Chapter 10

Groper's Reach was a realm famous beauty spot. The terrain was rocky and hilly and as hostile as Torment but what made it spectacular was the view from the Reach's end. It literally was an end. A sheer drop cliff offered a dizzying view of a mist shrouded valley, hundreds of feet below.

"These rocks would fell a mountain goat." Theo grumbled, picking Seth up for the tenth time.

"Ah but look at this view!" Raze was already standing by the row of shrubs that was a sort of safety line. "Wild nature, Spider. This should be right up your street."

"I could certainly give it large across that valley." Spider said.

"You certainly could not." Raze replied firmly. "Berwick, go over to that cart and see if they have anything to eat." Berwick nodded and wandered off. "Now obviously we can't cast spells here because there are other people, but we can concentrate and try and connect with the elements."

"Tree hugging bilge." Spider didn't think much of that. "Connect with the elements? They're all wet, windswept, footsore and steaming. The elements contact you all the time. Just grab a bucketful and let fly."

"Not in a public area." Raze said patiently. "Ah Berwick. Here's lunch."

"Him on the cart says it's wholesome." Berwick spread the fare out on a rock.

"I'm pleased I don't eat." Spider commented. "What's that grey sweaty bit?"

"Not sure. Some sort of pate?" Seth offered.

"Maybe a pudding of some sort." Harvey prodded the substance. Suddenly, the grey sweaty bit flopped over and started devouring the rest of the indeterminable lunch. "I'm not really hungry."

"Set fire to it." Spider stated.

"Spider we've been through this. It's a public area." Raze said.

"It's grey ooze! Set fire to it!" Spider insisted.

"We'll take it back to the vend ... oo!" The grey ooze suddenly doubled in size, then flopped onto Theo's lap.

"Raze, blast the bloody thing!" Spider yelled. "It's carnivorous!"

"Eh?" Theo tried to stand up and the ooze quadrupled in size and knocked him back down. "My groin!" He howled.

"I can't blast it, Spider. I'll kill him!" Raze said in panic. "Dick! Theo get Dick to blow it off! You dare make a comment, Spider."

"Me? Never." Spider replied. "Bloody heck look at that." Theo was flat on his back grasping Dick's grip, the business end being engulfed by the hungry ooze. "I'll ... Er ... Well that's not something you see everyday." Dick was working and the ooze was inflating outwards from Theo's groin. "He's lifting!" The ooze became a huge balloon and was drifting upwards. dragging Theo by the groin.

"You three." Raze nodded at the students. "Air manipulation and don't let it drift over the cliff edge." By now the ooze balloon and it's passenger was about fifteen feet in the air. Raze geared up a static bolt.

"Won't work." Spider informed him. "It might give Theo a cheap thrill though. Static type bolts will stimulate it."

"This really isn't the time for your vulgarities!" Raze snapped.

"The grey ooze! Bolts stimulate gelatinous mutations! You really are a pervert. Fireball the bugger!" Spider insisted.

"I can't! Theo will need two new Dicks if I try!" Raze looked up and was knocked sideways by a projectile. Harvey and a collection of tourists were hurling pasties and barm cakes at Theo. "Why didn't you think of that?" Raze went back to his air manipulation.

"I'm a staff, not a patissiere. Oo! Good shot that woman." A sturdily built lady had connected soundly with a well aimed, and well named rock bun. The grey ooze splatted to the ground and Theo clattered through the bakery cart.

"You arse!" Theo leapt to his feet and glared at the vendor. "You irresponsible, hairy-backed, greasy, lard arsed, knobhead!" He set about the man with the biggest, most solid, mutton pie in the realm. Spider thought this was hilarious.

"Bollocks." Raze swore. "Theo! It's alright. Drop the pie." Theo did so, on the vendor's head, knocking him out completely. "Good lad. Come ..." Theo hadn't finished. He strode over to the grey ooze and booted it over the cliff edge. "Get it while it's out in the open."

"Thought you'd never ask." Spider launched a fireball that caused everyone to hurl themselves to the ground and also distributed a range of sun tans.

"I meant the students, not you!" Raze stamped his feet until his boots stopped smoldering.

"Well excuse me!" Spider sniffed. "Maybe I should have just left the blob to rain down on the valley inhabitants."

"Alright, alright! Don't start a row." Raze smiled falsely at the dumbstruck, astonished tourists. "Erm ... On behalf of the University I apologise for ... "

"That staff talks!" Someone shouted.

"I heard it too! Say something else!"

"Does it do impressions? How about Old Iggy Longbottom?"

"Yes! Here listen. 'Aye 'twas diff'rint in my day. Mustn't grumble.'" Much laughter and mirth. "Can the staff do Iggy?"

"I'll do the sodding lot of them in a minute." Spider snapped.

"No!" Raze said loudly. "Thanks folks but we must be off."

"So are his pies." Theo muttered.

"Aww!" Said the tourists. "But we want the staff to say something else!"

"You don't, trust me." Raze began walking back towards the path.

"Staff! Staff! Staff! Staff!"

"Right! Raze, stand still." Spider ordered.

"Not on your Nelly. Just ignore ..." Raze stood still anyway when he realised the tourists weren't in pursuit. They were all swaying en masse to soothing strains of music. "Spider?"

"Not guilty. Pratty feel-good music is not my style."

"Can't argue with that." Raze agreed just as one particularly beautiful phrase of music was rounded off by a loud rasp. "Now that is your style."

"Ha! Yes but it wasn't me. Seth, I do believe your wand is tranquilising the riff-raff."

"Huh?" Seth took his wand out of his pocket and the music got louder and clearer. "My wand is doing that? How?"

"Same way as any other wooden magical tool. It's alive. Cells and secondary xylem and all that duff." Spider said casually. "In wooden staffs such as Dick the Windy, it's augmented cell vibration that able it to retain magic."

"So my wand is a mini staff?" Seth was just staring at his wand.

"Certainly not!" Spider said hotly. "Pfft. What a moronic thing to say. It's not too big a leap of faith to assume that sometimes the cells vibrate in the exact same way to produce sound. Congrats! You have a singing stick."

"Don't be such a git, Spider." Raze tutted. "How about a Wand of Tranquility?"

"How about dancing about in the nude with the unicorns." Spider heaved.

"Talk to the hand, Spider. Right! Walk away very slowly and the melody should gradually fade. Slowly does it." Raze said quietly. The Wand let out a huge rasp and ruined the ambiance.

"Staff! Staff! Iggy Longbottom!"

"Bugger. Alright, run for it."

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