"Tiffany and Sira - you're our winners! Which means the choice is yours - do you want to take the trip into the dragon den, or are you going to get the boys to face them for you?"
The presenter in the stained lab coat paused as the two fox girls at the podium on the right hand side of the stage looked at each other, the orange one shaking her head and then whispering in her brown partner's ear. With a smile, she turned back to him.
"We're gonna send them in!" she announced, pointing at the pair of pink flamingoes on the opposite side of the set. The slightly smaller of the two gasped and put his hands to his black-tipped beak as he looked to his team-mate, who gave an unsure smile and put his arm around the other's shoulders.
"Excellent choice!" The host beckoned to the flamingo boys with one hand, slapping the side of the black six-foot-wide cauldron prop in the middle of the stage with the other. "Come on, you two - you avoided so much gunge in the rest of the games, I think it's time for some payback..."
The fox girls grinned as the pink avians hopped up the shallow steps to the cauldron, the larger one still with his arm around his partner's shoulder. As the presenter stepped forward to take the younger flamingo's hand, the other one braced himself against the side of the cauldron and pulled himself up and into it.
He turned around to sit down on the opposite side of the ring of seating inside as the host put his hands under his partner's shoulders, making him gave a squawk as he was lifted into the air. Scrabbling with his feet, he caught the side of the cauldron and stepped over into it, clambering down into the seat with an embarrassed smile at his partner.
"Zavi and Ros, I think you both know the rules!" the host announced, adjusting the lapels of his lab coat as he pointed towards the back of the stage. The cauldron was mounted on a rail, a few feet away from the wide mouth of a cave prop that was covered by a portcullis. Beyond the metal grid, a few lanterns mounted to the wall lit the round inside of the cave, and the ends of a set of huge prop dragon muzzles were just visible poking down into the centre. "We're going to send you in to meet our dragons, who... aren't that fond of visitors," he grinned, "so you're going to want to escape as quickly as possible. You're going to have to light the five lanterns around the walls by answering my questions correctly, if you can concentrate under all that snot and slime..."
He paused as he saw the younger flamingo boy shaking in a laugh through his grimace. "Ros, are you okay?" he grinned, leaning into the cauldron to face him. "It's only gunge... think about how much of it you got Sira covered in in the last game!"
The orange fox nodded decisively from the podium, then took hands with her partner and walked over to the side of the cauldron as the host beckoned them up.
"In fact, I think you should get the honor of starting them off," he said, stepping backwards and motioning to a lever on the back wall. As Ros and Zavi watched, the fox girls moved over and reached up to take hold of the handle, standing on either side of it as they grinned back over at the nervous avians. "Prepare for the ride of your life, you two - Sira and Tiffany, send them into the dragon den!"
The foxes wrenched on the handle together, and a clap of thunder played over the stage speakers as the lighting spasmed in bright blue. The portcullis next to the cauldron rattled as it began to rise, with the giant plastic spiders clinging to its bars falling off as they brushed against the ceiling.
Ros gasped as the cauldron began moving slowly towards the cave entrance, rotating around gradually as it went. Zavi leaned back and spread his arms out over the cauldron's lip, looking upside-down at the cave entrance as the cauldron moved so his back was facing it. As the last of the spiders fell off and dropped towards him, he batted it away with a smile, then cringed as his back hit a curtain of slimy strings dangling just inside the entrance.
The two fox girls giggled to each other as they leaned over to watch as Ros was carried into the gooey web as well, flailing his arms over his head to disentangle himself as the slime-coated webbing broke. Picking it off his head, he brushed it down into the centre of the cauldron, then looked up with a start as the lanterns around the cave walls flickered out, leaving them illuminated from above with the shadows of the dragon heads now aimed right down at them.
"Good luck, boys - here's your first question!" the host's voice came from above. "What's the full name of the celebration that 'Halloween' is short for?"
"It was, uh..." Zavi, the elder of the two birds, spoke up first, before tailing off with a nervous laugh as two pairs of yellowish gunge streams began drizzling from the nostrils of the prop dragon heads at the left and right of the cave, the flow steadily increasing as the rotation of the cauldron carried him and Ros towards them. "All Hallow's Eve!" he called above the noise of the slime splattering on to the plastic seating, just before squawking through a grin as he was carried around under the slime shower. He tucked his head down and closed his eyes as the yellow gunge splurged over him, the heavy goo splashing outwards into the cauldron's centre and the back wall of the cave. On the opposite side of the cauldron, Ros scrabbled and leaned away from the flow before squeaking as the gunge poured over his arm, hunching his shoulders up as he disappeared for a moment under the yellow downpour before emerging from the other side painted with dripping slime.
"You're right!" the host's voice came as the pair of avians looked across at each other's dripping faces with nervous laughter, both of them cringing a little again as they were turned around through the slow drizzles still coming from above. A red lantern burst into flame on the wall at the back of the cavern, and Ros smiled at it as he brushed his fingers through his slimy head feathers.
"What is the name for the notched wall on the top of a castle, designed to shoot arrows through?"
Ros leaned forward and whispered something to his partner, gripping the seat tighter as there was another noise from the ceiling, and a payload of dark green gunge crashed down right next to where he had been a moment ago, catching him on the shoulder. He wriggled and brushed it away as Zavi nodded, then indicated up to the ceiling.
"Ramparts?" Ros said, glancing up at the lights above them before hurriedly ducking down again.
"Aaah..." the host hesitated. "Not close enough, I'm afraid...!"
Ros sagged and then jumped as a curtain of gloop came down from the ceiling, pouring orange slime across the width of the cauldron, and the rotation slowed and then stopped to hold the two of them under it. He gave a laughing screech and tried to budge himself to the right to get out of the downpour, slipping and slithering against the gungy plastic as he attempted to move. On the other side of the cauldron, Zavi smiled and tilted his head, letting the gunge pour off it from all angles, before the movement started again in the opposite direction from which it had come. He blinked his eyes and held his hands out, laughing as he looked down and saw how little of his pink color was still visible.
"Sorry, the ramparts are the walls - 'battlements' was what I was looking for..." Ros closed his eyes and sagged as the announcement came. "You've got a while to go until you get out of there, so here's an easy one!"
The host raised his voice as a hissing noise started up, and the two flamingoes glanced nervously around for a moment before fountains of thick white foam began spilling into the cauldron from nozzles on the cave walls. It shot upwards in arcs before floating down towards them, and they both wriggled as the bubbling stuff stuck to their gunge-covered feathers. "What kind of people gather in a coven?"
"Witches," Ros said immediately, leaning to the side as he called up to the ceiling to avoid getting a beakful of foam.
"Yes, that's two now!" The flamingo boy grinned as his right answer was announced and the foam receded, wiping across his eyes and giggling helplessly as he saw the state of himself as well. Zavi twitched as another brief downpour of gunge slithered from the dragon prop above him as he came around, shaking his head as the slime crawled down his chest taking blobs of the thick foam with it.
"Okay, let's slow things down a little here," the host called as the spinning cauldron began to come to a stop. Ros laced his fingers together and ran his hands up from his beak over his yellow-stained head, pushing away the coating of slime. Hesitantly, he glanced up as the movement creaked to a stop, his shoulders shaking helplessly as he saw the open maw of a dragon head looming a foot above him.
"Ros, a question just for you this time - what's the name for the large family of bats that doesn't use sound to see in the dark?"
The avian stared blankly in the sudden silence, his beak slightly open as he distractedly slipped his fingers around each other, the green goo dripping in strings from them. He gasped as a deep clock noise started up from somewhere above him, and shook his head quickly as Zavi grinned silently opposite him.
"No? Then I'm sorry - you're getting the shower!"
Ros squeaked and covered his eyes as a belching sound covered the host's last word, just as a torrent of lumpy beige slime spewed down from the prop above him and splattered wildly out from his head. He squawked and wriggled forward, just the black tip of his beak visible through the slop as it domed out from him, then ducked his head out of the downpour and grimaced as the goo slithered around his neck, forming two beige fingers as it crept down his chest. As the flood slowed, the movement of the cauldron started up again, and he held his dripping arms out to the sides as the gungy lumps splattered down on to the plastic next to him.
"Okay, that didn't go well - 'fruit bats' were what I was looking for! Zavi, maybe you'll have more luck..." The elder of the two avians looked up at the dripping mouth as he was carried around under it, still laughing at the state of his partner. He blinked as a couple of stray lumps slithered from the plastic dragon's teeth on to his shoulders.
"Zavi, give me the traditional name for a carved pumpkin!"
"The... what?" he asked back, looking up at the speakers and blinking against the coating of gunge slithering down from his head.
"It's got a common first name in it..." the host prompted as the ticking noise started up again.
"Oh - Jack-o-lantern!" Ros called, pointing forwards at Zavi as the answer came to him.
"Yeah," Zavi repeated up at the ceiling, jiggling one knee as the ticking noise continued.
"That's right, we'll give you that third lantern - but Zavi was meant to answer, so gunge him anyway!"
The elder avian gasped just before the flood of gunge enveloped him like it had to his partner a few seconds before, the shape of his head and hunched shoulders just visible as the soupy downpour splurged off them to smack against the plastic seating. He bowed his head down under its weight, making the gunk flow off his forehead and fall into the pool forming in the middle of the cauldron with a sick-making glooping noise.
Ros tucked his legs a little further away from the downpour, beginning to laugh awkwardly at the sight of his partner getting covered as he scraped his hands down his arms to brush the remains of the same gunge off them. He wobbled to the side as the cauldron began moving again, carrying the beige-coated Zavi out of the gunk flow, and raised his just-cleaned arm to defend himself, turning his face away as the receding downpour of lumpy slime spattered across him.
"Okay, you've got three right now, you're close to your escape!" the host's voice came again as Ros came out from under the drizzling remains of the gunge flow, squirming as a couple of lumps splattered over his head. "What do snakes use their tong..."
"Wauuuugh!" Ros gave a high pitched squawk as a coiled rubber snake fell from the ceiling right into his lap, madly slapping at it to knock it forward. He breathed heavily with his hand over his chest as it dropped into the bath of glop that had collected in the centre of the cauldron, and lifted his gungy feet out, wriggling his toes before squeamishly dipping them back in.
Zavi's shoulders shook in a silent laugh as he looked down at the toy snake bobbing in the gunge, then gasped as a pair of columns of dark and light green erupted from the nostrils of the dragon head next to him, leaning away on one arm instinctively before he was carried around into the goo. As the deep green slime poured over him he raised his hand in the air against it, laughing helplessly as the next downpour splattered through his fingers on to his head.
"What did you say?!" he called up to the ceiling blindly with the gunge forming a smooth hood across his head, then shook himself and brought his forefingers up to drag them out across his eyes.
"What do snakes use their tongues for?" the host repeated through a laugh.
"For... tracking scent," Ros answered before Zavi got his breath back, picking blobs of the beige gunge off the end of his beak.
"Correct, you've just got one more to go..." A fourth lantern blazed into life on the wall of the cave, with the spent gunge nozzles all now drizzling a constant rain of slime across the two flamingoes.
"Finally, to get you out of there - what's the name of the slime said to be formed by spiritual energy?"
"It's... it's...!" Zavi stuttered, the word escaping him as he ducked under another shower of slime. Ros looked on with an anxious smile as he tried to remember, twitching himself as the movement of the cauldron sloshed the pool of slime over his lap.
"Ectoplasm!" he shouted as he remembered, looking tensely up at the ceiling, then punched the air as the fifth lantern lit up, sending beads of thick slime splattering against the wall behind him.
"That's right!" the host confirmed with a laugh, and the two avians whooped and leaned forward to slap their hands together as the movement of the cauldron stopped. A pouring noise emerged from the ceiling and a huge curtain of white gunge blocked them from view before the lip of the cauldron poked through it.
"And it looks like you're getting some of it yourself now...!" The host stood with the two fox girls as the cauldron gradually emerged from the cave entrance, the white gunge coating everything as it went under it. The shape of Ros's beak emerged from the downpour first as he faced the direction it was moving in kneeling on the seat, and he shuddered and shook his head as he came through the curtain coated almost entirely in white. He squinted through the gunge drizzling from his forehead, a gape of shock on his beak as he stayed frozen, feeling the ooze crawl down him.
Zavi put his hands up as he came through the curtain of white slop as well, forming a brief window in it before it began to ease off behind him. The elder flamingo pinched his beak and rubbed the gunk off his face, then stood up and sloshed through the cauldron that was now filled to waist height. With a grin, he put his gungy arm around his partner's shoulder again, and then reached over to hold his hand in the air, looking over as he smiled embarrassedly at the cheering of the audience.
The two vixens watched with their hands over their mouths to disguise their huge smiles at the gunged flamingo boys as the cauldron finally clunked to a halt. The sudden stop made the collected ooze in the cauldron slosh out of the front and splatter on the studio floor, prompting a scream from the front row of the audience as the pair of them held on to the lip for balance. As they turned around to sit down next to each other, the host came forwards with the fox girls.
"Ros and Zavi, that was a great performance!" he laughed along with the girls as they both ran their fingers through the mixture of gunge on their feathers, leaving furrows behind where their pink color was only just visible. "You were in there for ninety-two seconds, although I bet it felt like longer - Tiffany, are you happy about having put them in instead of you?"
"Definitely!" the brown fox exclaimed, looking up at the dripping Zavi as he stood up in the middle of the cauldron, the layer of white gunge crawling down over the yellow and orange he was covered in. She stepped forward as he leaned down as if to speak to her, then she screamed as he reached his arms down, clasping her waist and hauling her upwards.
The fox girl screamed incoherently as the avian leaned back, pulling her up the edge of the cauldron, and her panicked squeaking became a shrieking laugh as she and Zavi splurged backward into the pool of mixed gunge. She paddled with her arms madly to keep her face above the surface as Zavi went under, the surface buckling and glooping behind him. As he emerged from the gunk at the opposite side of the cauldron, grinning as the goo poured and trickled off him, she splashed the gunge at his partner, who put an arm up to defend himself.
The host smiled and turned to the remaining dry vixen as she smiled nervously up at him. "You know, Sira... I don't think that we can let them gunge your partner and not you, so if you wouldn't mind coming with me..." The fox giggled and yelped but didn't resist as the host took her in his arms, and he lifted her up above his head as he approached the cauldron. As the slime-covered Tiffany turned her attention to Zavi, Ros slithered around and put his arms out, pulling her into the gunge as well as she flailed her legs, splattering gunk in all directions.
"The four of you - I can't imagine a better way for the show to end..." the host said as he retreated from the vat of gunge. The splashing finally died down as Sira got her balance and the slime-stained foxes put their arms around each other. "Sira and Tiffany - for all that, let's see what you're taking away with you tonight..."
Dragon Den was thought up as the final game of a game show called Fright Night, where the winners got the chance to win big in return for daring to brave the gungy den - that, or they could choose to send the losing team instead!
This story features a pair of contenders of a species I've never written before, who were very much inspired by this picture - http://www.furaffinity.net/view/7127859/ . Their names 'Ros' and 'Zavi' come from a loose interpretation of the Russian word for 'pink'.
That's right - I set myself up with the choice of gunging two fox girls and sent the boys in instead, so I think this means I'm now gay. Thanks a lot, Furaffinity! ;)