"The Enchiridion…" Finn said softly, still staring at the heavy tome before him. "But I…" he began but Bubblegum cut him off with a soft laugh.
"I've always had a copy you know…" she said with a grin as Finn began leafing through it, the pages and feel of the book all as familiar now as they had been with his own one. "Mannish Man and the Key-per had one copy; I had the other." She explained simply. "It's just, with that whole thing with the Lich a while back; I haven't really wanted to tell anyone about it in case he comes back."
Finn nodded as he kept poring over the book, finger running down each page before flipping to the next one.
"So er…what exactly are we looking for?" he said and the princess shrugged.
"Spells, potions, enchantments. Anything really…"
"You do know this books over a thousand pages long right? And I doubt FP can stand being with the Ice King for too long before she, you know, melts him…"
"You know that's not even…" Bubblegum began before sighing. "How about you look up 'human' in the index?"
Quickly flipping to the back of the hefty book, Finn started poring over the tiny lines of text in the book's index. After a minute of silent searching, the young hero was interrupted by Jake, at only two inches high, dropping onto the aged parchment and looking up at his brother.
"Anything bro?" he said with a grin and Finn tried to brush him off.
"Look man I'm trying to…" the young hero began but the yellow dog had already stretched himself across the entire double page, his grinning face in the centre, a wide smile on his face.
"If you're so into that book maybe you should look?" Finn said with a grin and the dog rolled his eyes.
"Oh alright…" he said dejectedly as his eyes turned around and looked inward.
"How's the search going?" Bubblegum said from nearby, looking up from a stack of scientific papers.
Finn was about to explain the problems of reading whilst a yellow dog was stretched across his book but was interrupted by Jake's sliding off the Enchiridion, a satisfied look on his face as he reformed into his normal shape and pointed out a passage of text.
"Human. Right there…"
Feeling a slight sense of excitement Finn looked closely and read the passage. Instantly he recoiled in disgust.
"Eeew man that's a recipe for eating humans! What were you thinking?"
"Sorry bro. I guess after getting a taste for those soy people from Lady I've kinda got used to the whole idea of, you know, eating humans…"
"What happened to 'man's best friend'?"
Jake shrugged and stretched himself into the shape of a rainicorn, grinning inanely.
"I guess I just like human flesh eh?" he said with a laugh and Finn couldn't help but join in.
"Alright alright just so long as you don't eat me anytime soon…"
The yellow dog stretched back into his normal form again and nodded.
"Anyway maybe it would be a good idea to get Ice King over here. Maybe he has an idea of what to…"
No sooner had the words left Jake's mouth than the frozen monarch was standing next to him, a flurry of snow marking his mad flight towards them.
"Heard my name boys!" he said with a wild grin. "Whatcha doing?" he added.
"You don't remember?" Finn said with a slight hint of annoyance in his voice. Sometimes the Ice King's ridiculously short memory really got on his nerves.
"Remember what?" the Ice King said with a slight giggle. "How much I love you guys!"
Finn saw Jake put his head in his hands at that before he turned back.
"Doesn't matter… Does the name Simon Petrikov mean anything to you, Ice King?"
The frozen monarch gave him a blank look and Finn face palmed before turning back to the Enchiridion.
"If you need me…" the Ice King began, taking off his crown and polishing the set of red jewels embedded in its gold form. Instantly Finn had a flash of inspiration and clicked his fingers.
"Ice King, can I have a look at that crown?" he said with a raised eyebrow, to which the old man only nodded and waved a hand casually.
"Sure." He said simply as he handed it over. "Can you give it back at some point soon? I think I might, you know, die, if I don't have it…" he added with a slight frown before wandering off to find Gunter.
As Finn looked over the red gems his mind thought back to when he had collected the gems of power from all the crowns of Ooo to open a portal to the multiverse. The way he saw it, if all the gems put together could do something that even Princess Bubblegum had thought impossible, maybe the power of those gems could perform this seemingly impossible task too.
"Think of anything?" Bubblegum said as she appeared from behind a stack of books, papers piled high in her arms. "Because I was thinking that maybe if I…"
"Do you remember when we used all the gems from the crowns of Ooo to open a portal into the multiverse?" Finn asked, and the princess nodded.
"Yes. Was that the time you almost got the whole world wiped out by the Lich?" she replied in a deadpan tone and Finn grinned sheepishly.
"Well I was thinking we might try and find one of these magical gems that could help the Ice King in some way…" he said, wincing slightly at how dumb he had probably made it sound, but Bubblegum nodded.
"I have seen wizards using gems to store 'magic' power before." She said thoughtfully, putting the word 'magic' in air quotation marks. Even now the princess didn't believe in magic. "Perhaps there is a gem out there that could bend the Ice King's particles back into a more recognisably human form…"
Finn nodded dumbly. This scientific talk was going way over his head.
"Problem is." Bubblegum continued with a frown. "I don't think any of us know anything about magical gems. I mean, me and Flame Princess have them as well but ours didn't make us, you know, crazy… You'll need to find a powerful wizard of some description."
"Wizard City it is then…"
"Wait." Bubblegum said as Finn turned to go, Jake reappearing behind him with the Enchiridion in hand. "Do you remember what happened last time we tried to go there? I think at least one of us has a death sentence of some description on us if we go back there."
"Are there any powerful wizards near here Princess?" Jake asked, obviously eavesdropping on the conversation as his ears were twice their normal size.
"What about Bufo?" Finn asked as Bubblegum shook her head. "He seemed to know a lot about magic when he wasn't trying to kill the Ice King."
"What if he tries it again?" the candy princess asked with a raised eyebrow, but Jake only chuckled.
"Look me and Finn can take that old toad anytime. Besides, we've got two of the most powerful elementals in the whole of Ooo with us. One fat toad ain't nothing on us…"
"Word man." Finn said with a laugh and the two fist bumped.
Bubblegum only sighed.
"Ok just be careful. And don't be too surprised if your 'magic' friend isn't any help."
Finn nodded and turned to leave.
"You know us PB. Nothing's going to stop us!"
A few hours later and the small band of adventurers were walking through the rocky expanse of brown sand and jagged grey stone that was the Bad Lands of Ooo, the mountains separating it from the even more perilous Desert of Doom just visible to the east as they trudged on.
Of all of them Finn was feeling the most tired, mainly because Jake had shrunk himself down to the size of a pea and was sat on his shoulder, whilist Ice King and Flame Princess hovered just above the baking hot desert sand. The sword on his back, and the candy rifle Peppermint Butler had loaned him for protection, were both dead weights as he kept on, swigging a quick mouthful of water as he clambered to the top of a nearby hill.
As he passed it up to Günter, who was sat on his backpack, he accidentally spilt some water onto Flame Princess hovering alongside him. She gave a slight squeal of pain and instantly Finn turned to her.
"Oh man so sorry FP!" he shrieked, not wanting to enrage the volatile fire elemental, but she only shrugged.
"Look, if I forgave you for making me fight Ice King for your own enjoyment I can forgive you for that." She said with a grin as Finn peered across the plain beyond, noticing the distinctive form of Bufo's wizarding school about half a mile away. "What are you hoping to find there?" she asked as they walked on.
"Just something. Anything really." Finn replied. "I mean, even if we can't get him back to how he was on those old tapes, least we can make him a little less mad."
"Not exactly hard to get better than that." She said sarcastically as they watched the Ice King flying overhead, doing loops and turns and trailing a flurry of water vapour, his childish laughter echoing across the desert.
It was only after another five minutes before they reached the imposing gates of Bufo's wizard school. Finn remembered the last time that him and Jake had been here, where his recklessness had almost got them all killed, before in the end saving them in turn, completely breaking whatever moral that particular adventure had had. But any thought of learning lessons from his adventures was lost as the door opened slowly and Bufo the toad stood in the doorway, the room beyond lost in shadow and his face hidden by a large hood on his red cloak.
"Yes?" he said simply, in a voice which sounded slightly deeper and more of a monotone than what Finn remembered.
"We're here to…er, ask about gems of power?" Finn said, flashing what he hoped was a convincing grin.
The toad nodded and passed a yellowed map to them from the folds of his robe.
"The Temple of Makhar." He said, pointing out a large red 'X' in the centre of the faded parchment. "There is a set of green jewels in the central chamber that are said to be able to cure any ailment."
Finn nodded and took the map, but Flame Princess lightly moved past him to stand by the fat toad.
"How come you were so quick to know what we needed? It's not like people come here often except to train for your little class. And where is everyone anyway?"
The toad shrugged, but the movement looked slightly unnatural.
"Princess Bubblegum sent me a messenger bird an hour ago." He explained. "She was most insistent that I help you after that little…misunderstanding in Wizard City."
Flame Princess frowned, trying to peer underneath the thick fabric of his hood, but his face was unreadable in the gloom and she turned away with a sigh as the others began to walk away, thanking the toad profusely.
As the band of heroes disappeared down the marble stairs and were lost from sight, Bufo turned back inside and closed the door, the vast room beyond plunged into shadow. Pulling back his hood Bufo's eyes started out, deep black with tiny green pupils and unnaturally large.
"It is done master." He said in the same monotone that had so unnerved the visitors.
As he said this hundreds of pairs of bright green eyes began appearing all through the room, glowing like torches as a massive shape uncurled itself in the centre of the pitch black room, a dark form that seemed to draw all light into it as it said, in a voice that was deep and seemed to chill the room with every breath.
"Now the foolish boy will continue his doomed quest, and then I shall overrun this world in a tide of death and darkness…." The Lich said with the faintest laugh of triumph.