You are standing at the entrance of a bizarre and ominous [[fortress]], unsure of what to do next.
[[Knock, knock.]]As you reach to knock on the large wooden door you notice that it is [[already ajar->already_ajar]]. Indeed, the strange castle is far from virgin territory for you at this point. In fact, you and your [[brother]] have both been through your fair share of adventures in the [[Bastion Arcana->bcabout]].
[[My parents insited->parents]]
[[Everyone does it at my age.->everyone]]
[[I want to be wealthy!->wealth]]
[[I want to learn!->learner]]
[[Back->Start]]You step into a dark, ever-unsettling room with no sign of any light source whatsoever.
Suddenly the door swings shut behind you, locking you inside the dark room, seemingly forever!
[[Take a deep breath and remain calm.->calm]]You let out a deafening, bloodcurdling screech.
Wait, what was that you said? Speak up, man!
(display: "lightup")Hey! This is a family show, man! Watch the mouth!
You, scared of a dark room? Please! This hasn't been your first time dealing with this [[fortress]], much less //this// pathetic attempt at a trap for unwanted guests...
A beat or two after the doors close, a variety of candles and lamps flicker on and light the darkness. Suddenly the room's atmosphere becomes far more welcoming than it was mere seconds ago...
You walk into a [[main lounge]] area.Your brother is four years older than you, and he's far more down-to-earth. Whereas you've got [[high hopes]] for your future endeavors, he's taken on a job in a faraway village in the cold, harsh climate of the far north.
Like your [[father->f]], your brother demonstrates so much talent in the [[Universal Arts->Arts]] that it's a shame he hasn't sought out a Grandmastership.
You can't quite understand it. Where did their ambition go?The //Bastion Arcanum// is where young men in your family make several pilgrimages to in their early-20s, per a tradition that's been in the family for generations.
Your [[father->f]] made the journey.
So did your [[brother]].
And now you're about to join them amongst the ranks of those men who have passed this rite-of-passage and finally [[make your way through the world->rop]], right?
Ah, yes, the whole filial piety thing. Classic.
Granted, given your [[parentage->f]] it would make some sense that they'd want you to do this.
(display: "already_ajar")True, true, everyone does have to perform the rite, but why //you//?
(click: ?noansw)[ (replace ?noansw)["You know what, don't answer just yet. We'll come back to that one."]]
(display: "already_ajar")You grew up rather well-off, but let's be honest, gold is the answer to //any// problem, so what better reason to join the world of wealthy men by finding the //Arcanum Opes//, a member of the [[Arcana Cathexis->arcath]] family and an amulet that can "yield eternal wealth to those lucky enough to fin it."
You have a feeling that's what you're here to find this time around at [[Bastion Arcanum->bcabout]].
(display: "already_ajar")You've always reveled in your ability to learn. Your [[father->f]] taught you well; you've become proficient in many of the [[Universal Arts->Arts]], and you've made it through more than one challenging quest within these castle walls....
And yet, you still feel unfulfilled. They say that once you've completed this rite of passage, you're pretty much set for the rest of your life.
Maybe it comes from your father's side of the family, but you've begun to doubt that as of late.
Perhaps the //Arcana Cathexis// family of artifacts can give you the answers you seek....
(display: "already_ajar")Your father, the second of ten children, was a natural at the [[Universal Arts->Arts]]. He became one of the greatest Practitioners in the family.
Yet for some reason he chose not to become a Grandmaster. Instead, he married your mother and settled for a small job for which he was overqualified.
You never could understand why he didn't choose to both marry your mother //AND// seek Grandmastership...though it seems like your [[brother]] could understand...//''Ssuuuuuuuuuuuurrrre.''//
Whatever you say....
Anyway, there's this [[thing]] you were hanging around before...A fireplace at the far end of the room flares to life as you enter. There's a [[table]] against a nearby wall.What was it called again?
[[Plot->already_ajar]].''Universal Arts'': The collective term for the study and application of the scientific and technological tradition carried down for generations.
[[Back->f]]A beat or two after the doors close, a variety of candles and lamps flicker on and light the darkness. Suddenly the room's atmosphere becomes far more welcoming than it was mere seconds ago...
You walk into a [[main lounge]] area.There's an [[envelope]] with your name on it.Inside is a letter that reads:
//We have been expecting you, young one, for we know your ascendence to true adulthood is nigh on the horizon.
Per the// Bastion Arcanum's //traditional bylaws, you must pass one final test, after which your maturity will have been vindicated.
You must solve the puzzle of the // [[Arcana Cathexis->arcath]] //hidden in this// Bastion // if you wish to join society and prosper.
Use the tools you have earned over the years to guide you.
Lords of Arcana//
There's also a [[key]].
''How do you feel?''
[[Frustrated]]You //knew// this was going to be the task! Finally, all of this strife is going to pay off!
It's time to find the lock the goes with the [[key]]!You just want to find the damn things and get on with it.
[[Look for the lock->key]].Why are you being forced into yet another wild goose chase? Seriously!
[[Look for lock anyway->key]]
[[Leave]]The //Arcana Cathexis//...the three Artifacts of Absorption, There's something you've dreamed about doing that you haven't been able to consider up until now. Now that you're about to take the final rite of passage, you've done lots of thinking and planning, and now that the time has come, it's time. //Your// time.
(display: "already_ajar")Also inside the [[envelope]] is a small key with a tag that reads "The Key to Unlocking What Lies Behind The Fire Of Your Heart."
Between it and the letter, what's the connection? What does it mean?
[[It's a riddle]]
[[It's a joke]]
[[It means nothing]]
That must be it! The key is supposed to unlock something in the lounge area!
Looking around, you notice three places where the lock might be.
[[Fireplace]]Unlikely. The [[Arcana Fellowship]] aren't known for their sense of humor.
And they're not known for lying outright. If they give away a key, it's got a use.
(display: "It's a riddle")(display: "It's a joke")The elders who are responsible for creating the //Arcana// artifacts. They speak in broad metaphorical terms and are believed to be otherworldly in nature.
[[Back->It's a joke]]You approach a large lamp in the far east corner of the room and look all around the immediate area for a lock.
[[Statue]]A statue of the Grand Elder rests in the center of the room. You approach and start looking for a hidden switch or lock.
Unfortunately, feeling up the Grand Elder has yielded nothing except a sick joke...
[[Fireplace]]You walk up to the fireplace and start feeling the area around it.
You soon find a strange [[divet->lock]] in the corner of the stone fireplace, and insert the key.You insert the key and turn it. Suddenly, the fireplace starts to shift, revealing a [[passageway]].You throw your hands in the air and kick down the locked door, returning to your village empty-handed.
You Refused the Call.
*The End*You step inside and walk down a long corridor, stopping at what appears to be a [[stone altar->altar]].As you approach the altar, the floor around you glows a bright luminescent light.
A booming voice says,
//DO YOU SEEK THE ARTIFACTS OF DESTINY?//
[[Answer timidly]]"Yes. I seek the Arcana Cathexis and the power that they bring."
The booming voice replies,
//THEN KNEEL BEFORE THE ALTAR AND PREPARE TO// [[STAND TRIAL]]."Y-yes, I seek the wisdom and p-power of the //Arcana//"
//BE NOT AFRAID. TRUST IN YOUR OWN HEART, THAT YOU MAY FURTHER TRUST OTHERS.//
"Uh, okay, I will. Thanks for the advice."
//IF THOU SEEKEST THE ARCANA CATHEXIS, THOU MUST PROVE THYSELF WORTHY. THOU MUST [[STAND TRIAL]].//You do as instructed, rather nervous but still with resolve.
//GOOD. NOW, ANSWER FOR ME THE FOLLOWING [[QUESTIONS]].//
//FIRST. WHOM DO YOU VALUE THE MOST AMONG THE FOLLOWING:
A) [[MOTHER AND FATHER->family]]
D) [[LOVER]]//WHAT DO YOU WANT THE MOST?//
E) [[NONE OF THE ABOVE]]//ALAS, THE TRIAL OF YOUR HEART IS COMPLETE.//
A golden mirror descends from above.
//THOU HAST BEEN GRANTED THE ARCANA NARCISSUS, THE MIRROR OF SELF-ABSORPTION.//
As you gaze in the mirror, your eyes fill with blinding light and you feel yourself [[fade->realworld1]].//You stand onstage at graduation, waiting to receive your degree. Your family is nowhere to be found; they want nothing to do with you after all that's happened.
People often ask: why'd you do it? Why did you drag everyone down with you?
Because of a grand moment of narcissism, your father and brother are dead, and you're all alone.
But that's what you wanted, isn't it?//
THE END //WOULD YOU BE PREPARED TO LIVE TOGETHER FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES IF FATE MADE THAT HAPPEN?
B) [[NO]]//THE TRIAL IS COMPLETE. THOU HATH BEEN GRANTED THE ARCANUM AMOR, THE PENDANT OF LOVE.//
A shining pendant descends from above and gently places itself around your neck. You feel an immense warmth as your consciousness [[fades out->realworld2]]//THE TRIAL IS COMPLETE. THOU HAST BEEN GRANTED THE ARCANUM LUXURIA, THE MASK OF LUST.//
An elaborate-looking mask descends from above, and binds itself to your face as you feel a kind of cold ecstasy that makes you [[fade away->realworld3]]//You have just gotten your diploma and returned from your festivities when you receive a call from Her.//
//You met many years ago, in your dorm. It was a chance encounter that helped define you and the rest of college. You've developed a bond that could never be broken.//
//And yet neither of you have sought a relationship.//
//"Hey," she says over the phone, "you wanna come over sometime?"//
//You smile. "Sure, I'd like that."//
THE END//You wanted to be popular. You wanted to be special.
You wanted to sleep around as much as humanly possible.
But that was your downfall, because you abandoned *everything* else in your life - grades, work, family, even your dreams.
And one by one, people abandoned *you* as well. You used and were used, hurt and were hurt, manipulated and were manipulated.
But in the end, you are truly on your own.//
THE END(display: "SELF")(display: "NO")//THE TRIAL IS COMPLETE. THOU HAST BEEN GRANTED THE ARCANUM CONSCIENTIUM, THE SCROLL OF KNOWLEDGE.//
A gigantic scroll descends from on high, and into your arms. Just by holding it, it's as if you can //feel// the knowledge contained within. You close your eyes and let yourself [[fade away->realworld4]](display: "YES")//THE TRIAL IS COMPLETE. THOU HAST BEEN GRANTED THE ULTIMATE ARCANUM CATHEXIS: SPERO, THE PENDANT OF HOPE.//
A white, heavenly light shines down upon you, as a glowing pendant appears on your neck. You start to tear up.
You've done it. You know now why your father and brother settled for quieter lives: they found meaning elsewhere.
Suddenly, achievement and ambition don't matter quite as much anymore.
You have completed this rite of passage having awoken to the truth:
That no matter how rough life gets, you can always find meaning in it, and with meaning comes hope.
//MAY THOU WALKST ALONG THINE OWN PATH IN SEARCH OF THEIR OWN LIFE'S MEANING.//
The light intensifies more, and you feel yourself start to ascend.
//REMEMBER: THOU ART NOT ALONE.//
You close your eyes and [[fade away->realworldtrue]] in a moment of bliss.//You did it. After fifteen weeks of academic Hell on Earth, you have emerged victorious. You are now a young scholar, and are on your way to greatness.
Yet you still feel empty inside. Devoting yourself to your studies required you to shut out everything else: friends, lovers, family.
But hey, you're smart, so you'll think of something, won't you?//
THE END//You sit in front of a word processor, typing away at the allegorical summary of your final college semester and the hint of what the future holds.
You aren't jacked, you dont' have any Ivy League degrees, and you're not in a romantic relationship.
But that's okay, because instead you've found another path to traverse.
The path of meaning, of faith.
The path of hope.
And remember, as the Grand Elder said,
you are not alone.//
THE (TRUE) END
Thanks for playing!
//The Arcana Cathexis//
by Tom Kline
[[About]]This is a hypertext that I wrote for a Creative Writing independent study on cybertexts and interactive fiction during the Fall 2014 semester. I wrote the story in Twine 2, having had some previous experience writing stories with it for my Advanced Fiction (Flash Fiction) and Digital Storytelling classes. Although Twine 2 was still in an experimental state (lacking many of the bells and whistles found in its predecessor), I found it far easier to use than its non-browser-based counterpart, though as with any piece of software, I ran into my share of bugs that needed to be smoothed out.
The objective for the assignment was to create a hypertext containing the following:
- Multiple endings (no "cheap deaths")
- "Lore" passages that expand the world of the story beyond the events at hand
- A twist involving a "metaphorical dissolve" from one reality to another.
The story itself is a "semi-autobiographical" account of my final semester of undergraduate studies. Between this independent study, a graduate-level class on game design, a bachelor's thesis for the College Honors Program, a modern dance class, two on-campus jobs, a weekly column for the school newspaper, and a number of poorly-timed bouts of sickness and technical issues, I found that semester to be one of the most challenging periods of my entire life. The setting and plot are metaphorical representations of my mental state at the time: those final weeks truly made me feel like I was approaching the //Bastion Arcanum//, desperately looking for a sign of relief.
Needless to say, I was able to pull through in the end, and happily walked across the stage at graduation on December 13, 2014.
But what about you? How will you fare in the mysterious //Bastion Arcanum//? Click [[Start]] to find out!