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Quest for the Zodiac Stones

       

It was a cold and stormy night. The rain poured down in torrents, the wind howled across the sky, and there was a clash of thunder and lightning. Other than that, there was not a living sound present. The sky gave a mocking grin. It was a mixture of purple, gray, and fiery red colors.
Several miles away from here was a village. It wasn't just any village. It was an ancient village once governed by a wealthy governor and his wife centuries ago. The tragic events started during the civil war in which the barbarians from the North slaughtered the villagers including the governor and his beloved wife. Their bodies were buried in a catacomb a few miles away from this village. Since this gruesome event had taken place, no one dared to step in or live around this village. The only inhabitants were the great grandchildren or descendants of the survivors who lived through the civil war. In present day, this village wasn't rebuilt because the people didn't want any interference with their culture and historical monuments that were now half decayed and collapsed.
            There was a bar to the east of the village. Perhaps the only one that existed here. A stranger was sitting at the counter reading a map of some kind. No one knows who she was or where she came from. She was wearing a black cloak covering from her neck till her ankle, and inside we could peeped at a green shirt with boots, which obviously caused some staring from the customers since they had never seen a modern style and a visitor from out of the vicinity. A waitress approached her saying, "Um, may I take your orders?" The mysterious woman merely looked at the waitress and said, "Not yet. Thank-you." Seeing the woman speak the waitress started becoming a pain in the neck and started blabbering, "Oh okay, then I'll take your orders later. Say are you from out of town Miss? Where are you from? What is your name? Surely you are not from Greensfield (the village name) because Greensfield women only wear a dress and clogs. But you seem to be wearing a weird kind of shoes, um...what do you call it again? Oh yes, boots!"
The woman stared at this chatterbox or simply "Foozoor" waitress in disbelief. Her eyes started narrowing and there was not anything friendly about them. She said nothing. However, the waitress was smiling stupidly thinking that she was being friendly and not annoying. The moment was disturbed by a ring of the bar's bell, and a freaky man entered. He was wearing a black T-shirt, blue jeans, black shoes, and his hair was in an extremely tall Elvis-style blond hair. In addition to all this, he also wore sunglasses even though it was a gloomy evening. The moment this whacko saw the mysterious woman in cloak he quickly shouted, " Lara Croft! Lara Croft! Oh heavens it's Lara Croft! Indeed our mysterious lady is Lara Croft. And you can guess that this weirdo man is none other than Johnny Bravo.
            Johnny quickly rushed to Lara then he started doing a strange kind of post (guys you know how Johnny acts when he meets women? He started showing off his muscles and does that strange style post?) He dashed toward Lara's face and begun thus, "Say pretty Mama, why don't you and I...."
            Before Johnny could finish his statement Lara gripped him by the collar and dragged him out the bar door. Everyone was naturally gaping plus drooling as they stared on. When the reach outside the bar, Lara released Johnny and said sternly, "How do you know my name? Who are you?" Johnny gave a fat grin and answered, " Well pretty lady, I know you. I know your every move. I admire you! Oh goddess of Game and beauty I have finally met you in real life!" Lara simply stared at him and said," Whatever, and who are you?"
"I am the idol of women. The great muscle man. Johnnnny Braaavo!"
Lara suddenly burst out, "Lord! You are of no use! I can't understand a word you're saying. What game?" Lara just walked away from Johnny and headed toward the hill. Johnny obviously followed.

During the very short trip to the hill Johnny would bother Lara continuously asking her questions like: Hey pretty mamma, wanna go for a quick sip?. Obviously Lara couldnt understand a word he was saying and would try to get rid of him. On the hill there was nothing but a tree and a fat fuzzy orange cat which some people call with the name Garfield, it seems that Garfield got far from home and well probably fell into the time portal and ended up on the hill. Garfield has this strange habit of climbing trees but once he gets on top of them, he doesnt know how to get down anymore.

Lara had an idea: she thought that if Johnny would help Garfield get down from the tree she would have some time to think about her mission and how she could get rid of our blond friend so that she could continue it in peace.

Johnny agreed to help Garfield out of the tree but as we all know he doesnt have a very high IQ so after trying in various ways, Mr. Bravo got stuck on the tree with our feline friend but unlike Garfield, Johnny started panicking and screaming, and after getting used to the height of the tree Johnny started telling Garfield one of his meaningless stories.

After about 5 of Johnnys stories, Garfield decided that it was best for him to jump off the tree and that the pain would have been worth it just to get away from that blabbermouth geek. He jumped for it and fortunately had a soft landing on Lara which was sitting under the tree, at the same moment Johnny got electrified (even though it had stopped raining, its not wise to stay on a tree during a storm). After having received a large electric charge, Johnny accidentally found a secret door at the bottom of the tree, Garfield decided to join our two friends on their journey and all three of them began to explore this underground passage.

In the meantime a strange figure wrapped in a cloak entered the village, the cloak covered the face and the figure would never talk or show any signs of life and you could tell just by looking at it that it wasnt human. The cloak was old and had lots of scratches that looked as if they were caused by tigers or something even worse, on the figures right hand there was a code and underneath the code there was a writing in capital letters ALCATRAZ. People that had been in Alcatraz never got out because of two reasons, either they all went insane or just died there, so it was a very weird fact that this person got out alive and in so called good conditions.

This figure would travel only after dark and every night the villagers shut their windows tight and would gather around in the highest room of the house where they didnt feel observed and felt safe. Legend has it that this figure was the ghost of the leaders of the barbarians that killed the king and destroyed the village. According to the legend, there was a special stone that protected Greensfield and this is how the king ruled peacefully. One day the stone was stolen and the barbarians finally reached their goal but the stone went lost and it was said that the only way to get rid of the ghost was to find it and return it to its proper place or the ghost would haunt the village forever.

While the ghost was haunting Greensfield Garfield, Johnny and Lara continued following the road of the secret passage and reached an underground clearing that looked like a laboratory. Garfield found a little book close to the bed where it explained that an insane and evil scientist (who unlike Sanam wasnt a goddess) lived there and conducted various experiments trying to find a way to get rid of the ghost, but Lara didnt believe in the words of the booklet which also explained that the ghost wouldnt haunt the hill and the reason of this was still unknown. They decided to spend the night there and return to their quest in the morning. Naturally Johnny didnt understand even a word of what they were saying and was trying to fix his hair, which got rather spiky after his shock but without his trusty gel, all his efforts were useless.

            

In the lab, Lara surveyed around. Garfield was chewing on a piece of dusty table cloth, and Johnny was shining his sunglasses. The storm was over and there was only a mild rain shower. It was a really chilling night indeed and especially after the gruesome tale of the ghostly barbarian. Lara returned to her "friends" and said ,"Well, I guess there is not much we can do tonight. I didn't find a single clue. So I suggest we all should hit the sack." Lara moved off to the corner of the lab and began spreading a sheet of clean white cloth she packed along on the floor. After she finished arranging her own mattress, Johnny dashed to her corner and slept on her cloth. Lara with rage swung the cloth upside-down and Johnny flip out of it. "Get your own cloth buster! This is mine. Tomorrow is a big day and I want to get some sleep." She slept on her mattress and Johnny moved off to a lab table. He climbed the table and slept on it. He mumbled to himself, "What a hot fierce chick. She is exactly my type of woman." As he said this he looked and smiled at Lara. Lara stared back and said, "Stop staring or I'll have to nail your eyes shut." Garfield slept at the other end of the room. He was enjoying the play performed by Lara and Johnny. Of course we cannot blame Lara for being so mean. After all she had a tough day and she had a whacko as the quest companion.

Morning arrived and all is calm. The rain stopped, but the sun still did not appear. Johnny and Garfield were still in their sleep, but Lara was already awake. She had changed her clothes and now she wore a black ninja-like suit with black rubber boots. She was sitting on a stool studying a map she found on the table. Suddenly there was a squeak at the door. Before Lara had time to wake her pals up, the door was flung open revealing an old hag. The moment she saw Lara and her friends she gave a wild scream, "What are you doing in my lab?! You filthy scum, I'll teach you a lesson in witchcraft style!" After saying that the hag threw a purple powder into the air. Lara and Garfield ducked under the table just in time, but Johnny was shocked he just sat there on the lab table that he was sleeping on and let out a girlish scream. Lara quickly sprinted towards Johnny before the powder blew towards him, and with a tight and tiger speed, she leap toward him and in a split of a second both of them fell off the table and onto the ground. The powder gave a small explosion the minute it touched the surface of the table. Johnny in shock fainted. From behind Garfield jumped onto the hag's head, covering her eyes with his paws.

"Let go of me you crazy feline" yelled the hag as she tried to yanked Garfield off her head. She stumbled around the room and reached for a knife. She was about to stabbed Garfield when all of a sudden a metallic sound hit her knife making it drop.

"Hold it right there, lady. Your next move will result as a bullet in your head," said Lara pointing two pistols at the hag. Lara turned toward Garfield and said, "Are you alright? Quickly wake Johnny up." Garfield poured a jug of water onto Johnny's face.

"Help! Help! I'm drowning! Im drowning! Somebody save me! SOS" shouted Johnny.

"Knock it off. We were only trying to revive you back. Hurry find a rope and tie this woman up," said Lara. Johnny and Garfield couldnt find any rope so they used a table cloth to tie the hag up. Lara was guarding the hag with her pistols making sure she wouldnt attack Johnny and Garfield as they tied her up.

When the hag was finally wrapped up in layers of table cloth, Lara approached slowly toward her with one pistol in her hand and began thus, "Alright lady, don't try anything stupid just answer the questions. We are not here to harm you. We three are travelers and we are here in Greensfield to do a research on the land".

"Did she say "we"?" interrupted Johnny whispering to Garfield. Lara continued, "We came to this lab by accident. Say, are you the scientist everyone's been talking about?" The hag lifted her eyes at Lara. And in a nasty voice said, "Human, bah! For years my older brother had been trying to drive away the evil spirits and ghosts from Greensfield. The barbarians' ghosts. Some villagers suspected my brother of performing witchcraft and they burned him alive. Before he died he told me to carry on the task. I did, but failed. All the people knew I was the sister of the so-called witchcraft performer. They shunned me and once attempted to kill me. I have to separate myself from the society. I decided to hide from them by building this secret laboratory. I'm warning you girl, don't try to do anything. It will only result as your death."

Lara untied the woman. Johnny and Garfield just listen and drooled. Lara said to the woman kindly, "I know you have suffered much, and I think you have to try to get rid of the ghost according to your brother's will. And we three will help."

"There goes the "we" again," replied Johnny. The old woman smiled and said, "Thank-you child, but I have to tell you one more thing. If you decided to leave Greensfield the evils will follow you until you reach your destination. And from then it will spread more ghouls to other place beside Greensfield. I suggest to get rid of them before leaving. I can't do much now. Its all up to you. There is a place several miles from here .It is believed to have a mansion. I don't know much about it, you have to survey it by yourself." The hag touched Lara's hand, "Bless you child, pray you and your friends will be successful." The hag gave a small grin, and instantly dissolved into dust.

"AAHHHHHH!!!!" screamed Johnny and Garfield.

"C'mon fellows. We have a quest at our hands. Are you two with me?" asked Lara. Without answering Johnny just pulled Lara and Garfield and burst together out of the tree lab into the hill.

Johnny might have done a foolish thing according to Lara but as soon as they reached the hill, the trapdoor just locked, meaning that they could have been stuck in the lab forever. It seems that every time the scientist wasnt in the lab, the door automatically locked itself from outside and could only be opened by putting weight on a certain trigger (as Johnny accidentally did before). Garfield and Lara both gave Johnny a puzzled look and then laughed, it seems that when he passed out he put his hair in something because it was flat and didnt have its blondish color anymore but it was more of a brown and his glasses werent the black ones he always uses but they were pink and had butterflies on both sides. Johnny didnt understand why they were laughing and thought it was because he had just saved them, it wasnt until they reached a lake at the bottom of the hill opposite to Greensfield when Johnny finally understood the reason of their laughter. He let out one of his usual girlish screams and dived into the lake, not knowing that it wasnt very deep. Johnny got a big lump on his head and using some water he tried fixing his hair but it looked more like an oval volcano(because of the bump) than his usual hairstyle, he was speechless. Lara told him not to lose anymore time because they were getting closer to the mansion described by the mad scientist and so Garfield started scratching Johnny to get him away from his own reflection. Mr. Bravo started moaning about how he was tired and looked bad and Lara whispered to Garfield I dont think you should have convinced him to come away from the lake.

In the meantime all the villagers of Greenfield were celebrating the return of the Sun (Lady Sun as Mrs. Rasian would say) which they considered one of their many gods and thanked for sending away the ghost of the barbaric leader (at least during the day time since it would wonder around during the dark). They were having large feasts and celebrating while they could, thinking that every minute was worth it because soon night would fall and each villager would have to go up to the highest room of each tower. Little did these villagers know but the ghost would also travel during the day, but on the other side of the hill directed to the old mansion where our three friends were headed. It seems that even the ghost was cursed and that it could haunt Greenfield after dark and during the day he would have to be banned on the other side of the hill, the only place it wasnt allowed to set foot on was the hill or in the mansion. Lara read this in the booklet and made a hypothesis not that it was proven to her that the ghost did exist. She began to say out loud: The ghost isnt allowed to go on the hill for the same reason that he isnt allowed to go on the hill and she was cut-off by Johnny that started questioning her: Is it because there arent any girls to haunt? Or is it because the ghost is really a girl and shes been waiting all her life to haunt that perfect guy who is me? Or because. Garfield was beginning to get tired of all Johnnys topics which were usually: girls, girls, girls, more girls and GIRLS, the only thing worse than girls that Johnny would talk about was himself (naturally taking his usual positions). Our feline friend had found a way to zip Johnnys mouth and Lara had learned it from him, at first they both stopped and looked at Johnny weirdly and then they both pointed at his head and said: ITS BACK!. We all know that Johnny is afraid of bugs specially spiders, according to Garfield and Lara this technique would keep Johnny busy for about fifteen minutes trying to shake the bug off and if they needed more time to rest they would always yell: ITS STILL THERE! After having made Johnny run around more than a hundred times they had finally reached their destination THE MANSION.

During their journey, the scientist (witch, hag, etc now known as Hagar) was also reading through all her ancestors booklets to find out if there was any way to get rid of ghosts. Of course she didnt do this all the time, she used to stop every two seconds for different reasons. Unlike all the inhabitants of Greensfield, Hagar was more up-to-date, she had computers, internet, television, radios and all the other accessories that we would find in any house today. She would never miss a series of Scooby Doo or Sabrina the teenage witch because she would see herself reflected in these characters and their situations and they had kept her company though her solitary years as a hermit so she would never miss a series. She would check her e-mail every thirty minutes because she loved receiving fun pages and secret spells from other witches(=fortunetellers) which would try and help people solve their problems. She would play around with her broom and magic until when finally she had a little free time she would sit and look for her ancestors booklets. In her grandfathers booklet she found out that witches couldnt be burnt but that they would always act in pain to see the faces on the humans, the problem is that their powers weaken and strengthen only about a thousand years later. This meant that her older brother acted in pain as well but he disappeared after that. Its true that his powers had weakened but she was really curious to know where he had disappeared to after his procession. According to her there was only one way to find out: using her own powers to create a time portal that brought her back to that period and showed her clearly where the body had been buried or even worse HIDDEN. Many her brother had found a way to release Greensfield of its curse and somebody didnt want that to happen so he decided to get rid of him (or at least try). The only question she had in mind was: Why?