Curtharv made a discord link for everyone interested in game ideas. Once again, I'll post something more concrete after finishined book2
With the door closed behind them, Nat and Jonas found themselves in a room with two tunnels.
“I guess this is where we part ways.” Nat observed, her face falling slightly.
Jonas gave her a warm smile as he wrapped his hand around hers, “It’ll be find Nat. We’ll pass this trial together, even if we’re far apart. Come on, I’ll take the left tunnel since you’re always right.”
Nat reflexively laughed at his little joke, and the two let go of each other’s hands and walked down their respective tunnels.
Gran and Will stared up at the hill in front of them. They stared at the massive boulder at the bottom of the hill. They stared at the words on the ground.
“Make the rock stay at the top of hill.”
Gran face planted into his hand, “Seriously, this is kind of unoriginal isn’t it?”
Will shrugged, “Still hard, rock big.”
“Damn, this really is a test of will power isn’t it?” Gran revealed a sarcastic smile on his face as he patted Will on the back, “Come noble beast, let’s get this started.”
William removed Gran’s hand, “Not beast, beast-man. Difference.”
Jare and Falcon scratched their heads as they found themselves in a massive arena.
“Huh, this wasn’t here last time I looked. Last time it was a horde of undead.”
Falcon shrugged, “Maybe the dungeon improvised since it’s fighting up on the surface. What do we do now I wonder?”
As if to answer his question, a stone floated up with words on it.
“Defeat thy foe, leave this place.”
“I don’t see anyone here though, except your ugly old face.” Jare remarked, then frowned, “Hey, that didn’t come out right.”
“Oh I don’t know, your mouth has always been bigger then your little beast brain.” Falcon added. He also frowned, “Well isn’t that odd, I always thought that . .no wait I didn’t mean to say your are a complete idiot . . .uh oh.”
Jare began to tense involuntarily, “Hey piece of crap teacher, what’s going on? You going senile over there?”
“I’m eccentric, not senile.” Falcon retorted angrily, “Anyway, I think that stone is affecting us, you forever single herbivore.” He paled, “Oh crap . . .”
“WHAT THE NINE HELLS DID YOU CALL ME?!” Jare roared as he immediately beast-out in anger and lunged at the magus, teeth bared. Falcon dodged and rolled across the ground, his face contorted in anger.
“Calm down now you fool! Don’t make me put a leash on you!”
Falcon and Jare both paused again, Falcon’s face turning deathly white while Jare’s muzzle began to steam up. The rising vapors began to spread over his entire, muscled, harry body.
“Oh double crap.”
“EAT YOUR FLESH!” Jare’s world turned red as he flew into a worst battle-rage he had every felt in his life.
Meanwhile, in the room of resentment, Fiora and Anhel were slumped over unconscious on the floor. The single room had a single, azure fire torch on the wall, which sent hypnotic light everywhere. Fiora, her eyes twitching, began to sleep talk.
“No, don’t leave me guys. It wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t my fault.” A single tear rolled down her face from her right eye.
Anhel’s face was contorted in a mix of fear and anger, and he growled as his hand swiped at the air.
“I will not submit, I will never submit.” His hands tightened as fur began to grow over his hands, “You dam imperial monsters!”
Nat walked down her path through the darkness, her hand using the wall as a guide as she made her way.
“I hope everyone is doing okay.” She prayed in her heart, “We all need to succeed.”
As the wall turned abruptly, she found herself staring at a far off light in the distance. She winced, as the light was too bright for her eyes, and shielded them with her left hand as she walked toward it.
When she entered the light, the world changed around her.
Nat blinked as she walked into her home, a small cottage placed next to the woods. She looked at the familiar chairs and decorations. Her eyes fell on a magic picture, taken . . .when had the picture been taken?
As she began to frown, two hands wrapped around her.
“Hey there beautiful, how’s my favorite girl today?”
Nat grinned and pulled the arms closer, “I’m feeling wonderful Jonas, how are you love?”
Jonas laughed and spun his wife around, “I’m doing great! You brother and I made a killing on that last quest, and I even managed to haggle a bonus from the client.” He waggled his eyebrows, “We are having meat tonight with all the trimmings.”
Nat giggled as she played with his chest, coyly, “Oh? What of the little one inside of me? I don’t think we should enjoy any meat until he has come.” She patted her rounded belly happily.
“Wait, where is my sword?” Nat asked, confused.
Jare waved a hand in front of her face, “You okay Natalie? Don’t you remember? You left your sword with Nathan so you wouldn’t be tempted to practice with the baby. Is this the forgetful phase of pregnancy?”
Nat punched him playfully, “Oh you jerk, there is no such thing. Now come on, I feel the need for some vegetables and river clams.”
Jonas winced, “Oh, so this is the weird eating phase then.”
“Oh be quiet you big oaf.”
“Heave, heave!” Gran and William muttered as they pushed the stone up the hill for the umpteenth time. The stone was everything, it was their only reason to live.
“Ah, looks like it rolled down again.” Gran sighed as they watched the boulder roll down the other side of the hill, “Oh well, time to push again.”
“Rock is life.” Will nodded his head.
Gran slapped his back, “I couldn’t agree more, old friend. After doing this with you for years . . .” Gran frowned, “That’s not right, we’ve only been in here for a few hours. We’re in a dungeon.”
William also frowned, “Mission, save town.”
Gran frowned, “These trials are dangerous; they even affected my mind and sense of time. So this is what the test of will is, to not only overcome the trial but to also not fall into its trap.”
As they approached the stone again, Gran gave it a closer look. He recoiled in shook, “Dear forest, this stone is made of bones and dirt.”
Will sniffed it, “Adventurer.”
“They let themselves get run over.” Gran realized in shock, “They became so obsessed with the rock and the job they joined it forever.”
He took a step back, “These are trials of death, meant to way down on the soul until the person willingly gives themselves up to the dungeon. Even the strongest adventurer would suffer to mind and soul attacks like these if he was unstable in the slightest.”
“What now?” William asked.
“We need to succeed, that has never changed, but we need to look at this differently.” Gran stared at the stone, “If this is not real stone, then I may have a plan.”
The battle between Jare and Falcon raged on, the two fighting each other with hate in their eyes.
“Firestorm!” Falcon roared as a tornado of flame burst into life and shot toward the beast-man. Jare’s image faded as the tornado hit him, his afterimage destroyed by the flame. Falcon raised his left hand behind him, forming a shield to block the blow from Jare.
Jare growled and disappeared before the shield burst out in an electrical wave. He hit the ground and blurred into multiple forms, each charging toward Falcon
“DAMNATION, I TOLD YOU BEING IN MORE THAN ONE PLACE AT A TIME WAS EASY!” Falcon roared. Jare just roared back, his mind too dim to communicate properly.
Falcon gnashed his teeth, “Whraaa, this getting annoying. Thankfully, this spell of rage isn’t as bad on me because I’m not real person, but I really do want to rip his throat out.”
He paused and floated up out of reach, Jare roaring angrily as he ran in circles below, “Wait, how can a mind affecting spell affect an illusionary construct like me? I have no mind to affect except for the magic link to my main body.”
He pondered, “Oh, I get it now.” He plopped his fist into his palm, “I just needed to burn off some of the annoyance I felt toward my former pupil. Well, since I did that, I guess it’s time to finish this battle.” He grinned madly as he floated back down, “Ah well, I guess I always wanted to feel what dying felt like.”
He held out his arms widely as he called out, “Come and get me boy!”
Jare lunged in for the kill.
Nat lay with her husband under the stars as they watched the night sky together. She cuddled up to him, “Dear, I always wanted to do this with you.”
Jonas chuckled, “We do this every night, what are you talking about?”
Nat smiled sadly as she got up, “This has been a dream come true, but I swore long ago to never let my heart be controlled again. That already costed me some of my life; I can’t afford to give up any more for a beautiful fantasy.”
Jonas’s smile became uneasy, “Natalie, are you okay? You’re not thinking of anything bad are you?”
She smiled down at him, “Even if it was a false dream, thanks for the memories.”
She reached her hand down and grabbed at her waist, pulling up nothing as she swung her hand down into Jonas’s forehead.
The world shattered, and Nat found herself in full armor standing over a skeleton, her knife in its forehead. The skeleton seemed to grin, before fading away into dust. Nat blinked back the tears in her eyes, then turned to looked around.
The room she was in was small, with a single red torch. Word glittered under it.
“Take this flame to the door. Passion is not only within large acts of battle and love; it also exists in the small things. Never think that small acts of passion are worthless.”
Nat nodded, reaching her hand to the torch. When she touched it, she found Jonas standing beside her. The two jumped back in surprise, then grinned at each other.
“We were right next to each other the entire time.” Nat giggled.
Jonas smiled sadly at her, “That’s right, we have always been together. I wasted too much time not being with you.”
Nat shook her head as she grabbed Jonas and pulled him close, “Then, don’t let me go again fool.”
“Okay William, hold it there!” Gran cried out as he ran out from under the stone. William growled as he beasted-out, his feet trembling as he held the massive stone by himself.
Gran ran around to the other side of the boulder and swung his sword out. Using the blade, he carved an indention in the rock, knocking away the bones and dirt in the way.
“Alright, it’s ready!” Gran jumped back.
William howled as he rolled the stone up onto the top of the hill. The tip of the hill caught the indention, and the boulder did not move. When it stopped, it cracked open into four pieces, revealing a green flame within. The four pieces fell onto the hill and turned into dust.
The torch rested on a stone pedestal, inscribed with the following words:
“Take this torch to the doorway. To have willpower is not only to have persistence and determination, but to have the ability to try new ways of doing things when nothing else works. To do the same thing and expect different results is pure foolishness.”
Gran and William shared a high-five as they took a break on the hill.
Jare stared down in horror as he watched Falcon slowly dissolve into magic light.
“Master Falcon, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean it.” He blubbered away, completely action out of character, “You’re, and I, I’m so sorry!”
Falcon chuckled and patted Jare’s head, “Ha ha, cough, it’s alright young one. This trial was very devious; if I hadn’t done this we would have fought each other until we both died. You did well you know, I saw a lot of lessons paid off. I’m going to have to, cough, recommend you for the A-ranked test when I . . .when we . . .get . . .home.” Falcon disappeared into sparkles of light in Jare’s arms.
As Jare wept, the floating stone fell apart, revealing a silver torch. The ground beneath it glowed in words:
“Take this torch to the door. Victory cannot be found in battle without sacrifice. Defeat sometimes is the better way to allow for further victory. Never forget what was lost.”
Jare wiped his eyes as he grabbed the torch, “I’ll make sure this dungeon pays for this.”
In the central room, the doors opened together as everyone left their rooms. Nat and Jonas carried the red torch, Gran and William carried the green torch, Jare carried the silver torch, and Fiora and Anhel carried the black torch.
Jonas frowned, “Hey Jare, where is the Magus?”
Jare shook his head in sadness, “The trial, it required a sacrifice. He gave his life for me, and let me pass the trial when he could have easily killed me.”
They all bowed their heads in sadness. “Damn, these trials were really messed up.” Anhel growled as his foot stamped into the floor, “I did not want to live through those memories again.”
Everyone nodded as they described their experiences. Anhel and Fiora were curt in their explanation, but vaguely reference living through traumatic memories.
Gran nodded his head in understanding, “These trials were designed to break one’s soul.” He pointed at each torch, “Through happiness, through confirmation, through depression, and through anger; these were designed to appeal to the soul in the most devious of ways.”
Fiora frowned, “It’s strange though, those words in the end, it was almost like the writer was trying to teach us lessons. But,” She gestured to the entire room, “Why would a dungeon care about teaching adventurers a good lesson?”
“I think,” Anhel began, “Like this room, those trials were not originally part of the dungeon. It may have added its own power to make them like they are now, but they were meant for something else originally.”
Jare scratched his head sighed, “This just gets more mysterious the longer we stay in here. Come on, let’s light the door. For the town, and for Magus Falcon.”
“For the town and Magus Falcon.” The other 7 people in the room agreed.
The torches were brought to the door, and their flames were sucked inside. Four colored patterns appeared now on the door, each overlapping the other as they fused into a single formation. The door cracked open, and the wind whistled out.
“Come on guys, it’s time to go.” Jare’s eyes scanned the 7 before him and nodded as he turned.
He paused and turned back around. He counted again, and blinked.
“Why are there two Jonas’s?”
Everyone turned to look over at Nat, who had a Jonas on either side of her. Nat herself looked around and began to twitch her eye.
“It was bad enough the father was named Jonas too, but now there are two of my Jonas’s? Am I still in the trial?” She was starting to feel the need to freak out.
The Jonas on the right grinned as he changed into Falcon.
“You guys miss me?”
With a resounding ‘Pop’ sound, Nat punched the magus right in the balls, followed up with an uppercut to the chin, and then slammed her elbow into his chest. The old man stood no chance and fell to the floor in agony.
Jare, his face angry now, picked up the magus and growled at him. “What’s was with the dramatic moment if you weren’t really going to die?”
“Oh, I was trying to talk but the connection got cut before I could tell you. So, I made another body and waited for you guys out here.”
Jare put his hand over his face and calmed down, “We are going to have a talk later, and you will take your punishment from everyone. Right now, let’s just solve this problem first.”
The Magus shrugged, “By the way, we better hurry. It’s not looking so hot upstairs.”