A HAXXORER'S TALE
Hear now my story. It is all a truth. It is all a lie. Once upon a time, a few weeks back...
Strange dreams of prospecting, crusading and combat had haunted me in my sleep for many months, but I wasn't sure of the reason. Some nights I awakened suddenly and cried out, terrified at the vivid recollection of the strange and powerful creatures that seemed to be lurking behind every corner of the dungeon I was in in my dream. As each night passed, I felt a greater and greater desire to enter the mysterious caverns near old ruins far to the east. At first I pushed the thought out of my mind, remembering all those adventurers who had gone and never returned. Eventually, my mind changed. I was really sick and tired of being a geeky programmer so I prepared for adventure and chose to take my life into the Depths of Doom...
- Was there a cat following you by any chance?
Funny you should ask... At first, no. But, on the way to the dungeons I met this Samurai fellow...
'Twas a long and arduous journey... I had only taken a backpackful of food with me and a dull butter knife to defend myself with. By the time I reached the High Steppes, the knife's blade was bent beyond recognition.
It was there that I was charged upon by a blood-thirsty, savage, horrendous, unnatural giant mouse! I thought my final moment had come and ran for my life! Because my dexterity was only at 12 then, I of course tripped after two steps. Before the mouse could devour me however, this cute little kittycat leaped in from the woods by the road and promptly vanquished the Evil Rodent.
The samurai dude came to the scene as well following his cat. He helped me back up and as he found out we were heading into the same place, he offered to travel with me. The rest of the journey to the Dungeon was much easier. He even gave me his old katana, having gotten a new, enchanted, shiny one then. He taught me some basic swordplay on the evenings before we went to sleep...
- What did the cat look like?
*snaps out of story-telling mode*
- *repeats her question slowly* What did the cat look like?
Er... He was mostly white, I guess. Green eyes. Maybe 62 cm from head to tail? The tail had a gradient and ended as black.
You know... a cute little kitten. May I proceed with the story now?
- But the looks of the companions with whom you travel are important, aren't they?
Why would they be? It's not like we even knew each other for longer than twenty days or so. Do you want to know what the samurai dude looked like too?
- Dunno... Only if you feel compelled too, the cat was my main curiosity. Please, feel free to continue.
The samurai guy wore a dark silk mask so I can't say much of his facial features, but he was a big, strong dude and he wore splint mail. Spoke with a weird accent. He had a really neat pony tail which I took an instant liking to and ever wanted one for myself since.
So... *switches back to story-telling mode*
He didn't only teach me how to use the blade, he also told me about Bushido, a code of honor he followed. Anyway, after a time we reached the fabled Dungeon of Doom. The entrance was in the middle of dark, murky forest. A foreboding hole-in-the-ground... After resting over the night, we descended together... Myself, the dude and his cat.
+ Was it dark?
- *listens to the story, deciding to try to interrupt as little as possible*
Ooooh, more audience! :D
At first it was so dark I couldn't see where I was going! More than once I stumbled and tackled the samurai guy down. It didn't take long for us to reach some level ground after descending down and it wasn't so dark anymore, which was a good thing since he was getting really annoyed with me. Most areas were lit up magically, I guess. The dungeon wasn't exactly cheerful anyway...
We went on to explore the dangerous caverns. It was easier than I had thought, there were no dragons or undead or even giants at first, just some animals. Defeating the few newts and lizards was good practice for me. I was a bit disgusted when the samurai guy said he was hungry and ate one of the lizards I had killed. At least I had anticipated the lack of food and brought a backpackful.
So we charged on and gradually found a way down. After an hour or so we found this really incidious trap. As we stepped on a strange floor plate, a boulder rolled at us... the samurai guy pushed me out of the way but was sort of flattened himself. It was pretty scary, so I quickly went over to see how he was. He wheezed something that I should not come any closer. As I bent down to check on him, I heard the click again and had barely enough time to stumble off the way as the boulder rolled back and over the samurai a second time. I was really getting panicky so I rushed back to the dude. He was really not feeling well, since he apparently tried to cut my feet off with a light swing of his blade. I of course jumped off the way but landed on the floor plate again and, well.
Ahem. That was the end of my samurai friend. Crushed by a rolling boulder. Thrice.
+ That was a devious trap to reset itself like that.
Now that I think back to it, it seems somehow amusing.
The cat decided to follow me after that accident. There was no going back anyway. I did try to find the exit but got lost and soon found myself in a set of mines, with gnomes and dwarves rushing about. They weren't at all pleased with my presence so a couple came up to me and started grunting. I couldn't understand a word they said so I just nodded. The gnomes seemed pleased and turned to go away when the cat suddenly moved up and bit the other one on the heel.
The next thing I knew, there were some twenty dead gnomes and dwarves around and the cat was having a feast. A couple fortunate ones had escaped and told their friends of the psycho cat and its owner. Few by few they tried to assault us as we moved on, but I was getting the hang of bladed fighting and the kitty was a huge help.
So little by little me and the cat cleared out the mines, including a strange minetown along the way. Not a single soul left alive. Sometimes I'm so tough I scare myself. The cat too, of course.
At the bottom of the mines, we met a horrible mind flayer! Its tentacles flailed around as it lunged at us... I stood fast, looked it square in the eye and prepared to unleash the cat on it. When I pointed at the monster, the cat blinked, turned and fled, leaving me behind. I didn't like the flayer's sardonic grin at all, and so I ran for my life too. After darting around in the mines for some time, I managed to lose it, and could sneak back to find the treasure it had been guarding. A bunch of pretty gems and a silly grey stone which I didn't bother taking with me before climbing out of the mines. The cat rejoined me halfway through.
Am I boring you? :\
We spent the next few days fighting our way down the dungeon. At first everything went just fine and we got along well with the denizens of the dungeon, they really aren't all that bad when you get to know them. Then we found another trap... Or the cat did, anyway.
He sort of polymorphed into a little dragon. After that, the going got slightly rough. He still considered me his master... and ate pretty much everything else.
Progressing on, we found an Oracle meditating amid fountains. I used my charisma and the Oracle agreed to tell me everything she knew about the dungeon for free. The ex-cat dragon ate her before she could say anything more however. I was getting really fed up with the dragon so I splashed some water from a fountain on him.
A water demon appeared and said he'd grant me a wish but my stupid dragon ate him before I could wish to be teleported out of the dungeon. I had little choice but to move on with the dragon still following me.
- *bites nails*
A day later the inevitable happened and I fell down through a trap door. The dragon was thankfully left behind. I fell for what seemed like ages... Then I hit the floor and skillfully rolled to my feet, having had quite a bit of agility training by then.
Then, lots of boring stuff happened, but basically I moved on alone, fighting monsters. Found a few scrolls which all enchanted my katana a little.
I accidentally wondered through a magic portal and found myself in a grove with elves all over. We had a pleasant chat and I spent the night there. The elves asked me to help them recover an artifact a hobbit had stolen from their queen, so in exchange for their kindness I agreed. I went to some tunnels inside a nearby mountain and eventually found this huge spider. Seems it had eaten the hobbit and was sleeping happily, digesting the meal. The hobbit's equipment was lying around the cave so I salvaged everything I could, including the artifact the elves had wanted. It was a strange phial, filled with something looking like the light of stars...
Of course, when I picked the phial up, its light woke the spider. I really don't like spiders so I just ran out with the thing following me, broke through the elves' encampment ignoring their cries, and darted into the magic portal just as the spider was thundering into the grove.
I'm sure the elves appreciated my thoughtfulness since destroying that spider must've been worth quite a lot of experience points, which I selflessly allowed them to have.
- *voice trembles* That was kind of you...
Back in the Dungeon of Doom, I descended further with the Phial lighting my way. Not too long after this I found an altar. There was an acolyte pacing around it, and he told me it was an altar to the Lady and if I wanted to, I could offer a donation to their cause.
He was shorter than me and looked really scrawny so I gave him a shove and told him, "I'm a mighty programmer! I don't pay for nothing!"
He got upset, drew himself up to full length and flexed his muscles, ripping his robe apart. That was when my dragon caught up with me, luckily. The Lady must've been on my side as the dragon then choked trying to eat the acolyte so I didn't have to worry about him either anymore. The dragon fell on the altar and disappeared in a puff of smoke. Apparently the Lady had decided it was good enough for a sacrifice so she appeared before me in a brilliant flash of light and made an offer I couldn't refuse.
+ And what offer was that?
She said she was looking for a nice new necklace and told me if I brought her this little bauble called the Amulet of Yendor, a completely useless and not at all magical trinket, she would make me her champion. It seemed like a good deal so I agreed.
The Lady then touched my forehead and a crown of light formed upon my head. She took my katana, kissed it and handed it back to me. Then we had some tea. Finally she hugged me goodbye and a golden aura surrounded me.
After that it was all too easy. I named my blade Swiftseeker, for it was wondrously light and easy to swing. I even developed some 20xhit combos and used them to a great extent.
+ Wow! Can you still do that?
*looks rather pleased*
Wellll, my skills have rusted a bit since then, due to some unavoidable misfortunes... But, I can still go up to 7x without any effort.
*draws Swiftseeker and does a few demonstration moves before sheathing it again*
Before long I found one humongous cavern. The walls must've been two hundred meters apart and the ceiling at least thirty meters high. There was a disquieting mist all over the room. I traipsed on with the Phial's light cutting through the mist, guiding me. In the middle of the cavern I found a set of stairs going down, but the terrible mind flayer I'd met before was standing there in guard!
Its bloodshot eye glared at me and its tentacles whipped around in anticipation of imminent battle. This time I didn't run away, as the beast was upon me before I could even turn to retreat. It bore down on me with definite hostile intent and struck me down. My katana was knocked out of my hand and I was lying on the damp stone ground defenseless. As the flayer jumped on me to finish me off, I held up the Phial protectively. A brilliant beam of light ensued blinding the abomination and I could quickly retrieve Swiftseeker and fall down the stairs.
Dashing on I cleared a few more dungeon levels before discovering an underground marsh. The smell was rather repugnant. There was a small lake too with crystal-clear water, and an island in the middle of it. A small fortress stood on the island and there were several statues all over the place, some partly sunken into the swamp. There were so many statues in fact that I could jump from statue to statue all the way to the lake. There on the beach was a boat and a very pathetic-looking creature was sitting in it. It had webbed feet and glistening yellow eyes. It wanted to play a game of riddles with me but I bribed it with a fish ration from by backpack and it agreed to row me to the island.
There was a cheesily hidden door on the side of the small stone fort, and I could crash inside without much effort. There were the stairs down, again guarded. A not particularly wholesome lady with snakes for hair was sitting on the stairs, meditating. I coughed politely and she noticed me. After exchanging greetings we entered into a philosophical discussion about the existence of good and evil over a cup of tea. After a pleasant hour I bid her farewell with a word of advice to at least occasionally go splash some water on her face from the lake outside. Waving bye I descended the stairs.
Lower on I breezed through a castle and through endless labyrinths and busted lots of evil critters, including a number of major demons. Then I found this subterranean tower with some vampires living in it. I sneaked in, found a dark figure on a throne at the top and challenged it to a fight. Next thing I knew, it had bitten me. Then it asked me why I was there.
When I told it I was just going to get a new necklace for the Lady, it blinked and started rolling on the floor laughing out loud. I courteously waited for it to get up as it wouldn't have been honorable to smite a helpless opponent. The vampire told me I was too pathetic to be killed, so it gave me a strange candelabra instead and sent me on my way with its best wishes.
A rather nice person now that I think about it.
- He bit you!
Actually it was a she, as I later found out. Yes, she bit me. So?
I worked my way further down the labyrinths and found a subterranean fortress. This one was inhabited by the infamous Wizard of Yendor himself. First I had to answer three questions for this demon who was guarding the entrance. I had no idea what the mean airspeed of an unladen swallow was but he let me pass anyway.
There were plenty of monsters there but I finally reached the top of the fortress. The Wizard of Yendor was there and he said he had been waiting for me. When I explained to him the purpose of my journey, he smiled and told me to have a seat. We proceeded to chat a bit about the weather and some general aspects of magic, including bothersome multi-dimensional beings tampering with the ether. He told me some really lousy jokes which I laughed at out of courtesy and then we had some tea.
I asked if he had the Amulet of Yendor since he was the Wizard of Yendor. He replied that he had grown tired of adventurers coming along to kill him for the amulet so he had given it for safekeeping further down the labyrinths, otherwise he'd have given it to me since I had such a good sense of humor. He gave me a papyrus book and sent me on my way with his best wishes.
If you hear evil stuff being said about him, don't believe it. He's really a cool person in reality.
Let's see. I was getting -so- fed up with the labyrinths I acquired a few level teleporting scrolls and suddenly found myself as low as I could go, in the depths of Gehennom. After wandering around for an hour, beating minotaurs and hellwyrms, I felt a rumble under my feet. The Wizard had told me what I was to do when I found the right spot.
Among the possessions of the devoured hobbit had been a bell. I now knew it was the Bell of Opening. I also had some candles with me. It was the big moment... I attached the candles to the Candelabra of Invocation and lit them. I read an unpronouncable passage from the Book of the Dead. I rang the Bell of Opening.
There was a great upheaval as the floor collapsed. I fell down ten meters or so and landed in the most holy sanctuary of an Outcast Cookie God.
- Outcast Cookies can't do anything. People don't worship them. [an Outcast Cookie is a regular non-sentient edible cookie]
Of course they don't worship Outcast Cookies, they used to worship the God of Outcast Cookies. Not anymore, obviously.
- The god of outcast cookies? *bursts into laughter* You're kidding right?
No, I'm not. Now listen and it will be made clear.
The whole sanctuary was full of demons and undead and acolytes... Bravely I drew my katana and charged on, confident that the force of light would carry me through the hordes of monsters undamaged. They really whupped me. Then they all left to have a party, leaving me for dead.
I just happened to be wearing an Amulet of Life Saving, and once they had gone, the amulet began glowing and radiating warmth, restoring life to my trampled form. I got up and made a plan.
All the monsters were having a ball in the large chamber ahead. In the middle of the chamber was the Scionic Superbly Sacred Shrine of the OCGod. I knew the Amulet of Yendor was there so I had to get in somehow. The plan I came up with was so unbelievably stupid, it could but work.
I walked straight up to the big cave. Everyone went quiet and they stared at me. I said nothing, just stood there and eyed them as coldly as possible. Then one of them noticed the bitemarks on my neck I had gotten earlier and laughed, "He's undead now! Join the party, man!"
I grinned and nodded to the monster and everyone went back to partying without paying any further attention to me. I made my way through the crowd and into the Shrine. There was a marble pedestal and a cookie was lying on a delicately woven silk pillow on it. The High Priest of the OCGod was there having a pleasant conversation with a nalfeshnee when they saw me come in.
"You are violating the sanctity of the Shrine of the Outcast Cookie God!" the High Priest bellowed moments before I unleashed one of my 20x combos on him and the nalfeshnee. He had been wearing the Amulet of Yendor, which I then lifted off his remains. Just to show them I was not anyone to be messed with, I then took the cookie from the pedestal and ate half of it with a leer.
When I walked out of the Shrine, I held high the cookie half. All the monsters there turned to me, forgot about their ball and cried in fear for I had just munched half of their god. I promptly stuffed the rest in a pocket, grabbed Swiftseeker and awaited their response. No one moved, no one blinked. Then the whole Cult of OCGod rushed at me in fury and this time I didn't have any Amulets of Life Saving with me since they only work once each...
- An Outcast Cookie as God, that's absurd! What idiots would worship something that isn't even alive?
I never said they were too bright.
As wave after wave of enraged worshippers poured on me, I thought it was the end of my road. Then something surprising happened.
You remember the samurai dude who got crushed by the boulder three times? Seems he had turned undead. He had finally caught up with me and now he wanted to kill me for some reason. The other monsters told him they would have their way with me first and then he could keep what was left. They started quarreling and it didn't help any when a bunch of really angry elves found their way in a minute later. Not only them, but following close behind was an army of gnomes and dwarves who had come to exact revenge on me, while I had but defended myself and the ex-cat was really the one to blame.
Chaos broke out and I was allowed some room to breathe but I still couldn't break through the mob. Luckily I didn't need to, as the kindly Wizard of Yendor popped in and told me he'd give me a hand. Then he sort of whacked me with his staff and I was level-teleported straight to the castle in the middle of the dungeons.
I made my way toward the surface but was stopped on the third highest level of the dungeon. The berserk mind flayer from before blocked my path obviously having found a purpose for its life, trying to defeat me. This time I felt powerful enough to take the offensive. First it knocked my katana away, then as I held up the Phial it was bashed out of my hand as well. I was sent sprawling on the dungeon floor and the barbaric beast loomed above me, gloating haughtily. I quickly went through my pockets and my hand found something which was to serve as my salvation. The flayer noticed my hopeful grin and froze in dreading anticipation.
I pulled my hand out and threw the half-eaten cookie at the flayer. The cookie struck the flayer with pitiful force and crumbled away not even tickling the monster. The flayer blinked and really started laughing. After observing the manic creature for a few minutes I picked up Swiftseeker and the Phial and left, leaving my nemesis rolling on the floor.
After that it was easy enough to proceed to the exit of the dungeon. The exhilaration of finding the way out was undescribable. I climbed up the dark hole, holding the Phial for light, and finally reached daylight again! I had barely enough time to breathe in deeply once, when I realized the Amulet of Yendor I was wearing around my neck was getting really uncomfortably hot. Next thing I knew, I was transported into the Elemental Planes.
+ Which one?
It was very dark where I ended up in. There was stone and dirt all over, and a little cave in which I was. It was the Plane of Earth.
Some elementals approached me. Big, ugly and dumb, made of solid Earth. Bravely I drew Swiftseeker and prepared for battle. Then twenty or thirty of their friends formed from the walls of the little cave. I wasn't concerned about whether I would survive or not, but hacking up two dozen piles of rock might have dented the katana, so I decided to retreat.
I busted straight through the cavern wall and burrowed my way away following my instincts. Soon enough I found another little cavern and there was a faintly glimmering pink magic portal there, which I quickly entered.
Next I found myself floating in the Plane of Air. There was a huge cloud mass ahead of me and the wind was terrible. Even worse, there was no sign of land anywhere! I looked really silly trying to swim ahead but gradually found the portal onward.
Then there was the Plane of Fire. I had found a pair of dragonskin boots in my expedition so it was a piece of cake dashing over the lava lakes. Again after a while I found the pink magic portal and moved on.
I really had no idea what I was doing then. I just hurried on and hoped I'd end up somewhere safe. Only when I found myself drowning in the Plane of Water did the purpose of the planes cross my mind. I was clearly headed to the Fifth plane, in which supposedly the lesser demigods dwelled.
This thought reminded me of the promise I had made to the Lady, and as it now seemed quite difficult for me to fulfill, being busy drowning, I quickly offered a prayer to her. Somehow I ended up in an air bubble and survived. I sat down and watched the water masses outside, now and then seeing a kraken or a giant eel. It was kind of like looking into an aquarium, only the other way around.
After waiting a few hours, another air bubble came to view and it floated nearby, joining the bubble I was being bored in. In the other bubble was the magic portal. It I entered and was awestruck, beholding the unfathomable mightiness and majesty of the Ether.
It was really awesome standing there. It was like a huge shrine built of marble slabs and there were tall pillars everywhere, and everything else was void. Space, emptiness, darkness dotted by myriads of stars. The Ethereal Plane.
There was an Angel standing next to me and before he could say anything I had beaten him down, having an adrenaline rush. There were official representatives of every major deity there and they all seemed to agree that I was weird and didn't belong. There was this shriveled-looking guy there too, I gave him a few food rations I had left. He just stared at the rations I had given in wonder.
There was a really pestilent-looking fellow too, whom I gave a healing potion and a few gold coins. Then there was this guy wearing black robes who had a scythe and a Very Heavy Voice. Seeing as he was already quite dead, there was nothing I could do to him except offer my condolences. He also just stood there, gawking at me.
The other people weren't quite so passive. There must've been something like a thousand times thousand of them all wearing more or less white robes, and they all wanted to kick me out. I had to get past them since the Most Holy Shrine of the Lady was behind them so I wielded Swiftseeker and sort of wallowed through the crowd.
Finally reaching the Shrine, I entered, slammed the door shut and barred it. Catching my breath I had time to look at the inner Shrine. The mandatory High Priest who obviously couldn't care less what was going on outside was sitting in a comfy chair in a corner. He was reading something called PlayAngel and just grinned at me when I approached.
- Is this going to get scary again?
I asked the HP if it was the right room for a sacrifice to the Lady. He nodded and pointed at the heavy-duty stone Altar in the center of the shrine. "Help yourself."
So I went over and slipped the Amulet of Yendor off my neck. At that instant the door I had barred was battered down and a legion of Angels and Couatls and Aleaxes and Kirins and Archons all tried to come in at the same time, resulting in the whole entrance wall getting demolished. The High Priest of the Lady yelped and hid behind his comfy chair.
I ignored the rowdy bunch and placed the Amulet of Yendor on the Altar. A deadly silence fell over the Shrine. The angelic forces behind me were waiting for the outcome, not daring to move.
"Hear me, O Lady!" I shouted. "Here's that new necklace you wanted!"
Escorted by a chorus of gasps, the Lady herself materialized in the Shrine. She graciously granted me a smile, glanced at the others daring them to move and slowly, purposefully strode to the Altar. She picked up the Amulet and placed it around her neck. Her smile vanished for a moment.
"My darling Champion", she then purred. "Did you let the Wizard of Yendor touch you when you were bringing this back?"
Well. Turns out he had swapped the real one with a plastic imitation back in Gehennom when he whacked me. What a killer practical joke!
The Lady didn't quite agree with this as every single creature in the Ethereal Plane beside me and herself started rolling on the floor laughing out loud. A few rolled off the sides and fell into the void, but at least they had fun while falling.
The Lady was really furious, totally scarlet, as she ripped the plastic amulet off and crushed it.
"Anyway", I said, inching away. "'Twas nice meeting you, but I've got pressing business to attend to, so..."
The Lady then started casting lightning bolts and raining curses on me. I lost most of my skills right away but the Wizard of Yendor appeared again and teleported me back to this realm. He then shook my hand and told me he had never had such a good time so he had figured to be fair and save me. He gave me a parting hug and left. I started my journey back home, still carrying the wondrous Swiftseeker and told my story to everyone who came along.
The mind flayer placed a bounty on my head realm-wide, but so far it hasn't had luck in tracking me down. As far as I know, the Cult of the Outcast Cookie God did defeat all the elves, gnomes, dwarves and my undead samurai friend. After the fierce battle the surviving cultists had forgotten what it had all been about in the first place. Now they're known as the Brown Knights and they worship Chocolate Sprinkles.
The not particularly wholesome lady with snakes for hair was found a few days after my departure, a statue staring at her reflection in the crystal-clear lake. The vampire who had bitten me was one of those dark masters, all too common these days. She's sent me to retrieve a few things for her since but all in all she's been quite friendly and I'm looking forward to serving her after I die. When last I heard of the Wizard of Yendor, he had fallen to a coma after eating poisoned chocolate apparently sent by the Adventurers' Committee who had gotten enough of his practical jokes.
Also, eventually I did make up with the Lady. I had to go on a few quests to appease her but in the end she decided to forgive me.
And then we had some tea.