……………..
 Another sleepless night; it was an endless cycle of tossing and turning for Shark, only to wake up even more tired before. They had tried physical activity and sleep aids, but it never seemed to work. Shark had had enough, and decided to pay the Wise Walrus a visit. Surely, he would know how to solve this problem. Shark slipped on a loose fitting shirt, some overalls and made their way into town.
 They knocked on the Wise Walrus’ door, only to have it open on its own after the first knock. Shark should have known the Walrus is always one step ahead! They walked into his study, massive books towering over everything. In the middle of the room was the Great Wise Walrus flipping through a tome. He glanced over at Shark entering the room and said, “Hello little one. What brings you here today?” Shark was about to explain when, uncontrollably, they let out of huge yawn. “Another sleepless night, I assume? I think I know what you need.” He put down the tome and picked out a book from a shelf far away. It floated into his hand it began to magically flip through. He landed on a page and flipped it to show Shark. “I think you lack purpose. Perhaps this will help put an end to your insomnia?” The page he showed Shark pictured a large chest, shut tight and nestled in a dark foreboding cavern. “This is the fabled chest of booty. No one knows where it is, and no one knows what lies within it. All we know is that whoever finds it will be rewarded with the grandest booty.  At first, Shark thought the whole idea was ridiculous. But as Walrus kept describing this mysterious chest, Shark became more and more enthralled by the concept. It was true; each day for Shark was mundane. Always had enough to eat and always had a place to stay. They were comfortable. But comfortable was boring. Maybe this is what Shark needed, a thrilling adventure to exhaust the soul! Walrus caught on to Shark’s intrigue, “Oh, I wasn’t implying you should go out and find that thing. Thousands of fish have gone missing because of it.” Sharks eyes glittered as they stared at the illustration. “I meant you should find your own chest of booty. Metaphorically! Something to chase after!” Walrus’ voice became more frantic. Seduced by the allure of the booty, Shark ran out of the study and headed straight for Swole the Blacksmith. “Oh no…”, mumbled Walrus.
 Drunken in dreams, Shark pranced into Swole’s forge. Swole gave them a condescending look, “what do you need?” Shark pulled out a few gold coins from their pocked, slapped it on the table and pointed at the large claymore. Swole narrowed his eyes and grabbed a stubby iron short sword. “You can have that instead.” Nevertheless, Shark was still excited. They slung the sword on their back between their overalls. “I don’t know what you’re planning on doing, but you’ll need more than just a sword. You should see Shork the armourer. He went off to the woods and hasn’t been back in a while now. Maybe you can go check on him” The first quest! Shark ran out the door and headed straight for the woods.
 As Shark strolled through the woods, they noticed that it kept getting quieter, and quieter. The forest was normally very peaceful, but this felt different. Amidst the silence, you could usually hear the singing of bird and rustling of leaves. This was just a complete void of sound altogether. It was unsettling. Shark grabbed their sword and pressed forward.
 Shark was reaching the edge of the forest, so they knew Shork had to be close by. It was now completely silent; the trees split before Shark revealing a massive figure, clad in black armour. So dark was the metal that not a spec of light reflected off it. The figure raised an ebon sword and pointed it at Shark. As the blade got close, Shark could feel the air being sucked out from around them. Behind the figure, they saw something squirming. It was Shork! He was strapped to a tree, but his cries for help were completely drowned out by the sword and its aura. Shark wanted to run, but they knew that running assured their own death. So they unsheathed their stubby iron short sword and held it out front. With a mere flick in the air of the Dark Knight’s sword, Shark fell to the ground on their knees, completely incapacitated, sword on the ground. There was a force pushing down on Shark that kept them weighed down. The Knight raised their ebon blade and prepared to strike Shark down.
 A burst of wind blew the Knight’s blade back; the Wise Walrus had appeared! He had cast circle of protection lvl 6 and prevented any harm from befalling Shark. Shark could hear Walrus starting to chant something. Eventually, Shark had passed out from the presence of this powerful being.
 When Shark came to, they found themselves inside of the Wise Walrus’ library. Shark noticed a piece of parchment folded up next to them. Shark picked the paper and unfolded it, which read, “If you are reading this, then that means I have made it in time. I have teleported both you and Shork back to the village. I do not have the strength to save myself as well, but do not worry for me. I will hold the Dark Knight for as long as I can. Make haste for Shork. He can tell you the situation at hand. Whether it be fate, or dumb luck, the safety of the village is now in your hands.” Shark didn’t know what to make of it. But without much to go on, Shark gathered their belongings and ran straight to the armoury.
 Shork was standing there, clearly shaken from the events, huffing on his pipe. Without saying a word, Shark showed Shork the letter from Walrus. In a deep tone, Shork said, “If Walrus says you’re the one, then I guess you’re the one…” Shork took another drag out of his pipe. “That thing you saw in the forest…. He was just like you. Searching for the booty. But he picked up that damned black blade; He wasn’t ready for it. It drove ‘im mad. They say he will chase anyone down to the ends of the world who dares challenge him. And you, dumb little one, brave for raising your sword, but dumb. Now he's after you. I'll give ya this buckler, 'tis all I got at the moment. And this", Shork handed Shark a blue trinket, "'tis a compass that will always point towards the booty. Follow it. Find it. And then, and only then, will you have the power to beat the Dark Knight." Before Shark could ask any questions, Shork turned and left, leaving a puff of smoke behind. "I'd hurry up if I were you. And thanks fer saving me arse"
 Shield and sword equipped, compass leading the way, Shark set off on their quest for booty. They had traveled outside of town before, but never under these circumstances. With no time to dwell on these thoughts, however, Shark walked through the village gates and didn't look back…
 A sleepless night, Shark kept a steady pace following the compass' direction. Shark came to a halt once they realized the compass was pointing straight into the dark maw of the abandoned mine shaft. Strangely, the torches within were dimly lit. Hesitant at first, but then Shark remembered the actions of the Wise Walrus. Shark unsheathed their sword and shield, took a deep breath and stepped into the darkness. .
 As Shark travelled through the abandoned mine shaft, it became lighter inside. Odd, as there were no more lit torches past a certain point. Shark stumbled over something; the remains of a not-so-lucky traveler. Next to the pile of bones was a scroll and a potion. Shark took the two items, they might come in handy. They also noticed a strong light source just around the corner. This must be why the mine wasn't so dark. Shark readied their weapon, and carefully walked towards the light.
 Shark entered the room. A hole in the ceiling! That must be where the light was coming from. As Shark's eyes followed the rope ladder down, they noticed a squiggling mass of jelly standing in the way. Shark figured they could simply sneak by the mass as it was quite inert. Shark strapped their shield and sword to their back and made way to the rope, but as they got closer, there was a murmur that got louder and louder. It sounded like a muffled cry for help! Looking closer at the jelly, a figure could be seen struggling within. Shark unsheathed their sword and tried to think of a plan for rescue!
 Shark poked the jelly with their iron shortsword. The sword started to get sucked in, and with much force, Shark pulled it out before it was consumed. Physical actions would not solve the problem, clearly. Shark remembered the Scroll of Lesser Ice Cube they had just picked up. They uncurled the scroll and pointed it directly at the jelly. A small ice cube materialized from the scroll and shot straight into the target. Within seconds, the Jiggly Jelly froze solid. Now was the time to strike! With a swift slash of the iron sword, the jelly shattered into little cubes. Trapped inside and now free, was another fishy friend. They thanked Shark and introduced themself as Mola Mola, or Sunny for short. Sunny told Shark that they got trapped in the jelly because Mola Mola's love to eat jellyfish. Blinded by hunger, Sunny accidentally got consumed by the Giant Jelly Cube. The only safe way out of the mines is that hole in the ceiling, said Sunny to Shark.
 Shark and Sunny realized that the best course od action was to escape through the opening in the ceiling. Who knows what else could be in the mines? Using the frozen cubes of jelly, the pair created a staircase to reach the ladder leading outside. Sunny went out first, and as Shark reached up for the ladder, part of the jelly defrosted and swiped at Shark's leg. With a fair wound on their shin, Shark managed to crawl out. Seeing the gash, Sunny bent over and hovered their hands over it. The wound instantly mended itself. Sunny revealed that they were a journeyman cleric, and they were just on the way back to their home village to the East. Shark looked at the compass and saw it was pointing in the same direction, so Shark offered to accompany Sunny back home.
 As Shark and Sunny made their way, Shark remembered how they had not slept for a whole day at this point. Sunny was equally exhausted after being constricted by the jelly. They decided to take rest at the next safest location. An abandoned home appeared over the grassy horizon and they made their way. As they went to inspect the building, they heard a rustling behind. Ambush! A pair of lesser smelt were attracted to their movements. A fairly feeble foe, these smelt should not be too difficult for our heroes to dispatch!
 Shark swung at the smelt fish; a critical miss! Having just picked up the sword 2 days ago, Shark lost their grip and missed wildly. With Shark in a vulnerable position, the smelt nipped at their leg. A critical chomp! Luck was not on Shark's side today. Sunny quickly cast flash of light, temporarily blinding the smelt, and the two ran away. They took shelter by a rock, and Sunny tended to Shark's wounds. Barely able to even run away from a lesser foe like smelt fish, how could Shark ever defeat the Dark Knight!?
 Just as Shark and Sunny were about to lay to rest, they heard an unusual rustling coming from bushes. From the greenery, a Greater Smelt Fish emerged! It was accompanied by the same two lesser smelt the duo had run away from earlier. They must have tracked down the blood trail. With the sun coming down and nowhere to run, Sunny and Shark prepared for battle. Hungry and tired, the two mustered up all the strength they could for this unfortunate encounter!?
 Sunny cast Flash of Light to blind the two lesser smelt. The Greater Smelt charged forward, unaffected by the flash. Shark tightened their grip and prepared to slash. As the Greater Smelt was about to ram into Shark, almost as if time had stopped, Shark heard a voice. The Wise Walrus! Though they could not see Walrus, Shark knew it was his voice, "Focus your strengths on the ground. The key is in your legs, not your strike". Before Shark could ask any questions, the presence was gone. Without much time to think, Shark took the advice, dug in their feet and loosened their grip. The Greater Smelt lept into the air, and as it came crashing down, with the strength of their legs, Shark also jumped with such force their battered iron sword sliced right through the Smelt's head. The gentle rustling of the grass was unterrupted by a large thud of the smelt's head dropping to the ground. Exhausted, starving and in need of good rest, Shark and Sunny tended to a fire and had a great feast later that night. A well deserved meal
 A full belly, a good night's rest and full of energy, Shark and Sunny head off towards Mola Mola village. Sunny assured that they were definitely close by, and as long as they didn't stray from the path, they should be there by nightfall!
 Tragedy! What was supposed to be a jubilant return home, the pair was instead greeted by a roaring inferno. Sunny thought, perhaps we took a wrong turn? But they recognized every building engulfed in the flames. Sunny fell to their knees, incapacitated by shock. Shark was also without a word or action. There was nothing they could do, the fire was too strong. They could only stand and watch. No sounds, other than the bellowing of flames and crackling wood. After what must have been hours, the fire finally began to die down. Sunny passed out from the trauma, but Shark noticed a tall, slender figure walking out of the ruins. As it got closer, Shark's eyes widened; the figure was clad in black armour, a menacingly dark weapon in hand as well. Did the Dark Knight follow them there?!
 The figure clad in black armour spoke, "It looks as if my smoke signals caught your attention. I am Lord Darter, 6th of the Dark Knights. I hear from my brother that you are in search of The Booty as well?" This was already a lot of information for Shark to take in, but they knew now was not the time to think. Shark grabbed their sword and shield and defiantly raised it in front of the Dark Knight. Lord Darter slowly unsheathed a sleek, pitch black weapon, brimming with dark energy similar to the first Dark Knight Shark encountered. "Pheh, you challenge me with that iron scrap and cardboard? My Ebon Rapier will make quick work of you!" And with a simple flick of the wrist, Shark's vision went dark. Then, a burning pain erupted around Shark's eyes. Lord Darter had slashed Shark's orbital area! "You may have heart little one, but you are no match for the speed of my attacks!". With little vision, feeble weapons and Sunny out of combat, this was a losing battle for Shark. How could they ever overcome such a fearsome foe and their legendary weapon!? 
 Shark's sight began to blur back into focus. They caught a glimpse of Lord Darter raising his Ebon rapier for a strike. But before Shark could even raise their shield up to eye level, Darter struck it with his black weapon, shattering it clean into two. The Dark Knight began thrusting a flurry of strikes, Shark barely dodging each one. It was clear that Darter was just playing with Shark at this point, intentionally missing with pinpoint accuracy. The Knight's strikes were too fast for Shark to deflect with their cumbersome iron sword. Lord Darter paused momentarily out of pity, and began to cackle. At this moment, amongst the shrill laughter, Shark began to hear a familiar voice. The Wise Walrus whispered again! "He relies on his weapon alone. Use your footing. Remove the weapon, and he shall fall". Shark wiped the blood out of their eyes, caught their breath and dug their feet into the ground. Using two hands, Shark raised their iron blade and readied themselves for a counterattack. Seeing Shark's resolve, Lord Darter stood tall and pointed the rapier at them, "I admire your courage. I shall remember it long after your demise today". Shark closed their eyes and focused on their breathing. Lord Darter's blade burst with a flare of dark energy as he lunged in for a killing blow...
 With eyes closed, Shark could hear the deafening silence of the Ebon Rapier lunging towards them. Moments before impact, a blinding light flashed in the sky knocking Darter off balance. Sunny, in a fit of rage, came to and overcasted a super flash of light! Sunny immediately collapsed from the exertion. The slight shift in Darter's balance was all Shark needed. Pushing off with their braced leg, Shark rolled towards the Dark Knight, barely dodging the fatal attack. Lord Darter's rapier stabbed the ground, leaving him prone. Heeding the Wise Walrus' advice, Shark took the chance to batter Darter's grip on his weapon with the hilt of the bulky iron sword. As soon as he let go of his dark weapon, almost like steam escaping from a boiling kettle, the Knight's ebon armour began to dissipate! When the darkness had left, all that remained was a frail little darter fish, resembling nothing of what he looked like mere seconds ago.
 Just as the black armour faded, the frail little darter fish began to disappear as well. "We all sought powers we weren't ready for. Save the others. Free them from the curse..." And with that, all traces of Lord Darter had vanished except for a pair of wristguards. As Shark went to pick them up, the Ebon Rapier melted into the ground. Shark collapsed from exhaustion. A few hours later, Shark came to, and found themselves leaning against a burnt building. The slashes on their eyes had been stiched up. Looking up, Shark noticed Sunny staring off in the distance. "There were no survivors...", Sunny solemly mumbled. "Let me join you, Shark. There is nothing left for me here. But together, we can put an end to this." Shark picked themselves up and nodded. At that moment, Shark also remembered the voice of the Walrus, as well as what the Dater fish had told them. It was all so much information; Is the Wise Walrus really whispering to them? Perhaps Walrus is still alive? And there are still 5 other Dark Knights that must be defeated? Shark slunk back down, their head spiraling in confusion. They felt a warmth on their shoulder, it was Sunny's hand on their shoulder. Sunny extended their hand, Shark nodded and the two got up and made their way out of the ruined village.
 Shark pulled out the Ever-True Compass, and the two began walking out of the ruins. Every few minutes, Shark heard a rustling behind them. Shark asked Sunny if they noticed anything, and they said they heard the same thing. The two prepared themselves mentally for battle, and kept walking along. As they turned a corner, a long, thin shadow crept over the pair. They shot each other a look and flipped around, weapons and spells at the ready. They turned to face a frighteningly tall figure wielding a dagger! Shark prepared to swing, "Do either of you know where the closest convenience store is?" Shark stopped the attack in confusion and looked up at the figure. It slowly walked out of the shadows and spoke again, "Can I follow you two until we find one? My name is eel by the way." Sunny and Shark stared at each other, puzzled. "No", said Sunny sternly, and the pair continued on their journey. Eel just stood there and watched as they left.
 Shark and Sunny followed the compass out of the ruins. Along the way, they noticed an abandoned wagon. Upon closer inspection, all of the goods had been taken and a dozen arrows were sticking out of the wood. Must have been some bandits. Shark and Sunny prepared for the worst. As Shark went for their sword, they kept missing the handle. Shark tried again, and again and..... Both Sunny and Shark fell to the ground. As Shark's vision went dark, they noticed 3, tiny, ball shaped figures shuffling towards them. Then, complete darkness.
 Shark awoke to the rattling of metal and cold steel on their bottom. As their glazed vision focused, they saw iron bars all around them. Past the metal, 3 ball like figures chattered among each other. Sunny was right next to Shark. They tried to get up, but their body would not let them. Stressed, Shark looked around frantically, noticing a bandana on one of the figure's heads. A red ball and stripe; The mark of the notorious Pufferfish Bandits! These hoodlums were renowned for their use of toxins and guerilla tactics. Shark realized they must have been poisoned whule inspecting the wagon. With no way to run, stuck in an iron cage, and in the custody of the Pufferfish Bandits, Shark and Sunny's journey seemed to have come to an end...
 Suddenly, the cage stopped moving. Three loud cracks and the sound of clashing metal. Still paralyzed from the toxic darts, Shark tried to see what was happening. They pushed themselves against the cage to gain leverage, only to tumble right out. Someone had unlocked it! Shark winced as they hit the ground, only to open their eyes to a tall, looming figure. Terrified at first Shark realized it was the Eel they met in the ruins! The Eel rubbed an herb over Shark and Sunny's skin. They felt a minty tingle, and then the paralysis seemed to dissappear. "Can you two help me find the nearest convenience store now?". Sunny and Shark stared at each other for a moment, then noticed the three Puffer Bandits that had captured them were unconcious on the ground. Having a friend that could sneak around, pick locks and concoct remedies could be beneficial for their journey, so they said yes! 
 The trio found a suitable resting area, set up a bonfire and laid their weapons to rest. Shark and Sunny tried to comverse, but felt quite uncomfortable as Eel sat in the corner, silent. Shark and Sunny stopped chatting, interrupted by Eel's heavy breathing. As they stared at him, one of Eel's pupils slowly drifted down towards them. "Oh, don't mind me. I'm terrible in social situations". Puzzled, Shark shrugged it off and took a bite of fish loaf. They noticed their Rations were very low, so the three decided to make a detour. Sunny knew a neighboring village nearby.
 As Shark, Sunny and Eel made their way to town, they noticed a lone tree off in the distance. Once near, a robed Shark sat calmly with a black, laquered sword resting on his shoulder. The trio decided to leave the robed fish alone and walk past. "Wait", said the swordsman in a commanding , yet calm tone. "I see you have a sword. You may pass once you've accepted a duel with me." The robed fish got up slowly, "I've been waiting for the day I am finally cut down. You look promising. Defeat my blade and I, and not only shall you pass, but you will leave as a swordsman of legend." Sunny leaned over to Shark and said, "Perhaps we can negotiate with him? Your sword is dulled and battered from the last fight." The robed swordsman carefully unsheathed his weapon, revealing an unimpressive piece of curved wood for the blade. "Metal against a piece of timber? I think you are the one with the advantage here", said the swordsman mockingly. 
 Shark ignored the robed figure's banter and attempted to walk on. "Running again? Isn't that why Walrus isn't here anymore?", he barked. Shark stopped in their tracks, back still turned. Both Eel and Sunny felt a sudden change in atmosphere. "If you run now, these two will face the same fate", he pointed at Sunny and Eel with his wooden sword. Shark flipped around, eyes narrowed, and gripped their dull sword fiercly. The robed fish smirked, "Follow me." The two walked over to an empty field. The robed fish seemed to be in a calm trance, sword lowered, slow, heavy breaths. Shark dug into the ground with their feet, adjusted their grip on the sword, and pointed it at the robed fish, looking down its edge towards the swordsman. The wind picked up; leaves and foliage began to sprinkle the area. This would be a swift duel.
 As the wind blew, Shark took one small step forward. Before Shark could even place their foot on the ground, the wind dropped dead. The sound of cracking metal rang in the air, and somehow the robed figure was now behind Shark. A swift strike, Shark stood no chance against this fearsome warrior. "A weapon means nothing without experience. Let your broken blade and cut on your chest forever remind you of that." And before Shark could even assess the situation, they felt a burning sensation on their chest. A cut just deep enough to scar horribly, but not fatal. Utter defeat! 
 "You will learn to fight with that broken blade of yours from now on", the robed swordsman said as he passed Shark. "A strong weapon is a handicap. Darter was the weakest of all the Dark Knights, relied too much on his weapon alone". Shark slunk down to their knees, the cut on their chest bursting with blood, and somehow exhausted from the 2 second clash. "Darter is nothing compared to the next five knights. But you can defeat them if you focus on your footing." The robed figure walked past Sunny and Eel. Eel ran over to Shark to manage the wound. "We will meet again." Confused, Sunny asked, "Who are you!?" "Tell Shark Walrus has been speaking to me as well". Not knowing who the Walrus was, Sunny didn't know what to make of it. Sunny ran over to Shark to assist Eel in tending to the wound. As the swordsman walked over the horizon, under his breath he muttered, "And the next time we meet, you will defeat me. You must."...
 The night after the duel, Eel and Sunny started a campfire. After a few moments, Shark got up and made their way to the cliffside overlooking the valley. They sat down, put the shattered sword to their side, and hunched over. So much had happened in the past few weeks. The Quest for Booty had somehow evolved into something much bigger, something much more frightening and unobtainable. Five Dark Knights now stood in the way of Shark's goal. Shark barely managed to defeat Darter, and now without a shield and a proper weapon, how could they ever defeat another? Also, who was this swordsman, why did he know Walrus, and what was he trying to accomplish? A millimetre deeper, and the slash to Shark's chest could have been fatal. As the thoughts kept flooding in, one after the other, Shark felt their body sinking in until they finally drifted off to sleep in the grass. A quiet and lonely night.
 The trio awoke early in the morning to set off towards the nearest town. Rations were low and they could not afford another night camping. Sunny assured the town was very close by, but as they ventured forward, they noticed a large black flag looming over the horizon. Eventually, they realized this flag was the same as the one used by the Puffer Bandits! "This is the merchant village, I am sure of it!", said Sunny, "Perhaps the bandits took over?" "Ahoy there travelers. Welcome to New Puffer-Town! What brings you here?" a voice boomed from above. The trio looked up the wooden gate and saw two puffer guards standing atop it. Sunny whispered to Shark, "I don't think they know about that patrol we ran into. Let's try our chances, we need food". Sunny looked back up at the guards, "We come seeking food and a place to sleep after travel. This used to be a merchant village, was it not?" Sunny inquired. "Why yes, but we Puffers have lent our strength and weapons help protect the town. Come in, there's plenty of shops waiting for you!" The gates slowly cracked open. "Let's stick together and keep an eye out", whispered Sunny. "Do you think there's a convenience store here?", Eel whispered back.
 The trio made their way past the gates into New Puffer Town, and headed towards the market. Most of the stalls seemed quite barren, so they went to the one with the most (which wasn't saying much). The Carp merchant waved over Shark and friends, "Care for some fish loaf? Or how about some dried barnacle berries?" Sunny noted how the Puffer Gang's symbol was plastered flamboyantly all over the city. "The market seems quite dry compared to the last time I was here. Troubles with supply?", Sunny inquired. "Oh no, not at all. A -hefty- portion of our goods is given as tribute to our Puffer guardians. In exchange, they provide us with the best protection!" The merchant was scribbling something onto a piece of paper as they spoke. They subtly passed over the paper to Sunny. It read, "Not safe to ask questions here, go to Briney Barrel Inn". Sunny slipped the note to Shark who also read it. They purchased what they could from the merchant and thanked him. Before they left, Eel snuck up behind the Carp and whispered, "Is there a convenience store in town?" Shark and Sunny buried their faces in their hands. "Uh......no", replied Carp. And with that, the trio made their way to the Inn.
 They made their way to The Briney Barrel Inn, but once inside they noticed there wasn't a fish to be seen. Empty except for a stout grouper fish sucking down a strong smelling beverage. He slammed down the pint and eyed Shark suspiciously. "Don't get a lot of visitors these days." The grouper began pouring out more of the foul smelling liquid into his pint. Shark slid the note written by the merchant to him. He unfurled it, eyed Shark again and downed his drink. "Let me show you your room" he said with a wink. Next to the bar top was a door under the staircase. He motioned for them to walk in, then closed the door. It was a tight space, the smell of the drink was quite noticeable on his breath. "We'll be safe to talk here." Sunny asked, "What happened to this town?" "It's all because of those filthy Puffer Fish bandits. Protection my ass. They take and never give back, barely leaving us with enough to sell, let alone for ourselves. No one's come to stay at this Inn either ever since they took over. Why would anyone, there's nothing here for anybody!", said the grouper. "Speaking of which, what brings you lot here?" Shark informed him of their Quest for Booty, to which he replied, "I see. Well perhaps I can be of help. That is of course, if you help me out here", he said slyly. At that moment, they all heard a loud clanging outside. "The execution bell. Some poor shmuck probably getting done in for somethin' petty again." The grouper spat to the side. At that moment, both Shark and Sunny realized that Eel wasn't with them. They looked at each ran out of the inn.
 Shark and Sunny ran to the town square only to confirm their suspicions. Atop the podium was Eel, neck clamped shut between a well used guillotine. "I just was just asking around for the nearest convenience store!", pleaded Eel. The Puffer Guard raised their long axe and held it millimetres away from Eel's neck. Eel immediately stopped talking. Shark reached for their broken short-sword and prepared to save Eel, but Sunny grabbed their arm. "I wouldn't do that. Not like this. Remember, this is -their- town now. If we cause a scene, the entire gang is going to come after us.", whispered Sunny. Shark glared at Sunny, but knew they were right. Shark begrudgingly put their sword back and watched Eel helplessly from below. The executioner lifted their axe again, but this time aiming for the string delicately holding the guillotine blade above. In a panic, Sunny muttered, "We need to think of a plan, quick! Perhaps if we distracted-" !!-CRACK-!!
 Eel watched as the Puffer Guard swung their axe. Not able to hold themselves anymore, Shark shrug Sunny off their arm and grabbed hold of their broken blade. Inches away from the rope, a loud CRACK filled the square. Out from the sky came the grouper fish from the Briney Barrel Inn. He somehow managed to snap the guard's axe in two with his foot! As the grouper landed on the ground, he looked over at Shark and Sunny and said, "You idiots were about to pick a fight with one of the Puffer Lord's lieutenants!" He grinned and looked back at the guard and spat on the ground, "The name's Griswald, by the way."
 The Puffer Guard picked up both pieces of the broken axe and attempted to cut off Eel's head. Griswald dashed forward and blocked the weapon with a vicious kick to the shaft. The Puffer Guard was knocked back slightly from the impact. Griswald kicked the guillotine open to free Eel and barked, "Run! I'll catch up with you later." The Puffer Guard, now furious, charged at Griswald and swung with deadly precision. Each strike was blocked by the Grouper's powerful kicks. It was obvious to the trio that he wasn't just some ordinary Inn keeper; He could hold his own. They took his advice and ran away from the town centre. Griswald glanced back to note which way the three were headed, then muttered under his breath, "Looks like it's finally time to take this town back".
 Not knowing where to go, the three ran around aimlessly but cautiously. Puffer bandits scoured the streets making it clear the town was on high alert. No place was safe, and every corner the trio had to stop and wait anxiously as patrols ran by. Sunny suggested they try and run back to the Briney Barrel Inn, perhaps Griswald meant to meet up there? It was the place they had been to in the city, so Shark agreed and may way back to the Inn.
 As the trio snuck their way through the Puffer infested streets, they eventually made it back to the Briney Barrel Inn. Eel motioned Sunny and Shark to hold back. Eel peered through the window, then slowly opened the door. The coast was clear, so they went inside and hid. All three slumped down by the wall in exhaustion. As they caught their breath, Sunny was suddenly visibly disturbed. "Do....you feel anything?" Shark shook their head no in response, but then noticed a rumbling. It got stronger, and stronger and stronger until -!CRASH!- A massive spiked arm came bursting through the wall! As Shark lept back, the curtains in the window bellowed out, and a single tiny eye peered down at the three.
 With each hop, another wall came crashing down. "I don't think we can keep running, we need to do something else!" yelled Sunny with what little breath they had left. Shark agreed. No walls remained, no where left to hide. The three were now face to face with the beast responsible for the destruction. The monster spoke, "Puffmungus strong! Puffmungus catch tiny shark for Big Boss Puff!" Shark looked at Sunny and Eel and new they had to stand their ground here. Eel straightened out his posture and grabbed hold of his trusty daggers. Sunny whispered a quick chant, and raised hands in preparation. Shark brought their half sword to their side, and focused on their stance. "Puny Shark has even tinier sword. No match for Puffmungus' beef!" Puffmungus flexed so hard, that each muscle became disturbingly defined. "Puffmungus Crush!"
 Like a boulder crashing into the ocean, Puffmungus' fist sent ripples throughout the pavement. Shark barely managed to jump out of harms way. The attacks became more sudden, his fists flailing wildly but with the same amount of deadly force. The randomness of his attacks made it harder to dodge, andthe three could evade for only so much longer. Sunny found a moment to brace themselves, and began to cast Flash if Light rank 2. A blinding beam of lightflashed before Puffmungus. But they were either too resilient or too dumb to notice and were completely unaffected. Shark and Sunny then noticed Eel was caught in one of Puffmungus' barbed fists. It seemed as though Eel managed to sneak behind the behemoth, but got caught in the wild flailing. The situation seemed grim, as Shark was exhausted and the monster showed no signs of slowing down.
prev / next