The darkness flitted into the dismal swamp from the setting dusk sun. The vile, poison air which corrupted the entire bog hid in the shadows, revealing the slow, fetid floor across the empty land. In the middle of the fog in the middle of this fen, a mound rose from the mud. This oasis of decay and despair amid the lifeless, deathly sea gave rise to a rotted heap of branches and bone. Atop this crude throne was something cruder yet -- a gaunt thing which hid empty eyes beneath tangles of filth and hair and simple, tarnished crown.

A sigh as heavy as the dank fog around the man came from out his grimace, twisted even in his non-emotion. His hollow gaze lifted across the newly revealed surroundings, which proved to be no more interesting than the dense mist which now retreated. He sank into his desolate seat, wrinkling his ancient azure surcoat around his concealed neck.

There was nothing to do, a common predicament. On this evening, however, the Fen King decided to take action.

"Computer, I'm bored," he called out loudly, and then he waited. "Computer!" he repeated, more forceful than before. After another pause, a sigh, and then a small serpent inched its way forward.

"What is it," it blandly hissed in a combination of anger and annoyance.

"That doesn't sound much like a computer."

It let out an angrier, more annoyed groan. "Bleep-boop, what is it?"

"Computer," the Fen King again addressed, never bothering to lower his sights to the snake, "I'm bored. What does your advanced programming suggest I do?"

"Well, for one, you can stop calling me 'computer'," suggested the basilisk.

"Computer, that is a horrible suggestion! I'll think of something on my own," scoffed the reviled ruler. "Computer, can you run randomization protocol alpha sigma nine?" he made up.

"Can you die?" his familiar returned. "Like, a lot?"

"I don't remember," he began to trail off, "do computers need food to live? Computer, do you need food to live?"

With a defeated huff, the tiny tyrant crawled across the vined hill. It stopped to move a poisonous stare up to its keeper. The Fen King was still looking up and off into the distance, slightly stroking his bony chin with one hand. The other was low to the arm of his wretched throne, giving a guiding finger to the miserable monster. It continued to slither its along the pointed path until it reached a standing, spinning game wheel. It sank its tiny fangs in and pulled down with all its might. The weak witherer possessed little, however, and was only able to move the selection from "Sit Around in the Fog" to the very next choice of-

"Destroy the world, eh?" read the Fen King, who now rubbed his chin with his other hand as well. "Yes, this could be interesting for a while, at least. Computer, contact Entropy."

"What'd ya say?" roared the swooping Nidhogg who happened to be nearby.

"Thank you, computer. That was fast." He turned his hideous, hidden face to the dark dragon. "Non-computer, we're gonna destroy the world!"

"Whoa!" the drake was taken aback, "I just got here. At least wean me into your insanity."

"Oh, no. This makes perfect sense. The wheel told me to do this."

"Muh-huh," it tried to blow off, scratching its scaly head in the confusion. "And why are you telling me this? Is it because you have no friends?"

"No! Well, I mean, yeah, but that's not the reason," the king explained. "I figure I could use your help. After all, you're all Ragnaröky, right?"

"Hey, I just eat corpses; I can't end the world... unless the world were made of corpses. Even then, that's an awful lot of corpses. And one would have to wonder what they were living on when they even were living. Was it always corpses? And if everything was corpses, where did they get their shoes from?"

"Were the shoes made out of corpses?"

"I don't know. It is quite a dilemma, so you'll understand why I'd rather avoid the whole mess."

"Plus Ragnarök isn't even an apocalypse," squeaked the serpent. "It is just a time that represents the transition of-"

"Computer, can you shut the Hel up?"

"Why do you have to be so mean?" it squealed, leaking a toxic tear.

"I don't remember programming you to complain. Am I gonna hafta 'debug' you with my high-tech gadget mallet and a sandwich?"

"Wait, why a sandwich?" wondered the wyrm.

"Um, 'cause I'm hungry."

"Can... can I have some, too?" lowly hissed the lesser king.

"No, and that is your punishment," the man affirmed. "Punishment for not being a computer."

"What even is a 'computer', anyway?"

"Oh, you'll see," the Fen King said with a smile, a wink, and a nod. Sadly, his prophesied world in which everyone had their own personal, hot, robo-French maid would never come to be, and instead, we just got these boring boxes you're looking into right now.

In a rare and indeed first intelligent thought, the baron of the bog considered another familiar, a Garm, for his aforementioned apocalyptic ambitions. But like his old plan to make an article of clothing which could double as a shirt and pants to half his wardrobe's size, it could not work -- not because it too is a creature of Ragnarök, but because the hell hound was currently attending matters elsewhere...

Four red intent eyes locked on four nervously looking back. A bead of sweat escaped from beneath the biretta placed carefully and crookedly atop one of their heads; more covered her hands wringing the handle to their precious cargo.

Finally, the Garm bared the fangs across its mirrored maw. "So," it growled, "do you got any thick mints?"

"I'm sorry, 'thick mints', mister doggy-sir?" implored one of the confused young salesgirls.

"Yeah, the thin ones just aren't cuttin' it for me, any more," the guardian of the gates went on, baffling the lasses as much as it had frightened them. "I mean, I want my cookies to be as fat and unhealthy as I am, like committing a small symbolic act of cannibalism with every bite. Only, y'know, not weird and stuff." And how could that be?

"Um," stammered one of the unfortunate uniforms, who now uneasily pulled on one of her pigtails as if it could get some idea from her head, "couldn't ya just, like, stack two on top of each other?"

"What am I?" barked the blood-splattered and chain-bound wolf. "Some sort of barbarian?"

"I found a crushed box!" the second child called singsongly from behind their heaped wagon of wares. "Is that like what your lookin' for, puppy-doggy?"

"Of course not!" the hound uproared with a multi-directional anger. "And why would it be? That isn't anything close to what I asked for!"

"Um," again she stammered. "Yes it is?" the innocent asked more than answered in a meek squeak.

The Garm considered this for a moment, rubbing its lower face with a hand that it by all logic should not possess. However, the foremost wolf could find no reason not to trust them as likewise the small cute girls had absolutely no reason not to trust the snarling, blood-drenched denizen of Hel. The gatekeeper reached for its payment, but unlike the strange Celphie arm, its pockets did not exist. Several attempts were made by the Fen King's pet to barter bites for the baked goods, but the matching uniforms did not respond to threats, even when the mangy monster offered to double its payment.

Through with sensible negotiations and fifth limbs, the Garm decided to take what it wanted by force. The little ladies would obviously be overwhelmed by the bloody, brutish beast, so of course all of its offense failed to connect and their meager retaliation always caused critical damage. The salegirls sped away carrying their cookie cargo with the wounded wolf in pursuit, but much like the treats the familiar only imagined, it was far too unhealthy to follow for long.

"Stupid girly scouts!" bayed the beast to the shrinking sight of the tots and their treat treasure. "Don't you know? You're not even supposed to exist yet! Lousy little girls, always thinkin' they're better than me... and usually bein' right."

"But why would you even want to destroy the world?" Entropy put bluntly and refrained from listing the very many reasons the plan and its concocter were stupid.

"Well, I think that's pretty obvious," declared the despondent denizen, "to get chicks!"

"Wait, if you destroyed the world," realized the regal serpent, "wouldn't they be mad at you?"

"Wouldn't they be dead?" the Nidhogg went unheard.

"They would be mad, but that doesn't matter. Chicks dig the bad boys," the Fen King confidently explained, "and once they're all killed in the apocalypse, they'll have no choice! They'll have to get with me!"

"Well, you better like corpses," muttered the wyrm, as always, "'cause that's what they'll be. And then they'll be made into shoes."

Its keeper sent a dark stare to the equally grim dragon. "Computer, log into my account and change my active monster to Zig."

"Boo-yah!" the Basilisk hissed in excited, even-higher pitch.

"Ah, there you are, Zig. C'mon," beckoned the bog baron, who was slipping on a good pair of shirt, "we gotta go."

"Go?" wondered the petrifying pet. "Go where?"

"Go where everyone goes when they don't have any better ideas -- to the tavern!"

Ah, the familiar stench of spirit. The heavy portal gave way with a heavy tug, letting in the hated sun and letting out the smell that the Fen King grew up with. He hastily made his way in with Zig at hand (or rather wrapped around it) and resealed the wretched rays to the outside world most of the bar's patrons had forgotten -- from tankards and time spent in the tavern, sometimes both.

The future destructor approached the bar, rolling his empty eyes across its dreary length. A single stool stood without an resident here and there, enough to separate the lonesome masses, but there was nowhere for the Fen King and friend to sit and celebrate side-by-side.
And since there was no room, he decided to make it.

"Hey," a random drunk burped at the master of the mire's approach, "ain'tcha that wierdo guy who lives in the swamp and keeps stealin' our kids' cookies?"

"Hey," retorted the wretched ruler, "aren't you that guy I killed?"

"What are you talking ab-ack!" croaked what was now a corpse and an extra empty seat. The Fen King dusted his hands of their magical, deathly energy, which apparently took some sort of dust-like form.

"Two pints, my good barkeep!" ordered the king, "and maybe something for my pet here, too!" He set his serpent in the neighboring stool, although its head could barely peek over the bar. The keep acknowledged the request and reached for the normal barrel. "No no! Not the bottom-shelf ale for us today. We're upgrading to the second from the bottom shelf!"

"Have you gone mad, man?" asked the stout seller of stout, "" His eyes rolled up into his hairless head when he realizes his linguistic fault. "Um, madder, man?... er."

"No, this maner is celebrating," explained the quagmire's king. "Y'see, we're gonna destroy the world."

The barkeep shrugged. "I've heard worse reasons to celebrate, although you're lucky you came in after that guy," he told with a towel-covered point in the direction of a banner that read "30 Years With My Head Stuck in a Jar" above a man demonstrating this claim.

"Aw, I forgot to get Moe a jar day present."

"Well, that's understandable with how busy you are and all," rolled on the rotund tender. "In fact, if you're destroying the world, then I guess there's no reason to charge you for these drinks. Or to put out that small fire that caught on my pant leg."

"Free booze? This just keeps gettin' better!" The vile one turned to his pet. "Hey Zig, we should end the world more often. It rocks! Good drinks, I can only assume good women to come, and I also found that penny, which I shall also assume is related to our impending doom. Well, not our doom, but the us-caused doom."

"Well, it isn't all sunshine and lollipops," stopped the keep, who could not have chosen more fitting words for the world's destruction. "I mean, maybe its just the searing pain from most of my lower body catching fire, but I seem to recall some lad stopping by here goin' on about saving the world from some great evil."

"Great evil?" fearfully spat out the king, although he did not spit out his drink. "It wasn't a greatly stupid evil, was it?"

"I don't recall."

"Well, think, man!"

"Sorry, but I don't have much time left for thinkin'," explained the tender of bars, "as the blaze is fast consuming my head."

"Well, think faster -- before the fire reaches your noggin', nog-man!"

And he did remember, but by then, he was just a chattering skeleton. Sure, he could defy all logic by actively moving his jaw after being reduced to muscleless, charred bone, but you better believe he could no longer speak.

"You hear that, Zig? Someone's tryin' to stop us!"

"But how? You decided to even try to end the world just twenty minutes ago."

"You're right; how did he know before we even did?" pondered the poisonous keeper. "He's even better than I thought, and I didn't even thought because I just found out this guy even existed. Oh, he is so good... There is only one thing we can do!"

"Try an' stop him?"

"Hey, that's much better than my idea of giving up and eating a whole tub of mint chocolate chip in despair, which I would also most likely give up during and then become so depressed that I would try to eat a second tub." The Fen King then went on to explain how he would somehow be able to eat most of this second tub of ice cream despite being unable to finish the first, but would subsequently fail and move onto a third pail. The cycle would continue until he was distracted by the growing number of half-empty buckets of ice cream and built a fort with them instead.

"Wow, I would say that you put a lot of thought into those li'l rants you go off on, but," paused the pet, "it is really more like just a lot of words, most of which you managed to misspell -- despite speaking them."

"You knwo it!"

"But why are we gonna stop 'im?" squeaked the snake. "You don't even have a plan to destroy the world yet!"

"Yeah, but if he is gonna be stopping us, he must know how we're gonna do it!" reasoned the ruler, albeit very poorly and without any reason. "How could he stop us otherwise?"

"But if we don't have a plan yet, what is he even tryin' to stop us from doin'!"

"Well, obviously," went on the madman, not-so-obviously, "he is trying to stop us from finding out the plan!"

"How much have you had to drink exactly?" feared the tiny tyrant.

"Not enough to impair my judgement anymore than it always is. Don't you agree?" asked the bog baron. "I'll taking smoldering and silence as a yes!" he said of the former barkeep's non-reply. "Hey, can I take your skull and use it as a bowl for my fries? Wow, thanks!"

"Aww! They've got bits of brain-ash on them!" vomitted the venomous familiar.

"I feel smarter already." As one could imagine, that is not much of a feat. "In fact, I think I know just how we can find our new advesary."

Moments later, the duo relocated someplace that would help them think.

"We were just in here!" spat out the serpent. "In fact, we just stepped outside and turned right back into the pub!"

"What are you talkin' about? This place is entirely different!" argued the swamp lord. "The bartender here is slightly less smoldering than the last place."

"Well, have you thought of any ideas yet?"

"Oh, indeed I have."

A change of scene later...

Well, not really a change at all.

"Why was that bartender even on fire in the first place?" Zig thought, making him the only one in the pair.

"Don't ask me," shrugged off the enemy of all creation. "I just got here.

"You shall perish, vile hero!" threatened the dismal king. "There is no stopping me and my peanut familiar!"

"I dun wanna be a peanut!" squealed the snake, sore over his representation in this strategy session. Empty eyes were raised from the bar over which its keeper was currently stooped, and still they conveyed the Fen King's annoyance.

"There's nothing else around for you to be," reminded the regal evil. "You have to be this peanut, and I have to be represented by this toy snake I found."

"I am that toy!" Zig managed to grow to a higher pitch.

"And toy's can't complain," brushed off the bog baron. "Neither can peanuts. Besides, it isn't like you'll actually turn into a peanut."

"But how can you be sure?"

"I can't," shrugged the swamp ruler, "but quite frankly, I don't care anymore. Isn't it pretty obvious from this story?" Both nodded in agreement as they looked out the broken fourth wall. Once more picking up his playthings, the Fen King Zig and Zignut were carried into position. "Okay, at this point, if he doesn't surrender due to our overwhelming awesomosity, you will shoot a devastating Salt Beam at him and say 'Salty enough for ya?'"

"That doesn't even make sense," again whined the Basilisk.

"Uh-uh-uh," the dismal one shook his head. "You can't talk unless..." he trailed off and then began to bob his pet up and down, which is apparently how the strange man thought he looked when he spoke.

After an annoyed grunt, Zig repeated itself. "That doesn't make sense." If you forgot why he originally said this, do not worry; there are many things this statement could apply to. "And I don't have a Salt Beam tech. I don't think anything is sorry enough to. Well, maybe Tiamat." Now spared the nauseating motion, the Fen King reflected on the he words the tiny him had just said.

"Maybe you'd learn it if you ate this peanut," considered the king.

"What if it transforms me into a peanut?"

"Oh, you always say that," belittled the man. "It doesn't matter if it is roasted peanuts, cashews, chickpeas, cotton, or a peanut transformation machine -- according to you, everything will turn you into a peanut!"

"That last one didn't," reminded the serpentine ruler, "although it did transform all peanuts in the world into zombies. Delicious, delicious zombies." It was the best day ever.

"Okay, fine," conceded the quagmire king, "but then we're gonna need to find another one of his weaknesses. Or, a real weakness. Those might work better than ones I'm just making up."

"Whose weakness?" hissed his crawling companion.

Before its owner could reply, the Fen King's sinister sockets scanned across the bar top doubling as their battlefield. Both he and his familiar were accounted for, but their foe was not. "Yes, it could be difficult to discuss strategy against our mortal enemy if we don't even have him in our mock battle. Otherwise, it would just be we two idiots wasting everybody's time." He flung up a thumb and turned a smile to the gaping hole where once the fourth wall stood. "You're welcome!"

"Can I be the good guy?" winced the venomous creature. "You can be the tankard. You're always holding it, anyway."

"I'm not gonna be the tankard," asserted the overlord of the swamps. "What if I get transformed into a peanut?... again!!" As it turns out, being the tankard is the one thing in this world or any that will turn somebody into a peanut. "No, what we need is something that looks like our good-doer nemesis."

"But we don't know what he looks like!" cried the tiny tyrant, "or even know who he is. Or if he is a he! Maybe he's that peanut!"

"You really want me to kill that peanut, don't you?" After a quick crowned nod, Zig's strategic stand-in suffered a most grizzly demise, albeit a tasty one. "Mmmm, honey roasted," drooled the drab, dismal king. "Well, I guess that's the end of our mortal enemy."

"But what if he or he-who-isn't-a-he wasn't that peanut?" the poisonous pet pointed out.

"You're right. The real guy -- or non-guy -- will probably be more difficult to defeat," pondered the evil one, stroking his chin to coax out more thoughts. With the Fen King, however, it isn't so much the quantity of his thoughts that's the problem as it is the unusually poor quality. "If we are to defeat him, we'll need a good battle strategy, and in order to conduct an adequate strategy session, we'll need something fitting to represent him, and to have a good representation of him, we'll need to find him!"

"What about killing him so we can destroy the world unopposed?"

"Oh, yeah," quickly blurted the bog baron, "we can do that when we find him, too.

"I don't know if this is the best way to find the person who is trying to stop us," informed the envenomed pet, "if they are even trying to stop us!" The Fen King stopped slaying everyone in the tavern just long enough to shoot a poisonous glance to the Basilisk in a strange irony.

"That sounds like the kinda talk the guy tryin' to stop us from destroying the world would say," the more human of the pair slowly stated.

"Uh, I mean," quickly corrected his companion, "I think those two may be the guy." His keeper nodded and ignored the logical flaw that two people could be a "the guy" -- something which even the swamp lord's small mind realized -- but he highly doubted anyone would miss the pair of patrons either way.

"Dis iz da pits, y' freakin' losah!" is the best anyone could tell the green one said.

"We came back to life for this?" croaked the blue amphibi-man before, well, croaking and rejoining all his brethren -- dead, buried, and forgotten to the ages.

When the marshland master had massacred the entire establishment, the deathly, sinister energy left his hand (the right one, peculiarly enough). He returned to the bar, ready to check an item off his recently made list, when the baron of the bog came to an unfortunate realization.

"Whoops, there was a step number one on this thing," realized the bog baron unfortunately -- which was the same realizing as before, just to clear things up. Obviously, I wouldn't want anything in this story to confuse you. "I forgot, one comes before smiley face." Whether or not this statement was correct, he's still an idiot.

"Okay, everybody, listen up," the Fen King announced to dead ears. "There is someone out there tryin' to stop me who came by here earlier. Tell us anything you know or else!" he menaced, crackling a magical energy about his clenched, bony fist. "Step number smiley face!"

"I know something about him!" quietly called out a corpse.

"Really? What!" eagerly asked the mire's ruler.

"Sorry, I can't talk what with being dead and all."

"Curses!" cursed the king accursedly. This was by far his worst defeat by following a list out of order since his misadventures in space travel.

Step #1: Don't go outer space since you can't breathe there and will die.

Why there was more than single step is anyone's guess. And anyone would be right if they guessed "'caused he's stupid."

Dejected and defeated, the dismal denizen slumped low on his stool. The small snake beside him tried to cheer him up, but "At least you're breathing" really seemed like more of an insult. The burnt barkeep served up another apocalyptic round of free drinks, which gave the venomous familiar a better idea.

"Hey, he still knows somethin' about the guy tryin' to stop us!" Zig squeaked, wagging its tail in excitement.

"Yeah, but he's not talking," his keeper informed, waving a gaunt hand over the smoldering skeleton. "He doesn't even have a head."

"You have his head!" accused his ally. "You're using it as a bowl!"

"Well, what else am I supposed to use? One of the plates from this bar? No telling how filthy those are."

"Maybe he can tell us without talkin', tho'!" enlightened the poisonous pet. Empty eyes fell down, and his master's spirits were lifted up. Zig nudged the worthless list over to its blank side and looked for the pen. However, its glimmer of intelligence was quickly consumed by his keeper's comparative abyss.

"We can read his lips!"

"What? No!" corrected the coiled king.

"'No' to what?"

"'No' to us doing that, and 'no' to him even having lips! We'll just have him write down what he saw."

"Can he write it on his lips," inquired the evil one, "so I can still be right?" Zig shook its crowned head. "Then can we at least draw some lips on the parchment so I can feel like I'm right?"

"I'm still gonna say 'no'," the serpent hissed, "because I hate you."

The pair waited for the skeleton to finish scribbling out its knowledge. When pen left paper, the Fen King snatched it up and read it ravenously. His sockets grew; his face went blank.

"What does it say?" squeaked the snake. "Wait, you can read, right?"

"Of course I can!" snapped the swamp lord. "But this goes a little beyond Spot's exploits in running. I was really hoping he'd be our adversary. I really want to take that punk dog down a peg."

"So, how much of it can you make out?"

"Well, it has something to do with letters," uninformed the destroyer, "and there are a lot of them." Then, he came across something he actually recognized. He didn't even need to tell Zig; its deadly eyes knew his keeper's fear.

"He isn't..." meekly murmured the familiar. The Fen King just nodded.

"Our adversary," he whispered, "the one trying to stop us... He's from....

The blazing sun permeated its own white sky, sending wavering rays in all directions. The symbol flew high, proudly above an individual adorned in even more indicators of his nationality. The red circles even surrounded his eyes -- scars, actually, so numerous and concentric around both eyes that they formed simple red disks. No where else did his body show any form of injury, however -- not even the actual eyeballs themselves, surprisingly enough for the number of blows the individual had received over them.

"Reri Satu is my name," said the one named Reri Satu, if he is to be trusted, "and I am destined to save the world."

"Who are you even talking to?" questioned the less-than-loyal weasel at his side, but the reply would take some time. His keeper stared on into the wind, his long, enviable locks tossing. He stared and just concentrated -- concentrated on keeping the wind blowing. It was a spell he kept in effect at all time for the sole purpose of further mussing his already slightly messed hair -- but only enough to look cool. Such a magic prevented him from ever being able to use any other, which is why the Kamaitachi was originally charged with the task instead. Tokyo, this weasel, had grown frustrated with it long ago, and insisted on being used for combative purposes instead.

Familiars being used for battling? It was ludicrosity as far as Reri was concerned. Also, that was a real word as far as he was concerned, so obviously, it doesn't matter very much what he thinks -- and thinking is what he had been doing this whole time in addition to keeping up his hair-whirling wind.

"I am talking," the man spoke at a very gaited pace, "to any one who may be listening... and just came into the knowledge of my existence... just now." His miraculously unharmed eyes shrunk smaller and smaller with each pause to reflect his deepening contemplation. Or maybe just 'cause he's a jerk.

"Y'know, for a guy who is supposed to be saving the world," whined the weasel, "you sure do just stand around a lot and accomplish just that much nothing."

"Except make his hair look cool," pointed out the much more loyal Ryu, Bushido, in place of his occupied master, who was too busy standing around doing nothing but make his hair look cool.

"But I must reflect on my life," Reri was bothered to reply, "on my pain. It is important for me to as the entire world comes to a halt and must patiently wait for me to accomplish whatever it is I am doing at the moment."

"You mean nothing?"

"Exactly," he said, squinting his eyes into oblivion. "Nothing... like what fills my soul!

"I hear a butterfly in the distance," Satu most likely just made up, "and while he is bright and colorful, his flapping is full of pain. How like me."

"Has that butterfly been charged with saving the world?" questioned Supaa Liger, yet another one of the warrior's familiars. "And could it do a better job?" The answers to those rhetorical questions, by the way, are no and yes.

"Whaaaaaaa?" Satu screamed out, switching up his permanent spell for a temporary transformation, stretching out his mouth to an enormous size. "Have you no respect for the honor of our ancestors' predictions?"

"Dude, you were told to save the world by a fortune cookie," reminded the rust-colored vermin. "Those aren't Japanese or from your ancestors."

"Mmm, yes," Reri remembered the cookie vendors. "A shame I scared away those girls before acquiring more knowledge." Okay, that part is Japanese. "Perhaps these cookies aren't from my homeland of Nippon, but they also are not supposed to exist yet!" countered the man of the east. "Therefore, they must be from the future."

"Well," stammered the scythed monster, "I guess that kinda makes sens-"

"A future where fortune cookies are from Nippon!"

"What? No!" protested his pet. "Fortune cookies are Chinese, not Japanese. And they aren't even really Chinese, for that matter. Sometimes I think you aren't even Japanese at all, but rather some pathetic round-eye that sweats the culture yet doesn't know the first thing about it."

"Whaaaaaaa?" Reri repeated and proceeded to throw egg rolls, chopsticks, and kung fu kicks at the Kamaitachi, just to show how Japanese he was(n't). "Of course I'm Nipponnin! Everyone here is."

"Uh, actually," Supaa Liger started up, darting is large eye from side to side, "I'm Indian. Y'know, 'cause I'm a Khabanda."

"Whaaaaaaa?" the warrior echoed yet again, meaning this must be his catchphrase or something. "But that name sounds so Nipponni."

"Actually, 'Khabanda' doesn't sound Japanese," informed Liger, scratching his abominable head-torso with a distant claw, "at all. You'd think a Japanese guy would know that. A real one, anyway."

"I shall suffer your dishonor no further!" Satu stated while spinning around a streaking, colorful background, which was the new focus of his magicks. "Tokyo, use your justice sickles to seppuku off the foreign devil's legs!"

"There is so much wrong with that statement, I don't even know where to begin!"

"Slothful beetle grub!" the man insulted, or so I think. "I demand compensations for your insolence!"


"Very well!" the villain's villain rambled on with uninterrupted vigor. "I shall resolve the hairy barrel myself! Bushido! Hand me some katana!"

"How many?" responded the Ryu as he looked through the sack of swords he lugged about -- his sole purpose in the group. The expertly crafted blades in a bag had been bought in bulk because they are such a common weapon, apparently.

"The usual," the traveler said in short, brushing his nose with an extended thumb for no reason -- the very same reason his Khabanda familiar had not fled during this time. Several swords flew into the sky, followed soon by the wannabe. One was caught and brandished singlehandedly in an extended but ultimately pointless display, except possibly to demonstrate how not to wield the dual-handed weapon, which is how the blade gained its legendary strength and notoriety in the first place. Not to be outdone... by himself... Reri Satu caught the other two blades with this off-hand and proceded to swing them in an even more confusing and ineffective manner.

The warrior called his attack as he cut the Khabanda down to a stump, "Daabulu Hari-Kari!"

"Dude!" cried the Kamaitachi. "What are you trying to do? Offend and anger all the fanboys that actually know something about oriental culture?" And thus, no one was angered. "The only way you could be less Japanese is if you had a sign on your back that said 'Not Japanese,' and I think I see it right now!"

"That, my disbelievious friend," a calmed Reri exclaimed as he wiped clean his many edges, "is in fact the ultimate proof that I am Nipponese: a tattoo of kanji characters! No one but a true child of the land of the rising s-"

"'Thanks for the twenty bucks, loser'?" the whirlwind weasel read off the small of his master's back.

"Whaaaaaaa? It says that in Nipponji on my back?"

"No," Tokyo told, "in regular letters."

"Well, that certainly would explain some of those propositions I've been receiving," Satu stated unfortunately aloud, "although it wouldn't explain why they started before I got that tattoo.

"It matters not," the questionable easterner changed the subject, "for I am, in fact, only half Nipponi!"

"Blutty Hel," sighed the vermin as he smacked a sickle to his face, "not his parents again."

It seemed that Reri used just about any excuse possible to retell the tale. Really, just about anything could have led to a story of his dead parents. Or his dead master. Or his former lover -- any of them, too, since they always seemed to die. And if they didn't, you can bet they turned or turned out to be evil.

"Believe it or not, Bushido, I used to have parents." Only his dedicated dragon could be dumb enough to be surprised by this fact. "Two of them," Reri Satu continued as though it were special; everything about himself was in his own mind. "One of them was a demon," he regaled, "a Japanese demon. The other, was an elf -- a Japanese, elf, of course. And thus, I am only half Japanese -- two halves, but half nonetheless.

"However, both of my beloved parents perished tragically in a spectacular fiery inferno of doom and despair and also some fire since doom and despair alone cannot kill. If they could, though, I would be dead, too."

"Too bad, huh?" Tokyo riffed as a way to keep himself entertained; after all, Reri Satu was only entertaining to himself and his simple scaly familiar.

"I sought out the killer for years," the hero ignored the Kamaitachi's comments, "until that fateful day when I remembered that I had set that fire myself so that I could have a deeper origin story -- one to brood over, typically while focusing on some mundane, unrelated inanimate object, just to seem complex and deep as opposed to having an actual developed character."

Of course, his familiars already knew his history, and despite this fact, they remained with their master. And having slain yet another one of his beloved, Reri replaced his rakshasa with yet another familiar/potential victim in Chop Suey, his Kekkai. Setu berated the poor blood blob and uselessly threatened it with bladed bane to ensure that this one was, in fact, from his alleged motherland.

And thus, the bad force of good was off to obey the cookie and save the world, but from what, the tiny paper did not tell -- only that it should not be eaten as it was not food.

Useful words for Reri, indeed.

"Then we shall do what one always does when they have no better idea!" proclaimed the eastern man.

"Go to a tavern?" Tokyo answered in the form of a question.

"Hey, that is a much better idea than what I was gonna say," said the swordsman. Although, in his defense, "leave the story to rot" is the more correct answer.

And so, Bushido growing to his full size and carrying the team away is what didn't happen as it was far too weighed down to fly by cargoing the collection of katanas. Fortunately, the fighter had ensured the Kekkai's Japaneseness, which of course meant that it would be able to transform into a car. And although this transformation consisted of nothing more than the rest balancing on top of its incredibly flattened and unincreased form and sluggishly crawling at a pace slower than walking, this is exactly what they did.

But Reri imitated car noises, so it isn't like things were awkward or anything

"A-whaaaaaaaa?!" a shocked Reri exasperated upon entering the pub. "By the many eyes of the Japanese gods, whoever those are, whatever has transpired in this saké parlaying pub?" The traveller threw his forearm over his round, red eyes and his head back, unable to behold the horrors surrounding him.

"Screw yew, ya git," some strange green creature insulted, "and maybe a ewe, too, while yer at it, ya perv."

"That would be considered perverse under normally conditions," the faker fought back, "but since all my friends have the same unhealthy obsessions, I'm normal and it is you who are strange for not dressing up like an animal and- wait, no!"

"Uh, boss," began Bushido, "you don't own any ryu costumes, do you?"

"Of course not, my most faithful familiar," Satu stated. "All female dragons have button eyes." And his non-buttons batted back and forth to see whether any bought his bluff. Most patrons of this enormous Tavern just ignored the newcomer to the scene and continued what they were already doing: nothing. For most, that was easily done as they didn't even exist.

"It's disgusting!" blurted out the blue clad guy, one of the few in the bar and paying attention. "We came back to life for this?... again? Didn't we already die in this story?" A flippered finger scratched his scaly chin. "It is almost as though someone enjoys to see us suffer eternally, but that can't be true since no one enjoys seeing us at all!"

"You got that right," the Fen King agreed.

Zig looked about the quiet, corpse-laden establishment from atop the bar. "Who were you talking to?"

"I... don't know."

Back across the borders of country and reality, apparently, the hero-no-one-wanted-but-himself Reri Satu interrogated the two suspects' decapitated heads.

"Tell me where this threat to the world is!" the samurai insisted, screaming straight into a leaking ear. "I know you can talk! I just saw you doing it a few minutes ago!"

"You awen't gonna gets any infowmation like that," squeaked the bloody blob.

"Unscrupulous weevil!" accused the wannabe, aiming his already wet weapon at the tiny thing. "Whatever could make you make these words make noise, please? Is it because their larynxes were severed?"

"Stwangely, no," the Kekkai concluded. "They was we-enactin' scenes fwom theih favowite movies just a minute ago."

"We haven't be invented yet," both of the heads took turns repeating.

"They just awen't talkin' to you 'cause you huwt theiw feelin's."

"I was unaware feelings could be reached by stabbing the brains," the unasian one was amazed. "They should feel glad that my unstoppable strength only hurt their feelings instead of killing them in a single blow. And the only reason they can feel glad is because I did not kill their feelings. You may thank me now, heathens."

"No no no," the horrid homonculus protested, shaking its entire mass from side to round side. "Youw wowds huwt them."

"Yes, they are just as ultimately powerful as my katana. I once have slain three giants at the same time with them." His eyes narrowed behind a raised, clenched fist. "I spilled their entrails with my adjectives. And those are neither things nor actions."

"Youw was mean to them!"

"Confirmative, Chop Suey. For your given aides, you will be my familiar fed this month." His attentions returned to the heads, who, yes, were still reciting their favorite film quotes. Er, quote. "Disgusting westerners, receive my honorable apologies. If insulted, know now that you have been reduced by a most percent, so your shame is now that much smaller now.

"You may thank me now, heathens."

"Ohkay," the twin craniums contently conceded, "I guess you're right about us, anyway. We are pathetic losers for failing with real people instead of succeeding with imaginary animal women." A bloody, blue brow was raised at their murderer. "Women... right?"

"Just tell him about that evil dude," rushed in the weasel. "You really don't want him to an-"


"-swer that quest- blutty Hel!" the interrupted Kamaitachi cursed. "That somehow makes things more disturbing. Gah! I feel like I should be arrested just for knowing and not killing you!"

"Well, we'll help regardless," informed the decapitated duo. "After all, that guy did kill us... first. Avenge our murder, our murderer!"

"What else are murderers for?" rhetorically replied Reri Satu. "Well, other than murdering?"

"Stop saying 'murder'!" bade the bladed beast

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