Author’s Note: This was written live on stream, with the tone being determined by the numbers under minesweeper tiles. The audience could bid tokens earned in stream to reveal random tiles. A mine hit results in the death of all characters, unless they are temporarily saved by a lump sum of tokens. If characters make it to the end of the stream, they survive to be seen another day. Join us at twitch.tv/blainearcade if you wish to participate.
1-peace 2-alert 3-escalation 4-action 5-tragedy 6-world-changing
The minefield has been moved. It now connects the Trap to a new world, a new game. There is no destruction this time, nothing forcing them to flee. Only the brave, curious, and strange will take the journey. Who will step through the fog and face the myriad dangers of the field?
Three enter: Magmis the stuttering volcano, Fezidor the forgetful wizard, and Lucille the medieval scholar.
All was calm in the Minefield as the new trio entered. The worst disturbance was the flecks of lava bubbling out of Magmis. He was a tiny slender volcano, magically imbued with mind and movement, who only reached chest height on his female companion.
Her name was Lucille, and she was a Medieval scholar. The two happened across each other on the way out of their old world, and she begged him for an interview. Being a volcano, he’d probably been around during the age of castles. She always tried to talk to those nasty boulders back home, but they only tried to crush her.
With them was Fezidor, an old man also of the magical persuasion. His beard was lit by stardust and his long green and gold robes billowed out with every step. He didn’t participate in their little interview, as he was too busy muttering to himself and adjusting his glasses.
“Arcabrus Diluvium? No, no, no… Arcellus Divinum? No… Blast it. I can’t remember,” Fezidor complained, finally getting loud enough to interrupt his companions. Lucille had to switch off her tape recorder and store the small microphone in her belt. This old man wasn’t worth recording. Magic was deep in history, but it was always changing. Every attempt to put it in a normal history text failed miserably.
“What are you trying to r-r-rremember?” Magmis stuttered, shooting out errant jets with each stammer. The volcnao backed up, embarrassed by his own emissions. He moved about by blending seamlessly with the land, so while his sides didn’t disturb the grass, his super hot excreted material certainly did.
“There was a spell,” Fezidor answered, stroking his beard, rearranging the stardust in it into various constellations. “I’m certain it could get us all the way across this place without us having to walk. I just can’t remember the damn words. Definitely A something followed by D something.”
“I don’t mind walking,” Lucille said peevishly.
“It’s l-l-literally no effort f-for me,” Magmis added.
“Well ahdee-la-da!” Fezidor shot back. He realized a moment too late that his sarcasm actually contained the correct spell. The force of the ahdee-la-da incantation pulled him forward. He flopped in the air and hovered along a new path, forcing the other two to follow.
“I guess you found it,” Lucille said as she struggled to keep up with the floating flailing wizard and the gliding of the volcano. “It’s taking you all the way to the other side?”
“That is the plan,” Fezidor said. He tried various swimming styles, but none of them affected the speed or trajectory of his hover. “It would be nice to slow down a little. Am I… speeding up?”
“Yes, huh, you are!” Lucille shouted back. She was running now, her shoulder bag and recording equipment weighing her down. “You’d better find a way to slow down!”
“I’m open to suggestions!” Fezidor shouted. The distance between them grew. The volcano had no trouble catching up. He tried to put himself in front of the wizard’s path, with the coolest side facing him, but the spell was smarter than that; it just lifted him an extra three feet and jumped Magmis like a hurdle.
Pretty soon the normal human of the group would be left in the dust, and she didn’t feel like marching across such a strange place all by her lonesome. Did she know anything that could help? She thought back to what little knowledge she had of Medieval magics. Most of them involved blood sacrifices. There was a way to shut it down some of the time… She recalled an etching where an enraged father broke his daughter’s twisted wand over his knee. If there was a magical conduit, its destruction might stop his speeding through the air.
(Chat-Determined) – 1
“Do you have something on you?” she asked, shouting at the top of her lungs. He was just a green smudge in the distance now. “A conduit? Break it!”
“I’m not breaking it!” Fezidor shouted back, but it was too late. She could no longer hear him. Despite what he just claimed, he pulled out his magic conduit anyway: a divining rod from an ash tree. If he broke it he wouldn’t be able to do any magic anymore. He could hear all the arguments from his siblings in his head. ‘That doesn’t matter; you can never remember the words anyway.’
He wanted to ask the volcano what he thought, but even he flagged behind now. The wind grabbed Fezidor’s cheeks and made speaking impossible. Tears were ripped from his eyes; he was now the human equivalent of a bloodhound’s jowls when it stuck its head out a moving car window.
Even if he could remember the stopping spell, he couldn’t say it like that! If there was a solid object at the end of the Minefield he might even splatter against it like a bug on a windshield. Fine. No more magic. No more brothers and sisters mocking him over his failures in the field, no more showing him the literal list their parents had written up, placing him as the lowest ranked child.
Fezidor grabbed both branches of the divining rod, curled up to bring it to his knee, and snapped it in two.
Fezidor stopped dead, his brain bouncing around in his skull. The magic dropped him like a duffel bag, right onto strange new ground. There was still grass, but it was topped with lots of soft shredded paper, like a small dog had gotten into a box of tissues. He blew on one of the shreds to get it off his face. It took an awfully long time to drift back, as if it was trying to fly.
Fezidor wasn’t the youngest, so by the time he got back to his feet Magmis and Lucille had caught up, though the woman was panting so much that she disturbed all the tissues around her. Magmis had to hold his lava in to avoid igniting the field of shreds. It did not look comfortable.
“What are all these?” the woman asked, picking one up and testing it on her runny nose. The shred didn’t protest, but the force of her breath did send it flying like a paper airplane.
“I have no idea,” Fezidor said with a sniffle of his own. He dropped the two pieces of the divining rod into Magmis’s top. He didn’t want to look at them anymore.
“I’m not a t-trashcan!” the volcano complained. In saying it he belched a flame that smelled of ash wood. An escaped ember caught one of the shreds, forcing Lucille to stomp it out.
“Do we need to plug you up?” she asked, fearful of another spark. The shreds went as far as the eye could see. Most were blank, but some were marked with all manner of words and inks. The scholar picked a few of them up and tried to piece together a message.
“I would s-s-suffocate!” the volcano insisted. He made an attempt to pucker his own caldera to keep the others safe, but it resulted in an extremely bloated feeling in his base. They would have to hurry out of there. The rocky spire took off in a random direction. Now it was Fezidor’s turn to run. Lucille didn’t even bother, engrossed as she was in the tissue puzzle.
(Chat-Determined) – 2
Alone for the moment, Lucille walked and scanned the ground, treating shreds like puzzle pieces. At first her efforts were futile, but then she focused on one specific color of ink. It was dark blue and the words wearing it were printed very neatly, as if by stamp or machine.
When she found three matching pieces she realized it was a block of information, something like instructions. Perhaps she could puzzle out what these things had been before the shredding. She couldn’t help but smile when she found what was clearly the top of the message. It had the word Instructions.
It took her more than an hour, she still couldn’t see the edge of the shreds, but she did have a complete set of instructions.
Instructions: These giant napkins are safe and reliable vehicles for escorting people from one side of the Minefield to the other. They are woven from a material beyond any of our worlds. To use, simply wave to one, let it approach, and step gently onto it after it comes to a complete stop. The napkin needs no commands or directions. It will not take off until you are seated. If you lack humanoid limbs or a distinct body shape, the napkin may not work for you. Our apologies. They show specific strong aversions to passengers who are wholly or partly liquid. Again, we apologize if this affects you. Please enjoy your flight aboard this napkin of the Trap.
Lucille brought some tape out of her bag and used it to bind and laminate the instructions. When she finally reached the edge of the shredded napkins she found Fezidor and Magmis waiting patiently for her. She handed over the instructions as her excuse for taking so long.
“S-so I can’t ride them,” Magmis said sadly. He cried a small molten stream.
“Don’t blubber,” Fezidor scolded, “you didn’t lose the whole of magic today. Besides, there aren’t any whole napkins around here. We can’t fly any of them. It would take longer to piece a whole one together and it might not even fly after that.”
“Plus, I’m out of tape,” Lucille said, dropping the dispenser on the ground. She was never a litterbug, but she got the distinct sense that the Minefield didn’t count as a place. It had no history, just things blowing across it and into it like a gutter full of wet leaves.
With knowledge achieved, but little else, the trio continued on their way. Magmis had a rough sense of the terrain ahead, he could feel the vibrations in the ground, and he told them they had less than two hours to go.
There was something else, but he couldn’t classify it enough to talk about it. There was a rumble in the ground somewhere between a snore and an invisible assault of radiation from space. He kept his caldera shut about it, but concern grew with each step the humans took.
“I’m wondering,” Lucille said to break the silence, “what we’ll find on the other side. I’m actually hoping it’s a place with Medieval levels of technology. I always wanted to live in a place like that, and die in a place like that.”
“You want to kick the bucket black plague style?” Fezidor asked with a grimace. “I think I’d prefer a heart attack in a hot tub. If I had magic still I could probably make us a nice hot tub…”
“I don’t know why,” Lucille answered. “I know it doesn’t make sense. They all seem like horrible ways to go. There’s just always been a poetry to the imagery for me. People leaning weakly against fences, scratching at their boils, eyeing a rat that eyes them back. I always felt like my scholarly life should end in tragedy that roots me as a statistic in the future.”
She had her chance at a violent death, as the trio came across the monster at the end of the Minefield. The beast had terrorized that stretch of land for weeks now, killing and shredding anything that got too close and using it as bedding. She would’ve hoped for a dragon or an ogre, but this creature was some awkward cross of owl and dachshund. It surely would’ve sensed their footsteps if Magmis hadn’t been preparing a little trick during the last part of their journey.
The volcano made the ground around it vibrate slightly, just enough to obscure the footfalls of the humans. With this technique they slowly snuck by the beast and threw themselves into the shredded fog past it, into the Trap.
(Chat-Determined) – Magmis the volcano
None of the three had ever seen such a place. Cages stacked upon cages, many as wide as skyscrapers. They were met by guards with a solemn message. The Trap was a world with a very specific nature. For every free soul there had to be two prisoners.
The prisoners would be kept comfortable, and away from the struggles ahead. Only one of the trio could join that army, and Magmis volunteered. The others were in agreement. They had no power compared to the volcano, even if he couldn’t quite control his sputtering. Lucille and Fezidor patted the landmark’s sides and wished it well.
Things for the volcano would be getting much hotter.
Minefield traversed! Magmis will join in the stories ahead. Two more must be recruited before the rebels of the Trap can make their move.