《A Nightmare on Earth》Trapped in a Nightmare - Part Nine
Part Nine – The Tower
I had finished slotting all the fragments into place. They formed some sort of emblem, but I couldn’t quite make it out. The fragments were shaped the wrong way, so there were slight gaps between them.
The doors slid open revealing a rather large room. Inside, I found multiple statues. Every statue was of a person, but they all had expressions of terror or pain. Wait! Those two have pointed ears! And that one has animal ears. Only one of these is actually human! What’s going on!? There were no other clues about the mystery statues, so I turned my attention away.
The only other exit was a single door set opposite the entrance. However, there was no visible way to open it. Instead, the door was inscribed with a riddle. Really, a riddle now of all times?
It can't be seen, can't be felt,
can't be heard and can't be smelt.
It lies behind stars and under hills,
and empty holes it fills.
It comes first and follows after,
ends life and kills laughter.
What is it?
I was never very good at riddles, but I’m pretty sure I’ve heard this one before, or at least one like it.
As I gave my answer, the door rumbled up, opening the way forward. Proceeding down the hallway, I came to another door, this one inscribed with what appeared to be a beetle.
I could hear a very familiar buzzing on the other side, only much louder. This wasn’t good. There was probably a horde of beetles on the other side. But of course, staying here wasn’t doing me any favors.
As I opened the door, the monsters Inside came into view. As I had thought, it was a horde of beetles, at least twenty of them, but in the middle, there was one the size of a sedan.
Description: The evolved form of a Scavenger Beetle. Surrounds itself with a horde of its younger brethren.
The second the door came fully open, all the beetles became fully aware of me, and of course the door wouldn’t close. Cursing, I ran into the room, ducking as beetles came charging at me. The only one I focused on was the boss, because as soon as the fight began it flew upwards.
As the room had exceptionally high ceilings, it could go up as far as it liked. Then, when it seemed to get enough altitude, it turned around and plummeted straight towards me. Though it had a lot of strength and speed behind its charge, its accuracy left a lot to be desired, as I could easily get out of range. A few beetles however, were not so lucky, and were subsequently smashed to a pulp.
The problem came about from the shockwave and debris that the beetle threw up as it landed. A stone the size of my head nearly took off my head, and if that wasn’t bad enough, the shock had left me unsteady.
Dealing with its charges is going to be really annoying. The only weapon I have that can pierce its armor is probably the momentum axe. But the difficulty in wielding it will make taking this beetle out very difficult.
First, I needed enough power from the axe to actually cut through its armor. By cutting down several beetles, it gained more destructive power, but not enough to kill the big one. I had to keep up my game of chicken while killing more beetles.
Once it had gotten to an adequate size, I stopped trying to dodge the beetles, instead tempting the boss into coming right at me. Propping up the axe in a corner, I used Skanda to aid in dodging its final charge.
As the beetle struck the axe, there was a horrible screeching sound, then cracks ran all throughout its armor. As it writhed in pain, I had to deal with the beetles that kept attacking me. You know, these guys used to be so difficult to kill, but now they’re just kind of annoying. Oh, the big one recovered, but its armor looks rather broken, especially around its head. Good thing I still have this mace I rarely use.
It seemed to have hurt its wings in the crash, as it was crawling towards me. However, it’s crawling speed couldn’t even compare to its flying speed. One of its mandibles had snapped off halfway, making its head unbalanced. I took advantage of this to dart in and stab my sword as deeply in its eyes as I could.
With it sticking out of its head, It couldn’t see me anymore, so I ran around one side of it and hacked off its legs one-by-one. As it became even more unstable, it ended up rolling onto its back. I then retrieved my momentum axe, and used it to crush its head, killing the beetle.
It only took about ten minutes to finish of the remaining beetles.
As the last beetle died, a deep rumbling filled the room, and a series of staircases began to extend towards the ceiling.
Yesh, was that really necessary, I mean sure it looked impressive, but it took far too long. I’ve been stuck here for ages waiting for it to finish, and now there’s another riddle! Have I mentioned how much I hate this place!?
Flash of light, Heaven's might
Nature's rage comes this night
This is going to be a long day for me isn’t it?
As if the occasional riddles weren’t annoying enough. After I climbed the stairs there were other types of puzzles. Ranging from a Tetris-like thing to a slide puzzle, this tower seemed designed to piss me off. The worst one was a series of hovering platforms that you had to hop across in the right order. Though, Skanda made this task much easier, as I could I easily tell the timing to jump.
It took several days just to get through them. This wasn’t because I was bad at puzzles. Certainly not! It was just that there was so many of them. I was completely right. Whoever designed this place is a complete sadist.
I finally came to another room with high ceilings, in which I figured the staircase trick would happen again. In the middle of the room were statues of a knight, priest, mage, minister, and king. Below it was an inscription.
One of these individuals is responsible for killing the queen. They cannot come to a consensus on who did it, so it is up to you. Below, are the suspect’s statements about what happened.
Knight: I heard a commotion, and discovered the priest and queen arguing. When I tried to intervene, the court mage and jester arrived due to the commotion, and tried to restrain the priest. The queen took advantage of that, in order to flee towards her and the king's bedroom. The priest pushed the two off of him and chased after her. After, I helped them up, I followed suit, and arrived to find the queen asking the king to have the priest imprisoned. Shortly after, the court mage and Prime Minister arrived, and as we were attempting to calm the priest down, a strange fog filled the room. The fog caused everyone to pass out, and when we awoke the queen was dead. That's all I know.
Priest: I held suspicions that the queen was conducting illegal rituals, and when I investigated It, I acquired direct proof. However, the queen became mad upon being confronted with the truth, and fled. I pursued her, only to find her trying to have the king have me executed. Of course, I became upset, she is the one sacrificing innocents. If the mage and Prime Minister hadn’t gotten in my way, I’d have used my divine gifts to reveal the monster she was. Alas, before I could, everyone was put to sleep, and when we awoke the queen was dead. Clearly, her demonic partner had taken her life as payment.
Court Mage: At the time everything started, I was talking to the prime minister, and we came upon the queen and priest arguing. Or rather, it looked more like he was assaulting her. Obviously we, alongside the knight, restrained him. However, when the queen fled towards her quarters, the priest shook us off, and pursued her. When we arrived in their quarters, the king looked on the verge of a panic attack, he's never been a very calm person, and this whole incident has shook him up. Right after we arrived, a fog filled the room and we passed out. However, as a mage, I can tell you that fog was demonic in origin. Whoever conjured it probably killed the queen.
Prime minister: This whole mess started several months ago, when traces of demonic rituals were found in the dungeons of the castle. The queen ordered us to investigate and so far we have made little progress. Of course, the first person to be investigated was the queen herself, that’s standard procedure for these kind of things. And of course we found no evidence no matter what the priest says. I don’t even know how he knows about the investigation, he’s not apart of it, nor is he a suspect.
King: When my wife ordered the investigation into the demonic rituals, I was against it. However, I could not talk her out of it, so I decided to create a private investigation on the side. The priest was one of the agents I assigned, and as he is a righteous and upstanding man, I figured he would be perfect for the job. Things went well at first, as his holy power allowed him to sense demonic energies, so I have no clue why he thought my wife was behind it. I believe he was affected by a demonic spell, so he would become deluded.
In order to carry out a sentence, decapitate the statue of the culprit.
This is more of a logic puzzle than anything else. Alright let’s see, this whole thing was clearly about the demonic rituals. That probably rules out the knight, as no one even mentioned him in accordance with it. Same with the mage, he was only able to confirm that it was demonic energy. So it’s between the minister, priest, and king.
The minister was in charge of the investigation, while the priest was ordered to investigate secretly by the king. But how did the minister become involved? No one even mentioned whether or not it could be him, as if the option was completely taken from their minds. Just like what happened to the priest.
Okay, I think I know what happened, the minister is the demonist. He took charge of the investigation in order to keep them off him, but along the way, the priest got suspicious. So he brainwashed him into believing it was the queen, then by killing the queen with clearly demonic powers, he could frame him and get off scot free!
I quickly decapitated the minister's statue, upon which an otherworldly shriek rang out. Black blood oozed out of the severed stump, and all five statues crumbled. Guess that means I was right.
Haaaa, this again. Does the tower love ostentatious displays like this. Or is it a quirk of the system.
After climbing the stairs, solving more puzzles, and dealing with an assortment of enemies, most of whom I had previously fought, I’d come to another door much like the entrance to the tower. Figuring this to be a sign, I’d cracked open the door and analyzed what was inside.
Description: Guardian of the top floor of Labyrinth Tower.
Fuck. I knew one would show up eventually. It was at least ten feet tall with large spiraling horns, reminiscent of a goat's. It held large maces in either hand. Both of which had large spiked heads that could split rocks. It held a calm demeanor, even as I entered the room. When it spotted me it stopped, gave me a once over, then held both its weapons up and bellowed at me.
::Individual has been challenged to a duel. If you accept, there will be no escape until one of the participants is dead.::
This is new, but of course I’ll accept. As I drew my weapons, the space around us seemed to crack, forming an unnatural barrier.
Once the barrier was set up, the minotaur charged at me, bringing both maces down with brutal force. I slipped through its legs, cutting at its ankle, but it’s fur was so thick, the cut wasn’t all that deep. Damn, it’s entire body is just pure muscle.
I quickly stood up, throwing several knives, which the minotaur blocked with one of its maces. It then followed after me by swinging at my head, bellowing in rage. Even using the Desecrated Sword, I could only inflict minor wounds on its body. The curse is affecting it, but since the size of the wound has a direct correlation with the effect, this isn’t efficient.
At this rate, I was going to tire out well before my opponent. Even using the effects of my gauntlets or boots wouldn’t help me, as they took too long to pull off and would leave me vulnerable. Every time the minotaur swung its maces, the air pressure pushed me back, keeping me unsteady.
Seeming to grow frustrated, the minotaur threw aside one of its maces, using both hands to swing the remaining one. This caught me unaware, as I barely managed to avoid the brunt of the attack, only to get caught by a backhanded blow. This threw me across the room, forcing the minotaur to follow after me. I rolled to the side as it jumped towards me, and using its momentum, thrust my sword towards its neck.
However, the wound was still shallow. While the minotaur was bleeding, it was a long way from dying. It seemed to understand that it was in danger, as it began to relentlessly pursue me. I managed to deflect several of its weakened swings, making an opening to escape. My best bet was to let it die of blood loss.
Of course, the minotaur wouldn’t let it be easy. It charged after me, fully intent on crushing me. But I still had a few tricks up my sleeve. I pulled out my spare knives, using them to distract it. Then, by sprinting past it, I swung my mace to break its kneecap. Why is it that I only use weapons like this during hard fights?
With one of its knees shattered, it could no longer stand up. Note to self: Minotaur bones are weaker than their muscles. It soon ran out of strength, and began to collapse into particles of light.
::Individual has won duel, converting loser into equipment……Complete::
Once the conversion had completed, a set of armor was left behind. Seemingly made from lizard scales, the dark green armor had a beautiful luster. It was something that matched my preferences exactly. So this is what it meant by creating equipment for the Victor. If it’s always something that matches you perfectly like this, I’ll take full advantage of it.
Equipment Skills: Scaleblade
Effect: Increase to Endurance, Increase to Strength
Description: Armor made from the scales of a bladed lizard. The scales stab into attackers, and can cause heavy bleeding.
Wow, this is wonderful. The scales are rather tough, and have serrated edges. It’ll easily repel knives and the claws of lesser beasts. The barrier disappeared after I’d picked up the armor. Once it was gone, I could observe the rest of the room. Across from me was an ornate door, designed similarly to the one at the base of the tower, though it was missing the insignia.
*nom nom nom*
I ate another treant fruit, to heal the fractures from the minotaur’s blow, though considering its tremendous physical strength, It was pretty amazing that that was all I had gotten. It’s almost over. Soon I can escape. Though, I could also die, but I won’t think about that
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