Tag Archives: test

‘A Labyrinthine Dungeon’

fourth test

Our route beyond that underground city led eventually to our most challenging dungeon yet.

Two large doors gave way to what soon was revealed to be a gigantic stone labyrinth whose walls, made of thick stone, rise from the stone floor and meet with the stone ceiling.  A line of light high up on the walls illuminates the place.

Strange writing lines the walls, which Cɪrthsta immediately takes interest to.  “It’s a story!” she cheers as she follows it along.  It seems she can read the text.

“There are supposed to be a number of monsters we need to deal with, in this maze,” Way informs us as we follow close behind the Peregrine.  But of course….

“Is that why she wanted to visit that library?” wonders Esscie, referring to the Peregrine.

“She always has multiple reasons for doing a thing,” answers Way.  She then explains, “I’m sure, for example, you noticed that each of us, in this group, has so far had a role to play, or will have a role to play, in getting us all to Eyaye’s core.

“Dass and Kess don’t at all think of girls and women the same way most others do, making them perfect for the Third Test; the Apothecarian is an Earthling, a race once known for their innate intuition with hand-made things, which made him ideal for the Second Test.

“And then there’s this Test, which is Cɪrthsta’s role to play,” she concludes.  “She’s the only one here who can read the text, and she’s the only one here who can deal with the monsters we’ll meet.”

Cɪrthsta, though, keeps on reading the text, mumbling the translation as she goes.  There are times that she quickly switches paths when meeting a divergence in the maze.  I suspect that paths leading to dead ends have text that reads as jibberish, while only the correct path holds text that actually give a comprehensible story.

“What about you, then, Way?” I address the Jackal.  “You must have a role to play in helping us reach the core, beyond your need to get to Yaw.”

She grins and nods.  “Of course.  I’ll only know what that role is, though, once I’m thrust into it.

“That said, guesses can still be made since the dungeons here are each made to target a specific skill or trait the Old Ones felt were manditory for their perception of a truly benevolent leader to possess.”

“But, no one person should be placed as a leader of the people,” I say aloud, feeling something click inside me.  “The position of leader is a role that everyone is to assume in society; in other words, there is no one ruler because everyone is the arbiter of their own lives – Anarchy, in the truest sense.

“That’s why Cɪrthsta’s having a group of us tackle these Tests,” I suddenly smile, like one does when a once-inconceivable idea suddenly falls snugly into place among the grand scheme of things.  “She could probably complete the Tests by herself, and, from the sounds of it, she attempted exactly that at least once before, but probably realized that, ultimately, it’d be far better to solve the Tests with teamwork.”

I see now what Way meant about Cɪrthsta; she acts like an eccentric teenager, but in actual fact everything she does is for a reason and, more often than not, planned beforehand.

The First Test can only be passed by one with the ability to problem-solve wisely, instead of thinking unclearly or reacting rashly to a situation.  The Second Test can only be passed by one with the ability to take as much time as necessary to solve a problem, instead of hastily proposing the first idea that comes to mind.  The Third Test can only be passed by one with the ability to not let distractions hinder their undertaking a thing, instead of being diverted by other things which result in one not being able to complete a task as promptly and precisely as they otherwise would have.  This labyrinth, the Fourth Test, can only be passed by one with perfect sense of direction and, I theorize, can think of ways to deal with threats without resorting to “killing” them; brute-forcing one’s way through probably won’t work here.

The remaining dungeons would thereby need to test skills held by myself, Esscie, and Way.  My main ability lies in mind over matter, while Esscie’s strength is in thinking “outside the box” (even better than I can); as for Way, I suspect, since she presides over ferrying souls from their dead bodies back to their “source,” there should be a dungeon that tests one’s ability to sacrifice someone’s life so that everyone else, living things in general, or even the continued existence of a whole world, or even universe, can be kept.

In my mullings, before long I realize we’re already at our first monster lair.  An oval-shaped room with two openings (we’re standing in one of them) greets us; for now, the room looks empty.

“Best you guys stay put till I call ya,” says Cɪrthsta, calm as always.  “Unless, of course, you wanna fight your own monster in there!”  With that, she smiles and then steps forth into the room.

She walks to the room’s center, and then stands there with her eyes closed for about a minute or two.  She then calls to us, that it’s safe to cross.

“Interesting…,” I murmur to myself.  No physical entity appeared, so that must mean the “monsters” only appear in one’s own mind.  I wonder, then, if this dungeon is to test one’s ability to navigate calmly amid one’s own fears.

Again, we follow behind the Peregrine as she reads the text on the wall.

Eventually, the next monster room appears before us.  Cɪrthsta enters as before, to the room’s center.  To test my theory, I also walk to the room’s center.  She closes her eyes, and so do I.

After several seconds of apparent nothingness, I open my eyes again only to find myself alone in the room.  Interesting….

This isn’t real.  I know Cɪrthsta is standing right beside me, even though I cannot see her right now.  I close my eyes and concentrate on seeing her to my right, and the others hovering by the entrance archway, when I open my eyes again, using the technique I’ve used many times before when using the Iron Jacket and other meditative techniques.

I open my eyes to see nothing happened.  “I see…,” I rub my chin thoughtfully.  This is the manifestation of a fear stuck deep inside me, of having no effect over the progression of events on this World.  I close my eyes again.  “Even if all I do is for naught, I am still making my mark in this life,” I say with conviction out to the empty fake-room.

“Well done!” I hear suddenly, and I open my eyes to see Cɪrthsta’s massive bust inches from my eyes.  I realize that I’ve hunched over a bit, my knees bent slightly and my hands resting on them.  I stand straight, wondering if it was my moment of concentration that was conveyed to assuming such a position in reality.

“Thanks,” I nod to her.  It was as I suspected, that the monsters are in fact one’s own fears made manifest.  That’s why each person who enters such rooms are “fighting their own monsters,” as Cɪrthsta hinted.

I discussed as much with Esscie, who asked me out of curiosity, during the next leg of halls we’re to traverse.  I decided not to partake in subsequent monster rooms, and I see the others are probably too fearful of trying it out themselves.

After what seemed like days, we came upon some open rooms that held no “monsters” inside them.  Cɪrthsta decides we should camp here for the night, and she estimates we are around 2/3 to 3/4 the way through the maze.

The next day, we pushed through the final monster room and then made our way out of the maze at last.  I made a point to thank Cɪrthsta for successfully leading us through that maze unhindered, and the others do the same shortly after me.  She chuckles and says it wasn’t really worth that much praise over.

“Oh!  You should be next, Way,” she turns to the Jackal without missing a beat.  “I trust you’ll know what to do when we get there,” she winks at her, who then frowns.

So, the life-and-death dungeon is the next one to progress through.  We find the next portal, and it was with a deep breath that Way was first to pass through it.

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‘The Third Test’

The Third Test awaited us the next day.  As usual, a large closed doorway with a carving into it meets us.

The doorway image shows a number of young women staring longingly in our direction.  It looks like one has to pass them by in order to pass along the street they stand alongside and thereby make it to the other side.

“Dass and Kess, you’re up!” Cɪrthsta claps her hands together.  “All you gotta do is pass by a number of exceptionally sexy girls and find the key that will open the doors on the other side of a short street.  The rest of us will hang out at the entranceway till you’ve made it, then we can make it to you without harm.”  Dass and Kess look at each other.  It makes sense that they’d bo chosen for this one, given how they’ve acted so differently towards generally good-looking girls back at the Academy.

They both take a deep breath, and then step forward opening the doors for us to enter.

On the other side is a cobblestone street no longer than 100 meters.  Apartment houses hug the street all along the way, while a strip of a bright light runs across a high ceiling to this room and illuminates the entire area like a sun.  Standing casually about the street sides, near building foyers and by half-a-dozen streetlamps, are as many as fifty dress-wearing girls each ready with inviting smiles, sexy bodies, and youthful vitality.

The rest of us stand against the closing entranceway doors while Dass and Kess stride forward assuming their usual demeanours towards females in general.

The key to open the far doorway is actually very straight-forward to find, lying right in the middle of the street.  Normally, I presume, one would head straight for the key only to be stymied by the girls hovering nearby; then, one would be overwhelmed by their beauty and be taken by one or more of them in the hope of “getting lucky”; then, theoretically, one won’t be living past that day.

Kess forges ahead to grab the key, since he has a better chance of using it properly due to how his paws are structured.  He reaches the key and picks it up while half-a-dozen girls swarm onto him, cooing to him and gingerly stroking his fur.  “Yeah-yeah, I know I’m very pet-able,” he sighs and presses forward, meandering among the ever-growing crowd of girls clustering in around him and Dass who is trying to follow behind him.

“Dude, just trample ‘em,” states Dass as he starts pushing his way through.  “It’s just easier that way.”  For Dass, anyway, that appears to be the case, as he pushes some of them aside and knocks others over who were standing in his way.

“Ah, yeah!  This is easier, mate!” concurs Kess as he begins doing the same.  Even while knocked over, and even stepped on, the girls continue in earnest to woo the duo into a stupour that they can work with.  But, it’s all to no avail.

Within mere minutes, Kess reaches the other door and unlocks it with the key.  The door opens up and the girls suddenly retreat away into the apartment houses.  “Time to go, folks!” cheers Cɪrthsta.

We exit the dungeon with ease, thanks to the incredible skill of the two sapient mammalians in our group.  They demand to fondle Cɪrthsta’s boobs upon exiting, though, as a reward for having to put up with that nonsense.  She happily obliges, and what follows is difficult for the rest of us to watch for very long.

Another dungeon completed, thus another day remains for us to do as we wish.  Thankfully, an open biosphere exists not long beyond the dungeon full of fresh air and good-tasting fruit.

We set up camp at another outpost beyond the biosphere, though this one has no associated portal.  Instead, another tunnel leads to somewhere else – somewhere we’ll be checking out tomorrow, apparently.

‘The Second Test’

“The Second Test,” Cɪrthsta activates the portal, and passing through it brings us to another dungeon doorway.  These doors appear as large and robust as the first dungeon’s did, but these doors have a different scene etched onto them.

the second test

The depiction here takes the form of a humanoid figure lying on a table surrounded by what appears to be clutter.  Special emphasis has been made on select items (these items have higher relief than the others), and a couple areas in the humanoid have been “made hollow” perhaps implying parts of it are “missing.”

“Are we putting something back together in this one?” Esscie asks Cɪrthsta.

“In a way, yes,” she replies.  “Mr. Apothecarian will have the best idea what to do once we enter.  Basically, we gotta retrieve a handful of parts strewn across a floor full of clutter in order to return the android shown to a complete state.  He’ll reactivate, and then open up our way out of there.”  How Durittal is gonna “know what to do” if his specialty is apothecary, but I guess we’ll find out once we begin for real.

“I suspect the rest of us will have to stay still and quiet, like last time?” I ask.

“I think that’d be best, to avoid accidentally dooming us all,” she affirms.  I can do that.

“I should state beforehand,” Durittal speaks with a serious tone.  “While I’m an Earthling, I haven’t touched a mechanism since before I became a Watcher.  I can’t guarantee I’ve retained anything from when I was growing up.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” Cɪrthsta reassures him.  “You’re our best shot at this one, so be sure to do your best!”

“What’s an ‘Earthling’?” asks Kess.

“My people used to be the blacksmiths of the Gods and their kin, but that was before the Five Waves and the invasion of the Archivists,” Durittal explains.  I remember coming across books recounting people like that, but like other things the Archivists have snuffed out the Earthlings have been considered as mythical beings that didn’t actually exist.

“If it’s absolutely necessary, I guess I could offer any help I can manage,” sighs Cɪrthsta, then winking at him.

We enter to a room whose ceiling is nearly as high as the First Test’s room, but length-wise this room is only half the size.  The room lights up, and a partially-disassembled clockwork humanoid lies motionless on a stone table.  Strewn about the place, on the floor and on various shelves on the walls of this room, are gears, metal rods, other pieces of clockwork, as well as a number of items that seem clearly unrelated to the being in any way (like strips of cloth and pieces of wood).  On the other side of the room is the other closed doorway; this one, though, has a keyhole lock mechanism to it that, I gather, only the android can use.

I spot a section of floor that’s mostly clear of objects, and head over to that place.  The others decide to follow me while Durittal makes his way to the automaton.

He pulls himself up onto the table and proceeds to inspect it thoroughly.  After his inspection, he raises his head up, looks at us, smiles briefly (which I didn’t really expect him to do), and then climbs down from the table.

He begins scouring the floor for the pieces he requires for the humanoid.  He finds one of them fairly quickly, and soon after locates a second.  After some time, he collects a third piece and returns to the android to fit them in.

He hops back down and resumes searching for more parts.  It looks like he knows exactly what he’s looking for, but this time around he’s having more trouble finding them.  He found a piece on the floor near where Dass and Kess are standing, but after several minutes of searching realizes he’ll probably only be able to find the remaining pieces on the shelves.

His stoutness proves particularly difficult on him in searching the wall shelves for the required parts.  He proved capable of surpassing those difficulties, however, and though he took longer than someone my height would’ve taken in the end all the remaining missing pieces had been collected and placed in their proper slots inside the automaton.

Fully completed, the machination suddenly comes to life and sits up.  Without acknowledging our existence, it shuffles down from the table standing on its feet.  It walks in an expected clockwork fashion over to the second door.  It stops before the locking mechanism, and then “coughs up” a unique-looking key from its mouth.  It inserts the key into the lock, turns it clockwise twice, and then stands back as the two massive doors slowly swing open.

We exit, and congratulate Durittal while the doors close behind us.

“To be frank, I hadn’t felt such an interest towards clockworks since my teenaged years.  I was sure glad I could rely on a long-lost intuition more than actual knowledge on clockworks.”  That would probably explain why he seemed so happy after initially inspecting the automaton.  Regardless, we’ve made it through a second Test and again we can relax for the rest of the day.