Enhanced Agility: supreme
It was not a good idea, even if there was no magical trap. Then I’d just look silly, jumping up and down on a floor tile for no reason. But still, I felt like it had to be done.
No matter how much some part of me expected it, another part was convinced that there couldn’t be a fiery tornado of death under that one step in this particular temple. There couldn’t be; it would be a ridiculous assumption based on nothing but an odd daydream. The chances of this temple having a rare mystical fire trap, in this exact spot, are so astronomical as to be ludicrous. But still I went there and said to myself, “I am going to jump up and down on this tile. I am going to jump up and down very hard, I am going to look very silly, and nothing, nothing, is going to happen.”
At first nothing did in fact happen. Then the tile slowly sank down and there was a mechanical click beneath the floor. You know what happened next, and before it had the chance to happen I double backflipped away.
Classic Studded Leather
Armor: standard (rank 1)
I was mostly fine, I dodged in time and the leather took the brunt of the heat. I may have lost half an eyebrow, but compared to what happened to Gnashbar, I was mostly fine. And just like I remembered, nobody helped him. Sir Delphi was too far away, just as I remembered he had been last time, and Frak was an asshole, just as I had remembered him being for as long as I knew him.
But then I remembered something else; Gnashbar hadn’t been engulfed by the fire tornado before, but it wasn’t a totally new event either. No, it was GnashBONE who was lit up like boar at the festival last time.
Gnashbone was the dwarf warrior who was with us when we entered this temple the last time, and when we came out without him, Gnashbar was waiting at the exit as if he knew we were coming. Nobody questioned why they had near identical names, traits, appearances, and speech patterns. We didn’t even ask what he was doing there. They were damn near the same person, but I never questioned it. Why? Why did I not wonder that? Why haven’t I wondered about things like this, until now? It’s as if my memories got reset to fix the problem, so we could keep going through some pre-organized outline that required some gnash or another to be in our group.
While I stood and thought this, Gnashbar’s corpse crackled with flames, Sir Delphi said a short prayer, Frak began putting marshmallows on the tip of his wand, and the furious beating of tiny wings rustled above us. I didn’t bother wondering what it was, I just grabbed some daggers and threw.
Got Enough Daggers There?
Weapon Master: superior (rank 2)
- Ranged Attack
They couldn’t have been bats, some part of me thought aloud. The fire trap sure, that was a fluke, a random guess, I got lucky once. It didn’t prove anything; but if there actually were bats, then it wouldn’t be just be a fluke, it would be a pattern.
Four daggers flew out and hit four flying rodents mid-flight, right in their stubby wings, pinning them against a wall where they hissed in distress. Frak blasted the others with a slurry of ice that sent them to the ground where Delphi began to stomp on the frozen critters like they were dry leaves.
There was a pattern, a repetition, something I could not escape. If I had done this before, then what was I to do next? Could I choose that, or was it all destined to be the same, just with a slightly different flavor? If the bats were the same, the fire tornado was the same, what was next? Wall traps, right?
Detective: standard (rank 1)
I didn’t really remember how I deactivated the trap, I just had a general sense that I had done it before. So I asked myself, if I were going to about disabling it, what would I do if I wasn’t aware that I had done it before? Well I probably would have looked for a secret opening, a hatch, a false part of the wall with a panel for installing the trap. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s a big crease in the middle of the wall that I’m sure I’ve seen before.
I was almost hoping that it wasn’t a secret opening, that it was just a normal crease in a wall, the product of nothing more than a lazy mason. I grabbed a hold of the crease and inserted my hand into it. Nope, secret hatch. And right behind it there was a big metal lever on the other side that would surely disable the whole thing.
I flipped the lever and the trap released all of its ammo, not shooting the darts out so much as spewing them onto the ground like a Halfling drunk on ale. This was too weird, even in this line of work.
Once was coincidence, twice was happenstance, but three times and somebody somewhere was fucking with me. This wasn’t just predictable, it was scripted; fire, bats, darts, and now the far door would swing open and we would all walk in and fight a colossal ivory dragon then steal it’s treasure. But why? Why have I never asked why, until now? Why the in the name of Aviell was I destined to do these things? What is making me march inexorably forward without so much as inquiry into my opinion on the matter? And why is it having me do the same thing more than once? How many times have I done these things before without remembering? Have I wondered if I’ve done this before, before? Am I being punished, is this hell? Who would put me through this? Why?
You know what, I said to myself, whoever they are, I won’t play their game. That was the only way to break the cycle. I was done; done being a pawn in the same match I’ve played before, done playing some role I’m supposed to fill, done following an invisible set of commands. Do you hear me? I will change the quest, no more repeats, no more following the story! Fuck the dragon, fuck the treasure; I quit!
Invisibility: standard (rank 1)
What happened next was new and different. I was no longer in the dungeon, though it sort of smelled like one. There were five humans in odd dress clamored around a small table. There were no bats flying in my hair, no fire scorching my eyebrows, and no hungry hungry dragons about to swallow me whole. The humans didn’t seem to notice me either, they just stared at the little board on the table with all their focus.
“Wait, what uhhhh, what happened to my little guy?” one of them says.
One of the humans was sitting behind a cardboard wall that obscured his side of the table from the others; he seemed to be in charge. He peeked over his little wall and looked towards the one who just spoke.
“What do you mean?”
“Dinas, she just sort of disappeared.”
“I still don’t understand. You mean in the game? Are you saying that in character Dinas would try and use her rogue abilities to disappear into the shadows in this situation?”
“No, I mean my miniature of Dinas,” the other said, “it’s just gone. Did somebody swipe her?”
“It would serve you right,” a third somewhat rounder human said, “setting Gnashbar on fire for no good reason. Especially after you killed his brother the last time we did this campaign.”
“It’s not Mark’s fault,” the one behind the cardboard shield says, “he may have known about the fire spell, but his character didn’t.”
“But that doesn’t mean she had to jump up and down on it like a five-year old throwing a temper-tantrum!” the flabby human responded, “it’s like she wanted to kill me again just to see if she could.”
“I’m telling you, that wasn’t me,” the first human who I can now identify as ‘Mark’ said, “First she wouldn’t move to fight the zombies like one of you guys had glued her to the table, then I look away for two seconds and she had moved into the center of the room, now she’s just gone. Its like she was acting on her own.”
I wasn’t quite sure what was going on but I assumed these humans had something to do with it all. Wizards no doubt, who entertain themselves by manipulating others like playthings; these were the ones behind my existential nightmare. I walk towards the table, but they don’t hear me getting closer. I stalk nearer and nearer until one of the wizards in a pointed felt cap looks up and sees me. His jaw drops and he begins to tug at the shoulders of the other players at the table. None of them give him much notice.
“Don’t give me that bullcrap,” the tubby human wizard yelled back at the one called Mark, “it’s a tiny piece of plastic, that’s it. It can’t move itself. You’re the one who’s always going on and on about what your character wants, what she would do, how she feels; just knock off the jack-assery and play the game!”
“It’s a role-playing game, we have to role-play” Mark said,
“ROLE PLAY? Are you kidding? What kind of Elf rogue from the mystic city of Greenhaven tries to use a bluff check to convince the City Watchmen that ‘these are not the druids you are looking for’?”
I reach back for a knife, then fire it into their table. Now they know I’m here. I smile and clear my throat.
“Hi,” I said, “so tell me, what the hell is going on?”
Mythic Physiology: standard (rank 1)
So, to make a long story short, (too late), I persuaded them to talk. I persuaded them with my feminine whiles, my cunning intellect, and when those two did not achieve the desired results, my daggers. And yet it became clear that they didn’t know what the hell was going on either. From what I can tell, nobody does. I’ve talked to a few scientists who gave me an answer I didn’t understand, the Wizards of the Coast help line who hung up as soon as I said I was really an elf brought to life from their product, and a few actual wizards, one of whom was sure that it was either that the D&D box the geeks used was made from a recycled Ouija board, or that it was ‘the power of imagination’ gone rogue. Though he was a wizard, so it was entirely possible that he was just being a sarcastic prick, as they are want to do.
Part of me would have liked to keep exploring the possible cause of my transmogrication from fantasy to tangible fact, but at some point I once again stopped giving a shit. It’s a mystery, let’s leave it at that; I’m stuck here and there’s nothing I can do about it. Even if I could go back, I can’t say that I’d want to. It’s just generally nicer here, cleaner too, plus I’m not sure I’d want to go back somewhere after learning that it was imaginary; that would be a hard readjustment.
There’s also another reason I stopped searching for answers. Quests for truth are fine and all, but only if you’ve already solved Dinas’ first eternal dilemma of “stuff costs money”. So that’s on hold for the moment, and I’ve started doing the only line of work I know how to do. Though the irony of transcending my old world for this one just so I can do the exact same line of work here has not escaped me, I take some comfort in knowing that my actions are no longer pre-determined by an adolescent in a tuxedo T-shirt. At least I don’t think they are, I can’t be 100% sure.
That said, the monotony is broken, for now, and the adventure is back in adventuring. Speaking of, I need to plug my new business.
Dinas Deo: Rogue for Hire.
-Thief, mercenary, major pest exterminator, what have you. Need something reclaimed? Need something stabbed? Look no further.
-Long history of expertise and experience, character sheet available upon request.
-Will work for cash; full or partial pro-bono benefits available for work between lawful and chaotic good.
-768 Morningstar Way, Khazan City, 26261.
-Just call (987) 555-2741, or visit www.dinasdungeoneering.com