Ben adjusted Twilight in his arms. “So... Camron. What’re we gonna do now? Should we tell the guys?”
“Sounds chill with me. Lemme lob em a text message.” Camron pulled out his cellphone, and began texting the rest of his friends.
Sup guys, Ben and I have some fainted chick with us and her weird friend. Meet up at our place, or someplace else?
His cellphone closed with a click and he stuffed it back into his pocket. “Well, that’s that. So...” He looked to Pinkie, who still had a large, weird smile on her face. “Where are you from?”
“Well...” She put her finger on her chin. “We’re from really really really really really really really really really really really really-”
“Are you done?” Ben cut her off.
“... REALLY far away.” She finished, crossing her arms behind her back and rocking back and forth on her heels.
“Right... So, uh, are you two here alone, or...” Camron trailed off, worried to say anything else that might make her go on, and on, and on...
Pinkie looked away to think for a second. “Oh, right! I was supposed to be with some of my other friends. Do you think you could help us find them?”
Ben looked at Camron for confirmation. Camron shrugged. “I guess we could help you, but we should probably find someplace for Susan first.”
“Oh come on, your arms are good enough.” Pinkie said, somehow maintaining a straight face.
“... I like you, Penny.” Ben replied, a smug smile on his face, before making his way toward the store’s exit.
“Hello~? English? Do you speak it?” Ryan asked the two girls, who had goofy smiles on their faces.
A buzzing sound came from Kyle’s pocket. “Damn texts...” He pulled out his cellphone, reading the text Camron had sent. “Uh... Well then.” He began typing a reply.
Well, me and Ryan have two weird looking girls here as well... Maybe they know each other? How about we all meet up here in the food court?
Ryan was busying himself with trying to get some sort of answer out of the two women, snapping his fingers at them, hoping for some form of reaction.
After a second or two of snapping, the blonde haired woman grabbed Ryan’s hand.
“Well o’ course we speak English! Whadda we look like, ah couple o’ nean- neander- idiots!?” She let go of his hand, leaving him startled. Her neon haired friend quickly came to her side, and whispered into her ear.
“Kyle’s staring at us... Might want to tone down that attitude just a tiny bit?”
Kyle just cocked his head, his suspicion slightly roused. Vinyl turned back to the two men.
“Sorry ‘bout my friend. She tends to be a little hot-tempered.”
“Ah ahm not!” She retorted angrily.
“See what I mean?” She asked with a grin.
“Oh, trust me, I know EXACTLY what you mean.” Ryan Replied, chuckling slightly and tilting his head in Kyle’s direction.
“Right...” Kyle nodded slightly in agreement, ignoring Ryan’s intended insult. “So, what do you want? Surely there’s a reason you’re just standing there gawking at us.”
The two girls looked at each other uneasily, trying to find an answer to the question.
“Well...” Vinyl took off her sunglasses, revealing crimson eyes. “We’re looking for our friends.”
Kyle and Ryan were slightly taken aback by the intense color of her eyes. “But what do we have to do with your friends?” Kyle cocked his eyebrow, his suspicion rising.
“Well, uh...” The blonde one scratched the side of her head. “We was gonna ask iffin’ y’all’d seen ‘em.”
Kyle narrowed his eyes. “Right... But there are loads of people around us. Why come to us specifically-”
“Ah, come on, Kyle.” Ryan interrupted. “Stop giving them such a hard time, they just need some help.”
“Fine...” Kyle shot a glare at the two women. “You’re both off the hook... For now.”
Ryan’s phone started vibrating. He pulled it out, and read the text he’d received. “Oh, hey... Kyle, did you get this text too?” Ryan asked, showing him the message.
Kyle nodded. “Yeah. Lemme guess: You think these two are friends of the women Camron and Ben found?”
“We’re right here, ya’ know.” The blonde woman crossed her arms. “And what’s this ‘bout women?”
Ryan put his cards away, which he’d been shuffling the entire time. “Our friends may have found your friends.”
“I told them to meet us here. So we can wait.” Kyle took off his hat to scratch his head. ”In the meantime, I have a few more ‘questions’ for you two...”
“Psst.” The rainbow woman nudged Marcus. “He’s staring again...”
Marcus let out a stressed sigh, and smacked Doug again, who was staring at the purple-haired woman’s... Interesting parts.
Doug jerked his head back up. “Oops. I was staring again, wasn’t I?”
“Yes, you were... Now, I have one question for you, Doug...” Marcus pulled out his tazer. “Are you going to do it again?”
Doug went bug-eyed, and said “Eh... not when you’re looking...” as he tried to, yet again, pull off his best troll face.
Marcus turned on the tazer, electricity crackling at its tip. “Wrong. You have two more tries.”
Doug let out a small meep, and shouted “DON’T TAZE ME BRO! DON’T TAZE ME!” As he was flailing his arms about, trying to be overdramatic.
The rainbow haired woman let out a suppressed giggle.
Marcus sighed, and put the shocky-shocky fun stick away. “Fine. Just... Stop being such a perv. Remember, now you only have one chance left.” This was rewarded with another giggle from the rainbow snitch.
“My my, how chivalrous of you.” The ‘interesting’ woman fluttered her eyes at Marcus.
“Uh...” Marcus cleared his throat. “Oh! What are your names, anyways?”
“Ah, yes. My name is...” The voluptuous woman’s eyes darted around for a moment, before coming to rest on a store’s title banner. “Victoria. And this is my friend...” She gestured to her friend, but trailed off. “Uh...”
“Robin.” She crossed her arms. “My name is Robin.” Marcus traced her gaze to the sign hanging over the Baskin Robbin’s ice cream parlor.
“Riiiiiiight... I-” Before Marcus could say anything else, he was interrupted by the fact that his phone was vibrating. “Gimme a sec...” He checked, and saw that he’d received two texts. One from Camron, and one from Kyle. He read them both, and then put his phone away.
“Uh, you two wouldn’t happen to be separated from your friends, would you?”
“Hey, yeah... What, did someone find our friends?” Rainbow Dash smiled, hoping she was right.
“Well, only one way to find out. Let’s get to the food court.” Marcus headed off, but Doug called out to him.
“Marcus, the food court is this way!”
“That was fun! Wanna go again?” The cross-eyed girl never dropped her smile.
“But- I- You- How?!” Coal couldn’t comprehend what had just happened.
Kasper couldn’t say anything. He was too busy trying not to choke on his own laughter.
“Good job! Who was it you were up against anywa-” A mint-green haired girl leaned out from behind the machine, and her jaw dropped. “Oh- Uh... H-Hi.”
“Hi...?” Coal cocked his eyebrow. He looked the two women over. The one with mint-green hair had a flannel of a darker shade of green over a white t-shirt, and rattey, stonewashed jeans. The cross eyed blonde one was wearing a grey hoodie, and dark jeans.
“Hi!” The blonde one stuck out her hand. “My name’s Debby Bubbles!”
“O... K.” Coal shook her hand. “What about your friend?”
“You mean me?” The mint-haired one pointed to herself. “Laura. Laura Bubbles. We’re sisters.”
Ditzy cocked her eyebrow. “We are?” Laura elbowed her. “Ow- I mean we are! Yeah!”
Kasper finally stopped laughing, and wiped a tear out of his eye. “Well Debby, you just made my day... That was awesome!”
Her smile grew slightly. “Thanks! I had a lot of fun.”
“So, wanna go again?” Before Ditzy could answer him, Coal’s phone vibrated. “Oh, hang on real quick.”
He checked the messages that he’d gotten. They mentioned strange women, but then he got another text from Isaac.
Hey, guys, I just found a girl out here in the woods. I’m bringing her back to the mall with me. Lets do what Kyle said, and meet up at the food court. The girl has pink hair, and a yellow sweater. Ask the girls you’ve met if they know her.
“Ahh, jeez! Sorry ladies, but a friend of mine found a lost girl and could use a little help. Heh, it seems we’re not the only guys running into girls today, Kasper.” He showed Kasper the text.
“Pink hair... Huh.” He scratched the side of his head. “Wait, out in the woods? That’s... Not creepy at all.”
Lyra’s eyes widened in realization. “Wait, pink hair? Uh, I think that’s our friend. Mind if we tag along?”
Isaac flipped his phone closed after sending off the text message. He glanced at the strange, quiet woman who was walking close to him. After the fight, she had not said a word, though she kept looking at Isaac every time he turned away. A few minutes passed in silence, the pair occasionally sneaking glances at each other.
They were nearing the exit of the park when Isaac finally spoke up. “So...I’m sorry if I scared you earlier. I’m usually not so... aggressive. But, given the circumstances, I couldn’t just sit by the wayside.”
Fluttershy blushed slightly, and mumbled “Oh, no... It’s okay... I’m glad you did help... They wouldn’t leave me alone at all...”
“Alright... By the way, what is your name?” Isaac inquired curiously.
“Flu...” Fluttershy stopped herself, realizing she almost said her actual name. She stopped in her steps for a moment to ponder upon a new name. “My name is Flora...”
Isaac stopped as well, and extended his hand towards her, “My name is Isaac. It’s nice to meet you, though I wish it had been under better circumstances.”
Fluttershy shook his hand lightly and gave him a soft smile, which he returned.
“Shall we continue on, then?” Isaac asked, giving a small bow and pointing his hand forward. “We’re getting quite close now.” She nodded and they resumed their walking.
They left the forested trails and emerged out into the sunny parking lot behind the mall. Fluttershy gasped when she saw all the cars and people milling about. The dimensional tourist took a moment to steel herself and followed after Isaac.
The group at the food court had been waiting a couple of minutes before Camron and Ben came in, but they were surprised to see an unconscious girl with violet hair in Ben’s arms. Kyle and Ryan were used to his ‘magnetic’ personality, but Vinyl and AJ looked as if they were about to flip out.
AJ was the first to speak up, “Oh mah! Is she okay? What th' hell happened ta'- Er... Her?!"
Camron’s gaze shifted awkwardly from left to right. “I think I’m just gonna... grab a bubble tea... over there.” He turned to Ben and mumbled under his breath, “Good luck with the southern girl.”
“Wait! Camron, don’t leave me!... And he’s gone.” Sighed Ben. “Well... I didn’t witness the spectacle, but it seemed like he was just being his usual self.”
Pinkie shot to attention. “Bubble tea? Oh, that sounds delicious! Is it sweet? I bet it’s sweet. But I don’t want it too sweet! I mean, sweet bubbles? Who’s ever heard of that? How did they get the bubbles to stay in the same place? I tried that once but they all floated away and I was chasing them for AGES! And when I finally caught them, they just tasted like soap! Not tea at all! Some of them I didn’t even get to taste! They just went poof, gone! I mean-” Her rant was cut short by a hand being shoved over her mouth.
“Consarn it Pinks, don’t yah know when tah stop flapping yer gums!?” Applejack exclaimed. “Sorry ‘bout mah friend here. She don’t know when tah stop talkin’...”
“Perfectly fine. Happens to the best of us at times.” Replied Ryan.
“The best of us?” Kyle asked, raising an eyebrow.
“That would be me!” Doug proclaimed, throwing his arms to the side, as his and Marcus’s group entered the food court.
“Hey! I just so happen to be the best person here!” Countered Ryan, receiving skeptical looks. “Okay, most insane... That counts for something, right?... Right?” Ben cocked an eyebrow at Ryan’s comment.
“Hey, don’t worry Ryan! We can be insane together!” Doug said in an encouraging tone, laying a hand on Ryan’s shoulder.
“Oh God no! Just one of you is bad enough! I will NOT let you two cause chaos together!” Marcus almost yelled.
While everything else was happening, Rainbow approached Kyle. She was staring at him intently, not saying a single word.
"Uh..." Kyle was not only suspicious of all of the women now, but a little creeped out too. "Stop staring at me."
"Oh." She shook her head, and laughed nervously. "Sorry. I just- Um- Like your clothes! Yeah..."
He narrowed his eyes, suspecting that this was a lie. "Mhm... Thanks..." He slowly slipped into deep thought.
Ben was standing within a ring of arguing people, just shaking his head at the spectacle unfolding around him. He walked over to a nearby bench, and sat Twilight down. Making sure that she was properly situated, and muttered under his breath, “And I’M the one that has to take pills in the morning...”
Straightening back up, Ben made his way back over to where Marcus, Doug, and Ryan were all arguing in a tight circle. He grabbed Ryan and Doug by the collars of their shirts, lifting them easily into the air. Setting them behind him, Ben looked at Kyle and the rainbow haired woman, who were staring at each other. Ben placed a hand on his forehead and hoped to God that everyone would be arriving soon.
“Hey, guys, I’m here.” As if an answer to Ben’s prayers, Isaac showed up with the pink-haired woman he’d mentioned. “This is Flora, the girl I found in the woods.”
Everyone said their collective “hi”s, and went back to what they were doing. All of the girls gathered around in a group, separate from the Man 9. Ben called his friends around him, and started talking to them in a reasonable tone. “So guys, mind telling me why you all are acting crazier than me? I mean, I’m acting the most normal right now, what’s wrong with this picture?”
Kyle crossed his arms, and cocked his eyebrow. “I was just thinking. I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Ben retorted, almost laughing out loud. “Looking at a woman like you are about to melt a hole through her doesn’t count as ‘normal.’”
“I was just trying to get her to either slip up and tell me how she and all her friends became separated, or get her to leave me alone.” Kyle let out an annoyed sigh, and rubbed his eyes. “Sheesh... Can’t there just be one normal day around here?”
Ben laughed openly, almost hysterically. “Normal? Kyle, you gave up the meaning of that word the minute you thought that living with those two,” he pointed at Doug and Ryan, “was a good idea. I mean, we let those two near anything as destructive as matches and I would head for the fallout shelters.”
“... Good point.” Kyle looked over to the group of women. “They’re all hiding something from us, though, I can tell... And you guys know well enough to trust my intuition.”
Doug snickered. “Oh, yeah, sure, because you’re NEVER wrong.”
Kyle glared at Doug, causing him to flinch. “Oh, and by the way, Doug, about Marcus’ tazer...” An evil grin grew on Kyle’s face.
“I like the way you think, Kyle.” Marcus gave him a small grin as he reached for his shocky-shocky-fun stick.
“Woah woah woah!” Doug started flailing his arms around like a madman. “I was just kidding! Jeez!”
“And you all say I’M the insane one...” Ryan rolled his eyes. “Oh right, I am!”
“Ryan, Doug, I will personally pick both of you up so that Marcus can taze the ever-loving shit out of you if either of you create any more shenanigans around here.” Ben growled, flexing his biceps to emphasize his argument.
“Guys, come on.” Isaac intervened. “How about we all knock it off, and see if they need any more help? We can’t forget that one of them is unconscious.” Isaac motioned to the young woman propped up against the armrest of the bench just behind them.
Kyle was about to raise an objection, but then he noticed a lack of faces around him. “Wait. Where’re Coal and-”
“Right here.” Kyle spun around out of shock, and Coal was standing right there, along with Kasper, and two more strange women. “So,” Coal looked to the woman with the mint-green hair, “are those girls your friends?”
“Yeah. Thanks for the help!” The woman’s smile grew. “I think me and my sister would have gotten lost if it weren’t for you two.”
“Ah, it was nothing.” Kasper shrugged, and the two women went off to join their friends.
As the two women joined in the circle of their friends, Ben felt something boring into his back. Looking behind him, he saw two golden eyes staring at him intently with a maniacal grin to accompany them. He shivered, and looked back into the group.
“Now that Camron done goofed, what are we going to do with them?” Ben cocked his thumb at the crazy girl looking at him.
“Well, we should just let this situation play out. If they’re done, they’ll leave. If not... Well, I’ll think think of something.” Kyle shrugged, and shoved his hands in his pockets.
“Lyra, stop staring at him like that!” Rainbow Dash stomped her foot. “You’re being creepy.”
“Oh!” Lyra shook her head, and looked back to her friends. “Sorry... Anyways, what were you saying?”
Fluttershy rubbed at her arms calmly and rocked back and forth gently. “Well, I was talking about how Isaac saved me. It was unfortunate that those... men had to get hurt, but it was nice enough to have Isaac come to make me safe. Anyway, what are we going to do? I was in the woods, trying to talk to the animals, but they just ran away from me. I can’t help us just live in the wild.”
Rainbow scratched her head, “We don’t have anywhere to stay, and even though this is just a dream, I don’t want to spend it stuck outside.”
“Ah’ reckon they’d let us hang out with ‘em fer th’ day.” AJ looked at Twilight. “And we need ta’ fahnd a place fer her to stay.”
Camron overheard what AJ said as he walked by. “You can take her to our condo. It’s the least I can do, seeing what I did earlier.” He got inside of the circle taking a sip from the straw. He stopped at the expressions staring at him.
Ben forcefully facepalmed. “Camron, I understand common courtesy, but that’s too much. I mean, giving them-”
“How chivalrous of you... We’d happily accept! ” Rarity smiled, but Kyle looked angry.
“Hold it. We don’t even know who you are. Why should we just let you in our-”
Ryan grabbed him on the shoulder, and yanked him aside. “Kyle, don’t you DARE ruin this for us! Nine girls. Without homes. Accepting our offer to stay with us. DON’T RUIN THIS FOR ME!”
Kyle was shocked. Nobody had ever cut him off in the middle of a rant before. “Impressive, Ryan. But you should have another reason to take them in aside from them being attractive. What’re you planning?” Kyle cocked his eyebrow, a smug grin on his face.
Kasper leaned in to join the conversation. “Yeah, get your dick back in your pants Ryan. These girls seriously need someplace to stay. We can’t just leave them on the streets. You know it isn’t safe at night.”
“I can’t believe you guys, honestly...” Ryan said, exasperated. “You guys have lived with me for, what, three years now? I would have thought that, after that amount of time, you’d realize I just like making people smile. I can be the most serious at times. You honestly think I’m just taking these girls in for their looks?”
“Oh. Right. I forgot.” Kyle shoved his hands in his pockets, a mean grin spreading across his face. “You’ll never get laid.” Kasper let out a snicker, and Ryan smacked him across the head.
“Haha yeah, Ryan. You get as much attention as a damn white crayon!” Camron snickered as he continued to slurp his bubble tea.
“You say I’M the immature one... And I’m being DEAD serious this time.”
Kasper’s smile turned slightly menacing as he adjusted his glasses. “You know I can sue your ass now, right? I already have a contract with Kyle.” He nodded his head towards Mr. Super Defense Attorney.
“Yeah. Lemme recount all the charges we could raise.” He started counting on his fingers. “Assault, possible conspiration of rape, oh, and not to mention property damage. Remember the chicken coop?”
“I seem to remember you having a similar incident with chickens, Kyle.“ Ryan replied with a smug smile, causing Kyle to recoil a bit. “And what would these lovely ladies say?” He gestured towards the group of women.
“Uh, well-” Kyle cleared his throat, and composed himself. “What if I show them your internet browser history?”
Ryan’s eyes went wide. “I could say the same thing to you... and Kasper... and Coal... would you like me to continue?”
“Aha, but you see, I don’t... ‘Indulge’ in the same hobbies as you do...”
“OK! Listen, put the browsers down! It doesn’t have to end this way! Calm down and take a chill pill. Shhh~ And let’s not talk about Marcus’s browsing history.” Kasper shuddered as he said that last part.
“Oh, what’s browsing history?” Pinkie seemed to materialize out of nowhere, an innocent smile on her face.
“You don’t want to know, Penny.” Ben shooed her off to her friends as he continued. “Alright guys, Camron already said they can stay, and he owns the condo. Nothing else we can do.”
Kyle shrugged. “Alright, but if we wake up and all of our stuff is gone, don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
“Kyle, except your computer, what do you really have that would be worth stealing?” Kasper asked with a smirk. “Your bedsheets?”
Kyle looked at the golden ring on his finger. “Uh... Duh?”
“Touche... Hey,” Kasper pointed at Marcus and Doug, “Is Doug having a reunion with the shocky-shocky fun stick?”
The sound of electricity rang out, and then... “GYAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Doug screamed out in pain, followed by the laughter of all the other guys.
Doug cried out in protest. “But they’re double Ds!” Followed by another shock from the tazer, and another scream of pain.
Marcus had a sadistic smile on his face. “Haha! I love my job!”
The whole time his friends were arguing, Isaac stood a little away from the group, observing the strange collection of women from the corner of his eye. He didn’t rake them with a suspicious glare like Kyle, just a look of curiosity. After a moment or two of observing them, Isaac raised an eyebrow in astonishment and recognition. The eyebrow quickly descended to its normal position, and Isaac stayed silent.
In the ring of women, Ditzy had a large smile plastered across her face. “I love that we get to meet them! I never thought that we’d ever be able to do something like this!” Doug’s screams of pain were masked by the laughter of his sadistic friends. Even if they weren’t laughing, the imminent fangirl squeals that periodically burst from each of the women’s mouths would have done the trick.
“So...” Vinyl pushed her sunglasses up on her nose. “Are we gonna... You know... Try anything with them?”
“I don’t know...” Rarity ran a hand through her hair. “I mean, this is just a dream, right?”
“Wait, if this is a dream, wouldn’t that mean a bunch of good stuff is supposed to happen? So why not?” All of the other girls stared at Ditzy.
“That’s...” AJ shook her head to snap out of her shock. “That’s real smart... Good thinkin’! Ah’m up for it if y’all are.”
Pinkie started rocking on her heels again. “So, who likes who? Oh, I bet I know~”
“Pinkie...” Rainbow Dash crossed her arms, a blush growing on her face. “Shut up... Uh...” Rainbow looked to the group of men, and saw Kyle glaring at all of them. “Kyle’s staring at all of us...”
“Uh... Isn’t he, like, the really distrusting one, or something?” Lyra looked back at Kyle for a second, and when their gazes met, he narrowed his eyes, and looked away. “Uh-oh. What if he suspects us or something?”
“Oh, come now. What kind of man wouldn’t trust a group of beautiful women such as ourselves?” Rarity smiled proudly.
“Maybe it’s because we’ve all been acting strangey-wangey?” Pinkie was hopping up and down at this point, unable to contain her energy.
“Well, that’s probably it. But...” Rainbow cast another glance back to Kyle. “I don’t really think it’ll be a problem. How’s he gonna find out we’re a bunch of ponies-gone-human?”
AJ looked at Kyle, and cringed at his narrowed eyes. “Ah don’t know, sugarcube. But somethin’ tells me that he jus’ won’t quit. Ah’ can feel it, sort o’ lahk Ah’ can feel when somepony lies.”
The Man 9 broke from their little conversation huddle, and Ben picked up Twilight as the rest of the guys sprawled out in a lazy line facing the girls. Ditzy tapped RD on the shoulder. “Look, they stopped talking! We should break and talk to them!”
Rainbow looked at Ben, who easily shifted Twilight’s frame on his arms. “Right. They probably figured out what to do with Twi’.”
The girls detached and met up with the Man 9, trying their best to keep straight or worried faces. Pinkie popped up behind Ben, her torso rising over his shoulder. “Hey there, Ben! You guys figure out what to do with Susan yet?”
Ben opened his mouth to talk, but Camron cut him off by saying, “Yeah, Penny. We’re gonna offer you girls some room in our condo.”
Ditzy stepped forward, completely shocking her friends. “Now, when you say that you are giving us room, what exactly does that come with?”
Coal looked at Ditzy, completely astounded that she could be capable of this type of conversation. He replied, “Room, board, and a roof over your head.”
Ditzy scratched under her chin. “And how long would this arrangement be?”
Camron stepped forward while looking at the rest of his comrades. “As long as you girls need it, Debbie. We are more than happy to help a few beautiful young women who are down on their luck. Isn’t that right, guys?”
Doug nodded enthusiastically as Kyle crossed his arms and narrowed his eyes even more, trying to rake a confession out of them just by looking at them. “How do you guys have those crazy hair colors? And where do you come from?”
Rainbow Dash shifted her eyes side to side fearfully. “We... We’re from Canada! Coming from an Anime convention!”
Kyle nodded, and leaned away from the women. “Right... So why are you in the middle of South Carolina? It’s not like this is a bustling activity center for Canadians to visit.”
Camron cut in, “While we are quite interested learning more about you, perhaps we can discuss this in further detail at home?” Kyle nodded, grudgingly agreeing to hold off on his interrogation for now. Camron led the way back to the parking lot where the Man 9’s various vehicles were parked.
Coal tagged Isaac on the sleeve and motioned for him to hang back a bit. Isaac and Coal slowed their pace till they were a good ways behind the main group.
“Hey, Isaac... What is your take on all this?”
Isaac pondered the question a moment before answering, “To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I think they are fairly trustworthy and don’t mean us any harm, but something about them feels rather off. In fact, they seem somewhat familiar, don’t you think?”
“I suppose...” Coal looked down to scratch his head in thought, and noticed a small red stain on Isaac’s heel. “Isaac... You uhh... Want to tell me something?”
“Hm?” Coal nodded to Isaac’s shoe. “Oh, that. I just took a walk in the forest.”
“A walk that ended in blood and finding a strange young woman?” Coal raised a skeptical eyebrow.
“OK, an enthusiastic walk in the woods.”
Coal sighed and shook his head. “I’ll take your word on it, man,” finishing his sentence by giving Isaac a hardy pat on the back. “I know you well enough now to not be surprised.”
“I didn’t kill anyone. Just sent a few punks who were tormenting Flora to the hospital.” Isaac’s eyes flashed as his anger resurfaced, but the flames were quickly doused. “You know that there are some things I will not stand for.”
“Oh yeah, I know... Mr. Lawful Good Paladin.” A wistful smile flitted across Coal’s tired face for a moment before disappearing as quickly as it had come.
Isaac grinned at the old nickname. “You haven’t called me that in years. Maybe all we needed was something like this to help us liven up a bit. It could end up being better for everyone.” The sound of the tazer cut through the air, followed by Doug’s howl of pain.
“Well, everyone except Doug.”