A high-octane, action packed, CYOA, mythical tale, set in the realm of Twelf Kingdoms.
Almost forgot to post this one . . . This is something that I quickly put together over the course of 2 days, for my latest endeavor. This video game project of mine turned out to be the biggest mistake of my life. Thought it would make a difference, but it didn't. Nobody was interested in it . . . After a lifetime of misdiagnosed autism and dyslexia, mental and physical poverty, and self-sacrifices, I thought it could be still possible to escape all this horror. I was naive to venture on this journey, as I knew what was coming, way before it happened. But I believed in this so much, that I put everything aside for two months, and created the backbones of my ambitious project. However, I'm not saying all this just to provoke some sympathy: these are just the hardcore facts of life, my reality; as always. All I can do now is to pretend that everything is OK and go finish watching "Dave made a Maze" (hits some personal notes, this one).
1. The Endeavor - 333
The time has come. You have felt it in your bones as long as you can remember. You want change: a whiff of fresh air, new challenges, and an adventure. You spent hours-upon-hours debating whether you should do something that is expected, or something that you want. And here you are! You took the biggest leap a person could possibly take. You have chosen. The path that you took, will lead you to your next journey. Magic, myths, intrigue, treasures, wonders and beings of all kind are waiting for you to discover! You are after a life changing experience, and you want to seize the opportunity. However, it is going to be a long journey . . . But you are prepared, and ready to fight. Your sack is full of salted meat, dried fruits, a loaf of bread and some hazelnuts. Your arming sword is sharp as ever, and your waterskin is filled with freshwater, from a nearby river that originates from the Northern Peaks of Ort. You know what you want, and you want it now. But your destiny awaits you, and you cannot say no to that! You look back once more, and leave your tiny village behind, to start your biggest journey ever!
This old map, that the last innkeeper gave you, seemed to be of no use. You simply cannot decipher the gibberish that is on the parchment. You become full with bitter regret: for the money that you do not own anymore, and for being lost. You find yourself at a dilemma: Which path to take? Should you choose the one that climbs up the hills, and goes through the Dark Woods? Or should you take the one that is more safe, more gentle, and passes the warm plains of matured wheat? Or should you choose the one that promises to guide you to the land of the forgotten?
This is quite the big decision to make, no doubt about that. You seem to recall a conversation, with a bartender, that how people are afraid of the Dark Woods. It is said that evil spirits roam around, and hunt down the living, just to carry their soul to the other side. However, you praise yourself for being more earthbound than the common folk, especially around here. Sure, you jump when you see a black cat, or throw some salt over your left shoulder when you manage to spill it, but you sure do not believe in things that you are not drawn to . . . Then there is the question of whether you wish to face the war torn North, or head towards the “unknown”, the land which–supposedly–does not exist. Tough decision this is! Or you thought: A voice inside your head tells you to take the last route, as it is your destiny, your true calling. Seems like a bad idea, but having no better options, you stick to this "plan", and you pick up the pace . . .
3. The Homestead - 76
You start to feel sick. Something in this, wherever this is, makes you feel ill. You still think that this is just a dream, and you wish to wake up. But the more you walk, the more things you see that are from another world. The trees seem to move and whisper to each other. The flowers, the bushes, the weeds, all seem to bend in your way. You get the feeling that someone is watching you. You hear sounds and noises that question your sanity. But you march on, with ever greater steps. Soon you arrive at a small cottage, neatly tucked behind a small hill. You see light inside, so you choose to knock on the door. No-one answers and it opens up on its own. You trip on the high doorstep and you fall. You stand back up, just to find yourself next to a being that you associate with a childhood story: the Bearing Ox. Or at least you think that they mostly fit that description . . . The situation shocks you: not a single breath escapes your body. But they speak to you, even though they are showing their back,
“What.” “What now. Speak up!”
They are still busy putting their freshly picked herbs away. You let out a small moan.
“What? Can't hear you!” “Carol. Is that you again? Don't make me turn around, or I swear . . .”
But they do turn around, before you are given the chance to escape. The eyes of the ox open wide.
“Yoke . . . hey yoke! Have a look at this one.”
They lift you up like a feather and carry you to the dinner table.
“Yoke, look at this one!”
You try to escape, but their grip is way too strong.
“Leave us Berg. We’re busy . . . can't you see?”
“But you've to see this!”
“Rose, Dain, Sam, look at it!”
“Wha-a-a-a-t . . . Leave us!”
“Go to bed Berg, you’re wasted.”
“And pay up Rain, I won this round!”
“Whatever Rose . . .”
The ox is about to give up, when Rose finally looks up.
“Wait-wait! Who's that?”
“How would I know?”
“Did you ask?”
“No . . .”
“Can they speak?”
“Are you sure? Look, they're frightened to death. Put them down, right now!”
“Told you. No buts. Just-do-it.”
Your feet touch the ground. Suddenly, you collapse from the fever that you neglected thus far.
4. The Tattooed Elf - 29
“No. It's a human. And no. I'm not going to.”
“I said no.” “And take that thing away from me!”
“We shouldn't have come here!”
“Berg . . . he’s the only one who can help them . . .” “Kal. You must do something! They're shaking of a fever I've never seen.” “They won't make it till sunlight!”
“All the better!”
“How could you say this, you good for nothing.” “Let me have him, Rose!”
“You'd want that now would—”
Suddenly, your skin starts to turn livid, and incredible pain creeps up your arms. The old elf finds your pain amusing.
“I know what this is . . . The damn fool got poisoned by a Dusk Lilac.”
“And how can we help them?”
The elf just smiles and opens their arms.
“Do something, you old fool!”
The elf laughs. “I can't. Nobody can. It's over for them. Just drop it and leave it somewh—”
“Listen up you,”—Berg grabs the elf by their collar—”I know you're hiding something, you snake! Speak up quick, or I'll throw you into a ditch!”
You try to say something, whilst lifting you hand, but the pain pushes the air out of your lungs.
“Berg . . . Berg! Leave him. I think I might know someone who can save them. Let that bastard go. We've no time to waste!”
The ox growls, but eventually puts the old elf back into his seat. Rose picks you up and heads towards the exit. Suddenly, Kal stops the both of them, before they could leave the house.
“The Old Bark . . . Find him.”
5. In Wheels of Time - 583
You wake up in a bed of moss. It is a bit cold, a tad wet, but nonetheless comfortable. You barely feel any pain, and your fever is almost gone. You hear a rivulet, gently flowing by, and songs of birds, bees and of other animal's. You feel the warmth of the Sun, and the gentle smell of nearby flowers. You realize that you are not the only one around. You start to hear some nearby chatter, so you decide to pull yourself up. You lean over the roots of a nearby tree, to have a better view of what lies ahead. You cannot believe to your own eyes: You see a tree that is conversing with a small bird, while a rabbit, a bear and an elk are waiting for them to finish. You have no idea who these beings are and why do you see them, or as a matter of fact, how did you get here. You still think that this nothing more than just a dream, and want to wake up. However, the symptoms that you experienced, told you otherwise . . . You wish to stand up, but your weak legs refuse to cooperate. You slip on the roots of the tree and bruise yourself on the shin. You grasp your leg, while you yelp. You pull back to your comfortable bed and try to endure your newfound pain. Suddenly, a small apple lands not far away from you. You look up, but you only see leaves and branches; not a single apple in sight. You start to think that someone has cast a spell, as red apples just do not fall from the sky. You examine the fruit, but it seems to be nothing out of the ordinary. Then you hear a giggle or two, closing on you fast.
“They like it, they hold it; mystery unfolded!”
You turn your head around, but there is nothing to see, as far as you can tell.
“Looking up, and looking right. Curious little bright!”
The situation starts to feel unpleasant. You wish to know, without hesitation, to whom the voice belongs to! But then a ball of fur lands on your head and jumps to the side. You look at the being with stone cold stare. The rabbit imitates your actions, just to mock you. But they quickly break the staring contest and roll onto their back, with tremendous joy. You try to reach for the rabbit, but they keep hopping away. They just taunt you, to their greatest pleasure. You become really upset and want to end the game, when an old branch grabs you on the back, and lifts you up into the air.
6. Grand Tree-226
“Leave the poor soul alone. They’ve gotten through plenty already . . . and we've other things to discuss.”—the branch gently puts you down—“More pressing issues.”
“What did the winged one say, Bark?”
“News of great worries. Something is—”
“Hey! What's going on? Who're you people and why I am here? Am I hallucinating?”
“Calm down human. And no, this isn't a mirage . . . But maybe I could do something about that . . . I just need to—”
Suddenly, the tree starts to burst out in fierce anger, loud like a thunder and strong like the ocean, “Hold it right there! Has the world gone mad while I was asleep?” “All of you, fall in line . . . I don't want any more of this. Our lives are at stake!”
Their voice mutes your ears and makes it difficult to hear. But you manage to make out the gist of it.
“Yes old one?”
“Take Bee and Thibaud with you, and go find the mouse . . . you know, my-my old friend . . . His name was . . . I-I don't know—”
“Hello? I'm still here you know!”
Bee chooses to throw some berries at you.
“Thank you my friend . . . Ah it was Ulricus . . . I suppose.”
“And what should we tell him?”
“Tell him about the coming wind, the passing storm. Ask if he knows . . . why the balance has gone off. Why the stars are moving their homes.”
“And what about the human? They can't stay here!”
“You're right Thibaud, as always! And thus, you shall carry them with you.”
“You mean me? I'm going nowhere! I don't even know where this is!”
“They're your responsibility now.”
“Me and my big mouth . . .”
“Hey! I'm still here you know.”
“Obvious and yet oblivious!” “Mouth is wide, where ears are tight.”
“As you wish, Bark.”
“Now hold on for a moment. What's going on? What's this storm and ocean thing his saying?”
“I think Thoë should carry them!”
“High in temper, suits you best!”
“Bee . . . If only I could catch you.”
You wish to continue your argument, when you notice, that other beings are fleeing from the forest. They say nothing, just run as fast as they can. The small bird flaps their wings and warns the others before flying off, “Wolves!”
“Quick! Go now, you all must hurry!”
7. Sveinn the Formidable -19
You cling to the back of the veteran elk, and pray for your life. You hear desperate cries and howls from angry wolves. Your newly found friends keep their lips sealed and do not say a word. You managed to drop into something much bigger than yourself, which intimidates you.
The forest is thick and difficult to traverse. You often get hit by a lone branch or falling debris. You finally start to realize that this isn't a dream: this is real, as real as it can get. You see how everything moves, breathes like something that has a soul. However, they are all frightened, lost and disorganized. Most of them are trying to escape, while others are hoping to fight.
“Where are we going? And who's this Ul . . . whatever their name was?”
“Shu-shut up human. Don't . . . give . . . us away.” “You're . . . already speaking too much.”
“The country of Eos.”
“See, Old Fart . . . even the rabbit is more helpful than you. Even though, she's a bit of a loony.”
Thoë then halts the group, “We rest now, until we can't.”
“I-I can run more!”
“Of course you can Thi. You can barely speak between two breaths.”
The elk drops you off and you land on your side. Bee laughs at you and joins her friends. You feel better, and now can properly stand up. But your full energy is yet to come back. You feel hungry and you search for food. You quickly find a bush of raspberries and start eating from it, without hesitation. It tastes sour, but it is more than you have. You still hear the distant voices of others, which makes you somewhat uncomfortable. You are half way through the small bush, when a bunch of leaves hits you in the face.
“How dare you eat my garden, you filthy thief!”
You quickly wipe off the last fragments of raspberry from your lips, “Excuse me, what? Who-who said that?”
“My youngest sister, human.”
Three willows start to form an enclosure around you.
“Oh . . . you mean this bush? Nah . . .”
“Yes that one!”
“Apologize to her.”
“Or we fed you to the wolves!”
“I see . . . Um-hey, Old Man. A little help here, please!”
You quickly run out of luck, as they are simply too far away and cannot hear you. Instead, the mob of willows slowly entombs you. You fight with every inch of your might, but it is of no use. They grab your body, with no mercy, and wrap their branches around you. They are about to squeeze the life out of you! Their grip is strong, painful, and makes you scream. Once more, you find yourself in a pickle. You are about to be crushed, when they stop without a word. You hear great rumble and a deep shout. The trees release you at once, as someone, or something pulls them out from the ground. You see them flying high, as you land on the ground. They scream, shout and wiggle, as they try to fight back. They try to break free, but the being is far more vicious. It is all over rather soon. You hear Thoë's voice, as she runs up to you, “Are you in one piece, Are you safe?”
“I-I think so . . .”
“What a relief!”
“Who was that?”
“My best friend . . . Sveinn, a giant. Now let's move, quickly!”
8. City of Vasata-107
Three weeks of seemingly endless traverse lead you to this place. The land just disappears ahead, and drops off. Another wonder perhaps . . . But all you can think about is to sit down and rest your tired legs. Weirdly though, you recall the memories of the swamp, where the Basilisks live. Which still gives you the shivers, as it reminds you of another painful memory: where you got your silver scar. Then you remember the lush gardens of Bhaskar, where music, wine and dance flows like a never-ending river. Where you spent days eating, drinking and laughing it away, not knowing anything worse than the life of a royal's. Or the Pits of Fate, where the Gray Goblins live, and where your most valuable possession comes from: a magic talisman, which you—let us just say—borrowed. But you are not going to reminisce forever, as Bee and Thibaud bumps into you.
“You're slacking again, human.”
“Yep, Old Man.”
“Stop calling me that, you prick!”
“Why are we keeping this one safe? Remind me again, Bee.”
“We made a promise, and we shall keep it!”
“Thought you'd say that . . .”
“Besides-besides . . . They're like trumpet vines! Growing left and growing right. Climbing up, clinging tight. Pleases one's heart, inside their mind.”
“In what way?”
“They nag you, they prick you, and try to feed you!”
“Very funny . . . Fur Ball.”
You all burst out in laughter, while Thoë is quite busy with her thoughts.
“Are we ever going to reach this mouse, or whoever we’re trying to reach?”
“Show some respect to the Grand Ulricus! One of the eldest of the Twelf Kingdoms!”
“Oh sorry. Skipped my master's class a couple of time . . .”
“Funny human, always to be!”
Thibaud shakes his head and turns away.
“Thank you Bee.” “Hey Thoë! When are we going to get there?”
She acted as she did not hear the question.
“Listen human . . . We're lost . . .”
“What do you mean ‘we’re lost’?”
“Exactly what it sounds like. We-are-lost.”
The bunny flops on their back and gives it a good stretch, “Honest of words, he just said.”
“No we're not.”
“So you're saying is, that for weeks, you had no idea where we supposed to go?”
Your blood starts to boil as you think of all the horrors you went through. You are somewhat overreacting the situation, as there were plenty of memories to cherish. You start a fight, and argue about the importance of not telling you this “small” bit of information. This went on for a couple of minutes, when Thoë had enough. She shouts at you, “This way!” and disappears at the edge of the cliff. Bee hops off within a moment, and the both of you follow suit.
You slowly descent to the Great Canyons of Vasata, where the Ern Lizards live. The hastily carved steps and the narrow, windy roads seem all but not safe. But all of your troubles eventually vanish, as the immense view of the landscape expands in front of your eyes. The buzzing town of Sagang, carved into the cliffs, proudly stands above the depths of Vasata, while birds and all kinds of winged creatures come and go, into the cave of docks. But that is not all! The closer you get, the more exotic odors you smell: fruity and hot spices, golden coffee and tea of the prickly kind, Oryp tobacco that clouds your mind, herbs that heal your wounds and enrich your spirit, and plants that forces you to tell the truth or whisper you to an endless rest . . .