31. Not According to Plan
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Not According to Plan

Rocky and I were hiding in some of the thickest bushes we could find. Bugs were biting us, we had cuts from razor sharp leaves, and thorns were stuck in my hair and clothes, but overall we weren't doing too badly. We had already survived ten minutes, which was longer than I had expected.

Studying the plant life, I was pretty sure were in the Yggdrasil Forest, at least the rain forest part of it. A tree trunk that was several miles wide and disappeared into the clouds loomed over us, and thick, black wood stuck out of the ground in places like rocks. If we reached the edge of the forest, we'd probably only be a few hundred yards above the massive desert city of Zerzura. Higher up were the temperate forests and a few miles higher than that were pine forests.

Maybe I could climb down into the city and get a job as an apprentice or something and not have to go back to Doom Valley. That would be nice.

“How ya doing Rocky?” I asked.

“OK. How is pretty Petra doing?” he rumbled.

“Pretty good. I think you should drink the Invigorating Voorhees now. It will last until detention is over.”

Nodding, the half-giant pulled out potion and tipped the bottle into his mouth. It was barely a mouthful for him, and he drained it almost instantly. Was he supposed to drink it all at once? I shrugged my shoulders, it was too late to say anything now. And it was pretty hard to overdose on it, some Heads Break Rocks athletes seemed to guzzle the stuff.

Scratching an itch, I wondered if we should keep moving or stay in our hiding spot. Between Rocky and I, it seemed like I was going to be the brains, while Rocky was the brawn. That didn't exactly fill me with a lot of confidence.

A manticore howled in the distance. The birds that had been whistling and cawing became deathly quiet. Instinctively I ducked lower, shoving my face into the leaf litter that covered the ground. Rocky put his massive hand protectively on my back, which was surprisingly comforting.

The monster howled again, much closer this time.

“Let's move. We don't want to make this too easy for the students,” I said.

We started moving as quickly and quietly as we could, making our way through the damp undergrowth. I kept thinking something was moving close by. A shadow would appear in the mist and seem to disappear, but a closer look showed it was a giant spider or a bird flying around. Motion would catch my eye, and it would be the mist and sun making weird patterns on the plants. For a second I was certain something metallic was pointed straight at me, but it vanished so quickly I put it down as a trick of the eyes.

The manticore howled once more. It was practically on top of us. Looking towards the noise, I saw a massive shape bounding through the mist coming straight at Rocky and I. My heart leaped into my throat, and my underwear became a little wetter.

“RUN!” I shouted.

Barbs flew through the air, coming so close I felt one of them tug at my shirt.

Then all hell broke loose.

The jungle came alive with senior students. They were all around us, and instead of attacking us, they were attacking each other.

The Elf twins dropped down from a tree, their bracelets and rings flared with eldritch colours as they  hammered on the girl in silver armour who popped out from behind a bush. The girl didn't seem too concerned about the attack, taking her time to pull something out of her belt and throw it against the ground. There was a puff of greenish smoke and the trio vanished from sight.

A nearly naked tattooed Orc ran into a tree, disappeared and appeared out of another one right beside the manticore. “They're mine, Mim!” he shouted, swinging his machete into the monsters hide.

Something crashed through the jungle, knocking trees down and sending a few students flying. The Minotaur slammed into the manticore with his shield, bowling the monster over right onto the Orc. He bellowed in victory, which turned into a scream of pain as a girl landed on his back, stabbing him with a pair of daggers. He swung at her, but she was already jumping away, disappearing into the mist.

There was too much to keep track of. Trees were falling, cut by blades, blown apart by spells and weapons, or simply snapped like twigs by fists and bodies. If I'd been watching the chaos from the safety of a magic mirror, it would have been awesome. Since I was right in the middle of it and the prize, I just wanted to curl up into a ball and cry.

Rocky grabbed me and took off running as fast as his long legs could take him. I couldn't see much with my body pressed up against his chest, but I'm pretty sure we trampled a few students who were too busy fighting to notice us.

Maybe it was because I was being pressed into the half-giants hairy chest or I was allergic to something in the jungle, but my entire body started to itch. Twisting around a little I managed to look over Rocky's shoulder, I wished I hadn't. It looked like the entire class was chasing us as they fought each other.

The silver armoured girl raised her elemental gun and fired, only to have the barrel knocked aside at the last second, sending a stream of water into the Minotaur bringing him to his knees. The manticore threw barbs into the male elf twin, causing him to fall from a tree. The tattooed Orc landed on knife girls head, then used her as a spring board to reach a branch where he disappeared from sight. Lightning flashed, electrocuting a group of brawlers. Someone threw a vial which broke, releasing a yellow cloud that made everyone caught in it start to choke.

Turning my head, I said, “Rocky, you're doing great, keep going!”

“My head hurts,” he replied.


“My head hurts,” he repeated.

I looked him over as best I could but couldn't find anything wrong with him. Maybe he'd gotten a manticore barb buried in his body, or someone cast a spell and we hadn't noticed it.

Reaching into my bag I pulled out Pickman's Elixir of Healing, and opened it. I had to hold it tight so I didn't lose the putrid green elixir. “Open your mouth!”

The half-giant opened his mouth, and I uncomfortably realized I could comfortably fit my head in it. I managed to pour a few drops of the viscous liquid onto his tongue, then put the cap back on. I didn't want to give him too much, overdosing on healing elixirs was not pretty, and if we were only dealing with a headache, he didn't need that much.

“Feel better?” I asked.

He didn't answer me, instead he started running faster.

At first that seemed like a good thing, we were leaving most of the brawling students in our dust. But Rocky kept going faster, and faster, and faster. His body was becoming uncomfortably hot. And then he hit a tree.

He twisted his body a little so I was mostly protected. The tree was not so lucky, it turned to powder as Rocky ran right through it, and he was still picking up speed.

What was in that healing potion?

I couldn't think too much about that, the itchiness that had slowly been getting worse was becoming unbearable. It covered my entire body, and it felt like I was covered in ants. Scratching my face, I realized something wasn't right, hair was growing out of my cheeks.

Rocky hit another tree, a much thicker one this time. He came to a stop. I was thrown from his arms and landed with a bone jarring thud in a muddy pool of water. The tree which Rocky would have a hard time wrapping his arms around slowly toppled over.

Clambering out of the pool, I saw that my friend was flat on his back, clearly unconscious, while his legs were still moving in a blur. There was absolutely nothing I could do for him, I didn't dare give him more of the healing elixir, it was obviously not good for him.

The only thing I could do was try to save myself.

Dripping wet, I tried to run, only to discover hair was sticking of of my pants and shirt. It was several feet long, and it was soaking wet. Every step was difficult, and I yelped as it pulled on my skin. I made it all of three feet before I toppled over. The hair kept growing. In less than a minute I was buried under a mountain of hair, unable to see what was going on, and I definitely wasn't going to be moving anytime soon. I couldn't even move a finger. And I was still itchy!

At some point someone lifted me up. Through the mass of hair I heard them laughing.

Much later I found myself in the nurses office. She took her time cutting me free of the hair and my clothes. As my head was freed, I saw that the hair had grown through the seams and fabric, making it impossible to salvage my shirt, pants or underwear.

“Why did you use Rapunzel's Patented Hair Growth Formula, all over your body? And how much did you use?” the nurse asked.

“I thought it was something else,” I admitted. “And I used about half the bottle.”

She smiled at me. It was not a nice smile. It was in fact the type of smile that makes you cringe and want to whimper because something very nasty and painful is about to happen. “Oh, that's too bad. If I don't do something right now, it's just going to regrow as bad as before.”

“What are you going to do?” I asked, my voice squeaky with fear.

“Don't worry, it wont hurt,” she said, pulling out a spray bottle.

Reading the label, I saw that it was Uncle Fester's Hair Remover. The nurse started spraying it all over me.

"After we're done, Master Grieve is going to speak to you. He didn't look very happy."

I couldn't help myself, I began to whimper in fear.


Ella's jaw dropped as I came into our dorm room wearing a flimsy robe.

“What happened to your hair?!” she demanded.

I rubbed my perfectly smooth scalp, and was reminded that I'd also lost my eyebrows and eyelashes. “Those potions I grabbed, they were mislabelled. I was buried in hair.”

“Oh gods. What about Rocky?”

“He had a bad reaction to an energy potion. Knocked himself out running head first into a massive tree. And he also overdosed on a potion for concussions. They're keeping him overnight to make sure his brain won't explode.”

Ella gave me a hug. “Well at least you survived detention.”

“Yeah, Master Grieve wasn't very happy about my stupidity. He said he'd find a suitable punishment for Rocky and I tomorrow for making a mockery of his class.”

There wasn't much my friend could say, instead she just hugged me tighter.