Chapter 4: Inside Scoop

Ashley, Red and all other WarioWare characters, locations, etc. are still owned by Nintendo. Jacob is still an original character.

WARNING: This chapter contains some strong language.

This was bad. Ashley was in great pain and the only way I could stop it involved being swallowed whole. But how was I going to live once I was inside Ashley's stomach? The stomach acid would surely dissolve me the instant I touched it, so I needed something that could protect me from that. There was also no air in there so I had to find a way to breathe in there. Plus, I knew from my previous experience with almost being swallowed that it was going to be pitch black inside Ashley, so I needed something that would allow me to see in total darkness. I tried to think of what else I would need and I imagined the plan in my head, but I was disturbed by a scream from outside. The time for thinking was over!

Luckily, I knew that there were some potions for what I needed: acid resistance potion, air bubble potion and clear sight potion. However, there wouldn't be enough time to prepare all three potions from scratch. I had a look in the kitchen to see if we had any spare bottles of those potions. When I entered the kitchen, the floor was covered in ingredients – the ones that I'd purchased earlier. But I could put them away later. I made my way to the potion cupboards, trying my best not to step on the ingredients, and when I opened them, I breathed a sigh of relief. There was a bottle of air bubble potion and a flask of clear sight potion. Without thinking, I drank both of them at once. A few seconds later, I felt something around my head and the air smelled fresher. No doubt this was the air bubble potion taking effect. I didn't notice the clear sight one doing anything though.

Sadly, there was no acid resistance potion in the cupboards, so I had to prepare that one myself. First, I hurried to the library to get the book I needed. This potion's recipe was in Level 2 Potions A-H, so I picked that up and ran back to the front room where the cauldron was. I quickly opened the book, somehow getting the right page immediately, and had a look at what I needed to do. First, I had to pour in some wolf urine and cow mucus. I was glad I had already drunk the air bubble potion. Then I had to add seven dead cockroaches and the heart of a pig. Once those were all in the cauldron, I needed to boil the mixture and stir it. It seemed to take forever to prepare this potion and the occasional groan or scream from Ashley didn't help. The final step required me to immerse myself in the potion, so I put a hand in the potion to test it. It was still very hot so I couldn't jump in yet. But it could take a while for the potion to cool down and I didn't have all day! So I hurried into the kitchen to get some ice. Once again, I had to navigate the floor and avoid stepping on any ingredients, but fortunately there was some ice in the freezer, so I grabbed as much as I could and made my way back to the full cauldron. Then I dropped all the ice in. It melted almost instantaneously, so after checking that the potion was cool enough, I jumped into the cauldron and made sure that I was completely covered in the potion. Once I was, I jumped out and dipped my pitchfork in. I was ready.

I ran outside as fast as my legs could carry me. Once outside, I saw that I had no time to lose. Ashley was gripping her stomach tightly and she was short of breath. She looked at me and I could see tears forming in her eyes! She said in a very weak voice "Red ... help me." I very nearly started to cry too, but I took a moment to compose myself. I had to do this now.

"Ashley," I shouted up to her, "I need you to swallow me!" Ashley looked at me quizzically. I suppose it was a strange thing to ask her to do, but I told her that I meant it. Seconds later, she picked me up in her hand and popped me into her mouth, and then not a moment too soon, she swallowed me whole. It wasn't a smooth journey down her throat, but soon I was in her stomach and still alive.

This was when I noticed the effects of the clear sight potion. I could see as if it were daylight inside Ashley. I was in a greeny-brown liquid that felt weird – stomach acid for sure. Luckily the acid resistance potion was working perfectly too. The walls all around looked like they were slowly moving in and out and for a moment I thought I saw a remnant of last night's pizza ... and a body, though I convinced myself that I was imagining that one. But this was no time for sightseeing. I had to find Jacob.

When I turned around, I saw him quite close to the edge of Ashley's stomach. He had a large, luminous bubble surrounding his entire body. This must have been a protective barrier of some kind to protect him from the acid. No doubt he had some air in there too so he could breathe. However, when I swam to the left to get a look at Jacob from another angle, I could see that while his left hand appeared to be holding something, some kind of red lightning bolt was going from his right hand to the wall! This had to be the cause of Ashley's stomach pains. I swam as fast as I could towards Jacob and stuck my pitchfork in the way of the red lightning bolt. I didn't know how long the pitchfork would last for but at least it stopped the bolt from hitting Ashley's stomach. Of course, Jacob wasn't too happy about my intervention.

"What the fuck are you doing?" he barked at me. Then it looked like he was trying to make his magical bolt more powerful to get through my pitchfork. I was amazed at how well my pitchfork took the attack!

"I'm not letting you kill Ashley!" I yelled back at him. Then the bolt disappeared. Jacob must have decided to cancel that spell. Maybe it was draining his energy or something. He then sighed and buried his head in his hands.

"You are an idiot, you know that?" he said. "You know what horrible things Ashley used to do before I showed up, don't you! If things didn't go her way, she would cast a spell on someone and nobody would ever see them again. Yes, I have to get out of here, but if Ashley dies in the process then I've done everyone a favour!" That last sentence infuriated me.

"You have no idea what you're talking about!" I shouted. "Ashley doesn't want to hurt anyone. She just gets in a bad mood whenever she can't get a spell or potion right. Besides, you wouldn't be doing everyone a favour!"

"I can't believe you're trying to justify this!" he shrieked. "Fuck this shit. If you're going to stop me from getting out of here, then I'll just have to kill you first!" He then put his hand out in front of him and, before I knew what was happening, I was hit in the chest by a fireball! Fortunately it didn't burn too much, but then another fireball emerged from his hand. This time, however, I swatted it away with my pitchfork and it landed in the surrounding stomach acid and the flames were put out. This happened again and again for about a minute before he took a breather.

"You're a persistent little bastard," he said, "but you can't win." I immediately swam up to him as fast as I could and tried to stab him with my pitchfork, but trying to get the pitchfork through his protective bubble was like trying to get it through a rock. Jacob laughed at my attempts to kill him. Still, my attack wasn't completely useless. During the struggle, I found out what it was that he was holding in his left hand. It was a pair of cards: one with a fireball on the front and one with a shield with a golden ring around it on the front. The cards must have been the source of his magic! If only I could get him to drop them ...

All of a sudden, I was hit by another fireball, which knocked me flying into the wall at high speed. Then the wall pushed me back towards Jacob at the same high speed. I landed right in front of him again, only to be pushed back by another fireball. This one left a burn on my chest and I winced in pain as he launched another fireball at me. But this time, I spotted something very useful. Jacob had to put his right hand through the barrier to shoot a fireball at me. I slowly swam back towards him, trying as hard as I could not to get hit by any more fireballs. Soon, I was in close quarters again. As he prepared to send me away again, I instinctively thrusted my pitchfork at his exposed hand. Once I was sure the prongs had buried themselves in his hand, I pulled the pitchfork back out and saw blood seep from the wound. Jacob retracted his hand and screamed in pain and yelled a lot of swear words at me.

Then it happened. His barrier began to flicker. Jacob noticed this and the colour drained from his face. My attack must have made him lose his focus on the protective barrier spell. I saw him frantically looking through his other cards, presumably for one to cast a healing spell. Unfortunately, he found one. He cast it incredibly quickly and his hand healed. Immediately afterwards, he focused on refreshing his protective barrier. I groaned as the barrier around him stopped flashing and Jacob was, once again, completely protected. This guy was unbeatable!

"Nice try," Jacob sneered, "but like I said, you can't beat me. Now why don't you make this easier for both of us and let me finish what I started?" For a moment, I thought I would have to. I couldn't do any lasting damage to him or get rid of his barrier. I was out of options. I had tried so hard to save Ashley from intense pain and certain death but ultimately I had failed. I considered the position I was in and came very close to giving up ... until I heard something that suggested hope.

Jacob seemed to be having some trouble breathing. While the barrier was flickering, some of the air inside it must have escaped. I allowed myself a little smile because my air bubble gave me plenty of air to breathe. I was still in the game after all.

"Jacob," I said with renewed determination, "you will kill Ashley and escape from her tummy over my dead body!" Then I went in for another attack while Jacob prepared to cast another fireball spell. However, just as I was about to hit his hand, Jacob pulled it back in an instant and cancelled his fireball spell before charging up another one. He had worked out what I was trying to do. I tried over and over again to pierce his hand, but he always pulled it back just in time. Soon, I tried to change the timing of my pitchfork thrusts. Maybe I couldn't injure him directly, but there had to be a point of no return in his fireball spell. Once past this point, it would be impossible to cancel the spell. Jacob appeared to be withdrawing his hand pretty much instinctively, so maybe I could get him to unleash a fireball inside the barrier. That would surely burn him and ruin his concentration.

I tested my new strategy and, sure enough, I soon got Jacob to accidentally make a fireball inside his barrier. Once again, he frantically looked through his cards for a suitable spell. This time, he used a water spell to put out the fireball, but while he was focusing on that, the barrier around him shimmered again. Even though Jacob successfully saved his barrier, he lost nearly all of the air inside it! Jacob was now really struggling to breathe, but somehow he was still smiling.

"Well done," he panted. "You've just trapped yourself inside a giant stomach for the rest of your life." I cursed under my breath. I knew there was something I had forgotten in my plan! I looked up and, sure enough, the way I had come in was shut. The other way out must have been shut too otherwise the stomach acid would have been draining away. I was doomed to spend the rest of my life inside Ashley's belly. But I wasn't going to let Jacob have the last laugh. Not after this. So I told him that I didn't care. He looked at me quizzically just like Ashley did when I asked her to swallow me, and then I told him something that, up to this point, I hadn't told anyone. Not even Ashley. This is what I said to him:

"The bond between a witch and her familiar is something incredibly powerful. In fact, it's the reason why I am. It's my purpose in life. Without Ashley, I am nothing, and without me, she wouldn't be half of what she is today. This bond is not love – the word 'love' doesn't do it justice. It is much stronger than that, more than what you or Ashley could possibly imagine. It is why I don't just say I'm willing to lay my life on the line for her; I actually am willing to lay my life on the line for her. I will go through all kinds of fucked up shit just to keep her happy, or as close to happy as possible. If what I've done here means Ashley is no longer in pain or in danger of dying, then I don't care that I'm stuck in her tummy forever, because I'd rather lose my life than let you make Ashley's life hell."

As I finished saying that, I saw Jacob's barrier flicker again, and then it vanished. Moments later, he also disappeared into the surrounding stomach acid where he would be digested at Ashley's leisure. At last, that asshole was gone! But I couldn't celebrate too much. I had to get a good look around my new home. Maybe I could find out if I really did see some pizza remains and a body.

And then something bizarre happened. The stomach acid around me began to gurgle and I could see a multicoloured glow in the acid in front of me. There must have been something about Jacob (or maybe his cards) that was making this happen. The glow spread until it filled Ashley's stomach completely. Then I saw bubbles rising up from the surrounding stomach acid. First, it was only a few, but soon there were a lot – so many that I felt myself being lifted up by them and being pushed towards the top of Ashley's stomach, where an opening had appeared. I was about to be pushed back up Ashley's throat!

After a few seconds of high-speed travel up her throat, I flew out of it like I had just been shot out of a cannon, and landed on the tip of Ashley's tongue. The bubbles from her stomach continued to flow from her throat and out of her gaping mouth. There was also a loud noise that I soon realised was her burping. Once Ashley had finished the world's longest burp, she picked me up off of her tongue and pulled me out of her mouth. By some unforeseen miracle, Ashley was all right and I had made it out of her belly alive!

I heard her mutter something about weird but nice. When I asked what that was about, she said that was how I tasted. I couldn't help but laugh. Then Ashley put me down on the ground again and I slowly made my way back to the mansion, relieved that that ordeal was over. As I went back in, I remembered that, apart from me, Jacob and the stomach acid, Ashley's tummy was rather empty, so I decided to order another one of Mona's giant pizzas as soon as possible.

But we couldn't go on like this. I had to get Ashley back to normal as soon as possible.

This was quite a hard chapter for me to write despite the direction of it being obvious. I'm still not 100% sure I've got it quite right. I was going to add a couple more bits but decided that this was long enough for one chapter. Anyway, if all goes to plan, the next couple of chapters will feature more of the WarioWare crew, including 9-Volt and Dr. Crygor.