Realms of Reality #1

This is the concept for a novel I actually want to start writing. Well, either a novel, or series of short stories. Here’s my first short story attempt! Hope you guys enjoy it! Usually I would only use italics to indicate the shift between realities, but this website is a little funky on my computer, so it may be easier if I colour code it!

Bio

Stalactites drip from the cavern ceiling, leaking ominous blue fluid onto the shiny, iridescent rocks below. Other than the liquid smack of the substance ticking away like a metronome, the only other sound existed as the clanking of metal and shuffling of cloth which announced the presence of a spelunking guild.

            At the head of the ten-profound, happened to be a graying man. Righteous, golden armour of the high fantasy variety clad his body, engraved in foreign markings and draped elegantly with fine, white cloth. A most massive sword holds steady within the right hand, whilst a bulwark-shield adorns his left. In the darkness of their surroundings, he appeared as a light, quite literally. The man radiates within his attire in divine mannerism.

            Behind him trailed nine others, equally delightful to the eyes. A tall, young man in dark, silver-embellished gear, also carrying a shield in one hand, but an axe in the other. A near-naked maiden in green cloths, only enough to disguise her most private attributes, carrying with her an oaken-staff, laden with garden flowers and creeping moss. The others appear as an assortment of wizards, rangers, and warriors, wearing anything from robes to tight leather (often promiscuous in the case of females).

            The guild traverse down the expanse of jagged rock and gleaming pools, muttering quietly among themselves, all until they reach what appears to be an ornate, ebon archway. It seemed too deliberate to be unworthy of attention; they found what they came for.

            “Ahranna, are the potions ready?” sounds the surprisingly youthful voice of the elderly paladin as he looks over his shoulder at the staff-wielding female.

            “Give me just a few minutes, Commander. I should have enough flowers to sustain us an hour at best. I apologize, for I have had other obligations, and haven’t had the time to collect more,” with that, she places both hands together and bows down in apology. Her long, brunette hair swings from her shoulders and curtains the sides of her angular face. The apparent Commander raises an eyebrow and grunts.

            “I have one hundred rose petals right here, might this help, Ahranna?” says a provocatively-attired wizard. Her curled red hair did a better job of covering her skin than the metal chains which wrapped around the sheer-center of her breasts, fastened between her legs, and somehow up her rear, too. Reaching behind her, she pulls out a cluster of red petals from seemingly nowhere and hands them over to Ahranna.

            “Thank you, Bellanatrix, that’ll extend us to two hours,” Ahranna replies, taking the goods and sitting down on a nearby rock to concoct her potions.

            Members of the guild start to lower down into a sit one by one, prompting another raise from the Commander’s eyebrow, then a sigh.

            “I suppose we shall take a break here. We will continue in six minutes, no later.”

            “Commander, I need no break. Allow me to scout ahead to better prepare us for what is to come,” says the onyx-armoured shield-bearer.

            “Phoebus, I would rather we went together. If you die, our chances of pulling through this tonight will decrease by at least thirty-three percent… and that is a percent that I cannot risk after all the effort we’ve put into getting here,” he responds. Phoebus wasn’t overly pleased with the answer and reluctantly sits down in wait. Following suit, the Commander seats himself, too.

Leonard pushes himself back from the desk; the wheels of his computer chair swivel and squeak under strain of its owner’s weight. Pressing a button on his keyboard, he scrunches up his face and growls, “I must quench myself, for my throat feels as barren as the Doridial Desert.” A few chuckles bounce out of a taped-up pair of headphones strung around his thick neck. Releasing his finger from the button, he stands up, having to push on the armrests of his chair to free his thighs.

His room acted as a gauntlet akin to that of the cavern. Instead of ominous pools of blue liquid, there lay ominous pools of spilled soda, sticky and crusted over with age. Stalagmites of clothes force Leonard to weave to and fro to finally exit his dwelling.

After a quick trek, he finally met clean territory known as the kitchen: the realm of flowing waters and peanut butter sandwich-ia. Half way through filling up a glass of violet elixir, Kool-Aid, the master of the realm arrives.

“Leonard, there are still leaves in the garden. Are those the clothes you were wearing yesterday? Heck-darn, boy…” jitters the voice of a hunched-over, petite old lady. She wields a laundry basket, filled with freshly-pressed clothing.

“Sorry Grandma, I’ll get to it in a few hours.”

“You’d better. I’ve had about up to here with your laziness. You’re a grown man, you’re supposed to be helping me out! Not the other way around!” Though she was a tiny woman, her voice carried out like a territorial crow. Without so much as offering a response, Leonard turns and exits the kitchen, slurping down his beverage along the way.

The radiant Commander rises from his seated position and scans his eyes over the present crew. All but one had risen to receive their neon-green vial of potion from Ahranna. The one person that still sat, a ranger with a hood hanging down all the way to the tip of his nose, was surrounded by a few of the others. They took turns sitting down in his lap, then standing again, then sitting back down in his lap, on constant repeat.

            “Where is Edgy?” inquires Ahranna, joining in on the strange ritual of sitting and standing on the oblivious ranger’s lap.

            “Probably jerking off,” responds Bellanatrix.

            “Please get into character, you’re all ruining my immersion,” Leonard mutters into his headset after jamming his sausage-finger rather rapidly at a faded button on his keyboard.

            The spelunkers halt their foolish actions and instead move to stand in a line under the archway. The Commander turns and eyes them all up one by one in a silent display of control and judgement. Edgy, the hooded ranger, leaps up from his seated position and moves to take his spot in the line.

            “We’ve waited months for this moment, my friends. We faced the twin-serpents, the goblin assault, the corrupted spider queen, and now… we’ve finally made it to the berserking cave giant. If we defeat this foe today, it will place us in the list of the top-ten guilds to have ever made it this far. We’ve suffered set-backs… we’ve suffered the loss of our former co-tank, but we are now accompanied by Phoebus: a shield-bearer far greater than the last.” A gesture is made to the knight in black. Down the line, guild members nod their heads in acknowledgement to his presence. Before the Commander can speak again, Edgy’s body stiffens and fades into a faint opacity.

            “First, he extends his break, then he disconnects. What’s up with this kid?” Leonard growls, “pause until he returns.”

            The spectral dimness of the hooded ranger boldens until his body once more becomes whole again. He shifts from side to side, jumps once, then stands still. Looking at the Commander, Edgy holds both hands together apologetically and bows deeply. Bellanatrix pulls back her hand, then clips the man across the head with an unholy strike. By default, the man is forced to fall flat-on his face. Literal stars circle his head until he finally regains his former stance.

“Leonard! Leonard!”

“What, Grandma!?”

“You didn’t clean the bathroom either. Dorris is coming over in an hour; I don’t want her seeing your urine stains around the toilet bowl!”

            The Commander stands idle, broodingly staring Edgy down with an empty expression. All heads turn to gawk at the two in their face-off.

            “I’ll clean it, I’ll clean it! Just give me at least one attempt at this boss!”

“While you’re living under my roof, I’m the boss! Do as you’re told!”

“Fine!” hollers Leonard. Without thinking to tell his guild that he would be leaving the keyboard, he gets up to do the bidding of the abode-master.

“Commander? It was a… one-time thing. I swear I will be fully present throughout the rest of the eve’,” Edgy whimpers. Alas, the aged Paladin doesn’t so much as flinch. A few guild members curl their lips up into grins, all but Phoebus. The darkly-garbed gent swings his axe at the air, staring into the misty-beyond of whatever lay after the archway. He said nothing, paying no attention to those around him.

            “Oh, great Commander Leonard, if Edgy disappoints us one more time, I can summon a demon to replace him… our outcome might even be better if we do that straight away,” Bellanatrix hisses, stepping out of line to walk a seductress’ circle around her Commander. Once her bare-feet came to a halt, the silver-haired man lowers down to a sit. The guild gasps. Never had their own leader disappeared without warning. The initial reaction for most of the guild members was to sit on Leonard, whilst a few merely jumped up and down on the spot in a very un-in-character-ly way.

“After you’re done with the bathroom, I want you to dust the living-room,” the old crone demands as she leans against the doorway, watching Leonard scrub around the toilet on his knees.

“Grandma, I have things I need to do right now…”

“Cinderella can’t go to the ball until she finishes her chores. Pull up your pants, I have a weak heart.” Leonard reaches back and pulls up his underwear to conceal his long crack.

            “Are we just going to sit around and wait? Can you do nothing without your Commander?” Phoebus speaks up, breaking the line to pace up and down the length of the ancient archway. Ahranna fumbles with her staff and makes her way to his side.

            “That is the way we work, Phoebus. We are a family, we do everything together.”

            “How cute, even when he stands in the way of your fame?” Phoebus spits at the mist, the globule of saliva slaps up against an invisible wall and leaves a line of goo suspended in midair. Ahranna frowns, shuffling uncomfortably in her sandals.

            “We couldn’t have gotten this far without him, he’s one of the best tacticians in the Realm. The best guilds around have been trying to steal him for years. If we want to do this right, we need him,” she urges. Phoebus grunts, rolls his eyes, then pushes past Ahranna and clambers up a rock to view the guild fooling around below.

             “That’s not good enough, Leonard. All you’re doing is pushing the dust from one side of that windowsill to the other side. You must use the polish, not just the rag. Didn’t your mother ever teach you how to clean?”

“My mother didn’t make me clean, she didn’t abuse me like you do…” Leonard growls, pulling his pants up again after reaching down to pick up the spray-polish.

“Abuse you? Sonny, you’ve got it easy, try growing up—”

“—growing up in your day… yes, yes… back when your major concerns were sabretooth tigers and the great t-rex.”

“I promise you’ll find none of those when you go out and clean those leaves up off the driveway. Maybe a butterfly or two, could you handle that?” A laugh akin to a rapidly-croaking toad emits from the cracked lips of Leonard’s grandma as she carries a mug of coffee with two hands out to the porch.

            “Quit fooling around!” snaps Phoebus. The melanoid shield-bearer raises his axe into the air. A surge of red builds up from his feet and shoots upward in a pillar of mystical rays. It lingers for a few seconds then fades. As intended, this taunts and captures the attention of the guild. Each person snaps their heads up to look at the man. At least three people sit upon the Vacant-Commander’s lap, but they get up and move to stand in line.

            “Phoebus, you can’t assume leadership. You aren’t even a full member of the guild yet!” calls Ahranna.

            “She’s right, you know. I’m sure Leonard has a perfectly justified explanation for his disappearance. He never does this; he’ll be back in no time at all,” Bellanatrix adds.

            “I am tired of waiting. The longer we wait, the less chance we have at being awarded our titles. Let me lead you… I have the experience.” As he speaks, Phoebus lowers himself down from the rock to stroll up and down the line, looking each person in the face. Ahranna and Bellanatrix scowl at his approach.

            “What experience do you have? Leonard told me you haven’t even been in a guild before. The last time I checked, you can’t get experience without a guild, it doesn’t count,” says Ahranna.

            “Yeah, you’ve not experienced a challenge yet until you’ve actually tried learning coordinated tactics. Running through dungeons without a guild is just chaos and luck,” Edgy adds. Phoebus narrows his eyes at the gathered, scowling further than usual.

            “It’s not hard, I’ve watched other guilds do this boss before,” he snarls, shifting his armoured weight to suddenly address the hooded ranger.

            “That’s cheating. We learn the tactics through facing enemies ourselves. Where’s the fun in being shown what to do?” Ahranna claims, moving to stand between Phoebus and Edgy.

            “Exactly.” With that, Phoebus barges past the two scantily-clad ladies to enter the mist.

“Oh my god, Grandma. Let me at least run back and tell my friends where I am, they rely on me,” Leonard moans, hastily slapping at leaves on the ground with a broom. His poor proficiency in two-handed weapons causes each assault on the felled leaves to be a failure.

“And you rely on me, else you’ll be sleeping in a cardboard box. Can’t fit a computer in a carboard box, sonny. Now get t’sweeping!” With desperate strikes, Leonard tries to best the leaves. All the while, his heart pounds with anxiety, yearning to be reunited with his technology once more.

            “We can’t let him go in there alone, he’s going to lower the rating of our guild if he dies in there,” urges Edgy. All eyes shift from the ranger to Ahranna.

            “How many attempts do we have before we can’t make the top ten anymore?” she replies.

            “About three, maybe four if the guild directly below us get unlucky.”

            “It’s worth a shot,” adds Bellanatrix, swaying her chain-clad body toward the wall of mist separating them from Phoebus.

            “Wait!” Ahranna shouts, running to stand in front of the gathering. “What about Leonard? None of us would even be here without him.” At the mention of their commander, the guild looks conflicted. They peer between one another in confusion, only to be cut off mid-thought by the sound of a long, loud horn.

            “Idiot… there goes one of our attempts. We’re down to two. Come on, if we don’t go in there now, Phoebus is going to knock us out of the league,” says Edgy, charging in through the mist, followed by many of the others. Bellanatrix and Ahranna look at one another, then eventually enter the mist themselves, accompanied by the remaining members.

            What could be seen of the room was not an awful lot. The illuminating puddles of blue did not carry out into the boss’s domain. In fact, there was no light at all other than a mysterious circle in the very center of the darkness. The only indication that they were still in the cavern was the obvious rock walls and odd mounds of earth.

Phoebus’s body lay within the very center, impaled by a lance made of uncut rock. Two, black, armour-clad legs stick out from the makeshift weapon. The guild settles themselves accordingly. Rangers and wizards press closely against the walls to stay out of the way of close-ranged attacks, whilst the warriors form a wall before them.

Ahranna takes careful steps toward the fallen Phoebus.

“Not too close, Ahranna. I am guessing the light will trigger the encounter!” Calls Bellanatrix, whom of which perches herself upon some raised ground to get a good view of the battlefield. The staff-wielding maiden stops, then extends her hand out toward the decimated man. Ribbons of green and gold energy twist around her body, spiraling over the outstretched hand. Her hair rises with the surge of mystical power, along with the impossibly short dress, displaying her generic, plain undergarments for the room to see. Once the intended spell completes, the magic rushes out toward Phoebus, eating away at his body like millions of tiny termites until nothing could be seen of him at all. The ‘termites’ return, only to re-form the shield-bearer’s body on the ground before Ahranna.

“Congratulations, you ate up one of our attempts at getting a clean kill on this boss, ‘Phoebee’,” barks Edgy. The ranger notches an arrow to his bow and shoots it directly into the chest of the revived man. Nothing happens; no blood can be seen; Phoebus doesn’t flinch; no harm had been done. The arrow fades after a few seconds, made obsolete by the lack of purpose and rules of friendly fire. Similarly, the lance of uncut rock used to originally kill him shimmers into nothing.

“But it got you to follow me, didn’t it?” The man cockily says, pushing himself up to a stand. He eyes Ahranna up and down, then reaches behind him and withdraws a blue vial out of nowhere and hands it to her. The healer accepts the trade and downs the entire vial in one tremendous gulp, revitalizing her energy pool.

“Idiot, we need to wait for Leonard, don’t screw it up for us any more than you already have,” chimes Bellanatrix. 

“Such little faith you all have. You forget that I know how this boss fight works. If you just listen to my tactics, we’ll get through this quick and easy. If we’re fast enough, we can even do it again for Leonard,” says Phoebus, readying his axe and shield.

“We only have two attempts left, if you think we’re getting this on the first go, you’ve got shit for brains,” blurts Edgy.

“Suit yourself. But, since your guild enjoys that element of surprise so much, enjoy this.” Phoebus rushes out toward the circle of light and stands in the very center. He casts his head to the side to offer the guild a malicious smirk, then diminishes into thin air like a slowly extinguishing candle.

“What a bastard…” murmurs Edgy.

“Immediate kick from the guild, as soon as Leonard returns,” adds Ahranna.

            The ground trembles; the cloud of smoke under the archway thickens, disabling anyone from being able to escape. Rangers notch their arrows; wizards start their incantations; the warriors raise their arms; Bellanatrix cants her right hand to the heavens and summons impish creatures to her sides, and Ahranna hides behind the closest rock.

            “Puny… soft… squishy things…” booms a voice from the shadows, “… thinking you can best me… ha! I smash!” silence then ensues. The guild is kept in suspense.

            “Does anyone see him? I mean, it’s supposed to be a giant; shouldn’t be hard,” says Bellanatrix.

            “I can’t see a thing, maybe move the close-range attackers into the light,” suggests Edgy. In agreement, the line of fighters shuffle forward, centering themselves in the light. “We don’t have a shield-bearer, so you’re all going to have to mitigate the damage by taking turns taunting the fella’.”

            “Ahhh… right where me can see you!” yells the inarticulate voice of the giant. A pillar of stone swipes out from the dark and clubs the entire row of valiant battlers. A resounding cacophony of profane words and gasps fill the air.

            “Fire at the north wall!” Edgy yells, leading a volley of projectiles in the direction of the suspected creature.

“Yes, Grandma, love you too!” growls the agitated voice of Leonard as he locks his bedroom door, tediously tip-toes around the clutter of his beloved den, then wedges his rear down into the chair.

“Don’t be too loud, Dorris has ears like a hawk, and she thinks what you get up to is fruity and unhealthy!” retorts his Grandmother.

The Commander raises up from his seated stance, only to find that his followers were nowhere to be seen. “Friends?!” he calls out, “a witch temporarily hexed my mind, where are you?”

            “Welcome back, beloved Commander. We’re currently dealing with the aftermath of Phoebus’s betrayal… in the boss room!” Bellanatrix responds over the clattering sounds of falling bodies and cheering voices. Despite the massacre currently taking place, everyone sounds relieved.

            “I felt something off about him the moment he joined us. I should have had better judgement… I am sorry, I guess we won’t have a chance of being in the top ten after all,” Leonard utters, placing both hands upon the invisible wall which kept the boss-room off limits to him. A vague image of a bloodied body sliding down the other side of the wall could just barely be made out from his point of view; locks of brown made it unmistakably Ahranna.

            “Don’t say that, Commander…” the healer says in a pained tone, keeping true to character as her body crumbles down to the floor in a ragdoll heap, “… you’re the best tactician in the game… we know you’ll make us prevail through this last attempt!” To add dramatic effect, she coughs, followed by a dying groan.

            Being that she was the last person to die, the invisible wall drops and Leonard stumbles through to the room, where he witnesses a masterpiece of sanguine horror. His friends: all scattered hither and thither, mangled and maimed, beaten and flattened. With a hung head, the silver-haired paladin kneels beside Ahranna, scooping her torso up into his arms.

            “Come back to me…” he whispers, raising a golden glove just above her chest. A glittering light beams from his palm and gradually engulfs the form of the maiden. Moments later, she gasps and flutters her eyes open to look upon him.

            “Commander… your light shines so brightly. Lead us through this darkness,” she weakly murmurs.

            “You can count on me. Rise, help me raise our friends,” says Leonard. Together, they both traipse carefully around the room, resurrecting the rest of the guild. Once they had all been accounted for, they gather at the entrance, staring with determination at the lit circle on the floor. One of the wizards reaches behind his back and pulls out skins of water for the group at a questionably fast rate.

            “Well, we clearly have to avoid that thing on the ground; it just one-shots whatever touches it,” Edgy states, downing the water-skin in one quick gulp. The skin, once empty, disappears.

            “How interesting…” contemplates Leonard.

            “Can’t see it though, that’s our issue. We tried firing into the shadows, but that only made it realize where we were,” says Edgy.

            “Did you try making your own light?”

            “Well, we didn’t exactly get a good shot at it. Phoebus sorta’ pulled the bugger, then logged off- I mean… disappeared into… wherever,” Edgy quickly corrects, remaining as in-character as possible.  

“Creatures in the dark can never hide from a Paladin; I think I know what it is we must do,” the Commander exclaims in righteous pride. Raising his shield, he ignites it with a tremendous aura of light. “Come, my companions! All of you! Together, we will show this fiend what it means to be great!” A clamor of cheers sings through the air as the guild huddle together behind their leader and prepare for whatever was to come.

“Puny… soft… squishy things…” booms the behemoth voice again as the group merge onto the peculiar circle, “… thinking you can best me… ha! I smash!” The familiar club of stone swings down upon the group, but contacts the shield and bounces back. For a few moments, the giant’s body is revealed, coiling back from the reflection of the glowing bulwark tightly gripped in Leonard’s grasp. Gnarled, muck-coloured skin loosely bound the thirty-foot creature, garbed only in a loincloth to hide its unmentionables.

“Attack, now!” he commands. Rangers fire off their arrows, embedding them into the neck-area of their foe. Wizards blast shards of ice and bolts of fire around the torso. The warriors cut and slash at the legs. Bellanatrix sends her devilish companions out to gnaw and nip at the giant’s ankles. Ahranna merely keeps close to Leonard’s back, watching her companions with a hawk-like stare, spying for any signs of harm being dealt back to them.

“Now me not nice no more, now me show you how me is when angry!” the giant roars in a berserk rage.

“Quick, this way!” Leonard yells, jerking his shield down, and with it: extinguishing the light. His group follow closely behind him as they dip into the shadows nearby. “Basic tactics, it attacks on triggers, we avoid the enrage,” he murmurs to the preparing group behind him.

“Where they go?” the giant blubbers. Leonard bends his knees, preparing to storm back out into the circle to repeat the former actions. Before he can so much as take the first step, a figure forms back into view, clad in black armour, an axe, and a shield. His head still tilts to look behind him, but of course, he sees nothing.

Phoebus begins to form words, but a colossal rock is mashed right on top of him, instantly wiping him out.

“Ahhh… right where me can see you!” yells the giant.

With a bored, agitated stare, Leonard sheathes his sword and offers a quick salute to the squashed Phoebus. “I hereby relieve you, knight,” he states with dignity. As his hand lowers from the salute, Phoebus’s body disappears from the room and an out-of-place chime echoes through the ears of the guild, signifying the banishment of the impatient man. “Right, friends… let’s win that ranking!” Leonard exclaims, rushing out into the circle with his trusted companions.

Cheers of encouragement ensue as the band of friends coordinate well through the powers of camaraderie, eventually leading them to defeat their foe and place fifth on the guild rankings list. Thanks to the misfortune of another team, however, Leonard and his followers are bumped up to fourth.

Stood around the body of the totaled giant, the gathered thank one another for the exciting evening, then gradually disappear in small clusters at a time. It was late after all, and bed beckoned everyone.

Ahranna and Leonard gaze at one another, sitting beside the warty nose of the humongous creature. The maiden pokes her staff at it for idle amusement.

“Ahri…”

“Yeah Lenny?”

“I know I’ve said this before, but you put on a -really- convincing girl voice, you know, for a guy.”

“Thanks,” Ahranna chuckles, which only prompts a giggle in response from Leonard.

“Fruity, very fruity…” groans an elderly voice from just outside Leonard’s door. The man whips his headphones off and looks behind him into the reality of his poorly-kept room. His immersion broken; his dignity wounded.

-End

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