Episode 001: The Baker's Sister Part 4

Part Four – Anchor

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“That?” Avi rolled her eyes, “Won’t stop me!” With a hop and a leap, she sprinted up the stairs and over the alien ooze, landing with a yelp.

      “Are there more?!” Birdsong yelled after her.

      “No!” Avi yelled back, “But you have to see this!”

      Birdsong and I rushed up the stairs first while Jalil stayed with Sunset to help her catch her breath. With the both of us barely even as dexterous as Avi with our dexterity combined, our only option was to possibly slash our way through.

      I extracted my dagger and flung it towards the ooze.

      The fling was so amazing, it flew into the air, over the ooze, and landed with a clatter almost on the side of Avi’s feet.

      “What are you all doing?!” Avi exclaimed.

      “Er…” I started before I yelled back, “That’s for you! In case you need something extra!”

      Birdsong loaded their crossbow, “Good job, maybe this’ll help.”

      Their arrow flew straight and true, but only managed to scatter the ooze just that little bit. Another arrow came after, clearing a small path in the middle of where the ooze piled up.

      “We don’t have time, here’s our chance!” I said.

      Birdsong and I sprinted up, jumping through the scattered ooze path just before it mended itself, landing onto the next level, which was now brighter, but a lot warmer.

      Avi was nowhere to be found.

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The level where we landed resembled the alcove of a tower before it opened up into a long, overhead bridge. Brighter than the bakery’s lower floors, the source of light came from a vibrant orange from the bridge’s atmosphere – a hot, stifling environment of what I could only equate to hellfire, at least from my studies.

      At the end of the bridge stood a gently teetering rocking horse – innocent in appearance but emanating a plethora of dark energy – the anchor of this dungeon, for lack of a better term.

      In the middle of the bridge, however, stood a mounted knight with body and face shielded by a full body suit of armour. Sitting atop a shadow-like horse with piercing eyes, the knight held a lance on their left, with Avi’s limp body collapsed at the side of the horse.

      “Avi!” Birdsong called.

      By this time, Jalil made his way up the stairs.

      I held her back, “She’s still alive.” The faintest rise and fall of Avi’s back brought Birdsong and Jalil some relief, though it didn’t discount the fact that Avi didn’t have much time left.

      “We can’t just charge in, we’ll get killed,” I explained, “We need to get that Rocking Horse out of the way and save Avi.”

      Birdsong loaded their crossbow again, but Jalil pushed it down.

      “You might hit Avi,” he said.

      “And destroying the toy might send all this dark energy everywhere,” I said, “No, we need to get it out of this place first.”

      “I’ll do it,” Jalil said, “I’ll take the Rocking Horse out.”

      Still with the loaded, but lowered, crossbow in their hands, Birdsong gestured, “And how are we going to get past dark metal over there?”

      As Birdsong asked their question, I concentrated on the outline of our beings, reciting the spell in my head as I closed my eyes to focus. Feeling the spell burning away from my mind’s journal, I opened my eyes to find that Jalil and I are completely invisible.

      “Was this what you were trying to do?” Birdsong said at our general direction, still fully visible.

      “I believe the spell was only half as effective,” Jalil said, “But no matter, we have no time.”

      Even Birdsong nodded.

      “Good,” I said, “Sunset should be coming up, you wait for her. Jalil is going to get the anchor, and I’ll heal Avi up.”

      Jalil was halfway across the bridge before I was done.

      Running after him, I slowed down considerably as I neared the knight, extracting a healing potion from my bag and holding up Avi’s head. Daring a peek at the knight in my invisible state, I saw them looking forward, as if staring Birdsong in the eye.

      It didn’t help that Birdsong was already aiming their crossbow arrow at the knight.

      In that moment of distraction, I held up Avi and downed the healing potion into her mouth, her eyes still closed and head lolling against my shoulder. All this while looking over my shoulder periodically, glancing at the Rocking Horse.

      When I saw the Horse move, as if someone was picking it up, my shoulders relaxed.

      “Huh?” Avi stirred from her semi-conscious state, “What… what…”

      “The knight skewered you,” I said, laying her down again, keeping a lookout for the knight. Birdsong fired an arrow, which clanked against the metal of their armour and fell off the bridge into nothingness. Keeping its attention on Birdsong, the knight lifted the lance stained with Avi’s blood.

      “We have to go,” I whispered to Avi, “Once Jalil gets the Horse, we run.”

      “But Birdsong…”

      Just as Avi said so, Sunset came crashing up the stairs and Jalil picked up the Horse.

      “Run,” I said, “Now!”

      Hauling Avi up, I leaned her against my shoulder as the both of us bolted as quickly as we can across the bridge. Tailing behind us, Jalil chased in the form of the Rocking Horse floating in the air, narrowly missing another swipe from the knight’s swinging lance.

      Watching us sprinting towards them, Birdsong swung their crossbow behind them and ran in the opposite direction of Sunset.

      Coming fresh from slashing the alien ooze to nothing, the adrenaline glowed in Sunset’s eyes. Barely noticing us running to her opposite direction, she turned her attention to the next opponent – the mounted knight ready to charge.

      The last thing we saw descending the stairs was Sunset diving forward, both hands grabbing the collar of the shadow knight.       

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Author’s Note: The significance of the creatures and scenarios in the nightmare dungeons are explained more in-depth in The Nightmares Underneath by Johnstone Metzger. You can create your own scenarios and stories in this world by getting the hardcover here, or trying out the game first here.