For a long moment after the Caster's exclamation of, "good news!", no one moved or spoke. The five units stared at each other, not expecting to find themselves in this exact situation. Then the Dollamancer lowered his arms and looked over at the two golems.


“Well, don’t just sit there, morons. Croak them both!”


The iron golem groaned to its feet.


“You mean I gotta do two things? Aww crap.”


Faster than Dolf thought possible, Hermaphrodity whipped an arrow out of their quiver and pointed the loaded bow at the old man’s head.


“We’re not here to fight you, mon, but if you insist…you’ll be the first to croak.”


The Dollamancer turned to his creations.


“Oh all, right. I guess I’ll have to test Blender’s combat capabilities some other time. Although I have to say I’ve been disappointed with him from turn one.”


The golem didn’t seem overly concerned by its master’s displeasure. The lava golem flowed into a standing position and took a step forward to harangue the Caster.


“Hey, ease off Blender, Professor! You know that his fuel cells need constant recharging!”


As they three units argued, Dolf sidled over to Hermaphrodity, who still had an arrow at the ready.


“Do you think that they’re dangerous? They seem pretty dysfunctional here.”


“I don’t know, mon. Maybe they’ve been going crazy stuck in here. How long you think the Tannenbaum’s been around?”


Dolf cleared his throat.


“Excuse me, but I was wondering. How long have you been trapped in here?”

The Caster broke out of his heated argument.




Dolf repeated the question.


“Tens of thousands of turns perhaps,” the Dollamancer answered. “I’d have to consult my calendar. But I’ve kept busy, oh yes. If we’re not going to croak each other, why don’t’ I show you my ship.”


Hermaphrodity lowered the bow and scratched at their head.


“Like a big boat? The water around here’s not very deep…maybe the other side of the island has a harbor?”


“Oh my, no. My ship doesn’t move through the water. Technically it doesn’t move at all! Oh my, yes.”


Dolf was thoroughly confused. He followed the old man and the two golems through two doors and onto a balcony overlooking a massive open space. There was a massive green metal cylinder resting on the floor below them.


“That’s…your ship?” Hermaphrodity asked. “What’s it do?”


The Dollamancer chuckled.


“It flies, of course. I’ve always wanted to start my own mercenary side, yes. But instead of delivering violence, we’d deliver items from the Magic Kingdom, or from other sides.”


Dolf snorted.


“Even I know that capital cities have portals that connect straight to the Magic Kingdom. Why wouldn’t they just use those.”


The Dollamancer scoffed.


“And how are they going to fit a five meter tall Tammy-Tinkle doll through one of these portals? Idiot. You youngsters think you know everything. But….I suppose I should thank you. You croaked the Tannenbaum that’s prevented me from launching my ship. Now I can leave this island any time. It’s not really safe, you know.”


Hermaphrodity nodded.


“I hear ya, mon. Our boat got stolen as soon as we arrived. I wonder who that was?”


The Dollamancer, who was fiddling in a drawer, looked up.


“You mean my atomic mutants? Yet another one of my failures. Oh, they’re strong, all right. Just not loyal…they were supposed to fight the Tannenbaum, but they made a pact with it instead. How I hate them!”


Dolf, who had no desire to tangle with the possessors of the strange life-signs he’d seen earlier, saw an opportunity to catch a ride.


“Is there anyone else you hate?”


“Oh my, yes. Lots of people. Blender and Fry Guy here, Doctor Zoid Berg, the Weirdomancer of the Wastes…”

“That rat stole my wings!” Hermaphrodity cried. “Do you know where he is?”


The Professor nodded.


“Indeed I do. I planted a tracker on him before we were trapped here. But there’s no point in hunting him down, he’s too high level even for a group of five. If only I had my atomic monsters, I’d show him a thing or two!”


Dolf sighed.


“Look, err, Professor? I’m pretty strong, and Hermaphrodity is not slouch with a bow. If we had your golems screening for us, along with your leadership bonus boosting them, I think we could take on a single unit, even if it’s a Caster.”


“I ain’t screening for no-one,” Blender objected. “You can screen for me.”


The Dollamancer looked thoughtful for a moment.


“You did croak the Tannenbaum…hmmm…ok, let’s do an experiment. What’s your name?”


“Hermaphrodity,” the Elf replied.


“Not you!” the Caster objected. “You,” he added, pointing at Dolf.


“Dolf Thundren.”


“Dolf, if you can beat Blender in a duel, I’ll help you and your Elf here hunt down the Weirdomancer of the Wastes. If you can’t, we’re just wasting our time here.”


The Drain-Deer bobbed his antlers in assent.


“I’ll help you test out your creation…I just have one condition. I’m looking for a Noid to cure a friend of mine’s eyesight.”


“A Noid you say? Never heard of ‘em, but I’m a Dollamancer you know. There’s nothing I can’t craft!”


The old man shuffled to a cupboard and pulled out pair of spectacles.


“These glasses veil themselves when placed on a unit’s face and grant the wearer perfect vision. Here, try them.”


The old man slipped the glasses over Dolf’s snout, and, to his surprise, his vision did improve slightly.


“Wow…that…actually works. So if I help you test out the golem you’ll give them to me?”


The Professor laughed. It was the kind of high-pitched laugh a madman would emit. Dolf and Hermaphrodity looked at each other uneasily.


“I’ll take that as a yes?”



The “test” took place in what Dolf assumed had once been an armory. There were strength training devices littered here and there, but what dominated the small room was a raised canvas square enclosed by ropes. Hermaphrodity sat with the Dollamancer, while the lava golem stood at one corner of the platform, conversing quietly with Blender.


Dolf leaped over the ropes and slid to a halt on the slick canvas.


“Let’s do this…we still gotta croak the Weirdomancer of the Wastes and then I gotta get back to my tribe and let them know about Frank.”


Blender finished his conference with Fry Guy and slid into the combat arena. He slammed his metallic fists together.


“Fun on a bun!”


Dolf, impatient to begin, seized the advantage. He reared up on his hind legs and delivered a crit against the golem’s metal face, causing Blender’s head to spin around until he caught it in his hands.


“Ow. Ok then, you wanna play rough, get ready for a blending!”


The golem opened up his chest compartment via a hidden spring, removed a glass container, and smashed it against the ground. He picked up the base of the container, which was now nothing but shard glass shards and an even sharper-looking ring of blades. The golem attached the blades to his fist.


“Croak all Drain-Deer!”


Blender’s first assault caught Dolf’s right antler, shearing it off and sending it flying straight into Fry Guy.


“Hey!” the lava golem complained.


“Don’t be such a baby!” Blender yelled in response, turning half-way around to remonstrate with the other golem.


Dolf used the other’s distraction to leap forward and bit into the offending arm, popping it out of its socket at the shoulder. He let the arm drop to the ground as he ducked low and delivered an antler gore to Blender’s backside.


“My shiny metal keister!” Blender cried as he flew through the air and landed in a heap in the corner.


Dolf laughed.


“It looks like Blender’s down for the count. Okay, Professor, we good now?”


While Dolf was celebrating, Blender had pulled himself to his feet and reached into his chest compartment once again. He pulled out another glass object, this time a small bottle wrapped in a brown paper sack. Fry Guy gasped.


“Don’t it Blender! You’ll go on a bender!”


“Cram it, you hot sack of crap! I’m gonna do it!”


The golem tilted back its head and chugged from the bottle, then belched. Red flames poured out from Blenders mouth.


“That’s enough, Blender!” the Dollamancer cried. “Stand down.”


Blender ignored the Professor and charged, his heavy metal fists flailing. One caught Dolf just below his left eye, leaving a deep gash. Dolf ducked in under Blender’s guard and once again caught him with his antlers, throwing the golem back to his corner. This time, however, Blender landed on his feet and immediately dove back into the fray, forcing Dolf to give up ground with a hail of punches.


“Machine gun blow!” the Golem shouted as his fists moved almost too fast to see. The Drain-Deer had put his guard up, crouching in the far corner and deflected most of the blow with a well-timed flick of his remaining antlers. He wasn’t sure what exactly Blender had consumed, but surely it couldn’t last all turn.


The golem’s assault, like a rolling wave, finally expended itself and the punches were less quick and less furious. Dolf used the opportunity to charge inside his opponent’s guard, taking a powerful right hook to the body before his fangs found the golem’s neck. Maybe he could steal whatever it was that was powering the golem.


“Ugg,” the Drain-Deer said to himself. “It’s like trying to bite through a piece of iron.”


As Dolf’s fangs did their work, a warm feeling of contentment spread throughout his body. The aching spots where Blender’s fists had landed hurt less, the sadness of losing Frank the Tank was forgotten, and the probability of taking Marissa as his exclusive lover seemed high. Dolf was, of course, getting quite drunk.  He let go of Blender as the floor beneath him began to spin and stumbled back. Then he threw up, slipped in his own mess, and passed out.