August 25 2021

The Box with No Soul – by PhoenixWolf – narrated by Asclepius

 

Here is another great story from PhoenixWolf, entitled

The Box with No Soul

Background music by Smartsound

 

Destiny tapped her pen mindlessly while she talked on the phone. One of the residents of the mental institution had run away just over a day ago, causing quite a stir. George, the escapee, wasn’t a difficult person. He took his medications without complaint, did everything he was asked to do, and never caused trouble with the other patients. 

 

It was a shock to his orderlies and doctor when he managed to escape and  got stopped by police over 100 miles away. 

 

“Okay, I’m sending someone there to pick him up. He should be there in about two hours. Will that be okay?” 

 

She continued to tap the pen, an anxious gesture. She wanted to spread the good news that they found George, and that he was coming home safely. 

 

“Okay, thank you, sir. Please call me if anything comes up. Yep, you too. Goodbye.”

 

She pressed the receiver button to end the call, then immediately dialed George’s doctor.

 

“Dr. Steele, this is Destiny. I just got off with the police officer who has George.”

 

“He’s not hurt, though he’s a little out of it, and may be going through withdrawals from his meds. Otherwise, he’s not hurt and is being cared for until we can get him picked up.”

 

“Yep, I’ll call you when he gets here. You’re welcome, doctor.” 

 

___________________________________________________________________________

 

George sat on the shady bench, his hands wrapped around a tiny brown paper wrapped box and held close to his chest. He hadn’t said much to the police officer, Sgt. Lee. He was finishing a phone conversation with someone at the mental institution. He knew he would have to go back. The thought of that fact made him shudder.

 

“Hey, are you hungry?” Sgt. Lee said. “Some people are coming to get you, so we have some time.”

 

“Yes,” George said, looking cautiously at the officer’s equipment belt. “Are you going to put me in handcuffs?”

 

“That’s up to you. Are you going to run away or fight me?”

 

“No. Can I have a real hamburger?”

 

“Okay, we can do that,” the officer said, gesturing toward his car.

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

An hour later, George finished the last of his meal. The diner was nice, quiet, and cool. He still held the small box carefully. Sgt. Lee watched George stare intently at the box.

 

“That box must be really important to you,” Sgt. Lee said.

 

“It is.”

 

“What’s in it?” 

 

“My soul.” George said, hesitation drawing the words out a little.

 

Sgt. Lee raised his eyebrows. “What’s it doing in a box?”

 

George looked him in the eye, “It’s there for safe keeping.” 

 

The sergeant thoughtfully considered George before he spoke again.

 

“It’s wrapped like a gift. Were you wanting to give it to someone?”

 

“An angel,” George said, a little sadness showing in his eyes. “But I couldn’t find him.”

 

“Angels can look like anyone, how would you know who to look for?”

 

“This angel carries a sword and a shield.”

 

Sgt. Lee took a sip of his water and settled back into his bench. “There aren’t many people that walk around with swords and shields,” he said.

 

“No.”

 

George looked back down at the small box. It felt heavy in his hands, but it was also very warm and comforting. He felt tired. His efforts to keep the package safe had been difficult, especially after leaving the institution. He had met plenty of people over the last 36 hours, none of which had looked right. Now, his time seemed to have run out. 

 

He looked at Sgt. Lee, his badge looked a little like a shield, but it was so small, and he didn’t carry a sword. Did he miss something? Were his prayers in vain, causing his search to be fruitless? Doubt gnawed at him. 

 

Sgt. Lee sniffed and wiped his hands on his napkin. “It looks like your ride is here.”

 

George suppressed another shudder, but still stood up from his bench and walked out of the diner as Sgt. Lee walked behind him. The orderly who came for him opened the car door for George. He got in without saying a word, his actions felt heavy and final as the door closed. The orderly exchanged information with the police officer for a few minutes, then got into the car and began driving toward the highway. George looked back toward the police officer, but he was already gone. 

 

____________________________________________________________________________

 

Destiny was still working at her desk when George walked through the doors, escorted by the orderly. He kept his eyes down, but made quick glances at the other residents who were in the foyer. He looked like he carried a heavy burden on his shoulders.

 

“It’s good to see you’re okay, George.”

 

He nodded, his eyes focused on a little scuff mark on the desk where Destiny tapped her pen. 

 

“He does have something that needs to be checked in,” the orderly said. 

 

George tensed visibly, but shook his head jerkily. “It’s just an empty little box,” he said with a sheepish expression.

 

“Well, we still have to inspect any packages that come through, even little ones,” she said apologetically. “It will only take a minute, then you can have it back.”

 

He shook his head again. “No, no. It’s okay, it’s empty! See?” He said, shaking the little box for her to see. 

 

“I wish I could just let you keep it, but I have to follow the rules and make sure nothing is in there,” she said.

 

George took a step back and cupped the box in both hands. “No, I can’t let you open it. It’ll get away!” 

 

The orderly spoke calmly as he closed a little space between George and him. “George, it will be alright. She just needs to make sure there isn’t anything that can hurt someone.”

 

George backed away a few more steps, the orderly followed him slowly.

 

“That’s all I need to do. It will be quick, and I promise to put it back together again,” Destiny said.

 

“No, you can’t, I’ll die!” George said. 

 

George’s expression became more frightened when a second orderly approached him from behind and placed a hand on his shoulder. “Come on George, we’re here to help you. We’re not going to let you get hurt or die,” the second orderly said, his voice warm and relaxed.

 

“You can’t help me anymore.” 

 

Without warning, George threw his shoulder against the second orderly, knocking him off balance. He turned to run back toward the entrance doors when the first orderly wrapped his arm around George’s waist, stopping his escape before it even began.

 

George’s screams of protest rang through the foyer and halls, echoed by the other residents. A male resident who was sitting in the foyer dropped to his knees, his face turned upward and babbling as if toward heaven. Two other residents began crying with their faces buried in their hands. 

 

One of the orderlies wrestling George tossed the brown box, now slightly smashed on one side, onto Destiny’s desk. Relieved slightly by the distraction of the box, Destiny took it and began to untie the string holding it. 

 

As more orderlies arrived to help, George continued to cry out and fight like his life depended on it. 

 

“No! No! No! Don’t open it!” Destiny could hear George yell over the cacophony. 

 

“I’m going to die! Don’t open it!” She heard him yell one last time before he was buried under the collective weight of the orderlies. 

 

She could still hear George clearly when he was half dragged, half carried away from the foyer, but the noise from the other residents hadn’t abated. She tried to focus on just the box, unwrapping the brown paper to reveal a plain white gift box, something a ring case could fit in. 

 

George’s screams became even more frantic as he was pulled down the hall, answered with equal intensity by the residents all around. 

 

She pulled the dented lid from the box, and stared, perplexed at its empty contents. At nearly the same moment, the screaming stopped. The sudden silence felt deafening to the noise before it. Destiny looked down the hallway, the orderlies now standing around the still form of George. His face was twisted into a frozen, silent scream. His skin had turned ashen white and seemed to stretch across gaunt features that weren’t there moments before.

 

Her blood turned cold when she saw the other residents. Each one, whether in the halls behind the thresholds of their rooms, had their hands pressed together in front of bowed heads, as if in prayer. An eternity of stunned quiet filled the building, the only sound to be heard was the ticking clock on the wall.

Echoes From the Caverns

Echoes From the Caverns

 

July 29 2021

3D Portal Adventure – Chapter 1

This is our first attempt at an audiovisual production. The video file is here:

3D Portal Adventure, Chapter One

Either within or without, it is hotly debated, the vast multitude of universes and existence possibilities, there is said to be a forest that exists in none of them, but it connects them all.  At the back corner of this forest between is a café where certain folk gather and socialize, with no visible impact upon their life stories…well, for the most part.  This place is the Cross Time Cafe

 

Their reasons and causes for being there vary as greatly as their number, but for a few, it is a respite from duties elsewhere.  But ultimately, duty calls, and those bound to it must answer.

 

The first to answer this call is Lady Bethelynn the White Guardian, formerly a unicorn princess of the Blue Mountain Blessing, now the proprietress of the Café, along with her great-grandsire, White Pony,

[Picture of White Pony]

 a seemingly merry and mischievous old stallion, content to live a happy-go-lucky lifestyle, in contrast to her serious tone of life.  Indeed, one would not immediately recognize them as being related, aside from their white fur.  For starters, while he was completely equine in form, she was anthropomorphic, half-human in fact, standing upright at 8 feet 6 inches.  Her forelimbs were arms, ending in hands with two fingers and an opposing thumb.  Further, her alicorn, the spiraled horn from which unicorns project their magic, was no more.  Lady Beth had been the victim of a magical catastrophe that had left her in this half-human, half equine shape.  The accident has cause her alicorn to melt, burning a distinctive scar on her forehead, leaving her with a reminder of what she believed was her guilt in this accident.  No less embarrassing, her equine mammary glands, once abdominal and fairly flat, had become human mammary glands, thoracic and anything but flat, causing her to gain unwanted attention, mostly from males.  It did not take her long to become familiar with the phrase “my eyes are up here, if you want to keep on living”.

[Lady Beth in the blue body suit]

 

No longer able to project magic through her missing alicorn, she uses a pair of bracelets of a shiny silvery metal, given to her by an arch-mage who taught her how utilize magic in her humanoid form.  Thus, did she become a warrior-mage, a protector, the White Guardian.  It is that duty that now summons her.  Away from her respite as café proprietress, and back to her duties as a protector.

[Lady Beth in armor]

 

In one the basements of the Café, Lady Beth stands before an archway, seemingly leading straight into a blank wall.  She commences an arcane ritual, and a trans-dimensional portal begins to form with the archway.  If she had hoped to do this unnoticed, her hopes were futile, for it wasn’t long before she had a small audience watching her.

 

[PGA picture 1]

Turning to her audience, she issued a caution. “You have no experience here. Now Go!! If you follow me, I cannot guarantee your safety.”

 

A boldly striped royal tiger named TigerT spoke up.  “I’d like to be of assistance, but I trust your abilities and judgement of risk. Still, wouldn’t it be more safe to take someone with you, than to go alone?”

 

A fairly leonine figure with stripes covering half his body named CatDude, who was also in the audience, climbed the stairway to stand beside her. “My lady, life has only one guarantee for me, that it will someday end. Much as I wish that day to be far in the future, the importance of life is not derived but its length, but the quality with which it is lived
You once asked us how brave we were, and I dared to say, “as brave as you need me to be.” Time for me put up.
On last thought before we enter. I do not come to follow or to lead. Be it your pleasure, please let me walk beside you.”

 

[PGA Picture 2]

Lady Beth gave a barely perceptible nod, saying  “First…I will wait here. For one hour. For you to gather your equipment and survival supplies. If you are not here this portal is closed.  Second…this is not a vacation. Or a date.  Keep your emotions in check. I need you to help protect my arsh, not stare at it.”

 

A voice from the back of the room muttered “Apparently Lady Beth has to take on a speech impediment when using vulgar language!”

 

“Understood, Lady Beth!” Replied TigerT. He ran off immediately to gather what may be of help, returning after a couple of rushed minutes with with a medium sized backpack, filled with: a few bottles of water, some high density food bars, a one gallon lightweight pot, a first aid kit, a small tent, a pocket knife, a lighter and a towel.
“I got my sturdy cargo-pants and jacket too!” he grinned, wearing a belt with a folding spade attached to it.
Donning a basecap, he said  “Okay. I think I’m ready to go.”

 

The Catdude busily donned his “Dragonscale” vest and trousers, muttering “That brand never let me down. Excellent protection with minimal sacrifice to agility.”

Then set about inventorying gear:

M-41 pulse rifle with grenade launcher, check

600 rounds ammo, 30 grenades, check

BlasTech DL-44 pistol, check. While I do subscribe to hokey religions and use ancient weapons, a blaster at your side is a still a good idea.

5 power packs, check

lightsaber, check. I’m a green blade myself.

adamantium dagger, check. Forged by dwarves, enchanted by elves, always have final backstop.

Runestone collection, check. Foolish mages may mock at runestone magic, until they run out of reagents and spell components.

Letterman multi-tool, check

multi-adaptive breathing mask, check. works underwater or in toxic gases.

first aid kit, check. It is as much for you as for me. Relying on magical healing is probablematic. I can receive healing magic from others, sadly, in my own usage, I can only heal myself.

500 meter para-cord, check

30 days energy rations, check

4 liters of water, check

a couple changes of underclothes and socks, check. Some lessons from mothers never do leave us.

Towel, check. Never leave home without one.

 

Strapping on his backpack, he met Lady Beth at the gate with two minutes to spare.–

“I know, cutting it close. Always did give my teacher anxiety that way.

My lady, about the last few things you said, I understand this is serious and I will conduct myself accordingly. I will keep my emotions in check as the Jedi have trained me to do. And I promise, I will keep my eyes where you need them.

Let us proceed.”

 

Catdude, offering a paw to TigerT for a pawbump, said “Well, mein guten Herren, I guess it’s pretty obvious who is the camper and who is the soldier in this motley crew of ours.”

 

TigerT, accepting the pawbump, replied “I’ll let you know I can wield a pretty mean folding spade, Mister.”

 

Catdude nodded “Glad to hear it, hopefully we won’t have to put it to use.

“ That brings back some RL memories from ROTC, Sgt. M ends class with “What is the spirit of the bayonette?” Class responds with “Kill! Kill! Kill!” Then I pipe up with “What is the spirit of the e-tool?  Kill! Maim! Mutilate!” Class burst out laughing, Sgt. M is not amused, orders “Class dismissed” with a “get the hell out of here.” tone to his voice. As we walk back to barracks, Cadet Okie, big smile on his face, says, “____, sometimes you have one seriously demented imagination.” I respond by reminding him of “All Quiet on the Western Front” and the use of spades and entrenching-tools there. He nods and says I’m right.–

But back to our journey.

On a lighter note, it seems our group stands at three:

A lion, a tiger, and mare.

Oh my!”

 

[PGA Picture 3]

Lady Beth casts a scornful look at the pair and says “Seriously?!”

“sigh” Alright …. T, you’re in charge of setting up base camp and food prep….. CD’s in charge of security.  This should provide us with the best arrangement of our resources.

And gentlemen… if either of you become ill or injured – – tell me immediately. As long as you keep me alive, I’m the best first aid kit you’ll ever need. But I’ll warn you now… I have terrible bedside manners.

 

CatDude earnestly replied “My lady when I am thusly geared up and attired, rest assured, I am serious. Unless that was a commentary on my punnery.

I’m pretty certain your bedside manner can’t be any worse than that Andorian nurse on Sigma Lyra-d. I mean, when does a shrapnel wound to the shoulder require a…umm…uhh, never mind.

By your command, I assume camp security and rearguard on the road.

And my lady, I apologize if an earlier remark I made sounded like I was making light of coming events.”

He ponders….CD? haven’t been called that since………

 

TigerT grinned and said “I agree – hope we don’t need the spade!”

You’ll have to excuse us Beth, but I guess puns are one thing you’ll have to bear when we travel together. 😉

(I’ll try to keep it down)

Camp and Food. Check.

It is better to stay in good health anyway, but I’m glad we have you around if that option isn’t available.

But now I’d say: Let’s not waste any more precious time.

TigerT clicked his heels together and followed Beth onto the portal stairs.

 

A noble cheetah-lioness, Mooncat, waved from the sidelines. “Have fun storming the castle…or whatever.”

 

McClaw, a white tiger in the audience, offered Beth a small device.
“I have duties here, but activating that should generate a signal I can home in on. And if there isn’t too much interference, it’ll act as a transceiver so you can request special equipment or resupply, too.”

 

A grey Chakat, Kryslin, also waved at the trio.  “As much as I’d like to join in, I can’t, for various reasons.  Have fun storming the Castle!”




[PGA Picture 4]

Just as they were about to enter, Lady Beth turned to the pair and spoke. “There’s one more thing I should forewarn you about. Unless we’re in any danger – I prefer to sleep in the nude. This armor is not very comfortable.

But if this makes either of you uncomfortable, then I will continue to wear my armor for sleep.”

 

TigerT blushed deeply, and muttered  “We.. We’re all adults here.

So.. I guess we can ignore this.

No need for you to be uncomfortable. Right, CD?”

 

CatDude responded “Dragonscale* is not comfortable to sleep in either. So however you sleep is how you sleep. My armor is also coming off at night. But if it’s all the same to you, I’m keeping my shorts on while I sleep. I know, a silly human modesty some have said I should discard, but having so much of my humanity stolen…

Also, I have been told I snore like a chainsaw, so I won’t be offended if either of you don earplugs. Although, if we’re are sleeping on the ground instead of bed, it won’t be an issue, the snoring only occurs in a bed, if I end up on my back. Maybe that’s why most complaints occur when I snooze on a chaise lounge or an easy chair.”

 

A note from your humble narrator: * Dragonscale is not to be confused with the controversial failure called Dragon Skin. While superficially similar in appearance, Dragonscale was created three centuries later when the necessary nanotech needed to make it work came about.

 

“No problem there, CD.”, said Tiger_T “I’m sure I have a pair of earplugs somewhere in my pants’ pockets.  As a half-cat you can always say you’re just purring.   I too usually go with shorts for sleep.  *shrugs* 

 

The Catdude thanked his friends for the well wishes and then climbed the stairwell to stand at Beth’s side. “Well, my lady, it truly seems to be just the three of us. Let’s go forth.”  Tiger_t also gave his thanks and joined the pair at the gate.

 

[PGA Picture 5]

 

Before stepping through the gateway, Lady Beth gave one last caution, “I hope nither of you are afraid of heights.  Where we’re going—one wrong step…and you’re bye-bye.”

 

NOTE from your Narrator: yes, the word “nither” is a word. It’s a Scottish dialectal variant of the word, “neither.”

 

“Not to worry, my lady, I do not fear heights that will kill me. It’s the heights that will merely injure me that annoy me, because if it happens, then it is time wasted healing the injuries.” Said CatDude, “Hey Tig, is it wrong of me to be amused that Lady Beth is worried about a pair of felines having height anxiety?

 

“It’s a valid concern, I guess.” Said Tiger_T, “I do not fear heights.  I just have a healthy respect for them.  I think of that as a good thing as it keeps me alert in situations where they matter. Although.. My hope is that we won’t need to climb any vertical mountain-sides, even if I do have inbuilt spikes to help keep my grip.”

 “At least we always land on our feet.” Said CatDude with a chuckle.

 

End of Episode One

Echoes From the Caverns

Echoes From the Caverns

 

 

July 29 2021

The Isle of Xee – by Xee – narrated by Asclepius

The Isle of Xee, by Xee

Background music by Smartsound

The Isle of Xee was discovered in the early Earth year 2016 by a crew of pirates and their Captain, named Xee.

Konahrik, Embys, Talimar, Reinkur and Sir Xee aboard the Dark princess locked up their manor on the Island in the Bay of Oracle Oasis and set out in search of the famed mines of gold and silver.

It was a dark night with wind blasting the sails, and swells as tall as towers ensured that the Dark Princess and her crew didn’t see the ominous island in the storm. It was then that the Dark princess crashed into an uncharted island off the coast of Xenos.

The ship lay in a wreck, smashed on the rocks and scattered on the beach.

As days passed with no hope of rescue, the crew, led by Sir Xee, began to trek the island to see if they could discover any semblance of life. It was during their scouting that they came across a dark cave leading into a cavern not far from the beach.

Sir Xee and the crew, with rope in hand, lowered themselves into the cave.

In the cave a glimmer of light could be seen as they ventured intyo an open area, where they were greeted by a winged imp!

The imp, standing in a mystic circle, smiled and introduced itself as Kruel, the island’s keeper. It explained that this island had been expecting us and that the storm drove us here.

We sat and listened to the tale Kruel weaved into our minds. We soon learned that we had discovered something more exciting than gold or silver. The island was alive with magic, and guarded a secret that would see us all prosper beyond our wildest dreams.

We took shelter with Kruel and learned the rituals which I dare not write in this journal, and will keep the secret to those that we trust.

Days, weeks and years passed as we started to settle here on the island. We brought what remained of the ship ashore and started to rebuild. Using supplies we had brought along with our tools, we soon decided to make this our home.

It was thus that the Isle of Xee was born on this day. We settled in our first built houses of stone near the dock we had built.

The great city keep we decided to build above the caverns and sealed the entrance in a crypt so that others who land on the island would not discover the secrets.

Years passed, and we started to travel the sea by longboats, finding our way by star to the nearby city of Xenos. It was there we ran into a merchant who built these flying machines called hot air balloons. We found these were a much safer way to travel between Xenos markets and the isle. It also helped keep unwanted travellers from landing on the island.

We learned from a local in a tavern in Xenos of the rich mine that we had originally searched for. Soon the crew and Xee had riches flowing back and forth to the island, and the construction of a few houses turned into many.

It was not long afterwards that the group decided to make a planned trip back to the homelands of Oracle with the purpose of conscripting more women and men into their ranks; this to help expand the hamlet into something bigger.

As the years passed more people started to hear of the wealth through stories and word of mouth, and the isle started to grow.

One night, while visiting the Guild leaders, Xee sat down with scribe Tila, who convinced him that he should look into the magic of her scrolls, promising that through the mystic arts this would allow transport to and from the isle. Xee liked magic, and was enraptured by this amazing concept; he immediately agreed to allow her to host a shop so that all may come and go at a faster pace.

In the years that followed, the Isle of Xee grew quickly and was soon a village full of life. The Keep grew from a hall into a castle. Kruel the Imp had not lied to us with the promise of wealth.

Soon every tavern was talking about this mysterious place, and many other like-minded adventure seekers came to visit the isle.

The locals of the island started to open many shops, and their masterworks spread through the land, bringing even more wealth.

Sir Xee soon became a Governor, as the numbers grew faster than imagined.

Today the Isle of Xee is 20 strong as of October 28th 524 PC

I must end this chapter here as guests are arriving soon for a feast on the island. We look forward to sharing with each other all the things we have learned.

Perhaps you who are reading this will one day live here or have already done so.

The island takes care of its own, and all that live here under its rule will prosper.

We give thanks to Kruel and the island’s magic for providing

 

—Xee

Echoes From the Caverns

Echoes From the Caverns

 

July 29 2021

The Death Cake – by PhoenixWolf – narrated by Asclepius

 

The Death Cake

By PhoenixWolf, aka Alexander Huffman

Background music by Smartsound

 

Jorib padded up the ramp into his spaceship, a white box bouncing in his hands with his excitement. Behind him a human male in his early adulthood years stood wide eyed, gazing at a large stack of green sheets of paper in his hand. Jorib didn’t have any idea of how money worked on this planet, but he figured fifty thousand units of the human’s currency was more than enough for this purchase.

The ramp closed and Jorib felt the inertia buffers turn on as the ship ascended into a safe orbit.

“Norgat!” He squeaked out as he broke into a run down the corridor. “I got it! Come see quickly!”

Jorib made excited giggling sounds as he entered the dining hall. Just as he placed the box on the table, Norgat shuffled in rubbing the sleep out of his eyes. Norgat was a short and stocky example of his species, just like Jorib. His head stalks, which usually stood straight up from the top of his head, were askew to one side, and dark lines creased his grey skinned face. The telltale signs of his most recent nap being deep and way too comfortable.

“What?” Norgat said drowsily.

“I got that human food item that I was telling you about! The confection that was named for bringing death upon those who dare eat it,” Jorib said with a dramatic wave of his stubby hands.

Norgat stifled a yawn, ‘Okay…so, what are we going to do with a deadly dessert?”

“What else! We’re going to eat it!”

“What??” Norgat was definitely awake now.

“I have prepared everything we need. We will not only brave this deadly confectionery, but survive to document its effects for science and posterity!”

“By we, you mean me, don’t you?”

“Not this time! I plan on consuming this human creation too. Just after I document your experience with it first.”

Norgat stared at his companion for a silent moment. “You just want to see me suffer.”

“No! Your physical health is important to me. How else will I learn from these humans without your expert assistance and experimentation?”

Norgat’s stare turned into a dark glare. Not that it mattered much, once Jorib got an idea in his head, he was very difficult to dissuade. Jorib started to lift the lid of the box, but its corners caught part way, causing him to struggle and grunt as he tried to wiggle it free. Norgat watched this struggle for a few moments, enjoying Jorib’s growing frustration.

Norgat grew bored waiting, he grabbed the lid with Jorib and helped lift. It came free and slid smoothly off its base with a satisfying rush of air filling the space the lid occupied. They immediately jumped back with their nose holes wrinkled at the smell that filled the room.

“Uhg! That’s horrid!” Jorib cried out.

They retreated to the furthest wall away from the open box and waited for the smell to dissipate.

“If I start smelling like that after I eat it, my clutch-mate will replace me when we get home!”

“She still hasn’t forgiven you for bringing that Durian Fruit home?” Jorib asked.

“I had to sleep in the bog for a week!”

Jorib shuddered in sympathy.

“I think the smell is mostly gone now.” He motioned for Norgat to approach the box again.

Norgat rolled his eyes, but walked up to the box again. He took a cutter tool and carefully cut the corners of the box, letting the sides fall down to reveal the contents in all their glory.

“Oooh!” They both exclaimed at the sight. The cake was dark brown, almost black. It was also very tall, the top being made perfectly smooth, with dark brown flower-like embellishments arranged around its edge.

Jorib reached out with shaking hands toward the cake, but stopped short as if touching an invisible barrier. “Wow. Norgat, feel the power!”

Norgat gave him a sideways glance and eye roll. “Okay, let’s begin documenting. What do the humans call this?”

Jorib carefully enunciated the human words, “Death by Chocolate Cake.”

“‘Death’ meaning ‘the expiring of life,’” Norgat began speaking into his handheld computer.

“‘Chocolate’ being a substance created from the offspring-seeds of the cacao tree, and ‘cake’ being a special confection of layered bread substance held together with a sugary paste. The implication of the name being the chocolate cake brings death to anyone who eats it.”

“You take all the mystique and drama out of everything! Can’t you see this is a very artifact of human daring and death-sport?”

“Your romantic fascination with human death-sports does not bode well for posterity.”

Jorib dismissed the warning with a hand wave. “Nonsense, I have prepared the antidote in case the worst should happen.”

He grabbed a tray with two glass containers filled with a white liquid from the cooler. Norgat immediately began shaking and backing up quickly at the sight of the liquid.

“Is…is that…cow milk?” He said, the look of shock apparent on his face.

“No, it comes from a different animal! The Almond. I tried it myself earlier and no profuse leaking occurred from any of my orifices.”

Norgat’s shock turned quickly to horror, “you didn’t follow safety protocol! And you sampled human food without alerting me first?”

Jorib ignored Norgat this time. Why let pesky things like protocols and assistants get in the way of true discovery?

He continued speaking, “while cow milk is the superior antidote, the almond milk should still prove adequate.”

Norgat just stared, gobsmacked, at Jorib.

“Now,” Jorib continued as he pulled a long dissection knife from the drawer, “If you would do the honors, we must make exacting dissection cuts from the center point to the edge of the cake, creating a wedge shape. We will then extract it for our first sample.”

Norgat glared as he grabbed the knife a little more forcefully than usual. He carefully lined the blade up to the cake, making sure the tip was centered.

“Carefully!” Jorib said as the knife began to cut into the upper layer of fondant.

Norgat took his eyes off the cake and glared daggers at his companion as he let the knife slide through to the bottom. Jorib nibbled on his stubby fingers in anxious horror as Norgat made another perfect cut.

“Tray,” Norgat said, as he carefully slid the knife beneath the cake slice and lifted it out. Jorib held a clean tray at the ready as Norgat smoothly transferred the four-layered slice of cake off the knife.

“Oooh!” They both exclaimed again as they inspected the pristine goo-marbled layers of dark chocolate frosting and sponge.

“It still stinks really bad, but it looks amazing,” Norgat said. Jorib could only nod, his mouth was agape in total, dramatic awe.

Carefully, Jorib handed an eating utensil to Norgat, never taking his eyes off the slice. This was the moment Norgat was dreading the most. He took the utensil with an audible groan and forced himself to take a bite-sized portion of the cake. His hand shook and he whined pitifully as he painfully drew his portion toward his mouth.

“Courage, Norgat,” Jorib said, “we are on the frontier of real science!”

The encouragement did little for Norgat. His hand inched toward his face, but his mouth kept moving further away. Jorib finally took hold of the utensil and Norgat’s head stalks, wrestling the cake into his companion’s mouth.

There was a stifled scream as Norgat’s eyes widened in shock. His mouth made large chewing motions. An exaggerated gulp followed a moment later.

“Well?” Jorib asked impatiently.

Norgat didn’t move a muscle, but his skin started taking on a strange dark shade, spreading steadily over every inch of his exposed body. Jorib panicked when Norgat began convulsing and turning a dark shade of chocolate brown.

“Antidote! Antidote!” Jorib grabbed the glasses of almond milk, spilling most of it, and splashed the rest into Norgat’s gasping mouth. When the convulsions didn’t stop, Jorib ran around the room in a panic, knocking shelves over and throwing things in a hasty attempt at finding something to help his dying companion.

He made it back to Norgat’s body with an armload of items in time to see Norgat’s final shudder and stillness, a foamy gurgle of almond milk pouring out his mouth in a ghastly final death sigh.

Jorib cried out in horror, dropping down to sob on the lifeless body of Norgat.

“No! Norgat! You *sob* were so *sob* young and full *sob* of promise!”

A gurgle bubbled out of Norgat’s mouth. Jorib looked up with bloodshot and goopy eyes in time to receive a faceful of chocolate cake.

He fell backward trying to wipe the deathly confection from his face and eyes as Norgat let out a hearty squeal of laughter and began rolling on the floor.

“You’re alive?” Jorib asked in disbelief as he rubbed the cake out of one eye. Norgat still just rolled around in laughter.

“You’re still alive?” Jorib yelled angrily, realizing he was now the butt of a very messy joke.

Jorib, dripping in gooey cake, dashed madly for his own fistful of cake. In a few moments, the dining hall was covered in a gloppy mess of cake and frosting as the two aliens enacted another great human tradition: the food fight.

Echoes From the Caverns

Echoes From the Caverns

 

July 29 2021

Six Short Scary Tales – by Lyla Starflare – narrated by Asclepius

Six Short Scary Tales

By Lyla Starflare
Background music by Smartsound

1. “This New Old House”, by BatoutofHell821
We bought an old house, my boyfriend and I. He’s in charge of the “new” construction – converting the kitchen into the master bedroom for instance, while I’m on wallpaper removal duty. The previous owner papered EVERY wall and CEILING! Removing it is brutal, but oddly satisfying. The best feeling is getting a long peel, similar to your skin when you’re peeling from a sunburn. I don’t know bout you, but I kinda make a game of peeling, on the hunt for the longest piece before it rips. Under a corner section of paper in every room is a person’s name and a date. Curiosity got the best of me one night when I researched one of the names and discovered the person was actually a missing person, the missing date matching the date under the wallpaper! The next day, I made a list of all the names and dates. Sure enough each name was for a missing person with dates to match. We notified the police who naturally sent a crime scene team. I overheard one tech say “yup, it’s human”. “Human? What’s human?” “Ma’am, where is the material you removed from the walls already? This isn’t wallpaper you were removing.”
2. “I hate it when my brother has to go away”, by horrorinpureform
I hate it when my brother Charlie has to go away. My parents constantly try to explain to me how sick he is. That I am lucky to have a brain where all the chemicals flow properly to their destinations like undammed rivers. When I complain about how bored I am without a little brother to play with they tried to make me feel bad by pointing out that his boredom likely far surpasses mine considering his confined to a dark room in an institution. I always beg for them to give him one last chance. Of course, they did at first. Charlie has been back home several times each shorter in duration and the last. Every time without fail it all starts again. The neighbourhood cats with gouged out eyes showing up in his toy chest my dad’s razors found dropped on the baby slide in the park across the street, mom’s vitamins replaced by bits of dishwasher tablets. My parents are hesitant now, using “last chances” sparingly. They say his disorder makes him charming, makes it easy for him to fake normalcy, and to trick the doctors who care for him into thinking he is ready for rehabilitation. That I will just have to put up with my boredom if it means staying safe from him. I hate it when he has to go away. It makes me have to pretend to be good until he is back.
3. “Guardians”, by DarkAlligator
He awoke to the huge, insect-like creatures looming over his bed and screamed his lungs out. They hastily left his room and he stayed up all night, shaking and wondering if it had been a dream. The next morning there was a tap on the door. Gathering his courage, he opened it to see one of them gently place a plate filled with fried breakfast on the floor, then retreat to a safe distance. Bewildered, he accepted the gift. The creatures chittered excitedly. This happened every day for weeks. At first, he was worried that they were fattening him up, but after a particularly greasy breakfast left him clutching his chest from heartburn, they were replaced with fresh fruit. As well as cooking, they poured hot steamy baths for him and even tucked him in when he went to bed. It was bizarre. One night, he awoke to screaming. He raced downstairs to find a decapitated burglar being devoured by the insects. He was sickened but disposed of the remains as best he could. He knew they had just been protecting him. One morning, the creatures wouldn’t let him leave his room. He lay down, confused but trusting as they ushered him back into bed. Whatever their motives, they weren’t going to hurt him. Hours later, a burning pain spread throughout his body. It felt like his stomach was filled with razor wire. The insects chittered as he spasmed and moaned. It was only when he felt a terrible squirming feeling beneath his skin that he realised the insects hadn’t been protecting him. They had been protecting their young.
4. “My Daughter Learned to Count”, by RealScience87
My daughter woke me around 11:50 last night. My wife and I had picked her up from her friend Sally’s birthday party, brought her home, and put her to bed. My wife went into the bedroom to read while I fell asleep reading a book. “Daddy”, she whispered, tugging my shirt sleeve. “Guess how old I’m going to be next month!” “I don’t know beauty” I said as I slipped on my galsses. “How old?” She smiled and held up four fingers. It is 7:30 now. My wife and I have been up with her for almost 8 hours. She still refuses to tell us where she got them.
5. “He Stood Against my Window” by sabethook
I don’t know why I looked up, but when I did, I saw him there. He stood against my window. His forehead rested against he glass, and his eyes were still and light and he smiled a lipstick-red, cartoonish grin. And he just stood there in the window. My wife was upstairs sleeping, my son was in his crib, and I couldn’t move. I froze and watched him looking past me through the glass. Oh, please no. His smile never moved but he put a hand up and slid it down the glass, watching me with matted hair and yellow skin and face through the window. I couldn’t do anything. I just frozen, feet still in the bushes. I was pruning, looking into my home. He stood against my window.
6. “The Happiest Day of my Life”, by recludus
I watched as my soon to be father-in-law held his daughter’s hand as he walked down the aisle. Tears streamed down his face as the wedding march that played in the background reminded him that, in a few minutes, he would be watching me hold his daughter’s hand and slipping on her ring. He walked up to the altar and I took hold of her hand, grinning from ear to ear. It was the happiest day of my life. My bride’s father got down on his knees and started begging. “Please, I did what you asked. Just please give my daughter back.” I glared at him. “Shut up and stop ruining the moment. If you sit back down and enjoy the ceremony, maybe I’ll tell you where I’ve hidden the rest of her body.”

Echoes From the Caverns

Echoes From the Caverns

July 29 2021

Heart of the World – by Finrodel – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with a great story from a new author Finrodel, aka Alexander Huffman, entitled

Heart of the World

Background music by Smartsound

The morning light glittered off the pendant as it hung on the lamp. Lexi had woken up before her alarm again. She didn’t want to get out of bed, so she laid there, gazing at the heart-shaped locket her mother gave her before she retired.
“It is a link to the past. It’s easy to forget where we came from,” she said. “Everything changed when the whole started hearing the voices. Before we had the implants to protect us from the maddening sounds, there was a world of color, life, and feeling!”
Lexi could still remember the look on her mother’s face when she described her childhood. It was like looking at long forgotten pain, yet she wanted to experience it again.
“It was a time when joy and sadness had meaning. Now they’re empty memories, words we tell ourselves we’re better off without.”
Lexi touched the locket. A strange sense of longing pulled at her, though she could not describe why. Perhaps just beyond that pull, something whole existed, like a real home.
Her alarm rang, the impression interrupted by the mechanical sound and following automatic rhythms of her morning routine. Her phone rang shortly after. It was her supervisor, he always called at the same time each morning.
She connected her phone device to the implant and answered. Her foreman would always ask the same three questions,
“Are you healthy?”
“Yes.” Not that he cared how Lexi really felt, but an unfit worker was a liability and slowed down the workflow.
“Will you arrive at 0730?”
“Yes.” Punctuality meant production times were kept.
“Will you report any delays or production failures for your shift?”
“Yes.”
“Your responses have been noted. Goodbye.”
Minimum interaction, maximum efficiency. She finished her morning preparations.
____________________________________________________
As expected, the workforce commuter bus was on time to each stop. The people that rode with her were almost always the same, sitting in the same places with the same clothing and expression. The color of work uniforms was the primary difference between each person. Lexi’s uniform was white, utilitarian, and indicated her position in food services. Her hair was cut short, it was more efficient that way. Practicality had little use for style, and she could not recall the last time she saw someone with long hair.
The bus dropped Lexi off at her usual stop. She was often the only person to come down this corridor in the morning. Today, she was not alone. A man in a grey uniform was leaning against the wall, staring at a stream of water dripping from above him. He was mumbling something.
He didn’t seem to notice her as she approached, but she was able to hear what he was saying.
“302203, 900556, 30220…”, he kept repeating over and over.
The grey uniform meant he worked in transportation across the complex. He was a long way from where he should be and his behavior was far from normal.
“Hello?” Lexi said, stopping near him.
“556…The water drops, they keep repeating the numbers. What do they mean?” He said, confusion filling his voice.
Lexi cocked her head and listened, but only heard the water dropping. “I don’t hear anything.”
“It’s there! See, 2, 2, 0, 3…” he continued to the sound of each water drop.
She heard about rare cases where the interface negatively affected perceptions, but she had never seen it happen before. She looked at the implant slot on the side of his head. The slot was empty, no communication device, no data drive. It didn’t matter if he wasn’t part of her work crew, she had been trained to provide help to people if they needed medical aid. Besides, it didn’t feel right to leave him in this state.
She gently touched his shoulder and started pulling him away from the dripping water. “I think your implant may be malfunctioning. Let’s get you to Medical so they can help” she said. He didn’t struggle or speak during their walk.
____________________________________________________
The production room was quiet after the end of shift notice. The sterile silence after the constant noise of machinery and workers felt soothing to her ringing ears. She walked between the workstations for her final inspection of the night. Beneath one workstation, a single piece of paper had slipped partially under a panel and gone unnoticed. She pulled the paper out and went to discard it in the trash when she noticed the writing. On one side a series of numbers were written multiple times in three columns before the writer ran out of space.
302203N 900556W
In a moment of intense clarity, she realized that the numbers were the same ones the man in the grey uniform was mumbling when she saw him that morning. A surreal feeling tingled down her spine, a sensation she was very unfamiliar with. She held still for a long moment, waiting for the sensation to pass.
“Lexi, something wrong?” A familiar male voice spoke from behind her.
She spun around a little too abruptly to face her supervisor, the look on his face showing a wary suspicion of her behavior. He was a bland faced man in his 40’s. The only distinguishing feature was the pipe whistle he kept in his uniform pocket.
“No, boss. I just found a piece of notepaper someone must have dropped earlier,” she said, regaining some of her composure.
“What’s written on it?”
“Just some numbers, I’m not sure what for,” she said, handing the note to him.
He looked briefly at the numbers written before looking back at her. “You sure you don’t know what they’re for?”
The intensity of his gaze was surprising. Was he testing her?
“Yes, boss.”
He looked at her for a few long moments. “I’ll talk to you in the morning.”
She nodded and left the production room, trying not to break into a run, or even a swift walk.
____________________________________________________
Lexi awoke early again. The sunlight cracked through her window, glinting off the heart pendant and into her eyes. That same strange fascination with the locket absorbed all her attention as she stared into the reflected light. Her thoughts again drifted from her memories of her mother to the strange events of the night before.
The thoughts and feelings filled her mind completely as she felt pulled into that light. Without thinking, she let herself flow into a dreamlike trance. All around her were pathways of light flowing along channels that curved, split, and angled away from some massive central point.
She looked into that nexus of branching pathways, her vision adjusting to its brightness. She realized then she was seeing a massive tree, its branches reaching upward and outward, carrying the light into distances beyond.
A small vine of light grew from the ground beside her until it touched her outstretched hand. The warmth of it filled her body with a sensation like she belonged there. She gazed into that thread of light that now gently curved and grew up her arm and saw something in its brightness.
Numbers. A message.
30.2203°N -90.0556°W Return home
She recognized the numbers as coordinates. The message is simple enough. She must go wherever the coordinates indicated, and soon.
Her phone rang, ripping her from the vision and making her jump. It was her supervisor, on time as usual. She couldn’t work today, she had to find what this all meant.
“Hello,” she said tentatively.
“Are you healthy?” The voice asked in his usual dry tone. She knew she would have to lie, but this was important and she needed to do this.
“No,” she answered, but felt her voice sounded weak and unsure.
There was a pause before he answered. “You’re not the only one.”
“I’m sorry?” She asked, not sure what he meant.
“It’s the numbers, right?”
She breathed in sharply. Another lie to keep him from reporting her to medical seemed prudent, but she dismissed the idea. He had never caused her any grief when she had issues or problems, even if they were her own fault. She owed him the truth, especially since he knew something was going on.
“Yes.”
“I can hear them in the tones of your voice. What does it mean?” He asked.
“I don’t know yet, but I think I can find out.”
“Okay, please let me know? If you find it?”
“I will, I promise,” she said. She hadn’t felt the need to make a promise before, it felt right.
She grabbed her locket, placing the chain around her neck. It was time to go.
____________________________________________________
The trees rose up all around her, their branches reaching overhead like a tunnel of emerald green. The coordinates lead here, down a long forgotten road and past buildings nature had claimed decades before.
She would have found it beautiful if it weren’t for the buzzing noise in her ears. The further she walked, the worse it became.
Her head began to pound in rhythm to her footsteps and she slowed to a shuffle.
An eternity of head splitting noise later, she collapsed to the ground. Why was she here? What was she meant to do? The thoughts disappeared into the drowning static of her current existence.
“Help, please”, she whispered, a plea she knew would not be heard, but she didn’t know what else to do. She felt as if the noise and pain would kill her.
“I can’t do it. I can’t.”
Tears flowed freely, both from the despair she felt and the pain in her head. She was about to give into the pain in hopes of dying, when the light hit her face. Her covered her eyes as a new wave of pain washed over her. Through the cacophony of her senses, she began to hear something else. A faint whisper reaching out to her, touching her mind.
She opened her eyes again and saw her pendant laying in front of her, the light once again reflecting from its surface. In the tiny lances of light, she could see the numbers and message once again.
“30.2203°N -90.0556°W Return home,” she whispered and repeated each time she saw the light carry it across her vision.
Like a mantra, she spoke the message again and again. She crawled toward the source of the light. The plants and brush thicker with each movement, tangling her hands and legs. Within moments, she became impossibly entangled in the vines. The more she struggled, the faster it caught her. The light disappeared, and she felt fear.
“No! I can’t breathe!” she gasped, but struggled in vain.
As soon as her vision went black, the world exploded out in front of her. The tree from her vision was before her, reaching into the earth and sky. She saw its roots and branches touch everything in the world. It was not just a tree, it was a nexus of all living things in the world. She looked all around her and saw the world as it was, and with her now a part of it. She was home.
She could see the rest of humanity collected in massive cities. They were suffocating behind the walls of their implanted minds, unable to hear the call to come home. A longing sadness filled her as she saw what humanity had become.
____________________________________________________
She awoke wrapped in a soft cocoon of vines which fell away as she arose. She pulled at a dense vine that was lodged into her implant. The vine came free, the sensation causing a momentary shudder.
She could hear a voice whispering in the breeze and rustle of the leaves. Nature found a way to integrate with technology. The world’s voice bypassed her implant and gave her the ability to hear it again. She thought of everyone who still wasn’t connected like she was, and the sadness welled up again.
“How do I help them?” she asked the world-voice. It answered.
She knew what she had to do. It was time to bring everyone home.

Echoes From the Caverns

Echoes From the Caverns

July 29 2021

Interview with Death – by Womby – narrated by Asclepius

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with another great story from Womby, entitled

Interview with Death

Background music by Smartsound

It’s not often that I get to interview a genuine celebrity, but recently I heard that none other than Death himself was in New Britannia inspecting the ubiquitous resurrection ankhs scattered throughout the land. We caught up with Death and his lovely wife Morticia where they were staying at one of the delightful cottages in Kiln.

”Good afternoon, Death. First let me say what a rare privilege and honor it is to meet you.”

”Nonsense. I get to meet everyone eventually.”

”Quite. If it isn’t too much trouble, I’m sure my readers would greatly appreciate it if you could answer a few questions.”

”Sure, no problem. Ask away.”

”Many in New Britannia are curious as to why outlanders are apparently immortal. Frankly, they’re more than a little miffed about it. Is there anything you would like to say to put their minds at ease?”

”Ah yes. ‘Project Groundhog’ I call it. Technically they are not immortal. They die just like everyone else. The difference is that in their case they do it more often.”

”Oh, I see. But why?”

”The Oracle and I have a bet. She thinks that if outlanders are given multiple chances to correct their mistakes, they will eventually become virtuous. I disagree, so we have a little wager going. We’ve agreed to give each outlander a set time to become simultaneously virtuous in Truth, Love and Courage, and to facilitate that I have installed resurrection ankhs to bring them back to life every time they die before their time is up.”

”What exactly is the nature of this wager?”

”I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you.”

”Never mind, it’s not that important. On another subject, Rumor has it that you are contemplating retirement. Does this presage an imminent end to mortality?”

”You wish! No, my son will be taking over. A real go-getter that one. I’m sure he’ll be setting out to impress his old man and make a name for himself.”

”Hmm. Will that be happening any time soon?”

”Probably right after I win my bet with the Oracle. She’ll no doubt be somewhat annoyed with the avatars and withdraw her protection. That would be the ideal time for my son to take over.”

”Well, thank you so much for the interview. I hope you enjoy your stay in New Britannia.”

”No problem. I look forward to our next meeting.”

”*gulp*”

Echoes From the Caverns

Echoes From the Caverns

June 22 2021

A Small Indiscretion – by the New Britannia Theater Troupe

 

(Insert music track # 1 – something orchestral)

 

The New Britannia Theatre Troupe presents

 

A SMALL INDISCRETION: A BEAR TAVERN TALE

 

Director and Producer: Asclepius

Writer: Gabriel Nightshadow

Assistant Director of Public Relations: Alleine Dragonfyre

Sound Effects Supervisors: Gabriel Nightshadow and Asclepius

Technical Consultant: Stile Teckel

 

 

 

CAST

 

Asclepius as Randall Wolfe and the Narrator

 

Jarvi Mystara as Governor Vallas Tellen


Alleine DragonFyre as Astra Wolfe and Herself

 

Addy as Shannon Kiras and Melody Tareti

 

Lauremir Elenir as Molly and Amber

 

Gabriel Nightshadow as Geordie the Teddy Bear

And

Fionwyn Wyldemane as Mother

 

 

***************************************************************************************

 

(Insert music track # 2 – something you would expect to hear at a “Beat of Novia” dance party)

 

NARRATOR

SCENE I

Twenty years after Vallas Tellen became the Governor of Beran’s Reach…

 

(Insert “Party Crowd” sound effect – recorded by Daniel Simon)

 

DJ ALLEINE DRAGONFYRE

This is DJ Alleine Dragonfyre, broadcasting to you live from the Bear Tavern in the metropolis of Beran’s Reach on Avatars Radio. Welcome to a special edition of “The Beat of Novia” as we celebrate the retirement of Governor Vallas Tellen!  Now everyone – get out on the dance floor!

 

NARRATOR

Randy Wolfe and Melody Tareti dance the Samba in front of Alle.

 

MELODY (grateful)

Randy, thank you for convincing me to attend Vallas’ retirement party!  It has been SO long since I’ve been out. I have been keeping myself busy with work ever since Frederick passed away a year ago…

 

RANDY (reassuring)

Quite understandable, under the circumstances. I know how much you loved Frederick.  He was taken away from you far too soon…

 

NARRATOR

Governor Vallas Tellen walks over to the couple.

 

VALLAS

Ah…Randy, my dear fellow, you really know how to throw a retirement party! Everyone seems to be having such a good time!

 

RANDY

Thank you, Vallas! Just my way of giving back to the community!

 

VALLAS

Melody, you are looking quite lovely this evening!

 

MELODY (cheerful)

Why, thank you, Vallas!  You are looking rather dashing yourself…

 

VALLAS

You are too kind, Melody!  May I borrow Randy for a few minutes?

 

            MELODY

Certainly, I will give you two some time to talk! I will just head over to the bar and grab another mug of Fire Mountain ale!

 

VALLAS (serious)

Randy, now that I am retiring from office, I have given much thought to my replacement. Of the top three candidates for the job, I think you are the most qualified. I intend to recommend you to the Council tomorrow.

 

RANDY

I don’t know what to say, Vallas…  I always assumed that either Lt. Governor Keldon or City Council member, Budner, would succeed you. I promise that if I am chosen by the people, I will serve to the best of my ability!

 

VALLAS

Both Keldon and Budner are good men, but I think you have much better skilled at administration and public relations!  Plus, I’ve never fully trusted either one of them since that incident at the Bears’ Fifth Anniversary party…

You certainly have come a long way from that scrawny, penniless young sailor who arrived here from Kingsport fifteen years ago!  Now your import and export business rivals that of the merchant prince, Stile Teckel…

I was disappointed to hear that your lovely wife, Astra, was unable to join us this evening…

 

RANDY

Unfortunately, she is still away visiting her cousin, the legendary bowmancer, Jarikith Rivinson, over in Rifts End.  I still find it hard to believe that in three months, I am going to be a father…

 

VALLAS

I’m sure that you will be a fine father!  After all, you have had plenty of experience dealing with children through your volunteer work at Melody Tareti’s Orphanage for Lost Souls.

Have you two decided upon a name for your daughter yet?

 

RANDY

We decided that we will name her Molly, in honor of her maternal grandmother.

Oh my…look at the time!  I must be off now. I have an early business meeting tomorrow with Asclepius, Director of the New Britannia Theatre Troupe, about financing their latest production, “Little, Lost Bear Cub”.  Phillip and the boys will clean up when the festivities are over…

 

VALLAS

Good night, Randy! Please stop by my office tomorrow afternoon and I will formally present you to the members of the City Council.

 

RANDY

I will…

 

***************************************************************************************

 

(Insert music track # 3 – starts off very romantic, but turns very dark and sinister halfway through)

 

NARRATOR

 

SCENE II

 

Later that evening, on a cliff on the far side of the island…

 

A beautiful, raven haired, voluptuous (and very pregnant!) young barmaid known as Shannon Kiras anxiously waits for her lover, Randall Wolfe.

 

NARRATOR

Randy steps out of the shadows. Shannon runs to him and they embrace and share a passionate kiss.

 

SHANNON (happy)

Randy, my beloved, I am so glad that you are finally here!  I have been waiting for nearly an hour! I don’t understand why we couldn’t simply meet at your home or at the Tavern…

 

NARRATOR

Randy moves behind Shannon and rests his hands on her shoulders as they both look up at the blood-red shattered moon in the pitch-black night sky.

 

RANDY (whispering)

You know I can’t risk anyone seeing us together, especially since I am running for office! I must maintain my image as a pillar of the community!

 

SHANNON (anxious)

But what about after our daughter, Amber, is born…? You promised me that you would leave Astra and marry me…

 

RANDY (whispering)

I know I did…

You know I only married Astra for her late father’s three galleons, which allowed me to start my import and export business.  It was so easy to seduce her with my good looks and charming demeanor. She is SO thin and plain looking! She may be an excellent cook, but I hunger for the pleasures of the flesh!   I have really enjoyed our many nights of passion this past year, my beautiful Shannon, but, unfortunately, I can’t afford to have that nosy reporter from The Avatar Express, Fionwyn Wyldemane, finding out about our affair when I am so close to achieving my goal. As my ancestor, the great Obsidian General, Damian Trumbull, once said, “He who controls the media can sway public opinion in his favor.”

Now it is time to move on to greener pastures! It seems that the beautiful widow, Melody Tareti, inherited a large fortune from her dearly departed husband, Frederick, who died from food poisoning.  Bad fish, they say…

Ah well, my dear…all good things must come to an end!

 

SHANNON (shocked and upset)

What?! You are breaking up with me?!

 

RANDY (sinister, whispering)

You could say that…

 

NARRATOR

Randy suddenly snaps Shannon’s neck in one quick motion! 

 

(Insert “Neck Breaking” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

Her lifeless body slumps to the ground, a look of astonishment frozen on her face.

 

                                                      (Insert ”Fall” sound effect.)

 

Randy rolls her corpse off the cliff and watches as it splashes into the water far below.

 

(Insert “Splash1” sound effect – recorded by Gene Le Fave)

 

He takes out his monogrammed silk handkerchief and wipes the sweat from his forehead. An evil grin crosses Randy’s face.

 

(Randy laughs evilly.)

***************************************************************************************

 

(Insert music track # 4 – something that is scary as hell!)

 

NARRATOR

 

SCENE III

Five years later…

 

(Insert “Thunderstorm” sound effect – recorded by Tim)

 

It is a dark and stormy night and Governor Wolfe is having trouble sleeping. His wife, Astra, has her back to him and is peacefully snoring.

Randy suddenly finds himself in a dark and desolate place, with the ground covered in fog.  He hears constant whispering but can’t make out the words. 

 

(Insert “Ghost Whispers” sound effect – recorded by Litruv)

 

The whispering grows louder and then disembodied hands suddenly appear and start pawing at him.

 

(Insert “Hell” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

RANDY (screaming)

Nooooo!

 

NARRATOR

Randy suddenly sits up in bed and looks around the room. He is drenched in sweat.


RANDY (relieved)

It was just a nightmare…just a nightmare…

 

SHANNON (scary, ghost voice)

No, it wasn’t!

 

NARRATOR

Randy screams in horror as he sees, not his wife, Astra, lying there beside him in bed, but the gray, and decaying corpse of Shannon, wearing a tattered, red dress and covered in seaweed!  She reaches out to him with bony fingers…

 

SHANNON (scary, ghost voice)

I have come back for you, Randy!  Heh…heh… Don’t you want a hug and a kiss?

 

RANDY (screaming)

No! Get the hell away from me!

 

NARRATOR

 Randy bolts from the bed and runs into the hallway.

 

(Insert “Creaking Door” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

The door to his daughter’s room suddenly creaks open, and he sees the gray, decaying corpse of a raven-haired, five-year old girl wearing a tattered, white sleeping gown. She is dripping wet.

 

(Insert “Spooky Water Drops” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

The little girl is clutching a worn-out, brown teddy bear in her left hand. The partially torn teddy bear is missing half of its stuffing and its right eye, and its mouth is curled in a snarl.

 

AMBER (spooky, childlike ghost voice)

Why did you kill me, daddy, before I was born?

Why didn’t you love me as much as Molly?

 

NARRATOR

Randy starts sweating profusely as he slowly backs away.  He glances around for something he can use as a weapon, to no avail.

 

Shannon shambles out into the hallway and both she and her daughter slowly move towards Randy with outstretched arms, as does the now animated teddy bear!

                                                                                               

(Insert “Zombie Attack Walk” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

SHANNON and AMBER (ghostly moaning)

So hungry!  We will feast on your tender flesh!

 

NARRATOR

A frightened Randy turns and run towards the staircase, failing to notice the toy that his daughter, Molly, had left on the floor at the top of the stairs. He trips over it and goes tumbling down the staircase!

 

(Insert “Falling Down Wooden Stairs” sound effect – recorded by Benboncan)

 

(Insert “Leg Breaking” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

RANDY (moaning in pain)

Argh…I can’t get up!  I think I broke both of my legs!

                                                                                                                    

NARRATOR

Shannon and Amber encircle Randy while he is lying prone on the floor.

 

SHANNON and AMBER (moaning)

Meat! Meat!

 

NARRATOR

Shannon and Amber start tearing away chunks of flesh from Randy’s exposed arms and legs and eagerly devour them.

 

(Insert “Flesh and Bone Tearing Away” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

RANDY

(starts screaming VERY loudly)

 

SHANNON and AMBER

Mmm…tastes SO good…

 

(Insert “Blood Squirts” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

NARRATOR

The animated teddy bear leaps onto Randy’s face, claws out his right eye, and places it in his own eye socket, where it instantly becomes fully functional! The gleeful teddy bear proceeds to scalp Randy with his razor-sharp claws and starts pounding on his exposed skull!   

 

(Insert “Peeling Face Off” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

GEORDIE (eager)

Geordie wants brains! Geordie wants brains…NOW!

 

(Insert “Strange Angels” sound effect – recorded by martysonic)

 

NARRATOR

Suddenly, a familiar, beautiful, red-haired young woman clad in white emerges from a cloud of smoke in front of Randy. Shannon, Amber, and Geordie immediately stop munching on Randy.

 

MOTHER (comforting)

My darling Randy…

 

RANDY (confused)

Mother? But you died long ago when I was but a wee child!

 

NARRATOR

The smiling woman, who is bathed in a glowing yellow aura, nods.

 

RANDY (pleading)

Mother, please help me!

 

NARRATOR

Mother glares at Shannon, Amber, and Geordie and they quickly back away from Randy. 

 

RANDY

(breathes a sigh of relief)

 

NARRATOR

Mother stretches out her right hand and a crimson glow envelops the area over Randy’s heart.

 

(Insert “Spooky Heart Beats” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

NARRATOR

Randy clutches his chest!

 

RANDY (crying out)

My heart!

 

MOTHER (hissing)

Evil is a master of disguise. It can be anywhere…and anyone.

 

NARRATOR

Randy’s mother suddenly transforms into a big, red female demon and plunges her clawed hand into his chest, pulling out his beating heart!

 

MOTHER (hissing)

If you expect to wake up from this nightmare, think again. This isn’t a dream. This is hell and you’re here…FOREVER!  Your soul is…MINE!

 

NARRATOR

The female demon proceeds to devour Randy’s beating heart!

 

(Insert “Blood Squirts” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

RANDY

(lets out a BLOODCURDLING scream.)

 

NARRATOR

Randy dies with a horrified look frozen on his face…

 

(Insert “Eerie Horror Scene” sound effect – recorded by BlastWaveFx)

***************************************************************************************

 

(Insert music track # 5 – something which starts out very bright and cheerful but becomes very haunting halfway through)

 

(Insert “Sunny Day” sound effect – recorded by Stephan)

 

NARRATOR

SCENE IV

 

A few days later…

The pallbearers lower the ornate, solid gold, jewel encrusted coffin containing Randall Wolfe’s body into the grave.

 

(Insert “Opening Casket” sound effect – recorded by Mike Koenig)

 

MOLLY (cries out)

Daddy!

 

NARRATOR

Molly tries to throw herself on the descending coffin, but Astra manages to grab her in time and pulls her into a deep embrace.

 

ASTRA (breathing heavily)

I’ve got you, dear…

 

MOLLY (sobbing)

I miss my daddy!

 

ASTRA (comforting)

I know, dear, but rest assured that one day we will be reunited with your father again…

 

MOLLY (quietly sobbing)

I hope so…

 

NARRATOR

Vallas Tellen walks over to give his condolences to Astra and Molly.

 

VALLAS (sighing)

Ah…such a tragic accident…

Astra, my deepest condolences to both you and Molly.

 

ASTRA (mournful)

Thank you, Vallas.  Randy really looked up to you. You were like the father he never had…

 

VALLAS (sad)

I know. If you ever need anything, do not hesitate to ask!  May the shadows of the night guide and protect you! 

 

NARRATOR

After the others leave, Molly turns to her mom.

 

AMBER (spooky, child-like ghost voice)

Now will we have that happy life we dreamed of long ago, mommy?

 

NARRATOR

Shannon smiles and hugs Amber.

 

SHANNON (spooky ghost voice)

Yes, my beloved Amber, now that our spirits have possessed Astra and Molly’s bodies and we have inherited a large fortune from your late father, the future looks bright…

 

NARRATOR

 

THE END

 

***************************************************************************************

 

(Insert music track #6 – another orchestral piece)

 

SOUND EFFECT CREDITS

 All sound effects used in this production are licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported

(https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

 

The following sound effects can be found at:

http://soundbible.com

 

“Party Crowd” – recorded by Daniel Simon

“Neck Breaking”– recorded by Mike Koenig

“Thunderstorm” – recorded by Tim

“Hell” – recorded by Mike Koenig

“Creaking Door” – recorded by Mike Koenig

“Spooky Water Drops” – recorded by Mike Koenig

“Zombie Attack Walk” – recorded by Mike Koenig

“Leg Breaking” – recorded by Mike Koenig

“Flesh and Bone Tearing Away” – recorded by Mike Koenig

“Blood Squirts” – recorded by Mike Koenig

“Peeling Face Off” – recorded by Mike Koenig

“Spooky Heart Beats” – recorded by Mike Koenig

“Eerie Horror Scene” – recorded by BlastWaveFx

“Sunny Day” – recorded by Stephan

“Opening Casket” – recorded by Mike Koenig

 

 

The following sound effects can be found at:

http://freesound.org

 

“Splash 1” – recorded by Gene LeFave

“Ghost Whispers” – recorded by Litruv

“Falling Down Wooden Stairs” – recorded by Benboncam

“Strange Angels” – recorded by martysonic

Echoes From the Caverns

Echoes From the Caverns

 

June 22 2021

Daggers in the Dark – by the New Britannia Theater Troupe

The New Brittania Theatre Troupe presents DAGGERS IN THE DARK Director and Producer: Asclepius Writer: Gabriel Nightshadow with additional music lyrics by Jakdaw Foxlauden Music Composer and Director of Public Relations: Amber Raine Technical Consultant: Stile Teckel CAST Asclepius as Vallas Tellen Elgarion as Tarin Merrywhistle Sol Stormlin as Aimend Addy as Melody Stryker Sparhawk as Ertai Vodalion Cordelayne Valkaris as Astor Cerberus Woftam as Keldon Lighthand Vallin Tregres as Budner Stile Teckel as Frederick Tareti With Amber Raine as Chastity and Herself Alleine DragonFyre as the Narrator And Celith Wraine as Cyrus (Asclepius exits stage center) ***********************************************************************************

SCENE I (Keldon, Budner, Chastity and Cyrus enter from stage center) (Keldon is at stage center standing on top of the table, holding an ornate beer stein in one hand and SINGING. Budner, Chastity, and Cyrus are seated behind the table. Cyrus is DRINKING a mug of ale. The Narrator is standing on the balcony.) NARRATOR As I peer into the scrying pool, I see that dusk has fallen on the Bear Tavern. The Bears’ Fifth Anniversary Party is in full swing and everyone is having a good time, thanks to Keldon… CHASTITY (screaming hysterically) Take it off! Take it off! (KELDON removes his shirt and continues SINGING bare-chested). NARRATOR Keldon throws his shirt to Chastity, who catches it. She inhales deeply. (Chastity SQUEALS in delight.) (Chastity PLAYS DEAD.) CYRUS (grumbling) I miss those lovely dancing girls who used to perform here. Ugh…this Fire Mountain ale tastes kind of strange. Hey…why is it suddenly turning pink? BUDNER Ah…my good friends, Fred and Harry, our new head brewers, were kind enough to prepare a special batch of their “Pink Paradise on Fire Mountain” Ale for today’s event. Our patrons seem to love the fruity flavor and extra creamy foam! CYRUS (grumbling) Not me! Good ale shouldn’t taste like pomegranates! Hey…I heard about those two guys! There better not be any of that banned synthetic aphrodisiac, Shamizar, in here! BUDNER Heavens, no! Only natural aphrodisiacs, I assure you! Fred and Harry learned their lesson after that unfortunate incident in PaxLair two years ago… (After Keldon finishes his musical number, he steps down from the table and BOWS to the audience, then turns around and BOWS to Budner, Cyrus, and Chastity. Budner stands up and TOASTS Keldon, while CYRUS stands and CLAPS. Chastity stands up, WHISTLES and CHEERS. Keldon walks over to Chastity.) KELDON (charming) Are you new in town, miss? I never forget a pretty face… (Keldon FLEXES.) NARRATOR Chastity blushes as she gazes at his glistening abs and pecs. CHASTITY (flustered) This is my first time in the Tavern. I’m Chastity, the new school teacher. Just moved here from Wizards Rest yesterday… KELDON (charming) I’m Keldon, Master Ranger of the Bear Tavern Guild. Pleased to make your acquaintance, Chastity. I would be most honored to give you a private tour of our fine establishment…including our secret Red Room… CHASTITY (confused) Red Room? KELDON (whispering seductively in her ear) There can be no pleasure without pain… CHASTITY (lustfully) Ooh… I think I would enjoy a private tour very much… (KELDON and CHASTITY exit stage left as BUDNER gives KELDON a THUMBS UP!) BUDNER Looks like Keldon is getting lucky tonight! CYRUS (grumbling) I honestly don’t know what all those beautiful women see in him. He’s not THAT handsome or muscular! Must be his charming demeanor… (Budner and Cyrus exit stage center) *************************************************************************************** SCENE II (Tarin, Astor and Aimend enter from stage right) (Tarin Merrywhistle, Astor Cerberus, and Aimend are seated at the table.) (Insert music track # 3 – “Underhanded Conspiracy” by Amber Raine. Loop as needed.) NARRATOR Meanwhile, upstairs in the Tavern Council meeting room… ASTOR (hesitant) I don’t know, guys. Vallas has done a lot for the guild… TARIN (insistent) We have no choice, Astor! The force field generated by our moon towers can’t withstand a sustained bombardment by Nefario’s new Dragonfire cannons and his army outnumbers our militia by a factor of 10 to 1! Quite frankly, I don’t know even know how he managed to resurrect himself after we defeated him a year ago. Somehow, he has been able to amass enough resources to lay siege to so many towns simultaneously. I’ve heard rumors that he has been able to swell his ranks by using a combination of magic and science he acquired from Atos’ identical twin brother, the rogue technomage, Kriz, to either clone troops or abduct and brainwash large numbers of unsuspecting Novians. AIMEND Be reasonable, Astor! If we don’t accept Nefario’s terms, Beran’s Reach will surely be destroyed! All of the other Tavern Council members have voted to accept the agreement. We all appreciate everything that Vallas has done for us, but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…or of the one! ASTOR (resigned) Very well, Tarin and Aimend, but I still don’t like this one bit. Vallas deserves better… TARIN Good man, Astor! (Tarin gives Astor the THUMBS UP sign.) AIMEND Come, I will show you the document you must sign! (Aimend. Tarin and Astor exit stage right.) ************************************************************************************** SCENE III (Vodalion enters from stage right and is seated at the table.) NARRATOR Vodalion is busy in the kitchen preparing a very special dish for Vallas. Visible among the many HUMAN bones in the waste bin is a gold ring inscribed with the initials “F.T”, indicating its previous owner, long missing Tavern Council member, Frederick Tareti. (MUSICAL NUMBER 2 – SUNG BY VODALION. Insert music track # 4 – “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” by Todd Reed Music) VODALION (singing merrily) It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood A beautiful meal of a neighbor Would you be mine? Could you be mine? It’s a neighborly day in this beautywood A neighborly day for a beauty Would you be mine? This cut is so fine I have always wanted to carve up a neighbor just like you I’ve always wanted to cook in a neighborhood with you So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day Since we’re together, I might as well say Would you be mine? For me to dine? Won’t you be my neighbor? Won’t you please Cease your pleas Please won’t you be my neighbor? Mmm…nom…nom…nom… (Melody enters from stage left and walks over to Vodalion.) MELODY Is that last dish almost done, Vodalion? VODALION I just sent out the fried liver and onions. Let me check on the Bear Surprise for Vallas… MELODY That smells so delicious, Vodalion! What’s your secret? VODALION I simply boiled the meat to a slight undercook and then popped it in the oven to finish baking it in a candy coat made of sugar glaze. I hope Vallas likes it… MELODY I am sure that he will… (Very sexy voice) I know you have been working very hard preparing this feast today, my darling, but do save a bit of energy for later tonight… (Melody SIGHS.) I don’t know what I would have done without your comfort and support this past year since Frederick suddenly left me to spread the word of Chaos to the natives of the southern continent. He didn’t even have the courage to tell me to my face and left that letter on my bed instead… VODALION What an insensitive fellow! I would never abandon you like that! I love you SO much and look forward to our wedding day next month! …and don’t worry… I always have plenty of energy for you, my dear! (Melody and Vodalion KISS.) NARRATOR Vodalion leers at Melody’s voluptuous form as he hands her a tray and she turns to leave. He starts preparing the dessert at the table and fails to notice her pour a vial of poison on the Bear Surprise as she exits the kitchen. (Melody stops at stage left for a moment before exiting.) (Vodalion exits stage right) ************************************************************************************** SCENE IV (Vallas enters from stage center and is seated at the table. Melody enters from stage left and places a plate and a mug on the table.) MELODY I hope you enjoy Vodalion’s version of Bear Surprise and this mug of Fire Mountain ale! NARRATOR Vallas seems more interested in Melody than the meal as he gazes lustfully at her. VALLAS I am sure that I will…Melody! Mmm…this Bear Surprise is really delicious! Vodalion has really outdone himself this time! (Melody SMILES and NODS her head and then exits stage left.) (Tarin Merrywhistle, Keldon Lighthand, Aimend, and Astor Cerberus enter from stage right and form a semicircle behind him.) (Insert music track # 6 – “Betrayal“ by Amber Raine. Loop as needed.) VALLAS Ah…just the people I was looking for! Fine job you’ve done with this event, mates! An impressive turnout, although I am a bit disappointed that Beran was unable to join us again this year. We still don’t know which one of us is his descendant and heir to his huge cache of gold and rare artifacts. Hope you’ve all been having a jolly good time! TARIN Indeed we are, Vallas! You wanted to discuss something with us? VALLAS Yes, Tarin. I have become quite concerned with the recent sieges on the surrounding towns by the Obsidian Cabablist, Nefario. We must make sure our defenses are strong enough to repel any such attack on Berans Reach! AIMEND Oh…I don’t think we will have to worry about that, Vallas… VALLAS (curious) Why is that, Aimend? (Vallas suddenly gets up and staggers forward in front of the table.) VALLAS Oh…I suddenly don’t feel so well. Dizzy, nauseous, and my limbs feel like rubber…Stay back, I think I am going to chunder! (Vallas suddenly PUKES on the stage floor.) KELDON (mocking) Must be that extra something that Vodalion put in your entrée…Guess I better go find my mop and clean up this mess! (Keldon NODS to Tarin and then LAUGHS.) VALLAS (confused) Eh, what’s so funny, Keldon? TARIN (serious) The Tavern Council recently negotiated a mutually beneficial agreement with the Obsidian Cabalist Nefario, but one of the conditions was a change in leadership… VALLAS (shocked and angry) What?! How could all of you betray me like this?! KELDON (gleefully) Die, Vallas, die! (Keldon enters combat mode, draws his dagger, stabs Vallas and then LAUGHS. Aimend and Tarin also enter combat mode, draw their daggers, and take turns stabbing Vallas.) (Insert music track # 7 – “Death of a King” by Amber Raine. Loop as needed.) VALLAS (gasping for breath, and sounding very disappointed) Astor…I trusted you the most… (Astor CRIES.) ASTOR I am sorry…Vallas…but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one! (Astor enters combat mode, draws his dagger, and stabs Vallas.) TARIN Berans Reach and the Bear Tavern Guild must survive at all costs! Our NEW guild leader has seen to that… VALLAS (weakly, due to blood loss from the numerous stab wounds) …and who would that be? KELDON (gleefully) That would be ME! I personally negotiated the terms of the agreement on behalf of the Tavern Council with Nefario’s emissary…and here he is! (Budner enters from stage right, wearing an Obsidian robe and boots!) VALLAS (shocked) Nefario’s emissary is Budner?! Bloody hell! BUDNER (gloating) That’s High Priest Budner to you, Vallas! Yes, my master will be quite pleased with the terms of the agreement and looks forward to a long and profitable relationship with the Bears! VALLAS (coughing up blood) You will all regret making this dodgy deal with Nefario! He can’t be trusted! BUDNER (sneering) That is none of your concern, Vallas! Your time is at an end! VALLAS (defiantly, with his last breath) Sod off… (Vallas PLAYS DEAD.) (Astor exits stage center.) ************************************************************************ SCENE V (Vodalion enters from stage right. Aimend, Tarin, Vodalion, Keldon, and Budner surround Vallas’ body, which is lying at stage center in front of the table.) (Insert music track # 8 – “Dream Walking Nightmare Remix” by Ambrew) NARRATOR Several hours later… The Bears’ fourth anniversary party has ended and all of the guests have departed. (Vallas gets up from the floor.) (Aimend SLAPS Vallas.) AIMEND It’s about time you woke up, Vallas! What kind of example are you setting for your men? VALLAS (disorientated) Ow! That really hurt! I have a splitting headache… KELDON (mocking) Geez…Vallas, you were so rat-arsed that you passed out halfway through the anniversary party and were drooling all over the floor! The party would have all gone to pot if Astor hadn’t stepped up and taken over! Hmm…you know, Astor has been in the outhouse for an awfully long time. He said something in the Bear Surprise seemed to disagree with him… (From offstage, Astor can be heard GROANING LOUDLY in pain!) VALLAS (relieved) Thank heavens… it was just a nightmare! A horrible nightmare! AIMEND (curious) Oh? What was your nightmare about, Vallas? VALLAS (happy) I’ll tell you guys another time, but for now, another round of Fire Mountain ale for me and my friends, Melody! AIMEND (confused) Who is Melody? Vallas, you know we haven’t had a barmaid since Mindy quit six months ago to take that job at the Evil Eye Tavern in Rifts End. We haven’t had any applicants since then due to Budner and Keldon’s roving hands… BUDNER AND KELDON (in unison) Hey! That’s not true! We always treat women who come into the tavern with the utmost respect… AIMEND (sarcastic) Yeah…right! VALLAS (disappointed) What…Melody wasn’t real?! But she was so beautiful… (Vallas SIGHS.) (angry) You two, stop scaring away prospective barmaids! BUDNER AND KELDON (in unison) Sure thing, Vallas! We promise to be on our best behavior from now on! NARRATOR No one notices that both Budner and Keldon have their fingers crossed behind their backs. (Amber Raine enters from stage left.) AMBER RAINE Oh my! It seems that I missed out on all of the festivities… VALLAS Amber, so glad that you could make it! Here, have a mug of Fire Mountain Ale! AMBER RAINE Thank you, Vallas! Sorry I am so late, but I just returned from an expedition to the uncharted southern continent in search of a lost Bear. No, I am not referring to our directionally challenged Bear Cub either! VALLAS (sighing) If youré wondering where he is, apparently, he got lost in the Serpent’s Spine Mine again and used up all of his Teleport and Recall scrolls! At least he had enough sense to bring along his Noble’s Magical Discourse Orb! Efxtive and Fantalio are out searching for him now… (Amber Raine LAUGHS.) AMBER RAINE Took us a couple of weeks, but we finally found him… NARRATOR A bearded and disheveled Frederick Tareti walks into the Tavern. (Frederick Tareti enters from stage left.) FREDERICK Hi, guys! Long time, no see… VALLAS, AIMEND, TARIN, VODALION, KELDON, AND BUDNER (excited) Frederick! (Frederick walks to stage center and everyone surrounds him.) VALLAS What happened to you, man? You’ve been gone for nearly a year… We thought you had perished! (Insert music track # 9 – “Golden Dreams” by Amber Raine) FREDERICK I nearly did, Vallas! The first natives I came across in my travels turned out to be a lost tribe of Kaitoth cannibals who were worshipping a statue of their missing king, which looked a lot like Dinsoo! They believed that their king would return one day to lead them back to their ancestral homeland, which is now occupied by PaxLair They thought I would make a tasty meal, so I made a hasty retreat to the nearby river. I managed to avoid getting hit by their arrows, but ended up going over a waterfall and got knocked unconscious. I washed up ashore a few miles downstream and was found by a fearsome, but beautiful, female warrior who nursed me back to health. Unfortunately, once I was fully healed, her Queen would not let me leave their jungle village. Their tribe needed me as breeding stock, as all of their men had succumbed to some unknown disease a few years before. KELDON Frederick, you lucky dog! I am so jealous! AIMEND (mocking) Why am I not surprised? Please continue, Frederick… FREDERICK I was so exhausted by having to “perform” eight hours a day in addition to the eight hours a day I spent cooking, cleaning, and gardening while the women were out hunting. I don’t think I would have lasted much longer! Fortunately, that was when Amber and her group found me. She asked their queen, a raven haired beauty named Shadrai, to release me into her custody, but she refused, as all of the children I had sired up to that point were female… AIMEND (curious) So how did Amber secure your release? AMBER RAINE I challenged Shadrai to mortal combat, with Frederick as the prize! After a long and fierce battle, I emerged triumphant, but opted to spare her life. Shadrai seemed fascinated with my teachings, so I gave her a copy of the Parma and two of my male acolytes volunteered to remain behind in Frederick’s stead. So you see, Brother Frederick was able to bring in some new converts to the Church of the Dark Star, although not in the way he intended… FREDERICK Indeed, Amber! However, I think I will leave the missionary work to our more experienced members from now on! AMBER RAINE Quite understandable considering the ordeal you’ve been through! Don’t worry, Brother Frederick, there are plenty of people here in Novia for you to convert! FREDERICK Well, there is one good thing that resulted from my ordeal. May I present my lovely new bride, Melody! (Melody enters from stage left. She is wearing leather armor.) MELODY Hello! It is so nice to meet all of Frederick’s friends! He has spoken highly about all of you. NARRATOR Both Vallas and Vodalion gaze lustfully at Melody but quickly regain their composure before anyone notices. VALLAS As governor of Beran’s Reach, let me officially welcome you to our fine community, Melody! MELODY Thank you, Governor Vallas! VODALION Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Vodalion, head cook here at the Bear Tavern… (Vodalion and Melody SHAKE HANDS.) MELODY Have we met before? You look VERY familiar… VODALION (flustered) I…don’t see how. I have never been to the southern continent… MELODY Hmm… (Melody PONDERS.) (All the Bears onstage line up at stage center.) VALLAS, AIMEND, TARIN, VODALION, KELDON, BUDNER, FREDERICK, MELODY, AND AMBER (in unison) For Honor! For Glory! For Beer! (Everyone TOASTS.) AIMEND The three of you must be starving after your long trip! Come, have a seat at the table. Vodalion, do we have any hot entrees left? VODALION I’ll check on that… (Vodalion exits stage right as Amber, Frederick, and Melody sit down at the table at stage left. Vallas and Tarin stand in front of the table and continue chatting with them, while Keldon and Budner walk to stage right.) (Cyrus enters from stage left and stands at the edge of the stage.) CYRUS When last I was here, I did promise to check in from time to time to see how things were going. Vallas, you should have realized that the dream I sent you was a warning! The gods have forbidden me from taking a more direct role in the coming Shadow War. Now I sense that the future of both the Bear Tavern Guild and Beran’s Reach is shrouded in darkness… (Cyrus SIGHS.) NARRATOR Cyrus suddenly shapeshifts into his true form – that of the demigod, Beran! (Cyrus turns around and exits stage left.) (Insert music track # 11 – “Whispers” by Amber Raine) (Keldon BOWS to Budner and hands him a piece of paper.) KELDON (whispering) As requested, here is the agreement signed by all members of the Tavern Council in their own blood. BUDNER (whispering) Excellent work, Keldon, I knew I could count on you…and what about Vallas? KELDON (whispering) Don’t worry, High Priest Budner, I will make sure that he does not live through the night! He should not have underestimated me or treated me so poorly! Keldon, mop up this mess! Keldon, you pillock, you’ve burned my trousers again! Well, no more! Come dawn, I will lead the Bear Tavern Guild! BUDNER (whispering) That you will, my good friend! (Budner LAUGHS and NODS to Keldon as they both exit stage right.) NARRATOR (pleased) Excellent! Despite Beran’s interference, everything is still going according to plan! The Bears have welcomed my daughter, Melody, with open arms. Until I can amass sufficient mystical energy to power the cloning chamber which I received from Kriz, my spirit remains trapped in the body of this wandering female healer who stumbled upon my burnt and defiled remains! Soon I shall have my revenge on the Bears for destroying my physical form and preventing my resurrection! So swears… Nefario! (Narrator SHAKES HER FIST) (Narrator laughs maniacally) THE END *************************************************************************************** (During credits all cast line up at the front of the stage) (Insert music track # 12 – “RPG Never Go Full Bard”) Music Credits The following music tracks are used in this production with the permission of the composer, Amber Raine: “Epic Entrance” “Underhanded Conspiracy” “Betrayal“ “Death of a King“ “Dream Walking Nightmare Remix” (as “Ambrew”, in collaboration with Andrew Head) “Golden Dreams” “Whispers” The following music tracks used in this production are licensed under either Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 or 4.0 Unported or Creative Commons 0 (Public Domain) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/) (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/) (https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” by Todd Reed Music The following can be found at www.opengameart.org “RPG Never Go Full Bard” by Hitctrl The End (All Bow to audience)

Echoes From the Caverns

June 16 2021

The Howling Wind of Spindleskog 2 – by Akandriel – narrated by Asclepius

 

Hello everyone, this is Asclepius, with the continuation of this fantastic story from Akandriel, entitled

The howling wind of spindleskog

Background music by Smartsound

As darkness arrived Twistar prepared his party with a final lecture and hand gestures to ensure everyone was briefed on this adventure they sought.

He led them to the darkened forest

The mighty adventurers traversed through hills and rough terrain, passing through dense shrubs on the plains.

Twistar,s keen eye found roaming creatures under the glow of moonlight.

As his party drew near they hid and numbed their fear with a puff of psilocybin smoke and a final swig of beer.

Mentored by Alphaine six plus three, he used barding skills to gather creatures near the trees.

Song and fire with shooting flames, the eight legged creature is attracted by loud taunts and screaming shouts, with stagnating movement thereabouts.

Twistar sneaked past the slow-moving bodies of creepy eyes and long legs near his side; the battle started in the dead of night.

He performed a magical ritual to surround himself in fire; a flame with intense heat capable of burning flesh if anything came close to his position, leaving bodies burned beyond recognition.

The fire illuminated the area and revealed a creature hiding near a tree; the adventurers followed Twistar’s lead.

A magical cold strike surrounded the creature in ice spikes, trapping its movement to a slow crawl, making it easier to target for a violent brawl.

A loud thundering sound emitted from a hammers ground pound; a sensation of vibrations caused blurred vision to anything around, delaying their actions in a momentary pause, giving the adventurers a few more seconds to avoid the creature’s claws.

 The magic dissipated and the creature escaped with only a few scars on its face.

The adventurers scrambled in an unorganised manner, trying to find some light that is hiding in the darkness of night.

It was a chaotic pace with weapons swinging wildly during the creature chase.

A sword swung fast and freely in mid-air, but it was unable to hit the fast moving creature as it ran in circles, the speed blurring its shadow features.

A polearm patiently waited to attack as the weapon is slow to move when trying to slice, but it missed the creature with each attempted strike.

A bow shot arrows from afar, but the arrows were unable to find the target in darkened space as the creature was camouflaged by its colour and shape.

Twistar moved fast with his skills of haste, delaying his perception of actual events; a fierce battle with rage that took place; attacking the creature with eight legs with a storm of fire and a finishing melee stab.

He paused his actions for a second to assess the battle; the cacophony’s inception rumbling crashing and çrackling noises from close proximity.

It was a tumultuous event confused by haste due to darkness and a scary place.

When his eyes blinked to focus his vision, he saw a large hammer swinging above him with rising and downward motion towards his position. He squinted in fear as a hammer strike came near but it landed near his feet where the creature was last seen; he continued to move fast to avoid another melee bash.

Twistar’s mind draws a blank as he is unable to remember the next event that led to his party’s horrific ending fate, leaving four people dead and without a trace.

The solace of the forest deepened as if the ghost of their corpses found relief, but he did not. He reeled from the loss of blood which he suffered and felt his eyelids twinkle of their own accord.

He holds the Fang still and digs it into his chest for a faster exit.

The light of the moon went out as soon as the Fang broke through the Bony cage of his ribs and touched his heart.

The afterlife wasn’t all it seemed as Twistar’s eyes fluttered open.

His burning headaches are from the nightmares which he suffered. The violent intensity of the dreams seemed to drain his own body of energy.

His heart paced when he sensed he recognised the forest space from the dream he had just awoken from.

Something about the dream dragged within him. It flutters in the region within his reach like a butterfly but these details elude his stretching grasp.

Twistar jerks from his position into a standing one. His heart sinks when he finally realises the events of the night.

He throws the fang on the ground, pinching his skin and slapping his face for effect.

He feels the sting of each action. He has to be awake.

The thoughts of the battle enter his mind and panic sets in.

There was no exit.

The entire forest space is an enclosure of dull grey matter covering every side of the mountain.

The air reaches his nostrils in jagged breaths.

“Hello” he cried out “Hello!”

The voice that returned was not an echo of his yelling; it came from a particular section of his mind.

He swallows a hard bowl of air when the realisation of what happened trickles into his memory, like a small pool of water sluicing into the corridors of his thoughts.

“Welcome to the world you have made for yourself Twistar”

The voices followed the travelling wind that came in through a crack in which the rays of moonlight flickered in.

 

After a moment he recognises all the voices. It’s the same voices that begged for life when Twistar attacked his party, a party of four adventurers; the eight legged creatures he saw that night. He had burned them all with his fire, and a final stab with his handheld weapon – a poisonous fang that dug deep in their chests rendering their bodies dormant and dead as the venom settled in. One by one he killed them all.

When it was all over, he stared at the bloody fang and threw it on the ground.

“What have I done?” he thought.

A voice in his head offered a solution –  run.

The details of his actions recorded in a flashback.

Twistar searched for the source of the voice.

A man of violent disposition even he was forced into cowardice by the situation.

“Now, let’s play a little game shall we?”

The voice turns sinister and the chills come back.

Twistar couldn’t plead for escape from what should be the 15th loop of the vicious circle.

He reaches instinctively for the Fang and goes about his business with fluid acuity.

For the first time in days he has all the yearnings for an escape and no willingness to run.

He’s a man insane.

From the troubles of life in a circle which he did not understand .

He didn’t flinch when the Fang dug into his flesh and tore into his chest .

He didn’t hesitate to shield his eyes when his eyelids closed.

Twistar’s eyes would open once more to the agony of an unending night.

The hallucinations continue until the bartender in the Tavern shakes his body.

“Twistar, wake up!

Your friends are ready to go on the adventure.”

Twistar the howling wind of Spindleskog!

Echoes From the Caverns

Echoes From the Caverns