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 Pips have rolled again. The conveying Minefield connects the Trap to a new world. Three enter, seeing only a shredded sky in the distance: Ragnor the hemophobic barbarian, Tatosklr his pet tarantula-battling squirrel, and Avatish the avatar of wishful thinking.
Cards Mooning Decency spat up three more who could no longer stomach its cruelty. They were spat up quite literally, having to spend their first hour or so airing out their clothes and shoes to rid them of a monster’s saliva. Luckily the Minefield pulled them along on its own, so they were free to set up a clothesline and guard it. They were down to their undergarments, but the land seemed mostly abandoned.
Ragnor the barbarian hardly wore anything more than a loincloth most of the time anyway. He was a large man whose voice was far rougher than his clean-shaven face. His nails were bit down to the quick, as his anxiety was more legendary than his skill in battle. Most of that honor went to his pet squirrel Tatosklr, who currently strolled across the clothesline, scouting the horizon for enemies.
The last of them, the one with most clothing to shed, was Avatish the avatar of wishful thinking. She was a well-respected symbol with much authority in the boisterous id pantheon of Cards Mooning Decency, but her finery, blue robes, jade jewelry, and pince-nez spectacles, had not been spared the monster’s teeth and moist tongue.
“Your pet has scars,” Avatish noticed out loud.
“Tatosklr is a mighty warrior,” Ragnor explained. “He has captured and killed more than ten of the Sinking Jungle’s notorious giant tarantulas. Saved my life seven of those times. Can’t stand spiders. They give me goosebumps and then I look at the goosebumps and they look like spider bites and then I spiral… It’s not a good time.”
“Fascinating,” Avatish commented, her pupil-free eyes, the gray color milk with sunken oats in it, looking them up and down. She would never insult anyone, regardless of their behavior, so they’d just heard her most critical word.
“Everything seems dry,” Ragnor said after a few hours. He took the avatar’s flowing scarf off the line and, realizing he should’ve asked permission to touch her clothes, offered to drape it over her shoulders. She kindly allowed him. While he did so he couldn’t help but notice the flawless nature of her skin. She had no body hair, no freckles, and not even follicles. Her shoulders were just smooth hills of soft blue. “What exactly are you,” he asked, “if you don’t mind my asking?”
“I am a deity of thought,” she answered, smiling. “I am the culmination of all our world’s wishful thinking. I am meant to one day ride, on a majestic steed, into the horizon of enlightenment with all my kin. We’re supposed to usher in the end of conflict.”
“Can you do that from way out here?” Ragnor asked skeptically. Tatosklr jumped form the line and landed in her hands. She cooed at the animal, though his eyes remained open and ever-vigilant.
“No. I would need to find a way back and be allowed in. At the moment my kin find my presence nauseatingly positive. I also haven’t found a steed yet. But for all we know that point might be hundreds of years in the future.”
3+1 = 4
“It might be sooner than you think,” Ragnor said, pointing into the distance. Three creatures appeared over a hill, galloping toward them, easily outpacing the movement of the land itself. Avatish and Tatosklr weren’t frightened, so Ragnor let them stand in the front.
The creatures skidded to a halt when they reached Avatish, presenting themselves possible steeds by raising one leg and lowering their heads. There was horse made of viscous dark red fluid with strange electric eyes. The second was a moose with long flowering vines and mosses hanging from its antlers. The third looked like a giant balloon animal, the only sound coming from it being the squeaks of its movement.
Though they seemed humble before the avatar at first, one look at each other sent them into a competitive rage. All three steeds began to battle each other, butting heads, falling to the ground, flailing.
“Should we stop them?” Ragnor asked, nervously wringing the hilt of his broadsword. He was no stranger to its use, but there was nothing he feared more than the sight of blood. He grew more nervous by the moment, as one of the steeds seemed to be made of it.
The moose’s antlers tore into the red liquid creature and sent a spray of it toward Ragnor. He yelped like a small child, but that didn’t stop it from striking his abdomen and sending him into shock. He fell over, stiff as a board, gasping. Tatosklr leapt down and began lapping at the blood, using his furry flank as a sponge to clear it. Avatish’s scarf would’ve been far more effective, but her eyes were locked on the competition before her.
(Chat-Determined) – Mine! Ragnor and Tatosklr saved
It would have been prudent to help her newer friends, for the enlightenment she’d spent her life seeking was never meant to be. Nothing from Cards Mooning Decency could ever achieve such peace. The warring steeds got out of control and rolled in her direction. She was absorbed into their battle for her favor before she could even protest.
In the midst of it the moose’s antlers struck the throat of the balloon animal. There was an awful stretching sound and then an explosion. The burst of the beast sent them all flying in different directions and multiple pieces. Just like that Avatish was gone, all the wishful thinking of their world dispersing in the air as blue mist. It was quickly absorbed into the goldenrod clouds.
Ragnor and Tatosklr were thrown from the crater, but spared a deadly bow. The barbarian couldn’t bring himself to move until the squirrel had wiped away all the blood, and by that time they had a new friend milling about, drawn by chaotic sounds of the steed fight.
It was a large boar, almost big enough to be a steed itself. It was surely a magical creature, at least magical in origin, given the giant pair of bat wings on its shoulders. Its black fur and tusks curled into complete circles were intimidating enough, but there was also a constant foam around its mouth. Not only that,t he foam was a whimsical, likely magical, blue color. Perhaps it had fed on the remains of Avatish in the sky.
While it wasn’t exactly friendly, it grunted and squealed wildly, charging at nothing but air, it didn’t seem too interested in harming Ragnor. The beasts imply tagged along. Ragnor named it Floyd, for he’d already used up his silliest name on Tatosklr.
It was just an hour later, as darkness came to the Minefield, that Ragnor would’ve traded anything for the simply problem of wondering whether one of his companions had magical rabies. Something passed by overhead, the only sound that of its swoop.
“Eep!” Ragnor squeaked, dropping his head and running for cover. There were some trees nearby; they would not only serve to protect him, but also act as battlements for the more-experienced squirrel. “What’s out there? Do you know Floyd?”
The pig grunted.
“Is it another steed? Uhh, I’m not interested!” he yelled at the sky. “No grand destiny for me!”
Tatosklr and Floyd didn’t have to battle the creature, as it came down on its own rather peacefully. It sniffed Ragnor’s knees and sat down as if waiting for a treat. The barbarian peeked between his fingers and saw the big passive eyes of a Blue jay-bulldog. He was not aware of the army born from Danderlid on the other side of the Minefield, so all he could do was guess that the strange hybrid animal had come from the same place as Floyd.
“I guess I’m just starting a flying zoo,” he told his stable of oddball animals. “Are you coming with us little fella?” The jay dog responded by swallowing two mouthfuls of its own saliva and continuing to pant. It was only when Ragnor tried to walk away from the copse of trees that it bark-sang and urged him in a different direction. “Well, if you know where you’re going.”
They traveled through the night, day returning without a sun to guide or hold it. The jay dog took the lead, regularly looking over its shoulder to make sure the rest followed. Floyd flew on his own once or twice and came back with small prey or mouthfuls of acorns. He didn’t offer any to Ragnor, who was starting to feel the emptiness in his stomach.
The Minefield pulled them along, speeding their way to the Trap. The lively ground didn’t stop all buildings from taking root in the Minefield; there were still a few here and there, surviving by hover jets or magical weightlessness spells. Ragnor was forced to jump up to one’s patio and search its kitchen. He could go no further without nourishment.
(Chat-Determined) – 4
Ragnor was far too dim to understand what kind of house he was actually in. It was an extraworld token: a piece meant to be played with by divine hands. As such, the food in its kitchen revolted at his very touch. Cans and jars poured out of the cabinets in an attempt to drown him.
“Ahh! Help!” he called out, swinging his broadsword. It went straight through a box of cereal, sending sugary clusters rolling back out the front door. At the sound of his cry, Tatosklr and Floyd came flying through the front door and diving into the pile of agitated foodstuffs.
There was a chance of death, but it shrank once Ragnor realized what he was fighting. It was all just food. He could strike terror into its heart by simply going at it mouth first. He obliterated a rice cake, ignoring the spicy seasoning it tried to toss into his eyes.
After that he grabbed a can and tore open the lid. To his horror, it was creamy tomato soup, which triggered his hemophobia. Tatatosklr noticed and leapt in the cam, drinking it down as fast as possible. Floyd did more than his part, devouring boxes of cookies and crackers whole, mashing them into a nasty foaming paste in his tusked mouth.
When they were full, and the cabinets empty of everything but cardboard and plastic viscera, Ragnor actually had a moment to consider his circumstances. The jay dog was leading them toward something, and the Minefield seemed to be getting stranger the further they went.
There was no room for anything with a grand destiny, like Avatish, but apparently a strange nobody like him was worth escorting? What was going on the other side? He feared that whoever lived there needed cannon fodder for fighting things like animated food and giant hands from the sky.
It was time to take matters into his own hands. He’d seen a garage from the outside, and simply deduction told him that if the suburban home could magically float, then so too could the vehicle. He found a pair of keys at the bottom of a cookie jar they’d smashed in their battle-meal, and one of them fit nicely into the ignition of the beige minivan in the garage.
Its back end dropped out of the garage with a sickening lurch, but then it even out. The car was indeed flying. Ragnor proudly opened the doors and told his animal companions to get in. He turned up the air conditioning for Floyd and made sure the Tatatosklr and the jay bird wore their seat belts in the back. Then they were off toward the shredded horizon, to meet their peculiar fates head on.
They reached the last stretch of land just as darkness approached once more. Ragnor knew they hadn’t been flying for a whole day, so he guessed the unstable Minefield had some other way of deciding when it wanted to be day or night.
Only one structure existed both in and out of the Minefield; it was a giant black building in the shape of a dog, its head hanging through the shredded fog, mouth open to welcome guests. The Black Lab. Ragnor drove straight for it, given how excitedly the jay bird yapped at the sight of it.
(Chat-Determined) mine! Tatatosklr saved
They were nearly there, but the forces above didn’t want anyone making it all the way across, not just the self-important would-be gods like Avatish. Ragnor, even with his spirit only being occasionally brave, was still too great a risk. Their car, so close the Black Lab’s welcoming mouth, passed over an active chaos mine.
Its effects shut down the flying car’s magic. There was barely time to be afraid as they plummeted and plowed into the dirt. Ragnor died on impact, with Floyd following moments later. Tatatosklr was saved by being thrown into the pig’s fleshy flank, which acted like an airbag. The movement of the land was about to take him as well, toss him into the abyss, but the jay bird grabbed him in its mouth and flew out the shattered window of the minivan.
The squirrel would miss his dear friend, but there was no time to focus on his loss. There were dog-birds everywhere in the Black Lab’s mouth, all excited to see a new animal warrior that would join them. They took turns licking his back affectionately. Their human masters looked on, shaking their heads and sighing.
Minefield traversed! Tatosklr will join in the final story ahead.