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Out of nowhere, a green-tinged, disembodied hand appeared in the forest below Castle Aglami. Only a few pixels appeared at first, and turned around to make sure the forest was deserted. Slowly, bit by bit, the hand got brighter, until it was hovering there, fully materialised.

A small, silvery-white box with curved corners appeared in the hand, and it shifted to get a firm grip on it. Dropping the box, the hand hovered over it, checking that the text `AGC' appeared above it before pressing a small blue button on the front.

A swirl of blue appeared out of the opening box, ready to swallow anything that ventured in there. The hand winked out of existence again.

* * *

"All ready?" asked the green hand, re-materialising above a dusty plain.

"Just doing some last minute checks," said a blueish hand to the left of Green. In fact, the whole plain was filled with hands, and beneath them were groups of norns; mostly purple, but there were tiger-striped and brown norns mixed among them.

Blue picked up a card with a picture of an elephant on it, and deposited it in front of his group of 30 norns. "Food," said Blue, and all the norns echoed him: "Food."

"Yep, all set," said Blue.

Green fidgeted a bit, then shouted over the noise of norns being trained, "Okay, everyone, final roll-call!" A small window appeared next to Green, in which were a long list of names and a tick box for each one. Green began to read out the list.


"Here!" came a feminine voice somewhere to the left. Green made a little tick.


"Here!" said a red-tinged hand a few paces in front.


"Hier!" that was the blue hand just next to Green.

The list went on, well over a hundred names, and a few norns were beginning to say "Here," by the time they were done.

"All right, it's time to attack!" said Green, dropping a portal labelled "aglami" by Blue's group of norns.

* * *

Aglami was enjoying a period of unusual peace and prosperity at the time. The #m-i'ers were staying out of their way, and there hadn't been an in-fight for days.

"When's Reinder due back?" asked Tracy, looking out of an arrow-slit in the castle.

A Cheshire cat stirred in his seat, and said "Sometime thing weekend, if his posts are to be believed."

"Hmmm... Hope he gets back soon, he's been gone ages now."

Kasper, leaning out of a window nearby Tracy, said, "Seems to be some activity down in the forest."

"Really?" said Tracy, peering out. "Can't see anything myself."

"Something blue, I think. Just a light though - oh, it's gone now."

"Oh, well."

They lounged about a bit, just enjoying the calm, when Luke, who'd been inspecting the battlements, rushed in, gasping for breath.

"We're under attack!" he wheezed.

"What? The #m-i'ers again?"

"No, it's norns! They're storming the castle!"

"Well, well, well," said Pixel the cat, who was the only one managing to keep his cool. "I guess it's time to bring out the immortal elephants."

* * *

Green was delighted that everything had gone to plan. The norns, over three thousand of them in total, had left the portal and assembled, aided by tickles and slaps from the multitude of hands, into ranks in the middle of the wood.

Any minute now, the aglamians, thinking they were being clever, would bring out the immortal elephants.

And they'd never know what had hit them.

* * *

Pixel prowled through the lower reaches of the castle, looking for the immortal elephants. Here was their room, and it should have been guarded, but instead, Mike was sleeping in the doorway.

A malicious glint in his eye, Pixel extended his claws and sunk them into Mike's leg. That got a response, all right.

"What kind of vigilante are you, sleeping on the job?" said Pixel, before Mike could speak. "Semper vigilans, indeed."

"Oh, come on Pixel. I've been guarding since two o'clock yesterday morning."

"Well, get the elephants up, norns are attacking the castle."

Between them, Mike and Pixel hauled and coaxed the elephants out of their den, and into the entrance hall. Ginger, Tracy, Kasper and Luke were sitting at the table, discussing battle tactics. A worrying number of suggestions seemed to involve licking.

"What worries me," said Kasper, as Pixel and Mike arrived with the elephants, "is how we're going to get the elephants out there in the first place. I mean, we can't just open the castle doors, can we?"

"Simple," said Luke. "They're immortal, right? We just need to catapult them off the battlements."


"It's the best plan we've got," interrupted Ginger, "So we might as well go with it. For now."

"Okay," said Luke. "Ginger, Kasper and Pixel, go up with the immortal elephants and try to get them down to the norns below. The rest of you, come with me, we'll go and look for everyone else."

Ginger, and Kasper took charge of the elephants, and, led by Pixel, they departed to the left. The other went downstairs again.

"Right, who's missing?"

"Don't you mean `whose'?" came an annoying voice off to the left, and then "Crunch!"

"Sorry," said Daffy, emerging from a stone doorway carrying a redundant Faddy. "What's up?"

"Norn attack," said Luke. "The usual group have gone to drop the elephants off the battlements."

"Will they survive that?"

"'Course they will, they're immortal."