Xephos, Honeydew, Deadlox, and Sky were just entering the forest near Lalna’s castle, with Xephos and Honeydew explaining their first destination.
“The SipsCo Factory would be the best place to check first. It’s close and if they did find one of your friend’s, chances are they’d try to make money off them first, before letting anyone know they’d found them,” said Xephos, maneuvering around the closely placed trees.
“They sound nice,” snorted Sky.
“Oh, yeah they’re just bloody wonderful,” replied Honeydew, sarcastically. He and Xephos shared a laugh at the confused looks on the other’s faces.
They stopped their conversation in order to concentrate on the quickly thickening forest. The trees were growing closer and their roots were tripping the men up, sometimes making them fall flat on their faces. The leaves above them were so close together they blocked out most of the light from the sun, making the atmosphere a dark green tinge. The further they walked the more ominous the forest became.
“Oh, God, what’s that smell,” said Deadlox, wrinkling his nose.
“The factory, I’d assume. We’re pretty close now,” said Xephos.
“Does it always smell like shit?” muttered Sky.
“Its a dirt factory, of course its going to smell like shit,” said Honeydew, in a matter of fact tone .
“A dirt factory? What does that even mean?” asked Dead.
“They produce “high-quality” dirt and dirt accessories,” smirked Xephos, lifting his hands to make air quotes.
“But dirt’s everywhere, why would people buy dirt from a factory?”
“We’ve been asking that for years, mate,” chuckled the dwarf. “How they make any money selling dirt is beyond me.”
“That just sounds stupid,” muttered Sky. Xephos and Honeydew laughed again.
“It is a bit ridiculous, but money is money I suppose,” said Xephos, shrugging.
“And to SipsCo money is everything” added Honeydew.
Walking through a thick patch of brush the four found themselves at the edge of a massive field, or what would have been a field, if it weren’t for the huge factory compound on top of it. Around the compound was an imposing black brick wall; oddly enough it was very similar to the wall around the Jaffa Cake factory. On the side was a sandy cove that led out to the ocean and over the top of the walls was a huge, towering skyscraper.
“That is a huge fricking building,” said Deadlox, in awe.
“Yeah, took them ages to build from what I remember,” said Xephos, nodding. “But like most things at SipsCo it’s more for appearance than actual purpose.”
The four walked to the wall and while Deadlox and Sky tried to find a way in, Xephos and Honeydew started climbing.
“We’re just going to break in?” asked Sky, confused.
“’Course, only way in, isn’t it?” puffed Honeydew, as he struggled to pull himself up.
“Don’t worry, we’ve done this plenty of times before, friends.” explained Xephos, sitting on top of the wall and helping Honeydew up. “See, they don’t really like guests, which is why they’ve built this ridiculous wall—.”
“Are you lot coming or not?” interrupted Honeydew.
Mumbling under their breaths, Sky and Deadlox followed suit and climbed up the wall. Sky made it easily, but the younger boy slipped on the smooth stone and almost crashed to the ground if Sky and Xephos hadn’t grabbed his arms.
“Thanks,” sighed Deadlox in relief, as they hoist him up and over the wall.
Standing at base of the gigantic building, three of them waited as Xephos marched up the steps and knocked on the door.
There was loud scuffling and muttering inside, a moment later the door opened and a bearded man in an orange spacesuit stood in the doorway.
“Hello, Sjin! My friends and I would like to have a little word with you and your boss,” said Xephos, in a friendly manner.
“Xephos, Sips and I are very busy and I don’t think we have time to deal with whatever petty problem you might have,” huffed Sjin, pompously.
“Oh for the love of—! It will only take a minute or two!” exclaimed Honeydew, irritably.
“I’m sorry, but as I have said, we are very busy and—.”
“Sjin, what the hell do you think you’re doing? I thought I told you to work on that new shipment of dirt, you dumbass,” came a voice from behind Sjin, the first non-accented voice Sky and Dead had heard in this strange world. “Don’t think I won’t dock your pay again, because so help me, I will, Sjin.”
A man appeared behind Sjin, then, looking annoyed. He had the same spacesuit on, only his was blue. His face was unnaturally pale and his hair and eyes were deep black.
“What do these fuckers want?” the pale man asked.
“Sips, we need to talk to you really quick. Have you seen anyone strange lately? They might have been injured as well,” Xephos said quickly, before either of the men could find an excuse to the slam the door.
“Anyone strange? You mean besides Sjin? No, no I haven’t,” said Sips, Sjin looking slightly offended next to him.
“Actually, now that you mention it, about a week ago, Rythian visited my farm and was telling me about something like that. Said that they found a weird blue man near their camp. Maybe that could be one of them,” suggested Sjin.
“Wait, a weird blue man?” asked Sky, hurriedly. When Sjin nodded, Sky turned to Deadlox. “Sounds like Husky, huh?”
“Hey, Sjin, you still doing that stupid farm thing?” muttered Sips. Sjin glared but didn’t answer.
“Well, thanks for sort of helping us,” remarked Honeydew, turning to leave. “But we should really be leaving if we want to make it to Rythian’s before nightfall.”
“Do you even know where to go?” smirked Sjin.
Honeydew stopped and stiffened; when he turned again his face was slightly red.
“Alright, then, smart ass. How do we get there,” he said, crossing his arms.
After Sjin gave them rough directions of where to go, Sips promptly shut the door in their faces, muttering about losing precious work time. The four left the compound with higher hopes then they’d had before, despite SipsCo rude welcoming, and set off to find the endermage’s camp.