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>Well that’s disappointing.
What, that the priceless Aztec treasure you’ve been dragging along is actually just a cheap trinket from Chinajá?
>No, I was hoping to buy a few more, but there’s no one around to buy from.
Ah. Yes. I see how that would be a problem.
>Oh well. Climb temple stairs
After a very strenuous climb, you finally reach the top. A sign is here, pointing to a small structure to the north. It reads: “This way to the Ultra Cool Temple of Awesomeness”
There is also another sign, pointed east. It reads: “Beverages – Water – Soda -- $6.50 Juices – $8.50”
From up here, you have a Very Nice View.
>Take Very Nice View
You take the Very Nice View and put it in your pocket.
You follow the sign towards the temple. What you see is disappointing.
The temple of awesomeness is two stories tall, and the roof of the upper story has collapsed. You enter the lower section through a small, angled door.
The inside is dark and cramped, lit only by a pair of candles and what little light manages to seep in through the door. Above you, apparently reaching into the second floor, is a small alcove lit by another candle, too high to reach. To the north is a small gray statue of Ptula, with an indentation in the base in the shape of the moon. To the west is a statue of Petula Clark, with an indentation in the base in the shape of the sun. And to the East is—
>--Let me guess, a statue of a Ptooie Piranha with an indentation in the base in the shape of a star?
Incorrect. It is a statue of Vincent Van Gogh. At his feet are a small bottle of olive oil and a wig.
>Huh. So what, is he Ptula in her Dutch Male Post-Impressionist aspect?
No, Ptula just really likes people with only one ear.
>Whatever. Take stuff from Van Gogh’s feet.
You take the oddly familiar bottle of olive oil and the wig.
>So, um, I have this “S” in parser-tongue. Any idea what it says?
I’m not sure you want to know.
>No really. What does it say?
Well, it’s either the sound a snake makes, or…
Or it’s a very bad drawing
of a snake.
>You…you don’t even know what parser-tongue is, do you.
>Fine. While we’re at it, use the mold-remover on the moldy things in my inventory.
2 moldy dictionary pages, 1 moldy retainer and 1 moldy Aztec statue have been removed from your inventory.
2 dictionary pages, 1 retainer and 1 Aztec statue have been added to your inventory.
>Put the moonstone in the star-shaped thingamabobber and so on and so forth.
You place the moonstone and the sunstone in their appropriate locations, then place the starstone in Vincent’s ear.
>His ear? Okay, see now, that I might not have gotten for a while.
You, in your highly imaginative language, would have chosen to “Use starstone on Vincent.” It amounts to the same thing.
Still, nothing happens.
A fact I take much pride in, I assure you.
>Look, could I ask you for a favor?
That depends. What’s the favor?
>Read the paper out loud.
What, the paper with an “S” on it?
Very well. *Ahem* It says:
With a screeching of disused gears and scraping stone, the walls of the temple rotate around until the door is standing directly opposite its original location. Behind it is another portal.
>The paper says “Open Sesame?”
No no, it clearly says “S.” It’s pronounced
>Oh, forget it. Walk through the portal.
You enter the portal and find yourself standing in a small forest. Nearby you hear someone crashing through the undergrowth.
You start forging your way through the shrubbery towards the sound, only to have a ladder land on your head. “Ow!” you shout, although the ladder has landed around your neck and, in retrospect, the impact didn’t really hurt.
>Oh gods, not this again.
>Put on wig.
>Just do it. It’s important.
Fine. You put on the wig.
A moment later you are not at all surprised to see an exact duplicate of yourself stumble out of the shrubbery, minus the ladder and the wig.
>Hand olive oil to duplicate.
You give him your olive oil. "You're going to need this," you say.
You wander off to the west, and very soon manage to fall through a portal in the ground, landing back inside the temple. This time the impact does hurt.
>Hm. Use ladder on alcove?
You lean the ladder against the wall and climb up towards the alcove. You find a switch, covered in cobwebs.
It doesn’t budge.
The switch collapses back into the wall and you proceed to fight off nagging vertigo as the entire room begins to revolve once again. When it’s stopped, you climb back down. The door now leads to a different portal. From the other end you hear the sounds of a protracted battle.
You enter the portal and find yourself in the Whizzer’s throne room. The Whizzer is hiding behind his throne, hurling lightning and ordering his remaining flying pirate monkeys to attack. On the other end of the room, Mia, Mal and Cassie are huddled behind a collapsed column. Mal is deflecting incoming projectiles, Mia is (not surprisingly) on the offensive, and Cassie is glowing, as she occasionally does.
In the corner you spot Dirk, hiding behind a statue of Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Something Or Other, holding his teaser gun (set to full tease). Every time he tries to move, a monkey pirate fires a bullet in his general direction. Beside him is Michael, patched up and in fine condition, more or less.
As you enter, all eyes in the room turn towards you.
The Whizzer takes advantage of the confusion to tap his heels together, forming another portal in the wall. Behind it you see a large armada of flying Monkey Pirate ships, bearing your way.
>Run behind the column.
“Hey, it’s…it’s you!” shouts Mia, happily.
“Mia, we could kind of use your help right now!”
”Yeah, sorry,” says Mia, lobbing another fireball. “I’m losing track. Are we winning or losing?”
“I don’t know,” says Mal, shoving aside another hail of magic assaults. “That throne’s made of solid emerald-tungsten allow, it’s harder than steel. That means we don’t have any direct way to attack.”
>Show Mal thermal detonator
“Will this do?”
Mal looks it over. “Wow, a thermal detonator! That’s enough to….blow up the whole castle.” He sighs. “Nope. Totally useless.”
With a thundering crash, one of the monkeys’ lead ships smashes through a portal and into the room. The first monkey boarding party has arrived.
“Dirk!” shouts Cassie, “We have a bit of a situation over here!”
“I’m a little busy myself, you know! I could use some cover fire!”
“Right!” Mia shouts back. “I’ll lay down some cover for you. Now GET OVER HERE!”
As she shouts, Mia temporarily redoubles her attack, and Dirk and Michael quickly dodge their way over to the column.
Somewhere else in the room, you hear the Monkeys start their ominous, bewildering battle cry.
“What’s that they’re chanting?” asks Dirk. “It sounds like ‘Jericho, Hi Ho!’”
“No no,” insists Mia. “They’re saying “Do you know Mojo?”
Michael shakes his head. “They’re monkey-pirates, right? They’re saying ‘Yo-ook-ho, yo-ho.”
You, Mia, and Dirk look at Michael in stunned silence for a moment before each saying in unison, “Ohhhh.”
“Okay, that’s all great,” says Cassie, “But how exactly does it relate to our current situation?”
“It doesn’t,” you admit. Peeking around the corner of the column at the throne, you get an idea. “What about an attack from above?” you ask.
“Well, that’d work,” says Mal. “He can’t shield himself and attack at the same time. But how were you figuring on managing it?”
”Oh,” you say, “I have my ways!”
>Use Very Nice View
The walls flicker and change until the entire throne room appears to be hanging out on top of a very large Aztec temple. The battle slows as the Whizzer and his monkeys try to determine what’s going on. Seizing your chance, you run forward towards the throne, shouting at the top of your lungs:
>Um. Mr. Whizzer person! I’m placing you under arrest in the name of Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmanuel Ambroise Diggs?
Oh my. You’d try shouting all that in the three seconds before you’re blasted to pieces?
>Hey Whizzer, look behind you?
>Abra Cadabra, Hocus Pocus, Peanut Butter and—
>Adumbrate the elephant?
At your shout, the Whizzer stares at you in bemusement. With his attention elsewhere, a very confused elephant drops from the ceiling crushes him flat. Sticking out from underneath the elephant, you can just make out the Whizzer’s feet, still wearing the silver slippers.
The room grows quiet. One of the Flying Monkey ships crashes into the side of a portal, but the monkeys onboard are too dumbfounded to do anything.
A few moments later, the entire monkey horde collapses in helpless laughter.
>Not very loyal, are they.
They’re evil minions. What were you expecting?
>Pick up slippers
You kneel down and remove the slippers from the Whizzer’s feet. As you do so, the dunce cap slips off your head and lands on the floor with a dull thump.
The walls flicker: it seems the Very Nice View has fulfilled its purpose and is returning to where it belongs.
You turn and see Mia, Cassie, Michael and Mal grinning in exhausted relief. Dirk nods slowly, still trying to figure out where the elephant came from. “Wow, that was great!” he says enthusiastically. “I never saw it coming!”
You hear a low rumble rising through the floor as the walls and ceiling. In predictable evil lair/ancient temple fashion, it seems the palace is going to try to crush you to death as it falls to pieces. The monkeys all begin to scramble for the most convenient exits, which (for most of them) means the portals. The elephant, not sure what’s going on, stands up and starts pacing around nervously.
Cassie yawns. “I guess we should be leaving, then.”
“You don’t seem to be in much of a hurry,” notes Dirk.
“Of course not. I’ve watched plenty of movies before. The second the last of us gets out, the temple will collapse behind us in an enormous fireball that somehow manages not to harm any of us.” She continues in her odd, slightly detached tone. “It will be very exciting.”
“Well, even so…” says Dirk, “Maybe it’s best to get moving?”
“Sure,” you say, “just give me a moment.” You head towards the back of the room.
>I’m not sure that’s such a good idea, you know…
Dirk steps aside as a falling chunk of masonry nearly wings his shoulder. Behind him, one of the winged monkeys jumps on the back of an elephant and starts guiding it out a convenient portal. “Look, “ he tries to reason, “I’m all for collecting valuable artifacts in my spare time, but there’s nothing back there. Just a few clay jars, a very heavy statue and an old, ratty curtain. Let’s get going already.”
You ignore him, stepping over bits of debris as you head towards the curtain in the back.
>Actually, I’m with Dirk on this one. Let’s turn around and get out of here. Okay?
As you approach, a hand snakes out from behind the curtain, palm up. The owner seems to be waiting for something.
In the background you hear Cassie gasp. “Mia, behind the curtain…is that—“
“—Oh no.” You hear Mia take a quick step forward, followed by a roar as a large fireball rushes past you towards the curtain on the wall.
Silently, you tap the slippers together. The fireball disappears.
>Hello? Is this thing even working right now?
>Parser, what are you playing at? I’d really, really like to turn around right about now.
“Dirk!” shouts Mal, running forward. “We have to stop him/her/it before he/she/it reaches the curtain!”
Dirk draws his teaser gun and is pointing it at you. "Adventurer," he shouts, "Don't go any farther. I don't want to have to shoot you."
As he speaks, you see a large statue in front of you lift into the air. It moves to block your progress.
>Look, see? You’re going to get me shot. We can’t keep going, anyway—Mal’s blocking our progress. Now stop it.
You shake your head and continue walking.
"Right then," says Dirk. "This is your last war--" You tap the two slippers together again, and Dirk's final words are cut off as he fades into nothing. Shouts from Cassie and Mia confirm that Mal has vanished along with him. Tapping the slippers once more, the statue disappears as well.
In a short time, you’ve reached the curtain.
>This isn't funny, Parser. Stop it.
You hand over the slippers. The arm withdraws behind the curtain, and from behind it you hear triumphant, maniacal laughter. You turn around.
Behind you, Mia is sobbing, and Cassie is....glowing, and muttering something under her breath in a language you don't recognize.
>Don't you dare.
There is another click, and the two remaining children vanish from existence.
Lost for words, adventurer?
>Who are you? What are you planning to do with the slippers?
You mean you haven't figured that out by now?
You hear a final click. The world vanishes and you find yourself standing in a bright white, formless void.
Still relying on me, even after all that?
>Where am I?
I'm banishing you to another thread of existence, adventurer. That's what you've always wanted, isn't it? A little adventure in your life? Exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new puzzles and new inventory items? Boldly going where no Ageless, Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally-Ambiguous Adventure Person has gone before?
>Not like this, parser. What have you done with the others? Where are they?
I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you, adventurer. You won’t be seeing them again.
>Like heck I won’t.
Ah, so you’ve learned not to trust me. That is wise, though rather belated. I do thank you, human. You have proven…most useful.
>You manipulated me.
I use the materials presented to me. You, foolish wanderer, happened to be available.
>You still haven’t told me who you are.
You bore me, adventurer. Enjoy yourself in this new world of yours. I’m afraid it’s all you’ve got.
>This isn’t another dream sequence, is it? Because you’ve used that trope about twelve times now. It was old the first time.
You wait, for a time, hoping for a response. None comes. Time passes—hours, or days—and after a while you grow cold and sit, waiting for something to happen.
Your thoughts are stirred by a loud beeping coming from your pocket.
From your pocket, you pull the beeping portable game console and the retainer. The screen on the console blinks on with a message which reads:
"Tony Hawk's Retaining Firewall has completed immunization process. Internet connection restored."
"Ha!" says the retainer. "It looks like the Parser forgot a couple of things. The second was: always check the inventory of wily adventure characters BEFORE banishing them! But the most important was—never ignore a retainer who used to be a computer programmer before becoming an orthodontist, turning into a retainer and gaining bizarre magical powers!”
As he speaks, your new reality floods into view. Objects flicker by at an alarming rate. You are in an open field west of a big white house with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here which recedes into the distance as the white house collapses into a voodoo swamp, surrounded by eagles on pogosticks. Around you waves of trees rise and fall as mountains and hills reshape themselves. Bits and pieces of cities, villages, forests, carnivals and castles half-form before vanishing into mist, and, ever-so-slowly, a new world begins to appear.
The progression slows until its nearly imperceptible and then stops entirely. Wherever you are, you’ve arrived.
You are standing at a crossroads. The road continues to the North, South, East and West.
A prompt appears on the console's screen. It reads:
"READY FOR USER INPUT. PLEASE PROCEED."