No, something was definately not right. Kal had gone to pat the floor he was sitting on and found that there was no floor.
This of course produced some flailing and screaming, until he realised that he didn't seem to be falling either. He was just suspended there, in the blackness.
He stared straight ahead, but saw nothing.
"Pickle?" he ventured, wishing he'd been able to think up a better name. If he was going to be lumbered with a mage he could at least have been lumbered with a mage that didn't sound like a condiment. "Pickle, where on Questworld are we, and I hope for your sake we are on Questworld..."
"Um, small drawback there old chap," came Pickle's voice from his right, along with the sound of hurriedly turned pages. The mage had obviously got a book from somewhere. Perhaps he'd been keeping it under that ridiculous hat. "We seem to have, um, overshot by just a little..."
"Overshot what exactly?" Kal enquired, his voice level, calm, and one inadvised witticism away from screaming bloody murder. "And by how far exactly?"
"Overshot the, um, world," Pickle quavered. "By about, um, several million years, um. Our world, is, um, dead, but the next one hasn't started..."
The warrior stared into the blackness for a moment, and came to a decision.
"Die," he suggested, raising his axe. The mage made a strangled squeaking sound and the sound of turning pages redoubled.
Kal lowered his axe and cautiously shuffled over to his right, until he bumped against something soft and breathing. The question of how Pickle could have been reading the book in pitch darkness remained unanswered, and probably never would be. His hand clamped over the mage's wrist, eliciting another squeak.
"It had better be. If you mess up one more time..."
"No, no, this one's right, I know it is," Pickle said, confidence creeping back into his voice. He took a deep breath.
"Damno illud amotio men!"
Once again, the second of stillness and then the poof. This time, when Kal's head stopped spinning and he no longer suspected that any movement would cause irretrievable damage, he looked around and saw...
Well, it wasn't the swamp, and it didn't look like the dungeon either. They were standing on a ribbon of weird black stuff that cut across a landscape of scrubby grass and yellow-flowering bushes. A few buildings were visible in the distance; they didn't look like huts or cottages.
"Did I tell you what would happen if you failed again?" Kal said eventually. Pickle swallowed.
"You left that tactfully unsaid, I think..."
"Well, in that case it'll be a surprise-arrrgh!"
The 'arrgh' had been caused by having to jump sideways into one of the yellow bushes to avoid what looked like some sort of metal beetle. It had come hurtling down the black stuff towards them making a noise worse than a bull troll in heat. Once it had thundered past, Kal rolled out of the bush and wondered if it had been thorny before, or had sprouted them just to annoy him. This wasn't unknown in the Questworld.
Pickle, looking rather battered, emerged from another bush clutching his book and trying to straighten his hat. Kal gave him a meaningful look.
"That surprise is still waiting..."
"Nonono, it's just a matter of reversing the time stream, I think we've ended up in the world that comes after ours, or possibly one that's in an alternate dimension to ours, dimension-slipping is a common fault, I can correct it no trouble...ahah!"
Once again, the deep breath and the mystic waving of hands. It put Kal in mind of someone trying to fight off a swarm of wasps.
"Nos es sic iens morior!"
After the now-customary slight pause and 'poof', Kal put his hands on his head to stop it unscrewing and floating away and took a suspicious look around. If that damnfool mage had screwed up for a third time, there were going to be bits of magical moron scattered over quite a large part of the surrounding area...