A/N: They brought back the old "Dungeons and Dragons" cartoon! If you're younger than sixteen or so, you aren't going to understand this. But a long long time ago, back in the early to mid 1980's, there was a cartoon called "Dungeons and Dragons," loosely based on the popular role-playing game. It was my favorite cartoon in the world at that time, launching me into a lifelong love affair with all things fantastic. And it was tragically canceled after only three seasons.
Six kids between the ages of roughly 10 and 18 - collectively called the Young Ones - climbed onto a roller coaster and were mysteriously pulled into another dimension, generically called the Realm. In the Realm, they have two mortal enemies - Tiamat, the five-headed Queen of Dragons, and Venger, a strange-looking character in a dress; he kinda resembles the devil but he only has one horn. They have one strong ally in this bizarre world, the speaks-only-in-riddles Dungeon Master, who has assigned them special powers and personas. Hank, the blond leader, is a Ranger and has a magic bow which fires arrows of pure energy. His sort-of girlfriend, Sheila, is a Thief and wears a cloak and hood that render her invisible. Sheila's little brother Bobby is a Barbarian - picture Conan at the age of ten, perpetually accompanied by a whining baby unicorn called Uni. Eric, the sarcastic rich boy, is the Cavalier, whose shield can withstand almost any attack. Scantily clad Diana is the Acrobat, who possesses a glowing stick that can act as weapon, vaulting pole, or javelin as she chooses. Rounding out the group is Presto (they never do tell us his real name, but many fans believe it's Preston). Presto is a somewhat short boy with glasses. He's dressed in green and, as the Magician, has a magic hat that _sometimes_ produces useful items.
The reason the show was finally brought back after so many years is because of, dum da da dum, Harry Potter. It's 98% probable that they're trying to capitalize on the popularity of the boy wizard by bringing back a once-popular show whose cast includes a boy wizard. For me, this can only mean one thing - it's time for a crossover fic. (Hey, we ARE talking about two of my favorite fantasy things here! You know the old Reese's commercials...two great tastes that taste great together, etc...)
Harry Potter and his friends belong to J. K. Rowling and Scholastic Books, Inc. The D&D cartoon and its characters belong to Saban and the Fox network. The idea for this fic came from my sister Liza. All rights reserved and stuff. Enjoy.
Our story begins in the Realm, on yet another Saturday morning in cartoon land...
The Young Ones were exhausted. They'd been walking through a dense forest for the better part of the day, hoping to reach a town before nightfall where perhaps they could get something to eat. As usual, they didn't have any money, but once in awhile someone would take pity on them. When last they had met the Dungeon Master, he had implied that this might be the case soon.
"A kind stranger of a stranger kind can offer you some help," he said cryptically. "Remember, it's easier to find some things by not looking for them." Typically, he had disappeared without further explanation.
The sun was low in the sky, however, and they were still nowhere near civilized country. So they settled down in a small clearing for the evening. Hank and Diana built a fire, and they sat around listening to their stomachs rumble.
"This is ridiculous," said Eric at length. "Hey, Presto, can't you pull something edible out of your hat?"
"Didn't we try that in one or two episodes?" asked Diana.
"Who cares?" Bobby moaned. "I'm so hungry I could almost eat Uni!" She bleated piteously, and he hugged her. "I'm only kidding."
"I guess I could try again," Presto mumbled. He pulled off the hat and stared at it dubiously. It glowed a soft green as he waved his fingers over it.
"Umm...here goes. Magic hat, we're a hungry brood. Won't you please give us some food?"
He reached uncertainly inside the hat.
Meanwhile, back at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry...
Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger were laughing as they left the Hogwarts kitchen. They had gone down to visit Dobby, the house-elf, and give him some new socks; he had insisted they each take a generous package of meat pies and jam tarts with them when they left. "Dobby loves his new socks, sirs and miss!" he had squealed. "Harry Potter and his friends are so generous, so kind, so thoughtful of Dobby!"
"I like Dobby," observed Ron as they headed back toward Gryffindor Tower. "He takes those awful maroon sweaters off my hands every Christmas."
A flash of reddish gold in the corridor ahead made them all pause in astonishment, and it was after a confused moment that Harry realized it was Fawkes, Dumbledore's pet phoenix, heading in their direction. He had something dark clutched in his talons, which he dropped in front of Harry as he flew past. It fluttered to the ground and lay very still. It was the school Sorting Hat, which every first-year student put on to find out which of the four houses - Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin - he or she would enter.
"What the...the Sorting Hat?" Harry picked it up in puzzlement. "Why did Fawkes bring me this?"
"That's weird, Harry," said Hermione, looking a trifle nervous. "You should probably take it to Dumbledore right away."
"What if Dumbledore sent it to you, though?" asked Ron around a mouthful of jam tart. He swallowed and suggested, "Maybe you're supposed to put it on."
"Yeah, maybe," Harry mused. Slowly, and with a strange sense of foreboding, he placed the hat on his head. It slipped down over his eyes and he stared at the black inner brim, waiting.
"OW!" he yelled, more from fright than real pain, as something began to pull at his head. It was like falling upwards. "Help me!"
Hermione and Ron each grabbed a leg. Slowly but steadily, all three of them were drawn into the Sorting Hat.
In the Realm again...
Presto gave a yelp of shock. He dropped the hat as if it were burning his fingers, but the hat did not fall. Instead, it upended itself, and screams could be heard from within its magic depths. A moment later, two boys and a girl tumbled out through the opening and sprawled on the forest floor. They were all dressed in black robes and looked very distressed. They were also clutching packages, and when they had picked themselves off the ground they stared at the Young Ones in astonishment and something like terror.
"Where are we?" asked one of the boys, a tall gangly redhead. The girl, brown-haired and considerably shorter, had instinctively drawn closer to him. All three of them had plunged hands inside their robes and were now clutching what looked like slender polished sticks.
"This is the Realm of Dungeons and Dragons," said Hank, studying the newcomers curiously. "Who are you?"
Never mind the introductions. By now the readers all know who is who in this particular group, so we won't waste time with the obvious by explaining how they learned about each other; we'll pretend they did that during a commercial break.
In fact, let's take a break. Use this opportunity to get another bowl of cereal, use the bathroom facilities, or threaten your little brother's life if he even thinks about changing the channel. Or stay where you are, and watch the funny little yellow man make a "wagon wheel" with a cracker and slice of cheese, followed by the '50s greasers singing about exercising your teeth, and a sing-along with "Conjunction Junction". [A/N: These nostalgic memories of '80s commercials are fondly dedicated to everyone who remembers Saturday morning television from that decade.] All set? Back to the show!
The Young Ones sat around the campfire, gratefully devouring the meat pies and jam tarts that Harry, Ron and Hermione had so willingly shared with them. By this time they understood each other's histories, at least to a point, and the Hogwarts trio had cheerfully agreed to accompany them at least for a little while. "This place can't be as bad as the Forbidden Forest," said Ron.
"Are there five-headed dragons in the Forbidden Forest?" asked Eric.
"Are there guys who look like the devil in an evening gown in the Forbidden Forest?" he continued.
"Eh...I don't think so."
"Then trust me. It's as bad and probably worse," snapped the Cavalier. "And this Dumbledore character you talked about - does he only speak in riddles that make no sense whatsoever?"
Harry and Presto, meanwhile, were more than a little disturbed by their similar appearances. The coloring was wrong - Harry had black hair and green eyes, as compared to Presto's brown and brown - but they were both somewhat short and scrawny, dressed in robes, and bespectacled. "This is weird," said Presto.
"At least you don't have a scar in the middle of your forehead," said Harry. "That would be really weird."
The sun came up the next morning at the usual time and the little group of nine set off in search of a town. The Young Ones felt strengthened by the night's rest and the joy of having eaten a meal. Hermione was considerably worried - "What if they notice we're gone?" - but as there was no way back to Hogwarts that she could see, she tried to accept that there wasn't much they could do about their present situation. Harry and Ron, meanwhile, were in high spirits about their latest adventure.
"Think we'll see that five-headed dragon Queen you were talking about?" asked Harry. "Our friend Hagrid would love to hear about her!"
"Just hope that we don't see her," said Hank. "The only time I'm ever happy to see her is when she distracts Venger long enough for us to get away from him."
Some distance down the road, they encountered a small man in red robes, sitting on a large rock. He was bald in front, but had long gray hair in back, and it should be pointed out that he had this look before Michael Bolton made it famous.
"Dungeon Master!" exclaimed Sheila.
"Greetings, my pupils," he said cheerfully. "I see you have found that which you were not seeking."
"Yeah, but they had food with them, so it was okay," said Eric.
"Er...hi," said Harry.
"Greetings to you as well, newcomers to the Realm," said the DM.
"So, what's our newest quest?" asked Hank.
"Yeah, are we any closer to getting home?" added Presto.
"Great beauty can be found in a place of great darkness," said the Dungeon Master in his enigmatic way. "Follow the light for as long as you can, and then the light will follow you." He hopped off his stone and stepped behind it. Naturally, he was gone in that instant.
Harry, Ron and Hermione stared at the place where he had been sitting. "What in the world did that mean?" asked Ron.
"That's what we always ask ourselves whenever he says much of anything," Diana told them.
As always, Shadowdemon was lurking behind a tree, listening carefully. He skulked away to report the newcomers to his master.
After another commercial break, the nine travelers reached a small village, where Harry was able to use a couple gold Galleons to purchase bread and cheese for the group. "Never seen money like this before," grumbled the storekeeper, "but it's gold, and gold spends well no matter what the coin looks like."
They ate in hungry silence, then Hank asked the shopkeeper what lay to the north of the village.
"The Cave of Eternal Twilight," said the man with a slight shiver. "You go too far in, and you'll never come back out. You just stay lost in the darkness forever. It's so deep that no light can get inside. But they say there's a magnificent treasure at the heart of the cavern, if you can find it."
"Sounds like the Dungeon Master's riddle," said Sheila.
"Yeah, a little too much like his riddle," muttered Eric. "Doesn't anyone else think that's just a little bit too easy? We're usually farther into the show before we figure out what he's talking about."
Harry checked his watch. "It's already twenty minutes past the hour," he said. "You only have ten minutes left to solve the riddle and send us back to Hogwarts somehow."
"That's assuming you haven't become a permanent part of the show," Diana pointed out. "You three are really popular right now. Maybe you're here to boost ratings."
"No point in arguing about that right now," said Hank, brushing crumbs from his lap. "We may as well hit this Cave of Eternal Twilight and see what's inside."
The mouth of the cave was a gaping hole in slate-grey rock. They peered inside, but could see absolutely nothing.
"We'll go on ahead. This is really our puzzle to solve," Hank told the Hogwarts three. "If anything happens to us, don't follow." He nocked an energy arrow into a ready position and led the other series regulars into the cave.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione all looked at each other; their expressions clearly read, "Wait here? Yeah, right!" They pulled out their wands and chorused, "Lumos!" The ends of their wands lit up, and they headed into the cave after their new friends.
"Look!" they heard Bobby exclaim. "The light's following us! Just like Dungeon Master said it would!"
"It's just us," called Harry. "Stay where you are, we're coming." They caught up with them and moved as a group deeper and deeper into the cave.
Guided by the somewhat dim glows emanating from the wands, they moved cautiously through the winding tunnel. "You could go mad from this blackness," Hermione murmured. "If you somehow got turned around, you'd never know which was the way out."
"Something's ahead!" said Hank. "Stick close together!"
They inched forward toward a softly glowing chamber. As they reached its entrance, they could see that the cavern ended in a small round room, lit by four eternally burning torches. On a pedestal in the center of the room was...
"Oh, yeah. Great beauty. Magnificent treasure," said Eric. "Much nicer than anything we have in the mansion back home."
"Why does Eric remind me of Draco Malfoy?" Ron muttered to Harry.
"And so, my young enemies, you've walked straight into my trap," said a voice behind them. They whirled and saw Venger blocking the entrance to the room, accompanied by several orcs and Shadowdemon.
Another commercial break. Last one, I promise - hey, they always have commercial breaks at cliffhangers!
"Dungeon Master set us up! I don't believe this!" Eric moaned.
"I don't believe it. He really does look like the devil in an evening gown," Ron said, gaping.
"This is not an evening gown! It's not a dress! Why does everyone always think I'm wearing a dress?" Venger howled.
"Because it looks like a dress," said Hermione.
"It's not a dress! And Dungeon Master didn't set you up, I did," he added. "Dungeon Master wanted you to go to the Cave of Eternal Midnight, which is half a day's walk from here. I built this cave and had the shopkeeper direct you here because I knew you'd fall for it."
They stared at him, bewildered. Finally, Diana said, "Why are you telling us that?"
"Because according to The Cartoon Villain's Guide to Villainy, the bad guy is always supposed to reveal his diabolical scheme before destroying the good guys." Venger held up a dog-eared hardcover book.
"Is that the same book that told you to wear a dress?" asked Bobby.
"Yes, as a matter - it's not a dress! Orcs - rip them to pieces, but don't harm their weapons!"
The orcs began to advance, when suddenly there was a flash of light. The next thing anybody knew, every single orc was on his back, flailing helplessly.
"Gotta love the Jelly Legs charm," observed Hermione as she blew on the end of her wand. Presto stared at her in undisguised admiration.
"Oh, damn!" said Venger.
"Hey! You can't say that, this is a kids' show!" cried Hank.
Venger's menacing expression was replaced with a confused one. "Yes, I can! This fic is rated PG!"
Suddenly, the cavern was swarming with Fox network censors, arguing with each other about the permissibility of the word "damn." Venger covered his ears to shut out the noise. In all of the confusion, our heroes were able to escape from the cave.
Dungeon Master was sitting outside, looking troubled. "Oh, my students, I'm so glad to see you," he said as they emerged. "When I realized what Venger had done, I was beside myself with worry."
"Impressive. I actually understood what you just said," Eric remarked.
"It's okay, Dungeon Master," said Hank. "I don't think we'll have to worry about Venger for some time. It seems he's in trouble with the network censors right now."
"This has all been great. Really, really strange, but great," said Harry. "But I think we need to get back to school."
"Of course," said Dungeon Master. "Please give my regards to Professor Dumbledore, won't you? He and I go way back."
There was a flurry of goodbyes exchanged. Harry gave Hank all of the money he was carrying so they could continue to buy food for a little while at least. Then Dungeon Master pulled a whistle out of his pocket and piped a little tune. In a whisper, the Hogwarts three vanished.
"Hey...how come you can't send us home like that?" Eric demanded.
Dungeon Master shrugged. "Bring that up during the next contract negotiations."