So You Want to be a Hero?
Castle Spielburg was resplendent with joyous banners of the Baron's heraldry, and all the citizens of Spielburg had gathered in the grand hall to celebrate not only the return of the Baronet and Elsa, but also the rousting of the brigands and the defeat of Baba Yaga. Elsa had captured all the brigands but Bruno in her raid, and returned the riches to their rightful owners. Hans, Yvonne, Alex, and Brandon had been declared Heroes of Spielburg with as much pomp as the Baron could give, and everyone was drinking, eating, and being merry. Hans was happy to share his accolades with his new friends, for without them, he wouldn't have been able to defeat Baba Yaga.
Hans was enjoying a rousing conversation with Elsa about differing sword techniques when Abdulla wandered over, merrily hugged him and drunkenly lifted him off the floor. "Thank you, thank you, many times thank you!" Abdulla said, for the fifth time, heartily pounding on Hans' back. "My fortunes are restored, thanks to you and your friends, and I can finally leave this accursed place with its bitter cold!"
"I'm glad I could help," Hans managed to get out between thumps.
"There he is!" a familiar voice called out. Hans saw Alex, Brandon, Yvonne, Shameen, Shema, and an old man wearing funnier looking robes than Yorick head his way.
"So you're the young fighter!" The old man held out a hand which Hans took. "Uf. Very strong, indeed. I am the wizard Erasmus. Do you know the difference between a comma and a chetaur?"
"Now that you have us all gathered together," Yvonne interrupted, a weary look on her face, "would you be so kind as to tell us why you needed us all?"
"Ah yes, straight to the point as ever, my dear," Erasmus sighed. To Hans, he asked, "How would you like to visit the land of Shapeir?"
"Shape-ir?" Hans blinked. He'd heard the name before, but just where, he couldn't recall.
"Our wonderful home in the desert!" Abdulla answered. "It is much more marvelous and full of wonders than this cold green town. Just think! No more sneezing from all the flowers everywhere!" As if to demonstrate, Abdulla let out a loud sneeze.
"Why would I want to go there?" Hans asked.
"Yes," Yvonne said sharply. "Surely not all of them need to go."
"I'd go, merely to keep you company," Alex grinned at her.
"That is not necessary."
"But you all must come!" Shameen insisted. "For how else can we repay your kindness? You must stay at the Katta's Tail Inn."
"The finest in all Shapeir!" Abdulla nodded.
"And I shall dance for you," Shema smiled.
"And my lifemate's dance is not one to be missed, for she outshines even the palace gardens themselves," Shameen said.
"Shameen! Please!" If kattas could blush, Shema would have been doing so.
"And there are many exotic beasts in the desert that need defeating," Erasmus added.
"Then, let's go!" Hans grinned, remembering all the stuffed heads decorating the Adventurers' guild walls. Perhaps he could do the same for the one in Shapeir!
"But, my furs," Brandon protested. "If I go to Shapeir..."
"The finest trading city in the east will be yours to trade in," Erasmus concluded for him. "Besides, now that you have the reward from the Baron, you don't need to go back to your old life, right?"
"I suppose." Brandon did not look convinced.
"Go on, lad!" Wolfgang Abentuer hobbled over, clapping Brandon on the back. "It's better than standing around here. At your age, you should be out adventuring. Especially with such good company."
"All right," Brandon reluctantly agreed.
"Excellent!" Shema clapped her hands delightedly.
"And you shall arrive in Shapeir in style!" Abdulla added. "My magic carpet can hold us all and our equipment easily."
"Then, what are we waiting for?" Hans assumed his heroic pose. "On to Shapeir!"
Author's Notes: And we're done! Thanks to everyone who read and enjoyed! Sorry it took so long for me to finally finish this one, but I'm very glad that I was able to do so. ^_^