You are Girth Loinhammer, Dungeon Lord!
Or...that's what it says on your business cards.
Or...that's what that shady dwarven stationer //said// it says.
The truth is, you're beginning to wonder, because even though your fearsome dungeon is clearly quite terrifying--chock full of whips and chains and hot wax, that sort of thing--you can't help but notice that all the paladins and rogues and scantily clad sorceresses who come through the door seem really enthusiastic about the stuff you do here.
And it makes you feel icky.
Frankly, you're about ready to [[stride off into the world]] and try something else entirely.
Or you might just [[sit around moping]].
It's all good, you guess.Yeah. Yeah! Yeah!!!
You prepare to stride off into the world in search of adventure. However, you are halted by a tear in the very fabric of reality, through which steps the author himself!
"Ah ah ah!" says the author. "No adventures for you! This version of the story is just a sample: you'll have to [[sit around moping]] instead."
Turns out the guy writing this is a total dick.
Who knew?You lean back in your diabolical black throne and think about your life.
You've got a good thing going here. In a world where 99% of the population are mud-spattered farmers with nothing to eat but turnip tops, you live in an ostentatiously decorated subterranian tunnel complex. This isn't one of those "Think of all the starving children in Azeroth" spiels, by the way. Thinking of those suffering farmers actually cheers you up a bit.
But only a bit.
Because as impressive as this place is, you've pretty much sunk everything into it, and it has //not// gone as planned.
You kind of want to [[go to the pantry]] and get a mead, but it's eight in the morning. As a rule, you generally [[wait]] until at least eight thirty.You're far too much of a badass to care what time it is, and in any case there's nobody else here to judge you for drinking in the morning. That second thing is probably more of a factor in your decision to head over to the pantry, if you're honest with yourself. You can have a mead any time you like!
Except right now, apparently: you don't have any.
That really bums you out.
You could accept that you've now hit rock bottom and [[try to turn your dungeon into something less depressing]], or you could [[find a tavern and drink there]].You're not a complete loser: you continue sitting in your massive fancy bad guy chair, contemplating the series of regrettable life choices that led you to to this particlar intersection of time and space. This, and no other.
You ponder the multitude of occurrences that might have been, and lament that--alas--they were not.
You also consider going out and punching that serf who gave you a Word-of-the-Day calender as tribute a few months back. The nerve of some peons! Your throbbing muscles and pointless leather chest straps may regrettably come across as more titillating than terrifying, but the fact remains that you are a formidable agent of evil and you can swing a spiky piece of wood really hard! If the masses won't respect you (and at this point they won't. They really, really won't), then you shall [[make them fear you]]!
Or, you know, just [[stick with moping]]. You have actually got a fair bit of use out of that calendar, after all.Right.
Here it is.
The absolute most important decision of your entire life (not including the string of spectacularly bad decisions that led you to living in this dank hole in the ground, constantly besieged by BDSM enthusiasts).
Protracted [[campaign of violence and terror]], or [[spooky ghost costume]].You contine moping.
You can afford to take a (seriously depressing) day for yourself. You've got a small army of goblin slaves to keep the dungeon running. It'll last another day without the managerial attentions of your iron fist.
Actually, come to think of it, you've never really considered how this place would cope without you. You like to think you've scared the goblins into a regular dungeon routine--searching for intruders, oiling the deathtraps, wiping down the Rack of Zhoug--but you never really know how they act when you're not around.
It occurs to you that you could [[spy on the goblins]], and maybe jump out suddenly if you catch them doing anything wrong. That would be productive and mildly entertaining. And because they're goblins, you're basically certain that some of them will be doing something wrong.
But then, what if you discovered that they were actually doing fine? What if it's really the goblin slaves, the guys on the ground, who keep this place running? What if you're just the unintentionally sexy figurehead of an organisation that ultimately doesn't need any input from you whatsoever? That would really give you something to [[mope]] about.You clomp stealthily over to the slave quarters in your massive honking bad guy boots. They've got awesome villain spikes on, and super sinister jingle bells, and they should actually light up only each one needs like six AA batteries and you just can't afford that many Arcane Alchemy batteries.
Wizard stuff is expensive.
Point is, the very fact that the goblins haven't noticed you stomp-sneaking up on them is grounds for punishment, since half the goblins' job is just to make some kind of noise when they notice someone wandering around the dungeon. You wonder if you'd get better results by keeping some [[sort of animal]] to perform that role.
But at the same time, you should still [[sort out this goblin business]]. They still haven't noticed you, and that is still not okay.Your self-esteem has taken enough knocks (and licks, and friction burns...) lately. You don't think you could face finding out that your goblin slaves //aren't// completely useless, so you'll probably just sit here quietly and not do anything that might rob you of the few small comforts you still have.
Then again, that thing you just thought is so totally depressing that you sort of feel as though you should get out and do something. Maybe take a few chances. After all, what have you got to lose?
There is [[a knock at the door]].
Oh, right. Dignity. Or what's left of it. Well, if you really want to take a chance, now's your...chance. You're sure there's some kind of clever wordplay to be had there, but right now you're too busy [[pretending not to be home]] to think of it. Also, neither "clever" nor "wordplay" are really your kind of thing."Please don't be wearing bondage gear," you think to yourself as you prepare to open the throne room door. "Please don't be wearing bondage gear. Please don't be wearing bondage gear. Please don't be wearing bondage gear."
"Hello," says the muscular gentleman in the black leather mask, putting out a beshackled hand for you to shake. "Rod Crotchthump. Pleased to meet you."
You breathe a noiseless sigh of relief. It's just another Dungeon Lord.
Potentially a //rival// Dungeon Lord.
Right here in your dungeon.
You [[welcome him in]], trying to [[recall where you left that bottle of poison]].You blow out all the candles in the throne room and sit in the dark for a bit, desperately hoping that whoever's out there doesn't know about any of the secret passages or hidden entrances or that your goblin slaves will do anything for a groat.
Today is not getting any less soul-destroying.
You suddenly have a flash of inspiration. You could totally [[write a novel about a dungeon lord]], and at the end it could turn out that ultimately he was the one who was trapped in the dungeon all along. People would read that!
Well, some people would read that. Sappy people.
Elves would read that.
Now that you've thought about it a little longer, you're not sure it's quite the Ogre's Book Club blockbuster you thought it was.
[[And you've got moping to do.]]It occurs to you that writing a bestselling novel would be a whole lot easier if you weren't completely illiterate. You can't even read your own business cards, for crying out loud!
The way you see it, if you're serious about this novelling idea then you've got two options: you can [[kidnap an actual writer]], or you can [[lock all your goblin slaves in a room]] with a bunch of quills and parchment and inkwells and stuff like that. You figure that if you leave enough goblins in a room with that stuff for a long enough period of time, they're statistically guaranteed to produce a work of staggering literary beauty.
You might also have to chuck some food in there at some point. You're not sure.You consider relighting some of those candles.
Then you consider that if whoever knocked on the door //did// know another way to get in, then they've now had time to //actually// get in. It's pitch black. They could be standing right in front of you for all you know. And if they are, you probably don't want to see them. Past experience has taught you that much at least.
It occurs to you that although you don't know whether or not there's anyone else in here, one thing's for certain: if you can't see them, they can't see you. They've got no way of knowing whether or not you're sitting in your usual throne.
"Boy," you say, probably louder than necessary. "I sure am glad I decided not to sit in my usual throne and am somewhere else today."
No, wait, that was really dumb.
But on the bright side, nobody is laughing at you, so you're now confident that there's nobody here.
"That was actually my plan all along," you speak-shout as you get up to light the candles.
Clearly you're having a pretty stupid day today. Even if you don't feel like doing anything but [[moping]], maybe you should at least [[wander around the dungeon]] for a bit.
Nothing you've done so far seems to be helping."Mope mope mope mope mope," you think to yourself. "Mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope..."
Even though you're only thinking it, you find you have to pause for breath.
"...mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope mope."
Well, that sure passed the time. It was also quite annoying. Thanks to those two things, you're now reasonably sure that whoever knocked on the door a while back is now gone, and you've also got a little more motivation to [[get out of the throne room]].
Or you could just [[keep moping]]. Maybe you could break some kind of record.You make your way slowly through the winding passages that make up your diabolically evil domain.
"Hey!" comes a shout from nearby, making you jump in a manly, ready-for-combat sort of way.
You look over to see a muscly chap wearing not very much at all. It's pretty just leather underpants and some criss-cross, spike-studded chest straps. Clearly the uniform of a dungeon-dweller much like yourself.
"Are you Girth Loinhammer?" he asks. "//The// Girth Loinhammer?"
Wow. It's not often anyone sticks a "//the//" in front of your name: and in this line of work, that's pretty much the only thing your so-called victims don't try sticking anywhere.
It's...it's really sad what you have to put up with.
But you should probably say something before the conversational void starts to get awkward. Social stuff isn't your forte, but that's one thing you've definitely picked up by this point. You should probably go ahead and [[answer]].
Though actually, if you're out to torture people who trespass here, could it possibly work out better if you [[don't answer]]? Does conversational awkwardness count as torment?
It sounds kind of dumb when you think about it, but you could always do with another trick up your sleeve.
You could also do with sleeves. You should add those to your shopping list.
You could also do with a shopping list.You wander around the dungeon for a bit, see how things are going, no biggie.
You notice that everything outside the throne room is absolutely coated with dust and cobwebs. You're still not planning to actually spy on your goblin slaves, in case it turns out they are in fact more competent than you thought, but you take the generally poor upkeep of your lair as solid evidence that they absolutely depend on you to provide them with motivation.
And by "motivation" you of course mean "frequent and largely arbitrary beatings."
But the cobwebs and whatnot are nicely atmospheric, so you guess you'll let that one slide. You're confident that wasn't the goblins' plan all along, because they're goblins, and they suck.
Come to think of it, maybe it would be worth [[checking on the goblins]] after all. Or you might even take your wandering [[outside]].Just for a change, you try moping upside down for a bit. You've definitely seen people sit on sofas upside down, sort of lying on the seat with their knees hanging over the back.
Turns out it works better with a sofa than with a six foot high granite throne. The spikes, skulls and ominous cast iron runes make it particularly uncomfortable.
You go back to sitting normally.
In fact, screw that. You stand up.
At first you only stand up because you've got a foot cramp and for some reason putting weight on it is the way to fix that. But then you figure that you could take a figurative stand as well as a literal one. The day's not over yet: there's still time to [[make a real change in your life]]!
Or, you know, there's always [[more moping]]. They say "start as you mean to continue," so if you just keep doing what you've been doing all day so far, then to an outside observer it'll look like that was the plan all along.This is it. This is the day you make a difference!
You stride across the throne room to the great gates of your stronghold. Goblin slaves scatter before you as you march through the winding passages of your nefarious underground empire. No more shall you sit waiting for opportunity to come to you: you shall go to it, and it will really, //really// wish you hadn't, because from now on you're going to spend every minute of every day being a total badass.
Carpe diem, //biatch//.
You push open the vast front gates of your dungeon and bask in the light that stings your eyes. The light that beams itself into your dark halls almost horizontally, as though the sun itself were brought low by the sight of your greatness.
Ah, nuts. There's barely any diem left to carpe.
You suppose you could just head out anyway, maybe try to present yourself as some kind of scourge of the night, but it's bound to get cold later and your dungeonwear really isn't suited to that kind of thing.
Oh well. You'll make a start on all that badassery tomorrow. Just like you said you would yesterday.
And the day before that.
And the day before that.
THE ENDYou're so smart.
It may have been kind of a boring day, and you hit some definite low points there, but your strategy of staying put and not doing very much actually kind of paid off in the short term. Nothing went particularly well, but at the same time nothing went spectacularly wrong either.
If you can just keep this up, the whole dungeon idea might work after all!
Except that if it does, you'll know for sure that it's the goblins doing all the work and you're just a sexy figurehead. Like one of those mermaids they stick on the front of ships.
What do they call those again?
Maybe it's tomorrow's word of the day.
You head off to the pantry to grab that mead.
You sure earned it!
THE ENDYou make your way over to the slave quarters, trying to maintain an air of "I'm checking on you unannounced because I'm a terrifying and unpredictable overlord" rather than just looking desperate for company.
You're equal parts pleased and dismayed to discover that following your day of mostly-moping, the goblins have totally stopped doing anything useful. At the moment you burst in, they're mostly spinning around in circles, then swinging at each other with knobbly wooden goblin clubs. "Dizzy-spinny goblin-clubbing," you think it's called.
Needless to say, they're pretty surprised to see you.
You're actually not that surprised or appalled at the discovery, but in order to maintain credibility as an evil overlord you have to hand out //some// kind of punishment. You demand that a dozen or so of them fight to the death for your amusement.
Since that was pretty much the plan anyway, everything works out well for everyone. And after seeing a few goblin brains splatter across the dungeon floor, you forget what had you so bummed out before.
This was a good day.
THE ENDYou push open the great doors of your domain and are greeted by a glorious sunset.
Ahhh. This was a good choice. It's a particularly pleasant evening, and a particularly impressive sunset: full of multicolour blinking lights and accompanied by a simple, repetitive tune played at such extreme volume that it makes your teeth rattle.
Suddenly, the sunset abducts you.
You find yourself strapped to a cold metal table in a peculiar dungeon of steel. A green, five-eyed creature steps forth from the shadows, holding aloft a large, knobbly, motorised device.
"Greetings, feeble Earth-being," begins the creature. "Prepare to divulge your Earth-secrets to the probe of..." it stops. "Oh no. Oh merciful Xhalbgar, no!"
"What is it?" asks another such creature, approaching the table. "By the gills of Thraab, this Earth-being is wearing Earth-bondage gear! Put it back! Put it back!"
"I'm trying!" cries the first, hammering at some kind of eject button. "I'm trying!"
"Why do we always get the ones who //want// to be probed?"
"I don't know!"
Finally, there is a click from the button, and you find yourself dumped unceremoniously back outside your dungeon. The alien vessel quickly zips off into the stars.
You consider that you might not be so badly off after all.
THE END"WHO DEMANDS TO KNOW?" you bellow, in your most authoritative Dungeon Lord voice. "BUT ALSO YES. YES I AM."
"Wow!" He does a most unauthoritative and un-Dungeon-Lord-y little dance. "I can't believe it's really you! I heard so much about you while I was at school--I was, like, two years below you--and then nothing after that. Nothing at all. Seemed pretty obvious you'd set up a really formidable and imposing dungeon out in the badlands somewhere. I figured I'd drop by and...you know...see if you needed any help around the place?"
You don't remember this guy at all. Which is probably to be expected, given that you made no friends whatsoever during your school years. Or after your school years for that matter. You've pretty much never made any friends, and [[you aren't about to start now]].
Alternatively, you suppose there might be some way you could [[use this situation to your advantage]].You remain utterly silent, staring at this beefy intruder with your stareful stare.
"Well?" he says, after a stare-filled pause. "Are you?"
Nuts. You didn't anticipate him letting loose another conversational volley on his own initiative. This is the kind of thing that makes you really wish you'd made different choices during your formative years: particularly during school.
For instance, you knew a bunch of kids who were terrible at every subject because they spent the whole time clowning around. They had popularity, but they never developed any kind of academic ability whatsoever. You, on the other hand, never developed any kind of academic ability //or// popularity. Becoming a dead-end class clown would actually have been a big step up for you. Instead, you pretty much spent the entire time bullying nerdy wizard kids.
Now you're largely unequipped for adult life, have no friends to help you out, and have developed several dozen lasting enemies, all of whom can now bend the very fabric of reality to their will. It keeps you up at night, wondering if your present misfortunes are actually the result of years' worth of hexes cast behind your back.
Oh, and you really suck at holding up your end of a conversation. You could [[remain silent]] and try to pretend you were really just sticking with that plan, but it might be better to actually [[say something]]."Are you deliberately not saying anything as an attempt at some kind of massively unconventional torture technique?" asks beefcake dungeon guy. "Because if so, it's not working."
Well, that sucks. But you're now committed to this endeavour, so you just keep right on not saying anything.
A bead of sweat rolls down his forehead. "I'm telling you," he says. "It's not working. It's really not working."
Maybe you should say something. In fact, it's more than a maybe. You're basically certain that the longer you keep this up, the stupider you look.
"It's not working!" he shouts, curling up into a foetal position and rocking back and forth. "I can't not hear you! I can't not hear you! Lalalalalalalala!"
You don't say anything more forcefully even than before.
"YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!" screams beefcake dungeon guy, and his head explodes.
Well, that was an unexpectedly positive end to an otherwise rather lacklutstre day. You go and fetch a mop, then use the non-mop end of it to jab one of your goblin slaves as he scrubs the brains off the wall of the passageway with his own moth-eaten tunic.
Ahh. Good things do happen to bad people!
THE ENDYou've forgotten what the question was.
"THESE LABRADORESCENT PISTACHIO UNDERGARMENTS ARE QUINTESSENTIALLY SPACIOUS!" you bellow, stringing together as many words of the day as you can in one sentence.
The beefcake dungeon guy stares at you in horror.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" he wails, ageing several decades in a matter of moments. "How did you know the incantation to activate the warlock's curse?"
You aren't sure how to answer that--you certainly don't want to admit that it was a total accident--so you turn your thoughts to the word-of-the-day calendar once more.
"MY ULTERIOR FRETWORK CATACOMBS WERE FURNISHED PRIMARILY WITH PLUTONIAN SCHISMS!" you shout.
There is a puff of cinnamon-scented smoke, and where the elderly dungeon guy was standing a moment ago, there is now only an ornate brass hatstand.
Well, if you //have// been hexed by a bunch of wizards from your school days, at least you're not the only one. And that's kind of comforting, you guess.
Plus you've gained an awesome hatrack.
If only you owned at least one hat.
THE END"Hmmmmm..." you say, stroking your freakishly large cleft chin.
You watch as his eyes light up. He seriously thinks you're about to...what? Give him some kind of generic fantasy bad guy internship? Is that even a thing?
"Would you by any chance be interested in some kind of generic fantasy bad guy internship?"
"Oh! Wow!" He does that little dance again. "That would be amazing!"
"Well tough," you say, punting him out the door, "because I don't think that's even a thing."
His dismay is sustenance to you.
This whole dungeon situation may not have worked out exactly as you'd planned, but you suppose that as long as you occasionally get a chance to hurt people who //aren't// into that sort of thing, you can manage to put up with the ones who do.
THE END"Hmmmmm..." you say, stroking your freakishly large cleft chin. "Well, I suppose you've shown some promise by getting this far. What's your name?"
"Crotchthump," answers the dungeon guy. "Rod Crotchthump."
This is just too perfect.
"Your visit is well timed," you say. "As it happens, I've been planning to establish a kind of dungeon franchise in...uh..." you forget the name of the generic fantasy world you live in. "In this general area. I could actually do with someone to run this place while I set up another, less...um...local dungeon. Somewhere else."
"Oh wow!" Rod Crotchthump dances about like an idiot once more.
"All you'd have to do is cover the franchise fee. It's two hundruh...thousand...groats."
"Two hundred thousand?" he grins. "For a whole dungeon, that's a steal!"
"It sure is." You nod. "It sure is."
And so you wander off into the sunset lugging two massive sacks of money, leaving Rod Crotchthump to deal with the massive mess you've made over the years.
All in all, today could not have gone better.
THE ENDYou don't actually know any actual writers, so you play it safe and kidnap someone you at least know will be able to produce letters and numbers. Since it's really just royalty who are reliably educated these days, you kidnap King Stephen.
"Boy," says King Stephen, "this sure does remind me of //Misery//!"
You have no idea what he's talking about, but pretend that you do in order to uphold the illusion that you're his number one fan (having discovered that King Stephen is in fact an actual writer who's produced a ridiculous number of books).
Since King Stephen is apparently quite a big cheese in the world of fiction (and the world in general, being a king and all), you start to wonder if you really want to [[make him write your story]] or if you'd be better off simply [[passing his work off as your own]].You gather together all your many goblin slaves, shove them into a room (not one of the nice ones) and lock the door. There's no way this can fail! You also shove in two dozen quill pens, five pots of ink and half a sheet of parchment. And a sandwich. They'll have to write small, but being goblins they //are// small, so you can't see how that would be a problem.
Also, you're the creative genius behind this. You're far too important to go shopping for pens and paper.
Come to think of it, you're not even sure why you have pens and paper.
Evidently that shady dwarven stationer conned you good.
You prepare to shout the gist of your masterful and engaging storyline through the door. Originally you were quite taken with the idea of writing [[an artsy literary tale]] about a Dungeon Lord figuratively trapped in his own dungeon, but now that you think about it you could do [[a really awesome action thriller]] about a billionaire strongman called Garth Lionhammer who rides a solid gold manticore from town to town dispensing justice and random acts of violence in equal measure. And who everybody loves and never has to sit in the dark pretending not to be home.You decide to stick with your first idea, though in hindsight you're not sure how much it will appeal to a mainstream audience and therefore how much moolah you will be able to squeeze out of it. But you figure that this way, if it doesn't do well at all, you can at least blame that on being an underappreciated genius.
Through the thick door, you tell the goblins your tragic (and entirely fictional) tale of the Dungeon Lord who found that it was he, in the end, who would rot in his dungeon.
You hear goblin-sobbin' from the other side, so either the story is really good or painfully bad. Which is handy, because it means that if the goblins don't like your idea then you've already punished them for not liking it.
You open the door a few minutes later and find that the goblins have completed their work. Unfortunately, it is written so small that only mice can read it.
Just at that moment, a mouse scurries over the manuscript, pauses to read a bit, then cries so hard it immediately dies of dehydration.
Looks like you can either [[try to publish]] this literary masterpiece, or you can [[move into pest control]] instead.You outline the plot of your action thriller to the goblins through the door.
Actually you don't. You pretty much just tell them the basic premise, because it's such a great premise that you're sure even a disorganised mass of goblins being held against their wishes will undoubtedly be able to see its brilliance and fill the blanks with something suitably riveting.
You wait an appropriate length of time--you figure six to eight minutes should do it--before opening the door to inspect your work in all its glory.
Turns out the goblins didn't actually write anything, but they //did// produce an extremely impressive fresco featuring the likeness of Garth Lionhammer, rendered in cheap dwarven ink and various sandwich condiments.
It's [[good]], that much is undeniable, but it's also not what you asked for, and so technically you should probably [[punish the goblins]].You dismiss the goblins and pause for a while to inspect their work. It's not what you asked for, but it's extremely impressive.
You wonder whether it might be possible to convert your dungeon into some kind of snooty museum. The sort of place where it's frowned upon for wizards to suddenly teleport all their clothes into a parallel dimension. Or at least more frowned upon than usual.
Then you realise that the mayonnaise is already starting to smell kind of funny. And it probably would have been a hassle anyway.
Oh well. Easy come, easy go.
THE ENDYou decide to punish the goblins by locking them all in a different room with a different sandwich. It's less tiring than having to punch them all individually, and if you're lucky you might get a mural out of it.
As you make your way back to the throne room, you consider that this is exactly the sort of cunning managerial decision that your dungeon depends on to thrive. Turns out your input is necessary after all!
Sure the goblins are the ones who make fabulous works of art with next to nothing in the way of time, training or raw materials, but you're the one who punishes them when they do.
And at the end of the day, isn't that what really counts?
THE ENDYou send your tiny manuscript to a lot of publishers without much success.
Without much success, that is, until you try Lilliput Press. Those guys love it!
Unfortunately, it turns out that Lilliput is a really small place, and it's really far away, and the exchange rate does not work at all in your favour. Basically, despite its massive popularity in that one particular area, the book makes no money whatsoever.
Still, you are satisfied with the simple knowledge that people will never again snigger at the name "Girth Meatthrust Loinhammer."
Well, not in Lilliput, at least.
Which will be nice if you ever go.
THE ENDYou quickly set up a pest control business--even get a little goblin-drawn cart to carry around your precious manuscript--but unfortunately it doesn't go as well as you'd hoped.
Turns out that although your dungeon has long been infested with magical superintelligent mice, almost everyone else has the regular non-magical dumb mice, against which your goblin-scribed sob-story is totally ineffective.
Also, you weren't aware of this before moving into "the business" but mice pee //constantly//. So after leaving your novel in rodent-plagued houses a few times, it's too badly soiled even for magic mice to read.
It makes you kind of wish you'd taken the opportunity to at least read it yourself.
THE ENDIt turns out that the kind of story you had in mind--the whole Dungeon Lord unable to escape dungeon thing--isn't King Stephen's cup of tea. He's a more than competent writer and does a top notch job, but it still doesn't have the same spark it would if he'd been more personally invested in the project.
Or he says it doesn't. You have to take his word for it because you can't read.
He admits he's doubtful what kind of future the book will have if you want to [[send it out yourself]]. However, he's put enough effort into it that he'd be happy to [[put his name on the cover]]. Frankly, he thinks that's the only thing that will really ensure decent sales figures.You pretty much let King Stephen get on with it.
The book, that is. You've got no reason to let him keep up with his kingly duties, and in the political vacuum produced by his kidnapping, mass lawlessness ensues. Some kind of elder god cult springs up to fill the void and King Stephen's kingdom really goes downhill. You think it's been shifted into an entirely different plane of existence, but you're not sure. Politics isn't really your thing.
Anyway, King Stephen finishes the book and it looks really good.
The thing is, he says, the only reason King Stephen books sell so well is that they've got his name in huge letters on the cover. That's what really draws people to them, given the years and years he's spent putting out high quality works of fiction that are guaranteed to horrify and intrigue in equal measure.
That and his subjects are--were--required to buy them on penalty of death. That was naturally quite a boost.
So basically you can [[let him publish the book under his own name]] for the money or [[publish it under yours]] for the fame.You let King Stephen publish the book under his name--it makes commercial sense after all--and wait for the money to roll in.
The thing is, apparently it doesn't work like that. He's got to tour a bunch of other kingdoms promoting the book, and make appearances on various wizards' crystal balls, and generally it seems as though writing the book was somewhere in the region of less than half the work.
Frankly, you're glad you let King Stephen take care of everything. You don't get a book out of it, but you also don't have to do anything, so that's handy.
THE ENDYou insist on publishing the book under your own name.
It does not go well.
For some reason, the thing ends up in the erotic secion of every single bookshop it ends up in. Admittedly that's not a lot of bookshops, since currently there are very few people around who can read, but for a while you're really concerned that people will start associating the name "Girth Meatthrust Loinhammer" with erotic stuff, which you'd like to avoid if at all possible.
Fortunately, everyone who actually reads the thing is so disappointed with its total lack of erotic content that it gets forgotten pretty quickly. You let King Stephen go. Or you tell the goblins to let him go. Or you meant to, anyway--and it's the thought that counts--so it all works out for everyone in the end.
THE ENDKing Stephen was right. The book goes absolutely nowhere. It doesn't even attract the attention of an agent. There's nothing else to be said.
THE ENDYou let King Stephen send the book out, and sure enough it just gets snapped up straight away. This is a given, apparently: he's got a solid group of readers waiting eagerly for new work, and not just because //not// reading his books is a capital offense.
You know for sure because his kingdom was razed to the ground in his absence. He had to change his first name to "King" just so he could still be called "King Stephen."
Anyway, he's shown enough dedication to your story at this point that you pretty much just let him do whatever. It turns out that was a real mistake, though, because the first time you let him out of the dungeon to go to a book signing, he never comes back.
Basically, he steals your idea and makes at least a million groats off of it. What a jerk!
But you were responsible for the destruction of his entire kingdom, so at least you got some preemptive revenge.
THE ENDYou know what? This is actually too rare an opportunity to waste. Virtually everyone who comes into your dungeon is some weirdo posing as an adventurer in the hopes that you'll tie them up and whip them. Everyone else is an actual adventurer who's trying to slay you and take your stuff. This is the first time you've had a visitor who's actually on your side.
You tell this to Rod Crotchthump, who you suspect has probably faced similar troubles himself.
Rod tells you that he was actually planning to knock you unconscious and usurp your throne, but now he'd feel kind of bad about it.
There's probably a lesson to be had here about kindness being repaid and honesty being the best policy, but you'd have to tear up your villain card if you ever admitted it.
At least you think that's how villain cards work.
It's how that shady dwarven stationer told you they work. That's why you have so many.
You really need to stop buying stuff on the doorstep.
"You're awfully quiet," says Rod. "What are you thinking about?"
Honestly, you're thinking about [[tracking down that dwarven stationer]], but it's getting late. It might be more worthwhile just [[heading to the pub with your new friend]]."Rod, my man!" you say, in keeping with the mannerisms of the kids of today. "Can I get you anything? Ale? Mead? Suspiciously bitter piña colada?"
Rod Crotchthump chooses a mead. The manly choice. The //right// choice.
You invite him to take a seat in the Chamber of Unfathomable Peril while you fetch his super-masculine fermented honey beverage.
But alas, when you reach the pantry you discover that you are all out. You're far too diabolically evil to go shopping yourself, and your goblin slaves are far too incompetent to remember, so the closest thing to food or drink you have is that little pot of baking powder. And offering that to your guest would surely be an embarrassment.
Of all the ways you could have been embarrassed today, this is not one that you had anticipated.
Since you were planning to murder Rod anyway, you could always just grab a morning star and [[claim the offer of a beverage was a ruse all along]], but you could kind of go for a mead yourself now. Maybe you could [[murder him at a local tavern]] instead."Aha!" you shout, leaping through the doorway with weapon held high.
"Aha!" shouts Rod Crotchthump, doing much the same thing.
Well this is awkward.
"Oh wow!" cries Rod, looking from his morning star to yours. "We're mace buddies!"
It's true. Clearly Rod has impeccable taste in spikèd instruments of doom and you two have [[more in common]] than you first thought. But you also kind of [[hate him]] for using the phrase "mace buddies."
It also looks as though he was trying to murder you--the cheek!--but next to the mace buddies thing that's neither here nor there."So, hey," you say, poking your head around the doorway of the Chamber of Unfathomable Peril. "I was just thinking, it might be fun to...wait, were you about to ambush me with a morning star?"
"No," says Rod, hastily hiding a morning star behind his back.
He was, though. He totally was.
"Don't be a dick, Rod," you say. "What's going on here?"
"Alright," he sighs. "I'll tell you."
Aw, nuts. This sounds like it's going to be [[a long story]]. You're [[not sure if you care]]."Yeah," you say. "What you said."
"You know," says Rod, leaning on his morning star. "I came here planning to set up shop in your dungeon by any means necessary--and naturally murder seemed like the most straightforward method--but now I'm wondering if we might be able to sort out something else. Perhaps we should [[join forces]]?"
Well, that might work. But it seems as though you could save a lot of trouble by setting up [[some kind of timeshare]] instead."Really?" you ask. "Can I get a closer look at yours?"
Rod hands it over.
"Huh," you say. "You're right: they're a perfect pair."
And then you proceed to beat him to a pulp with the two identical morning stars. It's easily the smartest thing you've done all day, and it totally makes up for the drinks fiasco. You wonder if you can top it by [[coming up with a witty one-liner]], but just [[sticking with brute strength]] might play more to your strengths."Stop!" you shout, and pause in your pummelling. After a beat, you shout "Hammertime!" and start up again.
"That joke would work a lot better if you were beating me with hammers rather than maces," says Rod, displaying an uncanny ability to analyse pop culture references while being pounded with pointy chunks of metal on sticks.
"Oh yeah." You think for a bit before trying: "If you were a celebrity, this would make you a //mourning star//."
"Yeah, but I'm not, am I?" says Rod, in between mace thwacks. "And it's a long way to go for not much payoff."
"I guess." You spend a while trying to think of another, but you've got nothing. "Would you believe that those jokes were intended as an additional, unconventional form of torture?"
"Not really, no."
Well that sucks. You end up letting Rod Crotchthump go in the end. He's peculiarly resistant to being repeatedly hit over the head with a pair of morning stars, and whatever he originally came here for, he seems to have gone off the idea.
Basically, you blew it.
THE ENDYou continue pummelling Rod Crotchthump in silence. It's not flashy, and half the time you sort of feel as though you should say something just to be polite, but it gets the job done.
You celebrate your victory by having your head goblin slave craft Rod's skull into a ghoulish (if leaky) drinking vessel.
This brings you back to the problem of your understocked pantry: you want to try out your skull goblet because it's all fancy and new, but you don't have any booze to put in it. In the end, you fill it with water and mix in the old baking soda. It seems to have absorbed quite a bit of pineapple odour at some point--you're not sure how that happened--so it's actually kind of like a fizzy piña colada.
You know that probably sounds a bit effete, but you're drinking it out of the skull of your enemy so it all balances out.
THE ENDYou shift your diabolical black throne a few feet to the left and order in a slightly less diabolical, less black throne to set up next to it. You tell Rod that the catalogue said "Onyx," but actually it said "Licorice." He'll never know.
"Oh, hey," says Rod, once he's got all his stuff unpacked. "I think I heard someone skulking around in the Chamber of Unfathomable Peril a while back. Figured I'd let you know. It being your dungeon and all. I think this one might be a ghost or a ghoul or something: there was a lot of moaning and groaning going on back there."
"Oh," you say, leaning back in your throne. "I'll let you take care of this one. My treat."
You think this arrangement is going to work out just fine.
THE ENDThe timeshare idea goes ''horrendously''. It's just about bearable at first--and it gives you a much-needed break from all the weirdos who frequent the place--but pretty quickly you and Rod end up fighting over who gets the dungeon during prime dungeoning seasons and events. Your original, informal, "let's see how it goes" method of allocating weeks is woefully inadequate, and you can't do the Odd Couple line-down-the-middle thing because the throne room is the only place in the whole thing that isn't booby-trapped to hell and back.
You get the goblins to devise an actual calendar--mostly alternate fortnights with occasional provisions for specific key dates--but that's almost worse because it's way too rigid. If you'd done that from the very start you may have felt able to negotiate with Rod more, but as it is you're constantly very aware that you could have just poisoned him the day you met and things would have been so much easier. Sure he's the one who pays you, but dungeon-ownership should be about the love (or hate, maniacal laughter, whatever), not about the money. By the time you start refining the calendar to include floating weeks cycling every three years, the whole thing has absolutely fallen apart.
You approach Rod about buying back his portion of the dungeon, but he sells it on to a horde of barbarians just to spite you.
That's actually when things start to look up. The barbarians are way into goblin-tossing, and you're the only person within four hundred miles who has an army of goblin slaves, so in financial terms you come out of the sale even better than Rod. The tuneless barbarian singing gets on your nerves from time to time, but it really puts off the weirdos as well so overall you chalk it up as a win.
THE END"I was born on a Tuesday," says Rod Crotchthump. "That was the day I was born, the day I was named, and the day, you might say, when my curse began..."
You already regret this decision, but you sit around for several hours while Rod Crotchthump tells you his entire life story.
"So to cut a long story short," he says, "I've always wanted my own dungeon but it's super hard to set one up in a world where virtually everybody is an impoverished farmer living off turnip tops. So I was planning to take over yours."
You can't help but feel that Rod could have told you that without getting into a brief history of batch manufacturing processes in the thumbscrew industry, but you're not getting those hours back anyway so you just let it go.
Since you were kind of planning to [[give up on the dungeon]] anyway, you might as well let Rod have it (No backsies!). But at the same time, you resent him plotting to bludgeon you to death. Seems like you ought to [[get back at him somehow]]."I was born on a Tuesday," says Rod Crotchthump. "That was the day I was born, the day I was named, and the day, you might say, when my curse began."
Okay, you're sure you //don't// care.
Acting quickly, you grab Rod's morning star and heft it over your head, ready to strike. But it is too late. Rod's boring, boring voice worms its way into your ears, boring into your brain with its boredom-inducing boringness.
With your last ounce of willpower, you bring the head of the morning star down onto the top of your own skull.
You awake in a land of chocolate buttons populated entirely by unicorns made of candy floss.
A unicorn approaches you.
"Please listen to me!" he cries. "I have information that will determine the very fate of Sugaropolis!"
You //could// [[listen to the candy unicorn]], or you could [[STUFF YOUR FACE WITH DELICIOUSNESS]]."Now, this'll sound crazy, but just hear me out." The unicorn takes a deep, sugary breath. "I'm you from the future."
"Well," you say, "you're clearly not. Because I'm not a unicorn made of candy floss."
"Aren't you?" says future you, fixing you with a meaningful gaze.
You look down at your hands, which definitely haven't turned into pink fluffy hooves. "I'm really, really not," you answer, getting annoyed now.
"Oh, sorry," says future you. "Time travel is very complicated, and we're not very smart. I mean...'Won't you...be?'"
"I don't know!" you say. "I thought you were the one from the future!"
"I think I am," says future you. "You are Rod Crotchthump, aren't you?"
"No, I'm someone else."
"Oh." Future candy floss unicorn Rod Crotchthump looks embarrassed. "Well now I just feel silly."
You consider that knocking yourself unconscious with a large blunt object may not have been a smart move after all.
THE END"OM NOM NOM NOM NOM!" you snort, shovelling handfuls of sweet, sweet unicorn flesh into your mouth. The unicorn whinnies and tries to run away, but it can't because you ate its legs first. You're smart like that.
The other unicorns charge in to help, jabbing at you with their horns, but as you've already established they are made of candy floss, so it does nothing. You gobble up more and more unicorns, and as you do so you find yourself growing to gargantuan proportions for no apparent reason.
You clamber to the top of the Gobstopper State Building and perch there, swatting at the squadron of pink wafer biplanes that rise to pursue you.
THE END"You want a dungeon?" you say, a manic glint in your eye. "I'll give you a dungeon!"
And you sign the deed over.
Rod doesn't give you any money, but during the course of his needlessly long and rambling story he revealed his mother's maiden name, the school he went to (He went to the same one as you! Weird.), and the name of his first pet. That's easily enough to empty his bank account: you figure you may as well try your hand at a few financial crimes now that you no longer have a dungeon.
You figure this will also count as getting back at Rod, so that last choice really wasn't the dilemma it could have been. Bonus!
As you make your way off into the sunset, you hear Rod screaming about a naked breakdancing wizard who just teleported into the throne room, but you just ignore him.
THE ENDYou sign over the deed to the dungeon, shake hands with Rod, then take your leave.
Rod is pretty surprised when you turn up at the door again an hour later. He's even more surprised when you punch him in the face and take all your stuff back.
Now you've got rid of your icky dungeon //and//...taken back your icky dungeon.
Wow. You did not think this through at all.
You ask Rod if he wants the dungeon back, but you must have punched him harder than you thought: he just mumbles incoherently about candy floss unicorns from the future.
THE ENDYou tell Rod the tale of the shady Dwarven stationer, leaving out all the bits where he sold you products you didn't ask for, or that you suspect have something really humiliating printed on them, or that never existed in the first place. You claim he sold you, like, left-handed quills or something. And they were all in boxes, so that's why you didn't notice until the guy had gone away.
And you definitely know how to use quills and ink and junk, but you can't demonstrate that ability just now because your elbows are tired from all that literacy you did just the other day.
Rod's surprised to hear all this, because it turns out he was conned in exactly the same way you were. Except that he doesn't know that because you were too embarrassed to admit it. So you and this new friend of yours have this huge thing in common, but if you [[tell him]] then he'll realise you lied about it initially.
You're pretty sure the best course of action in this sort of situation is just to [[keep lying]] and hope it doesn't catch up with you somewhere down the line.You haven't been outside the dungeon in //forever//. This is pretty neat.
Rod knows this place that does some [[excellent Dwarven craft beers]]. That actually sounds pretty good, but you feel as though it could also be pretty snooty. It sounds like one of those pubs that's almost more of a cafe, and they'll probably only have those tiny little bistro tables, and you'll have to be constantly coming up with things to say to your buddy or it'll be awkward because you're sitting right across from one another and the only alternative is uncomfortable silent eye contact.
You wonder if you could convince him that [[MegaLurtz would be a better option]]. That place just has massive Orcish mead hall benches, and in any case the screaming orc music is so loud that you can't talk to anyone anyway.You go to the Dwarf pub. You're sure it'll be fine. It sounds as though they've got their own microbrewery, so maybe there's a tour or something? In any case you're sure there'll be some kind of handy conversation starter when you get there.
...aaaaand there it is.
That shady Dwarven stationer is here, and he's gloating about selling a bunch of made-up villain cards to some moron. You were that moron! Though you probably shouldn't say that out loud.
Come to think about it, maybe you shouldn't even draw attention to the guy who conned you. You hate to miss a chance to [[beat him up]]--with a buddy no less!--but at the same time it might be better just to [[play it safe]] and avoid embarrassment.You go to MegaLurtz, where the music is loud and terrible, the drinks are cheap and terrible, and the patrons are ugly and green. And also terrible.
It makes you wonder why this is your go-to hangout, given that you're really quite racist against orcs.
At the very moment you wonder this thing, the pounding orc music stops.
Wait, did you just wonder it, or did you actually say it out loud?
"You just wondered it," says a nearby orc with an impressive turban, "but this is MegaLurtz' bi-weekly psychic night."
Four orcs advance on you. Everyone else in the room stays put, but generally doesn't look best pleased. As well as the orc with the turban, there's one in a tuxedo, one in a sequined suit, and one in what you think is a cheetah costume.
"It's not a cheetah," says psychic orc number four, "it's a leopard."
Now would probably be a good time to stop thinking stuff.
"Oh, we'll make you stop thinking stuff!" says psychic orc number two, brandishing a pool cue.
There's got to be some way out of this. Maybe you could [[launch some kind of mental assault on them]], if that's a thing you can do. Alternatively, Rod's here. He's probably got your back, so you're sure he wouldn't mind if you [[swung him at the orcs like a makeshift club]].You think really, really hard in the general direction of the four psychic orcs.
It doesn't do anything.
Worse, they know what you're trying to do, so they all start laughing at you. And then because they're laughing, all the non-psychic orcs in the room work out what's going on and they laugh too. You probably didn't help matters by doing the fingers-on-your-temples psychic pose during the attempt.
Rod shuffles a few inches farther away from you.
You can't help but feel that you'd have an easier time focusing on this kind of subtle mental task if your brain wasn't quite so full of unwanted, unsavoury memories of the kind of "adventurers" your dungeon unfortunately attracts.
All four psychic orcs stare at you in horror.
Do...do they know what you're remembering? Because that's pretty much the most embarassing thing that could possibly happen to you. You try desperately not to think about the time that one warlock teleported onto the chandelier in the throne room and...
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!" scream all the psychic orcs.
"It's in my brain!" shouts the one in the tuxedo. "Closing my eyes does nothing because it's already in my brain!"
They all run out the door and the rest of the orcs leave you alone, even though you definitely just ruined psychic night for everybody.
Well, it's not quite what you had in mind, but it definitely seems to have worked.
THE END"Hey," says psychic orc number three (the one in the girly sequin suit) to Rod. "Your friend there is planning to use you as a makeshift club!"
You quickly abandon your attempt to pick Rod up by the ankles, but he's already worked out what was going on.
"And my suit is not girly!"
As the quartet of psychic orcs and your former only friend begin pummelling you, you start to get the impression that despite the lack of randy rogues or naked wizards, this is still probably not a high point in your dungeoning career.
THE END"Say, Rod," you begin, casually. "Do you see that short hairy guy over there?"
Wait, no, that's a terrible way of drawing attention to any given dwarf in a bar full of dwarves.
But somehow, miraculously, it works.
"Hey, yeah!" says Rod, storming over to him. "That guy sold me five hundred fake villain cards, and now he's gloating about it!"
"Uh, yeah," you say. "That was you he was talking about, and that was a stupid thing you did. Not me. You."
"Alright, alright," says Rod. "We all make mistakes, no need to rub it in. Hurry up and help me punch this guy a bunch of times!"
So you get some sweet, sweet stationer revenge and nobody realises that you did something stupid. Well, nobody new anyway.
THE ENDYou spend a quiet evening drinking slightly too expensive Dwarven craft beer and playing pool. You take a few surruptitious potshots at the stationer with the cue ball, but you don't have anywhere near the cue sports ability necessary to hit a target several feet away from the table and it just looks like you're terrible at the game.
Still, nothing REALLY embarrassing happens, so all in all it was still a good day.
THE END"Oh, hey," you say, "that's actually the exact same thing that happened to me, but I lied about it initially because...um...it was a test. And you passed! Good for you."
"That's not why you lied, is it?" says Rod.
"No," you admit. "I just didn't want to tell you what really happened. Feels good to get all that out in the open, though."
"I bet it doesn't."
"No," you concede, "it's increasingly terrible."
"Yeah," says Rod. "I'm gonna go ahead and leave now."
Well that was the most awkward thing to happen all day.
You guess you could [[still go after that dwarf]], but at this point you really feel more like [[going back to moping]]."Wow," you say. "That dwarf is a massive jerk, and clearly a real smooth talker. I don't blame you for falling for that cunning scam at all."
"Where do you think we can find this guy?" asks Rod.
Unfortunately, you don't know much about dwarves. To be specific, you know exactly one thing about dwarves. Fortunately, however, that thing is that they live in Dwarfheim.
So you go there, and you look around, and the two of you break a few things just to show you're serious. It's kind of a lot of effort for nothing, though. Dwarfheim is a pretty //small// place, and its inhabitants all have a //short// temper, and they sure don't get any happier about you when you start saying those things out loud, repeatedly and at extreme volume.
"Maybe we should just [[call it a day]]," says Rod.
You could do that. Or you could find out where the stationer lives and [[booby-trap his house]] using your extensive dungeon know-how.You set off towards Dwarfheim, which seems like the most likely place to find the dwarf you're looking for, but you forget that Rod //just// set off the same way and now it looks like you're following him. He definitely looks behind him and sees you. A few times.
That conversation you just had? That's no longer the most awkward moment of the day. It's not even the most awkward moment of the week. You wish it were the most awkward moment of the month, but it's not that either. It's not even close. Way awkwarder stuff happened two weeks ago. Stuff you don't want to talk about.
Rod's too far ahead to overtake, and you can't walk slow enough to let him get ahead without making it //really// obvious that's what you're doing, so you pretty much just unintentionally follow him until the path goes through some trees and you know you can turn around and go home without him seeing.
But that doesn't happen for, like, two hours.
THE ENDYou sit in your throne and mope some more. It's sad to think, but today would probably have gone a lot better if you'd just stuck with this in the first place. Not //great//, but //better//.
And that's pretty sad.
THE ENDYou and Rod both head off to your respective homes. Dungeons. Whatever.
Really, you suppose you didn't actually get anything useful done today, but nothing horrible happened either (at least to you) so it was also kind of productive. Not in the way that your word-of-the-day calendar describes it, but in a way that still lets you consider it a success.
THE ENDYou ask around and it turns out that your Dwarven arch nemesis actually doesn't have a home. He's homeless. His stationery-based scamming antics are the direct result of an economic system that leaves the vast majority of people utterly impoverished and subsisting on nothing but a thin gruel made of turnip tops.
Also, now that it's come up in conversation, aren't //you// the guy everyone in Dwarfheim has to pay protection money to?
Oh, wow. You're way too much of a bad guy to actually feel guilty about that, but you're pretty sure you do not look good right now that someone's drawn attention to it. You do not look good in a way that has the citizens of Dwarfheim lighting their torches and sharpening their pitchforks.
Hey, is that the time? You hurry back to your dungeon in a totally dignified and not-pelted-with-turnip-tops manner.
THE ENDYou need a creature to keep an eye on this place. A creature that would //guard// your dungeon and //doggedly// watch out for people sneaking around. A creature that's at least marginally less stupid than a goblin.
You need a guinea pig.
Louder than the screams of hell and with an appetite for veggies that cannot be satiated, a guinea pig would surely alert you to the presence of intruders. Especially if those intruders were ents or dryads or anything else made of leaves.
You don't think your dungeon has ever been invaded by ents, but since you've never had a guinea pig to watch out for them then how would you know? There could be [[dozens of dryads BEHIND YOU RIGHT NOW]]!!!
Which you suppose would be all the more reason to [[obtain a guinea pig]] post haste.You stealth-stomp through the door of the slave quarters and discover that the goblins are making soup.
Technically they shouldn't be eating on the job, but they're slaves, you make a point of never letting them stop working, and they have to eat sometime or eventually you won't have any slaves. You may be cruel, but you're not a monster.
Now, it seems as though the obvious course of action would be to either [[eat your starving servants' entire pot of soup while they watch]] or [[headbutt all the goblins in the room, even the women and children]]. Those are both solid options."Aha!" you cry, whirling around to face...no way! There are actually a ton of dryads there!
"He's on to us!" shouts one. "Let's make like a tree and gradually orient ourselves towards sunlight as a result of differing concentrations of plant growth regulators in various bodily tissues!"
"It's 'leave,' Biff!" says another. "'Make like a tree and leave.' You sound like an idiot when you say it wrong."
It seems to you that what's really idiotic about all this is that the dryads are still right here and you could still easily [[pummel them into firewood]]. But at the same time you kind of want to [[see where this goes]].You undertake an epic quest to //Ye Olde Fantastical Pet Shoppe//. It takes quite a while, and you have all sorts of legendary adventures on the way. At one point you get shrunk to the size of a pinecone, thus fulfilling the eighteenth prophecy of the acorn-folk.
In order to convince their high priestess to magically restore you to your usual size, you have to perform two dozen miraculous labours, but at least twenty-two of those labours are variations on "get this thing down from a high shelf for me" so it's actually not that big a deal.
They grant you the astral protection of Cashewopaea. Or something. You zoned out for a bit there.
The important thing is that you get to the pet shop to buy your guinea pig. But when you do, the one-eyed, one-armed dragon tamer with the burnt face who runs the place says that it's not really kind to keep just one guinea pig: they're very social animals.
"Really?" you ask.
"Yes," he says. He stresses that he knows just about all there is to know about animals, fantastical and otherwise.
You point out that clearly he didn't know enough not to get mangled by a dragon.
He explains that he sustained his grievous bodily injuries during an ill-advised promotional event. He reaches into a nearby drawer and produces a yellowing flyer that reads //Ye Olde Fantastical Pet Shoppe: our prices are as crazy as sticking a firecracker in your eye socket!//. Or that's how he says it reads. You can't tell what the words say but the accompanying woodcut seems to back it up.
Despite having come all this way to [[buy one or more guinea pigs]], you now mostly just want to [[mock this guy]].Dire Lord Fluffschmoodles and Lady Munchkin von Celerybane quickly settle into your dungeon and soon spawn a whole horde of fuzzy mammalian terrors.
At first you're concerned you might struggle to look after them all, but it turns out you //are// being invaded by ents--pretty much constantly--so the guinea pigs have no trouble fending for themselves.
Thanks to your habit of continuously feeding them salady treats, your adorable legion of evil don't generally squeal for attention and so don't directly make very good guard animals. However, all the intruders who see them immediately say "AWWWWWW!" and forget their indoor voice, so it's easy enough for you to find them and shoot them in the face with a crossbow.
And when you do, there are always a whole bunch of guinea pigs there, staring at you expectantly with their gormless sideways eyes.
It's pretty cute. But also appropriately practical and manly, because these dire creatures are instrumental in the defense of your domain and your continuing crushing rule over the local landscape.
Aren't you, Lord Fluffschmoodles? Aren't you?
...you mean, "Aww, functional and efficient miniature beasts of war."
THE END"Ha!" you say. "You have acquired a serious disability, and I find that hilarious."
He makes some kind of comeback. You think it's about your unconventional attire, and you suspect it's much, much cleverer than what you just said. In fact, you're pretty much certain. However, you don't actually hear it because nut-themed astral guardian Cashewopaea descends from the heavens and shields your ears from his hurtful words.
"I almost didn't do that," says Cashewopaea, "because you were clearly being a massive, massive jerk. But I owe the acorn priestess and, actually, this way I won't be obliged to shield you from, say, an arrow to the groin or a big spiky axe. So I hope that was worth it."
It was, though. It totally was.
THE ENDIt turns out that dryads aren't actually wood. They're wood //spirits//, and so rather than getting a bunch of free fuel for your throne room fireplace, you just get a whole lot of ectoplasm all over your hands.
It's pretty gross.
THE ENDWhere //does// this go?
As the long, rambling dryad conversation itself explains, dryads live as long as the trees they spiritually inhabit, and that's usually a very long time. As a result of this, they're quite happy to continue the same banal argument for hundreds and hundreds of years.
By the time you realise this, you're already invested enough that you've become determined to stick around until the end no matter how boring it is.
Eventually the dryads realise you're still there and once again raise the subject of running off before it's too late, but by then you're just a skeleton with a really long white beard so it's kind of a moot point.
Also your dungeon has been taken over by a subterranean subspecies of future humans who periodically feed upon their surface-dwelling bretheren, but you've been dead for at least six hundred years so you don't care.
THE ENDOh, wow. This soup smells terrible. If you had to describe the smell, you would say that it was a 50/50 blend of curry farts and sweaty feet. That's not even an approximation. It smells like those two things--and only those two things--in exactly those proportions. Not only have you never smelled anything so bad, you've never smelled anything so specific.
Trouble is, you've already approached the cauldron. You've approached it with that particular swagger that says "I'm about to perform some kind of action involving this object. This object and no other."
Curse your uncanny ability to broadcast your intentions through the medium of perambulation!
Well, you're here now. You can either [[guzzle down the soup]] as intended, or [[do something else with the soup]] and pretend that was the plan all along.You begin headbutting goblins.
Somewhere around goblin number 193, you realise you should probably have taken a more methodical approach to this. You're reasonably certain that some of the goblins are wandering through the crowd avoiding you, and that other, thicker-skulled goblins are not bothering to avoid you and as a result getting headbutted several times.
You don't particularly care that you're headbutting some goblins more than others, but you do care that you're starting to get woozy.
It's clear you'll have to come up with either [[an alternative headbutting system]] or [[an excuse to call the whole thing off]].Yowch! That cauldron's hot!
Picking it up with the help of the two nearest goblin slaves, you begin to tip the several dozen litres of scalding soup down your throat.
Besides the two you're currently using as oven gloves, you're pretty sure the goblins are suffering less than you are. The soup tastes exactly like it smells, and there are chunks in it. Chewy, sackcloth chunks.
Chunks that look suspiciously like Y-fronts.
You are drinking goblin laundry.
This is the worst thing that has ever happened to anybody ever in the history of the world. By a considerable margin. And considering that the history of the world includes all the things that have happened to you already, that's pretty bad.
THE ENDOh man. All the goblins are looking at you. You're not sure how many goblins that is exactly--maths isn't one of your strengths, and frankly you just don't pay that much attention--but it's a lot, that's for sure.
You suppose you shouldn't care what a bunch of goblins think, but you're their malevolent overlord so literally all of them know you. And even if each goblin's opinion of you is only worth 0.1% of anyone else's opinion, you figure that there's at least 23% of a person watching right now, silently judging you.
Your self-esteem can't take ≥23% of a knock like that.
"OOGA BOOGA OOGA BOOGA OOGA BOOGA!" you chant, dancing around the cauldron. It's literally the only thing you can think of doing right now.
The goblins seem pretty nonplussed, but one by one they all join in. Then you stop dancing and chanting, and start pointing and laughing.
"HA!" you shout. "I made you do that! You all look ridiculous."
Does that count as a punishment? You think that counts as a punishment.
As you head back out the door, you headbutt just one goblin for good measure.
THE ENDSo far you've been headbutting goblins. But what...if what you hedubtted //them// you?
You have a nice lie down and order the goblins to form an orderly line in order to headbutt themselves against your formidable, stationary skull.
The brilliance of this plan is so overwhelmingly obvious that the goblins comply right away, with great vigour and enthusiasm.
Punch-drunk you has the best ideases.
THE END"I...um..." you stumble towards the door. "I just remembered I have to...guinea pigs...ent invasion...alphabetically. It's urgent."
The goblins seem to be buying it.
"Now you all sit here and think about what you've do. Or didn't done."
You can't actually remember why you started headbutting goblins in the first place.
As you meander down the corridor, it occurs to you that you can't remember where the throne room is either.
But at least you taught those pesky goblins some kind of lesson.
THE ENDIt occurs to you that you have more or less no idea how spying is supposed to work. You're aware that the basic idea is to gather information about what other people are doing without drawing attention to what you're doing, but neither of those things are activities you've got any personal experience in.
Unless they're sneaking around your dungeon, you don't particularly care what other people are doing, and typically your job consists of nothing but drawing attention to yourself.
Usually the wrong kind of attention, as it happens, but that's neither here nor there.
Long story short, if you're going to do this properly, you'll have to [[learn the subtle art of espionage]]. But that's a big "if." Provided you're not fussed about doing things "properly" or even "well," you could just go ahead and [[spy on the goblins anyway]].Yeah...now that you think about it, you're not sure how you'd do that.
There isn't exactly a super secret spy school around here--or if there is, it's super secret and you don't know about it--and the time period in which you live isn't exactly conducive to high-tech gadgets and flashy cars. In fact, it's so not conducive to those things that you don't even know what they are.
Basically, you're going to have to [[take a few sneaking lessons at the local thieves' guild]], or [[travel to the mysterious land of the east and become a ninja]].
Those sound roughly equal in terms of the effort involved. You think.Well, if you're //not// fussed about spying properly, you don't see why you can't just spy on them in your own way.
And by "in your own way" you mean "[[loudly, and with a massive, massive club]]."
Or you could at least try and [[take a somewhat stealthy approach]]. If you want to be all conventional about it.You approach the nearest goblin slave and demand that they fetch your loudest, most massive goblin-whacking club.
The goblin hurries off to do your bidding, but does not return. After waiting for several minutes, you walk over to the goblin club closet yourself and discover that every single goblin-whacking club is missing.
Somehow, the your goblin slaves must have come to learn of your vaguely espionage-themed goblin-whacking scheme. But how? Are they being assisted by [[forces from beyond your domain]], or by [[someone on the inside]]?
This is a most fiendish mystery indeed.You leave your dungeon and scour the surrounding area for clues. Some outside agency has dared to meddle in your affairs, and you are determined to find them and get your club back so you can club them with it.
Nothing will stand in the way of you and your twin, virtually interchangeable goals.
The main question is how you go about doing this. On the one hand, you can see a mysterious trail of goblin-size footprints leading off into the distance. You're no detective, but you imagine that if you [[follow that trail of suspicious footprints]], you might well find something.
But since forces from beyond your domain have meddled in your affairs--and you don't understand why--it seems as though the really ironic thing to do would be to [[meddle with forces you don't understand]].
At least you think that's how irony works.You think back carefully.
You haven't told anyone about your intention to observe/injure your army of goblin slaves. So who could possibly have made off with your goblin-whacking clubs?
You suppose, since your goblin-whacking clubs were all interchangeable chunks of dead tree anyway, you could probably just step outside, grab a new club and [[continue your goblin-whacking espionage quest]] regardless.
But then there's the principle of the thing! You'd very much like to find out who dares to defy you, and at this point it looks as though the only way to do that would be to [[hire a private eye]].Unbelievable. Un-freaking-believable.
Wouldn't you know it, the moment you replace your stolen goblin-whacking club, you find that all your goblin slaves have disappeared too!
Somebody has just made off with the lot of them. Now you're not just dealing with a conspiracy: you're dealing with a crime wave! What kind of world do you live in, where a malevolent overlord can't trust his army of slaves to still be there when he wants to beat something with a club?
A //sucky// world. That's what kind of world.
Well, you can either go and [[do something about it]], or you can [[sit in a locked room with a crossbow pointed at the door for the rest of your life]].
Those are literally the only options that spring to mind right now.You make your way to the nearest hive of scum and villainy to procure the services of a private eye.
There are many private eyes to choose from, most of whom have rich and colourful backgrounds in solving all kinds of strange and wondrous mysteries. One of them even specialises in cases revolving around goblin slaves being stolen from underground dungeons.
You don't hire that guy.
Instead, you hire the eye-iest private eye you can find. He's got a big eye in the middle of his head, and a bunch of little eyes on tentacles sprouting from all over his scalp.
He quips that he must be handsome because beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You don't get it, but you're already sold just based on the number of eyes.
You lead him back to your dungeon and explain the nature of your mystery.
"Wait," says the private eye. "Seriously?"
It's clear that he does not take this situation seriously for some reason. You can either [[tell him you're serious]] and risk embarrassment, or [[pretend not to be serious]] and see how that goes.You have no idea what happened to the goblins or how to go about finding out. It will forever be a mystery.
You turn your attention instead to making this unfortunate incident look better on paper. After all, you want to look as wealthy and powerful as possible for when the taxman comes. That way when you refuse to pay, you'll be dodging a lot of tax and being really evil. If it looks as though your dungeon isn't doing well and he's trying to take money from you anyway, then //he'll// be the bad guy and you can't have that.
You look at it this way:
You have zero goblins left.
Zero is a number.
Therefore you have a number of goblins left.
Ergo your goblins are numerous.
Pleased with this feat of mental gymnastics, you move on to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that black is white and white is black, causing every zebra in the world to suddenly implode. Or you assume that's what happened. There were no zebras around when you made that particlar breakthrough, so you can't confirm it, but you also haven't seen any zebras around since, which is all the evidence you need.
THE ENDYeah, great. You do that.
It's pretty boring, and at one point you're 99% sure you hear looters dragging your throne down the hallway on the other side of the locked door, but going out and confronting them about it would have really messed up your plan to never leave the room.
In hindsight you probably should have holed up in a better room, and maybe stashed some of your stuff in there, but you didn't, so that's that.
After all, the important thing isn't whether you've made a good choice or a bad choice: it's whether or not you stick with the choice you've made.
Or at last, that's how you've chosen to look at it, and so now you're obliged to stick with it.
THE ENDThe private eye laughs at you, turns around, and leaves.
You don't get it.
Then you realise. Your mystery--the mystery of the goblin-whacking clubs and goblin slaves that all vanished simultaneously the day that you asked one of the goblin slaves to bring you a goblin-whacking club--is unsolvable. You have become embroiled in a mystery that not even this many-eyed private eye can unravel.
So that's pretty cool.
THE ENDYou explain that you're not actually serious. Not at all.
The reason you brought this multi-eye guy here is that the sudden disappearance of all your goblin slaves has left you somewhat short of evil minions, and he certainly looks like he's the sort of chap who'd be at home in a dungeon.
"Yeah," says the multi-eye guy. "I suppose I can get on board with that. Are there dragons?"
"What?" you ask.
"Dragons. Do you have a dungeon //and// dragons?"
You feel as though you're missing some kind of reference. You explain that you don't currently have any dragons, but if it would help secure the services of a floating eye monster, you could undertake some sort of dragon quest.
The multi-eye guy explains that he's really not into dragon quests. He's really just into two things: dungeons and dragons. Unless you've got both, he's not interested.
Well, you're stuck there. Without an army of goblins or an eye guy or a dragon, you can't very well keep running your dungeon.
Apparently this was your final fantasy.
THE ENDYou follow the trail of goblin-size footprints and, somewhat unsurprisingly, you find a goblin: the same goblin you ordered to fetch your club.
What a twist!
The goblin appears to have gathered together all your goblin-whacking clubs, set them up into a neat pyramid shape, and set fire to them.
The only question is [[why]]. Unless that's obvious, in which case the question is [[what was the question again]]?You set fire to a tree and dance around it while chanting nonsense words.
You are 100% certain this is how black magic works.
After about half an hour, a magical spirit appears in the guise of a forest ranger.
"Aw, nuts," he says. "First I find someone burning goblin-whacking clubs without a permit, and now this. I am having just the worst day."
That thing the spirit said about [[goblin-whacking clubs]] is probably relevant to your situation. But having successfully summoned the very forces of darkness, you kind of wonder if you might not use this opportunity to [[tackle some of the real problems in your life]]."Why, goblin?" you demand. "Why did you do it?"
"Because I'm not a goblin!" shouts the goblin, or not-goblin, or whatever. "I'm a gremlin!"
Apparently it wasn't obvious. "Wait, what?"
"I went into your dungeon to steal stuff and cause havoc. But you just thought I was one of your goblins!" He folds his arms. "Bet you feel stupid now."
Mostly you just feel confused. "Are you sure you're not a goblin?" you ask. "You look just like a goblin."
"No I don't!" The gremlin stamps his foot. "Goblins are small with pointy ears and noses. Gremlins are pointy with small ears and noses. We're completely different!"
"Those two things you just said...those are exactly the same thing."
"No they're not!" screams the gremlin. "They...YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!"
His rage now uncontrollable, the gremlin's head swells up like a balloon and he begins to slowly rise into the air. You have to concede that you've never seen a goblin do that before, so apparently gremlins aren't quite the same.
You watch the swollen-headed gremlin ascend to the stratosphere until he's barely a speck and you're focusing so hard that you think you can see little air particles floating around too. It's pretty impressive. There's so much beauty in the world, if you just take a moment to stop and look around for a while.
At least, you think that's the lesson you're supposed to take away from all of this.
THE ENDIt doesn't take a genius to work out what's happened here: your faithful goblin slave has become possessed by mischievious spirits!
Picking up the bundle of burning goblin-whacking clubs, you begin to beat the bad spirits out of the goblin like dust from a carpet. Turns out that clubs actually work even better when they're on fire. Who knew?
Anyway, you pummel the spirits out of the goblin and then order him to beat the dust out of all the carpets in your dungeon, because you can't remember the last time anyone did that which probably means it's been way too long already.
THE END"What?" says the forest ranger spirit. "That was at least half an hour ago. The guy who was doing it is long gone now."
Oh well. The flaming tree nonsense chant giveth, and the flaming tree nonsense chant taketh away.
THE END"Spirit!" you shout. "I command thee to watch over my unholy domain, and banish from my halls all who are, you know, way too into the whole dungeon thing. You know the ones."
"What?" says the forest ranger spirit. "I'm not a spirit! Though I wish I was. Do you know how hard it is to put out forest fires in this day and age? The only way to get water is to run to a river or a pond or something--otherwise you've got to hand-pump it out of a well--and the only way to carry it is in buckets. And nobody wants to be lugging a bucket of water around with them just in case they spot a fire, so by the time you've got one chances are whatever was on fire has already burnt down." He puts his head in his hands. "Basically, if you can't pee it out, it's not going out."
Huh. Apparently you don't have the most depressing job in the world after all. This guy may not be a magical spirit, but he certainly does make you feel better about your life.
THE ENDYou ask around town about the thieves' guild. It's probably not ideal to be this direct about it, but subtlety isn't your thing. It should be more your thing after a few lessons down at the thieves' guild, but obviously people who need lessons in subtlety can't be expected to use subtlety to obtain lessons in subtlety.
"It's a total catch-22," you say to the locksmith you're currently talking to.
"What?" says the locksmith.
"Oh, right," you say. "That won't be written for several hundred years, and even then it'll only exist in a parallel dimension."
"What?" says the locksmith.
"Never mind," you say. "Do you know who I need to talk to about joining the thieves' guild?"
"What?" says the locksmith. Then he does a "hold on" gesture, gets a faded leaflet out of a nearby drawer, and points out the slogan:
//Larry's Locks: our prices are as crazy as sticking firecrackers in both ears then lighting them.//
Or at least that's what Larry says it says. You can't read, though you did get the gist of it from the shop logo.
All of a sudden, Larry closes up his shop. Somebody taps you on the shoulder. You turn around to discover that it was in fact a masked man with a knobbly club.
"Oi, bruv," he says. "Your money or your life, yeah?"
Ordinarily, you'd waste no time in [[introducing this guy to the twins]]: Mr. Punchy, and Mr. Punchy's left-handed identical twin brother (also called "Mr. Punchy," since obviously they share the same surname). However, you can't help but suspect that the man trying to rob you might know something about the thieves' guild, and it might even be worth [[paying for that information]].
For reasons that have already been covered, you doubt you have the subtle conversational skills necessary to convince him to divulge it for free.You travel to the mysterious land of the east.
It's really far away. You have to take, like, two buses and a tram to get there. And none of the routes are owned by the same company so it's expensive too. Plus you got a day travel card on the first one thinking "Oh, hey, this is bound to be cheaper than buying a new ticket every time," but no. You show it to the second bus driver and he just looks at you funny. Like you should have grasped that those things don't work for more than one company, even though there's literally no practical reason why that should be your problem as a consumer. Seriously, nobody in the history of the world has ever voted with their wallet when it comes to public transport. The thing is either on its way to where you want to go, and you get on, or it's not and you don't.
What's up with that?
Point is, you've had a truly epic journey by the time you meet the wise old man at the top of a mountain who will train you in the ways of the ninja.
"Come, my child," he says, even though you're, like, thirty-five and a half. "Take heed of my teachings, and you shall know the ways of the ninja."
Only just at that moment a rival ninja wise man jumps out of the shadows and assassinates him.
"My student," your ninja master gasps with his dying breath. "Avenge my...death..."
Wow. This is awkward. You can't argue with him (because he's dead), but this guy was your master for all of twenty seconds. Great as it would be to [[avenge his death]], you feel as though that's an unreasonable demand for him to make, and he's taught you literally nothing about being a ninja. It seems as though it would be far more productive to just [[find another wise man]]."Say hello to Mr. Punchy," you shout, raising your right fist, "and his identical twin, Mr. Punchy!" You raise your left fist. "Who is left-handed, by the way. Sorry, that's kind of important."
"You what?" says the thief, scratching his head with his knobbly club. "Mate, that makes no sense."
"It makes perfect sense!" you say. "Obviously my fists would have the same surname if they were brothers, and identical twins frequently have mirrored hand preferences."
"Oh," says the thief. "Oh! Hey, that's clever when you think about it for a bit." He lifts his mask. "Say, I was going to rob you, but your fists' nicknames are so cool that now I feel bad about it. How about I introduce you to the guys at the thieves' guild instead?"
"Hey, that's funny! I was actually thinking of asking you about that but I wasn't sure if it was too secret or something."
"Nah, man, it's cool. My name's Chad." He puts out a hand for you to shake. "Oh, and this hand's Knuckles O'Hoolihan. The left one's Striky O'Hoolihan. No relation. I just suck at coming up with surnames for fictional characters."
Wow. The whole reason you came here was to [[go to the thieves' guild]], but Chad's hands' nicknames are so lame that you kind of want to [[punch him unconscious anyway]]."Say," you say, using all the conversational finesse you are able to muster. "You look like the sort of person who might know a thing or two about the thieves' guild. How about instead of robbing me, you sell me some sweet, sweet information about all those guildy thieves."
All the finesse you can muster is not that much finesse, it would seem.
"What?" says the thief. "Bruv, I'm already stealing all your money. You can't buy stuff from me with money I'm already stealing."
"But you haven't stolen it yet," you explain. "I can still give you the money without you going to the trouble of taking it by force. That kind of convenience has got to be worth something, right?"
There is a pause.
"What?" says the thief again. It's like it's this town's motto or something.
You could [[keep trying to reach some kind of arrangement]], but it might be easier to just [[let him rob you and see where he takes the cash]].You shake Chad's hand, trying to ignore how rubbish its name is. You figure it'd be worse if he'd decided to steal your hands' names: the identical Punchy twins are one of a kind.
Well, two of a kind.
They're a one-of-a-kind pair. That's what you meant.
Chad introduces you to the grey-haired leader of the thieves guild, Stealy Joe. At first you think it's "Steely Joe," on account of his tough, quiet manner and grizzly exterior, but no. It's because his name's Joe and he steals stuff.
The whole thieves' guild is kind of a wasteland when it comes to good nicknames.
Stealy Joe explains that espionage depends on a light step and an inconspicuous appearance, and you have neither. Frankly. Good build for a highwayman, though: he asks if you'd be averse to hurting unsuspecting travellers for a living.
[[You sure wouldn't!]] But then that "inconspicuous appearance" thing sounded like a jab at your pointless studded chest straps, leather underpants and...well, you're not actually wearing anything else. You suppose that if it was a jab at your apparrel, it was probably well warranted, but you still feel like [[punching Stealy Joe right in his unimaginatively named face]].
The thieves' guild has that effect on you, apparently."That's for failing to apply the appropriate level of whimsy when naming your appendages!" you yell, as Mr. Punchy meets Baron von Schnozz.
It's probably a little forward of you to nickname features of Chad's face, but given his track record for this sort of thing, he probably just calls it "Nosey O'Hoolihan."
Well, Chad is now unconscious. Unless there's [[anything helpful in his pockets]], you'll probably just have to go back to [[asking around]] about the thieves' guild. You've kind of set yourself up for a chore there, but it had to be done.
Knuckles and Striky O'Hoolihan indeed. Everyone knows that characters in fiction should have unique surnames unless they're related. Otherwise it's confusing for the audience!Stealy Joe sets you up with a big cloak and a tricorner hat. He also offers to set you up with a suitably rogueish nickname, but you politely decline.
"Are you //sure//?" he says, raising an eyebrow. "Are you //sure// you want to be standing there by the side of the road, all dressed up, introducting yourself to the carriages you flag down as 'Girth Loinhammer?'"
You have to admit, the name isn't ideal in that context. You could probably do with something more highway-related, you suppose.
"How about 'Max Width,'" you suggest.
"That's...less bad?" says Stealy Joe, not sounding too sure about that.
Your new life as Max Width, highwayman extraordinaire turns out to be everything you wanted. The thieves' guild even throw you a pizza party for committing so many robberies! At first you thought the flowery hat and cloak looked kind of gay, but it turns out that you're intimidating enough even without your bulging, oiled-up supermuscles. And finding that out is just the confidence-boost you needed.
THE ENDYou punch Stealy Joe.
Then Chad punches you.
Then Stealy Joe recovers, and for some reason punches Chad.
Suddenly there's this whole big fight going on--dramatic silhouette staircase swordfights and everything--and Misters Punchy and Punchy can barely get a look in because everybody in the thieves' guild headquarters is so busy swinging chairs at everyone else.
"Steal my newspaper, will you?" shouts one of them.
"Put your non-recyclable refuse in my bin, will you?" shouts another.
It did not take much to set those guys off. Apparently when the entire purpose of your organisation is to avoid all contact with the police, and everyone knows they can get away with anything within reason, small grievances just accumulate and fester.
It makes you wonder if Robin Hood's Merry Men are all secretly bitter and miserable.
Anyway, the entire thieves' guild knock each other out, and because you're the only person still conscious there's nobody around to contradict you when you tell the village people that you beat all the thieves single-handed (the village person dressed as a construction worker is particularly impressed).
Unfortunately, the macho macho man reputation this earns you is utterly irresistable to exactly the sort of people you wanted to avoid coming in your dungeon, so the whole plan backfires spectacularly.
THE ENDYou begin rummaging through Chad's pockets, and soon discover a small gold token. On one side, it has a map of the town with a large "X" marking a particular building in the abandoned riverside warehouse district. On the other side, it has an emblem of a hand reaching into a bag full of money.
There's no way to be sure, but you //think// the token you found in this thief's pocket might be connected to the thieves' guild somehow. If so, all you have to do is decode its deep mysteries and you'll be on your way!
"'Allo 'allo 'allo," says a nearby member of the town guard. "What's all this then?"
You calmly explain that it's not what it looks like. You're not robbing this gentleman--it was originally he who intended to rob you--you're merely searching through his personal belongings in the hopes that they somehow further your ultimate goal of entering into a long-term agreement with the local thieves' guild so that they will furnish you with the skills necessary to further exploit the mistreated legion of goblin slaves that you keep in your untaxed murder dungeon which was built without planning permission.
So it's totally not illegal.
You're going to jail, aren't you?
The guard confirms that you are.
THE ENDYou stop off at...//Nigel Loinhammer's Beefsteak Emporium//.
"Hey!" you say. "That's my surname! Give it back!"
Then you consider that if this Nigel fellow has stolen your surname, his shop may well be some kind of front for the thieves' guild. You ask him about it, but he just looks confused--and kind of lumpy--and passes you an old leaflet from behind the counter.
//Nigel Loinhammer's Beefsteak Emporium//, it says: //our prices are as crazy as repeatedly hitting yourself over the head with a meat tenderiser.//
Or that's what Nigel says. You have to take his word for it because you can't read. Or at least, you think that's what Nigel says: he seems to have some kind of speech impediment.
You never do manage to find the thieves' guild. Turns out that exactly half the townspeople are focused on devising aggressive new marketing strategies, and the entire other half are feebly trying to stop the madness.
On the bright side, it does make you appreciate the level of brand recognition your dungeon has managed to achieve with comparatively little effort. At the very least you're not required to do anything unpleasant with a meat tenderiser.
Not to yourself, anyway.
THE END"Okay," you say with a sigh. "Look at it this way. Robbing me is illegal, so if you get my money that way there's a risk you'll get arrested for it. But if I give you my money--in exchange for you telling me about the thieves' guild--then that's legal and nobody can arrest you."
It feels really weird holding up the smart end of a conversation.
You don't like it.
"Yeah," says the thief, "sure, I get that. But what about the thieves' code? Did you ever think about that?"
You honestly didn't: largely because you don't know what that is. You could [[ask him about it]], but he said it like it was such a big obvious thing that you'd be embarrassed about not knowing already. You figure it might be less awkward to [[convince him you had thought about it]] and see where things go from there."Okay, fine," you say. "Just go ahead and rob me. I don't care."
"Wait," says the thief. "Really."
He takes an eager step forward, then stops. He has a long look at your outfit: pointless studded chest straps and crushingly tight leather underpants. He appears to have noticed the total lack of pockets.
"Do you keep your money in, like, your shoe or something?"
"No," you snort. "That would be really uncomfortable."
He looks confused. You aren't sure whether it would help if you [[got your money out yourself]] or if you should just [[let him do his thing]]."What's the thieves' code?" you ask. You are here specifically to find out about this stuff, after all.
"Oh," says the thief. "You don't know? Well, the name is sort of misleading. It's not really a code as such: it's more of a loyalty card kind of deal. Basically, whoever gets the most robberies done by the end of the month gets a pizza party. It's wicked cool!"
"And the thieves' guild runs this thing?" you ask, gently probing for more information.
"Mate," says the thief, "the thieves' guild //is// this thing. That's what it does."
"Oh." You explain that somehow you'd got the impression that they would train you to become a super spy.
"Nah, bruv. It's just robbery and pizza parties."
Well, this has been a massive waste of your time.
THE END"Ah yes," you say. "The thieves' code. Thou shalt not..." You trail off as though it's momentarily slipped your mind, hoping he'll prompt you with whatever the thieves' code actually is.
Turns out you can do subtlety after all. YEAH! SUBTLETY! YEAH!!!
Unfortunately, it turns out you can't do it all that well. The thief's not buying it, and you have to finish your own sentence. "Thou shalt not...stick a parachute on a rubber chicken and drop it from a windmill?"
"Bruv," says the thief. "After that, I'm not even gonna rob you."
In most cases that would actually be a really satisfactory resolution to this kind of encounter.
In this case, however, it just confirms that you can't do anything right.
Not even getting mugged.
Ow, your pride.
THE ENDYou retrieve your bag of cash from its super secret hiding place, but by the time you've got it handy the thief is gone. Presumably he came to understand the extreme care you take to secure your finances against just this kind of misfortune and realised the futility of trying to rob you.
Yeah, that's right.
Nobody messes with the Dungeon Lord.
THE END"Go on," you say. "You know you want to."
The thief looks horrified.
"No, bruv," he says. "No. You're one of those weirdos who //wants// to be robbed! Well I'm not having any of it, I'm not! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!"
And he runs off and dives into the river.
You can't help but feel that this all could have been avoided if he'd just told you where the thieves' guild was, but at least it makes you feel slightly better about the whole dungeon thing.
It's just as well, because after that, nobody will talk to you about the thieves' guild. //Nobody.// They all just give you funny looks and so in the end you give up and go home.
THE ENDAlright, looks like you're doing this.
Taking up your fallen master's sword--or you assume it's his sword, because there isn't exactly a name tag and you never saw him use the thing--you swear that no matter what may come to pass, you shall avenge the death of...
Bob. Let's call him Bob.
You figure the most straightforward way of avenging Bob's death would be to [[pursue his killer]] while you can still see him running down the mountainside. However, you're 83% sure the guy will use some kind of ninja smoke bomb as soon as you get anywhere near him--as you understand that's...you know...a thing that ninjas do--so you're not sure the most straightforward option is the best in this case.
If you're planning to out-ninja a ninja, you would probably do well to [[get some ninja training from an actual ninja]].
Ninja!You find another wise man.
There is a //lot// of mountain climbing involved. If this doesn't work out, you make a mental note to pretend that you actually just came here for the view and the exercise, because otherwise the wasted effort involved is going to be seriously depressing.
So you've just got the other wise old man to accept you as his ninja protégé when all of a sudden another ninja assassin bursts out of the shadows and swings a big sword at him.
"Foowaaaaaah!" shouts the old man, and rips the assassin's heart out through his ribcage with his bare hand.
It's pretty boss.
"See?" says your ninja master, holding up his foe's still-beating heart for you to look at. "That's how you know I'm a real ninja master. If I couldn't do that, some other ninja would kill me and move right into this ninja temple like a hermit crab."
You have so much to learn about ninjas. Mostly [[spy skills]], but also [[that heart thing]].
That was cool."Hey!" you shout. "Hey! Slow down so I can kill you with this sword! I can't run very fast because I just climbed all the way up this mountain and my usual job is pretty sedentary!"
Okay, you'll admit it. That wasn't your most persuasive moment. You blame it on the combination of running and high altitude.
But miraculously, the ninja assassin does actually slow down and stop. You wonder if there's some kind of catch, but mostly you're just glad you can slow to a jog.
"Thanks," you wheeze as you finally catch up.
Ah. There's the catch: he only stopped so that he could flip you the bird then do the smoke bomb thing anyway.
Unless you can do some kind of [[retroactive ninja magic]]--and that's a big "unless"--[[you're screwed]]."You were wise to seek out my wisdom, young student," says the second ninja master, "for you have attracted the attention of mysterious forces that will surely..."
Just at that moment, another ninja--or possibly the same one as before, because they all wear identical ninja masks--jumps out of the shadows and assassinates this guy too.
"Avenge me..." croaks...Bob #2, you guess. "Avenge...my...death..."
Okay, this is getting ridiculous. You've now officially got more ninja masters to avenge than you have minutes' experience as a ninja. That's got to be some kind of record.
But as Ninja Morgan Freeman says, you either [[get busy avengin']] or you [[get busy givin' up and going home]].
Ninja Morgan Freeman isn't quite as eloquent and sophisticated as Regular Morgan Freeman, but his words are more relevant to this particular situation.Well, as has already been established, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to pursue your ninja nemesis without ninja training, so you set about finding yet another ninja master from whom to receive said ninja training.
"It is well that you have come here," says the third ninja master, "for..."
Wouldn't you know it, he gets assassinated too.
"Aven..." he begins, but you've got a plan this time.
"LALALALALALALALALALALA!" you yell, clamping your hands over your ears. "IF I CAN'T HEAR YOU, I DON'T NEED TO AVENGE YOU! LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA!"
When you're pretty sure he's dead, you turn to his killer, unsheathing Bob #1's ninja sword in a dramatic fashion.
"Hello," you say. "My name is Girth Loinhammer. You killed my masters. Prepare to die."
"Actually," says the ninja assassin, "I only killed the first one and th..."
"LALALALALALALALALALALA!" you yell. "IF I CAN'T HEAR YOU, I DON'T NEED TO FIND ANOTHER NINJA ASSASSIN TO MURDER! LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA!"
And so you avenge Bobs #1 and #2 in spectacular fashion.
THE ENDYou have the feeling that Ninja Morgan Freeman was implying that avengin' was preferable to givin' up, but givin' up actually works out pretty well.
Rather than actually becoming a ninja as a roundabout means of developing the stealth skills necessary to spy on your army of goblin slaves (because now that you think about it, that plan may have been a tad convoluted), you just don't and say you did.
Any time you feel as though the goblins aren't putting 100% into their little goblin jobs, you jump about a bit making karate chopping gestures and saying "Fwah!" and "Hiyah!" and that's usually all the encouragement they need to get back to work.
It's acutally a pretty efficient solution to the problem. At last if you don't count the really complicated return bus trip and those two guys that died.
THE END"Aha!" you shout. "My lack of athleticism was in fact a cunning ruse to lull you into a false sense of security while I used my improbable ninja powers to teleport over to you and secretly replace all your bones with sticks of dynamite!"
"Ah!" shouts the ninja assassin. "You dick!" and promptly explodes.
Or you passed out from lack of oxygen and are currently hallucinating. Either way you're imagining a really rockin' ninja theme song for yourself right now.
THE END"Oh wow!" you shout, as the last wisps of ninja smoke drift away, revealing that your quarry has escaped and you will never, ever catch up. "Would you look at that, Bob's Ghost: I chased that guy so hard that he spontaneously combusted. Looks like you're avenged now! Bye!"
You think he bought it.
And if he didn't, what's he going to do? Haunt you? He'd have a pretty long ghost walk to reach your dungeon, because you're pretty sure ghosts can't use public transport.
Or can they?
Or do they have their own ethereal ghost buses and whatnot? Is that what happens to buses when they're scrapped?
Oh, man. This is going to keep you up tonight.
THE ENDYou explain that you're mostly just here to learn spy skills so you can find out whether or not your legion of goblin slaves are slacking off behind your back. The ninja master casually snacks on his foe's still-warm heart while he listens.
It's pretty gross.
"Is that truly why you came here?" he asks, when your story is done. "Is that truly why you sought out my expertise?"
Man, for a [[yes]] or [[no]] question, that is a tough one to answer.You tell the ninja master that you have got to learn how to do that heart thing. That is cool.
The ninja master tells you that in order to study the technique known as "that heart thing" (apparently that is legit its name), you must first come to appreciate the meaning of patience by transporting an entire zen garden up the mountainside one grain of sand at a time. For it is only by learning to work this slowly that one can move fast enough to sieze a man's heart from within his ribcage like that one bad guy from //Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom//.
Doing [[that thing he just said]] sounds as though it'll take a really long time, and the more you think about it, the more you're not sure you shut the stove off when you left the dungeon. That thing could already be on fire. You wonder if it would be ridiculously cheeky to [[ask if there's some other way]]."Yes," you say.
"Oh, alright then," says the ninja master, and he teaches you everything there is to know about sneaking up on goblins.
It turns out the secret is to //do anything you like because goblins are too stupid to know whether or not you're sneaking up on them//.
"How do you not know that already?" he asks you. "How do you have an entire legion of goblins and still not have any idea how goblins work?"
You explain that you've been kind of distracted by the number of wizards who come into your dungeon, apparently after your gold, then teleport all their clothes into an alternate dimension and begin flashing you unmercifully. Spying on goblins was only ever going to be a kind of displacement activity, so that you could temporarily forget about what's really troubling you.
The ninja master points out that the ninja heart-ripping-out skill would seem to be of more use in that situation.
In that case, you ask if he'd still be willing to teach it to you.
He says no.
THE ENDThe ninja master takes a deep breath, and sits down in the centre of the ninja temple, legs crossed, contemplating.
After several minutes of thoughtful silence, he begins to tell you the poetic story of a master and a student, much like the two of you. The story tells of how the student once said one thing, then, when pressed by the master, claimed the exact opposite. That story ends with a revelation: wise as the master might have been, it was the student who taught the master that truth and falsehood are often poured from the same vessel.
This story, however, ends with the master roundhouse kicking the student down the side of the mountain.
THE ENDYou transport an entire zen garden to the top of the mountain one grain of sand at a time. With tweezers. You have plenty of time to think while you're doing it, and it dawns on you that this must actually be part of the training, like that wax on/off thing from //The Karate Kid// (the ninja master watches a lot of movies that were released specifically in 1984).
Turns out it's not like that at all. The ninja master just wanted a zen garden and you were the only person dumb enough to steal his neighbour's in a manner that could plausibly be blamed on soil erosion.
By the time you finish, he claims to be too old to teach you that heart thing. When you threaten to beat him up over it, he clarifies that although he's too old to //teach// that heart thing, he should still be able to do it in self defense.
You think he's just a massive ninja jerk, but you're not in a position to do anything about it.
THE ENDIt turns out there's a magic potion that'll teach you the technique instantaneously, but in order to learn how to brew the potion you must first transport an entire zen garden up the mountainside one grain of sand at a time //while walking on your hands//.
You thank him for his time but explain that you mostly just came for the view and the exercise.
THE ENDNo cutting eye-holes in bedsheets for you: you're far more sophisticated than that.
You pick up your spiky bit of wood and stomp out the door.
There's not a problem in the world that can't be solved by hitting people with a spiky bit of wood. Well, besides the problem of people queuing up outside your dungeon to be hit with a spiky bit of wood. Then it only makes things worse.
You shudder, and not just because you're walking around outside with barely any clothes on. That's part of the reason, but it's not the only reason.
It does, however, make you reconsider your current plan of action. That serf who gave you the calendar lives in one of those permanently frosty grey peasant villages that for some reason crop up along the same latitude as the Dusty Windswept Badlands and the Aztec-inspired Malaria Jungle. Whatever gods sculpted this big flat world of yours, they had a really poor grasp of geography.
Anyway, you could [[go after that serf]], or you could attempt to expand your domain by [[laying siege to somewhere warmer]]. You're sure there's one of those cannibal-filled tropical islands somewhere around here.
You're not sure how, but you're sure there is.You cut eye-holes in your best and only bedsheet, then drape it over your head.
Actually, it's not that spooky. The sheet only comes down to just above crotch level, so it's not so much a spooky ghost costume as a spooky ghost with suspiciously muscular legs and leathery underpants costume. Or a ghost that ate some guy with muscular legs and leather underpants costume.
The point is that, much like your day-to-day attire, your ghost costume doesn't cover quite enough of you for people to take you seriously. Though you could [[attempt to scare that serf who gave you the calendar]], you're not sure he'd be very convinced by your ghostiness. You might have to settle for haunting, say [[elves]] instead.You push on through the grim, grubby farmland towards the depressing hamlet where dwells your nemesis du jour.
Man are you going to make that guy pay for giving you that word-of-the-day calendar. There was //French// in that thing, for crying out loud!
You hammer on the serf's door with your spiky bit of wood. It's loud enough that all the other villagers stick their heads out of their windows to see what's going on: a nice, ostentatius start to the confrontation.
But man are you going to going to take some revenge on calendar guy. In fact, you think you'll [June 6th] him right in the [April 21st], with a spatula no less. It's going to be [March 3rd]ing //epic//.
Though you have to admit, the calendar he sent you did at least feature a disproportionate number of violent, profane and/or anatomical entries.
The door opens just a fraction, and the serf who sent you the calendar fearfully peers through the gap.
Then he tugs it all the way open, jumps out and wraps his arms around you.
"OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD!" he yells. "I'M YOUR BIGGEST FAN!!!"
Okay. A //lot// of people just saw that.
Your first instinct is to [[hit this guy with the spiky bit of wood]], which was after all the reason you came here in the first place. However, you've yet to [[ascertain what sort of "fan" he is]]. Currently you're not sure whether he's keen on your dungeon activities, or your "dungeon" activities.Nuts to this. It's so cold today that you'd be freezing your nipples off if you hadn't already had them twisted off during that fateful encouter with the Tentacle Beast of Hen'Taii.
Oh man, you thought you'd repressed that memory.
The ensuing flashback causes you to lose your balance, fall into a river and get swept out to sea.
It's okay, though, because you wash up on the very cannibal-filled tropical island you were looking for. Funny how these things work out.
Having found yourself in a prime beachfront siege-laying real estate location, you're now free to either [[find some people to subjugate]] or [[track down ingredients for a fancy tropical drink]], because although drifting across the open ocean worked out pretty well for you, you still swallowed a lot of seawater."Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" you yell, batting at him with your spiky bit of wood. Unfortunately it's quite a long bit of wood, most of the spikiness is at the far end, and your "fan" is still hugging you tight, so there's really not much you can do with it.
Hugs: your arch nemesis.
Your fan whips out a sock with a billiard ball in it and swings it at your head. The sock/billiard ball combo isn't long or spiky, but in this case that works in its favour. [[The blow knocks you unconscious]].
[[Or does it?]]"How big a fan are you exactly," you ask, raising an eyebrow to indicate that you won't be taken in by any shenanigans.
Wait, did that just come across as really sexual?
Did...did you just accidentally seduce your own creepy stalker?
Because if so, that's really stupid: even for you.
The serf tells you that HE'S YOUR ABSOLUTE BIGGEST FAN EVER AND DID YOU GET HIS CALENDAR BECAUSE HE CHOSE IT ESPECIALLY FOR THE DISPROPORTIONATE NUMBER OF VIOLENT AND PROFANE ENTRIES WHICH HE WAS SURE WOULD BE OF USE TO YOU IN YOUR DUNGEON ACTIVITIES!
You're actually a little taken aback. For one thing, that's really thoughtful, even if you would have preferred money, or even a gift card for S&M (Shackles and Mallets: the largest handcuff and hammer supermarket in the world). For another, the guy neither took the opportunity to show you just how "big" a fan he was nor made quote shapes with his fingers when he said "dungeon."
So it looks as though you actually have a fan! You're so happy you could cry, except that there are a ton of people watching and obviously you're so muscular and manly that you don't do that sort of thing. You don't know why you thought it.
Which leads you to your next problem. Thrilled as you are to discover [[you have an awesome fan]](!), your reputation will probably take a knock if you don't [[show the villagers what happens to those who dare to hug the mighty Dungeon Lord]].You've never had a fan before. And you don't know that you ever will again! You can't screw this up just to save face in front of one dreary little hamlet. If they think less of you for not beating this guy up, you'll just have to beat them until they reconsider their opinions!
Seriously, spiky bits of wood: they solve everything.
Still, you think you can see a way to save face without curb stomping your number one (that is to say, first and only) fan.
"You!" you say, pointing dramatically at your fan. "You have hugged the mighty Dungeon Lord, and must be punished. But to show mercy to your fellow townspeople--who, uh...whose eyes would literally melt if they witnessed your punishment!--I shall torture you [[in my terrible dungeon]], or possibly [[at your place]], as it's significantly closer!"
The villagers are still staring, which is awkward because you've got nothing else here.
"I have spoken!" you bellow.
The villagers keep on staring, but at least you've ended your speech with an appropriate level of finality. Now it feels like a "them" problem rather than a "you" problem.You hit your fan with the spiky bit of wood for a bit because, hey, you did bring it all this way after all.
"Why Girthy, why?" wails your fan.
But you're only just getting started. You put down the spiky bit of wood and do //the thing//. The thing you described a moment ago. The thing where you used calendar dates in place of all the significant nouns and verbs. //The thing with the spatula//.
This is one depressing hamlet that won't be messing with you in future.
Except that when you're done, everybody cheers for some reason.
You suppose you could [[demand an explanation]], but mostly you're just tempted to [[freak out]].You shove your fan roughly along the manky peasant road towards your dungeon until you're both out of sight of his dreary little hamlet.
"Aaaah!" you say at last, no longer able to contain your excitement. "I've never had a fan before!!!"
"Wait," says your fan. "Really?" And he gives you a funny look.
"What I mean to say is that I've never had a fan at the dungeon before." Nice save. "It's very exclusive."
"Oh," says your fan. "Right." But you can tell he doesn't 100% believe you and there isn't quite the same level of reverence before.
That all changes when you get to the dungeon.
"Wow," he breathes as you approach the entrance. "Is that the Drawbridge of Discomfort?"
"It is," you answer with pride.
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!" he screams. "And is that the Moat of Misery?"
"It is indeed."
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!" he screams, //right in your ear//. "And is that the Portcullis of Pain?"
You respond that it...
Yikes that one was loud. And high-pitched. You think your ears might be bleeding, but if they are then your extremely tight executioner's mask is stopping the flow somewhat.
This fan of yours turns out to be super annoying. You're not sure whether to make some excuse and [[ditch him]], or to give him [[a really close look at your torture chamber]]. Wink wink.
Those winks were sinister, by the way.
Not flirty.You shove your fan roughly--but not violently--back into his house before stepping through the door and closing it behind you.
Wow. This guy wasn't kidding about being your biggest fan: there are posters of you all over the place.
Well, they're not so much posters as crudely drawn portraits daubed directly onto the walls of his house on a massive scale. It may not be sexual, but it's still super creepy.
While you're keen to [[keep your only fan]], you're [[not sure you're that keen to keep your only fan]].You stick around for dinner, surrounded by hundreds upon hundreds of scribbly Gurf Linhamrs, while your number one fan stares at you from across the table.
He...he actually doesn't blink. Ever. Unless he can somehow time his blinks to coincide precisely with yours, which you think would actually be even more unsettling.
There is no conversation. There is only the sound of your knife and fork squeaking mournfully against the plate, and his deep, heavy breathing.
It should be an unrelentingly, unambiguously terrible experience, but at some point between the langoustine starter and the braised quail main course--he took cookery lessons, he explains, just in case you ever happened to visit--you realise that you're actually happy about it. Sure, you're not happy that this guy is clearly, frighteningly obsessed with you, but you're happy that he at least appreciates the work you do. The work you //intend// to do. Not the work that scantily clad weirdos ultimately trick you into doing. You're happy just to be recognised for who you are.
This is the happiest you've ever been, and that makes you really sad.
THE END"Nope," you say, spinning around mid-step and heading right back out the door. "Nope nope nope nope nope..."
You run back to your dungeon, lock all the doors, set all the traps--even that plastic cage that rattles down the knobbly plastic pole and never seems to work properly--set the goblins on high alert and hide under your dungeon lord duvet with the light on.
But after a while, you start to feel as though you're overreacting a bit. Not only do you have this whole entire dungeon to protect you, your dangerously unhinged superfan clearly appreciates how badly you'd hurt him if he tried to come in here. The very fact that he's so obsessed with your work should be easily enough to dissuade him from meddling with it.
You make your way to the throne room, determined not to let this minor hiccup get to you.
But when you get there, you find there's something on your throne.
Something wrapped in a shiny red ribbon.
It is a word-of-the-day calendar, and--
No. Oh no.
--it's got //24 months//!
THE END"What?" he says. "No, you have to let me in! Come on! I've waited my entire life for this!"
"Hmm..." you stroke your freakishly huge chin. "Still no."
"''//NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!//''" screams your fan, full on dropping to his knees and tearing his hair out.
Seems as though he's actually suffering more now than he would have if you'd just decided to torture him.
THE END"Oh my god!" whispers your fan. "Is that the Lash of Khgharghag? And...and the Rack of Zhoug???"
Remembering to stick your fingers in your ears this time, you confirm that they are.
The fan takes a really deep breath of amazement, and you know that this is going to be loud.
He keeps breathing in.
Keeps breathing in.
Still doing it.
"Hey," you say, "are you alri..."
And just then, he explodes. It's not a neat explosion. It's not a cartoon ''BOOM''. There is blood //everywhere//. His legs are still standing there, upright, a skirt of burst-balloon torso skin dangling down to his knees.
It is easily the goriest thing to ever happen in this room, and this is a torture chamber.
You're...well first of all someone's going to have to scrub this place down, probably with bleach, but beyond that...you're not sure you can use this room any more. What happened just now was seriously traumatising--you //had your mouth open when it happened// and stuff got in there--and...things just aren't going to be the same.
THE END"What's going on?" you demand. "What is the meaning of this?"
But the townspeople don't answer. Instead, they flock the street, linking arms and singing. They sing without reason, they sing without cause! They sing without flunjers, smendlers or gewgaws!
Except there's got to be something going on here. You pick up the nearest serf and shake him until he starts explaining.
"That...was...the...mayor!" he says, in an "I am being shaken violently" tone of voice. Which is to say shaky. "He...was...the...one...who...made...us...pay...tribute...to...you."
Ah. Now that makes some degree of sense.
You explain that just because you can stop shaking him doesn't mean you're going to [[stop shaking him]].
You're a remorseless tyrant with huge muscles and an awesome bad guy costume. You could [[shake this guy all day long]] if you wanted to.You just did pretty much the worst thing ever to a member of this community, and they're straight-up applauding you!
It makes no sense!
You stand in the street yelling incoherently, but all it does is draw attention to you. Suddenly the townspeople are carrying you around on your shoulders. That's actually kind of cool, though. You could maybe [[go with that]], if you didn't want to [[keep freaking out]].Just because you can stop shaking this guy doesn't mean that you're going to stop shaking this guy, but just because it doesn't mean that doesn't mean that you won't.
The guy you were shaking is too shaken up to understand what you just said, but he's glad you stopped shaking him all the same. "Also," he says, "that's cool what you did about the mayor. Obviously you're a nasty chap yourself, but that guy was evil. Like, properly evil, forcing us to pay tribute to you and all."
That reminds you. You enquire as to whether or not they're still planning to pay that tribute. Because you still want it. "Hint hint," you add, cracking your knuckles.
Turns out they're more than happy to pay the tribute since you got rid of their evil mayor. He was just that bad. Way worse than you. He knew how to do the spatula thing too, only he was way better at it. Now that they don't have to deal with that any more, they'll even double the tribute.
You remark that that's good. You wanted double tribute--were thinking of demanding it anyway--and in fact you're //so// evil and remorseless that you don't care that you inadvertently rescued them from the other guy. It doesn't even register. You certainly don't feel like he one-upped you at all. You know. Because you're //soooooooo// remorseless and evil. Like, way more evil and remorseless than that other guy.
THE ENDYou're enjoying this pointless act of cruelty when, all of a sudden, you feel something spiky and wooden strike the back of your head.
You turn around.
"Hey!" you shout. "That's my spiky bit of wood, not yours! And to a lesser extent, 'Ouch, don't hit me with that!'"
But ah. It turns out that the villagers have taken this opportunity to form an angry mob. Normally it takes a while longer for that to happen, but your visit appears to have coincided with the thrice annual Torchlight Pitchfork Sharpening Festival.
Ordinarily that would be a bonus--there's always great street food at these things--but on this occasion it's just scorchy and jabby.
THE END"Yeah me!" you shout, doing a little fistpump as you're carried triumphantly through the streets. "I did that horrible, horrible thing and now everybody's happy. That's right, I know what's going on here!"
You don't. You really, really don't.
But for whatever reason, you're the hero for a change, so that's pretty neat.
THE END"YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!" you yell, the force of your scream propelling you straight to the moon.
Weird. You didn't know you could do that. There have been a few times in the past that this particular skill would have been very handy.
Unfortunately, although the moon is made of cheese, it is also more than four billion years old, and therefore very mouldy.
You attempt to scream yourself back to Earth, but in space no one can hear it, so you're stuck here forever with nothing to eat but mouldy moon cheese.
THE ENDYou awake in what appears to be a basement. The fan is standing directly over you.
"I'm your number one fan," he says. "Your number one fan. My name's Arnie Wilkes. I'm your number one fan."
"Why do you keep saying that?" you ask.
"Because I'm also King Stephen's number one fan."
"Yeah, sorry," shouts some guy tied to a bed nearby. He's got a crown and a big fluffy quill pen, so you're pretty sure he's famous royal author King Stephen, to whom Arnie Wilkes just alluded. "He kidnapped me about half an hour ago and he's already set up this elaborate reference to this one horror novel."
It is at this point that you realise you are wedged at the top of an old well. Your legs are dangling beneath you and you can't feel any water or ground, so you assume it's deep. You would fall down the thing if you weren't far too muscular to fit.
Arnie Wilkes holds a bottle out to you. "It puts the lotion on its skin," he says.
You glare at King Stephen.
"I guess //Misery// was taken," he says with a shrug.
Well, you could either [[put the lotion on your skin]] or you could...you know...[[not put the lotion on your skin]]. Because that's really creepy. And it's not like he's threatened you with, say, a hose or anything.It does. It totally does.
However, it doesn't knock you quite as unconscious as it might have done. Rather than awaking in, say, a creepy basement or something, you come around when your fan starts trying to drag you into his house by your ankles. You weigh something like four times as much as he does, so he's not getting very far.
Now would probably be a good opportunity to [[kick him in the crotch]]. However, seeing you begin to stir, a helpful villager surruptitiously attempts to pass you [[a spatula]].You rub the lotion all over yourself. Well, all over your upper body: the rest of you is stuck in the well.
"Hey," you say. "Is this sandalwood scented?"
"Sandalwood and peach," says Arnie Wilkes.
"Oooh, nice!" you say. "I mean: 'Pleasant in a rugged and manly sort of way.'"
Hang on. Something's happening.
Lubricated by the lotion, you begin to slide down the well, out of Arnie Wilkes reach.
"Aha!" you shout as you vanish down the hole. "Screw you, you creepy weirdo!"
It...sounded cleverer in your head. That's a shame. You would have liked to impress King Stephen with a witty one-liner. Oh well. You suppose you're just pleased that slathering yourself in lubricant turned out well for once.
Then you hear the words that every subterranean traveller dreads:
"There is no escape from the fortress of the mole people!"
Fortunately you appear to have emerged from the well right next to the entrance of another, deeper well. So if you don't want to [[take your chances with the mole people]], you can [[jump in there]]."Oh no," you say, "I see where this is going!" You're not falling for that a secon...thir...fo...
You're not falling for that again.
"It puts the lotion on its skin," repeats Arnie Wilkes, "or else it gets the hose."
Ah. So there is a hose involved after all.
Well, being wedged at the top of a big creepy well, you don't really have any more options than before. You don't see a hose anywhere nearby, so you could [[still not put the lotion on your skin]] in the hopes that he's bluffing, or you could [[take the lotion from him]] and...you don't know, devise some kind of brilliant lotion-related escape plan?
That sounds like a stretch.You remain perfectly still: they can't see you if you don't move.
Actually, come to think of it, they're mole people. They can't see anything.
Which--you realise as they grab you--would suggest they've found other ways of preventing people from escaping from their fortress. Otherwise you've got to imagine they wouldn't announce the inescapability of their fortress to every greased-up so-and-so who dropped in through the well in a psychopath's basement.
"Hang on..." says one of the mole people, feeling your studded leather chest straps. "What are you wearing? Is that...sandalwood lotion?"
There are squeaks of horror all around you.
"Aaah!" shouts the king of the mole people. "Why do we always get surface-dwellers who //want// to be imprisoned in the fortress of the mole people???"
And they scatter.
Besides the whole kidnapping thing, you've actually had a really lucky day it seems.
THE ENDYou jump in the second well and slither all the way down.
Then you hear the words that every sub-subterranean traveller dreads:
"Nobody can escape from the super-fortress of the under-mole people! (It's even unescapier than the other one.)"
THE END"No," you say, folding your arms. "If you want that lotion on me, you're going to have to slather it on yourself."
Uh-oh. That sounded like something you didn't want to say.
At the very least you should have said it without waggling your eyebrows. Non-suggestive facial gestures aren't your strong point, which is a real shame because you have enough problems as it is.
Fortunately it seems to have gone right over Arnie Wilkes' head.
"Oh, that's it!" he says. "I'm getting the hose! I'm sure there's one around here somewhere. Just you wait!"
So you do wait. You wait for, like, two days and since he didn't leave you any food or anything you get just thin enough to totally Winnie the Pooh yourself out of there.
That reference seems kind of incongruous given the whole extended //Silence of the Lambs// thing, but it gets the job done.
THE ENDYou take the lotion. Then, before he has a chance to step back, you squirt as much as you can into his eyes.
"Aaaargh!" screams Arnie Wilkes. "My eyes! They're supple and moisturised and UNBELIEVABLY PAINFUL!!!"
While he's trying to get the lotion out of his eyes--because it's really thick and greasy and trying to use soap would only make things worse--you squirt some of the lotion onto King Stephen's shackles, allowing him to squeeze out of them.
King Stephen repays the favour by levering you out of the well with a handy pryin' bar.
"You should totally turn this into a book," you say, as the two of you flee the house of the madman.
"I already did!" says King Stephen, holding up a bundle of papers and his stupid fluffy quill pen.
Wow. That guy is quick!
THE ENDYou kick him in the crotch //hard//.
Like, //really hard//.
Even for you.
Because in addition to the years and years spent becoming an expert in kicking people (and, regrettably, also an expert in crotches), you've also got revenge to motivate you. And beyond even that, you're wearing your massive lead-soled bad guy boots, and last Christmas one of the goblins gave you a set of those spiky snow and ice shoe grip thingies, and you put them on to try out and never took them off.
So yeah. You deliver a double-expert spiky crotch kick to your number one fan, //and it's personal//. He flies at least eight feet back and at least four off the ground.
"You'll never take me alive!" he shouts, vanishing back into his house.
And everybody laughs, because his voice now sounds exactly like that of a little girl doing squeaky helium voices at a birthday party.
That's probably good enough for you to [[turn around and go home]], unless you really want to top this off with some kind of [[dramatic basement confrontation]].You sneakily accept the proffered spatula, but unfortunately your fan notices you take it and whips a spatula of his own from his belt.
You really wonder what kind of person carries a billiard ball in a sock //and// a spatula around with them, presumably all the time. However, you don't have time to think about it because suddenly EPIC SPATULA DUEL!
In trained hands, a spatula is more deadly than any sword, and this duel is decidedly deadly indeed. You are thrilled to discover that the crowd is cheering for you, but less so when you realise that's probably down to a natural tendency to root for the underdog.
Your fan is winning.
Unless you know some kind of [[super secret spatula skill]] that you've willed yourself to forget due to its dangerous and unimaginable power, this would be a good time to [[fight dirty]].Everyone's cheering, everyone's happy, so you turn around and go home.
Actually, everyone's cheering and happy, so you lean down to one guy and whisper right in his ear "//I guess you owe me now.//"
You don't actually know what you expect to get out of this whole little escapade, but as you walk back towards your dungeon, you turn around, and you can see that you've at least ruined that one guy's day.
So it wasn't a complete loss.
THE ENDYou climb down the steps to your fan's basement. The decor in his house is incredibly creepy, and incredibly you-specific. This was already a terrible idea just because you've now discovered that there's at least one (you assume) serial killer who's totally obsessed with you, and frankly you were happier not knowing that.
It's almost as if a childhood spent making powerful magical enemies followed by a career in being mean to literally everyone you meet somehow sets you up to fail in everything. What did you do to deserve this?
Anyway, there's this whole night vision cat and mouse duel and it's really awesome. At one point he's about to punch you in the dark, but you hear him, spin around, and punch him instead. It's a little unlikely, you'll admit, but you look cool while you're doing it.
Anyway, it turns out your fan was also the biggest fan of famous royal author King Stephen, who is locked up in this basement. Based on the stuff down here, your fan may actually have been an even bigger fan of King Stephen than he was of you.
You feel a little betrayed.
So you steal all his stuff including King Stephen.
THE ENDYou stand on one leg, arms (and spatula) raised. Also you turn off your X-wing's targeting computer while accepting that there is no spoon.
Then you [June 6th] your opponent most [March 3rd]ly, right in his [April 21st]!
It's...it's...well, the crowd are no longer on your side. Let's put it that way.
But that doesn't matter, because you were able to inflict unimaginable blistering pain upon that one guy who dared to send you a word-of-the-day calendar as tribute instead of money. And in the end, isn't that all you really wanted?
It is, by the way. It sounds strange when you say it like that, but that really was your goal all along.
THE END"Look over there!" you yell, pointing somewhere over your opponent's left shouder.
He doesn't fall for it.
You kick him in the crotch anyway.
That's...wow. Despite all the flashy spatula swashbuckling, that was really all you ever had to do.
You return your borrowed spatula to its owner--with extreme force--and walk off home.
THE ENDYou begin your search and soon stumble across a small stream flowing from the high volcanic interior of the island down to the coast.
Apparently whichever gods created this place were slightly less clueless when it came to local geography.
You're aware that, on such a small island, this stream is likely a valuable water source for whoever lives here. The rudimentary fish traps set out near the coast are accompanied by elaborately decorated stone totems, which you have to assume either bear some kind of ritual significance or simply indicate ownership of this valuable food source. Either way, all signs suggest that you should have no trouble finding new people to torment simply by [[following this watercourse upstream]].
Or, you know, you could [[blunder pointlessly through the dense jungle that surrounds you on all sides]].
You know one of these ideas is really stupid. But which one?Wow, do you need a drink.
As in, you //really, really// need a drink.
Like a man who...um...like a...um...if...
You need a drink like a man who can't think of an amusing simile needs a drink.
Fortunately you can see a variety of delicious-looking tropical fruits dangling from the trees by the coastline. You're...you're not sure that's botanically likely, but at this point you don't care. That's how the gods decided to make this particular improbably situated island. A wizard did it.
//You don't care.//
You just need to [[get something fruity and tropical and preferably alcoholic in your mouth right now]]. And to [[find a little umbrella to put in it]], otherwise it just won't be the same.You follow the stream until you see signs of what might be considered civilisation.
There are no right or wrong choices here, but that was the //right// choice you made back there. Good for you.
Finding yourself near the outskirts of a quaint, straw hut village, you decide that you could approach by one of two methods: [[skirt about the village checking for traps and the like]], or [[charge right in]].Really?
You blunder through the thick jungle, slapping yourself in the face and saying "Durr, durr, durr" as you go. At one point you stumble across a thorny plant with bright red and yellow flowers and skulls on the leaves, so you grab big handfuls of it and rub it all over your...
No, okay? Just no.
You blunder through the jungle for a bit just to be ironic. Just to illustrate to yourself how profoundly, absurdly stupid it would have been to do this when all the information available to you made it abundantly clear that there was another, safer, more productive avenue of enterprise readily available to you. Just to prove that absolutely no good can come...
Oh, snap! While ironically blundering through the jungle, you discover the crumbling ruins of a lavish temple. And by "lavish," you mean "gold filled," and by "temple" you mean "shiny things repository."
Since in this case you would be stupid NOT to blunder right in, you do that.
You're immediately presented with a giant stone monkey idol with giant emeralds for eyes. You could totally [[loot those]], but you're pretty sure that doing so will set off traps or summon ghosts or both. For two massive emeralds, that's an acceptable trade-off, but you might want to [[search the rest of the temple]] beforehand. Just in case.You pop one of the idol's eyes out and, sure enough, there's some kind of cable fastened to the back of it. A mechanical rumble reverberates through the cold stone halls, rattling the pebbles on the floor and shaking the dust from the ceiling.
Then the whole thing stops.
You tug on the cable attached to the emerald and find that it was connected to some really fancy bamboo electronics. Turns out that the giant emerald-eyed monkey idol was actually a sophisticated stone age security system, and you just broke it.
You figure that's pretty lucky, until you realise that a working stone age security system would be worth several hundred times as much as all the rest of the treasure in this place put together.
You could [[try to fix it]], or you could just [[settle for taking the rest of the stuff]].A thorough search of the temple reveals a secret chamber hidden at the end of a hallway full of circular saws (the abundance of headless skeletons tips you off) and beyond a leap-of-faith invisibridge sort of deal (which would work a lot better if the "invisible" portion weren't covered in bird poop: why do lost civilisations never take into account that there'll be nobody around to clean their mysterious temple traps?).
Anyway, you get into this secret chamber and you're surprised to find that there's a really, really old man in there wearing a chainmail helmet. He's sitting at a table with two chalices: one is made of gold and studded with rubies, the other is plain and made of wood.
"Choose wisely," he says, "for though the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you."
You look from one chalice to the other. Set out right next to each other like this, you can't help but feel like the plain, unassuming one--the one you might overlook if there were several of these things--is probably the one with the cool magic powers, because if it wasn't then there wouldn't be much of a twist.
The elderly knight seems to guess what you're thinking.
"There were more Grails once," he explains, "but alas, I pawned them for Netflix money." He shrugs apologetically. "There's not a lot to do when you're an immortal guardian stuck in the same secret chamber for thousands and thousands of years."
Do you choose the [[chalice of gold]], or the [[cup of the carpenter]].You stick everything back in place as best you can. If a bunch of illiterate guys who've been living on one small island their entire lives could build the stone age monkey security system in the first place, you figure, one illiterate guy who's been living in one small dungeon most of his life can probably patch it up alright.
Turns out he (you) can't.
Or can he (you)?
You take out the part you broke, shake it, blow on it, hit it with a hammer and then put it back in upside-down. One--or some combination--of those things does the trick, and the giant stone age monkey robot rumbles into life.
"Crush! Kill! Throw robot monkey faeces!" it says, in a robotic stone age monkey voice.
As it punches through the wall of the temple and strides outside, you hear warning drums from whatever cannibal village has been set up here.
You never did get a chance to actually torment anyone directly, but you're sure nobody's happy about what you just did so you'll call it a success.
THE ENDYou know how some civilisations use fancy seashells as currency rather than gold?
Yeah. This isn't one of them.
This one uses fancy sea//food//. And it's been left out unrefrigerated for at least several hundred years.
Unfortunately, you don't realise this until you've already taken a running jump into the temple's money pit, Scrooge McDuck style.
THE END"I choose...this one," you say, grasping the stem of the golden chalice.
"Then drink," says the knight, gesturing to a nearby font of stone, "and know thy fate."
"Oh no," you say, stepping back out onto the mysterious invisible (and quite badly soiled) bridge of mystery. "I'm positive this is the scary super-aging one. I'm just going to sell it. Or maybe use it to serve drinks to people I don't like."
"How dare you!" cries the knight. "You're not worthy to possess the cup that...well...I suppose it is the one that people choose when they're unworthy. Okay then!"
Initially you're just pleased to have a valuable cursed chalice, but you quickly discover that once you have one of those things, you just keep finding more and more uses for it. Not only can you use it to serve drinks to unwelcome guests, it effectively supplies you with an infinite quantity of weedkiller: just fill the cup and then splash its contents over anything that's growing up through the patio tiles.
At first you're a little concerned that you might get it mixed up with your set of ordinary ruby-encrusted golden chalices--you know, if you accidentally put it away in the kitchen cupboard--but it turns out the easiest way to avoid that is just to leave it right in the middle of the floor of your pantry with a bit of water in it. That way, you'll never mistake it for an ordinary cup, and as an added bonus it kills all the mice that come by and drink out of it. You don't even have to get rid of gross dead mice, because the grail curse makes them shrivel up and turn to dust.
Which is handy, because that cursed chalice is pretty much the only poison thing that the mice in your dungeon aren't smart enough to avoid.
Pretty soon, you can't remember what you ever did without it.
THE END"I choose...this one," you say, picking up the wooden cup. Someone's put gold leaf around the inside, so it must be at least kind of important.
"You have chosen...wisely," says the knight. "But beware: the grail cannot pass beyond the giant monkey statue thing. That is the boundary--and the price--of immortality."
"Oh," you say. "I'm not fussed about immortality. I just want my nipples back."
You slosh some grail water on your chest and rub it around a bit. Magic stuff happens, but rather than the usual spooky spirit faces and lightning crackles, it just looks...fizzy. Like your nipple remnants were made of baking soda and you've just poured white vinegar all over them.
But in any case, it works.
"Hey, look!" you grin. "I've got nipples again."
"Ugh," says the knight. "I don't want to see that."
THE ENDYou sneak around the perimeter of the village, keeping a close eye out for tripwires, snares, or those implausibly high-tech dart-flinging things that always turn up for some reason.
Sure enough, it's not long before you find a tripwire.
With your foot.
The device whips you up into the trees, where you hang, dangling upside down with a clear view into the village centre.
A group of men in big hairy masks stare up at you. One of them gives a sheepish wave.
You wave back.
Then the whole bunch of them pick up their spears and run towards you, screaming.
Well, you can't do much while you're dangling by your ankle. Really, the only things that spring to mind are [[claiming to be a powerful wizard]], or [[convincing them you taste terrible]].You charge right into the cannibal village: a move that's probably pretty stupid, but happens to work out because, hey, you deserve some good luck from time to time, right?
Actually, you don't. But neither do the cannibals, you assume, so with any luck this means they're less lucky than you. What luck!
As you burst through the flimsy wall of the village, yelling incoherently and shaking your...well, you couldn't find a weapon, so you're shaking handfuls of leaves. You had to imagine that people who eat people probably don't like vegetables, so...yeah. It made more sense before you actually started doing it.
Anyway, as you do all that, the cannibals jump up and start to run away.
"Saltlord!" shouts one of them, as he trips over his own feet. "The dire Saltlord has come to torment us, just as the prophecy foretold!"
Saltlord? You rub your hands across your face and discover that it's shrivelled up on account of being in the ocean and not getting that fancy tropical drink (because wow would one of those be welcome just now).
Still, it seems to work out. If this Saltlord chap is //supposed// to torment these guys, then you might as well [[be the Saltlord]]. You'd be stupid [[not to be the Saltlord]] in this situation!"Fear me," you bellow, "for I am Grandalf the Gay! A powerful and, um, power-having wizard. Who wields great power."
"Then how come you don't just teleport down?" asks one of the cannibals.
He's got you there.
"Because..." there's got to be some way of salvaging this. "Because I had a sandwich a little while ago and you're not supposed to teleport until an hour after eating."
"Really?" says the cannibal.
"No," says a beardy man in a silly hat and big cloak. "That's for swimming. And even then it's not true."
"Who are you?" you ask.
"//I//, good sir, am Grandalf the Gay. And you know nothing of my work."
He snaps his fingers, and suddenly all the cannibals are standing precariously, one on top of another, on the roof of the tallest hut in the village.
"See?" says Grandalf the Gay. "I just teleported those guys, and I ate an entire turkey less than fifteen minutes ago."
He further makes his point by teleporting you out of the trap and onto the ground.
"Thanks," you say, grudgingly.
"Yes," says Grandalf the Gay. "Well, the way I see it, you owe me now."
That...doesn't sound good.
You stare in horror as he teleports all his clothes off his body and onto the ground in a neatly folded pile, big pointy hat on top.
"I'm off for a swim." He nods at the clothes pile. "Watch my stuff, will you?"
THE END"Wait!" You shout, as they approach. "You can't eat me! I'm..." lactose intolerant? Not gluten free? Dolphin //un//friendly? You're not sure how to end that sentence.
But "Oh..." says one of the cannibals, looking you up and down. "Yeah."
"I...see what you man," says another.
They release you from the rope trap and all look very, very embarrassed. You can't see their faces because of the masks, but it doesn't matter: it's a whole body language thing. The situation is just that awkward.
"Now hold on," you say, probably unwisely. "Why can't you eat me?"
"Hey, it's nothing personal," says the first one. "It's just...well..."
"If we ate you," continues another, "we'd be eating everyone you've ever...uhh..."
"I think I...um..." adds a third, "left someone on the stove."
And they all leave.
Wow. Those guys may not have eaten you--which is probably for the best--but they really took a chunk out of your self-worth.
THE END"Wooooooooooooo!" you groan, waggling your fingers about in a spooky way. "I will make your mouths feel dryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy and your chips taste goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood, for I am the Saltlord!"
"No you're not," says a rasping voice from behind you. "I am. And you know nothing of my work."
And with his salt-based arcane powers, the Saltlord banishes all moisture from your mouth, producing a moisture vacuum that draws all the water from the rest of your body with fatal results.
You've had your chips (and they taste gooooood).
THE END"Wait!" you call after them. "I'm not the Saltlord! I'm really, really not!"
But your mouth is so dry that the words just sound salty, and naturally nobody believes you.
"He's trying to use his saline trickery!" yells one of the cannibals. "Quick! Stuff rhubarb in your ears while gargling the alphabet backwards to the tune of //Old Man River//. It's the only way!!!"
So they do that.
You're not sure if this technically counts as "torment" or "laying siege," but it's amusing so you're going to allow it.
THE ENDYou gather the least poisonous-looking fruit you can find and make a big fruity pile on the beach.
If you know anything about fruity, tropical drinks (besides the fact that they need to have a little umbrella in them), it's that they're always served in a coconut. Finding a coconut is easy. Fashioning it into a drinking vessel, however, could be a problem. Although you possess the incredible strength necessary to crush the coconut between your mighty glutes if necessary, you suspect that doing so would render it unable to contain your blended fruit beverage.
You could try and [[gnaw the top off]], but it might be marginally less stupid to [[scour the cannibal-infested island for a knife of some sort]].Since you can't imagine miniature umbrellas growing on this island, and it seems just as unlikely that anyone would be making them, you figure that the only way you'd get hold of one would be if it washed up on the shore from somewhere else.
So you start walking along the high tide line.
It's a long walk before you find an umbrella. In fact, since you don't find an umbrella, it's just a long walk full stop. The only reason you don't keep walking is that as you follow the shoreline, you end up heading into some kind of coastal cave. Turns out there's a monster in there.
"Fear me!" wails the monster, "I am the hideous hag of the creepy cave! Woooooooo!"
It all seems like a lot of song and dance for nothing, to be honest. She's [[not particularly hideous]], although you suppose that simply living in a creepy cave might be enough for her to tecnically call herself a hag. She's also not particularly scary, since you could probably just [[hit her with a spiky bit of driftwood]]. There's a fair bit of it about, and you've got a fair amount of experience swinging a spiky bit of wood.You gnaw the top off the coconut.
It's tough, fibrous, and tastes awful. Also, the entire process takes fourteen and a half hours. But it's worth it because you've now got the only coconut drinking vessel on this entire island, and you can refill it as many times as you like.
Because you sure aren't about to eat the thing. In fact, you could happily never see a coconut ever again.
Fortunately, for the immediate future, you don't have to, because after fourteen and a half hours of sculpting a decadent coconut goblet with your teeth, it is now dark.
This also allows you to simply pretend that there's a little umbrella in your drink, because you doubt you could find one at this point and the whole idea was always a little bit ridiculous.
You squeeze the juice from your epic fruit pile with your epic glutes, filling your coconut goblet with concentrated deliciousness. You stand, "glass" in hand, poised ready to [[drink this fruity concoction]], but something's missing.
That something, of course, is alcohol. Alcohol is typically bigger than a miniature umbrella, so perhaps you could still [[find some in the dark]].Since you're on a cannibal-infested island, it stands to reason that the easiest way of getting a knife would be by taking one from the cannibals. As opposed to, say, carving one out of tree bark or sculpting it from sand.
You're not certain how cannibals would get hold of knives on an island like this (unless from cannibals with knives), but you're not here to solve that particular chicken and egg problem. You're here to drink fruity cocktails and terrorise the local population.
//And you're all out of fruity cocktails.//
Turns out that the whole subjugating people/making cocktails dilemma was a moot point after all. Oh well!
Your first instinct is to just wander around until you find the cannibal village, then [[steal some kind of coconut-chopping implement from it]]. However, if you were feeling generous, you could [[offer the cannibals some of your cocktail in exchange for their help]].You guzzle down your expertly crafted mocktail, marvelling at how //extremely// good it tastes after your vessel-less voyage across the ocean and the 14.5 hour drink-crafting process.
You savour each flavour in turn:
Yeah, your mocktail has a distinct bum sweat aftertaste. In hindsight, however mighty your glutes might be, they probably aren't an appropriate muscle group it comes to use as a kitchen utensil.
From now on, you decide, all your food and drink will be glute free.
THE ENDYou have no idea where to go looking for alcohol on a remote island populated entirely by cannibals. Even if you did, the near total darkness would still make it virtually impossible to find any.
So you set off along the beach, because at least that way you won't walk into a tree.
Instead, you trip over a box, washed up on the shore. You're about to fling it back out to sea when you realise that the box makes glassy clinks when you shake it.
Turns out it's full of rum.
After you've turned all the fruit and rum on the island into cocktails (and your coconut drinking vessel into a coconut hat), a pirate who sounds just a little like Ozzy Ozbourne turns up and starts complaining over and over about the rum being gone. Demanding to know //why// the rum is gone. It's like it's his catchphrase or something.
So you say that he should Pirates of the Carri-be-gone, because you've had enough fruity cocktails that it passes for a joke. Since it's just you and him around to hear it, a full 50% of the people who hear it think it's absolutely hilarious.
So yeah. Many fruity cocktails and a really awesome joke.
You: 2 - Ozzy Ozbourne Pirate: 0.
THE ENDYou wander about until you discover the cannibal village, then sneak into the kitchen with the intention of using their stuff to make your awesome cocktail.
However, once you're there, you get distracted by the amazing food they've got just sitting around. It's so good! You wonder what it's made from. It's easily the best thing you've ever eaten.
You eat all the food.
It's so good that you can't even remember why you came in here.
THE ENDYou stomp into the cannibal village, still holding your coconut.
"So hey," you say. "This is going to sound weird, so just hear me out. If you guys help me make an awesome tropical fruity cocktail, I will share my awesome tropical fruity cocktail. With you guys."
The cannibals stare at you.
"But..." says one of them. "We already have awesome tropical fruity cocktails."
It's true. They do. Little umbrellas and everything.
So you pelt the cannibals with coconuts until they run away, then drink all their cocktails.
Just think: if you hadn't offered the cannibals some of your hypothetical cocktail, you would never have discovered that they had actual existing cocktails to steal.
It's amazing what one small act of generosity can do.
THE END"You're not that hideous," you say. "You're just vaguely asymmetrical with kind of a big chin. And one not particularly prominent wart on your nose. You're actually pretty unremarkable."
"You're just saying that because the media sets an unrealistic standard of hideousness!" wails the hag.
"Oh no!" You do the finger waggly thing to emphasise just how wrong she is. "I've seen loads of people way more hideous than you. Real people. In fact, I just can't stop seeing them over and over again." No matter how hard you try...
The hag begins to cry.
You figure that you could either [[tell her that she's hideous after all]]--she's developed a big snot bubble because of the crying, so it would be true, kind of--or [[keep tormenting her]] about her appearance.
Somehow you doubt that either of these things will get you any closer to obtaining a miniature umbrella for your fruity drink.You pick up the largest, spikiest bit of driftwood you can find.
"Stay back!" you shout. "I've got wood!"
For some reason the cave hag bursts out laughing. You can't help but feel that you could do more to [[impress upon her the seriousness of the situation]]. Alternatively, there's your usual Plan B: [[hit something with something else]]. In this case her (with the spiky bit of wood).You begrudgingly say that now that you look closer, and she's had longer to impress her hideousness upon you, the cave hag's appearance is in fact pretty awful after all.
"Really?" She dries her eyes. "Do you want to...I don't know...maybe grab a drink or something?"
"That depends," you say. "Would it have a little umbrella in it?"
She snaps her fingers, and a bubbling cauldron appears nearby. She scoops some of the thick, gloopy green liquid into two sinister goblets--the stems are skeletal arms--and hands one to you.
She snaps her fingers again and a little pink umbrella appears in it.
The drink isn't quite what you had in mind--it's hot and there are eyeballs floating in it--but it is at least alcoholic, which is something.
Also, though you feel as though she wouldn't appreciate you saying it, the cave hag genuinely isn't the worst person you've ever met.
THE END."Ha ha," you taunt. "You're not ugly, you're not ugly..."
Without pausing in her sobbing, she snaps her fingers, casting a powerful magic spell over you. You feel your very bones twist and change. Hair sprouts from all over your body. You grow a tail.
You are Grrr Leghumper, Dungeon Labrador!
You wonder if this will make people take you more or less seriously as a generic fantasy villain.
THE END"No, seriously," you say. "I've got wood! Look, it's really big."
This only prompts more laughter.
You bang your spiky driftwood against the wall of the cave. "It's super hard too!"
The cave hag stops laughing, but only because she's switched to that really irritating gasp/snorting noise people do when they're laughing so hard that it's not really recognisable as laughter any more.
It doesn't bode well for your attempts to convey the seriousness of your big hard wood. Then she falls over into the sea, which seems to do the trick.
"Meeeeltiiiiiiing!" she wails. "Meeeeeeeltiiiiiiiiiing!!!"
"Ha!" you shout. "Bet you wish you hadn't laughed at me now, don't you?"
"Iiiiiiit waaaaaaaaas woooooooooorth iiiiiiiiiiiiiit!" wails the cave hag.
Some days you just can't win, apparently.
Not even with big hard wood.
THE ENDYou hit the cave hag in the face with the spiky driftwood.
Unfortunately, it turns out that this particular bit of driftwood drifted here from the Ugly Tree (which would explain its extreme knobbliness), and the blow only increases her hideousness, and therefore her power.
"Woooooooooo!" she wails, which shouldn't be scary but with that face really, really is.
You stumble backwards and fall in the sea.
For some reason the current carries you in the exact opposite direction than before, and you end up relatively close to your dungeon.
Those world-building gods may not know their geography, but they sure make one convenient ocean.
THE ENDIt's kind of a long walk to the dreary little hamlet where that serf lives. Chilly, too. Good thing you're wrapped up snug in your spooky ghost costume!
However, although the ghost costume offers some protection from the cold, it does nothing to protect you against a far more insidious foe...boredom!
You could simply [[keep walking to the hamlet]], or you could hide in some bushes and [[scare the next traveller to come along]].You know what? You haven't been having the best day today. You'll make things easy for yourself.
The elves are a notoriously timid folk, leaving nary a footprint in the snow. They typically prefer flower arranging to contact sports. They're all pansies, would be the thing to take away from this. And though your ghost costume may not be the best ghost costume in the world, you're confident that it's more than capable of scaring Legolisp and Girlrond and that lot.
So you travel to the magical (ie. frilly and effeminate) forest village of the elves. You're glad you thought to make and put on your spooky ghost costume before you set out, because the whole place is just covered in this freezing, unnaturally thick fog. It's cold as the grave!
There don't seem to be all that many people about, but you do spot one elf shambling down the street. You could go over and [[say boo to that guy]], but it's just one elf. Having already decided to give yourself an easy time by coming here rather than going after that calendar jerk, you kind of feel as though you should aim for something more dramatic: maybe [[scare the elf-king himself]]."Boo!" you shout, suddenly, and right behind him.
You're expecting him to jump or something, but instead he just stumbles round slowly to look at you.
"Brains?" groans the elf.
Unbelievable. This elf is such a scaredy-pants that he doesn't even know how to //be// scared. You hadn't anticipated that.
You could [[try to scare him again]], but it might just be a lost cause, and there's no point fretting over just this one. There are [[plenty of elves in the trees]], as it were.Hey, if you're going to settle for scaring elves, you're at least going to scare //important// elves. You're going to "Boo!" Girlrond so loud that...that...nuts. You're trying to come up with a joke along the lines of "he'll be //Galadriel// that..." but you aren't having any luck.
You're also having trouble getting into the elf-king's castle, to be honest. This place is locked down tighter than...uh...nuts. What is it about elves that makes them just no fun at all?
You suspect it's the ears.
You're pretty much committed to getting into this place at this point. The question is how. You could try to [[break down the gates]], but there's always some secret passage into these places. You can see some barrels floating down the river: maybe you could [[grab onto one of those]] and see where it takes you."No, not 'brains,'" you say. "Boo. Boooo!"
You flap your ghost arms about a bit for effect.
"Brains," groans the elf. And he leans forward, mouth hanging open.
Uh-oh. You've just remembered that the elves' usual greeting is a kiss on each cheek followed by an uncomfortably long hug. It's all or nothing here. You've got to [[scare this guy good]], or you've got to come up with some kind of [[anti-elf-kiss course of action]], because you're not having that and also this guy's breath smells like death.You head over to the elven graveyard, since it seems as though a ghost costume might get a better response there than out on the street where, you know, ghosts don't traditionally turn up all that often.
You're not sure why. Don't they have ghost shopping to do? Ghost buses to catch?
Come to think of it, you're not sure why that first guy wasn't more scared of you. Since the town's totally covered by this eerie, seemingly supernatural fog, it seems like you'd have to be some kind of moron not to consider the possibility of some kind of ghostly goings-on.
Anyway, you get to the graveyard and--wouldn't you know it--there's some kind of ghost costume dressup party going on. Not just bedsheets with eye-holes either. Those things are convincing: how do the elves make themselves glow like that?
Makes you all self-conscious about how bad your own costume is.
You wonder if this ghost party has booze: [[you could probably gatecrash]] since you're technically dressed for this party even though your costume sucks. Alternatively, the fact that your costume stands out could allow you to [[convince the ghost elves that you're a real ghost]]. After all, ghosts are rare, so it would stand to reason that the odd ghost out would be the most realistic no matter how unrealistic they looked. If, say, all the really realistic ghosts were real and you were the only fake one, that wouldn't make any sense at all."AH-BOOGIDIE-BOOGIDIE-BOOGIDIE!!!" you yell, flapping your ghost arms around exuberantly.
It works! The elf is so incredibly surprised that he involuntarily bites one of your flapping ghost hands. It hurts a bit, but you're mostly just pleased to have scared somebody so incredibly faint of heart. When you put it like that it doesn't //sound// like much of an achievement, but really it is. He wasn't expecting you to scare him, but you brainsed him anyway!
You sure brains brains brains really brains!
Suddenly you become aware of music playing nearby. It's girly elven pop music, but somehow something in the melody calls to you, beckoning you to [[follow the sound]]. But no! You must [[resist the call]]!You punch the guy in the face.
It's an unconventional move, but...actually it's not. It's pretty much your go-to response when you can't think of any course of action more relevant to whatever specific situation you're in. You wonder if that goes beyond simple generic fantasy villainy and actually suggests some kind of deep-seated emotional problem, but mostly you're just surprised that when you punched this particular guy in the face, his head came off.
It didn't even just fall off, either: you got some distance on that thing. Without a tape measure it's hard to say exactly what kind of distance, but...far. Probably the same kind of distance you could have thrown it, which is impressive because you weren't planning for that when you picked the angle or anything.
But there's no time to dwell on that, because more elves are coming to greet you with their outstretched hugging arms and gross kissy mouths. One of them has no lower jaw for some reason, which means that guy is going to be //all// tongue, and you don't want that.
Decision time: [[attack the elves]] (the face-punching option) or [[retreat from the elves]] (the non-face-punching option).You follow the music, and discover that it's coming from one particular elf. An elf wearing a shiny red suit and one extremely sequined glove.
It's Michaelf Jackson!
Involuntarily, you are drawn into an expertly choreographed dance routine. You cast off your spooky ghost costume and begin to shuffle and jump, in perfect sync with the entire rest of the town, who are also under Michaelf Jackson's spell.
It is only now that you realise that you are undead, and this is un-Hell!
Though on the bright side your outfit is comparatively not-ridiculous in this particular setting.
THE ENDYou shuffle away from the source of the music, brainishing its brainckoning call from your sweet, sweet brain.
Though you felt as though this might be a brain day at the brainginning, you've braingun to realise that just getting out and doing something was the brainst thing for you.
You've startled an elf with your spooky ghost costume, brainten whatever attempt this was to brain brainwash you, and are making your way brain home, brain brain brain ill effects!
The brain of the brain is: brain brain brains brains brain brains, brains brains braaaaaaaaaaaains.
THE ENDYou punch all the faces. :-)
Punch //all// the faces? :-(
Punch (text-style: "underline")[all] the faces. :-|
"Brains!" groan the horde of elves.
Apparently they don't appreciate the ghost costume either, so you wrap it around a stick, dunk it in a barrel of tar and set it on fire. Then hit them with it.
It's an unconventional move, but to be honest it's only unconventional because you added fire to the stick first. Hitting people with sticks is pretty much your //other// go-to solution for all your problems.
Anyway, it takes a while, but eventually all the elves are punched and/or scorched, and you remain unkissed. Girlrond, king of the elves, emerges from his flamboyantly pink elf castle and proclaims you an honorary elf, in recognition of your heroic deeds (whatever those are).
You say that you don't want to be an elf. Not even if it's only honorary.
He says tough, it's done.
You say: "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" because things were going so well up until then.
THE ENDNope nope nope nope nope.
"I'm, uh...I'm off to do important ghost things, bye!" you say. "Wooooooooo!"
The elves stumble after you--perhaps expecting some kind of goodbye kiss, the weirdos--but you easily escape them by sticking to a more or less average walking pace. Typical elves: no stamina whatsoever.
You make your way back to the dungeon, trying to work out whether one of the goblins could patch up the eye-holes in your only bedsheet or if they'd only make things worse.
Acually, never mind. You're pretty sure they'd only make things worse.
THE ENDYou sidle casually into the midst of the elven graveyard ghost party.
"Hey," you say, doing a double ghost thumbs-up at the nearest fake elf-ghost. "Boo, right? Hail the elf-king and all that. I'm legit supposed to be here, by the way."
You make your way over to the drinks table, but it's all gone quiet and you're pretty sure none of the fake elf ghosts are buying your story. You're about to grab a drink when one of them steps //into// the table and just stands there, occupying the same physical space as the booze.
How is he doing that?
No time to think about that now, though: you want to consume as much party food and drink as possible before someone tries to kick you out. They're elves, so you doubt they could forcibly remove you, but their efforts could seriously hamper your ability to imbibe fruity punch and stuff dry roasted peanuts into your face.
You need to act fast: you can either reach inside this guy and [[grab a beverage directly]], or you could [[use an extremely long novelty straw]]."Wooooooo!" you wail, approaching the crowd with arms a-flappin'. "Wooooooo! Woooooooo! I am a creeeepy ghostie! Woooooooo, I say!"
"Dude," says one of the elves. "That's racist."
You're not sure it is. It might be offensive to ghosts, but since "ghost" isn't a race as far as you're aware, you figure you can probably [[win this argument]]. Alternatively, you might find it easier to scare people if you [[claimed to be a racist ghost]].You grab an extremely long novelty straw and thread it through the body of the uncooperative elven party guest in the ghost costume, into a bottle of beer on the table.
It turns out that this particular novelty straw is impractically long, and you really have to suck to get anything through it.
"Waitwaitwait!" shouts the ghost costume party guest. "That's not beer, it's my ectoplasm! Nooooooooo!"
But it's too late. You drank him.
You have learned two things:
1) These elves are in fact real ghosts.
2) Real elven ghosts are surprisingly alcoholic.
You proceed to drink every single one of the elven ghosts, both exorcising the graveyard and ruining their party in the process.
THE END"It's nooooot raaaaciiiiiist," you moan. "Iiiit's juuuust kiiiind oooof ooooffeeeeeensiiiiiiiiiiive to ghooooooooosts (such as me)!"
You've really got that ghost voice down.
But "No," says the elf. "I mean it's racist against elves. We don't wear bedsheets with eye-holes in them except on the most sacred of holidays, to commemorate Noldurr's legendary victory over Smuug the Ghost-phobic. Which involved a bedsheet with eye-holes in it."
"Oh." You didn't know that. You don't particularly care, but it would have been good to know before you came up with this plan. "So it's not scary, then?"
"No," says the elf. "Just offensive."
"Well," you say, "that's just as good."
And you turn around and go home.
You forget what your mission was, but you're going to go ahead and say that it's accomplished.
THE END"I'm racist because I died a long tiiiiiiime agooooooooo, and thiiings were diiiiiiiifereeeeeeeeeeent theeeeeeeeeeeeeeen!"
They'll have to buy that, it holds together so perfectly!
"No you're not," says the elf. "You're just a dick."
Okay. Clearly nobody here can tell what your costume is supposed to be, and you fear it may be sending the wrong message entirely.
You leave, chuck your eye-hole bedsheet in a ditch, and head off to buy/steal a replacement. Only the shop is closed and it has a magical fistproof lock, so you're totally stuck. All you can do is go home disappointed and sheetless.
This was a bad day. You just want to give up and go to bed.
THE ENDYou punch the gate as hard as you can.
Turns out that it's just not possible for one guy to break down a castle gate with his bare hands. Which, now that you think about it, is kind of the point of a castle. Traditionally they're supposed to keep entire armies out. They'd probably struggle to do that if any given person in an army could casually punch a hole through the gate and turn the handle from inside.
You could still hop into a barrel and try getting in that way, but unfortunately you can't do that because your alternating punches and yelps of pain have attracted the attention of the local townsfolk and they've begun to crowd around you, blocking your route to the river.
"Brains!" groan the townsfolk, shambling through the eerie, grave-cold mist.
That's kind of rude. How were you supposed to know that elf-castles had punch-proof doors!
You could try some other way of getting through the gates--say, [[pretending to be a pizza delivery guy]]--but neat as it would be to scare the elf-king, you kind of want to teach the townsfolk a lesson by [[doing your best ghost impression]]. That'll show them!You grab hold of one of the barrels, and it's pretty heavy. You had been considering climbing inside the barrel--as a disguise--but since it's full then that's not going to work. At least, not unless you empty the barrel first.
The simplest thing to do would probably be to just [[hang onto the outside of the barrel]] as it floats downstream. However, you're also kind of curious to [[find out what's inside]]. It could be booze in there!''FUS-RO-DAH!!!''
The earth trembles. Chunks of moss fall from the castle roof. Somewhere in the distance--despite the vaguely medieval setting--a car alarm begins to wail.
But the gates remain unbroken.
Well, that's that.
You turn around to leave, and are surprised to discover that you managed to shout loud enough to explode the head of every single elf in the crowd. You suppose that counts as revenge: they mocked you by saying "brains" (implying you don't have any), and now their brains are all splattered. So that actually went pretty well.
It gets better: the gate opens.
"THANK YOU, GOOD SIR, FOR VANQUISHING THE UNDEAD HORDE." It's Girlrond. "PRAY, HOW CAN WE REPAY YOU FOR THIS SERVICE TO THE ELVES?"
"Well," you say, "for one thing you can stop yelling in my ear!"
"CONSIDER I--" Girlrond stops himself. "Consider it done," he says, at an almost normal volume.
He steps back inside the castle and you hear the door lock behind him.
Nuts. You probably should have asked for money or something.
THE END"Wooooooo!" you say. "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"
The shambling crowd of elves look confused.
One turns to her neighbour. "Brains?" she asks.
"Brains..." The neighbour shrugs. "Brain brains."
Having never learned elvish, you've got no idea what they're saying. You could [[carry on doing your ghost impression]], or you could [[say brains a few times in the hopes it means something offensive in elvish]]."This is the pizza delivery guy, by the way," you shout through the gates. "The reason I knocked so hard and so many times is...um...it's...company policy."
No answer. Time to break out the big guns.
"Come on, open up! Your pizza's getting cold!"
Unless you can open the gates by [[shouting at them]], you're probably going to have to [[do something about that crowd of brains elves]].You suppose you could just politely ask these guys to clear a path, but it seems as though it would be much more fun to take off your ghost costume, wrap it around several bricks and start swinging it like a makeshift flail.
So you do that.
It doesn't go to plan.
Instead of a makeshift flail, it turns out that you've put together a makeshift helicopter rotor. You didn't think it was possible to make that sort of thing out of bricks and cloth, but you're using it to fly right now, so clearly it is.
As you rise slowly past the highest tower of the castle, you look in through the window and happen to lock eyes with Girlrond, the elf-king.
"AAAH!" screams Girlrond, falling off his office chair.
Alright! That all worked out nicely, and as an added bonus you've invented the helicopter.
THE END"WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" You flap your besheeted ghost arms around a bit more, really hammering home the point that you are a spooky ghost with spooky ghost arms. "WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!"
"Brains," grumbles the crowd in general. They turn around and shuffle off.
You're not sure what just happened. Either they were expecting some kind of ghost performance and were disappointed, or they thought you were a real ghost and were so scared they couldn't run away at full speed.
Ultimately, you decide not to dwell on it: if anybody asks, you'll just say it was the second one. Because who's going to argue with a spooky ghost?
THE END"Brain brains, brains brains brains brains? Brain brain brain brains brains," you say, in what you hope is a really offensive tone.
Success! The elves begin to cry.
No, wait, they're also applauding. So yeah. They're not offended: they're moved.
You don't know what's more disappointing: that you failed that badly at what you set out to do, or that the most eloquent thing you'll ever say consisted entirely of "brain" and "brains," and that you have no idea what it was.
Either way it's not what you were hoping for.
THE ENDKnowing your luck, the barrel is full of snakes. Or bees. Or ogre vomit. Rather than opening it, you simply use the barrel as a buoyancy aid (though you still hope it does not contain snakes, bees, or ogre vomit).
The river flows into a watercourse beneath the castle, and thence to a complicated, water-powered barrel-lifting mechanism. The mechanism is a spectacular example of elven precision engineering, which is to say that it does not incorporate any superfluous dungeon-lord-sized spaces around the barrel grips. Your journey up to the castle is uncomfortable enough that, had you known this was coming, you probably would have climbed inside the barrel even if you had also known that the barrel contained ogre vomit.
By the time you get out, your ghost costume is a little bit shredded. That might actually be an improvement.
Alright, time to find the elf-king. You're reasonably certain that he'll be in either [[the hall of the elven throne]] or [[the elf-king's chambers]]. Fortunately, both those places are clearly signposted.You open the barrel, and inside is...nothing.
It must just be really heavy wood or something. You climb inside and secure the lid as best you can. It's a pretty tight squeeze, but you figure you only need to put up with it for as long as it takes to float inside the castle.
"So, hey," says a voice from //inside your barrel//. "I don't want to be a bother, but you're sitting on my spine."
"Aah!" you shout. "Who are you and why didn't I see you when I opened the barrel?"
"The name's Bagbo Bilbins." He shakes your hand--with difficulty, because of the cramped conditions--with his own very small hand. "I've got a magic ring that lets me turn invisible."
This is too weird. Your first instinct is to [[chuck this Bagbo character out of your barrel]]. However, that magic ring sounds pretty cool (and valuable). Maybe you should [[steal it from him first]].Ka-ching!
The elf king is here, staring at the locked castle gates at the end of the hall and generally looking pretty glum. The passageway leading from the barrel storage cellar comes out at the back of the hall, so you're well placed to sneak up behind him.
Which you do.
"BOO!" you yell.
"AHH!" screams the elf-king. You totally got him! He thinks you're a ghost.
"Guards!" he shouts. "There's a madman in here wearing nothing but a ripped bedsheet!"
Hey! You're not wearing nothing but a ripped bedsheet: just //almost// nothing but a ripped bedsheet. But in any case the ghost thing didn't really work out.
You still scared him, though, so overall you consider it a success.
Then you find that the only way you can escape the guards is by going through the barrel-lifting mechanism //backwards//, and you quickly change your mind.
THE ENDYou make your way up //all// the stairs to the elf-king's chambers. Turns out they're at the absolute top of the absolute highest tower in the castle.
You don't get it. Sure, the view is maybe 10% better than it would be fifty feet lower down, but the massive spiral staircase is definitely 90% less convenient. Must be an elf thing. You can't help but notice that he's also got those stupid pillows that you leave on the bed when you're not in it but take off when you are, thereby guaranteeing that you will never ever get any use out of them under any circumstances whatsoever.
Seriously. For someone who's king of an entire fantasy race, his personal living arrangements are ridiculously inefficient.
That's probably why he's not here right now.
You could go all the way back down all those stairs looking for him, but it's pretty late. He's bound to come here sooner or later. And those pointless bed pillows do look pointlessly comfy...
You wake with a start: someone has climbed into bed next to you.
"Hi, honey," says Girlrord the elf-king. "I'm //Galadriel// you're here: that's a nice surprise."
He puts an arm around you.
"AAAH!" you yell. "I MEAN 'BOO!'"
"AAH!" yells Girlrond, stumbling out of the room and falling down all the stairs.
You bet he wishes he'd picked a more practical room now.
THE ENDYou open the barrel and hurl Bagbo Bilbins out into the river, where you assume that he drowns. You can't see it happen because he has magical invisibility bling, but it sure sounds like that's what happens.
You are confident that this was the right course of action, and that Bagbo Bilbins and his ring were not, say, involved in some kind of epic-lite prequel quest that would eventually spin off into a full-on epic quest that would determine the fate of the world. If he was, then that would be unusual, because he was so little and little people aren't traditionally the heroes of epic quest stories.
You suppose that would make for quite a twist, though.
In any case, the whole episode has left you shaken enough that you've decided to drop the whole scare-the-elf-king idea.
You're just going to consider this barrel ride a relaxing cruise.
THE END"Aha!" you shout, grabbing his hand and feeling his fingers for the ring.
Turns out it's the other hand.
"Aha!" you shout, grabbing his other hand instead.
Nope. Nothing there either.
"It's, uh..." Bagbo sounds a little embarrassed. "It's not the kind of ring you wear on your finger.
"Aha!" you shout a third time, grabbing his feet. Ugh--they're hairy.
"It's, uh...it's not a toe ring either."
You think about this for a moment, then quietly climb out of the barrel.
You ain't grabbing that.
THE ENDYou continue on your way, and it's just as well: it's quite a while before you pass anyone on the road.
"Afternoon," you say, tipping your imaginary ghost cap at the merchant as you walk by.
He doesn't say anything. He just stares at your besheeted face, then at your bare muscly legs, then at your besheeted face again.
You look over your shoulder after the two of you pass. He's looking over his shoulder as well.
You're such an awesome spooky ghost.
Anyway, you get to the hamlet and...huh. It appears that your visit has coincided with the thrice annual Torchlight Pitchfork Sharpening Festival. What are the odds!?
1 in 121.75, as it happens. Taking into account leap-years.
Whatever the chances, this is not a good time to be dressed as any kind of ghostie or ghoulie that could be run out of town with...you know...torches and pitchforks. The former are readily available, the latter very, very sharp.
You're either going to have to cobble together [[a fork-proof, flame-proof dragon costume]], or give up on the whole scaring people idea and just [[get involved with the festivities]].You hide in the bushes, spooky ghost costume wrapped tightly around yourself for warmth. Well, wrapped tightly around as much of yourself as that thing will fit over. Whoever comes down this road next, you're going to "Boo!" them //so hard//.
But nobody comes down the road.
Pretty soon it's at least as boring as walking. In fact, you're pretty sure it's more boring.
It's definitely more boring.
You stand up, ready to resume your journey towards that serf's hamlet, and thanks to not sitting hunched over in a bush you spot that there is in fact somebody coming down the road, still quite a way off. They've got a cart with them. As they draw closer (and after you've concealed yourself in the bush once more), you see that the traveller is an elderly merchant.
You pop out of the bushes with the loudest, spookiest "Boo!" you can muster.
The old man yells in surprise and sprints away, leaving his cart behind.
That was fun! Having scared the guy once, you figure you could [[run after him and do it again]]. Or you could just let him run off while you [[steal all the stuff from his cart]].You run after the elderly merchant.
As he glances over his shoulder, you shout "Boo!" again.
"Help!" he cries. "Somebody save me from this ghost with absurdly muscular legs!"
Turns out your costume's not so bad after all: the whole ghost legs thing must be pretty scary when the ghost's chasing after you.
However, your muscular legs are far more suited to sprinting than long distance running. This old guy is a better runner than you expected. Though you're confident you could [[keep up with him]], you'd be just as happy to [[give up the chase]].You pull back the canvas covering the cart and discover that it's full of pottery. It's fairly nice pottery, but individually none of the items are worth stealing. It's not magical "I am the genie of the gravy boat, and I shall grant you wishes" pottery, it's "here are some items you can pick up and put in your inventory, but don't bother because they're only here so the room won't look empty" pottery.
That kind of pottery.
It's worth maybe one or two groats per item. If you were to [[sell the whole lot, plus the cart]], that would actually add up to a fair bit. However, you'd have a much easier time if you were to simply [[smash the stuff up just to be mean]].You keep chasing the elderly merchant.
He keeps running.
You wait for him to look over his shoulder again, but apparently he's not going to. You figure that since he knows you're there, and his only option at this point is to keep running, he doesn't really need to. So you just shout "Boo!" periodically.
Eventually, he slows down a bit, and you're able to catch up, which you're glad about because it's really been quite a long run by now.
However, you're not really sure what to do once you catch him. You don't have any real ghost powers, after all. You figure you could just [[grab hold of him]], since that would be pretty scary, but you wonder if you might get a better reaction by [[throwing the ghost costume over him]], so as to make him believe that he has become a ghost himself.
That would be scary too.You stop chasing the merchant and, for the first time in quite a while, take a look around where you are.
You...don't know where this is.
You could simply [[retrace your steps]]--you're sure you'd be able to get back home that way--but it's getting late and you're not sure you could make it all the way to the dungeon by nightfall. It can get pretty eerie out after dark: it might be better to [[seek shelter in the abandoned slaughterhouse where all those teenagers died thirteen years ago to the day]]."Woooooo!" you yell, as you grab hold of the elderly merchant. "I'm going to eat you...with my ghost face!"
The elderly merchant yelps, clutches at his heart, and falls over backwards.
You know because you have a great deal of experience making people dead yourself. Which is what has happened here. It's basically your entire job.
You wonder if you'll get paid for this.
Then you wonder what that glowy thing is rising from the merchant's corpse. It looks vaguely like a bedsheet with eye-holes cut in it, only glowier and way more awesome.
"Wooooo!" yells the elderly merchant's ghost. "Now I'm going to eat //you// with //my// ghost face!"
And he does. But it turns out that ghost faces aren't very good at eating. He chomps at you a bit, and it's mildly spooky but mostly just irritating. In any case, he gives up before you've even got halfway back to the dungeon.
You can't help but imagine that if ghosts were a little better at seeing things through, they wouldn't have so much unfinished business in the first place.
THE ENDHe turns around just as you fling the costume. He catches sight of your non-ghost self, and the relief on his face is obvious.
"Oh, thank goodness: I thought you were a..."
Then the ghost costume drops over him.
"OH MY GOD IT'S SWEATY!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!"
He sprints off faster than ever. You try to chase after him again, but he's just too quick, and if the costume is as sweaty as he keeps saying you're not sure you want it back anyway. It would have been alright if you'd kept wearing it, but you don't like the idea of putting it back on.
So you go home instead.
THE ENDIn the last faint glimmer of twilight, you find the road. It's going to be a long, dark walk home.
As you make your way back, you think you see lights on the road behind you: faint, flickering lights.
You keep glancing behind you as you make your way onwards, and soon you are certain you see the lights. Certain of the lights, but unsure of their shape: they seem to hold a human form, or rather what you would expect the human form to look like if you first cut eye-holes in a bedsheet and draped it over.
As the lights draw closer...they're ghosts. You know they're ghosts because they're chanting a long, tuneless ghost song about how they have a mate called Casper and Casper is their mate, and also how quickly Casper can drink any given alcoholic beverage.
It's not long before they see you.
"Bro!" shouts one of them. "Ghost bro! Pub crawl, ghost bro!"
Suspecting that they would eat you with their ghost faces if you revealed your true, non-ghostly form, you go along with it. Also you figure you could do with a drink after all that running.
You actually end up having a pretty good time (but the ghost beer goes right through you).
THE ENDYou slowly push open the rotting, creaky door of the abandoned slaughterhouse: the door that has claw marks in the wood, and the word "RUN" daubed in big red letters over it, and a rusty hook hanging from the handle!
Turns out it's been converted into a Premier Inn.
You have a pleasant, moderately-priced stay and head back to your dungeon in the morning.
THE ENDYou are Girth Loinhammer, Dungeon L-uh...Dungeon-based Pottery Salesman.
Since the hamlet where that serf lives is by now the closest place that might possibly bulk-buy pottery, you head over there.
However, when you arrive you discover that the only pottery shop in town is closed. There's a note on the door:
"Out delivering pottery to only place that bulk-buys pottery, back in three weeks."
Oh yeah. The pottery guy you haunt-mugged was coming //from// this direction. Meaning he was taking the pots //away// from here. Meaning that you just dragged the cart and its contents right back where it came from.
You just accidentally returned everything you stole.
While wearing a bedsheet with eye-holes in it.
Boy do you feel stupid.
Well, you could either [[fake haunt the pottery shop]], or you could [[forget the pots altogether]].You smash every single bit of pottery in the cart. It takes a while.
As you dash the final piece against the cobbled road, there is a puff of glittery purple smoke. An ethereal chap in a turban rises from the shards of clay, roaring and stretching, as though emerging from a prison after many thousands of years.
"I am the genie of the gravy boat!" he proclaims. "You have freed me from my delicate yet functional ceramic oubliette, and thus, in my infinite gratitude, I am bound to offer you one wish: choose whatsoever you most desire, and it shall be yours."
"Hang on," you say. "//One// wish? What happened to //three wishes//?"
"Eh." The genie shrugs. "Those wankers in Parliament keep making cuts. You know the last person to free me was King Stephen himself? And he got //five// wishes. How do you think he got to be a king //and// a famous author?"
Presumably with two or more wishes. You give the genie the "get on with it" handwave gesture.
"Right, right," he says. "Yeah. You can pick whatever you like, but I'm not allowed to kill anyone or bring the dead back to life or force people to fall in love."
"Fair enough," you say. You're more than capable of killing people without using up a wish, bringing them back to life would be counter-productive, and...actually, wait. That last thing gives you [[an idea]]...
However, it might be safer just to [[wish for something simple]]. You're aware that genie wishes have a reputation for going horribly, deliberately wrong.You climb onto the roof of the pottery and slide down the chimney like a muscly Father Christmas.
Unfortunately, you lose your ghost costume on the way down.
More unfortunately, once you're inside you find there's no way out or any food.
//Still more unfortunately//, the elderly potter comes back, finds the cart full of pottery, and sets off on his four week round trip without so much as opening the door.
By the time he gets back, you don't need the costume to haunt him, which when you think about it is at least vaguely convenient.
"Boo!" you shout, popping out from the spout of a novelty teapot (because you've had four weeks to plan the most unexpected possible place to pop out from).
"Aaah!" screams the elderly potter, clutching at his heart. He slumps to the floor. After a few moments, his ghost rises from his corpse.
"Hey!" you say. "We could be ghost buddies!"
"Aw, hell no!" says the potter's ghost. He pulls up some of the floor tiles, quickly digs a hole (apparently he's good with clay and ceramic: who'd have thought it?), and vanishes into the bowels of the earth in a faint puff of brimstone.
His hands pop back up a moment later to neaten up the mess he made of his former shop floor.
Wow. That guy chose an eternity of torment over an eternity with you.
Now who are you going to torment for eternity?
THE ENDYou give up on the whole pottery theft idea and return to your original plan of beating up that serf who gave you a word-of-the-day calendar in lieu of actual monetary tribute (remember that guy?). He lives in this dreary little hamlet, so you should have no problem tracking him down and giving him a piece of your mind.
You storm over to his house and pound on the door.
There's no answer.
The lights are off.
THE ENDYou reach inside the guy, and for once nobody laughs about how you just reached inside a guy.
Instead, you die.
As you reach into the elven party-pooper to get your beverage, an icy sensation travels up your arm, directly to your heart. You find yourself hovering above your own lifeless corpse, still draped in its makeshift ghost costume--and wow from this angle does it look mediocre--surrounded by what you're beginning to suspect are in fact real ghosts.
"Right," says one of them. "Clear off. We're having a ghost party here."
"Aha!" you say. "But now I really am a ghost. Didn't think of that, did you?"
The elven ghost shrugs. "Doesn't matter whether you're a ghost or not. We just don't like you."
"Ghost burn!" shouts another of the elven ghosts. He and the guy next to him share a completely silent high-five.
Screw this, you think. You've got goblins to haunt.
THE END"So..." you say. "If you can't force people to fall in love, can you force people to...//not// fall in love?"
The genie explains that to do something like that would be hugely unethical--potentially robbing people's lives of all meaning--and that if you had any shred of decency you wouldn't even ask. Also that it's not one of the handful of wishes he's expressly forbidden from granting so, you know, whatever. But he does want to go on record as saying it's a terrible idea.
"Genie," you say, in a tone of great significance, "I wish that nobody ever love //me//. Ever."
That ought to put a stop to all that un-dungeonly dungeon nonsense.
You arrive back at your dungeon and discover no fewer than three naked wizards, two naked sorceresses, and one paladin who, though not technically naked, isn't leaving //anything// to the imagination with that armour.
Turns out nobody was in love with you to begin with: they were just using you for...you know...this sort of thing.
But hey, what else were you going to do with a magical genie wish? It's not like there was anything more useful that could have got you, huh?
THE END"I wish for a goat what poops money," you say.
"That's it?" asks the genie of the gravy boat. "You can wish for //anything//, you know. Besides the things you can't wish for. Are you sure you don't want to wish for something bigger? Perhaps something more ambiguously worded?"
That's settled it. "I want a goat what poops money," you say, decisively.
"Okay, if you say so." The genie prepares to snap his fingers. "Just remember, this is exactly what you wished for.
Standing before you is a goat.
"Me-e-e-e-eh," says the goat.
You give the genie a look.
"Hey," says the genie. "You didn't ask for a goat what poops money //on command//."
It's true. You didn't. Still, you feel as though you should demand proof this isn't just an...
The genie vanishes.
Nuts. Now how are you going to find out it...
A little cluster of coins falls to the ground and scatters across the cobbles. To the genie's credit, they look clean: he's definitely passed up an opportunity to mess with you there.
You pick up one of the coins and discover that it is a shiny, new--if disconcertingly warm--silver groat. As far as you can tell, it's real, legal currency.
You're not going to bite it to check, though.
THE ENDYou look around. You're not seeing a lot of dragon costume materials here.
Lots of torches. Lots of pitchforks. No, say, self-adhesive scales or googly eyes.
Much as you would like to [[stick with the dragon idea]], you may have to [[aim for something more achievable]].Well, even if the thrice annual Torchlight Pitchfork Sharpening Festival has scuppered your chances of ghost-based revenge on that one guy who gave you a calendar as tribute...wait. That was a dumb idea anyway. Time to just kick back and have a good time.
Freed of your cumbersome and all-round lacklustre ghost costume, you wander happily into the festival grounds wearing nothing but your standard dungeon lord gear: there are plenty of torches to keep you warm.
"Hey," says one of the festival-goers. "Great Dungeon Lord costume. Lots of people don't know how to sculpt fake pecs out of wattle and daub, but I can see you've //nearly// got it."
Ouch, your pride!
You should really [[reveal your true identity]] (not that it was disguised just now) and begin pummelling this guy. However, his pec comment--though unintentionally hurtful--suggests that there may be people here in Dungeon Lord costumes, and that's kind of neat. You could put off your revenge if it meant [[finding out more about that]].O...kay.
On closer inspection, there's a grocer at a market stall. It's getting pretty late, he's packing up. Some of those leftover carrots look pretty freaky. Those could be horns. And look, baby corn! There's nothing scarier than...corn...in baby form.
Alright, you'll admit it. At this point you're starting to think you'd scare more people by [[posing as yourself]] than by patching together [[a dragon costume made of vegetables]].You spot a house with a shaggy fur doormat. Who has a //fur// doormat?
Nobody, apparently. When you try to pick it up, it lifts its head and stares at you. It is in fact a very old, very hairy dog.
You think the serf who gave you the calendar lives on this street. If he's in the house you think he is, it's not the one next to this, but the one next to the one next to it. You know the one.
Anyway. If you're going to scare that guy, you can either shave this dog and [[wear its fur as an ingenious werewolf costume]], or you can [[feed it peanut butter so it looks like it's talking]]. You've never tried ventrilloquism before, but how hard can it be?"Aha!" you shout, popping out at some nearby festival-goers. "I am the Dungeon Lord! Fear me and despair!"
"It's the Dungeon Lord!" shouts one of them. "Get him!"
In hindsight, you probably should have expected this from the hamlet you've been extorting tribute from for as long as you can remember.
THE ENDYou glue a carrot to your head and stick a cob of baby corn up each nostril.
This is a definite low point, even for you.
"Graaar!" you bellow, popping out at some nearby festivalgoers. "I am a dragon! Blerg!"
"No!" cries one of them in terror. "Oh, no! That madman with the carrot on his head thinks he's a dragon. Quick! Summon the mob!"
"And do what?" wails another. "What can //forks// do against //vegetables//?"
The festival disperses, and you become fake dragon ruler over this dreary little hamlet.
It's...probably an appropriate reward for what you just did, if you're honest with yourself.
Mostly you just hope that calendar serf was in the crowd when you scared everybody. That whole plan got a little derailed there.
THE ENDYou shave the dog--ew, it's all wrinkly without the fur--and glue dog hair all over yourself.
This has already proven to be a terrible idea.
However, you're committed to it now, so you walk over to calendar serf's house and pound on the door.
"I am a werewolf," you howl at the upstairs window. "Aroooooooooo!"
There's no response.
Either he's sitting at home with the lights off, or he's...not at home.
You suddenly notice a woman with a torch //and// a pitchfork standing nearby. "Did...did you just say you were a werewolf?" she asks.
Ah. You thought that werewolfs were un-torch/forkable, but her apparent lack of concern leaves you unsure. "Uh..." you say.
"I thought I was the only one!" she cries, and throws her arms around you.
The hug goes on a ridiculously long time. Long enough that you not only can't think of anything to say: you know for sure you don't //have// anything to say.
She breaks the silence: "Weird question: have you doused yourself in glue?"
It appears you are now glued to a mysterious werewolf woman. A mysterious werewolf woman who will probably be quite annoyed when she finds out that you are not really a werewolf.
This has twice proven to be a terrible idea.
THE ENDYou steal some peanut butter from a blind man's sandwich and feed it to the dog.
Then you lead the dog over to the house of your calendar-gifting nemesis and knock on the door. You tell the dog to "sit," while you hide in a nearby shrubbery.
There is a long, long pause. The dog waits patiently. You do not.
You knock again.
This has just been one massive wasted opportunity of a day.
The dog finishes licking at the peanut butter stuck to the roof of its mouth. "I don't think he's in," it says, stating the obvious.
"Wait," you say. "You can talk?"
"Yeah," says the dog. "When my mouth's not full of peanut butter."
Aww. Now you're even more disappointed. If the guy had actually been here, this plan would have gone great!
But he wasn't. So it didn't.
THE END"Foolish peon!" you bellow. "I am the real Dungeon Lord, and my pecs are...really...peccy..."
You should probably have thought of something better to say before you started saying it so loud.
"It's the real Dungeon Lord!" shouts someone who knows exactly what they want to say. "Get him!"
Aw, nuts. There are a lot of guys with torches and pitchforks here. Honour prevents you from [[claiming it was a joke]], but trying to [[fight your way out of here]] would...well, it's not really an option.
Except apparently it is.
Huh.You mention that you'd love to see some //other// Dungeon Lord costumes, even if they're not as great as yours. Maybe you could give people some pointers on how to make them really fearsome and imposing?
"Eh?" says the festival-goer.
Turns out that although the people of this town do dress up as you from time to time, this is not one of those times. You'd have to wait for the quarterly effigy burning or the bi-weekly fruit-throwing contest. "The next one's coming up Tuesday!"
You explain that you really just came here for the pitchfork sharpening festival.
He agrees that this is a good festival.
You suppose you could still [[try to take revenge for that pecs comment]], but you've now shared enough casual conversation that it would feel pretty awkward. Maybe you should just [[go home]]."...is what I'd say if I //were// the real Dungeon Lord!" you add, way too late for it to flow on nicely. "Ah-hah-hah-hah."
Miraculously, everybody believes you. Two or three come up to ask how you managed to get your pecs like that, while one points out that a higher straw to dung ratio would have stopped the left one from sagging quite so much.
You're not sure how to feel about that.
Ultimately you end up having a quiet evening sharpening pitchforks by torchlight and attending a five hour seminar on the importance of whetstone selection and proper fork storage.
It's better than being eviscerated by an angry mob, but only just.
THE ENDYou hold a fist above your head and roar your battlecry: "BY THE POWER OF..."
It is at this point that someone knocks you unconscious with an underripe autumn squash.
In hindsight you should probably have either picked a shorter battlecry, or shouted it //after// doing something more practical.
THE ENDSince it's already too late to complain directly about that pecs thing he said--seriously, you've just told him your fake travel plans: the moment's gone--you decide to do something mean that can't be traced back to you.
A little while after the conversation ends, you write a "kick me" sign and stick it to his back.
You keep an eye out for the first person to see the sign and kick him as instructed.
"Hey, man," says one of the other visitors to the festival. "You've got a scrap of paper on your back."
"Huh," says your victim. "Does it say anything?"
The visitor squints at the piece of paper, turns it over, then drops it on the floor. "Naah. It's just random squiggles."
Yeah. You don't know how to write. Come on! You've got a goblin whose entire job it is to read you your word-of-the-day calendar, for crying out loud!
You kick the guy yourself and then leave the festival before anyone has time to work out how to respond to that.
Why is Plan B always the better one?
THE ENDToday has been an unmitigated disaster. You're just going to storm off back to the dungeon.
...right after you grab some popcorn.
The popcorn's pretty salty, so you end up sticking around to have a drink as well.
In the hamlet's tiny pub, you get talking to a band of doghead performers who've turned up to play at the festival: Muttley Crüe. You never knew there were so many different subgenres of post-industrial orchestral binaural dub-grunge. You end up tagging along backstage and they've got a huge free snack bar and everything.
So yeah. Unmitigated disaster.
As soon as this festival's over, you're going to storm off back to the dungeon //so hard//.
THE ENDOh, wow.
The moment you accept that things aren't working - the moment you come to terms with your problems and start looking for solutions - things suddenly don't seem so bleak. It's like after all these years, after some of your darkest days, there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel.
This place can be anything you want it to be.
Shoot. You've got only the vaguest of ideas. You could turn your dungeon into [[something fun]], you guess? Or since basically your entire problem is that people have been treating it as something fun all along, maybe you would be better off turning it into [[something really boring]].Ordinarily you'd head down to MegaLurtz: an orcish nightclub where the music is so loud and terrible that not only can you not hear yourself think, //your thoughts can't hear you either//. In a way, that seems like a fairly welcome situation given that you were originally planning to just mope around the dungeon.
However, loud, energetic music and moping somehow just don't seem to mesh all that well. Rather than [[heading over to MegaLurtz]], you might go ahead and try somewhere new. [[Somewhere quieter]].
But still somewhere you don't plan on actually talking to anyone.Along your usual route to MegaLurtz, you stumble across an extremely unusual fellow. He bears the hat and staff of a wizard, yet makes no attempt to teleport his clothes into another dimension and wave his buttocks at you.
You know you've become accustomed to something when you notice it //not// happening.
The man/wizard appears to be waiting for someone. Someone upon whose shoulders the very fate of the world may rest. Perhaps the someone for whom he is waiting...is you!
...would be a really neat way to start off an exciting new adventure. You could talk to him and [[see if that's an option that will spring forth from this encounter]].
Or you could continue quickly on your way to MegaLurtz, so as to [[immediately consume enough alcohol to forget the whole wizard mooning thing]].You wander over to the furthest convenient village: one that you can get to in under half an hour, but where people aren't too likely to recognise you.
Since the whole dungeon fiasco got started, you've been trying to keep a low profile.
You shove your way through the door of the local tavern, flex your muscles for a bit to assert your dominance, then sit down at the bar.
"Mead," you grunt at the bar wench. "Leave the bottle."
"It...comes in a hogshead, not a bottle."
For just about the first time ever (when it comes to mead, at least), you have no idea what's going on. You could probably [[pretend you have some idea]], or you could [[demand she leave you the hogshead]]. You may not know what that is, but you know it has mead in it, and therefore you want it."Ah, of course," you say. "It would be terribly unsanitary to leave a hog's head sitting out on the bar."
"Uh-huh." The bar wench takes two steps back, holds a mug beneath a tap in a very large barrel, and pours you out a mead.
Now you see that a hogshead is a variety of barrel, rather than a gross chunk of dead pig, you kind of wish you'd insisted on having one to yourself. You could totally drink that!
But instead you're stuck with this weeny flagon of mead.
"I see you know your mead," says a woman with an eyepatch sitting just to your right. You're reasonably sure she's not being sarcastic. Like, at least 45% sure.
See, if you'd had an entire hogshead sitting on the bar you would never have even noticed she was there. It would have been like having one of those huge broadsheet newspapers on the train. The ones that are way too big to read unless you're specifically using them as an "I fear all human interaction" privacy shield.
A hogshead or a newspaper would be great just now.
But as it is, all you can do is acknowledge that Lady McEyepatch exists. And that you don't yet know enough about her to come up with a decent nickname.
"I do enjoy the occasional bottle of...uh...Pinot Beesiot or uh...Buzzfandel."
"I once had an excellent bottle of 'Merlot god they're in my eyes!!!' crafted by Sir Nicholas von Cage."
You stare at her blankly.
"Sorry," she says. "I thought you were doing a joke where you made up fake types of mead by taking a variety of wine and making it somehow bee-related."
You weren't. Those were just the most likely mead names you could think of: you don't read the bottles, you just open them and chug their contents. But now you're sad because her one fake mead idea was better than both of yours put together and ideally she wouldn't even have realised that was what you were doing.
"Yeah," you say. "I was. I just thought you would come up with a better one."
"Oh. Sorry. Anyway, I've got [[a mead-related job]] and I was hoping that I'd find somebody in this tavern willing to take it on. Sure enough, here you are!" She smiles. "Unless [[you're busy]]?""Well, leave the hogshead, then," you say.
"Really?" she asks. "That's three whole kilderkins of mead."
You stare at her.
"That's the equivalent of six firkins."
You stare some more.
"That's fifty-four gallons."
Hey! Turns out you can still pretend you knew that.
"I know," you say. "That's precisely the quantity of mead that I would like."
"Alright, then." She shrugs, picks up a colossal barrel from behind the bar, and sets it down in front of you.
The bar groans beneath the weight.
Finally, you can [[quietly drown your sorrows]]. Though you have to admit, part of you wants to enquire about [[the bar wench's freakish super-strength]].You use your own freakish super-strength to tip several mugs' worth of mead out of the hogshead, directly into your mouth.
Aah--that's the stuff. There is no beverage more manly than fermented honey water.
You could happily [[sit here and drink this stuff all day]]--and you intend to--but you can't help but notice that there's [[some kind of commotion in the bar behind you]].You take a sip of mead, noting that tipping the massive barrel is extremely moderately challenging even for you.
"So..." you remark, offhandedly. "That's quite a talent you've got there."
"Oh," she says. "Bartending is more physically demanding than most people realise. There are casks to lift, troublemakers to throw out, tables to move...plus I was bitten by a radioactive wild boar a while back and it may have given me a touch of super-strength."
She picks up a damp cloth and begins to wipe down the bar: you weren't going to say anything, but it's about time she did that.
"That's the funny thing about living in a generic fantasy world," she continues. "Everybody thinks that they're the main character and everyone else is just a flat, one-line character, but really everybody's got their own rich, complicated lives going on. Nobody's ever //just// a bar wench or //just// a vagrant or //just// a..." she gestures to your outfit, "...entertainer?"
You take another heavy gulp of mead, nodding gently in agreement. You do "entertain" a lot of anguished victims in your dungeon. Or you'd...like to.
"The point is, things are never as simple as they look."
This gives you [[a lot to think about]]. Though it's strange that a bar wench has prompted you to do such deep thinking: you were quite sure she was simply a monodimensional character who existed solely to furnish you with alcoholic beverages. Perhaps there's some kind of lesson to be learned there.
Maybe you should [[talk to her about it]]. You're down the rabbit-hole as it is.Screw the commotion, you have fermented honey water!
Once you've got a couple of firkins down you, the tavern settles down again. Or you're too drunk to notice what's going on back there. Either way: problem solved.
An exceptionally hairy gentleman just to your left commends you on your mead-chugging ability. "Truly," he says, "there is no beverage more manly than fermented honey water."
"That's just what I was thinking!" you say.
He waggles his eyebrows. Or maybe he just blinks. He really is very, very hairy. You're not sure, but you think his hair, beard, eyebrows and possibly nostril hair have combined into some kind of super-hairstyle.
"The name's Büzenpüken," he says. "Büzenpüken the barbarian barfly. I'm an escort, by trade. Or...I was."
Ugh. Any time someone says "or" followed by a dot dot dot, they're about to tell you their life story. Büzenpüken seems like a cool enough guy--his muscles are almost as muscly as yours--but you're not sure you really need to [[hear the story of how he was an escort and then wasn't]]. However, you'd have to [[do some serious drinkin'/ignorin']] to avoid it.You swivel around on your barstool--they swivel! How neat is that? You never noticed--to observe the source of the ruckus.
It appears that two ogres are fighting over a pie.
"That's my pie!" yells one ogre.
"No, that's my pie!" yells the other.
The argument is as pointless as it is annoying. How are you supposed to enjoy a depressing fifty or so gallons of mead with these guys constantly killing your buzz?
You need to either [[goad the two ogres into brutally murdering each other]] or [[come up with a brilliant scheme to determine the true owner of the pie]].
(Options listed in order of preference.)Büzenpüken explains that, as a big, muscly escort, he was once much in demand: typically by other big, muscly men.
That's pretty impressive. Typically big, muscly men are capable of ensuring their own safety when travelling from place to place, so if they were keen to hire Büzenpüken as an escort then that means he must have been helping them through some extremely rough areas of wilderness.
You remark that he must have been in some tight spots.
He tells you that he has: very tight indeed.
You ask why he isn't in the escort industry any more.
Büzenpüken points out that you must have noticed his unusual hairstyle. He reveals that his mass of messy, curly hair is in fact his entire head: the result of an extremely unfortunate gypsy curse.
Nobody wants the services of a male escort who has a beard for a head.
That's strange. You wouldn't have thought that a massive beard would be that much of a deal-breaker when it came to fighting off ogres or brigands on the lawless roads. And even if it were, surely it would make more of a difference for a female escort--who wouldn't ordinarily have any beard whatsoever--than a barbarian, for whom a massive beard is pretty much standard.
Still, Büzenpüken's story opens up a couple of new options for you. Since he's having trouble finding employment just now, you could [[invite him to take on a job in your dungeon]] to keep the riff-raff out. Alternatively, since Büzenpüken's sad tale reminds you of your own less than ideal situation, you could [[go on a drunken quest to free him of the gypsy curse]]."Oh, hey," you say. "Excuse me a minute."
And then you dunk your whole head in the hogshead, making it abundantly clear that you have no interest in Büzenpüken's impending life story //whatsoever//.
Your people skills are pretty sophisticated when it comes to alcohol-based body language.
However, your keeping-mead-out-of-your-nostrils skills could do with some work. Also, you wish that you'd taken your executioner-style black leather hood off before you stuck your head in there. Or that you'd chosen a less sticky (albeit probably also less manly) drink.
After a few minutes, you stop guzzling mead and look over to see if Büzenpüken has gone away yet.
Not only has he not gone away, there's now //two// of him.
Fortunately, there are also two ways to deal with him: [[epic bar brawl]] or [[even more drinkin'/ignorin']]."Whadidyoushayabawtmahwife?" you slur, even though Büzenpüken didn't say anything and you don't even have a wife.
You throw a punch, and it's so incredibly epic that you see the whole thing in super-duper slow motion.
No, wait. You're just so drunk that it's actually happening in super-duper slow motion. It also takes you at least fifteen minutes to realise that's what's happening.
Büzenpüken tells you his life story--which from your frame of reference takes only eight seconds and is accompanied by "Yakety Sax" played at thirty times normal speed--finishes three drinks and pays your tab. The closer your fist got to his face, he explains (apparently very, very quickly), the more he realised that he must have offended you somehow. He still doesn't understand how, but he doesn't want to end the evening on a bad note so he's paying for your ridiculous barrel of mead anyway.
He wanders off twenty minutes or so before your fist is due to connect with his massively hairy face.
What a jerk.
THE ENDYou lift the hogshead over your own head (it's lighter now, due to its vastly reduced contents) and begin to chug some mead.
Wow. Now that you're actually trying to //finish// this sickly sweet barrel of beverage, you're starting to see what that bar wench meant: fifty-four gallons of mead is really quite a lot of mead.
Maybe you'll just ask if they could wrap the last couple of kilderkins in tinfoil for you to take home.
"Quaff! Quaff! Quaff! Quaff!" chants the tavern-full of tavern patrons, now aware of your epic drinking feat.
You are the Dungeon Lord! You don't need the recognition of anyone out getting drunk this early in the morniung! In between gulps of breakfast mead, you explain as much.
"It's eleven thirty at night!" shouts Büzenpüken, in your ear.
Oh! Then that changes everything. Turns out you've been sitting on this barstool for //way// longer than you thought.
Though at this point you could quite happily never ever see a drop of mead again, you keep chugging down this massive barrel. You're pretty close to puking the whole lot back up, but at the same time, you're //so// close to finishing!
Suddenly, there is a tap on your shoulder.
It's your liver.
"Mate," it says. "You can stay here. I'm leaving."
You stare in surprise--still gulping back mead from a giant barrel--as your liver storms squelchily out the tavern door.
"Ahh," says Prometheus, coming over from a booth at the back. "I know that feeling!"
THE ENDYou mention that you've been having some...rather personal problems in your dungeon lately and that Büzenpüken seems like just the guy to help you out. Provided that he's not expecting too much in the way of payment: he's flat-out said that most people are having difficulty getting past the whole beard-head thing, so you're going to exploit the fact that he can't exactly go elsewhere.
"Hey," says Büzenpüken, "no problem." At this point, he explains, he'd practically be willing to 'work' for free: it's just been that long.
It occurs to you that hiring Büzenpüken might make it appear--to the untrained eye--as though you can't handle your own dungeon. You ask if Büzenpüken can be discreet: naturally you wouldn't want word to get out that you've taken him on to provide this kind of service.
Büzenpüken assures you that he takes his clients' privacy very seriously: most people don't even know he's an escort in the first place.
You and Büzenpüken head off back to your dungeon, where he will once and for all put an end to your problem of sex-obsessed weirdos heading to your dungeon.
THE ENDYou offer to assist Büzenpüken on a drunken quest to find the gypsy who cursed him and beat him or her over the head with a mackerel stuffed with golf balls until he or she agrees to un-curse him.
Büzenpüken weeps with gratitude: or at least the patch of head-beard around his eyes gets kind of soggy and you hope that's what's happening. You're not a beard biologist, but tears seem like the least unpleasant fluid that could be saturating his beardy eye sockets, so that's what you choose to believe it is.
You spend a few hours preparing for the quest in the traditional barbarian style: by drinking lots and lots of mead.
Ultimately the quest to reverse the gypsy curse turns into a quest to find the nearest kebab shop and get a kebab, but the two of you have a pretty neat time regardless.
THE END"You," you address the first ogre. "Your friend here said you're ugly and stupid."
The first ogre looks at you gormlessly.
"And you," you address the second. "//Your// friend //here// said you're stupid and ugly."
The second ogre looks at you gormlessly.
Then they turn to face each other.
Their eyes lock.
They kiss passionately.
Yeah. It would appear that behind that inane pie argument, there was a lot of suppressed romantic tension. And being simultaneously ugly and stupid just happens to be their thing.
Now all you can do is [[pretend that you didn't initiate this ogre make-out session after all]] and totally ignore what's happening. Either that or [[kill yourself in the most unconventional possible manner]]: it's the only way to atone for your ogre make-out sins."Stop this bickering!" you cry. "I shall cut the pie in two, and you shall each have pie!"
"Yeah, alright," says the first ogre.
"Fine with me," says the second.
Aw, nuts. You were //really// counting on one of them objecting to their precious pie being cut in half. You know: because then you'd know for sure that that ogre really cared for the pie, while the other one merely wanted some pie.
But since offering to [[cut the pie in two]] didn't go to plan, you're kind of stuck. You're not sure you've got [[any other way of solving this pie problem]].You return to your seat and hunch over the bar, leaning away from the ogre kissing noises in a full on "I'm not aware of this" pose: both hands cupped to the sides of your face, guarding the periphery of your vision.
You have another few gulps of mead, trying to ignore the squelching, sucking noises from the booth behind you. Possibly for the first time ever in the history of the universe, you hope the ogres are kissing, because if they've moved onto anything else then GREAT MERCIFUL CROM, YOUR BRAIN!!!
You notice several tavern patrons make a quick exit, and you get the impression that you may be the last person left in the room: the bar wench seems to have disappeared out back as well.
You'd very much like to make a break for it yourself, but that would be acknowledging that you really caused this and it's really happening.
So instead you just sit there, pretending that you're not sitting there.
It's...uncomfortable, to say the least.
THE ENDYou know what's even better than something unconventional? Something unconventional //and ironic//.
You lick one of the ogres' rubbery bald heads, on the assumption that the resultant ogre poisoning will be fatal.
However, you are unaware that ogres are in fact made of frozen lampposts.
You immediately regret your decision.
THE ENDWait a minute...if both ogres are happy to have half the pie, then perhaps they'll stop yelling about it! It's crazy, but it just might work.
You grab a knife from behind the bar and, with a vorpal flourish, cleave the pie in twain. Both halves are equal and identical: they are perhaps the most equal and identical two halves of a pie that ever have been.
"I'll take this half," says the first ogre.
"Nuh-uh!" yells the second ogre. "That's my half of the pie!"
"Well I'm taking it anyway!"
You knew the whole pie-cutting thing wasn't going to work.
THE ENDThere's nothing else for it.
You eat the pie.
"Hey!" shout both ogres, simultaneously. It actually harmonises: it's kind of cool.
"What's your problem?" you ask. "I ate //his// pie." And you point at //both// ogres.
They laugh at each other.
"Ha ha!" says the first ogre. "He ate //your// stoat scrotum pie."
"Nuh-uh!" says the second ogre. "He ate //your// stoat scrotum pie."
Seeing where this is going, the bar wench hands you a bucket. She doesn't say anything, but she gives you a look. It's a look that says "Why doesn't anything ever go my way?"
You can't help but feel as though, in this particular scenario, you should be the one to be giving her that look.
But you can't, because you've got your head in a bucket.
THE ENDYou've always felt that things in your dungeon weren't as simple as they could have been. That it should all have been so easy, yet it always seemed so hard.
You set out to establish a terrifying dungeon for heroes to test their strength against. What you ended up with was a "terrifying" "dungeon" for "heroes" to "test their strength against." To the untrained ear, those things might sound the same, but they're not. They're //really, really not//.
So is it possible you've been oversimplifying things all this time? Could you have failed to consider some more hidden complexity to either [[your dungeon's visitors]]...or perhaps [[yourself]].You explain to the bar wench that you run a dungeon not too far from here, and you fear that, just as the visitors to her establishment might see her as no more than a monodimensional dispenser of alcohol, the visitors to yours might see you as a monodimensional dispenser of...uh...something else.
"Ah," she says. "The spiky leather ensemble was kind of a clue. Maybe people would have an easier time realising there's more to you than...that...if you didn't wear the...uniform...when you're out and about."
"But if I didn't know the uniform, how would people know to tremble before me?" you ask.
"I thought that people trembling before you was the problem?" she says.
You get the impression that you might be at cross-purposes here. You could [[try to explain more fully]], but then if she doesn't get the whole dungeon situation now then you imagine she won't get it then either. As you've established time and again, the nature of your dungeon is clear and unambiguous, and anyone who interprets it as anything other than a terrifying gauntlet of deathtraps and pain is being //silly//. Since you have no time for those who are being silly, and a complete explanation of your establishment would only use up more of your time, it stands to reason that you should be able to [[press on with the conversation regardless]]. After all, you can be confident that in the unlikely event of any misunderstanding, no hilarity will ensue whatsoever.You think through the whole dungeon thing once more: this time from the point of view of the kind of person who typically turns up there.
It's a struggle, it really is, but you stick with it all the same.
Usually you'd have your whole--serious--dungeon thing going on, you'd catch a--presumably serious--plucky adventurer, and then they'd turn out to be...not...serious at all.
Seriously. You estimate that 97.439% of visitors to your dungeon in the past six months were more interested in kinky dungeon times than shiny dungeon treasures. And the precision of your estimate should give some idea just how many kinky visitors there have been in that time period.
It makes you wonder if your go-to response--hitting the offenders repeatedly with a big, spiky bit of wood--might be part of the problem rather than part of the solution.
It also suggests that there are just plain more kinky weirdos out there than there are serious adventurers. Sorry as you are to admit it, it looks as though the local dungeoning demographic simply isn't conducive to the running of a dungeon where you personally torture real adventurers but never have any contact with fake ones.
Ultimately it seems as though you'll have to [[take on more of an administrative role]] to avoid the weirdos, or...ugh...regrettably the more lucrative option: [[start catering to the weirdos]].
Not in person, of course.Ignoring the fact that it hasn't gone as planned, you wonder if the whole dungeon thing was ever what you truly wanted to do.
Sure it rakes in a fair bit of money in a world where virtually everyone is a turnip-munching peasant, and sure you've got your own personal army of goblin slaves, but...
Is [[money and power]] really all that matters to you? Or...do you want [[something more]]?You step up the traps and try to get the goblins to keep on top of...you know...checking them and dealing with any that have victims in.
You're not opposed to the whole "skeletons hanging from the ceiling" dungeon aesthetic, but if that's what you're going to have then you at least want it to be deliberate.
But that's not going to happen.
You bump into at least three gross ceiling skeletons on your way out to buy extra traps the next morning. How does that even...it's been less than twelve hours! How damp is it in here that corpses are turning into skeletons that quickly? They're barely still juicy!
You figure you'll just //say// the whole skeleton thing was deliberate, because if nobody else is going to clean this place up then you're not going to either.
It's this kind of attitude that sees your dungeon go way downhill. It puts the weirdos right off, but at the same time the serious adventurers won't turn up unless literally everywhere else is full or they stopped exploring new dungeons in 2008 and aren't aware that a) there are any others and b) yours sucks now.
Essentially, you run the Myspace of generic fantasy dungeons.
THE ENDYou uh...you'll be leaving this one to the goblins.
Like, entirely to the goblins.
You're not even training them.
The way you see it, the goblins are doomed to fail, and the way you've been failing so far seems to have proven popular with the kinds of...clients...you're now trying to attract to the dungeon. Since the goblins have so far had a hand in that failure, in theory you should be able to leave them to it and let things carry on as they have been so far.
In theory, you should be able to do that.
In practice, it works flawlessly.
You retire to the least cannibal-filled tropical island you can find and spend most of your days lounging around in a hammock with one of those umbrella-in-a-coconut tropical drinks.
You don't have a care in the world, except when you happen to think about exactly what the goblins might be getting up to back in your dungeon, in which case you have exactly one care localised entirely to that one subterranean chunk of the world.
You still don't feel great about that.
THE ENDYeah, you decide. Actually money and power are literally the only things you care about. The casual violence is really more of a bonus.
All this current unpleasantness feels more like a "them" problem than a "you" problem.
You're no closer to actually fixing any of this, but you're at least reassured that you're right and everyone else is wrong. Which is some kind of comfort, you guess, but you would have preferred an ending that meant you wouldn't have to deal with nude, teleporting wizards any more.
THE END#(text-style: "shudder")[''WRONG!!!'']
THE END"Just so we understand each other," you say, "I run an actual dungeon. A real, actual dungeon."
"Ah." She taps her nose and winks. "I get you."
"No," you say. "Watch closely at how I don't wink or use air quotes: I run a dungeon. An actual dungeon. You know. The kind full of traps and creepy skeletons and hidden treasure."
"Wouldn't an //actual// dungeon be a single fortified room for holding prisoners?" she asks. "The thing you're describing sounds more like the set of a '90s gameshow."
You don't know what that is, but it sounds intriguing. Perhaps you could [[use your dungeon to emulate this nine-tees game show]]. Or you could [[explain to the foolish bar wench the purpose of your dungeon]]."No," you say. "People trembling is great--that's the whole idea--it's just the other things they do that bother me."
"Well," she says. "Surely you're in a position to draw the line just as much as they are. If they're looking for a...service that you're not willing to provide, then just say no."
"I give everybody the same service! The problem is that some of them like it while others don't."
The bar wench shrugs. "Well, in that case don't worry about it. Nobody's forcing them to go in there: it's not your problem if it's not what they expect."
"Of course it's my problem!" you cry. "I've got a reputation to maintain." Really, you've got a repetation to shed, but it sounds way less depressing this way.
"Well..." The bar wench picks up a dirty glass and begins to wipe it with a really dirty cloth. "If at least some people like your dungeon, word is sure to get around."
"That's also my problem!"
Honestly, it's like she's got no idea what's going on.
"I think I understand your problem," says the ridiculously hairy, muscly guy sitting next to you. "Perhaps I could help."
Well, that's all you need to hear to make a decision: you've got the quick-fire analytical skills of one of those middle management type people that everyone's always really happy to work under. You can tell right off the bat whether [[this guy can help]] or whether [[he'll only make things worse]].You learn from the bar wench that such an endeavour would traditionally involve a party of heroes navigating various traps and challenges in a themed maze-like setting. Traditionally, as individuals or as a team, the members of this party would attempt to best the dungeon master or lord, perhaps by collecting a certain number of crystals or gems of power before progressing to a final challenge where these items would assist in their attempt to win cash or prizes from said dungeon master or lord. Failing a challenge will typically result in a party member becoming imprisoned in a room, leaving the rest of the party with a dramatic choice between sacrificing a crystal/power gem to free them or leaving them behind.
It's essentially what you have set up already, but without all the flapping wizard genitals.
That is to say, it's exactly what you //meant// to set up.
You waste no time in making the minor dungeon modifications necessary, and taking on a wizard to broadcast your game show to crystal balls all over the world. Some say it's a rip-off of //The Crystal Maze//, others that it's a rip-off of //Knightmare//. Not knowing what either of those things are, you don't really care.
THE END"Sprawling, trap-filled torture dungeons are an integral part of any generic fantasy landscape," you explain. "It's a proud, ancient tradition."
"Really?" she asks. "Yours is the only one I've ever heard of."
"What?" you say. "No, there's loads! There's one just over...well...it's over that way." You flap a hand in what you're reasonably confident is the other dungeon's general direction. "Pretty sure it's not too far. It's run by...what's her face...'Schmoobly-woobly-whoever the Malicious.' Her actual name has about sixteen consonants and only like two vowels: probably both 'y.'"
"Zhargla the Malicious?" asks the bar wench.
"Yeah, that's the one."
"It's really not that difficult a name."
"Well it would score quite a bit in //Scrabble//, let's put it that way."
"Yeah. Anyway. Zhargla's dungeon isn't an //actual// dungeon."
You think about this for a moment. "You mean it's not just a single fortified room for holding prisoners?"
"No. It's the //other// kind of dungeon."
"Like mine?" you ask. "With the man-traps and whatnot?"
She shakes her head. "It's the //other// other kind of dungeon."
"I'm basically certain that nobody else is doing what you're doing, dungeon-wise. That might be why everyone's expecting something...else."
This...doesn't actually solve your problem, but it does go some way towards explaining it.
You'll put up a sign tomorrow:
//GIRTH LOINHAMMER'S DUNGEON OF DOOM
VERY, VERY NAUGHTY ADVENTURERS ONLY
TRESPASSERS WILL BE WHIPPED//
That ought to show them what kind of dungeon it is. Because this thing would work out fine if you could just whittle down your visitors to the serious rogues--the ones who've already got a few burglaries and whatnot under their belts--who are in with a chance of stealing at least some of your treasure without getting caught and whipped.
It can't possibly go wrong!
THE END"The name's Büzenpüken," he says. "I'm currently a barbarian barfly, but I used to be an escort. If you know what I mean."
You //do// know what he means. You've got a good understanding of the difficulties vulnerable people face when travelling the lawless, bandit-filled roads of these parts, and the difficulties involved in ensuring their safety. You gained your understanding in pretty much the exact opposite role to Büzenpüken, admittedly, but you're familiar with the escort industry nonetheless. You're sure his background would really come in handy when it comes to providing the sort of help you'd need.
"Due to an...unfortunate incident involving a gypsy, a bottle of olive oil and a large bag of mice, I've been struggling to find clients of late." He strokes his beard, which you can't help but notice occupies his whole head. The whole //volume// of his head. Everything from the neck up is basically just curly hair with eyeballs in it.
"I can imagine," you say, diplomatically.
"But if your dungeon's lighting is suitably...atmospheric," (he means dark and grungy: and it is) "then I'm sure I could see to any visitors who give you trouble."
"That sounds perfect!" you say. "You're hired."
So Büzenpüken comes to work for you, and //wow// does he work. You don't exactly check up on him in person--for one thing it would be rude to question his methods, for another you just don't want to know--but the screaming certainly suggests he's earning his two groats an hour.
For some reason even Büzenpüken can't dissuade all the weirdos from coming into your dungeon--if anything you find more than ever--but you don't have to deal with them yourself, and you're certain that Büzenpüken is helping your dungeon develop the reputation it deserves, so it all works out in the end.
THE END"Oooooh no," you say, waving a hand. "I know where this is going."
The hairy guy looks surprised, if his eyes are anything to go by: they're the only bit of his face not totally covered in hair. "Really?" he asks. "Where is it going?"
"I...don't know," you admit. "But it can't be good. It's never good."
"Not with that kind of attitude," he observes.
"Huh," you say. "I guess you're right. Okay, you can help after all."
"After that?" says the hairy guy. "No thanks."
Everyone in the tavern is listening by this point. They don't laugh or anything. They just sit judging you in awkward silence.
Aw nuts. Now you don't look middle management-y at all.
Now you just look stupid.
THE END"I'm ready to take on any job that doesn't involve nude, teleporting wizards," you say. Why you say that, you don't know. It's true, but it also brings up the exact same things that you really didn't want to have to deal with today.
Just one day.
Can you not have just one day without even a mention of nude, teleporting wizards?
Apparently not, and it's all your fault.
"Okay," says Lady McEyepatch. "Well, I can promise you there won't be any of those."
"Great," you say.
"Actually, no, no. I've got to know: how did you get 'nude, teleporting wizards' from 'a mead-related job.'"
You've already passed off at least one blunder as a joke (more likely two, because you're guessing that's how the whole hogshead thing escaped comment), but you're not sure if [[passing this off as a joke]] as well would work out, or if it would just be pushing your luck. Plus, if you were to [[explain your sad, sad story]], maybe you'd get some kind of sympathy bonus for taking on the job.
It doesn't seem likely, but if your depressing work life doesn't pay off somehow at some point in some conceivable scenario, then it's going to feel even more depressing.
You //need// this.You have no idea what kind of "mead-related job" you're likely to get from a random woman in a bar, but you have a vague idea that you wouldn't enjoy it.
It is your general understanding that when you do not understand exactly what you are doing or why you are doing it, you should probably not be doing that thing because the person you're doing it for/to is likely getting more out of it than you are.
Typically much more.
//Much//, much more, in your experience.
"Why did you shudder just now?" asks Lady McEyepatch.
"No reason," you say. "But I'll give that job a miss. I...uh...don't want to spoil the pleasure of mead by turning it into some kind of chore."
"Are you sure?" she says. "It'll be fu-uuuun..."
You suppose that, if indeed it will be fun, you could [[do the mead job after all]]. However, you don't like to appear fickle and the simplest thing to do would be to [[stick with saying no]]."That was also a joke," you say.
"Ah. I'm not good with those. Apparently."
You're not sure she bought it. There's a long, uncomfortable pause while you try and work out whether or not that little gambit worked, and...yeah. It's long enough that you stop being unsure whether she bought it and start suspecting that she didn't.
"So, uh..." And now it's up to you to get things rolling again. That never ends well. "This mead-related job?"
"Yeah," she says. "See, I make mead out of honey--as you do--and to make the honey I've got these beehives. Of course, to be able to use the honey that the bees make, I first need to be able to get it out of the hives. That's where you come in."
"Hang on," you say, keen to shift the focus of the conversation onto her. "If you're a beekeeper..."
"Mead-brewer," she corrects you.
"...a mead-brewer //who keeps bees//, shouldn't you be able to do that kind of thing for yourself?"
"Yeah..." She breathes in through her teeth. "The thing is, I've got kind of a phobia of bees. I had a bad experience once and, long story short, I'm not as lackadaisical about the whole bees in the eyes thing as my earlier //Wicker Man// reference might suggest. Look, are you going to [[help me with my bees]] or [[not (help me with my bees)]].""Not a day goes by that I'm not plagued by nude, teleporting wizards." You shed a manly tear--seriously, it's practically made out of anger and bacon, it's just that manly--into your mead. "Teleporting wizards I could deal with. Even nude wizards would be manageable. But have you ever tried to keep a nude, teleporting wizard out of your house? It can't be done."
Lady McEyepatch was unaware that home invasions by nude, teleporting wizards were even a thing. "Are the naked wizards you can't keep out of your house anything to do with that naked rambler people can't keep out of jail?"
It is your understanding that they are not.
Though undoubtedly a sad, sad story, it occurs to you that your situation might also be slightly too hilarious to gain you your sympathy bonus.
"I can't read," you add, hoping it doesn't sound too unrelated.
"Is...is that a factor in the whole nude wizard thing?" she asks.
"Just making conversation," you say, hoping that your woefully inadequate social skills will contribute to your chances of a sympathy bonus.
"Well, maybe this job will help turn things around for you," says Lady McEyepatch. "But I'm only paying you half, on account of there probably being nobody else who'll hire you."
Man, that's depressing.
...perhaps even depressing enough that you can [[exploit it to gain some kind of sympathy bonus]].
Or you could [[attempt to salvage some dignity by refusing to work for half pay]].You agree to help her with her bees, on account of having finished your tiny massive flagon of mead and needing an excuse not to go back to your dungeon just now.
Seriously. Those guys you're trying to avoid? They don't give up and go home if they find you're not in the dungeon. They //congregate// there. You have literally no idea what's waiting for you at this point. If this bee thing pays well enough, you might not even go back at all.
"My name's Lady Clarissa McEyepatch," says Lady Mc...huh. You can't decide if that means you have psychic powers or just that you're ridiculously unimaginative. "But just 'Claire' is fine."
"My name's Girth Loi..." you stop yourself. "Just 'Girth' is fine."
"Huh. Have you ever thought of...I don't know, shortening that or something?"
"I don't know. 'Girr'?"
"Yeah, actually I did. People just did tiger impressions." You demonstrate. "Rowr."
"Oh. Right. Yeah."
The walk to her brewery passes in uncomfortable silence.
"There's the apiary," she says, stepping inside a nearby shed. "I'll leave you to it."
She locks the door behind her.
Well, you could [[go into the apiary]] like Lady McEyepatch, but you're not sure how you'd get honey out of an ape. Seems as though it would be far more productive to [[go into this other building]], which seems to be buzzing loudly.You decide you will...pass on the bee thing.
You point out that it seems kind of suspicious that someone who relies on their own supply of honey from their own stock of bees in a totally honey-dependent industry would need to casually drop into a tavern in the hopes that she might just happen to stumble across someone who knows more about beekeeping than she does.
"And I don't, by the way," you add. "As far as I can tell, you're specifically trying to pass a dangerous job onto someone who's even less able to do it safely than you are. You told me you had a 'mead-related' job, but now you're telling me that the skills involved are entirely bee-related and that mead doesn't really come into it."
"Well," she says, "if you help out with this bee-related job, you'll be beer-elated with your reward."
"That's clever," you say, "but are you saying that you would pay me in booze?"
She confirms that she is.
"Still no." You take a sip of your mead.
You're not sure if you [[regret passing up a job]] or you're happy that [[you have at least some self-worth]]. Either way you feel less dumb about the whole hogshead thing, so that's something.You step inside the apiary.
"'Sup," says a nearby chimp, looking up from his typewriter. He's got a little desk and a cup of coffee and everything. It's adorable! Or it would be if you weren't so super manly that you were incapable of detecting adorableness.
The room is filled with row upon row of identical desks, typewriters and coffee mugs, though the apes themselves are not identical. You're not an ape expert or anything, so you don't know what biological categories they fall into, but some are huge and orange and other ones are only little, sitting on phonebooks and whatnot so they can reach the typewriter keys. Again, adorable for anyone who notices that sort of thing. Naturally you don't.
"What's all this, then?" you ask.
"Oh," says the ape, "we're trying to produce the complete works of Shakespeare as a publicity stunt for McEyepatch Mead. You know. The whole infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters thing."
"But there's only about four dozen of you," you say. "And I'm not an ape expert or anything, but you do seem to be apes rather than monkeys."
"Yeah, well monkeys don't typically display the kind of sophisticated tool use necessary to operate a typewriter. Apes do. Plus we're magic talking apes, which is why we get away with there being fifty-ish of us, rather than the traditional infinity. Basically, regardless of what you've heard, monkeys don't cut it for the Shakespeare thing: it's apes or nothing."
"Huh," you say.
"I guess goblins could probably do it too. They're kind of like a poor man's ape, I guess."
You wonder if this kind of stunt could do anything for your dungeon. "Any luck?" you ask.
"Not so far, no. Greg thought he'd got the 'tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow' speech from Macbeth, but it turned out he'd just written 'banana and bananana and banana' and it was 'banana banana banana' from there on. That was coming up to lunchtime."
"Huh," you say again.
"Frank over here has typed out the comeplete text of //The Da Vinci Code// twice, though!" The chimp swivels in his chair to point out Frank. "What are the odds?!"
Frank looks up, briefly, from his work. "I'm not proud of that," he says.
"That's neat," you say. "I've got to be getting on, though: I'm supposed to collect some honey or something."
"Oh," says the chimp. "Then you want the beepiary. It's just next door. These things are alphabetical. Can't miss it."
"Thanks," you say, tugging on the doorhandle.
It doesn't open.
"Oh, yeah," says the chimp. "I forgot. That door doesn't open from the inside. Apparently having four dozen apes running around a brewery is some kind of an insurance nightmare. Personally I don't see why."
"So I'm stuck in here?" you ask.
"Pretty much. But hey, at least there's plenty to read!"
"I'm illiterate," you explain.
"Oh," says the chimp. There is a pause. "Well, this is awkward."
THE ENDYou step into the other building and are astounded to discover that the buzzing is emanating from many, many bees.
Actually, you're not astounded at all. You're at a mead brewery. You were told there were bees here. The bees are the very reason you came to this place, and indeed this specific building. It stands to reason that the loud buzzing noise would be made by bees.
What's in the other building? Who knows? Perhaps it's more bees. Perhaps when Lady McEyepatch pointed out where you had to go, she was merely indicating these buildings as a whole rather than the one her finger was specifically pointing to.
Regardless of how any other possible courses of action would have played out, you find--in this particular convergence of time and space--that you are standing in a building and that building is full of bees.
The bees are stinging you. The bees are stinging you quite a bit.
"Oh god!" you shout, inadvertently quoting Sir Nicholas of Cage. "They're in my eyes! They're in my eyes!!! Not the bees! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!"
You run to a nearby tap to wash the bees out of your eyes, but instead of water bees come out.
Spotting an emergency eye wash station, you dash over to use it. However, this too is full of bees.
Utterly enswarmed, you flail about until you stumble across a small cabinet with a glass front, a tiny metal hammer hanging from it on a chain. You assume the lettering on the glass says something along the lines of "In case of bee-related emergency, break glass."
However, upon breaking the glass, you begin to suspect that the letters might actually have said "Break glass for more bees," because more bees is what you get.
There are now more bees in the room than not-bees. There are in fact so many bees that the only way you can describe the situation is with the help of your word-of-the-day calendar.
The room is //pullulating// with bees.
It occurs to you that for someone who's so intensely afraid of bees, Lady McEyepatch is intensely careless when it comes to bee-related safety.
THE ENDLady McEyepatch shrugs, gets up, and sits back down next to the guy to your immediate left. The muscly guy with the whole-head beard.
He immediately accepts the job.
The two of them head out of the tavern, and onwards to bee-related adventure.
That...that could have been you. You don't know how it would have all gone, but you sure wouldn't have been left sitting here with a weeny flagon of mead and nowhere to go but back to the same dungeon that dear god it's already full of thieves in gimp suits, isn't it?
You check the big grandfather clock behind the bar.
Forty minutes. You've been gone for forty minutes.
Easily long enough for your dungeon to become completely colonised by thieves in gimp suits.
You gain the bar wench's attention with a wave of your hand.
THE ENDYou are Girth Loinhammer, Dungeon Lord!
When it's your ass on the line, you stick to your guns. And you have really big guns. And a really big stick, as it happens! Your ass is of more or less average size, on account of constantly skipping leg day.
Massive guns, though.
Lady McEyepatch shrugs, gets up, and immediately finds someone else willing to do the job. It takes less than a minute. Not even just a little bit less than a minute. It's like: "You." Bam. Out the door.
You suspect that you may actually have passed up a really easy job offered by someone in no position to drive a hard bargain.
But still...you are Girth Loinhammer, Dungeon Lord!
And...yeah. That's about all you have going for you right now.
Seriously. You could have spent the whole day moping at home and it would have been precisely as productive as this. If anything the fact that you would have merely not encountered any opportunities, rather than stumbling across one and then wussing out on it, would have made the whole thing a little less depressing.
But still, you have your self-worth.
And at least a third of a flagon of...wait, no. Apparently you drank the rest and then forgot.
Man do you hate it when that happens.
Somehow it bums you out even more than the whole bee thing.
THE END"Oh," you say. "That's a shame. First I'm besieged by nude, teleporting wizards, and then I'm discriminated against in the workplace as a direct result of this initial misfortune."
"Well," says Lady McEyepatch, "that and I'm seriously starting to wonder if you can be trusted with my bees."
"Even so..." you lean in close and make the fingers-rubbing-together money gesture. "I bet you're //really// feeling sorry for me just now."
"Are...are you seriously trying to exploit your ridiculously sad situation to gain some kind of sympathy bonus?"
Ah. She's onto you.
Well, you can either [[deny that's what you were doing]], in which case she'll probably halve your half pay, or you can [[go all in and admit to it]], because that would make you look really, really sad. Who could not give you a sympathy bonus after that."I got ninety-nine problems," you say, "but a one-off casual beekeeping job on half pay isn't likely to solve any of them."
"Oh," says Lady McEyepatch. "I thought you were going somewhere else with that ninety-nine problems thing."
You explain that you were merely using ninety-nine as an arbitrarily large number in order to illustrate the plethora of problems that you currently face. You haven't decided to literally total up all your individual problems and assign them each a numerical value. Your life is complex and many of the difficulties you face are interrelated, often in ways that aren't clear to you at first, which in itself can raise its own challenges. Knowing, as they say, is half the battle.
If that helps explain the whole thing.
In addition, she points out that she's not sure "they" say that knowing thing at all. It's mostly just G.I. Joe.
Well, this isn't going anywhere.
In fact, the whole conversation has become as pointless as, say [[running around the room anticlockwise while shouting "whoop whoop whoop" and slapping yourself in the face]], or attempting to [[karate chop the bar with your head]]."Whaaaaaaaaaaat?" you say, acting all shocked. "Noooooooooo, I would never do thaaaaaaaat."
"You were though, weren't you?"
"Whaaaaaaaaaaaat?" you say again. "Nooooooooo...does this mean you're going to halve my half pay?"
"Oh no, no!" she says.
You breathe a sigh of relief.
"There's no way I'm hiring you at all now."
You un-breathe the sigh.
The loud sucking noise attracts the attention of literally everybody in the room, and they're all staring at you.
You didn't think it was possible, but this whole situation just got at least thirty times as humiliating.
THE END"Yeah," you admit. "Yeah, I was."
"That's really, really sad."
"Yeah," you say, leaning in even closer and doing the money gesture even harder. "//Really, really// sad. I bet you're //really, really// feeling sorry for me right now."
"Well..." she says, "actually, I am. I mean, look at the lows you're stooping to, all because of me. Alright, I'll pay you the full amount and a little more."
"Yes!!!" you yell, jumping off the barstool with your fist in the air. You knock your mead over in the process. It goes all over the bar wench and she gives you a look. You don't even care. "Everything's coming up Dungeon Lord!!!"
"Uh-uh." Lady McEyepatch waggles her finger. "Now that everything's okay again, I can totally pay you half without feeling guilty about it."
"Aww." You slump back down onto the barstool. "Now I'm sad and my self-worth's all gone."
"Sorry! You can have the sympathy bonus."
"And now I can take it away again."
Suddenly, Lady McEyepatch sits bolt upright. She begins to shake violently.
"Encountered unhandled paradox," she says in a robot voice. "Initiate damage limitation protocol B-33."
Her head explodes.
So yeah. Turns out Lady McEyepatch was a robot. That's pretty impressive: you wonder if there was any other possible sequence of actions you could have performed that would have prompted this staggering revelation.
Too bad you can't just start this whole day over, //Groundhog Day//-style.
That would be neat.
THE ENDYou run around the room anticlockwise (it's got to be anticlockwise) while shouting "whoop whoop whoop."
Everyone just assumes there's some deep and meaningful reason behind it, and they start doing it too.
They're still doing it when you leave the tavern a couple of hours later. And indeed the next day.
It becomes big news.
You may have accidentally started a cult. The anticlockwise whoop-whoop-whoopers make their laps of the tavern in the hopes that the Great One will return and lead them in their rounds once more.
Unfortunately, you were only there for the first couple of hours and most of the original batch of bar patrons quit after the whole thing became "too mainstream," so none of the current cult members recognise you and you're unable to cash in on it.
THE ENDIt works! The bar splits in two.
But aww, you spill your mead in the process.
The bar wench's expression makes it clear you're not getting another.
THE END"Alright then," you say. "I will do it."
"Nope," says Lady McEyepatch. "Sorry. I changed my mind. If you were //really// suited to this super-fun, mead-related job, you would have said yes straight away."
"Hang on..." Something funny is going on here. "Didn't you just try and convince me how much fun it would be?"
"Wh...why would you do that if you'd already decided not to give me the job? That makes no sense."
"//Your face// makes no sense," says Lady McEyepatch.
Since the conversation has now devolved into [[petty name-calling]], you feel as though you could quite happily [[just give up on the job...again]].You explain that the level of "fun" involved in this unsolicited job offer from a random woman at a bar only makes you more reluctant to accept.
"Are you sure you're not cold or anything?" she asks. "You're shivering quite a bit."
"That's nothing," you say. "I have...uh...a copper deficiency. Or anything else unrelated to the situation at hand."
"Are you afraid you'd get mead in weird places?" she asks.
Well NOW you are!
Half of you wants to actually [[ask what this mead job would involve]]. The other half [[definitely doesn't want to know what this mead job would involve]].
Unfortunately, since only half of you is certain, overall none of you is. It's exactly 50/50. You have to choose."Yeah?" you say. "Well my face makes more sense than your...face."
Smooth. Real smooth.
"Are you making fun of my eyepatch?" she demands. "Because I'm quite sensitive about that."
Huh. That would have been a better thing to make fun of. What a missed opportunity!
Fortunately, however, she doesn't //know// you missed it. You could still [[claim to have been making fun of her eyepatch]], though if there's any way of salvaging this conversation, you imagine it would somehow lead from [[not making fun of her eyepatch]]."Fine," you say. "If you're going to be like that, I don't even want your stupid mead job. In fact, I didn't want it in the first place (and in fact said so originally)."
"Yes!" she says. "That's exactly the kind of stick-to-your-guns attitude I need!"
It appears [[you've got the job again]]. Unless of course this level of nonsense has [[put you off doing it for sure]]."Yes," you say. "I was indeed making fun of your eyepatch. Eyepatchy boogly-woogly, uh, you're marginally different from other people and for that I'm going to tease you relentlessly. Nyah nyah."
"You know what?" she says. "That's the kind of take-no-prisoners attitude I need for this job. You can do the mead thing after all."
Alright! You got the job.
You don't know what it is, or whether you want it, or if you'll even have time to start after that long, pointless tavern conversation, but you've got it anyway.
THE ENDYou explain that you were not making fun of her eyepatch. Though you also want to make it clear that you didn't avoid doing that on principle, you just didn't think of it.
She explains that your lack of initiative only makes her more sure that you're not the right person for the job.
You point out that she can only be sure or not sure. She can't be more sure than sure as "sure" is an absolute. Furthermore, since she'd already decided not to employ you (despite, confusingly, trying to tempt you into taking the job because it would be fun: you haven't forgotten that), you can't help but feel that it's not a big deal.
She tells you that she hadn't thought of that. "How would you like to be my Executive Director Of Things That Are Absolutely 100% The Most That Thing They Can Be?"
You tell her you don't know.
She explains that, as a result of this, you are not the right person for that position either.
THE END"Okay," you say. "Great. Whatever. As long as you're happy."
"Actually," she says, "I'm not. Now that you've made a u-turn on this crucial decision, I'm afraid I just can't take you. I'd like to, but I can't."
You're not sure who's stopping her, why it matters, or even how you would ever end up doing the mead thing at this point. Having originally declined the offer, you're not sure there was any sequence of conversational choices that would have convinced Lady McEyepatch to let you do it anyway.
You're not even sure you care.
Downing your entire flagon of slightly fizzy mead in one go, you belch loudly enough to rattle the tavern windows.
Several barbarians at a nearby table applaud you.
You're not sure whether or not you're proud of this accomplishment, but it is categorically the least stupid noise that either you or Lady McEyepatch has produced since the conversation began.
So at the very least you don't regret it.
THE END"Nope," you say.
You thump the bar in just the right place with your fist, and a secret panel flips over, revealing a big red button labelled "EJECT".
You mash the button with your palm.
Suddenly, jets of flame shoot from all four legs of your barstool. The force of the expanding gas lifts you off the floor, sending you crashing through the roof of the tavern.
You hurtle upwards, ever upwards, through a few wisps of afternoon cloud. As the tavern shrinks away below, you lean over, flipping Lady McEyepatch the bird through the big, Dungeon Lord-shaped hole in the tavern's grubby thatch roof.
You're not sure how you're going to get down from here, but one thing's for certain: you've made quite an exit.
THE END"What...exactly...would this mead job involve?" you ask, already dreading the answer.
"Essentially," explains Lady McEyepatch, "I need you to get some honey from my bees."
"That's it?" You can't help but be suspicious. "Not 'honey' from your 'bees'?"
"I...don't know how that's any different from what I said."
"My thing had suspicious air quotes in there that made it sound sexy," you explain.
"I couldn't read those, you were saying it," she says.
Unless, of course, she couldn't "read" those because you were "saying" it. You can't tell because it was said rather than written.
You suppose there's some [[really clever metaliterary observation]] to be had there, but you're not sure you've got time to have it if you're going to [[keep turning totally innocuous bits of conversation into something vaguely suggestive]]."I don't want to know," you say, taking a sip of mead and trying not to think about how you've //literally just put freaky fermented honey-water in your mouth. Like, literally just after she said that thing about getting mead in weird places.//
"Are you sure?" she asks. "Because..."
You fight the urge to heroically man-barf all across the bar.
"Don't. Want. *To know.*"
The two of you sit in silence for a while, even though you've just had a more-or-less extended conversation, and it's becoming clear that neither of you knows anyone else here, let alone anyone else close enough to talk to.
It's super awkward.
You could [[get up and move to another part of the bar]] and admit defeat, or you could [[stoically remain sitting next to Lady McEyepatch]], even though //by the iron-hard abs of Crom, this is super awkward//."Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngh!"
"What...what are you doing?" asks Lady McEyepatch.
"I feel as though there's some kind of really clever metaliterary observation to be had here," you explain, "and so I'm trying to have it. Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnngh!!!"
"It looks like you're trying to do something else," she says. "Please stop."
Suddenly it hits you.
"There once was a tyrant from Mordor,
Whose face had a terrible cold sore.
He called for an elf
To restore his good health,
But elves suck and so does this (therefore)."
"That's not a really clever metaliterary observation," says Lady McEyepatch. "That's a limerick. And it's not even a clever one."
Aw, nuts. She's right.
THE END"You're not afraid of a little hard work, are you?" asks Lady McEyepatch.
Oh no. You can see where this is going.
"Because all I'm asking you to do is to is to take your hand and stick it in my beehive. Vigorously and repeatedly."
"Are..." you really don't like the sound of this. "Are there actually bees in your...uh...beehive?"
"Of course there are actually bees! That's the whole point. //Bees are my thing//," she explains.
This is even weirder than the stuff you usually have to deal with. And you usually have to deal with some pretty weird stuff. You tell her that you're not entirely sure what she's asking you to do, but you absolutely positively do not want to do it.
"It might seem scary at first," she says, "but once you're doing it it's actually very fun."
"Meep meep!" you honk, sprinting through the tavern door and leaving a Dungeon Lord-shaped hole in the wood. Concerned that Lady McEyepatch may be attempting to pursue you, legs a-blur, you attempt to evade her by running through a tunnel that's been painted onto a cliff face.
Unfortunately, since you're still the bad guy in this generic fantasy world, it doesn't work and you flatten yourself comically against the rock.
THE ENDYou mumble something about pins and needles, stand up and turn around.
The tavern has filled up a bit since you first came in. It's not super full--people are still probably going to notice what you're doing--but you're going to have to sit next to someone rather than at a table on your own.
You pick the grossest, least sexy person you can find: a wart-encrusted half-orc with chicken bones in his hair.
"A'ight," you say, as you plonk your mead on the table and your butt on the bench.
"Am oi to understand that yous lookin' fer gainful employment?" he asks. "Only I 'ave a job for you what's //very//..."
You put your hands up, walk to the door and let yourself out of the tavern, trying not to touch the doorhandle any longer than you have to. This whole place is just one massive freakshow.
That or you've become so paranoid that even the most innocuous "Harvest 10 firkins of honey" or "Bring me 30 dire rat pelts" generic fantasy quests now sound like sexual favours to you.
Either way, you've got a full evening of sobbing in your dungeon's linen closet ahead of you.
THE ENDYou're not going to move. You're //definitely// not going to move. There's no backing down from this!
Unfortunately, Lady McEyepatch appears to feel the same way.
The two of you remain sitting side by side at the bar, bitter enemies locked in a non-confrontational drinking activity requiring essentially no interaction, but inviting it all the same.
It's super awkward. It's at least fifty times as super awkward as it was before.
You finish your mead.
Lady McEyepatch orders a mead.
You order another mead!!!
This is more tense--and more awkward--than the time you climbed out of the bathroom window to evade a nude, teleporting wizard, then realised that the door was still locked from the inside //and you still had to go//.
You continue drinking.
The awkwardness between you and Lady McEyepatch reaches critical mass. The room begins to shake. A crowd of Japanese businessmen runs down the street outside, shouting about how your intense awkwardness has summoned Awkwardzilla, Godzilla's tactless third cousin.
Still you continue drinking, and still the awkwardness intensifies. The other bar patrons, cringing at the situation you and Lady McEyepatch have engineered, shrink so far back into their seats that they become one with the tavern furniture, kind of like in //Beauty and the Beast// only with more dropped chips and sticky patches.
You've never before engaged in an awkward duel of awkwardness, but apparently it tends to drag in a lot of movie references for some reason.
About the time the bar wench starts turning into Jim Carrey, Lady McEyepatch makes a bold new move.
"Well," she says, stretching, "I should probably be getting back to the old mead brewery."
Ha! That means you win.
It was totally worth it.
THE END"Hello there!" you say, cheerily. After years and years of nothing but scowling and threats, it somehow sounds insincere. Maybe it is insincere. You don't even know any more. "You look like somebody who's keeping an eye out for a person upon whose shoulders the very fate of the world may rest."
"How very peculiar!" exclaims the (suspected) wizard. "I was in fact waiting for just such a person."
Your face lights up. This too feels insincere.
"Then I found him. Now I'm waiting for a lift."
Your dreams are shattered. Your face falls. This is entirely sincere and entirely in keeping with the past several years.
You suppose the timing is at least convenient, since you were on your way to [[drown your sorrows at MegaLurtz]] already, but you can't help but wonder if there might be some other way to [[become a super important figure of world-fatey significance]].Just because Mr Beardy-hat hasn't teleported his clothes into another dimention and assaulted your eyes with his nudity doesn't mean he's not going to. You walk by him, making an "I'm watching you..." gesture as you pass.
Mr Beardy-hat makes a shrugging "What?" gesture in response, but he knows what.
//He knows what.//
You reach Megalurtz and are about to shove open the door when you hear a crash of breaking glass from around the back, followed by hushed swearing.
A crash followed by swearing--especially around orcs--would hardly be noteworthy. But a crash followed by //hushed// swearing? If there's an orc here who's trying to be quiet, that seems like something to investigate.
So you do.
The swearer is a shady-looking orc with an overladen wheelbarrow of booze. He's got, let's see...Snorry's S'alright Stout? Horrible Harry's Best Bitter?? Bigfist's Brain-beatin' Booze-brandy??? This isn't just top-shelf stuff, it's the finest orc-brew money can buy!
But then, judging by this orc's apparrel--which appears to have been stitched together from ripped pairs of boxer shorts--you don't think he's ever had any money, and you doubt he //bought// it at all.
The orc can evidently guess what you're thinking, because he opens with: "Okay. If you promise not to tell nobody, [[half of this is yours]]."
That would sound like a great deal, if you weren't so eminently capable of shoving this guy in the dirt and [[taking the lot for yourself]].You make your way over to MegaLurtz, doing your best not to dwell on the life-changing adventure that might have been. You might have saved the world from mortal peril! You might have chucked some bad guy's evil bling into a volcano! You might have met a sexy elven enchantress in a chainmail bikini and...wait, no. Not that, not that. Obviously it could happen, but it's also what you're trying to avoid.
Now instead of dwelling on what might have been, you're dwelling on what //is//: a mortal peril that can only be avoided by finding some booze and chucking it down a bad guy's throat (namely yours).
Except it turns out that it's Psychic Night over at MegaLurtz.
Now intstead of an uneventful evening's drinking OR epic adventure, you've got low-key entertainment in a booze-related setting. Essentially the worst of both worlds.
"Oh, well," you think to yourself. "I suppose it's at least guaranteed to be interesting. These orcish psychics are supposed to be pretty impressive."
"Hey, thanks!" says a nearby orc in a sequined suit. "We do try to cultivate a bit of a reputation."
You freeze, not sure whether to take this rare opportunity to [[engage in a telepathic conversation]] or [[loudly imagine "Yakety Sax" over and over in your head]]."Oh," you say. "Are you sure you don't need anyone else to do world-fate-deciding-type things? Because I can do that. Was the guy you found super big and muscly like me?" You flex your biceps enthusiastically to prove your point before extending your hand. "Girth Loinhammer, Dungeon Lord."
"Grandalf the Gay, Wizard," says Grandalf the Gay, the wizard. "And actually, the guy I found was a small, hairy chap who lives in a hole."
Wow. It's rare that stuff goes your way like this. You are definitely more qualified for adventuring--or, you like to think, just about anything else--than a hairy little wierdo. The question is how you exploit this: do you [[demand that you replace him]] or [[suggest that Grandalf hire you for the next important quest that comes along]].You realise that you don't have a great deal of experience with telepathic conversations.
"Aw, nuts," you think. "I don't have a great deal of experience with telepathic conversations."
"Well," thinks the orc in the shiny suit, "having //any// experience with telepathic conversations is pretty impressive."
"Woo!" you think. "He doesn't know that by 'don't have a great deal,' I meant 'don't have any.' Now to exploit this sudden change of fortune..."
"I heard that," thinks the orc.
"Aw, nuts," you think. "I wonder if I can [[convince the psychic that the whole conversation has been some kind of test]]."
"[[Don't count on it]]," thinks the psychic.
That's...that's not promising."BA NA NAAA NAAA NANANANA NAAAA NAAAAA NANANANA NA NA NANANANA NAAH!!!" you imagine to yourself at deafening volume. "BA NA NAAA NAAA NANANANA NAA NANANAANAANAAAA NAAAA! BANA NAAH NA! NAAH NA! NAAH NA! NANANANA NAAA NA! NAA NA! NAA NA! NANANANA NAAA NANA NAANA NAAA NAAH!!!!!"
Ain't no freaky sparkle orc going to read //your// thoughts!
"Did you //have// to pick such an annoying song to stop me reading your thoughts?" thinks the orc, looking unimpressed.
**"BA NA NAAA NAAA NANANANA NAAAA NAAAAA NANANANA NA NA NANANANA NAAH!!! BA NA NAAA NAAA NANANANA NAA NANANAANAANAAAA NAAAA! BANA NAAH NA! NAAH NA! NAAH NA! NANANANA NAAA NA! NAA NA! NAA NA! NANANANA NAAA NANA NAANA NAAA NAAH!!!!!"**
You are the unquestioned king of not having your mind read.
On Psychic Night no less.
"I would like to [[question your ability to avoid mind-readings]]," thinks the orc. But you and your annoying saxophone-based powers could totally [[continue to resist his psychic efforts]]."Aha," you think. "This was a test, and you have passed. I now know for sure that your psychic abilities are genuine. Yes, that ought to fool this guy. I totally pulled that off, provided that he's not still reading my thoughts. These thoughts about how I pulled it off. These thoughts right now."
The orc raises an eyebrow.
You don't need to be psychic to know that you have not, in fact, pulled this off.
Well, you can either [[continue trying to impress the orc with your psychic-ish abilities]], which is probably a doomed effort, or you can [[attempt to make his head explode like in that one movie]], which you figure is at least no more unlikely.
"Are...are you seriously considering trying to make my head explode?" says the orc.
"Quiet you," you think."I wouldn't even consider trying to trick you like that," you say, as earnestly as you can manage.
"You did, though," says the orc. "You totally did."
He's right. You did.
"Damn right I'm right," thinks the orc.
"Wow," you think. "This guy is actually kind of a dick."
"Hey!" says the orc. "Ow, man. Feelings!"
Aha! If you were looking to [[exploit some kind of psychic orc weakness]], this would totally be the time. However, it would also utterly ruin any chance you have to [[not be the bad guy just this once]]. Having //just this minute// mentally called the guy a dick for inwardly acknowledging that he was right about you (and if you're brutally honest, he //was// right about you), you can't very well attempt to make him cry by calling him sparkly fatty-pants in your head."Aha!" you think. "This was, in fact, a double test, and you have doubly passed. Your psychic powers are impressive indeed."
"Don't give me that," thinks the orc. "I heard you thinking about exploding my head."
Personally, you think you should get bonus points for considering something so audacious.
"Yeah," says the orc. "Fair enough, actually. That probably should be worth bonus points."
Yeah, bonus points, woo! You've managed to impress an orcish psychic who you've only just met and have no real need to impress. This...this is pretty much the one success you've had all day, and the only other person who even realises it's happened (because the vast majority of this conversation took place only in your head) is a small-time nightclub entertainer who you have no intention of even talking to outside this one brief interaction.
"Aww," says the orc. "Now I'm sad."
Okay, you also made the orc sad. If you count that as another success--and you do--that makes two today.
That's actually not too bad!
THE END"Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng!" you think.
"I know nobody else knows what's going on here," thinks the orc, "but you're embarrassing the both of us. Stop it."
"Hnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng!!!" you think, even harder than before.
"Seriously," thinks the orc. "Dude. No. Just stop. Stop it."
"HNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHGH!!!!!" you think, really really hard. You press your index fingers to your temples in order to amplify the mysterious psychic energies produced by your inner-space grunting noises.
Everyone in the room turns to look at you. That's how awesome you are.
"Aaargh!" thinks the orc. "My puny orc brain cannot contain the embarrassment!"
And thus his head explodes.
There's a faint patter of applause. And also the faint patter of orc brain and scalp dropping from the nightclub ceiling.
Yeah. //You// made that happen. And you are 100% certain it was the best thing you could have done all day.
THE ENDYou jab a finger at the orc in the sequined suit and loudly think "Nyaah nyaah! Nyaah nyaah! Sparkly fatty fat-pants!"
"It's glandular!" screeches the not even particularly portly orc, and flees the room.
Everybody--//EVERYBODY//--in the nightclub glares at you, and you're pretty sure they know what went down (on account of the finger-jabbing and your "I'm bullying this guy" facial expression), but not being mind-readers, they've got no way to prove it.
"Hey!" shouts a different orc, wearing a fluffy cheetah-print ensemble. "That guy just thought something incredibly mean at our psychic buddy!"
Ah. Yeah. You forgot that Psychic Night at MegaLurtz was likely to involve more than one psychic.
"Get him!" shouts the orcish bartender, who you assume paid good money for the services of these psychics.
"Aw, nuts," you think.
"That's right, 'aw, nuts'!" yells an orc in an impressive turban.
Still being reasonably near the door, you decide to simply make a run for it. After all, none of these guys knows where you live (that massive, nearby dungeon).
"He lives in that massive nearby dungeon!" yells the orc in the turban.
THE END"There, there," you say--it sounds really awkward coming out of your mouth--putting a hand on the orc's shoulder. "I'm sure everyone thinks things they're not proud of from time to time."
"Don't give me that!" snaps the orc. "You were thinking of calling me 'sparkly fatty-pants' less than eight seconds ago!"
Huh. Turns out you're //still// the bad guy even this once.
You don't know whether to be happy that you managed that without trying or sad that you managed that despite trying not to.
"Really?" thinks the orc. "You don't know which one of those things is the good one?"
"Shut up, sparkly fatty-pants," you think.
THE ENDYou consider that if the orcish psychic is in a position to question your ability to avoid mind-readings--especially since he thought about questioning it immediately after you began to consider yourself the //unquestioned// king of not having your mind read--he is probably capable of reading your mind despite your efforts to prevent this.
"Probably?" thinks the orc. "Only //probably//?"
The evidence would appear to suggest that the orc is reading your mind right now. You should probably come up with some other defensive measure: perhaps [[dousing yourself with pottage]] or [[cramming lemon wedges into your eyes]].
"Those both sound like really terrible ideas," thinks the orc. "Are you sure you wouldn't prefer it if I simply promised not to read your mind? That seems like a rational, mutually agreeable resolution to this encounter."
It may be rational and mutually agreeable, but you've already come up with two perfectly good courses of action and as far as you're concerned that's as many as anyone should ever need. You are determined to pick one!
"This is not going to end well," thinks the orc.**"BA NA NAAA NAAA NANANANA NAAAA NAAAAA NANANANA NA NA NANANANA NAAH!!!"** you continue to imagine. **"BA NA NAAA NAAA NANANANA NAA NANANAANAANAAAA NAAAA! BANA NAAH NA! NAAH NA! NAAH NA! NANANANA NAAA NA! NAA NA! NAA NA! NANANANA NAAA NANA NAANA NAAA NAAH!!!!!"**
**"COULD YOU PLEASE STOP THAT???"** think-yells the dumb sparkle-orc. **"AT THIS POINT I DON'T EVEN WANT TO HEAR YOUR THOUGTS, BUT IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO TUNE THEM OUT WHEN THEY'RE THAT LOUD!!!**
You know what? This may have started as an exercise in anti-mind-reading, but having come across a victim you can more or less guarantee is not enjoying what you're doing, you want to make the most of this. You're going to step things up a notch, either by [[being louder]] or by being [[more annoying]].
**"OH GOD NO!!!"** think-screams the orc.You vault over the bar and shove past the orcish chef into the kitchen.
"Outta my way!" you bellow. "I'm here on important food...inspection...some kinda business. Official..."
Your excuse is lame enough that you wish you hadn't shouted it quite so loudly.
"I can afford to have a lame excuse because I am bigger than you and can get in here by force. In fact, the lameness of my excuse is an additional insult! So there!"
You know how people sometimes bring their kids to nightclubs and opinion is divided on whether they're being cool parents or whether it's a totally inappropriate environment for the child? Well, that. Evidently there's a little orcling here, because they choose this moment to pipe up.
"Mummy, what's wrong with that man?" asks the orcling.
"Shh, sweetie," says the mummy orc. "Don't stare."
Wow. If there's any consolation to be had here, it's that you will no longer struggle to pinpoint the most depressing moment of your life. It's this one. Definitely this one.
You stare at the cauldron of pottage. On a purely emotional level, you feel as though tipping it over yourself would only add to your embarrassment. Thinking about it in a cold, calculating frame of mind, however, it seems likely that anything you can do here--literally anything at all--must make for an improvement on your current situation. There is literally no way this could possibly get any worse.
You are more or less resolved to douse yourself with pottage when the orcish chef returns with a bowl. He fills it from the cauldron and hands it to you.
"Here, man," he says, placing a hand on your shoulder. "It's on the house."
It got worse.
THE ENDYou grab a pair of lemon wedges from the bar.
"Please don't do what you're thinking about doing," says the orcish psychic. Out loud.
"Your tricksy reverse psychiatry won't work on me!" you yell, grinding a wedge of lemon into each of your mighty eyeballs.
It's surprisingly refreshing.
On the bright side, nobody's reading your thoughts any more. Or at least, if they are then it's going to be really painful for them.
So yeah. You sure showed that guy.
THE END#**"BA NA NAAA NAAA NANANANA NAAAA NAAAAA NANANANA NA NA NANANANA NAAH!!! BA NA NAAA NAAA NANANANA NAA NANANAANAANAAAA NAAAA! BANA NAAH NA! NAAH NA! NAAH NA! NANANANA NAAA NA! NAA NA! NAA NA! NANANANA NAAA NANA NAANA NAAA NAAH!!!!!"**
Your mental rendition of "Yakety Sax" is so loud that //all// the orcish psychics scramble for the doors, excepty Shiny von Sparklepants right next to you. He tries to dive headlong through the nearest window, but the sheer loudness of your brilliant mind throws off his sense of direction and he brains himself on the windowframe. There's blood everywhere!
THE ENDYou make a subtle change to your mental barrage.
"Banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana banana..."
**"YOU ARE AN AWFUL PERSON,"** thinks the orc, loudly.
That's...pretty much all you wanted to know, to be honest. It was genuinely the entire point of the whole "banana" thing.
You keep doing it.
THE END"Grandalf, buddy..." you place a hand on the shoulder of Grandalf the Gay and note that //wow does this guy NOT work out//. Like, you can appreciate that being a wizard is an essentially sedentary profession, and that the kind of person who sits around reading enough books to do it well probably isn't concerned with bulking or crunches or whatever, but this is ridiculous. You'd think that even somebody who spent all day poring over mouldering old tomes would have to occasionally, you know, LIFT a mouldering old tome, and that would at least maintain some kind of muscle mass. You can only assume that Grandalf magicks the things off the shelves because you're not positive he has the upper body strength to raise his own arms. Frankly, you're surprised he's not crushed by the weight of his massive, floppy hat. Then again, you suppose that the only human contact you've had for quite some time has been with comparatively athletic heroes--or comparatively athletic people //purporting// to be heroes--and that might be warping your body image somewhat. Is it possible that Grandalf is physically quite typical and you're //mentally// some kind of outlier? Do you have unreasonably high expectations for the upper body strength of octogenarian academics? Have you been holding onto this guy's shoulder for an unsettlingly long time?
Yeah... You'd been hoping to open with "Grandalf, buddy," place a hand reassuringly on his shoulder, and then make the case that the sensible thing to do would be to pass the world-saving job over to you. Instead, you opened with "Grandalf, buddy," and then just followed it up with extended physical contact. You're actually still doing it, and it's liable to become awkward.
Scratch that, it is awkward. It is very awkward. There's eye contact now too.
Damage limitation time: you can either [[suggest he give you the job]] as planned, or you can [[wait for him to speak]] as though that was the plan all along and he was the one being dim.
Both solid options. Solid, equally awkward options.You're reasonably certain that whatever epic quest that hairy weirdo got handed, the next one is more or less guaranteed to be even more epic. After all, a less epic quest would just be a let-down for all involved.
You wish hairy guy the best of luck, and invite Grandalf to keep you in mind for the next one. (This has the added bonus of keeping today free for drinking.)
"Actually..." says Grandalf the Gay, stroking his impressive wizard beard. "As it happens, I have been called away this very day to perform deeds of great importance in a land far, far away. A land of white sands and delicious, fruity cocktails. You know, the sort of edenic island paradise that's constantly under threat of corruption unless a very important wizard visits, just to check the sand and cocktails are still alright. And yet there is much here that I have left undone..."
Grandalf the Gay hastily scribbles something on a scrap of parchment.
"Perform these mystical labours, and..."
"I can't read," you explain.
Grandalf sighs, waves his staff over the parchment, and mutters some arcane gibberish.
The corners of the parchment twitch for a moment before it rises into the air, folding and contorting into the shape of a little man.
"Did you really conjure a papermunculus just for that?" demands the little paper man. "Just so you didn't have to tell this guy what to do in person?"
"Yeah," says Grandalf the Gay, "because I've got to go now, haven't I?"
And at that very moment an eagle swoops down and carries him high into the air.
"Do all the stuff world-fate significance byeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!" calls Grandalf as he vanishes over the horizon.
"Well," says the papermunculus, "we'd better [[get on with it]]."
The thing is, you're kind of fascinated by the little paper creature, and now you're wondering if there might be [[something else you could do with it]]."...don't you think the fate of the world would be a little more secure if I was the one securing it?"
Actually, when you put it like that, no. Really, really no. Phrased in that exact way, in this specific set of circumstances, any random small hairy wierdo is probably the safe bet. But Grandalf the Gay doesn't know you, and you figure that's bound to work in your favour.
Grandalf breathes a sigh of relief. "Phew! For a minute there, I thought..."
He stares at your hand, still resting on his shoulder. You quickly take it away.
"Yeah. You know what? You do seem somewhat more capable than the first guy. Tell you what: if you find him, just say that I've put you on it instead and that he should give you the magic ring I gave him. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a nice little island getaway planned, and it looks like my lift's here."
At that moment, a giant eagle swoops down to pick up the wizard.
Seriously, a gaint eagle!
You know there's the possibility of getting [[a world-saving quest and a magic ring]] out of this, but you kind of want that eagle. You are totally in the mood for some [[grand theft eagle]].The wait is awkward. Painfully awkward. //Literally// painfully awkward. If you could engineer this situation as a torture in your dungeon, you would. Partly because it would avoid the vigorous whipping that's caused such a problem in the past, but also partly because //ow, your everything//!
At last, Grandalf the Gay speaks. "Look," he says, picking your hand up and manually shifting it off his shoulder. "I'm Grandalf the Gay, not Grandalf the //Gay for every muscle-head I happen to meet//. Frankly, it bothers me that despite the countless years I've spent establishing my reputation as a wizard--despite my numerous contributions to the field of magic--that's all I'm known for. Do you have any idea what it's like to put that kind of effort into a legitimate career, and then find out that everybody you encounter professionally is just obsessed with sex?"
Actually, you do. You really, really do, and part of you longs to [[explain this to Grandalf]], the first person you've ever met who might possibly understand. However, that would involve mushy feelings stuff, and you're reasonably certain that the manly course of action would be to [[ignore all that and drink lots of alcohol]].Grandalf the Gay holds his arms above his head--hey! Looks like he can do that after all--and the eagle grabs him by the wrists. You hastily cover your eyes to avoid getting an eyeful of his "magic wand" as the robed figure is hoisted above you.
"Where do I find that hairy weirdo?" you yell, staring at the ground.
"He lives in some dungeon type thing over there!" Grandalf shouts back.
You can't see where he's pointing--you're not even sure he's pointing at all, given that the last you saw the eagle was clinging onto both his arms--but you're pretty sure the only dungeon anywhere near here is yours.
You can only assume that the weirdo Grandalf was speaking of was one of YOUR weirdos that you've been trying so hard to avoid. The wizard must have bumped into him on the way to your dungeon, and now he's got the epic world-saving job instead of you.
However, at this point trying to track him down would mean trying to track down one of the people you've been actively trying to avoid, so...yeah. Not going to happen.
You go home, heat up some soup, and eat it out of the saucepan.
This is not the super important adventure of world-fatey significance you'd been hoping for.
THE END"Think fast!" you yell, as you kick Grandalf the Gay in the face with both feet at once, catching hold of the eagle's legs in the same motion as it passes. It's pretty badass. Also deplorable because the entire manoeuvre hinged on kicking an old man in the face, but badass nonetheless.
Shifting your weight from side to side, you control the eagle's flight with all the grace of...of...well, you're not sure you've actually done anything even remotely graceful up until this point, but you're at least reasonably certain that what you're doing right now is graceful on some kind of fundamental, objective level and so you're not too bothered that you don't have any kind of benchmark for it. It's undeniably graceful. Graceful and badass.
Hovering just beneath the clouds, you spot a small, hairy weirdo hurrying on his way towards some big, doomy volcano on the horizon. He appears to be clutching a ring.
This is just too perfect.
You bring the eagle into a pants-soiling dive, dropping headlong towards the ground before pulling up to catch the hairy weirdo from behind. You draw back your foot, preparing an eagle-assisted kick right to the back of his stupid hairy head, and...the eagle grabs him in his beak.
Oh, man. The eagle done ate that guy. He dead.
The ring...the ring's gone too. The bird didn't even bother to chew--though now that you think about it you're not sure that birds do--it just kind of snarfed him down in one. You suppose you might be able to get the ring back if you, like, wait...a bit...but to be honest you're not sure you want to.
You pull up again, intending to go for a nice leasurely lap of that fairly scenic volcano, but the eagle starts making funny noises. Choking noises. You gracefully fail to guide it anywhere but the searing pool of lava at the heart of the active volcano.
You later discover that getting that particular ring into this particular volcano was pretty much the gist of that particular world-saving quest, but you discover this as Ghost Loinhaunter, Whipwraith, because you are dead.
THE ENDYou tell Grandalf the Gay that you understand better than he might think. That you too have struggled to establish yourself as a figure of one sort and found yourself typecast as quite another. That for the longest time, you thought there was nobody in the world you could turn to, and that now you've heard him speak of the very same struggles, you don't feel quite so alone.
"A likely story," says Grandalf the Gay. And then he yells: "Eagle-assisted face-kick!!!"
You begin to say "What?" but at that moment Grandalf throws his arms in the air, an eagle swoops down and grabs him by the wrists, and as it hoists him up he uses the additioral momentum to knee you really hard in the face.
It's super impressive, but also super disappointing, as well as super painful.
You black out.
THE END"Ew," you say. "I'm not even gay. And I totally have no idea what the crushing disappointment you described is like. You must completely fail at life to have got into such an utterly devastating situation that probably keeps you up when you try to sleep and spoils any small successes you might enjoy, I would imagine."
Considering how ruthless your put-down was just now, Grandalf the Gay seems strangely unaffected. "Are...are you sure? I only ask because you appear to be sobbing uncontrollably."
"They're not tears!" you blub, manfully. "They're liquid anger and bacon grease because I'm such a badass!"
"Whatever," says Grandalf the Gay. "I saved the world this morning and that isn't even my whole day: I've got a sweet tropical beach holiday lined up."
At that very moment, an eagle swoops down, and Grandalf the Gay backflips onto the bird's back //while flipping you the bird//. It's totally badass. Like, at least 500% more badass than anything you've ever done. And you just know he actually put some thought into how his actions would translate into wordplay.
You shuffle back to your dungeon, leaking anger and bacon grease all the way.
THE END"Alright," you say. "What's the first thing I've got to do in order to save the world?"
The papermunculus reads something off its tiny paper hand, which when you think about it makes very little sense because what Grandalf the Gay actually wrote took up the whole of the parchment and there's no way such a tiny chunk would mean anything.
"It says 'Clean kitchen,'" says the papermunculus.
You point out that you're having a hard time seeing how the fate of the world could possibly depend on you cleaning Grandalf the Gay's kitchen.
The papermunculus points out that it's got no more to go on than you do here. The instructions say "Clean kitchen." They don't say why.
So you and the papermunculus head over to the home of Grandalf the Gay and clean his kitchen. You make a particular effort to scrub up all the dirty pots and pans until they shine--even the one that's obviously had crusty porridge remnants sitting in it for about a week because it's gone kind of furry--because you're secretly hoping that there'll be a kitchenware genie in one of them and the genie will give you a proper quest because cleaning the kitchen was some kind of test.
You do kind of a slapdash job of the floors and surfaces because you've never heard of a floor and surface genie and so there's little incentive to do any better.
At last, the pots and pans sparkle, the condiments and dry goods are arranged immaculately in the cupboards, and the floors and surfaces are alright you guess.
"What's next?" you ask.
The papermunculus reads from its hand once more. "Dust knick-knacks," it says.
Okay. You are beginning to [[suspect that Grandalf is simply tricking you into doing his housework]], however, if it is in fact some kind of test, then you suspect you are supposed to [[do the housework in order to prove that you are pure of heart]].
Frankly, you're just lucky that there's no test that can determine the purity of your heart directly, because you feel as though you would probably fail.You stand there for a minute or two, watching Grandalf the Gay and his eagle vanish into a pinpoint on the horizon. You get the sense that neither you nor the papermunculus really the following instructions type, and that it's just waiting for an invitation not to.
"Crime?" you propose.
"Crime," nods the papermunculus.
Well, that was incredibly simple.
"We could [[rob a bank]]," you suggest.
"Yeah..." says the papermunculus, diplomatically. "Or, or...perhaps there's [[some other kind of crime]] we could commit?""Screw this," you say, tearing off your practical but somewhat effeminite apron and throwing it across the back of the chair by the stove. "I'm leaving."
You stomp over to the door and let yourself out, giving it a hard slam behind you for good measure.
There is an evil laugh, bearing in its sound all the malice of timber, brick, and energy-efficient double-glazing.
"Fool!" cries the house of Grandalf the Gay. "You might have defeated my killer kitchenware, made safe my dread cupboards of entropy, and somewhat inconvenienced my floor and surface wights, but my deadly dust bunnies are without number!"
Aw, nuts. That's never a good sign.
The house rears up on its...you're not really sure what those are called--they're not legs exactly--but whatever they are houses definitely shouldn't have them, and proceeds to stride across the land, scattering dust bunnies in its wake.
"What do we do?" cries a nearby peasasnt, staring in dismay at the adorable yet allergy-aggravating destruction the bunnies are wreaking upon the crops. "What do we do???"
"Dunno," you shrug, spinning on your heel and beginning to make your way back to your dungeon. "Not my house."
THE ENDYou dust the knick-knacks.
The papermunculus tells you to sweep the floor.
You sweep the floor.
The papermunculus tells you to clear out the gutters.
You clear out the gutters.
The papermunculus tells you to work out why the water pump outside makes a peculiar rattling noise, and then to fix it.
You point out that you are not a plumber. Plumbing is barely even a thing nowadays. Indoor plumbing is still completely unheard-of.
The papermunculus points out that it is not a plumber either, and on top of that it can't get wet or its ink will run.
You call a plumber.
The plumber determines that the rattling noise is caused by a loose connection between the handle and the connecting rod, and fixes it in about a minute. He charges you up the butt for this minute's worth of work.
The papermunculus tells you to sweep the chimney.
You sweep the chimney.
The papermunculus tells you to sweep the floor.
You tell the papermunculus that you already swept the floor.
The papermunculus points out--once again--that it's got no more to go on than you do, but it assumes that "Sweep the floor" is on the list twice because Grandalf the Gay anticipated--correctly--that the floor would get dirty again in the process of sweeping the chimney.
You are now 100% certain that this is not a test to determine whether or not you are worthy of a quest to save the world, and that you are in fact just cleaning some guy's house.
You point out that this has pretty much been a massive waste of time and that you might as well just burn the whole place down.
The papermunculus points out that if you do that, it really will have been a massive waste of time.
Aw, nuts. It's right.
THE ENDNope. Robbing a bank is the definitive crime for discerning criminals, and you won't hear otherwise. Over the course of several weeks, you devise a cunning plan.
You observe the patterns of the security patrols and identify a key window of opportunity during a shift change between Guards Two and Three. Due to a concern for proper procedure bordering on the excessive, Guard Two paradoxically fails to complete his end-of-shift paperwork during the five minutes specifically set aside for this task. In almost every case, the guard relieving him ignores this oversight, clocks in, and countersigns the Guard Two's late paperwork at the end of their shift, which while not recommended by the bank manager does at least ensure the patrols continue without interruption. However, Guard Three--also something of a stickler for official procedure--insists upon being personally present to countersign Guard Two's paperwork before he is allowed to leave. This means that for an average of six and a half minutes //on top of the alloted five// neither guard is available to patrol the back of house corridors leading to the vault.
Ordinarily, eleven and a half minutes wouldn't be anywhere near long enough to break into the bank vault. However, you have someone on the inside. //Literally//. By disguising the papermunculus as a cheque and depositing it in the bank the day before a bank holiday weekend, you ensure that your papery accomplice has a full three days to disable the vault door locks before you return to carry off the heist proper. By choosing a bank holiday weekend that coincides with a morning changeover between Guards Two and Three on the Tuesday immediately following, you ensure that you have approximately eleven and a half minutes to make your way through the bank's network of corridors and escape with the money undetected.
"Pssst!" comes a papery voice from a side office, as you work your way towards the vault. "PSSSSSSSSSST!!!"
You peer through the door. It's the papermunculus, leaning out from a tray full of financial paperwork.
"So, uh..." says the papermunculus. "I've learned something since I got here. It turns out that cheques aren't stored in the bank vault. They're actually put into a central clearing system before being sent back to the bank they were drawn from before being paid. It's a neat system, but since I'm essentially just a scrap of paper with 'MORE MONEY' scrawled on it, I've pretty much just been in this junk pile since I got here. The bank staff had a good laugh about it."
Oh. It appears that this has all been a massive waste of time.
THE ENDOrdinarily you'd prefer not to take the advice of a tiny paper creature who only just came into existence, but at this point you feel as though you could do with a fresh perspective. You agree to hear it out.
"Okay," says the papermunculus, "here's my plan. There's all these heroes knocking about, right? And they all have this habit of exploring underground ruins and whatnot because there's generally treasure in them..."
You can see where this is going.
"How about we take over some kind of underground dungeon, and then when heroes head in there to explore it, we torture them and steal all their stuff! It's utterly foolproof!"
You settle for some light arson instead and call it a day. This has not been the life-changing experience you were hoping for.
THE ENDYou know what? Half a wheelbarrow full of orc-brew is already more than you really wanted, and you specifically set out to consume a dangerous quantity of alcohol. It's the good stuff, but it's not guaranteed not to make you go blind.
"Yeah, alright," you say, and grab the top couple of bottles to stop them tipping off and causing any more noise.
You look about for another wheelbarrow, but there isn't one. Either this guy brought his from home or he's taken the only one at Megalurtz. Since you can't see any reason why a nightclub would have its own wheelbarrow, you assume it's his. Unless you're going to shove him in the dirt and steal it--which, of all the places to draw the line, feels wrong after striking up a deal with him--you've basically got two options: [[leave with as much booze as you can carry]], or [[tag along with boxer-shorts orc for the time being]].You shove the orc in the dirt and grab the handles of the wheelbarrow, shouting "YOINK!" as you do so.
You're so eloquent.
Unfortunately, it turns out the orc is pretty eloquent too. He hammers on the back door of Megalurtz and shouts: "Hey! That guy's stealing your booze! I tried to stop him but he overpowered me!"
A fairly big orc steps through the door carrying a very big (and very spiky) bit of wood.
Aw, nuts. That's not good.
Fortunately you're heading downhill, so there's a chance you can [[outrun the orc]] even with the wheelbarrow. Alternatively--and this might sound crazy--but thanks to your years of professional experience you think you may have devised [[a method of not being hit with spiky things]] that doesn't involve running.You approach the wheelbarrow.
You were anticipating that this would be kind of an awkward load--obviously there are only so many separate items you can keep hold of yourself--but what you didn't consider was that you'd also have to make a decision as to what booze to choose. Seriously, it's //hard//.
Though all booze is good booze, there are practical considerations. Boxer-shorts orc has a couple of big kegs in that barrow, and purely in terms of how many pints you can carry, those are the obvious choice. However, they're //both// S'alright Stout, and not only is that not your favourite, going for those means that you're robbing yourself of a chance at some variety.
There's stuff in that wheelbarrow that you would simply never fork out for if it wasn't free, and you want to at least give it a try. However, if you go for a ton of separate bottles of spirits--some of them elegant but impractical shapes--you're going to have a really hard time lugging them away from here. You don't want to grab an armful of bottles and then break the whole lot, especially if it means getting caught by the staff at Megalurtz.
You're not going to limit yourself to a sensible number of bottles because you were promised half a wheelbarrow's worth of alcohol and you're getting half a wheelbarrow's worth of alcohol. And since going for one armful of bottles and one keg would be the worst of both worlds, you've got a dilemma on your hands: [[boring, easily portable kegs]], or [[fancy but impractical bottles]].Hey, you could always use a drinkin' buddy. Especially in the event that you suddenly need a drinkin' seein' eye dog, which in this case is pretty likely.
"So," you say, grabbing a bottle of Brain-beatin' Booze-brandy and uncorking it. "What's your name?"
"They call me 'Togs the Tailor,' on account of my name's Togs and--"
You can see where this is going: "And you're a tailor?"
"Naw, that...that didn't go well." Togs looks down, becomes depressed by his own outfit, and looks back at you instead. "I'm with the Thieves' Guild now. I'm pretty good at it!"
Two or three bottles topple out of the wheelbarrow and break open on the ground. You grab a couple of the more precarious ones from the top of the pile and carry them yourself.
"Cheers," says Togs the Tailor.
You aren't carrying them to be nice--you just didn't want him to smash all the booze--but you don't point that out. You're smart like that. "So," you say instead. "Are you heading [[back to the Thieves' Guild]] now?"
"I was, yeah." Togs thinks for a moment. "Did you have [[other plans]]?"You grab the two big kegs. They may not be all that exciting, but you're here specifically because you ran out of mead back at the dungeon: you want something that's [[not going to run out anytime soon]].
Unless you decide to go ahead and [[chug one right now]]. That is why you came here in the first place, after all.You don't know if boxer shorts guy knew what he was looking for or just got lucky but //oh man is there some good stuff in his wheelbarrow//.
In fact, actually, you're pretty sure he did know what he was looking for because he says "Awww" and makes a sad face whenever you select a particularly excellent bottle of booze. You actually start to exploit it a little, picking up bottles and then putting them back if he //doesn't// seem sad about it. But then you start to get the impression he's caught on and is saying "Awww" about the cheap stuff specifically so you'll put it back.
Dude is getting in your head.
Anyway, before too long you've picked out about as much as you can carry, which conveniently is about half a wheelbarrow anyway. Your massive glutes tend to attract the wrong kind of attention, but boy are they handy when you need to cling onto just //one// extra bottle of spirits.
Anyway, the question is whether you try and [[carry this huge selection of bottles all the way home]] like a common wino, or if you do the classy thing and [[drink a few under a bridge]].
You're pretty sure you got those two things the right way around.You lug the massive kegs back to your dungeon, one under each arm, and set them down in your pantry. It's official: you've earned a drink.
You select your favourite, most manly tankard, and place it beneath the keg's tap.
You flip up the little handle to release the ale within.
You utterly fail to consider just how far you've carried this pressurised wooden canister of orc-brew, jiggling and shaking, on the way back here.
The keg shoots out of the pantry, propelled by the jet of high-velocity beer suds coming from the little tap that you're still clinging onto. It ping-pongs off the walls of your dungeon and straight out the front gates. It rockets into space for some reason. By the time you notice this has happened, it's way, way too late to let go.
You know what they say: aim for the moon! Even if you miss, you'll drift forever through the unfathomable blankness of space.
THE ENDYou came here for a drink; you're getting a drink!
You crack open one of the kegs, hold it directly over your mouth, and begin to chug.
"Quaff, quaff, quaff!" chants the orc wearing the suit made of discarded pairs of boxer shorts.
Naturally, you're determined to impress this guy. You chug harder.
"QUAFF, QUAFF, QUAFF, QUAFF, **QUAFF, QUAFF, QUAFF...**"
One of the bar staff from Megalurtz comes out back hefting a spiky piece of wood. At least, you assume it's one of the bar staff from Megalurtz, because you heard the door open and your friend run away with his wheelbarrow. Unfortunately you seem to have gone blind, so you're not entirely certain that's what went down.
What you are certain of is that whoever came out of Megalurz has a spiky piece of wood. That much is very, very clear.
THE ENDYou carry your extremely cumbersome selection of loose glass bottles all the way back to your dungeon, even though you were barely able to hold onto the whole lot even temporarily back when you were choosing them from the wheelbarrow. The trip back gives your glutes quite a workout, not least because of that one bottle of orcish absinthe you have clenched betwixt them.
You get home, fumble for your keys, and in the process drop the whole lot. Everything--//everything//--shatters against your diabolical and imposing front doorstep.
Quick as you can, you stoop down and slurp up as much of the rapidly vanishing booze puddle as you can. Despite being served in a soiled doormat, it's actually really good. //Really// good. As in, probably the best cocktail you or anyone else has ever tasted.
Unfortunately, you couldn't possibly remember all the different ingredients that went into it, and even if you could you'd have no idea of the ratios, since the bottles were stolen from a popular nightclub and weren't all full.
All you know for certain is that it contained a significant quantity of tiny glass shards.
THE ENDYou find a nice, cozy bridge under which to drink, and for once there isn't a troll squatting there! This is handy, because you've had it up to here with fairy tale nonsense.
You take another look at your selection of fancy booze. As you noted before, it is good stuff. //Seriously// good stuff. Some of the bottles are very dusty, which is how you know that what's inside them is //seriously good//. This too is handy, because the dust itself prevents you from reading the labels. You give one a bit of a rub so you can see what you've actually got here.
There is a sudden puff of purple, glittery smoke.
"I am the genie of the booze bottle!" cries some dude in a turban. "You have freed me from my fancy yet impractical prison, and thus, in my infinite gratitude, I am bound to offer you one wish: choose whatsoever you most desire, and it shall be yours."
"I wish that you were alcohol and that you were in my mouth!" you yell, having (as you previously noted) had it up to here with fairy tale nonsense.
"Aw, man!" sighs the genie. "Every freaking time!"
And he turns into a mystical stream of purple, glittery booze that flies directly into your mouth. It has a nice kick to it, but unfortunately also a somewhat unpleasant aftertaste.
It's like there's a party in your mouth, and everbody's wearing curly genie shoes.
THE END"I've never been to the Thieves' Guild," you say. "Mind if I tag along?"
Partly you think it makes professional sense to network with other criminals--even if they're not into kidnapping and torture specifically--and partly you think it makes sense in general to go where the other half of the booze-barrow is going.
"Sure," says Togs. "I mean, I ain't got enough of a reputation there to vouch for you, but they'll let you in as long as you know the secret handshake. It goes shake, shake, fistbump, upside-down fistbump, finger guns, another fistbump, awkward silence turtle, a third fistbump, Vulcan salute, sideways finger guns, shake, then the word 'secrecy' spelled backwards in sixth century wood elf sign language."
"Could you run through that again?" you ask.
"Nope," says Togs. "We're here."
Togs slips past the behemoth of a doorman, leaving you to either [[attempt the ridiculously complicated handshake]] or [[come up with some excuse not to]].
Ordinarily you would totes knock the massive guy out, but you're...let's go with "tired." It was a long walk. You just don't feel like doing that right now.You down your current bottle of Booze-brandy and pop open another.
"Well," you say, "nothing major, you know. I was just thinking about maybe going on an EPIC BOOZE-FUELLED ADVENTURE!!!"
"Yeah alright," says Togs. "I mean, the organised crime network I'm supposed to be bringing this wheelbarrow to will probably be violent and angry if I don't, but I don't see how that could be a problem."
Huh. You wouldn't have expected it from someone dressed head-to-toe in stitched-together boxer shorts, but Togs is a rational sort of guy.
"EPIC BOOZE-VENTURE!!!" the two of you shout in unison. "YEAH!!!"
You consider following it up with, "[[VEGAS TIRITH, BABY!!!]]" which is the universal call for a roadtrip to the gambling capital of the Olde Worlde, but that's a long way away and you'd be equally happy to just [[see where the booze-venture takes you]].This would be a whole lot easier if you knew sixth century wood elf sign language. Or any sign language at all. Or how to spell the word "secrecy."
You put out your hand for the bouncer to shake.
"Aw, hell no!" he says. "I'm not going through that whole thing: I'll take your word for it! Just get in there."
Huh. That was incredibly easy.
You head on into the Thieves' Guild and immediately get wicked drunk. The booze in here isn't technically free, but since the Guild itself exists specifically as a support network for career criminals, NOT not paying for it is something of a faux pas. The downsnide of this is that random thieves drink your half of the booze barrow. The upside is that you don't care.
The other downside is that being completely wasted in a room full of pickpockets, you end up passing out and having all your stuff stolen. All of it. The Thieves' Guild must naturally attract kleptomaniacs, because they even steal the dirt from under your fingernails. It's kind of weird.
You wake up naked in a ditch three miles out of town. It's still probably the least embarrassing end to a night out you've had in about six months.
THE END"I have...uh...terrible carpal tunnel," you say, massaging your wrist. "Owwwwwwwwwww."
It's not terribly convincing.
"That's alright," says the bouncer. "In lieu of the secret handshake, we'll accept a Royal Passport in combination with a tax statement from the previous fiscal year provided it's countersigned by King Stephen's head secretary and submitted in triplicate to the Advisory Committee following review by the Thieves' Guild Provisional Membership Board."
Awesome! That sounds marginally less complicated than the handshake anyway.
You get the forms together but find that since you habitually evade tax you don't have the statement necessary for submission to King Stephen's secretary. Also, you haven't renewed your Royal Passport for so long that they've changed the format slightly and you have to jump through some extra hoops to get one of the new ones. If you had a properly old Royal Passport there's a process in place to convert those, the guy at the District Offices explains, but you've got one of the //new// old ones and due to certain conflicts in the filing system, the Central Administrative Branch don't have any way to update them. It's a mess over there.
It turns out that the Thieves' Guild Advisory Committee and the Thieves' Guild Provisional Membership Board also disagree on the exact procedure for escalating handshake exemption requests, so there's a lot of intraorganisational paperwork necessary to move things along. For some reason, thieves are real sticklers for the rules, apparently.
Anyway, long story short you forget why you were doing this in the first place and all the paperwork gives you terrible carpal tunnel.
You wake up in a pool of blood with a mouth full of vomit.
You really hope the blood's not yours.
You really hope the vomit is.
Looking around the penthouse suite, you attempt to spot any clues as to what happened last night. You see, in order: a giant party sandwich, a tiger nibbling the sandwich, Togs' booze-barrow minus the booze, a barbershop quartet of hired blood demons (which you suppose explains the blood), a big pile of money, and one-eyed heavyweight boxing champion Cyc Tyson.
You don't see Togs, though you do see his mattress impaled on a statue outside. You're going to assume that's not a clue as to his current whereabouts and, in any case, you've got no real incentive to find him. If you did then this would probably be the start of some side-splitting hungover escapades, but no. You're pretty much going to call it a day.
THE END"YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAH!!!" you yell, as you and Togs ride the booze-barrow down a dangerously steep hill.
"YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAH!!!" you yell, as the barrow skids across a vast expanse of open plains.
"YURBLHRBLHRBLHRBHHHHHH!!!" you gargle, as it comes to rest at the bottom of a lake.
There's some chick with a sword at the bottom of the lake. She seems annoyed that you're here until you hand her an armful of wine bottles. Then the three of you head off in the general direction the wheelbarrow was travelling before it got stuck in the lake silt like a...like a //stupid//. You are way too drunk to come up with similes right now.
The party goes on for a while. It gets dark and kind of cold. Especially after you've been for a dip in a lake. Especially when you were barely wearing clothes to begin with.
"We should HIC we should HIC we should finds a pub..." hiccups Togs. "Somewhere we can gets a table..."
"A ROUND TABLE! WOOOOOOOO!!!" shrieks lake lady.
"...an' some onions rings."
But you have a better idea. "No," you say. "We should go aaaaaaalaway up to that that that volcano up there. I bet itsh toashty warm inshide."
So you head up to the volcano, but when you get there you find the spot's already taken by some short hairy guy with a ring and some big guy with spiky black plate armour. You totally got to get yourself some of that--super imposing and super //not// revealing--and you're about to ask him where he got his, when instead he's all super rude to you.
"DO YOU MIND?" demands spiky armour guy. "WE'RE TRYING TO HAVE AN EPIC, FATE-OF-THE-WORLD, LEDGE-OVER-A-VOLCANO CONFRONTATION HERE. DON'T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?"
"Pfffft!" you say, staggering up to him and popping open a beer on one of his nipple spikes. "You're just a...jusht a buzz-kill! A mashive, mashive, buzz-kill!"
"I AM THE DARK LORD!!!"
"More like the...more like the DIRK GORD...no, the SMIRK SHMORD...no, the DORK BORED. Amirite?"
Togs and the lake lady start laughing uncontrollably. The DARK LORD looks at them, then at the short hairy guy. The short hairy guy shrugs in a clear yet subtle "Well, I'm not going to argue with that" gesture, and you get the impression that this sways the DARK LORD even more.
"Lighten up and have a brewshki!" you say, leaning heavily on the DARK LORD because if you're honest with yourself you'd just fall over otherwise and while you're standing on a ledge over an active volcano with a seriously elevated blood alcohol level, that seems like something to avoid.
"WELL, MAYBE JUST ONE DRINK..." says the DARK LORD. Then he grabs a huge keg of beer from Togs, jabs a hole in it with his big pointy crown, and starts guzzling it down. "ONE DRINK TO RULE THEM ALL!!!"
"YEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAH!!!" shouts everybody else, including the short hairy guy, as they begin to cheer him on.
You sense that "one drink" thing was a reference of some kind, but you don't get it at all. Still, good times. Good times.
THE ENDYou run with the wheelbarrow as fast as you can. Actually, the hill's pretty steep. You chase after the wheelbarrow as it rolls. In fact, scratch that. You cling to the handles as the unstoppable juggernaut that is the booze-barrow hurtles downhill at tremendous speed, dragging you behind.
On the upside, there's no way the orc chasing you can possiblyaww, nuts: he's got a wheelbarrow too. Megalurtz somehow didn't seem like a wheelbarrow hotspot, but apparently everyone's got one around here.
Well, this just got interesting.
You figure you can [[keep dragging along behind the wheelbarrow]], which slows you down but allows you to guide its course with your massive honking bad guy boots, or you could [[climb onto the mound of booze it carries]], which will dramatically reduce drag but also make the whole thing ludicrously top-heavy.
You're not quite sure how you came to be such an expert in wheelbarrowdynamics, but in this particular situation it's proving pretty useful so you choose not to question it."Oh no!" you say, pouting and placing your pinky finger on the corner of your mouth. "All I wanted was to steal this booze, but now I've been caught by a great big orc with a great big bit of wood. Whatever are you going to do to me?"
As if to illustrate just what he's going to do to you, the orc smacks the head of his spiky club against his free hand, slowly and contemplatively. It's extra intimidating because the club is really quite spiky, so as well as implying that he's going to hit you with a spiky club, it goes some way as to demonstrating a high pain threshold on his part too.
You're not sure your kinky weirdo routine has done you any favours. Unless making you feel really awkward about yourself counts as a favour, but you're pretty sure it doesn't.
Anyway, the orc is too close for you to run away now, so you can either [[keep acting kinky]] or [[improvise]].You find that you can actually exert quite a bit of control over the wheelbarrow's course--and minimise the number of hillside saplings whipping you in the crotch--by skidding along with the toes of your boots on the ground and your butt in the air.
It's fortunate this allows you to steer to an extent, because the orc riding along behind you went with the "climb on top of the wheelbarrow" option, has now caught up, and is repeatedly swinging his spiky bit of wood at your posterior.
Now that you get a disconcertingly close look at the thing, you can see that it is not simply a naturally spiky bit of wood. It has been lovingly--artistically, even--carved for additional spikiness, and bears a name engraved along the length of the handle: //THE POUNDINATOR//.
You're beginning to suspect that this guy has problems.
You might want to [[talk to him about that]], not least because it might persuade him to keep "The Poundinator" away from your butt, but to be honest you sometimes suspect that you might have problems too and getting into his might raise questions about yours. You could always resolve this situation through a perfectly amicable [[road warrior style vehicle-to-vehicle brawl]].Okay. Oh, wow. This is really not safe.
There was a moment there where you were climing up and part of you thought "I really should not be doing this," but you pushed past it and carried on anyway and now you are absolutely, positively, 100% certain that that part of you was right.
Riding like this is definitely faster, but at this point if anything that feels like a drawback, because it's that much less safe.
You've really worked yourself into a corner here. The way you see it, you can either [[stop and give up the booze]] or you can [[chuck the contents of the wheelbarrow at the orc]] in the hopes that he falls off and you can continue on your way empty-handed, but at a less suicidal pace.
Either way, no booze for you."I can't help but notice that you had an elaborate, pre-prepared butt-whacking stick all ready to go there," you shout, over the sounds of wheelbarrow-related carnage caused by your chase. "That's not normal."
"You're not normal!" shouts the orc, taking another swing at your butt with his butt-whacking stick.
You think about this as you plough through an orange cart that some old geezer was pushing along a hillside trail for no apparent reason. Oranges go everywhere.
"Do you mean I'm 'not normal' in the sense that you think I'm also the sort of person who keeps a butt-whacking stick on hand, or in the more general sense that we're all unique individuals with our own combinations of quirks and that normalcy itself is an illusion?"
You swerve to avoid a second orange cart. This time, it's the orc who runs into it. More oranges scatter across the hillside.
"Well..." the orc lowers his butt-whacking stick. "Initially I just said it as a reflex--it was intended as a generic insult rather than a rational observation on the situation--but you raise an interesting point. I suppose that being the sort of person who rides a wheelbarrow down a very steep hill at great personal risk just to inflict a poundinating on another person on another wheelbarrow, I'm not really in a position to criticise your life choices. I mean, sure you've stolen a wheelbarrow full of booze from my establishment, but then you're quite right, I've got the whole spiky stick thing going on myself. Neither of us are exactly saints here."
"Yeah," you shout, ignoring the fact that you have also been known to hit people with spiky bits of wood. It's pretty much your go-to solution for everything. "It's amazing what you learn when you just get to know someone."
There is a meaningful pause.
"I'm still going to have to ask you to return what you've stolen," says the orc, "but maybe we could hang out sometime?"
"I'd like that," you say.
Then the front wheel of the orc's wheelbarrow gets stuck in a rabbithole and he goes flying. It would have been just about survivable if he'd hit the ground rolling, but no. It was pretty much headfirst into a rock. His whole body crumples up like an accordion, which would be mildly amusing if this were a cartoon, but it's actually really gruesome, and super depressing because you'd just got to know him. Obviously his life has ended, but what really hits you is that so has any possibility of you becoming friends with him, and that gets you thinking about all his friends and family: all those people whose lives will never be the same.
You're glad you're riding a wheelbarrow full of alcohol because that's the absolute minimum it's going to take for you to get over this.
You also take //THE POUNDINATOR// because that is some nice craftsmanship there.
THE ENDYou dig the toes of both boots into the ground for a fraction of a second, causing the orc to lurch ahead of you just as he's swunging his butt-whacking club. It like, just grazes your left cheek. It's super close and dramatic.
As you start to build up speed again, you pick up a bottle of Horrible Harry's Best Bitter. The orc swings, and you parry, but no! The bottle smashes, leaving just the stubby broken neck in your hand. The orc laughs, raising his club for a butt-mangling blow!
You jab the broken bottle into the side of his wheelbarrow's tyre. It bursts open, causing the whole barrow to topple over and the orc to spin sprawling across the floor.
"Mediocre!!!" you yell, as your one-wheeled booze-ring rolls on victorious.
THE ENDYou dig your heels into the ground, bringing the wheelbarrow to a halt.
"Okay," you say, putting your hands up in front of you. "Things got a little crazy there, so I'm just going to give all this back and be on my way."
The orc doesn't say anything. He just starts beating you with his spiky bit of wood.
It really hurts!
Is...is that what you've been doing to people all these years? Are you really that bad a person?
Wow. All of a suden, you realise that you deserve this. And that realisation is almost as painful as the beating.
THE ENDWeeping uncontrollably, you prepare to heave the entire contents of the wheelbarrow out onto the ground behind you. Sure you'll escape the orc, but at what cost???
Then a bottle of stout tips off the top of the pile, flips once in midair, then jams under the wheel of the orc's barrow. He falls off and probably breaks his arms and legs maybe. You're not really interested.
Looks like there is booze for you after all!
THE END"Oh no!" you say. "Most of my clothes just fell off entirely by accident! Now my rippling muscles are entirely exposed to that big spiky pounding stick and its hunky wielder. This is not at all how I hoped this scenario would progress!"
Ugh. You almost hope he //does// hit you with that big stick because at this point you kind of hate yourself for doing this.
"I hope nobody slathers me in baby oil!" you add. "That's my one weakness or something!"
You mentally erase "kind of" from that last bit of narration, and take solace in the fact that the orcish bartender is still advancing upon you with that club of his.
Unless you're prepared to [[act even kinkier]], you're about to [[get beaten up with a spiky bit of wood]]. It is genuinely difficult to decide which would be worse at this point. Those two options are more or less interchangeable in terms of the pain they'll inflict on you."Okay," you say, hoping you're not going to get stuck with literally the first idea that popped into your head. "Not reacting to all that proves that you are pure of heart and so..." Screw it, you're stuck with that first idea. "And so by the laws of the fairy folk, I may grant you three wishes!"
The orc stops. "What kind of wishes?"
Huh. You didn't really think that would work, so you didn't really think through what kind of wishes you were in a position to promise. You suppose your options basically boil down to [[something easily achievable]] or [[something outlandishly ambitious]]."OH YEAAAAAAH!!!" you yell, momentarily channelling the Kool-Aid Man for some reason. "TAKE THAT BIG SPIKY STICK AND █████ IT ██████████ ████████ ████ MY ███████ ██████████████ █████████ REPEATEDLY ██████ ████ WITH AN ANTIQUE HATSTAND DIPPED IN █████ ████████ ██████████████ █████████ UNLESS IT'S IMPORTED, IN WHICH CASE GRAB ███████ █████ ██████ █████ AND A GARDEN HOSE, ██████████████ ████ ████ ████ █████ DRY ERASE MARKER ████████████████████████████ HIRED BY ██████ ███████████ ███████ ████████ AND ████ ███ ████ ████ █████ THIRTY-ONE BARRELS OF UNDERCOOKED SHRIMP!!!"
You're...you're not sure where that came from. To be honest, it came so far out of left field for you that you're not even sure how to feel about it. It just...was.
The orc with the stick breaks it across his knee and vanishes back into Megalurtz. You hear vomiting from inside. The orc wearing the suit made of boxer shorts just stands there, staring at you, a look of horror frozen on his face.
"I'm...I'm gonna go now," you say, picking up the wheelbarrow full of booze and beginning to cart it back home.
You're very aware of the wheel squeaking as you go.
THE END"Alright," you say, "fine. Just get it over with."
The orc cringes. "Yeah...about that. Before I thought you might just have been acting kinky so that I wouldn't hit you, but now I get the impression that you sincerely want me to."
"Well..." That's a fair assessment of the situation, even if it does also make it sound like something else entirely. "Yeah, essentially. I do."
The orc breathes in through his teeth. "Yeah, yeah. It's just...look, if this is your thing then I completely support...whatever that is. I just don't want to be a part of it myself, yanno?"
"I completely get what you're saying," you explain. "//Completely//. But I'm not actually--"
"I don't need to know the specifics!" The orc waves his hands frantically. "I'm just saying, it's unfair to force this kind of thing on me. This is a place of business and I have a job to do. I'm obliged to be here. Okay?"
"Okay." The orcish bartender carts the wheelbarrow of alcohol back into the bar.
"Wow," says the orc dressed head-to-toe in boxer shorts. "That was really awkward."
THE END"You may wish for anything in the world," you say, waggling your fingers in a mystical manner, "as long as it is...leather underpants."
"Leather underpants?" asks the orc.
"Leather underpants." You nod.
The orc thinks for a bit.
"Yeah," he says at last. "Alright, then."
Great! All you have to do is whip yours off and hand them to the guy, and everything's sorted!
"Ugh!" The orc shields his eyes with his free hand. "If the leather underpants are yours, I think I'll just pummel you with this spiky bit of wood instead."
THE END"You may wish for anything in the world," you say, "for it is within my power to raise a tower to the heavens or to tear the very sun from the sky."
Dude, you can be proper poetic when you want to be.
"I wish for a goat what poops money," says the orc.
"Huh," you say. "You know, I think that's what I would have wished for too."
"I know, right!?"
There is a pause.
"So..." the orc leans on his spiky bit of wood. "Do I get the goat now, or..."
"It'll be here in six to eight weeks," you say.
"Well," you say. "Bye, then."
"Yeah," says the orc, "bye."
THE ENDOkay, something fun...something fun...
Nuts. It seems fun is not your strong suit.
You rack your brains for things people tend to, you know...do...for fun. (But not //that//.)
You suppose you could [[turn this place into a nightclub]]. You've been over to Megalurtz plenty of times. That place is run by orcs: it does alright, and your general thinking is that if orcs have the mental capacity to tackle a job, you can probably do it to. Probably.
But then, you kind of feel as though that a nightclub might end up full of nearly naked people grinding up against each other, and that's disturbingly close to taking you full circle here. You might want to aim to [[turn the dungeon into something more low-key]], like a restaurant. You'd definitely be going for the boring side of fun there, but hey, at least nobody would wave their naked buttocks in your face. Probably.Okay, something boring. Something really boring...
Two main options spring to mind, both pretty much revolving around books. You could [[convert your dungeon into some kind of centre for legal advice on boring legal topics]], or you could [[turn it into a library]].
You hear that condensation is good for books.You decide to make the nightclub dungeon-themed, so that you don't have to rebrand or redecorate or generally make any effort whatsoever.
Woohoo! You're halfway there!
Unfortunately, the other half of the job will involve actually doing something. If you're going to turn this place into a nightclub, you're going to need some music. Two obvious options spring to mind: you can either [[head over to Megalurtz and kidnap some orcs]], because orc music is awesome, or you can [[head over to namby-pamby elf bar Legless]], because although elf music sucks, elves themselves are far less resistant to kidnapping and you're not sure if you can be bothered to put in the effort to get hold of orcs.
They say "Start as you mean to continue." You're just setting yourself a realistic precedent.Okay, right off the bat you have a problem. Literally the only thing you know how to cook is roast boar. And that's not because you've learned to do this one thing really well: you pretty much just get an entire dead boar--guts and all--and chuck it on a fire. The outside goes black, the middle's still raw, but in between those two extremes some of it's pretty alright, you guess. It's good in sandwiches, anyway. Or sometimes when you order takeaway you get extra noodles and mix scraps in with that.
Long story, short, unless you're planning to establish [[Girth Loinhammer's Big Ol' Boar Emporium]], you're going to have to [[come up with something else to serve]].You head over to Megalurtz and burst through the door with a club in one hand and a big sack in the other.
"Geez!" yells an orc wearing a sequined suit. "That guy's planning to kidnap a bunch of orcs!"
Well you don't have to be psychic to work that out.
"He's planning to force them to play music in a restaurant--no, wait, he went with a //nightclub// instead--that he's setting up as an alternative to running a legitimate dungeon that everybody casually mistakes for some kind of kinky dungeon. Except he's a little bit concerned that the potential for there to be nearly naked people grinding up against each other will mean that it's not quite the step in a new direction that he's ideally hoping for."
Okay, that was oddly specific. You might have come here to [[kidnap some orcs]], but you kind of want to [[find out what sequin suit guy's deal is]].You head over to namby-pamby elf bar Legless and...huh. There's nobody here.
That's strange. This place is known for sickly sweet fruity cocktails - the kind that come as a layered assortment of rainbow-coloured liqueurs with a wedge of pineapple on the rim of the glass - and those are known for being irresistible to elves.
...so where are all the elves?
Seriously, it's creepy. The strobe lights are still going, and there's a faint haze of fake fog still hanging over the dancefloor. Did something just move over there??? Oh, man, this is seriously creepy!!!
As namby-pamby as elves might be, their ability to step silently through the trees leaving nary a footprint in the snow suddenly strikes you as being very unsettling. Maybe this whole place is secretly full of elves and you just can't see them because of their elfy wiles! Maybe there's one behind you right now!! Maybe you should hide in that cloakroom wardrobe over there!!!
Ahh, that's better. It's quiet in here. Quiet, and surprisingly spacious. Surprisingly snowy, too.
...is that a lion over there?
Aw, nuts. It totally is. And it's seen you. Well, unless you're going to [[ask the lion if it wants a gig at your new nightclub]], you should probably [[run away from it really fast]].
Bear in mind that one of these options is a legitimate survival strategy, while the other is a well known euphemism for lion-assisted suicide. In this context "a gig at" means "to devour" and "new nightclub" is slang for your skin and vital organs. You're not sure of the etymology involved, but you are crystal clear on the meaning of the phrase."Quiet, you!" you say, and clonk sparkle-orc over the head with your club.
"Burghlurghwas this your card?" he mumbles as you stuff him headfirst into your sack.
A whole bunch of other orcs - conveniently about one band's worth, and conveniently all wearing similarly outlandish clothing - run in to save him, so you clobber them too. Also convenient, this is just about the right number of orcs to drag home in a sack in one go.
"Is...is this part of the act?" asks the bartender, wiping down a glass.
You have no idea what he's on about, so you drag the orcs back to your dungeon and lock them up for the time being. Seriously, not redecorating was a stroke of absolute genius!
Naturally the next thing to get hold of is booze, and lots of it. You could [[set up your own microbrewery]], which would be kind of cool, or you could [[kidnap some dwarven brewers]] because kidnapping already has a pretty good track record."Okay," you say. "That was oddly specific. How do you know exactly what I'm planning to do and why?"
"I'm psychic," says the orc. He gestures to some other similarly oddly dressed orcs standing nearby. "We all are. It's Psychic Night here at Megalurtz."
Okay. That answers that question.
"Yes, it does answer that question," says the orc. "But a much better question would be, 'Do you [[realise you just admitted to planning to kidnap a whole bunch of people]]?'"
Aw, nuts. Though you can't help but [[be more worried that everyone in the room is now aware of your personal concerns]] about nearly naked people grinding up against each other.Beer is essentially just wet barley that's gone off, right? And barley is pretty much the same thing as wheat. Since bread is made of wheat, and wheat is basically barley anyway, you go ahead and stick a big pile of wet bread in the dankest room of your dungeon and leave it there for a few weeks.
You have the best ideas.
Conveniently, a few weeks is also about as long as it takes to master a musical instrument. You think. You go and check on your orcish prisoners.
"We can play 'Twinkle Twinkle.' Sort of," explains the orc in the sequined suit.
You point out that "Twinkle Twinkle" isn't exactly the epic orc metal you had in mind.
"Well what did you expect?" The orc folds his arms. "Your goblins handed us recorders and the illustrated book of...hang on." He stares at you. "Did you really leave a huge pile of wet bread just lying around in a dark room?"
Huh. This guy has a real knack for guessing what you're thinking. On the one hand, you kind of want to [[find out how he does that]], but if anything, the more important question is [[why does he care about the bread]] anyway?You head on over to your local dwarven brewery. There's, like, ten of them within walking distance, and they all do beer at discount prices and each one has a tour where you get to see all the ingredients and hear how everything's made, and all the dwarves have their own neat stories about how they got into the business. You'd think that the really old breweries that have been passed down through the generations would have the most interesting history, but actually it's the teams of guys who started brewing because their mine closed down that have the most to tell you. Plus you know that they built their business. They didn't just inherit it.
That's what your nighclub is going to be like. Someday you'll have an establishment that you're proud to put your name to, and when people ask you about it, you'll have an interesting story of your own. "I kidnapped this bunch of dwarves," you'll say. "Before I came along, they were just running this little brewery in the middle of nowhere, making beer and giving tours. And on the tours they'd give away free beer. You'd get a beer at the beginning to drink as you walked around, and that would be cool, but then they'd give you one at the end as well to cap it all off..."
Huh. Maybe it's just the latent alcoholism, but all of a sudden you kind of feel like blowing off the whole plan to [[found a nightclub by kidnapping dwarves]] and just going on one of those brewery tours instead. Hey, you might even [[go an all the brewery tours]], just because you can. You had a tough morning: you've earned a break if you want it!"How do you keep doing that?" you demand.
"How do you not know this by now???" The orc grabs his own head with both hands, as if it would explode with annoyance otherwise. "I'm psychic. We're all psychic. You decided to burst into Megalurtz on Psychic Night. We shouted that from inside the sack like a hundred times on the way over here."
You point out that people will say anything to get out of a sack. Also, you don't believe him.
"I'm thinking of a number between one and ten..." you begin.
"You're thinking of 'Q,' which is a letter, not a number."
"I knew that," you say. "I was just making sure you were really psychic."
"No you weren't," says the orc.
"How did you know???"
"YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!" screams the orc, as his head really does explode with annoyance.
Also, a gigantic sentient mouldy bread monster bursts into the room and eats everybody.
Turns out that was why the orc cared about the bread. So you found that out after all!
THE END"I'm psychic," says the orc.
Hey! Turns out that's how he does that: you found it out after all.
"For the last couple of weeks," he continues, "I've been picking up some very strange thoughts. Some very strange...bready thoughts. At first, I assumed it was nothing. But knowing that you've attempted to harness yeasty forces man was not meant to tamper with..."
There is an awkward pause. Wait, no! It's not an awkward pause, it's a dramatic pause! Ah, sweet! This never happens to you!
"Are...are you having an inner monologue about my dramatic pause?"
And just like that it's awkward again. Which is a shame, because that dramatic pause made you feel all tingly and...
"Bread golem!" the orc breaks in. "Your pitiful attempt to brew craft beer has formed a bread golem, and it's...ah. It's just about to pop through that door."
"What?" you say.
"GRAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS!" groans the bread golem, as it pops through that door.
"Listen carefully!" hisses the orc. "We must act with great care and use all our cunning. The bread golem's one weakness is--"
"Hey, bread golem!" you yell, launching a fist at its lumpy, mouldy face. "Have a knuckle sandwich!"
Your fist connects, and the bread golem explodes into a cloud of pigeon feathers.
"Bread-related puns," says the orc. "Its weakness is bread-related puns."
Since you've got no music to speak of and no booze at all, you give up on the whole nightclub idea. Instead, you and the psychic orcs team up to form a kind of pest control organisation dedicated to clearing dungeons of bread golems and other bakery-related monsters.
**Who you gonna call? TOAST BUSTERS!**
(Usually just reciting your catchprase is enough to send the golems packing, so it's easy money really.)
THE ENDThe dwarf kidnapping idea goes great. You knew you'd just be able to wander in and stuff some dwarves in a sack - because they're small and all - but what you didn't know is that dwarves are stackable. You fit a neat dwarf stack in your sack!
The only problem is that dwarves come in sevens, which means two neat stacks of three and one rattling around on top. Whoever came up with dwarves must not have thought that through.
The dwarf microbrewery idea goes great too. It turns out that the guys you kidnapped were struggling for space at their current brewery and were thinking about moving somewhere bigger. Your dungeon has tons of space and, as an added bonus, it's basically all cellar anyway. The dwarves pretty quickly come around to the idea of working down here, though the guy who was rattling around loose in the sack all the way takes a bit more persuading than the others.
Despite insisting that they're not musicians, the orcs do okay. Orcish music consists largely of bashing stuff with other stuff, which means the bar is set pretty low, though you are genuinely impressed by that one guy's recorder solo.
Anyway. Before too long, you've shrugged off your dungeon's old reputation and got a thriving nightclub of your very own!
But it's still full of nearly naked people grinding up against each other.
You hate it.
THE ENDYou go on //all// the brewery tours.
And you know what? This - //this// - was what you needed. Just a chance to get away from it all and really enjoy life. You visit a bunch of different breweries, and you see all the ingredients, and all the dwarves have their own stories about how...
Okay, you covered that already. However, what you didn't cover was that once you go to a few of these places - once you're part of the //in// crowd - it all takes on a whole new significance. You start to see the same people again and again. You realise that you're walking the same roads, tasting the same ales. You find out about other breweries in other places, far beyond the beaten track, and it's the people you meet - not the breweries themselves - that lead you on to new experiences and new adventures.
By the time you begin to head back to your dungeon, relaxed and carefree, with all the unpleasantness cleared out of your head, you can't remember why you ever...ah.
You locked a bunch of orcs in a cage just before you left. How long has that been? Six...no. Seven weeks. It's been seven weeks.
Yep, those orcs are dead.
THE END"Hey," you say. "I never said you were right about what I was planning. I just said that the accusation was oddly specific."
"Well," says the orc with all the sequins, "you did burst in here with a club and a big sack. Frankly, you don't have to be psychic to work it out."
Ah. Yeah. You forgot about that.
"Okay," you say. "I'll admit it looks bad, but at this point you still can't actually prove I was planning to [[use the club and big sack to kidnap orcs]]. I might have a club and a big sack for [[any number of other reasons]].""I didn't expect you to be more worried that your personal concerns would be more of an issue for you than, you know, the whole kidnapping accusation," says the orc. "But since apparently it is, let's just roll with it."
Suddenly, all the orcish psychics remove the majority of their clothing and start grinding up against each other.
This is an unwelcome development.
The obvious thing to do would be to [[run out of the room blubbering]], but actually, on one level, this whole situation isn't quite as distressing to you when [[you know it's being done specifically to get at you]].The orc raises an eyebrow.
You decide to wait for a minute like you expect him to say something. You figure that'll buy you some time to come up with an explanation as to why you burst into a room full of orcs with a club and a big sack that doesn't involve clubbing orcs and stuffing them into a big sack.
"I'm not going to say something," says the orc, "I really am just waiting to hear an explanation as to why you burst into a room full of orcs with a club and a big sack that doesn't involve clubbing orcs and stuffing them into a big sack."
Oh. Right. Psychic.
"Allow me to demonstrate," you say.
You stick the sack over your head, because it's the only thing you can think of doing with the sack that doesn't involve filling it with orcs.
"Okay," says the orc. "And what were you going to do with the club?"
Ah. He's got you there. There's only one person here you could possibly use the club on who isn't an orc.
But then inspiration strikes: "Maybe I thought there was a piñata in here!"
The orc grabs the club off you.
"Maybe there is..."
THE ENDThe orc raises an eyebrow.
"Okay, you know what?" You walk right up to him. "Fine. I did bring a club and big sack so that I could kidnap some orcs. You got me. But you know what else? I brought a club and big sack, so I'm going to kidnap some orcs!"
And that's what you do.
However, you got so sidetracked just then that you no longer have any idea what the plan was for those orcs. Something to do with a restaurant?
You sell the whole sack full of orcs to a tribe of cannibals on an island somewhere and use the money to order pizza.
THE ENDYou run out of the room blubbering.
It's super embarrassing, and initially you can't face the thought of ever going back - which sucks because Megalurtz was your drinking establishment of choice up until this point - but thinking about it, going back is probably the obvious answer. It won't be Psychic Night tomorrow, and since you'd already fled the scene while wailing loudly by the time you thought of that, the psychics don't know that you thought it. There's absolutely nothing to stop you coming back to kidnap some orcs some other day! That does cheer you up a bit...
Unfortunately, there's also absolutely nothing to stop today have been a massive, soul-destroying waste of time.
And now you're sad again.
THE END"You know," you say, squinting distainfully at the...throbbing...accumulation...of orcish psychics, "this would bother me a lot more if it wasn't being done specifically to get at me."
Or if there were more orcs involved, you think to yourself.
"More orcs!" shouts the orc with the...well, he used to have a sequin-covered suit. Now he just has hair-covered nipples.
"Is that //really// necessary?" sighs the bartender, obviously not into the whole thing.
"Do you want this guy to clear off or not?" the orc with the hair-covered nipples yells back.
"Alright." The bartender pulls off his shirt and signals for everybody else to do the same. "Let's get this over with..."
Suddenly, the entire population of the room is nearly naked and grinding up against each other.
The actual display doesnt't bother you as much as it would ordinarily, since you know it's being done specifically to get at you. However, the knowledge that literally everybody here is doing it specifically to get at you really does bother you quite a bit.
You quietly slip away, trying to ignore the resounding "Wahey!" of triumph that escapes Megalurtz just as you close the door.
THE ENDYou ask the lion if it wants a gig at your new nightclub. Goodbye, cruel world!
The lion asks to clarify what you mean by that. If you're literally inviting it to perform as a musician, then you should know that it can't sing and doesn't have the opposable thumbs necessary to play guitar (or any of the less popular instruments). However, if by "gig" you're referring to a broader range of employment opportunities, then you should also know that this particular lion mixes an especially sweet fruity cocktail.
You explain that it was intended as a broader question. It wasn't. It really wasn't. Still, you explain that anyway.
"Great!" says the lion. "The name's Alsan, by the way." He extends a paw.
You shake it. You can't tell if Alsan's handshake is kind of camp, or if it's just because he doesn't have any thumbs. Because of that, you're not entirely sure whether you want to [[hire this guy]] or [[not hire this guy]].
That's right. You'll happily take him at his word about the cocktails thing //and// happily reject him based on a handshake. That's just the kind of snap decision a shrewd businessman like you can make.You can't remember if the advice for dealing with lions is to stand your ground and make loud noises or to back away calmly and quietly.
You compromise by yelling incoherently and flapping your arms while getting progressively more and more lost in this magical snowy closet forest.
It must be working, because instead of following you the lion rolls its eyes and wanders off in the other direction. Win!
You stop yelling, flapping and running when you come to a sinister looking ice castle. It's obviously super enchanted and super evil. You actually feel as though [[this might be a neat place to settle down]], though all the business advice you've heard suggests to [[not just go for the first property you see]].You know what? It would be unfair to discriminate against this guy just based on not having any thumbs (though you would have been entirely happy to discriminate against him based on a camp handshake), so you welcome him aboard.
Alsan is thrilled! He immediately shares the good news with his partner, Unicornelius. They share a passionate yet deeply professional hug.
How great is that? Not only have you got Alsan on board, but he's got business contacts already.
Then Alsan thinks of something.
"Is this one of those 'work from home' kind of deals?" he asks. He explains that he's become quite...comfortable...here, and he's not quite sure he's ready to...come out of the closet."
It turns out that Alsan is agoraphobic.
It's okay, though. He should feel right at home within the confines of your dungeon. You explain that while there's no way he could mix drinks for your nightclub while staying here, he'll find a warm welcome at your establishment and everyone will be very supportive. If they aren't, you'll //persuade// them. You're nice like that.
Alsan is convincned. He asks if you [[want Unicornelius to take care of the music]], since although your original question wasn't specifically gig-related in the sense that you were looking for performers, he assumes that is also one of your broader employment concerns.
It was--that was actually why you came here--but you're [[not sure you want Unicornelius in charge of the music]]. You can't help but notice that he doesn't have thumbs either, and although you've already established that it would be unfair to discriminate him on those grounds, you've also already established that it would likely prevent him from playing guitar."Yeah..." you say. "Though I was asking in a broader, more general sense, I'm not sure I've got a position for you after all."
"Based on what?" demands Alsan. "A handshake? Is this because I don't have any thumbs?"
"I think it is!" cries a unicorn you totally didn't notice was here until just now. I mean, a white unicorn on a snowy background. Dude should wear a bell or something.
Alsan and the unicorn look at one another.
"Let's get him!" they yell in unicornison.
"Pssst!" comes a voice from a door in a tree nearby. "In here! Quickly!"
Under the present circumstances, it would seem wise to [[take refuge with this stranger]]. However, given your track record when it comes to random fantasy weirdos, you might genuinely be better off trying to [[outrun the lion and the unicorn]].It turns out that unicorn horns possess three miraculous powers. The first is the ability to glow. The second is to point towards the nearest rainbow.
It strikes you that neither of these things are as miraculous as Unicornelius claims. A glowstick, for example, could be used for both, and since you are now running a nightclub glowsticks are readily available. In this respect, having a unicorn horn in a nightclub is a little like having a hammer in a brick factory: stylish and functional, but ultimately not all that useful.
However, the third miraculous power of the unicorn horn is the ability to play rave music and that proves to be something of a cornerstone of your business.
Between the two of them Alsan and Unicornelius pretty much have your whole nightclub scheme sorted. The lion is fantastic at mixing drinks--for some reason the lack of thumbs doesn't seem to hold him back at all--and the unicorn plays rave music. It might be good rave music, it might not. To you it all just sounds like someone frantically piping high-pitched goblin farts through a megaphone.
Anyway, you've either managed to convert your dungeon into a successful business, or you've conclusively demonstrated that you were the problem all along and what you needed to do was quietly step back and let someone else fix your countless mistakes.
If anyone asks, it was the first one.
THE ENDYou explain that it's not that sort of nightclub.
"The sort that has //music//?"
You struggle to think up any kind of alternative explanation for what you just said.
You couldn't think of anything.
"Well," says Unicornelius, "I guess I'll just help with the drinks, then."
The three of you return to your "nightclub," which you specifically didn't bother to redecorate, and sit in silence. Nobody comes. You, Alsan and Unicornelius end up getting sad-drunk in the Throne Room day after day. It's super depressing.
Not only are you essentially no better off than you were before, you have ruined the lives of two beautiful creatures.
THE ENDYou jump inside and slam the door behind you, leaning against it as you regain your breath.
Then a unicorn horn punches through the wood //just// to the left of your crotch, and you decide to lean somewhere else. You take a look about the room.
The guy who psssted at you is here. You examine him head to toe, and conclude that he's a fairly ordinaryaaand dude's got goat legs. You really should have got as far as "toe" before you started drawing conclusions there.
The guy is half man, half goat. You kind of hope that's the result of some sort of industrial accident, because none of the alternatves are any less distressing.
"I'm Mr. Thumbnus!" says the man-goat, holding up his hands which you now see have thumbs instead of fingers. You really aren't all that observant, are you? "Watch me play this wicked guitar solo!"
Mr. Thumbnus proceeds to play an epic guitar solo, and he's got one of those weird two-necked guitars so its epicness is doubled. Even you can't fail to notice just how epic it is, so you offer him a job at your new nightclub. He immediately accepts.
Mr. Thumbnus pretty much single-handedly keeps your nightclub running by virtue of the extreme epicness of his guitar solos. It's a good thing, too, because everything you're in charge of turns out to be unrelentingly terrible.
THE ENDYou know how when you're //really// scared you can get a burst of adrenaline that lets you perform physical feats that you would never otherwise have been capable of?
And you know how when a lion jumps on a unicorn's back and rides it like a jockey, the high-frequency lion rays emanating from its mane interact with quantum-enchanted amino acids in the unicorn's bloodstream, converting them into potent, speed-enhancing unicorn steroids?
Well, you didn't, but also that.
Long story short, Alsan gets a gig at your new nightclub after all.
THE ENDYou ease open the door of the ice castle and step inside.
It's nice. Sparsely decorated, but you gather that's very "in" right now, and it's nice that the current resident didn't just leave a bunch of clutter lying around: that always makes the rooms look smaller, and it never shows the property as a whole at its best.
Also, since you're planning to forcibly take over the thing, it would have meant that you'd have to chuck tons of someone else's stuff out the windows. That's always a pain.
"Who goes there?" demands a bossy-sounding woman hiding behind the sofa. You can't help but notice that she's wearing a fairly ostentatious fur cloak, and a crown in the same minimalist yet evil style as the ice castle. "Are you a small child who came through the wardrobe? I know the prophecies! And I'm not having any small children usurpring my throne!"
You can't help but feel as though there should be [[an obvious way of keeping small children out of a wardrobe world]], but at the same time, you're not really sure that's your problem to solve. You could just as easily [[terrify this woman out of her ice castle]] by claiming to be a small child yourself.You keep trudging through the snow--wow do you wish you'd worn something warmer than leather underpants and spiky chest straps--keeping an eye out for any other promising looking buildings to take over for your own ends.
You're not sure when your quest stopped being nightclub-related and started being a property hunt, but you think it might have been the point at which you became concerned that invisible elves might pop out at you at any moment.
Okay, apparently the barrage of elves is not materialising just at the moment. But as you've already established, they can leave nary a footprint in the snow, so this does seem like ideal ambush territory for elves.
You spot [[a beaver dam]] nearby. It's definitely not as nice as the sinister-looking ice castle, but at that point it's that or [[keep trudging aimlessly through the snow]]."I came through the wardrobe," you explain, "but as you can clearly see, I am not a small child."
"Alright..." she looks you up and down. "That would appear to check out. And as the saying goes, if you are not against me, you are with me!"
You're not sure that's how the saying goes, but the way she said it seems to work in your favour, so you don't draw attention to it.
"So...are you here to help, then?"
"Yeah," you say. "Actually, if you want to stop small children getting through that wardrobe, have you considered just boarding it up?"
"What?" demands the woman in the cloak and crown. "How would that work?"
"Well," you say, "what do you expect to find at the back of an ordinary wardrobe? Boards. What do you find at the back of a boarded-up magical wardrobe? Boards."
The woman stares at you.
You bump your hands together repeatedly, palms up, in a "These two things obviously go together" gesture.
"Okay, yeah," she says, after you've been doing it for a minute or two. "Actually, that does make sense. Wait here, I'm going to get some boards."
You wait until just after she leaves, then slam and bolt the door.
Well, that was incredibly easy. Screw the nightclub idea, you've got an evil ice castle!
THE ENDYou're not entirely sure why this chick is so afraid of small children, but you're not one to pass up an opportunity like this.
"I am a terrifying small child," you say, wobbling your hands in a fashion that might admittedly be better suited to a ghost than a small child, but is surely terrifying nonetheless. "I come from the scaaaaaaaaary wardrobe and I intend to usurp your throne!"
"I knew it!" screeches the woman behind the sofa, whipping out a wand. "KA-FREEZE RAY!"
Aw, nuts. Now you're a statue.
Well, you suppose it was unavoidable. How could you have known that the woman with the crown living in the evil-looking ice castle in the frozen woodland through the back of a magical closet was actually a powerful sorceress?
THE ENDYou open the door of the beaver dam and step inside.
You are immediately greeted by Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who are as kind and generous as they are unimaginatively named. They make you tea and pancakes and Mrs. Beaver knits you a bobble had and a monogrammed pair of mittens.
It's unbelievably cutesy in here.
You hate it.
THE ENDYou keep trudging aimlessly through the snow, but don't find any other residential properties to conquer.
You can't remember what the advice is regarding hypothermia, so you sit down by a handy hedge maze and go to sleep. You freeze to death, but in doing so you definitely stop losing body heat, so you're going to assume you picked the right thing to do.
A black and white photograph later reveals that you were present at the July 6th Ball in 1921.
You're annoyed not only because you are now dead, but also because this reference feels like an extremely poor match for the events of the last several hours.
THE ENDWell, okay then. //Girth Loinhammer's Big Ol' Boar Emporium// it is.
You go out and get a decent number of boar carcasses. Don't ask where. The point is, you get an absolute ton of them because a lot of that meat's either going to turn completely black or become infused with entrail juice when you cook it.
Seriously, if you like boar sandwiches, don't ask how they're made.
Even more seriously, you're still not entirely sure this is a good idea. You feel as though the sensible thing to do would be to [[at least learn to cook boar properly]], though the easy thing to do would definitely be to [[hire some kind of clown to distract everybody from how terrible the food is]].Okay. If you're going to learn how to cook yourself, you should probably pick something really simple. Something even simpler than taking a dead pig and throwing it onto a fire. Something like...[[soup]]?
Alternatively, if you're going to hire someone to do it for you, then you might as well hire the [[fanciest, snootiest chef]] you can think of.
And when you say "hire," you of course mean "enslave."You know what? Considering that you live in an area where basically every tavern includes a boar roasting on a spit, you'ru surprisingly stuck for ideas on who to go to for advice on cooking one yourself.
You expect King Stephen, ruler of the land, must have [[some kind of fancypants royal cook]] who would be happy to drop everything and advise you. Alternatively, the library is closer. You could simply [[get hold of a cookbook]] and get one of your goblins to read it for you.You hire the face-paintedest, red-and-yellowest, everybody-floats-down-hereiest clown you can find.
Yep. That sure is distracting.
While the dozens and dozens of boars are cooking in one big fire, you give some thought as to how this place should be furnished. On the one hand, you feel as though you should just [[get a bunch of chairs and tables bolted to the floor]], because the less people like it here, the sooner they'll leave, and the sooner some new people will come in and buy boar sandwiches from you. That makes perfect business sense.
However, you also want to avoid people associating boar burgers with boredom, so it might be good to [[make the furnishings fun]]. Maybe some kind of deathtrap gauntlet. You know. For the kids.Yeah...you're not entirely sure if you went for the boring side of fun here, or the fun side of boring. Your dubious-meat-wedged-between-bread restaurant is a monument to cold, corporate efficiency. Even Farthingwit the clown seems kind of down about the whole thing. Since you got those bolt-down chairs and tables, he's pretty much just been huddled in that drain down by the counter, clutching his single red balloon.
It's still pretty distracting, so you haven't called him out on it, but it's also pretty depressing too. You hope the depressingness of the whole thing makes it extra distracting, because you're pretty sure your multi-boar bonfire isn't producing meat of the same standard you're used to eating yourself.
Seriously. Most of the boar carcasses are getting kind of burnt by the time your first customer arrives. Except he's not a customer, he's the health inspector!
You suppose you could just [[give him one of your boar sandwiches]]. Worst case scenario: it kills him dead, in which case problem solved. However, you could [[try to bribe the health inspector]] instead: if a clean record brings in even one customer, then you'll have had a customer. And that's pretty much the goal here.You set up a modest deathtrap gauntlet.
In terms of difficulty and probability of limb loss, it's somewhere between a toddlers' soft-play area and a workplace team-building obstacle course. You figure that's a fair assessment of your deathtrap gauntlet. You know, if you assume that the workplace is the searing pit of Hell, and that the toddlers are possessed by blood demons from a mirror world where "soft" means "razor-sharp and dipped in manticore venom."
It's suitable for a range of abilities, is the point.
It actually looks kind of fun! You should probably [[chuck some goblins into it as a trial run]], but at the same time, you kind of want to [[try out the deathtrap gauntlet for yourself]].You reach deep into the pile of flaming boar carcasses (though not so deep that you start hitting completely raw ones) and grab some random strings of meat with your unwashed hand.
"Here you go," you say, slapping the random boar meat onto a stale bit of bread, and another stale bit of bread onto the random boar meat.
"Thanks?" says the health inspector. There's a definite upward inflection at the end of the word, like he's not sure he really want so be thanking you?
Aw, nuts. Now you're doing it too?
Anyway, the health inspector takes a bite of the sandwich, swallows it, then sets the rest down on the counter.
"Yeah," he says, "fine. You pass. Whatever."
"Really?" You can't help but be a little surprised by this.
"Yeah, well. We live in a generic Medieval-type society, so 99% of the population are dirt-poor farmers eating raw turnip tops, and most people don't live past thirty anyway, so my job is really just to ensure that food vendors meet our absolutely minimal standards. If this stuff isn't immediately fatal to me, I'm sure it's fine."
Alright! You've stumbled into a career where the bar is so low you pretty much can't fail even when you're more or less trying to.
And really, isn't that all you ever wanted?
THE END"Hey, man," you begin, putting an arm around the health inspector's shoulders. "I just want you to know that I'm a huge fan of your work. You're more than welcome to eat here for free. You know. As long as I'm in business. Wink wink."
"Yeah, alright then," says the health inspector.
"Wait what?" That was suspiciously easy.
He shrugs. "Well, my job is pretty much just to ensure that food vendors meet absolutely minimal standards. If you think your food is good enough to bribe me with, then almost by definition, that's good enough for me."
You can't help but feel this means that it's you evaluating the quality of the food rather than the health inspector, but since this oversight appears to work in your favour, you just don't say anything about it.
THE ENDYou underarm-throw a handful of flailing goblins into the deathtrap gauntlet aaaaand...oh.
Oh no no no.
Wow. That is a //lot// of splatter.
You expected that to an extent--at least from the mechanised flails and the pressure-activated mashers and the finish line ribbon that's actually two strands of taut piano wire with tissue paper glued between them--but you did not anticipate the collateral damage. Turns out that once the conveyor belts are slick with goblin blood, it becomes surprisingly easy for the next guy in line to slide off the gauntlet itself and into the whirling chasm of cogs and gears directly underneath it. And if a goblin pelvis gets lodged in the machinery in just the right way, the swinging glaives tend to separate from their crankshaft and fly off violently in all directions.
Still, you suppose that's why you went for a trial run in the first place.
You get one of the surviving goblins--by which you mean one of the goblins you didn't throw into your gauntlet--to set up a warning sign just in front of the machine:
**//ONE AT A TIME PLEASE
AGES 3 AND UP//**
THE ENDYou don't like to brag, but you're pretty good at the whole deathtrap gauntlet thing.
Actually, you do like to brag. You're super awesome at the whole deathtrap gauntlet thing. You don't get to be a Dungeon Lord without learning a thing or two about big spiky bits of metal and how not to get hit by them.
You're practically Indiana Jones. You definitely have enough whips, anyway.
You finish the deathtrap gauntlet to thunderous applause. It turns out that your boar sandwich restaurant attracted quite a few customers while you were otherwise occupied, and they're really impressed by your performance. They throw money. It's awesome!
Nobody's that keen on your unidentifiable over/under-cooked boar bits, but you get the goblins to keep churning them out while you go through the gauntlet again and again for your screaming fans.
Best idea ever.
THE ENDYou head down the road to King Stephen's castle.
It's actually quite a way, if you're honest. Not only would the library have been closer, there must have been any number of people along the way who could have told you how to roast a boar properly. Or at least better. You know for sure that there's one roasting in just about every tavern, and you're already aware that just leaving all the guts and junk in the carcass and shoving it on a fire isn't the right way to go about it, so even if there weren't countless easier ways of getting the information you're looking for, you could probably improve your boar cooking technique just by trying to shed the bad habits you're already aware of.
But hey, you're here now.
You hammer on the door of what you're pretty sure is King Stephen's private kitchen.
A guard opens it just a crack. "Who goes there?" he demands.
"Hi," you say. "The name's Girth Loinhammer. I'm looking for cooking advice from King Stephen's personal chef. I'm sure he'd be happy to help me out, and if he's not then I'm planning to coerce him into doing it anyway. Can I come in?"
The guard thinks for a bit.
"Yeah, whatever." He opens the door all the way. "I'm trying to get fired."
"Thanks," you say. You're sure this guy must have some kind of amazing backstory, and it's a weird coincidence that he happened to be on duty just when you came here with your crazy request, but [[you've got cooking advice to obtain]].
Unless you want to take advantage of the abnormally lax security and simply [[kidnap King Stephen's personal chef]]. You know what they say: teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime, force a man to fish and he'll feed you for a lifetime.You head over to the library, not 100% sure that it's open today. Or at this time. You live way out in the sticks so the opening times are like, Monday and Tuesday from 10am to 2pm, then Thursday at 2pm to 4pm and the same time every other Wednesday in any month in which there are five Wednesdays.
Obviously those made-up times are just examples, but you are confident that the real, not made-up times are similarly difficult to remember. Frankly, you're lucky they keep the library open at all.
Unless they don't.
The windows are dim. The door hangs ajar.
You're not sure if this place is closed, abandoned, or possessed as a result of being built on an ancient elvish burial ground.
You could [[call out to check]], or you could [[sneak inside to try and find your book]]."Hey," you say to King Stephen's personal chef. "I want some advice on how to roast a boar."
"Don't leave the guts in when you cook it, and don't just chuck it on a fire," says the chef, not looking up from the soup he's stirring. "You need to put it on a spit and keep turning it, like in all those taverns."
"Thanks," you say.
Your boar sandwiches go down exactly as well as the boar sandwiches in every tavern everywhere, because they are much the same.
THE END"A guy who's about to have a sack pulled over his head says what?"
"What?" asks King Stephen's personal chef, as you knock him out with a large iron ladle.
See, that //sounds// like you weren't set up for your own joke, but actually it was a cunning plan to divert your victim's attention from your true intentions. You're so smart.
Anyway, instead of bringing convenient, weightless information home with you, you drag King Stephen's morbidly obese personal chef all the way back to your dungeon.
"Make me boar sandwiches for free forever!" you demand, the moment he regains consciousness.
"No," says King Stephen's personal chef.
Aw, nuts. You didn't think this far ahead.
THE END"Hello?" you call.
You are startled--and deafened--to discover that not only is the library open, there is a librarian at a desk just inside the door.
"Sorry!" you yelp, except you totally didn't do that because you are Girth Loinhammer, Dungeon Lord, and you have no fear of librarians. In fact, you begin to speak in a lower voice so that she will not be afraid of //you//. "I'm looking for a cookbook," you explain.
The librarian stands up, takes a book off a shelf that's embarra