The torch stabbed into the soggy loam of the jungle floor is made from a skull, and it looks human. At least, it used to look human. Now, it’s one of six solitary light sources guarding the gateway to Nightmare.
Whose idea was it to play this level anyway?
A hot breeze puffs out of the jungle beyond the gateway, as though the pale-skinned kapok trees with their towering misshapen roots are whispering my name.
What am I doing here?
Jabbing my staff into the moist soil, I reach into my pouch and pull out my quest scroll, unfurling it. The handwritten text on the cream-colored vellum shimmers in the flickering skull-light. Onyx, it reads up in the corner.
That’s my name. I knew that. I just forgot in the fiery-eyed stare of the skull torches.
Deliver the Keystone.
I lower the scroll and shove my hand back into my pouch again. My fingers brush the cold surface of something solid, and I remove it. The stone in my hand radiates its own light, faintly purple in color. Strange that something glowing could be cold to the touch.
This must be the Keystone, and it’s my job to deliver it.
I look at the Keystone, and then I look at the skull-torches, listening to the pained gasping of the malformed jungle on the other side of the gateway.
Had I really thought I was ready for this? I’m just a novice mage. I haven’t got nearly the experience needed for a level like Nightmare. I shove the Keystone back into my pouch.
I’ve got nothing to prove. Trying to tackle a level like this one could conceivably take months, and I don’t want to start something I’m not ready to finish. Besides, without my timepiece, I don’t even know how long I’ve been in the World this time.
The scroll still glitters in the darkness, and I access the menu in the top right corner with a tap of my finger, selecting the Log Off option from the list.
I wait for the doorway to appear. But it doesn’t.
I try again. Still no response.