gynecologist," added Dr. Justin.
Solo rolled off the couch, sprang to her feet, and drew her swords. "I'm no expert, but I don't think a gynecological exam is the proper treatment for cuts and bruises," she said backing toward a side door.
"I told you that gynecologist line never works," Dr. Leonardo told Dr. Justin glumly.
"Now, if you'll just point me the way to the Holy Grail... I mean, the Horadric Mallus, I'll just be on my..." The words died in Solo's mouth as she backed through the door and found herself in a vast chamber full of bare-chested, non-threatening pretty-boys.
"Oh," said Solo.
"Sweet," said some of the pretty-boys.
"Dude," said some of the others.
"Whoa!" breathed still others.
Solo edged her way around the chamber, her swords drawn and trying to keep her back to the wall. She made it around the room to another doorway and bumped into someone as she tried to leave.
"Derek!" she exclaimed whirling to face the person she'd backed into.
"No, I'm, like, Derek's identical twin brother, Corey."
"Right. Whatever. If you'll excuse me..." began Solo.
"Like, what's the hurry?" asked Corey.
"Look," snapped Solo, "I just want the Horadric Mallus. Derek said you had it here and I..."
"That dweeb!" complained Corey.
"What?" Solo wanted to know.
"That is so totally bogus!" Corey went on.
"This is not, like, the first time he's done this either."
"Done what?" Solo demanded.
"You, like, have to totally teach Derek a lesson," Corey told Solo. "You, like, have to tie him to the bed and spank him!"
Solo blinked. Her jaw dropped.
"And then," continued Corey, "you have to teach me a lesson!"
"And me!" shouted one of the other boys.
"And me!" added another.
"And me!" volunteered still more.
"You, like, totally have to spank all our tight, firm, nasty butts," agreed Corey.
"I've got a better idea," said Solo. "Why don't you just give me the Horadric Mallus and I'll..."
"Like, that's what I've been trying to tell you," said Corey. "We haven't got the Horadric Mallus. Here at Castle Ebola, we're, like, the keepers of the Horadric Phallus."
Solo got that now-familiar pain in her temples and had to sheathe her swords. "The Horadric Phallus," she repeated cradling her forehead in her hand. "Of course."
"Totally," affirmed Corey.
A couple days later, Solo was finally on the right road to the Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye sanctuary when a trio of Multis jumped out of the woods at her, their swords drawn. Solo drew her swords and cast a Mana Shield.
"Hey there, good-looking," taunted the lead Multi.
"Lazarus sent us out to keep you from getting the Horadric Mallus," said the second Multi.
"Where the hell have you been?" complained the third Multi. "We've been lying in wait here for nearly four days."
"I got, er, sidetracked," answered Solo before it dawned on her that she really didn't owe her evil doppelgangers any explanation.
The first Multi shrugged. "Whatever," she said. "We're going to kill you now."
"Unless you'd like to have a wild lesbian orgy with us first," added the third Multi hopefully.
"I don't think so," said Solo. "If I'm going to have sex with myself, I'd prefer to be alone."
"No wonder they call you Solo," said Multi No. 2.
Each Multi duplicated herself once, making the odds six-against-one in their favor. "Guess this is it," said Multi No. 5.
"Maybe we can work out a deal," suggested Solo.
"Changed your mind about the orgy?" asked Multi No. 4.
"Sorry," said Solo. "But if you let me go, promise to never bother me again, and abandon all obligations to the Adversary and/or Maximum Evil..."
"Go on," prompted Multi No. 6.
"I can give you the location of a castle full of naïve, bare-chested, non-threatening pretty-boys in tight trousers.
"IT'S A DEAL!" exclaimed the Multis in unison.
Solo drew them a quick map to Castle Ebola and handed it to Multi No. 1. "There you go," she said. "Enjoy."
"I'm sure we will," leered the Multi. "Our own castle full of virginal bare-chested pretty-boys in tight trousers."
Solo shook her head as she watched her doppelgangers stampede up the road. "I said 'naïve.'" She smiled. "Not 'virginal.'"
NEXT: Mutation 38, "Milk and Sugar in the Coffee of Evil."
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