Author Topic: Fortnightly Writing Competition: Choose Your Own Adventure (Results)  (Read 4462 times)

Sinitrena

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Choose Your Own Adventure!

We‘re a forum focused on adventure games and we never had this topic? We need to change that!



So, what is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story?

This is a story where the reader is asked to make choices on how the story is supposed to continue and is then send to different pages of the story. That can mean he or she takes the role of a character (the story might be told in second person) and decides things like “Do you go left or do you go right?” It could also mean he or she decides in a more general sense (“Does the avalanche kill the characters or do they survive?”) or randomness is introduced and the reader decides by – for example – throwing a dice (“Roll a dice, on a 1-5 go to page 7, while on a 6 go to page 19.”) A variant is a story that asks facts about itself, for example: “What did Timmy see to make him realize who the thief is? a tire (page 3), a coin (page 1), a dog (page 23).”

Now, that sounds a lot like a text adventure, doesn't it? Well, it basically is, with the difference that in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story the narrative element should play a larger role than the gameplay element. Endless descriptions of what a room looks like and what inventory items the player can gather or how many exits there are for him or her to leave through make sense in a game, but not so much in a story. There is, obviously, a large amount of overlap, but for this competition narrative, plot and story elements should be on the forefront of your writing intentions. Every new paragraph should advance the story in some way.

That being said, gameplay elements are allowed, including dice-roles or the creation of a character with some kinds of stats, but no outside rule-sets. Requiring the reader to have a dice ready is fine, requiring him or her to own a copy of an AD&D rule book is not. The story is supposed to stand on its own and you need to explain all gameplay elements in the text somehow.

As for the length of this, I think to properly show your ability to write a branching story, the reader should make at least two choices. Two different choices at two points in the story can lead to the same paragraph, but I want to see at least some branching.

I highly recommend not waiting and posting the whole story at once but in paragraphs in different posts (I hope the moderators don't mind!) because it makes it easier to send the reader around (use links) and because this topic requires slightly longer entries over all than usual and might seem a bit overwhelming otherwise.

The story does not have to start at the beginning or have to come to a proper ending. It might come to an end in one branch but not in another, but every choice you give the reader does require the proper answering paragraph. (Does this make sense?)

As always, you have two weeks to come up with entries, but extensions are likely to be granted, especially for a topic like that. Official deadline: 18. February 2019 (extended 24. February!)
« Last Edit: 04 Mar 2019, 16:49 by Sinitrena »

Frodo

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This sounds interesting.   :cheesy:
It's been a while since I've entered a FTW, so let's give this a try.   :smiley:


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

THE CURIOUS CASE OF ANASTASIA CASTELLANOS

Somewhere in Ancient Greece, a fierce storm breaks over the misty moors…

A teenage girl runs through the moors… terrified… fleeing for her life.

She pants heavily, exhausted from running. But she can't stop.  She HAS to keep running. 

Her dark hair glistens in the rain. She's soaked through - the thin cape she's wearing over her embroidered silk dress offers little protection from the fierce storm.

She pauses for a moment. She looks at the ring she's wearing, and kisses it, then looks up at the dark sky.


GIRL: Osiris, I beseech thee… *pant pant* Please, hear my…


Voices are heard in the distance.


ADAMO: She MUST have come this way. She can't be too far ahead.

FABRIZIO: She can't escape!

ENZIO: She WON'T escape! If she does, we're all doomed.

MARCO: Not if we stop her. COME ON!


The girl glances back and sees fire from torches in the distance. The mob are gaining on her. She's terrified! But she can't let them catch her! She turns to flee again, but trips in the slippery mud. Frantically, she scrambles to her feet again. 




Will she escape?
Go HERE


Will the mob catch her?
Go HERE

« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 01:37 by Frodo »

JudasFm

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Oh, now THIS is a great idea! I love interactive contests even more than regular ones :D

EDIT: However, sadly The Squid and I ran out of time even with the extension, so I'll be withdrawing my entry :(
« Last Edit: 20 Feb 2019, 15:59 by JudasFm »

Frodo

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The next day, Gunthar arrives early at the library. The book has been on his mind all night. He takes it from the library shelf again, and flicks through to the right page. Yep, that picture is definitely Ana. But how is that possible? He intends to find out!

He takes the book, and makes his way up to the cliff edge, where he knows Ana likes to go. Sure enough, she's standing on the edge, looking out across the water.


GUNTHAR: YOU THERE!


Ana turns round, and sees Gunthar approaching her. And he seems even grumpier than usual.


ANA: Um… hello Gunthar.

GUNTHAR: *grabs her*  Don't ‘Hello' me. I want to know how you did it!

ANA: *puzzled* How I did what?

GUNTHAR: I know your secret! LOOK! *thrusts the open book at her* This is YOU in that painting, isn't it?


Ana gulps, and turns pale.


ANA: Don't be silly Gunthar. How can that be me? I'm only 18 years old. That painting was done in, when… *checks the date in the book* the 16th century?

GUNTHAR: You can't fool me, you know. I'm not stupid! I found this book when I was researching for MY book on local history. And THIS is what I found!  It's YOU in that painting, isn't it?  ISN'T IT!!!

ANA: *getting very nervous* That's not me, Gunthar. How can I make you believe me?

GUNTHAR: Then explain how she's the SPITTING IMAGE of you?

ANA: I don't' know. An ancestor, maybe? But come on, think about what you're saying.

GUNTHAR: Tell me the truth.  ADMIT IT! 


ANA: Gunthar, please?


Gunthar looms over her in a very threatening manner.




Will Ana deny that it's her painting in the book?
Go HERE


Will she confess all?
Go HERE

« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 21:17 by Frodo »

Baron

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        Suddenly you are in some kind of under sea vehicle, and it is in desperately bad repair!  You struggle with the exit hatch, but the water pressure on the other side is too great for you to budge it.  Water sprays in through the joints in the walls, rising remorselessly in a frothy churn now reaching your waist.  There is not enough time.  You splash about, frantically searching for the talisman in the debris that litters the floor, but it does not want to be found.
 
        Then there is a steady tapping on the portal glass.  You turn, a sense of dread bubbling up faster even than the frigid water.  There is Katarina, blonde hair floating in whimsical tendrils in the ocean current, smiling serenely back at you through the glass.  You move to the tiny window and pound on it, the water already at your chest.  Katarina puts her hand up against the other side of the glass, revealing the golden chain snaking through her fingers and the jade talisman tangling teasingly below.  She tilts her head to the side, staring passively at your predicament.

You have just moments to process the full implications of this betrayal before you are submerged beneath the icy brine and are seized by the panicked throes of instinct.

You are dead
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 03:54 by Baron »

Nice theme. I think I would use nested spoiler tags with different options in. Is that allowed, rather than hyperlinks?

Sinitrena

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So many entries already  ;-D Keep them coming!

Nice theme. I think I would use nested spoiler tags with different options in. Is that allowed, rather than hyperlinks?
Of course it's allowed. I just thought different posts would be easiest to navigate.

Frodo

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The girl closes her eyes for a moment, trying to make sense of the last 24 hours.  Why are these people hunting her?  She's a Royal Princess, after all.  Everyone loves her… don't they?  Her parents died when she was very young, and she's been raised by her Royal Advisor, who acted as Steward to the throne until Anastasia‘s 18th birthday, when she will inherit the throne.  Despite having no parents, she's led a privileged life until now. 

But that was before her trusted Royal Advisor told her about the curse - that when the first-born daughter of royal blood reaches her 18th birthday and inherits the throne, a curse would be unleashed, bring death and disease to Greece.  Then he betrayed her, and dragged her out to the mob. 

She doesn't believe in the curse, of course, but this is a small town, and superstition gives way to paranoia and fear.   



Voices from behind…


DARIO:   *calls out*   Oh, Prin…cess.   *whistles*   Here Princess, princess, princess. 

ENZIO:  She's not a dog, Dario.  She won't come just cos you call her. 

DARIO: Well what do you suggest then?  She turns 18 tomorrow.  And you KNOW what that means!   

ADAMO:  The curse!  She'll invoke the curse!  And then, we're ALL doomed! 

MATTIA:    Princess Anastasia CANNOT reach her 18th birthday.  COME ON!  LET'S STOP HER! 


Anastasia starts running through the moors again.  She's exhausted, but she MUST keep going if she wants to survive.   

She jumps, as a crash of thunder beats down.  Then a flash of lightning lights up the dark sky, revealing the edge of the moors, giving way to a sharp drop.  She can hear the crash of waves far below her.  There's nowhere for her to run. 

Minutes later, the angry mob catch up to Princess Anastasia.  She's kneeling in the muddy grass, holding her ring up to the sky, praying to her god, Osiris. 




ANASTASIA: Osiris, won't you hear my prayer?  Osiris, take me far from here.   *pause*   OSIRIS!  OSIRIS!  HEAR MY PLEA!  OBEY ME! 

FABRIZIO:   *catches up to her*   Osiris won't save you now, Princess! 


The mob close in on her.  Her screams as they begin to beat her and kick her, remain ignored.  Then she feels a sharp pain as a blade cuts into her.  She feels herself growing colder, as a pool of blood gathers around her.  Minutes pass, but it feels like ours.  Then her screams fall silent.  She's gone. 


LORANZO:   *to the mob*   We stopped the curse!  We won!  HURRAY! 

MOB:  HURRAY!   *cheers


Satisfied their work is done, the mob gradually disperse, going back to their own lives, leaving the body of their forsaken Princess lying on the moors, for everyone to see.   

The End.

« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 21:17 by Frodo »

WHAM

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I need to do a bit of escapism, and spending a night or two forcing myself to do some creative writing seems like a solid option.
I'll start work on something tonight.

Is it acceptable to store the story and its elements off-site, or does the content of the story need to be located on the AGS Forums themselves?
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

Sinitrena

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Is it acceptable to store the story and its elements off-site, or does the content of the story need to be located on the AGS Forums themselves?

I can't really force you to post it here directly and only linking to it is not a reason to disqualify an entry, but I would very much prefer it here. There are enough people who don't like to click on any kind of external link.

WHAM

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My idea was to post the first part here, then have links to my website for the options in the story. These would lead to simple HTML pages with the next part and next options, making the story easier to follow and harder to accidentally spoil by reading the wrong part.
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

cat

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But whenever your website goes down, it is gone. If you post it here, this cannot happen.

WHAM

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I'll back it up in my google drive, as with all my FWC entries (see my signature). After voting I can also dump the whole thing here as well.
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
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cat

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A to B

It's Monday morning and you just boarded a commuter train to get to work. A comfortable warmth surrounds you which is quite a contrast to the cold platform where you have been waiting just a few seconds ago. As the door closes behind you with a squeal, you take off your woollen hat and stow it in your bag. You hold on to a pole while the train starts to accelerate.

The train is reasonably filled with tired looking people - listening to music, playing on their phone, reading a book or just sitting there with a vacant look on their face.


You spot two empty seats. Where do you want to sit down?

A single window seat next to the door
Go to Cannon Street

An aisle seat in a group of four seats further into the train
Go to South Kensington
« Last Edit: 23 Feb 2019, 20:38 by cat »

WHAM

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EDIT: Removing this entry and reposting later, as I've encountered the post character limit. ->
« Last Edit: 17 Feb 2019, 13:19 by WHAM »
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
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cat

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Continuing A to B
Please start reading the story here: https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=56878.msg636601694#msg636601694


Spoiler: ShowHide

You walk a few meters until you reach a group of four seats. You sit down on the empty aisle seat facing the front of the train.

Next to you sits a man in his forties, wearing a tidy but unremarkable grey business suit, that perfectly matches the colour of his hair. He is working on a laptop that is standing on a small table mounted beneath the window.

The other window seat is occupied by a young woman in her early twenties. Under her crocheted hat and brown curly hair, you see cables of earphones appear and then again vanish in the pocket of her jacket. She is leaning against the window with her eyes closed.

Directly opposite you is sitting a middle-aged woman with a large leather handbag placed on her lap. She is reading one of those free newspapers you get at train stations. You don't see much of her face or upper body besides a few massive golden rings distributed over the fingers of both hands, holding the newspaper. Whenever she turns a page you grasp a look at her black-dyed hair and heavy make-up.

 

What do you do?
 

Peak at the laptop next to you
Go to Baker Street

Read what you can see of the woman's newspaper
Go to Tottenham Court Road

Start playing "Annoyed Poultry" on your phone
Go to Liverpool Street

« Last Edit: 23 Feb 2019, 20:59 by cat »

Baron

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I'm just thinking out loud here, but I *might* need an extra week to completely flesh out all the possible paths in this one.  (roll)

-------------------

The Dream-Roving Dalliance

   The clinical chirping of hospital instruments bores deep into your ears as you grasp Katarina's comatose hand.  Her face is half-bruised, and the other half is bandaged.  Her blonde hair is matted, the vibrant colour somehow draining away over her long days of decline.  Beneath the abrasive smell of sterility there is the faintest whiff of decay.

   You turn to the ancient Mind-Melder who is sitting pensively on the other side of Katarina's bed.    Her face is deeply wrinkled, but her eyes are bright as gemstones.  “The nurses whisper about Katarina circling the drain, and the doctors won't give me the time of day,” you confide.  “They will only talk to next-of-kin, but they haven't been able to find any.”

   “Have you known her long?” the Mind-Melder asks in a slow, measured tone.

   You instinctively reach for the bruises on your own face.  “No,” you say flatly.  “We had just met before the accident.”

   “It is dangerous without a real connection,” the Mind-Melder muses.  “Quite dangerous.”

   “I don't care.  It's her only chance.”

   “Probably...”

   “Put me in,” you say.

   The grating beeps of the monitors count out the long seconds of silence between you.

   “There are things you need to understand,” the Mind-Melder says.

   “I think I understand,” you say impulsively.

   “Then there are some things that bear repeating,” the Mind-Melder sighs.  “First, you will be dream-roving in a world of melded-minds, which can be unstable even in the best of circumstances.”

   “I know that,” you say impatiently.

   “I will hypnotize you,” the Mind-Melder continued.  “And as a part of your hypnosis I will plant trigger symbols to help you interpret the dream-scape.  First, you need a means of egress.  Some sort of trinket that you can recognize that will pull you out if you get into trouble.”

   You point at the jade talisman hung around Katarina's neck on a golden chain.

   “Next, you need another symbol to help you identify an axon chute.”

   “A what?”

   “An axon chute,” she explains.  “In our own dreams the consciousness skips from scenario to scenario when it collides with an axon chute.  It can be anything: a doorway, an object.  You need a way of recognizing them in order to navigate the dream-scape.  Some sort of symbol.”

   “This,” you say, indicating the ace of spades tattoo on your lower arm.

   “Alright.  Now listen carefully.  When you insert you will need to find the avatar of Katarina's consciousness as quickly as possible.  And then you will need to find the jade talisman.  While grasping her hand in one of yours and the jade talisman in the other there is a chance that you can drag her back into this world.”

   “OK.”

   “But there is a chance that she is already too far gone to produce an avatar...” the Mind-Melder warns.

   “I know that.”

   “And there is a chance that she might not trust a stranger,” the Mind-Melder continues, her wrinkled brow furrowing further as she arched an eyebrow.

   “I know that too.”

   “Very well.  If you get into trouble you will need to grasp the jade talisman alone.  You will awaken, but I'm afraid the strain of a second attempt will be too much for the young lady's mind given her current condition.  In such a scenario she will likely be lost forever.”

   “I understand.”

   “You must be quick,” the Mind-Melder goes on in a more hushed tone.  “Oh so very quick.  For there are things that lurk in the subconsciousness that are free to roam rampant when the consciousness fails.  Dark things.  Nightmares from another time, passed down through the generations like a genetic disease.  Some of us bear more of them than others, but in the young lady's state they will be free, and they will be hungry.  They go by many names, but the oldest is the Sgruck.  It should go without saying, but if you should die as you dream-rove you will never find the talisman...”

   “And I will never wake up,” you conclude.

   “And if you rove for too long then the talisman will fade from your consciousness, and you will be trapped forever in your melded nightmare.

   “I understand the risks.  Put me in,” you say again.  Katarina seems to fade more with every passing minute.

   “Have you not been listening to my words?” the Mind-Melder whispers, the soft sounds echoing as if through a tunnel.  The beeps of the instruments have somehow faded to the primal thumping of blood rushing through conduits.  You feel dizzy and disembodied all at the same time.  “It is time to choose,” the all pervasive whisper echoes.  “Will you find her in walls or beyond them?”

   You try to look into Katarina's face for a clue, but there is nothing now but a black void.  The first pangs of self-doubt stab into your mind, but you suppress them ferociously.  You may have barely known her, but there was a connection with the golden girl in the seat next to you before the crash.  You just need to trust in your instincts to reconnect with her in her hour of need.  So what do you choose?

If you choose within walls, turn to PAGE 2

If you choose beyond walls, turn to page PAGE 19
« Last Edit: 18 Feb 2019, 20:25 by Baron »

WHAM

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    •  
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Just a quick remark as I put the finishing touches on my project here: holy hell, Sinitrena, this has been a HUGE undertaking to keep sensible!
I'm not sure what I've made here, but it's a monstrosity I can barely control!
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
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    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Just a quick remark as I put the finishing touches on my project here: holy hell, Sinitrena, this has been a HUGE undertaking to keep sensible!
I'm not sure what I've made here, but it's a monstrosity I can barely control!

I... kind of warned you...   8-)
I highly recommend not waiting and posting the whole story at once but in paragraphs in different posts (I hope the moderators don't mind!) because it makes it easier to send the reader around (use links) and because this topic requires slightly longer entries over all than usual and might seem a bit overwhelming otherwise.
(laugh)

I'm just thinking out loud here, but I *might* need an extra week to completely flesh out all the possible paths in this one.  (roll)

A week seemes a bit long, but as it looks like not a single story is finished just yet and I don't want to rush you all, I extent the deadline by 3 days (for now) until 21. February.


cat

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Continuing A to B
Please start reading the story here: https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=56878.msg636601694#msg636601694


Spoiler: ShowHide

The breaks of the train squeak as it arrives at your station. When it finally comes to a halt, the doors open automatically. You leave the train and continue your way to work.


The end.
« Last Edit: 18 Feb 2019, 19:43 by cat »

WHAM

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    • WHAM worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
I'll have my story out at some point tonight. May do some minor revisions tomorrow, after sleeping on it. Just writing the last handful of chapters now.
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

Baron

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        You are suddenly standing on deteriorating concrete with knee-high weeds growing up through the cracks.  A large slab of a building just in front of you dangles dangerously by a couple rusty threads of re-bar.  A sudden gust of ghostly wind sweeps a cloud of sand from a road strewn with burnt-out vehicles.

   You have no sense of bearing, and instead wander aimlessly through the abandoned streets.  Graffiti wall-papers the gutted buildings, but you can not decipher its language.  Empty windows yawn black like empty eye sockets in a mound of skulls.  The streets are eerily silent but for the creaking of rusty steel in the wind.

   You emerge into a small plaza and notice a bronze statue in the centre.  It seems out of place in these ruins due its apparent pristine condition, except for a perfect hole right through the chest.  Drawing closer you notice that it portrays a bearded man with long hair drawn into a pony tail.  There is a plaque on the plinth supporting the statue that reads “Enrico”, and from the metal hand dangles a golden chain with the jade talisman.

   There is probably some psychological significance to this monument, but there are no further clues to help you decipher it.  At least you've found the talisman.  Now for Katarina.  Your eye wanders around the plaza, scanning for some other sign of differentiation.  Suddenly a flit of movement catches your eye along a second-storey arcade.  A lone figure with dishevelled blonde hair seems to sleepwalk her way from one end to the other.

   “Katarina!” you call out, stepping towards her.  The blonde figure walks on as if she doesn't hear.  You see a flight of stairs through the gloom of a doorway and sprint up them two at a time, emerging onto the arcade only seconds later.  You look left and right, but it is completely empty.

   Scratching your head, you turn back to the plaza.  Eerily, you see Katarina pacing the plaza down below.  How...?

   Quickly you bound back down the stairs, only to discover the plaza abandoned once more.  You turn to look back up at the arcade and see Katarina walking entranced as if she had never been interrupted.

   You look left and right, considering your options.  Somehow you will have to keep Katarina in your sight as you move from one level to another, or you will be caught in this repetitive loop forever.  Perhaps you could somehow pile some debris up against the wall in order to scale it....

   Scanning the ground for something large but light enough to carry your eye stumbles upon a manhole cover with a rusted ace of spades symbol embossed upon it.  It's best not to touch the axon chute, you think to yourself, instead continuing your search. 

   Your efforts are suddenly interrupted by a loud guttural growl.  With a sinking feeling you look up to see the outline of something large lurking in the shadows of the stairwell.  It is hard to make out any details as the creature seems to absorb light rather than reflect it, but you can make out a myriad of sharp protrusions that give the creature an air of purest menace.  In your peripheral vision you see Katarina continuing her pacing, oblivious to the life and death struggle about to take place in the plaza below.

   The Sgruck could strike at any second, and it is blocking the only known path to Katarina.  Your options are limited to making a dash for the jade talisman or trusting in the luck of the manhole axon chute.  What do you choose to do?

If you choose to go for the jade talisman, turn to PAGE 8

If you choose to go for the manhole axon chute, turn to PAGE 11
« Last Edit: 19 Feb 2019, 00:05 by Baron »

WHAM

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The Square of Choises


(1) START HERE -->
Spoiler: ShowHide

The crowds gather under a purple sky, surrounded by the smell of smoke and spices, chattering and murmuring in awe at the new arrivals gathering upon the town square. The usual bluster and business of the market is replaced by a great stage. To the west lie the great gates, now closed for the night. To the east is the palace of nobility, a place of great wealth. To the north sit elevated stands, built of fine wood and adorned with colourful banners, upon which sit the nobility, lords and ladies in finest silks. To the south are the houses, from the windows and doors of which the common folk stare and approach.

All eyes are upon you.

To call for silence, go to (2)
To call for noise, go to (3)



(2)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You gesture to the crowd, making depressive movements with your hands, as if pushing the very sounds in the air to the dirt surrounding your elevated stage. An air of anticipation grows around you, the excitement in the air tasting of electricity. An old man coughs, unable to help himself, and despite themselves the people give the man harsh looks, as if his frailty in old age might ruin the moment.

To speak to the crowd, go to (4)
To dance for the crowd, go to (5)



(3)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You make a broad gesture with your hands, inviting the crowd to join you, then raise your fists into the air with a shout. The people around you raise their voices in unison, shouting and cheering, pumping their fists at the sky as the town is filled with their dissonant voices.

To call for order, go to (6).
To call for chaos, go to (7).



(4)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You open your mouth and introduce yourself, your voice carried clearly through the air, washing over the people as they come to know you at last, the stranger from far away, the exotic traveler. Your every word holds great power, drawing in the undivided attention of commoners and nobles alike. Even the birds of the sky seem to fall silent in recognition of your oration.

To tell a joke, go to (8).
To tell a story, go to (9).



(5)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You lean your body forward, then rise up in a smooth, snaking motion while sliding yourself forward along the raised platform. Your limbs move in hypnotic ways as you begin to dance, the silence around you punctuated only by the soft sounds made by your movements and the thumps of your feet as they land after each flourishing motion. Adoring eyes look up at you, mouths hang open, lips forming silent oohs and aahs at the display of the expertly choreographed movements of your body.

You pause to draw breath, feeling yourself well introduced thought motion alone.

To perform a daring flip, go to (12).
To perform a winding pirouette, go to (13)
To entertain the crowd with a joke, go to (8)



(6)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You begin to pump your fist into the air in a steady rhythm, and the crowd picks it up. Your voice begins to lead a chant, the words mattering little for now. All that matters is that these people are now chanting with you. Their voice is yours, and your voice is theirs. This is the day they have waited for. You take a single step, and you can already feel the crowd surging, ready to take the next step with you.

To march to the gate, go to (25).
To march to the palace, go to (26).



(7)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You exhort the people on. Louder. Louder. LOUDER.

They stomp their feet and shout and scream. Individual voices are lost in the cacophony of madness. A drum beats out of beat somewhere. Hands are clapped together. A man rips off his shirt and beats his chest like a beast.

Bodies flail and swing wildly, as people approximate turns and dances of all manner. Some collide with one another, only to pick themselves up and carry on.

And yet, above it all, your voice carries clearly across the gathered mass of people.

To dance with the people, go to (20).
To sing with the people, go to (21).



(8)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You grin and gesture wildly as you begin to recount the tale of the priest, the peddler and the wench. As you deliver the punchline, the crowd bursts in cheers and laughter and you spot the old man from before wiping a tear of mirth from the corner of his eye. The people want more, and the children up front jump with joy as you smile and carry on.

To look to the nobles, go to (10).
To look to the crowd, go to (11).
To surprise them with acrobatics, go to (12).



(9)
Spoiler: ShowHide

Your words turn to a distant place, a forgotten land of a great empire, and the heir to the throne: a young woman with a skin of silken chocolate and a hair of shimmering obsidian. As you recount her time of riding across the great plains, of hunting with her brothers in the jungles and of sending away suitors that fail to appease her sense of adventure, the crowd and the nobility both listen on intently. As a lover scorned sends an assassin her way and you recount of a cruel blade shimmering in the night much like the one slowly enveloping the town now, you once more sense the baited breaths and anticipation in the air.

To tell a story of love, go to (14).
To tell a story of hate, go to (15).



(10)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You begin to recount the tale of the nobleman's folly, of a bumbling pompous fool inheriting a great wealth only to waste it all in vanities and foolishness. Pointing your finger at the elevated stands where the men in silken shirts and hats grow red in the face, you lavish your depiction of the fictional noble with details picked from the local nobility. A crooked nose from the bearded one, the purple hat with gilded stripes from the fat one, the ridiculous gemstones around the neck of the mayor. All the while the noble women fan themselves to hide their smirks, while casting sly, hopeful glances your way. The crowd cheers at you, and shower you with coins and flowers as you bow to them, and away from the shamed nobles starting to shuffle down from the stands to make their way to the palaces for the night.

To celebrate with the people, go to (33).
To gather your newly gained wealth and leave into the night, go to (34).



(11)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You begin to recount the tale of the foolish farmer, the one who used his wife's undergarments to dress up the scarecrow, and who's seeds are picked off by birds and the rain. You look to a man in the crowd, a tankard of mead in hand, and jest of drunkenness. The nobility laugh and clap politely, their jewelry jangling around them, the look in their eyes promising status and wealth as you flash a grin their way, gesturing to the people and their failings. For of course it is the failure of character, the lack of strength and wisdom, that doom men and women to poverty, while those with the right stuff now sit in the stands, laughing at their lesser kin.

As your show draws to a close, the old man is no longer in the crowd. The children look lost and confused. From the stands come a call for an encore.

To carry on, go to (35).
To gather your newly gained wealth and leave into the night, go to (34).



(12)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You wind yourself up and smirk at the anticipating crowd, then launch yourself into the air with a great backwards leap, turning around your core and landing expectly upon your feet once more, with a great crash against the stage surface. Flags and banners and streamers decorating the platform flutter around you, and the stage itself creaks and groans beneath you.

The crowd cheer and clap at the display, and you readily repeat it, this time forwards, returning to your initial position with a flourish and a bow of your head.

To breathe fire, go to (16)
To breathe gold, go to (17)



(13)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You twist your body counter-clockwise, winding yourself up like a spring, then throw yourself into a clockwise spinning motion. The colourful dress you wear flutter around your body, seeming to glimmer and reflect the light of the many small fires decorating the square, turning you into a dazzling human rainbow. Mesmerized, the people look on, the children squealing with delight and the men and women applauding vigorously as their eyes are treated to fantastical vistas, imagined visions of distant and impossible landscapes displayed in a blurred mirage of motion that is you.

To invoke music, go to (18).
To invoke the power of your dress, go to (19)



(14)
Spoiler: ShowHide

Your voice turns to a loud whisper, and the people all around lean in closer, clinging on to every word, as you detail the assassin climbing the walls, hiding in the trees, and finally discovering the princess as she writes a letter in the light of the moon, her feet in the soothing cool waters of a fountain. The assassin strikes like a viper, only for the princess to catch sight of him in the reflection of the water. Her own dagger meets the assassin's blade with a shower of sparks, and a fierce duel is had in the palace gardens. The two warrior souls match the skill of one another in the labyrinth of roses, and finally collapse in one another's arms as their strength fails them.

The old man in the crowd clutches his cane with shaking hands and one of the girls in the front of the crowd hops up and down on both feet, silently demanding to hear what comes next.

You describe two pairs of eyes meeting one another, two hands intertwined, and a shared realisation. The assassin could not kill the princess, for just as she is too fair and wonderful for any man to deny, she is strong and capable, and worthy not of violence, but admiration.

With a dry throat and parched voice you speak of forgiveness, of new understanding, then laughter as the would-be assassin becomes an unexpected suitor, won over by the beautiful princess.

To wet your throat in the tavern, go to (36).
To leave them wanting more, go to (33).



(15)
Spoiler: ShowHide

Your voice turns to a loud whisper, and the people all around lean in closer, clinging on to every word, as you detail the assassin climbing the walls, hiding in the trees, and finally discovering his prey in the gardens. A venom-coated blade lashes out, but rather than its mark it finds the empress herself.

Your tale turns to sorrow as the princess discovers her dead mother, then to hate as her soul is filled with vengeance upon her coronation. Great armies are marshalled, machines of war built and brought to bear. The empire is soon at war with itself, broken off into warring factions all struggling either to secure the throne, or the lonely warrior empress now sitting upon its cold ebonwood frame. As you describe the fires of war, the old man in the crowd looks down to his feet, one of which is missing, and his lip trembles.

In the end, just as your throat is parched and your voice begins to fail, the princess is victorious, her mother's death avenged, but the price to be paid for such vengeance is ruination. Not in her lifetime would the palace garden be green and lush again, nor would her brothers return from the field of battle to hunt and sing and feast with her. Her palace would be forever cold and lonely.

To wet your throat in the tavern, go to (38).
To leave them wanting more, go to (33).



(16)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You raise your head up at the purple sky, and spot the glimmering shape of the crescent moon making its way high above. You inhale, crick your neck, and then exhale. A great gout of hot air and orange flame burst from your throat, and the children in the front row, previously mesmerized with your motion, scream with excitement and terror. You look down upon them, smoke drifting up from your nostrils, and your smile bares your great fangs and forked tongue.

To take flight, go to (40).
To reveal your true might, go to (41).



(17)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You press your hand over your lips and smile, then blow air into your fingers. A shower of small glittering coins bursts forth, showering over the children in the front row. They, and a few of the adults close enough, scramble to collect the precious tokens into their grubby hands, while a few of the nobles in their stands exchange confused glances.

You step back to give these people room, brush your hand over your silken robes, and aim your eyes at a particularly handsome man in the crowd. With a smile you lean toward him and press your fingertips to your lips, then blow a kiss to the man while his wife looks on with disapproval. From your hand emerges a white dove, fluttering toward the man, its wings brushing his auburn hair before the bird takes off and heads up into the darkening night sky.

To think of wealth, go to (42).
To think of trickery, go to (44).



(18)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You gesture to your traveling companions, and finally your movements are accompanied by sound. A drum, a harmonica, a stomping foot and a violin all burst into a wondrous sound at your signal, and the crowd joins in on your dance. Young and old take hand in hand, smiling and laughing as the music takes hold of their hearts. The noblemen, at least the ones free of gout, rise and invite their sweethearts to dance, and even the guards at the foot of their elevated benches nod their heads and tap their hands upon their shields to the beat.

For a jolly tune, go to (43).
For a sinister tune, go to (45).



(19)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You step down from your stage, and into the crowd. The silks of your dress caress the faces, hands and chests of those whom you move past in graceful leaps and flowing movements. The people cannot help themselves, and soon begin to move with you, leaning in to be touched by those enchanted fabrics or the smooth tips of your fingers.

They love you, and you love them all.

To dance out of passion, go to (48).
To dance out of pride, go to (46).



(20)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You begin to dance. With feverish energy you turn and twist your body, and the crowd joins you in focusing on the raw energy of motion. The square soon resembles a field of tall grass in a windstorm, the people its blades of grass, the sheer energy of your presence the fierce wind that drives the people on.

To undress yourself, go to (22).
To dress yourself up, go to (24).
« Last Edit: 17 Feb 2019, 13:23 by WHAM »
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

WHAM

  • WHAMGAMES
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with play testing
    • I can help with scripting
    • I can help with story design
    • I can help with translating
    • I can help with voice acting
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
(21)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You fall silent and inhale, allowing the force-of-nature sound of the crowd to wash over you. You find within its ebb and flow a rhythm, a rising and falling arc of sounds embedded in the cacophony.

You raise your voice and begin to sing, forming words that flow in time with the chaotic crowd. Most would not hear you, but the ones that do, cannot help but raise their eyes to you, as your clear voice cuts through the noise.

Voices begin to join in on you, discordant and messy, but they all share the same sentiment.

To sing of tears, go to (28).
To sing of laughter, go to (32)



(22)
Spoiler: ShowHide

The coarse fabric may be light, but as the heat of the moment takes over, even that is too much. You slip yourself free of your travel robes and your boots, and soon all the rest of it. You are not alone, either. The crowd, overcome with a feverish need to be free of their bonds, are also stripping themselves.

Hairy and smooth. Long and tall. Skinny and fat. Light and dark. Bodies of all shapes and sizes and colours surround you, and you love the sight of them all. There is no guilt here, no taboo. Nothing is hidden from the eyes as bare bodies encircle one another in the feverish pace of the dance.

People climb onto the stage to join you, they take your offered hand for just a moment, so that they can feel your touch and motion, only to slip free and find another partner to carry on with.

Faster. Faster. Faster. Go to (63).
Slower. Slower. Slower. Go to (65).



(23)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You subdue yourself enough to dig your hand into the pocket of your travel robe. From there you pull out a small box of brass, embedded with a perfectly polished gemstone of crimson. It pops open easily, revealing within a black void that seems to go on forever.

Suddenly the sound of laughter dies. The nobles in their stands gasp for air, while the crowd below your stage choke and stare at one another in shock, as if the very air from their lungs had been sucked out in an instant. A mother calls out to her children, but in vain, for no voice leaves her lips.

You snap the box shut. It feels warm in your hand, even through your supple leather glove. No-one even looks at you as you turn and begin to walk toward the town gate.

You will savor these precious voices forever.



(24)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You signal to your traveling companions and they haul from your wagon a set of great chests. You dance over to them and, from the heavy chain hanging around your neck, you produce a great brass key with which you unlock the chests one by one.

To dress as people do, go to (53).
To dress as the animals do, go to (62).



(25)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You stride off the stage, and the people part for you, then turn to follow as you lead them down the main street and toward the great gates. Fires are lit upon the walls, illuminating the dull cyclopean stones that make up the perimeter of the ancient town. Guards stand atop the walls, spears and crossbows in hand, gazing beyond into the night.

The watch captain sitting atop a majestic white horse looks at the crowd gathered at your behest, then to you.

To open the gates, go to (29).
To hold the gates, go to (31).



(26)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You lead your people across town. The nobles hastily climb down from their elevated seats and are rushed ahead of you on horses and carriages so that they can return to hiding behind their walls. The crowd chants on, marching in unison as they approach the iron fence and gate that separates the palace grounds from the rest of Town. Beyond lie the gardens and fountains, the marble halls and tables laid out with silver and gold and endless food.

To bring fire to this place, go to (27).
To bring cold to this place, go to (30).



(27)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You exhort the crowd. No more shall they suffer in poverty and filth while the lords and ladies feast. No more shall they be looked down upon by those who think themselves better than them. Two of the carriages caught outside of the fence are broken and set alight. Torches are made, and pitchforks and spears gathered. Inside the fence stand the guards, moving around nervously with swords in hand, thought many of their rank stand outside, their helmets removed, their crests of loyalty torn off.

You give the order, and the charge begins. The gate is overwhelmed, the decorated gardens with their ancient trees are set on fire. Shouts and screams ring out, echoing over the thundering roar of the crowd moving in on the palace. You stand back and watch as the culmination of all your hard work and preparation bears fruit at last. The palace windows grow orange on every night, but on this night they glow brighter than ever before.

To make all equal, go to (47).
To establish a new order, go to (49).



(28)
Spoiler: ShowHide

Above the roiling crowd your song turns to sorrow. Your words describe the fading of a world, the draining of colour from the sky and the trees, the slowly spreading cold that freezes the lakes and rivers and claims all.

After a moment your song holds no words at all,  just a hum that conveys a mournful melody so potent and powerful that those who hear it are reduced to sobs and tears. The crowd begins to collapse in on itself, overwhelmed with sorrow that is from beyond their comprehension, beyond the world they inhabit.

From within you, through sound and raw emotion, the spirits of a long-lost world whisper into the minds of these people, and their minds are torn asunder.

This world will go on to forget us all.



(29)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You signal for the captain to open the gates. His expression is weary and his mouth opens as if to protest your decision, but the demanding nature of the great crowd silences him where he sits. His gauntleted hand rises into the air, then falls in an arc to signal the crews manning the great iron chains.

Men shout and strain and sweat as they pull on the chains, and slowly the heavy iron doors are peeled aside.

For war, go to (55).
For peace, go to (60).



(30)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You rub your hands together, the night air misting before your face. From your robes you pull out a vial of liquid and a silver blade. The former you pour over the latter, and it turns to translucent ice in your hand, radiating cold all around you. The people recoil from it, giving you room and forming a circle of empty air around the spot upon which you stand. You look up at the palace windows, and feel the nervous eyes behind them, all looking down at you and the people following you.

They know what must be done this night, and so do you. With three long strides you reach the iron gate and touch it with the tip of the blade. Pale frost creeps up the bars, until they shatter like glass and scatter around your feet. You step through, and the people follow.

To meet the king, go to (50).
To become the king, go to (54).



(31)
Spoiler: ShowHide

With a hard look and a nod of your head you acknowledge the captain. His eyes lock with yours and a shared understanding is had without a single spoken word. He turns from you and addresses the guards at the gate. His words are stern and short, but they carry the weight of the world in the eyes and ears of those gathered.

Spears are handed out, along with crude bows and torches. The crowd behind you begins to form lines and pick up what meager gear they can. None look sullen or weary, for you have given them a direction; a purpose.

To meet the night with steel, go to (57).
To meet the night with fire, go to (59).



(32)
Spoiler: ShowHide

Above the roiling crowd your song turns to a sound of joy and mirth. Your words describe the playful summer rains and the warmth of the sun as it caresses the shimmering lakes. You smile as you bring forth such warm and joyful images as your soul can muster, and the people smile with you.

After a moment your song holds no words at all, and instead turns into chuckles and laughter, soon joined in by the crowd itself. The very sound of your voice now fills the mind with images of small animals at play, of leaves playing in the wind and of smiling faces just like the ones now looking up at you from the crowd below.

To leave the people with this sensation, go to (34).
To take this sensation with you, go to (23).



(33)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You enter the crowd, and they welcome you with open arms. Cheers and offers of bed, board, wine and meat are made in earnest, and soon you find yourself in the local tavern, standing atop a table, recounting the best of your japes and jokes while the crowd continues to celebrate.

As the night winds down you begin to feel tired. As you lay yourself to sleep upon the straw bed, you wonder of the faint sensation behind your eyes. As you slumber for the last time, the faintest doubt creeps into your mind. Was the wine truly so sweet, or was it that way to cover up the taste of poison?

You never wake, but your memory lives on for many years in the minds of the people.



(34)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You make your way to the gate, then out the small doorway to its side. Before you is laid out the world, its hills and trees and endless roads. There is still much to see, and your heart feels light.

It has been a good day.



(35)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You bow to the nobility, and away from the crowd. As you rise up from the bow you feel a hand grab your belt from behind, followed by a harsh yank. A fist finds your stomach, and a boot to the teeth has you tasting blood. You call out for mercy, but the crowd scorned has none for you.

The nobles in their stand look on, as you become just another form of entertainment to them, worthy only of polite smiles and clapping, never of their true compassion.



(36)
Spoiler: ShowHide

Your story has brought tears into the eyes of many in the crowd. The old man from before is seen consoling a young woman overcome by emotion. The crowd part as you step down from the stage and head toward the tavern, where your meal and drinks are paid for, and where polite conversation is offered as people hope to learn more of you.

To stay the night, go to (37).
To finish your stay, go to (33).



(37)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You feel a touch on your shoulder, as slender hands grasp you and give you a playful squeeze. As you turn in surprise, you meet the almond-shaped eyes like emerald gemstones, set in a delicate face of skin like smooth chocolate. Pink lips twist into a smile as the lovely lady, the secret inspiration of your tale, whispers in your ear.

Perhaps you will stay here for longer than just this night.



(38)
Spoiler: ShowHide

Your story has lit fires into the hearts of many in the crowd. The children look on with admiration as their fathers brandish swords and spears, vowing to defend their loved ones from harm. The crowd part as you step down from the stage and head toward the tavern, where your meal and drinks are paid for, and where polite conversation is offered as people hope to learn more of you.

To stay the night, go to (39).
To finish your stay, go to (33).



(39)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You feel a touch on your shoulder, as a strong hand grasp you and give you a firm squeeze. As you turn in surprise, you meet the fierce eyes of the old man, the veteran of many wars. He smiles and nods his head, and tells you a tale of his own. He tells of how he fought for her loved ones, of how he sacrificed his leg to save a beloved friend... For once, you become the audience. It is a good feeling. Refreshing.

Perhaps you two will share the road ahead, come morning light.



(40)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You spread your great, leathery wings and swing them downward, sending a great wave of ari washing over the crowd. A woman stumbles and loses her balance, only to be caught by a man beside her. The children scatter and flee, hiding in alleys and in houses. At the foot of the noble's stand, men in platemail grip the pommels of their swords and exchange nervous looks.

You flap your wings again and feel you massive, scaled body rising into the air. The crowd look upon you in awe and terror as you take flight, soon disappearing from their sight, but not from their minds. Your brothers and sisters cast their shadows as they fly overhead.

It is time to join them.
« Last Edit: 17 Feb 2019, 13:24 by WHAM »
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

WHAM

  • WHAMGAMES
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with play testing
    • I can help with scripting
    • I can help with story design
    • I can help with translating
    • I can help with voice acting
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
(41)
Spoiler: ShowHide

From the sky comes an orange light, then another. Above them, great scaled bodies twist and angle themselves down upon the village. You let loose a mighty roar that shatters windows and forces people to cover their ears. A woman stumbles and loses her balance, only to be caught by a man beside her. The children scatter and flee, hiding in alleys and in houses. At the foot of the noble's stand, men in platemail grip the pommels of their swords and exchange nervous looks. One throws his weapon to the dirt and breaks into a run.

Your brothers and sisters descend upon the town. A horn blares in alarm, then another. Cries rise up into the sky, followed by bolts and arrows and spears, but none of what this petty little hamlet can muster against your kin can so much as scratch one of the great scales that cover your body from horned head to the barbed tip of a tail. It mattered not. You and your kin are hungry. It was too late for this place, for these people.

It had been that way since you arrived.



(42)
Spoiler: ShowHide

Having made yourself, and your wealth and outlandish abilities, well known to the crowd, you find yourself approached by an envoy. A disappointed groan sounds from the crowd of commoners as your attention is drawn elsewhere, but in the noble stands all eyes are on you, expectant and hungry.

With a smile and a final flourish you turn back to the crowd and, from the silken sleeve of your exquisite robe, you produce a shower of colourful sparks and a rain of small sugary sweets that fall to the edge of the stage to be gathered by the excited children.

The envoy taps her foot impatiently. You smile and nod your head, gesturing for her to lead you to your impatient and magnanimously wealthy hosts for tonight. You know from experience that the people's favor and the show of wealth would serve you well with them. The people of these humid and cool western lands were simple that way, easily impressed.

The time for trade negotiations is at hand.



(43)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You smile and wave to your companions, and with a cheer they burst into a jolly song full of colourful language and laughter. The words of the song tell of adventures and celebrations, and in their minds the people dancing around your stage can see themselves as part of just such scenes. The local tavern doors are thrown open and several barrels of wine and mead are brought out and served without payment to the cheering crowd.

Revelry takes hold of the town. Servants provide wine to the nobles in their stands, and some even step down from their elevated seats to join the people on the ground. For a moment in time, the music, dance and joy you have brought to this place means that highborn and lowborn alike are able to share in one the same celebration.

Friendships are forged, kindnesses exchanged, and all those present cheerily agree that it would be lovely if the morning never came to bring an end to such a wonderful night.



(44)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You grin and crouch down at the edge of the stage, then reach to pick up one of the excited children into your arms. The boy, no older than six or seven, is skinny and light, and beams to you. You whisper a word of instruction into his ear, then toss the boy straight up as showers of sparks and coloured smoke burst from the wrists of your robe. As the light and smoke fades, the boy is nowhere to be seen.

Suddenly there is a tense silence. A mother calls out in a trembling voice. You waggle your finger at her and shake your head, then step aside with a grand flourish of colour and motion, directing the crowd's attention expertly to the small wagon with which you had arrived, and the hooded driver sitting at its front, watching the horses. The driver throws his hood back, and reveals underneath the smiling face of the boy, to which the crowd respond with excited screams and cheers. The boy, now in on one of your greatest secrets, silently vows never to reveal them, and to learn from them, so that he, too, can one day be just like you.

A child's life is set upon a new course this day.



(45)
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You feel yourself ready. Your hand reaches into a hidden pouch within your dress and produces a pinch of bright yellow dust. With a leap you move across the stage, then toss the powder into the fire, where it produces a sickly green smoke that washes over the crowd. The music grows to a more frantic pace, the people move faster to match it. You begin to spin and dance once more, occasionally reaching down to caress the hair of a person dancing close to the edge of the stage.

A scream emanates from the stands where the nobles celebrate. You smile as you spot one of the older, weaker men having stood up and danced himself right off the edge, face-down into the dirt several feet below. Soon he is followed by a couple, wrapped in a tight embrace, their feet hopping and stepping them against and through the wooden balustrades, crashing over one of the guards below. More screams, terrified expressions, but none stop dancing.

None can stop dancing. The old man stumbles back, recoiling in horror, only for a fair lady with blonde hair to wrap her arms around his frail form, leading him into an unwilling dance routine. Exhaustion, injury, death. You can feel the energy of these people in your fingertips, tingling, growing more potent. You smile to your companions, one of whom looks up at you from underneath the heavy hood covering his face of bare bone and empty eye sockets.

This place will feed your troupe for weeks to come.



(46)
Spoiler: ShowHide

Your gracious movements allure the crowd, as they should. Gaping mouths, wide eyes. These poor dullards must not have seen anything as graceful and wondrous as you in their lifetimes, and once you left this place, they likely never would. You smile, and in their eyes it was the beautiful expression of love and grace, but in the back of your mind you cannot help but feel a sense of smug satisfaction as all eyes are drawn to you.

You turn and move across the stage, making your way closer to the noble stands. Arching your body you bulge out your muscles so that their shapes are made obvious through the colourful attire you wear. Women stare and gasp for breath, while the men look on with envy and scorn. You can feel it in the air, the need to be as you are now. Perfect.

You will linger in their memories forever.



(47)
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The palace burns, smoke billowing from its ruined windows. Inside the nobles either choke, burn or flee. Outside they are caught and cut down by the masses. One might look upon it all and see anarchy and madness, to the nobles it surely must have, but in your eyes it is something else: a beautiful new order where all are equal. When the morning light eventually reaches the smouldering ruins of these palaces, there will be no lords and ladies, no servants or underlings. The people know this and are ready for it.

All will work together, and all will be equally lords and equally commoners. No man will stand above or below another, no woman will have to endure the pompous presence of a fat nobleman, no man will have to waste away his fortune at the whim of some highborn woman.

A perfect new world.



(48)
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You duck beneath the arched arms of a couple, and rise up on the other side, shrugging your shoulders free of your dress. You feel the adoring eyes of the crowd upon your smooth, bare skin, and while mothers cover the eyes of their children and the nobles in their stands murmur with disapproval, you lean in towards the nearest man, the old man, and kiss them on the tip of the nose. He blushes and turns his head aside, but cannot take his eyes off you even now. With a smile you dance away from him, your dress seemingly falling apart around your body, glimmering like liquid water as it runs down your skin and to your ankles before vanishing entirely. A woman of fiery red hair and slender build, her cheeks flushed and her eyelids fluttering, presses her back against a wall as if afraid, but you can sense the heat on her breath and the pounding of her heart in her chest. It would be cruel to not let her touch you, taste you. The crowd watches on, every soul awaiting their turn.

You lean in and kiss her on the lips, tasting the mead on her saliva, while she tastes the enchanted honey that is your essence.



(49)
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You step up the the crowd from behind  and begin to move through the milling crowd. Your hand touches the arms of men and women. You know them by the marks on their skin and the blue ribbons on their arms. They smile and join you as you make your way to the front of the crowd, rising to stand upon the marble rim of a great fountain, the fires of the palace beyond flickering through the shape of cascading water.

Your people look upon you, their salvation, their new ruler. You will be different to the others. Fairer, kinder, wiser and stronger than the lords and ladies of old. As the fire cleanses them away, you raise your hands into the air and signal victory. Your circle of thirteen advisors, hand-picked from the crowd, do the same.

They all bow their heads to you now.



(50)
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You lead your people into the palace grounds. The nobles are all there, standing off to the sides with fear in their hollow and lifeless eyes. At the center of them all stands a single figure, taller than the rest, clad in a black velvet robe that reaches the neatly cut grass upon which He stands. The pale-gold crown in his head glimmers in the moonlight.

You stand before Him and bow your head in greeting. He does the same. The crowd behind and around you falls to a uniform silence and anticipation once more.

To pledge yourself, go to (56).
To become the betrayer, go to (58).



(51)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You offer the man your fine leather jackets.

A trade is made.



(52)
Spoiler: ShowHide

It is pitch black.

You are likely to be eaten by a grue.



(53)
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The chests burst open and you reach your hand into one of them. A gaudy robe of pink and purple, with gold ribbons and silver medallions emerges. You toss it into the crowd and, like magic, it slips over a stableboy standing near the edge of the stage, turning her dancing body into a colourful and sparkling display of garish colour. The old man find himself in a shimmering suit of black and silver that seems to please him greatly as he dances a hobbling jig with his one remaining leg. A child in the front row turns into a jester of green and purple silks, complete with shiny gold bells that jingle as she spins and laught.

More clothes emerge, as you and your assistants spread them out until what had once been a crowd of drab commoners is more colourful and covered in more gold and silver thread than all the nobles in their elevated stands.

A gift of colour is given to the world.



(54)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You stand before your throne. Your old bones ache, and you hear a droning buzz in your ears that hasn't left you in years now. You are tired. So very tired. And yet you must rise to your feet, assisted by your servants.

You walk out of the palace, and into the yard, where a great marble fountain has dried up. To see it so silent and lifeless fills you with sorrow. You walk around it, the servants crowding around you, the nobles following behind, then further on down the flagstones that make up the broad path through the palace yard.

You hear the crowds ahead, and soon see them, already through the gates. The hooded figure is there. The sight of that glimmering blade in their hand fills you with drear.

To show compassion, go to (61).
To show cruelty, go to (64).



(55)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You draw your sword from its scabbard and raise it to the sky, your eyes catching the pale crimson moonlight reflecting from the polished steel. Spears and pitchforks and swords are raised behind you, while the men upon the walls cry out in warning. The sally begins swiftly, with you at its head, charging out through the gate and into the open air beyond.

A wall of shields, spears, horned helms and stern faces await in the darkness, illuminated by the flickering orange glow of torches. A shout rings out, and the air grows thick with whistling arrows, which land either with a dull thud or a scream of a man as he is struck.

You heart races in your chest as you cover the final yards, exhorting your comrades into battle. The two lines crash into one another and a brutal melee breaks out, with the townsfolk joining the town guards in a desperate attack against the force encircling the town.

Did you give these people salvation, or merely a final stand? Only the morning light knows.



(56)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You meet the dead King's hollow eyes, and the blue ice burning within them. He raises his hand, holding out an orb of crystal-clear ice in his bony fingers. A chill washes over the palace grounds as the ceremony begins.

You kneel. Every man, woman and child kneels. You hold out the dagger of ice and soon feel it lift from your hand. You look up at the dead grin of the King's face and feel him evaluating you just as he evaluates the gift you bring. You sense satisfaction.

The blade of ice is pressed into the orb of ice. From within a great cold emerges, dripping to the ground like invisible liquid, spreading steadily into the shivering crowd. You feel it reach your knees and feet, then creep up into your very core. Your heart beats its last beat and you know that the people of the town share your fate.

You hear His voice in your head, even though He lacks the tongue with which to speak. Knowing it is his will, you rise and stand before your king. As you rise, so do the countless dead people around you.

You will all be happier this way.



(57)
Spoiler: ShowHide


You call for steel. Steel in the hands of men and women. Steel in the bars that shut the gates. Steel in the souls of those who would see the morning light. Your call is answered with shouts and rattling swords over shields, and with a blaring horn, calling the townsfolk to the walls.

Another horn answers the first, but this one is louder. A low, mournful blare from far away. It, too, is answered by shouts and rattling, far out in the night at first, but steadily approaching, along with the rhythmic thumping of boots.

The sky flashes orange, and a great flaming projectile streaks over your head and into the roof of a house. As men with buckets rush to put out the fire, more projectiles fly out. Soon the sky, already dark in the cloudy night, is filled with invisible death: countless arrows arc over your head, catching many of the firefighters in their backs and shoulders. You turn your eyes from their plight so as not to weaken your resolve, and instead face the gate.

Around you the men and women close their ranks, preparing for the inevitable. The great gate, its face decorated with silver, its hinges with brass, shudders as if a great hammer had struck it from beyond. Men rush forward to press their bodies against it. The old man is there, too, hobbling on with the rest of them. Another blow, then another. Some of the men are thrown back and the gate begins to crack.

Finally it breaks. As the gatekeepers stumble away, you face the attackers. Stout men wielding great axes and round shields, their faces covered with great masks of solid black iron, hunched low with the weight of their armour, surge forward. They pause, however, when faced with you: a dark shadow, silhouetted against the blazing inferno of the houses that could not be saved, surrounded by men and women with steel in their eyes, and their hearts.

You would not be broken this night.



(58)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You meet the dead King's hollow eyes, and the blue ice burning within them. He raises his hand, holding out an orb of crystal-clear ice in his bony fingers. A chill washes over the palace grounds as the ceremony begins.

You kneel. Every man, woman and child kneels. You hold out the dagger of ice and soon feel His presence over you. You look up at the dead grin of the King's face and feel him evaluating you just as he evaluates the gift you bring. You sense his trepidation as the moment anticipated for centuries approaches.

You make your move. The dagger of ice turns in your hand and lashes out. It cuts deep into the King's chest, and you sense the silent scream emanating from his being. The dead nobles surge in, their guards lift their swords, but it is too late. Frost covers the dead King's robe as he stumbles back. The ice blade snaps, its tip trapped within His body.

You rise and stand as He falls. One of the dead guards rushes you in an attempt to avenge his King, but is struck aside by a wall of bodies, pitchforks and spears. The living townspeople surge forward, hacking and cutting and crushing the dry bones and cold, dead flesh of the guards.

They will be free once more.



(59)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You call for fire, to the shock and horror of the guard captain. A great, screeching roar from beyond the wall invigorates the man, however, and his questions are forgotten as he begins to bark orders to haul anything flammable up to the wall.

The crowd disperses, hauling furniture, dismantled carts and even doors of the houses out into the street and up to the wall. Great pails of oil are carried out as well, with even the children carrying smaller buckets and following the adults' lead to pour the liquid over the wooden barricade.

Another scream, twice as loud, echoes in the night. People upon the wall call out warnings and begin to hastily clamber down. You are handed a torch, just like the one dozens of others carry in their hands as well. It feels heavy in your hand, and the heat of its flame brings a bead of sweat to your brow.

You raise the torch over your head, then toss it forward, onto the wall. It flies in a high arc, then lands atop the surface of the tavern door, the sign of a raven clearly visible, carved on its surface. The oil catches fire in a flash. More torches are thrown, and soon the town is encircled by a great wall of fire.

Beyond the orange and yellow flames you see the reflections of countless eyes, surrounded by deep shadows that seem to devour the horizon. Teeth as long as man's leg glimmer in the beasts maws, claws like great bone sabers flash as they approach the flame, only to recoil at the last moment, as the heat becomes unbearable.

Will the fire hold them back, or will the morning find only a charred ruin here?



(60)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You begin to walk out through the gates, and the crowd follows you. Somewhere to your left a harp begins to play, while to your right a woman begins to sing. More voices join in, both inside and outside of the walls.

Tents big and small spread out before your eyes in a seemingly endless field. Confused faces peer out, then fall victim of their emotions. Some smile or laugh. Some cry and wrap their arms around their loved ones. Many join in on the song.

A choir of a dozen green-skinned brutes, clad in leathers and standing nine feet tall, clasp gnarled hand in hand and sing in rumbling baritones. A choir of slender women of bronze skin, almond-shaped eyes and vivid green hair cascading down to their ankles raise their faces, and voices, to the sky and perform their own delicate variant of the shared song.

Baskets of food are brought out, and the innkeepers assistants haul out a cart with four barrels of drink to be shared. It was not enough. None if it would be enough for such a gathering.

But for this one night, that didn't matter. For this one night, all the peoples would share what little they had, and be merry.



(61)
Spoiler: ShowHide

The hooded figure looks to you, and you look at them. You bow your head and, as you look up once more, you smile. You knew this day would come, and that the people would one day arrive here, at the behest of this outsider, to fulfill their lofty dreams of greatness.

You've ruled for many a long year. Led your people through the Long Winter and the Summer of Vermin, and yet they cannot see. They forget the celebrations, the quiet nights spent safely in their homes, the countless sunrises that washed the town with their light. They only recall the hardships, the strong measures you took to thwart the spread of plague, or the conscription summer of 642. They think they will find the coffers full, the treasure stuffed with jewelry and the granaries brimming. They will find but cobwebs and misery in this palace.

The hooded one walks up to you, that cursed blade in their hand. The people around them look on with contempt, the pitiable fools. You fear none of them will see many more summers.

If only you could have done more, somehow. If only you could have made some further sacrifice to buy these people the happiness they so deserved.

You drop yourself to one knee and bow your head.

You wonder if the one under the hood understands what they have brought upon this world. Perhaps they were the harbinger of doom all along, and this is just the final act in their plan to bring ruin to this kingdom.

Your reign ends, and with it, your realm will die.



(62)
Spoiler: ShowHide

You reach into a chest and pull out the skin of a great beast, a tiger of orange and black stripes. You press your face into the soft, luxurious pelt and inhale the scent of its fur. It calls you, stirring within your mind images of a hunt.

You wrap the pelt around yourself and smile as you crouch down low. Your claws sink into the wood of the stage floor as your keen ears seek out and identify each individual voice in this cacophonous crowd.

Your prey do not even look your way as you pounce them, leaping into the crowd in a majestic arc, sinking your teeth and claws into the warm, living body of a man.

You will hunt freely this night, and be sated.



(63)
Spoiler: ShowHide

Faster. Sweat beads on your skin as it struggles to cool you off.

Faster. Steam rises into the air as bodies spin and twist and turn and tumble around one another.

Faster. A circle begins to form around the stage, people joining the seemingly endless spinning motion.

Faster. The circle of bodies blurs, one person melting into the next.

FASTER. You cannot stop.

FASTER. You will never stop.

FASTER. It cannot stop.

It never stops.



(64)
Spoiler: ShowHide

The hooded figure looks to you, and you look at them. You turn your head to your left, then your right, and see that all is in place. You knew this day would come, and that the people would one day arrive here, at the behest of this outsider, to fulfill their lofty dreams of greatness.

But you have not sat idle while waiting for this outsider's arrival. Oh no. Not at all.

You snap your fingers, the sounds carried crisp and clear through the open yard, echoing from the decorated walls of the palace. The crowd stops in its tracks. Fifty paces separate you from the hooded figure.

A volley of crossbow-bolts buzzes in the air above your head. The feel of the air moving with the force of their passing is an exhilarating sensation. Countless men and women fall, screaming and flailing, as their bodies are pierced by the cold steel bolts. The hooded one shouts in anger and charges, only for another salvo of projectiles to meet them head on.

Mere minutes later the palace grounds are empty again, save for the layer of still bodies that now litter the grassy field. You step over the body of the hooded figure and plant your boot over their wrist, forcing that cursed blade from their grip.

Your rule has not ended this night.



(65)
Spoiler: ShowHide

A hand takes your own, but this time you do not let it go, but instead pull it toward yourself. You wrap your arm around the warm, glistening body of the person near you and plant your lips upon theirs. They respond in kind, the tip of their tongue upon yours, their body trembling against you, their hand grasping at your back, fingernails scraping your bare skin.

You open your eyes and tilt your head, and past their head you see others. A group of four sink into a pile of hay. A married couple embrace. A pair of secret childhood lovers, now grown into maturity, rediscover one another in a burst of passion.

A thousand new loves, like stars in the sky, burn brightly tonight.

« Last Edit: 17 Feb 2019, 13:28 by WHAM »
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Baron

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        Fear seizes you and you dash for the statue as the haunting sound of claws scraping on pavement close in behind you.  You lunge for talisman but fall short as the Sgruck grabs your foot.  You are reduced to clinging to Enrico's bronze leg as the shadowy creature mauls your limb while baying with what must be a second mouth.  You scream in pain, flailing with one last desperate effort at the talisman above you.  In a stroke of luck you grasp the talisman and all is dark once more.

Turn to page 34
« Last Edit: 17 Feb 2019, 16:59 by Baron »

Sinitrena

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Wow  8-0, WHAM, I haven't read it yet but that is a monster of a branching story! (I know understand why you didn't want to use different posts - I actually expected two or three choices for the reader leading to about ten paragraphs, not 65 paragraphs ;).) Congratulations on getting it finished!

Baron

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        You awaken in the hospital once more to the sound of the chirping monitors.  Only now you discover that it is you who is hooked up to them.  A nurse marvels that you've come to at all, and reports that you have been comatose for several weeks.

   Confused, you ask after Katarina, but the nurse only shakes her head and leaves.

   You are overwhelmed with a sense of bitter disappointment.  You have failed, and now your life is more empty and meaningless than ever.  Tears drop silently down your cheeks.

   You decide that you can bear the incessant beeping no longer.  Feebly you toss the thin blankets off your bed, determined to leave this den of false hope.  That is when you discover the bloody stump just below your knee.

You live the rest of your wretched life dwelling on your failure.

cat

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Continuing A to B
Please start reading the story here: https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=56878.msg636601694#msg636601694


Spoiler: ShowHide

You try to peek at the laptop next to you but it turns out to be difficult. While the sky outside is grey and cloudy, there is still enough light to reflect on the display and making it hard to read. From what you make out by looking at the screen, the man seems to be working on a power point presentation. You can't read any details, but the headings indicate it is about some legal regulations regarding data protection. The text seems to be in place already and the man is currently adding unrelated clip arts and exaggerated transitions to the slides. Apparently, he is not used to do such a thing with a touch-pad, because he is constantly struggling with it.
After a while, he notices that he is being watched you quickly turn away.

What do you do now?

Read what you can see of the woman's newspaper
Go to Waterloo

Start playing "Annoyed Poultry" on your phone
Go to Canary Wharf

« Last Edit: 23 Feb 2019, 21:01 by cat »

Baron

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       “We have to go for the jade talisman,” you tell Katarina.  “It's our only way out.”  She looks at you quizzically, but says nothing.

     You look around the room for something to use as a weapon.  There is a bed, a dresser, and a rocking chair, all half consumed by flames.  You burn your hands ripping the drawers out of the dresser but find nothing of use but great piles of odd socks.  Grimacing, you instead kick the burning chair, cracking off its half-burnt arm, which you retrieve.

   “Do you trust me?” you say, extending your hand towards Katarina.

   She tilts her head, seemingly staring right through you.  But at length she nods, extending her hand as well.  You grasp it and then, breath held, burst through the door, burning chair arm held out in front of you. 

   Unbelievably, the Sgruck between you and the jade talisman is gone!  You pull Katarina towards the talisman at the end of the hall, noticing that with each step she seems to resist with greater force.  You are only a few steps from the talisman, but she is weeping now.

   “It will all be over soon,” you tell her over your shoulder.

   “I know,” she says through choking sobs.

   You turn to look at her and see the Sgruck towering right over her, teeth bared.  In a flash its sword-like claw shoots through her chest and into yours.  Your last sight is of Katarina's vacant eyes suddenly focusing on you as if in recognition before going completely vacant once more.

The Sgruck consumes your soul.  You are now both dead.

cat

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Continuing A to B
Please start reading the story here: https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=56878.msg636601694#msg636601694


Spoiler: ShowHide

You start reading the front page of the newspaper.

The main headline in huge uppercase letters is about a robbery in a supermarket. In a smaller font you read that it happened in another, not too far away district. No one was hurt but the suspect is still on the run. Below it, there is a bad quality photo, taken by a security camera. It is hardly recognisable.

There is also a smaller paragraph about a celebrity you don't know that was seen holding hands with another celebrity you don't know. This is illustrated by a photo as well.

The fire brigade rescued a cat that climbed on a steeple. A picture shows a fireman holding a white and brown spotted cat.

The weather report forecasts snow later today.

Besides that, you only see a small advertisement for an optician, that is partly covered by the hands of the woman holding the newspaper.

On the back page of the paper there is a full-page advertisement of an electronics retailer chain. They have special offers for a huge TV set, a mobile phone and a washing machine. You don't need any of these, but it reminds you that you should probably do the laundry later today.

There is nothing more for you to read.


What do you do now?

Peak at the laptop next to you
Go to Edgware Road

Start playing "Annoyed Poultry" on your phone
Go to Embankment


« Last Edit: 23 Feb 2019, 21:04 by cat »

Baron

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    “We have to get out of this house,” you tell Katarina.  “Or that Sgruck is going to eat us alive.”

   “What's a... a Sgruck?” she asks absently.

   “It's a....  Well, because you're stuck in a...  Uh, never mind that now.  There's something dangerous on the other side of that door, and we need to get out of this house.”

   “Who are you?” she asks, looking around at the burning room as if noticing her surroundings for the first time.

   You tell her your name as you kick out the window.  “We met on the plane, don't you remember?”

   She shakes her head in confusion.  She looks scared.

   “We have to jump for it,” you tell her.  You are relieved to find a porch roof outside the window with a relatively shallow pitch.  “C'mon!  We can make it!”

   But Katarina is now eyeing the door that is rattling on its hinges.  A malicious growl can be heard on the other side, and ghostly tendrils of blackness begin to float from the cracks around the frame.  Seemingly entranced, Katarina is reaching for the door knob.

   “Hey!” you shout, grabbing her by the shoulders and forcing her to look at you.  “Snap out of it!” you shout.  “That thing is going to eat you alive.  We have to get out of here!  We have to get away!”

   “But... my necklace....” she says, one hand on her chest, the other hand reaching for the door.  You notice that the flying sparks are suddenly making their mark on her, burning tiny circles in her sheet and skin.

   “We have to leave it,” you tell her.  “Let it go, Katarina.  You have to trust me.”

   Tears run down her cheek, but she lets you pull her away from the door and out the window onto the porch roof.  The two of you manage to climb down a decrepit trellis and then you are dashing through the snow towards the sign-post up the road.

   “Slow down!  I haven't got shoes on!” Katarina cries, feeling the shifts in temperature for the first time.

   “There's no time!” you call, looking back to see a pack of Sgrucks emerge from the burning house to bound after you.  The sign-post is just ahead.

   “I can't...  I can't make it!” Katarina pants as you pull her forward.

   “Yes you can.  We can make it.  Together.”

   She looks at you differently than before, and suddenly she has strength in her legs once more.  You make the final dash to the sign-post just before the pack of Sgrucks can close in for the kill.  Together you fall through the blackness of the axon chute.

   Suddenly you are on a sunny beach with palm trees.  You both look around in disbelief.  Katarina is now wearing a sun dress, and you notice that you are wearing a bathing suit and a Hawaiian shirt.  Someone is playing a ukulele nearby, although the beach itself is deserted.

   The jade talisman is probably lost forever.  The beach is peaceful for now, but the Sgruck will eventually find your trail again.  You need to find the next axon chute before they corner you.

   But Katarina is not looking around the beach for symbols or danger.  She is staring only at you, and despite yourself you can't help but stare back into her beautiful eyes.

   “They're going to follow us here,” you tell her.

   “Maybe,” she says, grabbing you by the hand.  You begin to walk along the peaceful beach, into what you realize is a gorgeous sunrise. 

   “Maybe we could spend a little time here,” you say to her, continuing to look over your shoulder.  “You know, relax for a bit and get to know each other.”

   “I'd like that,” she says.

   There is a black storm cloud hovering over the sea in the distance, but for now the sun shines pleasantly.  You will spend the rest of your lives roving from dream to dream, searching for islands of apparent safety such as this one, with the malicious Sgruck never far from your heels.  But just as the storm cloud on the horizon has a silver lining, at least you will face this uncertain future together.

The End

cat

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Continuing A to B
Please start reading the story here: https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=56878.msg636601694#msg636601694


Spoiler: ShowHide


You take out your phone and start a game of "Annoyed Poultry". You are doing quite well today and progress smoothly. You are so focused on playing, that you don't even notice the announcement of your station. At the last moment, you notice that the train is approaching your destination. You jump up from your seat and make your way through the now crowded corridor to the exit.

Go to Aldgate


Baron

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    You are suddenly standing in a thick jungle with vines dangling from impossibly tall trees.  A steady rain falls, turning the forest floor into a quagmire of mud.  A sudden flash of lightning casts a surreal intense light over the thick undergrowth, and for the first time you notice that some of the tree trunks are actually ancient stone columns swallowed by parasitic plant growth.  A bombastic crack of thunder follows several seconds later, indicating that the heart of the storm is not far off.  You are already nearly soaked, but the rain is at least warm.

    You begin to push your way through the thick vegetation, slipping frequently on the unreliable ground.  Thick spiderwebs glue themselves to your face as you stumble onward, blinding you further.  You need to get out of this thick undergrowth or you will never be able to see far enough to find Katarina.

   Another flash of lightning reveals an ancient stone stairway ascending a hill, although it is half choked by plants spilling over from the sides.  You push your way towards it.

   At the base of the stairs are two stone statues of mythical creatures.  They stand silent sentries, empty eye sockets facing forward.  You notice the ace of spades serves as a helmet crest for the creature on the right.  You also notice the faintest traces of muddy footprints ascending the stairs, but the rain blurs the last remnants before you can inspect them in detail.

   You begin to climb.  The rain seems to be coming down harder now.  Lighting flashes more frequently and the thunder rages like an angry beast. 

   You emerge onto the summit of the hill, which is more open than the slopes.  In a flash of lightning you notice what looks like a stone altar ahead, and the outline of someone tied to it squirming at their bonds.  You rush over, slipping on the wet paving stones.

   It is a bearded man, bound and gagged.  He has long soaking hair bound into a pony-tail, which is draped unnaturally over the top of the altar, directing the water to fall off of it as if from an open faucet.  At first he looks terrified at your approach, and then confused.

   “Oor ooo?” he shouts over the din of rain through his gag.

   You notice a stone knife on an adjacent pedestal.  Curiously, there is the jade talisman as well, its golden chain wrapped around the dagger.  Careful not to touch the talisman you free the knife and use it to cut the ropes holding the man.  He sits up, pulling off the loosened ropes and gag.  You tell him your name, and then ask him his.

   “Enrico,” he says, feeling over his bare chest as if checking for wounds.  He looks around furtively as if looking for something.  Or someone.

   “Is there anybody else here?” you ask, following his gaze.

   “You want my advice, my friend?” he asks, continuing to survey his surroundings.

   “And what is that?”

   Enrico stares you long and hard in the eye.  “Run,” he says, and he slips off the altar and into the thick growth of the hill's far slope.  You are left alone on the hill-top to contemplate his words.

   Another flash of lightning, and suddenly there is a blonde figure pacing along a stone lintel above the altar.  She has dishevelled hair and is wearing a white dress.  Curiously, she does not seem to be getting wet.

   “Katarina!” you call, but she does not respond.  Her head is cocked at an awkward angle, and she seems to be staring vacantly into space.  “Katarina!” you call again, but to no avail.

   There is another flash of lighting, but this time the thunder seems to be accompanied by the feral growling of a vicious animal.  From down the slope there is the unmistakable scream of a man, and then something that sounds like bones snapping.  You look back up to the stone lintel, but Katarina is now gone.  You look around, confused.

   Whatever got Enrico will soon be coming for you, too.  Katarina had the good sense to disappear, and your instincts tell you that you should too.  You begin to back down the stone staircase, when suddenly there is a deep, gravelly challenge from behind you.  You turn, and in a flash of lightning you see a nightmarish creature.  The brightness of the illuminated surrounding jungle contrasts with the ghastly creature's intense blackness.  Tendrils of black smoke wrap around a beast of many limbs.  It seems to have an exoskeleton or is encased in black armour, replete with jagged spikes of almost impractical length.  Great twisted claws extend from the tips of its limbs, and razor sharp teeth bristle from multiple sneering mouths.  The Sgruck has no apparent eyes, which only adds to its grim menace.

   You have lost Katarina and are now left with two unappealing options.  You can dash back up the steps and grab the jade talisman, waking you from this nightmare but effectively condemning Katarina.  Or you can attempt to dodge past the Sgruck to reach the axon chute at the base of the stairs, hopefully giving you a new chance to find Katarina in a different dream.  What should you do?

If you choose to go back for the jade talisman, turn to page PAGE 31

If you choose to go for the axon chute back at the statue, turn to PAGE 28
« Last Edit: 21 Feb 2019, 04:22 by Baron »

Frodo

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Eep, I forgot about this.   :embarrassed:
Need to finish my story

*gets writing*

Baron

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        Before the Sgruck can strike you dive for the manhole axon chute as if diving for the safety of a base in baseball.  As soon as you touch it the world around you goes black, and you have an odd feeling of weightlessness again.

        You are suddenly standing in a forest at night.  A few inches of snow carpet the forest floor, and the leaf-less trees stretch skeletal limbs into the sky, casting claw-like shadows in the bright moonlight.  You shudder in the chill air, wondering why you cannot dream up a winter coat to suit the landscape.

   You begin to trudge along, cursing as your feet are occasionally ensnared by a hidden root or fallen branch.  At length you emerge onto a narrow lane way and discover a single set of footprints in the snow.  The feet are smaller than yours and appear to be bare.  The left foot seems to drag slightly, and there are drops in the snow of something dark every other step.  You follow the footprints, quickening your pace.

   The lane way crosses another and there is a wooden signpost with an indecipherable word and an ace of spades carved into it.  There is also another set of prints crossing the first at right-angles, these ones much larger with claws.  Judging by how the snow from the first set has been pushed over the new set, you conclude with some relief that the monstrous footprints were laid down first.  But they are worryingly fresh, nonetheless.

   You continue to follow the small footprints.  Over a small rise you perceive a new light up ahead, this one orange and flickering.  It appears to be a house with flames beginning to lick from the roof, and the footprints you are following lead directly to it.  Any eerie howl echoes through the night.

   You begin to sprint towards the burning house.  Flames glow from several windows, and you see the unmistakable silhouette of a woman wandering through the second storey.

   “Katarina!” you shout, charging through the door.  The smoke is thick, but you can still see well enough to notice that the front room of the house is surrounded by eight doorways.  One must lead to a stairway, but above the growing roar of flames you can hear a menacing scratching sound against the other side of several other doors.  One of the doors shakes visibly and the two-inch end of a claw bursts through, sending splinters of wood flying towards you.

   You are acutely aware that you have not yet found the jade talisman and that chasing Katarina up and down stairwells might well prove a wild goose chase again.  On the other hand, the number of Sgrucks on your trail seem to be growing.  Do you dash back to the axon chute at the sign-post and try your luck again, or do you dare to start trying doors?  With the flames growing in intensity there is not much time to decide.

If you choose to rush back to the sign-post axon chute, turn to PAGE 65

If you choose to start opening doors, turn to PAGE 59
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 03:51 by Baron »

cat

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Continuing A to B
Please start reading the story here: https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=56878.msg636601694#msg636601694


Spoiler: ShowHide


You sit down on the seat next to the door and start looking out of the window. The train accelerates as it leaves the station. A suburban scenery passes by. Everything is grey as to be expected in this season. You see back gardens with lawns, swings, pools covered up for winter, bare flowerbeds and leafless trees. The sky is quite dark for the time of the day. Maybe there will be snow later today?


The train arrives at the next station and an elderly lady with a cane and a full shopping bag enters. What do you do?

Stand up and offer your seat
Go to Paddington

Pretend you didn't notice her and continue looking out of the window
Go to Victoria


« Last Edit: 23 Feb 2019, 20:41 by cat »

Baron

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        You decide to dash after Katarina, come what may.  People block your way right and left, and in frustration you pull off their veils to get by as they crumple to the ground as heaps of empty clothes.  Finally you find her, cowering beneath a fruit stand in a corner of the market.

   “I'm not going to leave you here,” you tell her, crouching down to her level.  “Bad things have happened, but I'm here to make it right.  I've come back for you.  I always will come back for you.”

   Katarina looks you in the eye, wiping away a tear.

   “You're not going to leave?” she asks.

   “Never,” you say.

   She takes your hand, and together you stand.

   A silent crowd has gathered, forming a semi-circle around the fruit stand.  One by one they pull back their veils, collapsing into heaps of clothes and black smoke.  There is a vicious growling from all sides as a pack of Sgruck begin to take shape.

   “You're not going to leave?” Katarina asks, trembling.

   “Never,” you repeat.

   Suddenly the black creatures surge forward in unison, and you are both slain in moments.

The end

cat

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Continuing A to B
Please start reading the story here: https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=56878.msg636601694#msg636601694


Spoiler: ShowHide


You continue looking out of the window. With every station, the scenery gets more and more urban. The houses get higher, the backyards smaller and are finally are replaced by multi-story apartment buildings. You have seen this view countless times while commuting, but as every time, there is some new detail. A poster promoting an upcoming musical. A huge truck with brand new SUVs. A new level is built at the construction site. There is just a glass pane between you and the outside, but it feels like a different world. Your mind starts to drift away.

When you hear the announcement for your station, you slowly let go of the window and prepare yourself for leaving the train and entering reality.

Go to Elephant & Castle


Sinitrena

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A bit more than a day left! Cross your Ts, dot your Is and make sure all your links are properly set  ;)! (And ask if you need a some more time.)

Frodo

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Ack, I've not had much time to write more.   :undecided:
Can I get an extension?  Please? 


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


The mob all peer over the side of the mountain, into the water far below.  But it's dark.  And the crashing waves makes it hard to see anything. 

Then… a flash of lightning lights up the area, just for a brief second



ENZIO:   *shouts*   THERE!   *points down below*   Right there!  I saw her! 

DARIO:   *looks where Enzio is pointing*   Where?  I don't see anything. 

ENZIO: Right there.  To the left of the rock.  I saw a dark shape.  It HAS to be her. 

FABRIZIO:  Says who?  It could have been anything?  A fish under the water.  A bit of seaweed.  More rocks.  Anything! 

ENZIO:  It was her, I tell you! 


Just then, another flash of lightning lights up.  Enzio and Fabrizio look down into the water.  Sure enough, there's a dark shape, about human size, floating in the water, hitting against the rocks. 

The mob, satisfied that the royal princess did indeed jump to her death, disband, and make their way home. 

The curse is broken.  The villagers are safe.
 

The End
.
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 21:21 by Frodo »

Baron

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   You decide to try to get by the Sgruck and back down to the statue axon chute.  You fake left, and then right, but the Sgruck mirrors your movements exactly.  Then it begins to creep up the stairs towards you as if it is floating upon the ghostly black cloud that surrounds it.

   It is now or never.  You remember that the axon chute statue was on the right of the stairway, so you jump into the undergrowth to your left.  The slope is steep and the mud is slick, so you are immediately lying on your back and sliding blindly through the thick leaves.  Above your head you see plants being scythed out of the way by great monstrous claws, but the Sgruck can not quite match the force of gravity in this dream-world.  You collide with the statue at the bottom more by accident than by design, and instantly the dream-world vanishes into a void of blackness.

   And then just as suddenly you are seated in the cockpit of some kind of space craft.  You are surrounded by screens and buttons, and out the port-side window a giant gas planet looms large.  All is still but for the gentle beeping of instruments. 

   You unstrap yourself from the seat, noticing as you do that you are wearing a full space suit except for the helmet.  With the strap removed you float weightlessly above the floor.  You push yourself through the air towards the door at the back of the cockpit, and it opens automatically for you to pass through. 

   After a long tube you pass through another door into a kind of command centre filled with monitors and instruments.  As you float by you notice that one of the monitors shows an ace of spades symbol.  Several doors lead out from this room.  You explore each in turn, floating through a canteen and some sleeping quarters and an airlock and a cargo bay.  In one of the connecting tubes you find the jade talisman suspended mid-air, and are careful to avoid it for the time being.  The ship or space station or whatever it is appears to be completely deserted.

   You are coasting along through an exercise area when you notice black tendrils of smoke drifting out of a ventilation pipe in the ceiling.  You back away slowly, silently floating through the air towards the door.  There is the sound of claws scratching on metal, and the duct begins to deform.  A few more feet to go....

   Suddenly the Sgruck bursts out of the ventilation pipe and lands on the floor, apparently unaffected by the lack of gravity in space.  It turns towards you, shrieking, but you have already reached the door.  It closes automatically, and you quickly press an adjacent button with a locking symbol on it.  The Sgruck reaches the door moments later but is frustrated by the barrier.  It bangs and claws at it, but the material of the door holds firm.

   You do notice wisps of black smoke slipping past the door at the edges and resolve to leave before the Sgruck can use its nightmarish magic to bypass the door.  You decide that your best course of action is to rush back to the axon chute in the command centre. 

   It is at this precise moment that the glint of blonde hair in sunlight catches your eye outside a portal window.  Moving closer, you are amazed to see Katarina free floating in open space, unprotected by any kind of equipment.  Her hair waves every which way, and she is in fact wearing what look like teddy bear pyjamas.  She smiles girlishly at you before disappearing from view.

   You stare into the empty vacuum in disbelief.  Should you still rush back to the axon chute in the command centre, or should you proceed to the airlock and try to retrieve Katarina?

If you decide to head to the axon chute on the screen in the command centre, turn to PAGE 46

If you decide to go to the airlock to try to retrieve Katarina, turn to PAGE 44   
« Last Edit: 23 Feb 2019, 03:45 by Baron »

Baron

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        You might not get another chance as good as this, given that Katarina and the jade talisman are both within relative proximity.  Sgrucks be damned, you decide to push your way through the crowd towards Katarina.  In mere moments you are standing in the open space that she has cleared with her whimsical twirling.

   “Katarina,” you call gently, but she does not acknowledge your existence.  You call her name again, and then try to grab her outstretched arm as she twirls past.  She has surprising strength, however, and you are soon swept up into a kind of awkward dance with her.

   You look into her face, but her eyes are glazed as if she is entranced.  You call her name again, dragging your feet to bring the spinning at last to a stop.  “The dance is over now,” you say, trying to plausibly bridge your two realities.  “Oh no!” you gasp in mock surprise.  “You've lost your jade necklace!”

   Katarina's eyes suddenly focus on you before turning to look down at her chest.  She looks around, confused, but you hold her hand tightly in yours.  “We have to find it....” she says absently.

   “Yes,” you agree, looking around.  There are already menacing growls coming from somewhere in the thick crowd.  “This way, I think.”  You lead her on a circuitous route that will bring you back to the jewelry stall, hopefully after the Sgruck has left to follow the trail of your scent.  But the crowd becomes thick, and the going difficult.  There is fierce howling now, although from where in the crowd you can not tell.  Katarina winces at the sound, and tries to pull away from you.

   “We're almost there!” you tell her.

   “Who are you?!” she shouts back, succeeding in pulling her hand away.

   “There's no time for that now,” you say, trying to keep your voice down.  “We were travelling together and I'm trying to save you, and you have to trust me right now.”

   But Katarina slides behind a man with a hand cart, separating you from her.

   “I don't even know you,” she says accusingly.  “Where have you brought me?  What are those terrible noises?”

   “They're just nightmares,” you say, extending your hand in desperation.  You are not twenty paces from the jewelry stand.  “Come on.  Please!  I'll explain it all to you in two minutes.”

   Katarina stares deeply into your eyes, and her expression seems to soften slightly.  She seems just on the verge of taking your hand again, when suddenly the Sgruck bellows  from somewhere right nearby.  Katarina panics and flees into the crowd.  You have only moments to decide what to do.

If you decide to pursue Katarina, turn to PAGE 5

If you decide to make a final dash for the jade talisman, turn to PAGE 64
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 03:42 by Baron »

Baron

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        You decide that there is no option but run back up the stone steps for the jade talisman.  The Sgruck bounds after you, baying triumphantly.  At the top of the stairs you turn and fling the stone dagger at it, striking it right in the mouth.  It howls in pain for a moment before melting into a cloud of black vapour.

   Your heart is pounding harder than the rain upon your head.  You turn and to your great surprise you see Katarina back upon the stone lintel above the altar.  She is staring at you with half-vacant eyes, head tilted to the side. 

   “Katarina!” you call.  “Jump down to me.  We have to get you out of here!”

   But Katarina just continues to stare.  “What is the fluid that runs up hills?” she asks cryptically.

   Your brow furrows at the riddle, not knowing what to make of it.  Only too late do you notice the tendrils of black vapour creeping up the stairs and snaking around your legs.  Instinctively you dash for the talisman, but a clawed hand shoots out of the black cloud and seizes your leg.  A disembodied mouth appears from the fog, teeth open wide for the kill.

   In desperation you toss a broken piece of stone statue into the gaping maw and then attempt a frenzied crawl towards the pedestal with the talisman.  You are jerked backwards and feel an intense pain in your leg, but then you are surging forwards again and seize the talisman with a last ditched effort.

   All goes dark as you float through the weightless void.

Turn to PAGE 34
« Last Edit: 21 Feb 2019, 04:23 by Baron »

Sinitrena

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Okay, let's keep this open over the weekend. Finish your stories by the end of the 24th February! This is the last extension.

Baron

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   Blackness.  Then suddenly you are standing in a busy market.  Men and women wearing colourful costumes push by you on all sides, each with their face hidden behind a kind of veil.  An exotic kind of music fills the air, and there is the smell of perfume and cooking food.

    You push your way through the throng, constantly looking around.  A fat man tries to sell you a carpet.  You are about to shove it away when you notice the ace of spades woven into it.  “Maybe later,” you mutter, taking a mental note of where the carpet seller's stand is located within the larger market.

   You move on, passing merchants hawking musical instruments, exotic birds, funny platform shoes and ornamental weapons.  You pause at a stand selling jewelry, scanning the merchant's wares for the jade talisman, but it doesn't seem to be here.

   “Something catches your eye, good sir?” the merchant asks.

   “No.  These are all cheap trinkets,” you say.  “I'm looking for something special, made of gold and jade.”

   “Ah!  A discerning buyer!  I might have just what you are after.”  The merchant flourishes his hand, and then reaches into his sleeve to pull out a gaudy looking brooch.  “Perhaps you find this pleasing?”

   “No,” you say flatly.

   “Perhaps this then?” the merchant asks, producing a bejewelled lamp.

   You shake your head, turning to look over the crowd for some sign of Katarina.  The merchant grabs your arm forcefully, begging you not to leave until you have seen his finest wares.  You try to ignore him, but suddenly the jade talisman is thrust just inches from your face.

   “Let me go!” you tell the man, but his grip only tightens.

   “Sir must try it on, yes?” the man says, leaning close to you.

   You dare not touch the talisman, so instead you try to push the man away by the face.  Only your hand goes right through the veil, revealing nothing but emptiness inside.  Suddenly the clothes just fall into a heap on the ground, while the talisman falls onto a display hook at the front of the merchant stand.  You look around, wondering if anyone in the crowd noticed what just transpired, but everyone seems to be going about their business as usual.  You turn back to the pile of clothes and are horrified to see tendrils of black vapour beginning to emanate from them.

   Quickly you push your way back into the crowd towards the carpet sellers.  In your haste you knock the veil off an old lady, who also collapses as a pile of empty clothes.

   “Oh shit,” you mutter aloud as this pile too begins to give off black tendrils of smoke.

   You carefully squeeze your way through the throng towards the carpet seller once more when you suddenly see Katarina.  Her blonde hair is twirling as she dances to the exotic music in the centre of the square.  Staring at her, you notice that there seems to be no relationship between her movements and the rhythm of the song.

   You have only moments to make a decision.  Do you shove your way through the last of the crowd to get to the axon chute at the carpet seller's, or do you grab Katarina now and try to dodge past the coming Sgruck to get back to the jade talisman?

If you decide to return to the axon chute at the carpet stand, turn to PAGE 60

If you decide to grab Katarina and go for the talisman, turn to PAGE 27
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 03:57 by Baron »

Baron

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   You decide to race back to the airlock and attempt to retrieve Katarina from space.  You fly through the tubes connecting the pods like a bullet, being sure to lock all the doors behind you as you proceed.  You pass the jade talisman, floating in the middle of the tube on your way to the cargo bay.  From there, you turn left, and shoot through the last tube to the airlock. 

   Thankfully there is a helmet waiting for you there.  You fix it securely onto your suit, mash at the buttons on your chest until a reassuring draught of air starts to blow on your face, and then punch at the button on the wall.  The far door blows open and there is a great whoosh of air sweeping you out into space.  At the last moment you manage to grab onto the lip of outer airlock door, and by that point the surge of air has subsided.  You pull yourself around the door frame and emerge into the open vastness of space.

   You are amazed at the sheer scale of the universe.  The gas giant planet looms massively above you.  A carpet of stars stretches below you out into infinity.  And the molecule-like space station of pods and tubes stretches a surprising distance behind you.  You try to get your bearings in order to determine where it was that you saw Katarina, but the complexity of the station has you puzzled.  You resolve to float through the interlacing pods in an attempt to find her.

   At the extremity of the space station the vastness of space seems to tie your stomach in a knot, but once inside the web of pods and tubes of the space station you feel somewhat sheltered.  Occasionally you get close enough to a tube or pod to bounce gently off of it, and peering through the windows you find that you recognize a few pods.  You find the exercise area where you first encountered the Sgruck, but it is empty.  You suddenly wonder whether you would be able to notice the tell-tale sign of the black vapour cloud against the infinite blackness of space....

   But such thoughts are instantly washed from your mind as you turn to see Katarina twirling by above you, still in her teddy pyjamas, blonde hair dancing like a solar corona.  In a great stroke of luck she is heading in your direction.  You calculate your jump carefully, not intending to intercept her but to parallel her course.  Soon you are gliding side-by-side through the geometric womb of the space station.

   “Ha ha!” Katarina laughs, thrilling at the sensation of twirling through space.  “Who are you?”

   You laugh as well, and tell her your name.  “Come here often?” you ask, winking.

   She laughs some more, thoroughly enjoying the moment.  “Have you ever done anything so incredible?”

   “Only once, around Saturn,” you reply.

   Katarina bursts out laughing so loud that she actually sprays condensation onto the outside of your helmet.  You wonder for a moment at the physics of that, but decide not to question the parameters of the dream-world.

   “Oh!” she says, suddenly serious.

   You turn to follow her gaze and realize that you are leaving the confines of the station and heading directly towards the glowing gas-giant!  You contemplate in horror Newton's first law of motion, and suddenly wish you had squandered your education on 18th century French poetry instead.

   But you quickly realize that Katarina was not suddenly aware of the physics of space.  What you had assumed was just a dark cloud on the planet's surface resolves itself into a flailing nightmarish creature at much greater proximity.  It snarls at you and waves its claws at you angrily.

   “I don't like it!” Katarina says, burrowing her head into your shoulder.  “Make it go away!”

   You look left and right, trying to think of options.  There is nothing to grab onto, nothing to push against.  There is nothing out here at all except you and Katarina, the gravity defying Sgruck, a space suit, and a pair of teddy pyjamas.

   Wait!  The space suit!  The air-tank seems to be attached to a backpack that comes off!  You remove the pack as quickly as you can, positioning it between you and the Sgruck.  It shrieks a bloodthirsty cry of triumph, and then shoots a clawed appendage out towards you.  A vicious claw punctures the tank, suddenly sending you and Katarina spiralling back towards the space station.

   “Hold on!” you shout, trying to control your direction.  You see a well-lit blur spinning wildly ahead of you and realize it must be the open airlock cabin.  Sensors start flashing red inside your helmet, warning you of impending oxygen loss, but you are almost there....

   In a terrific stroke of luck you manage to shoot back into the airlock just as your air runs out!  A few mashed buttons later and the airlock is closed and pressurized once more.  You remove your helmet and take a grateful breath of recycled station air.

   “Phew!  That was close!” you say, noticing that Katarina is still hugging you.

   She looks up at you and you wink back.  You feel her body relax, and a hint of a smile returns to the corners of her mouth.

   You open the inner airlock door, expecting to see a Sgruck lurking to ambush you, but the tube back up to the cargo bay is silent and empty.

   “What is this place?” Katarina asks.   

   “It's all just a dream,” you tell her truthfully.  “We need to find your jade necklace.  Will you help me find it?”

   Katarina looks down at her chest, noticing that the talisman is not where it should be.  “Yes,” she says.  “Where can we find it?”

   “Hopefully just up ahead.”

   You clasp hands and shoot together through the long tube towards the cargo bay.  You bang your head awkwardly colliding with the far doors.  Katarina smirks, but manages to contain her laughter.

   You rub your aching head.  “I forgot I locked it,” you mutter.  Before unlocking the door you peer carefully through the tiny windows to see if there is any danger on the other side.  It seems safe.

   You cautiously enter the cargo bay.  There are two exits from this pod.  The first goes back to the canteen and has the jade talisman floating in the connecting tube.  The second leads back to the command centre.

   “Here goes nothing,” you say, opening the door to the first tube.  There is the jade talisman, floating tantalizingly in the middle of the tube.  But at the far end of the tube there is a cloud of black vapour that suddenly resolves itself into the fearsome outline of a Sgruck.  It bellows a challenge to you.  Do you accept?

   This is it.  Or is it?  Do you dare race the Sgruck for the talisman floating innocuously between you?  Or do you lock the door and bolt with Katarina for the axon chute back in the command centre, trusting that it will reunite you with the talisman in some other dream world?

If you decide to race the Sgruck for the talisman, turn to PAGE 56

If you decide to lock the door and bolt for the axon chute on the command centre monitor, turn to PAGE 13
« Last Edit: 25 Feb 2019, 02:46 by Baron »

Baron

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        Suddenly you are in the midst of a great medieval battle.  All around you is the din of metal clanging on metal, of voices shouting and screaming in agony or triumph.  Faceless warriors behind helmets and masks slash viciously at similarly clad warriors.  You cannot fathom how they can tell who is on who's side, but perhaps for them it doesn't matter?

   You are drawn from your thoughts by an axe narrowly missing your face.  You roll to the ground, instinctively sweeping your leg out to trip up the warrior attacking you.  He stumbles back and is soon smote by yet another warrior.  He falls to the ground, motionless, and you begin to sigh in relief.

   And then the black tendrils of smoke begin to pour out of the eye slots of his helmet.

   You are instantly on your feet again, running.  One warrior swings a sword at you, but you are able to dodge just in time.  Another waves a mace, but you are able to dive through his legs.  An arrow smites a warrior to your left, and more black smoke begins to billow out.  You grab his shield, using it to frantically push your way through the fray.  More and more warriors fall, and the black smoke seems to choke the air.  There is no sign of the ace of spades or the jade talisman.

   And then a half-fallen warrior manages to slice your leg with his sword.  You try to stumble onwards, but the cut is deep and your leg will not respond to your will.  Another pair of warriors locked in mortal embrace careen out of control and knock you over.  There is the sound of baying, as if a pack of a thousand wolves just caught the scent of prey.

   You crawl beneath the feet of the dancing warriors, sometimes trampled and sometimes stabbed.   The black clouds form a layer of fog that entirely covers the ground now, and from the fog begin to rise the metallic spikes.

   In just moments you are seized by great clawed hands and your body is quickly torn to pieces.

You are dead

Baron

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    You decide that it is now or never.  Grasping Katarina by the hand, you shout “hurry!” and push off down the tube towards the talisman.  Katarina is less enthusiastic about flying towards the monstrous Sgruck, however, and her hesitation acts like an anchor, swinging you into the wall of the tube.  She in turn looses her footing, and now you are both careening out of control, bouncing off the walls of the tube towards the Sgruck!  Through the chaos you catch a glimpse of the Sgruck swallowing the jade talisman as it advances down the tube.  Katarina screams in complete terror, and soon great globules of floating blood go bouncing down tube.

You are both dead

Baron

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    You decide the safest course is to head back to the command centre and try another axon chute.  You fly through the tubes of the space station head-first like a super hero, never flinching at the doors that always open for you at the last possible second.  That is, until the second last door opens to reveal a frightful creature clad in black smoke and wearing two menacing grins.

   At the last second you stretch out lengthwise to collide with the frame of the door, quickly manipulating the button at the edge to close and lock the door.  Immediately tendrils of black smoke begin to seep in from along the edges of the door.

   You push off to fly in the opposite direction once more, trying to conceptualize how the pods of the station are linked in order to find a route around.  You pass through a medical bay, a plant-growing room, and a lounge. 

   You are about to lose your cool when you notice the giant monitor on the lounge wall and an idea strikes you.  You stop yourself and rush over to the monitor, mashing at buttons to try to change the feed.  A variety of programmes, each more bizarre than the last flash by.  You are aware that black tendrils of smoke have begun leaking from the lounge's ventialtion and that you have only moments before another Sgruck bursts into the room.

   And then suddenly the ace of spades symbol comes up on the screen.  You release the breath that you hadn't realized you were holding and press your hand against the screen.
   
Turn to PAGE 43
« Last Edit: 25 Feb 2019, 02:53 by Baron »

Baron

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        You decide that you must persevere in this dream scenario despite the dangers.  You approach the first door, feeling the nob for heat and listening for the nightmarish sounds of the Sgruck on the other side.  Suddenly the door lurches in its frame and there is a hideous, bloodthirsty baying from the other side.  You sense that you have only moments before the creature bursts through the door.

   The second door you try also barely contains a Sgruck, but the third is quiet, although the knob is hot to the touch.  Steeling yourself, you jerk the door open.  Flames lick up the stairwell, but at least there is no monster.  However, great scratch marks criss-cross the inside of the doorway.

   Setting aside your fear you charge up the stairs.  The stench of flame consuming hair fills your nostrils, but you succeed in emerging comparatively unscathed onto the second floor.  “Katarina!” you yell, but there is no response.  You do notice a painting of a ship at the far end of the hall, and from the frame dangles the jade talisman.

   You go from room to room, desperately searching as the flames lick walls and ceilings.  The heat is unbearable, but you are acutely aware that this will be your last chance to find Katarina.  You open the door to the last room, discovering it to be empty.  Shit!

   And then you see the ghostly figure of a girl walking through the snow outside, wrapped in what looks like a bed-sheet.  To your frustration the window will not open.  You are about to kick through the glass when a burning joist falls from above, narrowly missing you but blocking your path to the window. 

   You dash back to the burning stairwell, which is now entirely consumed by flame.  You take one step into the inferno before considering what happened back in the ruined city.  Instead, you walk backwards, retracing your steps into the room with the fallen joist.

   “I know you are lost, and I'm here to find you,” you say, without turning around, not daring to hope that your reverse thinking has worked.

   “Who are you?” Katarina's voice asks back.

   You turn to see her, wrapped in a bed-sheet but nothing else.  Her hair is dishevelled and there is a stunned look to her eyes, but she is otherwise completely unscathed by the fire all around her.

   “There is no time to explain,” you say, grasping her by the hand.  “We just need to get to the jade talisman, ok?”

   She nods absently, allowing you to pull her into the hallway.  But where there was once glowing flame there is now a chilling blackness.  A grotesque creature is blocking your path to the talisman at the end of the hallway, baring large metallic teeth and snarling menacingly.

   You quickly drag Katarina into the room across the hall, slamming the door behind you.  There are only moments before the creature bursts through the door.  Do you try somehow to outflank it to get to the jade talisman?  Or do you try to jump from the window with Katarina and make a run for the axon chute back at the sign-post?

If you decide to go for the talisman despite the Sgruck, turn to PAGE 19

If you decide to go for the sign-post axon chute, turn to PAGE 22
« Last Edit: 23 Feb 2019, 03:59 by Baron »

Baron

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        Your experience on the space station was harrowing enough.  You cannot imagine trying to escape from a pack of Sgruck stuck out in the open.  After one last longing glance at Katarina, you begin to push your way through the crowd once more.  Behind you is the fearsome roar of a Sgruck, but no one else seems to notice it.  The crowd is packed too tightly together now and you can barely move.  The beast will be upon you in moments.

   In desperation you being ripping the veils off of the people blocking your path.  Instantly they fall into heaps of clothes, each off-gassing the fearsome tendrils of smoke that herald the coming of another Sgruck.  Dozens fall, then scores.  You are almost there.

   The original Sgruck emerges from the crowd right behind you, bellowing fiercely.  But it seems momentarily distracted by the great clouds of other Sgruck wafting up from the fallen clothing.  You seize your chance and make a last push towards the carpet stand, diving to put your hand onto the carpet.  Instantly you are in the safety of the black void once more.

Turn to PAGE 58

cat

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Continuing A to B
Please start reading the story here: https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/forums/index.php?topic=56878.msg636601694#msg636601694


Spoiler: ShowHide


You stand up and offer your seat to the old lady, who happily accepts and sits down. As you turn around, you look into a somewhat familiar face, although you can't put a name on it. It's a man, about your age, and also seems to ponder who you are. Suddenly it occurs to you who you are looking at. It's a colleague back from high school. No wonder you didn't recognise him immediately, you haven't met him since you graduated. He also wasn't one of your closer friends and you belonged to different cliques. At the same time, he recognises you, too. Seems like you have changed quite a bit as well...
You start some small-talk about current whereabouts, who else from the class you have contact with, what happened to the other colleagues and so on. A blast from the past on a Monday morning train. When your station is announced over the loudspeaker, you quickly exchange contact information. Then you say goodbye and make your way to the exit.

Go to Hammersmith

« Last Edit: 23 Feb 2019, 20:40 by cat »

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My "story" should be finished. I hope I wired up everything correctly. Please let me know if I missed something.

Frodo

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The girl closes her eyes for a moment, trying to make sense of the last 24 hours.  Why are these people hunting her?  She's a Royal Princess, after all.  Everyone loves her… don't they?  Her parents died when she was very young, and she's been raised by her Royal Advisor, who acted as Steward to the throne until Anastasia‘s 18th birthday, when she will inherit the throne.  Despite having no parents, she's led a privileged life until now. 

But that was before her trusted Royal Advisor told her about the curse - that when the first-born daughter of royal blood reaches her 18th birthday and inherits the throne, a curse would be unleashed, bring death and disease to Greece.  Then he betrayed her, and dragged her out to the mob. 

She doesn't believe in the curse, of course, but this is a small town, and superstition gives way to paranoia and fear
.   

She jumps, as a crash of thunder beats down.  Then a flash of lightning lights up the dark sky, revealing the edge of the moors, giving way to a sharp drop.  She can hear the crash of waves far below her.  There's nowhere for her to run.


Minutes later, the angry mob reach the edge of the mountain. 

They look at each other, completely baffled.  THERE'S NO SIGN OF ANASTASIA! 


FABRIZIO:  *looks around*   Where did she go?   

LORENZO:   *shrugs*   How should I know?  I'm not a mind reader. 

FABRIZIO:  She can't have escaped…

LORENZO:  Well, where is she then?  She's not here… she MUST have escaped.

MATTIA:  Wait… what's this?   


Mattia sees something in the muddy ground.  He picks it up


MATTIA:  It's her royal signet ring. 

DARIO: She must have dropped it.  But where IS she? 

ENZIO: *peeks over the edge*   You don't suppose she… do you think she jumped?   

DARIO:  It's a long way down. 

FABRIZIO:  She would never survive those rocks at the bottom. 

DARIO:  Well, where IS she then? 



A brief silence falls over the mob, as they ponder over where Anastasia could be



Did she jump over the edge, into the deep water below?
Go HERE


Is she hiding somewhere nearby?
Go HERE

« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 21:21 by Frodo »

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My "story" should be finished. I hope I wired up everything correctly. Please let me know if I missed something.

You did wire everything correctly, and so did WHAM.  (nod) I checked the stories of you two. Baron, Frodo, you still seem to work on your entries? You have slightly more than a day left.

Let me just say that all of your work is impressive. I'm looking forward to reading all finished entries

Frodo

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Rivermouth…

The bustling town of Rivermouth, as the name may suggest, sits on the edge of a river.  A sandy beach is overlooked by high cliffs and mountains.

Ana stands on the edge of the cliff, enjoying the sea breeze blowing through her hair
.


ANA:   *softly*   Osiris, you heard my prayer.  You saved me.  And for that, I thank you.  I just… never imagined you could send me through time. 


She looks down at the waves below, crashing against the rocks. Being near the sea like this always makes her feel calm, and helps her forget how lonely she is.

She came to Rivermouth on her 18th birthday.  That was 2 years ago now.  But she still feels like an outsider. Being shy, she finds it hard to make friends. Her sheltered upbringing doesn't help matters. But her difficulty in talking to people, especially strangers, comes across as arrogance and coldness, so most people tend to shun her. Besides, she finds the company of animals MUCH more pleasant than the company of people.

She hears a bark from behind her, and before she can react, a dog trots up, and sits down beside her. She looks at the dog
.



ANA: *to the dog* Well, hello there.


Ana smiles and squats down, so she can pet the dog.


ANA: And what's your name? *still petting the dog*


A voice replies.


VOICE: Bandit.

ANA: Bandit? That's a good name.


Ana looks around, and sees the dog's owner walking towards her.


MAN: I call him Bandit, cos he's a little rogue, and likes to get his nose into everything, and ‘borrow' things, just like a bandit. *chuckles* Hi, I'm Ben. Me and Bandit just moved here last week.

ANA: I'm Ana.

BEN: It's a beautiful view from this cliff top, overlooking the water.

ANA: *nods* I come up here for a walk every day. I find it relaxing, hearing the waves below.

BEN: *looks at her* That's an interesting accent you have. If you don't mind… where are you from?

ANA: Greece. My parents are from Greece. But I left there long ago.

BEN: I'm still trying to find my way around Rivermouth. Is there any other local landmarks you can recommend? Preferably with some wildlife?

ANA: I… uh…


Ben seems like a nice young man.  And she DESPERATELY needs a friend?  But can she risk talking to her and showing him around Rivermouth?  Should she risk him finding out her secret?  If he knew the truth about her, that would surely be the end for her.  Then again, it's been so long since she's been able to trust anyone



Does she make an excuse, and leave?
Go HERE


Does she offer to give Ben a tour of Rivermouth? 
Go HERE

« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 21:39 by Frodo »

Baron

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        Katarina is gone.  You doubt you will find her quickly in this thick crowd, and the Sgruck are closing in.  With a heavy heart you decide that your only option for survival is to dash for the jade talisman, only twenty paces away.

        There is the furious baying of predatory creatures all around you, but you can see nothing but the churning crowd that hems you in and the ghostly ringlets of black smoke wafting along the ground.  You try to push your way towards the jewellery stand, but you are blocked by bodies standing shoulder to shoulder.

        "Peace be with you, friend," a veiled man tells you, grasping your arm firmly.

        "Peace!" mutter others, also trying to latch on to you.  In desperation you grab at the first man's veil, causing is clothes to collapse into an empty pile and the foul smoke to erupt from them.  Only this time you grab the pile of empty clothes, quickly throwing them over your own.  Your plan is to camouflage yourself for the last couple steps.

         As you expected, the crowd suddenly pays you no mind.  There is fearsome growling all around you, but even the Sgruck seem to be thrown off by your ruse!  Only ten paces to the jewellery stand remain.  Now only five!

         You are but two paces from the talisman when a great armed claw bursts out of belly of your clothing, flailing towards you.  Another bursts out of the shoulder, and a third from your hip.  There is an intensely malicious snarl from your right leg, and then your only sensation is sharp, stabbing pain.  You reel, careening off of people in the crowd.  Blood is spattering over their colourful costumes; your blood!  You fall towards the jewellery stand with its dangling talisman, arm outstretched.

         Suddenly all goes black.  You are not sure whether you managed to touch the talisman or not, but in the stillness of the void you are suddenly at peace.

Turn to PAGE 34

Baron

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        Deciding that the odds are not in your favour in this world, you dash back to the sign-post.  Blood pounds hard in your ears, or is that the pounding of clawed feet in pursuit?  You dare not look over your shoulder as you sprint the last few paces and touch the sign-post.

        Instantly you are in the black stillness of the void once more.  With any luck the next dream will find Katarina and the jade talisman in close proximity to one another.  You cross your fingers, as suddenly a new world resolves itself around you.

Turn to PAGE 4
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 03:57 by Baron »

Baron

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    You dare not race the Sgruck, and so quickly close and lock the door to the tube.  “Come on, this way!” you shout to Katarina, tugging her towards the other tube.

   “What are those things?!?” she asks, not needing much coaxing to flee.

   “Sgruck,” you reply.  She looks at you as if you just swore at her.  “They're called Sgruck,” you explain as you both shoot down the tube.  “If we can find and touch the ace of spades we'll get away from them.”

   “How?”

   “You'll see.”

   The far door opens automatically as it is unlocked, and you are briefly seized with panic as your momentum carries you through the doorway into unknown peril.  Fortunately there is no Sgruck in the command pod yet.

   “That screen?” Katarina asks, immediately identifying the correct monitor.

   “Yes.  That symbol stands for an axon chute, kind of a portal between worlds.  When we touch it we'll be sucked into a new reality.”

   “And there will be no Sgruck in that new place?”

   “Not exactly,” you say, pausing in front of the monitor.  “They'll come looking for us, but we'll have a head start.  When we get to the new world we have to quickly find another ace of spades or the jade talisman.”

   “Jade talisman?”

   “Your necklace.  That's how we get away from the Sgruck forever.  We hold hands and touch the jade talisman.”  You notice black smoke leaking into the command centre pod.

   “Okay.  The ace of spades or the jade necklace,” Katarina repeats to herself.

   “I prefer to think of it as a jade talisman.”

   She shakes her head at you incredulously. 

   “Ready?” you ask.  She nods.

   You grasp her hand firmly and you both touch the monitor together.  All goes black.

   “Where are we?” asks a disembodied voice in the blackness.

   “Wait for it,” you reply.

   “Wait for what?”

Turn to PAGE 25
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 04:13 by Baron »

Baron

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   Suddenly you are standing in the midst of a great medieval battle.  All around you is the din of metal clanging on metal, of voices shouting and screaming in agony or triumph.  Faceless warriors behind helmets and masks slash viciously at each other on all sides.  What kind of crazy dream world is this?!?

   You catch motion in your peripheral vision and duck Katarina's head just as a halberd goes swinging past.  You hear rasping behind you and you dodge to the side just before a great sword cuts though the space that you just occupied.  Katarina kicks the off-balance warrior and he falls at the feet of the halberd-bearing one.  The halberd warrior raises his axe for a death-blow, but the swordsman is faster, using his momentum to swing his great sword around and cut the axe-man's leg clean off.  A billowing cloud of black vapour spills out of the wound.

   “Oh shit,” you mutter, ducking a volley of arrows.  A warrior falls into you shield first, knocking you and Katarina into yet another duelling pair, whose own heavy armour brings them down as well, like a run of dominoes.  The first warrior in the chain reaction has an arrow sticking out of the eye slot of his helmet, and great plumes of black vapour are spilling out of his wound into the air.

   “The Sgruck will be here in moments,” you say to Katarina.  “The black smoke forms them.”

   Katarina looks around, dazed by the amount of stimulus all around her.  “Ace of spades or jade necklace,” she keeps muttering to herself.  “Ace of spades or jade necklace....”

   You grab the shield from the fallen warrior and regain your feet, pulling Katarina up with you.  Using the shield, you begin to ram your way through the fray, trying to find some kind of opening where you can think.  “Ace of spades or jade necklace....” Katarina keeps incanting.  “Ace of spades...  ace of spades....”

   A warrior with a dragon emblem dispatches his opponent and notices you before you can knock him off balance.  He parlays your awkward body-check easily, swinging a spiked mace around and smashing it right into Katarina.  Except it is not Katarina next to you anymore, but yet another warrior who is now gushing black smoke.  The mace seems to be stuck in its victim's helmet, and its wielder bends over awkwardly to try to pry it loose again.  You step past him to collect Katarina, who is now wandering obliviously through the mêlée.  “Ace of spades...”

   “Katarina!” you call, grabbing her by the hand once more.  “Katarina, we have to get out of here!  The Sgruck will be here at any moment.”

   “Ace of spades...” she says, trying to stumble past you.

   “We have to-”

   “Ace of spades!” she repeats again.  You can see a brightness in her eyes, but she can't seem to say anything else at the moment.  You turn to follow her gaze, barely raising the shield in time to block a sword thrust.  Your attacker is quickly smote from behind by another warrior, causing billowing clouds of black smoke to shoot out of his body.  But through the cloud you notice a spear held aloft in the air, clearly shaped like a spade.

   “C'mon!” you yell, pulling Katarina through the fray towards the sword.  Only as you near it do you realize that it is held by a great hulking warrior.  “Aaaaaaah!” you scream, throwing yourself into him with your full force.  Unfortunately you bounce right off of him and land roughly on the empty armour of previously fallen warriors.  Black smoke wraps around you like a den of snakes, and you can hear the snarling fury of the forming Sgruck.  You desperately fight your way back to your feet, only to notice the great warrior fall over with a sword in his back, revealing Katarina behind him.

   “Ready?” you ask, grabbing the spear.  You are relieved to see an “A” emblazoned near the corner of the spade.

   “Wait!” Katarina cries.

   “What?!” you call back.  “Let's go!  Let's get out of here!”

   “We need the jade necklace,” she says.

   “There's no time!” you shout.  Spikes and claws are shooting out of the black fog, and the black shell-like armour of the Sgruck begins to emerge along with shrieking mouths teeming with rows of iron-looking teeth.

   “We can't get away without the necklace!” Katarina shouts back.

   “We can find the necklace again in the next world!”

   “What if the next world is worse than this one?!?”

   “What can be worse that this!?!”

   Katarina grabs the spear from you and shoves it towards the nearest snarling Sgruck.  Instantly it disappears with a loud pop.  “How about worse than this with a bunch of Sgruck raining in from another world?” she shouts at you.

   You look down at the spear and then back to Katarina in disbelief.  Of course!  You grab the spear from her and start slicing your way through the growing field of Sgruck, sending them popping out of this dream-world to the left and right.  Warriors, half-formed Sgruck, even just the tenuous black clouds, all blink out of the world as soon as the tip of the spear touches them.  And through the hole thus carved in the smoke a shaft of dazzling sunlight pours through, as if heralding the coming of a new dawn.

   “There it is!” Katarina points.  You can see the talisman, glinting in the sunlight, worn around the neck of a warrior mounted on a great black, eyeless steed.  Katarina grabs your hand as you slice your way towards him.  You draw the spear back, ready to strike.

   But then the warrior removes his helmet, revealing the wrinkled old face of the ancient Mind-Melder.

   “What the-” you and Katarina both say at the same time.

   Silently the warrior Mind-Melder removes the talisman and tosses it towards you.  Katarina catches it.

   You turn to her, noticing suddenly that her beautiful face is now bruised and bandaged.  The annoying chirp of medical instruments fills the small hospital room.  Katarina is in a gurney, and you are sitting next to her, holding her hand.  In her other hand she clasps her jade necklace.  Your other hand is now empty except for the ace of spades tattoo partly up the arm.  You look across the bed to the old Mind-Melder, who gently sets down the metal helmet on the bedside table.

   “I think I'll leave you two alone now,” she says softly before shuffling out of the room.

   Katarina stares at you and you at her for a very long time, both of you lost in a world far from medicine and surgeries.  It is a world far from the pain and burdens of reality.  It is like a dream come true.

The End

Frodo

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Ana bites her lip.  Should she give Ben a tour of Rivermouth?  Most people in town just avoid her, so it's nice to have someone who actually WANTS to spend time with her.  On the other hand, she's so used to keeping her distance from people, so they won't find out her secret


BEN:   *looks at her*   So what do you say?  Care to show this newcomer around your beautiful town?   *smiles

ANA:   *pauses*   I'm sorry Ben.  No, I can't

BEN:   *surprised*   You can't?  Really? 

ANA:   *shakes her head*   I just don't have the time. 

BEN:  … I see. 


Ben can't help feeling disappointed.  He really wanted to get to know this attractive young woman.


ANA:  Maybe you could find a book or something in the library. 

BEN:  I guess that'll have to do then.  Where's the library?   

ANA:   *points down the cliff*   If you go back down the cliff.  Straight through the park to the other side.  Keep going until you reach the junction.  Turn left there, and it's right on the corner. 

BEN:  Okay, thanks.  C'mon Bandit. 


Ben turns to make his way to the library.  His dog barks, and bounds after him.  Ana watches him as he walks away, feeling sad that she's not going with him.  But that's the price she has to pay for protecting her secret - keeping her guard up always, not letting anyone get close.  She sighs, then begins the long walk home. 

Thirty minutes later, Ben arrives at the library.  He asks the librarian for books on River mouth - history of the town, sightseeing places, interesting parks, zoos, that sort of thing.  He sits down at one of the library tables to browse through the books. 

At the table next to him, he notices another man surrounded by a pile of history books.  The man keeps muttering to himself.  This man is Gunther, a local student.  Gunther is researching some history for a college project, and his chosen subject is the mystery of the legendary Princess Anastasia Castellanos.  Legend has it that this Greek princess from the 16th century was set to inherit the throne when she turned 18.  However, she mysteriously vanished the day before her 18th birthday, never to be seen again.  And legend also claims that, should the first born daughter of royal blood claim the throne, then tragedy, disease, and death would befall everywhere.  Since the princess was an orphan, and she had no living relatives, her guardian claimed the throne, and the royal line of ‘Castellanos' came to an end. 

But what DID happen to the princess?  Gunthar wants to know.  But as he turns the page… a painting of Princess Anastasia is in the book.  Gunther lets out a surprised gasps, hardly able to believe what he's seeing. 
 




Why was Gunther so shocked at the book?  Go HERE to find out. 
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 21:22 by Frodo »

Frodo

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It's only NOW that Gunthar notices Ben.  After enjoying themselves in the forest trail yesterday, they decided to meet up again today. 


BEN:  *looks at Gunthar*   Um… are you okay, mate? 

GUNTHAR: Yep.  Or at least I will be, once this bitch admits the truth.  And I ain't your mate! 

BEN: HEY!  Don't talk to her like that! 

GUNTHAR: *looks at Ana, and ignores Ben*   So you gonna admit it then?  C'mon, I want to know how you did it? 

ANA:  Gunthar… what do you want me to say? 

BEN:  Are you listening to yourself?  Do you really think Ana is some magical time-traveller? 

GUNTHAR:  I don't think.  I KNOW!  Here, take a look for yourself. 


Gunthar holds up the book, showing Ben the painting of the lost Greek princess. 


GUNTHAR: Now look at that, at tell me it isn't Miss High and Mighty Ana Castell, or whatever she's calling herself now. 

BEN:   *looks at the book*   It looks a bit like her, sure.  But so what?  I bet I could find a painting that looks like YOU, in some old book, if I looked hard enough. 

GUNTHAR:  Believe it or don't.  I really don't care.  I just want to know her secret.   *looks at Ana*   C'mon, how d'ya do it?  How do you travel through time.  I could make a FORTUNE if I know your secret. 

ANA:  I don't know how I can make it any clearer, Gunthar.   *glances at the book*    I am not a Greek princess.  An angry mob did not chase me down through the meadow in torrential rain.  There was no curse. 

BEN:   *looks at Ana*   Who mentioned an angry mob?  Or a curse? 


Ana gulps.  The three of them stare at each other, each wondering what to do next.  It's Gunthar that breaks the silence.


GUNTHAR:  TELL ME THE SECRET OF TIME TRAVEL!!! 


Before anyone can respond, Gunthar lunges at Ana.  Ben tries to stop him, but he's not quick enough.  Gunthar stumbles into Ana, but fails to regain his footing.  Gunthar and Ana both topple over the edge of the cliff, into the water far below.  All Ben can do, is watch in horror.  It's unlikely anyone could survive a fall like that. 


The next few hours pass in a haze for Ben, as he calls 999 for the police to report what happened. 


Ana's secret… will remain a secret. 

« Last Edit: 25 Feb 2019, 13:41 by Frodo »

Frodo

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It's only NOW that Gunthar notices Ben.  After enjoying themselves in the forest trail yesterday, they decided to meet up again today. 


BEN:  *looks at Gunthar*   Um… are you okay, mate? 

GUNTHAR: Yep.  Or at least I will be, once this bitch admits the truth.  And I ain't your mate! 

BEN: HEY!  Don't talk to her like that! 

GUNTHAR: *looks at Ana, and ignores Ben*   So you gonna admit it then?  C'mon, I want to know how you did it? 

ANA:  Gunthar… what do you want me to say? 

BEN:  Are you listening to yourself?  Do you really think Ana is some magical time-traveller? 

GUNTHAR:  I don't think.  I KNOW!  Here, take a look for yourself. 


Gunthar holds up the book, showing Ben the painting of the lost Greek princess. 


GUNTHAR: Now look at that, at tell me it isn't Miss High and Mighty Ana Castell, or whatever she's calling herself now. 

BEN:   *looks at the book*   It looks a bit like her, sure.  But so what?  I bet I could find a painting that looks like YOU, in some old book, if I looked hard enough. 

GUNTHAR:  Believe it or don't.  I really don't care.  I just want to know her secret.   *looks at Ana*   C'mon, how d'ya do it?  How do you travel through time.  I could make a FORTUNE if I know your secret. 

ANA:  I don't know how I can make it any clearer, Gunthar.   *glances at the book*    I am not a Greek princess.  An angry mob did not chase me down through the meadow in torrential rain.  There was no curse. 

BEN:   *looks at Ana*   Who mentioned an angry mob?  Or a curse? 


Ana bites her lip, angry at herself.  She slipped up there.  Why did she mention the angry mob?  She was just getting so worked up at Gunthar's constant harassment, it just slipped out. 


Ana gulps.  The three of them stare at each other, each wondering what to do next.  It's Ana that breaks the silence.



ANA:   *quietly*   Okay Gunthar, you want the truth?  Well, here it is!  I've kept this a secret for so long…   *pause*   Yes, I'm Anastasia. 

GUNTHAR: I KNEW IT!!! 

ANA:   *looks at the book Gunthar is holding*   That book is right.  I was going to inherit the throne on my 18th birthday.  I would have been Queen Anastasia Castellanos.   *pauses*   But Greece was a very superstitious place back then.  Someone I trusted dearly spread rumours that if I took the throne, that would bring about the downfall of Greece. 

GUNTHAR:  Who cares about the history lesson?  Tell me how you travelled through time! 

ANA:  Honestly?  I don't know.   *another pause*   A group of villagers dragged me from the castle and chased me onto the moors.  That mob was going to kill me!  Just because of some silly rumour!  So I prayed to Osiris to save me.  And he did.  He sent me here.  To this time.  Hundreds of years in the future. 

GUNTHAR: TELL ME HOW YOU DID IT!  OR I'LL TELL THE WHOLE VILLAGE YOUR LITTLE SECRET!  LET'S SEE HOW LONG IT TAKES THEM TO THROW YOU IN THE LOONY BIN! 

BEN:  ENOUGH!   *looks at Ana*   Ana, I really don't know what to think at this point.   *looks at Gunthar*    What I DO know is this.  Gunthar,  If you try spreading this around the village, do you really think anyone is going to believe you?  It'll be YOU they take to the loony bin, not Ana. 


Gunthar stops.  He hadn't really thought this through, before.  But Ben is right.  Who WOULD believe him?  His little Get-Rich-Quick scheme crumbles before his eyes.  He's never going to learn the secret of time-travel, and there's no point in blackmailing Ana with his silence.  A look of such anger and such hatred washes over his face as he glares at Ana


GUNTHAR: You think you're so smart, don't you?  Well, this ain't over!  I'm gonna find a way to expose your little secret, and prove it's true.  Then I'm gonna win a fortune.  Then I'm gonna sue you for everything you got… PRINCESS! 


Gunthar shoves Ana hard as he walks away. 

Ana looks at Ben



ANA:  Ben, I…

BEN:  Shhhhhh.   *pauses*   I don't know what to think about all this.  I don't know if you really are some ancient Greek princess.  I mean… how is it even possible?  But Ana, I don't care.  You may be royalty, you may not be royalty.  But I like you, Ana Castell.   *touches her hair*   I liked you before Gunthar thought you were a princess.  And I like you now.  And I'd like to get to know you more. 


Ben leans in, and gently kisses her. 

Ana gives a little smile.  It feels like a huge weight has been lifted from her shoulders.  It's a lonely existence, being lost in time.  Trying to keep her secret.  Afraid of being ridiculed.  But now Ben knows.  He doesn't mock her, or tell her she's stupid, or crazy.  He just accepts her.  And now, for the first time, maybe she can live a normal life





The End.




« Last Edit: 25 Feb 2019, 13:48 by Frodo »

Frodo

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Ana bites her lip.  Should she give Ben a tour of Rivermouth?  Most people in town just avoid her, so it's nice to have someone who actually WANTS to spend time with her.  On the other hand, she's so used to keeping her distance from people, so they won't find out her secret


BEN:   *looks at her*   So what do you say?  Care to show this newcomer around your beautiful town?   *smiles


She pauses for a moment, then makes up her mind. 


ANA:    *smiles*   You know what?  I think I'd like that. 

BEN:   *pleased*   Really?  That's great!  I bet you're an excellent tour guide. 

ANA:    Well, I‘ll give it my best shot.   *looks at Bandit, then back to Ben*   There‘s a beautiful walking trail through a forest not too far from here.  I bet Bandit would love it.  Trees with squirrels to chase.  Lots of things to have a good sniff at. 

BEN:   *grins*   Let's go then.  C'mon Bandit. 


Ana prepares herself to take Ben to the trail in the woods.  She's actually surprised at how excited she feels - Ben is the first person in a while to actually speak to her without following it with ‘You're weird, no wonder you don't have any friends', or ‘You're so stupid Ana', or any other nasty comment. 


Meanwhile, in a different part of town, Gunthar, a local college student arrives at the local library.  Gunther is researching some history for a college project, and his chosen subject is the mystery of the legendary Princess Anastasia Castellanos.  Legend has it that this Greek princess from the 16th century was set to inherit the throne when she turned 18.  However, she mysteriously vanished the day before her 18th birthday, never to be seen again.  And legend also claims that, should the first born daughter of royal blood claim the throne, then tragedy, disease, and death would befall everywhere.  Since the princess was an orphan, and she had no living relatives, her guardian claimed the throne, and the royal line of ‘Castellanos' came to an end. 

But what DID happen to the princess?  Gunthar wants to know.  But as he turns the page… a painting of Princess Anastasia is in the book.  Gunther lets out a surprised gasps, hardly able to believe what he's seeing. 
 




Why was Gunther so shocked at the book?  Go HERE to find out. 

« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 21:23 by Frodo »

Baron

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I think I'm done.  I just have to check all the links to make sure they work.

Frodo

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I'm done as well.
Hopefully I've linked everything up correctly.  If anyone finds something wrong, please let me know.   :smiley:

I really enjoyed this.  Thanks for the interesting theme, Sinitrena   :wink:
« Last Edit: 24 Feb 2019, 20:59 by Frodo »

Sinitrena

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@Frodo: Could you let us know which post is the starting point for your story? They all have the title so it's a bit difficult to tell.

Frodo

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@Frodo: Could you let us know which post is the starting point for your story? They all have the title so it's a bit difficult to tell.

Sorry.  I removed the title in all but the first post. 

Sinitrena

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@Frodo: Thank you very much. Also, your links all seem correct.

@Baron:
- Your post #46 is missing the second link, which should lead to post #59 if I'm not mistaken.
- Unless my systematically going through all links wasn't as systematic as I think, you have a whole dream scenario completely unaccessible: I could not find a link to your post #45 (leading to #42 (to #37 and #57) and #51)

The deadline is a few hours away for any last minute entries. Link corrections are exempt from the deadline.

Baron

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That's the exclusive story branch available only to VIPs.  ;)

Actually, I haven't had time until now to check that everything working, but I am now confident that everything leads to where it is supposed to.  Probably.  (roll)

Sinitrena

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They all seem correct now.  (nod)

------


And with that we are closed.

The following brave adventurers embarked on four fantastic journeys:

Frodo with The Curious Case of Anastasia Castellanos
cat with A to B
Baron with The Dream-Roving Dalliance
WHAM with The Square of Choises

(Links lead to the starting points of the stories.)


As always, we vote in categories:

Best Character: Main Character or supporting, it doesn't matter. Which character stood out as interesting, funny, unusual, ect...
Best Atmosphere: Which story made you feel - anything really. Which story dragged you into a world of its own?
Best Writing: The technical aspect of writing. Turns of phrases, style.
Best Branching Plot: Were the paths similar or different, was it one story or a thousand different ones? It doesn't matter, as long as it stood out to you.

Please try to read every branch of the four stories and then vote for your favourites.

You have a lot of reading to do, so I think I'll give you a week. Voting closes 3. March 2019.

Baron

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Every branch?!?  Sorry guys, I wrote a lot.  I'd be happy if you gave it two tries, then voted based on your sample.

Sinitrena

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Well, if possible. It's a lot to read, but I think you should not judge a story by just half of it. Try to read as much as you can. And after "playing" one or two paths, maybe read the rest at least out of context.

cat

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I agree with Baron. Not reading every branch is part of the experience. I once heard about a game with lots of decision and branches, where the author wants people to play it only once, because what they get is THEIR ending and experience.

I think reading two branches, as suggested by Baron, is a good idea. Reading each and every branch is not enjoyable but work. My story is very short with very few branches, but I'd rather have people experience it once (or maybe twice if they feel like they are missing out something) and then tell me what they chose and how they felt afterwards.

Sinitrena

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Okay, if this is your opinion, I guess it is the author's choice howthey want  their story to be treated (and the reader's choice if they want to follow this suggestion).

I read all paths of the four stories and must say I'm glad I did, but if a reader prefers to judge based on the path he/she experienced by playing it once or twice, that is a no less valid approach.

Frodo

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I'd want to read all paths of a story.   :smiley:

Baron

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I'm glad of it, Frodo.  But you'll have to book off a sick day from work to manage it all....  ;)

WHAM

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Mine is designed to invite multiple reads, but each path is fairly short and so the format I went for is best suited for reading one or two paths, moving on and coming back another time for another path or two to see what's there.
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

Click'd

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I agree with Baron. Not reading every branch is part of the experience. I once heard about a game with lots of decision and branches, where the author wants people to play it only once, because what they get is THEIR ending and experience.
That's the case with Telltale games. They work well enough if played once, but if you try another route you see it's the same outcome with minor differences in fluff. Adding achievements that kinda "force" players to re-do sections doesn't help. It only points out the stage tricks.

Baron

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Wow!  That's an impressive amount of writing, folks!   I'm not going to say that I read every branch, but I think I read most.

@ Frodo: I felt your story had a very strong beginning, and I personally liked the dichotomy of having half the story in the past and half in the present.  I was slightly frustrated by only discovering two possible endings (death or happiness), but maybe I didn't find them all....  :-[

@ cat: I only found one ending, which I guess makes sense for a regular commute, but it was a slight disappointment given the illusion of choice.  I think a few racier events would have really spiced things up: not just exchanging contact info with the old schoolmate but falling in love, not just watching the businessman struggle with an interface but glimpsing something suggestive of criminal activity....  But, in the end, I guess that misses the point of the story: that small things are different on a commute if you choose them to be, but basically it's always the same.  :P

@ WHAM: Holy writing storm, BatWham!  The sheer magnitude of differentiation between the story branches was amazing.  I think you sacrificed some valuable character development and atmosphere by spreading yourself too thin (see below), but it was an impressive opus nonetheless.

And now my votes:

Best Character: I'm going with Frodo for Gunther.  He was a wretched, despicable creature, yes, but he stood out for his greedy abrasiveness in a field of flexible characterizations. 

Best Atmosphere: This one was closer, but I'm going with Frodo again for the suspenseful scene at the beginning where the terrified princess flees through the stormy moor.  I almost went with WHAM for some of his more colourful scenes where he fires up the crowd, but in the end I found his descriptions a bit thin.  I also almost went with cat for capturing the subdued drudgery of the daily commute, but in the end I'm a sucker for stormy action scenes.  :) 

Best Writing: I'm going with WHAM for this one for many a turn of clever phrase.  Near the beginning of one of the branches you move your hands downwards "as if pushing the very sounds in the air to the dirt".  One branch describes evocatively as the dancing crowd "resembles a field of tall grass in a windstorm, the people its blades of grass, the sheer energy of your presence the fierce wind that drives the people on."  I also liked what I envisaged as a silk dress "glimmering like liquid water as it runs down your skin".

Best Branching Plot: I have to go with WHAM on this one, just for the impressive variety of endings.  A few notable ones beyond the generic CYOA random deaths were: revolution, strip dancing, war, Christmas 1914, love, turning into a dragon and eating everyone, and a massive orgy!  :=

Frodo

  • Welcome down... to my Planet Hell!
    • Frodo worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Frodo worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Well, I think I've read every branch of all the stories now.  Excellent work, WHAM, Baron, and Cat.   :smiley:

And WHAM... WOW!  So many different possibilities!  And I loved them all.   :cheesy:

Anyway, here's my votes. 



BEST CHARACTER:  Baron's Boogeyman, Sgruck, in The Dream-Roving Dalliance.  He's one scary demon.  And completely relentess as he pursues you through each nightmare. 



BEST ATMOSPHERE: The Dream-Roving Dalliance from Baron.  Love story about feeling guilty over the accident with Katrina, and wanting to help her by trying to heal her mind after contacting the Mind-Melder.  The dreams & nightmares he encounters are fantastic!  The story really pulled me in, and I was really rooting for the Hero to save Katrina in each ending.   



BEST WRITING: The Square Of Choices from Wham.  Each paragraph is crammed with detail, and I can really imagine myself in each scenario.  And it kinda reminds me of a classice Text Adventure game, which I love. 



BEST BRANCHING PLOT:  Has to be The Square Of Choices from WHAM!  The sheer number of different endings is staggering.  And the variety is equally impressive.  Everything from dragons (I love dragons!!!), death, becoming king, finding love, and lots more. 



Thanks for the great stories, everyone.   :wink:

WHAM

  • WHAMGAMES
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    • WHAM worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
I'm late (due to being out of town for a few days), but winner has not been declared yet, so:

Best Character: Baron with The Dream-Roving Dalliance
Best Atmosphere: cat with A to B (What can I say, I like trains)
Best Writing: Baron with The Dream-Roving Dalliance
Best Branching Plot: cat with A to B (What can I say, I like trains)
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

Sinitrena

  • Mittens Serf
  • Wheel of Fate
    • I can help with translating
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Sinitrena worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Sorry, I'm late. But at least that means one more voter.

I must say, you all did amazing with a very, very difficult topic and by far exceeded my expectations. I asked for two choices for the reader as a minimum, but I also thought you all would not go much about this. You did and the quality of your entries is astonishing.

I read the stories a couple days ago when I checked for correct links and haven't re-read any of them, so my feedback will not be as detailed as I would like it to be.

cat: You chose a fairly mundane scene to illustrate how the small choices we make can alter our experiences but my ultimately all lead to the same destination (quite literally as train stops). I really liked the small detail of naiming all the links after - I think - subway stations in London. Unfortunately, the excitement of reading through this adventure is missing. The situation is too normal to create anything like suspense. As a reader, you wait for something to happen - and it just doesn't. That's obviously not what you were going for, but I think a reader expects it in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure type story.

Frodo: I like the idea of setting the story in two different times. I accidentally read part of a present paragraph after only seeing the part set in the past before and was througholy confused how I would get from one part to the other. You found a convincing way. I'm sad that the curse Anastasia might or might not unleash never really came back after the first part. In the present I was very confused by the dynamic of the characters. We learn that Ana keeps to herself and isn't good with people and still Gunthar seems to know her and acts around her as if they were friends. Even worse, in my first playthrough, I sent Ben away to the library in the first meeting but the later paths of the story do not account for that. Ana and Ben later react to each other as if they spent the afteroon together no matter what. Gunther and Ben also seem to know each other and I have no idea how, because Ben is new to the city.  ???  I also wondered why you put the decisions where you did and then had the same text for a few lines in both choices. In a published book, I'd call this padding.  ;)

WHAM: Holy... You did not write one story with different paths, you wrote about thirty different ones. And you hardly ever recycled a paragraph. One of the few (the only one? I can't remember.) I encountered more than once is the one where the protagonist gets poisened after a night in the tavern. The first time I came to this end, it made sense: I had just joked about the nobility and pissed them off. Other times, this ending made a little less sense, for example after I told a story about love or hate (I think - as I said, I haven't re-read and you have a lot of content to remember). I love how diverse the paths are and how evocative your language is. You have a bit of gender confusion here and there, refering to someone as he and than later her. I really loved your ending 51, I'm glad I found the secret path.  (laugh)

Baron: Your story felt the most like an adventure and the most like I could base my decisions on facts provided to me by the stroy beforehand. To a degree, that is true and at the same time it often was not. The very first decision (within walls or beyond walls) has very little clues, if any, and determines the whole outcome of the story. Unless I mis-remember, there is absolutely no way to get a good ending within walls. Actually, good endings are very hard to come by in your story. I think I saved Katarina once and managed to live somewhat happily with her in the dream world once? That's not a lot. I'm a bit disappointed that there was no way to find more information about Enrico. He's mentioned in both general paths in the very beginning but then not again, like a plot threat that was just forgotten. I like the structure of the dream sequences for a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure story. The fact that each sequence is more or less self-contained makes it managable for both the writer and the reader.


Now, my votes:

Best Character: Frodo
Best Atmosphere: WHAM, without a doubt. Not least because it were so many different scenes and feelings the story created.
Best Writing:WHAM, so many scenes, so many pictures in my head.
Best Branching Plot: I was torn here, WHAM's work is amazing, but I come to the conclusion that it is not one story with a branching plot but about thirty different ones that happen to share a beginning. So I go with Baron here, as the story that best shows how one plot can branch out and find its way to conclusions that are all obviously set in the same story.


And that leaves us with the following results:


WHAM wins the golden diagrem of branches with 6 votes. I tried to draw your structure (not really) but I gave up.


Baron recieves 5 votes for a very good second place.


And Frodo manages to score 3 points for a bronze statue.


Congratulations to all of you for dealing with this topic as well as you did.

Over to you, WHAM! See you next round.


cat

  • Mittens Baronet
  • AGS Baker
    • cat worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • cat worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Sorry, I didn't manage to play all stories yet. I hope the thread will stay open a few more days so I can add my comments.

Baron

  • Mittens Serf
  • AGS Baker
  • Rottwheelers
  • Not-so-Evil Banana Dictator
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • Best Innovation Award Winner 2011, for the concept and management of SWARMAGS
    • I can help with voice acting
    • Baron worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Thanks for all the votes, peeps!  ;-D

@ Sinitrena:  Thanks for all the feedback.  I agree that the within-walls vs. without-walls choice was a bit arbitrary, but no less random than other choices I've encountered in the CYOA genre.  Both branches do have exactly one happy-ish ending, although you are correct that to achieve your ultimate goal of returning to the waking world with Katarina you must choose without walls to start. 
        I also feel guilty as charged with Enrico.  Originally I planned to have him feature in several subplots, but the story just became too ambitious to plausibly finish even with an extended fortnight.  So now he's just a mystery from the past who helps to build Katarina's complex psyche.  ;) 
        Thanks for the great topic and the link-proofreading.  :)

Congratulations WHAM!  I look forward to an even more ambitious topic next time.  Epic fantasy series!  No, Russian novels!  No, Diary of an Adventure Game Maze Junkie!  8-0

WHAM

  • WHAMGAMES
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    • WHAM worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Oh man, this is absolutely awesome! I worried so much that I'd made a sprawling mess, and since each story had just a handful of choises to make I thought the "adventure" might come across as too shallow, but I guess it worked out in the end.
Thank you, everyone! I needed a pick-me-up and this has me feeling all fuzzy and warm inside.

Next topic coming up later today.
My Fortnightly Writing Competition collected works
https://goo.gl/VUQbzU

cat

  • Mittens Baronet
  • AGS Baker
    • cat worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • cat worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
I only found one ending, which I guess makes sense for a regular commute, but it was a slight disappointment given the illusion of choice.
...
But, in the end, I guess that misses the point of the story: that small things are different on a commute if you choose them to be, but basically it's always the same.  :P
Quote
I also almost went with cat for capturing the subdued drudgery of the daily commute, but in the end I'm a sucker for stormy action scenes.  :) 
Best Atmosphere: cat with A to B (What can I say, I like trains)
Best Branching Plot: cat with A to B (What can I say, I like trains)

I have to admit, my story was more an experiment than an adventure. I wanted to create a scene where tiny choices can change the atmosphere and feeling. I'm glad that you found the essence of my entry and that you liked the atmosphere.


About the other entries:

Frodo You were the only one who told the story from a 3rd person view which might be difficult but you made it work. However, the mix and match of ancient Greece but 17th century, Egyptian gods and Italian names left me confused instead of immersed. I also didn't like that the information that might have helped me to make a decision was only presented after the decision but then copied to both branches. The time leap was an interesting idea, but I didn't buy the love story, it was just too sudden and also happened if I didn't spend the afternoon with him.

Baron Exciting setting, I like that you could visit various scenes that are totally different but at the same time all the same. The writing is great, every scene is described in much detail and creates a great atmosphere. The Sgruck is a powerful character. I like that one end scene is totally different depending on whether you took the girl with you or not. Decisions are a bit random, though.

WHAM Branching-wise, this is the complete opposite to my story. I like how the story fans out and the vast amount of totally different endings. The main character is also awesome. You don't know anything about him or her, but still you are soaked in by the charismatic personality, just like the people on the square.

My votes would have been:
Best Character: WHAM
Best Atmosphere: Baron
Best Writing: Baron
Best Branching Plot:WHAM

Which means my votes wouldn't have changed the result anyway.
Thanks Sinitrena for the topic! IIRC this was my first Fortnightly Writing Competition.