A deep nausea overcomes me as I look at the disembodied, bloodied eyes staring up at me from the ground. The two kind, fiery energetic eyes I recognize as belonging to the wizard of the hero-party. What the hell?! Red drips out of me as I look back to the thief who is absolutely giddy. “I know you can’t talk to me in this body! But I know you like them!”
“I know. I know you do!” she says pressing herself closer to me. The shelves stop their grinding and come to a halt, having rearranged themselves; somehow miraculously sparing us from being crushed. “After all, I know you don’t want anybody to look at you like that but me! Hey! Hey! Right?!” She slams me shut and holds me close against her body. I feel a vibration, something… odd. But then I hear it. The humming, she is humming. Just some melodiousness tune, but her mood is bright and vibrant as she clutches me against herself with her bloodied hands, pressing me tight against her chest.
She starts walking down in some direction, humming all the while, not letting me an inch out of her grasp. This isn’t what I envisioned when the dungeon-master said she could help me. I think about the wizard who was, when she wasn’t trying to kill me, always very kind to me. Okay, well maybe just that one time when I was a drake but still. I feel sick. I know that she’ll be fine in the next respawn, I know that. But I still feel sick at the thought of the thing that must have happened. Why? Why is she like this? This is beyond normal, even for this place.
Hunting me, murdering me and all the violence and blood that that entails; I can accept that. But this? This is messed up. I get that we have to fight each other and kill each other in the dungeon at the end of the day. I understand that violence is the nature of the beast. But there is a line and it didn’t need to be crossed here, it didn’t need to be crossed now and it didn’t need to be crossed like this. I struggle and squirm, trying to get out of her grasp. But I’m too weak to break free.
She seems nonchalant regarding my efforts to escape, simply gripping me tighter beneath her arms as she keeps walking; just humming along. Is this what I signed up for? This isn’t what I wanted. This… ugh. I squirm and press myself further away as hard as I can, but to little avail. Where are you even taking me? Are you trying to find the stairs too?
“Don’t worry!” she says as if sensing my thoughts through my squirming motions. “I was wondering how you were climbing up this whole time! I was! I was!” She holds me out at an arm’s length again. “But you were keeping a secret from me, weren’t you? Weren’t you?” She laughs, leaning in closer. “You know, that’s mean. Keeping secrets from me…,” she whines, her tone shifting to that of a pouting child.
“But that’s fine! I know you don’t know better! The dungeon-master told me all about those secret stairs after you went to sleep!” She leans in, her breath fogging up my leather. “I know all about your secret now. So now I can help you get better! But it was still mean of you, you know? You know?” She still hasn’t blinked, as she stares into my eyes, which I don’t actually have. So I’m a little creeped out that she knows where to look on my body, among other things.
Her right hand releases from me and she places a finger on my cover and gently strokes down the length. “But that’s okay. That’s okay! The truth is- Hey, hey! The truth is…” she tilts me sideways as if she were about to whisper in my ear. “The truth is I have a secret too!” Something wet runs along the length of my spine. I realize her tongue is gliding up my side as she licks the drying blood stains off of me in one long motion from bottom to top. Once she reaches the end, she plants a kiss on the tip and giggles, pulling me back tight into her clutches. At this point it would be tradition for me to say, no, not like that guy. Because, let’s just be real here, you let this stuff get to your head too easily, friend. I get it, dungeon-life can be lonely. Trust me, I feel you on that, tell you what.
But no, this time. This time I think it’s exactly like that. So… yeah.
She keeps giggling and walking. “You know? You know? I was really sad for a long time. But now I’m really happy again! I’m really happy again! And you know? You know? I know you are too!” She spins around in a circle again, me still stuck against her chest. “Because now we can have so much fun together again! Just you and me!”
As she utters this sentence I feel a chill run up my spine as if someone was suddenly watching me. I’m sure the dungeon-master was just roused from their nap and is zoomed in on us, watching in great detail having been woken by these events. I hope Madeline isn’t watching.
I’m not sure I feel happy, friend. Pretty sure I’m not actually. But I’m sure not going to tell her that now. Not that I can even if I wanted to, what with me being held shut. She’s not risking it apparently, I guess she’s still worried that I’ll run. Which to be fair, she is right to be; because that’s exactly what I want to do because she terrifies me and honestly, I’m starting to realize that I’m not actually that fond of her the more time we spend together.
Humming along she suddenly stops and lets out a single utterance. “Ah!”
Hmm? I look around at the shelves around us. “We’re here! See? See?! I found it for you! I do it for you! Because! You know? You know, I-,” She holds me out at an arm's length again, but now her face is red and blushing as she looks down to the ground at her side, mumbling as if suddenly losing all of her bravado and confidence borne of her insanity in a single instant. “Because I… because I…” she meekly mutters, kicking a single foot over the carpet a few times, stumbling over her words all of a sudden.
Looking to the side, I look at the shelf next to us. No… no way. It can’t be. It’s too stupid. Too obvious.
But of course it is. Of course it is. I sigh as I look at the single book placed smack dab in the middle of one of the S-section shelves. A single book with giant, brazen golden embroidery on the side that is simply titled ‘Secret Stairs and where to find them (Here)’.
Somehow, I know that I feel the dungeon-master smiling with pride at this ingenious hiding spot at this very moment. I sigh, just running out of motivation to live honestly, feeling just a little more dead inside than before and look back to my captor who is still mumbling and stuttering over her words not able to get to the point. Her face is practically steaming at this point.
Death. Please. Just let me die. Ju-
As if the universe were answering my wish, I hear it. I hear the loud, ringing gong of the hero’s bell. Of the final strike about to be unleashed. I guess the dungeon-master is about to get got. Flinching together she stops her muttering and grabs the book off of the shelf, tearing it out in a flurry and throwing it to the ground. The large shelf rumbles and sets into motion, slowly grinding to the side. Just as I hear the metal boots turn the corner, just as we both see the grim-faced hero-party turn the corner. The hero’s sword swirls with a flow of magical energies that unleashes as a torrent, tearing the shelves all around him and us apart.
Books rip and tear into thousands of sheets of paper that then vaporize from the tremendous magical energies. The scraps filling the air like a fresh winter snow during a blizzard that swirls around us all; pelting and blinding us all as the sound of the celestial gong rings out louder and louder. I feel the hand holding me tense up in that second as she turns in an instant to the right and tosses me inside the secret passage, just as everything goes white. Just as the world is wiped clean by a single blow from the hero.
Just as everything is made right again.
Did you know that mushrooms are made up almost entirely of wate-