Hey guys! Sorry for the bit of a longer delay: I've been moving back to collegetown and getting life arranged and that sort of thing. Thank you all for the reviews! I have had a couple people asking me about Dave & Danny's ages, so I'll just tell you that they are probably about 20ish at this point. I won't complain if you picture them a tad older or younger, though. That's the only little bit of information I'm going to flat out give you at this point, though. You'll have to wait and see what else happens or has happened in the past. (: Reviews and follows make me happy and inspire me to write. Thank you!

How do you pick the very first door victim in your quest for knowledge? You pick the raddest looking one, of course. The dynamic duo skipped the first three doors by virtue of their utter lack of cool, and settled on the fourth spooky floating door that they came upon. It had a fancy molded trim and a big ass knocker, and there was even an elaborate little window right at eye level. Davesprite tried to look through the window to try and be prepared for what was beyond, but all he saw was more swirling green bullshit. It was like the door was just standing there and didn't connect to anything. (Which, to be fair, was exactly what the rest of the door looked like anyway, just sitting there).

The two looked at each other, shrugged, and then Danny, by virtue of being the closest, reached out and took the ornate doorknob in his hand. He twisted, the door clicked, and then with a light push it swung open.

The rectangular opening spread ghostly light into what looked to be the depths of a cave. Cold and damp cave air came creeping out, causing Dave's plumage to perk up in response. Danny didn't seem too bothered by the chill, but Davesprite was getting actual feathery goosebumps. It was pretty unfair, but appaerently game sprites didn't get any fancy resistance to extreme temperatures. Or, at least, if they did, Davesprite's body sure hadn't gotten the memo.

Dave would have been A-OK with shutting this dingy door and finding some place with a tropical beach paradise and a pair of fine nice ladybirds, but Danny pushed through with a gung-ho grin and an excited "Let's go!" So they went.

And the cave didn't really get much better. It stayed damp and cold, though it didn't get any damper or colder, at least. Sometimes they came across glowing mushrooms or shiny pools of liquid, but a mushroom wasn't really about to give them any advice. Unless they decided to eat it. Then even the walls might have something helpful to say.

At the first pool, they stopped and looked in, but they only saw their handsome reflection's looking back. It was kind of a little bit of a shock for both of them, seeing themselves after so long without bothering to look for a mirror. The crystal clear pool provided a nearly perfect reflection, and the two of them were nearly evenly surprised by their aged faces. It was something left unsaid between them, but neither complained at the length of time they looked upon the waters and a mutual understanding passed between the worldly loners.

Finally they got over the fact that they looked like actual grown men, and kept going. Still, the cave went on. The ground slanted up, then it slanted down. After a few minutes of moving, Davesprite asked, "Are we going into the cave, or out of it?"

Danny shrugged, his shaggy white hair glowing in the eerie light of the cave almost as if there were blacklight fireflies crawling on the walls. "Fuck if I know. Hopefully there's at least something sentient at the end of the tunnel or we just spent a lot of time on a pretty weird walk together."

"Worst date I've ever been on," Dave quipped.

"Well we aren't being attacked by ghosts, so this honestly beats out some I've had," Danny replied.

And then they were attacked by ghosts.

From the darkness ahead of them a long tongue shot out swiftly, wrapping its way around Davesprite's lower waist. For a split second time seemed to stand still, and the orange sprite could see, at the end of the disgustingly sticky tongue, a pair of bright eyes attached to an equally bright green web-toed salamander. The tongue started to pull at him, and, not being a creature that had any legs to brace him in place, Dave was dragged towards the grinning ghost. He cussed under his breath and pulled the trusty chest sword from his body, flinching at the strange absent pain it caused, as usual.

And then there was salamander number two, who appeared from nowhere next to the first and shot his own long tongue towards Danny. The ghost kid simply turned intangible and let the slimy trap shoot past and through him. "Salamanders don't even DO that," he commented absently, clearly not too concerned about the present situation.

"Tell that to this fucker!" Dave cursed, poking his sword at the round nose of the creature-ghost holding him. In defense the salamander pulled the same trick as Danny had and disappeared for a moment, the orange blade slicing right through the spot where he wasn't. He avoided the blade, but he also let his winged prey pass through the tongue trap, and Dave wheeled around with a flap of his wings to meet up with Danny. "I always knew salamanders were a bunch of devils."

"You've met a lot of salamanders, I take it?" Danny raised a gloved hand and shot out a bright green ray towards the two creatures, hitting one in the face. It gurgle-hissed at him ducked, one big wet eye blinking furiously.

"They trap you with the cute look and then bam, suddenly the theme is "Dave: it's what's for dinner." The injured amphibian ghost suddenly rushed them, tail flashing angrily behind him. It leapt to strike, and witty banter sometimes isn't the most productive means of fighting, it was able to latch itself solidly onto Danny's out-stretched out.

He panicked for a moment and tried to shake the creature off. Then, suddenly, he realized that it was just hanging there. Looking angry. "It doesn't even have teeth," Danny commented, eyeing the creature attached to his arm.

"Does it have acid spit?" Dave eyed the other one, but the first salamander was just staring back at his helpless companion. Even he knew how stupid they were.

"I don't…. think so?" Everybody was at a standstill. The angry salamander blinked again.

Suddenly, a green ray shot right passed Dave's head and fizzled into the wet stone behind him with a dangerous spark. A flash of light came again from the darkness and Davesprite reacted instantly with an old and natural instinct. Time seemed to slow. The blinking amphibian was caught with one eye closed in a grotesque wink. Danny was turning towards him in reaction to the first shot, but he wasn't going to avoid getting hit by the second one, which came slowly, slowly towards them now. It had been a long time since the sprite had done this. He hadn't even been sure if he still could, to be honest, and it wasn't a voluntary action. There was danger and part of him jumped at the chance for action. Dave wasn't sure if he was glad for that or not, but for now he used the opportunity and pushed Danny out of the line of fire.

Time resumed and the shot again hit the wall in a flicker, the arm-biting salamander was flung backwards through the air, and the half ghost man was caught looking pretty damn confused at his new position. "What did you just-?" he asked, looking with bright eyes at the orange bird.

And then time stopped. Not slowed this time, but flat-out stopped. Davesprite assumed a look of equal surprise, because this was not him. There was no familiar hum attached to this time altercation; no fuzzy feeling in his bones. And Danny was moving too. "What is going on?" he asked, looking around at the frozen cave.

Suddenly, a blur appeared before them, and before the two of them could properly raise their weapons, a hooded figure faded into being, one hand held in a peaceful motion, the other wielding a tall staff. Davesprite moved to attack anyway, but Danny held him back with a "Wait," and a motion of his hand. Cautious, Dave lowered his sword, but his grip on it did not lessen. "What the hell is going on?" he repeated.

The hooded figure reached his free hand and pulled back his hood, revealing a sickly blue face with a giant red scar down one side. "I could ask you the same question," the ghost said, staring hard at Dave.

"Clockwork?" Danny asked warily, "What do you want?"

"Well, first I would like to know why you are attacking innocent mushroom salamanders," the man replied calmly. He glided forward and picked the falling salamander from the air, flipping him over and setting him gently on the rocky ground.

"They attacked us first," Danny responded sullenly, wiping ghost slime off of his arm and onto his jumpsuit.

Confused, Davesprite expressed confusion yet again. He seemed to be the only one who didn't know what was up with the time flow, for once. "Who the fuck is this person?"

Danny made a sound of disgust. "He calls himself Clockwork, and he's part of a group who thinks that they know what is best for the world." Clearly, the man did not really agree with that thought.

There was a heavy sigh. "I will not apologize to you any more, Phantom. I cannot make exceptions. Not even for world-saving heroes."

"Yet you meddle constantly in my affairs when it suits you." The look in Danny's eyes was dark and dangerous. There seemed to be a ghastly glowing prickling up from his body.

"I am not here to discuss old issues."

Seeking to dissolve the amounting tension, Davesprite spoke up. "What, then," he asked, "are you here for?"

Clockwork's attention turned to the sprite, and he looked the orange floating bird up and down, slowly. "I am here to warn the Phantom yet again."

"Oh fuck this," Danny exclaimed, "I don't even care what you have to say anymore. I told you last time that I never wanted to see you again. What right do you have to stop my life at your every whim?"

"I seek only the protection of the timeline." Davesprite nodded shortly. Hey, he was okay with that line of thinking. The next statement was not, however, something that he subscribed to. Clockwork turned his bright eyes directly towards him and said, solemnly, "The winged ghost is an abomination."