Senny hurried through the castle and closed the heavy gates behind him.
He scanned the edge of the forest as far as he could see, but there was no sign of any of his men. Haven’t we gone over this tactic a hundred times? he thought. ALWAYS leave a man close to the castle so I can find you! Idiots. Making a mental note to reprimand someone for this later, Senny continued into the forest in search of his troops.
The sounds of the evening bugsong and the distant waterfalls faded away as Senny tromped through the ever-thickening brush. He welcomed the silence. It would make it easier to hear someone’s footsteps, which was extremely useful as there was no light in the forest whatsoever. It was so dark at this point that he would no sooner see a man in black robes than a dragon in pink ones.
He stopped walking and tried to hear anything-- a faint noise in either direction, just to point him the right way. And then suddenly a voice right behind him bellowed, “Commander Senny!”
Senny jumped and turned around in the air, intentionally landing in a fighting position so that it wouldn’t look like he had just been scared half to death. He recognized the voice, and already knew full well that it was Barney, his second in command. But now Senny stood there with his unnecessarily long sword drawn at him anyway. Barney was so close that the tip of the sword touched his uniform, and even close enough that Senny could actually see his face through the darkness.
“Oh it’s you, Barney,” he said casually, and sheathed his sword. “You snuck up on me there. So what’s the word? Any tall, hooded magicians around here?”
“What do you mean? Did you find him?”
“Oh, they found me alright,” said Barney. “Luckily for me.”
Senny thought about this for a moment, and found himself too confused to even figure out a question to express his confusion. He decided to ask,
Barney’s voice laughed a powerful sort of laugh that Senny had never heard from him before, and then said, “Let me explain.”
Barney reached out and placed his hand on Senny’s left shoulder. Senny couldn’t decide what to do or say, so he just gaped at Barney, who stared back steadily.
And then Barney’s face was no longer Barney’s. Senny was staring at none other than himself. The imposter Senny laughed hysterically as the real Senny jumped back and drew his sword again.
“I don’t think so,” said the imposter, and he waved his hand slightly.
Senny was thrown violently backwards. He slammed into an enormous tree trunk with so much force that he created a man-sized dent in it. The sword flew out of his hand and ridiculously far into the distance. With another flick of the imposter’s wrist, a light green haze surrounded Senny and the tree, seeping into all the spaces between them. And Senny could tell that it was glue. Stronger than glue. There was no use trying to move. He was stuck in a tree.
“You’ll never fool them!” he yelled hopelessly at the man in his uniform, with his medals and sword, who was presently walking away from him, towards the castle.