“What in the ever-loving fuck is this?”
Traveller shrugged. His smile stretched from one fuzzy cheek to the other. “It’s pretty funny. That’s what I think it is, Libby.”
Libby goggled. She couldn’t take her eyes off of the spectacle in front of her. Two foxes, four bear cubs, a bullfrog, seven sparrows, and a cantankerous badger had somehow managed to down a fully armed-and-armoured Imperium soldier. He was swatting ineffectually at the sparrows as they pecked at his helmet, and when one of the bear cubs managed to knock his crotch plate aside and paw at his privates, the guard let out a yelp so loud Libby couldn’t help but laugh.
He wasn’t alone, either. The second floor of the stronghold was an ungodly mess. Finding very little of interest on the first floor besides a jail full of empty cells, Libby and Traveller had charged upstairs and discovered an animal-on-soldier fracas of epic proportions. It seemed as though nature, suddenly pissed at the Imperium, had decided to surge out of the wilderness and attack the first stronghold it had come across. It just so happened that the stronghold was the one where she was being held captive.
I run into the weirdest shit, married to that man, Libby thought.
Edging past a guard who was struggling to fend off a swarm of angry bees, Libby ran from one end of the corridor to the other. Traveller loped after her, casually batting one of the soldiers out a window when the man stepped in his way. They rounded the corner, into a commons room -
- and the first face Libby saw was that of her son.
“MOM!” Fynn cried, a happy smile lighting his face. He was crouched in a corner of the room with Logan, Nagi, and Jeffrey, keeping well away from a battle between at least a dozen raccoons, a small black bear, and two unarmed soldiers. Spotting her, Fynn rose to his feet and waved.
“Fuck me but he’s gotten tall,” Libby muttered, grinning. She waved back. “HANG ON, KID! I’M COMIN’!”
“We’re,” Traveller added. “Two of us.”
“Shut up,” Libby retorted. “C’mon. Don’t get in the way.”
Staying on the edge of the room, Libby sprinted towards her friends. She dropped to a knee when a dozy-looking dragon poked its head through one of the windows, crushing some of the masonry, but got back up again when the dragon grabbed one of the soldiers and pulled it out the window. The remaining soldier didn’t stand a chance, and was soon enveloped in a heap of fur and claws.
“Where ya been?” Logan raised an eyebrow as she and Traveller sidled up. “Thought you’d slept in.”
Libby smacked him lightly on the cheek, then wrapped her arms fiercely around Fynn. “Smartass. The hell is going on?”
“Some kinda apocalypse, I think,” Nagi said. “Nature seems pissed.”
“We figure it has something to do with that.” Raising a hand, Jeffrey pointed at the black bear, which was standing to the side of the pile of raccoons.
Libby followed his finger, thinking at first that the black bear was, for whatever reason, the ringleader. It seemed silly, considering a dragon was in on the action. But then she looked a little more closely, and, noticing a wobbly green rectangle on the bear’s back, she inhaled. “Is… is that his…?”
“Yep.” Logan shook his head. “Life gets a little weirder every day.”
The diary was dancing on the bear’s back, bopping from one set of feet to the other, its thin tail curling and straightening. A huge, gay smile radiated satisfaction on its cover, and a pair of beady black eyes greeted her from across the room. It raised one of its tiny legs and waved happily at Libby, then went back to egging on its raccoon troops as they tore the armour from their captive’s helpless body.
Libby bit her lip so hard it bled. “Um. So. Um… uhhhhh…”
Jeffrey worked his jaw. “Yeeeeeeeah…”
Nagi stared at the floor. “You people are straaaaange…”
Logan watched the diary celebrate. “I used to write in that thing…”
Fynn scratched his head. “Did it always have a face…?”
Traveller danced. “I like its jig! Yeeeee!”
Perhaps sensing their stares, bear and diary alike turned and padded towards the group. Logan raised a sword in warning, but Libby, feeling oddly nostalgic, urged him to put it down. Swallowing, she stood and approached the bear, more intimidated by its cheery passenger than by claws and teeth.
The diary winked, then swung open. Words appeared on a blank page. “Libbers! Hiya! I, diary, am come! Rescue yooooou! Heeeee! So awesomesauce!”
Libby’s jaw dropped a few inches. It can speak? Holy fuck. I must have smoked some heavy shit while I was possessed. “Uh… uh…”
“Be no afraids of teh bare, Libbers.” The diary bounced, and its tail curled to poke at the bear’s fur. The big creature snorted, but otherwise didn’t seem to care. “See? Sooooo awesooooomesaaaaaauceeeeee!”
Libby twitched. She had to twitch. There was no reaction more appropriate to the situation. It somehow made her feel better to look a little crazy for a moment. “Wh… wh… okay. Whatever. Who cares. You’re a book that talks. I can work with that. Do, uh, um, do you know where… your… master… is…?”
The diary seemed to huff at that, then it spun in a circle on one tiny foot. “I’s own master. No more the Iko, because the Iko is a booger. Diary is FREEEEEEEEE! WEEEEEEE!”
Sighing and slapping her cheeks, Libby tried again. “Okay. Okay. Um. Do you know where Dragomir is? Do you know his name?”
The diary closed for two seconds, showing an ecstatic grin. Then it flipped open again. “DRAGS?! I KNOW DRAGS TOWER DRAGS TOWER! I DIARY WILL BEAT HIM OUT OF TOWER DRAGS TOWER DRAGS! ALMIGHTY DIARY ARMYYYYYYYY!”