Finals at the Academy:Campaign/Chapter 02

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Chapter 2: "I'll Take That One, and That One, and That One Over There..."

"When we last left Our Party, they had just finished breaking up an argument between Redhill and Karmillo. Casualties consist of Karmillo's consciousness, Khila'eru's shoulder, Redhill's humbleness, and everyone else's patience."


"So what are our assignments, Headmaster, sir?" Redhill asks.

"I am ready, Headmaster," Hiro agrees.

The Headmaster clears his throat. "Hmm. In light of... current events, I feel that there are some extra-special assignments in order for some of you. I'll work on that. In the meantime, Professor, could you hand out the Test assignments?"

The Headmaster pulls a pen and a piece of parchment out of his pockets, while the Professor digs out the assignment sheets.

Ayaka looks up, listening intently now. She blinks then, narrowing her eyes slightly before she glances around, shaking her head in disgust. Khila'eru rubs her shoulder and waits in silence. Karmillo lies unconscious in an awesome manner.

The Professor finally pulls out a slip of paper and holds it up in the air. "This is your assignment sheet. Which one of you little brats... er..." He coughs. "... charming students would like to take it and read it out loud?"

Hiro looks away. Redhill grabs the paper.

"I'll do it."

"Go ahead, then," the Professor tells him.

Redhill clears his throat and reads the note... to himself. Hiro thinks to himself that when Redhill clears his throat, he sounds like a twenty a day smoker.

"OK, I've got it. We're to head to Clarksburg." Redhill, having memorized the task, proceeds to move to eat the parchment.

The Professor gets a slightly alarmed look. "Don't do that, you idiot Dwarf, you need that!" He lunges to try to grab the parchment before it becomes dinner.

"No sir, I've got in all in here," Redhill points to his head.

Hiro glares at the Dwarf, "Don't be an imbecile, we might need those instructions later!"

The Professor manages to snatch the paper just as it's about to become lunch. "You oaf! You folks need this to get past the Academy people! Although, I don't know, I should let you eat it and get yourselves in trouble trying to convince everyone you're on a test instead of being trouble-makers. For some of you that last bit would even be true."

Ayaka narrows her eyes and glares at the Dwarf. "Don't be an oaf! Some of us want to pass this test. if you don't then go to Hell. Because the rest of us... do." She is not even mildly irritated, even though she seems that way.

Redhill snatches the paper back. "OK sir, then I'll just keep it in me pocket."

"Don't... eat... it," the Professor says through gritted teeth.

"Yes sir! Now, none of you Elves get any bright ideas. I'm the one who knows the task, that makes me the leader."

Khila'eru groans in unhappy resignation. Ayaka narrows her eyes, then waves one hand dismissively.

"Whatever," she says, coolly.

"Was there anything else Headmaster?" Khila'eru asks.

"Off to Clarksburg we go! Someone pick up that Half-Elf!" Redhill orders.

Ayaka glares at the Dwarf again and turns away. Hiro glares and thinks that he can't wait to teach the Dwarf a lesson in manners!

Khila'eru sees how Hiro is looking at Redhill and puts her hand on Hiro's shoulder. "It is not worth it, they never learn."

Hiro holds himself back and tries to hide his embarrassment.

The Headmaster has been alternating between writing and watching the goings-on. He finishes, and addresses Khila'eru, "Yes, there is something else. A special assignment for two of your members. For starters..."

Redhill looks innocent.

"You, Redhill Devilsmiter, have been blessed with a special assignment. In recognition of your fighting prowess, you are charged with putting it to the honorable use of protecting your fellow Party members. This particularly goes for Karmillo, who will no doubt be a little woozy after his experience. I hold you responsible for their well-being.

"I also expect you to uphold the honor of our Human and Elven friends. After all, I know that Dwarves understand the importance of bringing honor to the family name."

"Yes sir," Redhill says. "I'll do my best to protect them sir. Even the Elves... mostly."

"As the first step towards protecting your Quest Companions, I hold you responsible for buying them some healing potions so they can start their quest at full-strength... or at least close to it. Since Khila'eru is the healer in your group, I give her this ration card to hold in safe-keeping to give to the Quartermaster..."

The Headmaster hands Khila'eru a slip of paper and she accepts it. "Thank you, Headmaster."

Ayaka watches intently, her eyes glittering. She is silent now, though. Hiro wonders what his role will be.

"I'll expect the reimbursement from you as soon as you have it, Redhill. Also, Hiro, if you could, present this slip of paper to Karmillo when he wakes up, please. It is his own special assignment."

The Headmaster gives Hiro a different slip of paper. Hiro accepts the paper and bows. "Thank you, Headmaster."

"Thank you, Hiro, Khila'eru, and Redhill. Thank you as well, Ayaka, for... enjoying the pre-show entertainment, as it were."

Ayaka smiles a little, faintly, warmly, though she still remains silent.

Redhill salutes the Headmaster. "Someone grab the Half-Elf and let's be off to the Quartermaster!"

Khila'eru reads her ration card. Hiro steps back from the group and reads his own paper. Ayaka sighs and bows respectfully to the Headmaster before she starts to lift Karmillo's torso.

Khila'eru looks up and notices Ayaka's actions. "Please, let me help you, Ayaka."

Ayaka nods, smiling gratefully. "I would be glad of the help," she whispers.

Khila'eru picks up Karm's feet.

"Any questions before you go?" The Headmaster asks.

"No sir, we're off to complete our assignment!" Redhill says boisterously.

Ayaka nods. "I have no questions, Sir."

"All right, then. I had to send the other Party on ahead of you, so you'll need to wait for a bit of time until they're finished. Please proceed with your comatose friend down to outside the Quartermaster's shop, then. And good luck to all of you."

Ayaka smiles thinly as she carries Karmillo. "Thank you, sir. We might just need that luck."

Redhill realizes it's not a matter of luck, but a matter of supreme skill.

Khila'eru says quietly, "May Corellon Larethian protect and guide us." She then continues aloud, "Shall we go?"

Khila'eru moves toward the door with Ayaka. Hiro follows closely behind the two ladies. Redhill stamps his foot impatiently.

"Would anyone mind opening the door for us? Our hands are a bit full," Khila'eru asks.

Redhill opens the door.

"Thank you." Our Party heads out the Hall door and works their way down to the Quartermaster's shop, Karmillo in an awkward carry between Khila'eru and Ayaka. Redhill spends the entire time whistling a traditional Dwarven song.

"Hi ho, hi ho..."

As the Party approaches the Quartermaster's shop, shouting is heard. Clearly someone is extremely angry. *BAM* The door blasts open as the other Party's Gnome sails out the door, landing roughly outside. Moments later, the Halfling follows, in a much larger arc.

Finally, the rest of the other Party is chivvied out, with the Quartermaster following, shouting deprecations as to the intelligence and/or wisdom of the group.

"YOU DON'T sunder CROWBARS with SHORT SWORDS! GET OUT!" He waves a dented short sword at them and kicks one of 'em on the rump.

Khila'eru thinks to herself, "This doesn't bode well for us."

The very tall human towers over the tallest in Our Party, his plate armor gleaming in the light. Grumbled obscenities finally trail off with "... stupid students..."

He finally looks at the other incoming idi... students. "Aha... the next group. Come on in people, and have your student IDs ready..." He walks inside.

Khila'eru lets Karmillo's feet fall to the ground outside the Quartermaster's a bit rougher than necessary. Ayaka sighs a little and settles her end of the Half-Elf down against the wall, brushes her hands together, and enters the room. Redhill also follows the Quartermaster.

Hiro enters the room, pauses, sighs, then runs back and drags Karmillo into the room.

The inside of the shop smells strongly of sweat, steel, and stoked coal fires. Bits of arms and equipment adorn the walls, and large bins contain routine items in bulk. To one side is a thick glass window, beyond which can be seen several men in white coats mumbling over various pieces of equipment. The Quartermaster takes his place at the counter, behind which rows of armor and weapons can be seen. A large scar runs down one side of his face, and he apparently only has one eye.

The Quartermaster, Dan Killjoy, takes in Our Party's entrance. "One of you guys did something stupid, didn't you?"

Redhill points to the Elves. "They tend to, yes, sir."

Khila'eru lowers her eyes in shame at her Party's actions.

Ayaka narrows her eyes and snorts. "The Dwarf and the Half-Elf were fighting. Sir," she responds, politely.

"It was nothing to with me, sir," Hiro adds.

"Tattle-telling Elf."

Ayaka snarls, "Truth and honesty are better than lies. Any time. Dwarf." Her tone is cold.

Redhill scoffs, "What would your kind know about truth and honesty, Elf?"

Dan Killjoy plunks down a backpack. "Well, I'll tell ya one thing, boys and girls. Adventurin's a dangerous trade. The only people you can rely on are the people in your group. They're the ones that keep the goblin off your back, or heal your wasted butt so you can keep going."

"Speaking of which..." Khila'eru offers the Quartermaster the ration card.

"Unless you guys are going to learn y'self how to work together, I recommend you find another profession. Knitting, maybe."

Redhill considers knitting.

Ayaka snorts, "What would you know about honor. Dwarf." She turns her back on him then, her shape rigid with pride.

Hiro observes the altercations with disdain.

Redhill ignores the Elf and turns back to the Quartermaster. "We're here for our equipment, sir."

"Case in point, Elf. Now shut up." Dan takes the ration card from Khila'eru.

Ayaka flinches but remains silent, her face an emotionless mask now.

Dan Killjoy reads the ration card:

"Item: 3 vials of Cure Light Wounds Charge to Redhill's tab: 135 GP Signed: Headmaster Eldwin Leopold"

"Oh my... you guys did get in some trouble." Dan laughs, deep and low, then pulls three potions out from under the counter. "These are for your already-injured team-mates. You sorry excuses are gonna have a tough time with your final, aren't ya?"

Khila'eru takes the bottles but says nothing.

"Now, who is first? Show me your ID," Dan orders.

Redhill steps up presenting ID, and Dan examines it.

"Barbarian, eh? What's your weapon preference?"

"I'd like an AK-47... er, Dwarven war-axe, sir."

"Hmm..." Dan rummages about under the counter, then pulls out a fine Dwarven war-axe. "Needs a bit better edge, but you can work on that in your spare time." He then pulls out a safety strap and fixes it to the blade. "Don't want you hurting y'self... or any of the exam targets, either, if you get a lucky shot in."

"Thank you, sir!" Redhill takes the war-axe and slings it over his back.

Dan also hands him some studded leather armor and a backpack. "Get yourself rope, five days rations, a bedroll, and a flint and steel, boy."

"Yes, sir."

"Oh, one other thing... Redhill. Always carry a backup weapon." Dan pulls out a light mace and slides it in front of Redhill.

Redhill nods, takes the mace, and steps off to the side. Dan Killjoy takes Hiro's ID next.

"Monk, eh? Think you even need a weapon, boy, or are you soooo good with your fist and feet you can take down the world?"

Ayaka watches intently, then smiles thinly. Khila'eru grins slyly.

"Sir, I need no weapons to dispatch my enemies, but if you have a spare kama, then I would take it."

"I dunno, boy. I got a..."

Suddenly, a loud *BOOM* shakes the building! Beyond the glass, men in white coats are coughing and waving their hands in the air, smoke thick. Dan doesn't even flinch.

Ayaka doesn't twitch, although her eyes widen slightly before she smirks, faintly. Khila'eru looks toward the source of the noise with alarm!

Hiro looks toward the sounds of alarm, then turns back to the Quartermaster. "Hey! What about about my equipment?"

"Hmm... I got a kama. I also got a sling and ten sling bullets. You'll need both. Here's your backpack, and get yourself rope, a couple pitons, five days rations, and a bedroll."

"Thanks, I'll take the lot."

"Oh... you're Human, too... Get four torches and a flint and steel, too."

Hiro gathers up his equipment and steps off to the side himself.

"Khila'eru! I can't issue hardware to someone who ain't movin'! Get those potions down that person's throat!"

"Yes, sir."

"And, oh lookee here... You being the healin' machine and all... Cleric! What's your god's favored weapon, lady? I'd hate to issue you the wrong one..."

"Longsword."

"Oh, yeah... and did you get your holy symbol or not? Corellon, Right? Never had much time for them's gods, but been real thankful for that healin' mojo they got."

"Yes, sir." Khila'eru indicates the crescent moon hanging from the chain around her neck.

Dan steps back behind the counter and rummages around in the back shelves. After a bit, he pulls out a gleaming longsword marked with Corellon's mark. "Most'a the clerical types comin' through here prefer Pelor, but I keep a Corellon sword around here, just in case." He plunks the sword down on the counter, followed by a light mace, then affixes the safety strap on the sword. "Can't never be too careful around here."

Khila'eru admires the sword. "Thank you, sir."

"Also, you get some heavier armor, too..." Dan rattles around in the back, finally returning with Scale Mail armor. "It's the heaviest they let me pass out to you greenies. Anything bigger, and I might not be able to carve enough of your hide to pay for the difference if it doesn't come back intact. Unless you'd rather go with studded leather and a shield, of course."

"Whichever you would recommend, sir."

"Personally, I like to wield my greatsword wi' both hands. In your case, I'd recommend the studded leather and the shield."

"May I ask why that is, sir?"

"The heavier armor slows you down in battle. Since your primary weapon is a longsword that can be handled in one hand, I say it's a good trade-off. Sometimes being light on your feet is far better than being under a ton of metal."

"The shield it is, then. There was one other thing, as well."

Dan hands over the studded leather and the shield. "What's that, young'n?"

"I have a certain talent with ranged weapons."

Redhill swings his war-axe around off to the side, getting a feel for its weight and imagining Elven limbs flying around as he does so. Ayaka ignores the Dwarf, straightening up to her full height as she licks at her lips, pondering as she eyes her hands. Hiro sits in quiet meditation outside the Quartermaster's office and goes through some martial forms in his head.

"Eh... most'a this stuff involves spells and mixin' it up in person. However, I got a light crossbow for you people who have a hankerin' for shootin'. Jus' be careful with it, cause even with the guards on the ends of the bolts, you can still shoot someone's eye out, kid."

Dan Killjoy pulls out a worn, but functional light crossbow and ten bolts, and hands it over. "Now take this backpack, get a bedroll and five days rations."

"I am not trained in crossbow, unfortunately."

"You took beginning crossbow training in first year, young lady. Besides, the other group got my last longbow."

Ayaka looks up at this, then sighs inwardly, flexing her hands slightly. So much for getting a longbow...

Khila'eru takes her gear from the table and steps aside, hanging the sword from her hip and slinging the shield and bow across her back.

"Now, who's left?"

Redhill pulls out his mace and gets a feel for dual wielding the mace and war-axe. "I think thats it, sir."

Ayaka glares at Redhill, then steps forward. "I am," she speaks quietly now, showing her ID.

"And will you PLEASE get Mr. Statue there moving before I have to whip your butt? Those healing potions don't grow on trees, y'know!"

Ayaka doesn't flinch, but her eyes narrow slightly. She waits now, patiently. Hiro continues his meditation, now imagining himself fighting numerous opponents.

Redhill sneers at Khila'eru. "Yeah, hurry up."

Khila'eru goes over, kneels by Karmillo, and raises him to a sitting position. She then pops the cork of the potion bottle, holds it to his mouth, and gives him a drink.

Dan turns his attention back to Ayaka. "Ayaka... Ah, you're one o' them Bachelors of Sneakiness students... What's your preferred weapon, little lady?"

Ayaka smirks a little. "Yep," she almost purrs. "Well... some sort of bow - preferably the composite bow - and the longsword."

Hiro eventually emerges from his meditative state. Khila'eru waits, but finds that the first potion didn't seem to have enough of an effect on Karmillo. "Curses, he is still out."

"Yeah, save the purrin' for someone who hasn't hacked people like you in half for tryin' to get away with my weapons. You might prefer the bow, but I don't have any, as you know. Crossbow, yes. And longswords I got."

Ayaka nods slightly. "OK." She smirks faintly now, then grins, her eyes twinkling. "OK. that would be great... Thank you, sir."

"Now most'a you sneaky types like carryin' a pair o' weapons. I recommend leather armor for ya."

Ayaka nods again, all business-like now. "Leather armor... because it's light... ? OK." She nods once, thinking hard.

Dan pulls out a longsword from the rack and a crossbow with fifteen bolts. "Yeah, it's light, allows you to move better. Makes less noise than studded leather, keepin' you nice and quiet."

Khila'eru pops open a second bottle and feeds it to Karmillo. This finally seems to have the desired effect, as Karmillo rises from his slumber as the room darkens, thunder claps, his eyes glow red... Of course, this is all in his head. In reality he looks like a stoned teenager struggling to his feet.

"Better now, Karm?" Khila'eru asks.

Karmillo rubs his head. "Uh, what the hell? Where are we?"

"You've been out for a while," Khila'eru tells him.

Meanwhile, Ayaka nods slightly, listening to the Quartermaster. "Which is a must." Her eyes glitter.

"Sneakin' up on people... other than your teammates... can make for stunning victory." Dan pulls out a set of leather armor and slaps it on the counter. "Now, you got quite the pick of the litter. One rope, a grappling hook, five days rations, and I can hand you most any standard equipment that you might want to ask for."

Ayaka snickers. "Yes it can." She chuckles now, attaching the sword and sheath to her belt before she shoulders the quiver of crossbow bolts. She calms a little now then smiles, at ease so much more now.

"Don't worry. you haven't missed much," Hiro tells Karmillo.

"What are we doing here?"

"We are receiving our gear issues." Khila'eru rises to her feet and downs the last potion herself. She feels the healing potion setting to work inside her shoulder and feels better.

Hiro takes the piece of parchment from his tunic and hands it to Karmillo. "These are your instructions!"

Karmillo rubs his eyes and gives Hiro a confused look. "Instructions?"

"Yes, these were given to me by the Headmaster. I was looking after them until you were awake."

Dan notices Karmillo's new-found consciousness. "Oh, look... it lives." He sighs, pulls out a pair of manacles, and returns to talking to Ayaka. "I know a lot o' guys found these useful... on the test, of course."

Dan also stuffs a flint and steel in a backpack, some chalk, and a bedroll. "Here ya go, young lady. Make sure it all comes back intact. I know my hardware."

Ayaka gathers the rest of the things she needs, stowing them in her pack. She nods in answer. "It will come back intact," she promises.

Karmillo takes the paper from Hiro and unfolds it. Khila'eru peers over his shoulder to try to get a look at the note.

Karmillo folds it back over. "No peeking."

"Khila, it is not your business," Hiro admonishes her.

"I apologize, Karm. If it is any consolation, you pulled away before I could read anything."

Karmillo walks over to the other side of the room and reads the note. As he does so a look of chagrin floods his face and he glares at Redhill. Redhill is still off in his own world, slaughtering Elves and dual-wielding his mace and war-axe.

"Oh, and I almost forgot... here's your... *ahem* Thieves' Tools. These are individually tracked, marked with a serial number, and double marked in a secret location by me. I get these back, got it?"

Dan hands Ayaka a small pouch with the Thieves' Tools in it. Right off the bat, she notes the orange sticker emblazoned with the school's name. Taking the Thieves' Tools, Ayaka nods.

"You will get these back in one piece, too," she says, storing them in her belt.

"Now, I believe that leaves Mr. Sleepyhead... Wait, don't tell me, let me guess... I've heard your name, and not necessarily in a good way. Karmillo, right?"

Karmillo moves to cast Burning Hands on his note.

"Hey, knock off the spellcasting in here, boy-o! Take it outside if you want to light up!"

Karmillo stops. "Huh? Oh..." He crumples the note and stuffs it into his pocket. "So... what have I to do?" He approaches Dan.

"Where's your student ID?"

"My wha? Oh!"

Karmillo rummages through his pockets and pulls out his ID, which has doodles over the painting of himself, making him look more Evil Overlordish. "Here ya go."

Ayaka blushes and interjects, "I'm sorry, can I have five more bolts, a whip, and a sack please?" She ponders some more. "And another two days of trail rations? Thank you."

Dan looks over at Ayaka. "Hmm... Give me a minute to check my books here."

Ayaka nods. "OK."

Dan then says, "Karmillo... sorcerer. Ah, you guys are fun to issue stuff for. No armor, just a light weapon or two... Do you prefer a quarterstaff or a dagger, son?"

"Well, back in the days when I was roaming the Netherworlds, I had this scythe so sharp it could cut reality itself! ... so something along those lines would be nice."

"Hmm... farm implements aren't my specialty... but I might have something..." Dan shrugs. "Are you sure? A simple dagger would be more your style, y'know."

"I'm sure, it's all about the image, really." Karmillo grins, then adds, "And would you have any robes at all?"

"I got some basic robes, son. I'll be right back." Dan clanks into the very back. Thumps, clangs, and crashes are heard.

A moment or two later, he returns. "Here's a robe about yer size, son. And I found this old scythe, but I'm only issuing it to you under the condition that you carry a dagger as well, got it?"

Karmillo nods. "Sure."

The scythe Dan plunks down is also well worn, but still serviceable. The safety strap on it has a bit of very old dried blood on it. The dagger follows, as well as a dull brown robe with some white stitching and a lot of pockets.

Ayaka flicks a look to the Dwarf, looks back to Karmillo, then rolls her eyes. "I think you hit him too hard," she mutters.

Redhill realizes his axe is dull, runs over, and sharpens it on the Quartermaster's grinding stone.

"Son, next time, take the safety strap off before you sharpen my weapons..."

Karmillo grabs the robe and slips into it displeasingly.

"D'oh!" Redhill removes the safety strap, then returns to sharpening the war-axe.

"And, check the blade of the axe without the safety strap, too. That was razor sharp, too."

Karmillo slips the dagger into one of his pockets and grabs the scythe.

"Now, here's the fun part. I'll toss in your backpack... two flasks of acid, an alchemist's fire, a sunrod, and ten tindertwigs. I'll also throw in just one smokestick. Now get yourself five days rations and a bedroll, son."

"Thanks." Karmillo grabs the backpack and heads over to the rations.

Dan looks in his books. "Ms. Sneaky... you can have the whip and the sack, but you've already maxed out your lunch account, so no on the extra rations. Also, the max I can issue on crossbow bolts is fifteen, sorry."

Ayaka nods in understanding. "OK. Thank you."

Redhill returns from sharpening the war-axe and looks at the Quartermaster. Karmillo stuffs the rations into his backpack and a bedroll on top of it, then slips the pack on.

"Now, any other questions, or are you primadonnas ready to kick some butt? Oh, and there are full waterskins on that rack by the door, pick one up on your way out."

"Sir, if you don't mind me asking, what did the last group do that angered you?" Redhill asks.

Ayaka blushes then nods, putting her things into the sack before she walks over and takes a waterskin. She looks around as Redhill speaks though, listening intently.

Dan points at a crowbar sitting on the counter. "See that? They tried to bust it in half... with a short sword."

Redhill smiles. "Stupid young-uns."

"You five aren't on a much better start... at least they didn't have to start by healing up their 'buddies'."

"Just you watch and see, sir."

"Oh, don't worry, son... I gotta keep an eye on my equipment, or you all lose your security deposit. 'Course, I'd rather have the cash."

Redhill looks at the other morons in his group. "Is everyone ready? Should we head off and begin?"

Khila'eru takes a waterskin and hangs it from her belt. Karmillo pulls out his note again and curses in Draconic under his breath.

"I'm ready, let's head off to Clarksburg," Hiro says.

Ayaka looks round and nods. "I'm ready." she says, coolly.

"Oh... hang on... You're headed to Clarksburg? You need to head to the Transportation Department, then," Dan tells them.

Karmillo realizes what opportunity his note gives him and grins darkly. He heads over to Redhill, then taps him on the shoulder, looming with his scythe.

"Let's be off!" Redhill says, ignoring Karmillo.

Karmillo taps Redhill a bit harder.

Redhill turns to the half-breed. "What is it now?"

Karmillo hands Redhill the orders he was given by the Headmaster. "You might want to see these."

"I got my orders, you got yours. I'm not interested in what you have to do, half-breed. Now let's be off!"

Dan sits behind the counter, watching all of the kids with an eye of disfavor. "Newbies..."

"Is that all you wished to say, sir?" Khila'eru asks.

"That's it, head out and kick butt. ... and I DON'T mean EACH OTHER'S BUTTS!"

Redhill grabs a waterskin and heads off. Ayaka nods a little and follows the Dwarf. Khila'eru smiles, shifts her load to a more comfortable position, and heads out. Hiro sets out with the rest of the group, grabbing his own waterskin. Karmillo sighs, crumples up his note, grabs up the last waterskin, and walks slightly faster to catch up with Redhill, sticking close to his back.

Dan Killjoy finally shuts the door, shaking his head. "They don't stand a chance."

Our Party heads out of the Quartermaster's shop, much to his extreme relief, no doubt, and heads down to the Transportation Department... to hopefully finish their tests before they manage to kill each other...