Living in a small town, everyone knew me, and I was the geekiest they have ever had. With all the new technology coming out every day, no one could keep up, except me! Yeah, I proud of that. They all need me and I try to be super nice. I feel unique, special, and have no competition. The downside, well, I’m lonely. No one likes what I like. We do enjoy some of the same movies but nothing to my level. I love dragons, magic, and swords, and oh do I love axes! That universe can tell so many different stories, with a long history, complicated backgrounds, intriguing characters, the possibilities are endless. Tonight it will all be different.
I’m a woman now, I have been for years, but now no one could deny it. I’m 18 and going to college. It’s been hard, I won’t lie. I’m not special anymore and I realized how little I knew. I’m catching up in class, found the right people to study and hang out with. We’re all the same age, most of us from little towns and limited experiences in what we are studying. Now there is another group like us, but not really, just mostly. Thanks to parents, uncles, or whoever, they got to do summer jobs in big corporations. It seems like they knew everything already. I had my doubt on that and the results of the first exams would all let us know where each of us stands. Before that, tonight is going to happen.
Our group had what it takes, at least that’s what seniors told us yesterday. We received an official invitation through a series of clues to join the first live Dungeon and Dragons of the season! We were all excited. The evening of yesterday, when we finally resolved the last clue, we met with the rest of the players in one of the dark basement. We each receive a description of our characters and the adventure for the next night. I ended with a sword. Yes, I was a bit disappointed, you know I wanted an axe. Yes, a double edge, double-handed battle axe. The sword was nice at least, it looks pretty real even though the weight wasn’t. I don’t think I could cut anything with it but I could wack someone. Finally, all those years of softball will pay off. We got to bring our weapons back with us. They told us we should all be dressed up similar to our characters.
Today, in between a few classes, we made some outfits. I wanted to look good so I used some of my savings to buy a few things at my favorite local store. That store had everything. From books to collectibles and of course the games. This is where my new friends and I met once a week and participated in either discussion or played those role-playing games. I guess this is where we have been noticed, it would make sense. I’m happy because I think I did play pretty well so they must see a lot in me.
All my friends gather together for diner before we left. The big topic was how much should we eat, how much food we should carry. We were starting to freak out a bit. I mean, really, we didn’t know those other guys and agreed to play Dungeon and Dragons at night in a place we didn’t know that well either. How long would that game be? The clues they gave us were pretty good but all manageable for our group. Maybe they will be an easy one, right? I mean they never talked about any kind of initiation or entering a fraternity. Well, our characters we would be playing could join the house of Mystara, but that’s just part of the game. Really, it’s just a game. Nothing is serious. We all play our parts and go home. I mean, come on! We’re adults in a world of adults. No need to freak out. I tried to crack a joke, we laugh, louder than the joke deserved but at least felt better. It is tonight, en route to the entrance of the game.
We wanted to make sure we all arrived a bit early in the hope of discovering a few things to help us in our journey of the night. Looks like everyone was already there. A soundless flare of light appears in a short distance in front of us and above our heads. A mage flashed in front of us, then darkness. Ok, it looks great, they have spent lots of time preparing, it will be one to remember. They tell us to lay down and pretend to sleep, then added:
“Something will fall, and when raised, a light will discover”.
Well, here we go, no turning back now.
A piece of paper fell underneath the location of the flash of light, we picked it up, opened it, and nothing. The clue talked about a light so we tried everything we could with our flashlight. Still nothing. We thought it would work with a specific light so we headed to that building from yesterday and try the porch lights. It appears like nothing but it seemed like we saw lines across the paper. After we all played with it, we figured out further from the light we were, more line we could observe, but still no meaning. It was getting harder to see the information, the night wasn’t as dark to provide contrast. The clouds moved and allowed the moon to brighten the building. I took a moment, thought about it over and over again. That would be almost impossible. That level of details? If it worked, we were way over our heads. It might even be worth quitting and live in shame for 4 years. I took the piece of paper, and I hold it towards the moon. I could not only see the lines but also the surface of the moon. I rotate the paper slowly until the lines created something I could understand. Everyone was standing behind me. I don’t think any of us were breathing. Moving the paper in between my fingers to try all possible angles, with every turn creating more fear as we start to uncover something, we all gasp without making a sound.
Was I the only one or was I overthinking this? That looked like a very complex clue to create, especially since it looks like it was handmade and not bought in a store. Most of us were excited to head towards the stairs, while some of us wondered what we would encounter along the way. Those people are smart and dedicated. Did they invite us to have fun or for them to have fun? I thought about leaving, and while discussing all of this, the side door of the building opened. No light inside, no sound, and no one either. Despise my thought, we decide to hold together and we walked in.
With our flashlight in one hand and each of our weapons in the other, we walked through the door and down the hallway. We find ourselves in a room lit by an old candelabra, we can smell the candles. We see 3 doors, all opened. Behind those doors, just more dark hallways. We’re going to have to split our team, I thought. We don’t know which one leads downstairs. We each examine the doors, trying to discover any meaning to where they lead. Each door looked identical. They are made of wood, they are old but they have been taken care of. The nob is rustic, used, but still shiny. The doors even though opened, appeared locked. The nobs didn’t turn. We examine the locks, and in each of them, we find a small jewel. Each is different in color and shape. Red oval, blue trillon, and amber pear. It doesn’t resemble anything we have. The only jewels-like objects in the room are the ones we brought with us on our weapons, but we don’t have any of those. Laying down all weapons, we all look at them. They each have several jewels but there is one bigger than all the others on each weapon. Each big jewel is of a different color and shape. We decided to match them, the ones that are red and oval on one side, the blue and trillion shape on another, and the last group being amber and pear. We hadn’t thought of that when we saw the 3 doors, but at least one door will have only one person walking through it. Looking at how our weapons were organized, it made sense now. We all got a bit worried, well most of us. I was freaking out a bit. I was the only one with either amber or pear shape jewel.
My friends all comforted me and reminded me it was just a game. Dragons don’t exist, magic is make-believe and those weapons couldn’t really hurt anyone. I thought that maybe that was a bad thing, now I want something to defend myself! I needed to realize I’m not in my home town anymore, I’m not playing kid games or those in the store. I was with adults with experience and knowledge. It would be different, it had to be. That’s why I came here to start with. I grabbed my sword, hold it tight in front of me, and walked through my door. I could hear my own and only footstep and my own heart beating as hard as it could. I turned around, my friends were all watching advance in my journey until I became lost to them by the living shadows of the night.
Even with my flashlight, it became hard to see. I didn’t know this part of the building. Instead of being a long straight hallway, I was forced to take turns into small man-made corridors. I was lost while going exactly where they wanted me to go. I’m not sure what is suffocating, the darkness, the silence, or me being in the middle of this. It seemed like I have been here forever, took probably 4 turns before they had me crawl under what looks like to be tables and desks. The turns seemed to happen more frequently, sometimes, I feel I’m walking along parallel corridors. In front of me a few steps going down, was I getting towards the end? I was feeling relieved, but in my head, the end of what?
Walking down those steps, I found myself back in a long hallway, with doors and either side. The doors were facing each other, spaced evenly all the way down. I tried to open the first door, it’s locked. I looked inside the lock and nothing. I tried the door in front of it and it’s the same. All the doors are locked. Walking down that hallway, using my flashlight, I inspect everything. No one is here to help me. There is no way out of this, except back. Searching around all the doors to find any possible keys or inscription, my luck was thinning. I lit the ceiling hoping for some clues but nothing that seems apparent. I started to walk back and forth that hallway. It’s not like I had a choice where to go since I walked alone through that door. I know I’m where I need to be. It was a long hallway with no painting. Just green walls, brown doors, and white trims. The trims around the doors looked a lot nicer than the ones on the floor, they would even look newer. I started inspecting those old trims and they seemed to be as old as the building itself. Why changing the trims around the doors but not on the floor? I followed them along the entire length of one side of the hallway, then turned around, move to the other side, and walked down again in the opposite direction. I continued painting those trims with my flashlight, taking the necessary time to see every detail. Reaching closer to the end of the hallway, my hopes started to diminish. Making the last few steps and right before turning around and scream, I saw a crack or rather a cut in the trim. I followed the cut up along the wall, after 5 feet, it makes a 90-degree angle and rests on the intersection of the walls. I followed the line again and realized it was one of those hidden doors unto like the ones in those European castles. I brace myself and push on it. All I can see were stairs, and they only went down.
Taking that first step on that spiral staircase, happened very slowly. With all the dust and smell of mold, I wasn’t sure if it would hold the weight of a human. Most staircase stops at every floor, but not this one. It seems like it was meant only to go from the main floor to a deep basement. After going to what seems to be 4 flights of stairs, I encounter an alcove with one metal gate on the other side. I could see stagnant water, which offered a variant set of colors depending on the angle of my flashlight. The smell was getting awful. I was starting to understand what they meant by dare. Awkwardly enough, still no sounds. The silence was killing me. I was afraid I would see or hear rats, but it seems like every living thing was either dead and has never been born here. My boots were barely high enough to walk through the water without getting my feet wet. My thought of keeping the cowboy boots was really a great plan! I wasn’t going to hit the flashlight against the brick wall, to make sure I could still hear, but in reality, I was more afraid to wake up whatever is sleeping downstairs. “It’s just a game!” I kept telling myself. It looks like my mind is getting trapped in the adventure and decided to make it real. It was hard to disconnect while my 5 senses feed on the reality that is in front of me. If I stopped walking, my mind would start wondering about everything, fear would come, and I would lose the ability to move. How could something so real, not be? Would that even be possible? Was I dreaming while we lay on the ground? I don’t think it was drugs, I was aware enough and questioning myself. I decided to hit myself using the sword, technically that should wake me up if it was only a dream, that’s what everyone tells you to do. I put the flashlight under my armpit, old the sword with my 2 hands in front of me, and pointed it down. I count one, two and… three! I raised my arms as fast and as powerful as I could. The sword hit the ceiling hard, tons of dust and mold flew around me, an unexpected brick fell slowly but heavily on my shoulder. I scream out loud! Suddenly, I can hear the water moving 50 feet in front of me. I dropped the sword and pointed the flashlight in that direction. Other than ripples, I could see nothing else. I picked my weapon from the water, turn off the light, and stepped against the wall.
Silence had come back. I just knew I wasn’t alone. I really don’t think what was under the water was friendly. Whatever it was, I was going to live and it won’t. Being against that wall for what seems to be 10 minutes, I still didn’t know what my next step would be. I decide to turn the light back on towards the sound, and seeing nothing new, I slowly moved it towards me to see if something had come quietly to eat my still alive body. I think I’m going to die of fear more than anything. I continue searching all around, the only thing I could see was further in the tunnels, it looks like the water does stop. With either courage or stupidity, I wasn’t certain and not sure if I cared which one it is, I walked towards the dry spot. I actually walk there fairly fast. If I was scared of it, maybe it was scared of me too. Arriving at the dry spot, it looked like some form of platform. It extended a bit in front of me and had an angle to the right. I move more carefully now, trying to see what’s on the right. A smile grew on my face, I could see a door with a torch next to it! I think I made it, I really made it! I move quickly, make the turn, facing the door, only to be stopped violently and pin to the ground.
Landing flat on my face, I had not time to fully gain consciousness, whatever pulled me down is still pulling me towards it using one of my legs. With my other feet, I kick it, got on my knees, and started to move away. I felt it again with even more violence, I was pulled down and dragged on the dirty platform. I managed to turn around on my bag just before I saw the horror. Attached to my boot was a thin vine. My eyes followed it quickly and saw it becoming thicker while being surrounded by a large pack of vines all more alive than the other. The one attached to me was coming more alive as its thorns started to shred my boot and slowly moving up my leg. I tried to reach for my sword making the vine giving my leg a tighter squeeze. I had to get my sword. If the thorns could do that to my boot, imagine the rest of my leg! I tried to kick it some more to release its grip and managed to get a hold of my fake and incredibly shiny sword. I wack the vine as hard as I could to free my leg, only to discover that blood covering my skin and my leg paralyzed. Sitting back up, I dragged myself away from the beast giving me some hope for an escape. Sadly that hope didn’t last and the rest of it went fast. Several vines came to me and grabbed both of my legs. They moved quickly up my body. I tried to use my sword again but while vines did leave me, more come to shred my flesh. I use the sword to pry them from my dead legs but their grip was so strong that I broke it. My sword had become a pointy dagger. With the last strength I had, I stabbed the vines as violently as I could, sometimes breaking them, sometimes missing them, and seeing my blood squirt straight up in a thin liquid form. I couldn’t feel a thing. I couldn’t win. I couldn’t live, but I could still fight. I used that dagger everywhere I could see the vines. They were on my legs, reached my hips. They also had my other hand. I was stabbing everything. My eyes were looking ahead without a purpose. All I could think was vines everywhere and stabbing. My stabbing became slower. They pulled me into their corner. More vines came to devour me until I couldn’t see and lost my energy to breathe. Only vines could be seen sitting on top of a buddle of blood, my blood.