“Literally, overnight bus trips can stuff it,” Willow groaned, dumping her suitcase in the allotted hotel room.
“Well I’m not saying you’re wrong, but Disney World,” Kari said, dropping her own suitcase on one of the beds.
“But seriously, if they didn’t get one of those state coach buses I genuinely would have rioted. My back still hurts even though we got the nice one.”
“The school’s legally required to give us one if we cross state lines,” Lottie said matter of factly, already looking through the drawers.
“And thank god for that,” Willow agreed, flopping facedown onto the bed. “Okay well this bed is all mine so I hope you two don’t mind sharing.”
Kari rolled her eyes. “We’ve been dating for how long? And you’re still making those cracks?”
Willow snickered through the comforter. “It’s amusing.”
“Call me paranoid but I’m almost scared to leave my violin here,” Lottie said, setting the instrument down.
“I’m just gonna put mine under the bed.” Kari pushed her viola case underneath.
Willow scoffed. “You lucky bastard.” Lottie giggled, moving Willow’s bass aside to slide her own instrument under the bed.
Someone knocked on the door. Willow shook her head. “Here comes the devil.”
Kari opened the door.
Zak entered in an energetic blur, already shouting, “ Yo what up madrefrickers you’ll never guess what I found out! ”
“Hi Zak,” Kari deadpanned, closing the door behind him. “How are you?”
“I’m-- did you get the door closed-- I’m fucking awesome !” he crowed.
“Jesus, language Zak, we’re at Disney World, not high school.”
“Well we’re here for high school,” Zak countered. “And I said madrefrickers!”
“Literally I let it slide the first time but never say that again,” Willow groaned into the bedspread.
Zak ignored her. “Okay so I was trolling around the Disney sites because obviously , you know, Trivia Man’s gotta be up to snuff, and I stumbled across this webpage about this interactive game called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom so I was like obviously gotta check this out i mean who would I be if I didn’t? So I looked around a little more and there’s a Sorcerer’s Training spot at the firehouse right by the entrance and I immediately booked it over here because if we don’t check it out I’m never talking to any of you again.”
“You had me at interactive game.” Kari rubbed her hands together. “Have they got any Dreamworks stuff yet?”
“They only bought Dreamworks like two months ago, that’s probably not enough time to code in new levels or whatever,” Lottie said.
“Whatever, don’t care, the Magic Kingdom opened like ten minutes ago let’s fu-- fricking go .” Zak tugged Kari’s arm. They grabbed their backpacks and booked it.
The bus ride over was mostly uneventful. At a harsh stop Zak almost cussed but managed to keep it together. They made it through the park gates without further incident.
“What I don’t get,” Kari said as they waited in line for the tutorial, “is how literally of all of us Zak has the most young siblings and the most anti cursing parents, and the worst mouth.”
“I’m a rebel,” Zak said, flicking his head like he was trying to do a hair flip. It didn’t work all that well.
The Cast Member handed them their maps and cards. “And which difficulty would you like?”
“Hard,” Zak said.
They managed to talk him down to medium.
“Okay,” Willow said. “To play two player we just hold two keys up to the lock?” She didn’t wait for an answer, shoving her and Kari’s keys up to the ornate lock on the wall. The portal shimmered, and with a few crackling bolts of lightning it flashed into existence.
“Dude, sick ,” Zak enthused. They quickly scuttled backward to the two Circles of Power built into the floor, clinging to each other to stay inside. The clouds inside the portal cleared, revealing the character Merlin from The Sword in the Stone inside a ransacked office, rummaging through some drawers. He glanced up.
“Ah, good to see you sorcerer!” he said.
“Yeah hi, how’s it going?” Kari joked.
“What’s the sitch wizard man!” Zak whisper yelled.
“I suppose you’ll want to know what’s happened,” Merlin continued like they hadn’t said anything. The crystal ball on the shelf next to him began to shimmer and the camera pulled in close.
“So, you know the Underworld’s getting kinda dark, kinda dreary,” Hades was saying to his minions, Pain and Panic. The four instantly stifled their laughter. They all agreed that Hades would be like that sassy gay friend during one particularly eventful movie night, and now it was kinda hard to take him seriously. “So I found this spot of prime real estate, mortals call it the Magic Kingdom. You know, I’d have to adjust it a little bit, put up some new drapes--” thorny tendrils covered an image of Cinderella Castle and caught fire, burning into blackened ash against the white bricks-- “but I really think it’s worth the time, you know?
“Only problem is this Merlin guy. See, he’s got this magic crystal, it’s like the security system for the park. Some say it can detect any evil, so what we’re gonna do is steal the crystal so that he can’t use it, and then we’ll be good to go!”
“Is anyone else reminded of The Emperor's New Groove ?” Willow wondered.
“I was just thinking that!” Lottie blushed.
The viewpoint changed back to Merlin’s study, where Hades’ minions were shown snatching the magic crystal off the shelf as Merlin snoozed. He woke in an instant.
“Scoundrels!” Merlin hit them with a spell, but in the process also hit the crystal, causing it to split into pieces that (conveniently) flew out the window. A fiery round hole in Merlin’s study appeared, and Pain and Panic were pulled inside. Hades was pissed.
“This was supposed to be easy!” he exploded, fire raging across his shoulders. “Get in, get the crystal, get out!” He squished his minions between his palms, the fire dimming back down to blue as he controlled his temper, and pulled his hands apart to reveal a fanned out deck of cards, each displaying a different Disney villain. “Fine, fine, you know what I’ll do? I’ll get a bunch of real nasty bad guys to help me find the pieces and make sure Merlin can’t put it back together.”
The view zoomed off the crystal ball to show Merlin’s office again. “So you see, we’re all in great peril,” he told them. “It’s really crucial that you assist us, or else we’ll almost certainly fall to Hades and his minions.”
“No worries, we’ve got this!” Lottie chirped.
Merlin perked up, almost as though he’d heard her, though it was probably a programmed response like the Dora the Explorer cartoons. “You’ll help? Wonderful! Here’s the first portal you’ll need to go to, it’s on your map. I’ll give you a quick tutorial there!”
The portal went dark again.
“We’re in business.” Willow grinned.
Their first portal was in a shop off the side of Main Street. A picture of Mickey Mouse shimmered when they activated the keyhole, turning into a portal.
“You’re not a moment too soon!” Merlin had apparently taken cover in one of the Main Street trolleys. Various jets of light zinged past him onscreen. “I found one of the pieces but Hades’ minions are in hot pursuit!”
“Probably because you keep calling them his minions,” Kari said. “They probably consider themselves to be partners.”
“Contact Pongo and I’ll check in as soon as I can!” Merlin finished. The portal spiraled with blue as viewpoints changed.
“Oh, Pongo!” Lottie beamed. She was a dog person.
The portal zoomed in on the barking cartoon dog, before a Merlin voiceover spoke. “What, you don’t speak Dalmatian?”
“Of course I speak Dalmatian!” Willow exclaimed hotly. “Bark bark, body language!”
The teens snickered while Merlin cast a spell to ‘sort things out’. Pongo looked pretty unhappy at the fact that they couldn’t speak Dalmatian, but it couldn’t be helped. It wasn’t as though it was on Duolingo. The spell zoomed them between various pictures on the wall behind Pongo as Merlin and Pongo (and some pictures’ voiceovers) explained what had happened, the gist being that Cruella de Vil was in town and she wanted her coat, bad. Hades, disguised as Boss Teal, was there to join up with her. He’d get her the puppies if she got him the crystal.
“ Cruella de Vil! Cruella de Vil! If she doesn’t scare you, no evil thing will! ” Kari sang as they headed down the street again for the Train Station, the site of the next portal.
Lottie giggled. “You’re such a nerd.”
“You love me anyway!” Kari grinned. Lottie took her hand and swung it between them.
“You think the things on the cards matter? The type and whatever?” Willow asked, looking over her hand (a wonderful woman in the fire station had come up and handed them a deck of every card you could get for free; she said she came almost every day to get cards so she could do that; they’d thanked her profusely and split the deck four ways).
“Probably, have you ever played a video game?” Zak sassed.
“Well, probably the whole ‘Princess Spell’ ‘Hero Spell’ thing doesn’t matter, but I bet the Charming Strong Quick thing does,” Lottie amended. “Like Pokemon.” She blushed. “I mean, I’ve never played. But from what I’ve heard. It’s like Pokemon.”
Zak clicked his tongue at her with mock disappointment. “Guess what you’re doing on the way home.”
The Cruella quest was actually pretty easy. They flashed cards at the screen (all four of them, always making bets on which ones the computer would read), trying to pick out various enemies’ weaknesses. After some research, they found the pattern.
“So they’re hardly affected by what they are, but they’re extremely affected by what they aren’t,” Kari mused. They were gathered around Zak’s phone, reading the wiki page, because they were cheaters. “A llama alpaca is gross, so he’s not affected by Gross. Facilier is sleazy and charming, so he’s not affected by that.”
“That makes sense.” Willow nodded. “Okay, where did they say we needed to go to keep helping?”
“Um, Fantasyland, I think it was.” Lottie consulted her map. “Yeah, it’s that spiral right there.”
“Oh, we’re right next to it.” Zak put his phone away. “Okay, we’re not going to be able to memorize all their strengths and weaknesses, so we’ll have to play it by ear and use our heads, yeah?”
“Yeah.” Kari readied her cards. They moved into the Circles of Power, holding up their keys. The portal on the wall flashed with lightning and appeared. Merlin was inside, looking disheveled.
“Oh good, you’re still with us. I was worried for a moment there. The- well, the adventure’s gone off the rails a bit. Hades is off-script, and we’re all in danger.”