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It’s weird floating above the tunnel like this. I can see incorporeal undead, wraiths and ghosts and whatnot. They notice me as well, and try to attack, but they can’t get as far up as me. They hit some sort of invisible barrier and angrily chitter at me.

I have broken the dungeon’s limits and they are super jealous they cannot get to my level. Cry harder, your ghost tears are delicious! When the susurrus gets annoying, I liberally spray them with my hot wizard goo, and I get blasted with ghost steam. It has an odor I really can’t describe. It’s bad but also sweet. Like a fart full of perfume? I try to not breathe it in, because it is gross, and I worry what it may do to me.

How high up can I go? I bounce up and up to see if I can get a better view.

There are multiple levels, giant elevators with enormous chains, pits full of spikes and monsters, and all sorts of weird machines. I see one area that is full of giant boulders. It makes me think of pinball machines for some reason. I am in a relatively high section, I think, but I am not sure where the exit is. Is it up or down? If I assume boss rooms are larger and towards the back, then I need to head away from the bigger rooms. But there is also the trend to have gatekeeping bosses in games, too, right? So maybe I need to go near a boss room on one edge?

I’m trying to ponder this as I go and the stupid ghost things are getting annoying again. Time for another shot of vitamin WIZARD! I think I need to pause and mess with my almighty user interface. Surely one of these windows will save me from the predicament of my limited supply of napkins and clothing.

Oh yeah! There’s a map window! I should probably look at that. I forgot about that. I can’t believe I forgot about a window as useful as that. I sure do have egg on my face, except the egg is tears and my face is still my face.

The tears are actually from relief. Really. I’m happy about a light being at the end of this tunnel. I look at the map, and sure enough, I see the entrance clearly marked. This couldn’t have been any simpler.

This map shows a sewer area beyond this dungeon maze. There’s also a temple to elder evil gods, and a separate area corrupted by demons. In between those two areas is a battleground where those two factions battle each other.

This zone is confusing. I didn’t think you could have multiple factions show up in a dungeon like this. The battlefield area also is marked for open player versus player combat. I don’t want to go there and deal with any of that mess. I am a lowbie weakling, I have no combat skills! Please ignore my arena record. And my murder score.

Back to bouncing through this void. A few times as I make my way through this weird area, I see other boss rooms. Goo for sewer undead! By murdering these bosses, often while they look kind of dumb in some hiding spot I can easily see from outside their room, I manage to get a shield, some boots, and a belt. While I am technically getting clothes, I feel like my wardrobe is going in a strange direction.

The boots let me teleport in short range. I have to stamp my right foot in a direction to teleport that way about ten meters. It’s only horizontal movement, but it is still kind of neat. If I stamp my left foot, I teleport back to my previous position. It’s a fun toy. I can’t use it while bouncing on air springs, though. Air springs feel good. Real good. There wouldn’t be any war if everybody could bounce on these. My ankles and knees feel better from using them.

The shield gets left behind, since I can’t access my inventory and I have no idea how to use a shield well. The belt gives me a bonus to reloading ranged weapons, and that is lame, but it is still a belt.

I really can’t say enough good things about bouncing on air springs. Everyone should try this. This is my new favorite magical technique. I am the bounciest, flounciest troll the world has ever seen! Sometimes, at the point before I bounce, when the air compresses to launch me up again, I flood the area beneath me with more goop, making it look like I am blasting it out of my feet at the undead. It tickles a little, and helps make sure I don’t breathe in their gross death-fumes.

I keep going like this, when I realize it has been about ten minutes since I last needed to spray anything with my goo. Someone else has cleared this area! I should be on the lookout for people! Specifically, I should hide from them as I am dressed like a super pervert.

A little further along I find a boss room with the sounds of battle. How exciting! The area has slowly been transforming from a metalwork horror background to a dank sewer. There’s a pipe with a grate on it up high I can spy out through.

This boss room is close to the entrance. In fact, I don’t see any way to get around this boss room. How did they get me past it when they brought me in? Maybe this dungeon does have respawns. Or maybe they had some other method of moving through the dungeon.

I peek out of the grate and see an enormous undead crocodile knight fighting. Sometimes, he screams out ‘Tailstorm’ and spins like crazy all over the room. He’s so big I can’t see who he’s fighting.

The zombie-ish crocodile roars loudly, shaking the walls and then collapses. I think they won after he finished that last round of spinning? This vantage point kind of sucks. Maybe after the spin he becomes more vulnerable. Oh, I can hear talking.

“Piece of cake with stalwart players such as you two. No wonder you’ve been disappointed by your arena battles, Rhynn.” That sounds like the arena manager. What was his name? I remember he was skinny, and I think he was an orc. I might be wrong about that, though. I still can’t see them, but my friends are down there! I want to yell at them, but I have a feeling I should just listen to this conversation before rashly giving myself away, as I am still dressed like a pervert.

“Cut the shit, Alba. We’re not in public, there’s no need to role-play. We’re in and there’s pretty good odds nobody is spying on us in here. Who do you think kidnapped the furball?” Rhynn is no nonsense! He just wants to rescue me. I can feel our friendship leveling up right now.

“Sorry, Warden. My best guess is one of the radical factions. There’s rumors this dungeon has been used by the Nihilist Imperative. Kidnapping someone in Twilight and waiting until they become a Ravager so they can toss them at a city sounds like something they would do. All I have right now is speculation.” Alba’s tone sure changed. And did he just call Rhynn a warden? And these terms he’s using… Am I in Twilight? I don’t know what that is.

“The Nihilist Imperative is mostly stealth players, so it makes sense we would have issues collecting evidence of who it is if they’re behind this. I think my idea to be an arena team fucked us up, chief. We shouldn’t have taken the furball to the arena. It exposed him too much, and got some weird groups interested in him.” Podlihob sounds less monotone than usual.

“I was hoping it would draw out a player who knew him. Fuck! There’s just no information on him before he showed up. He can alter fucking reality at a whim and thinks he’s just casting cantrips. It doesn’t even register as magic when he does it. Worse, he might actually be changing the system. Who knows what kind of Ravager he could turn in to? Shit, I’m still not entirely sure if he’s even a player.” There’s a loud boom. Sounds like Rhynn just punched a wall in frustration.

My head feels weird.

“He’s got too many of the memory issues of Twilight, but there hasn’t been a single symptom of becoming Ravaged. No physical changes in months. Hell, I caved his face in at one point, and he healed it like it was nothing. Like he hadn’t taken damage at all, just had to play the damage animation and then reverse it. If the Nihilists manage to release a Ravager with that as a base, this shard is fucked. Reboot the whole fucking thing, and the player base is not going to be happy about that. This is one of the most popular shards, even though it’s designed like a basement-dwelling Dungeons and Dragons nerd tried to write a book report on racism.”

“You aren’t wrong there. If you had told me I’d be doing anything other than sipping Mai Tais on the beach in the system I would have called you a damned liar. But here I am. Trying to protect my family because this shard feels the most real to them, and we all want what we can’t have.” Alba sounds bitter.

I hear all the words that are being said, but I’m not sure I understand what they’re talking about. They’re worried about me turning into something, but I don’t remember them ever talking about that. Maybe they did, and I forgot? My spine feels like it has rats crawling in it.

“Nobody wants Earth 2.0. Reminds them too much of what we’re missing. Even the resort shards are empty most of the time. Everyone wants to escape to reality, but they can’t have that. Everyone wants a piece of this place, or they unplug and enjoy oblivion. Delrubian had the right idea with getting players to design a collaboration shard, even if it feels like a bad LARP session. The only other shards doing well ripped off that idea.” Rhynn’s voice is getting faint.

I think they finished looting the alligator boss and are leaving. What do I do?

I can still hear their voices, but I can’t make out the words anymore. I sit inside that pipe with my head spinning. Now I hear only the drip of water, and nothing else.

1 Comment

  1. zavyyn

    Zav doesn’t even know how to drive. SAD


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