Each in their own ways, the Monkeys prepared for their big adventure. According to the exclusive website featuring updates on the Project, the individuals could opt to go in small groups, and could choose which class of character they wanted to be: Farmer, Soldier or Merchant. They were pretty boring character classes, especially for Satsujinki, who wanted to be a Samurai, but the people at Tor (namely Wilson Paperclip, the head of the WoT Adventure Project, a person who everybody in the Monkeyhouse immediately distrusted because of his subliminal association with the Office Assistant) claimed the roleplaying scenario was massively complicated and subject to errors if anything but the most simple characters were substituted. Anyway, once they were safely in the scenario, Wilson assured the anxious Monkeys, they would have almost complete freedom to choose their own paths.
By a bizarre coincidence, every one of the chosen applicants selected ‘Merchant’ for their character class, except for Chucky and Janica, who selected ‘Merchant’ and ‘Soldier’ simultaneously. This was generally ascribed to several factors, mainly the following: Soldiers get killed, Farmers are boring, and Merchants have money. Even Satsujinki decided to be a Merchant, for no apparent reason.
Finally, the day arrived. All the Adventurers sat at their computers, stared at their screens, and made ready to depart for a magical land far away. How this was going to happen, none of them were really sure.
But it did.
There was a ringing noise, and then a booming, crashing, grinding sort of sound. Finally, there was a series of long, low foghorn-blasts, far off in the distance, and then complete darkness. The sound, in fact, could best be described as an external modem dialling up to the Internet, only slowed down several dozen times, and played very, very loudly.
Chucky wiggled his index finger in his ear.
“Sheesh,” he said. “That was a bit showy. And now it’s all dark. Some scenario. I could have done this at home,” bit by bit, his eyesight began to return to him. “Janica? Where are you?”
“I’m not Janica. Chuck, is that you?”
“Oh Jesus. C? What are you doing here?”
“This is like that bit in Return of the Jedi, where Han Solo can’t see anything, and he’s in that cell with Chewbacca, and he has to guess what’s going on and by the way, I’m Han.”
“Thanks, Han. I think I’m beginning to be able to see stuff now,” Chucky looked around. “We’re in some sort of paddock. There’s cabbages or something. Where’s Janica?”
“Don’t ask me, I didn’t sign up to be in your group. I was with McSmashie.”
“And I didn’t sign up as a Farmer, so why are we in a farm? Wait a minute – you got accepted? How did you get accepted?”
“I hacked into the website.”
Chucky rolled his eyes. “So where are you? I can hear you, but I can’t…” Mister C of 9 suddenly leapt out from behind a pile of cabbages. “Oh no.”
“What? What’s the problem? Man, you look like an idiot. Why are you wearing that stupid patchwork quilt?”
“I’m not…” Chucky looked down. The many-coloured patches of his cloak fluttered in the gentle breeze. “What the Hell? What is this shit? And why are you a halfman?”
“Hey,” C brushed off his dark robe and stood proudly. Sure enough, his clothes did not move in the breeze. “I’m all man, and don’t you forget it.”
“Alright, okay, just don’t look at me like that, you’re giving me the willies.”
“All … no eyes, and stuff. Sheesh, what’s gone wrong? Janica’s not here, I’m a gleeman and you’re a fade. And it looks like we’re … yes, I think we’re on a farm right near-”
“The what? That’s the wrong book.”
“What book is this, then?”
“The Wheel of Time!”
Mister C of 9 looked blank as only a man without eyes can. “But I haven’t even read it.”
“Never mind. Look, all you need to know right now is, it’s bad news for you to be here. You’re a bad guy, and gleemen are sort of good guys. And we’re right near Emond’s Field, which is sort of the place where the main good guys all are. You’ll have to disguise yourself.”
C pulled off his heavy black cloak, revealing his normal clothes underneath. Chucky sighed again.
“Oh God no. A Mambo shirt. You’re more colourful than I am.”
With a grin, C pulled a pair of sunglasses from his breast pocket and put them on. “Am I good or am I an agent of evil?” he stepped up to Chucky, who looked rather annoyed and mucky in his gleeman’s cloak, Guinness shirt and tracksuit pants. “What did you come as?”