"Pinkie, did you raid my fridge?" Ferret asked indignantly.
Pinkie swallowed whatever she had been eating, and smiled the biggest innocent smile she could muster. "No?"
Ferret sighed. "To answer your question, we found out that the ball is for playing Pound, that it glows only when Pepper holds it, and that it was crafted by Mr. Morggison."
Pinkie raised an eyebrow. "It glows when Pepper holds it?"
"And it was crafted by Mr. Morggison," Pepper added. "That's the part that's really interesting to me."
"Yes, I suppose it's a little bit interesting," Pinkie admitted, "but not terribly surprising. Mr. Morggison makes a great many things, Pound balls are just a side hobby for him, actually. But the fact that you make it glow..."
"Do you have any powers that you know of, Pepper?" Ferret asked.
"What? Powers? No."
"Do you have any powers that you DON'T know of?"
"I... no? How would I know?"
"I'm not sure. Worth asking, though." He heard Ferret moving around, as if looking for something.
"What I want to know," Pepper said, "Is how The book showed us the ball before it appeared. Does The book tell the future?"
"No," Pinkie said, taking on a serious, know-it-all tone of voice. "It doesn't tell the future. It's just a book."
"Well, I sure am curious about how a book, given to us by Mr. Morggison, showed us a picture of a ball, made by Mr. Morggison, which then came flying through a window that didn't exist," Pepper rattled off. "I think we should go back there and ask him about it."
"I'm afraid that's impossible, Pepper," Ferret said.
Pinkie nodded in agreement. "Yeah, you can't ask Mr. Morggison."
"Why not?" Pepper asked. "It seems he would know better than anyone else, right?"
"Well, yes, but you can't ask Mr. Morggison, because you can only ask him one thing a year," Pinkie explained.
"What? Well, I haven't asked him anything, as far as I know, I should be able to ask him about the glowing Pound ball, shouldn't I?"
"Actually," Pinkie said, assuming her know-it-all voice again, "You did ask him something. You asked him about finding food as a hermit."
"I didn't ask that!" Pepper protested. "You did!"
"No, I asked on your behalf. Therefore, you asked."
"Well, okay, then you haven't asked a question, let's go back there and YOU can ask him."
"Actually, I DID ask him a question, in the morning, before you woke up."
"And what did you ask him?"
"That's between me and Mr. Morggison."
Pepper threw his arms up in the air in exasperation. "It's useless talking to you!" he shouted.
"I beg your pardon?" Pinkie replied, stunned.
"You never give clear answers. You're always avoiding my questions. I know you know the answers, you just won't tell me!"
"Guys, listen, calm down," came Ferret's voice in an attempt to quell the quarrel.
"And YOU!" Pepper roared, turning on wherever the voice had come from. "I can't even SEE you. And you won't explain THAT, either!"
"Well, I can't, really!" Ferret said defensively. "You have to WANT to see me in order to see me."
"That makes no sense, I DO want to see you. It's infuriating trying to talk to someone you can't see."
"I think we both have different ideas of the meaning of 'want' in this instance," Ferret said. "But either way, I think you two should calm down, I have some tea, we could all just sit and talk for a while. About something less stress inducing."
"What about you?" Pepper asked, not sitting down.
"What about me?" Ferret replied.
"Yes, you. You can ask Mr. Morggison about the glowing ball." Pepper seemed certain he had found the answer.
"No, I can't," Ferret said apologetically. "I've already asked Mr. Morggison something this year."
"Oh," Pepper said, slumping into a chair. "Well, that settles that then. What are we to sit and talk about?"
"I, for one, would like to talk about how rude you're being," Pinkie said.
"Excuse me?" Pepper said.
"Now, guys, please," Ferret interrupted, "Let's not have another argument, please?"
"No, seriously, I want to know why she thinks she can say I'm being rude!" Pepper could feel a strange pocket of rage growing in his normally sedate stomach.
"Well, let's look at it logically," Pinkie said, "You're completely appalled that I won't reveal anything to you when I know very little about you. I know that you want to be a hermit, that you are a boy, and that's about it. How am I supposed to open myself up to someone I don't even know?"
"You obviously know me well enough to drag me along some crazy journey through a place that may or may not actually exist, for some reason I don't even know."
Pinkie stared at him, unable to come up with an appropriate response.
"Why did you lie to me? Why did you tell me we were looking for food when really, that wasn't it at all?"
"Guys, okay, listen," said Ferret, moving a chair aside and sitting down (and Pepper could only assume here, as all he saw was the chair moving and a slight imprint in it), "You want to know about each other. That is completely natural, especially since you are traveling together. So, why don't we conduct a little interview? I'll ask a question, and you both have to answer."
Pepper glared at Pinkie, who was wearing an expression that Pepper couldn't fully deduce. He shrugged. "Fine with me."
"Yeah," Pinkie nodded, "Me too."
"Okay," Ferret said, clearing his throat. "Let's begin. Question one, and Pepper, you may answer this one first, do your parents know you are here?"
Pepper sat back. He was expecting something more along the lines of, "What are your likes and dislikes?" or, "Describe your perfect date."
"Not in the most specific sense of the word 'know'. Neither do they have, say, an 'inkling'. They know I am hermitting, and they have been pretty supportive of that... I guess they are used to me running around trying out various life styles. I don't know if they are looking for me now, though."
"And what about you, Pinkie?"
She said nothing else.
"Would... would you care to expand on that any?"
"Not particularly. I've answered the question, I don't see why I should have to expand on it."
"Okay, well, you can answer this next question first. What do you want most in the whole world?"
Pinkie sat quietly for a moment. Then, after a time, she said, "Not to have to answer that question."
Pepper let out an exasperated sigh.
"What?" Pinkie yelled, "I don't like this interviewing thing. It seems pointless. A person should be allowed to have a few secrets."
"It seems like you have nothing but," Pepper muttered.
"Well, fine, you get to answer this question then. What do YOU want most in the whole world, Pepper?"
"That's easy. To be free."
"Free of what? That's such a cop out answer, you know. Freedom doesn't come without a price."
"Really?" Pepper said, standing up. "Would you care to explain how you know that?"
Pinkie stood up, too, and crossed her arms. "Listen," she said sternly, "I'm going to tell you something, and it's all I'm going to tell you, and you will have to find it sufficient."
"I have been through enough, and dealt with enough, to know that nothing is free. Nothing. Even if your wildest dreams come true, you don't know the cost. You can't know until you've been there. So, Pepper, if you want to be free, that's fine. But just be aware that you will have to pay dearly for your freedom."
They stood at each other, exchanging indecipherable looks. Ferret was quiet himself. Eventually, Pinkie shook her head and said, "I'm sorry. I'm - I can't stay here right now. I'm going to take a walk."
She headed towards the wall-door, and as she walked through it, said, "I'll be back later."
Chapter 1: Pepper
Chapter 2: Pinkie
Chapter 3: Dune
Chapter 4: Mugget
Chapter 5: Deltiology
Chapter 6: Umbrella
Chapter 7: The
Chapter 8: Exsanguination
Chapter 9: Oubliette
Chapter 10: Ferret
Chapter 11: Defenestrate
Chapter 12: Pound
Full Story at pepperadventure