Raven is a Dumbass

"Now, warriors," said Raven in his Scottish accent, "this task tests not only your strength, but your courage. You see this path? It used to be well worn until the forces of Namor invaded this land, and since that day it has been shrouded in evil." He swirled his cloak, and gestured towards a stretch of ground in front of the children, I mean, warriors. "To complete this part of the journey you must walk for five metres without getting lost, or being overtaken by the demons!"

He waved in the general direction of two sinister looking cloaked figures.

"Manil, Fandor, you have the greatest number of lives, and shall lead the challenge."

Two boys, wearing the sun and rain emblems, walked nervously forward.

Raven fixed them with a piercing stare. "Are you ready?" The two boys nodded. "Then let the challenge...begin!" Raven slammed his magical staff into the ground.

The two boys walked slowly down the path, expecting hidden obstacles to pop up at any second, or trap doors to appear under their feet...but were amazed to find themselves, within thirty seconds, on the other side, completely unharmed.

The demons hadn't yet moved.

Raven looked surprised for a moment, but quickly regained his cool, mighty I-am-an-ancient-Warlord-who art-more-badass-than-thou expression.

"Well done warriors, you have shown great bravery in the face of great hardship and have done well. You have also collected twenty five gold rings each. Place them on your standards!"

The confused but pleased boys did as he instructed, the other trainee warriors looking on in obvious envy.

"Manil, Fandor," continued Raven, "you have both collected nine gold rings. I mean, twenty five, so you may now claim back..." he trailed off "um...claim back..."

He reached inside his cloak with one hand and pulled out an abacus. Concentrating hard with his tongue sticking out, he began to slide the multicoloured beads along the rails.

The children gawped at him.

"Claim back...claim back...I think...approximately seven lives?" He gazed around as though searching for advice.

No-one answered him.

"Ah well, I never could multiply," said Raven, "but what the hell. Here we go!" He raised his staff and blasted some magic at the boys' standards. Unfortunately, he was holding the staff the wrong way round.

Whoosh!

"Aaaarrrgh!" yelled Raven, spinning wildly through the air. He crash landed in a heap, his black feathered cloak inside out. The label on it read:

'Deluxe Warlord Cloak with Feather Lining (Black). Dry clean only. Warning: wearing this cloak does not enable you to fly/wield magic/turn into a bird. Keep away from fire, demons, and demon fire. Failure to comply may result in death. Warlord Cloaks Ltd. is not responsible for any loss, damage, or death sustained by the user. Please use responsibly.'

Raven struggled to his feet, his normally perfectly gelled hair sticking out in all directions.

"Sorry about that," he said, brushing dirt of his cloak, "Mondays, you know, eh!" He checked carefully to make sure the staff was the correct way round, then attempted again to magic some lives onto the standards. This time it worked.

"Of course," he added, "there is a certain element of luck involved in completing the challenge. I mean, normally, who could just walk down there and complete the challenge? Only a skilled warrior, like me, d'uh, otherwise you'd die. But on occasion I guess the odd one slips through unharmed." He spun around and stared at Manil and Fandor. "Must be something wrong with the demons today. I guess they're just hungover from Namor's all night bachelor party."

"Let's see you do it then," yelled a girl with pigtails.

Raven looked taken aback. "You expect me, Raven, mighty Warlord, to stoop to stupid orienteering challenges for a bunch of petty spray-painted bottle tops? I mean, rings?"

The girl folded her arms and scowled. The rest of the children nodded.

Raven looked crestfallen. "Oh alright, then." Then his face lit up. "Now, take heed my friends, for you are about to witness what it is true warriors are made of!" He promptly fell over into a ditch.

Spluttering, he clambered back out, and reached for his fallen staff. But the pigtailed girl had already grabbed it and was raising it over her head. "Let the challenge…begin!" she yelled.

"Oi, that's mine! Give it back!" Raven cried, but realised it was fruitless, as the demons were already moving along the path, picking up speed. He ran forward, gazing around with a worried expression.

"Now," he muttered to himself, "is it right or left?"

The demons edged ever closer.

Though a sign at the end read 'THE RINGS ARE HERE' he ran around desperately in circles. "Don't worry, warriors," he said, "I have everything perfectly under controoollaarrrrgh!" He was grasped by the advancing demons and disappeared in a puff of blue light.

The pigtailed girl turned around, and made Raven reappear. He looked slightly sheepish.

"Warrior," said the girl stiffly, "In this task your efforts have not availed and it has cost you dearly…four precious lives."

"Four? Four? But – what – you can't do that, I'm Raven - " he spluttered, but it was too late. Four feathers had already disappeared from his brand new standard.

"And now, warriors," said the girl, "The final challenge of today from which only four of you will return…the Way of the Warrior!" She spun around and began to march off, followed by the other trainee warriors.

"Now see here," yelled Raven, jogging after the leading children. "Give me back my staff! I'm in charge here! Hey – I said wait for me!"

He was ignored. As the children approached the gates which led through to the Way of the Warrior, the girl turned to her fellow warriors.

"Raven, you have the smallest number of lives, and must therefore take the challenge."

"What – you can't - "

The girl pushed open the gates, to reveal the opening portal beyond.

"Manil, Fandor," begged Raven, "Aren't any of you going to stick up for me here?"

"My name's not Manil," grunted Manil, "It's Jim Bob."

"Really? That makes two of us! My name's not really Raven either, it's Horatio Lanzarote Jeremiah Ponsenby-Smythe the Third - "

"This is a long task, and will be the most challenging you will ever face!" interrupted the girl with the staff loudly. "The odds against you are many, but take courage, for the greatest shield a warrior can take into battle is the shield of self confidence. And remember, the greatest challenge a warrior can face is not the mountain ahead, but the stone in his shoe. If you believe in yourself, your journey may continue. But fail, and you will begin the long walk home alone. Raven, are you ready?"

"Okay, now you're just jacking my swagge - "

"Then let the challenge…begin!"

"Well," said Raven, sounding resigned, "just to prove I can do it then."

Raven jumped through the portal and almost fell off the golden path, only just regaining his balance. Before he could go any further however, a cylinder hit him in the face and he was knocked out cold.

With a sigh, his successor raised her staff and Raven appeared in front of her, only to fall flat on his face as he was still knocked out.

After a bucket of water had been poured on him, he sprung up, furious.

"Right, that's it you little brat! Give me back my staff!"

"No," said the girl imperiously, "you have failed the Way of the Warrior, and must now leave."

"What? You can't kick me out, I'm Raven, I'm the best – I'll have your guts for garters, I – I'll flay you alive you putrid little scumbag, I'll eat your eyeballs for breakfast - "

Two burly security guards sprang on set and began to drag him away, struggling and cursing.

"If you're so awesome, how could you fail such an easy challenge?" yelled Jim Bob.

"It was easy, damn you! I just had a momentary relapse!" Raven howled.

"Yeah, it was so easy, you got lost on a straight path!" jeered another kid.

"How dare you! I am Raven, mighty Scottish Warlord! I was battling demons when your great grandparents were still in nappies! I defeated the evil Namor! I'm Raven, let go of me you swine!"

"Look! It's Namor!" cried Fandor, pointing at a tall, malevolent masked figure which had randomly appeared out of nowhere.

"No!" yelled Raven, "Stay away from him! He's the embodiment of pure evil! He has no soul! He enjoys destroying the weak and innocent! He'll fry you where you stand, you morons!"

"Let's see this terrible being you defeated, then," shouted the children, ignoring Raven, and before Namor could resist, they ripped off his mask.

To reveal…

…a worried looking hamster.

The children gawped.

"Squeak?" said the hamster.

"Well, crap," said Raven, and let himself be dragged away.

THE END