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216 Hangover

 "Oooh ow," Dave put his hands to his ears.

"Please stop screaming!" he begged as he tried to scooch away from Caitlin. A muffled sound of protest came from behind him as he bumped into something, tangling up in the covers wrapped around whoever was on that side of the bed.

'Someone ELSE under the covers? Ohhh no...'

He froze and watched Caitlin's reaction as she looked at the mattress area behind him, her mouth dropping and eyes widening. Dreading what he would find, but deciding to get it over with quickly, he turned.

Long dark hair. Vanessa's face.

'Shiiiiiit.'

"What did you do?!" Caitlin shouted. She'd risen to a sitting position and pulled the sheets up to cover herself.

"Who's there? Owwww, my head." Vanessa struggled to sit up, her eyes still mostly closed.

"Ouch, stop talking so loudly. I- I have no idea what happened."

"Liar!"

"Owwww, stop that. I didn't do anything. I don't remember." Dave escaped in the only direction he could, toward the foot of the bed, avoiding contact. Any MORE contact.

Vanessa was slowly coming awake, looking back and forth between Dave and Caitlin and then down at the bed, still not awake enough to understand what was going on around her.

"WHERE are my clothes!?" Caitlin shrieked.

"I ahh..." Dave saw a sheer, lacy black bra and a g-string hanging from the lampshade next to the bed. He gulped, his eyes glued to the tiny pieces of fabric.

Caitlin looked to see what Dave was staring at then leaned forward and smacked him on the head.

"You perv! Get OUT!"

Caitlin grabbed the bits of silky lace and hid them under the covers, glaring at Dave until he backed away out of the bedroom.

Dave wondered where Zoe and Ralph ended up if the other two were with him. He looked around for any sign of the purple haired girl in the suite's main room but saw no sign of them. Opening the door to his suite he looked up and down the hallway. A muted sound came through the doorway to the room across the hall, the latch sounded and the door was suddenly yanked open, a disheveled Zoe backed out of the room.

"I can't believe you did that Ralph!"

'What the hell did he do?'

From inside the room his best friend's voice came, "It's not like that Zoe, I thought you were Dave!"

'What the fuck?!'

A flustered looking, hairy-chested and nearly naked Ralph appeared, he glanced past Zoe.

"Oh, heyyyyyy bro. This is NOT what it looks like. Really!"

Zoe turned quickly, her mouth open.

Dave, started giggling. He couldn't help it. He bent over chuckling and laughing.

"Y-yeah I know the f-feeling."

"DAVE! Why are you laughing?! Do you know what this...this...this OAF did?"

"I told you-" Ralph interjected.

"No you be quiet, you are a Very Bad Man!"

Looking past Dave into the suite, Ralph spotted the other two girls coming out of the bedroom, Caitlin wrapped in a towel and Vanessa's dress in disarray. He whistled long and admiringly.

"Whoa, I had no idea! Respect, bro. High five!" He held his palm up for Dave to smack.

"No, it's really not like that at all." Dave started giggling again. Who would believe any of this? He didn't know how it happened, but it had to be a slapstick comedy of misunderstandings that only happened in 80s sitcoms and stupid romantic-comedy movies.

Zoe gave Dave a very dangerous look as he went into another paroxysm of laughter. She marched through the open door into Dave's suite and turned.

"The girl's are going to talk!" Zoe said, slamming the door and almost taking off a couple of Dave's toes. Dave and Ralph were left standing awkwardly in the hallway.

"Damn, my clothes," Dave said, turning to knock on his hotel room door.

"I wouldn't do that, bro," Ralph warned. "C'mon in, we'll order room service, I'm sure there's bathrobes in here...or a sheet." He snickered.

Dave gave his best friend a nasty look but nodded and they trooped into the room, and closed the doorway behind them.

Ralph and Dave talked over their coffee and breakfast, but neither could add anything to make sense of the events that led to them being in a strange hotel room together, with a trio of angry girls across the hallways in another. After their meal Dave tried to communicate with the girls through his suite door but got no response. Ralph had gone back to bed to sleep off the rest of the hangover. With nothing else to do and no one to talk to about the events of the night before, Dave decided to use the pod in Zoe and Ralph's suite to log into the game.

***

More than 24 hours of game time has passed.

Your City Ban safety period has been renewed.

You now have 10 Minutes of safe time left in

the city of Moria

***

Dave ignored the notification and walked through the city, he wanted to grind for a while and get his mind off recent events; the good, the bad, and the ugly. He thought about checking his contacts to see if any friends were online to join him, but decided maybe he wasn't the best company just then.

Moria was virtually empty, so despite the Kill sign glaring over his head Dave wasn't followed by any players as he walked to the city gates.

But as soon as Dave stepped out of the city, space tore open and a spiraling shadow emerged in front of him.

"Hey kid," came from the shadow.

"You! You're the one who stole the fragment, give it back!"

"I didn't steal anything and I'm not giving it back," the shadow chuckled.

"That doesn't even make sense! You stole the last fragment of the Death Heart, the undead king gave it to me."

"You're not listening kid. It belongs to me."

The whirling shadows had dissipated revealing a wiry figure that looked like a teenager wearing a sleeveless studded black-leather jacket. He had a blue-black mohawk and multiple piercings in his ears and nose. The headstock and neck of what appeared to be a guitar, of all things in Conquest, was visible, rising over one of the teen's shoulders.

Dave inspected the teenager.

***

Error! Unidentifiable entity.

Inspection fail.

***

The slender youth grinned at the player and waved a hand, Dave's eyes blurred and he was suddenly in an empty bar or club, a bar ran along one wall and a band stage was against the wall opposite to it.

Dave, looked around, the place was empty, stark fluorescent work-lights revealed the cheap black-painted plywood walls and cement floors.

The teen punker appeared on stage holding his skull-motiffed axe, he started picking out a familiar intro tune.

Pointing at the youth Dave said forcefully, "NO Stairway to Heaven!"

"No Stairway...denied. Party on!" the teen snickered, "Okay, have it your way, kid."

He stopped playing and put the guitar down.

'Who IS this weirdo?'

"I need your help with something, kid-"

"Stop calling me kid! You're younger than I am. If anyone's a kid it's you!"

"But I'm a god, so you get to be the 'kid,' just deal with it. Now, if you would stop interrupting, we can get down to business and bring my Undead back."

"Y-you can bring them back?"

"Well I AM the God of Undeath, so yes."