Disclaimer: I'm game for some ownership, wanna share? No? Darn. Don't own Tin Man.

Author's Note: Alright, so I have a bet on with daughterofthe1king regarding who can finish Vignettes/Game Series first. Frankly, I am at a distinct disadvantage considering muse is still wandering by from time to time with game ideas. I mean, sure I've got an epilogue in mind, but I have a feeling it's what I've come to call a Gulchverse epilogue – in other words, its existence has absolutely no effect on the continued musing of the story. Sigh. Anyhoo, sorry Lcsaf, I know you wanted me to torture DG, but I'm afraid muse prefers easier targets. What can I do? Besides shoot you for trying to wake up Old Jebediah. No, he's not in this.


...


The Tin Man was not…unaccustomed to small spaces. He had, after all, spent over eight annuals with the boundaries of his physical world never more than a few inches away in any direction. It had been beyond cramped, worse than confined; movement on any significant scale hadn't just been difficult it had been next to impossible.

This was harder.

Extricating his hand with infinite care, lest he brush up against…um, lest he touch…uh, freeing his hand with great dexterity, Cain was relieved to find that his new position allowed for greater overall stability. The Crown Princess took immediate advantage, relieving her own precarious situation by shifting to press the weight of her upper body into his arm. With a grunt of exertion, the palace guard attempted to counter the effects this had on his own balance.

There was a soft whirring sound then the amused voice of the Tin Man's son announced, "Left foot yellow."

The guard craned his neck around to consider his options. After a moment's consideration he grimaced and, with another grunt, liberated his left leg from the tangle of limbs. Shifting the majority of his weight onto his hands, the guard slipped his left foot between the princess' legs, his hip sliding beneath hers as his torso twisted…and brought him face to face with the Tin Man.

A sound not unlike 'Meep' escaped the guard's throat and he promptly collapsed. Letting out her own squeak of surprise at the sudden loss of support, DG leaned even more heavily into Cain's arm. The guard rolled clear and was out the door before the whirring could begin again.

"Left hand ruby," Jeb declared just a trifle unsteadily, watching the guard's retreat.

Feet tucked just inside Cain's where he straddled the board, twisted awkwardly so that it was mostly his right arm's firm anchorage on emerald holding her up, the Crown Princess let out a sigh of relief. Planting her right hand firmly in place on yellow, DG reached across the mat, her body turning so that she could finally get a firm foothold, her hips brushed up against the Tin Man's as she settled onto all fours directly beneath-

-Cain's brain abruptly ceased functioning as the temperature of the room shot up a million degrees and there was a sudden clatter of the compass hitting the floor.

A sudden silence fell over the room.

"…I'm gonna…I'm gonna," Jeb croaked out in a strangled voice, "…go…" he looked a might green, "be…somewhere else," he finished, walking abruptly out of the room.

Flush spreading down his neck, princess vibrating underneath him as if from supressed laughter, the mortified Tin Man wondered yet again how he got talked into these things. In the periphery of his vision a hand reached down to pick up the abandoned compass.

"Well now," drawled the satiric voice of the Consort, "what have we here?" he wondered, examining the device idly before setting the dial in motion once more with an expert flick of the wrist. "Oh my," he murmured through a truly disturbing grin, "right hand on moritanium."

Wrapping his arm hesitantly around DG's waist as he groped for the correct row of dots, Cain had the unsettling feeling that Ahamo had done that on purpose…

…and then he spun the dial again…